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November 9, 2011

Open thread 166
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:12 PM *

There’s a class of good instruction set that invites generalization. You know the sort of thing—you start reading a list of rules for wood-finishing and realize that with a few tweaks and elisions, you could apply it to country dancing. Teresa posted one set recently, and I still touch back to my friend EJ’s handy list for running the revolution of your choice.

So today one of my Twitter contacts pointed me at this list: Jeff Peachey’s Ten Commandments of [bookbinding knife] Sharpening. Here’s the list (with the period language corrected), but I’d encourage you to click through and read the rubric.

  1. Thou shalt not round the bevel or the back.
  2. Thou shalt not use jigs.
  3. Thou shalt look at the scratch patterns in the metal.
  4. Thou shalt use a bevel angle appropriate for the knife and task.
  5. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors knife.
  6. Thou shalt sharpen side to side.
  7. Thou shalt use a grit progression and entire surface of the stone.
  8. Thou shalt not let thy sharpening system become glazed over.
  9. Thou shalt not advance to the next grit until the burr develops.
  10. Thou shalt not insult thy neighbor by insisting on the absolute superiority of any technique or system.

I’d be interested to see if this is an extensible instruction set. Is it, if you will, da Vinci complete? Can we generalize it?


Continued from Open thread 165

Continued in Open thread 167

Comments on Open thread 166:
#1 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 04:19 PM:

First! Finally!

#2 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 04:30 PM:

This Is Just To Say

I have sodomized
the dinosaurs
that were in
the archives

and which
you were probably
saving
for reference

Forgive me
they were sensuous
so kinky
and so hot

#3 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Not this specific list, but the general theme of all-purpose instructions reminds me of my father's oft-bellowed dictum:
"LEAVE THINGS ALONE!!"

I must admit that I frequently sympathize, in a very wide variety of contexts. Though he mostly applied it to situations involving small children and his tools.

#4 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 04:43 PM:

11. Thou shalt not say "That is no knife, for this is a knife," for that is just lame.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 04:48 PM:

I caught the Holiday Baking Fever over the weekend. The project table in my dining room is starting to get covered with ingredients and recipe slips.

Fortunately, the first aid cabinet at work has chewable insulin tablets.

* * *

I just joined Twitter: StefanEJones

#6 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 05:08 PM:

I've been on Twitter for a little while, as patchworkmouse, but my tweets are really boring.

(Twitter is a very bad fit with how my brain works, but there's a handful of people I wanted to follow, and the easiest way to do that was make an account.)

#7 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 05:45 PM:

Side-to-side ?!? Thou shalt not indeed! That would be a terror to my blades!

Hm...

Measure twice, implement once seems not entirely sideways though.

#8 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 06:27 PM:

kiptw on Twitter. Sometimes I remember.

#9 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 06:49 PM:

On twitter as sophielandone . I'm sure my tweets are the most boring evah.

#10 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 07:24 PM:

On twitter as hhertzof. My tweets are erratic and occasionally incomprehensible.

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 08:12 PM:

I'm on twitter as fledgist. Irregularly.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 08:15 PM:

In mild November every tree seems red;
these maples blazing with unhidden fires
in briefest glory, as the day expires,
while winter is to come with heavy tread
but not just yet; and while clouds overhead
cluster like doom the birds sit on the wires
and do not worry. The winds may be liars
while changing seasons don't occasion dread.
Meanwhile we wonder at the changing scene,
at who will be our neighbours, and how plain
the day shall be with no leaves on the lawn.
But nothing matters while the grass is green
and we have shelter from the chilling rain
with guarantee of sleep until the dawn.

#13 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 08:24 PM:

Thank you, Fragano, that's lovely, especially the birds who sit on the wires and do not worry.

With regard to commandment 5: alas,I have sinned against it often. I love knives, and I do covet my neighbor's knife. Fortunately, I repent of this as easily as I sin, because I don't, actually, want to own a lot of knives.

#14 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 08:50 PM:

I'm on twitter (very occasionally) as megpie71. Actually, if you see a megpie71 anywhere around, that's probably me, although you're more likely to get a response at Shakesville, Hoyden About Town, Dreamwidth or InsaneJournal.

#15 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 09:02 PM:

I'm on Twitter as fadeaccompli, and I babble so much. Often about my cats. Or what I'm eating. Or how homework is going right at that minute. Or the latest episode of My Little Pony. It's what Twitter is for, IMO, but I feel I should affix a warning label of sorts.

#16 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 09:12 PM:

I'm on Twitter as starcatjewel. Note that almost the only use I make of it at the moment is to announce cons or other events where I'm going to be. That may change if/when I ever manage to get my Etsy shop up.

AKICOML: I'm having a problem with CDDB, which is the online database my CD-ripping software uses. If there's one distinct exact match for what I'm putting in, it works fine. If there are multiple matches from which I have to choose, or an inexact match -- basically, anything I need to verify -- it hangs up at that point and I get a "the server is not responding" error. Obviously, this isn't something I can fix on my end. How do I go about reporting the problem to someone who can fix it?

#17 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 09:58 PM:

I'm on twitter as RebelSquirrel and use it mostly for annoying some friends I've otherwise lost touch with.

#18 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 10:48 PM:

You know, when the hauntingly beautiful tunes, so odd in structure and so elusive in origin that they may be original for all I know, run uncontrollably through my head to a text like 'et lux perpetua luceat eis', it's really not so bad, even when I'm compelled (compelled I tell you) to sing them aloud.

When the text is 'je ne parle, je ne parle, je ne parle pas, je ne parle pas français', however, it's a lot more annoying...to me and probably to the people I pass on the street.

One of these days I'm going to trade in this brain for a bowl of cold oatmeal.

#19 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 11:07 PM:

Why, these are just the necessary sub-steps of the Seventh Habit of Highly Effective People! said the person who hasn't really had time to sharpen her saw properly all week. What with earthquakes and tornadoes, you know.

#20 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2011, 11:29 PM:

On this day I have been to see
both the rise and fall of the sun;
to greet the dawn with Hopkins
and the dusk with Eliot;
to watch autumnal clouds
blaze like beacons in the sky
then fade away
to indistinct grey
and leave their clouds of glory to the trees.

There's more, but I never did finish it. Damn perfect days and their inapplicability to prose.

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 01:17 AM:

Lizzy @13:
Your syntax triggered a pattern that spammers use.

Have you read Peachey's explanation of the pointlessness of coveting your neighbor's knife? He points out that we adapt our working styles to fit the tools. So after a few years of idiosyncratically sharpening a blade and then using it thus sharpened, a binder probably can't get her neighbor's equally idiosyncratically sharpened blade to work right.

I know that I can barely operate an English paring knife (for thinning leather) after all the time I've spent with my French one, and that's just blade shape. Add in the multiple variations on sharpening them, and you get some truly weird and wild variations. I'm reasonably certain that even the great Bernard Middleton himself would not find my knife usable, and yet I thin leather pretty darned well with it.

Similarly, if I lost my paring knife (say, to an acquisitive neighbor), I'd probably spend some time getting a new one to act quite the same as my current one. The very thought leaves me faintly queasy.

#22 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 01:23 AM:

Twitter doesn't generally work for me either, but I am ajluxton there and have tweets pointed "@" me sent to my phone, for what it's worth.

Ambercon Northwest left me knocked over, but it was worth it. Someone told me I played the best Prince Brand they'd ever seen. I said, "You know, that's one of the best compliments I've ever gotten, and I'm not sure exactly what it says about me that I think so, and I don't care!"

...Although on further reflection, I think it says that I have more subtlety and charisma than I used to. I also just really like that character and make a point of cosplaying him at least once every time I go to that con.

#23 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 01:42 AM:

AJ Luxton @22:

You go to ACNW? Now you're making me miss Simone and Guy, whom I used to know well when they were running ACUK way back before the Pattern cooled. I should write to them.

Brand is a tough one to play. He's so much the hero of his own narrative, but his narrative is quietly orthogonal to the rest of the family's. You don't just need subtlety and charisma—you also need that inner compass pointing three degrees off-true. Of course, one of the best ways to get that is to play Brand a lot.

Bet you were fantastic.

#24 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 01:51 AM:

I'm CulturalGeek on twitter, as my modern handle "Cultural Geek Girl" is too long.

I've been trying to consolidate to a new internet username, and it's very difficult. After a decade of splitting time between up to four different handles (not intentionally, I just had a series of handles that I devised naively, and which are often taken by someone else, or sometimes they do not fit naming conventions), it's hard to pick one and stick with it, and make people follow. It's also hard to keep that one sterilized, and eventually I just gave up. For a few months, though, I was seriously attempting to never say anything remotely controversial on the internet; under that one username, at least. It was less than six months before I realized that was impossible, though: there's always someone wrong on the internet, somewhere, and I am a very compulsive person in that respect. I can hold out for a long time, but not forever.

While I feel almost physically compelled to argue on the internet sometimes, I'm still trying to figure out how to maintain anything social: even emails and phone calls. I often become a perfectionist when it comes to composition, so I don't send the note or make the post, and then a week later it has to be even more perfect to suffice, and so on.

I'm at a new job, and there has been substantially more chaos involved than I had planned. I am a northeastern girl through and through, and I find myself in Southern California. It's very strange here, and I have to cling to passing performances by deranged millionaires for comfort.

On the subject of that list of four rules for story... I wish I could make every developer in the game industry read it. "Learn this and people will not complain as much about how story in games is crap!" I'd say. Especially the reusing characters thing; better a cast of dozens who appear again and again than a cast of thousands who are completely indistinguishable. In some ways, that list actually feels like it contains lessons that are even more useful to game designers than writers in more traditional mediums. However, while 1 and 2 are more central to traditional media, in games, I almost think three and four deserve more focus than one and two. Sometimes you can't provide the kind of consequence you'd like in a game, because of the structure and limited resources, but using 3 and 4 are always possible and pretty much never hurt.

#25 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:26 AM:

I, too, am slowly drifting in the direction of a consolidated WWW handle, after a considerable period of impermanent handles which disappear and are replaced whenever doing a browser upgrade means I lose all my cookies.

And I, too, have largely given up on sterility as an end goal for WWW-accessible writing. I'm just too opinionated; the attempt at being permanently inoffensive causes more stress that it appears to be worth.

I do seem to be mellowing a bit as I age. I think it's been years since I was last kicked off a message board.

#26 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:33 AM:

My first professional audiobook is finally available for sale! Took as long to get it approved and up as it did for me to actually record and edit the thing. Sheesh.

Since I don't want to be a spammer (as opposed to someone sharing good HLN) I won't actually link to it here, just note that I put a link to it in my LJ, which is accessible by clicking on my name.

#27 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:48 AM:

abi@21: It strikes me that that puts a new spin on the proverb that a bad worker blames their tools. On the one hand it makes it more reasonable for them to do so (since being bad workers they'll probably have developed idiosyncratically bad tools); on the other, it may be the bad working practices that make the tools bad.

On the subject of knives and coveting them: Does anyone know how widespread the tradition is that one should never give a knife as a gift? 1(I have it from Mme Barebones' family: is it a general French thing, or more local - or more widespread than that?)

Generalised instructions: I think I once read a review of what was billed as being the world's earliest recipe book - possibly Sumerian, or at any rate some kind of Mesopotamian. While I've retained little memory of what sort of thing Mesopotamians ate, I do remember the recipe that started 'Take a sufficient quantity of water cress'. I feel that this could be appropriately prefixed to many (all?) instruction sets. 2 That said, what I really like in instructions are ones which are highly localized: things that say 'take a piece of dough the size of the church doorknob' and the like. (Mme Barebones recipe for Making pumpkin pie in Ankara - quantities and serving sizes may vary vary - probably goes a little too far in this direction.)

1. One can, of course, sell a knife for a nominal fee - traditionally 1 or 10 centimes - entirely unrelated to its actual value

2.For twitterites,3 'a sufficient quantity is one of my favourite #stupiddrymeasures, along with the recently encountered '3 tablespoons of chopped shallots.'

3.I'm @prgodbarebones, for those interested. I can't really give an accurate characterization of my tweeting behaviour, since I don't really feel I've got the hang of how to use it. But I am pleased to have started the #ChriPuMaMo tag for Christmas Pudding Making Month (this month, since you ask).

#28 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:00 AM:

Currently pissing me off: this asshole late-night host named Jimmy Kimmel put his audience up to pulling a prank on their kids. The parents told the kids on the morning of Nov 1 "we ate all your Halloween candy last night," and took video of their reactions.

I only watched the first few. These are little kids, like 3 or 4; they burst into tears and sink to the floor.

Yeah, having your parents eat your candy isn't a big deal, right? Well, it is if you're a little kid. And having your parents lie to you, with the specific motivation of upsetting you, is an even bigger deal.

I hope these parents are prepared for what's coming next: their kids aren't going to trust them with anything. Kids need to trust their parents to feel safe; I predict nightmares in the coming weeks. You know, actually I hope the parents are NOT prepared for the reaction, and I hope it hurts them, so that they'll learn a lesson and not pull this sort of crap.

And Kimmel broadcast these results, which is the only way I saw them. Worse, someone I thought I liked on another site posted a link to the video; he thought it was hilarious.

Is that considered OK now? It's OK to laugh at someone being terribly upset and hurt if it's "just a joke"? It's OK to pull cruel pranks on small children if it will get your goddam self on fucking TV?

OK, I'm not a parent. But I remember being a child. But even if I didn't, I have enough empathy that I don't enjoy watching little kids burst into tears, and I think people who laugh at that are kind of sick.

Am I crazy? Or do the people who think this sort of thing is funny just really lack functioning mirror neurons, or perhaps, you know, any moral compass at all?

#29 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:27 AM:

PGBB@27: One of my favorite recipes from Marcella Hazan calls for "1/2 teaspoon of garlic, chopped very fine", which is similarly silly, because how do I know how much garlic will be 1/2 tsp after chopping?

I usually use five or six cloves, which is probably more than the recipe calls for, but I nearly always use more garlic than the recipe calls for because I like garlic.

#30 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:32 AM:

Xopher @ 28

Or do the people who think this sort of thing is funny just really lack functioning mirror neurons

While I understand , and thoroughly agree with the point you are making in your comment, I don't think that this is a good place to choose to make that point in quite these terms. (Actually, I don't think that anywhere is. But here's perhaps a particularly bad place.)

All said in the knowledge that you are, on most topics, and probably this one too, One of the Good Guys.

#31 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:37 AM:

Um...am I missing something? Are the mirror neurons implicated in the autism spectrum or something? I hadn't thought so, and certainly would not have intentionally implied that people on the spectrum are more likely to deliberately torment children. I was (perhaps speculatively) using the mirror neurons as a stand-in for empathy; people who lack empathy are not autistic but sociopathic.

If I got my facts mixed up, I apologize to the non-neurotypical community for my error.

#32 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 04:39 AM:

Question for our moderators: when there's a big block of comments that are obviously all a wave of spam, is it helpful to call all of them out individually, or is it better (it's certainly easier) to do just three or four, trusting the moderator to look at that part of the "last 1000 comments" and see that they're all spam?

#33 ::: Sam ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 05:11 AM:

(Occasional lurker. Um, hi, everyone...)

praisegod barebones @27

My family (or at least, my mum's family - English, mostly urban West Midlands) has that tradition about knives as gifts, too: "the gift of a knife will cut the friendship". My parents bought me a set of crockery and some kitchen utensils when I went to university but I bought anything with a sharp edge on it. As you said, it's possible to get round the restriction by asking for a nominal amount of money in exchange.

Does this tradition correlate with the one about not giving a purse without a coin inside?

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 06:28 AM:

David @32:

This recent pattern of a burst of spam all at once (and you should see the back end, by the way!) can be marked once and I'll hunt it down from there.

And thank you, again, for marking them. We have the best spam-flagging system in the universe, in my opinion.

#35 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 06:50 AM:

At #28, Xopher writes: Am I crazy?

No. Playing pranks on your kids should be funny for them, when they get it.

Making them cry because they trust you and then laughing at them is just abuse.

#36 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:16 AM:

I've had a consistent web handle since about 2001, when I became evilrooster on Everything2. I'm now evilrooster on pretty much everything I can be, falling back to thefoulfowl or thewickedchicken when my first choice is already taken.

Moving from that web handle to my true name, and letting those two be associated, has been a slow but deliberately chosen process. It's helped by not being prone to much heat in my internet arguments, and by living in a context where my political and social opinions are not likely to affect my employment prospects. In other words, a combination of personality and privilege.

If it all goes wrong, I'll adopt some other internet persona and seed the data with enough lies to keep it from being easily associated with me. But at the moment, I'm pretty openly out there.

#37 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:21 AM:

Xopher @28, you are not crazy. This sucks.

#38 ::: Shane ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:41 AM:

Pgbarebones #27: That was a terribly misleading proverb. For years I thought it meant a good worker can succeed with anything. Only much later after much frustration did I figure out: a good worker *gets good tools to work with!*

#39 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 08:12 AM:

I've had people quote the bad-worker-tools thing at me when I did an ungreat job and apologized because the tools weren't what I wanted, and I felt really insulted. It wasn't my paintbrush, it wasn't a good paintbrush for its purpose, and I was the best damned facepainter at that booth, thank you.

Xopher, I think that making kids cry on purpose is Not Okay, but I can understand why it works as humor. There's a picture of two babies sitting on a couch and one of them looks cheerful while the other one screams bloody murder, and I burst out laughing the first time I saw it. I don't think the parents are monsters, but too easily led*.

Also, I recommend watching a clip near the end, if not the end of the Youtube version, with two brown-haired white boys sitting on a couch. That one is actually funny.

*you can say this is the same thing, but I think there's a difference.

#40 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 08:39 AM:

Praisegod Barebones @27--No, both my parents' families have this tradition, and still follow through on it. I remember the confused look on a cousin's face when his grandmother demanded a penny from him after she gave him a pocketknife for Christmas one year.

Xopher @28--I don't think doing this once would ruin a parent-child relationship for ever, making it a habit sire would. I know people who would make that mistake, too, and who wouldn't understand why the long-term results are what they'd like. Discouraging empathy seems to be too much of an increasing phenomenon these days.

#41 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 08:57 AM:

praisegod barebones @27, same knife custom here (it'll cut the friendship) along with the return of a penny to make it nominally a sale to avert the ill luck. Secular Ashkenazi Jewish family, northeastern US.

#42 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 09:01 AM:

If thy fingers be not so steady because of age or because thy nervous system hath just never really worked right, thou shalt damn well use a jig, and fie on the pettifogging purists who would look down on you.

#43 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 09:03 AM:

Sam @33: My mother said that giving a purse with a coin inside (and storing it thusly, too! makes it interesting when you've got a large collection of evening handbags) is to make sure it'll never be empty. - symbolic wish for prosperity, in other words.

#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 09:15 AM:

paul @42:

I think all of us end up at Rule 10 in the end.

#45 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 09:33 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue #31: Um...am I missing something? Are the mirror neurons implicated in the autism spectrum or something?

Yes. Flaws in our mirror neurons are part of the neurological basic for our social handicaps, and difficulty learning "by example". On the flipside, there are other ways to infer someone's emotional state, and once we learn them, we can certainly be sympathetic based on what we do perceive.

#46 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:12 AM:

praisegod barebones #27: Both sides* of my family follow the sharp object - penny tradition (knives, scissors, pins, needles). Also the purse/wallet - penny tradition.

* Scottish/Pomeranian, Michigan by way of Canada on my father's, Scottish/English/French/Dutch, Alabama and Texas by way of Canada and Mexico on my mother's. I've also run into this tradition with African-American colleagues.

#47 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:13 AM:

Carrying over from Open thread 165, there's a recent and lovely post from Cabinet of Wonders - Visualizing Depression, Happiness as Esprit d'Escalier that's well worth reading. She's got a fine way with words and imagery, and never fails to engage a sense of wonder and interest.

#48 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:19 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 27 ...
On the subject of knives and coveting them: Does anyone know how widespread the tradition is that one should never give a knife as a gift? 1(I have it from Mme Barebones' family: is it a general French thing, or more local - or more widespread than that?)

Like a number of other folks on the list, I adhere to the belief that giving knives can cut a friendship -- you should always pay something for them (a nominal cent, even). It's not something that I picked up from my family, having puzzled my parent by handing over a penny when gifted with a knife.

Interesting thought - I've just realized that I don't seem to apply that custom to knife-like objects that I think of as tools (chisels, irons, multitools), and apply it more weakly to things like kitchen knives than things like a personal belt knife.

Huh.

#49 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:20 AM:

Shane @ #38:

Another, less literal interpretation is that a poor worker lays blame everywhere but on himself, with the corollary that a good worker apportions blame appropriately and will accept however much of the blame is rightly his.

Of course, as Diatryma @ #39 notes, apportioning blame appropriately does sometimes mean blaming the tools, because sometimes it really is the tools' fault. But no proverb is right all the time. (He who hesitates is lost. Look before you leap.)

#50 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:28 AM:

Years ago, on Saturday Night Live, Joe Piscopo turned in a devastating performance as a dead-eyed Alan Funt on the old "Candid Camera."
"Everybody likes a nice bite of cheesecake, right? Well, we thought it would be funny to see just how hot we could make this fork!" (Shot of a fork being heated over a burner.)
"This man thinks he's in for a tasty dessert, but he's really getting a mouthful of seared flesh!" (Various reactions)
"Here's a couple of Japanese businessmen. They don't speak a word of English, but pain is the universal language!"

The bit went on, as "Funt" told some children their parents were giving them up for adoption. The children cried and carried on (though not so realistically that I actually thought Piscopo was pulling this on actual unprepared tots). "I just love kids," he says at the end. "They're so easy to fool!"

As it was all clearly faked, it was possible to laugh at the whole sketch while still reflecting on the cruelty of some of the humor in the original show. (In fairness, much of the best of Candid Camera was what Jim Moran called "The mental hot-foot," of just showing people something that triggered the that's just not possible! reflex — though too much of it wasn't.)

A couple of funnydiskjockeys where I used to live would pull stupidly cruel pranks every April 1. I thought it might actually be funny if one year all they did was apologize for a series of increasingly bizarre and cruel pranks they hadn't actually pulled, and expressing their contrition for the property damage and lost lives when they falsely told commuters that a bridge had collapsed on their route, or when they told their listeners that a Russian nuke had taken out Chesapeake. Suggesting it, though, would possibly have made it necessary for me to talk to funnydiskjockeys, and since the modern crop of same isn't worthy of holding Jay Mack's microphone or putting a disk on for Mark Radtke, I didn't bother.

#51 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:30 AM:

(By the way, abi, is it possible to move another comment to the #1 position? Just as a prank on David Goldfarb? I think the world of him and all, but the whole "first!" thing brings out the hall monitor in me.)

#52 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:31 AM:

(It's okay to talk about it. If it's in parentheses, it's just like whispering. I'm pretty sure.)

#53 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:37 AM:

Kip W @ #4:

C'est ne pas un couteau, c'est une lame.

#54 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:47 AM:

@28 Xopher HalfTongue

I saw that online - my co-worker was watching it and giggling uncontrollably.

I didn't think it was funny. I thought it was mean. But then, I feel that way about a lot of stuff other people find 'funny'.

#55 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 11:26 AM:

Kip @51:

Actually, the bad news is that the first 10 commenters in the thread are now expected to provide, in verse or prose, some kind of illustration or meditation on the corresponding commandment.

Pursuant to which, I look forward to your villanelle on bevel angles, and your short steampunk sketch on glazed sharpening implements.

Go for it.

#56 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 11:38 AM:

I encountered the knife thing in fiction fairly early on, and regularly thereafter, but I've never encountered it in real life. (Grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, now living in NY; mother from California, father from Germany by way of China then northeastern US.) I never heard of the purse thing until this thread.

#57 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 11:46 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 5

chewable insulin tablets

Am I missing a medical advance, or am I missing a joke?

#58 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 11:49 AM:

Bring this over from the Exothermica thread:
#40 Xopher HalfTongue
There are still places where at Christmas someone wears a crown of holly with lit candles in it. Can't remember where, though memory says Scandinavia somewhere. Women, with long blond hair.

As Abi has told you, it's Santa Lucia in Sweden.

I used to work for a Swedish company, which would celebrate Santa Lucia every year in the building's atrium, with a Santa Lucia parade, and glögg, and Lucia buns.

This one particular year, this happened to be the new guy's first day, so he was taken to the parade along with everyone else. If you haven't seen one, please envision: one woman, in a white gown, crown of lit candles, followed by several men, all in long white gowns, along with tall pointed white hats, holding lit candles... now, also envision that the new guy is black.

The expression on his face was probably about what you're imagining it was.

He relaxed when the Tomte came in. Who can be afraid of tiny Santas?

#59 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 12:08 PM:

The aphorism of only a poor craftsman blaming his tools dates from a time in which every craftsman acquired his own tools, and so the tools he had to work with were his own choice; if he didn't like them, he had only himself to blame. If someone else requires you to use poor tools, the premise doesn't apply.

#60 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 12:50 PM:

Re: units of measure - One of my favorite papers I ever researched/wrote (and in history, one writes a lot of papers), was the one on the use of the paternoster as a unit of microtime. I think I posted about it here while I was doing the research - In short, there are a lot of medieval and renaissance instructional sets (cooking, smithing, artists, dyers, etc.) that say "boil a paternoster while" or "fire three paternosters and an ave". It lead me in some interesting directions for further research in time measuring and liturgics.

Re: knives - I hadn't run across the superstition about knives or purses until I'd been in the SCA for several years and someone brought it up. We're solid midwestern farm folk, and sometimes (frequently) you need a knife. It's almost always given by family, though.

Also, sisuile on the twitter. Since it's not locked to anything, I tend to put up banalities.

#61 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 12:55 PM:

David, #26: FWIW, I don't think an occasional self-promotional post from a regular community participant qualifies as spam in any sense of the word.

pgbb, #27: The only place I've encountered that custom was in Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan, where it had the embellishment that such a gift could only be given/accepted by swearing blood brotherhood.

Xopher, #28: Humiliation "humor" is very popular these days; it's one of the reasons I can't watch sitcoms -- not even Big Bang Theory, which everyone else I know absolutely adores. I have frequently been accused of "lacking a sense of humor" because of this; at least my friends aren't the sort to further accuse me of "political correctness". But it does put me rather out of sympathy with them.

I am convinced that there's a connection between this phenomenon and the general lack of empathy currently on display in our political processes, but I don't know which way the causality flows. Are we (as a society) more cruel IRL because we've been encouraged to mock others' pain in the media, or do the media merely reflect a sickness which has become the norm in our society?

Also, I agree with you 100% that this kind of betrayal will seriously damage the children's relationships with their parents in the long run. I remember several such instances myself, and my parents weren't doing it with the specific intention of hurting me -- this is going to be much worse.

#62 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 01:19 PM:

Mentioned at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which I am currently attending.

Today, November 10, is "Picture me in computing" day. See website here People are asked to tag social interactions today with the #picmecomp hashtag to help raise interest in computer science for girls.

I do not twitter, neither do I tweet, but I thought I would pass this on to folks who might be interested and willing.

#63 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 01:42 PM:

Hmm. Wonder why my comment is hung up in moderation. It's got only one link (to a Wikipedia article on cutlery) and, as far as I can tell, no naughty words at all.

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 01:53 PM:

Theophylact @63:

The link in comment 53 was borked. Check it at preview, willya?

Also, if your comment gets hung up in moderation, please immediately post a note to that effect. Then when I free the one I can hide the other, and I don't have to go fix everyone's up-references. Because that's pointless and tiresome and not a very good use of my sparkling personality and fearsome talents.

#65 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:03 PM:

Xopher @28 -- That's not in the relationship I have with my kids. I'll do pranks, but they're never cruel. I get enough screaming with everyday life to want to provoke it like that. (and sometimes, it's over taking candy away. Like at 10pm on halloween, with wound up and overtired and sugar infused kids (2,4,7). Hell no, you're not holding your candy for the 10 minute drive home. That would end up with you covered in chocolate and even more oversugared. So, screaming fit.)

But I'll do things like insist on putting socks and shoes on their hands. Or balancing things on their heads. (no pancakes yet, they're not bunnies).

#66 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:04 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @28: Am I crazy? Or do the people who think this sort of thing is funny just really lack functioning mirror neurons, or perhaps, you know, any moral compass at all?

No, you are not crazy. In fact I owe you a hug. In an evently sadly reminiscent of this situation, I caught my boss watching and laughing at one of these when I came over to ask her a question Tuesday.

It puzzles and saddens me, because this woman is someone I otherwise like and respect quite a lot, and she's generally very sweet and kind. So when I see her chortling over a parent torturing their children, I just don't know WTF to think. What I can say is that, particularly after running last summer's experience past you-all, I'm confident in my feeling that these videos are Not Okay.

I just don't know what, if anything, to say about it.

....particularly in conjunction with the idea discussed here at length that, to stand back and watch someone engaging in bullying (which is what this is), however passively, is tantamount to endorsement, which I am not okay with.

#67 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:12 PM:

praisegod barebones @27: Does anyone know how widespread the tradition is that one should never give a knife as a gift?

I first encountered this idea when I saw the movie The Edge. The presupposition seemed to be that it was old lore and common knowledge. So I would guess that it's fairly widespread.

And speaking of knives, our Mr. Terry Karney has been conspicuous by his absence of late. I'm presuming that this is because he is deep in the throes of work, school, and settling in after his move, but if anybody cares to poke him and indicate he should let us know how he's doing, this would not go unappreciated.

#68 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:15 PM:

Lee, if it's any help, I can't stand Big Band Theory either. I empathize too strongly with the people being laughed at. Trying to watch it is painful.

Also, I don't know if you've gotten anywhere with CDDB. Generally, email sent to admin@[somedomain].com, or webmaster@[somedomain].com, or info@[somedomain].com will eventually be read and responded to. Failing that, whois can be used to look up the information used to register a website; this includes contact information, in this case hostmaster@gracenote.com.

#69 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:23 PM:

#60 Lee

In Chanur's Legacy, stsho giftings carry ceremonial value--there are some gifts which, the delivery of/receipt of obligates the recipient to off gtst-self....

#70 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:24 PM:

Xopher #28: I saw that online and was appalled both at Kimmell and the parents. What kind of bastards do that to their own children?

#71 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:24 PM:

praisegod barebones #27:

It's a Chinese thing too.

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:25 PM:

Faulty Memory #68: Is Big Band Theory a series about 1940s jazz musicians?

#73 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:28 PM:

on knives as gifts, our family seemed to get the ban from somewhere in Scots or Dutch heritage, Mom and Grandma had it but German father did not.. My brother once gave me a small kitchen knife which I still have, together with the 10c coin (aloe on the front, an old villain of apartheid and concentration camp survivor Charles Robberts Swartz on the back) that he paid me for a filleting knife.

I love knives but am constitutionally incapable of sharpening them despite a kitchen drawer full of stones, tools and devices. My grandfather's sharpening steel is the best I can do.
"Of course, it is possible to sharpen in almost any direction, as long as your hand is comfortable and you are able to maintain a consistent angle."
It's that consistent angle defeats me every time..

on twitter as dotkaye only to follow people in my profession, I have nothing to say..

#74 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Open Thread 165 # 929 alsafi

Hourly employs get paid by the time clock. Salaried employees are "professionals" and unless contracts specifies overtime pay, don't get overtime pay.

There was a nasty 2001-2008 robber baron kleptocrat plutocrat redefinition of some jobs out into "professional" or "managerial" or "supervisor" instead of being hourly labor categorization, which dropped the benefits and the income of the people whose positions got redefined.... corporate greed and their budding in the government pulled that...

Depending on the state, it could be time to contact the part of the state dealing with "unfair labor practices" and also looking for a new position (those who make waves with employers, often have trouble getting jobs even in good economies... The had-been-a-Morton-Thiokol=-engineer who talked about Morton Thiokol caving into the NASA appartchik pressure and being browbeaten into changing the no-go on "shuttle ready to launch?" to a "yes, go!", never got another job working as an engineer....

#75 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:52 PM:

Lee @61: Humiliation "humor" is very popular these days ... I am convinced that there's a connection between this phenomenon and the general lack of empathy currently on display in our political processes

Very interesting recent TED talk The conscience of television makes the point that the value that seems to be in ascendancy right now is judgement.

She also shows how closely the popularity of fantasy/imagination-oriented programming tracks employment levels.

#76 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:56 PM:

2. Thou shalt not use jigs.

Oftimes we authors, as a crutch,
adapt a known form for our verse;
or e'en rewrite a poem, as such
is widely called pastiche.

Our nobler selves do call us out:
"The jig is up!" they cry and curse;
"Be no more bound to others' forms;
cast aside that leash."

#77 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:57 PM:

Fragano@72: Dangit. That's the second time in a month I've made that same typo.

#78 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 02:58 PM:

Second Jacque's request -- I've also been wondering about Terry. I've been assuming he's okay, but it would be lovely to know.

#79 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:17 PM:

(#76 provided in response to abi@55.)

#80 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:31 PM:

Today is the kind of news day when my FB page and, really, the whole web just ought to come with a giant trigger warning attached.

#81 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:44 PM:

#80 Sarah
What happened?

#82 ::: Suzanne F ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:45 PM:

Huh, I've never heard of that knife-giving custom, and I guess neither have the folks I've given nice chef knives to as a welcome-to-your-first-grown-up-kitchen present: I've never been offered specie in return. It was my go-to housewarming present for a while.

On the instructional front, I think it would be very interesting to do a dérive-type walk around a city using a knitting pattern or automotive parts drawing as a map.

#83 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:45 PM:

Paula Lieberman @#81

Penn State happened.

#84 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:54 PM:

Sarah S:

Can I offer you a musical kitten chaser?

#85 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:56 PM:

@Sam, #57: Joke.

Kip. W beat me to mentioning the Piscipo / Allan Funt skit. That was brilliantly done.

At one point "Funt" tells a sobbing little girl to hand over the birthday-girl crown she is wearing. "Come on, let me have it, I'm going to give it a little girl whose parents love them!"

If the kids weren't obviously acting it would be horrible.

* * *
RE Halloween candy, my co-worker and some of her friends to this:

On the day after Halloween, their kids select the best 20 (I think it was) pieces of Halloween candy.

The rest is left on the door step by the Great Pumpkin, who distributes it to kids who couldn't get out on Halloween. In return, he leaves a small present. (My co-worker's kid got a Target gift card.)

#86 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 03:59 PM:

That thing about not giving knives as gifts is totally unknown to me. In fact I've been given knives on several occasions. Should I be worried?


HLN: Man has job interview tomorrow, for another process operator job. Will be interviewed by three people for 90 minutes O_o If successful, this should mean less flailing and better pay but somewhat longer commute - till our second mainland connection opens in a year's time.

#87 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 04:00 PM:

Gift knives:

Not a custom on either side of my family, but:

My father has a mail-order bug for pocket knives / pen knives. He has a nice selection, in a nylon case.

He orders knives in quantities of dozens or more from catalog outfits. The ones he doesn't keep, which are many, he gifts away. A few years back he handed me maybe twenty little boxes, each with a pocket knife or pen knife or "survival" knife. I wrapped them and gave them to friends.

#88 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 04:01 PM:

The subthread about Halloween candy, while horrifically upsetting, reminds me that I need to get a bunch of candy tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow, you see, is Sint Maartin, when all Dutch children hang paper lanterns on lampionstokjes and go from door to door, singing little songs in exchange for candy. They don't really go in for Halloween here, but somehow the sugar gets distributed anyway.

#89 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 04:13 PM:

A friend of mine here in Iowa studies science education in small, religious communities. No matter what they call the day-- Harvest Festival, anything-- there's still trick-or-treating.

I didn't pick up knives cutting friendships from anywhere but fiction, and it seemed a little silly to me. I think it was the particular scene that introduced it, which was not the best written for said introduction. I do, however, plan to put money in any purse or wallet I give anyone. Not just any money, though, no single pennies-- Dad has a stack of Eisenhower dollars and I'm sure I can come up with something more interesting. I do kind of wish I'd dropped a dollar coin into the lining of my bag before sewing it up, but I was so happy to be finishing it it never occurred to me.

#90 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 04:26 PM:

Re: knives as gifts "cutting the friendship", the first I heard about it was...hmmm, 30-odd years ago, when my then-boyfriend's family gave me a lovely set of Henckels knives for Christmas--then said I had to "pay" them a penny for them, lest the relationship be cut. Which I did, and thought it was silly good fun.

Part of me wonders now, though, if that severing might have begun immediately if I'd just laughed at the silly old wives' tale and kept opening gifts...

#91 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 04:28 PM:

David 45: I did not know that. I apologize for my thoughtless and ignorant remark.

The only diagnosed Asperger person I've ever knowingly interacted with certainly didn't lack empathy. He cared how other people felt, but had difficulty perceiving it. He certainly didn't lack empathy as I understand the term.

Again, my apologies. I hadn't known that was how it worked, and was (mis)using the mirror neurons as a standin for empathy, without thinking it through as carefully as I ought to have.

#92 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 05:16 PM:

Xopher @ 31

Very quickly, 1 because I'm about to fall asleep after a longish day away from the screen, and don't want to do so without acknowledging and responding to what you said.

1. Thank you for the very quick apology; 2. apologies of my own for not saying so more quickly - I posted just as I was on my way out. 3. From everything I've read from you I'm as certain as I am of many things that you didn't intend to imply that people on the autism spectrum are more likely to deliberately torment children. That said, I think (and I imagine that in at least some contexts you wouldn't entirely disagree) sometimes its appropriate to pull someone up over what their words seem to be saying even if its what they seem to be saying with their words.

Anyway, I certainly did take 'damaged mirror neurons' as a shorthand for autism, though I can see now that wasn't what you intended. You shouldn't necessarily take my response to be indicative of the views of the non-neurotypical community as a whole - as someone who's at least borderline neurotypical, I can't be regarded as a spokesperson for anyone other than myself on this topic. Still, I note David Harmon's 45 as evidence that my reaction may not have been wholly idiosyncratic.

(The autism/empathy thing strikes me as more complicated than many people - including experts like Simon Baron-Cohen - have been able to acknowledge. But I suspect that I've got more to say about than I can fit into one blog comment.)

Lastly, I'm still in firm agreement with you about the main topic of you comment @ 28

1. And in the spirit of this

#93 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 05:27 PM:

Xopher - it may go without saying (or be unnecessary to mention), but I just wanted you to know that my 92 was cross-posted with your 91, not a response to it.

While I'm at it, can I correct for a phrase got left out of (or miscomposed) in my 92. For 'quick apology', please read 'very gracious apology'.

#94 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 05:48 PM:

Thank you, pgbb. I read 92 as you intended it, and not as a response to 91.

I'd like to reiterate that I wasn't trying to talk about autistics or spectrum people at all. I totally put my foot in it.

#95 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 05:52 PM:

abi @84

I'm going to assume that you haven't read about the child rapes at Penn State and the conspiracy to conceal them in order to protect to the football program. Because to make any other assumption about a person whom I know to be of kind heart and goodwill is unthinkable.

#96 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 06:14 PM:

@95 SarahS

Abi doesn't need me to defend her; however, my interpretation of her post was that she was trying to provide some relief from the horribleness by pointing to something not horrible.

I'm not exactly sure how you interpreted it. What assumption do you think was made that caused her to post a link to pictures of kittens?

I ask honestly. I'm aware the whole Penn State thing pushes many buttons, and I'm not trying to push any.

#97 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 06:32 PM:

#83 Sarah
Oh. That.
Clarence Thomas is still on the Supreme Court.
And there are a bunch of people still supporting Cain....
And I suspect that if it were University of Alabama etc. the whole thing would have been hushed up. And if the victims were female--oh, right, there is that South African tennis coach, who molested girls for decades and only recently has anyone spoken out publicly. He was quietly sidelined some years ago, but it was a) done quietly, and b) only done after many years of him molesting girls, in more than one country...

#98 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 06:51 PM:

Xopher #91: Apology accepted. As praisegod noted at #30, the comment came across as an uncharacteristic moment of cluelessness. And "[h]e cared how other people felt, but had difficulty perceiving it" is a solid summary of our plight.

praisegod #92: AIUI, Simon Baron-Cohen is indeed smart... but not quite as smart as he thinks he is, and that shows up as excessive certainty.

#99 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 06:53 PM:

I just received a piece of hatemonger email.
The email from address is gradyguy@aol.com
My attempt to paste it into the FBI terrorist reporting tips form webpage failed.

I do not stand by and ignore people pushing Shoah-denying malevolent hatemongering poison and lies claiming Zionist conspiracy as the causes of 9/11, World World , and demanding that it be chainlettered forward.

#100 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:06 PM:

Cheryl @96

After a day's worth of listening to people bend over backwards to protect the football program and to insist that we shouldn't let the legacy of these coaches be clouded when, after all, their response was what was legally required, and of seeing pictures of college students rioting in support of a child rapist and the people who covered for him, and of hearing people repeatedly brush these horrors aside in favor of being worried about a sports program, it may have struck me as a little dismissive to have been handed a fuzzy kitten photo--particularly on a site that is known for intelligent and sensitive responses to tricky topics.

But as I said, I'm assuming that abi didn't have the story at hand.

Its a triggering subject for me and, as such, I shouldn't have posted on it to begin with.

#101 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:08 PM:

Oh, good, about time: Soldier Convicted of Killing Afghan Civilians for Sport

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 26, of Billings, Mont., was found guilty of three counts of murder, of conspiring to commit murder and several other charges, including assaulting a fellow soldier and taking fingers and a tooth from the dead. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

#102 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:14 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @86: Good luck, and may the Force be with you! :)

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:23 PM:

Stefan Jones @87: My father has a mail-order bug for pocket knives / pen knives.

Jewelry store down the block from where I work carries these things, after which I srsly lust.

#104 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:23 PM:

Mods: Om Gnomulations, s'il vouz plait.

#105 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:25 PM:

Lee @61, you're not alone in disliking Big Bang Theory. I've watched two episodes, and it was like attending a concert of music created by running fingernails down blackboards. Part of this was due to the laugh track --- a decade of not watching network sitcoms (except for Sports Night) has lost me my tolerance for them --- but I don't think removing the laugh track would turn Big Bang Theory into a show I liked, just a show that I didn't hate as much.

And I don't share your aversion to "humiliation humor", unless you mean "cruel pranks played upon real people". I'm turned off by the show in general.

As to our culture in general, I'm far from convinced that we're any more cruel than we were fifty, or a hundred, or two-hundred years ago. The undercurrent of nastiness has always been there. There was a time when American politicians would physically assault or even kill each other. The Founding Fathers, were they transported through time to the present, would be amazed at how civil and calm modern US politics is.

#106 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:28 PM:

praisegod barebones @92: borderline neurotypical

I am so stealing that!

#107 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 08:04 PM:

Am I alone? When I wrote the date for the first time today, I got a very strong earworm of Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The usual things would banish it for a short time, but it keeps recurring. Guess that's the price I pay for listening to pop radio during an ill-spent youth.

#108 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 09:01 PM:

HLN: Local man hears loudish noise in living room. Quick investigation reveals that local man's pyrex baking dish has spontaneously shattered. Fortunately, baking dish was in metal cake pan at the time, so most of glass is inside pan. Local man decides that replacement for baking dish will not be glass.

#109 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 09:22 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #5, I don't exactly have baking fever, but I found a bread recipe in my machine cookbook for Sweet Potato Bread and made a note on my calendar to try it for Thanksgiving.

I had to test the recipe first, and it's delicious.

#110 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 09:38 PM:

A gift of a knife will cut the friendship. 36-year-old Irish & German Catholic Brooklyn native, here, and I've known it since my childhood. My mom taught me that.

Never heard the one about the coin in the purse, though.

#111 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:09 PM:

praisegod barebones @ #27, there's a reference to the knives-as-gifts custom in one of the Anne of Green Gables books; Anne buys a knife for her husband, but will not give it to him until he "buys" it from her with a penny. When I mentioned this to my mother (1918-2007) she recognized it as a belief common when/where she grew up (central Georgia).

I had never heard the coin/purse one, but I was taught that if you borrow a dish, or if you're given a gift of food and are returning the dish, you must return it with something in it. (Not necessarily food; flowers or some small token gift would also be acceptable.)

#112 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:12 PM:

I hadn't heard that about knives as gifts sever a friendship.

El V has bought several knives that I've been so glad to have, as they make food prep much easier and faster. We haven't noticed any severing between us. But then, maybe they weren't exactly gifts, since they weren't wrapped in pretty paper with ribbons, they just came home in their packaging, to be used in the kitchen. Also both of us use them, though me, more than he. In any case I'm glad to have both him and the knives in the kitchen!

Love, C.

#113 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 10:41 PM:

Kip@51: Awww.... What you have to understand is that I've been on ML for the best part of a decade now, and for most of that time I'd be on late at night Pacific time -- while most of the regulars were on during the day and evening, Eastern time. So I was never first to comment to a new thread, or even early. When this one rolled round, I couldn't resist. Sorry. I won't do it again.

#114 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 11:00 PM:

On the knife thread: I've never heard of the inappropriateness of giving knives as gifts; a friend of mine gives a chef's knife as a housewarming gift to everyone who doesn't already have one. That may, however, be tied into the value that he (and I) place on cooking for ourselves and house guests.

On the 'seed' topic of this thread: I recently found 10 Bullets, a movie that covers the ground rules for a movie studio. After sharing it with several people, I think that nine of the ten rules presented therein are good advice any time.

#115 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 11:28 PM:

Knives are not gifts. When we realized that our eldest would need a nice knife for culinary things in the dorm, we went shopping. When we got home, I asked him to please get a dollar, and sold him a very nice knife. When our kids got exacto knives, they came with pennies. When my parents were married, the lovely knives made by his mother's uncle came with a dime. German/English/Scots on one side, Scots/Scotch-Irish/French on the other.

#116 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 12:20 AM:

Also:

Before his vision deteriorated, my father made knives. Sharpened and polished the blade blanks; cut, riveted, sanded and polished the handles. He made them to give away; he gave away dozens and dozens. One of those "driven" hobbies.

Haven't heard of any ruined friendships and relatives going AWOL.

I use mine -- a chef's knife, a serrated bread knife, and a sandwich knife -- just about every day.

#117 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 12:37 AM:

I've never heard the thing about "paying" for the knife, but giving a wallet or purse with money in it is popular in Japan and Vietnam. Now I wonder if the tradition among Americans to do the same came from our time in those countries.

Last month I also heard that only people born in October should wear opals -- apparently it's unlucky to wear an opal if it's not really your birthstone. I'd never heard this, before, and wondered if anyone else had.

Growing up, I was told that it was unlucky to open an umbrella in the house (one should always do so with a foot on the threshold), and that finding a moth on the door to your home meant death. My favourite little superstition actually comes from Japan: if you sneeze, it means someone is talking about you.

#118 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 12:43 AM:

Madeline Ashby @117:
The umbrella one at least makes some sense: it's a good way to accidentally put someone's eye out.

"geekosaur" most places (including twitter), not that I say a lot on most of them these days; sadly, AOL won't let me change my screen name and their suggestion (create a new one and get all your friends to switch to it) strikes me as unfortunate at best.

I was aware of the gift-of-a-knife and coin-in-a-purse traditions from fiction, but neither seems to be practiced among my relatives.

#119 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 12:45 AM:

SarahS:

I knew what you were talking about. I posted that link for the same reason that, if we were in the same space, I would have made you a cup of tea and acquired a biscuit to go with it (or equivalents; I don't know what your drink preferences are.) It was the nicest thing I had to hand, so I gave it to you.

That kind of gift does not seek to belittle or deny the horrors of the world. It's intended to give you the strength to deal with them by interrupting the escalating cycle of anger and stress with a brief dose of positive emotions.

On the other hand, sometimes ya gotta throw the cup of tea at the person trying to help. That, too, can be comforting, and at least virtual tea doesn't scald.

#121 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 01:24 AM:

Every wallet I've ever been given since I was old enough to carry one has had a coin in it. For some reason it never kept up with inflation, though, or the last one would have had at least a $20.

I didn't know about the knives. I gave my sister a block of six about ten years ago (I got two blocks; kept one, gave her the other. It was a good sale price). I didn't ask nor did she offer any payment in return.

#122 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 02:09 AM:

Abi @ 23:
...his narrative is quietly orthogonal to the rest of the family's. You don't just need subtlety and charisma—you also need that inner compass pointing three degrees off-true. Of course, one of the best ways to get that is to play Brand a lot.

You capture something beautiful with this remark. I think you've just summed up why he's my favorite, and why I took it as such an enormous compliment.

I have that orthogonal personality myself, though I generally do not attempt to overthrow universes with it. Sometimes trying to move in rhythm with other people is like trying to cross a concrete road divider and simultaneously join traffic in the opposite direction. So I always take it with equal parts pride and relief when someone sees that... that I'm not just holding up traffic but going in a direction other people aren't, both on purpose and because I'm just drawn that way. (Pun intended.)

In any case, if folks want to see the Brand cosplay, there are pictures up on Facebook (and I'll happily add back anyone from here who wants to add me.)

Simone is enormous-of-heart and excellent at centering a gathering, as always. I wonder if next year we will get extra people: this con had something more than usually exultant about it and I think I'm not the only one who's been making excited noise online.

#123 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 02:16 AM:

...And obliviously pursuing a back-and-forth conversation 100 posts upthread is exactly the sort of thing Brand would do, too, for better or worse.

Which ties nicely into the autism subthread, actually.

A competing theory suggests that (some subset of) people with autism spectrum disorders actually get "louder" reports from their mirror neurons than normal, but wind up being poor at reading body language and other hidden cues because of signal-noise problems.

This certainly fits with some of the experience I know; if you're getting a strong body language picture and someone is verbally lying, and your filtering isn't great (a common experience in autism/Asperger's), it's difficult, especially in childhood, to take in all of the conflicting data at once and easier just to discard some of it as meaningless.

#124 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 09:10 AM:

Madeline Ashby @117 I also heard that only people born in October should wear opals -- apparently it's unlucky to wear an opal if it's not really your birthstone

I'd heard that one. My mother, who was born in October, had an opal ring she always wore. It was easily agreed by all parties that after she died, it went to her oldest granddaughter, who was also born in October.

I don't remember hearing about the knife or the purse. The one I remember is that, if you're walking with a friend and you walk around different sides of something (a street sign, a fire hydrant, etc.) you are supposed to say "bread and butter" so the separation in your friendship doesn't last.

#125 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 09:54 AM:

OtterB @124, I know that one -- but I learned crossing your fingers instead of saying bread-and-butter. Coins in gift purses or wallets I learned from my mother's side of the family -- so your purse will never be empty.

When the fondue craze first peaked back in the seventies, I remember much being made of the custom that if you lost your dunker in the pot, a man must buy the next bottle of wine and a woman must kiss all the men at the table.

#126 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:23 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ #125:

I'd bet it was a man who came up with that one.

#127 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:27 AM:

"The whip! The whip!"

"But it isn't dry yet."

#128 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:27 AM:

Re: various superstitions:

Never heard the knife thing while growing up.

However, if a purse is given as a gift or even lent to someone, there must be coins in the bottom (which are never spent and should stay there all the time--at one point I had a tiny, tiny coinpurse which held a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter).

Also, my mother always throws a handful of change into the bottom of the backseat of any new car. She doesn't know why (I've asked); it's something her father did (and she never asked about).

I heard the thing about opals but not until I was an adult. I have a September birthday but I have worn a lot of opals over the years (a jeweler to whom I was distantly related once told me I had "the right skin" for opals?)

We did have the thing about not opening an umbrella in the house.

When you move into someplace, you put a small amount of flour and salt into a container and stick it in the back of a kitchen cupboard, so that you'll never go hungry.

My mother said "bread and butter" under the conditions described in #124, but neither of her children do.

If you and someone else say the same words at the same time, one of you should shout "Jinx! You owe me a soda!" as soon as possible (also from my mother's generation, though my daughter and I use it).

My father's mother believed that if a woman ate strawberries while pregnant, her child would have a strawberry birthmark. And something about pregnant women and horses, but I don't remember exactly what.

We are mixed Eastern European: primarily Russian, Austrian, and Hungarian. And Jewish.

#129 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:32 AM:

Big Bang Theory subthread:

I'm not a fan of humiliation humor, or shows which revolve around unpleasant things happening to unpleasant people. My impression is that doesn't leave a lot of TV comedy, these days.

I've not seen more than about five minutes of The Big Bang Theory myself, so instead I'll direct you to a friend of mine on why she doesn't like it.

#130 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:40 AM:

David @113: Please understand, I'm not judging you. I was only going to do it to be mean. (Wait, how does he know about that? I USED PARENTHESES!!)

#131 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:42 AM:

When you are about to leave the house to do something important and life-changing, step out of the door with your right foot.

If you spill salt, toss a little over your right shoulder.

Shoes on the bed are bad luck (this is from a friend's family, who believed in this so stringently that they packed a separate suitcase of shoes when they went on trips to avoid putting shoes into a suitcase that was on the bed.)

Say "green cow" when you drive past a cemetery.

We said bread and butter when we had to drop hands to walk around things, and we gave a coin when giving a knife to keep from cutting the friendship.

#132 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 11:04 AM:

#121 Linkmeister

The coin in the wallet or pocketbook thing was in my mother's parents or at least father I think, as "may you always have some money for emergency" sort of thing.

#122, 123 A. J.
Yeah, the body languages says one thing, the words another, which is one supposed to believe?

Sometimes trying to move in rhythm with other people is like trying to cross a concrete road divider and simultaneously join traffic in the opposite direction.

That's not a simile that ever occurred to me, but it's analogous to how I've felt sometimes....

So I always take it with equal parts pride and relief when someone sees that... that I'm not just holding up traffic but going in a direction other people aren't, both on purpose and because I'm just drawn that way.

Also analogous.
There are people who are utterly obnoxious about demanding that other people think and react the way they do, that anyone who doesn't is "wrong" and should adapt to thinking their way, and do so intrinsically.... And some of them seem to have worse perceptual filters than I have (as in, mine might be misaligned to most people's, but they don't make the Hubble Space Telescope's misalignment look accurate (HST's main mirror was precise to 0.25 wavelength, HOWEVER, it was -three- wavelengths off in alignment, meaning precision -wrongness-... My analogy is not the the amount of the inaccuracy, but rather, that the inaccuracy is there at all as being 12 times the precision level...

There are different standards in effect... I remember a conversation years ago at a Boskone, with Ben Yalow and I think Teresa and Patrick and I forget who else, discussing perceptions of books and what our different sensitivities were considering writing style/tone, plot, ideas, characters.... there were some very different tunings and sensitivities involved, particularly as regards whether prose clunked or not or if the reader even noticed clunking prose.

Ah, I should add "implicitly analytical" in addition to "perceptual" --some people think in terms of step by step piecewise continuous, other people do call-it-chunk-processing, bundling what other people see as multiple sequential or multiple parallel steps, each of which those people process individually and serially, and processing them as a gestalt, and in speaking and writing, chunk process and lose the serial processors to whom the necessarily intermediary logic and processing aren't present.

#133 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 11:04 AM:

If you and someone say something simultaneously, you hook little fingers, roll up the knuckles, and say "Thumbs" as you snap your wrists and your hands come apart.

My mother did this and the "Bread and Butter".

Coin in purse, yes.

Knives (or scissors, anything with a cutting edge), yes.

English, Scots, Nebraska.

#134 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 12:44 PM:

Sarah S: in our family, the salt went over the left shoulder.

#135 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 12:46 PM:

Sarah S @131 -- the salt should be thrown over the left shoulder, rather than the right. It's a bribe for the devil, attracted by (or possibly causing) the spilled salt, so s/he won't stay around and cause more trouble. And everyone knows the left side is the evil one (both sinister and gauche!).

I know about all the others, but seldom follow them unless it makes someone I'm with more comfortable. They're an interesting way of showing that one is paying attention.

#136 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 01:01 PM:

I have Finnish ancestry, and that part of the family held that you didn't pass a knife directly to another or it would cut friendship. I've honored the custom since it's a good way to make sure you don't get cut by the person trying to had over the knife.

#137 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 01:47 PM:

And there's the very practical advice of always passing a knife to another person hilt first....

#138 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 01:49 PM:

127 Niall: Thank you, thank you! I have (almost) all those books (in English, only two in French, and I have enough French to get the story, but not enough to get the jokes) - and I keep thinking it's "not time to reread them again yet". My reaction to your comment means - it's time.

I, too know about the "pay-for-a-knife" - but it's always been that a given knife will bite the person it's given to, not anything about the friendship itself.

I've been told - by people who should guess right - that I would enjoy The Big Bang Theory. But everything I've seen looks like it's a "laugh at how out of it the Mycroft-analogue is."

You know, I *know* how out of it Mycroft is. And I know how funny many people think that is. And I know what things had to be done to stop me from saying "if my place in life is to be cruel amusement to others, fine. I quit."

Oddly enough, for someone clearly on the autism spectrum somewhere, I'd never heard of mirror neurons. But I've *always* seen things in terms of how I would feel if I were in that situation. My problem is that I read body language, if I do so at all, consciously and by pattern-matching; and *my* body language, except where it has been shaped deliberately and by pattern-matching, is very wrong. So re: Paula 132, at least in my case, you'd better believe the words, because the body is *lying* (or, more correctly, speaking Creole).

There are pluses to this, however: I'm both very resistant to high-pressure sales, because a lot of the pressure is trained "fool the body-language perceptors", and it all just goes over my head; and very observant to deliberate manipulation of the social standard (because, to me, the stuff that NT people have internalised is deliberate, so understanding is all conscious. I can tell the "what you are presenting is obviously not what you want; that's because you're trying to get me to feel *this*; that's not in my best interest; therefore I should be wary of everything.)

#139 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 01:54 PM:

Thank you Mycroft.

Most painful scene I've seen on screen is the first few minutes of "A Beautiful Mind." I've been there too.many.times.

#140 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 02:33 PM:

#134 and #135

Left shoulder, of course. Damn directional dyslexia.

*wanders off muttering "Left makes an L, confound it!*

#141 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Lila @ 111: Over the years, I've generally been on the recieving end of "bring a dish back with something in it" because of my father's hording tendencies, combined with my mother's and my possession of the "feed people" gene.* OTOH, we had to borrow a stockpot last week to make jam (5 kinds of jam, only 3 pots large enough). It was returned with 2 jars in it.

Tangent - I have long maintained that there is a "feed people" gene, where it is an imperative to feed anyone who comes into your orbit. Some people have it. Some people don't. It tends to run in families, but it's endemic to farmwives and little old church ladies, and the basis of the stereotype of Jewish and Italian mothers. My family has it down both lines, so I got a double dose.

#142 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 03:32 PM:

A "feed people" gene--maybe that's what the "Chevre's" have. Jewish ancestry, farming background..and I still have to work at the idea that it's not an insult if you leave my house still able to eat.

#143 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 03:33 PM:

Knives -- hadn't heard of the fee. I've collected knife sets for my kids' "hope chests", and they know about them, but now I think I'll make them pay me a penny when they actually get them....just in case.

Money in purses -- always! Denomination or amount isn't important, but I always try and add a shiny new coin when I'm giving someone a wallet or purse.

Opals -- I had always heard that buying opals for oneself is what brings bad luck. Receiving them as a gift is fine, no matter when your birthday.

(My family is Midwestern US, German extraction; growing up in Florida I never heard anything to contradict my family's superstition traditions. My husband's German family has never heard of the coin-in-the-purse custom.)

#144 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 03:42 PM:

Nice particle on the 3D chalk art. I've seen a few examples in person, and they periodically show up as web memes. What this one reminds me of, though, is a picture of a friend coming out of a subway station at Burning Man. (No actual subway, of course, but good NYC subway signage on the exit from the station.)

#145 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 04:33 PM:

On the subject of sitcoms, autism, and the Big Bang Theory:

I enjoyed the Big Bang Theory for a while, largely because I thought that Sheldon Cooper (the spectrum-y central character) was one of the coolest, smartest, and most interesting characters on TV... and I liked all the geek in-jokes. I haven't watched it in a while, but I know that a lot of geeks who watch it consider Sheldon a hero rather than a joke. They eventually also gave him a female friend who was a socially awkward social scientist, and she was used to interestingly explore some female stereotypes. I liked her.

The main problem with that show is that it is very difficult to tell which way the knife is meant to cut for most of the jokes, and I think that's deliberate. When I watched, I was laughing with the nerds at the "normals," and that seems to be how people I know who enjoy it see it as well, but I can watch the show and know that the majority of the audience is probably laughing the other direction, so to speak.

On the subject sit com characters and fictional versions of spectrum disorders, I highly recommend the show Community. (It was responsible for sparking that Inspector Spacetime meme linked recently here.) It's an ensemble show, but my favorite character is Abed, the guy who doesn't seem to understand conventional social cues, but instead infers what's going on based on his extensive study of popular culture. It sounds like an odd gag, but it works. He is repeatedly shown to be the smartest, most stable character on the show, he has healthy relationships with everyone, and he's the butt of the jokes on the show less often than pretty much any other character. He's also involved in he most healthy and awesome male best-friend relationship I've ever seen on television. There was an episode early on that I was afraid was poking fun at his social dysfunction, but the reveal at the end was that he was acting awkwardly because he was trying to humor their attempts at helping him be "normal," while he had an effective (if unconventional) way of dealing with that particular situation himself. (Spoilers below)

Va gung rcvfbqr, nyy uvf sevraqf fvzcyl nffhzrq gung ur unq arire unq n tveysevraq, fb gurl gevrq gb grnpu uvz ubj gb uvg ba jbzra... jvgu cerqvpgnoyl njxjneq naq uneq-gb-jngpu erfhygf. V nyzbfg qrpynerq gung gur fubj unq whzcrq gur funex, ohg gur raqvat fnirq vg. Norq hygvzngryl erirnyrq gung ur unq unq frireny tveysevraqf va gur cnfg, (orpnhfr ur'f nqbenoyr) ohg ur hfhnyyl whfg jnvgf sbe tveyf gb nccebnpu uvz engure guna npgviryl uvggvat ba fgenatref. Ur unq whfg orra cynlvat nybat jvgu rirelbar'f fhttrfgvbaf orpnhfr gurl frrzrq fb rntre gb uryc.

Another thing I like about Community is that they keep moving toward the idea that Jeff, the guy who seems the most "normal" and conventionally cool, is actually the most messed up, and that his adherence to society's expectations often prevents him from having fun and engaging in the way that the rest of the group can.

Every sitcom I've ever really liked is about a group of friends or coworkers who genuinely like each other and form a dysfunctional family group, and this is a good show in that tradition. It can be a bit offensive sometimes, but it shies away from embarrassment or the easy joke most of the time.

#146 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 04:42 PM:

Madeleine Ashby @ #117, yes, I grew up with the "opals are unlucky unless they're your birthstone." I also own a family-heirloom opal ring that allegedly has a curse on it (it is passed to the youngest daughter, but not until she reaches the age of 40; otherwise she would die before she reached 40).

I grew up with bad-luck-to-open-umbrella-in-house; knew about "bread and butter" but only from reading about it.

Both my parents had the "feed people" gene. I apparently have a weak variant.

#147 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 04:45 PM:

I've been watching Big Bang Theory for a couple of years now, and I'm on the spectrum myself, to some extent. I didn't like it when it first began, and recently I got to see some of the first season episodes again and I still didn't like them. But over time, the geeks/nerds have become people, with personalities and characters, and are no longer just collections of tics or walking punch-lines. Their friendships have gone from being setups for jokes to being actual relationships that shift in strength and level of connection over time.

And Mayim Bialek is a joy as Sheldon's not-girlfriend (and she has a doctorate in neurobiology for real).

My 15-yo, who is also a pop-culture geek and who is pretty sensitive when it comes to insult humor or mean humor, also likes it. I know she sees me in it, sometimes.

I liked Community a lot but I like it a lot less this year. The women characters in particular seem brittle and stereotypical and overall the show feels meaner/nastier to me than it did last season, to the point where I'm not actually watching it anymore (though I may when it goes into reruns). Interesting commentary on Community on the Bitch magazine website (the Thursday Night Lights blog).

#148 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 05:02 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft #125: I remember much being made of the custom that if you lost your dunker in the pot, a man must buy the next bottle of wine and a woman must kiss all the men at the table.

Talk about abusing social norms....

Melissa Singer #128: If you and someone else say the same words at the same time, one of you should shout "Jinx! You owe me a soda!"

Seen that one, but not in my family. Also not in my family were most of the other superstitions, though I picked up the salt one from somewhere.

My father's mother believed that if a woman ate strawberries while pregnant, her child would have a strawberry birthmark. And something about pregnant women and horses, but I don't remember exactly what.

That's part of a more general (and ancient) pattern of superstitions about pregnancy, and how the mother's experiences might harm the fetus. A classic example of people trying to make sense of something they can't control.

Kip W #130: Wait, how does he know about that? I USED PARENTHESES the juice!!

FTFY :-)

Mycroft W #138: I'm both very resistant to high-pressure sales, because a lot of the pressure is trained "fool the body-language perceptors", and it all just goes over my head; and very observant to deliberate manipulation of the social standard

Ditto here, and it even works online. Not that I've never been conned (repeat after me: Anyone can be conned by the right person at the right moment), but my first night at college, I had dinner with CARP (the "student Moonies"), and later with the Hare Krishnas, and neither of them got their hooks into me. The CARP guy who was (presumably) assigned to keep after me always seemed "off" and made me very nervous. That pattern continued later, when I was hanging out in Neo-Paganism, and ran into some seriously sketchy characters....

My body language is probably still somewhat defective, but it has gotten a lot better over the years. So, more "obviously", has my ability to read other people. Of course, I'm fairly low on the autistic spectrum, and always had some awareness of other people's mental states... just not quickly enough to do much good in real-time. Learning to tap into my intuition (the Neo-Pagans, again) helped a lot... it seems that even when the interpretation isn't going to my conscious mind, it's happening somewhere, and sometimes accessible through back-channels.

BTW, the mirror-neuron findings are fairly recent (the last few years), so it's not unreasonable that you'd missed it if you haven't been following developments in neurology/psychology.

#149 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 06:19 PM:

@147 Melissa Singer
I've been watching Big Bang Theory for a couple of years now

I am an occasional watcher, and what I like is that the writers and actors seem to love Sheldon, et al, rather than look down their noses at the 'geek gang'.

And Mayim Bialek is a joy as Sheldon's not-girlfriend (and she has a doctorate in neurobiology for real).

I recently read an interview in re geek girls on TV, in which Mayim made sure to point out that in real life, she's a neuroscientist: "It's a subtle distinction."

She corrects us, of course, just to be polite.

#150 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 07:02 PM:

Cheryl @149 -- does the current Girl Geek meme go back much farther than Willow in Buffy? She was quite the example for that. I don't watch enough TV to know. And Whedon's been one of the main proponents of strong smart women, in all his shows (not all of the women; but each show has at least one).

#151 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 07:10 PM:

Cheryl: true.

Her thesis: "Hypothalamic Regulation in Relation to Maladaptive, Obsessive-Compulsive, Affiliative, and Satiety Behaviors in Prader-Willi Syndrome"

They made the character a neurobiologist because of Bialik's qualifications; she says it makes it much easier to memorize her lines because she's already familiar with the terms her character uses.

She also plays several musical instruments but learned the harp recently because her character is supposed to be able to play it.

#152 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 08:51 PM:

Madeleine Ashby @117--I've heard one reason opals are supposed to be bad luck is because there's an opal talisman in on of Sir Walter Scott's stories that has an ill effect on the wearer when it's damaged his work was popular enough that people began to believe there was something inherently spooky about opals. Another is that the claims of bad luck really took off after the discovery of opals in Australia, because the dramatic antipodean black opals were becoming more popular than the Central European white ones, and people with a vested interest in the matter decided to try and undermine the market for the Australian stones by judiciously spreading rumors that the uncanny black stones were unlucky. As a result, people got confused and concluded all opals were unlucky. Whether this is true or not, I don't know. Most reports of opals as unlucky seem to show up no earlier than the nineteenth century, though.

They're not good stones for rings, because they're fragile and easily damaged by water. I always cringe slightly when I see an opal ring being worn, because I know how vulnerable they can be.

Family superstitions: Never take your old broom or mop when you move, as you'll be carrying your troubles with you to your new home.

My mother also sent me out to wash my face in the dew on May Day morning, because it would guarantee a good complexion, according to a woman who'd been a neighbor when she was growing up.

#153 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 09:21 PM:

In my family, the way the Jinx thing works, the person who doesn't say it (or who says it too late) isn't allowed to talk until somebody says his or her full name.

I'd heard of the knife thing, but never seen it in practice. Never heard about opals. The umbrella thing, yes, that was practiced in my family. Neither my mother nor my grandmother would countenance using scissors or nail clippers on Sunday. (They are protestants from East Tennessee/SW Virginia.) I've never heard this from anybody else.

Can somebody please tell me where Prince Brand comes from? He sounds interesting.

#154 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 09:24 PM:

Brand is one of the princes in Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber and its sequels.

#155 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 09:26 PM:

Oops, wrong endpoint on the italics there....

#156 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 09:40 PM:

etv13 @ #153, "jinx" works the same way among my kids and their contemporaries, except you're not allowed to talk until someone says your (first) name 3 times in a row.

#157 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 09:49 PM:

Tom Whitmore, I like the italics ended there. It turns it into something meta, which is probably appropriate.

#158 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:04 PM:

In "Occupy Richmond" news--also in the category of "Imagine strange. OK. Now remember, Richmond is stranger than that."

Editor of the local black newspaper invites Occupy Richmond group to occupy his front lawn. (He lives next door to the mayor.)

#159 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 10:19 PM:

Didn't realize until recently that Amy Farrah Fowler was played by Mayim Bialek, and that she played "Blossom" and in "Beaches." I had to resort to IMDB to confirm that.

I and the deep-fried Linux developers I work with enjoy Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is BOTH a clown and a hero. He's an ass, and often naive, and has big blind spots, but never seems to let it get to him.

The show does a good, if not flawless, job of depicting geek culture and interests.

#160 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 11:07 PM:

@150 Tom Whitmore

Cheryl @149 -- does the current Girl Geek meme go back much farther than Willow in Buffy? She was quite the example for that.

Well, there's Scooby Doo's Daphne. I think she qualifies as Girl Geek. I recall her as usually being the smart one, who did the most to figure out the creepy crime (this was back in the 70s. I haven't seen any of the more recent iterations).


And Whedon's been one of the main proponents of strong smart women, in all his shows (not all of the women; but each show has at least one).

Whedon writes kick-ass women. All of them are good at what they do. That doesn't mean they're all ninja pianist rocket scientists, just that, whatever their profession - Slayer's Mom*, spaceship mechanic, shady corporate executive - they were competent, understood their value, and it never occurred to them that maybe a man could/should do it better.

*I know I'm preaching to the choir here on ML, still, I always feel the need to say it: Yes, "Mom" is profession. You think it's easy? You try it.

#161 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 11:19 PM:

I wonder if Whedon could be convinced to do any of the Bujold Vorkosigan saga.

#162 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 11:25 PM:

I have an opal ring, and I have to remind myself that it is, in fact, not a moral ill to wear it. Drink from the cup as if it is already broken, wear the pretty jewelry my parents gave me as if I've already been rained on. I have a really strong natural tendency to not use things because then I'll ruin them, and that's one way I can fight it.

#163 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2011, 11:56 PM:

In regards to knives: I used to receive daggers as gifts from a friend of the family*. But he wouldn't give me the knives. He'd give me an ancient Roman coin and I'd have to use it to buy the knives from him.

In regards to opals being unlucky if they aren't your birthstone (which I first heard from my October-born sister): when I did a bit of research on the subject it turned up that earlier versions were "opals are unlucky if they aren't yours," which makes a lot of sense, given their fragility. My engagement/wedding ring is opal and it spent most of my marriage (before it got too small) off of my hand. At some point, I'll get it resized and then I'll still only wear it for special occasions. Oh, and it's the second one—the first one was apparently flawed and cracked clear across. The jeweler replaced it, since it was obviously not an impact crack.

My husband's grandfather was a rockhound and would often make opal doublets or triplets. The former is an opal facing on a sturdier backing; the latter also has a cap of clear quartz. Both types are much hardier than opal alone—and can often salvage what would be an otherwise unusable sliver of opal. My black opal earrings are doublets of his make (an engagement present.)

Incidentally, I am the anti-superstition personage, in that bad luck does not work around me. Or maybe I just glare it into submission. My thirteenth birthday was on Good Friday the thirteenth, Passover, and a full moon. We tried very hard to come up with a joke that went around that and could only come up with something involving being crucified by werewolves who proceed to pelt you with matzoh balls.

Not a very good joke.

*He started on my sixteenth birthday, because I was then allowed to date.

#164 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:05 AM:

#160 Cheryl

On live (as opposed to animated) TV, there was the character Amanda Pays played in Max Headroom and before that. Other examples, one of the characters in Space: Above and Beyond was a dark-skinned woman who was a Caltech graduate and scientist/engineer-pilot; Earth Two I think the title was, the lead character was a woman who was a space habitat designer who funded and headed up a colony on a new planet....

The pilot and first season of a show I can;t remember the name of which originally has a mostly black cast and there was a futuristic car, and the scientist-entrepeneur inventor of advanced police weaponry who also built a suit to deal with the loss of mobility, there was a woman who was a geek and working for/with him directing things....

There were a couple of British SF TV shows which had female computer geeks I think, and there was a British space opera series showing on US broadcast TV at the same time as Firefly, which has a girl genius keeping the spaceship running...

Firefly annoyed me. Most of the Johnny Rebs were bad losers in a bad cause, and glamorizing them... the older the less heroic they get for me. And I'm waiting for a ensemble continuing sex worker character who's male, or hermaphroditic, or even a sex robot, instead of the stereotyped female....

#165 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:06 AM:

Or that the Paschal lamb is a werewolf?

#166 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:06 AM:

etv13@153: What Tom Whitmore says; look for it as The Great Book of Amber in new bookstores - an omnibus edition - or you can get the individual books used (there are ten of them, and I prefer the individual editions because of the portability and the lovely covers, and since they were published in the 1970s, all ten add up to two Robert Jordan novels in size.) It's, strangely, not been released in purchasable ebook, but there are bootlegs.

On the topic of autism & television shows: I've been watching Alphas, and it's gotten really good, especially the portrayal of the autistic character Gary.

According to my partners, he was written terribly in the pilot episode... and then by the second episode he was making jokes about not being allowed to watch Rain Man, and by the third episode the show was making references that told me someone had seen the pilot and said "No. You can do better than this. Here, read these blogs," and sent them a bunch of links from the autism community, and the writers had learned.

Now the character is absolutely wonderful. A few of his traits come off as over-the-top in a TV way, but it doesn't bother me because they also show that he's right more often than other people about certain things - and knows that other people underestimate him - and knows what he's good at, and says so. They also portray him as, rather than having no sense of humor, having a quirky sense of humor and making jokes in such a fashion that other people sometimes think he's speaking seriously. All of this is par for the course for a young adult with high-functioning autism, and it's great to see a character on TV who I'd happily have over to dinner... while he's more autistic than most of the people I know, he'd still fit right in.

All this despite the fact that Alphas is on the Skiffy Channel, which I am now forced to refer to as the Syphilis Channel due to their new abbreviation. Well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and even a terrible television channel picks up a decent show now and again.

#167 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:07 AM:

#108 ::: Michael I - Consumer Reports has been doing stories about that. Apparently Pyrex in the U.S. is made with a different material than it was in the 1950s, although in Europe the old material is still used. The new material is cheaper, but shatters more easily. It has some other advantage as well, but I've forgotten what. At any rate, they would probably like to hear your story - they're collecting them.

#168 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:16 AM:

#163 B.

I found out that traditionally in Judaism 13 is not an unlucky number--superstition about 13 being back comes out of Christianity, I forget what the reason I heard or read given was, though.

#169 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:34 AM:

Paula, I heard that it was because there were 13 people at the Last Supper.

(Actually there were 12 MEN there; the women were behind the camera.)

#170 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:35 AM:

#168 ::: Paula Lieberman - I think it's related to Jesus plus 12 apostles at the Last Supper, just before he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve. So 13 at supper was unlucky is a Christian story, yes, though from quite a bit later, I suspect. This all ignores the probability that there were lots of other people present, such as the women in the group. Their importance to the group was unusual at the time, I think, and got papered over later as the movement gradually lost a lot of its radicalness (is that a word?).

In Japan the number four is unlucky. One of the words for four, shi, is a homonym of a word for death. That's why sake sets come with five cups. And don't try to build a maternity ward on the fourth floor in Japan.

#171 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:35 AM:

LOL. Xopher and I crossposted.

#172 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:39 AM:

Mine was shorter, so I got in first. Let that be a lesson to you.

What lesson, I'm not sure, but I'm sure there's a lesson!

#173 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:40 AM:

#166: You beat me to praising Alphas' "Gary" character. I was amazed to see (on IMDB) that the actor had a recurring role on Mad Men, as a very different character.

Very disappointing depiction of a kid with aspergers: "Max" on Parenthood. I get the impression that a lot of very well-intentioned people got together and did their homework and made sure the scripts handle things sensitively, but the young actor just can't pull it off. He comes across as touchy and annoying. He lacks what I might call an "inward look."

#174 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 01:03 AM:

I recently acted in a LibriVox recording of Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck (a touching family drama, with all the warmth and bright optimism that you associate with the name "Ibsen") and in act I there's a dinner party with 13 guests; at the end of act III my character says his destiny is to be "the thirteenth at table" -- in context, and if you know the superstition, he's saying he's going to kill himself.

#175 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 01:43 AM:

I am not dead, nor depressed, nor in most ways unwell.

There have been moderately unsettling disturbances in well-being (not mine) which have been, as such things will be, slightly discombobulating. There are the adjustments of living with new people (even beloved ones), resuming work (Sur La Table, in SoHo [needless to say]), meeting new family, seeing all of my books for the first time in more than a decade and some general malaise when dealing with the net.

But I am well, am settling in, and should be around.

I must to bed, as unexpected excess of work calls me in the morning. I will be at PhilCon this weekend, and shall be back to speak of knives, and sharpening, if nothing else, and thanks to those who have not forgotten me.

My warm regard to one and all.

#176 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 01:58 AM:

The "don't give a knife as a gift" thing is apparently not a Hungarian thing. My father gave me my pocketknife about 48 years ago; it's an old Schrade farmer's knife that I think may have been my grandmother's pruning knife.

#177 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 02:18 AM:

Can't sleep.

Knives as gifts... I know of the tradition, and it makes no sense to me. A knife is tool. A well made one is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. I can't imagine giving one to someone I didn't care about. That level of care precludes that something like that could end a relationship.

It's not that I am not superstitious, but that's not one of mine.

Opals are not to be worn unless they are gifts. (I am not sure if I would buy an opal for myself. I have given them as gifts, and I have, once, dissuaded someone from buying one for herself, and then bought it for her, so as to avoid it being a non-gift opal)

Salt is to be tossed over the left shoulder if spilled, this is to blind the devil that caused the spill, so it won't do that again.


#178 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 02:18 AM:

Paula: Re overtime. Unless a salaried employee is in a legally defined (and meets the functional statutory requirements) they are entitled to overtime compensation.

It is, sadly, a common pretense on the part of employers that this is not so, and many jobs are titled in a way which implies they are exempt of OT obligations; even though the employee is owed either time and half pay, or time and a half off, as compensation for the work in excess of the overtime threshold.

#179 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 02:43 AM:

If two people walking together walk around a pole, tree, or other object, there is a ritual to be followed. The ritual words vary. From my mother I learned that one person should name two things commonly associated ("Bread and butter"), then person two should do the same ("Rum and coke"). They then link pinkies and say together "May this friendship never be broke."

Shoes on the bed? I never heard they were unlucky, though they"ll get the bedspread dirty. A hat on the bed, however, is bad luck. So is singing at the table. Or using the hairbrush of a dead person. The girl who eats the last cookie is destined to be an old maid. Don't sweep out the house or take out the trash on New Year's Day -- you'll take out your luck with it.

We ate fondue a lot when I was a kid, and we observed the "dropped bread" custom, but using different forfeits, this being a family dinner at home.

My mother is not actually a superstitious person, but she sure knows a lot of them. We do observe some, like the knife and purse ones, for fun.

#180 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 03:14 AM:

Tom Whitmore, A.J. Luxton: Thanks. I actually have the omnibus, but my to-be-read pile would be about twenty feet high if everything in it was actually all piled up in one stack, and it is somewhere in the heap.

I've noticed that the longer something stays in my to-be-read pile, the greater the chances that I will never read it. I have things that I was excited about buying and reading -- to the extent I even bought them in hardcover -- that have spent months and even years in the pile. I am sure I'm not the only person who's experienced this phenomenon (the total combination of my quirks may be unique, but for sure no particular quirk is); what do you suppose accounts for it?

#181 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 03:24 AM:

etv13 @ 180: I think it is the same amassing of guilt and avoidance-of-guilt that accrues to any other task that we desire to complete but have left undone. I could be mistaken, but that's what I ascribe it to when it happens to me.

#182 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 05:25 AM:

Agreeing with Xopher several hundred percent about vicious/sadistic humor. I don't have a tv and don't know what I am missing.
It seems there was a program many decades back where Art Linkletter would have some kids come up on stage and answer his questions about their lives and everyone would laugh, and while I found the books that resulted from this hilarious, I can't help but think now that it must have been hell for those kids to say something in all innocence/truth and then have everyone laugh at them. I sure didn't like it when some grownup laughed at something I said when I wasn't trying to be funny. I suppose some of the kids might have known it was a humor program and not been so taken by surprise, but it's a different story when you are not on tv and just trying to get through your life.
I wonder if this is related to another upsetting phenomenon. Some of my relatives, when talking about something tragic or unfair, start tittering like subordinate hyenas. It really bugs me when they do that, I almost want to grab them and shake them into sense. I suppose it is a nervous reaction and they are wired differently than me, but still. I keep feeling they'd knock off that phony laugh if the bad thing happened to *them*, but I think sometimes they do it even when it does. It is a real disjunct for my mind. I could never find that sort of thing funny--as if I had more mirror neurons or something, only I don't think I do. If they ever have a potluck I am going to bring Titter Tots. My stepfather shares this unease although maybe not so much as me. He also shares my scarcity of superstitions, about knives anyway.

#183 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 07:59 AM:

Paula Lieberman, #168, Xopher #169: Actually, there's at least one pre-Christian myth where the thirteenth guest was very unlucky indeed (not to mention uninvited). The dinner of the Golden Apple was prologue to the Trojan War....

It's possible that the true theme there is about failure to invite the obnoxious-but-powerful one (the Hawthorn Rose(*) prequel keeps the number, but apparently the Norse version doesn't), but I do suspect there was at least some preexisting significance, if only that of "breaking" a nice neat dozen.

* More lately known as Sleeping Beauty.

#184 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 08:37 AM:

Quick note, on sharpening: Those are decent guides, for "chisel" edges. The rules for blades with bevels on both sides of the blade aren't the same (and some are 180° from what is said about the knives in question here).

#185 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 10:07 AM:

HLN: Local man sighs and wonders if it's still the socialism of fools when it comes out of the mouths of Ron Paul-style libertarians.

#186 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 10:38 AM:

Salt is to be tossed over the left shoulder if spilled, this is to blind the devil that caused the spill, so it won't do that again.
And if the devil poops on the rug, you rub his nose in it.

I've noticed that the longer something stays in my to-be-read pile, the greater the chances that I will never read it.
If it stays there forever, the likelihood reaches 100%.

#187 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 10:42 AM:

I, personally, feel that the person at Seattle Cutlery who used a belt sander to sharpen a third of the satin finish off the blade of my Kershaw Leek should have a similar stunt done with their genitals and a cheese grater, ideally to be followed with a vigorous application of lemon, salt, and vodka in that order. But I may be too wishy-washy on the subject.

#188 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:03 AM:

Paula@164: "the scientist-entrepeneur inventor of advanced police weaponry who also built a suit to deal with the loss of mobility"

MANTIS? I recall wanting to like it, but failing.

Amanda Pays (as Theora Jones) on Max Headroom was my first thought for "TV female geeks". I don't remember how much of a geek she was, though, exactly. Bryce was the boy-whiz-kid-techy stereotype.

ST:TNG had a genius-girl character who appeared in a couple of episodes early on, mm, 1990-91? She was a foil to Wesley, rather than a regular, but she saved his ass at least once.

#189 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:16 AM:

Wow, that opal thing is more widespread than I thought! Good to know.

I'm also a big fan of Community. I think part of what makes it work is that everyone is made fun of pretty equally -- each character embodies certain stereotypes: Jeff is a womanizer who craves attention but hates the people who give it; Britta is a WASP desperate to seem "alternative"; Annie is a neurotic overachiever with a profound need to control everything; Troy is a dumb jock; Abed is lost in his own world; Pierce is an old, out-of-touch racist and homophobe; Shirley is a self-righteous Christian. The whole show takes the "Breakfast Club" approach to characterization: trapping these stereotypes at the end of the line, and seeing what they have to say to each other. But rather than assuming that there's a division between nerds and non-nerds, the show grasps that everybody is nerdy about at least one thing: hymns, wrinkle-free shirts from the GAP; the provenance of marijuana, backpacks.

I say this as someone who got in a conversation with my butcher this week about Batman, during which he tried very hard to convince me that he was a "stealth nerd." (He's not. He'd never seen any of the Christopher Nolan films, didn't know who Bane was, and seemed surprised that I would enjoy playing Arkham City. On the other hand, he speaks Greek and can do volume conversions off the top of his head.)

Also: Arkham City is awesome.

#190 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:31 AM:

As far as cruelty on TV goes, there was a show several decades ago called "Queen For A Day", one of the crappiest, smarmiest pieces of televised shite ever put out by a network.

Queen For a Day

The show brought on women who described their plights, quite often breaking down in tears, and then the audience was asked to applaud the one who they thought most deserving of the prizes. An "applause meter" measured the results. Losers got smaller prizes.

There's a lot of crap on TV today, but I haven't seen anything to match that yet.

#191 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:39 AM:

Speaking of ghastly TV shows... Last night at the local SF club's meeting, Walter Jon Williams read an excerpt from his latest novel, in which people have to wrestle with each other while standing in cottage cheese.

#192 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:44 AM:

One of the things I value about my CMU education is that, even though my social group was almost entirely computer nerds, there were always a few art majors and English majors and theater majors around. And these people were unquestionably *nerds*; the likeness of attitude clearly crossed subject lines.

(It didn't hurt that they were nearly all *comfortable* with computers. I'm not claiming that we, at college-age, were perfectly open-minded.)

#193 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:48 AM:

185
Probably. Neither R Paul is entirely connected to reality. (IMO.)

#194 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:04 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @192:
That tradition, at least, is still going strong.

#195 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 12:36 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 188... Amanda Pays also played a science geek in 1990/1991's "The Flash".

#196 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 01:18 PM:

NCIS has several resident geeks. McGee has computer know-how. Abby has all sorts of arcane knowledge. Ducky is sort of an autopsy geek.

#197 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 01:31 PM:

@164 Paula Lieberman

Earth Two I think the title was, the lead character was a woman who was a space habitat designer who funded and headed up a colony on a new planet....

I was a fan of Earth2 - and yes, Devon Adair was the leader of the colony expedition, and while it was said that she was a space habitat designer, not a lot of her geekiness was shown. If I had to pick a geek girl out of that cast, it would more likely be the doctor, Julia Heller, and even she wasn't shown as very geeky...

It was still nice to see a show where women were competent professionals, and the conflicts people had with them weren't just because they were women "in a man's job".

Firefly annoyed me. Most of the Johnny Rebs were bad losers in a bad cause, and glamorizing them... the older the less heroic they get for me. And I'm waiting for a ensemble continuing sex worker character who's male, or hermaphroditic, or even a sex robot, instead of the stereotyped female....

See, I didn't even get the whole "Johnny Reb" thing until it was pointed out to me, long after the show was off the air. Whether this is because I'm Canadian, or because I'm simply unobservant, I don't know.

As for Inara: the point (for me) was that she was completely respectable as a sex worker. If she dropped in to a High Society party, the murmurs would be more like if Kate Middleton were to do the same today, not like if some porn star crashed a "do". Inara's body was completely her own, hers to do with as she liked. Her sexuality was her power, not a vulnerability to be used against her, or thought of as dirty.

I suppose that if the series had continued, Joss would have introduced male Companions as well. In the society as portrayed, they would have had to have existed.

#198 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 01:38 PM:

Tracie 179: A hat on the bed, however, is bad luck.

I think that one has to do with the spreading of head lice.

#199 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 01:47 PM:

re: #196, Kip W

NCIS has several resident geeks. McGee has computer know-how. Abby has all sorts of arcane knowledge. Ducky is sort of an autopsy geek.

Tony is a film geek.

(Just finished Season 8.)

#200 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 02:03 PM:

Speaking of geeks, let's not forget Carter in Stargate. I loved that she was a full member of the team, totally competent (!) and respected, and was promoted. She also never had to appear glamorous. Even when they showed her off-duty, she just wore refreshingly normal stuff.

Come to think of it, SG-1 probably did better than a lot of series with the Bechdel Test.

#201 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 02:14 PM:

The episodes of The Big Bang Theory I've seen seem to want to laugh at and laugh with the characters.

Yes to Gary on Alphas. He started as a bit of a standard-TV-autistic and having now seen 4 episodes is quite like a brighter version of a boy I worked with.

I was actually sold on Alphas by the end of the pilot, when a character tries to turn down their invitation to join the team and Rosen, the soft-spoken, non-confrontational, herb and vinyl enthusiast psychologist puts the subtlest hint of steel in his voice and tells him this isn't an offer they can refuse. Suddenly you see why he works with the FBI and they work with him and let him run a team of superpowered people.

Another character who seemed to improve from the pilot was Nina. Her power was so much more powerful than the other characters[1], I wondered why she was on the team. Later she is the one most worried that they will be hunted down as monsters. My reading is that this is because she half believes she is one.

[1] Each of the others could be replicated by a van full of specialised equipment and people trained to use it. An alternative reading is that with her TV actress good looks, acting talent and the warping abilites of celebrity, her superpower is actually no more than that of the actress who plays her.

#202 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 02:29 PM:

I was actually sold on Alphas by the end of the pilot, when a character tries to turn down their invitation to join the team and Rosen, the soft-spoken, non-confrontational, herb and vinyl enthusiast psychologist puts the subtlest hint of steel in his voice and tells him this isn't an offer they can refuse.

Really? That's exactly what made me decide NOT to watch it! It's another team led by a scumbag, this time a blackmailer. Teams led by scumbags and assholes are what put me off Bones and The Mentalist, and keeps me in a state of tension with NCIC (where the leader is not someone I'd care to work for or be friends with, but is at least honorable...and the asshole coworker is treated like an asshole coworker).

It was easier for me to hate Rosen because I'd just seen The Bourne Ultimatum, where Strathairn plays another scumbag. No diss on the actor, of course! But yeah, blackmail someone (who you know is actually innocent, for SF reasons, of the crime you could expose him for) into working for you: that makes you a fucking scumbag in my book, and I don't want to watch a series where you're the hero, or even one of the heroes, or where the heroes work for you.

#203 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 02:58 PM:

Only superstition I routinely follow: Saying "Gobleshyou" or "Gusundheit" when someone sneezes.

#204 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 03:19 PM:

Cheryl @ 197... One could look at the Firefly characters in terms of losers in the American Civil War, except that here the North lost.

#205 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Xopher @28 (Jimmy Kimmell urging parents to prank their kids with "We ate all your Halloween candy last night"): I love my father and miss him a lot, but that is exactly the kind of "sense of humor" he had.

Probably his biggest flaw as a parent, but it was a big one.

#206 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 03:32 PM:

How so, Serge? The people who wanted to be independent of the big dominant country were Mal's side.

The difference is that, while the Confederacy tried to leave an existing larger nation, the Alliance was imposing a brand-new "nation" on people who didn't want to join. IMHO the Alliance resembles Nazi Germany more than the Union.

And I don't understand Paula's saying they were in a bad cause. The Browncoats weren't defending a reprehensible institution like slavery (as the Confederacy was); in fact the Alliance has slavery as a legal institution!

It's clear that the Browncoats were supposed to be analogous to the unreconstructed Confederate "outlaws" in the US after the Civil War, but the social and political situation is completely different. I think the conceit is something like "what if the Confederacy really were the good guys that apologists try to paint them as?"

#207 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 03:41 PM:

hedgehog @199, I thought about Tony's film geeking (oddly enough, one of the episodes I saw this past week had him not getting a reference to something really basic, like Maltese Falcon), but it seems like every show has somebody who helpfully points out just how much the last scene is like a famous movie, and anyway I'd already hit send.

#208 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 03:52 PM:

Cheryl @58, I can picture how that man's face looked only because I once had occasion to rush my Ethiopian-born son to the emergency room. The nursing notes described his face as "dusky" (i.e., pigmented but without blood under the skin).

#209 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:03 PM:

The most goddawful tv show I've seen had people get the results of a paternity test and be filmed. I think the only payment was the free paternity test.

Googling doesn't turn up any shows that only showed paternity test revelations, so perhaps I saw one of the many shows that does that now and then.

#210 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:09 PM:

Cheryl @ 197: "As for Inara: the point (for me) was that she was completely respectable as a sex worker."

At that was a point that was undercut by the fact that Mal constantly belittled and insulted her work--and more importantly, that the writing backed him up. Inara always seemed genuinely hurt by Mal's criticism, which is ridiculous: she is a highly-trained professional socializer, accorded every respect by those whose respect matters. Why would she care what he thinks, and if she did care, why would she let him see it? Mal insulting her work should have been like a backwoods hick insulting her clothes--more indicative of his own ignorance than of anything about her.

Xopher @ 206: " I think the conceit is something like "what if the Confederacy really were the good guys that apologists try to paint them as?""

Seconded. Or perhaps more like, "what if slavery weren't an issue in the Civil War? How good would the Union look then?"

#211 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:10 PM:

Xopher@206

Something that occurs to me is that the political dynamics of Firefly/Serenity are somewhat reminiscent of an alternate history where the North and South teamed up against the West.

#212 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:10 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @209:

By the way, the last couple of times I've seen a comment of yours, I've noticed that your name is that peculiar color that indicates that you've mis-entered a URL. In this case, you seem to have two "http:"'s in your blog URL.

I'll fix it on the back end; can you check the comment entry form? Maybe change it and tell the page not to make you type your information again.

#213 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:14 PM:

I lost a friend on that other site over the Jimmy Kimmel Halloween candy issue. He thought the video was just hilarious. Now I'm doubting if the nice things he said to me were sincere, or if he was making fun of me behind my back. Because that's how bullies act.

#214 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz:

One show notorious for paternity testing is "Maury". They're trying to get Justin Bieber to participate at the moment, but I presume he has more sense.

#215 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Xopher @ 206... Oh, I wasn't saying the Civil War was a good fit. But, Mal's bunch were referred to as Johnny Rebs, that's the frame I worked with. That being said, Mal's side were the Good Guys because they weren't the ones OK with slavery. Besides, in the first episode, his troops were dressed as the Allies during WW2. Besides (bis), the Alliance's Navy dressed like the Kaiser's. :-)

#216 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:20 PM:

HLN update: Man was at job interview, will know in a couple weeks. They interviewed 20 people, will hire 10. Out of 170 who applied...

#217 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:29 PM:

heresiarch: "Why would she care what he thinks, and if she did care, why would she let him see it? Mal insulting her work should have been like a backwoods hick insulting her clothes--more indicative of his own ignorance than of anything about her."

Except that she does care what he thinks—and the outlying planet where he grew up did not have the same customs as the "civilized" central worlds. (I'm not saying they weren't civilized; I'm saying that the population of the central worlds would use that term in a manner that implied that everyone else wasn't.)

Mal can't separate sex from love because he was raised where the two should be paired, and if they aren't, then you're doing something wrong. Inara was raised where the two are considered separate things. So, of course, you get significant dramatic tension by having them attracted to each other. While each knows the customs of the other, they're both disturbed by them and want the other to accept them on their own terms.

#218 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:41 PM:

PJ Evans @ # 193: Neither R Paul is entirely connected to reality. (IMO.)

Really? RuPaul's always seemed pretty grounded to me....

#219 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 04:42 PM:

Xopher @ 202: Rosen is in an interesting (and screwed-up) moral position, and in some ways, as my partner said, "This is Rosen's tragedy, whether or not it goes tragic" - basically, the plot arc of the first season deals very much with the problems with that character and the position he's in, playing both sides against the middle. Because by the first few episodes it becomes clear that he's signed onto working for people whose intentions are not in line with his own. And yet, he's signed on, and has to decide gradually who to trust with what.

So, yeah, it is acknowledged in the show how effed-up that is, and that is one of the things they did to keep me as a viewer. It may help that I didn't start with the pilot: my partners field-test television for me since I'm often busy and if they like it I join in.

---

In other, rather sobering news, the City of Portland is trying to evict its Occupy movement from the parks downtown at midnight tonight.

Because there have been ODs and other problems of the homeless and drug-addicted. As if there are never problems of the homeless and drug-addicted when they aren't all in one place; as if the people who are trying to do something for those most in need, even if it's baling water from the breach with a hip flask, are at fault. I've been trying to call the mayor on it, on Twitter. I haven't been the only one.

The protesters are determined to remain non-violent. I can only hope the police do not decide to break things, and people, anyway.
I intend to be there tonight. I can't afford to do anything that would get me arrested, but if they declare the park a no-go zone I'm going to stand on the sidewalk and bear witness, one more in the head count of Portlanders against economic inequality.

Please show support, if you have a moment.

#220 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 05:16 PM:

Roy @216: Fxngxrs crxssxd! Looks like you're doing great so far.

#221 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 05:57 PM:

Lila, I think RuPaul is a whole 'nother kind of Paul, and certainly better looking than the ones in the political family.

#222 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 06:00 PM:

219
This seems to be the method that all the authorities are resorting to, even if it requires pushing the homeless and the mentally ill into OWS camps, or lying their oaths of office into the seventh (or thereabouts) bolgia. It doesn't lead me to trust the elected (or hired) officials who are doing it.

#223 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 06:12 PM:

One of my favorite lines from "Alphas" is after the good guys, who still haven't learned about team work, barely manage to stop one threat and someone points out they seem to be learning by trial and error. to which Rosen responds "Mostly by error."

#224 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 06:34 PM:

#164 Paula:

Would the show be M.A.N.T.I.S., by chance?

#225 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 06:38 PM:

David Harmon@183: Dinner? So far as I've ever seen, the throwing of the Golden Apple took place at the wedding of the hero Peleus to the nymph Thetis. I don't know if anyone gives a guest list, but it strikes me as unlikely that there were only 13 people there -- do you have a source?

(As an aside, if the apple incident and the Judgment of Paris took place at that wedding, and -- as is well attested -- Peleus's grandson was a key player in the fall of Troy, then either Peleus and Thetis got started way early, or their children grew up awfully fast. Basically the timeline is kind of messy.

(Eric Shanower's monumental Age of Bronze leaves out the apple, and has the Judgment take place in a dream that isn't shown. He has Achilles as already a young man when it takes place, and he has a long time go by as well in the runup to war. He does the best that one can, I think; even so it still takes a pinch of extra suspension-of-disbelief, at least on my part.)

#226 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 06:51 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 188: I think your ST:TNG girl geek was Robin Lefler, played by Ashley Judd. If IMDB is to be trusted, that was her first role (or at least, first credited role).

Roy G. Ovrebo @ 216: ditto on the crossed fingers for employment success!

Re: 13 as unlucky, there may be a Norse connection as well, since Loki, the 13th god of the pantheon, engineered the death of Baldur and was the 13th to arrive at the funeral.

#227 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 07:05 PM:

David Goldfarb #225: I remember it as a banquet for the gods, and Hera only had 12 golden place-settings. However, the version of Homer (also Bullfinch) I found online just says "all the gods and goddesses except [Eris]", so now I don't know where the 12 plates came from. <grumble>

#228 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 07:08 PM:

Since the cast here shifts subtly over time, it may be worth mentioning again that Wil Wheaton wrote pieces about many of the ST:TNG shows he was in, reviewing them with clear eyes from the outside and recalling them as personal anecdotes at the same time. In both approaches, he's read-out-loud funny. I think a search will bring them up — the words "TV SQUAD" may help.

#229 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 07:11 PM:

PJ @ 222: Portland has actually been more open to the homeless than many of the encampments... which, I believe, is necessary to the movement. Some people talk about it as if "the homeless" and "the political activists" are two different, mutually exclusive groups. But in reality, the homeless have more to be political about in this movement than anyone else, even if they are not as successful in expressing it. They are more disenfranchised than the rest of us, plain and simple.

I am reminded of a story in which someone opened his movement to lepers and prostitutes and later got crucified because the government found him threatening... Anyone remember that one, or is it just me?

#230 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 07:16 PM:

For those of you who are the praying or mojo-sending kind, BTW, I believe it is not out of line for me to solicit prayers and mojo.

And anyone who wants to help in a more concrete fashion should please contact the Mayor's office.

#231 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 07:36 PM:

Alphas is worth sticking with. It ends on a VERY interesting note, thanks to an act arranged by Rosen.

#232 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 07:47 PM:

Xopher @202. Briefly: All the characters were a bit flat. Rosen seemed to be floating about trying to balance the needs of the team against the FBI agent. When he showed that he could and would effect the situation it seemed to me that he would inevitably have to deal with the contradictions of his position. Which is something I hope to find interesting.

Also, this means his team are conscripts rather than volunteers, which is, again, an interesting situation to me.

Both of these seem to be occurring, and, slightly to my surprise, I'm finding the antagonists fascinating. Bottom line for me is that the leader is compromised (leading Alphas while not being an Alpha; solving problems for the FBI while not being trusted by them; trying to use Alphas to improve the world while sending those with real powers to a prison camp etc.) but trying to navigate a path to do things better. He's not pleasant and he's not doing a very good job. I understand not wanting to spend time with him. I find it interesting. (I should note that I've only seen 5 episodes so far and may violently change my opinion yet)

#233 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 08:46 PM:

Stefan 231: It ends on a VERY interesting note, thanks to an act arranged by Rosen.

Oh, I didn't know it had ended.

#234 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Just the first season has ended. The show is renewed.

#235 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 10:03 PM:

David Harmon @2277--the 12 plates and twelve guests, plus one offended non-invitee scenario is for Sleeping Beauty.

#236 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 10:04 PM:

Ahem. "227". These open threads get long, but I don't believe they get quite that long.

#237 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 10:20 PM:

I started ingredient-hunting for holiday goodies.

At Grocery Outlet I looked for and found two varieties of condensed milk that were much cheaper than the old reliable Eagle brand.

They were both brands I'd seen before. Can't name them right now. But both had something in common. Something new, as far as I know.

They weren't "condensed milk," they were "condensed filled milk," loaded up with palm oil, corn syrup, and other crap.

I double-checked the ingredients on the Eagle condensed milk. No extra muck.

So . . . beware!

I'm going to check out a couple more house brands and hope that one of them isn't this swill.

#238 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 10:41 PM:

abi, thanks for letting me know about the url. It looks like I misentered it. I think it's alright now.

Debt strikes considered.

#239 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:45 PM:

My memories of Dobie Gillis on TV are really vague, but I seem to remember Zelda being a race car geek, and maybe holding a welding torch on one scene. The actress who played her, Sheila James Kuehl, later became the first openly gay member of the California legislature.


The other mention of that show I've heard in the last decade or so was that actor Bob Denver got busted for marijuana possession. Some commentator asked if Gilligan would have smoked dope; reactions to that were mixed, but everybody agreed that Maynard Krebs, the beatnik character in Dobie Gillis, definitely would have.

#240 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2011, 11:58 PM:

Two notes from Boston:

First off, there's now an "Occupy Harvard". I haven't seen it --- the university administration has closed Harvard Yard, the gated area where the tents are, in response. When the encampment first went in, there was a crowd, not all Harvard affiliates, and at least one scuffle with a cop. The administration is citing the need to protect students --- most notably freshmen living in Yard dorms. The protesters have posted an open letter saying the administration is trying to use that as an excuse to drive a wedge between them and the community.

(The Yard includes all freshman dorms, and is usually open to the public in daylight hours, though it does get closed for special occasions --- every year for commencement, for one.)

On a lighter note, there's quite a bit of SFF at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair. A first edition of A Fire Upon The Deep is apparently going for $125 these days. Which doesn't hold a candle to a first-edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, at over $47,000 ("Can I mortgage this book?"), but it's good to know. Also there if you look around: Asimov, Heinlein, Gernsback, Doc Smith, and so on back to Poe. It's open on Sunday from noon to 5:00 PM, if anyone wants to check it out.

Prices not guaranteed to stay at this level, of course, if we all flood the market...

#241 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 12:12 AM:

Dobie Gillis is based on stories by Max Shulman. Hey, speaking of him, I'm reading a big fat anthology of campus humor he put together in the 50s. Keeping it in the bathroom and reading a few pages at a time. He says in the intro that there's precious little from the 20s and 30s, because it didn't date well.

I'm about halfway through now, and neither did a lot of the rest.

Campus humor, nonetheless, has a strange fascination for me. I have a number of collections of the stuff. Most interesting, perhaps, is material from students who went on to become famous writers, and a hardback collection I picked up a little while back (used) has quite a lot of this sort of thing, as well as proof that some of the older stuff has aged better than Shulman thought. Another one I have is of comic material, and it includes Bode and Shelton and others.

Yet another has a piece by "Jovial Bob Stine," which I had a fun time taking to speech meets in high school. Stine was nobody at the time, but around 1980, I started seeing slender paperbacks of monster jokes and whatnot by Jovial Bob Stine, who soon graduated to signing his name R.L. Stine (and presumably on larger and larger paychecks). I always felt a sort of gentle proprietary interest in his career, though I doubt the feeling is mutual.

#242 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 12:16 AM:

Dis is just to say
We have youse's plums
Dat youse was savin
For later

Kindly leave de money
In de bag if you wants em
All sweet and cool like,
See

#243 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 01:04 AM:

@208 John M. Burt
I can picture how that man's face looked only because I once had occasion to rush my Ethiopian-born son to the emergency room. The nursing notes described his face as "dusky" (i.e., pigmented but without blood under the skin).

I guess "dusky" was there as well. Certainly, "horrified".

It simply hadn't occurred to anyone what the spectacle might look like to someone not expecting it. He didn't seem to hold a grudge, for which we were grateful.

#244 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 01:47 AM:

AJ @ 229 - you're not the only one who has drawn that parellel. I think it is unwise to take it too far, but...That guy started something that was supposed to be countercultural and s*** disturbing. It lost a lot of that when it became the norm. I think the Occupy movement can use some of the lessons learned in an earlier time, and some of our institutions could *get a clue* about this equality and justice thing. I'm happy that St. Paul's Cathedral, London's Chapter found some sense, I wish it hadn't taken the drastic steps of three clergy resigning, and a Bishop questioning his Seat. Countercultural, advocating for, accepting of, and loving with the poor, destitute, downtroden, powerless, those who have no voice or whose voices cannot be heard...that should be a serious portion of the church. (FWIW, I just came back from a church growth/renewal conference. Big on social justice at the moment.)

#245 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 01:47 AM:

I can't find the sub-thread where we were discussing the "chicken pox lollipops" idiocy, but here's an amusing take on it from elseNet.

Less amusingly, some further information about Avengelical "parental discipline" guides, in the wake of multiple child deaths in households where they are used. (This came up as a sub-thread in the "Sweat Lodge" discussion a couple of years back.)

#246 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 02:27 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue @ #206: I don't understand Paula's saying they were in a bad cause. The Browncoats weren't defending a reprehensible institution like slavery (as the Confederacy was)

I didn't read Paula as saying that the Browncoats were in a bad cause - as I understand it, the point of her annoyance is that they weren't (because then, to the extent that they are read as analogues of the Confederate Johnny Rebs, there's an implication that the Johnny Rebs weren't either).

#247 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 02:31 AM:

David Harmon@227: I have heard a story that there were only places for 12 major Olympians -- Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Ares, Aprodite, Hephaestus, and Hestia. So when Dionysus came along and claimed a place, one of the others had to step aside. (Hestia did it, in case anyone is wondering.) Perhaps you're conflating that with the story of the golden apple.

#248 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 02:32 AM:

HLN, or really, not at all local: Area woman's mother, 9 time zones away, wakes up unable to remember recent events. Parents go to the hospital for a long day of tests and waiting, during which time said mother slowly recovers most of her recent memories.

Subsequent diagnosis is Transient Global Amnesia, which appears to be generally a one-off occurrence with no lasting aftereffects—except emotional upsets and feelings of anxiety on the part of all concerned.

Suddenly, 5,500 miles seems an awful long way.

#249 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 03:03 AM:

Madeleine, #117: I've heard the opal superstition before, but only in passing; I don't think I know anyone who takes it seriously.

Also the umbrella one, from my parents. However, ISTR reading or hearing something to the effect that this one came about because opening an umbrella in your house is likely to knock things over and damage them. A lot of modern umbrellas pretty well have to be opened outside, because they're too large to fit thru a standard-sized door!

Janet, #125: Depending on who all was in the group, I might have gone along with that stunt back in the 1970s. If anyone were to pull something like that these days, it would get very short shrift -- and if they were pulling it on someone else in the group, I would make it clear that the other person had backup for refusing. Spin-the-bottle games are for middle-schoolers.

Angiportus, #182: I have on occasion had to fight very hard to suppress an inappropriate grin or giggle when relating bad news. I think of it as a misfiring displacement mechanism.

Madeleine, #189: By that standard of measurement, I'm not a nerd either. But it's really just that I'm not much of a movie person, so any canon about comic characters that comes out of the movies goes right past me. OTOH, I strongly suspect that anyone who talks about being a "stealth nerd" is neither.

Xopher, #206: You don't live in the former Confederacy. Trust me, the reaction feels different down here.

#250 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 03:15 AM:

abi @ 227: I'm sorry to hear that but relieved that it doesn't seem to have been what I thought it was going to be at the beginning of that comment. Best wishes to both of you (and to the rest of your family).

(Have just had a maternal visit, so have also been somewhat preoccuppied with the issue of being on the wrong continent when serious health problems arrive. It's a poser.)

#251 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 03:32 AM:

A J Luxton @ 230: Best wishes are all I have to offer, but mine are with you.

That whole "We will take your earnings to help the needy of bread, and then spend most of them on the needy of cake, and clamp down on anybody who tries to share their remaining surplus with the needy of bread because that is our job!" dance, is a shuffle with which I'm all too familiar. Scamming the money and status isn't enough - breaking the bonds of fellowship with the targets seems to be baked right into the damned cake. Its ubiquity makes me suspect that it's not so much an incidental product of human malice, as a necessity to sustaining the scam in the first place.

I'm an Englishman, and American politicians could give a rat's arse about my opinion of them - hell, British politicians care little enough - but it doesn't seem from over here that the attempts to suppress Occupations are having the effect the authorities presumably intend by them. One would hope that they might learn something.

#252 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 07:49 AM:

Fidelio #235: I know it appears in "Hawthorne Rose" (the Grimm tale which became "Sleeping Beauty", but I had thought it was also before that....

David Goldfarb #247: Hmm... It does make sense archetypically [ :-( ], but I see some conflicts with the usual backstory.... (Hestia's senority vs. Hephaestus's place as the jester).

On the other hand, the snippet of text floating in my visual memory(*), specifically notes Hera as the host, and the 12 golden place settings... but I've just realized that the snippet doesn't actually extend through to the Golden Apple scene, so you might be right....

* Sometimes I wish I had a real eidetic memory... but I always come to my senses soon, as everything I've heard indicates it's as much curse as blessing. I have enough trouble with unwanted replays as-is! Happily, a lot of of the worst bits from high school and college finally seem to be fading. Unhappily, so are some of the better bits....

#253 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 09:11 AM:

Abi @ 248... I'm glad to hear your mom is doing better.

#254 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 09:23 AM:

There was no true definitive version of the Greek and Roman myths -- they grew and changed and absorbed things from other cultures and so on, so it's not surprising the 13th guest motif would show up in a lot of different places with different personae and results. (Or that timelines and genealogies would get to look extremely untidy after a while.) In fact, the variation where Hestia steps aside for Dionysus is one I've just learned about recently. Step aside she did, and you never see her represented as a recognizable person in surviving artwork, but the hearth was sacred to her and central to the rituals of every home and temple, so she didn't do that badly out of the deal--and she got to steer clear of the daily soap opera that was Mount Olympus.

#255 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 09:27 AM:

Abi @248: Glad to hear that your mom is doing better. I live 4 blocks from mine, and work about an hour away, and there have been times when that hour has felt extremely long, so you have my sympathies.

#256 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 09:33 AM:

Abi #248: Glad to hear your mother's doing better.

#257 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 09:38 AM:

When I and some others let out an ill-timed laugh, we apologize and say we didn't mean it, but my relatives have never done that. If it is a nervous reaction, it can be hard to control, but it can at least be disclaimed. When they don't do that, one starts to wonder.
Then there's the people who say "we are lauging with you not at you..." When I pointed out that I was not laughing, they shut up real quick.
Grocery Outlet--which a friend refers to as the Gross Out--is a crapshoot, even though I shop there a lot. Most things I got were good, but I learned to not get a whole lot of something until I had tried it. It does pay to look at the ingredients. One time I had arm cramps and turned to another store's cramp medicine aisle, an unexplored region for me. Checking the ingredients for one brand, I found that it was nothing other than an ordinary painkiller only more expensive. I was flabbergasted, and I always check the ingredients of something now.

#258 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 09:38 AM:

This is just to say

we have fired
the Berlusconi
you were keeping
in your Parliament

and which
you were probably
saving for
perdition.

I am sorry,
it was so inevitable
he was such a buffoon
so laughable, and crude.

#259 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 09:50 AM:

About nervous laughter-- one version which gives me the creeps is when people laugh about having been physically punished by their parents.

#260 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 10:01 AM:

abi, hoping for the best here. 5,500 miles is, indeed, a long way at such times. One thing about Dad's recent stroke is that if he'd had it in Texas instead of Michigan, who would have seen it? Who would have gotten him to a doctor? But he still wants to get in the car and drive back, though he understands that this event is now delayed, at the least. (His recovery has been good, and started fast. Another thing that might make a difference for him is a better hearing aid, which he might have by now. How could he make friends in Michigan if he can't hear anybody?)

#261 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 10:45 AM:

Ah, Jeff Peachey. A BNBB like Don Etherington or Bernard Middleton.

#262 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 12:42 PM:

Fragano @258, I will be sending you 1 internets.

#263 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 12:49 PM:

Kip W #241: And most of their names don't get remembered too well either... at the bookstore, we just tossed most of the Buchwald and some of the Herblock, for the usual reason: those books had been on our shelves for over ten years. (Often fifteen or more....)

#264 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 02:17 PM:

abi 248: I'm glad she seems to be OK now. May it be ever thus.

One morning many years ago, my mom woke up unable to remember anything at all, including her own name. It passed off quickly, but what she found disconcerting was that the first thing that came back was not her own name, but her husband's.

No doubt it was a coincidence that she decided to go back to school and get a degree shortly after that.

Lee 249: You don't live in the former Confederacy. Trust me, the reaction feels different down here.

Do you mean something other than what I call Confederate apologists (people who say "the War of Northern Aggression," or less exotically just think the Confederacy was the good guys)? If so, could you elaborate? I'd especially be fascinated to hear what the typical former-Confederacy reaction to Firefly is.

#265 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 02:21 PM:

David Harmon @263: Ouch. What really gets me is when libraries toss books to make room for new stuff. It's gotten to where a lot of libraries just don't have books that are interesting to me any more. I bought an extra copy of _Seven-Day Magic_ just because the W. Springfield library was selling it (for a quarter) to make room for more series fiction about farting ghosts. Also, the idea of a post-library copy of that particular book was irresistible to me, especially from a library in my own town.

#266 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 02:23 PM:

And yes, I understand it's what kids want. My daughter would barely sit still when I read _Half Magic_ to her, and she's heavily into new stuff. I know what I'm sounding like here, though oddly enough I don't mind kids on my lawn much.

#267 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 03:27 PM:

Abi #248

A colleague had that happen while he was nine time zones away from home -- fortunately, at a conference where lots of people knew him. He says it's actually worse for the bystanders than for the victim.

#268 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 03:39 PM:

Kip W @ 265:

Back in the late 1980's and early '90s, before they renovated the Multnomah County Central Library in downtown Portland most of the stacks were open, and I used to wander through the fiction area back there. I found half a dozen of James Branch Cabel's novels (many of which have not yet been reprinted), some Dumas père (in particular, The Black Tulip), and all kinds of other out-of-print books in editions from all over the first half of the 20th Century. Then they moved everything into a temporary building for 18 months while they rebuilt the original building, and sold off all the old books to make room. Grrr!

#269 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 04:23 PM:

They're not good stones for rings, because they're fragile and easily damaged by water. I always cringe slightly when I see an opal ring being worn, because I know how vulnerable they can be.

For my 16th birthday, my mother bought me an antique ring with an opal. A few years later, I hit my hand on a sink and the stone cracked right across, almost horizontally. The ring is set with a garnet now, to my sadness.

The version I know is "Bad luck unless they're your birthstone or a gift."

Why would she care what he thinks, and if she did care, why would she let him see it? Mal insulting her work should have been like a backwoods hick insulting her clothes

She cares what he thinks because she cares about him. If he were J. Random Dude, she wouldn't give a damn, but she's attracted to Mal (and no doubt knows he's attracted to her).

When the jerk in "Shindig" calls her a slut, Inara is taken aback and slightly insulted, but there's no indication it cuts her--because she doesn't care about him. (And note that, aside from having more money, the jerk's upbringing is more like Mal's than Inara's.)

#270 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 06:15 PM:

Kip W #265: Ouch indeed -- and that sort of weeding is more than half my job, since the boss persists in buying new books, and the shelves (three crowded floors of them) are mostly packed. Most recently, he bought most of the books from an estate (Elwood) which are now in boxes nearly blocking the length of the main staircase, and stacked in the side rooms. It's going to take months for us to get through sorting them. And then people are still bringing in boxes and bags of books....

#271 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 06:24 PM:

BTW, the newest Particle speaks of the Earth's "corona". I suspect that's meant to be "aurora" -- I don't think the Earth has a corona as such.

#272 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 06:45 PM:

There's a shop in Ghent (neighborhood of Norfolk, VA) my friend and I call "The Scary Book Shop" because it's dark and claustrophobic, and the owner seems to be a hoarder. He certainly doesn't price them to sell. And there was a pile of books five feet wide, four feet tall, and about fifteen feet long that's probably bigger now. And dingy rooms in back with some derelict junk in them (looked like a stereopticon with some kind of arc lighting in one of them). The second (and last) time I went there, I brought a mag light just to be able to see.

The owner was in at the time, chatting with a friend about how the city was on him to put in more lighting, and he was joking about putting candles in. Haw haw.

#273 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 07:35 PM:

The Smithsonian works on recreating the Rebel Yell: film clips from Confederate vets in 1930 telling how the Yell sounded, a contemporary video about instructing Re-enactors how to do it, as well as:

Sadly, in the eyes of the press, not all Civil War veterans were equal. No black volunteers served with the Confederacy, while African Americans contributed some 160,000 volunteers to the Union war effort. Yet they are almost never even acknowledged, much less seen or heard in the library’s films and recordings. Ironically, however, the most surprising film of African American “veterans,” a few minutes of silent footage made at a Confederate reunion in 1930, shows a dozen elderly black men wearing fragments of gray uniforms, flourishing miniature battle flags and wearing lapel buttons representing Robert E. Lee. Enslaved body servants, or perhaps laborers who had been pressed into service by Confederate armies, they were presumably served up to newsmen as “proof” that slaves were so loyal and happy in their servitude that they fought to retain it.

After Reconstruction, the role of African-American soldiers was largely airbrushed out of the war’s narrative in the name of national reconciliation. William Smallwood’s brief martial appearance against that brick wall in Boston thus stands as a powerful if all too fleeting reminder of both the sacrifice of the black volunteers who fought for the Union, and of the nation’s promises to them, so many of which would remain unfulfilled generations after the Civil War had ended.

Love, C.

#274 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 07:37 PM:

Xopher, #264: It's not necessary to be a slavery apologist to pick up on and enjoy the Confederacy implications in Firefly. All it takes, IME, is having been raised in the Old Confederacy -- even people who aren't, by my definition*, Confederacy-worshippers respond to those cues very differently from the way I do. This is difficult for me to articulate; I just notice a difference in attitude between my friends here who grew up in the Old South and those who didn't.


* I should note that my definition of "Confederacy-worshipper" is pretty damn broad, and doesn't require being an apologist for slavery. For example, anyone who seriously advances the discredited "states' rights" argument counts.

#275 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 08:03 PM:

274
I think mine includes the 'Sons of the Confederacy', also.

#276 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 08:24 PM:

I guess Mal does talk and think more like them and less like a Yankee than the Alliance people (who are seriously creepy and amoral). He has a very old-fashioned code of honor ("...and you'll be armed"), which probably appeals as well...though it also appeals to ME, I must say.

#277 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 08:24 PM:

sisuile @ 244: As I explained to my partner while hiking across the Hawthorne bridge last night, "I'm not a Christian, I'm a pantheist and polytheist... so I went through this phase when I was younger, where I approached every god I could find and tried to understand what each one was for, what each one was of. Jesus is a god of this."

Occupy Portland, last 24 hours, redux:

When we arrived, five minutes til midnight, we came into a crowd of 5000+. The police looked ready to move, but clearly they had been expecting an easy sweep and didn't get one. The movement's broadcast had clearly been heard: that if people could only come in for a little while, it should be at or after midnight. A friend of mine who is far more involved than me had been there all day, cleaning the park, and said that they'd expected it to be a rout; the planned dinnertime events had failed to turn out people. (It didn't help that it was raining hard at that hour.)

Then... midnight, and the parks and nearby blocks were packed.

The Occupation held the park through the night. They advanced a bit; there was a sort of chess game or ballroom dance where blocs of police and protesters traded territory back and forth for the next few hours. In the early morning they were told to get out of the street and back into the park, a little after I left.

Then the the riot cops started their big push in the afternoon, after general assembly.

I wasn't there for that; I found out when I woke up to a phone call, since I'd gotten to bed early in the morning, and I picked up the phone and heard "Are you OKAY?!?" - some dear friends of mine on the opposite coast had been watching the live feed. There were persistent rumors of people being tear-gassed, which turned out to be incorrect and probably resulted from confluence of a shot of someone crying and the knowledge that the police were threatening to use tear gas.

The breaking news right now is that after a few hours of tense standoffs they've moved; to Pioneer Square, which is if anything more visible.

Abi @ 248: Yikes. I'm sorry; that sounds extremely traumatic. I'm glad it doesn't seem to be anything worse. It's hard not to know why something is happening, especially in matters of health and illness.

#278 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 11:07 PM:

Xopher 276: He has a very old-fashioned code of honor ("...and you'll be armed")

Has anyone else noticed that Mal was lying about that?

I mean, he probably meant the words when he was saying them; Mal strikes me as that kind of guy. But consider how he treated Jayne at the end of "Ariel".

#279 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 11:09 PM:

Wrong. He didn't kill Jayne. And he knew he wasn't going to, even if Jayne didn't!

#280 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2011, 11:29 PM:

Avram #278:

Mal told Simon that he'd be armed.

He didn't say anything about Jayne being armed, at least not while we were watching, anyway. I figure he never made that promise to Jayne.

#281 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:04 AM:

abi @ 248: Sympathies and best wishes for your mom's continued recovery!

#282 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:07 AM:

Regarding the durability of opals: not everyone may know that chemically speaking, they're just glass. So they're just as prone to chipping, cracking, or shattering as glass beads are. (An opal triplet, consisting of a thin slice of opal beneath a clear cover and with a more durable backing, will of course wear better.)

#283 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:14 AM:

A friend once told me that, if I were a manager, the closest SFnal equivalent would be Mal Reynolds. I presume she meant that I'd do everything to protect my people, not that I'd shoot threats dead before they were done threatening them. :-)

#284 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:49 AM:

Very odd question at my annual non-binding review (I'm union). Big boss asked how I liked my job. After dropping my jaw in panic, he reassured me that they were certainly not looking to fire me, but just wondered if there was more I'd like to be doing. Is my supervisor leaving? Are they thinking of transferring me to a new department? I indicated that while the last couple of weeks have made me glad that much of my job can be performed on 3 hours of sleep, I'd really prefer more challenges. We'll see.

Dog update: after realizing our vet clinic's diagnoses had around a 50% accuracy, and that we weren't being listened to, we sought a second opinion. Wasn't cheap, but we are thrilled with the new vet, who was happy to listen and explain everything with the assumption that just because we weren't veterinarians didn't mean we were idiots. She mentioned that the Tramadol that was prescribed has a common side-effect of increasing anxiety and quite possibly contributed to Ardala's pacing and whimpering. She was also confused as to why the other vet prescribed a muscle relaxant - both tramadol and muscle relaxant being prescribed 3x a day, despite us having told the vet that the dosage schedule was problematic when Ardala was still picky about pills and we both work. Got a better treatment plan, a request to give her a phone call in a week for an update (and not make an appointment) and we feel much better about Ardala's treatment and prognosis. Also got to say 'hi' to a Bernese Mountain Dog in the lobby - awesome!

#285 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:56 AM:

Wash: "This landing is gonna get pretty interesting."
Mal: "Define 'interesting'."
Wash: " 'Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die' ?"

#286 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 01:49 AM:

Patrick Connors @280, Mal prefaced the line by telling Simon "You don't know me, son. So let me explain this to you." That implies to me that he's telling Simon something about how he (Mal) sees himself. He's not saying "Hey Simon, for you only, here's a promise." He's saying "Here's the kind of guy I am." (Though it's probably just the kind of guy that Mal thinks he is.)

Xopher @279, I dunno. I'd have to watch that scene again, paying close attention to the body language.

#287 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 01:55 AM:

Avram @286 -- Yes, that's what Mal said to Simon. It's different with Jayne: Mal knows Jayne, and Jayne knows Mal -- and Jayne knows that Mal is going to be absolutely fair with him, which in Jayne's case means that they both know that Jayne would be as likely to kill Mal without a gun as with one. So, to make sure that Simon would have a gun is not exactly the same as making sure that Jayne would -- and I think that Mal's sense of honor could remain intact without making sure Jayne has a gun in that situation.

#288 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:26 AM:

The "Defeated Rebel" meme has popped up a few times in SF. And if you're not American it certainly reads different. I first came across it in Piper's Junkyard Planet which has something called the System States War, and quotes a couple of lines from a song. A year or two later BBC radio broadcast a documentary about the songs of the Civil War, and one of the Confederate tunes seemed to fit. But I wouldn't rule out a tune with Irish roots.

Piper doesn't dwell on the motives for his war, but there's a suggestion of states' rights in there, though it's in that fuzzy area that includes Hungary and every independence movement there has ever been. The general political dynamics of the 1950s and 1960s—the meme of freedom from domination by the USSR or some colonial power—fits well with that.

Perhaps some of the Nazi-victory fiction of the time has a streak of the romance of the rebel in it. And that leads into a few ugly thoughts about some of the modern fetishisation of the Nazis. They have almost become the modern-day Vampire, an industrial evil, sinister and frightening and oh-so-sexy.

And sometimes I wonder what some of the pre-1939 stories would have turned out like if written a little later. The opening of Galactic Patrol just reeks of Triumph of the Will: black-and-silver Patrol uniforms and incredibly precise marching. A year or two earlier it's a strong visual image to evoke, but even the SS stopped wearing black.

(Maybe the world needs more colour pictures of Hermann Goering, just to make sure that modern-day Nazis know how they should dress. Powder-blue is such a memorable colour...)

#289 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:44 AM:

abi @ 248: Best thoughts and wishes to you both.

#290 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:14 AM:

"Bendis, look at me! Listen. We're holding this valley, no matter what."
"We're gonna die."
"We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. And you know why? Because we are so... very... pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die. Huh? Look at that chiseled jaw, huh? Come on!"

#291 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:04 AM:

nerdycellist @284: Glad to see encouraging dog news.

#292 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:12 AM:

Neil W @ 232:

I've also felt that when watching The Big Bang Theory I laugh with the characters as well as at them (the character with whom I identify with the most, if I identify at all, is Leonard, by the way). Of course, as a person who until recently was active in a branch of SF fandom, and this from the age of 13 (will turn 44 in February), I sometimes groan a bit inside, as I had to endure rather a bit of Sheldon-similar behaviour in order to get to the good things that fandom after all does offers. (I do realise, rying to be self-aware, that in some contexts I might have been viewed by others as the Sheldon, rather than a Leonard.)

One kind of humour that is more difficult for me, is the The Office kind of show. I have a fear of getting into embarrassing situations, such as being exposed as a lightweight, and therefore I above all feel sorry for the characters of such shows.

Incidentally, as a child I sympathised with Basil Fawlty when watching Fawlty Towers. I believe I saw him as a person who tried so hard, but was let down by his surroundings. Watching it as an adult, I see that he did, after all, treat his surroundings rather shabbily, and therefore rather deserved a lot of what was coming to him...

#293 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 11:56 AM:

Avram @105: you're not alone in disliking Big Bang Theory.

I like Big Bang Theory. :(

#294 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:17 PM:

netting Neptune

#180 etv13

My empirical analysis is "if it's sat around waiting for me to get to it that long, obviously it's something that compelled/is compelling me to read it." That's the logic that seems to apply regarding buying books for me, too, that if it didn't look interesting enough for me to buy when it was new, why bother later... (though, that broke down somewhat after my income crashed.

It's got to do with at least in me, being a novelty seeker, and something that's been hanging around, does have the newness and shininess and thrills of anticipation anymore, it's got shopworn non-new extrinsic feel to it....

#187 Bruce

Jawdrop. They used a belt sander on a knife blade? Where in the universe were their grinding wheels and whetstones. I'm aghast!

#1288 Andrew
Yes, it was Mantis. Then, they whitewashed the show....

Theora Jones was the older geek, who knew at least as much as the boy-whiz, except of course she wasn't a boy-whiz....

#190 Steve

Queen for a Day was on in the late 1950s and early 1960 timeframe, and considering that back then women couldn't sign mortgages on their own, had to go to court and sue in some states to continue using their maiden names professional in e.g. physics (Vera Kistiakowsky had to do that), were roadblocked severely to go to grad school, medical school; banned from cockpits except in "general aviation" where they were paying their own way to get a pilot's license--no women in airline cockpits, no women allowed in military flight training, no women as ship crew except as nurses on hospital ships and maids or entertainers on passenger ships, female judges and members of legislatures and such massive rarities, women in law school and as lawyers rare and discriminated against, women hitting glass ceilings so low they there was no light to be seen (down in the basement...).. 'twas ugly.
And I incensed to see e.g. the Target season toys brochure, looks like it has most of that era's attitudes about "boys toys" and "girls toys" with e.g. a girl carrying a stack on dishes in front of the mini-kitchen suite, and a boy in front of it talking on a cellphone, the girls doing kitchencrap* and the boys playing with mechanically-oriented toys.. and the girls playing with stuff that is PINK (I hate pink, I have always hated pink... put me in pink and unless it's got no orangey coloring to it, I look like something that should have been buried three weeks ago for the sake of decency....).

*defined as e.g. "wifey-poo go to the kitchen and be the househouse happibraindeadCloroxcommercialhouseholdslave." PTUI!

#197 Cheryl

"Miss Kitty" in Gunsmoke, saloon and originally obviously bordell-salon owner-operator/madam, was a respected socially acceptable businesswoman on the show who was one of the leaders of the town...

#200 Debbie
Beka on Andromeda (which also had a character whose middle name was Zelazny) for a season or two had more female week-to-week characters on it than malem (even though one of the women was really an AI). Beka wasn't really a geeky sort though--she was a ship owner-pilot-operator and perforce her own mechanic, too, and there turned out to be a reason why the Klingons Nietzchians [murdering the spelling] were all lusting after her, despite her being a human

#206 Xopher
The surface of the show was so striking to me that it was like corner reflectors to active sensor systems (radar, lidar, etc.) and washed out whatever else might be there besides the intensity of the photons overloading the sensor coming from the corner reflector.... There's for me an enormous amount of baggage when invoking Johnny Reb, stuff I never knew/understood/any any awareness of when all those westerns were on when I was a child, which celebrated and extolled the Confederacy and the "wild west" and "manifest destiny" (the TV shows didn;t mention it, but the entirety of the framework of Bonanza etc. rested upon it as value. The complexity of Indian attacks being because their entire way of life, and cultural and personal survival were under attack, wasn't the sort of thing that children were going to learn watching film and TV, or have insight into....

For me, Firefly's conscious invoking of the Johnny Reb form, and Miss Kitty or alternatively the Sociolater from Battlestar Galactic the Original Series the high class courtesan TV western and SF meme, and feeling like a mixture of Star Wars, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train (follow Loren Greene's career from it through Bonanza through Battlestar Galactica...), westerns in general, etc., there wasn't anything left for irony or examination of subtleties...

Buffy started out with ironies very much in evidence--for one thing, it had a female lead: until then, vampire slayers and action-adventure lead characters were almost all male. Buffy also had a mother--the tradition in SF/F is to get the parents out of the picture either before the start of the series or book, or out of the picture very early on--and a non-dysfunctional mother. The tradition in drama shows on TV with young ensemble always male for young ensemble cast members chararacters, too, characters, was to get the mother out of the picture--no mothers present Quark's son or Benjamin Cisco's son on DS9, no mother present on My Three Sons--and no father. The subversiveness involved the "heroic" side of things involved an adult woman who was a mother and business owner as subordinate character to her daughter the protagonist of the show, the other supporting cast members included bisexual Willow, a semi-goofy male, Giles the instructor/trainer, the Mayor and the Principal who were inimical, the evil characters Buffy was fighting, some of whom were female (Drusilla, for example, though the first couple seasons the villains were male....)

Xena, there were no parents in sight. And Xena, too, had a female warrior accompanied by a female bard, with a goofy male supporting sidekick...

Firefly the leading character, Mal, was male. The supporting cast included women, outnumbered if I recall correctly by the male characters. The cast of Andromeda was the first SF TV show I can remember where the show was not less and usually substantiatively that 50% female in continuing characters.

Enterprise if I have the name of it correctly (the most recently produced live action Star Trek franchise TV show) didn;t even have as many continuing female characters on it as the original Star Trek series' first season (which had three, Uhura, Nurse Chapel, and Yeoman Rand as I recall).

Xena, Earth II Buffy, and the one season of Space: Above and Beyond were relatively all in the same timeframe, the most major character on each show was a woman in SF/F drama. Things retreated from there, while Andromeda had for a time more female than male characters featured in the continuing cast week to week credits, the lead characters on it was Kevin Sorbo (who was the featured actor in Hercules, which Xena was a spin-off of, thinking about it...) . awas never a minority of featured week-to-week characters.

Star Trek Voyager came later and was the only show of the entire Star Trek franchise universe where most major character was female. Since I rarely watched it, I don;t know what the gender ratio on it was. Stargate, the persons in charge were always male.

But getting back to my points about Firefly there was nothing at the obvious visual level to show any sort of subversion of old TV tropes. And rebels who've not be co-opted into the system will almost say that they were on side with the moral rights etc. etc. etc. and generally look back that the culture they had or expected to have free of the other side, would have been the better etc. culture. I didn;t closely watch Firefly, so I don;t know what internal evidence there was. What I did notice about Firefly was stuff that exploded my willing suspension of disbelief sufficent that I was too busy wondering just how large Serenity was and what were the dimensions inside versus outside, how sizes seemed to keep changing, just where were the various parts of the innards of the ship and how did all that fit inside what looked too small from the outside for it all to fit... Just what was the physical space that the series too place in and where were all those rocks that poeple lived on, how large were they, how did they all have atmospheres and one gee gravitation fields... that is, the settings crashed my willing suspension of disbelief, and the network forcing that stupid train robber episode as the kickoff the the series, explosed my willing suspension of disbelief.... The wordbuilding failure capture my attention, and the train robber prejudiced me against the series as regards credibility otherwise ("Oh look, it's a really stupid plagiaristicish copy of a Western. Bleeeehhhhhh! And let's see, where have as seen a character like that before?" I so much would have preferred a Weird Western from Whedon instead....)

What else--oh, there was the set-on-rock of the week. Hmm, that one reminded of of Space:1999 -- oh, that was a show with two main characters, Barbara Bain and Martin Landau, playing a married couple, which they were in real life at the time.. (and Juliet Landau, who played Drusilla on Buffy, is their daughter I think)--so there perhaps was the first SF/F TV show which had a woman as the main character--or rather a woman co-equal with a man at the top of the pecking order for being a TB show protagonist.

#225 David
Athena sprang full-grown from Zeus....

#237 Stefan
Look at the ingredients of ice cream, canned whipped cream, candy, soft drinks, in-store bakery cakes... high fructose corn syrup is ubiquitous in the USA in products unless they're sweeetened and marked "no suger" in which case they probably have sucralose or Aspartame (ugh...). The utterly insane US Agricultural politics subsidized the damned literally sickening HFC, and raises the price of cane and beet sugar to where various candy companies using beet or cane sugar moved their production to Canada. The insane US Agricultural politics also require farmers to grow cereal crops and plow under vegetable crops if they want the damned subsidies. (Rot in hell, Michelle Bachman and your buddies...)

#295 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:39 PM:

Paula @294 -- I felt "("Oh look, it's a really stupid plagiaristicish copy of a Western. Bleeeehhhhhh! And let's see, where have as seen a character like that before?" I so much would have preferred a Weird Western from Whedon instead....)" about "The Train Job" as well, and didn't watch Firefly while it was on the air. I felt very differently about it when I watched the series on DVD. Yeah, the worldbuilding doesn't work (in terms of all those rocks); on the other hand, there's really interesting worldbuilding that does work around the cultures of that complex. Try watching the intended series opener "Serenity" (not the movie!) as if you hadn't seen "The Train Job" and see if that makes a difference for you. It did for me.

#296 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:48 PM:

Paula @ #294 -

I can't even look at Xmas ads anymore because of the strict gender-lines they're showing these toys in! I had an easybake oven when I was a kid in the 70's. It was a sort of red/orange color, which was great because then boys didn't mind playing with it (or more likely, boys' parents and grandparents didn't worry that playing with a kitchen gadget would queerify their boy). This makes sense - what kid doesn't want to make his/her own cupcakes? Everyone does! It's really sad to me that there are so few "neutral" toys being marketed today. It sets up the continuing "Girls toys are stupid - I play with boys toys!" problem.

I stopped in at a Toys R Us a few months ago to check for games and noticed the aisles are completely color coded for gender - and also, the assholes that designed the box for Battleship show only boys playing it. No money for you, Milton Bradley! I went elsewhere and bought Carcassonne.

#297 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 12:57 PM:

Kip W @ #241:

Jovial Bob Stine! There's a name I haven't encountered in a while. (I don't remember if I ever realised R.L. Stine was the same person, though I expect I at least wondered.) I remember him mainly as the author of a Ghostbusters tie-in book I had when I was young.

#298 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 01:10 PM:

Jacque, #293: Believe me, your opinion is much in the majority. I'm the one who's made to feel that I'm confessing a flaw when I say otherwise. (Not here, but IRL.)

Paula, #294: I believe that the right for women to retain their birth names after marriage wasn't firmly established until the mid-1970s. The first such case I know about (aside from the Curies, and that's clearly a special situation) was in 1975.

Also, my general opinion about Firefly has always been, "Western in outer space? BTDT, 40 years ago and without the Confederate overlay."

#299 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 01:43 PM:

I am not going to claim I write great stories, but I do find it fun to write female characters who can hold their own in situations where you would...

Let me rephrase that while I can still talk past my foot. The situations are often ones where the rather boring custom of the genre would insist on a man saving the day.

An example: Night Mail, which is in something of the same genre territory as Terror in the Sky. Except the male viewpoint character isn't the one who saves the day (though his contribution does matter).

Yes, that's the Spontoon Islands website. There's a lot of stories there where the lead character is female and thoroughly competent in some conventionally male domain. Sometimes it feels a bit excessive.

#300 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 02:10 PM:

Bruce @268, a library selling off its old books is waaaay preferable to what our local library did: Toss all the "old books nobody will care about" in a stinkin' dumpster, over a holiday weekend so nobody will know about it until the books are long gone.

#301 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 02:17 PM:

Jacque @ 293... "Big Bang" didn't do it for me, but it does for you and that's what matters.

#302 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 02:35 PM:

Lee @ 298:

There were special cases before 1970 where a woman had professional recognition under her birth or assumed name, and kept working with that name after marrying. Doctors, actors, writers, and some scientists were able to do that as early as the 1930's IIRC. The important part of that was that the professional name was legally acceptable for use in contracts and other legal documents, something that would probably have been unheard of a hundred years earlier.

#303 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 02:46 PM:

The PBS show "America in Primetime" did an episode on "misfits" last night.

YMMV, but I loved it. A survey of the freaks, outsiders, and misfits on TV, who were created in the main by people who felt like freaks, outsiders, and misfits.

#304 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 02:47 PM:

Lee #298, Bruce Cohen #302

Dorothy Sayers' character Harriet Vane keeps her name for professional purposes, as did Miss Sayers herself -- was that the 1930s example you had in mind?

#305 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 02:49 PM:

My mother switched back from using her married name to using her maiden name in the late 1960s (as her kids were leaving school and going to college).

#306 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:16 PM:

thomas @304:

Yes, Sayers was one example I was thinking of. Also Catherine L. Moore, who was married to Henry Kuttner in 1940 and continued to publish as Moore through the 40s and 50s.

And there were artists, too, like Frida Kahlo (married to Diego Rivera).

#307 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Paula Lieberman@294:

> But getting back to my points about Firefly there was nothing at the obvious visual level to show
> any sort of subversion of old TV tropes. And rebels who've not be co-opted into the system
> will almost say that they were on side with the moral rights etc. etc. etc. and generally look
> back that the culture they had or expected to have free of the other side, would have been the
> better etc. culture. I didn;t closely watch Firefly, so I don;t know what internal evidence
> there was. What I did notice about Firefly was stuff that exploded my willing suspension of
> disbelief sufficent that I was too busy wondering just how large Serenity was and what
> were the dimensions inside versus outside, how sizes seemed to keep changing, just where were
> the various parts of the innards of the ship and how did all that fit inside what looked too
> small from the outside for it all to fit... Just what was the physical space that the series
> too place in and where were all those rocks that poeple lived on, how large were they, how
> did they all have atmospheres and one gee gravitation fields...

I suppose you have to take the anti-Alliance folks' attitudes as a given; there's no explanation that I remember about why they don't want to be part of the Alliance and I'm not sure that the series would have been improved by supplying one. Mal supports a lost cause; he's Wrong but Wromantic in opposition to Right but Repulsive, and as well as the Civil War one can think of the Cavaliers, the Pilgrimage of Grace, Wat Tyler, The Prayer Book Rebellion, Captain Swing... it's an old story.

ISTRT from the series, I got the impression that Serenity is definitely making hops between different solar systems, whereas in the film made afterwards, confusing also called Serenity, an infodump at the start places all the worlds in a single solar system (though their comms work FTL, and if you've got an ansible then you've broken physics sufficiently to deserve FTL travel too).

The Firefly set is lovely though it probably doesn't make much sense.

When I was a lad I worried about the layout of the (original and best) Enterprise, and specifically about where the turbo lifts went. There's little room to go up and down in the saucer bit. Engineering was presumably in the big central rocket part. Was the part joining these a sort of office block / residential area where most of the crew did the boring stuff?

#308 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Actually the one big unswallowable impossibility of Firefly, for me, was that shifting rather small quantities of chewy energy bars and beef cattle from planet to planet in a quite heavily-crewed spaceship actually earned money. There is probably no way of doing a plausible capitalistic space economy on the telly. The unit of TV space currency is apparently the Credit; I've never seen a show that makes me really grok how much a credit is supposed to be worth in the way that a Dickens adaptation can show me that five pounds is a lot of money to a poor person.

#309 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:46 PM:

Leah Miller @145: I enjoyed the Big Bang Theory for a while ... The main problem with that show is that it is very difficult to tell which way the knife is meant to cut for most of the jokes, and I think that's deliberate. When I watched, I was laughing with the nerds at the "normals," and that seems to be how people I know who enjoy it see it as well, but I can watch the show and know that the majority of the audience is probably laughing the other direction, so to speak.

THANK you for speaking up. I've gotten in trouble for liking Big Bang, and this thread had started to flash me back to the days when I didn't dare admit in public that I liked Star Trek.

It's one of the very few shows that will make me laugh out loud (donkey-bray tears-streaming can't catch my breath; I discovered I should't watch it while I'm waiting for a doctor's appointment; tends to frighten the passers-by).

I don't parse it as humiliation humor, which I also hate. (I have traditionally had no patience whatever with sitcoms.)

I also love getting all the inside humor—and am impressed at how arcane it gets sometimes.

The way it reads to me is what you get when you throw all of these very different people together and watch how they interact, and contemplating the various failure modes that innevitably arise. I know all of these various people IRL, and feel tremendous affection for them. The humor (for me) comes at the ways they behave orthogonally to each other.

Unkind stuff does slip through; there was a bit of fat-shaming on an ep I watched a while back, and the bit with Howard's mother almost always makes me wince. But, in general, it seems to me that everybody gives as good as they get, and it's less about people being mean to each other, which is what a lot of traditional sitcoms rely on for humor, than it is about just how plain weird people are, whether we're "normal" or not.

On the whole, it's one of my favorite shows these days.

#310 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:51 PM:

Paula: For the movie, the Firefly set was actually pretty much built, so, if you're worried about "just how large Serenity was and what were the dimensions inside versus outside, how sizes seemed to keep changing, just where were the various parts of the innards of the ship and how did all that fit inside what looked too small from the outside for it all to fit" you can check out the Wikipedia article, which seems to have all the information you're looking for.

The astrophysics of the 'verse made no sense. I gave up worrying about it.

#311 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:55 PM:

Someone put my name and relationships up on Ancestry.com without telling me. I want the info deleted, but it seems that in order to edit anything, I have to "become a member". This seems also to be necessary to even email them a damn question.

I don't suppose anyone knows how I can remove my info without joining the fesking site?

#312 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 03:58 PM:

John M. Burt @300: Apparently, that's what my home-town library was doing for a while. A couple of friends of mine found that they could get some nice art books by checking the dumpster, but it kept going on, so they squealed on the library, which promptly decided that it was some unimportant underling that was getting rid of the books. Apparently the books being discarded were of a somewhat liberal slant as well. It's been a while, and I don't remember it all.

#313 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Kip W #312: Wait, "squealed on the library"? To whom? In any case, if the person discarding the books was choosing with a political slant, that could reasonably be a firing offense. If they were doing so without authorization, that would definitely be a firing offence, and might warrant pressing charges!

#314 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:02 PM:

eric @161: I wonder if Whedon could be convinced to do any of the Bujold Vorkosigan saga.

Ohhhh... ::goosebumps:: From your lips to the ghods' ears!

#315 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:08 PM:

I was gratefully amazed by Firefly at first.

Upon second viewing in preparation to watch the looked-forward to Serenity, all the elements that naggled at me in the first go through ratcheted up their volume. By the end of the watching Serenity the second time, all I could see was the sexism, and the political and diversity mess, and the continuity-narrative mess.

As an example of the messes: there is no way that Reavers as they portrayed could pilot a space ship much less cooperate enough to go reaving at all! (Forerunners of the zombie craze they also seem to be, or else the perfect example of non-regulated capitalism rampantly eating the universe?)

Inara was far and away my favorite character. I wanted to find out what she was really up to -- but they kept spoiling it with her absolutely non-believal hanker for Mal -- ugh! -- and all the whores with heart of gold bs. The real story seemed far more ripe with potential that never got told because they just didn't have what it takes to think outside of their imposed boxes. So, as always they fell back on cliches -- and of course, Whedon's very personally most favorite -- the robot sex toy. Triple and quadruple ugh.

And not only the confederate overlay thing -- brown shirts -- that harks to the fascist-nazi era of black shirts and brown shirts marching and beating up undesirables.

Ah well. :)

Love, C.

#316 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:10 PM:

I don't have a problem with what other people like in TV shows, as long as they don't force me to watch it - suggest, sure. Watch with me, sure. If they get upset when I walk away because I can't take it, or start grilling me, then there's a problem.

In real life, I can tell when people are razzing their friends and colleagues about their oopses and gaffes, with the full knowledge that they expect the same back about *theirs*, and everybody's got respect for each others' *strengths* as well; and when either of the two latter cases are absent, at which point it's bullying.

I don't seem to be able to get it on TV shows, and BBT may just be one of those.

I think of it like I think of eggs - *I* don't like it. That doesn't mean that liking it is *wrong*.

You like the "throwing all these varied people together, and contemplating the various failure modes." It just turns out that the only one I'm really comfortable finding funny is hubris (which is why Blackadder is amazing (for me), but I can't stand Mr. Bean, even though I can see the skill required to pull off both characters). In particular, the failure modes I can expect to exhibit, I can't find funny.

It's a personal thing, and YM is certainly normal to V - until it gets to "societal acceptance of bullying", which nobody's ever given me the impression that BBT gets even close to.

#317 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:20 PM:

Speaking of knives, I have one that's similar to this (shorter blade; no scabbard) that I bought a while ago because I thought it was cool.

Turns out I'm kinda creeped out by it's mojo. Juju. Vibe. Whatever. In any case, it needs to be rehomed. No clue as to quality. Anybody who might be interested, feel free to email me.

#318 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Re: the humor/humiliation subthread, I'm reminded of a comment made by Brent Spiner in an interview not long after the release of Star Trek: Generations--"If it don't hurt, it ain't funny." (I have also seen one attribution of this to Stan Laurel but so far haven't been able to confirm it. And since Spiner made the comment as part of a discussion about humor--while he was dressed as Stan Laurel--it's possible things got conflated.) And there's the scene in Stranger in a Strange Land where Valentine Michael Smith finally understands humor as based in pain as a result of his visit to a zoo.

I've thought that rather overstates the case, and yet, when I try to remember some of the things that make me laugh uproariously but are NOT related to some other entity's pain or problems, I can't think any. Even for the ones that I first think don't have that connection (because nothing physically painful has been mentioned/seen/read), when I follow the funny back to its precipitating incident, sure enough there's a character in some kind of emotional turmoil.

Heck, laughing at the antics of puppies or kittens, for example, could be seen as taking humor from their youthful lack of coordination and propensity for taking tumbles, etc.

If this is, therefore, a valid idea--that humor comes from pain--then humiliation humor would seem to be a "logical" extension, since it would cause more pain and thus, be funnier. But I still have trouble buying into it. Anyone who has example that don't fit the mold, please share!

#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:30 PM:

Terry Karney @175: Oh, good. Thanks for the ping.

#320 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Tracie @179: The girl who eats the last cookie is destined to be an old maid.

Oh, that explains it!

#321 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:34 PM:

Trying to avoid getting into a silly flame war with an internet commentor who insists that USAian cheeses are crummy compared with the Great European cheeses and the best North American cheeses are equivalent to the average bricks of cheese that can be found in any British grocery store.

Look, I love a good cheese as much as the next midwesterner (current crush: 4 y.o. gouda. current unrequited love: Osczypek - damn you, American requirement for pasteurization!) but to say "All European Cheeses are awesome, and all US ones are crappy garbage" is just ignorant.

Now if only I had any 7 y.o. Wisconsin Cheddar left to calm me.

#322 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Puns, wordplay, unexpected shifts -- all of these are humor that aren't based in pain (although pain can be involved). The Flying Karamazov Brothers were especially good at setting up things that had the potential to be painful, but resolved in ways that weren't. One example: a character does something stupid, and then asks the audience: "Are you laughing with me, or at me?" The audience yells back, "At you!" He then replies, "At you? Gesundheit!" This turns around the potential embarrassment very cleanly.

#323 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:43 PM:

Peachey is giving a lecture on 18th-century French bookbinding tomorrow evening at Columbia University (523 Butler Library, 6-7.30pm). Anyone up for going?

#324 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:53 PM:

Consrance @ 315... The movie was a bit messy, as if Whedon had tried to stitch together bits and pieces from episodes he'd never gotten to film. And its explanation for the Reavers made no sense. But... There were also things such as this...

"But it ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say."
"I do. But I like to hear you say it."
"Love. You can learn all the math in the 'Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as a turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurtin' before she keels. Makes her a home".

#325 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 04:54 PM:

Syd@318:

> And there's the scene in Stranger in a Strange Land where Valentine Michael Smith finally
> understands humor as based in pain as a result of his visit to a zoo.

On the other hand, the quote I always remember from Time Enough For Love; it goes a bit far but I appreciate the sentiment—

"A 'practical joker' deserves applause for his wit according to its quality. Bastinado is about right. For exceptional wit one might grant keelhauling. But staking him out on an anthill should be reserved for the very wittiest."

(There's so much wrong with that book but I do so like it nonetheless).

#326 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 05:00 PM:

B. Durbin @217: Mal can't separate sex from love because he was raised where the two should be paired, and if they aren't, then you're doing something wrong. Inara was raised where the two are considered separate things.

Yeah, sort of Barrayar vs. Beta, maybe.

#327 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Kip W @228: it may be worth mentioning again that Wil Wheaton

And, of course, looping back to Big Bang Theory, Wil Wheaton has been having way too much fun being Sheldon's arch-nemesis.

#328 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 05:19 PM:

abi @248: Here's thinking hopeful/healing thoughts in the direction of Area Woman's Mum.

#329 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 05:29 PM:

Syd #318: Sorry, but while humiliation and "hurts" humor is certainly a major part (and eagerly exploited by network shows), it's not the whole of humor. I'd say humor (as distinct from laughter) can best be understood as dealing with something that's "disjoint" in some fashion, that otherwise would be too difficult or painful to connect into out worldview -- so we mock it.

Consider: Wordplay and puns construct a verbal disjunction ("wait, that's not what it means"). Bar jokes and the like construct disjunctions of imagery or social conflict, and laughing at clumsy puppies and such protects us from our own empathy. "Tall tales" construct impossibilities and disproportions, and so on. (I'm about to give my nephew a book of Paul Bunyan tales. He's a rather short kid, and I suspect that will add extra humor for him.)

Likewise, threats and disasters that are too big to comprehend, or so overwhelming as to threaten our emotional balance, get defused by mockery. (It was barely two days after the Challenger disaster that I heard "what was the last thing to go through Christa McAuliffe's mind?" A: the windshield.) For personal disasters, "you'll laugh about it later" means, "when you've recovered enough to use humor to defuse the memory". Computerworld's "Shark Tank" mines folks' experience of technical problems, errors, and incompetence, but regularly strays into "Dilbert"'s territory of aggressively stupid bosses and the like. Anytime people can't grasp "how could they possibly think like that", someone's liable to turn it into a joke.

The same goes for threats that are sub-rationally scary -- the fear of humiliation or social stigma, or the threat of sexual rejection (intrinsic to "playing the game") fall under that banner. And as folklorists have long since figured out, fashions in "chain jokes" reflect changing social anxiety -- "blond" jokes cover fear of looking stupid, "slut jokes" are sexual rejection again, "elephant" jokes deal with racial fears(*), "dead baby" jokes were common when birth control and abortion were the hot buttons of the time, and so on.

(*) Sometime I'd like to find out what's the flipside of elephant jokes -- that is, what chain jokes blacks and others use to code their experiences of facing prejudice and oppression. I might not "get" the jokes, but I bet I'd see the same structure of mocking the threat.

#330 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 05:32 PM:

David Harmon @313: To the local college newspaper, if I remember correctly. It may have been the town newspaper, though in the years since I left the place, that paper has gone from being a solid paper with two or three pages of comics to a poorly laid-out shopper with a half page of comics.

Jacque, glad Wil's working.

#331 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 05:38 PM:

abi #248: Scary. I hope everything's settled down and OK now.

#332 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 05:42 PM:

David Harmon @329 -- The classic examples of black chain humor are the "Yo mama" jokes and (more generally) "the dozens." Definitely humor involving insult -- maybe not pain, though.

#333 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:04 PM:

nerdycellist @284: we are thrilled with the new vet, who was happy to listen and explain everything with the assumption that just because we weren't veterinarians didn't mean we were idiots.

Yay! Clueful vets are a blessing. I've finally got (I think) most of the staff at my current place trained that, yes, I am going to come in back to the treatment-room with the pigs. (Except, of course, for X-rays.)

#334 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:06 PM:

nerdycellist in regards to Easy-Bake ovens, I always wondered what the appeal was in regards to the fact that you could maybe use the big oven as well (or even a properly-designed toaster oven.) I recently came across this amusing anecdote:

The Boy: What!? Is that a real toy! Is that for real?!
Me: Yes. [sigh] Those things have been around forever.
The Boy: That’s it! That’s what I want for Christmas!
Me: [heavier sigh] It’s a girls toy.
The Boy: I don’t care. It looks awesome!
Me: But it’s pink.
The Boy: I don’t care if it’s got purple ponies and rainbows on it. I want it.
Me: What? Why?
The Boy: It makes food! Food that you can eat!
Me: You wanna make food? We have a microwave and stove right there.
The Boy: What? That thing? [pointing to the stove] Does it even work?
Me: What? Yes, of course it works. What do you mean, “does it work”?
The Boy: Then why are we having PB&J’s and cocktail nuts for dinner?
Of course, I also recently saw a thread which started with the question "What do you do when your child plays with toys of the wrong gender?" I had to restrain myself forcibly (because "SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET!") from storming in there with the dual answers of a) "Nothing." and b) "There's no such thing as toys of the wrong gender."

At some point when I have more motivation, I'm going to do some fabric design of dinosaurs in traditionally "girly" colors. I'll be sure to post a link when I do.

#335 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:11 PM:

Dave Bell @288: The opening of Galactic Patrol just reeks of Triumph of the Will: black-and-silver Patrol uniforms and incredibly precise marching.

Perhaps it's just my provicialism showing, but I was somewhat boggled last week when Netflix offered up Triumph of the Will for instant viewing.

#336 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:15 PM:

"How can you tell there's an elephant in your refrigerator? You see footprints in the cheesecake." is about racial fears and not about ridiculous changes of scale?

So I googled, and a discussion of the subtext of elephant jokes. I want jokes about the anxiety caused by people inventing disreputable unproveable subtexts for things that look a great deal like harmless fun.

Has there been any theorizing done about how living with theories about the disreputable stuff in other people's subconsciouses is like living in a distributed Panopticon?

#337 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:18 PM:

So why is this funny?

YMMV, of course, but I laugh every time I see it. And I don't feel that the beastie is humiliating itself, either; it appears to be having a blast.

#338 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:30 PM:

Steve 307: Mal supports a lost cause; he's Wrong but Wromantic in opposition to Right but Repulsive

I still haven't seen anyone give evidence of any actual wrongness on the part of the Independents! Do you just believe that the winners are automatically right, or that unification is always better than separation, or what?

Shorter: why do you say Mal was Wrong? Just because his side lost?

Mycroft 316: *I* don't like it. That doesn't mean that liking it is *wrong*.

Thank you. Too many people (not in this thread so far, with one exception) appear to confuse their personal preferences with objective judgements of quality. Personally, I learned this lesson in Germany in 1976; having learned to judge the quality of beer, I discovered that I only liked really BAD BEER. (I attribute this to my teenage sweet tooth.)

A friend of mine claims that everyone has their personal brand of trash: things they love that they know are not of the best quality, or perhaps even love BECAUSE they're of low quality.

I know I do.

Syd 318: Heck, laughing at the antics of puppies or kittens, for example, could be seen as taking humor from their youthful lack of coordination and propensity for taking tumbles, etc.

Yes, but the puppies and kittens aren't suffering. If they are, it's evil to laugh at them. I don't understand why this is hard to understand.

Tom 322: Puns, wordplay, unexpected shifts -- all of these are humor that aren't based in pain (although pain can be involved).

Thank you. Heinlein wasn't an oracle, in fact I would not hold him up as an example to be emulated, at least on ethics or humor.

#339 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:44 PM:

Syd @318: "If it don't hurt, it ain't funny."

Pain "humor" certainly seems to be the most basic (base?) form. (Popular Roman entertainments come immediately to mind.)

But I think there are many different kinds of funny. In addition to "pain," there's laughter of appreciation, laughter of recognition, laughter of surprise (exp. when expectations are set up, then violated, e.g., "Hey! Why do you have a carrot in your ear?" "Because they were out of celery.")

Oft times, the things in BBT that make me laugh the hardest are of the "clever wordplay" variety. In another case the skill of the physical humor (Leonard trying to catch Sheldon in the ball pit—Jim Parsons's "spy-hopping" just had me absolutely in stitches.)

I have traditionally found slap-stick humor to be highly repellent, but lately I find I've developed a taste for it—when done really well. There's a scene in Frasier when Miles is trying to iron a shirt and winds up setting the couch on fire that was...well, David Hyde Pierce created a masterpiece of physical comedy, in my book. But it's the physical mastery and comic timing that does it for me rather than the "humor" of the situation. If that makes any sense.

Marvelous discussion of the different kinds of laughter in this Charlie Rose interview.

#340 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:47 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, I'm with you on elephant jokes. They're not in their own category for me-- they're Stupid Jokes, like what's brown and sticky. Which doesn't have anything to do with elephants.

#341 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Diatryma @340 elephant jokes. They're not in their own category for me-- they're Stupid Jokes

Actually, for me, they're Silly Jokes. Just goofy and fun.

And that's also why snow-crazed stoats are funny: weapons-grade silly.

#342 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 06:57 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @336: I have loved elephant jokes since I was *this* tall, but I have never before encountered the one about four blind elephants trying to figure out what a human is by touch. Thank you.

#343 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:05 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #336: I note that under "Symbolism", the WP article cites Abrahams and Dundes, but not Jan Brunvand, who reported in one of his books how he found out about the racial subtext, by telling one to his (black) secretary.... Certainly there's room for argument back and forth, as in any social science, but I find Brunvand's explication pretty convincing. In contrast, The Jimmy Durante routine the article cites strikes me as "sometimes, an elephant is just an elephant".

Now a chain can certainly "drift", being elaborated into new areas by people who don't "get" the subtext -- but if they drift too far, they get reattached to a different pattern -- and a different group of tellers. Consider the editor of a children's jokebook. "We need some new elephant jokes...". But what you get then are jokes that are targeted to young children. -- adults and even adolescents won't retell them among themselves. Likewise, the "parody riddles" described would appeal to kids who are just growing out of the original riddles... and their parents, who have heard the originals so many times that mocking them is a release. To folks for whom they don't relieve a specific stressor, those late derivatives can be "just silly"... but then they don't form a distinct chain anymore, they're just another bit of silliness.

Signing off for now, because I've got a birthday card to draw....

#344 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:13 PM:

Diatryma, thank you.

I'm going to use some stronger language. My initial reactions to finding those arguments taken seriously in the Wikipedia article was partly like the way I felt when I heard an NPR interview with the fellow who thinks the Japanese stock market isn't going up because the Japanese emperor has had sex with the (demonic) Sun goddess. [1]

Admittedly, Terry Gross wasn't trying to make C. Peter Wagner look good, but if I had my druthers I would not be living in a world where such people are important enough to get interviewed in the respectable media.

Another part of my reaction is "may I never hope to be a good person again". I'm not sure that this is reasonable, and I may mean something like "good person" as in socially approved of, but I'm just sick of this sort of covert attack.

Also, I'm working on an allegorical reading of Armstrong's _A Dram of Poison_, where the poison has symbolic resonance with how a bad theory (Freudianism) has life-poisoning effects.

Also, it's amazing how the anxiety and jokes theory sees racism where I'm pretty sure there is none, and fails to see that there might be sexism in blonde jokes.

[1] Seems like the kind of premise which would end up in Tim Powers' waste basket.

#345 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:23 PM:

OT, but have to mention here that I **LOVE** "A Dram of Poison".

#346 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:25 PM:

I actually think there's something to the racialism-in-elephant-jokes theory, but then I took a folklore class from Dundes back in 1970 (which is, in fact, where I learned about The Dozens). Dundes was a smart man.

This does not mean that I think that everyone who tells elephant jokes thinks they're racist, or even recognizes the racial elements in them. Or that all elephant jokes are equally racially charged.

#347 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:25 PM:

> I still haven't seen anyone give evidence of any actual wrongness on the part of the Independents!
> Do you just believe that the winners are automatically right, or that unification is always
> better than separation, or what?

> Shorter: why do you say Mal was Wrong? Just because his side lost?

Well, 'Wrong' might be... wrong (but Wromantic is definitely Wright). But although it's a whimsical way of looking at the show I don't think it's a perverse one. Is the Alliance really such an Evil Empire? Some of its blue-handed minions do awful things (but they kill people in Alliance uniforms too when it's convenient); its officers levy taxes and enforce (presumably) some sort of Federal law, but what of that? Perhaps they're planning to fund some badly-needed WPA-style infrastructure projects on the outer worlds. The Alliance tolerates slavery, but did we hear any evidence that the Independents were against it?

Mal's just a man trying to earn a living without having his affairs messed around with too much by the government, but I'm sure the bullying sheriffs and mayors in every dusty town claim precisely the same thing. Perhaps there are some wrongs that only Big Government can right, and an Alliance victory would have wrecked any chance of progress and top-down reform. We don't know.

(Disclaimer: I know only the TV series and the film, so for all I know I'm proved completely wrong by the comics)

#348 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:30 PM:

Um...if my comment has left members of the Fluorosphere believing I enjoy or would excuse humiliation humor, I don't and wouldn't--I've been on the receiving end of far too much of it to ever find it funny when pointed at others. I hold it to be one of the lowest common denominators in the humor universe, which may account for why there seems to be so much of it available on TV these days. Ditto for insult "humor", in that it always struck me as "trying to make ourselves feel better by making others feel worse". Not something I enjoy.

For someone who appreciates funny wordplay and puns as much as I do (***waves at Serge***), forgetting that category was a rather large gaffe on my part. Yoicks. Laughter at threats/tragedy via jokes (Marvin Gaye jokes, Ethiopian famine jokes, as well as David Harmon's examples at 329) I can understand as a coping mechanism, a way of distancing ourselves from something until we can process it. The pain it involves is too large to be dealt with immediately, perhaps?

Xopher @ 338: Yes, but the puppies and kittens aren't suffering. If they are, it's evil to laugh at them. I don't understand why this is hard to understand. // I don't know what it is about that last sentence, but I find myself feeling very defensive, as if you think I advocated laughing at suffering. I do not. There's a huge difference between laughing at a kitten gamboling about on the sofa and continuing to laugh if it misses a jump and lands hard on the floor--at which point you make sure it isn't hurt. If my words made you think I do so advocate, I retract them. And if I misunderstood your meaning, I apologize.

#349 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:41 PM:

If anyone can track down the Brunvand/secretary/elephant joke story, I'd be very grateful.

Meanwhile, Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness may be of interest.

The author argues that, as a result of overt racism not being publicly acceptable, both black and white people are looking for tinier and tinier bits of evidence of prejudice against them. It looks as though everyone is losing their minds, but it's actually a rational response to a difficult situation.

#350 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:43 PM:

Oddly enough, I *like* slapstick - provided it's of good calibre, and provided it isn't all one target. The Three Stooges, at their best, are incredible, and watching it from the theatre tech perspective (and seeing how it all has to be staged and set to get right) is amazing. But I find the humour in Mr. Bean is supposed to be "he tries *sooo* hard, but he's *sooo* incompetent" (or unlucky, but that's not always there). And that turns me off.

I actually *like* insult comedy, provided it's, again, on the level. The roast-style insults are fine, because everyone knows "on Thursday, it's your turn in the well" (and, if necessary, there are some off-the-table places, negotiated beforehand). The comics that beat up on the audience - no. The comics that nail themselves - sure.

I am happy with sexist and racist humour, too (for which I should probably be embarrassed) (and I realise that I'm happy in my nice warm white male privilege cloud) - but again, only as long as it's obvious it's not meant overtly. I had one song in my collection that was actually a very funny and very racist "Rudolph" parody - until I found another of the singer's songs, at which point revulsion kicked in, because he was a full-on white supremacist, and wasn't just "playing the game."

But no matter what, it has to be good. Risky humour, like bagpipe playing, doesn't come in "okay" flavour - it's either good, or horrible.

#351 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:53 PM:

Steve 347: Is the Alliance really such an Evil Empire?

They imposed an empire from without, against the wishes of the people of several of the territories the Alliance decided should be theirs. Evil enough for you? (This is like the British Empire, and yes, I do think they were an Evil Empire.)

Syd 348: No, I'm the one who owes an apology. I overinterpreted your statement in the light of the earlier part of your post. I'm sorry.

#352 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:02 PM:

Abi and other Nederlanders: Tiger Beatdown has an article about Zwarte Piet, mostly regarding how it is seen by non-whites and non-natives, and how natives respond to criticism of the tradition. Any observations to add? I'm curious to see how valid each side of the racism/tradition conflict is considered in a country where slavery was that thing that happened in the New World, rather than a thing that happened at home.

#353 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:11 PM:

Paula Lieberman@294: Actually, leaving aside Mal as the main character, the supporting ensemble was exactly 50-50: River and Simon, Zoe and Wash, Jayne, Inara, Book, Kaylee. It's true that the sex ratio drops below 50% when you add Mal himself back in.

PL later: #225 David
Athena sprang full-grown from Zeus....

I find that the phrase "What's your point?" has become unusable in any but a joking way. Interesting. But quite honestly I don't see how this is relevant to anything that's been said so far in the thread about Greco-Roman myth. Can you unpack?

On humor: I've written before that I think there are several distinct pathways to triggering the reward mechanism of laughter. I think of the most basic as "making sense of the world" -- something happens that violates an expectation, and the conflict of mental world-models creates tension; then you figure out what's happening, and reconcile your world-models, and the relief of tension triggers laughter. Often this process is so fast that you can't consciously notice it, of course. But (as Jacque notes in #339) there's lots of different kinds of laughter and comedians feel perfectly free to mix them.

I bet most of the people here have had the experience of being stumped on trying to solve a puzzle, and then having the solution come in a flash of insight...and laughter. That's laughter that isn't based on laughing at pain.

#354 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:23 PM:

I have a post trapped by gnomes. In general, should I wait to mention this, and if so, for about how long?

I do think that insults and pain are very easy ways to get a laugh, and I wonder if some fraction of hostile humor as much a result of people not knowing other ways to be funny as it is from actual hostility, even if it does have the same effect as actual hostility.

My general theory of humor is that it's about harmless surprise, with both "harmless" and "surprise" being very contextual. "Harmless" can mean "harmless to the joketeller" or "the joke teller wishes to distance themselves from having been harmed".

As for Heinlein, sometimes he was right and sometimes he was wrong, but he was very good at sounding certain regardless.

#355 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:37 PM:

Nancy, I've seen abi say that she prefers you mention it as quickly as possible. This is partly because if your two posts are right together, adding the first one and deleting the "mention" means subsequent posts don't have bad number references.

#356 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:45 PM:

I find that the humor I like best involves when something makes more sense than you expected it to. This is hard to explain, but for example puns are a bargain because you get 2 meanings for the price of one. Or something is absurd in one way but makes perfect sense in another. I have never held much with the idea that humor is basically sadistic, and that must be related to my discomfort with my tittering relatives.
I don't have kids, but I sometimes wander thru toy stores anyway. I notice that the ones I wander thru are the high-end, "educational" ones not stuffed with tv-derived, gender-riddled crap.
I also notice that REI is real gendered when it comes to clothes. The cut may be the same, especially for the kids, but the colors are always divvied up to fit someone's gender ideas. Just perpetuating the stereotypes. Stupid. Why can't everyone wear whatever color they like? It's not enough that they change the colors every year--a particular shade of very-dark-maroon that I liked but could not afford went out of sight before I got money. And don't get me started on the silly names for the colors--to me that isn't objectionable, just funny.

#357 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 09:00 PM:

311
If you let me know what the database name is (and what names you want removed), I can send a message to the owner. FWIW, they don't generally allow information for living people born after the last public census, but it's very patchy - I don't have any information (other than name) for them in my file, to protect my living family.
here: pj (dot) evans (dot) gen (at) usa (dot) net

#358 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 09:34 PM:

Thank you, Xopher--'sall good!

#359 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 09:49 PM:

Jacque, #339: On the violation of expectations --

Q. Why do mice have small balls?
A. Because most of them don't know how to dance!

It's all the funnier (IMO) because you're expecting a dirty joke, and then it's not.

Open Threadiness: Punctuation-shaped lamps. Perfect for a writer or editor's office!

#360 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 09:51 PM:

abi, will you give us a quick update on how your mom's doing?

#361 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 09:55 PM:

#296 nerdycellist
It's the backlash and the ill-liberal recidivists. Makes me want to paint lavender hermaphroditic symbols all over the facility at MIT funded by David Koch....

#321 nerdycellist
It's a state to state issue--some states allow commercial sale of cheese made from unpasteurized milk, including Massachusetts, as long as the cheese has been ages some minumum number of days.

#323 Jon
I have three conflicts for tomorrow night. The one I'm most likely to go to is a memorial celebration among people who knew Mike Padlipsky.

#306 Bruce
Pseudonyms and writing bylines went/go by other rules. There was no way to be certain "C. L. Moore" was female from buying a magazine.


#326 Jacque
Not exactly like Barrayar--Barrayar has the old nasty double standard....

#352 David
Someone said something about grandchildren and time compression sort of thing... my point about Athena was that if the offspring could emerge full grown and then progenerate another full grown generation--hmm, the dragon;s teeth were, too--then the time compression wouldn't be a problem

#362 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 09:56 PM:

Per Chr. J. @292, oh, yeah, The Office. The British version, in particular. Those of you out there who are distressed by shows that extract humor from embarrassing and humiliating situations --- do not under any conditions watch the British version of The Office. It could kill you.

As I said above, I don't have that particular soft spot, and even I find watching that show to be a particularly painful kind of pleasure. A bit like probing a loose tooth with one's tongue. Or, hey, remember the episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye orders ribs from his favorite barbecue place in Chicago, and he goes on about how he nursed a cut on his upper lip for a year because of the exquisite pain that barbecue sauce caused? Like that.

#363 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 10:04 PM:

We read the threads more often than we trawl through the slough of spam that fills the Gnomed Queue.

#364 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 10:06 PM:

What broke my suspension of disbelief was that the Serenity was powered by a giant eggbeater.

#365 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 11:24 PM:

Paula Lieberman: Jawdrop. They used a belt sander on a knife blade? Where in the universe were their grinding wheels and whetstones. I'm aghast!

They used a belt sander on a satin-finish knife blade where half of the blade was serrated. They've got an outstanding collection of things for sale, and I'll happily buy knives and other pointy things from them, but there is no way on earth, above it, or below it that I will ever have them sharpen anything again. I've seriously thought about sending it back to Kershaw and seeing if they'd replace the blade under their warranty.

#366 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 11:28 PM:

Avram mentions the British version of The Office.

I haven't seen that, but I just finished watching a couple of seasons of Extras, Ricky Jervais' follow-up series.

It is simultaneously brilliant and breathtakingly painful.

The first season use the embarrassment / humiliation thing sparingly, to good effect. It was entertaining and funny to watch Jervais' ambitious actor character torpedo himself, usually by crass behavior and insensitive behavior.

In season two, "Andy" sells out and achieves a measure of success (his own wretched sitcom), and thus seems to become a target for wicked karmic payback. And the situations become really unbearable. There's a definite artistry to the setups, but I really couldn't enjoy it.

Jervais is enjoyable in small doses. He had a guest spot on the brooding comedy Louie, playing a doctor who "took the piss" out of the titular comic. A few minutes of raunchy patter were just about right.

#367 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 11:50 PM:

Paula@361: Ah, okay. Still, Athena was a special case -- a goddess, and the offspring of two gods. Achilles was the offspring of only one god, and was himself mortal; Achilles' son was the offspring of two mortals. Doesn't quite work for me, I'm afraid.

#368 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 12:31 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II: "I've seriously thought about sending it back to Kershaw and seeing if they'd replace the blade under their warranty."

I'd do that. With a note that they should send out a warning about certain cutlery companies that should know better.

#369 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:08 AM:

A Klingon and a Romulan fall off a tall building at the same time.
Q: Which one hit the ground first?
A: The Romulan. The Klingon had to stop and ask for directions.

(from http://members.outpost10f.com/~lindax/hp/voyfun/jokes/joke_var_22.html )

#370 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:28 AM:

shadowsong @352:

I disagree with about 50% of what Tiger Beatdown has said, mostly to do with the conflation of American racial culture ("blackface") with Dutch racial culture. That extends to my views of their descriptions of the protests and the reactions to the protests; TB assumes a number of things I don't consider to be in evidence.

In particular, I don't think the video they linked to depicts the level of brutality the ascribe to it. And I don't think that Dordrecht was nearly as appropriate a protest venue as they do. Making a stink at a children's event to raise their parents' consciousness is not behavior that the Dutch regard with sympathy. (Making a stink as opposed to opening a dialog is already Instant Fail in the Netherlands; Occupy Amsterdam's slogan is "Something has gone wrong. We need to talk.")

Racism is a huge problem in the Netherlands, and like every other Dutch attitude, it's expressed with breathtaking frankness. But it's a different problem than American racism, and bringing either American analysis or American protests to the problem is...not helpful. It makes the fundamental problem worse, actually, since the entire issue here is about the definition of Dutchness, and core to the Dutch identity is the rule that we talk things out to solve them.

#371 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 03:25 AM:

If you're up, consider having a look at the #ows hashtag over on Twitter. https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23ows

Echoes of the Bonus Army, and no FDR in sight. It's a very sad day to be an American.

#372 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 04:22 AM:

Paula Lieberman#361 - memorial celebration among people who knew Mike Padlipsky
I never knew him personally, but The Elements of Networking Style was a major influence on my work in the 80s.

#373 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 04:32 AM:

nerdycellist@321, tell your cheese troll to go to Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County, and then have them stop at the Marin French Cheese company when they've finished that. But even a trip to a Whole Foods out here would be a good start (though lots of their cheeses are European.) I'll leave discussions of Midwestern cheeses to people who know them better.

#374 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:00 AM:

ObSF: Asimov's Jokester

Ah, Multivac.

#375 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:34 AM:

Angiportus @ 182

A bit late, but in my own case, I will sometimes laugh while discussing something exquisitely painful to me -- as an expression of helpless sorrow. In my case, sad laughter often reflects a mixture of emotions -- sadness, and a simultaneous need and effort to move on and try to recover, and both rue and guilt over the way things haven't quite worked out for the best, despite best intentions. It's the only way I know to express that particular blend of emotions, especially when they are very strong.

It's a completely different kind of laughter from a nervous titter, but my observation is that in addition to anything else going on, both responses seem to be affected by a strong sense that it is not socially acceptable to discuss unpleasant topics in a public setting; from that perspective the laughter becomes both an acknowledgement of the questionable appropriateness of the subject matter and a way of releasing the tension between needing to be politely neutral and needing to discuss a topic that is weighing on the individual but which does not fall within the rules for polite discourse.

#376 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:38 AM:

B. Durbin @334 --

you can design your own fabric at spoonflower.com, and at least a couple of people have done dinosaurs with 'girly' (bleah) colors, frex -- http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/630510

#377 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 07:04 AM:

David Goldfarb #367: Well, there was also at least one hero who was noted as maturing at double the normal speed, and various other related oddities.

As per my "Greek Heros" class back at college (taught by the inimitable Gregory Nagy), one of the standard attributes of any Greek hero (not just the warriors, but poet- and lover-heroes as well) was some form of untimeliness or "unseasonality" -- they were always somehow ajar from the normal progression of things. (Also, a patron deity who would eventually kill or transform them, and I've forgotten the other two over the last 25 years.)

Also, don't over-analyze the chronology of a collectively-generated mythology dating from before numbered calendars. ;-)

#378 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 07:30 AM:

The police have really done a number on the Occupation in Liberty Plaza. I'd suggest the best reaction was already planned:

Thursday
November 17th
International Day of Action

#379 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 08:05 AM:

#376 ::: Debbie:

I liked those fabrics-- it's ok with me if people do dinosaurs in arbitrary colors as long as I like the quality of the colors and the drawings.

#380 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 08:16 AM:

HLN: Local man stays up till silly o'clock for the home sprint of his current novel, giving a NaNoWriMo-worthy terminal velocity of over 5,000 words in 24 hrs. Local man now in possession of 185K of crappy first draft in want of a revision. Easter announced as personal deadline for finished product.

Further stunned, but general and non-spoilery, wibblings observed on local man's website.

#381 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 08:26 AM:

Tom Whitmore #332: AIUI, the dozens act as a "duel of wits" within the culture. What I'm wondering about is the jokes they tell in friendly (probably all-black) groups, that bear subtext about whites.

Nancy Lebovitz #349: I don't have the book to hand, but there's a Brunvand at the shop that might be the right volume, I'll check. (Though given recent experiences with mythology, I'm starting to wonder if I might have assigned him something I read in a Dundas book Way Back In the Folklore Class.) And certainly there can be sexism in blonde jokes... I don't think it's the distinguishing feature of that chain, but as I noted, chains can drift -- and unlike the children's-joke example I made, sexism is a strong enough stressor to carry extra chains. Remember, in social science, explanations are almost never exclusive. Human psychology is multi-layered, and so is each sphere that forms around it (e.g., society, culture, tradition).

Also, "the joke teller wishes to distance themselves from having been harmed" is an excellent way to describe why racism, sexism, disaster, and tragedy all spawn joke chains.

Has there been any theorizing done about how living with theories about the disreputable stuff in other people's subconsciouses is like living in a distributed Panopticon?

There's at least a couple of folklorists who've turned their analysis on their peers. More generally, this sort of thing is why psychoanalytic reasoning so often unnerves people. (Stuff gets pushed into the Jungian Shadow for a reason....) A big part of combating prejudice is learning to spot areas where it's been internalized and/or coded into the social rules. Consider the discussion above about Hestia leaving Olympus in favor of Dionysus. Did that remind anyone else of "the women" retreating to the kitchen as "the men" start drinking after dinner?

Paula: #361: As noted, Athena isn't a hero -- her (re)birth (she had been swallowed by Zeus) ties her into the Theogony cycle. And the Dragon's-Teeth warriors aren't even characters! Also, when you're quoting Davids and other common names, please include surnames!

David Goldfarb, Angiportus, KeyTei: That sort of nervous laughter is one of the reasons I specifically distinguished humor from laughter, which latter has several more social and personal functions. Consider the business of laughing at the boss's "jokes", whether or not they're otherwise funny -- there, it's reinforcing dominance -- but that's distinguished quite subtly from the shared pseudojokes that instead reinforce community among peers.

An example of that last: even here on ML, Serge's puns, Paula's diatribes, the widespread interest in knitting, the struggles with the gnomes, and other commonalities, all have occasionally been invoked as community "metajokes". It's not funny in itself that a particular person often makes puns, but it is a feature of the community, and invoking it reinforces the community.

And separately to Bruce E. Durocher II #365: Reminds me of a line from another classic book: roughly, "They had a skilled and delicate task to perform, and they chose to perform it like chimpanzees."

#382 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 08:46 AM:

abi @248

A similar thing (more or less) happened to my nan shortly after my grandad died - she was driving back from a Christmas visit, became confused and pulled over to the side of the road, and subsequently couldn't remember the events of the past few days. I don't think her recollection of those days ever came back, but she had no other ill effects and (a decade or so later) there've been no other incidents. At the time we thought stress/distress was probably the proximate cause.

n=1 and the symptoms aren't identical, I know, but I thought you might like to hear it.

#383 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:04 AM:

#381 ::: David Harmon:

You might be interested in Afraid of the Dark: What Whites and Blacks Need to Know about Each Other, written by a white man with a black wife. I'm reading it rather slowly, so I don't know whether it has material about jokes.

In regards to idea of a distributed Panopticon: I'm interested in emotional policing, and I suppose I can now add the gotcha! game.

An essay about the overlap between feminism and libertarianism-- what was important to me in it was the idea that the patriarchy is everywhere [1] if you start seeing it, and libertarians see government in a very different way than most people, and it's very easy to accuse other people of willful blindness.

One thing I'm looking at is how much of what is claimed to have specific causes is actually based in general human traits. For example, is it possible that joke genres come and go, not because of changing anxieties, but because people want some novelty in their jokes and eventually the novelty gets used up?

[1] Link included as a public service-- someone else would have brought it in if I didn't.

#384 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:38 AM:

After reading a couple more posts from the ignorant cheese troll, I have decided to drop it. The last comment - that the best WI cheddar couldn't hold a candle to her Sainsbury's mass-produced brick - shows that she is both an idiot and a reflexive "European things are sooooo much better" with, frankly, crap taste in cheese.

I mean, that Brie I had doesn't taste half as good as the slab of Velveeta in my fridge, therefore all French cheese is lousy.

I still can't believe that with all the conversation I get into on that site as an ex-mormon, opinionated feminist and occasional spokes-fatty, that the topic which nearly leads me into flame-war and trollery is Cheese.

#385 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:49 AM:

#384 ::: nerdycellist:

Maybe you knew the others were hot topics, but you didn't have your guard up about cheese.

#386 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:57 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 385... you didn't have your guard up about cheese

Coming soon, "A Few Gouda Men"!!!

#387 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:05 AM:

Serge @386 Coming soon, "A Few Gouda Men"

I thought it would be the Swiss Guards.

(also, applause)

#388 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:17 AM:

"Once more onto the Brie!"
- Shakespeare's "Omlet V"

#389 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:20 AM:

OtterB... (my own applause to you)

#390 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:20 AM:

#384 ::: nerdycellist:

Maybe you knew the others were hot topics, but you didn't have your guard up about cheese.

#391 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:30 AM:

Gray Woodland @ #380:

Congratulations!

#392 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:42 AM:

Nancy L:

I think it's just very hard to distinguish between:

a. I'm looking at your actions and inferring a background belief, error, desire, motive, and bringing it out into the open to help us communicate.

b. I'm looking at your actions and inferring a background belief, error, desire, motive, and bringing it out into the open to shut you up or score points off you.

Sometimes (often?) both are happening.

In political discussions, there's nothing in the world more common than for someone to "helpfully interpret" his opponents' statements or viewpoints or policies. Shockingly, these are always motivated by horrible things--racism, hatred of America, anti-Semitism, homophobia, class envy, callous selfishness, etc.

And yet, sometimes, someone pointing out the implications or background assumptions in something I'm saying has really helped me understand more about either myself or the matter in discussion.

#393 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:56 AM:

David, #381: Given that I don't think I've ever heard a blonde* joke with a man as the butt, I'd say sexism is definitely one of the root values of that sub-class.


* Interesting trivia point: the spell-checking function accepts "blond" but flags "blonde". I thought both spellings were standard English usage, and one of the few places where we retain gender differences in spelling.

#394 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 12:55 PM:

HLN: Water is falling out of the sky, here, in Texas, where no water has fallen since prehistoric times. Local woman's cats are unhappy.

#395 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:00 PM:

nerdycellist @ 384:

But, seriously, Grommet, what could be more important than Cheese?

#396 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:22 PM:

Dangerous Sidelights: In PNH's Sidelights, Kaspersky squawked like hell just now about some kind of Trojan infesting the "The McRib as arbitrage" link.

#397 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:23 PM:

There's some evidence that laughter — the physical reflex — is one of the ways the body safely "burns off" adrenaline. This would tie into both "nervous laughter" (and other cases when it is seen as emotionally inappropriate) and to humor as someone else's pain (which could be either adrenaline buildup due to sympathy for the victim, or one's own fight-or-flight reflex being triggered by a perceived "attack" on one's position (physical, social, ...)). Also, to some extent any form of discord can trigger it, which is where wordplay and such come in.

#398 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:31 PM:

Too many people (not in this thread so far, with one exception) appear to confuse their personal preferences with objective judgements of quality.

*cough* Spider Robinson *cough*

I don't like coffee or alcohol, Spider, and thus Irish coffee is right out. That doesn't make me a bad person.

#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:35 PM:

mjfgates @342: the one about four blind elephants trying to figure out what a human is by touch.

Made me lol and scare the guinea pigs.

Elephant jokes & racism? I'm sorry. I think Abrahams and Dundes need(ed?) to get a life. ::sigh::

Syd @348: There's a huge difference between laughing at a kitten gamboling about on the sofa and continuing to laugh if it misses a jump and lands hard on the floor--at which point you make sure it isn't hurt.

Lila @337: So why is this funny?

For me it's the complete incongruity/unexpectedness of the stoat coming to a halt, thinking about it for a sec, and then just randomly going *SPUNG* straight up in the air. It's as if the jump happens to the stoat, rather than something the stoat is doing. And then all of its subsequent antics are in reaction to this weird thing having happened to it. "Wait! Who did that to me!? Come out and face me! I dare ya!"

#400 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:36 PM:

Debbie: Spoonflower is one of the places I was looking at, yeah. But I'm going to draw my own dinosaurs, goofy-style. And I'll have them in several color ranges, so if you want pink, there's your pink, and if you want green, there's your greens. My MiL is an inspired quilter and I'm going to take color ideas from her style.

#401 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:46 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @354: My general theory of humor is that it's about harmless surprise, with both "harmless" and "surprise" being very contextual. "Harmless" can mean "harmless to the joketeller" or "the joke teller wishes to distance themselves from having been harmed".

Hm. Lemme float this notion:

I suspect it's more about "distancing" than it is about "harmless."

I'm going to toss out the notion that the "distance" required for humor is inversely proportional to the teller's personal sense of "safety."

In cases where the teller feels very unsafe, laughter will be more likely about pain happening to someone from whom the "teller" wants to increase distance; e.g., bullies. "It's funny to do this to you because it could never happen to me. (Or, that's what I'm telling myself as I whistle in the dark of my life.)"

As we feel safer, more empowered, and a greater sense of belonging, laughter can be a response to recognition, identification, and association. "Excuse me. I resemble that remark!"

...??

#402 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:50 PM:

Lee @359: On the violation of expectations -- Q. Why do mice have small balls? It's all the funnier (IMO) because you're expecting a dirty joke, and then it's not.

Yes, exactly. And this one has the added layer of emotional shifting, as well: the buildup of anxiety/anticipation of the dirty joke, then the release of that tension.

#403 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:56 PM:

Allan Beatty @364: What broke my suspension of disbelief was that the Serenity was powered by a giant eggbeater.

You know, I had to work some to stretch my disbelief suspenders around that, until I saw Jon Singer making a laser out of materials that were readily available in the Victorian era.

#404 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 02:07 PM:

One could point out that the NCC-1701's original nacelles each had an eggbeater.

#405 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 02:48 PM:

Jennifer Baughman #394:

*This* area woman's cat not unhappy, just in seclusion in the closet behind a bunch of shirts on the lower rack, which she does about half the mornings anyway. She did skip the "come in my room and nuzzle my feet" bit, which is a trifle unlike her.

(We got .63 inch; how about you? I would have been happier with at least three times that, as threatened by TV types last night.)

#406 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:23 PM:

joann #405:

Got about .84 inch, was hoping for much more, but it's a start?

One of my cats Does.Not.Like.Thunder, and she sometimes tries to deal with it by chasing the other cat. Who is extremely sedentary by nature, even for a cat. Thus, both cats end up out of sorts. :)

#407 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:26 PM:

Steve #347:

I think all that makes the Alliance, and the rebel worlds' desire to avoid being under its control, very much like real-world questions of governance. In reality, even pretty nasty governments do important and worthwhile stuff--the Soviets funded good research, ran hospitals, built power plants and roads, ran schools, etc., despite being willing to ship dissidents off to years of hard labor in the GULAGs, send their army to crush uprisings in allies' countries, etc. The current US federal government, which is way better than the USSR in most ways, feeds hungry children in one place while it bombs them somewhere else, funds medical research that may save a great many lives while also locking a shocking fraction of its own citizens in awful prisons, etc.

As far as the layout of the 'verse, I thought the original idea was a single solar system with a large number of terraformed, settled planets and moons. If they hadn't inserted ansibles for simplicity of exposition (allowing video calls from other planets in real-time), they'd have a setup that would allow people no more advanced than we are to do most of what they do. That is, if there were 40-50 habitable and inhabited planets and moons in *this* solar system, we'd be using technology we could develop in a few decades to get back and forth between them. (By contrast, getting back and forth between a colony at the nearest star in any kind of practical timeframe would require huge advances in technology, or vast expenditures plus incredible luck for each one-way trip.)

Firefly's technology wasn't remotely advanced enough to have moved and terraformed a bunch of planets and moons. Not even if you assume the Alliance core worlds are a lot more advanced. Nor was it advanced enough to have made the trip from Earth, really. What might make sense (if they had tried to make a coherent back story) is if the original human colonizers had had some kind of massive collapse in technology, perhaps as a result of an internal power struggle, after having made the journey, moved and terraformed the worlds, and begun populating them. Alternatively, it might work if they *found* a nicely arranged, terraformed-for-humans system and with enormous effort, managed to get a small group of humans there a few hundred years ago, with some minimal supplies and all the accumulated technology/science of old Earth. (Assuming something like cold-sleep and fusion reactors, perhaps mag-orion on the way out and a magsail to slow down relative to the destination, maybe this could work.)

#408 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:33 PM:

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome."
- River

#409 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:41 PM:

"It's just an object. It doesn't mean what you think it does." -also River

#410 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:53 PM:

#392 ::: albatross:

I know that people can have hidden motivations, sometimes disreputable ones. I suspect that there are also hidden motivations which are better than the public face.

However, in the particular case of elephant jokes, I was a kid when they were popular. I lived in a de facto segregated suburb near Wilmington, Delaware, and as far as I could tell the civil rights movement (which was never mentioned by adults and which I only vaguely noticed) was a good thing that was happening somewhere else.

This can certainly be viewed as bad, but my point is that there was no noticeable anxiety about the civil rights movement.

I liked elephant jokes. I'm not going to say they were the best thing ever, but they're a good memory.

Now we get into dysfunctional family day territory. From my point of view, taking elephant jokes as part of racism adds up to "Nothing in your mind is innocent. Be on guard all the time, because you never know what you'll be rightfully attacked for."

You have no idea (probably) how much I miss living in a relatively unmarked state.

#411 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:58 PM:

Albatross@407: since there was only one series and so much remained un-spelled-out, Firefly remains an interesting sport, a freak, a one-off with a lot unexplained; strikes me that that's why it can bear lots of different readings, all fiercely-held. Having to learn about the political ins and outs of the Alliance / Independents struggle would spoil things.

(Makes me think of that sort of brilliant SF novel—Jeff Noon's Vurt, for example—that presents you with a daft but utterly compelling new world; and the book's success generates a series of sequels that have to start explaining things, and the setting soon loses its lustre and starts to feel silly.)

#412 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 06:09 PM:

joann, Jennifer: Between .5" and 1" here (290 and 610), all in the space of about 20 minutes. Our cats, fortunately, don't freak out about rain.

I never knew anyone who actually told elephant jokes. My only exposure to them came from kiddie books and magazines, so the idea of them being racially based simply becroggles me. (And yes, I was aware of the racism in Little Black Sambo and some of the Just-So Stories, so I don't think this is simply me being ignorant.)

#413 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 06:12 PM:

Steve with a book, there are some series that I describe as having outgrown themselves-- the premise is great, then there's another book exploring the ramifications, and then suddenly you're zooming out from this cool thing to find that all the other things connected to it are poised to crush it, like a really weird Wile E Coyote thing.

Blond joke, no e: Why did the blonde have bruises around her belly button? Because her boyfriend was blond, too.

#414 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 06:21 PM:

I'd just like to point out that, sexist or not, blond(e) jokes are (mildly) offensive. Purely as a pedagogical move to explain why, here's a brunet(te) joke:

Q. Why do brunet(te)s have brown hair?
A. It's stained by the shit inside their heads.

My hair color today is "clear," but guess what color it used to be? You can call me a lot of things, but 'stupid' isn't one of them.

Just sayin'.

#415 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 06:24 PM:

I have memories of elephant jokes, too - including the sequence in the Wikipaedia article (although, mine went "VW bug, one, two, three, four" without trips to other animals. Not living in the UK, that's not too surprising.)

I would never have thought of the racist implications. I could see some of them - the "quarts" one, for instance (but all I can think of is the iBrator "it comes in colours" parody ad).

However, I agree with those who say that blonde jokes are inherently sexist - the only male one I know is about the bruised bellybutton. Certainly, only rarely do I hear males making the offhand "sorry, blonde moment" comments that are a monthly occurrance with females of my acquaintance.

#416 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 06:39 PM:

For some reason, my brain insists on lumping elephant jokes in with Volkswagen jokes. Perhaps because they appeared at roughly the same time, perhaps because at least one joke (which I cannot now remember) involved both?

#417 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 07:14 PM:

#407 ::: albatross

What kinda drove me batty on their 'western' worlds, is that people were wearing 19th century American west stereotype clothes -- the women were wearing bonnets and long skirts!

This is outer space and women ditched long skirts a long time ago in favor of pants for doing gardening, field, farm and factory work. It just seemed silly.

The amount of not-thinking that went into that show was awesome.

Love, C.

#418 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 08:22 PM:

This is the only blonde joke I tell (in someone else's convenient wording):

A blonde and a redhead met for dinner after work and were watching the 6 o'clock news. A man was shown threatening to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge. The blonde bet the redhead $50 that he wouldn't jump, and the redhead replied, "I'll take that bet!"

Anyway, sure enough, he jumped, so the blonde gave the redhead the $50 she owned. The redhead said, "I can't take this, you're my friend." The blonde said, "No. A bet's a bet."

So the redhead said, "Listen, I have to admit, I saw this one on the 5 o'clock news, so I can't take your money."

The blonde replied, "Well, so did I, but I never thought he'd jump again!"

#419 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 08:35 PM:

Serge Broom @386: Coming soon, "A Few Gouda Men"!!!

"Quelle fromage!"

#420 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 08:55 PM:

394
The fish are probably panicking, having lost any memory of what water is and what they do in it.

#421 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 09:41 PM:

Joann re elephant joke/VW joke crossover: Surely you are thinking of,
Q: "How do you get four elephants into a Volkswagen?
A: Two in the back, two in the front.

#422 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 09:43 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, #383 et al from several folks, OK, you've convinced me that sexism is a stronger root for the blonde jokes than I'd realized. (Though I like Diatryma #413's entry, which I also hadn't heard.)

I still suspect that the "children's" elephant jokes are likely to be "second-generation" for the type, but I'm getting less confident even in that. (I actually just missed an opportunity to ask about current prevalence, see below.) The "Afraid of the Dark" book looks interesting, I'll see if I can find it in the library.

Regarding "nothing in your mind is innocent", I can't make a better reply than albatross #392.

For example, is it possible that joke genres come and go, not because of changing anxieties, but because people want some novelty in their jokes and eventually the novelty gets used up?

The thing is, the joke genres I most see "come and go" are those which most visibly depend on the changing surround (while riddles and wordplay are basically unchanged). As a simple example, I haven't heard or seen an "omniscient computer" joke or a "dead baby" joke in years -- but I'm currently seeing a lot of health-insurance jokes, government-surveillance jokes, foreclosure/bankruptcy jokes....

Similarly, "psychiatrist jokes" have shifted -- they used to be mocking the process and Freudian tropes, "they know what you're thinking", or "it's all about the billing", but nowadays I see a strong trend toward "they're no more enlightened than the patient".

Xopher #414: Dude, there's no joke in there, it's just direct insult (and scatological rather than "mildly offensive"). Perhaps that was your point, but if so I can't agree. Yes, there are some blonde jokes that cross into outright insult, but anything that direct would get WTF looks in any crowd I've hung out with.

Constance #417: That sounds like they were waving flags for the viewer, to quickly tell them what to expect from this society. It's a valid storytelling technique, but it can certainly be done clumsily.

HLN: Area man goes to nephew's birthday party (9 years old), fun had by all. His presents were well received -- "Tales of Paul Bunyan" rated mild curiosity, but "99 Robotics Projects" got the treasured "Yeah!". While not actually a birthday present, homebaked bread drew great enthusiasm from all three kids. :-) (Admittedly, even the robotics book paled beside Grandma's present of an ice cream maker....)

#423 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 09:45 PM:

Jacque at # 403: You are right. I can believe an eggbeater-powered spaceship in any universe that has Jon Singer in it.

Xopher at # 414: My hair color today is "clear". Did you use Clearol?

#424 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 09:48 PM:

Lila (#337 I have seen that before, and I just love it! I also love Van Halen's "Jump", starring the still great David Lee Roth, which I was watching earlier today (cause it's been kinda greeeey here). My sweetie suggested the two might go together well, so I played them together and they really do, except that there's not enough stoat.

#425 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:09 PM:

421
My favorite (non-VW) elephant joke:
Q: What do you call a hippopotamus who rides a train?
A: A passenger.

#426 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:13 PM:

Elephant jokes seem to me to be just a subset of the sort of jokes that were circulating back when I was young. (How do you make an elephant float? Two scoops of elephant and ten ounces of root beer.) There were also grape jokes (What's purple and goes slam,slam,slam,slam? A sports grape.) and pickle jokes (What's lumpy and green and lies on the bottom of the sea? Moby Pickle.) and all sorts of similar jokes. (What's black and white and fuzzy on the inside? A police car.) I remember them from the 50's and 60's.

Then, a generation later, there was a resurgence of similar jokes, but with a darker flavor -- one of my son's best friends, now grown and raising his own family, absolutely denies!! that he ever told dead baby jokes. (You don't want to hear.)

#427 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:14 PM:

Ooooh! I'm in moderation! I didn't think I had it in me!

#428 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:23 PM:

#422 ::: David Harmon:

I probably need to get used to the idea of being attacked at random (I've been taking a very serious look at how accommodating I am about other people's opinions, and I'm going to adjust it if I can), and yes, I do understand that some analysis of motivations can be accurate and useful. Do you have any heuristics for saying that some estimates of motivations might be inaccurate?

There are certainly topical jokes (my impression is that jokes about new technology last about five years). You might be a good person to ask-- when did weatherman jokes go away?

My impression is that they were a staple of my childhood. I can't remember any specific jokes, but the point was always that the predictions were wrong. Weather prediction got better and people stopped making the jokes.

Are there standard theories about what was behind dead baby jokes?

Some jokes are so obviously topical that I'm not sure there's any need to look for hidden motivations.

In re omniscient computer jokes: When were they popular? I've noticed that omniscience (generally as a human superpower) dropped out of science fiction at some point, possibly before chaos theory became well known.

Is there a consensus about the current popularity of zombie fiction?

#429 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:26 PM:

The "blonde" joke genre was recognized to have sexist connotations pretty much from the get-go, and you can find discussions of this in the media at the time they became popular.

Are there any such *contemporary* references to racial sentiments underlying elephant jokes? (That is, an explicit connection made, either by elephant-joke tellers or elephant-joke critics, at the time they were in fashion?)

So far, I've only seen comments by people writing well after the fad came and went. (By the time I encountered them in the 1970s, I was only hearing the kid-friendly second-generation versions, but even in the earlier "adult" jokes I've seen quoted, the connection's not obvious. The "comes in quarts" joke, for instance, was new to me, but I don't see why this would fall into a "racial sex anxiety" stream of humor rather than the broader, "dirty jokes" stream active then and now.)

If anyone has useful pointers to contemporary literature on the subject, though, I'd be interested in hearing about it. (Without it, I'd tend to file it alongside "The Wizard of Oz was written as a fable about American monetary policy" and similar post-hoc literary interpretations.)

#430 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:42 PM:

David 422: Dude, there's no joke in there, it's just direct insult (and scatological rather than "mildly offensive"). Perhaps that was your point, but if so I can't agree. Yes, there are some blonde jokes that cross into outright insult, but anything that direct would get WTF looks in any crowd I've hung out with.

Actually, my point, which I was hoping not to spell out, was "I AM FUCKING SICK OF FUCKING BLONDE JOKES!!! CUT IT THE FUCK OUT!!!!"

I hope that's clearer.

#431 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 11:19 PM:

Re blonde jokes -- I do recall, now, that there were a few of them directed at Dan Quayle during his tenure as VP-candidate. I think they pretty much stopped after the election. That there weren't more of them suggests to me that the few I heard were more or less coincidental, due to the overlap between "dumb jokes" and "blonde jokes".

David, #422: What I see are a lot of jokes which get recycled from one topical subject to the next. Political jokes are especially prone to this -- you'll hear the same jokes come around again and again, but with different targets each time. Lightbulb jokes, OTOH, never seem to go entirely out of fashion.

#432 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:18 AM:

Via Neil Gaiman's Twitter stream: the 1944 version of LORD OF THE RINGS, starring Humphrey Bogart.

#433 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:05 AM:

Joanne@405 - We got .63 inch; how about you?
I was inattentively reading your comment out of order, and guessing snow. Many years ago, I'd lived in an apartment with front and back doors where snow happened, in a quiet enough area that we could let the cat out. She went out the front door, and there was cold wet white stuff she didn't like, so she came back in and had us let her out the back door. And it was there too! (Now I live somewhere that we don't get snow, rain is supposed to be seasonal, and earthquakes get rated as "Didn't wake up the cat? 2.3.")


Jacque - saw Jon Singer making a laser out of materials that were readily available in the Victorian era
There's an old mediocre joke that was much improved when a friend of mine told it, skipping the leadin and just going for the punch line, which was "The Pope? Is he the guy standing next to Jon Singer?"

#434 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:41 AM:

Re: Nancy Lebovitz@410
I also grew up in a suburb of Wilmington, and we're of similar ages; my mother had worked for open housing laws, but racial integration so far meant that there was one Chinese family down the street; black people still only lived downtown. (On the other hand, maybe 20% of the kids I went to school with were Jewish; I found the idea of antisemitism to be pretty incomprehensible when I first heard it existed.) We knew that George Wallace was a Bad Guy.

And elephant jokes? I didn't know they were new; I'd assumed they were the next thing you got to after knock-knock jokes. They certainly weren't about race, they were about absurdity and people not noticing that there were huge gray cartoonish elephants around because they were in disguise. (I also didn't know that Dr. Seuss was new until much later, but elephant jokes seemed to fit in a similar space.) By contrast, later in elementary school when Polish jokes were around, they were obviously mean, and dead baby jokes were deliberately gross, and lightbulb jokes weren't mean jokes (except that they were infinitely flexible so occasional ones were.) I'm surprised to hear that there's any question about blonde jokes being inherently sexist; most of them don't work if you turn them into generic-moron jokes.

#435 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:14 AM:

Everyone seems to have a theory for zombies. Not many people have pointed this out: they got a hell of a lot more popular right after Hurricane Katrina.

The zombie, in my personal dictionary of symbolism, represents calamity, the poor and lost and hungry and dying, a "turbulent social landscape", and very particularly the breakdown of infrastructure.

Consider this also in light of zombie flash mobs and "zombie marches" at Occupy protests.

#436 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 04:18 AM:

Further comments:

AFAIK dead baby jokes are just shock value - not representing anything in particular except "how horrible can you go." A sort of Aristocrats for non-comedians. And people will get into competitions of telling them to see who can tell the worst one with a straight face.

I know I've heard at least a few male blonde jokes, generally directed at Californians. It probably helps that I grew up in SoCal. But yes, they're definitely more targeted at women.

Also, I feel very silly, but: I can't figure out what HLN means. I get all my news through blogs, so am unfamiliar with some news terms. A pointer, please? This one's got me scroggled.

#437 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 04:28 AM:

A.J. Luxton writes: I can't figure out what HLN means.

HLN is the shorthand notation for Phenolphthalein. It's used as a marker on posts likely to inhibit human cellular calcium influx via store-operated calcium entry.

#438 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 04:30 AM:

AJ Luxton @434, I dunno, man. Hurricane Katrina was in August 2005. That's two months after Land of the Dead (the fourth Romero zombie movie), a year after Shaun of the Dead, two years after the first issue of The Walking Dead and Max Brooks's Zombie Survival Guide, three years after 28 Days Later and the first Resident Evil film.

#439 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 05:02 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ 435: HLN is 'hyper-local news'. I've never seen it anywhere outside Making Light, which I guess makes it neatly self-referential.

#440 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 06:50 AM:

It occurs to me that I was unexpectedly in a story, rather like the famous cartoon of the monkey staring back at the scientist. Usually, I'm a rather abstract theorizing sort of person myself, but all of the sudden I was the folk talking back to the folklorist.

#433 ::: Bill Stewart:

Even knock-knock jokes had to be invented. Wikipedia is is sketchy on the subject.

It might be interesting to look at whether there was something going on when popular jokes are unusually hostile, like the dead baby jokes.

As far as I can remember, there was no campaign against Polish jokes, people just lost interest in them.

#434 ::: A.J. Luxton:

I take zombies to be an opposite to vampires-- zombies are the threat which has neither the need nor the capacity to hide itself. They might also represent a breakdown of reciprocity, but then, so do vampires.

On the other hand, I don't know why people in general like vampire fiction, even though I like it myself.

I'm not usually fond of zombies-- I don't have fun with the reveling in grossness aspect. (Are dead baby jokes a cousin to horror fiction?) I've run across a couple of zombie novels I've liked-- _Night of the Living Trekkies_ (zombie apocalypse at a Trek convention, interesting construction of heroism, can a Trek fan and a Star Wars fan find true love?) and Rachel Caine's _Working Stiff_, which is probably mostly about being dependent on getting barely enough of what you desperately need from an inimical organization. Until I typed this, I didn't realize it's parallel (though just for an individual) with In Time.

The book has the worst first day at work in the history of bad first days at work. I'm warning you that it has nanotech as a substitute for magic.

However, the really interesting questions are "Can social anxiety theory be used to make good guesses at the next thing in popular culture? Is there an anxiety just waiting for its fad?"

#441 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 07:09 AM:

Aesthetic moment: after attending a lecture on 18th-C. bookbinding techniques, wandering into the library stacks at Columbia, which I haven't done in 25 years (since being an undergrad myself).

Browsing the BM and QA sections! The smell of large masses of books! Finding a chart you've wanted for 2 yrs! Wow.

#442 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 09:01 AM:

Lee @ 430... Lightbulb jokes, OTOH, never seem to go entirely out of fashion

Q: How many Cardassians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Just one; however they first have to determine how many light bulbs they see.

(from http://members.outpost10f.com/~lindax/hp/voyfun/jokes/joke_var_22.html )

#443 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 09:29 AM:

[Dammit, big comment lost. Hyperword's new incarnation as Liquid Information has become a menace. Rewriting...]

Nancy Lebovitz #439: "Talking back to the folklorist" falls squarely under "sauce for the goose". Good folklorists pay attention to such "backtalk".

I don't remember when weatherman jokes faded, probably because I've always been pretty oblivious to the weather. I still often need to go back and change coats once I actually step out the door.

The "dead baby" jokes were supposed to represent anxiety about abortion and birth control, especially from the kids who "could have been unhappened". (My childhood was basically the 70's -- I entered kindergarten about 1970, and high school in 1980.)

I think "omniscient computer" jokes were starting to fade right about then (I was seeing them in jokebooks and adult media, but not among the kids). I'd guess that was because computers were shifting from central installations that people went to consult, to the back rooms of corporations where they ran the billing and suchlike. (And yeah, I was hearing jokes about computer billing right about then. Threatening a lawsuit for an unpaid balance of $0.00, and such.)

The explanations I heard for vampires and zombies went roughly as follows: Vampires represented the growing awareness of exploitative types, both in personal life ("emotional vampires") and in the public sphere (employers, politicians). Zombies represented the exhausted worker ("nobody I know has energy for fun anymore"), and the corporate apparatchik (sp?): "No hard feelings about screwing you over, it's just my job. If you want to get anywhere, you'll have to become just like me." I suspect with Avram that Romero was significant too.

As far as I can remember, there was no campaign against Polish jokes, people just lost interest in them.

Actually, I do remember a growing sense that "Polack" (never "Pole" or "Polish") jokes were bigoted and "not okay". I suspect the changing political scene there, as Poland shifted from being "one of those Soviet states" toward a more sympathetic "victim" status. However, the general form of those is universal -- it was occasionally noted at the time, that different countries told them on various nationalities or regions according to local prejudices.

#444 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 09:34 AM:

Also: "Is there an anxiety just waiting for its fad?"

I'm sure there is... my money would be on global warming and its deniers. Or if that's already started, perhaps America's loss of status.

#445 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 09:39 AM:

And lightbulb jokes are overtly about how different people take different approaches to basic tasks. I'd say the anxious driver there would be growing diversity and communication therein, as people get pushed into contact with more folks who "think differently". Of course, that's an ongoing issue, and has been for a long time....

#446 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:25 AM:

Hey, how many deniers does it take to change the climate? Only one, but he has to have enough money to buy Congress.

Bill Stewart @433: The main thesis of why elephant jokes are about race relations is that they were both about ignoring the very large dark population that's rather hard to miss, in the early 1960s. Kids at the time didn't think about this much.

#447 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:50 AM:

geekosaur, 397: Explanation of laughter as adrenalin discharge mechanism sounds like it makes sense. But I still can't help being creeped out bigtime when relatives start tittering.
I have been somewhat bemused by the proliferation of zombie stories. My idea is, it's a way to fantasize about offing people who irritate you. Ordinarily you are supposed to put up with whatever behavior is getting under your skin, but if they are zombies it is okay to kill them even if they were once your nearest and dearest. That is my quick theory, but as a non-zombie-fan, I don't claim to know. I think anxieties about the society, wondering who is really in control of their thoughts and deeds and so on, is a good explanation.

#448 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:56 AM:

Elephant jokes were common when I was a kid here in Ireland too, despite the lack of black people.

Polack jokes were unknown, perhaps because of the total lack of Polish people.

This suggests that Elephant jokes are still funny without a background of racial tension, but Polack jokes aren't.

#449 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:00 AM:

As for vampires, I've seen people theorize that HIV is the reason for the modern popularity of vampire stories, given the increased focus on blood, sex and death.

#450 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:27 AM:

If anyone is possessed of an urge to build a nitrogen laser on their kitchen table, Jon Singer provides video instructions. (It's a downloadable video file.)

#451 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:28 AM:

me @449: Jon cautions that he did not compress the video, so the file is >40 MB.

#452 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:44 AM:

FWIW my impression is that Polish jokes disappeared fairly quickly around the time Lech Walensa's Solidarnosc started making the news.

#453 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:53 AM:

1) Humor lives in ambiguity.

2) Subtext hunters can find any subtext they please in ambiguity.

Thus, it is trivially easy to find the

a) racist
b) sexist
c) satanic

subtext in any random Soviet-era Russian standing-in-line-at-the-meat-counter joke.

#454 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:56 AM:

Picking up from the previous open thread: electronic cigarettes which supply no-smoke vaporized nicotine.

#455 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:59 AM:

Isaac Asimov says that "Polack" jokes began after Poland's failed self-defense in WWI. He adds that when France did even worse in WWII, no one dared to criticize THEM.

I was told most of the "Polack" jokes I've ever heard by a high school classmate of Polish descent. I'm not sure why he told these jokes so compulsively, but I could count on hearing one every morning on the bus.

My favorite, though, was told me by a college classmate. It involves a Polish gentleman (always referred to as "Polack" or "stupid Polack" throughout the joke) who finds a magic lamp, and to the amazement of the genie, uses all three of his wishes wishing that "the thundering Mongol Hordes would ride across Poland," which they do, raping, pillaging, and burning.

Finally the genie, though free, can't resist asking the "Polack" why he wished for something so horrible and crazy, not once but three times. "Because," comes the reply, "they rode six times across RUSSIA!!!"

This turns the joke from one about the stupidity of the Poles into one about their hatred of Russians, which is a very different thing. This was at a Russian party, by the way.

Still not entirely comfortable with it, but it's a kind of stealth bait-and-switch joke.

#456 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 12:04 PM:

Nancy #439: As far as I can remember, there was no campaign against Polish jokes, people just lost interest in them.

There was, but it was ineffective. Edward Piszek, the owner of Mrs. Paul's frozen seafood, attempted a campaign against them in the early 70s, but people just made jokes about that. So he tried a different approach: promoting the accomplishments of the Polish people, especially Copernicus.

He provided major funding for a 1973 Smithsonian conference celebrating Copernicus' 500th birthday. My first job out of college was with the Smithsonian Office of Seminars, in a position funded by Mr Piszek. It was an absolutely splendid conference, and I got to do all sorts of cool things. Like arranging a luncheon for the Polish press with Gene Roddenberry. Or clearing a couple crates of really nice costumes through customs, getting them pressed (the Costume Collection folks directed me to the Louise Hand Laundry -- they did the White House fine linens), and outfitting the ushers at the Convocation. Dignitaries entered to the 16c Polish music I had arranged for a sacbut ensemble from the Army Band, many wearing their academic robes, all led by the Chancellor of the Jagiallonian University with a huge honkin' ceremonial mace. It was such a fun job, but it didn't go anywhere, so after a year I went away with an excellent resume entry and wonderful memories, and the position was filled by yet another in an endless series of wide-eyed liberal arts majors.

The Director of Seminars was an anthropologist by training, so we told ourselves it was an exercise in cultural anthropology the night we sat around the office sipping Polish vodka andtelling Polish jokes. Mr. Piszek woulda killed us.

#457 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 12:15 PM:

James 453: any random Soviet-era Russian standing-in-line-at-the-meat-counter joke.

My favorite, from the glasnost period: An American dog talks to a Soviet dog, and says "So how do you like glasnost?"

The Soviet dog replies "Well, the chain is two feet longer, the food dish is four feet farther away, and you can bark all you want."

#458 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 12:16 PM:

Ross Martin was doing stand-up one time, and claimed that Poles told "American Jokes" in nightclubs. "Comrades: I have newest American joke! How many Americans is taking to screw in light bulb? ... ONE!"

...

...

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show?

#459 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 12:27 PM:

On the naming of dogs.

Beauregard: Them was just newspaper talk; even in Russia when they calls a dog they don't holler, "Comere, Linda, Kudryavka, come girl, here Kozyavkla.. hoo hoo, Malyshka! No normal dog'll put up with talk like that... he'd just laugh! Dogs ree-sponds if you screams: "Here, Spot, you black-hearted no-good free-loadin' Spot!" Then you yank on their chain.

(from Ten Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo, one of the best books ever)

ps: "Why do people love dogs? Why do dogs get all the good parts? Alligators can out-dog dogs the worst day they ever crawlt." (--Albert)

#460 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 12:30 PM:

Sounds like "Polack" jokes were replaced by "Newfie" jokes up here (where "Newfie" means "Newfoundlander").

Why do the Newfie's shoes say "TGIF"?
So he'll know his Toes Go In First.

and many the same... basically all "Newfies are so dumb" jokes. You could probably insert "Newfie" in place of any "blonde" in the blonde joke set.

My recollection is that these were popular in the 70s, and slowly waned throughout the 80s. I can't recall the last time I heard one in the wild.

#461 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 12:34 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #454: Grrr. I'm with the article writer, that's serious paternalism with a side of puritanism. I also wonder if the tobacco companies have gotten more subtle with their disinformation and payola.

#462 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:05 PM:

I see I cannot spell "Walesa". Bah. (Admittedly I was exiled by room service while writing that.)

Xopher HalfTongue @455:

He adds that when France did even worse in WWII, no one dared to criticize THEM.
Except that this is, more or less, the origin of the "France always surrenders" meme.

#463 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:17 PM:

More proof of plutocracy... Jefferson and Franklin spin in their graves (they were inventors and scientists, and the Constitution's clause about copyright and patent and limited time exclusivity, was to reward inventors and authors and distributors for making inventions and documents and getting them -published- as in out to the public for the benefit of the public....
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tiffiniy-cheng/american-censorship-day_b_1095303.html

Tiffiny Cheng
The Internet Fights Back: Groups Announce Net-wide Day of Protest Against "Internet Blacklist" Bill


[excerpts]

This Wednesday, Congress is considering a law that gives the US government (and any private corporation) the power to block any website, remove it from search engines, and cut off its sources of funding.

Insiders say that HR 3261 or the "Stop Online Piracy Act" -- which enjoys the support of both parties, the Chamber of Commerce, drug companies, Hollywood, and even several unions -- is likely to pass barring an unprecedented uproar from the public and the tech community. The protest aims to create just that.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, companies could successfully block a website over just one infringing link posted by any user....


#464 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:22 PM:

Cheryl 460: Except for the jokes about blondes being not only dumb, but slutty. I think. Are Newfies considered slutty?

geekosaur 462: Yes, I should have said that no one dared make jokes about the French being stupid. Or maybe people were familiar enough with the French that they couldn't make them a kind of Hegelian pure-trait the way they could the less-familiar Poles?

#465 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:30 PM:

@464 Xopher
Cheryl 460: Except for the jokes about blondes being not only dumb, but slutty. I think. Are Newfies considered slutty?

No, pretty much just dumb. I think I'm not familiar with the 'slutty blonde' jokes. I only ever heard the 'dumb' ones.

I'm not sure where the dumb Newfie meme could have come from. They're mostly white, have the same language and former-British-colony background, speak the same language... Why do we pick on the Newfies?

#466 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:34 PM:

I think a lot of people did make jokes and comments about the French/ France being full of scaredy cats after 1940. I vaguely recall one or two such comments from my grandparents, who were all in their 20's at that time.
On the other hand, a lot of people seemed to think that they redeemed themselves with the resistance and the Free French divisions fighting with the allies. Alan Moorehead has a nice description of his views on the national morale in his book "Eclipse", i.e. how the French were rotten at the start of the war, but managed to rebuild themselves under occupation. Whereas the Italians just broke apart and never recovered, the French did.


On stupid dogs, the epitome of brainlessness here in the UK is the red setter. There aren't enough newfies for people to know what they are like, although come to think of it I havn't seen so many red setters about these days. I have a suspicion that the poor economic times and lack of affordable housing (especially for youngsters) means there simply aren't as many dogs about as there used to be.

#467 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:36 PM:

Xopher @ 464... no one dared make jokes about the French being stupid

Duh?

#468 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:39 PM:

Re: Paula's story @ 463 - Seriously, everybody pay attention and check that one out, who hasn't yet. That is one serious institutionalization of privilege - and it seems to contain, in effect, its own mechanism for suppressing any campaign for repeal.

Its epicentre is the United States: the area of effect is, by design, global.

#469 ::: Paula LIeberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:39 PM:

#414 Xopher
Yeah, if jokes about size, color, etc., are so funny, then why don't e.g. tall people tell jokes where a tall person is the butt of the joke, etc.?

#426 Older
Grape jokes at least have something that directly corresponded to grapes*. Jokes where the is no congruency direct within the joke, mystified me. (That is, jokes which depended e.g. on Christian allegory... I am NOT a subscriber to "US citizens live in a Christian country and implicit Christian theme/allegory involved in a story/joke/etc. are things which US citizens will automatically comprehend." I particularly never understood/comprehended jokes and such which depended upon things which to me were totally independent of one another, such as whatever joke it was that involved the color read and suspenders and the Queen and --huh??! I never understood it, and remembering an intricate fabrication which made/makes no sense to me, is not one of my talents...
*Generally, the references involves being purple and/or ovoid. Yes, not all grapes are purple or red, but it is a characteristics of much of the glass "grape."...

#470 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:40 PM:

@466 guthrie

On stupid dogs, the epitome of brainlessness here in the UK is the red setter. There aren't enough newfies for people to know what they are like

Sorry, I should have been more clear. The Newfies in the jokes aren't the dogs, they're the people.

#471 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:50 PM:

Cheryl #470: My impression is that Newfies are stereotyped in Canada as "hicks", much as "hillbillies" used to be in the U.S.. Here in the U.S., at least some of the old Polack jokes seem to be casting around for new targets, and some are trying to land on rural folks.

#472 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:53 PM:

Dead baby jokes have a strong correlation with the revelations about how our troops were not considered good guys by the Vietnamese.

The grossest elephant jokes I can remember (ROT-13ed for cause):

1. What do you get when you cross an elephant and a hamster?
2. What do elephants use for Tampax?

1. Na vafvqr-bhg unzfgre
2. Furrc

I can't figure a racial component for either of these (they're just dirty) and have to go through some fairly extensive gymnastics to line up my privileged white female mindset with bigotry in any I remember, including the kicker to this series which plays on the mice-having-tiny-balls misdirection:

Why do monkeys have flat feet?
From jumping out of trees.
Why do ducks have flat feet?
From stamping out forest fires.
Why do elephants have flat feet?
From stamping out flaming ducks.
What's that black stuff between elephants' toes?

Fybj angvirf.

I will realign myself if the last is NOT FUNNY, so please instruct.

#473 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:56 PM:

Gray Woodland #468: The thing is, no matter how arrogant Congress may be, they don't actually control the rest of the world. This amounts to envy of the Great Firewall Of China, but we aren't actually equipped to implement any such thing. Not to mention that (1) even the current Supreme Court will scream bloody murder, and (2) Obama knows that if he signs any such thing, his political career is deader than a doornail, because techies and netheads are the core of his base. (Which is probably another reason this is coming up now....)

#474 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:04 PM:

Cheryl, speaking as someone who comes from the Ozarks*, one of those parts of the US that's notable for being cut off from everywhere else by geography, felt to be insular in mindset, and generally less properous than other places, I can tell you why you get dumb Newfie jokes.

Newfoundland, despite having been settled for a long time, did not become a Canadian province until the late 1940s. {so they're outsiders] It's geographically isolated [outsiders], it's traditionally a poor area with a limited economic base [poor = stupid], and the average Newfoundlander was not someone you'd run across every day of the week, back in the day**.


All of this is comedy gold when you're looking at the field of ethnic jokes, because how can a somewhat isolated population whose experiences are radically different form your own fail to be funny? [/snark]

Then they began drilling for oil. I'll bet if you take the start of serious large scale exploration for petroleum in the Grand Banks area, it's not too far off from the rise and spread of the Newfie joke. They were good material before; once there's money involved they become annoying as well as higher-profile.

*I am not ashamed to be a hillbilly. My ancestors were hillbillies back in the Old Country, and when they got here they headed as fast as they could to places where they felt right at home. Flat land is scary.

**This means there are fewer people to give the lie to the stereotype, either directly, just by existing and being well-enough known or by saying "Hey, my neighbor/brother-in-law/uncle is a/from [] and he's not like that at all!

#475 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:14 PM:

Cultural parallax: here in the Netherlands, the butt of all the jokes* and figures of speech is the farmer, the boer†. They're not hillbillies, mostly because we haven't hills for them to be billies in.

For instance, to smile when you clearly don't want to is to smile als een boer met kiespijn, like a farmer with a toothache.

----
* Well, apart from the Germans and the Belgians
† Yes, as in the South Africans. But it's pronounced like the English boor, which is, in fact, descended from it‡.
‡ This footnote intentionally left blank.

#476 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:14 PM:

Cheryl 465: Oh, the slutty-blonde jokes are endless. Like the one that asks what they put behind their ears to attract men (their ankles). These are applied to blond men in the gay community; trust me on that.

I suspect that sluttiness is associated with stupidity (or the other way around) in the minds of men whose attitude toward women is essentially predatory, and who consider a stupid woman easy to trick and therefore have sex with. Somehow this makes her a slut instead of him a rapist picking out a vulnerable victim.

I think I've told the story here before about the guy who chatted me up in a gay bar only to lose interest after a brief conversation, and had the gall to tell me to my face that he was attracted to blonds because "they're stupid" but that I wasn't stupid enough for him. I think I dodged a bullet, all things considered.

Others have said what I was going to suggest about the origin of the dumb-Newfie meme (poverty, remoteness, isolation etc.).

#477 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:34 PM:

Older @424: not enough stoat.

Supplemental weasel war dance.

#478 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:44 PM:

Niall McAuley @437: Phenolphthalein

>*SMACK!*<

#479 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:45 PM:

me @478: :-) of course.

#480 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 02:54 PM:

guthrie@466: good grief, yes, red setters. The only time I ever saw a dog get hit (not very severely) by a car, it was a red setter. Red setter frolicks delightedly on grass near the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, sees a taxi driving north towards Bayswater, thinks 'People! I want to play with the car full of people!'—you could read this clear as day in its body language—and dashes onto the road. The cabbie was quick enough with his brakes that the setter only got its paw run over (and it was very upset that the cab it had tried to make friends with had hurt it). Beautiful, silly dogs.

#481 ::: Quixote ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:21 PM:

Xopher #455: When I heard the Pole and the Djinni, the wish was for the Mongols to be resurrected, decide to invade Poland, but change their mind and go home when they got to the border.

fidelio #474: Newfoundlanders also have a thick, Irish-like accent which doubly identifies them as outsiders. Combine that with their colourful turns-of-phrase (Example: "You stay where you're at and I'll come where your to") which can be interpreted as being uneducated, and you have a recipe for the standard dumb-ethnic joke.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if their isn't some residual Irish prejudice there too. Newfoundland was largely colonized by the Irish, whereas the rest of (English-speaking) Canada was colonized by the English and the Scots.

#482 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:26 PM:

Growing up in Texas, I learned all the pejorative jokes as Aggie jokes before I ever heard a dumb blonde joke, a Polack joke, etc.

#483 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:27 PM:

David, #443: Some (but not all) Polack jokes were a sub-category of "dumb jokes". My personal yardstick for whether or not it's an offensive ethnic joke is, "Is it still funny if you tell it about Enormous State University football players?" If the punchline loses its punch when removed from the ethnic context, then it shouldn't be told.

#484 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:32 PM:

Lee @483:

When I went to UC Berkeley, I recycled most of the Polak jokes I had heard as a child. They converted very smoothly into Stanford student jokes.

I'd have felt worse about doing so if I hadn't already known that Stanford students were telling precisely the same jokes about us.

#485 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:43 PM:

Nancy @440, Polish (or "Polack") jokes were popularized by Borscht Belt comedians, and probably have faded since that wave of comedians has retired and died off and the resorts become less popular. The progress of the civil rights movement also probably reduced most people's comfort with ethnic humor. (I wonder whether All in the Family helped spread the jokes, or helped kill them off by associating them with ignorance and bigotry.)

I assume that the jokes originated in the stereotypes about Galitsianer Jews held by Litvak Jews, but I haven't done a lot of research to back the assumption up.

#486 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Cheryl #470 - ah, the people. I just worked that out :)

#487 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:45 PM:

Quixote 481: Now that I think of it, I wonder if their isn't some residual Irish prejudice there too. Newfoundland was largely colonized by the Irish, whereas the rest of (English-speaking) Canada was colonized by the English and the Scots.

Huh. The southeastern US was mostly colonized by Scots and Irish, whereas the northeastern US was primarily colonized by the English. The northern stereotype about southerners isn't particularly that they're stupid, so much as lazy and prone to violence. I wonder, though, if these are related.

#488 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:48 PM:

Are "red setters" the same breed as "Irish setters?"

The latter have the reputation of being tireless, enthusiastic, and a bit dim.

Sometimes I threaten to get friends and relatives a pair of Irish setter puppies as a gift . . . "Chewie" and "Puddles."

#489 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Xopher at 487--many people would dispute the designation of the Scots-Irish (AKA Ulster Scots*) who settled in the southeastern US as being the sort of people traditional American anti-Irish prejudice gets applied to. The main part of the Irish Diaspora ended up in urban areas, or in the northeast.

That's not to say there wasn't predjudice against the Scots-Irish*; it's just a different flavor. Anti-Romanism wasn't a factor and language/accent was less of an issue; they were Protestant Anglophones to begin with.

*The Pennsylvanians imported them to settle on the border and deeply regretted doing so, frex. A British officer writing home during the American Revolution (John André, IIRC) notes that with the end of immigration to American from Ulster, the Americans were losing a lot of their prime recruits; a lot of the people fighting at King's Mountain under John Sevier's command were Scots-Irish. There's a distinct flavor of "OMG! These people are lawless, violent, and grasping! Ack!" when 18th and early 19th century comments are reviewed.

#490 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 04:44 PM:

Bloody Andy Jackson is an exemplar of the Scots-Irish.

Love, C.

#491 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 04:53 PM:

Abi #484:
This makes me wonder even more about the existence or otherwise of what I presume would be called "teasip" jokes, told by Aggies about graduates of UTexas. I've never encountered one, but logic suggests there's a whole set of them. Any Aggies around to confirm or deny?

#492 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 05:30 PM:

Stefan #488 - good question. Wikipedia says they are called Irish setters and are a type of gundog, and that the red setter is a variant used as a pointer. Looking at some of the photos, the sort of dog I am thinking of is even thinner and lanker than the stury Irish setter shown, and bred far more for looks than any possible work. Hence the stupidity, since it doesn't seem to matter so much in a show dog. Working dogs by contrast are usually bred in part for intelligence.

#493 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 05:42 PM:

geekosaur @452: FWIW my impression is that Polish jokes disappeared fairly quickly around the time Lech Walensa's Solidarnosc started making the news.

Actually, in my part of the world, Polack jokes were already well out of favor by the time I reached adulthood, call it '77. My impression was that, as the civil rights movement gained traction, any kind of humor that depended on stereotype and prejudice became frowned upon.

#494 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 05:48 PM:

HLN: Local man discovers that while there are many things better than a horseradish-pickle sandwich, there are a lot more things that are worse. "It's like a very short-acting antidepressant," he remarks. "Impossible to feel completely down in the dumps while actually eating it."

#495 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 05:50 PM:

A town friend in college used to tell Newfie jokes (mid-80s) on the grounds that Newfies were completely alien and not likely to be found in central NJ. I mentioned this to my Canadian roommate, and he responded, "But Newfies ARE stupid! Most of them don't even go to high school."

#496 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 05:57 PM:

Avram @ 485:

My grandfather (born & raised in Harlem, totally non-religious, CCNY '18, Columbia Law '23) was watching a TV show one day, and someone came on speaking in a Galitzianer accent. He jumps up and shouts at the TV, "Galitzianer horse thief!"

My parents were thus a mixed marriage. Mom's family came from Kovno Lithuania, Suvalk province in the NE corner of Poland, which was culturally Litvish, and Moscow. Dad's family came from Podolia, which was the Chasidic area that was settled by Poles in western Ukraine, more or less part of the old Kingdom of Galicia. IOW, she was a Litvak, he was a Galitzianer.

#497 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 06:09 PM:

When I was a kid, there were a number of "hippie" jokes.

I now strongly suspect that these were repurposed ethnic-slur jokes; they often played on the cheapness / filthiness of hippies.

#498 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 06:46 PM:

@495 Jon Baker
I mentioned this to my Canadian roommate, and he responded, "But Newfies ARE stupid! Most of them don't even go to high school."

I never heard that. That doesn't mean that it wasn't a popularly held belief, just that it wasn't one I knew about.

I don't think any of my age-mates, or anyone I knew, actually knew anything about real Newfies or Newfoundland. The word "Newfie" was just that: a word. There needed to be something in there to make the joke work.

About the time I was of an age to question such things is the same time they were disappearing, so I stopped thinking about them. I think the next time Newfies crossed my consciousness was when I started hearing Great Big Sea.

#499 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 07:25 PM:

I'm a farmer.

I once met a politician who was clever enough to milk a bull.

#501 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 07:45 PM:

Dave Bell @499:
Politicians are usually involved with a different orifice of the bull.

#502 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 07:47 PM:

Hippie jokes may have been repurposed beatnik jokes. They tend to deal with people who don't react the same way we do. What's that? Do I have any favorites? Why, sure! Be sure and do the voices right. Inflected, but never emotional. Cool, man, cool.*

These two beatniks are in the Everglades, dangling their feet in the water, and one says, "Hey, man. An alligator just bit my foot off."

The other beatnik says, "Which one?"

"I dunno, man. All these alligators look alike to me."

And the other one, told to me in the early 60s by my dad:

Two beatniks are walking down the sidewalk snapping their fingers, and high above them, some workmen in a church tower lose their grip, and the huge bronze bell comes crashing down with a massive CLANNNNGGGG!

"Man, what was that?" says the first beatnik.

Without missing a snap, his friend replies, "G flat."

---

*Family lore has it that Dad once sat down in the smallest room without noticing that somebody had left the seat up, and his comment was "Cool, man, cool."

#503 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 08:23 PM:

Am I the only one for whom the site has lost its formatting? I can see everything, but it's text-only on a plain white page. And yes, I've tried rebooting.

#504 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 08:29 PM:

Lee @503:
Working here. Flush your browser cache? It sounds like your browser lost track of the CSS.

#505 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 08:37 PM:

Clearing the cache fixed it, thanks!

#506 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 09:08 PM:

New definition of 'idiot': someone who, when dancing to the NCIS theme*, waggles his arms so limply that he not only hits himself in the eye, but scores such a direct hit that he actually manages to knock his contact lens out.

Of course, he isn't badly hurt, because then you'd be very unkind to call him an idiot. And his contact lens was stuck to his cheek and popped back in.

So it's OK to laugh.
_____
* Yes, right there you almost have a determination of idiocy, but read on.

#507 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 09:38 PM:

460
'Aggie' jokes (for people who know Texans) are pretty much the same.

#508 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 09:46 PM:

Jon Baker @ 496

It is quite strange to think that our grandfathers could have known one another.

It's interesting that the jokes my grandfather (very assimilated Hungarian Jewish--Frederick Siegfried) told as Polack jokes I've since heard as jokes for an array of other ethnicities. One commonality I note is that it's very often an ethnicity that has trouble with literacy--a very common problem among linguistic minorities. Learning to read a language you don't actually speak well is quite difficult.

#509 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:00 PM:

Incidentally, the NCIS episode "Out of the Frying Pan..." is the one where Leon Vance proves that he's a total scumbag with no integrity whatsoever.

I keep hoping for him to get what he deserves eventually, but so far he never has. Fortunately he's not an active part of every episode.

#510 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:05 PM:

Xopher @494, is that pickled horseradish, or horseradish plus pickles, or something else?

#511 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:11 PM:

Avram, they were these. I got them at the PickleLicious stand at the local farmer's market.

I sliced them thin and had them on a wrap, folded over with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter™. It's much better than you'd think.

#512 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:12 PM:

Got a call from the vet letting us know that the urine culture they did for Ardala came up positive for e. coli. O, rapture. So now it's off to the (thankfully, open 24 hrs) vet to pick up some bignormous antibiotic scrip.

The nice lady at the vet's office also mentioned that the head of the practice, an orthopedic specialist, had seen Ardala's x-rays and would love to see her at no additional cost to us. The always pessimistic roommate worries that this is because Ardala has some sort of super-rare (and expensive!) form of spondylosis. I insist it is because the vet who saw her on Sunday put a note in her chart that Ardala is super-cute.

Off to the vet I go, ever anticipating the day where my dining room rug no longer smells like dog pee!

#513 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:50 PM:

Niall @ 437: You made this pre-med snerk.

Avram @ 438: True, and they were certainly in pop culture well before Katrina. But I didn't see the massive popularity boom until well after that.

As far as Google Trends shows, the zombie thing started climbing massively around late 2008... so maybe it has more to do with the economic crisis. Still: poverty and destruction of infrastructure/social order.

Nancy Lebovitz @ 440: I, too, am not fond of zombie fiction as a whole. But I can give Seanan-McGuire-as-Mira-Grant's Newsflesh books the stamp of approval. They are, deep down, excellent and pointed political satire and occur years after, not during, the zombie apocalypse - which means they hit straight up against those infrastructure issues, and the way the mainstream media is eroding. They also deal with how a sudden disaster becomes an everyday, ordinary state of affairs. Well the hell done.

...

As far as vampires, I have written a novel in which vampires are literally and openly the empowered aristocratic elite. As in, they run the government. They mostly run it well, because they're good at strategy, but not because they're good.

...

I've always wondered at the similarity between some Jewish stories (such as those about the "Wise Men of Chelm") and some Polish jokes. They have a kind of gnomic 'so stupid it rolls back around to clever' quality. I found a page about 'noodlehead stories' which have that common attribute.

#514 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:54 PM:

Oh, bother, said Pooh, my comment has been held for review. It had all these marvellous things in it about graphs showing zombies started to peak in '08, and vampires as aristocracy, and noodlehead jokes as an Eastern-European-Jewish thing. I hope it gets out of the trap soon. Meanwhile could I trouble you for a bit of honey?

#515 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:35 AM:

David #443:

I'll admit, on short consideration, that the folklorist explanations for these waves of jokes as you're describing them is jumping up and down on my "just so stories" button.

#516 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:39 AM:

Niall #449:

Perhaps. But popular culture is complicated and multifaceted. I think you can probably find dozens of plausible-sounding explanations for any given trend. And, like the way stock-market reporters always give a reason for why the market did what it did today, but can't actually predict anything about future market performance, the models used are probably not too helpful understanding what's going to happen in the future.

#517 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:47 AM:

Correction to 508:

My grandfather was not named Frederick Siegfried; that was his Hungarian-born father.

#518 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 12:07 PM:

Another chain I remember from my childhood, that wasn't in the Wikipedia article and nobody else has mentioned yet:

Q. What did Tarzan say when the herd of elephants came over the hill?
A. "Here come the elephants."

Q. What did Tarzan say when the herd of elephants came over the hill?
A. Nothing. They were wearing dark glasses, so he didn't recognise them.

Q. Why were the elephants wearing dark glasses?
A. Well, would you want to be recognised if people were telling corny jokes like these about you?

#519 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 12:35 PM:

HLN: Local woman decides that previous year's root canal was so much fun, she wants to do it again. Sources say that the proximal cuspid on the tooth known as 29 spearated from the rest of the tooth. "But I was chewing on the other side of my [CENSORED] mouth, for [CENSORED]'s sake!"

Local woman less than wholly amused. Household finances reported to be stable, but under some strain, as are woman's nerves. "Well," she is quoted as saying, "I suppose there's something to be said for getting it all over with at once, but, really, couldn't this have waited until I was done paying vet bills and the eye doctor? I mean, seriously."

Local woman wants to crawl under rock and hide. Unfortunately, broken tooth would doubtless follow.

#520 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 12:52 PM:

Jacque @519: Sympathies!

#521 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:03 PM:

Jacque @ 519: Ouch. On multiple levels. Good mojo on its way to you, if desired.

#522 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:04 PM:

Jacque (519): Owies! My sympathies.

#523 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:51 PM:

Jacque... Ouch. Uneasy lies the head that bears the crown.

#524 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 02:25 PM:

One elephant joke I heard is different from the others:

Q. What did the Dallas Chief of Police say when an elephant walked into the station?
A. Nothing. He didn't notice.
This joke is from late 1963. You know what it's about.

#525 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 02:37 PM:

I may have missed this one upthread:

What's more difficult that getting a pregnant elephant in a Mini?

Getting an elephant pregnant in a Mini.

#526 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:08 PM:

HLN: Area woman narrowly avoids abdominal injury laughing over office prank incident.

The event is precipitated when male colleague discovers a quantity of the finest hand-harvested French lavender in his man-bag as he prepares to leave the office. Threats ensue.

He then comes upon a cache of lavender in his flat cap, which he meticulously empties out while muttering imprecations.

After putting on his coat, said colleague places his hands in his pockets. Several minutes of lavender removal ensue, accompanied by vows of vengeance.

Area woman's colleague then leaves, having omitted to check the other two pouches of his bag or the less-used pockets of his coat. Further unfortunate language is also anticipated when he uses the team webcam tomorrow morning and discovers what is currently stored with.

Area woman, sore from laughter, assures self that her desk is securely locked before she leaves the office, because she does not work Fridays, and her victim colleague does.

#527 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:15 PM:

Jacque @ 519: My sympathies.

It is recommended that local woman inquire of local dentist whether they accept Care Credit, and apply if so...

I didn't turn out to need it the time I applied for it (for a cat's thyroid treatment) but that part at least is a very painless process and there's no interest if you pay it off by a certain date, usually 6 months to 2 years. (If you don't use the plan, it simply closes itself after a year.) And if you wind up not using it for the dentistry, and something else comes up while it's still valid you can use it for that. Really useful.

#528 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:25 PM:

abi, Area Man loves Area Woman (different areas) very much, but is very glad not to be one of Area Woman's coworkers. OTOH probably AW wouldn't play such a prank on AM, whose aversion to pranks of any kind is well known.

Area Man is willing to assume that Area Woman's coworker has no such attitude, and is in fact as amused by such things (after the initial cursing phase) as Area Woman is herself.

#529 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:32 PM:

Area woman and her colleague are well-known in the office for their constant twitting and banter, performed in the traditional British sarcastic style. Pranks of this nature are wholly consistent with their established working relationship. All muttering and imprecations were also within bounds of standard badinage.

Under no circumstances would area woman inflict this kind of treatment on an unconsenting recipient.

#530 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:35 PM:

abi, first let me congratulate you on constructive and unusual use of lavender.

Second: why is it that nobody does good cold-dried lavender for sale, nor oil of lavender by efflurage or infusion instead of the nasty bitter cooked-smelling steam processed.

But I digress. I actually came here to ask if you know of any good decongestants/mucinex equivalents/antihistamines available over the counter in your country of residence. The younger spawn and her boy just left on a flight to Amsterdam; they've been planning it for about eighteen months, so of course they both came down with juicy colds on Monday. She had resisted me contacting you at all because "Mom, she's not my friend" (long screed about parenting people in their twenties foregone, not least because they gave me the damned cold before they left and I don't have the energy for it whatsoever).

In any case, any wise words about navigating the self-care maze in a foreign country would be much appreciated. They have a laptop and wireless access, so I can link to answers. Thanks.

#531 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:53 PM:

JESR @530:

Unfortunately, the Netherlands is rather impoverished in the area of over the counter antihistamines. Indeed, when Teresa was here and found herself in need, we drove to Belgium to obtain better stuff than we could buy here.

My best advice would be to go into a pharmacist (apotheek) in Amsterdam and speak to someone there. They'll all speak English perfectly well and be entirely helpful.

How long are they in Amsterdam?

#532 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:58 PM:

Abi, I think they're in Amsterdam for about eight days, then Wells (they're both big Hot Fuzz geeks) and then London: they're staying with friends everywhere but Wells.

I'm hoping that sleeping sitting up on the plane and without the collected dust of two dogs, two cats, and fourteen baby chicks floating around in the air will help her a little- she works in a call center, so she may be the only person on that flight to experience better air-quality in the air than in daily life.

#533 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:04 PM:

HLN: Area woman's Thanksgiving plans fall through. "But dammit," she said, "I've lived here for three months and haven't been to the city yet, so I'm GOING ON MONDAY." She stated that company would be welcome, but that she doesn't know how much jollification she'll be up for. She was heard to mumble ungraciously about sinus infections, but she will remain unquoted, since some readers might be possessed of delicate sensibilities.

#534 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Abi @ 526... Obviously no man-bag is safe, when Area Woman is around.

#535 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Xopher @524: none less than Isaac Asimov mentions that joke in his Treasury of Humor.

#536 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:20 PM:

TexAnne @ 533... some readers might be possessed of delicate sensibilities

Mucus, will you, eh? See if we care...

#537 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:25 PM:

JESR @350: Mucinex's generic name is Guaifenesin, and Benedryl's is Diphenhydramine -- if they can find the former it may be more helpful than the latter.

You can find Benedryl under another cloak -- Unisom II, in fact many of the OTC sleep aids are actually antihistimines. And it may be easier to find Mucinex as a liquid rather than a tablet/capsule as it's also an expectorant.

#538 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:30 PM:

Gray Woodland @468: Re: Paula's story @ 463 - Seriously, everybody pay attention

Well, FWIW, I emailed my congresscritters yesterday.

#539 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:37 PM:

Other generic antihistamines to look for:

  • chlorpheniramine or brompheniramine maleates
  • clemastine fumarate
  • cetirizine
  • loratadine
  • doxylamine succinate (may also be found in sleep aids)

#540 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:53 PM:

TexAnne (533): Do you mean this coming Monday, or the Monday after Thanksgiving? I'm free on the latter, but not the former.

#541 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:19 PM:

JESR @350

I've also found that saline nasal rinses like this one, used 1-2 times a day, help me a lot when it comes to clearing out my sinus congestion, and keeping it clear. I supplement it with decongestants and mucinex, but if I don't have either of those things, the flush helps in and of itself. It's also prevented me from getting sinus infections when I do get colds, something that I used to basically just assume would happen anytime I got sick.

A nurse practitioner recommended it after I spent years adjusting various nasal-related medications while never achieving complete relief. While I still use all my other stuff, incorporating flushes has made the most significant, noticeable difference of any treatment.

Neti-pots work as well, but are actually harder to use in my experience. Fortunately, simple saline flushes are available pretty much everywhere.

#542 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:21 PM:

HLN: Large angry Siamese cat is in search of the door into Summer...has been let out then screamed to be let back in a half a dozen times in the last three hours.

Local woman having hysterics after her mother phones and describes above activities...

I can hardly wait until the first snow.

#543 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:29 PM:

Leah Miller @ 541: I've only tried a neti pot, but I can confirm that the neti pot works well. (The key to using it for me was to paste my tongue way up against the back of my hard palate, as if I were saying "nnnngggg," while bending over and pouring.)

The first time my husband used it, he came out of the bathroom and said "Wow, that's totally disgusting, but super effective. All your snot just comes right out into the sink, and you say 'Ew, that was in my nose?' But then it's not in your nose anymore." I laughed and agreed. That is exactly what using a neti pot is like.

I have to imagine that one of the saline nose rinses would work the same way.

#544 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:35 PM:

Mary Aileen, 540: The Monday before. (Alas. Well, there's always December.)

#545 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:37 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 542: If the large angry Siamese cat finds the door into Summer, do let me know. I'll follow him.

(SAD really smacked me in the face after the time change this year. This week has been a Very Bad Week.)

#546 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:48 PM:

Carol Kimball @472: What's that black stuff between elephants' toes?

You could update this one and make it politically correct with the following alteration:

Q. What's that greasy stuff between the elephants' toes?
A. Slow poachers.

Dave Bell @499: I once met a politician who was clever enough to milk a bull.

Friend of mine once had a job on a stud ranch milking stallions. (Apparently pretty easy once you get the settup right.)

Xopher HalfTongue @511: My mother was a fan of peanut butter and mustard pickle sandwiches, which sounds not dissimilar. Avram, I believe that rounds out to: peanut butter, dill pickles, the mustard of your choice.

nerdycellist @512: urine culture they did for Ardala came up positive for e. coli.

We're finally making some visible progress in dealing with Gustav's UTI (as in: she's finally showing a hint of a pot-belly and has a little scruff of fur on her butt!), so I hereby throw some of that mojo your way. :-)

WTR teefs: thanks, everyone, for the good wishes. Even you, Serge. :B-) *

abi @526: Is area woman confident of locked desk's airseal...?

A.J. Luxton @527: Care Credit

Oh my, that does look like a useful thing to know about. Thanks for the link! I'll put it on my list to check with my various providers whether they accept it. (Let's see. So far this month: Optometrist, Vet, Dentist, Endodontist, Opthamologist....)

Knock on wood, I set myself up a little Flexible Spending Account ($NN into special savings account every month. Post-tax, but the absence of bureaucracy, and getting to keep leftovers at the end of the year are very much worth it), so cash-flow is okay for the moment. But I am definitely Paying Attention this month.

Yeep! Just looked at my account. Less okay than I'd thought. Still okay, but: yeep!

abi @529: Under no circumstances would area woman inflict this kind of treatment on an unconsenting recipient.

Area woman does, however, have a documented history of inflicting other forms of treatment on different-area man.

Caroline @545: Sympathies on the SAD. I'm a night person by nature, so I tend to have the opposite problem. But having one's metabolism out of whack with one's environment sucks, whichever way it cuts.

--

* That's me looking over my (so far nonexistent) glasses at you.


#547 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 06:06 PM:

albatross #515: Well, the thing is, if you try for an overt-level explanation, it often does sound like a just-so story. If you take a Freudian approach, you get responses like Nancy Lebovitz #336 (but often less polite).

The proper scientific attitude would be Nancy's trailing comment at #440; That being rather difficult to implement professionally, most folklorists tend to toss out an assortment of explanations and see which ones "ring true" with their readers. (So far, we have no better instrument for understanding human behavior than... other humans.) This is why folklore is very much a "soft" science....

#549 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 06:38 PM:

#548 has a un-closed link.

#551 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 07:05 PM:

#546 ::: Jacque

You could update this one and make it politically correct with the following alteration:

Q. What's that greasy stuff between the elephants' toes?
A. Slow poachers.

Oh, I like that a lot! Thank you!

#552 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 07:52 PM:

Starting a slow-cooker stew tonight, using a huge slab of meat I found at the bottom of the freezer. Possibly from my parents' quasi-Mennonite neighbors. Beef, or maybe venison. Might be a year old. #ptomaine #mysterymeat

#553 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 08:13 PM:

HLN: Area retiree receives telescope in mail from friend--on the day that drismal winter weather sets in for estimated next 4 months. Still delighted.
Sympathies on Jaque's tooth and JESR's cold. Area retiree will inquire about Care Credit for own impending fillings.

#554 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 08:53 PM:

abi, #526: It appears that "man-bag" is not an idiom which I have internalized yet, so my initial parsing of that sentence was... peculiar, and left me wondering how the trick had been accomplished without his knowledge!

#555 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 08:55 PM:

TMK 535: Come to think of it, that's almost certainly where I got it.

#556 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:23 PM:

Jaque (546) -- Care Credit is extortionate -- the interest rate is currently 30%, and that's if you are never ever late with a payment. If you are, I can't begin to imagine to what dizzy heights it might rise.

Of courze, it's been some time since I had a credit card of any kind. This may pass for "normal" now.

#557 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 12:00 AM:

"Is there a consensus about the current popularity of zombie fiction?"

There was a Worldcon panel on this very subject, and I think Seanan McGuire had a good argument in her theory that the horror monster flavor of the time directly reflects the scares that society has. So vampires started gaining major traction in the late 70s and 80s when sex suddenly became scary, and zombies became popular after 2001 when fears of anonymous death, sickness, and loss of individuality became more prevalent. (September 11th, SARS, even job loss feed into those fears.)

If that theory is true, werewolves should become popular when you start seeing GMO stories all over the news, and mutant hybrids become problems.

Polack jokes—as a half-Pole, the only times I ever heard the jokes were inside the group, as it were. I've heard the WWI explanation, but I've also heard that they were used earlier as a means of downplaying the Poles who were such good warriors in the nineteenth century. Being landless (and wanting your country back) apparently makes for good training grounds.

You've got to feel so sorry for Poland. They tried for a constitutional republic, got taken apart by all the neighboring countries who said: 'None of that around here,' spent the better part of a century fighting for anyone who'd offer them their country back, finally got it back, then got it given away again.

Older: Unfortunately, many "penalty" rates are well above 20%. And of course, it's extremely easy for your payment to be late—especially if they don't bother to open your check right away. That's why I'm happy with my USAA card. The normal rate isn't the lowest, but the penalty rate isn't sky-high and they have Real People who answer the phone and understand when things happen, like your credit union going to a new online system which ends up debiting the wrong account for your bills. (grrrrr)

#558 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 03:15 AM:

Older @556: Care Credit is extortionate -- the interest rate is currently 30%, and that's if you are never ever late with a payment. If you are, I can't begin to imagine to what dizzy heights it might rise. Of courze, it's been some time since I had a credit card of any kind. This may pass for "normal" now.

Holy cow. Yeah, this a might...steep. My platinum card is something like 18%, and that's because I keep the available credit really low. Yeep!

#559 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 04:48 AM:

Looking at the outline of Care Credit, it looks like a short-term credit facility which, if you can pay it off quickly, is pretty cheap. But that 30% rate looks like loan-sharking. And, in the current economic climate, thinking you can reliably pay it off inside the six months seems optimistic.

It might be a safer deal to ask the vet or doctor or dentist what facilities they can provide. Or maybe not. You can just see one of the licensed loan-sharks offering them a commission.

I see a lot of adverts for what I called licensed loan sharking, very high interest, all lawful, and, at best, cheerfully amoral. And these days it seems, from other reports, that the politicians don't even care whether the paperwork is correct when a financial institution wants money from the likes of us.

#560 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 06:04 AM:

Older @ 546: That's only if you don't pay it off within the set period - if you do, there's no interest; and the set period can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years depending on the amount. (When I applied for mine, which was $1500 for a cat's medical treatment, the payment term would have been a year; I didn't wind up needing it though, so there was no charge.)

The idea is, I think, that it's set up for "oy, we need to pay a dental bill NOW but it takes time to cash in our secondary resources."

There's alternately a way to set it up with a 14.9% APR straight through, rather than a grace period.

#561 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:04 AM:

Apropos of nothing in the thread so far, it's Steven Moffat's birthday today (Dr Who, PressGang) and some fans in Russia made this YouTube video. Very very cool.

#562 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:17 AM:

Apropos of the open thread: Today's hours are positively creeping by. I am in a state of fannish excitement awaiting the beginning of this weekend. Can hardly wait, I can.

#563 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:18 AM:

On another newsgroup, some production of "A Christmas Carol" was being discussed. By chance, it was from a CBS anthology show that often featured Jack Benny. That made me wonder why they didn't have Jack as Scrooge. It would have been perfect! The first spirit, Christmas Past (aka "Not Now!") would have been played — or perhaps voiced — by Mel Blanc.

"Spirit! You're showing me… a vision?"

"Sí."

"Well, what would you have me do?"

"See."

"But this is me, when I was young."

"Sí."

"Am I on holiday? What's that body of water?"

"Sea."

"And that young girl! Is that my old sweetheart?"

"Sí."

"And what place is this?"

"Cucamonga."

The second spirit, Christmas Present, should probably be the acerbic Fred Allen, who could carry his long-running 'feud' with Benny into the story. ("Well, speak up, Scrooge! You're not thinking of ad libbing, are you?")

I dare say the wacky Frank ("ee-YEH-essss!") Nelson should be the third spirit, Christmas Future.

"So, Ebenezer, you can change your mean, penny-pinching ways, or you can end up in the grave. ... Well? How about it?"

"I'm thinking. I'm thinking!"

#564 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:25 AM:

The Modesto Kid: Your daughter reminds me of my daughter, Sarah. There's even some facial resemblance when they uncork a dazzling smile. Sarah's two years younger, maybe two and a half.

Here's part of Sarah's face just before Halloween, and clicking on the tag for her name will bring you the option of looking at more, possibly in reverse order of when they were added — I can't quite make out the logic of it.

#565 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:30 AM:

Hmmm... Did I forget to hit 'post', or did my post get gnomed because of a reference to puppets?

#566 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:36 AM:

Omigod, the thread's ruined! Somebody mentioned puppets!

(jk)

#568 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:39 AM:

Incidentally, right after the pic of Sarah in my flickr feed (or before, the way they display them — you can just start from the home page or whatever) there are several pages of pix from last year's SFCONtario, showing the wonderful folks I wish I could be seeing at this year's SFCONtario, only we blew our money going to China and Michigan, and I wanted to try out for the musical, and I guess we know how that turned out.

I'll express my sorrow in a song. "Oh..."

#569 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:45 AM:

Serge @565:

You didn't hit post. The gnomes don't have it, and it's not with the spam in the Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth bin either.

#570 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Did you know that Mary Robinette Kowal, puppeteer, SFWA official and winner of this year's Hugo for her short story "For Want of a Nail", had appeared in "Leverage" episode "The Boiler-room Job"? She's the lady getting Sophie's autograph at the 1:10 moment in the excerpt linked HERE.

#571 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:58 AM:

Kip W @ 566... The Comic String Theory plays havoc with the fabric of Reality's threads?

#572 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 12:58 PM:

Hrmn... I seem to have not hit post, or something.

I'll be at Philcon this weekend.

#573 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:35 PM:

Speaking of thread, string and fabric, and since AKICITF (and besides I think I heard about it here):

Does anyone remember a video of a woman doing an impromptu workshop on spinning 3-ply yarn using rubber bands, rubber balls and a coffee cup? She was demonstrating this art in a hotel lobby.

My Google Fu has failed to turn up the video.

#574 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:43 PM:

Lila @573:
Googling "video spinning yarn rubber bands" finds two Cat Bordhi videos: 1, 2.

(watch the gnomes suddenly get a spinning fetish...)

#575 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:01 PM:

geekosaur: THANK YOU. # 1 is the one I'd seen, but as a physical therapist assistant I appreciate #2 even more. (Exercise! And you get yarn!)

*bookmarking as she should have done the first time*

#576 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:04 PM:

geekosaur: wow, that was fast! Thank you. I don't know if the gnomes got your post, but they got the original "thank you" from me just prior to this one. I suspect I used a word of power. To paraphrase: I will be sure to place a mark in a virtual book to enable me to find those videos again. #1 was the one I'd seen before, #2 is particularly apposite to my profession (PT assistant).

#577 ::: Justin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 03:32 AM:

[Cloaking Field Off]

Sorry, I'm a bit behind, but I had to delurk to respond to Abi@248.

My Dad had a bout of Transient Global Amnesia almost exactly a year ago (heading north for Thanksgiving). Spoiler: only good news, he's perfectly fine now.

He took a shower and then couldn't remember what he'd done before that, was generally confused.... My Mom drove him to the hospital (for which I gently chided her later -- we have professionals for that -- thanks, Jim), fearing he'd had a stroke. The nice thing is that along with "chest pain", "possible stroke" is one of the magic phrases that puts you right at the front of the line....

I arrived a couple of hours later and was greeted by him asking "Who are you?" Now, here's the thing -- he knew exactly who I was, and at that moment he'd been told recently enough that he was having memory problems that he still remembered that he was having memory problems (but he hadn't forgotten myself, my brother, or my mother). He just thought it was funny to play off the fact that everyone thought he had forgotten everything. Of course, my Mom just turned to me and said "He thinks he's being funny."

Again, I have to say -- he's fine now, he doesn't remember that day, but other than that, his memory is fine. But. I have never been more terrified than I was that day. My parents had spent three months, the whole summer, on Long Island because my grandmother (my father's mother) was in pretty bad shape -- and he didn't remember that at all. Three months of living in the crappy little attic bedroom he'd lived in as a boy, worrying over his mother -- and he didn't remember that.

I had a little peek (just a tiny, tiny glimpse) of the lurking horror that is Alzheimer's. It was hard to stand in that room and not just cry. Every two minutes or so, he'd pick up the newspaper that was on his lap to check the date, and look confused. He told the same jokes over and over again. I thought we'd lost him. I felt like I was falling into an abyss of horror. But -- he got better. Over the next 8 hours or so, his memory just...came back.

I can definitely confirm that this is far worse for the family and loved ones than the patient -- even now, I don't think he really believes us when we tell him how much he'd seemed to have lost, and how terrified we were. I suspect it's a defensive reaction, as he can't do anything about it, he's denying the severity of it.

Again, though -- he's fine, a year later (just celebrated his 70th birthday last month).

If your Mom is anything like my Dad in this, she'll just be bemused by it -- but if I may be so bold as to offer some advice (which I'm sure you don't need, but I'll say it anyway): be extra nice to those who were with her for a while. I really can't describe how horrifying it was to go from having dinner with my Dad and then sitting with him in a hospital room 18 hours later wondering if he'd ever be able to form a new memory.

...and now for something completely different:

Xopher@279 -- I'm really fascinated that you believe that Mal wasn't going to kill Jayne in that scene -- I am absolutely certain he was going to. It's actually my favorite scene in the whole series. When I watch that scene, I see Mal's revulsion for Jayne -- what I think he fears he might become -- and I am absolutely positive that he's going to kill him. And he's going to feel good about it, too. Righteous.

What saves Jayne is his shame. "Don't tell 'em what I did." Jayne saved his own life with those words.

#578 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 12:00 PM:

So as not to derail the Chaotic Good thread, which is fascinating and complex, I come in over here to mutter quietly that I like the fourth edition of D&D quite a lot. Dammit.

#579 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 12:29 PM:

But I'm sure, Fade, that the authoritarian aspect of it (the part that makes it completely anathema to me) isn't part of what you like.

I keep going to simpler and simpler systems, personally. Mainly that's because the simpler the system the more trust it requires between players and GM, or to make it more obvious what the process is in my case, the more the players and GM trust each other and are committed to The Law ("The Game Must Be Fun shall be the whole of the Law: fun is the Law, fun under rules"), the simpler the system required to govern the game.

I've been playing with some of my players for 30 years, and with others for their entire lives (they're younger than 30). So they trust me as a GM, and they don't look for exploits in the rules. That's not what it's about. They're characters in a story whose setting and other characters I've created, and we write the plot together.

#580 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 12:34 PM:

Also not to derail the Occupy Chaotic Good thread, I wanted to repost this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad paragraph I wrote:

" 'Protect and Serve the 1%' is the full version of the motto. It's heartening to hear of the number of rank-and-file police officers who resist doing so. That's much more important to me than the thuggish actions of those who slather the orders of hot dogs with a relish of brutality and a spritz of pepper spray."

Clearly, I have violated many laws of rhetoric involving the responsible use of metaphor. Call the police. I will go quietly.

#581 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:15 PM:

Xopher, I play an awful lot of different systems. What I like about D&D 4e is the clever tactical system, and the way that very specific rules interact to make for interesting combat situations, with multiple useful player options for any given setup. I'm not really sure what the authoritarian bent in question is, so it's possible that it is part of what makes the things I like the things I like.

The games that get me with their authoritarian streak are actually the World of Darkness ones, where the setting loves to codify very strict hierarchies for every single supernatural sphere, with most of them having mechanical benefits for being higher in that particular structure. It turns into play where players sit around sneering at people who want to play rebels or fight against the established order, because that established order being proper or necessary is built right into the setting.

#582 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:41 PM:

Justin @ 577: Your experience with your father's Transient Global Amnesia sounds perfectly awful. It's clear that it still hurts a year later. My sympathies to you and your family -- and the same to abi.

And, on your other note, of course Mal was going to kill Jayne!

#583 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:42 PM:

I'm not really sure what the authoritarian bent in question is, so it's possible that it is part of what makes the things I like the things I like.

The conflation of Good with Lawful, that is, the idea that if you follow rules you're automatically more righteous than someone who does not.

That's the authoritarian bent. And it was a change from previous editions.

Gary Gygax was a total asshole who was a suckup to the Christian Right, and his organization reflects that attitude.

#584 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 02:19 PM:

Now you know as much as I do:

The Doctor Who Christmas Special

#585 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 02:36 PM:

Fade, #578: I'm sure there's a lot to like about it. However, I have to say that removing the 2-axis alignment element is a Bad Idea, not least because it removes a level of nuance from the system. Given how many of our current social problems are either directly or partially traceable to a loss of the ability to understand nuance, I'm loath to tamper with any tool that might help teach it.

Has anybody encountered someone from the company talking about the reasons why this change was made? From where I sit, it looks like a stellar example of fixing something that wasn't broken.

Xopher, #583: Exactly. It deprives players of an obvious mental frame for "someone who reworks the rules for their own benefit and against everybody else" -- not to mention "someone who enforces evil rules"! If I were a GM and came across something like that, I'd be mightily tempted to throw it out and make a House Rule that alignments would be determined on the 2-axis system.

#586 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 03:23 PM:

HLN:
Busily "buying" $0.00 books on Amazon... (B&N has a totally noxious requirement, even for $0.00 books, for a permanent credit card. I do NOT want my permanent credit cards sitting in a live database of active purchasing for automatic access in something which has tens of millions of people as direct end users on-line with everyday... online I generally use gift card type credit instruments with limits on them, NOT permanent ones....

I am also ROFLMAO at some of what I'm coming cross, including blurbs by people who write "decendents" as opposed to "descendants".... I'm supposed to think an illiterate or badly edited blurb is going to front a literate book?! I;m downloading stuff which is slushy--but the effort involved is low, and the resource consumption low, and maybe I;ll find some gems... besides, looking for e.g. space opera on bookshelves that I like and consider worth the cost of thebooks lately, has been rough going....

#587 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Lee @578: Huh! Most of the people I know who are pleased with the removal of the complex alignment system are happy because they thought the previous system was overly simple, and merely pretended to accurately describe a lot of things which were much more complex than than a nine-spot grid could describe. Simplifying the alignment spread was seen as an acknowledgment that, yeah, it's not as rigid and specific as These Nine Categories, but since we still want some spell effects to work off these things, here are fewer, broader categories to play with. Which is sort of the attitude I took, myself, so I find it fascinating to see people read the simplification as being more authoritarian. I just read it as it being "Well, yes, that was rather rigid, have some more general categories that aren't as cut-and-dried."

#588 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:34 PM:

Lee #578, Fade Manley #587: There were also some commonplace abuses (like the infamous Chaotic Stupid), but those could have been handled with better descriptive text. For that matter, the correspondence we're working with now, while it obviously wasn't available back then, would have made the grid a heckuvalot more meaningful in actual role-playing.

Then too, part of the urge for simplification falls under "the golden age for science fiction RPG is 12" -- and the publishers surely know their audience.

#589 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:40 PM:

Fade, #587: I am completely becroggled by the idea that the 2-axis alignment system is "too complex" and "too simple" at the same time. And it's not "a 9-spot grid", it's two axes, upon each of which someone could be anywhere along that continuum. (Perhaps I'm unduly influenced here by my awareness of the 4 MBTI axes and the well-nigh-infinite ways in which someone's position on each of them can combine to produce different personality types; that's not just "a 16-spot grid" by any means.)

But the more major point is the one Xopher makes -- that one's tendency to be, or not to be, a rule-follower is orthogonal to the goals one is trying to achieve. Jamming both of those things onto a single scale, eliminating awareness of the difference between the two axes, and most perniciously associating "Lawful" with "Good" and "Chaotic" with "Evil", is very hard for me to see as being either more realistic or less harmful.

#590 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:54 PM:

PS: AD&D had a lot of other structural problems as well -- at various times, I was overlaying a mana system (combining with cantrips to make level 1 magic-users much less crunchy) and a poison-damage system (preventing "ooh, natural 1 against the centipede bite -- so much for your level 15 fighter!").

#591 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:55 PM:

Lee @589: After writing and deleting an attempted explanation on how I can find a given game mechanic both too simple and too complex at once quite often--usually by hitting the opposite of a sweet spot--I think I will just settle for: I do not think it makes me some sort of Bad Person to like the fourth edition handling of alignment, and I'm getting increasingly annoyed at the implication that "Yeah, a simpler set of alignments works just fine for me" implies I want to suppress free speech or something.

I came over to this thread to discuss D&D instead of doing it in the other thread because I was quite deliberately trying to talk about a game without tying it to politics.

#592 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:04 PM:

The problem, Fade, is that we think politics has everything to do with why they made the change, so that comes into our discussion of why we don't like it. I, for one, don't doubt your assertion that you like it for completely unrelated reasons.

And if you wanted to discuss it without reference to politics...well, I think you're talking to the wrong group, but in case you might have said so. What you did say was "So as not to derail the Chaotic Good thread," and I really can't see how those are the same thing, or how we could have gotten from that that you didn't want politics to be part of the discussion here. It's part of almost every discussion here.

#593 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:10 PM:

I think there is a certain rich irony in directing people's attention to the Original Post in an Open Thread, but here goes:

10. Thou shalt not insult thy neighbor by insisting on the absolute superiority of any technique or system.

I think there's a bit more dissing of the Fourth Edition and those who prefer it than is defensible. Back it off and leave space for others to differ, please.

#594 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:24 PM:

Xopher @592:
And if you wanted to discuss it without reference to politics...well, I think you're talking to the wrong group, but in case you might have said so. What you did say was "So as not to derail the Chaotic Good thread," and I really can't see how those are the same thing, or how we could have gotten from that that you didn't want politics to be part of the discussion here. It's part of almost every discussion here.

Well, I thought it was clear, when she moved from an explicitly political thread to an open one, that maybe politics was what she wanted to leave behind. Indeed, I was somewhat surprised that you moved the political aspect of the conversation over when it was such a good fit in the other thread. It looks to me like it's gotten in the way of an interesting discussion on gaming, which is a topic of more interest to the community than its usual airtime might suggest.

But even leaving that aside, I'm disappointed that your response to someone who is clearly feeling attacked and piled on by a discussion that she wanted to go much less combatively is to bite her head off, and tell her she was wrong to expect a friendly and constructive conversation on Making Light

I think you might want to rethink that approach a little bit.

#595 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:29 PM:

"B&N has a totally noxious requirement, even for $0.00 books, for a permanent credit card."

I was able to set up a B&N Nook account, and start buying things, with a temporary credit card number. (It was the kind that gets linked to a "permanent" account, but with a short time frame and dollar limit; in my case, 2 months and $10. That was enough to buy Angry Birds and a couple of other games successfully, as well as "purchase" free ebooks.)

Were you trying the "gift card" kind of temporary credit card number (not linked to a "permanent" account)? I didn't try that, because those cards often carry extra fees, as opposed to the free "virtual" temporary number my issuer offers. But maybe those get treated differently.

I'll probably switch over to a permanent number eventually-- part of my concern was that I or my kids could inadvertently start buying things without thinking about it by pressing a few buttons-- but it turns out that you can require password re-entry for purchases, which makes that harder to do.


#596 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:15 PM:

wrong to expect a friendly and constructive conversation on Making Light

I didn't mean that, nor did I intend to bite her head off.

Fade, I'm sorry. I didn't get what you meant, and when you said you didn't understand why we thought it was authoritarian, I thought I'd explain. I didn't intend to bite your head off, but if it came across that way to abi, that's enough for me to decide I need to apologize.

I'll shut up now.

#597 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:25 PM:

abi, I really am sorry I hurt Fade, and intended her no malice.

But I don't understand how discussing political aspects of a topic necessarily rules out a friendly and productive conversation. I thought I was being friendly and explaining aspects of it that Fade expressed confusion about. I was saying "we generally bring in political aspects of things," and somehow that came across as "we're not going to be friendly." I'm distressed by this, because I don't understand.

#598 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:27 PM:

And now I really am going to shut up.

#599 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:28 PM:

Xopher, apology quite accepted. I think I didn't express myself very well, and I should've been more explicit about wanting to talk about the system in an apolitical manner. (Or, for that matter, to have gone to an RPG-based forum to talk about it, but I abandoned my last favorite of those because I found the aggressive disagreement there too upsetting. Ah, the irony.)

In any case. D&D 4e: something which I enjoy playing, but clearly not everyone's cup of tea, for a variety of reasons. I think I shall go back to becoming the Cabbage Queen of Skyrim, now.

#600 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:32 PM:

Xopher @596:

Moderator protip: if you're using someone's first name as an interjection in a comment on Making Light, abandon it at preview.

It's a conversational dominance tactic. It treats the other person as a sullen child who may not be listening to your scolding attentively enough. There are plenty of sites where that kind of thing is part of the culture. Not here.

If you're doing it unintentionally, it's a sign that you may be out of hand. If you're doing it on purpose, you are out of hand.

#601 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:33 PM:

It's a game -- and one I personally don't even play, but I know so many people who do that I've absorbed a lot of the culture by osmosis. I'm sorry if I came across as piling-on; that wasn't my intent.

We have a new kitten. He showed up in the back yard a couple of weeks ago. Clearly a stray rather than a feral; he was tractable right from the beginning, and has integrated well with the other cats. Spot needed a playmate, so even though we hadn't intended to get another cat, I think this one is going to stay. He doesn't have a name yet.

He was in the company of a tortie who we also trapped, and this one we're looking to re-home. She's a sweet cat (again, probably stray rather than feral) but she has trust issues and doesn't like being picked up -- although she'll purr like a diesel engine while being petted! We've had her spayed, she's been treated with Revolution for parasites, and I'm willing to drive up to 5 hours' distance to deliver her to a good home. Any takers? She'd be an excellent pet for someone who doesn't want a snuggle-bunny.

#602 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:39 PM:

abi, are you talking about my 592? It doesn't feel that way to me, but I can see how it might to you. I didn't mean it that way, though.

I'm sorry, and I'll try to avoid that construction in the future.

Fade, thank you for being so gracious about this. I'm absolutely mortified that I came across as attacking you, which could not have been further from my intention.

#603 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 11:13 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man sets up 9-foot-tall pre-lit Christmas Tree then spends two hours fluffing up its branches. Only ornament so far is Olive the Other Reindeer. Man wraps multi-colored lights around living-room's fake palmtree, and around the three trunks of tree outside kitchen window. Man tired.

#604 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 11:54 PM:

Concerning Care Credit: I do know that there is a 6-months grace period. I also know that there are a lot of people unable to pay *anything* extra with their back-against-the-wall budgets, some of whom at least are being forced into bankruptcy and foreclosure because of medical bills.

And no, you cannot "talk to" your care provider; the ones who won't allow you to make payments are the ones who referred you to Care Credit in the first place. And no one ever opens a Care Credit account unless they have been referred by a medical provider.

We currently have one, because our local clinic made some unwelcome changes recently, and when my husband went to their surgical center for a necessary operation, we were told that they "could not" bill us, and the surgery would be cancelled unless we could pay the estimated co-pay on the spot.

We don't have credit cards, but I am keeping this one and making the payments (on time of course), so that we may start receiving those relatively low-interest offers from other issuers again. Clearly, we need a credit arrangement of some kind in case of needing surgery in the future.

But Care Credit ranks with me about where BofA does. As my old rancher relative used to say, "lower than whale shit".

#605 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 05:08 AM:

Oh, I'm well aware that healthcare billing operates on the SNAFU principle at the moment, and that no one should ever be forced to go into debt.

It isn't true that you have to have a referral for Care Credit - I applied for it in advance when I was expecting a large vet bill, and by the time of the large vet bill I didn't actually need to use it. But yes, it is generally there for medical expenses that must be paid in advance.

Perhaps I am largely sympathetic because the "must be paid in advance" thing is and mostly has been universal with vet bills, and that's the context in which I've applied for it; and while it might be nice to have a national health plan for animals as well, I don't realistically expect that we ever will.

However, it's entirely unfair and inappropriate for a necessary surgery on a human being to be billed that way. As much as I love my cats... well, I could make an obvious comment about the value of human life, and furthermore, on a practical level, having pets is a choice and having a body is not.

I can see why you are angry with them now; something that seems a fair arrangement for veterinary or, to some extent, dental bills is a lot more outrageous in context of things that used to be billed afterward and should rightfully be single-payer anyway.

#606 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 06:54 AM:

Speaking of dental bills, thought y'all'd like to know your good wishes worked: needed a crown, but it looks like I won't have to be doing the root canal. Yay!

Set me back a fair chunk of change, but I can pay it out of money I set aside for the storm windows project. (Which got delayed by, well, winter.)

And tomorrow we take Gustav in for her follow-up exam. She's starting to put on weight again ('bout freakin' time: she's been packing away about 4x her weight in lettuce and parsely for the last week or two) and starting to show signs of having fur on her butt again.

Vast relief. That's one very expensive little guinea pig. But I yuvs her.

#607 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 09:23 AM:

Jacque #606: yay! root canals suck...

#609 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:13 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man is glad he read his Christmas Tree's instructions:

"Assemble the tree from the bottom to the top."

#610 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:40 PM:

Serge @ #609, now you just have to hope Agatha doesn't misread that as "Ascend the tree from the bottom to the top."

#611 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 06:32 PM:

It occurs to me that one of my favored trivial facts has taken on an unanticipated timeliness. The first dictionary to mention the word "f-ck" (only it didn't say "fudge") appeared in 1598. Also in this dictionary, meaning the same thing, were the words jape, sard, swive, and occupy.

So, yeah. Occupy Wall Street!

#612 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 06:45 PM:

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the webcomic Singularity has hit another one out of the park.

Wow. Just, wow.

#613 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 07:33 PM:

apropos of nothing,

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/seven-bar-jokes-involving-grammar-and-punctuation

#614 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 07:34 PM:

Linkmeister b@ 610... So far, no, thank goodness. Which is good because she has shown the usual feline interest in shiny ornaments. Thus I know that damage will be limited to the lower branches.

#615 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 09:26 PM:

A J Luxton at #605, It's been quite a few years since I have kept animals, but back when I did, payment of their medical bills was on the same basis as those of the other family members: we paid what we could at the time, and were billed for the rest, which we paid off as fast as we could.

One of the reasons why I have so much deferred dental maintenance is that I can not assemble the needed cash nor am I willing to engage with Care Credit and its pals in the credit industry unless for an emergency, which my husband's surgery was.

I am going to begin looking for a local dentist who follows the old style of fixing one tooth at a time as soon as we get his surgery paid off. (Current practice locally is to insist on doing the entire mouth, or in extreme cases, half the mouth, in one marathon sitting, and then of course to insist on the entire payment in one immense chunk.)

I do kind of understand the providers' problem. There are a lot of people who cannot under any circumstances actually *afford* medical treatment, so the providers want some assurance they will be paid. After all, they have bills too. But this is how it becomes common for people to go to the emergency room for what should have been relatively routine care, and end up in court and possibly in bankruptcy because the emergency room charges so much.

Damn, I'd like to be talking about something other than medical bills.

#616 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:04 PM:

David, #612: Yeah, that's a strong piece. Sadly, the people who most need to pay attention to it are precisely those who would read the last line not as "this could happen to YOU too," but as "that this hasn't happened to me is proof that I have God's favor".

Older, #615: My dentist is perfectly happy to do only as much as I feel I can handle (either physically or financially) at one time. The more expensive procedures he'll allow me to pay in 2 or 3 installments if I have to.

I have also noticed, in the waiting room, that most of his clientele appears to be from the working-poor class, many of them non-white (as is he). I do not think these two factors are unconnected. Perhaps if you were to look into seeing a dentist who practices in an economically-disadvantaged neighborhood, you might find one with a friendlier treatment policy.

#617 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:05 PM:

David, #612: Yeah, that's a strong piece. Sadly, the people who most need to pay attention to it are precisely those who would read the last line not as "this could happen to YOU too," but as "that this hasn't happened to me is proof that I have God's favor".

Older, #615: My dentist is perfectly happy to do only as much as I feel I can handle (either physically or financially) at one time. The more expensive procedures he'll allow me to pay in 2 or 3 installments if I have to.

I have also noticed, in the waiting room, that most of his clientele appears to be from the working-poor class, many of them non-white (as is he). I do not think these two factors are unconnected. Perhaps if you were to look into seeing a dentist who practices in an economically-disadvantaged neighborhood, you might find one with a friendlier treatment policy.

#618 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:06 PM:

Oops, sorry. It didn't show up after the first time I hit Post, so I did so a second time. Then they both showed up.

#619 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:21 PM:

Lee: yes, we live in what amounts to the 'inner city' for all intents and purposes--there are lots of nice houses behind all those Section 8 apartment buildings.

And a new dental clinic opened up on Gillham (within walking distance from my house, which is important because I've been O-D'd on Novacaine before. They will do pieces parts rather than saying, 'either we do all or you can go someplace else." I did learn that my insurance negotiates a lot of lower fees than ever before (prior to this any dental insurance was pretty much just paying extra dough to be told you're going to have to shell out megabucks to pay for it....).

We are in Open Season on insurance stuff, so I'm going to start a healthcare savings plan so I can pay for some other repairs and my regular prescriptions.

Live is getting better here.

#620 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:59 PM:

Re my own @562, a report on this afternoon's concert.

#621 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:59 PM:

THEORY LAND
(to a hopefully recognizable tune)

Oh, I wish I was in the land of fiction
Physics there don't stick on friction
Fly away, run away, get away,
Theory Land.

I'd fain be in the super state
Where diets help me shed this weight
In the world, better world, what a world,
Theory Land.

Oh I wish I was in Theory
To stay! To stay!
On Theory's strand, I'll understand
The simple life, in Theory.
No worms, no germs,
To mess things up in Theory!
No blips, no slips,
To trip me up in Theory!

Would that I were spherical and uniform,
With Reason's light to keep me warm,
Fly away, run away, get away,
Theory Land.

With friendly nukes to light my house
And pow'r from wind to wash my blouse
In the world, better world, what a world,
Theory Land.

Oh, it always works in Theory,
Right way! First day!
In Theory's lap I'll take a nap
And dream away, in Theory.
No jolts, no dolts,
No thunderbolts, in Theory.
No quirks, no jerks,
No danger lurks, in Theory!

Send me where the politicians never cheat
And honest cops walk every beat,
Fly away, run away, get away,
Theory Land

Where players never mess up chords
And first time list'ners hear the words
In the world, better world, what a world,
Theory Land.

(Well, the rhyme worked out in Theory.
Don't boo! It's true!
For in my mind, I test each line
And it works fine in Theory.
It chimes, it rhymes,
Most every time, in Theory.
As planned, it scanned,
It wasn't pannnnnned…
In Theory.)

words ©2011 by Kip Williams

#622 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 11:36 PM:

Kip W @ 621: ***wild applause***

#623 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 04:29 AM:

Just a thing that occurred to me in response to David Harmon @ 612:

They know he's there, but no-one stops to chat.
They have not figured out how to relate.
They live in very different parts of town.
His whole life is a subject of debate.

His circumstances brought him to this state:
His upbringing, genetics, and cruel luck.
They know he's there, but no-one stops to chat.
They have not figured out how to relate.

The story of the world is told for them,
for he is on the sidelines of the game.
Their struggles, hopes, and teams are not the same,
Though he, like they, would never choose this path.
They know he's there, but no-one stops to chat.
(They have not figured out how to relate.)

Approximately found poetry, approximately blank verse, and approximately a rondel. I shall call it a rough fondel, and let the academics worry about whether that is an appropriate description.

#624 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 05:13 AM:

David @ 612: Just in time for Thanksgiving, the webcomic Singularity...

That's Subnormality.

#625 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 06:40 AM:

Paul Duncanson #624: Gaah, you're right. Serious brain fart on my part.

#626 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 06:44 AM:

Lee #616: Hmm. Did you catch the stinger? I'm pretty sure it was intended precisely to foil and confuse that response.

#627 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 07:52 AM:

Kip W @621, I love it

#628 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:59 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Man has been reading Madeleine Robins's new Sarah Tolerance mystery. Are you?

#629 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:16 AM:

#600 ::: abi :

I find being addressed by my name somewhat disconcerting, even on Facebook where it's the only convenient way to make it clear who you're replying to.

#608 ::: MD²

If only Kadafi had had Skyrim when he was a child....

#621 ::: Kip W

Excellent!

***

Would people care to talk about more sophisticated systems of classification than good/evil lawful/chaotic?

#630 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:00 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @629 -- did I ever tell you my proof that no single classification system is sufficient to describe the world?

Short form: the world is too complex for us to deal with without breaking it up into classes.

Any classification system that is sufficiently big enough to deal with the world must have something equivalent to arithmetic in it (the ability to combine and separate classes, basically).

By Godel's Incompleteness proof, any system that is large enough to contain something that is equivalent to arithmetic is either incomplete or inconsistent. Hence, not sufficient.

I therefore try to pay attention to what classification system is making local sense, but don't try to extend that particular system to cover everything.

#631 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:02 PM:

This Is Just To Say

I have rolled
the dice
that were in
the dicebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for a crit

forgive me
they were shiny
so bright
and unrolled

#632 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:16 PM:

This is just to say, "This is just to say, 'This is just to sa

LOOP TERMINATED

#633 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:34 PM:

#628 Serge
Where's it available? (the new Sarah Tolerance story)

#612 David

View and Perceptions

You might ask why my eyes avert
From human misery
But seen from my small short eyeview
I view it diff'rently.

I know the misery exists
But ere you judge me vile,
Allow me to express my case
As one quite lacking guile.

The beggar on the street is large
Or larger much than I,
And raised with patriarchal views
To women victimize.

He may not do it consciously,
Or then again he might,
But if I pause to interact
He rarely is polite.

Instead I get unpleasantries,
Agressive words and spite,
Demands for money or for sex
Or other types of blight.

He's threatened to assault me
As domination meme
And crude abuses terms he speaks
And I should take the blame?

"You should not fear the beggars,"
They say, I disagree:
What's not a threat to all those males
Oft is unsafe for -me-.

I am not large, I am not male
And target thus I be
To those who look for female prey
Who're small particularly.

As female I'm supposed to be
The one who mollifies,
The one who self-effacingly
Believes in others' lies.

The one who spreads her legs and pays
The one who takes the blame
The one who takes abuse and smiles--
Objecting is the shame.

The one defined in victim state
And lead submisssive life
The one declared the sacrifice
And not reply with strife.

The beggars on the street reach out
But it's selectively,
They target women small and sort
The ones who include me.

And if I seem to see them not,
The cause is quite just fear,
Trying looking at statistics,
Of who die in the year.

The people killed by vagrants
Or raped by them in crime
Disproportionately are women,
That shows up all the time.

The men who live on sidewalks,
Get there by diff'rent ways.
Some of them are crazy,
With menace in their gaze.

I choose to not engage them
To show I do not see
It helps deter the action,
Of them engaging me.

Were I a six foot hulking male
They might defer to me
But at small size and short stature,
And female that I be,
The training is exploitive,
Abusive and unfair,
And lives of people just like me
Involves lots of "Beware!"

And self-protection thus demands
That beggars I avoid,
I lack ability and tools
And mass quite unalloyed.

I do not repair potholes
Though that's a social need
I do not fix broke water mains
Or fallen power leads.

I do not do lots of things
Society needs done
And so I'm tired of this blame
Which it concerns a bum.

The social net is broken,
It broke long years ago,
The problem is a large one,
Of which not all does show.

People who wee crazy,
Got dumped out on the streets
No money spent for services,
No assistance seats.

Too, those who lost their housing
For health or lack of pay
They also lacked assistance,
And someplace to stay.

No money and no housing,
Bad health, where can one go?
If you don't start crazy,
You'll get there fast, not slow.

And what is the solution,
Trying looking at the base,
A myraid of issues,
Contributes to the place.

The needs of crazy people
Aren't the same needs as the sane
The housing for homeless,
Fails both groups it's quite plain.

Healthcare that's for everyone
Is one pole for the tent,
Another is a living wage
Enough to pay the rent.

Another pole is policy
Creating lots of jobs,
And training and employment goals
Instead of corporate robs.

A government with values that
Reflect the Lincoln speeches:
Of the people for the people
And not corporate leeches.

Policies that recognize
The simple and complex,
Government focused on jobs
And not control of sex.

Government with paid police
Who are not thugs with guns
Government that locks those up
Who kill and main and stun.

Government which upholds laws
For minimizing harm
Government protecting those
With little strength of arm.

Government with services
And ruth instead of wall
Taxes spreading fairness
And equality for all.

Services for safety of
The public in the streets
Services for homeless types
And all their ills to treat.

The wisdom for determining
Who's threat and who is not,
And pow'r used wisely and sparingly
For stopping social rot.

(c) Paula Lieberman Nov 21, 2011

#634 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:48 PM:

It's an open thread, so I shall just note that if you do not read Ta-Nehisi Coates, you should.

In the last week, there have been a couple posts on policing, several on George Eliot, and an incredible post on Frederick Douglass and his account of his last meeting with his former owner.

#635 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:59 PM:

Tom 630:

All models lie, some models are useful. (I think that's from George Box but I may be wrong.)

I tend to map the lawful/chaotic axis onto a concern with formal rights, either legal or moral. And the good/evil axis onto a concern with summed well-being in the utilitarian philosophical sense, where evil involves actively desiring bad outcomes for some significant number of other people. Historically, axe murderers are rare relative to people who fervently hope to see the filthy fitbs run out of town, beaten, exiled, or murdered. Indeed, the really scary powerful systemic evil of Nazi Germany is an extension of that second kind of evil, not the first flind. (Though evil organizations often find it useful to employ people who just like to hurt others, as soldiers or torturers or secret policemen or whatever.).

But in normal life, we care a lot about what rules or rights you believe in, and how you weigh well-being for other people. It seems to be relatively common to be good with regard to your own kind (whites, Christians, Americans) and pretty evil with regard to outsiders (blacks, Jews, foreigners). How evil you are depends on context, in that case. If you live somewhere surrounded by your own kind and never meet a nonwhite person, your hatred of nonwhites is nasty in the abstract, but not especially harmful. If you're the sheriff in a county with a mixed race population, a much milder dislike of nonwhites can do a hell of a lot of harm in the world.

Something similar happens wrt rules and laws and rights. An Objectivist might be Lawful Neutral wrt some group of outsiders, and so might an extremely strict evangelical Christian of a certain bent, but they'll be focused on very different rules, and that will matter a great deal to what effect they have on the world.

#636 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 02:42 PM:

David, #626: Had to go look again, but now I see it. I'm still not sure it would work -- the victim-bashing meme in that area is very strong, and moral lessons are easy to rationalize away when your personal comfort zone depends on not seeing them.

Serge, #628: Yes, I pre-ordered it shortly after Worldcon and got it a few weeks ago. He meant to beggar them all, didn't he? CWAA.

Paula, #633: Nice.

#637 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 03:11 PM:

albatross @635 -- that's true for a significantly broad definition of "lie". A model reduces dimensionality of whatever is being modeled -- the dimensions that go to zero (in linear algebra terms, the "kernel") is lost and can't be examined within the context of the model. That falls into the "lie of omission" category, IMO, which is different from the "lies of commission" category.

#638 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 04:25 PM:

#633 ::: Paula Lieberman

I recently ran afoul of yet another instance of "we are all responsible", and I think that raising the standard so high that moral behavior is impossible or generally self-destructive leads to less moral behavior.

#639 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 04:25 PM:

#633 ::: Paula Lieberman

I recently ran afoul of yet another instance of "we are all responsible", and I think that raising the standard so high that moral behavior is impossible or generally self-destructive leads to less moral behavior.

#640 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 04:31 PM:

Lee @ 636... I was rather amused that Miss Tolerance's fencing partner was called Richard Blaine.

#641 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 06:49 PM:

Older @615: Current practice locally is to insist on doing the entire mouth, or in extreme cases, half the mouth, in one marathon sitting, and then of course to insist on the entire payment in one immense chunk.

What?! Really??

I'm, um—you're not— ... ?

Really?

Wow.

I'm probably missing something, but that makes no sense. Smaller charges would mean greater likelihood of getting paid for those charges...? I would think...? Not to mention being easier on the patient...? (Being easier on the dentist??)

(I'm clearly missing something.)

Just...wow.

#642 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 07:12 PM:

Jacque @ 641:

Yes, that's our experience as well: both my wife and I have had to have quite a bit of dental work in the last few years. A couple of years ago our regular dentist, who used to be rather solicitous of our bank account, allowing us to pay off over time, had to retire to take care of her husband, who became chronically ill. The dentist who bought half her practice insists on immediate payments (though she'll defer the parts that insurance will cover). And some of the procedures on my wife have been real bears: she just had to have a crown replaced; because it was supposed to be replaced more than 10 years ago and decay had gone past the root canal that was done back then, the procedure ended up being 2.5 hours long and cost a young fortune. The good news is we have retirement savings to dig into, the bad news is we're using up our retirement savings.

#643 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 08:31 PM:

It's been a while, but back in Cambridge (MA), I got much cheaper dental work by getting it at the Harvard Dental School. The had both faculty practices (keeping their hand in) and student clinics (advanced students, with faculty supervision).

#644 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 08:48 PM:

If I must, I must: Here's a bit more about medical bills, particularly dental bills.

In the town where I live, the lower-income neighborhoods are now all in one part of town (those located elsewhere having been entirely eliminated) and in that part of town, there are no services at all.

That's right. There are no doctor's offices, no dentist's offices, no grocery stores, no restaurants ... The people who live there have to travel to do anything.

I think there may be a few dentists in town who have not adopted the unpleasant practice I described, and will start looking for them soon.

#645 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 09:03 PM:

Bruce Cohen (#642), We'd be using our retirement savings, except that we did that some years ago to deal with repeated medical emergencies including a misdiagnosed problem that kept me from working for an entire year, and a brain surgery, to name but two. We had thought we were adequately provided because we had been healthy and had no idea that we were about to become spectacularly unhealthy. As the song says, if it wasn't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all.

I really can't stand to say any more about medical bills.

So ... I totally agree about "mic check"! What a gas! It was a clear case of making their own luck, and has worked out wonderfully.

#646 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 09:11 PM:

General question: I just got a Certificate Change warning while reading (only) Making Light -- both old and new certificates were listed as being for eff.org, but the old one was from COMODO, and the other from StartCom.

Now, I've seen a lot of certificate changes lately, but why would an eff.org certificate show up for Making Light?

#647 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:00 PM:

#644 Older

Redlining came back? Ugh?.

#648 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:24 PM:

Open Threadiness of the Dismal Sort:

My son, while socializing with the church youth group at an ice rink, fell and hurt his knee yesterday. Luckily for him, I've already taken this week off, so I got to take him to his already-scheduled appointment with the orthopedic surgeon (to recheck his spine) and added in the knee. Radiographs and physical exam showed swelling; we're waiting for the MRI results to determine whether he had anything more serious. Now he's got a knee brace and my old crutches.

As if that weren't enough, while I driving to pick him up, the FG called me to tell me her dad had just died suddenly. Her daughter took her to the airport and she's well on her way to Ukraine now. She'll miss our Thanksgiving with my parents, brother (and his family) and cousin, but she'll be able to see her siblings and mourn her father properly.

In better news, we've just passed our first anniversary. Life is still pretty fabulous.

#649 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:25 PM:

David Harmon @646:
On the front page, at least, there are a couple of ads (well, one ad in my most recent load) for various worthy things; the EFF is almost certainly in that list, and it wouldn't surprise me greatly to find that they've switched to all-SSL.

#650 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:42 PM:

Ginger @ 648... Life is still pretty fabulous.

Glad to hear.

#651 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:51 PM:

Ginger, #648: Ouch. Sympathies. There's always something at the holiday season, isn't there?

#652 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:15 AM:

Finally found it.

From time to time, I've used the Nixon quote "argle bargle dribble burble". It's from a Pat Oliphant political cartoon from NOV 1974. I found a newspaper archive of it.

#653 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 06:00 AM:

Ginger @648 Sympathies for the son and for the FG's loss.

#654 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 07:23 AM:

Serge Broom @ 650... ...but not glad, re your son and your FG.

#655 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 09:11 AM:

Apropos of nothing, several from Bad Translator:

"He said he did not eat clams in a vulnerable situation, and probably saved me, perdóame the breakfast was cold and sweet taste"

and/or

"This is so sweet and tasty breakfast splitting plum, income has grown refrigerator."

and/or

"Perhaps the very sweet breakfast foods in the refrigerator to eat convenience enregistrement Pruneaux German hotel"

(the stray words in that one are from Haitian Creole, which programs seem to be able to translate into better than out of)

and/or

"It's easy to say that the refrigerator was poisoned, probably written for a delicious breakfast, and I'm sorry, sweet and very cold"

--

With their new random language order feature, there are infinite variations. It's awesome and hilarious. I just can't stop clicking this button. The above source was obvious. How about this? Any guessers?

"The League and a half, half-dead, Mission Valley, the small prize and the average 600ligy stability in Haiti."

Here's a hint, if you like, another bad translation from the same poem. Snerk.

"Roof is aware of some of the soldiers had no familiarity with the errors that are not suitable, wrong, but some do not die"

#656 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 09:44 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ #655:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

("We think that someone has blundered, an' couldn't you tell 'em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.")

#657 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 10:42 AM:

Open-threaded cat commentary: I read a factoid on a Reddit post that said that cats don't like to get their water from the same location as their food. So I tried an experiment. I took one of our water bowls and moved it about 15 feet away from the other cat dishes.

The water bowl I moved went down about twice as fast as the water bowl that remained with the food dishes. And I've seen them drinking from it more often. So, that's confirmed. I'll still keep one water bowl with the food, but I'll keep doing the separate watering "hole" thing.

#658 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 10:51 AM:

Heads up, guys, the scammers are paying call centres in (I think) India to try and con us out of our money.

It was somebodu claiming to be "Windows Technical Desk" who was trying to persuade me that he'd remotely scanned my Windows computer and found malware[1] on it.

I said I was responsible for several computers and asked if he had any information which might identify the specific computer[2]. Manfully, he clung to his script. I politely repeated my question.

He hung up.

The bastards always block CLID

[1]Some would say the malware is called Windows, but that would be cruel.
[2]There is a Sinclair ZX Spectrum in the attic.

#659 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 10:56 AM:

Factoids are fact-shaped objects which are NOT!!! facts. (Pedantry shows, but I detest the abuse of terms wherein they get turned by jackass journalists into oxymorons... the debasement of "hacker" is another debasement which hacks me off...)

Meanwhile, Sen Ron Wyden is doing a brave and noble thing, add your name at http://stopcensorship.org/ and you too can contribute a few syllables and your bit of time to Sen Wyden's threatened filibust of the so-called Protect IP/Stop On-line Piracy Act legislation I urge my lawmakers to vote against SOPA and PIPA. I'm a proud opponent of censorship and want Senator Wyden to read my name into the record during his filibuster of this noxious legislation.

#660 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 11:23 AM:

Ginger: sympathies for the son and FG.

Steve C: I keep a water bowl in the bathtub for similar purposes. It's still relatively close to the food but the action of jumping into the tub seems to have an effect.

#661 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 11:55 AM:

Connie Willis is in town, and will be at Albuquerque's Page One tonight at 7pm.
Looking forward to that.

#662 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 01:42 PM:

Steve C. @ 657 Huh. Really. Well, it might explain the decided preference for the toilet (also, more water to Play! in. One cat always has wet paws). I will try putting the water bowl somewhere else...

#663 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 01:55 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 659:

I am thrilled to say that Ron Wyden is one of my senators, perhaps the best I've ever had, and I have voted for him every time he's run. I am also pleased to say that Jeff Merkley, my other senator, has proved to be far more than the mere token liberal I expected him to be (though I voted for him in the last election, it was more a Hail Mary play than strong support). His first bill proposal was a well-thought out attempt to deal with the mortgage foreclosure crisis; the best part about it was that most of the thought went into how to help the homeowners rather than how to bail out the banksters.

Shorter me: there are some decent and conscientious politicians in the Federal government, even in the Senate.

#664 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 01:57 PM:

Ugh . . .

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to challenging social issues

The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"These studies were designed to help understand the so-called 'ignorance is bliss' approach to social issues," said author Steven Shepherd, a graduate student with the University of Waterloo in Ontario. "The findings can assist educators in addressing significant barriers to getting people involved and engaged in social issues."

#665 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:24 PM:

Stefan:

Thus the PR/spin/propaganda technique of trying to muddy any issue you don't want discussed, till it seems like a complicated tangle of dueling experts slinging jargon at each other. What's the truth? Geez, that's too complicated to untangle, let's just hope someone else is thinking about it.

#666 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:30 PM:

More Bad Translator fun. After 10 translations from Google:

"We will continue to maintain a strong explosion Astarte honor. This will be a game of hell, is not good for me."

First correct guess on the original gets a No-Prize!

#667 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:47 PM:

Lee @666: That's beastly.

#668 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 04:55 PM:

Twitter rumor: Anne McCaffrey, RIP?

#669 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 05:19 PM:

So I've heard, Stefan...

#670 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 05:38 PM:

Anne Mccaffery link: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/anne-mccaffrey-has-died_b42826

Damn. She taught me my first lesson on *how* to sing.

#672 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 06:00 PM:

Anne McCaffrey, RIP?

:-(

#673 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 06:12 PM:

tor.com probably got BoingBoinged.

#674 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 08:43 PM:

Paul A @ 656: Well done! I knew someone would get it, but didn't expect quite so quickly. Maybe I'll run it through more translations next time (always a bit of a trick, as sometimes they will go to a single unrelated word eventually and that's just no fun.)

Stefan Jones @ 664: I'm somehow not surprised; it explains the slide towards conservatism as everything goes wrong. And the fact that on this side of things we rest heavily on kitten chasers (and William Carlos Williams pastiche.)

I can't figure out Lee @ 666 but it sounds terribly familiar.

I'm very sorry to hear about Anne McCaffrey.

Bad Translator, 20 from Google, not randomized:
"Reports of errors are made in the middle, but in a chaotic world, not the solution to changes in the color of blood."

#675 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 10:53 PM:

My mother corrupted a Mennonite friend. Led her right into temptation.

Said friend was visiting my parents. Her daughter had recently had a difficult delivery, and my mother offered to look up pre-eclampsia and eclampsia on the web.

Paraphrasing: "Oh, I'm not sure, computers are tools of the devil."

Well, my mom persisted, and found a good article or two, and printed them out.

Then she Googled up satellite maps of ______'s home and her sister's home. Aaannnnnd before you know it _____ was looking up directions on making clay ovens, and found a clay oven enthusiast web site.

"Don't tell my family I was doing this." said ___ before she left.

I suspect she'll be making solo trips to the library now and then.

#676 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 11:44 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man spends two wonderful hours listening to Connie Willis.

#677 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 11:58 PM:

Stefan: Mennonites are wary of technology (with good cause!) but are not totally against it; it's always been a kick to me to see a group of touring Mennonites with their cell phones set to walkie-talkie mode so they can point out the neat things they're seeing.

Though the last time I was in conversation with one, I spent the entire time convinced that my shorts were too short. (I'm tall. It's not an unusual feeling for me.)

#678 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:02 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 664:

Denial is a river that cuts through the heart of America.

#679 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:01 AM:

I keep forgetting to post this. Did this xkcd cartoon remind anyone else of Teresa's essay "The Pastafazool Cycle"?

#680 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:26 AM:

I walked through Southwark, in London, with Anne McCaffrey, singing the duet from "The Pearl Fishers", me on the tenor, she singing the baritone an octave up. It was a long time ago - 1979. Dear God.

She stayed with us, in what was a distinctly down-at-heel old house, when she visited. She was the first international GOH we had at our little local convention.

The world is a little colder and a little worse today. May she rest in peace, only with the gold card pass to God's library.

#681 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 03:01 AM:

I love the concept of "Occupy Love." I particularly love the video presently at the top, titled "Occupy Wall Street -- The Revolution is Love."

There's a lot of love in this post. That's okay with me.

#682 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 03:11 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ 674: "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed..."

Add my sorrow to the many for Anne McCaffrey.

#683 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:11 AM:

More touching the passing of Anne McCaffrey, because her tales touched me very close, when I first met them and had most need to hear them:

Lessa's Last Word

"He'll shake me!" she said,
Who shook him into shaking
Their world's mean Alexander from his roost atop High Reaches –
Who shook his heart, and in the aftershock
Their age,
Their ways,
Their me - a small mean singer from an eminence of twelve,
Borne up to be, to love her, in a storm of stone-musk wings –

"He'll shake me!" she protested,
Still shivering from shaking
The wide world's tree for windfalls: new days, new flights of old,
Whom she had moved, to leave for after times
Their age,
Their ways,
Their selves – that small fierce vision, from a child's height and the sky's –
Spent, shivered, frozen – home, with all the wide world's price on wings!

She shook us, then.

Between our worlds seeps chill.
The breath that bore her flight up's fallen still.

#684 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:23 AM:

Gray Woodland: May I forward that poem to my friends, properly credited?

#685 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:55 AM:

David Harmon @ 684: Certainly, and thank you; I'm most honoured!

#686 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 09:19 AM:

Lee (674): Yes, definitely.

#687 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 09:22 AM:

Whoops! Lee at #679, I mean.

#688 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 09:47 AM:

It's hard to believe, but a search on "gingrich" (or "newt") and "only adulterer in the room" comes up empty. EMPTY.

#689 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:38 AM:

Stefan Jones @675: I've worked with at least one Mennonite. I don't remember, now, how I found out this person was Mennonite; something probably came up around the winter holidays. Mennonites are not Amish. My co-worker was like any other co-worker.

#690 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:55 AM:

AAAARGH!

Me @ 683: In the heat of the moment, I seem to have made Lessa shake a metaphorical tree for windfalls! While this could possibly be read as a tribute to her heroic capacity for the Approach Devious, it wasn't so intended, and doubtless appears to make no sense whatsoever. This probably ought to change to the less evocative 'redfruit', then. Boo! Apologies humbly offered to all readers already irritated by it.

#691 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:55 AM:

This is absolutely amazing. My yarncraft-appreciating friends, I present to you:

Knitcore HipHop

You are welcome.

#692 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:48 PM:

Kip W @688: It's hard to believe, but a search on "gingrich" (or "newt") and "only adulterer in the room" comes up empty.

It won't now.

#693 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:02 PM:

Melissa Singer @ 689

Both Mennonites and Amish span a wide spectrum of degrees of assimilation; there are Mennonites that avoid cars and electricity, there are Mennonites that couldn't be easily distinguished from Methodists. (The Amish/Mennonite distinction is mostly one of history, not theology.)

A useful distinction within the Amish/Mennonite world is "Plain", which basically means "not assimilated in dress."

#694 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:10 PM:

Rob Rusick @692: Well, it still does now, but maybe in a while that'll change.

#695 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:29 PM:

It's a bad day for losing the good ones. Anne McCaffrey has been a major presence in our world for two generations; she leaves behind a hole that will not soon be filled. And now, via Pharyngula, P. Z. Myers brings word that Lynn Margulis has died. She was a biologist, a pioneer and a rebel who championed some far-out theories, some of which turned out to be right, and she tried hard to convince her peers that cooperation is more common in interactions between organisms and between species than competition. There aren't a lot of people in any field willing to oppose generations of accepted orthodoxy, and capable of doing it successfully as she was. She lived her life and worked in her profession as she thought best; we need many more like her.

#696 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:40 PM:

The Mennonite family in question has cars, electrical lighting, and a phone, but will have nothing to do with electric media.

(They do watch Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd movies when they visit . . . my father has a cache of those on hand.)

#697 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:43 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 695: Lynn Margulis, now? It was her work that lit my own fires for evolutionary biology, back when I was just going into university - that was where I got my first real glimpse of the dynamic, shiftily hierarchical, ever-negotiated complexity of the living world, and indirectly a lot of my later worldview! Darwin-fish on a bicycle, what kind of day does today even call itself, anyway?

#698 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:15 PM:

HLN: Area woman's heart finally having performed its merry antics while someone* was looking, woman is now wearing a fantastic piece of equipment-of-the-future.

*official

Said equipment consists of several electrodes, a sending device, and a dedicated cell phone which constantly* transmits news of the behavior of woman's heart to a far-away place. Woman suspects from her so-far frequent contacts with tech support that a) the device has not been used much in this locale, and b) that tech support is located about as far away as is possible while remaining on the same planet.

*yes, constantly. It uses up a battery every two days. One of the glitches was that the local techs said the batteries would last five days. Oops, sorry ...

Even so, it's an impressive piece of equipment and woman fears to think of the probable cost, even though woman is insured to the hilt, or at least as close to the hilt as is allowed. It's either all covered, or it isn't and if it isn't, woman's heart is in for a severe shock in the near future.

#699 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:00 PM:

Hey, I've got an Occupation on my front lawn at work! How cool is that?

As has become traditional, 11 were ticketed for violating Boulder's camping ordinance.

While chatting with folks on my way in to work, I opened my big pie-hole and made mutterings about online fundraising to back the protesters' legal defense.

Upon investigation, I find that Occupy Boulder already has a donations page up, and I've tossed in my 2¢.

I'm curious what the collective wisdom here has to say, however, about how to proceed.

#700 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:08 PM:

me @699: Actually, that comment properly belongs over in the Occupy Chaotic Good thread.

#701 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:15 PM:

The Mennonite family in question has cars, electrical lighting, and a phone, but will have nothing to do with electric media.

If the cars are black, and the clothes are distinctive, that would be similar to the church I grew up in.

#702 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:46 PM:

Tor.com just linked to Daniel Merlin Goodbrey's 100 Planets.

(I'd seen some of E-merl's earlier work via Scott McCloud, but I hadn't been keeping up with him.)

#48: The Planet Without Vowels. We seem to do rather better than they do there, however.

#703 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 06:20 PM:

Regarding models, lies, and theories: I don't remember where I got it - possibly A Certain Newsgroup - but "The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference."

#704 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 01:07 AM:

I'm afraid I'm terribly behind, but I have to correct Paula to be polite.

294 Paula: At least on the radio show (some years before the TV show), Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke was not a respected socially acceptable businesswoman. She was, in fact, socially shunned by the "good people" of the town. See (or rather hear) the radio episode "Kitty" from 11-29-1952, the 32nd episode.

While I'm referencing old bits of the thread, I thought I'd mention some family superstitions that I've never encountered anywhere else.

My grandparents (born in the 1890s) taught me a few family superstitions. First, there was the "avert" gesture. If we were driving along and passed a car broken down by the side of the road, we licked our right thumbs, pressed it into our left palms, and smacked the left palm with the right fist.

This was a multi-purpose gesture. It was also used if one saw a white horse, a redheaded girl, and a load of hay (relatively close in time to each other), to cement in the luck. I never heard anyone else talking about how these things were lucky, until one day I was listening to a 1948 "Railroad Hour" radio version of a cheesy college football musical movie called "Good News". The title song (sung halfway through the show) starts:

Other night I saw my lucky star,
Saw that new moon shining from afar
Saw a horse, and he was milky white
So I know that things will be all right.

Then I saw a lucky load of hay
That means good news must be on its way
When he's nigh, I'll cry, "Where have you been?
Take your hat and coat and come right in!"

All it's missing is the red-headed girl.

We also had the "never give a knife" and "money in new purses" thing, but we had a "jinx" routine that was so long that I'll continue on the next rock.

#705 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 01:25 AM:

When two of us in my immediate family say the same thing at the same time, we don't say "jinx" or "snap". We have a whole routine (some of which is obviously a late addition):

First, we link little fingers. Then we say:

A: Needles.
B: Pins.
A: When a man marries, his troubles begin.
B: When a man dies, his troubles end.
A: What goes up the chimney?
B: Smoke.
A: What comes down the chimney?
B: Santa Claus.
A: What goes up the chimney down but not down the chimney up?
B: An umbrella.
A: What goes through the chimney?
B: Caspar the Friendly Ghost.
A & B: BREAK (releasing little fingers)
A or B: Touched blue first! (whoever touches blue first with their little finger gets to make a wish.

I've never, ever heard of this ritual anywhere else. Well, I hadn't, until a couple of years ago, when I heard a Fibber McGee and Molly radio show from the late 1930s. In it, Fibber and his neighbor Gildersleeve say the same thing at the same time. There's a significant two or so second pause, (long enough to link little fingers or some such thing), and then they say:

A: Pins.
B: Needles.
A: Cotton.
B: Thimbles.
A: What goes up the chimney?
B: Smoke.
A & B: May your wish and my wish never be broke.


There's a clear family resemblance here. Our rhyme must have once stopped at the "up the chimney" riddle. Whether the "when a man marries" part accreted as well, or was original, I couldn't say, not to mention the race to touch blue.

#706 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:21 AM:

Cally Soukup @705: one of my grade school friends taught me a shorter (intermediate) version -- I've heard it as

Pins
Needles
What goes up the chimney?
Smoke
May our friendship never be broke (I always added, after a pause, "en", being a grammatical kid)

I'd also heard just

Needles
Pins
When a man gets married
His trouble begins

Both significantly shorter than yours. California (SF bay area), early 1960s, private grade school.

#707 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:23 AM:

Oh, and there's a YouTube video of the Stanislaw Lem Google doodle. Very complex, not available in the US apparently.

#708 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 04:53 AM:

Kip W @688: It's hard to believe, but a search on "gingrich" (or "newt") and "only adulterer in the room" comes up empty. EMPTY.

OTOH, searching on "newt gingrich adultery" brings up "About 2,030,000 results."

#709 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 06:07 AM:

(By "not available in the US" I meant that the doodle wasn't used on the US Google homepage, not that the video isn't available. So much for sense late at night....)

#710 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 06:18 AM:

Tom Whitmore #707: Holy cow, that looks to have been a whole multipath game! (I'm not sure what that clicky game genre is called....)

Aren't the doodles themselves archived somewhere? The YouTube commenters didn't seem to know of any such thing.

#711 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 08:33 AM:

"She was scared. Scared as a turkey in November."

- Fred Astaire about Cyd Charisse in the musical within the musical "The Band Wagon"

Happy Thanksgiving!

#712 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 08:46 AM:

Oh, drat it, Serge. Neither a rag, nor a bone, nor a hank of hair is available on Netflix streaming.

#713 ::: kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 10:16 AM:

HLN:
Area woman attempts to outstubborn a grey cat in the dark. Success will be observed if she is able to collapse back into sleep. "Happy Thanksgiving," she comments.

#714 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 12:54 PM:

So, I have a puzzle, and this is the best place I can figure out to look for help. There's a tune I know for Rudyard Kipling's poem "Rimini", and I've been trying to find out whether it's the tune for something else that got re-used, or an original creation, and, ideally, who wrote it. The various tune-identification sites aren't being much help; all I've found so far is that it's not the tune Leslie Fish used, and that while the first few notes match a tune called Seamus O'Shanahan's, it's definitely not that either. Is there a good way to transcribe music to text, so that I can see if anyone here knows the tune?

#715 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 12:58 PM:

Tom at 706:

Cool! So you've heard essentially all of our ritual, just in distributed form.

Another family superstition from my mother, who may have gotten it from going to college in Minnesota in the early 1940s, was to say "rabbit rabbit rabbit" as the first words out of your mouth to someone else on the first day of the month. Whether this was just lucky in and of itself, or whether you were actively stealing someone else's luck, she was unclear about.

She reminisced about someone painting "rabbit" on a water tower late one night before the first of the month....

The thumb-licking palm-stamping "avert" gesture we got from our maternal grandfather, who was born in the 1890s and was raised by his own Welsh grandparents, so it's had few generations to attenuate. I suspect that it was originally palm-spitting-then-stamping, but seeing that he had only a daughter, he gentrified it somewhat.

#716 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 01:28 PM:

The beginning of month "rabbit" superstition I grew up with (though I've heard yours as well, Cally!) was that one should say "Bunny" as the last thing before going to sleep on the last night of the month, and "Rabbit" as the first thing the morning of the first day, to ensure prosperity. There's also a belief that if you can say "money money money" before a meteor burns out, you'll have plenty of it. That one's difficult!

#717 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 02:41 PM:

little pink beast @714,

What exactly are you looking for? If it's something that you can sing, hum or whistle into, and it will convert noises into notation, I can't help.

But if you know the note sequence, and are looking for something simpler than writing the sheet music, scanning, putting the scan on a website, and linking, then might I suggest the text-based notation used as part of a programming language for a computer-controlled synthesiser I used to own might fit your requirements.

I won't post gory details unless/until you can confirm that that would meet your needs.

J Homes.

#718 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:22 PM:

There used to be an alphabetic code for music that was used on mailing lists. Unfortunately, 'twas long ago and my archives are long gone....

#719 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:36 PM:

David @718: This, perhaps?

#721 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:40 PM:

little pink beast, #714: There are 2 well-known tunes for "Rimini" in the filk community. One is Leslie's; the other is by Michael "Moonwulf" Longcor. The latter is minor-key, mournful, and emphasizes the "loss" aspects of the poem. If you acquired your tune from the SCA, or from someone else with SCA connections, it's very likely to be that one. I looked for it on YouTube, but couldn't find it; however, if your tune uses the pronunciation "RImini" (as opposed to Leslie's "riMIni"), that's another indication that it might be Moonwulf's.

#722 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Oh, and there's another approach you might be able to take: if you can create an mp3 file of someone singing it with the tune you know, you can get a free Sendspace account, upload it there, and post the link for us to listen to. I've used that method at least once to ask for tune identification.

#723 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 04:00 PM:

David Harmon @718

Do you mean abc? You still have to know something about music notation to be able to use it, but it might be of help...

#724 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 04:16 PM:

Kip W #719, geekosaur #720, Naomi Parkhurst #723:

I'm not sure if that's the same notation I was seeing, but being pretty unmusical myself I wasn't actually reading it.

Regardless, it certainly looks fit for little pink beast's purpose!

#725 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 04:20 PM:

Con question: So I've recently moved to the East Coast (about halfway between Boston and New York City) and am looking at next year's cons. Although I've never been, everything I've heard about Readercon suggests that I would enjoy it immensely. Is there a site where I can arrange to split a hotel room with someone? I've Googled, but haven't found anything useful.

#726 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 04:58 PM:

Wow. Thank you all! Lee, I suspect you're going to turn out correct about it being Moonwulf's tune - SCA connections and RImini pronunciation match, certainly; I'm not so good at telling whether something is minor key and mournful. If I've done everything correctly, a recording should be available at http://www.sendspace.com/file/fpr57p in order to find out for sure. You'll have to excuse the quality of the singing; I'm not very comfortable with my voice, but it should at least convey the tune.

ABC notation: fascinating, but I don't have easy access to a keyboard to figure out what the note names are. Thank you for the suggestion, though!

#727 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 05:02 PM:

little pink beast: Would this help you?

#728 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Kip W.: Oh, that's neat! Thank you.

#729 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 08:34 PM:

little pink beast, #726: Oh yeah, that's Moonwulf's version all right. I don't seem to have it on any of my tapes, which surprises me -- I thought he'd recorded it at least once.

#730 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 10:48 PM:

Lee: And now I know! Thank you very, very much. Seven and a half hours from question to confirmed answer - truly, all knowledge is contained within Making Light. Not only that, but I have a new artist to track down recordings of - I was listening to what I could find on Youtube, and he's really good, but there's nothing on iTunes, and the Firebird Arts website doesn't seem to work very well. I'll keep looking though!

#731 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 12:16 AM:

We were just singing "Rimini" at my family-by-choice gathering.

Of course, we sing a tag to it: "And we've tramped Britain and we've tramped Gual, and we've tramped Rome but worst of all -- we've tramped LaLage!"

#732 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 01:38 AM:

I downloaded books and they read like slush
Fifteen hours and my brain is mush
They were zero dollar and zero cents,
Searching Amazon's giant tent.

I'm looking for some books to read,
Tired of bestseller crap and greed
And you might find gems in the Kindle slush
Fifteen hours and my brain is mush.

I saw bookstores grow but they're gone
Even Harvard Square few have lingered on
And the books that sell best I do not like
And to Harvard Square is too long a hike.

I used to go there ev'ry week
Books and more books I would seek
But the stock is gone and the parking's worse
And to going there I became averse.

Good luck, searching for new books
Good luck, you can't go by all those looks
For you never know what's inside
Or if the writing bores,
As you try the navigation
On all those on-line stores.

Now I go online on each day
Searching in this newer way
Where all the indexing is crap
And I desperately want a working map.
There are lots of books to buy online
But Sturgeon's Law it shows the sign
And ev'ry site's full of lots junk
Fifteen hours looked at books that stunk...

And you'll always the find the ratio
A couple gems--so few
And the garbage ratio's horrible
I wish that that weren't true!


#733 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 02:54 AM:

So we're well into Sinterklaas season here in the Netherlands. Fiona (7), who pretty much still believes in the Sint, has been setting her shoe by the back door most nights in the hopes of getting candy in it. (She doesn't get rewarded every time. He is not a tame 4th-century bishop of Myra.)

Alex (10) is a firm skeptic on the subject. We've admitted the truth of the matter to him and had him help us with the annual deception of making it look like the presents got into the shoes while both adults were accountably elsewhere.

This year, he Took A Stand and said he wasn't going to put his shoe out on pakjesavond. I took him aside and asked him please to do so, not so that the Sint could give him presents, but so that I could, because that's the real Sinterklaas tradition. Parents give their children presents on that day. After some discussion, he conceded as how that might be compatible with his principles to accept a gift or three.

So this morning he found a chocolate Zwarte Piet in his shoe. He came at me, brandishing it in some vexation.

I explained that as parents, we reward behavior we want more of as well as punishing behavior we want to stop. Martin and I want him to stand firm on his principles and tell us the truth. If expressing his skepticism yields no chocolate, because only people who believe in the Sint get treats, then we're sabotaging that goal. Because the only way to get chocolate is to lie.

On that understanding, he accepted the treat.

I'm so proud of him.

#734 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:43 AM:

abi @733: Impressive. I can imagine, however, that living in your household could get a bit ... complicated. :)

#735 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 07:28 AM:

abi #733: Sounds to me like you're doing perfectly!

You need to let them learn that Santa ClausSinterklaas isn't real... before you can show them how he is.

#736 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:57 AM:

b>Abi @ 733... Isn't it Alex who, a few years ago, had planned to prove the non-existence of the Tooth Fairy by boobytrapping the latest piece of enamel to leave his jaws?

#737 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 09:15 AM:

Paula Lieberman @732, I like it

abi @733, sounds note-perfect to me

#738 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:09 AM:

Cally Soukup: My mother (born in 1916 in central Misouri) has some of the same rituals, including the "avert" gesture you describe, although it's used as a counting mechanism for a predictive ritual: When you have seen x number of red-headed people AND y number of white horses AND a load of hay, the next person [presumably, in those days, of the opposite sex] you shake hands with is the person you will marry. As loads of hay were probably a lot easier to spot in rural areas, you couldn't bank up the hay; it had the be the load of hay you saw after the redheads and the white horses. I don't know if you could count redheads and horses simultaneously.

The 1947 movie version of Life with Father (starring Irene Dunne and William Powell, so Serge doesn't have to remind us) plays on this in an early scene, when the new maid sees the Day family at breakfast for the first time, she surreptitiously performs the same gesture for each new redhead who comes into the room. This hints at why the Days can't keep a maid: they keep getting married!

I can't remember the values for x and y; I think one is supposed to be 12 and the other 99, but I'm not sure which. It's possible white horses were more common than redheads in some areas, but I'll ask Mama the next time I talk to her and see which is which.


There's also the rural southern custom of being the first to say "Christmas Gift!" when you see someone on Christmas Day. (You all may imagine for yourselves how hard it is to Google that custom on Black Friday. I felt lucky to get two hits for the actual custom, and those near the top of the first page.)

#739 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:46 AM:

Fidelio @ 738... (starring Irene Dunne and William Powell, so Serge doesn't have to remind us)

Curses!
Foiled again!

#740 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:12 AM:

one should say "Bunny" as the last thing before going to sleep on the last night of the month, and "Rabbit" as the first thing the morning of the first day, to ensure prosperity.

My family had that one, but only for the last day of the year, not just any month.

And predicting the future by counting we had, not for white horses and redheads and hay (not a lot of any of those around where I grew up) but for sneezes:

One for a wish
Two for a kiss
Three for a violent cold
Four for a letter
Five for something better
Six for a bag of gold

#741 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 01:06 PM:

Are there any countries where the Saint Nicholas-related traditions include a recreation of his fight with Arius? (Hm. An elaborated version of the story could make for a nice false etymology for Boxing Day.)

#742 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 02:19 PM:

abi 733: I'm so proud of him.

As well you should be! That's a principled young 'un you got there!

Without in any way meaning to detract from the accomplishment* of character that this evinces, I think some of the credit must accrue to his parents' account. Oh, you'll sing your Te Deum and your Non Nobis, but you can't hide from the truth: y'all are damn good parents.

Avram 741: And the reason why St. Stephen is the Patron Saint of boxers.†
____
* Because character isn't a gift given to you, or something you have like you have blond hair or green eyes; it's a set of things you do. And refrain from doing, of course.

† Yes, I know he isn't. AFAICT there isn't one. The Marquess of Queensbury is called the "Patron Saint" of boxing, but it's a metaphor.

#743 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:47 PM:

#733 That's a great way of explaining it.

I like my dad's way too. If you ask him if he believes in Santa, he'll say "Of course!" When I reached the skeptical age, he explained to me that Santa absolutely exists, not as a fat man in a red suit, but as a spirit inside of everyone, and that when we do unselfish things for others, we become Santa ourselves.

I also know that Santa exists because I married him. We even have the red suit in the closet.
(My husband was the Northway Woolworth's Santa. He got into an argument with the woman who ran the Breakfast With Santa program. She tried to forbid him to give a coloring book to a child who's mother couldn't afford to get their portrait taken. He gave the boy extra toys, and when the woman pitched a fit afterward, he said "What are you going to do, fire Santa Claus?"
He also moved a Marine to tears by buying a kid's bike with his employee discount and putting in the Toys For Tots barrel.)

So yeah, I believe in Santa, for several reasons. :)

#744 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:53 PM:

Xopher @ #742, St. Stephen, for whom I am named, is "also considered the patron saint of coffin makers." That's in addition to being the patron of horses, hay and oats.

Neigh!

#745 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:56 PM:

The classic answer: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

#746 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:58 PM:

I've been gnomified. For what reason?

#747 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 06:02 PM:

I've been gnomified. For what reason?

#748 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 06:30 PM:

David Harmon: Your post wasn't in the Gnomes' Queue, rather, it had gone into the Great Outer Realm that is a Typepad Spam Filter (i.e. not one that we wrote).

"TypePad AntiSpam -1.0 TypePad AntiSpam says spam"

But see! We have recovered it, and here it is.

(If you don't see a gnote from the gnomes, it wasn't a gnome that gnoshed on your post.)

#749 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 06:56 PM:

Xopher @ 742: And St. Raymond of Peñafort is the patron saint of briefs?

#750 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 07:55 PM:

Earlier this month, on Usenet, somebody asked a question, which I answered with flourishes. It seems relevant just now. I've changed a name to protect the privacy of some stranger's handle.

So, are you telling me that Pluto doesn't exist? That it isn't there?

Mickey, your little friends are wrong. They have been infected by the categorism of a foolish age. They do not believe in anything small. They think that if something is not a planet, it is not worth their attention. All labels, Mickey, whether they be earthly or galactic, are artificial. In this great universe of ours, labels can describe, they can limit, but no label can make someone's intelligence rise to the task of grokking the true nature of something in fullness.

Yes, Mickey, there is a Pluto. It exists as surely as gravity and Passaic and the internet exist, and you know how essential to your life these things are. Alas! what a drab world it would be if there were no Pluto! It would be as unthinkable as a world without Usenet. There would be no witty repartee then, no YouTube links, no overbearing know-it-alls whose daily deflation makes the meanest existence pleasant. We should have no delight, except from television. The outer edge of the solar system would be nothing more than a barren ring where we ran out of planets.

Not believe in Pluto! You might as well not believe in asteroids. You might get a grant to put a room full of computers connected to telescopes twenty-four hours a day to monitor its orbit, but even if you got nothing but blurry snapshots of Adamski saucers, who would that convince? Nobody's been to Pluto, but that does not prove nonexistence. The most real things in the world are things no optic organs will ever sense directly. Did you ever see pi? Of course not, but it lives in every circle, cylinder, and sphere and always will. Nobody can tell me that Pluto, pi, and Jimmy Hoffa do not exist. I will not listen to them. La la la!

No Pluto! Yeah, right! Clyde Tombaugh said it, I believe it, and that's that! A thousand years from now, Mickey, nay two thousand years from now, the sun may shrug and vaporize all within its warm light, but you and I won't be here to see it, so who really cares?

Kip W

#751 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:15 PM:

Cooking related question for all the cooking geniuses here -

Last winter I brought a couple of cans of drinking chocolate from Poland. It is getting near the expiration date, so I will have to make and consume these soon (with the help of friends, I hope - this stuff's insanely rich.) Unfortunately, the directions indicate that I should mix the chocolate with "...400g of 3,2% fat milk and 200g of 30-36% fat cream..."

I am assuming that the types of milk I'm supposed to use are whole and heavy cream, but I am baffled as to the use of a weight measure rather than a volume. Can anyone convert this to ozs, or will pouring the milk into a container on my cooking scale give an accurate measure?

#752 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:26 PM:

While it's not exact for anything but water, 1g ~ 1cc ~ 1ml. (It'll work for the milk, but I think I'd want confirmation before trusting it for heavy cream.)

#753 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:22 PM:

In what seems to bid fair to become an annual ritual, I'm in hospital again for a crisis with my digestive system. This one being, it seems, a sequel, to last year's. less-than-wonderful experience. Fortunately, I don't seem to be in imminent danger of death.

#754 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:27 PM:

Fragano, #753: Agh. GoodThoughts being sent for a swift and complete recovery.

#755 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:28 PM:

Fragano @753--get well very soon, plzkthx.

#756 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:34 PM:

Xopher @742, so who's the patron saint of briefs?

#757 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:46 PM:

Avram: Frutto, of Looms.

#758 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:47 PM:

HLN: Area woman enters grocery stores, purchases comestibles. Is struck to find package of chicken feet, cleaned and ready to prepare, plainly labeled "CHICKEN PAWS". (Look at lower-left-hand corner of the package; you may need to zoom in)

#759 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:00 PM:

David Hodson @ 749: And St. Raymond of Peñafort is the patron saint of briefs?

Argh! Also, then, St. Thomas More.

#760 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:21 PM:

Just got back from Haiti... has anyone else on here been there recently?

#761 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:22 PM:

My thoughts are with you, Fragano...

#762 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:32 PM:

Fragano: If this is a sequel to something a year ago, is it possible that you're encountering something at a holiday meal that your system Does Not Like? There's more to food rejections than straightforward allergies, alas. (Alas because allergies, at least, are easy to diagnose.)

abi: So in the Netherlands, it's the whole of Advent (or thereabouts) where you can set out your shoes? I'm only familiar with the Polish tradition of St. Nicholas Day, the 6th of December, where the shoes get some small treats. I'm just about to start that up for my kids—the older one, who is three-and-a-half, is just capable of really grasping this. (He's plenty intelligent, but last year he just got the gift, no shoes outside the doorway.) I've decided on gingerbread and a small toy, because what I mostly remember is how it warped as I got older into, well, warped gifts, and I'm trying to bring it back to something a little more traditional.

#763 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:41 PM:

Fragano and an Ode to the Innards, or poetry that got gutted...

Anyway, here's hoping that Fragano's digression into indigestion is a short one and speedily remedied and decides that indiscretion is neither a part of villanelles [that looked spelled wrong...] nor the better part of villanelles...

#764 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:27 AM:

nerdycellist, a kitchen scale will do fine. The water mass-volume conversion will NOT work for cream, especially when you're using 400g.

#765 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:39 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @753: You have my, er, deepest sympathies. (Which reminds me, I need to go take my meds....)

#766 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:46 AM:

B. Durbin @762: Fragano: If this is a sequel to something a year ago, is it possible that you're encountering something at a holiday meal that your system Does Not Like?

Which reminds me: not a bad idea to check your Vitamin D intake; turns out a lot of (particularly digestive, see also immune system) Issues can be traced, at least in part, to this. Often presents as seasonal because of the short days in winter. (I forget, Fragano, are you in the northern hemisphere? If not: *nevermind.*)

#767 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:40 AM:

Fragano, I hope the gastric episode proves a tepid and boring sequel whose utter failure in the drama department leads to utter abandonment of any further entries in the series.

#768 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:56 AM:

Fragano:

Very sorry to hear of your digestive distress. I hope this annual problem is immediately followed by the annual relief from same.

#769 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:08 AM:

I think Fragano is in Atlanta, which qualifies as northern hemisphere.

Get well, sir!

#770 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:30 AM:

So there I was, reading a book, when I thought, "This doesn't look right." I checked the dates on the fictional letters setting the scene: February 1940. Yet here are the characters talking about removing signposts, and about defence volunteers watching for parachutists.

But now half the population of England is training to kill. ARP units, Home Defence units, hundreds of people. There aren’t any guns for them, so they are drilling with wooden rifles, and learning how to use their bare hands. I’m almost sorry for any German parachutist who runs into an average English villager.

It wasn't until the 14th May 1940 that the Local Defence Volunteers were formed, though there were earlier, less formal, groups. The characters might be thinking of some local initiative, but it suggests a writer who is thinking 1940, and thinking of nothing before the Fall of France. Anderson shelters seem to have been pretty rare in rural England.

Oh boy, they're talking about the German advance across northern France.

And, er, no, the daughters of Dukes aren't Lady anything when they marry somebody without a title.

There are videos of blacksmiths putting tyres on cartwheels. Not done in the manner described.

And there is now an actual date mentioned in the text, and it is about three weeks after the date, the Local Defence Volunteers have been announced, and nobody seems to be noticing the collapse in France.


Oh, the murder mysteries are well enough done, but here I am, listening to some of my father's stories of the time, aware of the history, somebody who had tried to write stories in the era, and I find this carelessness unprofessional.

Though I have a strong suspicion that victim 1 died because she recognised who victim 2 really was. But the author is trying to follow on from an illustrious predecessor, writing an authorised sequel, and for all the stuff she's done well, the details bring me up short.

#771 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:52 AM:

B Durbin @762:
So in the Netherlands, it's the whole of Advent (or thereabouts) where you can set out your shoes? I'm only familiar with the Polish tradition of St. Nicholas Day, the 6th of December, where the shoes get some small treats.

No, the Dutch tradition is very much like the Polish, but expanded.

(deep breath)

On a weekend about two weeks before his feast day, Sinterklaas and his culturally problematic helpers arrive in a steamboat†, upon which they have sailed from their home in Spain*. From that point until pakjesavond, the eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas, children may find sweets or (increasingly) presents in their shoes. They leave notes for the Sint in their shoes (Fiona is very good about thank you notes as well as requests). They may also leave tokens of achievements they're proud of (swimming certificates and the like).

On Pakjesavond—Present Night—the children put their shoes out (by the back door, usually). Everyone is on the lookout for the Sint and his Pieten. Usually, while the kids and adults are peering out windows in the front, someone will hear, or think they hear, a noise by the back door. Everyone rushes over, and lo! The shoes are filled with, and placed on top of, presents!

(Zwarte Piet! Je hoort hem wel, maar je ziet him niet! Black Peter! You hear him, but you don't see him!)

School tends to start about an hour late on the feast of Sinterklaas, to allow kids some time with their toys in the morning. And they bring their best present in to show off, usually.

There is a separate tradition for adults, after the kids have gone to bed. They do Surprises. Everyone's drawn names out of a hat well in advance, and picked out a gift for their recipient. They then wrap the gift in the shape of another item, or in a shape traditional to the holiday (a steamboat, a burlap sack, a gingerbread house, a shoe). Accompanying the gift is a little poem to the person, written in the voice of either the Sint or Zwarte Piet. These are often teasing and can be quite...Dutch blunt. The goal is to make them funny but not hurtful.

Then, after Sinterklaas, we are into the lead-up to Christmas. There aren't a lot of Advent traditions in current Dutch culture. Kerstmis is a day to eat with your family (unlike Pakjesavond and Sinterklaas, we get Kerstmis and Tweede Kerstdaag off). Of late, Dutch kids have started to get more presents on Kerstmis itself, but it's an imported custom. The real day for presents is Pakjesavond.

Now, we're quite explicitly a British/American family in Dutch culture, so we go our own way a bit here. The kids get small presents on Pakjesavond, but our main gift-giving is on Christmas.

-----
† I must clarify that there is no actual steamboat. But the Sint's journeys and the annual subplot (this year, one of the Pieten is missing! and we're all to be on the lookout for him) are extensively chronicled (or, depending on your perspective, centrally controlled) in the Sinterklaasjournaal, a daily news broadcast that pretty much every kid in the Netherlands watches‡.

* the Sint also stops by various cities outside the Netherlands on the journey. Pretty much every Dutch expat in Scotland was at the arrival in Aberdeen the year he came there. I don't know how they handled the Zwarte Pieten.

‡ The Journaal covers all aspects of the holiday. The actor who has played the Sint on the Sinterklaasjournaal retired after last year. In the summer, the Journaal did a special broadcast in which, in gratitude for (unspecified on the Journaal) services rendered, the Sint (the new actor) gave him Het Grote Boek—the book where all the kids in the Netherlands are listed. So this year, one subplot is that everyone is being registered in the new one**.

** Fiona was worried that she wasn't in the Boek, because we're not Dutch. I explained that there's an annual data transfer where Santa searches his list for children under his purview who are currently living in the Netherlands (because he knows everyone's address) and does a data transfer to the Sint. The Sint does the same for everyone in his Boek who is in Santa's lands††. Martin pointed out that this violated data protection laws throughout Europe; I asked who, exactly, was going to complain, given that they might end up beaten with sticks and hauled off to Spain in a burlap sack?

†† When we moved here, we told the kids (then 3 and 6) that there is a global Saint Nicholas franchise. The local franchise-holder in the US and the UK is Santa Claus; here it's Sinterklaas.

#772 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:57 AM:

Fragano @753:

Aargh! Can't you choose some other annual tradition? Dressing in loud sweaters or something?

Get well soon, and please, please keep us posted.

#773 ::: ehedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 05:57 AM:

re: #770 ::: Dave Bell

I'll take a flying leap and guess that the author in question has initials JPW and that the book is aPoD. (Which I read not long after it came out but have not re-read since.)

#774 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 07:49 AM:

Thanks for all the kind thoughts!

B. Durbin #772: What happened to me last year was that my large intestine made a valiant attempt to kill me, and came very close to succeeding. At any event, a large quantity of my blood was left all over North Carolina. When the EMTs stabilised me my BP was 60/40. Treatment required major surgery. It was a bit more than gastric distress. What I'm experiencing right now is quite a lot more than gastric distress also. I may need surgery again. This rather scares me. I'm now completely post-colonial. I don't know how well I'd do if I required a gastric by-pass as well.. In any event, it isn't just a matter of something disagreeing with me.

#775 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 07:57 AM:

Oops, wrong number attribution, that should have been B. Durbin #762

Abi #772: I'm really not a loud-sweater person. The annual tradition I'd settle for involves buying my best-beloved something warm and fleecy. That's when I'm not settling for the one where the path of least resistance involves my saying 'well, really, I have two wives; they both conspire against me.'

#776 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:40 AM:

abi @771,

I suspect that the old gent, being a wise old bird and all that, filled out a registration under the Data Protection Act, which covers persons moving from the UK to the rest of the EU, and the transfers of relevant data.

It might even be covered by the Crown Prerogative, which, since we're talking about a Saint, has the Supreme Governor of the Church of England making certain representations to the Head of State, who then has a quiet word with the Information Commissioner, said quiet word possibly being, "You're not going to do anything bloody stupid, are you?"

Note that a registration will cover the whole European Economic Area so that data transfer would not be a significant problem. However, it might be wise to consider carefully the effects of a return to the USA.

#777 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:56 AM:

Fragano, best wishes for a quick recovery.

#778 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:03 AM:

Kip @750, love it!

And Fragano, hope they'll figure it out and fix it.

#779 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:07 AM:

Fragano, echoing others' thoughts for a quick recovery.

#780 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:24 AM:

nerdycellist @ 751

A scale will work well, and for baking that's what I'd use. But this is drinking chocolate, so it's not as critical. You could just use 2.5 cups of half-and-half.

Fragano Ledgister--get well soon, please.

abi

These accounts sound like a preview, and are greatly enjoyed. (Our oldest is 4; I can entirely imagine him having either set of questions. Maybe having a data geek/programmer father is destiny.)

#781 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:27 AM:

Fragano, joining in the chorus wishing you a speedy recovery.

No loud sweaters, okay. How about funny socks?

#782 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:31 AM:

Ack! Get well soon, Fragano! I'm in Athens, so close enough to be of some errand-running help evenings and weekends if needed.

#783 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:34 AM:

Fragano, you have my best wishes too.

#784 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:43 AM:

Fragano, get better soon!

#785 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:58 AM:

nerdycellist @751 --

it is rather odd, but some liquids, notably whipping cream, are packaged by weight instead of volume in Europe. (All of Europe? Most? Some? not sure.)

Anyway, I had an empty 200-g whipping cream container, so for the sake of Science! I went and measured the volume. It was about a cup.

At any rate, I'd think for something like your purpose you could mix the proportions how you like.

#786 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:05 AM:

HLN: Area woman is on shopping expedition when her husband texts her that a package has arrived, LOL.

LOL? replies area woman.

Matters become clearer when she returns home and finds it addressed to her as "Abi Sutherland née Ivanova", while the sender is identified as [TexAnne] née Ivanova.

The contents of the box? Our mutual sister, Susan, come for a visit together with her Starfury. She looks rather small, but the if the past is another country, then so is the future. So perhaps she's just far away.

#787 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:06 AM:

And Fragano, there are better excuses for avoiding holiday shopping drama. Best wishes for a speedy and undramatic recovery!

#788 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:10 AM:

Fragano, best wishes for a rapid recovery!

HLN: Area woman's son and nephews are engrossed in playing electronic games. Preparations ongoing for one more feast, with an Aunt and one of her sons, but likely not his kids. Woman is relieved to know that her FG is halfway home, napping in a hotel near Paris, and will arrive at airport tomorrow. "Even though traffic will be horrible," said the woman,"I can hardly wait to see her.". Further plans involve hugs, leftovers, and a good night's sleep.

#789 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:21 AM:

#766 Jacque

Temperature zone types are chronically low on Vitamin D--the values taken as "normal" were based on measuring Vitamin D levels in people in Vancouver or some such, which were "normal" for people living in a place where their skin didn't get the sunlight intensity exposure to manufacture it and didn;t get the shortage compensated by eating food rich in Vitamin D... the values of people in tropical areas, were several thousands units a day of Vitamin D intake/production....

#790 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:36 AM:

Open threadiness...

Facebook does facilitate data distribution. Things I had not known... (and oh how I wish that someone had treated him the way the Republican Congress had treated Bill Clinton regarded spending a fortune of taxpayer money looking for dirt....)

Except from
http://www.salem-news.com/articles/october172007/repub_scandals_10_17_07.php#.TtCuSVAvgJs.facebook

"...George W. Bush, was accused in a criminal complaint and lawsuit of raping Margie Schoedinger, who later died in a questionable case of suicide. Bush was also accused by Tammy Phillips, a former stripper, ...quoted in the National Enquirer in 2000 [as having] affair with Bush that had ended in 1999. Another serious question ... wife of Red Blount, whom Bush campaigned for, while possibly A.W.O.L from the Air National Guard at age 26. She stated that he was "all over their 14 year old daughter." Multiple Sources"

#791 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:38 AM:

The knomes went after a comment of mine again.....

#792 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:42 AM:

Paula @791:

Work on your link format. Use the full <a href="linky linky">link text</a> syntax.

You can tell if things are working by testing your links at preview.

Borked links are used so frequently by spammers that we hold them for scrutiny rather than let them through.

#793 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:37 AM:

Fragano at 753, good thoughts coming your way. Whatever is going on, I hope it resolves swiftly and easily without surgery, if possible.

#794 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Fragano Ledgister - strong, intermittent but consistently reengaging good wishes from Denver.

#795 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:23 PM:

Fragano, best wishes for a speedy recovery with no further problems.

Carol, it's a great opportunity to use one of my favorite pedantic distinctions: continual, though not continuous, good thoughts!

#796 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:33 PM:

So, what's Scorsese's "Hugo" like?
It looks gorgeous, if nothing else.

#797 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:42 PM:

Serge, 796: Scorsese's Hugo? Just like all the rest: a rocketship on some kind of base.

#798 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:46 PM:

Fragano: Yikes! Best wishes, and hoping the docs don't need to do anymore slice&sew on you!

General: Now sending again on my iPad, but finally on home wireless! anyone know if there's a plugin to get a better keyboard? Like, not having HTML delimiters (or for that matter apostrophes!) two modes away from the letters?

#799 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:56 PM:

David @ 798 -

There's an extended keyboard app.

Extended keyboard app

#800 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 12:56 PM:

TexAnne @ 797... Wise gal, eh? That being said, I like the idea of Ben Kingsley as Georges Méliès...

#801 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:22 PM:

Dave Bell #770: And, er, no, the daughters of Dukes aren't Lady anything when they marry somebody without a title.

Debrett's begs to differ:
"A daughter of a duke has the style of 'Lady' before her forename and surname, eg the elder daughter of the Duke of Norfolk is Lady Rachel Fitzalan Howard.

On marriage she continues to use the same style, with her husband's surname, ie when Lady Rose FitzRoy married Mr Guy Monson, she became Lady Rose Monson.

Should she marry a peer she adopts his title."

I've got this theory that they can be seen as at least somewhat authoritative.

(Oddly enough, I'm in the middle of rereading the same book.)

#802 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:32 PM:

Dave Bell @ 776: "I suspect that the old gent, being a wise old bird and all that, filled out a registration under the Data Protection Act, which covers persons moving from the UK to the rest of the EU, and the transfers of relevant data."

I feel a Laundry-esque light satire on the complex multi-national regulation that governs the movement of SNT¹ individuals through the European Union coming on, complete with a cutting aside about how the US version of all this is an annual test of their missile defense system² and a steaming fresh new batch of TLAs. The EU Directive on Seasonal Rapid Gift Transit, perhaps?

¹ Saint Nick Type
² "...given the UHO's³ estimated carrying capacity, it could conceivably deliver enough TNT to level a major US city, not even considering the use of "coal" (WMDs). Coupled with an as-yet unrivaled stealth technology, this represents an indefensible and unconscionable breach of national security."
³ Unidentified Holiday Object (superseding the previous term, UCO, in the mid-eighties.)

#803 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:41 PM:

Fragano:

Yikes! I hope things get better from here.

Also, I think I missed hoping things are okay for abi's mom and Ginger's son, and that the FG handles the loss of her parent okay. And probably others' too--it's been very chaotic around here of late....

#804 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:45 PM:

Open threadiness:

Connor Friesdorf says here much of what I've been thinking about the Obama administration and the Democratic pundit class' reaction to him. Though I do have to admire the heroic efforts the Republican nominees are going through to try to convince me to vote for Obama again despite my intention not to.

#805 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:51 PM:

abi:

Our oldest son is also 10, and my wife has managed to coopt him into the game of making Easter and Christmas special for his younger siblings, since he told us he was pretty sure there wasn't really either an easter bunny or a Santa. I'm finding it very fun to see both the parallels and the differences between how they deal with the whole thing.

#806 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:10 PM:

Serge @796: I very seldom get to new movies, but a friend dragged me to Scorsese's Hugo. I thought it was quite wonderful -- a 2.5 hour tribute to Scorsese's work on restoring old films, particularly silent films. We went to a 3D showing; the 3D was unobtrusive and occasionally nice, but I think it'll stand on its merits without that. Some brilliant acting by old timers, and the lead character (whom the WSJ thought was flat -- I mean, look at the kid's upbringing; of course he's not particularly social!) does a very good job IMO. I'd recommend it to any fantasy enthusiast who has some knowledge of silent films. Don't know how big an audience it will actually get, but it's going to have at least a cult following. It really didn't feel long while I was watching it.

#807 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:15 PM:

Steve C. #799: Actually got the free version.

First ding: $2.99 to remove the ad banners. I'm starting to suspect this is typical for apps, but I still find it an immediate turn-off.

Second, bigger ding: It doesn't actually change the system keyboard, e.g. in Safari -- instead, it's a separate app, consisting only of a text buffer with the extended keyboard, so I'd get to copy-and-paste everything....

#808 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:32 PM:

Lots of good thoughts for Fragano, Ginger & family, and everyone else who needs them.

And if there's any left on the plate, I could use a couple.

Had a doctor's appointment the day before Thanksgiving. Asthma is fine, now my gallbladder wants out.

I don't have fscking //TIME// for this. Dear body, please hold off self-destructing until January...


#809 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:43 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 806, I had not heard until just now that The Invention of Hugo Cabret had been filmed.
But then, I only became aware of that utterly delightful book while researching Paris train stations for a scene in my YA book inspired by the Christmas Truce of 1914 (I certainly chose the Gare Montparnasse -- and I made sure there was a toy store across the street).

#810 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:49 PM:

Also, sympathies and good-luck wishes for Ginger and family. (Also anyone else I've missed in the last few days....)

#811 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:51 PM:

Fragano, what everybody else said. Nobody loved you for your colon, you know.

Albatross @ 804, you remind me of my mother's story of her parents vowing to vote for Dewey in 1948 (spoiler: they didn't).

#812 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 02:53 PM:

802
Well, NORAD does track Santa's flight every Christmas....

#813 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Thena, speaking from my mother's experience with having her gallbladder removed (at about this time of year, in fact), it's usually not that bad.

#814 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:30 PM:

(And best health wishes to both Fragano and Thena! I don't tend to add mine verbally when many others have done so before I get here, but that doesn't mean they aren't sent.)

#815 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:34 PM:

Thena (808): My sympathies on the impending gallbladder surgery, and best wishes for a speedy and trouble-free recovery. Speaking from personal experience, acute gallbladder attacks are excruciatingly painful, but having the gallbladder removed wasn't too bad, as surgeries go. Do you know if they're going to be able to do it laparoscopically? That makes a huge difference.

#816 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:41 PM:

Thena, sorry to hear about the gall bladder. I had mine out some years ago laparoscopically, and felt much better in short order. Wishing the same to you if it comes to that.

There really ought to be a Higgledy-Piggledly that uses the word laparoscopically, but I'm not having success in writing one.

#817 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:43 PM:

Best wishes, Thena...

#818 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 03:49 PM:

Thanks... I don't know anything at all yet. I need to get back to the doc on Monday and tell her that yes, I'm willing to be reasonable now and we ought to get on with dealing with this.

(Conversation on Weds. went something along the lines of "Yup, that's your gallbladder, we need to make you an appointment with the surgeon --" "Wait, what?!? It's not that bad!" "You need to deal with this before it gets bad." "Noooooo! I can't deal with this the day before Thanksgiving!")

But despite my efforts to mitigate holiday consumption, it's making its presence gently but firmly known, and now I've got to do something and I have a great big screaming DO NOT WANT TO.

Whine.

(Thanks. I mean it.)

#819 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 04:09 PM:

I have a borderline gall bladder. 360 days a year, no problem. When I over-indulge, like I did on Thursday, it feels like a continuous nasty poke with a stick in the gut. I drink ice water and take a walk . . . it seems to help.

And I remember the pain, so I'm careful about overdoing it.

I feel bad for anyone who has it bad enough to consider surgery . . . that must REALLY feel awful.

* * *

Can anyone suggest a recipe for cookie icing? The hard crusty stuff, not the soft stuff. I want to put some colored (red, green) icing on gingerbread cookies.

I imagine the stuff is basically powdered sugar and water?

#820 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 04:22 PM:

Stefan Jones (819): When I was in the hospital awaiting my gallbladder surgery, my roommate told me that acute gb attacks* were worse than childbirth. I can believe it.

*In my case, a sharp pain in my upper back that felt like the worst muscle spasm ever, also upchucking. When the pain broke through to my chest, I was afraid I was having a heart attack and called 911**. Four days*** in the hospital with NO FOOD to let things calm down, then surgery. Not my idea of fun.

**Thank you, Jim Macdonald for the advice on when to call the EMTs.

***It would have been only two, but the weekend intervened.

#821 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 04:25 PM:

Stefan @ 819 - It's not awful -yet- but it's being evil. :(

Also, re hard frosting:

Sift about a cup of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add any liquid flavoring or coloring you desire. Stir well and add just a trickle of milk (dairy or soy), stirring until the mixture is gluey. If it gets too wet, sift in more sugar. Slather on cookies and watch it run all over the place. Dries into a hard glaze in a couple of hours to overnight, depending on humidity.

#822 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 05:21 PM:

David Harmon @807:

iOS offers no way for third-party software to change the system keyboard. There's no plugin API. And yes, a lot of software takes the free-with-ads route. You really have to consider it a free demo of a for-cash software product.

However, it may help to learn that the system keyboard lets you type apostrophes and quotes by holding down the "." or "," keys for a moment. You can also bounce off the automatic spelling correction: if you type "cant" in text, it will autocorrect to "can't", for example. This is useful more often than not (since most of us aren't linguists studying the AD&D Thieves' Guild).

#823 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 05:26 PM:

Andrew Plotkin #822: OK, that's useful for apostophes and quotes. Pity about the HTML and suchlike....

#824 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 05:28 PM:

How might "Doc" Smith have described a microwave oven?

I don't think they should coruscate.

#825 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 05:40 PM:

Higgledy piggledy
Modern-day surgery!
Invasive -minim'lly
Now is the deal:

Takes out the gallbladder
Laparoscopically,
Smaller incisions more
Rapidly heal.

#826 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 05:48 PM:

Thena: I have two good friends with no gallbladders, and they both wish they'd had them out sooner.

#827 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 06:01 PM:

Dave Bell @ 824: That's reserved for the tinfoil and AOL cds they contain.

#828 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 06:29 PM:

Lila @825 Well done. I figured if I mentioned it someone would write one.

#829 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 06:48 PM:

[Anecdotal evidence] Everyone I know who's had a gall bladder removed has been happy about it, and the surgery was not bad, and the recovery also, not bad. FWIW.

#830 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 06:50 PM:

Lila, #825: Outstanding! And a new word to add to my list of hexasyllabics.

#831 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 07:13 PM:

Lila (825): ::applause::

Lizzy L (829): My grandfather had his gallbladder removed in the 1940's (and his 40's), when it was major surgery. He referred to that day as his "second birthday," because he felt reborn, a new man.

#832 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 07:32 PM:

Fragano* and Thena -- best wishes and prayers for swift recovery.

*my phone autocorrects "Fragano" to "Travail". Hmmm.

#833 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 07:49 PM:

My other half describes his gall bladder surgery here. He also says the surgery itself was not as bad as the pain and dread of future attacks.

#834 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:18 PM:

Fragano - I do not know you well or personally, but your poetry is such that I take a personal affront to anyone who tries to kill you. Unfortunately, I don't think I can make any impact by writing indignant letters to your digestive tract. Oh, well, it's the thought that counts, isn't it? I wish a good recovery to you.

Thena - Good luck with the gallbladder, and I wish a good recovery to you, too.

Anyone who is having gallbladder issues... it's come to me down the grapevine that more than one person I know has either had their gallbladder out and later found that gluten had been causing the problems, or was supposed to need their gallbladder out, then found out they had celiac or gluten intolerance and after stopping gluten didn't need it out after all.

So I recommend getting the antibody tests to anyone who is in this situation and hasn't gotten said tests, for the simple and prudent reason that getting some blood drawn is simple compared to getting an organ removed, even a minor one, and while it won't solve everybody's problems it's certainly good to know one way or the other.

And while we're on general health advice, I second recommendations to up vitamin D intake - to everyone, really. It reduces mortality from all of the major killers and is MUCH harder to OD on than once believed (all of the recorded vitamin D overdoses I managed to dig up in the literature were from people mistaking vitamin D oil for cooking oil, or other similarly egregious mistakes.)

#835 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:20 PM:

(Usual disclaimer of I'm-not-a-doctor,-just-a-student-and-compulsive-reader.)

#836 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:46 PM:

I had occasion to tell my oldest son, just today, that he must try to become more comfortable with the idea of surgery, because it is the price of living long enough to need it.

So, good wishes to all who are finding that they have lived that long.

#837 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:05 PM:

Just in time for the holidays, I have discovered speculoos butter.

Looks like peanut butter, spreads like peanut butter, tastes like speculoos, which more than half of it is. So I just had a speculoos sandwich. Oh, did I mention lower in calories and fat with about the same carbs as ordinary peanut butter (which is sweetened these days). Got it at Trader Joe's as Cookie Butter. Right alongside the cocoa-almond spread.

#838 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:07 PM:

Mary Aileen #820: Ouch! I sympathise. I have been having some of the most painful hiccoughs in my memory. I keep hearing my father's voice in my head telling me that I am a complete failure as a person because I ask for pain medication for the hiccoughs. It is one of the weirder parts of this current experience (including being pumped full of fluid all day yet not urinating, because I'm losing more fluid than I'm gaining so nothing is getting to my bladder).

The rough part is that they haven't yet determined exactly what is going on, though it seems clear that surgery is in my future.

#839 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:20 PM:

Fragano, please replace your father's voice with my voice. "Everybody gets sick. This is just an episode. Just take it easy and tell your body you forgive it if it'll just go back to regular processes and like that. You are not a failure. Your friends want you back."

#840 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:41 PM:

I can't make a blanket recommendation to everyone to increase their vitamin D intake, but I can state from personal experience that having very low serum levels of vitamin D **sucks**. I was exhausted all the time. Felt much better when they put me on the heavy-duty supplement, and I seem to be keeping the levels in the normal range with a reasonable dose. (I switched to locally produced organic milk and didn't realize they don't put Vitamin D in it, so after a year or so my levels were way down, as detected by a blood test on my physical.)

#841 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:10 PM:

I also want to chime in here: although IANAD, every doctor I talk to is on the Vitamin D train. I take 2000 iu Vit D daily, which keeps my levels nicely up -- and so does my doctor, he tells me. Low Vit D can cause godawful fatigue, and in older folks (*waves hands*) insufficient levels can seriously impact (cough) weak bones, among other things. If you don't want a broken hip sometime in your future -- and believe me, you don't -- it is recommended that you get your Vit D levels up to a mid-normal level, i.e. don't be satisfied with the low end of normal.

Fragano, tomorrow's Sunday, and I will be carrying you with me to Mass, and praying HARD for your healing, for your caregivers, and for your peace of mind.

#842 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:29 PM:

A.J. Luxton: Thank you for the kind thoughts.

The good thing about living in an age with general anaesthesia is that surgery is a lot less frightening than it once was. Going under the knife, nonetheless, has its terrors.

On the other hand, I still think I have some things I want to do.

#843 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 10:46 PM:

Lizzy L @ 841... older folks (*waves hands*)

A few days ago, a 3-year-old girl I'd never met before called me grandaddy.

#844 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:02 PM:

Condolences to Ginger's FG, and I hope Son's knee is on the mend.

Fragano, please get better! And don't make a habit of this!

@838: Pain can actually impede your recovery, so it makes good sense to medicate it if you can. You can tell your father's voice for me that he's being an insensitive dolt, and to knock it off or I'll give him a good, scorching talking-to, because I'm in just the mood to do it!

Or maybe just go with what Kip W @839: said.

Thena @808: Beaming happy gallbladder thoughts in your direction.

@818: I have a great big screaming DO NOT WANT TO.

Boy, lady, do I hear you. This holiday I've had five whole days off for the first time in ages—WHIMPER) and I've been doing nothing but sleeping. (Not least because, I'm sure, I've slipped with my meds/vits; see others' comments about energy/vitamins.) And my ear infection seems to be kicking up again. SHHH... SHHH.... SHHH... SHHH... ::sigh::

In better news to all who gave us their well-wishes a bit ago: Gustav is doing better. Actually has a little fuzz on her nekkid parts again, and has put on a wee bit of a potbelly.

Lizzy L @841: Low Vit D can cause godawful fatigue

Hmmm. (Looks back over weekend.)

Serge Broom @843: ::grin::

#845 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:18 PM:

A neighbor tossed a couple of houseplants. I'd like to take in the healthier looking one. Can someone identify it?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefan_e_jones/6409106775/in/photostream/

#846 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:22 PM:

re 845: That's an African violet. If you're nice to it you'll get a clump of flowers in the center, generally in shades of purple to white to deep rose. If you decide you like it you can make new ones by rooting broken off leaves in water.

#847 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:26 PM:

I can't make a blanket recommendation to everyone to increase their vitamin D intake

Indeed not. As someone who has had kidney stones, I say to you here and now, definitely do not make that blanket recommendation.

#848 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:29 PM:

Much sympathy and good thoughts to Fragano and Thena. Let there be no hesitation on the pain meds! Back when I had surgery, my doctor assured me that being comfortable made for a well-rested patient who heals faster.

Stefan @ 819: Search for "royal icing". If you want to be tidy, mix some thicker, and pipe it as outlines -- think dams. Once it has set up a bit, pipe the thinner variety into the dams. The runny variant will spread out and form a nice, smooth layer.

#849 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:34 PM:

845-846
My grandmother's African violets liked me. They were in a south-facing window with sheer curtains - so diffused but bright light. Grew really well. (They're cranky about the way they're watered, though.)

#850 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 11:38 PM:

If you have a couple of African violets, they can carry a coconut together. Well, I think it's the African ones.

#851 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 12:01 AM:

Xopher @ 847: I did a little digging: I haven't found anything to suggest that kidney stones can result from normal supplemental levels of vitamin D intake except, according to this piece here, in people with hyperparathyroidism (which, before it develops, is apparently best prevented by sufficient vitamin D intake; how's that for irony?) or in sarcoidosis, tuberculosis or lymphoma.

The paper suggests, for the general population, an upper safe limit equivalent to a dietary intake of 10,000 IU daily, for the reasons that (a) all recordable cases of elevated calcium levels in the urinary tract resulting from vitamin D were seen in people who had serum levels of D that would be produced by an intake of >40,000 IU, and (b) 10,000 is about what a person would get from decent levels of sunlight (the paper also advised that people with the above special-case scenario conditions avoid 'environmental sources' of vitamin D as well, i.e., sunlight.)

(Usual disclaimers apply. I summarize and report the work of scientists who are not me, with gratitude for their contributions.)

#852 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 12:10 AM:

I get sick (as in barfing sick) if I spend too much time in the sun, even if I wear sufficient sunscreen that I don't even tan, much less burn.

#853 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 12:25 AM:

That may very well indicate that type of special sensitivity which points to underlying conditions; this, however, is a place where being Not a Doctor definitely impairs my ability to make comment, as I may have decent comprehension of peer-reviewed literature but cannot diagnose or treat. So that might be something that is good to ask your doctor about, because if you were to have such a condition, it would be better to know about it than not.

#854 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:58 AM:

My best wishes also to Fragano and Thena and anyone else who might benefit from them. Like Tom W., I often don't chime in on choruses of sympathy, but I'm there in (er, what's the materialist equivalent of "spirit"?).

#855 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:59 AM:

Dave Bell @ 824:

"Knives, forks, and spoons of force ..."

With apologies to Randall Garret (see Backstage Lensman)

#856 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 02:03 AM:

heresiarch @ 802:

You are aware of Charlie's Overtime, are you not?

#857 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 03:10 AM:

Fragano and Thena: best wishes and transpondian* good thoughts.

*It is a little-known fact that the original transponders were so named from their purpose, which was to boost certain wireless transmissions by stages across the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, it is so little-known that I almost never come across anybody else in possession of it.

#858 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 03:19 AM:

Stefan, #845: Seconding C. Wingate's ID, and adding a caveat that some people seem to find them addictive. Our kitchen table was always full of them during the winter, and we had to eat off TV trays. (During the rest of the year they lived in the refinished garage-cum-den, but it wouldn't stay warm enough in the winter.)

#859 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 03:48 AM:

The port closed with a solid thunk, the valve swinging on its hinges until its seals met the frame, compressing as the latches engaged. An electric current flowed through the bus-bars, and hard-driven electrons surged through an almost-insulator, pumping atoms into luminescence, bringing forth uncannily glowing symbols on the board. Closed and sealed? Check! Light flooded the chamber. Carefully, the operator examined the settings for one last time before unleashing the mighty forces at his command.

A finger stabbed unerringly, with the precision of long experience, at a plunger which closed the main circuit. Electricity flowed, unimaginable numbers of electrons poured into the vacuum, warped into circular paths by the mighty magnetic fields, clustering from the resonances in the copper chamber. Well it was that the designers had done their work well, that the engineers and technicians had used their many skills to give those cunning thoughts their physical form. At a precisely computed point, an intense beam of deadly radiation flooded the chamber, driving deep into the target and releasing its energies in a barely credible burst. There were no screens that could block this deadly effulgence, no conceivable protection against this lethal creation of the great minds of Civilisation. Your historian must record that only the system's carefully arranged interlocks protected the operator from the effects of the beam.

A bell chimed, clear and simple. The power cut. The operator checked the controls, and then, with gloved heand, removed the target from the chamber. It had been irrevocably changed by the exposure to the rays. He called out.

"Hey, Kinnison, your burger's ready!"

#860 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 04:24 AM:

Antonia T. Tiger @ 859: That is beautiful and wonderful. I am thoroughly impressed.

#861 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 05:30 AM:

It is barely adequate.

I've been writing a furry Smith-style space opera for NaNoWriMo, and hit the target earlier today. I had spare words, and used them.

You cannot really do things justice without consulting On Food and Cooking. Smith never really mentions cooking except for, a couple of times, Kinnison cooking himself a steak when fagged out after a particularly harrowing experience. Oh, and soft-boiled eggs. But nothing seems any different from what you might find in the galley of a ship.

When you think about it, a microwave is a pretty remarkable tool, the produce of thousands of hands and minds. And those hands and minds are the people who the Koch brothers of this world would as soon didn't exist.

#862 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 08:26 AM:

If I had a time machine, I would go see The Hot Mikado, starring Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

#863 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 10:47 AM:

WFMU, or maybe one of the vinyl sites, had a sort of 70s version of the Hot Mikado. Sort of a Soul Mikado. I gave it a listen or two, but ended up deleting it from my iPod in favor of non-distorted originals. Still, I'd love to see the real Hot Mikado. It's yet another crime against humanity that the scores for it were lost and had to be reconstructed years later.

#864 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:02 PM:

David 854: I often don't chime in on choruses of sympathy, but I'm there in (er, what's the materialist equivalent of "spirit"?).

"...but my good wishes are with you"? Or maybe just "...but I also wish you well."

#865 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:07 PM:

Or if you feel that's still not honest enough, "I don't actually believe my good wishes can do you any good at all, but I wish they could."

#866 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:31 PM:

#804 albatross
The competition for the office of the President of the United States of America sort of reminds me of the situation of Jews in Eastern Europe during WWII, with Cain, Bachman, Perry, etc., being the fascist side. Stalin was the lesser evil, as is Obama. There are NO viable third party candidates, and none of Rep Waxman, Dennis Kuicinich, the member of Congress I applauded on Making Light a earlier this month, and their ilk are either running or have any chance at victory--Kuicinich got no air time except negative air time four years ago, he was running but the fascist media avoided no opportunity to avoid mentioning him, and when they had no choice, they marginalized and deprecated him as much as possible (when they couldn't LITERALLY leave him out of the picture at any debates which they couldn't arrange to disinclude him from, they used spent the absolute minimum time possible showing his face, and their anti-progressive attitudes were what the message was anything they did pay any attention to him...)

I will unless something changes drastically be voting for Obama. I also hopefully be voting for Elizabeth Warren, whose support from Obama was insipid at best, he political-ploy appointed her to a position to oversee the creation of a Consumer Protection Agency but was unwilling to do anything which involved standing up to the abusive Repukes and call them out on their abusiveness and abuses. He wasn;t even willing to openly nominate her for the position of head of the agency. She came back to Massachusetts not exactly stabbed in the back, but rather, in the situation of being snuck into DC though a back gate and provided no open moral support and championing by the President. Lots of people urged her to run for Congress to replace Senator Brown, whose claims to fame include twice being a nude centerfold for Cosmopolitan; making lots of money offshoring employment to China, India, Pakistan, Korea, etc.; and making Mitt Romney look like he doesn't sell his opinion to the highest bidder for political office holder/candidate campaign funds and vote-arbiter sources..... Both of them eagerly rewrite their opinions and attitudes... the old joke applies about them not being honest politicians--their opinion change based on who's paying or who's currently paying the most....

It's not that I want to vote for Obama--it's that not doing so, would put Goebbels or Goebbel's buddies in the White House (consider Rick Perry's minister) running the US Executive Branch again. Stalin was horrible. Hitler was worse. Obama is not as abominable as Stalin. And the Republican are not as horrible as Hitler, though they've got the support of a lot of people who are Hitlerphiles, both closet and unabashed Hitlerphiles, the latter apparent not only going to the Anti-Discrimination League's site covering hate groups in the USA, but in the rise in hate crimes in the past decade, which the 2001-2008 misadministration acted in ways to facilitate--MAYBE not with that intention, but with the obvious consequences. Deprecate and defund and expunge enforcement of civil rights laws at the national level, and the civil rights abusers feel authorized and empowered to be intolerant and abusive.
Scooter Libby got a Presidential avoid jail and criminal record perquisitive. Karl Rove never even got an investigation looking at him with disinterest, much less investigation for all sorts of illegal, immoral, and unethical activities, starting with orchestrated campaigns involving libel, slander, malfeasance, ranging through election interference and fraud (the Republican who actually served time in federal prison, and got re-employed on the payroll of the Republican Party as soon as he got released from prison, for election interference in New Hampshire, was on the phone to one or more people in the White House before and during his orchestration of the phone-jamming which landed him in prison....) and perhaps even murder (the computer specialist who had worked for Rove and was fingered as a key player in "vote fraud in O-hi-o" and in the disappearance of millions of email messages from the White House record, was subpoena's and due in court on a Monday to testify under oath. He went out in his airplane over the weekend and the plane crashed fatally, in a crash which there was no hint whatsoever of it being an intended suicide crash....)
The President and Vice President 2001-2008 are subject to arrest and trial as war criminals if they leave US territory and set foot in e.g. Europe. Personally, I think they and Rove deserve the same treatment/services of "secret rendition" delivered to the targets by the damned plane which repeatedly used to literally fly over my head at 3 AM, hauling off elsewhere in the world to perform "secret rendition" --read kidnap-- of secretly targeted persons considered to be "terrorists" and deliver them to secret jails in Eastern Europe, North Africa, and elsewhere in countries with atrocious human rights records and a dearth of laws/enforcement of laws against secret/warrantless arrests and detainment--a covert kidnapping... but in their cases, with a public destination of the holding facility for those indicted for trial by the World Court for war crimes.
Obama's misdeeds
--or rather, the misdeeds of the bureaucracy full of burrowed-in fascists from 2001-2008 who are running the US Government on inertia, Republican senators and representatives have put up every conceivable barrier they've found or thought up to block Pres Obama from making appointments at senior and executive levels into US Government, meaning the that burrowed in fascists are CONTINUING to run the US Government day to day and not only continuing the same initiatives they were installed to install and carry out, but they are going forward with additional insults to the concepts of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, emancipation of minorities and women, bans on warrantless searchs and seizures, the promotion of the items listed in the Preamble to the Constitution, etc., each and every day they remain entrenched without less fascist managers installed above them to isolate them and shutdown their activities.... --
are far fewer and far less extreme and costly in the aggregate than the abominations of 2001-2008. He has not gratuitously started a war. He has not installed fascists whose qualifications consist of either or both being a corporate lobbyist promoting deregulation and dismantling of all inspections and safety and health regulations on industry as the basis for appointing heads of agencies charged with industry monitoring
[e.g., the head of the Mine Safety Agency installed during the 2001-2008 was a lobbyist in favor of abolishing all regulation and inspection of the mining industry... the obvious consequence, mining disasters, started occurring during his tenure and policies of ceasing inspections and terminating as much as possible federal actions constraining mine owners with threats of shutdowns and inconveniences such as substantiative fines for health and safety violations]
and/or being a campaign worker who had contributed time and effort and maybe even funds to Republican (e.g., Mike Brown at FEMA... he was completely unqualified as regards experience running/participation in/management of emergency operations for prevention, mitigation, rescue, and recovery.
Pres Obama has not initiated the program of secret rendition. He has not reassigned the agricultural experts on vermin and such from inspecting cargo coming into the US to the bogusosity of the Department of Homeland Security playing "let's look for nonexistent terrorists in places where the likelihood of a terrorist is orders of magnitude lower than getting shot by stray bullets by antisocial jackass sociopaths! (Boston has not had any people die in terrorist actions since the end of the Revolutionary War I think... or perhaps there may have been lynchings or such sometime in the past century and a half or so, maybe.... meanwhile, there is the continuing spate of people gunned down from gang members' bullets gone astray, or drug deals gone wrong, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time when antisocial types were shooting in the direction of other antisocial types... and don;'t forget the crooked and corrupt FBI agents in Boston, complicit in murdered perpetrated by Whitey Bulger and the framings of people who crossed Bulger with murders committing by Bulger an his buddies). The results of the reassignment of people include the infestation of Masachachuetts with the Asian Longhorn Beetle (the quarantine of Worcester and cutting down most of the maple trees in the city, at millions of dollars of cost, was unsuccessful in trying to prevent the spread of the pest to the surrounding areas... it threatens the hardwood industies of timber and the maple sugar industry, the ecosystem, and everyone dependent on those industries and the eco system, in the region...) and other failures to prevent pests and banned flora and fauna (including rare plants and animals trades...) from getting into the USA, and failure to punish those responsible for failing to comply with health and safety regulation for cargo to prevent infestations and failing to comply with provisions aimed at preventing extinction of non-pestierous species of flora and fauna.

The litany of malfeasance practiced by the 2001-2008 administration is a long, tedious, appalling one. I am willing to admit they did a handful of good things, which includes blowing up the dam which had diverted the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates from their natural course into what had been and may not again be marshes. I agreed with invading Afghanistan, but NOT -how- it was done and especially not the policies involved in failing to rebuild the country --the templates of how the USA ran occupations in Europe and Japan were NOT secret, but those were NOT what happened in Afghanistan. Allying with misogynist intolerant warlords was evil. Mass murder is PURELY evil (see the Red Cross I think it is website about alleged mass murder atrocities). The entirety of the operations in Iraq basis was evil. The failure to comply with the Geneva Convention was evil. The War against Women which the Repukes are continuing, is Evil. The religious intolerance is Evil.

Obama is not my favorite politician. I dislike his appeasements and kowtowing to those who I regard as Evil. He is the much less Evil. Not voting, or voting for a third party candidate, to me is a vote FOR the evil Republicans. And so, assuming that Mr Obama remains in office and is on the ballot, I will vote for Mr Obama next year, because the alternative purely and simply, for me is abominable. In a choice which has resonances in some --not all, but some--ways to a choice of Hitler or Stalin, I will, with misgivings, choose Stalin... some of my relatives in Ukraine where there was that choice, survived apparently, all of them under the age of 13 at the time. The Jews of Ukraine initially welcomed the German invasion--until the adults were mass-murdered because they were Jews.
Again, I don't regard Obama as Stalin, and I don;t regard Perry etc. as Hitler--though his minister is not that far off from that mindset. I'm using it an analogy, where there is no one running I would choose if I had a free choice of viable candidates to support/vote for. Obama I regard as zero. Bachman, Perry, Cain, Romney, Gingrich, etc., I regard as ranging from minus ten million, to minus aleph null or aleph one.... Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Anton Scalia I regard as vile and unjust. I fear similarly any appointments to federal service that any of the Republican candidtes would make, in any of the military, the judiciary, civil service, and other any other parts of the US Government. The damage done by appointees of every Republican President which is continuing and expanding. The Republicans in Congress, again, have blocked hundreds maybe even thousands of appointments of candidated nominated by the Obama administration, to government agencies, to the courts, and probably to the military. The generals given their stars in 2001-2008 and those appointed to senior military rank otherwise, are still in place. Boykin, thankfully, is retired. But there are hundreds of others, who aren't... and many of them have the same intolerant religious bigot values he has.... without the likes of him the abuses such as Ginmar suffered and the scandals at the military academies over the treatment of women and religious abuses, could not have happened as systematic in the first place....

And anything that would put a Republican administration back in power in the White House, would worsen all the bad situations which the 2001-2008 regime set in place and in motion, and which the damage mitigation and attempts at remediation in 2009-the present, have failed in general to not only reverse, but to block the continuing effects of, and in many cases, have failed to prevent the expansion of. ...

So, again, Obama is not my free choice for President. But he's a lesser evil than what would get in, if he doesn't get re-elected. ( A year is a long time, a lot can happen. It's a possibility that for whatever reason, he might not be a candidate for re-election. It;s also a possibility that the majority of the Republican Party will undergo a spontaneous conversion process and reconstitute into the Party of Lincoln with all the old values and attitudes and expunge the fascism and meanspiritedness and bigotry and religious intolerance and the misogyny. Maybe a third party will emerge with a plurality and get someone worthwhile on the ballot with broad support And maybe pigs will fly, too... Again, I am not Obama fan, except that I see no less appalling alternative. And I support Elizabeth Warren, who has reason to hold Obama's feet to the fire, having been tossed to the wolves to munch on by him....

#806 Tom
I have a severe allergy to androcentricity these days--that is, where are the female children who are the lead and title characters of live action films? It's still All About Males in action-adventure with young protagonists, and females can be there to be the support characters. PTUI. More than half the people in the world are female, except in countries which are so misogynistic they practice gender-based abortion of healthy female fetuses and infanticide either intentionally or passively by parcelling out food and resources to males and if there;s anything left over feed the family members females last and female infants if there is anything left for them....
Yeah, I know, putting Ideology ahead of Art... but, Art involved Ideology. I remember the days when the only human females in SF/F generally were there as being in the secretarial pool, as trophies to awards to heroes, or as Evil Bitch Queens failing to be proper submissive drudges, when there were human females in the story. And I see the "family values" crowd winning the culture wars in the commercial entertainment and advertising businesses, with the Target and K-Mart etc. toy brochures, and in ToyRUs, with the damnable pinkshit-for-prettygirls domestic crap, and all the action-and-mechanical-stuff toys showing boys only using them....

#809 John
The film has had a LOT of advertising, which looked interested to me... but I feel about it the way a friend with dark skin feels about Avatar--hostile to -me- due to ideological considerations.
#838 Fragano
Perhaps that is your body's way in part of telling you it thinks your father's voice in your head and his values system about it are wrong, wrong, wrong, and that you need to pay more attention to yourself.
#861
I heard the tale of the origin of the "Radar Range" from people who worked with its inventor, the non-degreed Raytheon engineer whose Hershey bar in his shirt pocket melted working with a leaky [as in leading RF] microwave tube "And thus was born Amana" The microwave oven was NOT the product of thousands of hands, it was the product of a small team of people who assembled an out of spec radar tube and the engineer working with it being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment (a Hershey's chocolate bar in his pocket) to notice the cooking effect, AND having the mindset of "hey, this can be turned into a commercial product to cook with!" AND management which liked the idea enough to decide to try to commercialize it... (IBM notably turned down the fellow who invented the Xerox copying machine, and Xerox was notorious for refusing to use Xerox PARC ideas for commercialization. Bell Labs had a legal bar from commercializing anything it invented that wasn't in its regulated communications utility business. Sylvania-then-GTE Labs did not have commercialization restrictions, but then GTE-Sylvania sold off it battery and non-defense electronics businesses, merged with Bell Atlantic and sold off its lighting and defense businesses, but has kept the labs even when the merged company turned into Verizon... its 4th generation wireless work I think was done in Waltham, Massachusetts.

#867 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:42 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 866:

It;s also a possibility that the majority of the Republican Party will undergo a spontaneous conversion process and reconstitute into the Party of Lincoln with all the old values and attitudes and expunge the fascism and meanspiritedness and bigotry and religious intolerance and the misogyny.

Yeah, and maybe all the oxygen in the air of this room will concentrate in the northwest corner and the nitrogen in the southwest, with the CO2 and the argon in the center. Entropy: it's not only a good idea, it's the law!

#868 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:45 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger @ 861:

It is barely adequate.

Now you're starting to sound like Nadrek the Palainian. Enough with the modesty, that was awesome.

#869 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 02:26 PM:

Paula @866 re Hugo -- it's not an action-adventure film in the usual sense (there's a fair amount of chases, but they mostly involve a dog chasing a boy -- scarier because realer!); it's set in a time when things were much less open for women, and it includes several quite important women in it. All of that said -- yeah, a lot of the choices were androcentric to lead to that, and you might find it problematic. Less so than many, is the best I can say for it on that score. There are women, but their talking to each other is never central to the plot.

#870 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 03:01 PM:

Paula @866

I was thinking of the microwaves you can buy today.

Computer controlled for a start. They've come a long way from a simple electro-mechanical time clock.

#871 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 03:58 PM:

little pink beast @860 That is beautiful and wonderful.

Antonia T. Tiger @ 861: It is barely adequate.

Quite. It is barely adequate at being beautiful and wonderful.

As for Smith and food, I seem to recall several is-alien-food-edible scenes (raw fish in Triplanetary? Heavy metal contamination in Skylark of Space?) but the protagonists did seem to like meat and potatoes.

#872 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 04:01 PM:

Ow. Okay, here's a good thing not to do: Accidentally buy chewable vitamin C tablets (well, okay, two good things not to do), and then because you're feeling lazy, try to swallow one whole. That was twenty minutes ago. "Because it feels so good when it stops!" Whew! Ow.

But here's a good thing to do: If you like brown rice but don't want to cook up a pot every time you want some, you cook up a big batch, let it cook just a little bit dry, and then fluff it into a container which you then freeze. Fork out the desired quantity whenever the spirit moves!

In other news: My kitchen is clean! EEK!

#873 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 04:11 PM:

Bruce Cohen @867: Well, the majority of the GOP doesn't need to suddenly became sane or responsible, just enough to make a difference. When Virginia went over to all-GOP controlled government (a few years back when we lived there), and the leadership was rubbing their hands to think of all the giveaways they could do, a strange thing happened. Part of their own party morphed into a sort of opposition, counseling adult behavior and refusing to go along with the wholesale dismantling that was being contemplated by the George Allen types.

It should happen again. (That's more of a wish than a prediction.)

#874 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 04:11 PM:

Jacque (872): If you like brown rice but don't want to cook up a pot every time you want some, you cook up a big batch, let it cook just a little bit dry, and then fluff it into a container which you then freeze. Fork out the desired quantity whenever the spirit moves!

What a brilliant idea! I'll have to try that.

Relatedly: I can't eat an entire batch of biscuits at one sitting, but the dough freezes well. Shape it into biscuits first, and you can thaw just as many as you need at a time.

Bread dough freezes well, too. Prepare as normal, shape into loaves, and freeze. When you thaw it, let it rise one last time before baking.

#875 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 04:42 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger @ 859: That really is a great little passage.

#876 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 04:47 PM:

Fragano: thinking good thoughts for you.

Thena: And some for you too.

Be well, people!

#877 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 05:25 PM:

This ACLU article seems like the sort of thing the black helicopter types would have been freaking out about, about 12 years ago. Now, however, it appears that most of those guys are on the side of the bastards behind this bill.

ISTM that the push for building up a turnkey police state is entirely bipartisan, with the main difference being whether we want that turnkey police state run by technocrats and amoral politicians responding to the latest polling numbers, or by defense contractors and the criminally insane.

#878 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 05:25 PM:

Didn't know, until I saw the blurb in the TV listings this morning, that Leverage is returning with eight weeks of new episodes.

* * *

African Violet, check.

Sounds like a tricky one, but I'll give it a shot.

#879 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 05:29 PM:

There are few things more pleasant that standing by the shore, watching ships at dock, wondering where they've been and where they will travel next:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefan_e_jones/6408977189/sizes/l/in/photostream/

#880 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 06:12 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 878... "Leverage" is back? Yay!

#881 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 06:39 PM:

Again, thanks for all the kind thoughts. They're much appreciated. I am, currently wondering who designed the modern hospital mattress; this is a device designed to inhibit sleep as much as possible.


Antonia T. Tiger #859: That was a brilliant piece of parody, very nicely done, and in perfect balance.

#882 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 07:16 PM:

Jacque, #872: Works just as well with white rice, FTR. We like freezing single-serving portions, so that we can grab (frex) 1 serving of rice and 1 serving of black bean soup and have them be roughly equal without having to worry about measuring.

#883 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 07:29 PM:

Stefan Jones @879: Wonder no more. There's an iPhone app called ShipFinder that tells you what ship that is, where it's come from, where it's going, and a lot more information. It's pretty cool, when one lives near a shipping channel (like Puget Sound, out our front window).

#884 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 09:22 PM:

#879 Antonia

The tech level of the time of the invention of the microwave oven was mostly steampunkish--transistorization was in the future, digital computers FAR in the future except for the very very earliest machine--and they used analog components including relays, with the original bug in the computer operation being the moth that Grace Hopper taped into the logbook.... microprocessors were beyond the blue even horizon. The microwave oven came out before The Door into Summer by Heinlein, where the computers/robots used tubes.....

#885 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 12:04 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 884 and microwave admirers in general: even as late as "Roller Ball Murder", microwave projectors were going to be set into the hoods over stovetops rather than tucked inside ovens.
I used this in a scene in an unsold dieselpunk story (roughly, "The Man Who Sold the Moon" as a WPA project) which started with the hero finally remembering to turn off the microwave lamp before reaching in for his thawed meal.

#886 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 01:57 AM:

There's a scene in Thomas Pynchon's V where, IIRC, Benny Profane reminds his buddy Pig Bodine why Pig owes him enough that he shouldn't rape Paola Maijstral as a favor to Benny. Benny showed him how to cook hamburger with the USS Scaffold's radar dish when Pig had been planning to sunbathe on the radar mast in front of the dish. I believe this scene was written somewhere around 1958, which was around the time that the first microwave ovens were put on the market.

#887 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:09 AM:

HLN: Area retiree discovers that canned alphabet soup and packaged, precooked "Biryani" rice from the Grocery Outlet are a match made in heaven.
I want to add my thanks for Antonia's piece at #859. Not just for humor but for a reminder of how wonder and "miracles" can be found anywhere, not just in the "natural" world like some folks try to tell me. I want also to thank Kip W. for the Pluto peroration at #750. There's a reason this is my homepage. Lastly, I want to extend best wishes, good thoughts and so on to Fragano and whoever else here needs them.

#888 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 06:20 AM:

I have just reached 50,000 words of a sweary, violent, low fantasy novel, with the action broken up by people telling stories of various degrees of truth. The 50,000th word is "slow".

My initial plan was for about 60,000 words but I'm still in the beginning of the 3rd act, so I expect a final total in the region 75,000 words. I note that the word processor counts the numbers at the start of sections as words, but constructions such as "The Tale of the Slave-who-faced-death-from-sword-and-demon-and-arrow" is five words and "clantallyman" is one so it pretty much evens out.

#889 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 06:32 AM:

The NaNoWriMo word counter is a little crude. I was caught out by it last year, but I had time to write a bit more.

#890 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 06:54 AM:

I had a microwaved steak in the 70's; it turned out kind of hamburgery, as we didn't know any better at the time.

#891 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 10:40 AM:

HLN: Local woman drives self and son home, through not-bad-traffic on a Sunday morning, then after consoling cats briefly, drops Son off at Ex, drives to local airport and successfully recapt- er, retrieves FG from international arrivals, takes her home for shower and change of clothing, then drives FG and FG's cat back to their home. "I slept well," she admitted today, "And even though it took me longer than usual to get home this morning, it was still a lovely sunrise and the cats were still grateful."

Following a brief breakfast at home, the intrepid traveller left to find her dogs, who were collected from the kennel and also brought to their proper abode, resulting in startled cats. "Meow!" said one cat; the other one could not be reached for comment.

Further communication with the FG this morning indicates that she was up early and is feeling energized, unlike her usual morning "self". This is probably related to travelling 7 times zones and back in the space of seven days. FG was grateful for all the condolences and good wishes sent by various kind persons on and off-net.

The Son's knee continues to heal slowly and he will be getting a diagnostic arthroscopy some time soon; this may also involve repair or resection (as needed), following which he will undoubtedly enjoy a course of physical therapy. Area woman is supportive and reassuring towards son, who is impatient and wishes to be healed already.

#892 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 11:44 AM:

Local woman's son will *love* the arthroscopy.

#893 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 12:22 PM:

Mary Aileen @874: Bread dough freezes well, too. Prepare as normal, shape into loaves, and freeze. When you thaw it, let it rise one last time before baking.

My dad, having grown up on a farm in Depression-era northern Minnesota, steadfastly refused to eat "Kleenex bread" (Wonder and its ilk). My mother would occassionally bake bread, but just really wasn't that into the whole domestication thing. (She eventually put her foot down; if he wanted his handkerchiefs ironed, he could damn-well iron them. As one might expect, he coped with wrinkly handkerchiefs.)

She discovered, however, that there was a brand of frozen breaddough sold at the local supermarket that, while still technically still white bread, was apparently close enough to "home made" when baked fresh. Compromise was achieved.

albatross @833: Emails sent to senators. For once, one of them (to Udall) was simply, "Thank you!"

Lee @882: have them be roughly equal without having to worry about measuring.

Who worries about measuring? <spoon spoon spoon> "Yeah, that looks about right." ;-) Another trick is to freeze various commodities in ice-cube trays. I've found this to require more effort than I'm willing to extend, however.

BTW, I've discovered that quick, tasty, and satisfying lunch can be achieved by augmenting canned legume-soup of choice with b.rice + flavorings (in my case, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce).

Ginger @891: If there is a video feed for the patient during the arthroscopy, this may mitigate the experience somewhat. Or, um, not.

#894 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 12:35 PM:

Thanks all for the help on the weight/volume issues with fluid dairy. I'm trying to get the drinking chocolate as close as possible to the way it tasted in Poland. Getting recipes to turn out the way I remember them seems to be a common theme for me this month. An email from Dad indicates why I have never been able to replicate the rolls my late grandmother made - she used Margarine, not Butter. Duh! I should have guessed that a woman who raised 4 kids on her own in the 50's and 60's would not have used actual butter. Can't wait to try the recipe again soon.

The other curiosity is why my friend's mother's "Almond Crescent" cookies do not call for any almonds or even almond extract - instead they contain ground walnuts. We have texted her for further information before we embark upon Almond/Walnut Crescent baking.

#895 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 01:08 PM:

Jacque #893: Another trick is to freeze various commodities in ice-cube trays. I've found this to require more effort than I'm willing to extend, however.

What it actually requires is more freezer space than I seem to have. While the Great Basil Experiment did not actually founder, it did take up space better used for freezer bags full of leftover chili or Bolognese sauce.

#896 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 01:49 PM:

HLN: Woman makes expedition to Barnes & Noble, buys Nook Simple Touch after playing with one, asking lots of questions, and thinking it over while doing other shopping. The 14-day return policy was a major factor in her decision. Woman is annoyed that the salesbeing assured her that it comes with a wall charger when it doesn't. Woman buys wall charger online after returning home.

#897 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 01:56 PM:

I'm trying to get the drinking chocolate as close as possible to the way it tasted in Poland.

One thing that will make a big difference is the milk. European grocery-store milk and cream are shelf-stable, and processed with higher heat than the US equivalents. Unless you are boiling the milk and cream, each of the following will have some difference in taste and texture: European (shelf-stable) UHT milk, American (non-shelf-stable) UHT milk, refrigerated pasteurized milk (available in the US and Europe, but not that common anymore), and raw milk. The differences to my taste are more noticeable in cream than in milk.

#898 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 02:21 PM:

SamChevre @897:
European grocery-store milk and cream are shelf-stable, and processed with higher heat than the US equivalents [...] refrigerated pasteurized milk (available in the US and Europe, but not that common anymore)

You seem to be implying that Europeans buy and drink mostly UHT milk?

That's not my experience of things, and I am at least arguably a European. I certainly live in Europe, and have for the thick end of 20 years.

It's true that UHT/"shelf-stable" milk is more available here than in the US, but most people in the countries of Europe where I have lived (the UK and the Netherlands) regard it as a niche product, suitable for a limited range of uses.

When I was last in Poland, the majority of the milk in the supermarket I shopped in was not UHT or shelf-stable. The country I've visited that had the highest proportion of UHT milk to non-UHT was France, but even there it wasn't 50/50. (It might vary by region.)

Personally, speaking as a maybe-European, I use UHT milk in the lattes I make at home. I like the taste in combination with coffee and sugar. It's also worth having a box of it around in the pantry to deal with running out when the shops are closed of a Sunday. But for putting on my cereal or drinking from a glass as a regular thing? Not so much. And the Dutch people I know—all genuine Europeans—agree.

#899 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 02:27 PM:

nerdycellist, #894: Mileage varies. My parents never used anything but margarine; once I discovered butter, I never looked back. However, in baked goods, the difference is more likely to be between salted/unsalted varieties of whichever one you're using.

My guess about the Almond Crescent cookies is that the original recipe called for ground almonds, but for reasons of either expense or preference, your family substituted walnuts and didn't bother to change the name.

#900 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 02:41 PM:

SamChevre, #897: refrigerated pasteurized milk (available in the US and Europe, but not that common anymore)

Do you mean "not that common outside the US and Europe"? Because I've never been in a grocery store in my life that didn't have a refrigerator case or two full of pasteurized milk, the kind with a use-by life of about 2 weeks. I also haven't seen milk in boxes on the shelves, but that doesn't mean much because (not knowing there was such a thing) I wouldn't have been looking for it. Now I'm curious, and will do some checking on my next few shopping trips -- especially in groceries that cater to the Latino market.

#901 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 02:41 PM:

Lee (899): My mother always used margarine* when I was a kid**, because it was believed to be healthier. (It might have been cheaper, too; I don't know.) When I first encountered actual butter, I didn't like it; it was Different and therefore Wrong.

The thinking on which is healthier has changed, and now we're both using butter instead. I'm still not quite used to it being hard as a rock at refrigerator temperature.

*which we referred to as "butter"
**1960's and 70's

#902 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 02:48 PM:

RE baking, I picked up, on impulse, two neatly packaged units of Crisco shortening. The package pushes it as a substitute for butter in baked goods.

I'm going to be making a few batches of gingerbread cookies, from a mix.

Warnings? Suggestions?

#903 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:05 PM:

abi @ 898

I was apparently wrong, and I am sorry. My memory was that I searched unsuccessfully for cream for a long time, before figuring out[1] that it was with the milk, not in the refrigerator. I don't recall seeing refrigerated milk in France/Germany/Austria, but that isn't all of Europe. Also, I was a student, so was not looking systematically.

Lee @ 900
No, what I meant (and obviously said unclearly) is that non-UHT pasteurized milk isn't that common anymore. All the milk and cream I see in the grocery store refrigerator case except some of the organic and local producers are UHT pasteurized. This Horizon milk, for example, is "ultra-pasteurized", but not shelf-stable.

1) By finally thinking to ask for "the kind of cream you put in coffee"--"the kind of cream you put on fruit/desserts" having gotten me many varieties of sour cream.

2) Googling for information on pastuerization makes me wish for a post "Why We Pasteurize", to go with "Why We Vaccinate."

#904 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:15 PM:

#887 Angioportus
Making Light is someone's home page? WOW!
#897 SamChevre , #900 Lee
Parmalat and other prepackaged unrefrigerated brands of UHT milk are easily available in the USA at least at the supermarkets I go into, though not in packages larger than a quart. They tend to be in the same area as the canned condensed and canned condensed sweetened and powdered milk, and almond/soy etc. non-mammalian shelf stable"milk". Raw milk is generally not only not available, but not even legal to sell in most of the USA... cigarettes, high-fructose-corn-syrup-adulterated supposed food, Yellow Dyes and Red Dyes which are byproducts of oil refineries, etc. are ubiquitous in "food" in supermarkets along with lots of fats and Sucralose and... but you can';t buy truly raw almonds (either they;re pasteurized or gassed) in the USA which were grown in the USA (if you can find e.g. almonds from outside the USA they apparently can be raw and sold in the USA...), bitter almonds, and various other stuff, there are major legal restrictions on. Then there hemp beverages from hemp grown outside the USA --can't grow it here... might be mistaken for Evil Weed causing Reefer Madness....
The vast volume of the milk sold to consumers in the USA is pasteurized refrigerated "fresh" milk, as opposed to pasteurized dry powder, pasteurized or UHT condensed, or UHT shelf stable. Again, raw unpasteurized milk is not legally available to consumers in the USA. Some states changed laws to allow sales direct by farms to the public at the farm, but its not most states, and even cheese made from raw milk, wherein microbial activity kills the microbes which are the basis for the ban on raw milk and products made from unpasteurized milk, is prohibited in much of the USA...
The cream sold in most stores in the USA is ultrapasteurized. Also, milk and cream are homogenized here.

I don't quite understand why ghee--shelf stable butter, which one can take supermarket butter and process into ghee at home--melt the butter, skim off the foam, pour into a mold or jar, let cool, and pour off the stuff that doesn't solidify. What remains is shelf-stable at room temperature ghee....

#905 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:21 PM:

Pastuerization fine -- homogenization, not so much.

I'm pleased that we have a local dairy (Snowville Creamery) that does not homogenize their milk products. It's really nice to have whipping cream that performs the way it's supposed to...essential for good eggnog!

#906 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:32 PM:

Stefan Hones @ 902 -

While I'm a huge proponent of butter, there are some recipes that I can only get to work out right with shortening. One is Snickerdoodles, which I believe require both shortening and butter, and the other is ginger creams . Both of these are "nostalgia" recipes for me, and as with the use of margarine in my grandmother's rolls, may indeed taste better with butter, but still not taste "right".

For awhile, my favorite ever homemade chocolate chip cookies were made with that vile "butter flavored crisco" stuff. They were the only ones I could get to turn out fluffy and chewy and still brown at the bottom. I've been using the America's Test Kitchen recipe in which you melt the butter before even mixing and add a bunch of extra egg yolks. They turn out great and don't leave me with a bunch of "butter flavor" anything that I have to toss before it goes bad.

I'm not sure about using them in combination with mixes though. Maybe a more experienced baker can advise.

#907 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:34 PM:

Some of you might be interested, if you don't already know about it, in the auction of lovely things to help Terri Windling out of a fairly dire financial pit.

http://magick4terri.livejournal.com/?skip=40

#908 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:38 PM:

Eggnog...mmmm...eggnog

If you haven't made your Christmas eggnog yet, here's my recipe. I need to make a batch tonight.

5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Beat until thick and lemon-colored.

Add 1.5 cups Jamaican rum, 1 cup bourbon, 1 cup brandy, beat well, add 1 qt half-and-half.

Refrigerate at least 3 weeks. Top with grated nutmeg and drink.

I add a pinch of saffron, and imagine I can tell the difference.

#909 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:40 PM:

Open threadiness:

What do you call a government where the central bank gives massive secret loans to banks, and doesn't even tell the legislature? Probably one of those third-world kleptocracies, right?

#910 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:43 PM:

Sam Chevre @ 907 -

Add 1.5 cups Jamaican rum, 1 cup bourbon, 1 cup brandy, beat well, add 1 qt half-and-half.

Good God - leave that out for Santa and he's not gonna be able to get back in the sleigh. :)

Nevertheless, I copied it and will give it a try.

#911 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:48 PM:

Bruce wrote @#868 about Antonia @#861:

Now you're starting to sound like Nadrek the Palainian. Enough with the modesty, that was awesome.

It was (and is) indeed awesome. This moose was moved to send the link to MikeA (Tired old sysadmin) which elicited the following response:

FACEPALM! HEADDESK! It's bad enough that I have to expose myself to the
radiation from an uncontrolled fusion reactor pretty much every day. I
should have to read stuff like that, too? Seriously, it is damn good.

For other fun, there's always this., he said while running away very fast.

#912 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:54 PM:

Steve C @ #909, "leave that out for Santa and he's not gonna be able to get back in the sleigh."

Never fear, the evil World Government has regulated sleigh-driving and placed Breathalyzer equipment in each vehicle. If Santa fails the test, one of the reindeer (possibly Rudolph, since he's not mentioned by the sainted Clement Clarke Moore) is designated driver.

#913 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:58 PM:

This is officially All Xopher's Fault: introducing Chutney.

#914 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:12 PM:

"'Chutney,' said the voice, and I obeyed."

Well done, Mary Aileen! That is an adorable and very huggable bear.

#915 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:14 PM:

So where's Elliott Mason these days? Just popped into my brain over the weekend that I hadn't seen that by-line in a while, and a quick check of vab confirms: nothing since July.

#916 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:15 PM:

Om Gnome Gnome Gnome ...

#917 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:19 PM:

Mary Aileen, I'm delighted to be at fault for that! He (or she?) is adorable!

Something else I'm at fault for:

  1. Pour cream left over from recipes for the weekend into brown rice left over from Chinese lunch.
  2. Microwave for one minute.
  3. Remove from microwave, set on counter, and stir.
  4. Lift to put back in microwave, but drop it on one side first, then the other, so that the hot cream and rice mixture splatters on you and across most of the kitchen floor.
Who was it who asked me for my recipe for a horrible mess? Oh, that's right, no one. This one's pretty impressive, though.

#918 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:22 PM:

http://blog.sethroberts.net/2011/11/28/vitamin-d-more-reason-to-take-at-sunrise/

Some anecdotes that taking vitamin D in the evening can cause insomnia.

#919 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:22 PM:

SamChevre @903:

I apologize for biting your head off there. I have a twitch about Americans describing Exotic, Primitive or Futuristic Europe as though it's all one place. Though that's no excuse for bad manners.

#920 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:24 PM:

I have opened a suitably boozy Open thread 167 and am now getting quietly soused on it, waiting for you guys to come over and join me.

#921 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:27 PM:

Xopher @916, that does indeed sound like an impressive mess. Since you didn't mention burning yourself, I trust that it was hot but not scalding.

My dog would have been delighted at this. He has learned that if he's lying in the living room and I'm heard voicing Discouraging Words in the kitchen, it's worth his while to come check for dropped or spilled edibles.

#922 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 05:09 PM:

@915 So where's Elliott Mason these days?

I was thinking the same thing this week.

Their LJ is active, I just left a note :-)

#923 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 05:52 PM:

Thena @922: What's his handle over there?

#924 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 06:05 PM:

I saw Elliot two weeks ago, and he was fine then.

#925 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 06:10 PM:

Xopher (917): Chutney is a boy. I'm tempted to make him a (different-colored) sister, named Chenille. But I shall resist--at least until next fall, when I'll actually have time in my sewing schedule again.

#926 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 07:49 PM:

Angiportus #887, Paula Lieberman #904: I have so far resisted the urge to make ML my homepage, but sometimes I wonder why I bother, since I've always got it open anyhow... I've even read it on my iPhone, with the teeny screen and no friggin' scrollbar.

Mary Aileen #901: I'm still not quite used to it being hard as a rock at refrigerator temperature.

As I learned from my brother-in-law, butter doesn't actually need to be refrigerated, and if kept at room temperature (covered butter dish), it's nicely spready. On the flip side, keeping the "rest of the box" in the fridge helps keep it from getting squished or suchlike.

Jacque #915: You gave me a bit of a scare there, but checking his namelink reveals occasional posts on his LJ, including one from last week about being on Skype. I assume he's just busy.

#927 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 08:11 PM:

Knomed AGAIN, and not one URL, either.!!

#928 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 08:12 PM:

abi @ 919

No offense taken. It is useful to be reminded that the French view that Europe is just a larger version of France is rather a delusion.

Also, impulse understood, as I'm the same way about Mennonites/Amish and about the South. (No, really; Appalachia where I grew up and the Mississippi delta not very alike.)

#929 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 08:58 PM:

David Harmon (926): As seldom as I use butter, yes it needs to be refrigerated.

#930 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 09:52 PM:

917
Having, a couple of times, knocked over the plastic bowl in which the hard-bowled eggs were fridged and cracked one or more of the eggs (landing on the floor), I finally got a bread pan to put the eggs in. It at least has enough flat bottom to be reasonably stable when I'm being clumsy.

#931 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 11:01 PM:

Single-post history; goes to an innocuous website that disavows all knowledge of the poster. Not a good sign.

#932 ::: Tom Whitmore sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 11:39 PM:

Thought I'd marked that as spam last time. Appears not to have taken....

#933 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 03:44 AM:

Xopher@864: That's not so much the issue, as just that when a bunch of people have spoken already I feel like adding my own response would just be cluttering the place up.

#934 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 09:35 AM:

Paula Lieberman #866: Eek, that's a big one even for you... four solid pages on my usual screen layout!

But yeah, self-serving technocrats are indeed a much lesser evil than the guys who've (1) publicly declared than their intention is to destroy the government of America, and (2) backed that up with action, by methodically wrecking any parts they could gain power over.

#935 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 02:08 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 913, if my whittling skills were better and my meagre store of manual creativity were not being absorbed by repairs to The Sweater [http://thesweater.blogspot.com], I would set to work right away carving a woody Ginger in Chutney's honor.

As it is, I may just use the next set of trimmings from The Sweater to make a TheSweatery teddy bear.

#936 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 02:16 PM:

albatross @ 909:

Oh right, that's the Banker's Republic of Hypocristan.

#937 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 02:51 PM:

John M. Burt (935): That's quite a Sweater! Wow!

#938 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 04:16 PM:

David 933: Speaking as someone who has needed the good wishes big time, every single one helps...until it starts to feel overwhelming. And that's a different point for each person, so I see your dilemma.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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