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December 5, 2012

Open thread 179
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 09:30 AM *

I’ve been thinking a lot about bridges, lately.

There’s a new bridge east of Centraal Station, constructed as part of a general renewal of the area around my office. I was walking along it a few weeks ago and noticed a padlock hanging from one of the tensioned cables below the handrail. Biking cities like Amsterdam are usually full of abandoned locking infrastructure, so I thought no more about it. But further along, I came across another, then a third.

I stopped and looked more closely, and realized that each of them had initials scratched or engraved on it. I did a little research and stumbled upon a new custom that’s slowly spreading through Europe from the east: love padlocks. In Serbia, couples have been using locks on bridges as markers of their relationships since before World War 2. In Rome, the weight of padlocks left by readers of Federico Moccia’s 2006 novel Ho voglia di te bent the lampposts of the Ponte Milvio. (The city has now put up chain fences for the locks instead.) Officials in Dublin and Paris have been removing them from local bridges, to predictable outcry. In Amsterdam, by the looks of things, space is being made for the new tradition.

Watching the spread of this custom reminds me that the backs of the Euro banknotes all carry pictures of bridges. That’s ironic: we’re struggling, here, with how far we can build connections across economies and cultures. Will the weight of our common bonds bend and distort the things that connect us beyond repair? Will we find ways to accommodate our differences, or must we cut our locks? This isn’t just between nations; the Dutch election result this last autumn was a comprehensive rejection of divisive politics and a demand by the electorate that the two sides of the spectrum reach across the gap between them.

In the meantime, I read that the Pope now has a Twitter account, @pontifex. He has, at the time of writing, over 475,000 followers, but it is only following seven versions of himself in different languages. This strikes me as poignant and telling.

But bridges have been being built in Rome for a long time. A single arch of the oldest Roman stone bridge, the Pons Aemilius, still stands in the Tiber. The piers date back to 179* BC, and the current stone superstructure has lasted since 142 BC. Water has flowed under that old arch, under the feet of emperors, popes, soldiers, politicians, rebels, and lovers, for a very long time. I suspect the lovers have changed the least, and will last the longest.

Of course, the internet is a bridge too, in a way. And I’d like to take a moment to affix a virtual padlock to it today: AS + ML, five years on. (*throws key into the bitstream*)

* Why yes, you do see what I did there.

Continued from Open thread 178

Continued in Open Thread 180
Comments on Open thread 179:
#1 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 09:44 AM:

Congratulations, Abi. I love you.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 09:58 AM:

TexAnne @1:


#4 ::: Tiercelet ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 10:50 AM:

Congratulations, and here's to five more years of posts!

Since it's an open thread, permit me to share my favorite poem about love and bridges:

Mirabeau Bridge (G. Apollinaire)

Beneath Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine
And our love
Must memory remain
For joy forever followed after pain

Let the night come and the hour sound its name
The days flow by I remain

Hands held in hands let us stand face to face
While there beneath
The bridge of our embrace
The weary waves of endless gazes race

Let the night come and the hour sound its name
The days flow by I remain

Love moves on as these waters flow
Love moves on
As life is slow
And violent is the only Hope we know

Let the night come and the hour sound its name
The days flow by I remain

Days pass weeks pass as time slow turns
Not time gone past
Nor love returns
Beneath Mirabeau bridge the Seine churns

Let the night come and the hour sound its name
The days flow by I remain

#5 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 11:08 AM:

My SFnal mind reads Pontifex, and wonders why Valentine isn't in front of it.

#6 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 11:29 AM:

Manda@940/178: I think "dense", at least when I talk of reading, as opposed to "light" or "fluff". Please note, I don't disparage fluff - after a week reading bridge system notes, unix man pages and python class descriptions, reading something where the pages just fly by with little requirement from the brain than "oh, this is fun" is The Right Thing.

But dense can be fun, too - I think of Steven Erikson's Malazan books, which are both each 1200 pages long, and so dense that if you lose concentration and miss a couple of paragraphs, two pages later you're totally lost, and have to go back and try again. As a book-a-day reader, it takes 3-4 weeks to get through one of those.

But I don't know if "dense" in the pattern of "information requiring processing per unit time/page" is quite what you're looking for - not only are the films you're discussing heavy in stuff-to-process, the stuff itself is also heavy (as opposed to, say Trainspotting where you have to pay a lot of attention to keep track of the characters and relationships, but the relationships themselves aren't really that weighty).

Am I making sense?

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 11:35 AM:

I'm currently reading a draft text in which "bridge" keeps being misspelt as "bride". I'm wondering if this is what an old friend used to call a "Freudian petticoat".

#8 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 11:48 AM:

From last thread: @Dave Bell, how is the foot doing a few weeks on?

#9 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 11:57 AM:

Abi, congratulations and best wishes to you both!

#10 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:00 PM:

According to the Guiness Book of Records, the oldest surviving bridge in the world is in Smyrna, Turkey, and dates from c850BC. The oldest iron bridge still used for vehicular traffic is in Buckinghamshire, England, and dates from 1810.

#11 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:04 PM:

#7 Fragano:

This is Frankenstein* Trestle in Crawford Notch.

That is to say, it is indeed the Bridge of Frankenstein.


*Named after a local painter.

#12 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:20 PM:

The words "Dutch election result" are linked to a page of images of banknotes. Given the overall level of thoughtfulness and writerly craft that went into this post, I'm tempted to interpret this as a subtle political commentary, but on balance I think it may just be a perseveration from the immediately preceding link.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:21 PM:

Jim Macdonald #11: *snort*

#14 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:22 PM:

Speaking of love and bridges, we cannot forget the classic love song to a bridge:
"Beautiful new railway bridge of the Silvery Tay
With your strong brick piers and buttresses in so grand array,
And your thirteen central girders, which seem to my eye
Strong enough all windy storms to defy."

With, of course, a tragic sequel.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:24 PM:

Across the gully is another place:
a different world with silver roughbarked trees
where stubborn beasts resist you on their knees,
while walls and fences leave a proper trace
for those bewildered. Nature shows her face
in complicated motions that each sees
in the raw colours and the harsh decrees
that come upon us with the morning's grace.
So this is recollection of the sight
from high above Broad River as the grey
of false dawn marks the ending of the night;
but here and now the moment cannot stay.
We've paid hard cash for all that we have lost
and got no credit for the hills we've crossed.

#16 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:34 PM:

Dave Harmon writes, at 955 in the last open thread: "XKCD has just namechecked something called "Ingress", which from the video on their site, appears to be a smartphone-mediated LARP. Interesting... the question is whether they can keep it from descending into a morass of "pay a bit more for the tools you would otherwise spend next week earning, or a lot more for stuff you can show off"."

Ingress is a Google labs project, basically. Given that the "pay for premium stuff" morass you reference is pretty much orthogonal to Google's business model, I doubt it will end up in that particular morass -- especially given that Google has a pretty consistent strategy of "collect vast amounts of data; do interesting things with data; provide useful things with the results; sell advertising based on the useful things." Instead, it will no doubt find new and fascinating failure modes along the way.

Here's a New Scientist article about it, but I figure Charlie Stross's Halting State is probably also a semi-accurate exploration of what such a game may be useful for.

#17 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 12:37 PM:

In other random aspects of our glorious future that seem worth sharing, I noticed that our local police department is overusing Instagram's "tilt-shift" filter on the photos that they post to Google+ (and presumably also Facebook) to tell people where they are running speed traps....

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:05 PM:

Q Pheevr @12:

Thanks for the heads-up. Fixed.

#19 ::: Dave Bell updates on his foot ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:06 PM:

It might shock a few people who see it, still an open wound, but it is shrinking steadily, and the official description is "healing well".

The dressing is now being changed every three or four days, and, while I might need some physiotherapy because of limited ankle movement, I can see things being essentially settled by Christmas.

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:14 PM:

Dave Brubeck has gone to the great piano bar in the sky.

#21 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:19 PM:

Dave Bell @ 19: That's great news! Here's to the continued shrinking of the hole and no infection.

#22 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:19 PM:

Dave Bell, that is excellent news! Much simpler than learning to use a new leg/foot.

Onward and upward!

#23 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:24 PM:

@pontifex has nothing on @DalaiLama; 5 million followers and doesn't follow anyone.

#24 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:52 PM:

Dave Bell @19, thank you for the update, and I hope your prediction that it will (almost) all be over by Christmas is fulfilled.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:53 PM:

Dave Bell #19: That's wonderful news.

#26 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 01:53 PM:

Jim's Diffraction about kinds of corn is interesting, but leads to a number of questions: First, at the time the National Seed Laboratory had more varieties of beets than corn. I wonder whether that's a reflection of what they think needs saving, or what they could get permission to cross, or the actual amount of variety in the crops.

Second, its data are from 1983. Have things gotten better or worse since then?

Third, as often, What do you mean by "we"? Does this mean Americans have access to 12 types of corn, or American commercial farmers, or is it actually reflective of what farmers worldwide have?

At which point I do a quick search, and find a Wikipedia article listing 87 varieties of sweet corn, by my quick count: I'm not counting those that have more than one kind of genetics on a single ear. The list explicitly excludes those that are available only to large commercial growers (such as Bt corn).

Most of these are hybrids, and may not be in the National Seed Laboratory.

The list doesn't include other sorts of corn, such as field corn (for cattle) and popcorn. And this is a very quick google, no idea how it reflects maize grown elsewhere in the world. (I am supposed to be doing job hunting stuff, not researching maize, but you may have just eaten my afternoon.)

Yes, there's less variety in our crops than there was 100 years ago, and that is a real problem. But that nice graphic doesn't really tell us how much less (even assuming it's solider than the one on sf publishing that was recently taken apart here).

#27 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 02:06 PM:

Territorial seed has something like 25 varieties of corn, and they specialize in PNW varieties of veggies, which wouldn't be prime corn growing climate.

#28 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 02:41 PM:

While it is true that there has been an appalling decrease in the numbers of varieties of food crops offered for commercial sale, the graphic is misleading.

Some information from Seed Savers Exchange and The Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

#29 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 03:00 PM:

Vicki @26, "we" here is woefully misleading - it actually refers to the number in one seed bank but suggests that it's all there is. Seed Savers Exchange alone lists 171 varieties of corn available from members and sells 18 in its catalog (not all are sweet corn, but given the otherwise dubious nature of the graphic I'm not convinced the compiler knew the difference). It's even starker for tomatoes; the graphic claims ~80 varieties, while SSE members offer over 4,000. There were probably close to 80 varieties of tomatoes being grown at our community garden alone.

The lack of diversity in commercially-available seed is indeed disturbing, as others have noted but saying "only 17 varieties of corn are left!" suggests that the rest are extinct, rather than available through other sources or outside the US (I suspect the corn diversity in Mexico has always dwarfed that in the US, for instance.)

#30 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 03:01 PM:

Probably an errant space which is my usual problem. Would the gnomes care for some tomatoes from one of those heirloom varieties under discussion? Not fresh, it is after all December, but homegrown, slow-roasted, and frozen.

#31 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 03:07 PM:

Word. (But try explaining this to my boss.)

#32 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 03:32 PM:

Hmm...the first Bridge of Love that I've ever seen in person was in Helsinki. At first, I wasn't sure what it was because I only saw a lock or two and assumed that people were just claiming a place to keep their bicycles or perhaps that the chains were snipped.

It's kind of sweet, but I'm not too happy with the littering aspect of it all.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 03:55 PM:

Speaking of love, bridges, and such...

Nine years ago today, Gail and I got hitched. Still going, like a certain pink rabbit.

#34 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 04:02 PM:

Jeff Millar, co-creator of Tank McNamara, has died.

Brooks, #16: After reading the article, all I can think is that this sounds a lot like golf -- something a lot of people will spend a lot of money to do, but for me it's just a way to ruin a perfectly good walk.

#35 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 04:02 PM:

Possibly for excess spaces.

#36 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 04:11 PM:

Jacque @31. Oh hells yes. I have had opportunity to find out that given a basement apartment with limited sunlight and no reason to be anywhere at any particular time, I run a 26-hour day; at least until I'm going to sleep around 0730 and getting up at noon; then it sticks until I pull an "all-day"er and go to bed around 1730. Then the cycle begins again...

I Just Love Mornings.

#37 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 04:16 PM:

So before I blog a righteous yet cliche screed (my specialty!) can anyone point me to the Declaration of the War on Xmas? As someone who was an atheist at about the time I started hearing yammering about it, I would have thought I'd have a memo or something lying around from Atheists Local 174 informing me of my orders re: eradicating Xmas. My hypothesis is that The War On Xmas, as well as being sooooo tiresome AGAIN, is a war against a Straw Man. I mean, who the hell told Christians they couldn't wish people "Merry Christmas" as they saw fit? On the off chance that I did miss a memo*, and all non-Christians have mobilized against Christians and begun to Oppress them (I guess "us" since 2010) in earnest and I am about to be court martial'd for desertion, I'd hate to go out screaming STRAW MAN when there is, in fact, legal Oppression (", help, I'm being oppressed!") happening.

* I am sometimes CC'd on Gay Agenda items. The last one I saw was something to do with Laundry.

#38 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 04:58 PM:

If you're already listened to Take Five, try Unsquare Dance.

#39 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 05:01 PM:

@Dave Bell at #19, that sounds very encouraging. There's a morris-dancer's exercise that you might try, while sitting down: draw the letters of the alphabet in the air with your big toe, one after the other. It's supposed to improve flexibility.

In other news, local mathematician cannot find any unique properties of the number 179. It's all three major kinds of prime (Euclidean, Gaussian, Eisenstein), but all primes that are one less than a multiple of 12 are that, so it's not very special.

#40 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 05:15 PM:

nerdycellist @37: Taking that as a real question, although it reads like a rhetorical one, I think the most likely place to look for "who the hell told Christians they couldn't wish people "Merry Christmas" as they saw fit" would be in policy memos in corporations and probably smaller government-run organizations, where the letters will pretty much be saying, "You cannot wish people 'Merry Christmas' while acting as a voice of this organization."

(Yes, much of the management doing this will be middle managers who are displaying limited intelligence and melodrama. This doesn't mean the memos don't have an effect.)

Another place to look is for things where people have started taking a joke seriously and self-policing; a serious comment of "some people aren't Christian and are bothered to be wished 'Merry Christmas'" gets mocked by a joke of "You can't say that, someone will be offended!", which becomes a running joke that gets repeated, and then starts getting taken seriously by a few people who like to police others, and then you've got real objections (usually by people who are have no reason of their own to be offended). See also "political correctness".

Also mixed into the "War on Christmas" gestalt is the fact that Madison Avenue is waging an extremely high-energy campaign to make Christmas about Buying All The Things, and has been for a century -- and this campaign has very little place for anything people think of as the True Meaning of Christmas except insofar as it serves consumerism. It's a different thing, sure, but I don't think you can talk about the "War on Christmas" without talking about the way many people experience their definition of the holiday being overwritten by the popular-media narrative -- and about how this results in all sorts of skirmishes where people try to define what the holiday is and is not ("The true meaning is Christ! Your gift-giving is irrelevant crass consumerism!") that also hit bystanders and attack their experience of the holiday.

For that matter, I don't think you can just ignore the fact that there is a significant market in "Happy Holidays!" cards that don't say "Christmas". Is it "War on Christmas" when someone sends one to someone who would prefer to be wished "Merry Christmas"? Probably not as such, but it's part of the same background narrative, and many people send them when what they mean is approximately, "I'd wish you a merry Christmas but I don't want to be Christmas-centric about it so I won't invoke it by name." And, while not being an explicit statement, it still has an effect of being social pressure to change one's own phrasings likewise.

No, there isn't a formal memo from On High saying that Christmas is to be eradicated. That's silly. But its absence doesn't mean there's not something with the same effect going on -- much as the fact that there is no Republican policy document about the War on Women doesn't mean that any supposed coherent Republican Party antipathy towards women is a pure strawman.

#41 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 05:28 PM:

Mycroft W @36: I Just Love Mornings.

Though, as Colin Roald has pointed out, they're much easier to hit coming from the other side.

#42 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 05:43 PM:

Thanks, Brooks Moses @#40 - it may have sounded rhetorical, but that's the kind of thing I was looking for. The eye-rolling "Oh, this is so PC" snark gets my dander up - in the same way, say, reflexive anti-ecumenicism does. Whom does it harm to be more inclusive? And why is "Holidays" all of a sudden taken as an invasive form of secularism, as if it doesn't denote "Christmas and New Years" to many, as well as "the holiday of your choice" to others.

I certainly find the rampant consumerism that has come to define this Season (at least in the US) an actual part of the War on Christmas, but somehow that's not what the gripers are griping about. They're griping that stores have signage that says "Happy Holidays", and that cashiers have been instructed also to say "Happy Holidays" and that the President sends out a card that doesn't say "Christmas". (they were probably the same people who complained he didn't specifically mention God and Jesus in his Thanksgiving message.) The implication seems to be that it's the Liberals who are MAKING them not mention Christmas, ever.

Of course, were I to be the tiresome pedant that I was born to be, I would remind anyone complaining that unless they celebrate Christ's Mass by attending Mass, they are in fact celebrating something else like Baby Jesus Day. And it is actually Advent until 12/25, so the cashiers and signage should all be Advent-related anyway.

#43 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 05:50 PM:

ACW @ #39:
What's Special About This Number? notes that 179 has a square composed (in base 10) of the digits from 0 to 4. (There appears to be only one other positive integer with this exact characteristic.)

#44 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 05:56 PM:

re 26: Totally Tomatoes (impressively misnamed, as they have a huge selection of pepper varieties as well) carries 174 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, above and beyond the hybrid varieties. Now, tomatoes are a special case: the interest in heirloom tomatoes is very high, and in 1983 there was not nearly as much interest. But as far as what the consumer grower sees, the number of offerings is very demand-driven if breeding allows. I can remember the days when your potato choices were russet Burbank, Katahdin, some other Maine variety I forget, and Red Pontiac. Period. Then Yukon Gold came along, and the fingerling method was developed, and all of a sudden there was a lot of interest in home potato growing, and the potato offerings shot up. At the same time the only change to kohlrabi growing was the advent of the "Kossac" variety a few years back, because there just isn't that much interest.

The other side of all of this is that the major commercial breeders have vast reserves which dwarf any other private or public seed bank, including all the lines which need to be maintained to produce all those hybrids. There's certainly a control issue in that, and one of these days something is going to happen and one of the big boys is going to fail, and maintenance of their seed bank is going to suddenly be a hot issue. But the notion that the small size of non-profit and public seed banks reflects actual biodiversity is quite unrealistic. What's on the market and what's in these private banks is a small fraction of what's out there.

#45 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 05:59 PM:

Brooks Moses @40, in re making Christmas about Buying All the Things... One of the mess of emails I received this morning was from a clothing store (whom I shall allow to remain nameless). Their "come buy all the things" message included the exciting-to-them news that their stores would open at 7am during some portion of the holiday season. My first (and to be honest, only) response was to wonder why anyone needed to shop for cheap holiday clothing at 7am - wouldn't 9am, or noon, or even 8pm, be perfectly adequate?

#46 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 06:28 PM:

Brooks, #40: There have been multiple reports of such memos... and without exception, when investigated, they have been proven to be false. The "War on Christmas" was singlehandedly made up out of whole cloth by Bill O'Reilly a few years ago, in a shameless attempt to grab for ratings by making stupid people angry.

#47 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 06:36 PM:

re myself: I would also take with a gigantic grain of salt the claim that there were (for instance) 338 meaningfully different varieties of muskmelon back in 1903. You have to consider that in 1903 there were a lot of very minor seed companies of dubious repute: there were a lot more Gurney's in those days, and not really that many more Burpee's or Landreth's.

#48 ::: hapax ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 07:05 PM:

nerdycellist#42: "And it is actually Advent until 12/25, so the cashiers and signage should all be Advent-related anyway."

Here in the Bible Belt, I have been known to respond to the rote "Merry Christmas" with "May you have a sober and penitent Advent" (depending on how aggressively the a-seasonal greeting is delivered)

#49 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 07:16 PM:

President Reagan sent cards saying things like "With warmest holiday wishes," and nobody said boo.

#50 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 07:16 PM:

It's so tough to explain; there's a difference between someone offering to pray for me, or wishing me a Merry Christmas and someone telling me they'll Pray For Me in a way that implies it's because I'm sinful, and wishing people a Merry Christmas in a sneering, superior tone seems like the ultimate in Taking the Lord's Name In Vain.

Luckily here in L.A. I don't get a lot of that. I've wished people "Happy Holidays" ever since I worked retail and the "holiday music" started early and the long shifts and days just ran into eachother until I couldn't remember if Thanksgiving had happened or if we were already on to the New Year. Any sincere wish of good tidings for ANY holiday is appreciated. Except Mother's Day. I have no idea when that sort of blanket well-wishing at anyone who presented female started, and I wish it would die a happy death already.

#51 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 08:00 PM:

nerdycellist @42

I'd like to elaborate a bit on the "War on Christmas" thing, if I may. I'm almost afraid to write about this, but Making Light is one of the safest places on the internet, so here goes.

The big thing I've seen played up this year is the idea that atheists want Christmas eliminated as a federal holiday.

At first, my reaction was "Ha ha, that's got to be made up." But then I did a little googling, and at least one highly visible atheist advocacy org opposes Christmas as a federal holiday, and that... I feel like that's counter-productive in more ways than one. I'm usually very strongly in favor of moves towards less religion in our schools and government. I want "under God" removed from the pledge of allegiance (for other reasons than purely "Church and state" ones, but still!), I think that holiday displays on federal grounds should be diverse and also include secular symbols. And I don't think there's a war on Christmas...

Except when I hear someone say that it shouldn't be a federal holiday. The thought of losing it as a federal holiday gives me some small insight into what the "War on Christmas" people may be feeling. It makes me feel the same kind of generic, pointless worry I feel when someone talks about eliminating social security. It makes me feel sad for all the hypothetical workers who might end up having to work on Christmas. I think eliminating Christmas as a federal holiday would likely prevent working families from getting together during the holidays as easily, and the thought of that makes me cry... in the same way that stories about people having to give up their Thanksgiving to work "Black Thursday" made me cry.

Now, I'm going to take a step back. I know that, politically, this isn't going to be viable any time soon. I also recognize that there is a parallel effort to just change the name of the holiday, printing "December 25th" rather than "Christmas" on official government calendars. I have no problem with that idea. But the American Atheists page I link above, under the heading marked "A Federal Religious Holiday?" makes it very clear that their desire is that the federal government, banks, and businesses should not shut down on that day, and... well...

I read that, and all I hear is "A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!"

Christmas is a weird melange of the secular and the religious, and because of that it's very hard to look at it objectively and unemotionally. I recently joked that we should just take a chunk of five days in December, encompassing both the most common days for solstice and December 25th, and call it "It's dark outside, take some days off, figure it out yourself."

I know that the elimination of Christmas as a federal holiday isn't something that all atheists advocate, but when I see that argument laid out on the website of an atheist organization that's fairly prominent in the media, it's a little upsetting. I feel like it's hurting the cause of secularism in America, feeding the flames of the unreasonable and the angry. It feels almost... almost... and this is what I am most hesitant to say... like trolling.

And that's where the War on Christmas comes from... the scripted, intentionally explosive clashes between the most extreme members of both sides, creating a big noisy fracas that the rest of us just wish would go away so we could get on with shopping and charity work and spending time with our families.

#52 ::: Leah Miller has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 08:01 PM:

It was a post I was very wary of making, so maybe the gnomes know better than I.

#53 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 08:02 PM:

Mycroft W @36: I don't live in a basement apartment, but the second-floor one I do live in has a northern exposure -- and I've been there. I recently bought an alarm clock that lights up with a bluish LED when it goes off, and can be set to turn on the LED softly and ramp it up for some amount of time beforehand. I'm hoping that'll help. (I'd like to get on a schedule something like bed at 3AM and up at 11, regularly.)

#54 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 08:45 PM:

oliviacw @45, I don't particularly want cheap holiday clothing, but I head to work after a kid catches the school bus at 6:35 am, and running into the store for a half hour at 7:00 would probably be far less disruptive to the daily schedule than trying to work a trip around dinner and homework and various other activities. I've often wished the library opened early one morning a week.

#55 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 08:45 PM:

Brooks Moses at 16:

I envision a lot of guys on smartphones walking around oblivious to the world and saying "mind if I play through?" like Bob Hope did.

#56 ::: Goob ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 09:48 PM:

In Pittsburgh, we take our bridges fairly seriously (when a bunch of bridge engineers hold a conference, they hold it on a boat in Pittsburgh, looking up). We have many websites devoted to the hotly debated number of bridges around here, including one which I think is particularly good. Here, let me link to it a lot.

We buried a bridge and put a fountain on it.

We turned a rail bridge once used to slide hot metal from furnace to mill (and built to handle the load) into a link for a pedestrian/bike trail (now somewhat over-engineered).

Sometimes bridges need to be replaced: unfortunately, they'll be blowing this one up in a couple of years. From what I understand, the plan is to cover the interstate below with seven feet of soil; that's how your protect a roadway from falling blown-up bridge. It's a lovely old bridge, and an important traffic connector, and the concussion wave is probably going to break our windows.

Every work day, my commute takes me over this bridge, at least once, sometimes twice. Standing guard at the four corners of the bridge are bronze statues of panthers. Sometimes, the locals dress up the panthers to reflect the season.

At the moment, they are all wearing santa hats.

#57 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2012, 10:01 PM:

Leah Miller @ 51

"It's dark outside, take some days off, figure it out yourself"

Here, the holiday is "It's midsummer, take a few public holidays extra to your four weeks annual leave, and don't come back till mid-January, okay?" Well for most of us. Can't come soon enough for me...

#58 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 12:09 AM:

On early-morning timing: the local blood folks recently changed their hours from 9-5 weekdays to a mix of 9-5, 7-3, and 12-7 or so. It means that instead of dashing in after school having not eaten anything since lunch, I can have a hearty snack and head in at five, still able to do a triple platelet donation. It's not as nice as waking up in the morning and giving blood, but I can totally understand why people would want to be there early.

#59 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:35 AM:

Leah, #51: Let's try a little thought experiment here. Instead of thinking about this from the standpoint of the atheists, let's think about it from the standpoint of the Jews. If you're Jewish, in order to take the religiously required day off for your own most sacred holiday, you have to give up a vacation day, or a personal day, or (if you're especially unlucky in your employer) a sick day. And then you look at the Christians, and you see that the whole bloody country shuts down for THEIR special holiday. (And BTW, we'd be looking at the same fuss over Easter were it not for the fact that Easter is always on a day when banks and Federal offices are already closed.)

Lather, rinse, repeat for every other religion that doesn't celebrate Christmas but does have another day that's considered especially sacred.

This isn't about being stingy. It's about religious PRIVILEGE, and the fact that even though there isn't supposed to be such a thing in our government, you can't really call having just one religion's Sacred Day recognized as a legal holiday anything else.

#60 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:36 AM:

For a response to Leah -- maybe we used the same Word of Power?

#61 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:57 AM:

Lee @59, on the other hand, let's imagine that we eliminated Christmas as a federal holiday, and gave all federal workers an extra paid holiday to make up for it. How many of them would take Christmas off anyway? Would there be enough people left to keep any federal services (mail delivery and the like) running?

Here in NYC, the public schools move spring break around to cover Passover every year, because enough teachers are Jewish that it's easier to do that than to keep the schools open those days.

In theory, no one religion's holidays should get special treatment. In practice, there's a difference between a holiday celebrated by 80% of your population, and one celebrated by 1%.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:59 AM:

Lee @60:

Nope. Leah's URL has a format that the filters catch on, and you got gnomed because not everyone who talks about "the Jews" does it...well.

#63 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 06:51 AM:

Here in the UK, for the past decade there's been the Winterval myth, or How Birmingham Banned Christmas. ('Winterval' is actually not a bad portmanteau word: the city of Waterford in the not-entirely-unChristian RoI of which I previously knew only two things, that it manufactures glass and that Val Doonican comes from there, now offers Waterford Winterval.)

#64 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 07:56 AM:

I'm inclined to think that "Winterval" is an awkward word, and "Winterfest" might have been better. But I don't know if that's because the "fest" suffix was around at the time, or it's a later development, and I am just more used to it. Either way, I don't think it would have stopped the press, who are a pretty despicable bunch.

I can't say that I am all that comfortable with the heavy commercial promotion of Christmas. Lincoln, which goes back to Roman times, should maybe just have a Saturnalia Market and be done with it. That event is an annual heaving mass of people, barely able to move around the market, and it just seems to be that step too far.

I am not sure what I am going to do about The Nobbit because it sounds to be that bit too stretched a film project for the size of the book, and it isn't something I would chance before my leg gets healed over. But there is always Doctor Who.

And I am sure that the cinemas are hoping for the sort of business that justifies a long run of The Hobbit. I just have this feeling that somebody should have stuffed Peter Jackson head-first in a barrel and sent him down the river. I don't think Thorin is the one singing about gold.

#65 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 09:27 AM:

re 59: In point of fact I have to take off the second/third most sacred Christian holiday off unless it happens to coincide with the beginning of Passover. My school kids do get off that week and Easter Monday as well, as dictated by the state; they also get the high holy days off in the fall because, in the seventh most Jewish county in the country (if you believe Wikipedia's source) it is politically impossible not to do so. It would make more sense in one direction to close the schools for the first day of Passover, Good Friday, and the first day of Ramadan (one of the local high schools does close for the latter, because otherwise there are too many fights from hungry kids who haven't adjusted to the routine yet), but the tradition of having a week off in the spring is too hard to fight, and they've already given up a week of August to gain Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur. We already have enough building tradition of "commerce is more important than religion or for that matter anything else" without getting the government in on the act.

#66 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 09:36 AM:

Avram @61:

The local school district here takes a similar pragmatic approach to religious holidays - if more than some percentage of students or teachers would be out on a particular day, they don't have school that day. This means that as well as the winter break they have (for instance) both Good Friday and Yom Kippur off. (I know that they're off for other major Jewish holidays as well, but not having a kid in school I don't remember which ones.) This doesn't work so well in a situation where there isn't a large enough concentration of Jewish students, but it does allow a secular institution to acknowledge religious holidays without needing a religiously-based reason for the closure.

#67 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 09:37 AM:

I suspect for a similar reason to that mentioned above, that mentions of a particular religion come in for extra scrutiny.

#68 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 09:42 AM:

lorax @67:

Nope. Ordinary spaces. "Jewish" is OK. So is "Jews". It's "the Jews" that sinks a comment, because that is so often a marker of a particularly repugnant sentiment.

#69 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 11:19 AM:

Re: Federal Holidays

What few remember is that once upon a time the Federal government had Good Friday as a federal holiday. It was eliminated from the schedule (along with Flag Day and Lincoln's Birthday) when they modified the day(s) that Memorial Day, Veteran's Day and Columbus Day are celebrated.

#70 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 11:23 AM:

I have very fond memories of bridges from my childhood, but they're all the sort made entirely for pedestrians. (There were certainly plenty of other types; I just didn't much care about them.)

My favorite was the long, thin suspension bridge that went over a particular river...canyon? Valley? Gorge? I'm not really sure what you call an extremely steep angle down into the earth, with plenty of vegetation on each side.

Anyway. Suspension bridge. It started at ground level, and once you'd unlocked the gate (it was between two missionary compounds, and also considered too dangerous to leave open to any kid wandering across) you were, about three steps out, on actual suspended metal. And then three steps beyond that, the bushes were beneath you. And maybe a dozen small steps beyond that, the tree tops were below your feet...

It was a very deep...whatever you call it. Some of this is because it's fixed in my early childhood memory, but I went back there as an adult, and, no, really, a bridge that runs you over the tops of trees, even ones that aren't true jungle height, is going over a pretty damn deep gap. The builders set chain link on the sides of the bridge, so you couldn't just topple over without some real climbing effort, but it was still pretty spooky to look down, and hear the river but not be able to see it through the shadowed tree tops.

Naturally, as kids, the best thing in the world was to run the full length of the bridge as fast as possible while someone else jumped up and down on it, so that the whole surface made big bouncing waves that really felt like they might catapult you over the sides.

I don't think we told the adults about that part when we were arguing for being old enough to have our own key copy for going across the bridge.

#71 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 12:09 PM:

David Goldfarb @53: alarm clock that lights up with a bluish LED when it goes off, and can be set to turn on the LED softly and ramp it up for some amount of time beforehand.

::ears perk up::

Coupla questions: does it make audible clicks as it comes on? What's the brand name?

I'd like to get on a schedule something like bed at 3AM and up at 11, regularly.

Oh dear Ghu, if only.... That tends to be my natural—well, close to my natural cycle. I tend to go 4am to noon. But still. ::whinge::

#72 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 12:42 PM:

Jacque: The brand name is "Soleil Sun Alarm". I got it at a discount from Groupon. It can be set to a radio station, or to make one of four different nature noises -- although so far it's always seemed to do "Babbling Brook" despite my attempts to set it to a different one.

My schedule previously has been 5-7 AM asleep, 1-3 PM awake, and sometimes even things like 5AM-3PM. The thing is that getting up at 3, even really getting up at 1, leaves me with not enough time in the regular day.

#73 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 12:49 PM:

Ah, gradually increasing light alarm clocks, how I love you.

I have a dawn simulator alarm clock (golden-yellow light). I love it with ridiculous delight. It wakes me up gently and gradually, markedly reducing how much I feel like hell on winter mornings.

My light life has been further enhanced by switching from the gigantic bright white light light box to blue LEDs. After a trip to the US last January, when all I had was a blue LED light box and had no SAD symptoms at all, I made my own in a mint tin.

And now I have two, one for home and one for work (it's small enough not to be disruptive to my colleagues), and my SAD symptoms were, until last week, almost entirely in abeyance.

(Last week it all went to hell, because we're getting some work done on the house, and I spent too much time Sorting Things Out To and Fro and too little time Staying Where the Light Was Blue. Getting better.)

#74 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 12:50 PM:

How much of a problem is it when the dates of Passover and Good Friday are not the same?

(Christian Easter: timed from the first full moon following a fixed date, approximating the vernal equinox. Passover uses the actual date of the vernal equinox. Have I got that right? I don't think the 1-day difference that can happen matters very often, but I recall one year there was some discussion on RASFF because they didn't coincide.)

It looks complicated.

#75 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:10 PM:

Dave Bell @74: Passover doesn't care that much about the equinox, it's based on a lunar calendar with some corrections to keep spring festivals vaguely in the spring. Most years it's "out" from Easter by only a few days, more than one because Easter has to be Friday to Sunday and Passover can be on most days of the week. This usually means it's possible to have some time off during Passover when the Christian(ish) majority are closing things for Easter anyway, but Jews don't really want random time off during the week of Passover, they want the first day and the last day (or the first and second and the last two if Orthodox). Also not all employers are really happy with employees taking holidays just a few days before or after a big national holiday.

Some years Passover is "out" from Easter by an entire month, because the Jewish system of correcting the lunar calendar for the solar year is to add intercalary (leap) months, and that doesn't always match with Easter's equinox approximation. And in that case, Jewish employees definitely have to use their holiday allowance, with whatever restrictions the employers put on that.

#76 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:12 PM:

Dave Bell at 74: I don't understand your question. The Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) say that the historical "Last Supper" was the Passover meal, and it took place on the Thursday night before the day Christ was crucified, which was Good Friday. During the meal, Jesus asked his disciples to commemorate him in a ritual which required eating bread and drinking wine, which most Christians understand to be the institution of the Eucharistic meal -- Holy Communion. John's Gospel states that Jesus's last meal with his disciples prior to his crucifixion actually took place on the day he was crucified, and describes, among other things, the washing of the disciples' feet, which is not found in the other Gospels.

In the Catholic church at least, these are not contradictions because the Gospels are understood to be accounts written by different people at different times, for different communities; they are not historical documents in the way western thought understands history. The Christian celebration of Good Friday and Easter occurs each year without reference to the actual date of Passover. Indeed, I suspect many Christians ignore Passover and have no idea when it comes around each year.

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:20 PM:

abi @73: too little time Staying Where the Light Was Blue.

I am suddenly possessed of an image of a hat or visor type affair, but instead of a brim, it has an awning sporting a full complement of blue LEDs, pointing downward. One would have to engineer some sort of battery pack for it, but in this day and age, that seems like a minimal obstacle.

Contemplating David Goldfarb's sun alarm clock, it occurs to me that I need the reverse: some means to automatically start dimming the living room lights at a set time.

While I have a tough time getting up at the desired hour, I begin to conclude that this is a side effect of struggling to get to bed on time. Being as I don't watch TV off the tv anymore, I no longer have that external, environmental cue that Evening Is Over, It's Night Now. Go To Bed. I wonder if the alarm clock could be jiggered to operate in reverse?

#78 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:27 PM:

Jacque @77, I would *definitely* be interested in something like that! Room for a kickstarter project here, maybe? In fact, I know a self-employed electronics engineer ...

#79 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:30 PM:

Fade @70, we spent a holiday at a small cottage on a riverbank a few years ago. Just up the river was a small suspension bridge for pedestrians only, which was *very* wobbly. Combined with the herd of bullocks you had to walk through in order to get to the bridge, it's little wonder that we only made the journey once!

Ah, this is the cottage (but no photos of the bridge, alas!):

#80 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:33 PM:

Andrew Wells @78: If your engineer would have any interest in such a thing, I could certainly be persuaded to shell out a reasonable sum for a prototype.

#81 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:44 PM:

Jacque @80: I don't know what his reaction will be, but I will certainly mention it to him, and report back here.

#82 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:45 PM:

Hah, a photo of the bridge I mentioned in #79!

#83 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 01:51 PM:

Jacque & Andrew:

I used to have (and could probably find again) a [white] light visor I used to have. It's from before LEDs became quite so pervasive and inexpensive, so it's heavy and has a rather large battery pack.

I found it difficult to use, because the brightness so close to my eyes effectively blinded me to the rest of the world.

I've often idly considered some kind of blue-light necklace, though one of the "features" of blue light is that it makes people look ghastly.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister hath been Gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:08 PM:

abi #83: A blue-light necklace would, thus, be very suitable for Hallowe'en.

#85 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:08 PM:

Tim May @ 43: I've always been leery of properties that depend on the numerical base; it's telling that that was all your reference was able to come up with.

Re: bridges: Bridges are important in mathematics for several reasons. Leonhard Euler was inspired by the placement of bridges over the river Pregel in Königsberg (modern Kaliningrad) to pose a problem which gave rise to modern graph theory. And the engineering of bridges forced a lot of development in differential equations in the nineteenth century. The supporting cable of a suspension bridge is a living solution to a problem in the calculus of variations.

#86 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:08 PM:

Oh, drat, I have not been gnomed again. I've just been slow on the uptake.

#87 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:24 PM:

Jacque, some sunrise clocks also have a sundown setting. Before mine broke, I found it very helpful for not falling asleep with the light on.

#88 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:35 PM:

abi: You could rig a spar to hang above your face at a more acceptable distance, in the nature of an angler fish...? Maybe get one of those IV trees to roll around with you?

Andrew: A quick Google quickly discloses that there is, unsurprisingly, a Make tutorial* for the dimmer circuit. All that would be needed (for my purposes, anyway) would be to then configure it to support a light emitting, say, 1500 lumens, and to hitch it up to a timer.

* I am entirely capable of assembling such a thing. But that would require jamming it into the project queue with all the other forty gazillion half-finished projects I have laying around the house.

#89 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:36 PM:

As it happens, I have a high-school-age Maker living nearby. I should see if he's interested in taking on any freelance projects.

#90 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:39 PM:

Jacque, whereas I am incapable of making such a thing, yet still have forty gazillion projects on the go ...

#91 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:51 PM:

Andrew: A friend tells me that's what Purgatory is for. If so, I'm going to be there a looooonnnngggg time.

#92 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:52 PM:

My Soleil alarm does indeed have a sunset feature. I haven't paid much attention to it because that's not really the problem I have.

#93 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:52 PM:

Per Rikibeth's point, it appears that the Soleil model does have a "sundown" feature.

#94 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 02:53 PM:

David: :-) "Crossed in the mail," as it were.

#95 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 03:01 PM:

fidelio 178/#920, and others with the same problem.

I used to fight with my ex over going to the doctor. After some discussion on a totally different subject with a totally different person, I realized my ex's "convincer strategy" was "go to an expert". From that point on, I would say "this is what I think is going on. Do you want to take my word for it, or get an expert opinion?" More often than not, my ex would say "I want an expert opinion." Doctor appointment made, diagnosis made, with no delays that complicate the disease. It was no longer "I'm not sick (read: people will think I'm a hypochondriac)" but was simply getting an expert opinion.

Finding what someone's convincer strategy is can be incredibly stress reducing at times. I've passed it on to those of my ex's friends now in a position to use it.

#96 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 03:44 PM:

Bridges...In Pugetropolis we have several of the bascule kind, which I have long had a soft spot for. One of them was rammed by a ship many years back, and people sold t-shirts that said "Where were you when the ship hit the span??"
But what I regret is not having the money or health to spend a few days in Portland, because my favorite of all Portland's bridges turned 100 this summer. A melanistic vertical lift one simply known as "Steel". I don't know when I will get to see it. I do know that a similar bridge in Tacoma will enter its 2nd century next year, and I expect to be around for that.
But the first bridge I really have memories of was far different from these. I had a friend who had some trees in her yard, and one of them had a root that was out of the ground a ways, such that there was a bit of daylight under it. And we would walk over that sometimes, thinking it was rather cool. I wish every kid could find one of those.

#97 ::: Angiportus has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 03:45 PM:

Want some pfefferneuse?

#98 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 04:51 PM:

In re blue lights, my dear spouse rigged up some color-changing LED lights from IKEA we already owned near my computer, so I can turn them on for my morning 'netting.

The problem is that my 'morning netting' often happens up to an hour after I have to be awake, functional, and getting the kid out the door.

My entire first 45min involves moving about and focussing on the kid, not sitting still.

Any ideas how I can blue-light myself in such situations? I'm kind of thinking of how to rig up a bright, small LED flashlight to aim at my face while I, well, whatever?

#99 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Elliott: Perhaps getting a Cubs cap and taping it to the brim? Or even making a hole in the brim, and taping it such that it shines down through the hole?

#100 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 05:39 PM:

Elliott Mason @98:

I actually found that I had to shift my blue light from just after I get up in the morning (7ish) to a little later in the morning (9:30ish, when I arrive at work). I was waking up at 5 and 6am, unable to get back to sleep.

Different people differ, of course, but blue light first thing in the morning causes my body clock to go a little awry.

#101 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 07:55 PM:

abi #100: Hah -- I've been experimenting with a blue-light-box my sister gave me... and I think you just explained why I've been getting up at 5:30 (and subsequently going to bed at 9PM). Thanks!

#102 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2012, 08:12 PM:

Andrew Wells @79: My goodness, that's a cottage? "Tiny castle" is what would've come to mind just from the photo. And the bridge looks delightful; at least half as long as the bridge I remember, or maybe two thirds. I miss wobbly bridges.

#103 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 01:43 AM:

The viral video that was in the Sidelights a couple of weeks ago under the heading "Possibly the best public-safety video ever made" undergoes a geeky mutation: Cool Things to Find


#104 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 01:54 AM:

Did anybody already remind Abi that yesterday was the fifth anniversary of her becoming a moderator of these parts?

#105 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 01:56 AM:

I really like that, Paul A.! Totally wonderful on so many levels.

#106 ::: Adel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 02:25 AM:

What does it say about me that the (second) high point of my day is to be able to offer something that might be useful to you fine folks here?

Regarding changing light levels and day/night personal hacks, I've found f.lux to be both comforting and helpful as someone who spends a great deal of time in front of a computer. It changes the color-light quality of your computer screen's glow depending on the time of day/night. Warmer for night, brighter for day. Saves my eyes and keeps me a little more in tune with what the sun's doing; it was especially helpful when I lived in a basement with blacked-out windows.

I've been using it for years, and it's always one of the first pieces of software I install on any machine.

#107 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 10:53 AM:

Elliott, please check your yahoo email.

#108 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 11:29 AM:

Finals have arrived (or, to be more precise, are arriving). My hair is greying by the minute. I have learnt, inter alia, that:

Being a Confucian thinker, Mencius did not agree with all of the Confucian teachings in the Confucian School.

This is most confucing.

#109 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 11:55 AM:

Manda@940/178: I asked the husband, who is a trove of information on many things film, and he suggested "existentially challenging". (Note: the word Husband and I usually toss about for such movies is "thinky".)

(Elliott Mason, if Manda doesn't see this, would you be so kind as to pass this on [if she still needs it]?)

abi, happy Modiversary!

Elliott Mason @98: Would it be possible to mount the blue lights somewhere else you spend some time in the morning as part of your pre-'net routine? Maybe in the shower, or do the Altoid tin LED at the breakfast table?

#110 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 12:09 PM:

Paging Doctor Who:

Cicero was alive during the same major timeline era as Plato and Mozi, being only within only a few hundred years apart.

I'll just get my Tardis and this will seem a doddle. Or else, they're all characters in Charlie Stross's next novel (hello, Charlie).

#111 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 12:12 PM:

Serge Broom @ 104: Check the last line of the opener for this Open Thread...

And congratulations to abi, five years on.*

*Okay, for all of us pedants, five years and two days, now

#112 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 01:06 PM:

As far as I can see, the New York Times' Notable Books of 2012 list does not have a single SF/F novel or anthology. Those folks at the NYT Book Review really get on my nerves.

#113 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Rob Thornton @112: How could any SF/F book be notable? Clearly, the 'right people' (the people who compile the list, of course) never read them.

It amazes me sometimes to run across books that would totally be at home in SF/F, but were published instead in 'Thriller' or 'Literature'. Nancy Kress' Beggars in Spain books, for example, parallel quite closely to the setup of Jupiter's Daughter by Tom Hyman, with two major deviations: Hyman is interested in writing about the creation of the tech and who will control it, where Kress quickly moves to "what will it do to our society when a significant minority has had the tech done". Fair enough, and interesting.

Secondarily, though, Nancy Kress knows you can't get a good DNA sample off A CUT SAMPLE OF HAIR, and Hyman doesn't. Note: the character sneaking the sample was THE NANNY and could easily keep a bloody handkerchief, some cheek cells, or any number of other things; what she DID was wait till her charge got a haircut and then sneak it OFF THE SALON FLOOR.

It is to laugh. While crying a little. Hyman's book sold a lot more copies, alas.

#114 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 02:59 PM:

I need some advice, and Mr. Google is not being his usual forthcoming self. I want to buy some unusual DVDs and some usual DVDs this season, and I would like to avoid Amazon if possible. Can anyone recommend reliable DVD merchants who do online/phone sales? I can find them online, but I can't tell how reliable the merchants are. I'm looking for Unconscious, Beau Brummel: This Charming Man, and the two Iron Man movies. Thanks.

#115 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 03:03 PM:

I'm picking up the keys to my new house in a couple of hours.

I'm not moving in for at least a month, but this is going to be a horrible busy week. Spackling, painting, appointments with locksmith and garage floor sealer and the cable guy.


#116 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 03:14 PM:

Tracie @114 -- have you tried Powell's Books? It looks like they have both your "unusual" titles in stock and they offer excellent service. (Disclosure -- I spend way too much money there and make a pilgrimage in person 2-3 times a year.)

#117 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 04:20 PM:

In the category of things completely random with regards to the rest of the conversation: Google+ has just rolled out a new "Communities" feature, which among other things seems useful for creating public discussion groups.

While it is, alas, not Usenet, it is the closest thing to a New Usenet that I've seen in a while. Thus, I have created a Google+ Community named "rec.arts.sf.composition" -- I don't really have the spoons at the moment to promote it properly, but any Fluorospherians who are also Google+ users are quite welcome to join and post.

(I'll leave it to someone else to create a rasff community, if that's wanted too. My home was always rasfc, and if rasff was too large and frothing for me to handle then as a reader, I don't want to own one now!)

#118 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 04:28 PM:

I like f.lux, but while I think it's helping me fall asleep (I still lie awake some nights, but not as often or for as long) it doesn't seem to be doing much for the general low-level "where's all the light?" reaction to short days.

f.lux is addressing a a different light-related problem than lightboxes (blue or white).

#119 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 08:11 PM:

Here is a picture which might be of interest to people who spin yarn or who like deciphering old writing. I get the top label: "Le truye qui file" (The sow who spins). I get what's going in the picture (the spinning of linen yarn and the winding of a skein on a niddy-noddy.) I can see that the print is probably from Antwerp. But I can't read the banner. Is it Dutch? (seems likely, given the location.) But then, why the French title?

#120 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 08:16 PM:

Just installed f.lux.
The color changes are...odd. Since I have trouble falling asleep, and I stay up late working on my computer, this will be interesting.

#121 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 08:49 PM:

Flemish, perhaps?
I like the spindles sticking out of the tree-thing.

#122 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 09:00 PM:

I'm trying f.lux, and maybe I need to reduce the change a bit. It wouldn't be so odd under tungsten lighting, but low-energy fluorescents are different.

The default colour shift is around 150 Mireds* and that is a lot.

*Colour and colour temperature don't have a linear relationship. But a particular red-blue colour shift (such as a photographic filter) has a consistent numeric value if you work with the reciprocal of colour temperature. Daylight is around 150 Mireds, domestic tungsten around 300 Mireds, and if you applied the same shift in the blue direction, getting the colour temperature would give you a division-by-zero error.

#123 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 09:42 PM:

Ooh, Flemish. That's a distinct possibility, isn't it?

The tree thing is a distaff dressed with flax. Pretty nifty. I have recently started using a distaff for my spinning on occasion; it's a big help. It's one of those things that has fallen by the wayside in American spinning, which is a pity. Well worth it. (So far I've just tied a drum carded wool batt to a stick and tucked it through a belt loop.)

That kind of spindle, if it's the sort I've been learning about recently, is pretty nifty. It can be held in the hand as well as being suspended, though this use doesn't seem to be discussed much in modern writing about spinning. I have friends on Ravelry who have been looking into it, and it seems to have been a common usage across Europe. There are a number of videos on the website the gnomes love to hate. A Bosnian video I like is called "Hand Spinning Wool, Bosnia, Real Work, Without Efforts".

#124 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2012, 10:21 PM:

I see "Antwerp" in the caption at the bottom, which gives a location at least.

#125 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 01:39 AM:

Dave Bell #74: Christian Easter: timed from the first full moon following a fixed date, approximating the vernal equinox. Passover uses the actual date of the vernal equinox. Have I got that right?

Not quite. It's worse than that: the 'ecclesiastical full moon' is the 14th day after the new moon, which isn't always the same as the astronomical full moon. Some of the Eastern churches do use the astronomical full moon. But yes, the vernal equinox is taken as March 21 (in the Julian calendar, by the Eastern churches)

It used to require substantial expertise to work out the date of Easter. Initially the Christians asked the Chosen People when Passover was scheduled and used either Nisan 14 or the following Sunday. Later on, this practice was regarded as unsatisfactory, and the Christians decided to work it out for themselves.

The 'Proclamation of the Date of Easter' was traditionally sung at Epiphany in Catholic churches, so the faithful could mark their calendars. It's still used occasionally -- I've sung it a couple of times.

#126 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 02:07 AM:

abi @83: I found it difficult to use, because the brightness so close to my eyes effectively blinded me to the rest of the world.

Oh, now here's a weird idea. I've been playing around with this for a while. I just tried this with one of the little bicycle LED lights I have.

One's facial tissue transmits a fair amount of light (though admittedly mostly red). Additionally, close to the orbit of the eye, the skull is thin, and not entirely opaque. Go into a dark room, put something over your eyes, and shine an LED light on the side of your face. If you want to be really sure, use one that blinks. I just tried this. I can "see" it but not "really" or, maybe, "exactly." Even with the light pressed up against my temple, I could still see quite well when I opened my eyes. (It's a really strange sensation.)

Just for grins, you could try taping a blue LED light to your temple for a day, and see if that has any discernible effect.

#127 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 02:08 AM:

Probably for a weird URL. Have some smoked salmon?

#128 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 04:21 AM:

Thomas @125, answering Dave Bell@74: The problem was that at the time the Jewish calendar was still based on direct observations of the moon and the ripening of barley. Passover always begins on 14 Nisan - theoretically the date of the first full moon in spring. However, the Pesach rites in the Temple required the offering of the first omer of that year's barley harvest; so if the barley was insufficiently ripe, Passover couldn't happen - and it was this, rather than the equinox, that was the final determinator. The Sanhedrin would decide at the beginning of Adar if that was likely to be the case, and if so, declare that a second Adar was needed. Which meant that in years that it wasn't needed, the date was only known with certainty 43-44 days beforehand.

Since Christians needed to know when Easter was going to be at least 40 days in advance, that gave them only a very narrow window in which to grab a passing Rabbi and ask him when Passover was. So the Council of Nicaea came up with the fixed rule, which was intended to keep Easter as close as possible to "the Sunday after 14 Nisan" without having to ask when that actually was.

Of course, less than a century later, Theodosius forced the Sanhedrin to dissolve, and in the absence of a central body to make decisions about astronomical and horticultural observations, Jewish festivals began to be calculated based on the more-or-less fixed calendar still in use today. There could be a lesson there about the folly of impatience.

#129 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:41 AM:

A google search for "spinning sow" reveals interesting connections to paganism, which I would pursue if not for the need to prepare for singing carols in the Winter Garden, here in Sheffield.
We'll be there from 12.40 - 2.30. Come and listen. Join in. Give money to charity. Avoid *bucks.

#130 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 08:38 AM:

tykewriter @129

A friend of mine shared a piece in French about that. A combination of fairly decent high school French and Google Translate makes me think that this is the evidence for Pagan origins for the Sow who Spins (there might be more evidence elsewhere, but I'm not sure how much more time I want to spend on this):

1. There was a fifteenth century street performer who was burned along with his pig for training a sow to appear as if she was spinning. This was supposed to be black magic or something. After this incident, innkeepers started using "La truie qui file" as a signboard.

2. The Fates were represented as doing magic by spinning.

3. A sow is meant to represent a druid. (I saw something elsewhere that this is in part because truie and druid sound similar? But would they have in the languages the druids used?)

4. From the Google Translate text: 'Fulcanelli in 1926 in his book "The Mystery of the Cathedrals" a hypothesis similar homophonic, saying the sow that file [spins] is the representation of druid healer (druid faithful). But it should be noted that this author publishing under a pseudonym (his real name is not known with certainty) left education unparalleled in Alchemy and Hermetic symbolism but was and is still very controversial by many historians.'

5. There's a legend of a Christian shepherdess who is about to be raped by a nobleman. She prays to the Virgin Mary to be turned into a pig, only she wants to keep her spindle. (I found that last part in another online article.) Faced with a sow instead of a girl, the nobleman runs away.

6. The author of the French piece admits there is no evidence to link any of these things together because the Druids had an oral tradition and much of what was written about them at the time they existed is suspect.

As far as number 4 goes - my impression from having done some research into morris dancing is that there were a lot of people in the 20s who were trying to find pagan symbolism under every folkway. Now, I'm willing to believe some of the evidence (for instance, I'm convinced that St. Brigid was originally an goddess). But why should every sow one comes across in folklore be of pagan origin?

#131 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 09:42 AM:

A couple of notes on f.lux:

First, I liked it better when I set it to fade the light gradually over an hour, rather than switch suddenly at sunset.

Second, you might want to fiddle with the light temperature of the night computer screen. I settled on "halogen," for a room lit by a mix of that and compact fluorescents.

#132 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 09:53 AM:

dcb @ 111... I blame the long day at work AND the lack of coffee. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

#133 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:17 AM:

Vicki #131, etc: How do you change the temperature? I played with the slider, but it seemed to just make it brighter or darker in the same range.

Also, I can't make it open up to adjust settings again. I'm using a Mac, and if I go find it in my applications directory and click on it, jack happens.

#134 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:34 AM:

People discussed the War on Christmas without once mentionning "Santa Claus vs the Martians"?

#135 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 11:39 AM:

Elliott Mason #133: When I'm using it on my Mac, there's a little icon that shows up at the top right corner of my screen, to the left of the clock and volume bar and wifi indicator and so forth. Looks like a circle with a wave line through it. Click on that. "Preferences" will get you the brightness slider and the fast vs. slow dimming; "Lighting At Night" has a menu of different types of lighting that you can choose from.

#136 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 11:48 AM:

Fade Manley @135: Awesome!

... wait, why cannot I pick incandescent lighting at night? It's, um, what we have? It only offers Candle, tungsten, halogen, fluorescent, and daylight (or custom).

#137 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 11:48 AM:

... talking about light. Kind of appropriate, if the gnomes want more light to eat. :->

#138 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 12:29 PM:

f.lux: my slider shows halogen to fluorescent to daylight. Not that I care, as I have compact fluorescents, but I was wondering where the other settings could be found
#136: Candle, tungsten, halogegn...

#139 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 12:36 PM:

Tungsten is incandescent, and vice-versa; the hot filament of an incandescent bulb is made out of tungsten.

Tantalum and osmium have also been used as filaments in the past, before tungsten could be drawn into wire - the lighting manufacturer Osram is named from osmium and wolfram.

#140 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 01:09 PM:

HLN: Local woman's phone (and internet) service still out since Sandy. Latest word from Verizon is that it will be restored January 4. The whole town needs to be rewired.

#141 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 01:10 PM:

Mary Aileen: Damn!

#142 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 01:15 PM:

OK, now I have 'candle, tungsten, haaaa-logen!' running through my head to the tune of "Angels We Have Heard On High." You're welcome.

I heard that Easter was the first Sunday after the first Full Moon on or after the Vernal Equinox. Obviously it's not quite that simple.

I also understand that one major reason Greek Orthodox Easter is later than the date observed in Western churches is that it's constrained not to fall during Passover. They say today that that's out of respect, but I suspect it was originally out of anti-Semitism.

#143 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 01:41 PM:

Xopher, I was having enough trouble with "Frosty the snowman/had a very shiny nose" before #142. *whimper*

#144 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 01:58 PM:

janetl (141): That about covers it. And I'm one of the lucky ones. Being on the second floor, I didn't lose anything to the flooding, and I have electricity, heat*, and hot water back. The ground floor apartments got 2.5-3 feet of storm surge in them. They're all ripped out at the moment; the subflooring is in the process of being replaced right now, and maybe some of the sheetrock on the walls. Still to come: actual floors, walls, kitchen cabinets and appliances, wiring, maybe plumbing. I don't know how long it will be before my downstairs neighbors can move back in.

*It's not working right, but it's on.

#145 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 02:00 PM:

f.lux gave me a headache with the default settings, but once I fiddled with the brightness, the lighting type and the speed of changeover, it seems to be fine. Too soon to make a judgment on whether it's improving my sleep patterns.

#146 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 02:18 PM:

As I plough through the finals, gems continue to surface. This one, I have to say, is an emerald:

The historical governing parties are the, “Fianna Fail,” Or the, “Soldiers of the Republic,” and the Eamon de Valera,” or the, “Father of the Republic.”

I wonder what the Long Fella would have said?

#147 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 02:59 PM:

I also understand that one major reason Greek Orthodox Easter is later than the date observed in Western churches is that it's constrained not to fall during Passover. They say today that that's out of respect, but I suspect it was originally out of anti-Semitism.

I very much doubt it is either: this sounds like a legend made up after the fact. (Indeed, while Orthodox Easter is less likely to fall during Passover than Western Easter, it looks as if it does sometimes, e.g. in 2014.) There is a simple reason for Orthodox Easter to diverge from Western Easter: they are using the Julian calendar, and so have a different view of when the Vernal Equinox is - that is, of when the date fixed at Nicaea as that of the Vernal Equinox falls. (They don't always diverge - since the two estimates of the Vernal Equinox are only thirteen days apart, it's quite possible for no full moon to intervene, in which case they will yield the same date for Easter.)

This, by the way, is why when Gregory XIII revised the calendar, he did not go all the way back to Julius Caesar, with the solstice on December 25th, but rather back to the Fourth Century, with the solstice on December 21st - he wanted to get the rules for working out the date of Easter to function properly, by recreating the conditions under which they were adopted.

#148 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Lin Daniel: Xopher, I was having enough trouble with "Frosty the snowman/had a very shiny nose" before #142. *whimper*

Here, have Dave Barry's version of Help Me Rhonda: "Well, since she put me down/ There's been owls pukin' in my bed." Thanks to that, "I've been out doin' in my head" has been erased from my frontal lobes no matter how often I look it up.

#149 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 03:24 PM:

I don't know if it was the mention of Dave Barry, owls regurgitating, or of The Beach Boys. I have some string cheese packs in the fridge...

#150 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 03:34 PM:

A question for the book minded: some time ago I needed a book on jewelry that was quite expensive in hardback and unavailable in paperback. I bought a used library copy on eBay that was in good condition as far as the pages go, but which had had the front cover torn off at the "seam" before the spine. (The rest of the cover is a little worn at the edges, and the dust jacket--well, someone must make low-acid cellophane tape for the corner, right?) I have both parts. Is there anywhere I can get the cover fixed/replaced for a moderate sum, or do I just need to live with it? My employer is moving to NJ at the end of the month so funds are pretty damn tight...

Also, I have a copy of Satan's Tears by Alex Nino and the dust jacket is getting a little worn at the edges. Where does one go to get a really BIG Broadart, or a clone of one? Tom?

#151 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed again. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 03:37 PM:

O.K. Either they hate Broadart, or questions about book repair, or Cellophane tape. Fine. I have a Peanut M&M that the cats think is a dandy playtoy here...

#152 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 03:43 PM:

Really, Andrew? There are tons of websites out there where Greek Orthodox people say it's a requirement. I wonder what motivates that behavior?

It continually irritates me that people act like the Vernal Equinox is December 21st every year. Less irritating is hearing "the Vernal Equinox moves around." No, it doesn't. The Vernal Equinox is at the same time every year; the calendar is inaccurate.

#153 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 04:40 PM:

Jacque @126: Just for grins, you could try taping a blue LED light to your temple for a day, and see if that has any discernible effect.

IIRC there was some research a while back suggesting that jetlag/SAD could be offset by shining blue light behind the knee (second section on that page), or presumably any other body surface. I don't know what sort of followup studies have been done to verify this, though.

#154 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 04:41 PM:

Xopher #142: I heard that Easter was the first Sunday after the first Full Moon on or after the Vernal Equinox. Obviously it's not quite that simple.

It's probably worth pointing out that, despite all the complicated edge cases and the history behind them, the astronomical definition almost always agrees with the date used by the Western churches. The next anomaly is 2019, and I think the last one was 1981.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 04:51 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II:

It's actually your tendency to end up with three spaces in a row somewhere in your messages.

#156 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:09 PM:

I still type two spaces after a period, which is really important when typing on an old fixed-pitch typewriter like I used when I was learning, but not at all a good thing with modern equipment and fonts. But it distracts me to concentrate on not doing it.

So I just type however I type, and then do a global search and replace of '  ' with ' ' afterward.

#157 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:13 PM:

Bruce D @150 -- Karen may have one lying around. I'll call.

#158 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:19 PM:

#152, #147, #142. The principle of Orthodox Easter not overlapping with Passover is not a recent invention. It has been standard for at least a millennium; and what's relatively recent is controversy on whether it goes all the way back to Nicaea.

The Council of Nicaea said that Easter should not be celebrated 'μετα των Ιουδαίων', ie 'with the [people whose name will disturb the gnomes]'.

The Western churches interpret this as meaning that Easter and Passover are not linked; the standard interpretation in the Orthodox church is that Easter and Passover must not overlap.

This isn't the primary reason for the difference in dates between the Eastern and Western churches, since they use the same rule (on different calendars), but it is one reason that the Eastern churches are suspicious of ecumenical attempts at calendar reform.

There's a discussion with references in the soc.religion.christian faq

#159 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:23 PM:

So far as I can see: it is certainly sometimes said that Orthodox Easter must come after the end of Passover, but this is a mistake. What is true is that Orthodox Easter always comes after the actual day of Passover, while Western Easter occasionally doesn't. This, however, is not because the Orthodox are actually taking note of the Jewish date, either out of deference or out of hostility; it is because the different bodies have different ways of estimating the Equinox, and the Jewish one is occasionally later than the Western one, though not as often as the Orthodox one is.

Historically, it is true that Easter is thought of as coming 'after Passover', since the Resurrection happened after the actual Passover celebration, but in this context this means after the Paschal full moon - which, from the fourth century onwards, Christians felt able to work out for themselves.

See further:

#160 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:33 PM:

Xopher @156:

I, too, type two spaces after a period, having learned on a manual typewriter and (ranting opprobrium and online nastiness aside) see no reason, given what I write and where, for putting the time into breaking the habit.

That's different than three spaces, which is what the filter is tuned for. I'm not sure how those creep into people's comments. We use 'em because spammers will try to defeat phrase-based filters by inserting lots of spaces between their words or phrases. Since html renders multiple spaces down to one visible space, that doesn't affect the readability of the unwanted messages—just its automatic detectability.

#161 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:36 PM:

Julie L #153: jetlag/SAD could be offset by shining blue light behind the knee

There is (or was -- their website seems to be down) a company that sells earbuds that shine blue light into your ears. They have a press release saying they conducted a successful clinical trial.

However, the trial was unblinded, uncontrolled, and published in the journal Medical Hypotheses. Even in that venue, the researchers weren't prepared to go further than Given that a proper placebo treatment can be implemented via ear canals, further investigations with randomized placebo-controlled and/or dose-finding study designs regarding the extraocular transcranial bright light in the treatment of SAD are called for.

It's possible that the earbuds work, but it doesn't look as though the manufacturer is targeting customers who care about evidence.

#162 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:38 PM:

As I wrap up grading for the semester, I want to share the following nuggets from the pile:

Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher dating back to the first century, did not believe that these practices were sound or warranted, instead believing that a master-slave relationship should consist of more humane treatment so that respect could be forged amongst both parties, resulting in a more fruitful alliance. In his letter regarding the treatment of slaves, Seneca states that the former should be treated as humans instead of as callous property in order to minimize enmity and insurrection, avoid karmic retribution and ironic mismatching of fate, and to build a better relationship with one’s fellow man, expanding his/her own personal consul and possibly even his/her circle of friends and acquaintances.

Callous property is something to be avoided, especially if you're a Stoic Hindu philosopher awaiting orders from the emperor to slit your wrists.

He basically says that you must destroy the city and live in it.

The "he" in this case was Machiavelli. Apparently he was providing advice for US policy in Vietnam.

To be free for British Colonial powers was the main objective of his reason for writing the declaration.

This was a reference to someone named Thomas Jefferson. If there was an minor earth tremor in Virginia today it was caused by him rolling in his grave.

Cicero fended for the better good of the people.

I'm sure he thought he did.

There was a time when the islands were quite and the beaches were calm.


This concludes everything was still under government control, it however began to see a shit when African-Americans emerged into leadership roles and it became more common to see Black academics.

This is reason #39874 not to rely on your spellchecker.

#163 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:44 PM:

Thomas: But if the aim is that they should not overlap, it isn't achieved. In 2014 Passover is April 14th-22nd, and Orthodox Easter is April 20th, and so falls within the Passover season. It is true that Orthodox Easter never falls on the actual day of Passover, but that's equally true of Western Easter - if the actual day of Passover is a Sunday Easter is kept on the following Sunday.

My suspicion is that the traditional Orthodox reading was 'We should never keep it on the same day as the Jewish people' [will that work?] - which correctly describes practice, but does not explain the East/West difference - and this then, after the East/West gap had opened up, came to be misinterpreted.

#164 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 05:47 PM:

abi, I was attempting an oblique suggestion as to how to avoid the three-space problem if one knows one has it.

#165 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:05 PM:


You may care about spelling, but they don't give a shift.

#166 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:11 PM:

A friend of mine could read "Eye of Argon" without even smiling, much less laughing. She cheated. She was a teacher of third graders.

Having read Fragano's selections, I think any teacher would have an advantage reading EoA.

#167 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:17 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @152: If the Vernal Equinox is falling in December, we have worse problems than inaccurate calendars...

#169 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:24 PM:

D. Aaaaaargh. I meant March 21. Got all mixed up because of all the comedy about the Mayan calendar.

#170 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:26 PM:

Xopher @152:

It continually irritates me that people act like the Vernal Equinox is December 21st every year.

That would irritate me as well, given that the (northern) vernal equinox is in March. ;-)

Less irritating is hearing "the Vernal Equinox moves around." No, it doesn't. The Vernal Equinox is at the same time every year; the calendar is inaccurate.

Well, the most accurate would be to say that the equinox and our calendar move with respect to each other, but I do see your point, and since it's actually based in observable physical reality privileging the equinox may make more sense.

#171 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:30 PM:

Abi @159:

I frequently have triple spaces creep into my messages as well, and I also learned back in the days of two spaces following a period.

I suspect that for me, at least, the triple spacing is one of two things - either a simple slip of the finger turning two spaces into three, or that I'll stop after a sentence to think about what I want to say next and hit an extra space when I start up again.

Would the effectiveness of the filter be significantly affected by allowing triple spaces following a period, but not elsewhere? It certainly seems to me like that would eliminate most of the false positives, but obviously it's not worth it if it also allows a lot of the spam through.

#172 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:37 PM:

lorax 169: Well, the most accurate would be to say that the equinox and our calendar move with respect to each other, but I do see your point, and since it's actually based in observable physical reality privileging the equinox may make more sense.

That's quite exactly my point. The calendar is a map; the Equinox is the territory itself. If the map doesn't match the territory, it's the MAP that's wrong.

#173 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 06:59 PM:

Predicting precisely when the northward equinox[1] will occur in any given calendar year is tricky: the three-body problem is a chaotic system, dont'cha know. And my understanding is that the period over which it can vary is greater than 24 hours. So all we can really do is model its average behaviour. Which in turn always means that there will be times when the actual value falls in the tail of the bell curve. But the Gregorian calendar is actually a pretty good model - as thomas@154 points out, the edge cases are actually relatively rare. It also has the advantage of having an easy-to-remember rule.

[1]Calling it "vernal" is incorrect if you live in the southern hemisphere.

#174 ::: Dave Crisp has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 07:02 PM:

My current brew is a French saison, which, fittingly for the current conversation, I have called "525,600". Would their Lownesses like some?

#175 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 07:20 PM:

re 142 et passim: Getting a straight answer about what the basis of computus rules is quickly runs aground on the shoals of everybody trying to distance themselves from everyone else. Everyone's calendar now works off the 19 year Metonic cycle that gives you some pattern of how the lunar/solar calendars interact. In an ideal world, 14 Nisan should be the first full moon after the vernal equinox, and Easter should be the Sunday after that, so that Easter should always fall during the passover season but never on passover itself. That is the one date that is expressly forbidden, and I suppose you can call it "anti-semetic" if if you want to risk setting off Godwin's law about what was basically an issue of differentiation.

The difference between the old calendar and the Gregorian computus comes out of two factors. First, of course, there's the 13 day offset of the equinox, which means that whenever the computed moon falls in the first 13 days after the (real) equinox, OC Easter is going to be a month "late". However, there is another factor which tends to put OC Easter a week "late": the OC computus lunar cycle is a bit slow, so that about half the time the OC full moon falls into the next week. However, the other half of the time if there's a late enough Gregorian Easter, OC Easter will be on the same date, and therefore Orthodox Easter will fall during Passover. For instance, last year both Easters were on April 24, five days after Passover.

There was a proposal back in 2001 to use the astronomical moon and equinox as seen in Jerusalem and put Easter on the following Sunday. Of course this went nowhere.

#176 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 07:41 PM:

The Easter Act 1928 fixed the date of Easter Sunday in the UK and some other places as the Sunday falling in the period 9–15 April. It was passed, seemingly, with the intention that it would come into force when all the Christian churches agreed that this was a good idea. This has not yet happened. Someone raises the possibility in Parliament every decade or so.

#177 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 08:18 PM:

Lorax @ 170. You mean there was an advantage to being a self-taught touch typist? I never heard of double spacing after a period, and I started with a Royal manual.

[Oh, joy, the "X" is starting to stick. I looked at the preview and saw Lora @ 170, but I distinctly remembered typing an "X". It took two tries to correct too.]

#178 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 08:52 PM:

I brought my dog to my new townhouse this afternoon. When I opened the door to the balcony sheer joyfully ran to check out the view . . . and slammed right into the screen door she didn't give me a chance to open.

Now she is convinced the Evil Force Screen is still in operation, and refuses to go out on the balcony.

Back to culling my book collection. Thank goodness for Powell's . . . the fact that they PAY for many of the books I bring myself to part with makes the process much less guilt-inducing.

#179 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 08:57 PM:

Tom Whitmore: or I could just bring it along the next time we're due to be at the same place at the same time. If you haven't seen Satan's Tears you'd probably enjoy it. The only other person who I've run into with a copy was Phil Foglio who was given it by someone who'd bought it and didn't much like it. Considering I had my phone shut off for two weeks after buying mine in college, I tried not to lock my teeth when I heard this.

Abi: thanks for the tip. I'll work harder on the three space thing.

Xopher HalfTongue: D. Aaaaaargh. I meant March 21. Got all mixed up because of all the comedy about the Mayan calendar.

I haven't been able to think of it as a joke since hearing a CBC report early this year where they called the NASA scientist who deals with inquiries about this from the public. He'd gotten a letter from a man who wrote that his only friend was his dog, and who wanted to know how long he should wait before slitting his friend's throat so he wouldn't suffer through the end of the world. The letter he opened after that was from a woman asking similar questions about her two daughters. I've never heard anyone so pissed in an interview and so willing to describe the folks pushing a belief as evil SOB's.

#180 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 09:08 PM:

Eye of Argon: I am mostly immune. I've read through it enough times and with enough funny people that I know what's coming and can prepare, and, well, I also work with kiddos. I am awesome at teacher read-aloud, seriously, and can maintain a good if not spectacular performance while walking around the room leaving notes for other teachers about whichever student is screaming in the time-out room. It takes a lot to break me in Eye of Argon.

That said, the best rendition I have ever heard, including the spontaneous interpretive dance, was from an Alphan this past year. She broke into Valley Girl and nearly asphyxiated Tamora Pierce laughing.

#181 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 09:32 PM:

Dave Crisp @173: and "northward equinox" seems to me a meaningless construction in itself: the equinox is something that affects north and south equally. As is defining the equinox as a time point rather than a day (since it's the day when day and night are of closest to equal length). More useful would be identifying them as "leading" or "trailing", since its best approximation is the point where the rotational axis crosses the orbital path of the earth -- but that requires picking one of North and South as the leader or trailer. So then -- north-leading?

Bruce -- remind me about the protector (Foolscap/Potlatch at the latest?). I've seen the book, and remember it as about 13" tall, so a 14" should fit it nicely.

#182 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:02 PM:

Bruce at 179: Aaargh.

People are nuts. Truly.

#183 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:23 PM:

Lizzy L: Bruce at 179: Aaargh.

People are nuts. Truly.

The one about the guy and the dog is a multi-layered level of awful. That the only friend he had in the world was his dog, that because he didn't want his best friend to suffer the only answer he could figure out was to kill his best friend first so he wouldn't suffer, that he wanted to find out how long he could put it off to avoid being friendless as long as possible, and that he'd been suckered into believing the end of the world crap was true...well, for me it was horrid, on horrid, on horrid, on horrid.

#184 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:28 PM:

This isn't to say that the one with the mother is better--it's horrid as well. But that the only one you have to care for you and care about is a pet rather than a person--well, that's pretty damn bad.

#185 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:40 PM:

On the lighter side, there are people selling Rapture pet-care insurance. The idea is that if you're Raptured, who's going to take care of your pets? So for a fee they'll guarantee that your pets will be taken care of should the Rapture occur.

It's a scam, but somehow I can't get exercised about stamping it out. Anyone who sells insurance is betting the insured-against event will not happen, but.

#186 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:42 PM:

abi, #160: At a guess, based on my own typing patterns: people finish a sentence, and add their habitual 2 spaces. Then they pause for thought, and (for whatever reason) when they start the next sentence, they put a space in front of it. I know that's the most common way for me to end up with 2 spaces instead of 1 after a period. (I never had a formal typing class, and the rule about 2 spaces made no sense to me, so I never adopted it.)

Bruce D., #179: Holy. Fuck. There really are no other words to describe my response to that.

#187 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:51 PM:

Tom 181: As is defining the equinox as a time point rather than a day (since it's the day when day and night are of closest to equal length).

Oh, that's just silly. That's the derivation of the name, which doesn't mean that's its meaning. Are you going to argue that the sun stops at the solstices? Words change meaning as they go through history, not just sound. A gourmet is no longer a small groom. A template is no longer a miniature temple. And the moment of the equinox is when the sun falls equally on northern and southern hemispheres; that happens twice a year for an instant, not a whole day.

Knowing the derivation of a word can give clues to its meaning, but I wish people would get over the idea that they can tell precisely what it is that way. And I'm damned tired of being told my use of a word is incorrect because of its etymology. Please cut it out.

#188 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 10:58 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue: On the lighter side, there are people selling Rapture pet-care insurance.

Oh, that one doesn't worry me at all. On the other hand, all those cars with the bumper stickers that say "In the event of the Rapture, this car will be unmanned" that I see on the road? I like to think that if the Rapture ever does happen, those will be the only cars with drivers. Because I am not a nice man.

Lee: Bruce D., #179: Holy. Fuck. There really are no other words to describe my response to that.

Sure brings to mind the darker side of Frank Capra--Meet John Doe or It's A Wonderful Life just before the change-up at the end hits, doesn't it?

#189 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 11:30 PM:

Bruce E Durocher II @ 188... There is indeed plenty of darkness in Capra's films.

#190 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 11:39 PM:

I took typing and learned the two spaces and used them diligently for decades. Then when I was in the workaday world and they told me to just type one, I changed from two to one. I suppose there must have been a transition period when I sometimes typed two, but I've always been kind of adaptable in things like that.

Well, bragging's all I've got here, so I guess I'll knock off now.

#191 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2012, 11:58 PM:

I live in a bit of a bubble. None of my friends or co-workers and pretty much all of the folks I deal with online believe in the 12/21 thing.

So . . . what sort of media promulgate this ridiculous rumor? Have I not been paying enough attention to tabloids at the supermarket checkout line? Are their TV shows that push it?

Is this just a website-driven thing?

(I know about the disaster movie of a year or so ago.)

#192 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 12:39 AM:

Possibly of interest to people here:

A thread on Ana Mardoll's blog has developed into a discussion of the term "Mary Sue" and of the possibility of coming up with a more descriptive and less baggage-laden term for the problem of the impossibly awesome protagonist.

Suggestions so far have included "Designated Perfect Hero" (which led to some discussion of whether it was clear from the name that a DPH was a {Designated Perfect} Hero, not a Designated {Perfect Hero}) and "Magic Goose Hero" (so implausibly irresistible that all the characters want to grab on despite it making no sense for them to want to do so) - but there's also a movement away from defining the problem as if it's all the fault of the one character; it's been pointed out that when every character exists to show how awesome the hero is, they're all part of the problem.

#193 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 01:25 AM:

Bruce 188: On the other hand, all those cars with the bumper stickers that say "In the event of the Rapture, this car will be unmanned" that I see on the road

Yeah, I think we should take their driver's licenses away, just to see on what grounds they object. "You believe you have the right to leave a driverless car speeding down the highway; the state disagrees. Take the bus, you idiot."

#194 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 01:30 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 191: Until recently, I had a neighbor who I could imagine believing that. She recently sold her house and moved. I don't think there's any connection with the date. She's been unemployed for quite awhile, and I imagine the mortgage had become too much.

She was a bubble off plumb in general. The last time I spoke to her, she had shown up uninvited at another neighbor's party and was handing out DVDs she had burned with video of buildings from lost civilizations under the sea. The conversation I'd had with her prior to that was shortly after the terrible earthquake in Japan, and she thought I was very foolish not to be taking iodine to ward off the radiation that was going to hit the west coast, based on a radio show she listened to. I think she also brought up buying gold. I associate the gold thing with Glenn Beck, but I don't think she was conservative. She dressed like your standard Portland leftie, rode her bike to work, and went to Burning Man.

Remember that church that believed the world would end in May of 2011? (Harold Camping/Family Radio) I ran into a whole bunch of them near Lloyd Center mall a few months before that. They were handing out pamphlets and beaming at everyone.

#195 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 01:44 AM:

Xopher @187 -- as stated, perhaps it was a little silly. On the other hand, as far as the equinox is concerned: it strikes me that sticking it to a particular moment is actually spurious precision, for all practical purposes. There's a mild practical reason for knowing it to the day (in terms of planting and such); I can maybe see extending that to within an hour. There's no practical reason I can think of for wanting to know it to the minute, the second, or the instant.

#196 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 02:27 AM:

I love the PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical particle very, very, very much. Thank you, Patrick!

#197 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 04:45 AM:

Tom @181: I don't see how calling it "northward" is meaningless: its when the sun crosses the equator from the south to the north. It's moving northwards.

#198 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 06:58 AM:

fragano @108: That's why the symbol of the Confucians is eight arrows of different sizes pointing in eight directions, rather than one large arrow pointing straight upwards, don't you see!

lorax @170: Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff. And that's not even counting the occasional leap second.

Rapturing: All I know is that if it happens, I ain't a-goin'. And maybe, afterwards, USA politics will get more sensible...

(I have often thought, based on the extreme implausibility of there being ENOUGH gold bits in any one area to support the numbers of gold-buying shacks that have sprung up, like mushrooms, in every depressed neighborhood and struggling mall here - srsly, it seems to be a fairly good sign here that your mall has fallen on hard times when one of them opens in it - even if each shack has only one employee, that SOMEONE'S high-dollar corporation is operating the franchise as a tax dodge / loss leader for something. I just haven't bothered to research to find out where the money trail goes...)

--Dave, rap-ture, be pure!

#199 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 08:28 AM:

The Rapture? Reminds me of the comic-book "Strange Girl". It begins in California's Sacramento on the Day of the Rapture, with a teenage girl being left behind because she wasn't an obedient daughter, then the story jumps 7 years forward to her being the bartender in a San Francisco club favored by demons, one of whom she seriously pisses off so she decides to leave town and embarks on a Road Trip across America toward the last Gate to Heaven that might still be open.

#200 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 08:30 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue: Bruce 188: On the other hand, all those cars with the bumper stickers that say "In the event of the Rapture, this car will be unmanned" that I see on the road

Yeah, I think we should take their driver's licenses away, just to see on what grounds they object. "You believe you have the right to leave a driverless car speeding down the highway; the state disagrees. Take the bus, you idiot."

It's the attitude displayed that frosts me: "Why should I care about possible multiple fatalities from being hit by two tons of driverless metal and glass at 65 mph when I vanish? After all, they haven't been Raptured! They're Redshirts!"

#201 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 10:00 AM:


I have a feeling you are thinking this through far more than the people with the bumper stickers usually do.


I think failed prophecies of the end of the world are pretty common, and that there are people who study them. I gather many cult / religious leaders come out of the failed doomsday with almost as manu followers as the go into it with, which is a lesson in human nature.

#202 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 10:28 AM:

Xopher @ 193: Yeah, I think we should take their driver's licenses away, just to see on what grounds they object.

They would probably object on religious grounds; the separation of church and state. Also on free speech grounds.

#203 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 10:29 AM:

Tom @195

The Equinox: There's no practical reason I can think of for wanting to know it to the minute, the second, or the instant.

That knowledge is implicit in navigation by the apparent position of the Sun and stars at a particular time. 24 hours is 86400 seconds, and 240 time seconds per angular degree of rotation, and 4 seconds of time per minute of arc. 1 minute of arc at the equator is a nautical mile. 1 minute of time is 15 nautical miles, and gives you a chance of avoiding an unexpected collision with the far shore of an ocean.

The tabulated solar declination can be interpolated to find the declination at the time of observation, and that method will also give a time for the equinox. To get a fix from a single sighting, you need to have the Right Ascension, which is a bearing, and that can be less accurate, but the declination does give a position line, and declinations separated by time can be combined to give a position (the position lines will be at different angles and can be combined in the same ways as bearings on landmarks, known as a running fix).

A little consideration will reveal that linear interpolation can be a little less useful at the solstices, which the rate of change of declination can reverse between two tabulated values, but the rate of change is pretty small. I've no idea how much the solstice declination might overshoot the straight-line interpolation.

I suspect Jim could tell you more about this, but if you want you can buy a cardboard cut-out sextant and try for yourself. That device has a lesser precision, but can be fitted with a bubble level for when you cannot see the horizon.

#204 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 11:23 AM:

I love the particle about Lynch's middle-aged black female pirate too, but I Have a Sad that he doesn't seem to have mentioned one of the most successful real-world pirates *ever*, Cheng Shih; started in a brothel, commanded 1800 ships, lived to retire. Lived to get *old*(ish). Jack Aubrey is lucky their dates didn't overlap.

#205 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Xopher, #193: And then watch them splutter and try to explain that they don't really expect it to happen, it's just hyperbole a statement of faith.

David D., #198:

Wyman, #202: A freedom of speech argument might actually fly. Religious freedom, they don't have a leg to stand on, and separation of church and state even less so. Nobody is oppressing their religion, only stating that this particular expression of it negates access to the privilege of driving; and there's no case to be made at all for it being governmental establishment or endorsement of any particular faith.

#206 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 11:54 AM:

Re the Dan Burton particle: I've been accustomed to thinking of Forbes as fairly right-wing-conservative. This is the third or fourth article I've seen from them lately that was sane, and the others have been downright liberal about financial issues. Have they had a change of management or something?

#207 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 11:58 AM:

Lee @206: I'm pretty sure the republicans have just moved far enough to the right that Forbes now looks liberal.

Kind of like how Pope John Paul II started out as a flaming radical and ended up a reactionary dinosaur, without ever changing his position on most issues.

#208 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 12:34 PM:

Elliott Mason: Lee @206: I'm pretty sure the republicans have just moved far enough to the right that Forbes now looks liberal.

Kind of like how Pope John Paul II started out as a flaming radical and ended up a reactionary dinosaur, without ever changing his position on most issues.

Or as Mort Saul once put it, "I realized that if you kept a consistent political position in this country you'd eventually be tried for treason."

#209 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 01:32 PM:

Come the rapture, anyone who is left is going to have worse things to worry about than unpiloted automobiles.

#210 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 03:03 PM:

Unpiloted airplanes?

#211 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 04:32 PM:

Stephan Jones #191

The funny thing is, when I first heard about 12/21, I was in college, and it was mostly a "liberal weird" thing. I discovered it on a website that listed prophesied apocalypses for the next 200 years, and ranked them by the likelihood of them happening (I believe 2012 was the second most likely, but I can't remember), using a system of 0-10 mushroom clouds so... probably somewhat ironic. I mostly encountered it in crystal shops, underground comics, and internet mailing lists/free occult newspapers at the time.

The "Hey, the Mayans built this particular calendar as a countdown" idea was fun to think about, as a weird teenager back then - especially since most of the sources I saw talking about it were saying that it'd be less of a fire and brimstone affair and more of an age-of-aquarius-style changing of humanity's mode of consciousness, or some other radical switch. In the early 2000s. some people were joking that the calendar predicted the date of the Singularity.

Added to that was the marvelous and weird "Timewave Zero" stuff, a psychedelic theory about novelty, causality, and patterns that predicted some kind of weird, world-altering event in November of 2012... eventually altered to be December of 2012 when the writer discovered the Mayan calendar thing.

There was a lot of other great Discordian nonsense tied up with it back then, iirc. Another joke was that it was the date for immanentizing the eschaton. At eighteen, I planned to have a big party on December 21st of 2012... just in case we went through some incredible shift and all ended up as beings of pure thought, I'd at least be in the same zip code as my friends when it happened. Now time has passed and the day is almost upon us. If it hadn't sold out, I'd be spending it in Brooklyn with John Hodgman and friends, celebrating the end of his apocalyptic tour designed to inform us all of the coming Ragnorok through three books of fake trvia... or complete world knowledge.

How all of this psychedelic Discordian weirdness got conflated with a biblical apocalypse, I don't know. When I first heard about it, it was explicitly non-Christian. Sort of "you think you can be the only one with an apocalypse? We'll get our own apocalypse... with blackjack, and hookers, and immanetizing the eschaton!"

What I'm guessing happened was this: sometime a few years ago, someone on the other end of the extreme-and-weird spectrum came across the Mayan thing, and thought it'd be a good apocalypse to latch on to. It's getting more traction than most of the other recent apocalypse predictions because, when the other crazies went online to research it, they found hundreds and hundreds of decades-old Discordian, psychedelic or other weird websites full of charts and graphs and scientific or intellectual-sounding "verification."

I'm still attached to my fun little apocalyptic mental exercises, dreamed up when 2012 seemed like an eternity in the future. More recently, John Hodgman's That is All was a marvelous exploration of all of the things that make us fascinated with Ragnarok.

All I can tell you is that 12/21 didn't come from their side of the woods... they're just ruining it for the rest of us, like they do with everything.

#212 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 04:45 PM:

Tom 195: There's no practical reason I can think of for wanting to know it to the minute, the second, or the instant.

Depends on your definition of 'practical'. Do any of these reasons count?

  1. For a Wiccan ritual marking the transition.
  2. For a Vernal Equinox party modeled on a New Year's party: to pick the moment to shout "Happy Spring!"
  3. More seriously, because you're teaching a bunch of grade-school kids about seasonal astronomy. (This is why I learned it the way I did.)
But also...does everything have to have a practical application? I thought knowledge for its own sake was part of what makes someone a geek. But then I'm the guy who tried to learn Middle Egyptian just because I thought it was cool.

Bruce 200: Exactly. They don't give a damn about their fellow humans if they're not "saved." I hate people like that.

albatross 201: Exactly. Either they don't really believe in the Rapture, or forcing them to think about what they're really saying would be valuable.

Wyman 202: They would probably object on religious grounds; the separation of church and state. Also on free speech grounds.

IANAL but I don't think that holds up. People who are willing to abandon their cars at high speed on the highway shouldn't be allowed to drive. They'd have to argue that that's OK. Their bumper sticker is just the evidence of their intention to commit this reckless act.

Of course this won't happen. The state will never go after these nutbars. But we can tell them to their faces that they shouldn't be allowed to drive, and that they're rotten, selfish, dangerously reckless people.

Dave 203: Or that, of course, he said, nodding just as if he understood completely. Or at all.

Lee 205: And then watch them splutter and try to explain that they don't really expect it to happen, it's just hyperbole a statement of faith.

Yeah, that was the idea.

C. 209: Come the rapture, anyone who is left is going to have worse things to worry about than unpiloted automobiles.

Yeah? So what? That makes it OK to kill a bunch of people on the highway right at the beginning of the tribulations? That's bullshit.

#213 ::: Laura Gillian ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:06 PM:

Albatross, #201: I submit for your consideration that the very fact that they haven't thought very much about it is what makes it so offensive. As Cordelia says, "When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action." If you truly believed that a Rapture was coming, it would be outrageously irresponsible and self-centered not to consider all the other people in the world who might be harmed by your decision to get behind the wheel. Not to mention a massive failure to live up to that little "love your neighbor", er, suggestion. As I understand it (as a person raised several flavors of Christian but currently atheist), such a failure would rather negate the whole point of aggressively labeling yourself (or your car) Christian. In any case, that's the aspect that bothers me.

Also, what Xopher said at the end of his #212.

#214 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:34 PM:

Thomas #165: Their shifgrethor is differently based.

#215 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:39 PM:

Xopher @212, But we can tell them to their faces that they shouldn't be allowed to drive, and that they're rotten, selfish, dangerously reckless people.

It seems to me that the mere fact of displaying such a bumpersticker embodies such hubris, not to mention reckless disregard as you state above, that the inhabitants of the car (or at least the person who put the sticker on the car; other folk in it may be blameless) would be ipso facto not amongst the Raptured. Assuming that there was such a thing as the Rapture as they envision it.

They're claiming the first seat, not the last. (Actually, that verse has always bugged me; if one deliberately takes the last seat knowing it'll be the first seat, isn't that as bad or worse than taking the first seat? After all, you're not only setting yourself up to be first, but deliberately GAMING THE SYSTEM in order to do so. Should good Christians therefore go for the middle seat, instead, in order to avoid hypocrisy....?)

#216 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:40 PM:

Sir Patrick Moore has died, according to the BBC.

#217 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:44 PM:

Xopher, given that God would be largely wiping out the planet, that he started out by causing some incidental traffic accidents hardly rates in the scheme of things.

#218 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:46 PM:

Lin Daniel #166: See this work for lots of examples:

#219 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:49 PM:

Cassy 215: Absolutely. I guess my goal is to make THEM realize it.

#220 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:50 PM:

Dave DeLaney #198: Indeed!

#221 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:55 PM:

Leah Miller @212 et al: I took a class on writing systems a few months ago -- and, since the professor was an expert on Central American writing systems, we also got a bit of his rants about the whole Mayan Apocalypse thing.

As you might expect, the actual thing is vastly more interesting than the popular myth.

For one thing, it doesn't end (and the calendar isn't a "countdown"). It's more like the odometer ticking over in your car, to increment the "not actually visible" digit. Or more like '99 incrementing to '00 -- the digits are there, it's just that a lot of the conventional descriptions don't write them. But some do, and there's this stone monument that's writing some date date as ...0000000000001893, where we don't actually know how many zeros they started with because the stone is broken off, but it goes well past the expected heat death of the universe.

Also things are weird because the Mayan calendar doesn't have base-ten digits; it has some places that are base-20 and some that are base-13 (IIRC) and some that include zero and some that don't, and other weirdnesses, but it settles out once it gets to the one that's about to tick over and is consistent from there on up.

The thing I find fascinating that's been missed, though, is that there is a whole Mayan cosmology around what happens with this particular digit ticks over. It is not the end of the world. In fact, it's happened four times before. And it's a judgement day, where the people are disrupted, but the world continues on.

Last time this happened, the gods looked at all the people, and said (in loose approximate translation) "Y'all have been disrespecting the gods, doing bad things to the environment, and been wasteful and careless with what we've given you." And they cursed the people so that everything that they owned would turn against them, and their pots and pans rose up and beat them black and blue, and the people couldn't get any respite and continually moaned in pain.

And that's where howler monkeys came from.

So to replace the now-howler-monkey people, they created a new race of people, and that's us.

The time before that, I don't remember what the sin was, but the punishment was that the sun became very bright and burned the people to tiny cinders, and that's where ants came from.

So, you know, being wasteful and profligate and disrespecting the environment and forgetting the gods, eh...?

(Oh, and also: It's not the 21st; that's about a week off due to a long-standing calendar correlation error. I don't remember which way, though; sorry!)

#222 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 05:58 PM:

C. 217: Well, that's a load of crap. First of all, GOD wiping out the world doesn't excuse people being callous toward their fellow humans, Elect or not. Second, that process is supposed to take quite a while; years, in fact. During which time people could repent. And third, if you believe the Rapture is immediately followed by the instant death of everyone who hadn't been Raptured, who the hell are you warning with that bumper sticker?

They're either lying about what they believe, or they're scumbags. No way around it.

#223 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 06:11 PM:

Xopher @222: Or they could just be making a joke that's in poorer taste than they realize.

#224 ::: Allan Beaty ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 07:05 PM:

Andrew M at # 147: This, by the way, is why when Gregory XIII revised the calendar, he did not go all the way back to Julius Caesar, with the solstice on December 25th, but rather back to the Fourth Century, with the solstice on December 21st - he wanted to get the rules for working out the date of Easter to function properly, by recreating the conditions under which they were adopted.

Or so they say. A far-out conspiracy theory says Gregory really did re-adjust it back to the time of Julius Caesar and that a few centuries of early medieval history are fictitious.

#225 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2012, 07:08 PM:

Back in the '70's there was a TV show narrated by Orson Welles that referenced the Mayan calender. Of course they said back then that the date was going to be December 24th, 2012, Christmas Eve, as Welles intoned in that voice of his.

Personally, I wouldn't be seeking crowdfunding through This Blog if I thought the Rapture, or Zombies, or Alien Space Bats was going to end the world anytime soon. I don't think the world is going to end within our lifetimes.

#226 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 12:14 AM:

A micro Gathering of Light has been achieved! Nancy Mittens, Elliott and I spent a lovely evening together and ate Peruvian food, before I dropped Nancy off at her hotel, where, because it's not a cheap vacation type hotel, she doesn't have free internet.

#227 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 01:19 AM:

So, no suggestions on the hardbound cover repair? If not, I'll just lump it, which is a shame for such a nice book...

#228 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 01:30 AM:

It turns out that NASA isn't the only one. Read the first float-over. The second float-over on the next installment isn't too far off, either.

#229 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 03:19 AM:

Allan Beaty@224: that lost-centuries conspiracy theory reminds me of the book mentioned here, which offers a very... individual explanation of the origin of the English language by rearranging the tree of Indo-European in a daring new way. From the link: So the history, according to Harper, is that English developed into French, which developed into Provençal, which developed into Italian; and then at some point, say around 400 B.C., some Italian merchants invented Latin as a form of shorthand. (Yes, this is really the historical sequence that he suggests.) It was on display in a perfectly respectable academically-inclined bookshop near me a few years ago.

#230 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 05:07 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 947 of Open Thread 178... I should have asked Abi to let you know. I was fairly certain you'd see the notice about the change in advance. Some computer progammer I am, making stupid assumptions like that. My apologies.

#231 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 07:27 AM:

Steve with a book @229: And that in turn reminds me of the central thesis of the Abbé Henri Boudet's strange tract Le Vrai Langue Celtique, which in turn ties in to the whole Rennes-le-Chateau / Priory of Sion conspiraco-hoax.

We're getting dangerously close to a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory, here.

#232 ::: David Goldfarb corrects "gomed" to "gnomed" ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 09:23 AM:

Just in case our esteemed moderators are grepping for "gnome"....

#233 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 10:18 AM:

Re the rapture thread:

Something about this whole discussion rubs me the wrong way. There can't be anything in the world easier than taking a bumper sticker slogan, and inferring a set of monstrous beliefs to go with it. For example, consider what Rush Limbaugh could do with "What if they had a war and nobody came?" or "Question authority?" or "If you want peace, work for justice?"

I broadly agree with the sentiments behind all three of those, and yet I could generate snark of the same sharpness about all three as several people here are about the rapture bumper sticker. Surely, those dirty antiwar hippies want the US to lose its wars (which is what happens if nobody from your side shows up), so that Americans can be looted and raped and killed by invading soldiers. Those damned hippies ought to be shipped off to North Korea. And so on. It's not even hard--a bumper sticker is a pithy one-liner, not a treatise on politics or morality or theology, so it's always pretty easy to beat up on it.

#234 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 10:29 AM:


I think there is a relationship to the idea of stochastic terrorism (aka, inciting violence or other bad behavior among the pool of marginally unbalanced people) and the broader problem of weird ideas like the Mayan Y2K bug apocalypse catching on among the most gullible and disconnected from reality. On one side, I really, really don't want anyone given power to silence "stupid and crazy" ideas, since a lot of what gets labeled as stupid and crazy is just what the powerful would rather not hear, or what goes against current received wisdom even though it's true. On the other side, real people harm themselves and others thanks to various kinds of nonsense which is peddled, sometimes by true believers, but often by people simply wanting a paycheck. (For example, some dismayingly large subset of people think Obama wasn't born in the US, but it seems very unlikely to me that the media types most responsible for this widespread belief buy it themselves.)

#235 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 10:45 AM:

Bruce Durocher @ 150

I don't know where you'd take a book to get a cover re-attached, but my wife has instructions here on how to do it yourself.

#236 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Serge @ 230

Disappointment but hardly tragedy. I don't have any systematic way to "read all new posts", and my on-line schedule on weekends is highly dependent on other activities. (Plus which, getting caught up from being out of town for a week, on top of the conclusion of a major months-long investigation at work had me more distracted than usual.)

#237 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 11:57 AM:

albatross #234: Well, one line you can draw is whether an idea is particularly likely to incite violence among its adherents. I don't think Mayanpocalypse 2012 meets that standard. "Obama is an illegitimate president" (because not native-born) is a trickier case, and illustrates why political speech is so heavily protected; remember, a lot of us feel that way about Shrub's second term.

#238 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 12:11 PM:

Well, the whole psychology of bumper stickers is a curious thing in itself. I come from an ethos which considers putting that kind of proclamation on your car as a fairly significant breach of social contract: my parents certainly felt that broadcasting your opinions is rude and that bragging about your affiliations is tacky. And the whole fundagelical social/church milieu is definitely not mine. But it's easy enough to guess that someone who puts such a bumper sticker on their car sees it as a sort of preaching and a proclamation of affiliation combined, and thinks it clever. The reading I get from it is "smug" because of the soteriology it ties into. Obviously, it is not really a warning that when Jesus comes and calls all his followers into heaven, to beware of the car ahead suddenly swerving off the road. And it is definitely not a warning that the driver of the car is going to Poof! abandon it, because that's just not what the doctrine means.

Also, the comment about the apocalypse is my reaction. The notion that at some point in the parousia a whole bunch of people are simply going to neatly disappear and fly up into the sky to meet Jesus is too much a prettification based on a single verse. If a Christian takes scripture seriously, traffic accidents are hardly going to register among the travails of the world's ending, as though bombing Hiroshima was especially bad because it made some people late for work.

#239 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 12:26 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 236... My employer is supposed to fly me back in February. Let's try again then?

#240 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 01:27 PM:

For those that might be interested, there's what's almost a real-time discussion of 'The Forever War' occurring over at 'The Atlantic' right now:

#241 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Albatross, 233: The argument they're making is not over the content of the sticker (clearly free speech, and many other things), but the attitude it shows to their driving. In that, it would be analagous not to the "Shave the Whales" leftie stickers, but to "If you don't like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk", or "Horn disabled, watch for finger" or the like.

Yes, the Rabid Right could make these sorts of comments about other things - and do - but the lefties would be happy with the consequences of their beliefs. The issue of "I'm saved; whatever the hell happens to *you* is Not My Problem" is such a beautiful example of the issue some of us (including many Christians) have with "I got mine, Jack" Republican Christians that Just Don't See.

In general, re: "unmanned":
I keep wanting to subtitle (with a Sharpie, because I have evil thoughts) those stickers with "Proverbs 11:2" or "Proverbs 16:18". I hadn't thought about the idea that they were okay with causing large amounts of harm with their unguided missile, mostly because, as has been said above, In case of Rapture, it is very likely that cars with that sticker *would be manned*.

Please note that frequently in *my* prayers I acknowledge my own hypocrisy, and do try to be better. Of course, even *that statement* is hypocritical, re: Matthew 6. As Jesus said, it is very hard to be First-World favoured and a good Christian. I try, and I fail. Get up, try again,...

#242 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 01:45 PM:

On another, but possibly related note:

I found access to an unusual pleasure from my childhood this weekend. The Brothers-in-Law were an obscure political satire band from Windsor ON in the late 60s, and by sheer luck, I happened to have two of their albums in my hand-down collection.

It turns out that the lyricist and banjo player for the group is on YouTube, and has posted all of one of the albums (and some other stuff). And some of the other album is available. Good weekend, with of course some of it realizing how things have actually progressed since the 60s, especially in terms of sexism and homophobia.

What really got me though was what really hasn't changed. That could be sung today, in the same place, and nobody would realize when it was written. It could be sung in front of the NYSE and little would be wrong (except for the identity of the Head of State, of course).

On a side note, I have always loved "The Handyman's Lament" - because with a hammer I truly have two left hands. But the idea that it is the husband's to do and to pay for, and that it would be amusing to suggest that the wife could or would, is one of those "time has moved on, and that's a good thing" things I mentioned above.

#243 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 04:01 PM:

re 241: There's no arguing with your obvious distaste for such car owners, but the reflection on their actual driving is something of a stretch. Personally I would read these slogans (and the liberal equivalent) as an indication of people to be avoided at parties rather than on the street.

#244 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 06:22 PM:

Jacque@126: You have just run into the fascinating fact known as non-visual photo-reception. There are cells, in the retina, which a) are sensitive to light, but b) do not trigger any sort of visual image. Furthermore, these cells are tied in to the circadian clock. How do we know this? Well, pretty much by the same type of thing you are describing -- they did experiments with people and animals with various degrees of blindness, including ones with completely destroyed retinas, and tried to reset their circadian clocks using light.

There was a good blog on ScienceBlogs that discussed exactly this.

#245 ::: Craig has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 06:25 PM:

Apparently the gnomes also have SAD this time of year...

#246 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 07:00 PM:

Craig @244: Which is presumably related to blindsight.

#247 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 07:16 PM:

Jacque@246: Aside from both falling under the heading of "bizarre optical phenomena", not all that much. In blindsight, the image-forming parts of the retinas and optic nerves are there, as well as some of the image-processing parts of the brain; its just that those parts are cut off from conscious perception due to brain damage. The non-visual receptors are tied into an entirely separate processing system, and most importantly, are incapable of forming an image.

#248 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 07:33 PM:

C. Wingate: you are probably correct about the distate (more correctly, with the Rapturists, its more a "how can you doublethink so completely? and have you actually *read* the slogans of the guy on your t-shirt?"). But it's not a ludicrous frame of reference - hyperbolic, sure, but not ludicrous. But it's still not the same as the hippy stickers, because the consequence of it actually happening is related to driving in a way that "Visualize world peace" isn't (of course there's the "Fsck world peace, visualize using your turn signal!" one...)

Unfortunately, the "stay off the sidewalk" people are in fact almost always atrocious drivers and a danger to me; the "unmanned" people are just a strong guide to "self-centered". I'm sure there's people who have that sticker on their car who aren't a "me-Christian", but I haven't met one yet.

As you said, stay away from at parties, rather than the road.

On another note, one of my favourite bumper stickers read "Tailgaters induce brake checks."

#249 ::: Bob B ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 08:09 PM:

This sounds like something someone such as Asimov might write in a novel:

"We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures. It is our contention that the future is not set in stone, but is malleable, the result of an interplay among megatrends, game-changers and, above all, human agency. Our effort is to encourage decisionmakers — whether in government or outside — to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding."

I always wondered what it would be like to be around during the Old Kingdom, just not the end of the reign of Pepi II.

#250 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 08:39 PM:

Open-threadiness/HLN: area man is amused to accidentally run across a video of his brother leading singing on that video site, and is now mildly homesick.

#251 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 08:42 PM:

SamChevre: I don't know where you'd take a book to get a cover re-attached, but my wife has instructions here on how to do it yourself.

Thank you! This looks ideal!

#252 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed again. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2012, 08:44 PM:

Probably because he can't type. I think I have a factory second Almond Rocha around here...

#253 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 12:24 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II:

Art supply stores like Dick Blick's should have acid free glue or paste; that's where I got some for an art project some years back.

#254 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 03:24 AM:

Steve with a book @229: That "very... individual" take on linguistic history reminds me somewhat of the claim by some fundamentalist Protestants that the only true and reliable version of the Bible is the 1611 King James or Authorized Version, which according to their "experts" is even *more* accurate than the Greek and Hebrew sources it was translated from! Joined to that claim, Harper's theory may somehow "prove" that ALL human language, past, present and future, began in Elizabethan/Jacobean England, and was perhaps invented wholesale by William Shakespeare, who then (lost for words?) retired to Stratford to relish his accomplishment.

#255 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 12:35 PM:

Greenwald on border searches and the surveillance state

We just had an election in which these policies were simply not up for discussion. Similarly, a CIA whose dominant job is killing people on the president's orders, with no external review, was not really on the agenda. I am having a very hard time imagining how we will ever reverse this trend. Pervasive automated surveillance is being (and has been) built into the infrastructure of our lives. Very powerful people and institutions have gotten used to having this data, and will fight very hard (and probably very dirty) to keep and expand it.

My guess is that we have been seeing some of the impact of this pervasive surveillance on politics and journalism for years now. Over time, this will get more obvious, as it becomes unthinkable to call a halt to it.

Imagine, for a moment, a high profile campaign to roll back the massive automated domestic surveillance and homeland security state, perhaps led by the president. Would it succeed? What odds would you give? What would be media coverage look like? And why would it look that way?

The country is changing in a very-hard-to-reverse way, and we are probably not going to like the endpoint very much. But I doubt we'll be able to do much about it.

Here is a safe but boring prediction: no election in the next several years will be even marginally about rolling back the homeland security state, the automated surveillance, or the president's abiliity to have anyone he chooses killed, disappeared, or tortured. Anyone who tries to bring these issues up will be marginalized by the respectable media and by both parties and by everyone in power, and their campaign will go nowhere.

#256 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 12:44 PM:


Yeah, I've always found the line of argument wrt stochastic terrorism a little worrying, since it seems almost tailor made as a justification for silencing some voices. Reading between the lines, it seems very likely to have been a major reason for killing Awlaki, for example--he was making some apparently pretty high-quality recruiting/propaganda materials for Al Qaida.

And yet, the implications of a claim about reality don't tell us whether that claim about reality is true, and letting them weigh on your evaluation of the claim is a way of blinding yourself. I'm not convinced that anyone has a good understanding or description of stochastic terrorism--it seems like an idea that is inherently very hard to prove anything about. Alice says that Joe Nutbar the mass shooter was driven over the edge by right-wing political hotheads, Bob says it was violent movies, Carol holds heavy metal music responsible, Dave blames his lack of church attendance, etc. To a first approximation, everyone decides that the latest crazy doing something horrible is the fault of people and things he was opposed to before he ever heard of the latest nut doing whatever nutty thing he did.

I don't see antiterror people as being any more immune to this than anti-video-game people.

#257 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 02:51 PM:

Open threadiness: CSEDweek

Since many fluorospherians are interested in computer science and IT, I thought I'd share this. A coalition of organizations is trying to raise awareness of the value of good computer science education (not just "keyboarding") at the K-12 level. CSEDWeek is now in progress (Dec 9-15). More info at CSEDWeek website and on twitter with the #CSEdWeek hashtag.

#258 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 02:54 PM:

albatross @255: A very safe prediction indeed, and I wish fewer people found it boring.

I've discovered that it's depressingly simple to astonish British fans in their 20s by pointing out that, when V for Vendetta was written, London did not have public CCTV cameras.

#259 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 04:05 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed again. @252: If memory serves me right, I was once gnomed for a "Thanks" with an exclamation point after. (Effusive gratitude is apparently a trait of some spammers.) I expect your "Thank you" triggered the same filter.

#260 ::: David Goldfarb has been gnomed while talking about the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 04:06 PM:

I thought that expressions of gratitude with no punctuation would be safe -- guess I was wrong.

[Your expressions of gratitude did have punctuation: Quote marks. -- JDM]

[BTW, we're in the midst of a slow-motion spam flood. At least one spammer has managed to get around the filters. I will figure this out, but expect more spam. Please keep the reports coming. -- JDM]

#261 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 04:43 PM:

On First Finishing Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy

Seldom I've dabbled in the realms of red,
Or splashed my cricket bat with sanguine stains:
Who once the zombie genre sore disdains
Not lightly is amused by dudes undead.
Often attempts most valiant I'd read.
Bill Swears and Alden Bell took noble pains,
Yet none, meseems, did nosh upon my brains
Till Mira Grant scooped mine from out my head.
Then felt I like stout Rudyard Kipling when
Of all the well-worn ways to tribal lays,
He stumbled on that lost Threescore-and-Ten,
That closes hidebound books, and opens eyes
To all they asked - nor craves we read again,
But do, and do! - and cry, "When will we rise?"

#262 ::: Gray Woodland has been gnomed for a sonnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 04:46 PM:

It would appear that even poetry is no longer safe from Their Lownesses.

I have some experimental frumenty, if brainssss do not seem tempting.

#263 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 04:53 PM:

I'm not sure a spam detector could detect poetry and pass it, when the comment would otherwise be gnomed. And if they could...well, spammers wouldn't post in sonnets, but they might post in limericks! So it would probably be a bad idea.

#264 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 05:01 PM:

It's a shame Movable Type doesn't admit of a positive test. Be handy to be able to filter for as well as against.

OTOH, maybe we Fluorospherians wouldn't appreciate the work the gnomes do if we didn't occasionally have to offer supplications.

#265 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Spam in limerick form might at least stand a chance of being amusing.

#266 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 05:34 PM:

[Comment: I have no idea where all this came from, and I normally don't like freeform poetry. It just kinda happened.]

Black-faced gnomes swelter in the basement
of a glittering tower of steel and glass
shoveling coal into mighty engines
that turn the wheels of mechanic cognition

A layer higher, in windowless gaslit rooms
The gnarled fingers of gnomes punch holes
in paper cards, the words they received
forever working off unrepayable debts

The next seven floors are gears of brass
spinning wheels, belts of leather, riot of motion
tiny gnomelets climb among the teeth, unjamming
a misstep--a gnome is spindled and mutilated

Stoop-shouldered elders climb
slowly among the wheels, oiling
greasing, tightening, maintaining
gray coveralls stained with sweat and lubricants.

The next two floors are dormatories
families together, single men and women apart
on Sundays, the shaking, churning stops
Two hours for church

Atop the tower of steel and glass
a single duty gnome
reads the teletype as it prints
idly munching cookies.

#267 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 07:01 PM:

Perhaps we would all be best served to remember that gnomes, however small and earthy, are part of the Fair Folk, and appreciate expressions of gratitude no more than their loftier kinfolk do.

Though they seem to have developed more elaborate tastes in propitiatory gifts than their cousins the brownies, who are said to be satisfied with bowls of milk.

#268 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 08:23 PM:

albatross @ 266: Thank you for that!

#269 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2012, 08:54 PM:

Rikibeth, that's why I've always said that if I ever win an Oscar (or anything like it) I will say "I'd like to thank the little people," then say something like "Daoine na síochána, chomaoin mé tú fiach. Ná eagla go mbeidh sé dearmad a dhéanamh."† Not, you see, the empty words of a thank-you, but a promise to repay the debt.

†"Something like" because I don't really trust Google Translate, and if I said it I'd make sure it was in good Irish.

#271 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 12:16 AM:

Me @ 261:

Seldom I've dabbled in the realms of red,
Often At whiles attempts most valiant I'd read.:

Excuse me, occifer. I was derry vrunk!

albatross @ 266: Wow.

#272 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 08:05 AM:


I received a CSRF error when clicking the I am Over 18 button on your At midnight, Opposite Day is over, OK? phosphene.

Sounded worrying to me, so thought I would let you know.

#273 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 12:03 PM:

Another great piece for the poverty archives, "Poor in Spirit", from Aunt B at Tiny Cat Pants.

"But whenever I hear someone talking about poor people, about why don’t they just…? And I think, man, how nice it must be to feel certain that there’s some “just” you could do that would obviously improve your life."

#274 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 01:35 PM:

So... new hearing aids today. Still getting used to them, but definitely better than the old ones.

#275 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 02:03 PM:

Re sidebar items:

Drones: Paging Charlie Stross: GORGON STARE technology being implemented in the US!

NovelRank app: Between the algorithm problems and Amazon's repeated sleaziness, I'd hoped we were over NovelRank obsession. :-(

#276 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 03:57 PM:

OK, today so far two announcers have said things that make me wonder about editing scripts for radio.

First, a BBC presenter called one of Ravi Shankar's disciples a "master satirist." I can guess what happened there; someone spell-checked the script in haste before handing it to her, and she read it perfectly. (And no, he isn't a satirist at all.)

Second, and less comprehensibly, John Hockenberry on The Takeaway was going on about 12s (this being 12-12-12). He said that '12th' was hard to pronounce "because of the pee aitch and tee aitch together." I spell it "twelfth" myselph.

#277 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 04:46 PM:


If one person appears to be leaving money on the table, it's probably just one person not paying attention or making bad decisions. If millions appear to be leaving money on the table, there is probably something else going on. That may be lack of knowledge, a spoon shortage, lack of spare resources to make otherwise-prudent investments, rational weighing of costs and benefits, misguidance from cultural wisdom, or any number of other things. But typically, it's not explainable by a "they're all stupid."

#278 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 05:46 PM:

albatross #277: Mustn't forget "large-scale exploitation and/or fraud"....

#279 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2012, 09:12 PM:

ObKnitting: those of you who also participate in Ravelry might be interested in this forum.

#280 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 10:17 AM:

Okay, this is embarrassing to admit: Even though I read ridiculous amounts of science fiction and fantasy, and have done so for decades, I have never read any Gene Wolfe. In light of recent developments, I think it's high time I started. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where to start?

#282 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 10:22 AM:

New Wolfies: "The Fifth Head of Cerberus" and the Doctor Death stories come immediately to mind.

#283 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 12:27 PM:

The Shadow of the Torturer is my favorite.

#284 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 01:07 PM:

I had a good day today. Drove about fifty miles, and did a fair bit of walking, with no problems. The wound on my leg is still healing, but I don't feel any pain there, just a general tiredness. I am maybe pushing things a bit, but knowing I can do this feels pretty good.

The weather for the last few days has been bad for driving, freezing fog and such, but today was clear, bright, and almost warm. The forecast for the weekend is up into the mid-forties, in American money.

#285 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 01:07 PM:

Agreeing with Nancy that the New Sun tetralogy is good (though strange) - The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, The Citadel of the Autarch - or you could try one of his collections, like _The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and other stories_.


#286 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 01:16 PM:

Completely off topic (but then, what are open threads for!) but I just saw this really awesome rape awareness video. It's right! She's had alcohol, she willingly went upstairs with him, they were kissing - but when he forces her on to the bed and rapes her, it's called rape.

I thought the community here would appreciate it, if you haven't already seen it.

#287 ::: Claire has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 01:17 PM:

Perhaps for the link?

I have tea cookies to offer - sugar cookies flavoured with actual tea leaves. Crunchy and delicious!

#288 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2012, 02:51 PM:

University of Chicago receives package for Indiana Jones.

I can't even begin to call this a prank. It's epic performance art!

#289 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 06:40 AM:

Claire @ 286: Thank you so much! I've already passed this on.

#290 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 07:03 AM:

Re: introductory Gene Wolfe — I know I'd read Gene Wolfe short stories over the years, but Nightside of the Long Sun was the first book of his I'd picked up and become engrossed in. This turned out to be the first book in a four book series referred to as The Book of the Long Sun. This later led me into the three book sequel, The Book of the Short Sun.

This led to reading other Wolfe books — he is an interesting writer, but The Shadow of the Torturer stories didn't engage me in the same way, and I never felt compelled to complete that series.

#291 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 07:51 AM:

Craig #280: Let me put in a good word for Wolfe's Wizard Knight duology. Currently available in flashy new reissues, but it's a classic. (Note that Knight is the first book, Wizard the second.)

#292 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 10:02 AM:

"You brought a gun to a robot fight."

From the 5th and last issue of "Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific".
Have I mentionned before how much I like Robo's stories?
("Yes. Plenty of times.")

#293 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 10:30 AM:

Thank you all for your suggestions; I have a few things I'm in the middle of reading, but now I know what I'm reading after that.

#294 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 12:35 PM:

What is going on in the United States consciousness?

Today's mass murder atrocity in the USA involves the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT. with apparently two mass murderers. The news media is reporting children dead and people hospitalized. One murderer is dead in the school and a manhunt is on the for another.

#295 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 03:46 PM:

I realize this is a fraught question, and given local history in Colebrook, a particular fraught question for at least one of our moderators.

However, from a practical planning viewpoint, perhaps we should have a post on "How to get away from a gunman trying to kill everyone in sight: Basic defense for real people." Not, you know, instructions on how to be Rambo, but how to assess your surroundings and make use of the place to defend yourself and escape.

I can scarcely believe that I have typed that paragraph. Placing "Plan for escaping deranged person with a gun" on a level with "Plan for [extreme weather/geological event/other natural disaster]" is not something I would have ever considered needing to do. Despite growing up and living most of my life in an area where guns were common and to some extent taken for granted as things people might have around the house, it's not felt like an issue that needed to be addressed in my personnel planning. Tornados, ice storms, power failures, flash floods, structure fires, and the loss of integrity in any of the local dams have all presented themselves as issues, but the whole 'shoot up a public place' thing has not seemed quite so likely. Given this last year, however, it's edged past the dams and the ice storms, and is pulling up on the tornados and structure fires.

Maybe it's just me.

#296 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 04:03 PM:

In my academic library, we've recently had training in each department on "shooter in place" situations with an officer who shows a (possibly rather triggering) film, leads a discussion, and helps each unit assess its own area's safe places, exit routes, and duress procedures. And I wish little kids would never have to do this, but as our officer points out (and has been pointed out here on Making Light), we now have fire drill training for kids simply because of horrific fires in schools in the past. I know that every department that has had this training has reported more confidence in their ability to minimize damages, and we've rewritten our emergency handbook to include his recommendations.

The basic outline was:
1. Get Out, Call Out, and Help Out. If you can't do that,
2. Hide Out and Keep Out. If you can't keep the shooter out,
3. Take Out

There's much more to it, but that was the easy way to boil it down to mnemonics. When there is a shooter, your first responsibility is not to directly help the patrons in the library; it's to get out and get trained responders there as soon as possible.

#297 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 04:03 PM:

It always seems like these mass shootings happen in bursts, and are likely partly set off by copycat sort of phenomena (maybe just the whackjob with the gun deciding "say, instead of just shooting myself, why don't I go out in a blaze of glory.") But it's hard to say, because it's a big country with a fair bit of gun violence, and I think the less spectacular mass-shootings only get to be national news if it's a slow news week or there's some especial interest in them for some reason. I wonder if the original triggering event was that NFL star in KC who shot his wife or girlfriend, and then shot himself in front of his coaches.

In general, our response to mass-shootings violates the DNFTT principle, though it's not too clear to me how to avoid that. I mean, in anyplace you'd actually be willing to live, having some nut shoot up a mall, restaurant, school, etc., and kill a bunch of people is going to be big news in the sense that it's shocking and rare and scary and spectacular.

#298 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 04:06 PM:

Fidelio: Jim's Post along these lines from several years ago I think there may have been more along these lines....

#299 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 04:14 PM:

The estranged aunt of the Oregon mall shooter, who raised him since his mother's death, apologizes:

She comes across as . . . dodgy. Depressed and self-medicating. Being raised in an unstable household could explain a lot.

#300 ::: Stefan Jones gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 04:15 PM:

Whoops . . . I posted a compressed link to a news story.

The gnomes can feed themselves. I gave all my milk and cookies to the imps who are pounding on my head in hopes that they'll go away.

#301 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 04:45 PM:

albatross @298--Thanks! I wasn't sure whether we'd gone there before or not.

#302 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 07:22 PM:

The media circus frenzy reporting is now limning a picture involving a troubled 20 year old dressed in a copycat fashion to some of the more recent mass murders in the USA, who apparently lived with his mother, and whose mother was a martinet.

Nasty innuendo include the implication that his parents' being divorced effected in large part his homicidal murder-suicide spree. Allegedly his father and elder brother live in New Jersey are and being/have been questioned.

#303 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 08:16 PM:


I have verified this with her, and she kindly gave me permission to be the one to break the news here. She is listed as "Tolkien Scholar" about 1/3 of the way thru the credits, on the right side of the screen.

How cool is that?

#304 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 08:30 PM:

I suppose that it's inevitable that I recall the Dunblane and Hungerford shootings in the UK, and the political reactions. Dunblane was a school shooting, too similar to Sandy Hook in the number and age of the victims.

Our politicians went crazy.

From here. a lot of American politicians look crazy anyway. I don't envy you.

#305 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 08:33 PM:

I suppose that it's inevitable that I recall the Dunblane and Hungerford shootings in the UK, and the political reactions. Dunblane was a school shooting, too similar to Sandy Hook in the number and age of the victims.

Our politicians went crazy.

From here. a lot of American politicians look crazy anyway. I don't envy you.

#306 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 09:47 PM:

Lee (303): That is very cool.

#307 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2012, 11:52 PM:

And in a real smh development, apparently everyone with the same name as the shooter is being harassed on Twitter.

How stupid can people be? The SHOOTER is DEAD. That means they KNOW their harassing messages will be read ONLY by innocent people.

Days like this I want a species transplant.

#308 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 12:37 AM:

Xopher @ 307: One of my co-workers today said he hoped this guy would burn in hell forever, and that he was going to do whatever he could to keep him there.

Last week, a good friend had her house invaded and a shotgun stuck in her face while she was robbed. (They appear to have caught those cats.) And now this.

I know someone whose kid was there: "I got there to help in his class today and the police were just arriving. Good thing that for once I wasn't as early as I normally am."

"I just put him to bed. He was hiding his head under the blanket asking if there were 'two-two criminals'."

And all this week I've been reading remarks from dickclutching idiots who hang their gun by their loofah--yes, really, supposedly--while they shower and who would have been happy to help out by getting my friend killed if they'd been there to Fuck Things Up Real Good, because their goddam rights under the fucking sickened amendment are really all about killing people over stuff.

Sigh. There's no point in taking out systemic problems on frightened individuals, no matter what butt cheeks they dropped out of. And that's a shame, 'cause I'd like to take it out on them.

#309 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 01:32 AM:

News that nobody will hear from the mass media: In China today, a man went to an elementary school and stabbed 26 students and one adult.

Total body count? ZERO. Everybody survived.

It's a lot harder for a loon to kill a bunch of people with a knife than it is with a gun.

#310 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 01:49 AM:

News that nobody will hear from the mass media:

It's the second story on CNN right now, just after the Connecticut event.

#311 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 02:20 AM:

Thanks, Lee @303 and Mary Aileen @306!

#312 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 02:28 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft... Congrats!

#313 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 02:40 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft: Too cool!

#314 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 11:03 AM:

Mass shootings and terrorist attacks have a great deal in common--I kind of think of mass shootings as (usually) non-ideologically-motivated terrorism. So it's sort of depressing, but not surprising, to see the exact same kind of errors made in dealing with one as with the other, filtered through the political positions and interests of the speaker.

#315 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 12:50 PM:

Meanwhile, the Seattle cops won't let me carry a fixed-blade knife [which I tend to prefer, from long habit]. I guess they fear a drive-by stabbing.
I had a nightmare a few months back about being in a public place when a crazed gunman let loose. I wonder if I should get a bulletproof vest, but I fear it would place even more strain on my bad knees.
For some time now, when I am in a strange place, I sometimes find myself looking for alternate exits. Not that I could run very fast with the aforesaid knees.
As if school wasn't hassle enough already. I recall "civil defense" drills that always unnerved me, more than fire drills.
Wish I could comfort everyone involved.

#316 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 01:03 PM:

Mass shootings and terrorist attacks have a great deal in common--

Many, many years ago, when I went to the seminar on "EMS in a Violent World" at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in New Jersey (the one where, infamously, the graphic on the cover of the book showed the World Trade Center with crosshairs centered around the 88th floor, this in 1995), we learned about B-NICE incidents (Biological, Nuclear, Incendiary, Chemical, Explosive), where armed assault was classified and treated in the same way, as a HAZMAT incident. We'd establishing hot, warm, and cool zones, gathering tools and supplies, waiting for the specially-trained and equipped people to show up, and so on.

This was the approach up 'til the Littleton, Colorado school shooting incident in '99 where cops waited outside the school, merely keeping bystanders away, while the killers continued to move and kill others inside the building.

Lessons learned from that forced a change in tactics. Now, the first on scene enter at once, with overwhelming force, moving fast to locate and neutralize the shooter(s), bypassing the injured, with no emphasis on verbal contact or negotiation with the shooter.

#317 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 01:59 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man gets carded upon buying beer at grocery store. Man's day is made.

#318 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 03:15 PM:

315 ::: Angiportus

Locating alternate exits, along with keeping high situational awareness, is something that I've long advocated. (See various posts on fire safety, etc.)

As far as body armor goes, be aware that it is expensive, hot, heavy, restricts motion, restricts sensation, and can produce unhappy legal consequences.

For example, in my happy state, where anyone can get any kind of firearm they like and carry it however they please, committing a misdemeanor while wearing body armor is itself a felony. This was learned by one presidential hopeful who jaywalked while wearing a body armor.

#320 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 03:30 PM:

Jim, #310: That's good to know. Are they doing any compare-and-contrast?

Also, that's weird about the body armor. Any ideas on the reasoning behind that?

#321 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 03:49 PM:

I think that the reasoning behind the body armor thing is that committing a crime while wearing body armor is proof of intent to do something that might make someone else want to shoot you.

#322 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 05:00 PM:

Open-threaded free-magazine question: I have about 40 years worth of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (incomplete) that I would like to find a home for. I don't want to take them to a used-book store, and I don't want to just dump them in the recycling bin. Condition ranges from pages tattered and falling out to excellent.

So, if you're in the Houston area and interested, let me know. I really can't ship them, so local only.

#323 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 08:31 PM:

Counting murders, suicides, and accidents, there are around 30,000 firearm-related deaths every year in the USA.

That works out to around 85/day.

#324 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 09:39 PM:

And why am I in the credits? I was hired to check over the script, determine the source of each character, object, bit of dialogue, location, etc, and advise as to whether it came from a source to which they had the rights. I also threw in general observations and alerts about continuity errors. I have noted one item I flagged that did make it into the movie.

#325 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 09:41 PM:

Popping on briefly to keep a little bit caught up -- I'm in a hotel room in Niagara-on-the-Lake (well, in a hotel room in an indoor-water-park resort in Niagara), ON, waiting for my kid to go to sleep so I can go exerbike my cardio regimen and then go to bed.

Hope all are well; my net access will be very limited for the next month-or-so. :->

#326 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 11:29 PM:

Serge at 317:

I got carded once when I went to a supermarket and bought ginger beer.

#327 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2012, 11:58 PM:

Elise says hi, and that there's a power outage, so she's conserving her phone.

#328 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 12:29 AM:

I put primer on the drywall of my new garage today. It has been nearly 30 years since I painted anything larger than a model rocket; I kind of learned as I went along.

After finishing painting the corners and seams with a brush, I discovered that I had nothing to clean it off in. I've been moving in lots of books and games and linens, but no jars or buckets small enough to fit under a spigot, and I didn't want to mess up my nice new sinks.

It occurred to me that just about every modern house has a slop sink of sorts . . . the toilet.

Right now my primer brush is soaking overnight in the ground-floor "half bath" loo.

Damn handy!

#329 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:06 AM:

Re: solstice and equinox dates

In my personal way of marking the seasons, it's neither the moment nor the day of the solstice that matters. It's the longest night and the shortest night, and I've never been able to find anyone else who celebrates the longest night rather than the shortest day. As a consequence, I've also found it upsettingly difficult to find out which night is longest with any certainty.
If anyone has any good resources or knows of people with a similar bent, I'd be most grateful for links.

I couldn't tell you why it's the nights that are meaningful to me. Perhaps because I tend to be nocturnal? My most productive hours are after sunset, and I greet autumn's darkening evenings with deep relief. Which I realise will seem very unfair to everyone who needs blue lights.

#330 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:30 AM:

duckbunny @ #329, I don't know if this is good enough for your purposes, but Wikianswers seems to think the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere is Dec 21. In the Southern Hemisphere it's June 21.

#331 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:31 AM:

Wow, something I can actually help with! This page has a length-of-day calculator. It shows sunrise and sunset times, too, so you can pretty easily figure out the longest night.

I used to keep the Vigil of the Long Night, but I'm too old now.

#332 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:39 AM:

HLN: We lost our boy cat very early this morning. He was 18, apparently healthy up until the last couple weeks. It was fast -- less than 5 hours from the point we took him to the EVR to saying goodbye. Fuzzy was a wonderful cat -- my furry Buddha -- placid, accepting, affectionate. I've been sniffing his favorite places and blankets all day and wishing I'd taken more pictures. Fuzzy's patience and good nature made me a better person.

Not sure what's going through our 19 year old girl cat's head yet. They've been together since Fuzzy was a kitten. She's eating and well tolerating her humans lavishing her with attention. She's always been the alpha, but it's been a long time since she was the only.

The humans are... okay. Paranoid about girl-cat's health (who, according to all tests, is spectacularly healthy for a ten year old, much less nineteen so I think that puts us in Bargaining with a heaping dose of Magical Thinking.) We've been expecting we'd lose one or both for four years, cat demographics being what they are. There must be a word for deeply shaken by an entirely expected event, but for now, I can't find it.

#333 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:44 AM:

A copy of the nautical almanac will tell you which night is longest.

We've already had the earliest sunset, and the time of sunset is creeping later day by day now. The time of dawn is also getting later and will continue to do so 'til early January.

Depending on your latitude...

Let me see, I'm very close to 45° North. So lengths of the nights are, for me:

December lengths of nights

16 Sunrise 0718 sunset 1606 15h 12m
17 15h 13m
18 15h 13m
19 15h 13m
20 15h 13m
21 Sunrise 0721 sunset 1608 15h 13m
22 15h 13m
23 15h 13m
24 Sunrise 0722 sunset 1610 15h 12m

The night of the 20th will be fractionally longer than any of those around it.

#334 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 02:02 AM:

Steve C @ 322: I would love those. If you don't get a taker quickly, I have a friend in town who might well pick them up and split them with me. I'll drop her a note and see what she says in the meantime.

#335 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 02:11 AM:

Many thanks to all three of you. It's inexplicably reassuring to have a definite date.

Inexplicably, because I haven't figured out what I believe that makes the longest night important. It just is.

#336 ::: duckbunny is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 02:14 AM:

I can offer cheese and homemade pear chutney, if that would suit?

#337 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 02:21 AM:

@CZEdwards: Sorry to hear about your loss.

After a bad experience with a family cat, I hope that when it is time for my dog to go that it is quick and unequivocal.

#338 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 03:01 AM:

CZEdwards, #332: My condolences on your loss. It's especially hard when you've had one for that long.

#339 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 04:54 AM:

I've come to the conclusion that 2012 sucks.

I will not participate in the gun control thread on Making Light. I looked at it. There were comments there that made me feel that any differing opinions would be rejected out of hand. So I won't do it.

My sister died of cancer last August. A lot of people whom I admire are also gone. Death, it seems, has impinged on my consciousness to a worrying, annoying extent.

I have been unemployed for a lot of the year. My ongoing job hunt has been fruitless. My extended benefits run out in January. I'm not sure what happens then. I've been seeking help and support through my Absurd*A*Tees link. With a few exceptions, notable for that reason, I've not gotten much support. Despite the tone of what I've written, I still have hope. It may be tinged with nerves, but it is there.

Here to the hope that 2013 will be a better year.

#340 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 06:24 AM:

Thanks, TexAnne.

Power's on again here, at least for now. Adventures in infrastructure, I guess.

Condolences to CZEdwards &co., and comfort to all who need it.

#341 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 09:17 AM:

CZEdwards @332: Sympathies for your loss. Knowing that 18 is a good age for a cat doesn't make the actual loss easier.

Wyman Cooke @339: Here's hoping 2013 is a better year for you.

#342 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 10:38 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ #334 -

Sounds great! My email is sclayworth99 at gmail dot com.

#343 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 12:26 PM:

CZEdwards @332: My sincere condolences on your loss. I know the feeling of having an elderly cat, and of expecting Bad Things at any moment, but it is still a surprise when that moment arrives. (I had worried that I would not know in time to ease her passing, and I am grateful that she gave me some advance notice, and yet -- her presence for twenty years of my life means that her absence is profound.)

#344 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 12:52 PM:

CZEdwards #332: My condolences.

There must be a word for "deeply shaken by an entirely expected event"

Forewarning is little help against grief.

#345 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:00 PM:

Any thoughts about proper spelling of hypothetical words? I'm trying to create a verb disenmoment (usally with a passive inflection, i.e. "disenmomented", "taken out of the moment") but am going back and forth on whether it "ought to" be spelt with a nm or a double <em>m</em> -- this latter was my initial impulse but when I read it I repeatedly tripped over the three adjacent em's of disemmomented -- a friend suggested replacing the first with an n and that does seem to break it up nicely, so my opinion is currently that the one I posted is the hypothetically correct construction.

#346 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:34 PM:

The Modesto Kid (345): I would definitely spell it 'disenmoment'. The pronunciation would probably default to 'disemmoment', because differentiating an adjacent 'n' and 'm' is tough, but that needs to be an 'en' in the middle. It's the same prefix as in 'enlighten'.

#347 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 01:45 PM:

Right -- but in "(dis)embody" the n elides [correct verb?] before the labial consonant; my initial impulse was that it would do so before an "m" too.

#348 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 03:23 PM:

The Modesto Kid (347): Good point. And as I said, the pronunciation would probably elide the 'n'. But spelling it 'disenmoment' makes the source--and thus the meaning--much clearer, at least to me.

#349 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 03:28 PM:

My husband says (and I always defer to him on this stuff, 'cos he's the one with the English degree), it would definitely be "disen".

#350 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 03:39 PM:

Nice! thanks Mary and dcb.

#351 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 04:50 PM:

I haven't been round these parts much of late, but how could I not share this with the Fluorosphere? A 12-minute version of the Hobbit from the mid-1960s, in which the horrible dragon Slag sleeps coiled atop a glittering hoard of "Wait, what did you just say?"

#352 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 08:34 PM:

CZEdwards, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of Fuzzy. Yes, knowing that it's likely to come soon doesn't make it any easier.

#353 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2012, 09:50 PM:

CZEdwards, I'm sorry for your loss.

#354 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 12:49 AM:

I don't like raccoons:

I wish I had a motion triggered strobe light to scare the bastard off. Or a motion pictured electrified grid, but that might end up hurting my dog.

#355 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 02:18 AM:

AKICIML: I've run across a reference to the original soil profile of forested middle Europe. The paper states that a lot of the fertile agricultural land (cambisols) of the river valleys actually represents erosion caused by deforestation of the uplands, which are now stony. Given that the substrate in much of middle Europe's lowlands is glacial deposits--then what was the soil in the lowlands like before humans deforested the heights? All I could gather was, "well, you have a river, then gravel substrate with patches of forest, then you get up into the higher country at about 400 m." Was it patches of woods with gravel fields down by the Elbe and the Eger and so forth? That doesn't seem right.

#356 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 09:20 AM:

CZEdwards and Wyman: My condolences.

#357 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 10:05 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 355

This is sheer guesswork based on my observation of farming in hilly geographies (mostly Appalachia, but also some of the limestone hill belt).

Initially, under forest cover, the hills have duff, then a thin layer (a couple inches) of high-humus soil, then sand/clay soil to a few feet with increasingly more and larger rocks as the depth increases. The valleys have similar soils, but more organic matter (since there is more vegetation due to better water supply). Once the tree cover on the hills is lost, that foot or two of soil before the big rocks starts gets washed into the valleys, along with the duff, so the valleys end up with soils with much more organic matter at deeper layers, and many fewer rocks at the top layers.

#358 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 06:08 PM:

Sen Daniel Inouye has died.

#359 ::: GlendaP is with the Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 06:11 PM:

URL probably.

I have one serving left of pork chile verde.

#360 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 06:36 PM:

Thank you, everyone. We're getting through it.

On the upside, it looks like one of the relatively close universities has a stem-cell study on feline renal failure ongoing. Angel (our survivor) qualifies. Even if it doesn't help her specifically, it will push the research for all living creatures.

#361 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 06:53 PM:

CZEdwards @360: I'm very sorry for your loss, and I hope that Angel does well.

(My oldest cat, Circe, has chronic renal disease; it was touch-and-go when she initially crashed, and though she's responding very well to treatment, we're treating every day we have with her as a gift. I sympathize.)

#362 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 06:55 PM:

Wyman Cooke #339: My sympathies. May 2013 be better.

#363 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 11:08 PM:

Xopher @193, I've long felt that if someone is born again, then they shouldn't be eligible to drive for sixteen years after that, and vote for eighteen. Why should second births be privileged over first?

clew @204, I didn't read the whole article, but the pirate you mention is in there, fairly early on. Not by name, but by description (and with a link, I believe).

#364 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 11:09 PM:

According to Google news, President Obama has caved: he has agreed to the Republicans' demand that the income level above which taxes shall be raised will be $400,000, not $250,000, and he has agreed to change the way the Social Security cost of living adjustment is made, in a way which will mean that the very poorest people will be impacted most, because what appears to be a very small change to a wealthy person can make a huge difference to someone counting every penny.

I've e-mailed my objection to the White House; lots of good it will do...

Very pissed-off Lizzy here. That's my life you're f*****g with, dude.

#365 ::: Lizzy L is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2012, 11:10 PM:

Want a cookie?

Yeah, me too.

#366 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2012, 11:55 AM:

Kip W: Well, mostly because the second birth is metaphorical and relates to spiritual state, and thus has absolutely nothing to do with ones competence as a driver or as a citizen. Would you have us all arrested for cannibalism too?

Believing that you are likely to vanish into thin air and choosing to drive anyway is arguably evidence that you are an unsafe driver (though I'd argue it's equally likely to be evidence of doublethink). It is not evidence that everyone who shares some other beliefs of yours about spiritual second chances is also an unsafe driver.

Or, to put it another way, we treat childhood and being born again differently because they are very obviously different things, and pretending otherwise to score rhetorical points is a cheap trick.

#367 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2012, 03:42 PM:

People distributing polio vaccine killed in Pakistan. I gather this may be partly due to our use of people doing this to look for Bin Laden awhile back, though the Taliban types don't seem to need a lot of reason to kill people.

#368 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2012, 07:11 PM:

Livejournal is doing "emergency maintenance" today. Another DOS attack?

#369 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2012, 09:03 PM:

Nancy Mittens, I sent you an email to the account you seldom check.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled conversation.

#370 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 01:14 AM:

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the ganache
that was in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for truffles

Forgive me
they were delicious
so creamy
and so crisp

#371 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 01:52 AM:

Looking at the fuss about Instagram's apparent copyright grab, two things come to mind.

First, there's a long history of websites with user-created content having a TOS which looks like a copyright grab. And there is some technical justification: can you safely remove content from the back-ups? But, in ancient times on the internet, did the lawyers have any understanding of the technology?

(And, it isn't one of Brad Templeton's Copyright Myths, but the early copyright grabs seemed to think you could not license a copyright, you had to own it, which suggests lawyers with a fuzzy and obsolete understanding of US law.)

The second point is that, if Instagram really meant to say something different, and just used some bad phrasing, why didn't they get it right in the first place? Passing it off as a mistake doesn't hold water. The TOS are a contractual document, and you would think that a team of corporate lawyers could avoid turning out something that obviously wrong.

But I do see companies, dealing with legally untutored customers, who have a history of poor communication with their customers. I've seem companies, with a TOS document which specifies a notice period for changes, ignoring that notice period when they make changes. I've seen spokesmen answering questions about some new clause, and giving a different answer the next day.

Too much corporate communication with customers can be described as, "Ask us your questions, and we will make up shit."

#372 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 09:02 AM:

Discovery off the morning: speculoos butter mixes real nice into coffee. :-)

#373 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 11:51 AM:

Robert Bork has made his last video purchase.

#374 ::: Wolf Baginski ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 01:28 PM:

Wolf Baginski, an anthropomorphic bear in Second Life, on being invited to a "Back To Nature" party that was likely to lead to a lot of bare skin, remarked "I may be short, but I am neither nasty nor brutish."

Some people actually got the joke.

#375 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 09:40 PM:

duckbunny @366:
Q: Why do firemen wear red suspenders?
A: To score a cheap rhetorical trick.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: Another cheap rhetorical trick. It's the only possible answer!

#376 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 09:50 PM:

Oh, and here's our family Christmas card for the year. Happy Holidays, everybody!

#377 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2012, 11:53 PM:

And for those who haven't seen John Kessel sing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins while dressed as Galadriel as he waits to see The Hobbit -- well, don't say you weren't warned that you might be able to save yourself.

#378 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 01:24 AM:

Was there someone in John Kessels' entourage holding a sign that read "He's raising $2500 for a good cause"?

#379 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 02:35 AM:

Hey, Abi's particle, The Basement? I used to work in that building. Never got to the basement, though. It's called the Pittock Block. The lot originally had the home of the owner of The Oregonian newspaper, Henry Pittock. He sold it to a developer after he built a mansion in Portland's West Hills. The office building was built in 1913 (or at least that's when they were excavating the 3-story basement). It does house a splendid data center, which might be there because of a central office nearby. It was a US West CO back when the data center was created — back when US West was one of the 7 Regional Bell Operation Companies in the telecom world of long, long ago.

The Pittock Block office building is reasonably handsome, is across the street from a splendid set of food carts and is only a few blocks from Powell's Books. Plus the ghosts of old newspapers in the basement. What's not to like?

#380 ::: janetl has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 02:36 AM:

I did rather indulge in links. Would the gnomes like some ganache?

#381 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 06:50 AM:

It is very apparent, from the clips I have seen, that The Hobbit is full of tricks to show off the 3D. I think I shall have to take the chance. And I cannot avoid wearing spectacles. I am not looking forward to the experience. It still looks like a huge film from a small book.

PJ is still talking about The Dam Bustets. If it were up to me, all I would do is rework the effects, things such as the water explosions.I think he will mess up a classic.

#382 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 07:27 AM:

I concur with my husband's review of the Hobbit movie: "An hour and 45 minutes of good storytelling. Unfortunately it's 2:45 long."

Every time I got sucked into the story, a huge unnecessary CG-fest spat me back out.

Good casting. Shame about the writing.

#383 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 09:12 AM:

re 382: I would clock it out at 2:15, but yeah, the over-the-top CG battle scenes and the goblin anthill should have been reined in. OTOH sitting through four trailers with pounding orchestral scores and apocalyptic wordless choirs playing over a torrent of scenes of titanic destruction interspersed with the faces of the worried/frightened/resolute/enraged meant that when Howard Shore's music finally started, my relaxation was palpable.

#384 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 09:54 AM:

Dave Bell @381, I saw it in 2D, as 3D makes my head hurt, and worsens the vertigo I get from long panning shots and flying sequences.

My feeling was that all the battle scenes ought to have been cut by 20% -- this, however, is a feeling I have about all epic fantasy and action-adventure movies -- and that it didn't need such a long sequence about Radagast the Brown, but otherwise, it was delightfully faithful to my childhood memories, and I appreciated Jackson not leaving things out. I was reciting lines of dialogue under my breath as they came up. I would have liked to hear one or two of the riddle exchanges that got cut, but I admit that it would have slowed the pacing just as much as the battle sequences did... though including Gollum's flashbacks would have been nice.

I highly recommend seeking out a 2D showing, if you already dislike 3D. They are available.

If I already said all this upthread, I apologize for the duplication. But... it was the movie I've been waiting for since I was seven, and it mercifully lacked the cheap jokes of the LotR films, and I don't at all mind that there will be three, because it means I won't have to lament anything being left out.

#385 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 12:51 PM:

Rikibeth @384: the battle scenes ought to have been cut by 20% ... need such a long sequence about Radagast the Brown, ... I highly recommend seeking out a 2D showing, ... I don't at all mind that there will be three

On balance, sounds like I will be content to wait until it comes out in DVD, so I can watch it all in one go, and FF past the extra bits.

#386 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 02:14 PM:

I'm in California at my mom's house in Riverside. Trying to use a Mac and finding it very difficult. Trying to do something for my part-time job, and not finding a picture-editing program (like Paint, not like PhotoShop). Anyone know if the Mac even comes with one? I just need to crop and size a photo.

Also, I discovered just before getting off the flight to Phoenix that my seatmate was also going on to Ontario (the closest airport to Riverside). So I said "At the risk of sounding mystical, see you on the other plane!"

#387 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 02:17 PM:

Because every Mayan Apocalypse needs a good garage band.

#388 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 02:23 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @386: I just need to crop and size a photo.

Look for Preview. If you drag any image off onto your desktop and then double-click to open it, Preview should load by default. If you need an actual, reasonable Photoshop equivalent, I can recommend Pixelmator.

#389 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 03:03 PM:

Jacque, Thanks! I had been looking at Preview before, but it didn't appear to have any way to copy and paste or save the lack of understanding was pretty basic: I hadn't realized the program menu is at the top of the screen on a Mac, instead of at the top of the window where it belongs as on a PC.

But only your directing me to Preview made me look harder and figure this out. THANK YOU!

#390 ::: Xopher Halftongue is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 03:04 PM:

Chocolate-covered candied orange peel?

#391 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Rikibeth, #384: We also saw it in 2D, since my partner gets nasty headaches from 3D. I, however, would like to see the 3D version and may try to go again with some other friends.

I like the fact that Jackson is including some back-story and material from the Appendices, and making the links to LOTR explicit. While there are some things I'd have done differently, overall I was pleased with it, and am looking forward to the next one.

#392 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 04:01 PM:

Xopher : iPhoto may or may not be on the machine (some came with it free).

HLN: Local elderly cat has received her first subcutaneous infusion. Cat believes this fuss is highly overrated and not worth the effort. Cat's human servant finds infusing cats far more difficult than lab mice. Both cat and human recovering with Sense & Sensibility. Cat's human remembers why she dislikes monoject needles.

#393 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 05:12 PM:

McCain and other Senators slam Zero Dark Thirty for implying that torture works.
So does the House Intelligence Committee chair.

I picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly to read about The Hobbit. It also contains a review of this piece of warporn, from which I quote:

Part of the power of Zero Dark Thirty is that it looks with disturbing clarity at the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that were used after 9/11, and it says, in no uncertain terms: They worked.

Sony is apparently being mealy-mouthed about the whole thing, which should surprise no one.

#394 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 05:25 PM:

I'd have a lot more respect for McCain and those other senators if they didn't keep voting for torture 'enhanced interrogation'.

#395 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 07:33 PM:

CZEdwards @392: It really does get better. Circe's six months in, and she's at the point where she just lies down and purrs through the treatment, and then makes a cheerful little 'meep' when it's done and she gets her praise (and treats). I don't even have to hold her, she's gotten that used to it.

I don't like the monoject needles, either; I use Terumo 20-gauge. They're much sharper than the monoject, and they're thin-walled, so the fluid infusion goes a little faster. I saw a very distinct improvement in Circe's comfort level with the Terumos. One thing I had to learn (unfortunately, by doing) is to skim the needle across the top of the platysma; it's very easy to accidentally go through it. (Much to my dismay.)

A site that's been a lifesaver for me is Tanya's CRF site. There, I found resources on getting inexpensive supplies (I was not going to spend $25 per bag of Ringers, which is what my vet was charging) and techniques to make the whole rigamarole go more easily.

If it helps, the vet didn't think Circe would live out the week, and if she did, would be dead within a month; that was early July, and she's still going strong.

#396 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 09:41 PM:

Trigger warning: needles

Jennifer Baughman: Yes, and thanks for reminding me that easier comes in time. Angel's on a weensy dose (30 ml) because she's 4.5 pounds. I'm using a syringe because it's a lot easier at that scale, and even with a 22 monoject, it only took about two minutes. It's not the injecting that's bugging me -- I've done it thousands of times with lab animals -- it's the fact that it's Angel. If I kill a mouse, I've merely wasted $6 of somebody else's money and shortened its life by days, at most.

For the most part, this is an experiment. At these doses, I can mostly just sneak it into her (she doesn't mind water in her food; moar graveez pleeze, kthnxbai). Still, I've got proper needles and syringes on order, because the time will come and I'd rather she be prepared. We don't use monojects in the lab -- mice are too small. (Of course, I'm used to using 30g...)

That CRF site has been up in my browser ever since Fuzzy started having issues a couple weeks ago. It's enormously helpful. What's the danger with piercing the platysma in cats? (This, the vet did not mention during my refresher, and it's not something that's a problem with mice.)

Angel woke up with vestibular weirdness today (she's done this before) so she's dizzy and failing every DEX check. These were much easier when we had two of them -- right now, I'm skittish and Mr. Me is skittish and we're being the worst helicopter parents.

#397 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2012, 11:19 PM:

Most of you have probably ridden roller coasters, yeah? Think about the bit where you've gone past the first two big drops, but the ride isn't over and you're still being thrown around a bit to the left and right and up and down.

That part is fun on a roller coaster. On an airplane, not so much.

My plane flight from Houston to Baltimore had a stopover first in Panama City, Florida. The Houston-Florida leg had the worst turbulence I have ever experienced in my entire life. It actually took two tries to land: the plane was nearly down on the runway when the pilot decided the crosswinds were too strong for safety. So he took it back up and circled around. Fortunately on the second attempt the winds had gentled a little.

One of the people who got on in Florida told me they'd had a tornado warning. I believe it.

The second leg was delayed a bit. Apparently FAA regulations require a plane to be inspected after that sort of thing and it took some time to get an inspector out. As far as I am concerned, those regulations are sensible and laudable.

#398 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 12:21 AM:

Trigger warning: needles

CZEdwards: As long as you're using sterile needles, piercing the platysma isn't likely to cause damage, though in rare cases they can get an abscess. It is more painful (very obviously so, in Circe's case). I've also noticed that when it happens, the flow is slower and sometimes stops, requiring a re-stick. (Which is high up on the Not Fun list.) It's pretty obvious when it happens; you'll feel some significant resistance (like a steak knife in tendon). I've found that keeping the needle at a more oblique angle--30 degrees instead of 45 seems to work better for me.

And yes, I entirely understand that it being a pet you dearly love changes the entire equation. You're fortunate that you already knew how to administer injections--we got to learn on Circe, and I'm glad she was mostly out of it for the first several days.

It also occurs to me that Angel may not like the special "kidney" formula cat food--that's very common. Circe especially hates the kibble. (All our cats hate the kibble, which is impressive.) She's generally ok with the wet food, but sometimes she gets in a snit and flounces over to the main food dish to eat the "good" food (and then throws up, naturally). We've discovered that the cat-food condiment "Meowstard" has several of the vitamins she needs, and miracle of miracles, she likes it.

#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 01:06 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @389: I hadn't realized the program menu is at the top of the screen on a Mac, instead of at the top of the window where it belongs as on a PC.

If it's any consolation, I'm on a PC at work and a Mac at home, so I spend half of Monday and half of Friday (the first day of my weekend) looking for stuff in the wrong places. Especially if I'm tired.

GUI warning with Preview: if you copy and paste a portion of the image, and it doesn't seem to paste for some reason, zoom way the hell out. It will frequently paste the new bit outside of the image frame, which makes NO sense to me whatsoever.

#400 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 01:28 AM:

So . . . what format to see The Hobbit in?

I'm very curious about the high frame rate stuff, but indifferent about 3D.

#401 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 02:30 AM:

Stefan Jones @400: In Seattle at least, the HFR seems only to be available with 3D. IMO, the HFR is a not-sufficiently-understood technology -- the lighting made some scenes hyper-realistic to the point of looking like soap-opera video. Once they've really figured out how to light for it, it should be wonderful, but for now it's got problems. And I don't particularly like the 3D, but it wasn't obtrusive.

#402 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 04:37 AM:

Stefan, a lot of people don't realise that both film and analogue video showed each frame twice. The cine projector has a shutter, and analogue video has interlacing. The two "fields" on film are identical. On analogue video, the interlacing is in the camera output, and with a moving subject the fields can be different.

There are a few other reasons for video, but the common reason is to minimise visible flicker. This is the same reason for the 60fps rate computer monitors are capable of.

Digital broadcast video is a bit more complicated, and there is a choice between interlaced and non-interlaced.

Interlaced video gives a slight blurring of motion, which reflects the persistence of vision in the eye. The HFR in cinema shows moving objects a little more sharply—less motion during the exposure time—than interlacing would. Interlace gives you two overlapping time-separated images.

And where have we been most likely to see some sort of higher-resolution, higher frame-rate moving pictures? Recently-made television, that's where. I'm not going to try to compare the UK and the USA, because I know our TV companies have been routinely producing and broadcasting digital 16:9 video for a long time, and I see a lot of US TV programs which were still on 4:3 in the 21st century. It seems possible that the "it's too much like a video" criticism depends on such experience.

Maybe I should take off my distance-vision spectacles in the cinema, and just dodge the whole problem.

#403 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 08:03 AM:

I am surprised nobody noticed this...

The winter solstice was at 11:11 UTC on 21/12 (or 12/21 if you're so inclined).

Hey, we're still here!

#404 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 08:41 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Local man wishes wife Happy Birthday, and cake, whether or not the World ends.

#405 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 08:52 AM:

More HLN: Area man's wife is in the hospital going under the knife. When she emerges from the etherous sleep early this afternoon she should be less two ovarian cysts which have been making her life uncomfortable for a couple of months now. Your well wishes appreciated.

#406 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 08:59 AM:

The Modesto Kid (404): May all go well, with the surgery and the recovery.

#407 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 09:03 AM:

Modesto Kid... Best wishes to your wife!

#408 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 09:30 AM:

HLN: After many years of cat ownership, area woman has acquired a dog. Area woman is now over-thinking and over-stressing every single aspect of dog ownership in an attempt to Do It Right, to the point that all her friends are telling her to calm down and worry less.

The dog seems pretty chill, if a bit overwhelmed. Aside from the part where she whined alllll night long in her crate.

In related news, area woman is trying to cope with second day of new dog on about two hours of sleep, today. Plus fencing contractors coming by, and a house guest. No doubt all will end well, if perhaps with unexpected napping.

#409 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Fade, are you saying you kept her locked in her crate all night?

If said dog is a puppy, putting an ex-pen around the open crate and covering said area with newspaper in case of accident might make for a happier dog. FWIW

#410 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 11:35 AM:

Modesto Kid: Wishing your wife no problems and a quick recovery!

Fade Manley #407: Been there... the thing that's still getting me is that my dog demands so much more attention....

#411 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 12:12 PM:

HLN: Area woman's offspring passes driver's road test, despite pouring rain and a hacking cough. This has not yet resulted in the End of the World.

#412 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 12:27 PM:

Rikibeth @ 410... Has offspring asked for the flying car's keys yet?

#413 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 12:50 PM:

Serge, my flying car is stick shift, and the offspring practiced and passed on an automatic, so it's only Dad's flying car that's in immediate danger of requisition.

In any case, Offspring is upstairs putting the finishing touches on the latest order to come into the Plushvengers Etsy shop -- another Loki; the customers all seem to want Loki and Hawkeye -- and trying not to cough all over it.

Local Woman is hoping this is just an ordinary cold, as Offspring was very stubborn about refusing a flu shot earlier, and is old enough to override my instructions to the doctor, it seems. No fever, so I have hope.

#414 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 01:42 PM:


Is the crate near your bed (with the door facing you if it is otherwise opaque)?

She might be happier about being confined if she can see you.

I have a picture, taken by a veterinarian's receptionist, of me and my dog on my second day of dog ownership. It was supposed to be a "Happy New Dog Owner!" shot. I looked exhausted and baffled; I had walked Kira about a dozen times on the first day and she *refused to pee*. Until she went on the carpet at about 8:00 pm.

We figured each other out fairly quickly.

#415 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 01:49 PM:

405 ::: The Modesto Kid @405: Good luck to your wife for a successful, uneventful op. and rapid recovery.

#416 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 02:56 PM:

Thanks for the well wishes, all -- she is home now and resting and relieved to have that over with.

Unrelatedly but possibly of interest, one of my recent poems was featured in Zunguzungu's Sunday Reading post of last week, at The New Inquiry.

#418 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 04:24 PM:

Further to same -- more of my recent poems can be found if you follow the link in the linked piece, or simply by clicking the link that is beneath my pseudonym.

#419 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 04:25 PM:

Open Thready Link:

I try not to make a big deal out of it – there are, after all, lots of people whose belief in Canada is very important to them and self-image as “Canadians” is a source of great comfort. Daniel Davies, 'Christmas Sermon' on not believing in Canada, over at Crooked Timber

#420 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 04:46 PM:

Fade Manley @ 408: I adopted a 1-year-old dog some time ago. She was very polite for about two weeks, and then she must have decided that she was family instead of a guest, and she became herself. Which was great!

She knew the basics of walking on a leash and sitting on command, but we did obedience classes, anyway. That was a good thing, as she (and we) learned how to Stay and generally got more on the same sheet of music. Oh, mentioning Stay reminded me that we never got to Gold Star status on that.

#421 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2012, 09:22 PM:

Lori Coulson, et al: The dog is three years old, and--thank god--house-trained. She can't have her crate in the bedroom, because that's where the terrified cats have holed up, and they need reassurance too. We're scheduled for obedience training starting next week; right now I'm trying to deal with her massive separation anxiety.

I mentioned napping? Ha. It's 8:20pm, I'm shaking with exhaustion, and I haven't managed to get any more sleep all day. She frets if I'm not in immediate line of sight, even with other people there to keep her entertained, and when I tried napping on the couch, I just couldn't sleep at all. I suspect stress is giving me insomnia, which is making me stressed, in a horrible cycle.

I'm hoping for some sleep tonight. We will see how it goes. And how she likes a 9pm walk in this weather...

#422 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 05:24 AM:

If you're reading this, then like me you've survived 12/21/12. Unless the world ended and we're all in a computer simulation, in which case take the red pill.

#423 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 06:18 AM:

Wait, we're still here? Damn, I spent all of my money on party supplies! Can someone loan me rent money?

All of these false Apocalypse* make me apoplectic†, but they are a great excuse for a party!

*I have no idea what the plural should be, but that isn't surprising because there should be no need for a plural form.

† Apoplectic Apocalypse is Scalzi's new band.

#424 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 08:15 AM:

no idea what the plural should be

Interestingly (or not), the plural apocalypses of apocalypse is also the plural of its Latin root apocalypsis. How can you say a plural form be unecessary? It seems to me a distinct apocalypse is needed for each of of the infinitely many parallel universes.

#425 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 08:19 AM:

Hm, I appear to have dropped a modal verb in there somewhere. Also, now I want there to be a style of music dedicated solely to songs about the end of the world, called "apocalypso" -- but I am sure a joke along these lines has already been made, and likely on this very site. (But not in this very thread, at least.)

#426 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 08:42 AM:

Re Abi's parahelion on The Netherlands versus Holland.

The video doesn't mention the confusion of being someone who grew up reading the Martyrs Mirror, in which the Netherlands[1] is a region, and much bigger than The Netherlands. Opening mine at random.

Hans Smit...A.D. 1558...When he therefore, being divinely called, undertook to travel through the Netherlands, he, together with five brethren and six sisters, was apprehended in the city of Aix-la-Chapelle, on the ninth of January.

In this time, the Netherlands includes Ypres, Antwerp, Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), and I think Arras and Amiens.

1) Note the capitalization.

#427 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 12:06 PM:

Fade Manley @421:

Ghods, separation anxiety -- we have one Sheltie with it and thunderstorms make it worse. My suggestion would be to call your vet and ask for a tranquilizer -- acepromazine is the one we use for Brandy.

Giving the medication shortly before bed time should mellow the dog out enough that both of you sleep. (The only way Jan gets any sleep during storm nights is to do this, otherwise Brandy jumps into her bed, and then back out to pace, and back into the bed...all night.)

#428 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 12:28 PM:

Lori Coulson @427: ...oh dear. Well, if we need meds, that's what we'll do, though I'm really hoping not. I keep wanting someone to say "Don't worry, that'll wear off in a few more days!", but mostly I'm getting linked to extensive, detailed instructions on how to train the dog which make the process seem more difficult than my college education.

#429 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 12:49 PM:

Fade, I think the reason the dog is acting this way is that it's in a new situation. This is not a training issue,* it's an emotional one. IF this is the case, when the dog realizes that this is home, and you will be there, the anxiety should subside.

I agree that the cats need their space, we just introduced a new kitten to the household, and she had a place she could retreat to when she didn't want to deal with the dogs. She's integrating just fine.

The medication shouldn't be a long term thing -- we only dose Brandy during the run-up to a thunderstorm. It may only be necessary to for a couple of weeks.

*You can't train this away, but making the dog feel secure may reduce it.

#430 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 02:30 PM:

Oh, and in case any of you are active on Fitocracy, I lost (very thoroughly) the login info for my old account, and am now becoming active there again as 2ells2tees.

I find meaningless internet points and shiny imaginary trophies to be incredibly motivating, especially as my current level of fitness means that piddling and idiotic-looking exercises can utterly exhaust me. If the same is (or might be) true of you, I'd love to put our virtual profiles in contact with each other. :->

I must say, watching the workout-logs of the people I follow has certainly been useful for making me go, "Huh, I wonder what THAT exercise is? *google it* Hey, that looks cool, I want to try it now." Plus, there's a community that suggests taking a clothesless pic of yourself every time you level up, which is not only eyecandy to see others' pics, but hilarious -- some people gladly take pictures of themselves in totally-zipped-up hoodies, their canine companion zipped in there with them except the head, and caption it, "Because you've been asking me to get one of my puppies out and show it to you, here you go!" or images of their felines using different terminology to describe them in the caption. :->

#431 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 02:31 PM:

Probably punctuation, or possibly irrational exuberance. Have some of my MD mother-in-law's excess Office Candy: everyone gives her boxes and boxes each year, but she has Serious Standards when it comes to her chocolate preferences, so there's always plenty to hand off to my father-in-law's grad students (who will absorb any amount of extra that is available).

#432 ::: Elliott Mason speaks to gnomes again ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 02:45 PM:

Also, #430 needs a nym fix *facepalm* It's on the right view-all-by, so I typed my EMAIL right at least.

#433 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 03:48 PM:

Teresa: my wife staged the reception for a gay commitment ceremony in the lodge in your particle. They were cool with it.

#434 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed in a strange fashion. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 03:51 PM:

O.K. Do the gnomes have it in for gay commitment ceremonies, or is it Norwegian lodges, or is it that I'm married to a nice girl from Yakima? I'd really like to know.

[An unfortunate confluence of letters which matched a spam filter (said filter containing a wildcard designed to deal with the "multiple-spaces-between-words" spammer trick. Sorry about that.... -- JDM]

#435 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 04:36 PM:

Here's an article from the Baltimore Sun with more about the lawsuit against the restaurant in Louisville mentioned in Patrick's "Boycott Maker's Mark" Particle.

The article includes comments from the restaurant owner/operator (Baltimore-based Cordish Operating Ventures) and Maker's Mark (who licenses the name to the restaurant). Cordish denies the allegations; Maker's Mark says they didn't know about the case till it was reported in the media, and that "Maker’s Mark does not accept, and will not tolerate, discrimination in any form, and has so notified and warned the company which is solely responsible for the operation of the Lounge."

#436 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 05:04 PM:

HLN: Area woman, after having submitted a partial manuscript in September, receives request from editor to send full manuscript. The phrase "incredibly intrigued" may have been involved.

Area woman spends next two hours making sure full manuscript complies with publisher's formatting guidelines, and attempts to get heart rate back to normal.

#437 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 05:39 PM:

Christopher Lee has released 2 heavy-metal covers of Christmas songs.

IMO, "The Little Drummer Boy" works reasonably well; "Silent Night", not so much.

#438 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 06:52 PM:

Rikibeth @ #436: congratulations, and fingers crossed!

#439 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 09:52 PM:

Question for publishing industry folks, especially if any of you has experience with publishing translations -- do you think I would have any credibility if the following conditions applied?

Let's say a couple of years ago I had published in a (comparatively) well-known translation journal, an excerpt from chapter 1 of the latest novel of a popular Chilean author who was at the time (for the sake of argument, let's say "who is currently still") as yet unpublished in English translation; and let's say further that in the course of getting permission to publish the piece, I had been in touch with said author's agent and through her, with an editor who was working with a well-known translator on an English rendition of one of the author's previous novels, as the first part of a two-book deal; and perhaps to add some spice to the narrative, that I had asked this editor if he'd be interested in working with me on a full translation of the novel whose chapter I was excerpting, and that he had replied in the negative.

But back to the present tense -- I've been working for a month or so on revising and expanding that excerpt and have at this point what I think is a pretty credible rendering of the first four chapters, which is about a fifth of the book. Should I go back to that editor/his press? They still have not published the first book of the two-book deal, I don't know the status of that project. Should I go back to the agent and ask her if they want to help me find a publisher? I want to believe that I can send an editor these four chapters and he will read them and think "Oh my God it is a crime that this fantastic book is not available in English; and here is my chance to make it available, by working with this unknown translator who has only a couple of minor publications to his name! Carpe diem!" because that is how excited reading and translating this book makes me.

Anyways -- apologies for the rant -- I've been mulling this stuff over in my head for a number of weeks now. I would welcome hearing from anybody with experience in the field.

#440 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 11:11 PM:

Rikibeth @ 436

That's wonderful! Let's hope the intriguedness continues!

#441 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 11:27 PM:

Rikibeth, all bright blessings! Congratulations!

AKICIML: OK, so I made my famous Mushroom Barely Soup* for my mom, then had a disagreement about letting it cool down before putting it in the refrigerator.

Someone (on here? maybe) said once that if you leave a soup with rice out at room temperature, then heat it up, the bacteria will die, but the toxins they produced are heat-stable and will still kill you. Is this true, and is it also true of barley?

I let it cool mostly, but put it away while it was still warm.

*Keeper typo; it is nearly a stew.

#442 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2012, 11:36 PM:

#439 ::: The Modesto Kid

The first important question is: Who owns the rights? Nothing happens unless you have permission from the rights-holder to do whatever 'tis you're doing.

At the point where you start looking for publishers you're acting as an agent. Does this author have an agent? If so, you need to be in touch with her.

#443 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 12:05 AM:

Thanks, Jim. The author does have an agent, who was my first point of contact in 2010 when I was trying to get permission to publish that chapter. I got the impression from her that Maclehose Press, employer of the editor she put me in touch with, held rights to publishing him in English. But I don't know if I understood that correctly; elsewhere I have seen reference to Maclehose having a deal to publish two of his books. It sounds like the agent is the best avenue to pursue.

#444 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 12:13 AM:

Xopher, I wouldn't fret too much about the soup. Yes, cooked barley could in theory develop an overgrowth of bacillus cereus and make people ill. No, you cannot eliminate the danger from that particular one by reheating.

However, in normal household quantities of mushroom barley soup or a pot of rice or what have you, exercising usual caution in refrigerating it before it's sat out for more than an hour or two is all you need.

The thing about refrigerating while it's still warm is more a concern about the residual heat overheating everything ELSE in the fridge, not a danger to the warm soup especially.

In restaurant kitchens, there is this gadget called a Rapi-Kool, which is a big Lexan water bottle, taller than it is wide, with an X-shaped cross section to increase the surface area. You fill it with water, freeze it, and then stick it in your pot of hot soup to cool it down faster and keep it out of the danger zone.

If you wanted to do something like that in the future, a 1-liter soda bottle might work nicely.

And my gratitude for everyone's good wishes! I am not responding individually so as not to provoke the gnomes. Though I will share my chocolate mint Lindor balls if they like. I'm feeling generous!

#445 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 01:58 AM:

Xopher: Bacillus cereus is the exception. For essentially everything else from botulism to salmonella, both the microbe and the toxin are heat-sensitive, so reheating removes the risk.

B. cereus could, in principle, grow in soup, but reported outbreaks have mostly been in rice or meat -- that is, things that stay out uncovered at room temperature for long periods. Even then, it's rare -- responsible for a few percent of food poisoning cases.

I think the risk from your soup is pretty theoretical.

#446 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 09:53 AM:

Shameless self-promotion time:

My holiday short story, An Unexpected Gift, is up at the Speak Its Name Advent calendar today. (Speak Its Name is a review blog for m/m romance.) The story features the male leads from my as-yet-unpublished novel (but Serge read it and liked it!) and is safe for work.

ObKnitting: if you comment, you're entered to win my giveaway prize - a pair of hand-knitted coffee cup cozies. Which I tried to make look like a Napoleonic-wars-era British naval lieutenant's coat and an army officer's coat, because I am a dork and like sewing on sequins, and because those are the characters.

The naval lieutenant's coat is a slightly earlier design than the 1802 in which the story is set, but YOU try knitting tiny white piping that has to be both horizontal and vertical on a garter stitch cup cozy where you've got the ribs going vertically to stretch around the cup. (I don't like knitting on dpns.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled open thread.

#447 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Thanks, Rikibeth and thomas.

#448 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 03:34 PM:

Rikibeth @ 446... I hear that a publisher is interested in your novel.

#449 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 04:24 PM:

What, Serge? Who told you that? she says, glancing at the Hyper-Local News item above. :)

#450 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 05:27 PM:

A while back, probably on one of the Open Threads, someone (fidelio, maybe), asked a question along the lines of 'so, who sent out the memo about the War on Christmas and why didn't I get it?'

I meant to reply at the time. The answer, which some people may have known already is, of course, me and my friends.

(We were the moderate end of a theologico-political movement. Some of our more extreme colleagues left the country about fifteen or twenty years before we took power. I wonder where they ended up...

#451 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 06:13 PM:

yes, and some of the locals would like a word with you about those illegal immigrants.

#452 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 07:16 PM:

Having now seen Hobbit I, I can say (without spoilers) that:

a. that was definitely more screen-time than necessary to get that particular story-fragment on screen, IMHO

b. it was fairly pretty but the editing and general motion-choreography was REALLY FRENETIC in spots, to the point of inducing headache and disorientation in me -- it's like what happens to me at really busy parties, or when someone is flapping their hand/arm/whatever in front of my face a lot

c. I think I've figured out why the 3D (the only reasonable showing we could get to happened to be 3D and high-framerate) makes my head hurt: I keep trying to look at specific things in frame and bring them into focus when they're intended to be blurry -- I'm going to have to learn to watch the entire frame in kind of a distant 'TV-watching' daze to avoid headaches in future if I see more 3D movies (and they may not be avoidable)

and (in rot13 because they are movie spoilers),
d. fbzr bs gur fghss gung fubhyq qrsvavgryl unir orra fubegrarq vapyhqr gur fgbar tvnag chapu-bss, gur qjneirf-irefhf-tboyva svtug, Gubeva trggvat gb onqnff ng Bar-Nez gur Qrsvyre, naq GUR RAGVER ENQNTNFG FRDHRAPR. V pna frr jul Wnpxfba zvtug'ir jnagrq gb gryrtencu gur tvnag fcvqre naq 'fbzrguvat vf jebat va Zvexjbbq' orsber jr npghnyyl uvg vg, ohg BU ZL OBO gung jubyr guvat jnf n cbvagyrff qvirefvba. Hayrff lbh'er vagb phgr enaqbz navznyf naq dhvexl fvqr-punenpgref jr'yy arire frr ntnva (*farrmr*Gbz Obzonqvy*pbhtu).

Nitpicky stupid Things I Hated, also rot13'd:
- Tynzqevat naq Bepevfg arire tybjrq, naq Fgvat qvqa'g tybj nalzber nsgre gurl tbg bhg bs gur ghaaryf RIRA JURA UR JNF GELVAT GB FGNO NA BEP JVGU VG
- Ovyob fnj Tbyyhz qebc gur evat, juvpu punatrf guvatf engure n ybg
- Gubeva jnf N PUVYQ cynlvat ba gur zbhagnvafvqr jura gur qentba pnzr -- juvpu vf jul ur yvirq; uvf qnq, tenaqqnq, naq n irel srj xvafzra rfpncrq guebhtu gur Frperg Qbbe naq RIRELBAR RYFR QVRQ, fb jub jrer gubfr gubhfnaqf naq gubhfnaqf bs qjneirf syrrvat ba sbbg npebff jvqr fjnzcl cynvaf? Pbaqrafvat vg fb Gubeva jnf n zngher lbhat-nqhyg cevapr ng gur gvzr sbbyf gur nhqvrapr vagb guvaxvat vg qvqa'g unccra irel ybat ntb (jura vg qvq) .. gubhtu V thrff vg zrnaf gurl pbhyq hfr gur fnzr npgbe, znlor.

On the whole, I am still glad I saw it. I just wish I'd had a chance to get MORE STORY for those (checks watch) over 3 hours, including all the front-matter and previews and silliness.

#453 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 07:16 PM:

for talking about the Hobbit movie.

#454 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 07:28 PM:

Oh, and a spoiler-free (except for things revealed on the poster) comment about Hobbit I from my sister-in-law:

"Now THAT is a cunnin' hat. Dwarf that wears a hat like that? You know he ain't afraid of NOTHIN'."

#455 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 10:54 PM:

Elliott @ 454: Firefly meets Middle Earth. Love it!

#456 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 10:59 PM:

Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee points out problems with Crooked Timbers defense of Loomis.

#457 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2012, 11:05 PM:

I spotted a really stupid continuity error in the Hobbit. V zrna, orfvqrf Fgvat abg tybjvat nyy gur gvzrf jura vg fubhyq unir.

Gurl znqr n UHTR CBVAG bs Ovyob ybfvat uvf ohggbaf juvyr fdhrrmvat guebhtu gung penpx va gur ebpx. V zrna, gur ohggbaf jrer ybfg va fhcre fyb-zb, rira. Naq lrg, sbe gur ynfg unys bs gur zbivr, gurer gur ohggbaf fgvyy jrer.


#458 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:17 AM:

I was looking up Teresa's LJ entry on Porco Bruno, and boy howdy do we need to encourage the gnomes to go over there and kill some spam from Anonymous in their copious free time...

#459 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:36 AM:

Xopher @ 441

This may be more information than you need, but since my work involves things like assessing the risk from various types of microbial contaminations, I may be able to help with the big picture.

The hazard from micro-organisms in food, as others have noted, is two-fold. Actual living organisms, if ingested, can sometimes cause medical problems ranging from mild stomach upset to death. (And some organisms, of course, are completely harmless.) The risk in this case depends on the particular species of organism, the robustness of the eater's immune system, and a certain amount of individual variation in response.

The second hazard comes from toxic by-products of the organisms. These include toxins secreted by the living organisms (generally "exotoxins") most of which can be destroyed by heating, and toxins that are normally internal components of the organisms (generally "endotoxins") that are primary released when the organism dies. The primary type of endotoxin is a component of the cell walls of bacteria classed as "gram-negative". Endotoxins are not typically destroyed by heating.

(In my own line of work, the other property of endotoxins that makes them a problem is that, unlike the bacteria themselves, they can't be filtered out of a solution.)

But getting back to the question of how to deal with soup.... In order to have microbial growth in your food, you need three things: an inoculation of live organisms, optimal physical conditions, and time.

Any food that has been heated to boiling in the cooking process should not have live organisms in it. So as long as you can keep organisms out of the food, you've removed one leg of the tripod. (This is, of course, the principle behind canning. Heat the food to kill any existing organisms and seal it to keep new ones out.) While it isn't recommended as a general practice, if you have a pot of soup that has been boiled with a lid on it, and then you leave it out overnight on the stove to cool off, there is very low risk of microbial growth because you've killed the existing organisms and have a barrier for new ones to get in. It isn't a complete seal, so eventually something will get it, but the risk is low for the time it takes to cool off. There is a much higher risk if you do the same with the pot sitting uncovered. And if you pour the soup into a different (non-sterile) container when its below boiling temperature and then let it sit to cool, there's a higher risk that there were organisms in the container that haven't been killed.

The risk can also be addressed through the other two legs of the tripod, of course. The time factor can eliminate risk by consuming the food before any growth can happen (the most common method). And holding the food at a low temperature, of course, addresses the physical conditions aspect, which is the end goal of your process.

But for the immediate question, my recommendation is that you cool the soup in the original cooking container, covered with a lid that has also been heated during the cooking process. Then transfer it to your long-term storage container after it's cooled and immediately transfer it to the fridge.

At the re-heating step, if there's any indication that there has been significant microbial growth in the food, discard it. Because without doing a subculture and speciation (or at the very least, a gram stain test), you have no way of knowing whether heating would render the food safe or not. And, believe me, it is not practical to do this kind of testing before eating dinner.

In general, the concern isn't with Bacillus cereus or other organisms likely to have been present on the original ingredients -- it's with organisms generally floating around in your kitchen, or present on your hands, or resident in wooden utensils, or any number of other potential reservoirs.

(This is making me feel like I'm not actually on vacation after all ... one of the documents waiting for me when I get back is the routine periodic revision of "Risk Assessment for Microbial Contamination" in our production process.)

#460 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 07:18 AM:

Cally @457, avpr. Well I'm going to the matinee with Sylvia today, half against my better judgement; but even if seeing the movie does not have any other positive sequelae, it is bringing up some nice memories of reading the book with Sylvia a couple of years ago, and reminding me how happy I am about the whole "blog" thing. (Speaking of which, Merry and/or Happy Xmas to those of you Fluorosphereans who observe such things.)

#461 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 07:27 AM:

I wonder if Peter Jackson will next take on The Silmarillion?

#462 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 07:31 AM:

Rikibeth @ 449.... Yes, but Rikibeth @ 446 didn't say that her as-yet-unpublished novel may stop being as-yet-un.

#463 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 08:15 AM:

The Modesto Kid @ #461: I wonder if Peter Jackson will next take on The Silmarillion?

I gather he's already tried and failed to get the film rights.

Not in order to film them straight, though, but because without them there's backstory he's not allowed to bring into his film versions of LOTR and The Hobbit. Especially with the current expanded Hobbit, he's having to do a certain amount of tapdancing to only mention the bits of Middle Earth lore that appear in the books he has the rights to.

#464 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 08:29 AM:

It seems it was a night like any night;
The sleepy town bemused and still below
The hilltop, chill in dying firelight,
Deserted, silent, dark. I do not know
Of miracles. There's tales, of course, but just
The idle rumour of a winter's eve,
No more than that, impossible to trust,
With only addled peasants to believe.
Their witness is confused, of little worth;
The evidence uncertain, scant, unclear.
Yet every year I listen, hope to hear
The blessed angels singing "Peace on Earth".

Merry Christmas, everybody.

#465 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 11:01 AM:

Serge, and others, Area Woman is now able to report that she has received an offer of contract for her novel!

As of 2:30 AM. Area Woman then proceeded to fail at sleeping for the next three hours.

#466 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 11:06 AM:

Dihydrogen monoxide alert: The morning's sleet has shifted to a sprinkle of snow -- not much is sticking, though, and the weather report (TWC) is predicting occasional rain. (Central Virginia)

#467 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 11:22 AM:

Rikibeth (465): Congratulations!

#468 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 11:26 AM:

An observation: My family can't just sing Christmas carols. We have to compare variants, including extra verses, and analyze the meanings of words and grammar. Arguing about it optional.

#469 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 11:27 AM:

Rikibeth #465: Congratulations!

#470 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 11:32 AM:

I've been thinking about it, and what's bothering me most about The Hobbit (the movie) is that it's taken a low-mimetic children's story and turned it into a high epic, losing the child-like sensibilities that made it accessible to children. It's not the same thing At All (unlike, say, Pat Murphy's There and Back Again which translated it into space opera without losing the essential sense of wonder of the original). Yes, the movie has everything that was in the plot, and a bit more; and it manages to lose the basic nature of the story.

#471 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Rikibeth @ # 465: YAAAAY!! This makes me happy for myself as well as for you, since I've managed to fall in love with your characters already.

#472 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:08 PM:

Rikibeth #465: That's great — I really liked the sample, and look forward to reading the novel!

#473 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:32 PM:

Cally @457,

Regarding your spoiler, I saw the film last night, so I remember.

Nyy ohg bar bs uvf jnvfgpbng ohggbaf jrer zvffvat nsgre ur ybfg gurz va fybj zbgvba. Bs pbhefr, qvqa'g ur ybfg gurz fdhrrmvat bhg vagb qnlyvtug va gur obbxf, be vf zl zrzbel snvyvat zr?

#474 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:35 PM:

My rot-13 must have triggered a nonsense-character string used by spammers. Christmas cookies for the gnomes? My husband's boss made them and they are really, really, dangerously good.

#475 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:52 PM:

Does anyone here know much about surprisingly collectable furniture and how to sell it off? When my dad died, I got his office furniture which was all made by Madison Wood: yes, the NCC-1701 Captain's Chair version. It consists of a two seat couch, a three seat couch, and three or four (I'm not downstairs right now) individual chairs. Since the economy tanked I don't think I'd see the $2K the chairs used to go for on eBay, but it would be nice to have some additional cash now that my job will be gone on the 1st, especially after the holiday.

Is there a specific consignment house I should contact, or should I just try for eBay, or what? (This doesn't seem quite Craigslist, somehow.) All the consignment houses I've ever seen in the Seattle area are pretty heavily for antiques, and while these may qualify (I gather the original design was from the 60's) in theory, I haven't seen any in such a shop in practice--too bad that Atomic Ranch magazine doesn't have stores or I'd try them out there. And no, I'm not planning to start faking Captain's Chairs: I really, really like this design and taking a hacksaw to them would bother me something fierce...

#476 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Rikibeth @465, Congratulations!

Tom Whitmore @470, my husband remarked on leaving the theater, "Wnpxfba gbbx n puvyqera'f fgbel naq oyraqrq vg jvgu Xvyy Ovyy."


#477 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 12:56 PM:

As a side note, making these go away would please my mother-in-law something fierce, since she absolutely hates the way they look--no accounting for tastes, I guess. I'd always wanted to reupholster them in Ultrasuede...

#478 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 01:06 PM:

Rikibeth @465


(I would have added multiple exclamation points but fear they might have attracted gnomes.)

#479 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 01:37 PM:

#475 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II

Until someone with better knowledge provides a better suggestion, one place to start is to check the furnishing advertisers in Atomic Ranch - there is an online website that lists yhem, with links to their own websites. check if any are in you area, and ask them how much they would offer. That is inserting a middle-man so not providing you with maximum profit, but if there is a local shop, it might provide the convenience of speed in getting the furniture out of the way. Good luck

Rikibeth @465, Congratulations!

#480 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 01:38 PM:

*high-fives Heather Rose Jones in new-author solidarity and celebration*

My deepest gratitude for everyone's good wishes! And, Lila and Janet, I know I said so at the blog, but I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. I've grown to love my characters out of all proportion, so it's great when others appreciate them too.

#481 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 02:08 PM:

Re: Heather Rose Jones@459, on gram-stain testing food before dinner -

#482 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 03:02 PM:

Yay, Rikibeth!

#483 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 03:40 PM:

Bruce Durocher @75 -- Karen knows a fair amount about such. Try calling her.

#484 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 04:00 PM:

Rikibeth @ 465... Congrats!

#485 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 05:23 PM:

Possibly the best thing about this Christmas, aside from getting to show my parents my new place, is handing my bored father a copy of _Book of Jhereg_. Three days later, he's on _Book of Taltos_, and planning on getting the rest from the library when he goes home.

Does anybody here know (she asks disingenuously) about the e-rights for the first half of the series?

#486 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 05:24 PM:

AKICML: Any German or Czech speakers out there who could help me figure out the etymology of the name Lukawetz/Lukavec? I've been stuck home sick and having lots of fun investigating the "woods and fields and little rivers" of the Czech Republic. It seems as though every little village has history going layers deep. I found the name in multiple locations, but no etymology. St. Luke's? I have hardly any German and no Czech whatsoever, so I'm stuck.

#487 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 05:39 PM:

Mea: that's a very good suggestion. A friend of ours has a subscription so I'll ask to borrow an issue before checking the listings online to winnow out those dealers that wouldn't fit.

Tom; we'll try to call Karen about this when we're not interfering with holiday stuff.

#488 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 06:59 PM:

Some, but not all, of them are available as e-books.

#489 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 07:10 PM:

PJ, 488: Yes, I have those. I want ALL THE REST, which to my knowledge are not available as legitimate paid downloads. Hence my plaintive query.

#490 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 08:32 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 481

re: gram-stain testing

Yeah, I boggled a bit at the coincidence when that showed up in my rss feed this morning!

#491 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2012, 08:43 PM:

Bruce D., #475: Pictures? I have no idea what the furniture line is that you're discussing, although based on your description I can guess.

#492 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 12:19 AM:

Jack Klugman has passed away.

#493 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 12:28 AM:

Lee: I don't have anywhere to put them up, but if you have an e-mail account I can send you a picture of two of the chairs (the couches would need to be pulled out and assembled, which is a bit too cold to do today).

#494 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 08:52 AM:

HLN - local woman's "gift from Santa" (the thing partners in the house buy for their own selves) has opened a rather enjoyable can of worms: said item being a first edition Babylon 5 Wars boxed game.

Dear Hubby has since found MANY links and made a point of archiving them locally, so we can continue to enjoy them in future months. Meanwhile, the immediate locality is awash in nostalgia.

Crazy(and being amused at how she's starting out another hobby in her already active middle age)Soph

#495 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 02:02 PM:

I'm not going to say what happened in Doctor Who. There are elements which I found a little disappointing. But Stephen Moffat finishes it off with a huge twist. And the effects could be very interesting.

And, in other news, the Lincolnshire farmers who own the Lancaster bomber which was used in the 2011 Christmas special expect to get it flying.

A full history of NX611 is here

#496 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 08:22 PM:

Argghhhh . . . I'm not sorry I saw The Hobbit, but man was that padded out!

I can understand putting in the subplot of the White Council against the "Necromancer," but the whole bit about resurrecting Azad and making him into a villain with a vendetta against Thorin was clunky and unnecessary. Really, you could have pulled that out and the story would have moved along just as well.

And Azad was BLAND! Just a pale-faced menacing thug. "Bring me his head!" "It would have been better if you had died!" Standard cliche villain lines. Ugh.

Also, too much dumb action. Things swinging and falling is dumb action.

#497 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 09:19 PM:

Regarding Radagast:

V jnfa'g bssraqrq be oberq. Gur Oebja Jvmneq unq fb yvggyr "fperra gvzr" va gur obbxf gung Wnpxfba jnf yrsg jvgu n ybg bs yrrjnl ba ubj ur jnf cbegenlrq. V guvax ZpPbl qvq n tbbq wbo cbegenlvat n terng orvat jub unf pbzr gb ybir navznyf fb zhpu ur unf orpbzr n ovg hazbberq.

V jnf n yvggyr zvssrq ol gur fhttrfgvba gung Zvexjbbq'f unhagvat jnf n erprag guvat. Naq ol gur svyz znxvat vg gbb boivbhf gung Fnheba vf gur "Arpebznapre."

#498 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 09:20 PM:

My ROT-13 heave comment on The Hobbit was gnomed.

Hey. Push off gnomes. This is MY Christmas candy!

[We've removed the filter which checks for a letter combination only used by spammers, which is coincidentally the ROT-13 version of a common English word. -- Terois Biow, Duty Gnome]

#499 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 10:08 PM:

Stefan Jones @496-497, your comment may have been intended to be ROT-13ed, but it was posted in the clear. I don't know if you want a moderator to fix that for you....

#500 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 10:09 PM:

Stefan Jones @496-497, addendum

Forgot to add that I agree with your assessment of the movie...

#501 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 10:52 PM:

Me @499, my mistake, Stefan; I thought the post had been un-gnomed before I read it. Your ROT-13 post is in fact ROT-13ed. {blush}

#502 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 11:22 PM:

Rikibeth, #465: congratulations!

#503 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2012, 11:44 PM:

Seriously . . . what is it with Jackson and falling shit? That goddamned endless falling T. Rexes and vines thing in King Kong,, and now the endless falling tboyvaf naq pngjnyxf scene in The Hobbit.

Really, does he think audiences will swoon because more things are falling and swooping and swinging over larger heights for more time?

What really honks me off is that Jackson is a brilliant film maker. He's done stuff that no one else has tried and generally succeeded. (I mean, damn, my fantasy-hating lit-snob English teacher father sat through "The Two Towers" without daring to leave the seat to take a leak.)

After all is said and done, I'd like to see someone turn The Hobbit trilogy into a tight three-hour movie about Bilbo, and a two hour movie called The Hunt for the Necromancer or maybe Shadow Over Mirkwood.

#504 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 12:51 AM:

To all those disappointed and angry with The Hobbit: I apologize for any minimizing of your feelings I may have done.

I know better now, because I am now in the same place.

Not with The Hobbit.

With Les Miserables.

I spent most of the movie vacillating between "annoyed" and "infuriated" with sporadic moments of "relieved".

I saw the 3PM show. I'm still angry now.

There is a DVD of the 10th Anniversary concert on its way to me now, so I can console myself with something that sounds RIGHT. Meantime I'll be playing the Original London Cast album a lot, which is also Right.

I nearly walked out early, that's how bad it was for me.

I hope it's a better experience for others.

#505 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:21 AM:

OT: The sciatica is starting to get to me. The medication is strong enough to produce side-affects but not eliminate the pain, making sleeping difficult. I'm posting just to complain.

#506 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:30 AM:

#505: I've been there. Unable to drive because the pressure of the seat cushion on my leg was intolerable. Sleeping on my belly underneath one sheet because anything heavier felt like someone taking a belt sander to my leg. Thank goodness it was summer.


Don't take hot showers or soak in a hot tub or anything else you'd do to reduce muscle pain.

Ask your doctor, or trusted chiropractor, about stretches. The right combination of leg stretches did amazing things for me.

#507 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:42 AM:

Does anybody know a way to force Windows to actually honor your settings when you tell it not to automatically update?

If I happen to go to bed and leave things open, which I do because some things take a long time to open and I want to work on them in the morning, Windows frequently installs an update, crashing all my programs, restarts the machine, and while they're at it, wipes all my remembered and automatic logins online so I have to re-log in to a number of sites.

And no matter how often I set Automatic Updates to either "NO" or "tell me about it, but don't do anything," after one of these, it's back to "automatic." Like Microsoft is saying "You're saying no, but I know you mean yes"

This last time, no files got corrupted, and it's been a long time since I've actually lost anythign but my time due to this behavior, but it's annoying.

I have xp pro. Do not tell me to get a different operating system: I don't have the money to pay my flood insurance, I am not getting a new operating system, all new programs (mine are all old enough that they have trouble with newer operating systems), or peripherals (ditto, they are old).

#508 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:55 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @507: Does this help? Found via Google, not something I've used myself but it looks plausible from my old days using Windows.

#509 ::: Tom Whitmore visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:56 AM:

I was trying to give Windows advice. I know, silly me.

#510 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 02:06 AM:

Stefan Jones @506: Thanks! The hot showers haven't been helping except for getting clean; I guess someone gave me bad advice there. Someone else mentioned stretching but they weren't very specific. Glad to hear it helped you. Unfortunately, I don't see the doctor until Jan. 8.

#511 ::: Andrew Woode ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 03:12 AM:

# 486 Jenny Islander's query on Lukavec:
I found a paragraph at which gives possible etymologies (possibly just for that example of the name).
"Během pozdějších let se název několikrát obměnil. Jmenujme například v roce 1431 z Lukawcze; 1504 Lukawecz; 1720 Luk; 1736 Lukau; 1805 Luk, Lukau; 1835 Luk, Lukau, Lukawec; 1894 Luck, Lukavec. Poslední jmenovaný název trvá až do dneška. Při určování významu místního jména se např. V. Prasek přikláněl ke slovu "křivolaký". Tomuto významu by odpovídal ukrajinský říční název Lukavycja "klikatý tok". Mezi dalšími formulacemi významu můžeme jmenovat "křívý", "luční", "litý, lstivý", "dravý, divoký" anebo dokonce "lstivý, čert"."

"In the course of later years the name changed several times. Let us mention for example in the year 1431 z Lukawcze; 1504 Lukawecz; 1720 Luk; 1736 Lukau; 1805 Luk, Lukau; 1835 Luk, Lukau, Lukawec; 1894 Luck, Lukavec. The last-cited name has lasted till today. As for determining the meaning of the placename, V. Prasek inclined to the word "tortuous". This meaning would correspond to the Ukrainian river name Lukavycja "twisting stream". Among other formulations of the meaning we can mention "crooked", "meadow", "cunning", "impetuous,wild" or even "malicious, devil".
(My translation, feel free to seek second opinions)

(The long list of alternatives suggests there is some doubt or an unwillingness to write off other opinions, and this paragraph doesn't cite the source words to back up the meanings. The "Meadow" meaning would link fairly easily to "louka", a normal word for meadow.)

#512 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 05:02 AM:

Tom @508

That advice on Windows updates looks solid to me. I see that there's one optional update which shifts some sort of security protocol from TCP to UDP, and I wonder why Microsoft are going for speed rather than reliability.

Checking with Wikipedia, on what the protocol does, I suppose I should install it sometime. It's a step on from SSL, coming through the IETF system. Miccrosoft just throw acronyms at you, which don't give any useful context.

Corporate communications often seem to have a streak of [small town in Austria] stupidity.

#513 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 07:55 AM:

An XKCD Christmas communion. (snark, gross) The really scary thing is this fits into one of my tomes in Lucien's library....

#514 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 09:57 AM:

Dave @464:

Still through the cloven skies they come, with peaceful wings unfurl'd,
And still their heavenly mu-sic floats, o'er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing
And ever o'er Earth's Babel sounds, the blessed angels sing.

--Dave, but listening closely enough may take some effort

#515 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:32 PM:

Thank you, Tom #508. That article looks like exactly what I want. And there's a bit of hidden explanation (well, half of one) for why my preferences don't stick, too, and better still, something to do about it.

So glad I asked. I almost didn't (didn't want to be a pest).

#516 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:38 PM:

Word has come that Gerry Anderson has died. Anything can happen in the next half hour.

#517 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 01:56 PM:

Q: Would a Democratic administration use anti-terrorism laws and powers to keep tabs on a protest movement from the left?

A: Of course not. What, are you some kind of government hating wingnut?

I do not think this is going to end well for us.

#518 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 02:57 PM:


OK. I am not a doctor, or even play one on TV, but FWIW here is a stretch that helped me a lot.

Sit in a firm, armless chair.

Put the calf of your effected leg up on the other knee. Pull your ankle in as far as you can, then pull the knee up toward you; the calf acts as a pivot. Pull hard and hold for 30 seconds. You'll feel muscles tugged on in your outer thigh.

Repeat with the other leg.

Alternate back and forth a few times.

Stand up. You should feel a difference.

There are other stretches you do while flat on your back, or on all fours, but the chair one you can do while watching TV or "surfing."

#519 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 05:36 PM:

Stefan Jones @518: Thanks again; I'll try that.

#520 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 08:20 PM:

Re: back stretches

My 88-year-old mother has in the last couple months started exercising for her chronic lower back pain/sciatica.

Stefan Jones' recommendation and one other have given her the greatest relief.

The second is to gently bring a knee to the opposite shoulder and then hold. She does it lying down, but if you can manage while surfing, go for it.

#521 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 09:03 PM:

In case anyone cares, I've found a link that shows the couches I was mentioning earlier here. No shots of the chairs I have, though--they're open arms on each side with the walnut showing rather than the vinyl-covered sides on the single chair shown. And yes, I've dropped the guy an e-mail so we'll see what he says.

#522 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 10:10 PM:

Stefan Jones at 503:

As I have said before, there is going to be a movie called Battlefield Middle Earth, based on a book by Elrond Hubbard.

#523 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 10:11 PM:

If there are any Dorothy Dunnett collectors here: I would like to sell my hardcovers of The House of Niccolo. I have American first editions of all eight volumes, with the exception of Scales of Gold, which is a third printing, and Caprice and Rondo, which is the British publication, and not a first. They are in excellent shape, with intact dust-covers, but they have certainly been read.

If you are interested, I can be reached at lizzydotblueshadow at the very well-known mailbox which rhymes with "female."

#524 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 10:41 PM:

Stefan Jones at 503 again:

The ring was forged on a falling anvil.

#525 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 10:55 PM:

So, who should direct the movie of Bored of the Rings?

#526 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2012, 11:01 PM:

I just heard that Gerry Anderson died today.

#527 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 12:00 AM:

C Wingate @ 516... Stingray!

#528 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 12:01 AM:

Bruce D., #521: Thanks for the link. I can see both your viewpoint and your MIL's; on the one hand, it is rather reminiscent of ClassicTrek, but on the other... it's also well into the category of "ugly office furniture" and not something I'd want in my house. I hope you can get a good price for it from this collector!

#529 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 02:51 AM:

With the mentions of getting book contracts, perhaps I should mention Dave Langford's horror stories about publisher's contracts.

If I recall correctly, various authors have said that once you have a contract offered, it's fairly easy to get an agent, and there are far less horrific terms which can be changed to potentially earn you more than the agent's fee. (The agent might be better than a US Publisher at selling the translation rights, for instance.)

Most of us would feel pretty lucky to be even offered a contract. Unlike the likely earnings from self-publishing an eBook, there's enough money involved with a book contract to be worth an informed check. The details matter.

#530 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 08:24 AM:

Horror stories about publisher's contracts? Is that a new anthology?

#531 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 09:21 AM:

albatross @ #517:

Without having read the link, my first reaction is that I'm not sure why "from the left" should matter. If the government is going to keep tabs on protest groups at all, it ought to be even-handed about it, and let some of them off just because they're "on our side".

#532 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 09:24 AM:

...and not let some of them off...

#533 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 09:24 AM:

Lizzy L #523: I just asked my boss about those books, and he regretfully tells me that he can't buy it because he wouldn't be able to sell it: "We don't have customers like that anymore". :-(

Aside: It seems I'm not actually going to work since my boss is trapped in his house by a black-ice driveway. Good thing he called me before I'd hopped on the bus!

#534 ::: Dave Harmon, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 09:26 AM:

replying to Lizzy L...

#535 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 10:11 AM:

Dave Bell, I can say with confidence that the contract I've been offered does't contain any of the cited nasties! I'm more concerned with learning if things like the duration and terms of renewal/non-renewal and reverting the rights are appropriate, and I've got a more experienced author friend advising. Definitely a legit offer, though -- money flows TO the author, not from!

Is an agent still worthwhile if we're talking small digital imprints rather than Big Six print publishing? I'm THRILLED that the existence of the digital (plus POD, for those who want a physical book) imprints makes it possible for my fairly niche story (historical mmf menage romance, how's that for niche?) to find someone happy to promote it, but I also know that the sales from those aren't enormous, and I'd be concerned that I was taking on an extra layer I didn't need.

Now, if my NEXT project, which (oddly for me) features a male/female couple, turns out novel-length, then I might think about finding an agent, as there's only one of the major romance publishers who takes unagented submissions.

#536 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 11:25 AM:

Paul A:

I suppose that's true as far as it goes. I mean, once we start using massively increased powers and resources for domestic spying against internal dissenters, I guess it's just good sense to spy on them all. Why allow any movement in your country to start shaking things up without being thoroughly infiltrated, having all their calls recorded and listened to, etc? I mean, what is the benefit to the currently ruling administration in *not* having a handle on any such movement? You might get upstaged by some annoying protest, or have unruly protesters get off message and mess up your political campaign.

But I can't help thinking that maybe there's some larger problem here somewhere. Could it be that spying on and infiltrating anyone who dares to peacably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances might, you know, have some kind of downside?

Nah, that's crazy talk.

#538 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 12:55 PM:

You may recall that I have mentioned how Amazon, who are very good at setting things up to legally avoid paying taxes on their business, don't look so good from the point of view of a non-US author, as they entangle him with the US tax system.

I've been looking at what Google does about ebooks. It looks as though it may be the way to go for a non-US author. You seem to go through the Google Books operation, which ultimately makes the book searchable in Google, giving a limited preview and the option to sell through Google Play.

Do I have anything good enough. How do I promote it? There are still those questions, but anything that avoids the hassle of dealing with the IRS looks better than Amazon.

#539 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 12:57 PM:

Stefan Jones #503 - I saw The LotR film on Christmas day here in the UK. The Balrog was catching up with them, and then suddenly there was this long bit of faffing over a gap in the stairs. Eh? That kind of destroyed any tension I felt. It would have been far better to have them racing down the stairs, nearly falling off, with the Balrog getting closer and closer. No, instead he had to break the sweep of action up into a silly bit of jumping.

#540 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 04:22 PM:

guthrie @539

Yeah, that's one of the weak points in the movie. You can see it as the start of pattern, it's rather more common in the next two movies. You get some piece of spectacle that lacks all support in the text. Compare the battle at the end of Fellowship with what happens later, and you see a guy who can do a good fight scene going for something implausibly flashy.

There's so much of his latest movie that could still be good, but there is so much of it.

#541 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 07:36 PM:

Lizzy L #623:

Do I have your permission to post your contact information to a Dunnett mailing list to which I belong? (I've got all the hardcovers, 4 of them signed 1st ed. Brit, so don't need any more, but I suspect the list people might be able to give yours good homes.)

#542 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 08:46 PM:

#539, #540:

Yes, you could have cut the toppling staircases scene out of Fellowship and not lost any tension.

Ditto the mountain giants in The Hobbit. They are mentioned in the books as a distant menace, but Jackson turns them into . . . well, a near replay of the toppling staircases.

#543 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2012, 10:19 PM:

Lee: it's also well into the category of "ugly office furniture" and not something I'd want in my house.

The separate chairs (which are not shown at that link, unfortunately) look much better, and have nice walnut arms and frames. I find them quite comfortable, but they're not for everyone.

#544 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 12:22 AM:

albatross @ #536:

If you'd said half of this in your original comment, we wouldn't now be facing the appearance of disagreement.

I agree with you that spying on and infiltrating movements who seek only to peacably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances is a bad thing. (Though I'm not sure where you got "being thoroughly infiltrated, having all their calls recorded and listened to, etc" from -- the article linked in your original comment says nothing about calls being monitored and explicitly says that there's no indication the FBI engaged in infiltration.)

But you didn't say that in the original comment I was responding to. Do you assume that "a protest movement from the left" automatically equals "a peacable movement that will never do anything genuinely dangerous"? If so, do you think that's a wise thing to assume?

#545 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 08:51 AM:

I thought LoTR's toppling staircases were an effective bit, maybe because they're the stuff nightmares are made of.

#546 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 10:10 AM:

Albatross: I Was a Communist for the FBI. Rewriting the Bill of Rights when it's no longer convenient for the powers that be isn't new.

I like a lot of what Obama is doing with the country, although I wish he would actually be left-wing like the party's supposed to be (oh, and start playing the Republican's standard "you negotiate, I sit back and let you come to me" tactics a few times, just to prove to the R's that he's clued in and it's not going to work any more). But his administration's attitude to personal privacy is not in "a lot", by any means. David Drake said of his Lacey novels "I'm not in that space any more. That's a good thing." (from memory, from the introduction to the book collection. Unfortunately, I've lost that one, and only have the stories in Grimmer than Hell, which doesn't have that intro any more). Unfortunately, that was 1990 - it's certainly looking more like we're all in that space (but less obtrusively - why do you need three cameras in every room when you can just tap all the relevant communications?); especially the "once the powerful were able to protect their information, there was no reason to keep privacy for everyone else" bit.

#547 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 11:49 AM:

So, I've dropped without much introduction into some of the longer and more contentious political threads here in a fashion that at a regular house party would probably be called rude. I managed to do so with at least enough grace not to be asked whether I wrote poetry...

But since I started reading this blog, I've started writing poetry again. Only this time instead of sticking entirely to free verse ...
(aside: you know, in retrospect, I feel very sorry for my college teacher who was teaching a bunch of kids about poetry and simply told us to write everything in free verse and not worry about anything except the emotion of the piece. What tortured monstrosities had he read in his day to decide that was the best way to go? I shudder.)

This weekend I was reading a collection of Neil Gaiman's short stories, Smoke and Mirrors. And on one there's a note that he was trying to write a Villanelle, and ended up writing a Sestina.

I then watched the trailer for Man of Steel, and decided to write a Villanelle from Lex Luthor's perspective. I began writing a Sestina, utterly confused by that point (it was after my bedtime. Please don't judge).

This morning I sat down to two wretched unusuable verses of a sestina and reworked it as a Villanelle. The wiki page says there's an element of obsession in the repetition... as it should be.

Since it was here that I first actually encountered the strange idea of people actually enjoying reading poetry, and subsequently began writing it, it seems only right to post it here.

So, this is my Villanelle about a villain.


It was, at the cold end, a thing too alien
And tho` I fought the thing from the first day
It is not `nough to be a good citizen

It burst from the blue sky never human
All blue, and red, too bright, too fine, not clay
It was, at the cold end, a thing too alien

I was no hero—just man—a rock—even then
And tho` I worked at crime and chaos for play
It is not `nough to be a good citizen

He saves, he fixes, he rushes to what he can
Too much, too good, façade, fake sham, dis-play
It was, at the cold end, a thing too alien

I stuck this small courage to my poor mien
I stood against his face—leapt to this fray
It is not `nough to be a good citizen

So now behind these bars hid from all men
I ask of you some thought, now judge, you weigh
It was, at the cold end, a thing too alien
It is not `nough to be a good citizen

#548 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 12:33 PM:

Howard Bannister, 547: Hurray!

#549 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 01:12 PM:

Carol Kimball @520: I have too much spare tire for the second exercise, but the first one is helping me, at least enough so that I can sleep now.

#550 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 02:32 PM:

#549 ::: iamnothing
[...]I have too much spare tire for the second exercise -

I doubt my mom can manage her knee to opposing shoulder, but any amount you can get toward that will help. It's a slightly different stretch.

The important thing is to go slowly and gently as far as you can, hold, see if you can manage a bit more, relax.

Drink plenty of water, too.

#551 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2012, 11:10 PM:

Howard Bannister: Very nice. I once tried something like that: in the Doctor Who episode "Last of the Time Lords", the Master remarks, "I never could resist a ticking clock." I noticed that was iambic pentameter, and tried to make it the first line of a villanelle -- without much success.

#552 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 03:21 AM:

Howard Bannister @ #547:

I don't know if you're aware of this, but there's a poem by Neil Gaiman titled "Luther's Villanelle", which when I first encountered it I wondered if it was that Luthor. (It isn't, of course, as the spelling proves. It's actually Luther Arkwright.)

#553 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 04:46 PM:

More surveillance state and police state fun.

Why do you suppose the congresscritters are so intent on keeping the massive surveillance and indefinite detention in place? Why did the Obama administration flip 180 degrees on this stuff?

As far as I can see, there are broadly three theories that can account for this, though they're not mutually exclusive--all three could be partially true.

a. This is just politics as practiced by amoral power-seeking politicians--being "soft on terror" costs votes, homeland security agencies and contractors can bring a lot of campaign contributions to the table, etc. They never believed any of that stuff they used to say about small government, civil liberties, or any of that stuff.

b. There are a bunch of secret cases or briefings, maybe true, maybe not, which scare many of the powerful people into supporting whatever anti-terrorism powers are asked for.

c. A decade of massive illegal surveillance, plus the huge improvements in surveillance available through modern computer and smartphone technology, have provided the people with access to the surveillance information handles on most of Washington. Many congresscritters have career-ending secrets in the hands of the surveillance people.

There is a lot to be said for theory (a)--look at the Republicans wrt deficit spending, or the Democrats wrt financial regulation. The higher up most organizations you go, the more sociopathic the people are, because of the advantages you get from not having our conscience impede the sort of ruthlessness that sometimes gets you ahead. It's hard to go higher than the white house or the leadership oositions in the Senate and House.

There is also a lot to be said for theory (b). Certainly, the combination of the 9/11 atttacks, the anthrax bomber, the DC sniper, and the constant alerts and evacuations right after the 9/11 attacks stampeded the folks in congress in a seriously unhealthy way, and surely led to their being willing to pass anything at all that claimed to make them safer. Perhaps much of the security theater we see day to day is not for our benefit so much as for the benefit of the people at the top, who must be kept frightened to keep the no-bid contracts and no-oversight large federal programs flowing.

I don't have any evidence for or against (c). The folks running the surveillance agencies wouldn't be human if they weren't tempted to use their knowledge to keep themselves well-funded and lightly managed, but I don't know how much of that has really happened. I suspect there's a lot less blackmail (which risks disclosure) than leaking of information to opponents and journalists to favor friendly candidates, or spying on important politicians or journalists in order to be able to spike any actions of theirs that might inconvenience you. But I don't know.

#554 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 04:54 PM:

albatross, you ought to go read emptywheel's stuff. She's been on this for years, and has more knowledge than most.

#555 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 05:36 PM:

"STAND BACK! Be silent! Be still!... That's it... and look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!' For it is the doom of men that they forget."

So said Merlin in Boorman's "Excalibur", and I posted his words the day after the Election, expecting people would soon forget how relieved they were about the outcome.

#556 ::: Serge Broom has been GNOMED in ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 05:38 PM:

I have a home-made cheese ball for our moderators.

#557 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 07:19 PM:

Is there something in the water this week? I'm being ridiculously hlepy at people. :-P

#558 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 08:00 PM:

TexAnne @ 557... Must be the fluoridating of water that General Ripper warned us against in "Dr.Strangelove". :-)

#559 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 09:20 PM:

Hmm. Testing to see if cookies just aren't being allowed, or if I somehow failed to check the box.

The latest "security update" wiped out all my logins and may have done other damage. I'm really annoyed.

#560 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 10:58 PM:

iamnothing @505: The sciatica is starting to get to me.

IANAD, NDIPOOTV but: Sciatica is sometimes a consequence of hyperextension of the lower back. (Think "sway-back.") Can occur if one's abdominal muscles have been allowed to become weak.

On the few (knock wood) occassions I've had trouble with it, I've gotten good results by a combination of stretches and very gentle crunches. Sometimes, crunches aren't even necessary, just practice tightening the lower abdominal muscles, as if one was using a towel to lift one's belly.

Good luck!

#561 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 10:58 PM:

Some leftover turkey and stuffing, perhaps?

#562 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2012, 11:17 PM:

I thought this might be amusing to some of the regulars here:

On doxologies, the kingdom, and the Oxford comma

(Dear gnomes - I think the url is correct, but it doesn't seem to be showing up correctly in preview. If it is wrong, I can offer freshly baked Julekage.)

[Missing quote-mark in the anchor tag. Fixed. -- Renning Watt, Duty Gnome]

#563 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 04:59 AM:

A fringe thing, though related to the film of The Hobbit

A warning about using 3D TVs, put out by Samsung

I think the tech used by Samsung is the "shutter" type, hence the caution on epileptic seizures, and I doubt that is practical for a cinema, but the effects of a movie are similar in other ways. We expect to refocus on objects at various distances, along with different eye convergence. 3D movies/TV give us varying convergence but a fixed focus.

I hope that the warning from Samsung has the usual list of low-probability ass-covering by lawyers, but at least you don't have to drive home after watching TV.

#564 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 01:04 PM:

Et in Sempiternum PereantA Charles Williams short story I hadn't heard of

#565 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 01:50 PM:

Has anyone announced their candidacy for SFWA president outside of Vox Day? I know that June isn't that far off, but I thought that folks waited until the first of the year to announce...

#566 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 02:41 PM:

If Vox turns out to be the only candidate it's time to dissolve SFWA.

#567 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 02:48 PM:

If he was the only candidate I'd drop a line to The Rachel Maddow Show along the lines of "Hey, next time you do a story on strange stuff at WND, look over here.

#568 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II thinks the Gnomes need more fiber. ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 02:50 PM:

I don't know which of the media outlets I mentioned was the trigger, but I have my suspicions. I'm going to be working in the garden later on: if Zurich is short on Himalayan Blackberies I can supply some fine canes.

#569 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 05:42 PM:

Relevant to our interests: the BBC is going to adapt Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. How I hope they don't screw up the footnotes.

#570 ::: TexAnne is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 05:43 PM:

Trader Joe's peppermint/chocolate bread-inna-box?

#571 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 06:23 PM:

Jonathan Strange was one of the Yuletide fandoms this year. Example.

#572 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2012, 06:40 PM:

Lila, 571: *squeeflail* That lives up to the original in every possible way. Thanks for pointing it out!

#573 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2012, 01:41 PM:

As promised, the recipe for honigkuchen. This is from "The German and Viennese Cookbook", with additions by Julie Buss.


Grease a 9"x13" rectangular or two 8" round cake pan(s).

Finely chop and set aside:
3/4 cup (about 4 oz.) unblanched almonds or nuts
2 oz. candied orange peel* (about 1/3 cup, chopped)
2 oz. candied lemon peel* (about 1/3 cup, chopped)

Sift together and set aside:
3 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon [ground] cloves

Beat until thick and piled softly:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

Beat in:
1/2 cup honey

Gently fold in the dry ingredients in fourths. Mix in the almonds and candied peel. Turn batter into pan(s), spreading to corners.

Bake at 350°F 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in center. Set pan on cooling rack.

Meanwhile, blend together:
1/3 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

When Honigkuchen is slightly cooled, spread mixture evenly over top and cut into pieces.† Remove to cooling rack.

For best results, age 6-10 weeks in airtight container.

*My grandmother used mixed candied fruit. I substituted dried fruit: pineapple, cherry, and apricot.
†The icing becomes very hard and difficult to cut after it's cool.
This batch didn't rise as much as it should, probably mainly because I used the wrong kind of flour (whole wheat, aka brown, flour). I also iced it too early, so the icing soaked in more than it should. I should have wait until it was a bit cooler before mixing the icing.

My mother has undertaken to make this for next Christmas. She's planning to use a bit more dried fruit, probably a total of a cup instead of 2/3 cup.

My brother thinks he has our grandmother's handwritten recipe, which would explain why it's no longer in our mother's kitchen. I told him that if he does and can find it, I definitely want a copy.

#574 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2012, 06:34 PM:

HGN: New Years Idea Party happening on Tw!tter. Have a dream? Stuff gets in your way? Come brainstorm and barn-raise with us. Tell us your wish, and the obstacles that stop you. To post a request, use the form: "W: I want to _____. O: I am stopped by _____." Hashtag: #ideaparty.

* "Hyper Global News"

#575 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2012, 06:34 PM:

...for reference to that site which is called the noises birds make.

[Actually, it was for trying to fool the gnomes with that exclamation point. We have no problem with the word "Twitter." It's live links to Twitter, and certain "This'll get around your filters!" tricks that we hold to examine more closely. -- Docao Normin, Duty Gnome]

#576 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2012, 07:00 PM:

Well, it's the last day of the year so my job is gone: back to searching for employment and trying to cover COBRA. I'm trying not to be bitter about this, but to have this happen today is really bad timing. Then again, they sacked two people that had moved from Seattle to New Jersey on Dec 26th, so I really shouldn't complain...

#577 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 04:29 PM:

TexAnne @ #572: aw, shucks, 'tweren't nothin'. *grin*

#578 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 10:31 PM:

Well, the FG and I managed to ring in the new year in a positive way, beginning with a party at our good friends, with all the Hogmanay specialities (I imbibed, she drove). Her Fabulous Daughter and Son-in-Law are staying at her place for now, as FD managed to break her leg and injure her ankle right at the end of her vacation in Thailand.

On the other hand, the Ex and the Son managed to have a huge fight, upon which he exited her house and she called me to vent. Now he is at my house, settled in for the night with the dogs, who adore him. I suspect he'll be staying with me for a bit, as she is determined to punish him for being stubborn and doesn't see her abusive behavior as abusive. Luckily for him, he's more strong-willed than she was -- her mother did this to her -- and he's got other options.

It will be an interesting week to start the new year.

#579 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 10:37 PM:

I beg for help, oh great and powerful minds...

I am having google fail. See, there's this object that SCAdians use to erect banners at events. They're usually made of either iron rod or angle iron, usually about 30 inches long, with a spike on one end (to go into the ground) and a ring or two in the middle and/or near the top, into which the banner pole inserts. SCAdians call them portable holes, but there must be both another name for the doohickey. Enormously useful, these things, and I would like to own some, but I do not weld.

Googling portable hole unfortunately gets me a lot of Portal, Warner Brothers, Dungeons and Dragons and Mine Craft references. Hlepy, that.

Any ideas?

#580 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 10:41 PM:

Carol Kimball @550 and Jacque @560:
My thanks to both of you for commenting. My old computer has trouble opening the yogagypsy page, but the exercises already mentioned have been helping. I can now stand to stand long enough to wash dishes etc.

#581 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 10:50 PM:

CZEdwards: a search for "ground quiver" brought up some things that look similar...intended to hold an archer's arrows for outdoor target shooting.

#582 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 11:07 PM:

CZEdwards: Here are a few search strings that look like they're headed in the right direction. I didn't look very far.

flag pole holder
ground mount
banner bracket
lawn socket

#583 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 11:09 PM:

CZEdwards #579: google portable hole SCA and you will find some sources. Also this article. Starting on page 12 is a comprehensive history of portable holes, "accomplished without any research whatsoever.

Where do you live? Perhaps I can put you in touch with a portable hole vendor. I usually pick them up at Pennsic.

#584 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 11:24 PM:

The term to search on is "temporary ground mount." A wide variety of styles are available.

#585 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 11:33 PM:

The closest thing to the SCA devices are Tiki Torch Holders sold at Home Depot, Lowe's, and similar places.

#586 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 11:34 PM:

CZEdwards @579: You left off the "SCA."

Try Googleing: SCA Portable Hole. And don't forget to try Googleing by Image. Is this what you're after? A search on boulder custom welding produces a healthy list, top of which is At the very least, I'll bet Boulder Bike Smith could put something together for you. And there's a nonzero probability that McGuckin's carries these things, or a plausible variant.

#587 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2013, 11:37 PM:

iamnothing @580: My old computer has trouble opening the yogagypsy page

My Google-Fu is strong tonight! Search on: stretches for sciatica. Remember also to search in videos.

#588 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 02:41 AM:

Thanks everyone. SCA portable hole brought up very little of use for me. (Which says it's time to clear cookies and figure out how to delete google history...)

Lila: thanks -- some of the ground quivers might work. My concern is they might be too light -- long experience has taught me that with what Colorado calls soil and our wind, anything like a tent stake is disposable.

Bruce: thanks. Some of those are similar enough they might work. At least, they're leads to chase.

Tracie: I'm in Colorado, so rather far from the centers of either re-enactment or re-creation. (No idea why -- we have great weather and a sufficiently geeky population to support it) Yep, I saw that article and giggled over it. Alas, Pennsic and Estrella are both far enough away that they're significantly impractical, and Estrella is either way too soon or too late for my purposes. (Phase 1 of Project Suitcase Cottage executes the second weekend of January, 2014, which means construction on my end has to be tested this summer.)

Jim: Thanks. I see a couple of possibles, if I can just locate them. Most of the tiki torch/garden arbor type stakes look at our terra cotta soil, chuckle weakly and break or bend whilst trying to curl into a fetal position. Colorado caliche is probably my worst case scenario.

Jacque: Thanks. I hadn't even considered the bike shops. I will definitely look into having them made if I can't find an equivalent, or... Learn to weld. Which is an indoor activity.

#589 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 07:49 AM:

Ginger @ 578... It will be an interesting week to start the new year.

My best wishes for things to improve.

#590 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 11:00 AM:

#588 ::: CZEdwards [re Portable Holes]
or... Learn to weld. Which is an indoor activity.

Only with good ventilation!

I know how to weld, but no longer have an oxy-acetylene rig. Sounds like you can find resources for it closer to you.

#591 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Interesting short article on technological innovation and the economy. A quote that particularly struck me:

[T]he "winner take all" world of Brynjolfsson and McAfee often seems to produce a "winner" class that works itself into an early grave by running 100-hour work weeks at astounding payscales, and a much larger "loser" class that works itself into an early grave by working 100-hour weeks in shitty, marginal, grey-economy jobs, trying to stitch together something like an income.

#592 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 11:49 AM:

According to the book that is a face, today we can say Hippo-birdies, Two Ewe, to Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Or, maybe he would prefer this song:

Happy Birthday, Ugh!. Happy Birthday, Ugh!
May the candles on your cake,
burn like cities in your wake.
Happy Birthday, Ugh!

#594 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 01:23 PM:

Oxy-Acetylene maybe isn't for the amateur. The gas supply isn't so well suited for occasional use. But I am not sure how well electric arc welding fits with US domestic electricity supplies.

If you can cut the metal precisely enough brazing would work. It doesn't bridge minor gaps as welding can. Soldering is the lowest-temperature process and stronger than many people think. Brazing is hotter. Welding is hot enough to melt the metal being worked on, and so makes one lump of metal out of two.

There are four distinct sorts of electric welding. The basic "stick" welding is for the thickest metal, using flux-coated welding rods, maybe a quarter-inch thick, and pretty high power ratings. The rig we used on the farm ran at around 3.5 kW, depending on the transformer tap and the thickness of the rod. There are then three types of wire-electrode welding. You can use a flux-coated wire, automatically fed into the work, which avoids gas-storage problems. MIG welding is Metal Inert Gas, feeding the wire into the work, in a stream of inert gas. TIG welding uses a tungsten wire electrode, barely consumed by the arc, and a separate welding rod, in much the same way as welding is done with oxy-acetylene.

All the electric methods produce hazardous levels of UV light. Do not wear synthetic fibre clothing, do not leave exposed skin and make sure your face-mask peovides adequate protection for your eyes.

It's probably easier to find some workshop, which can weld up something that suits, than mess around with learning to weld.

#595 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 02:22 PM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#596 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 02:26 PM:

CZEdwards @588: IFGS are neither reinactors nor SCA, but their activities are sufficiently similar (and there's likely enough membership overlap) that they might be able to point you at some resources. See: Denver/Boulder International Fantasy Gaming Society.

Be warned: if you take up welding, you may find yourself fending off a surfeit of Jacque-attention.

Dave Bell @594: Oxy-Acetylene maybe isn't for the amateur. The gas supply isn't so well suited for occasional use. But I am not sure how well electric arc welding fits with US domestic electricity supplies.

My dad had O-A tanks in the garage, and I only recall him getting them refilled a few times during my childhood, despite using them only occassionally. He also had an arc-welding rig, though I do vaguely recall he had to run a 240 line to the garage for it.

If this isn't a hobby one plans to take up on an ongoing basis, I do seem to recall that there are hand-held butane torches that might be pressed into service.

All the electric methods produce hazardous levels of UV light.

Ah, yes! I remember the "sunburn" on my dad's arms and neck....

#597 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Dave Bell@594 - TechShop is a Bay Area business (with franchises in a few other places) that offers classes and machine shop access to members, similar to joining a gym but you get to use power tools instead of weight machines. A few years ago when I joined, one of the attractions was getting to do welding, which I hadn't done since junior high school metal shop.

Oxyacetylene torch welding is fun, and you can do cutting as well as welding with the same equipment. A full-sized welding rig is a bit big for most home users, but you can get a small torch using MAPP gas for maybe $50 that's enough to do light welding or at least brazing.

Most US homes have 220-volt power available (as two phases of 110v), but usually don't have sockets wired for it except for kitchen stoves and clothes dryers, though it's not uncommon in some areas to have the washer and dryer in the garage, which is where you'd probably do welding. Much less practical if you only have an apartment.

#598 ::: Bill Stewart waves at the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 02:43 PM:

Probably bad spacing, unless it was the Techshop link? I'd offer you some cider, but it's still bubbling away for another couple of days, and the last batch is down to the dregs.

#599 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 03:12 PM:

CZEdwards: back in the day, when we were making helms and armor in basements and dorm rooms, any welding needed was taken to a local welding shop or body shop.

Giant home improvement stores will cut steel rod and pipe to length (sometimes for free). You could do it yourself, but having someone else do it is so much easier, and not very expensive.. Rebar or steel rod with 2 each 3" sections of pipe welded on would work. I'm not exactly sure how you're using them, but rebar and several sturdy hose clamps might also work. Possibly even pipe sections hose clamped onto rebar. I will contact some SCA people I know to see if they can help you out. If all else fails, there is a large SCA event in March where I could buy some and ship them to you via UPS or friendly Colorado SCA person.

#600 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 03:48 PM:

Hau`oli Lā Hānau to Patrick on the anniversary of his birth.

#601 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 05:17 PM:

#592 ::: Wyman Cooke [...]

Happy Birthday, Ugh!. Happy Birthday, Ugh!

I read this forty minutes ago and am still breaking into giggles over it. It's interfering with my work! And I don't care!

#602 ::: Carol Kimball is singing to the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 05:18 PM:

It's Wyman Cooke's fault, too.

[It was an exclamation point followed by a period. Wyman's post got gnomed too. -- Roloo Txiron, Duty Gnome]

#603 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 06:11 PM:

Hyperlocal News, ARGH division: Local woman's phone service, still out more than two months after Sandy, was projected to be restored on January 4*. Local woman didn't quite believe that, after all the delays, but was still quite disheartened to learn this morning that that date has slipped to "February or March".

*Yes, of this year, although I'm starting to wonder.
On a slightly more positive note, local woman returned to work this morning, although the library isn't expected to reopen until late winter or early spring.

#604 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 06:15 PM:

Dave Bell wrote @ #594

Oxy-Acetylene maybe isn't for the amateur. The gas supply isn't so well suited for occasional use.

It's also rather more hazardous to have around and your home insurance is very unlikely to permit it.

But I am not sure how well electric arc welding fits with US domestic electricity supplies.

This Moose has just bought a "Buzz Box" (a very cheap and almost certainly underpowered - hence the disparaging nickname -) 160 Amp stick welder from the local supermarket (reduced to 25 of your Earth Pounds). On UK mains (240 volts) it is still too much of a load to be officially connected to a wall socket (13 Amps maximum)

If you can cut the metal precisely enough brazing would work. It doesn't bridge minor gaps as welding can. Soldering is the lowest-temperature process and stronger than many people think. Brazing is hotter.

Also, brazing (sometimes called "silver soldering") can be done with a sufficiently powerful propane torch.

Welding is hot enough to melt the metal being worked on, and so makes one lump of metal out of two.

There are four distinct sorts of electric welding. The basic "stick" welding is for the thickest metal, using flux-coated welding rods, maybe a quarter-inch thick, and pretty high power ratings. The rig we used on the farm ran at around 3.5 kW, depending on the transformer tap and the thickness of the rod.

3.5kVA is (hand gesture) a couple of hundred amps and capable of joining substantial chunks of metal together. I suspect that my "buzz box" 160 amp rating is more like a "music power" rating (possibly even Peak Music Power Output, like the computer speakers powered by a wall-wart and claiming 100 watts or more.)

There are then three types of wire-electrode welding. You can use a flux-coated wire, automatically fed into the work, which avoids gas-storage problems. MIG welding is Metal Inert Gas, feeding the wire into the work, in a stream of inert gas. TIG welding uses a tungsten wire electrode, barely consumed by the arc, and a separate welding rod, in much the same way as welding is done with oxy-acetylene.

I did a basic stick welding course, many years ago, and it will be interesting to find out how much of it has, er, "stuck".

All the electric methods produce hazardous levels of UV light. Do not wear synthetic fibre clothing, do not leave exposed skin and make sure your face-mask peovides adequate protection for your eyes.

You will find holes burned in your clothing after stick welding (mostly from flux spatter), and the "no exposed skin", thick heatproof gloves, and a face shield that is specifically rated for "Electric Welding" are absolute requirements. Do not use gas welding goggles (intended to stop infrared and glare) when arc welding (mostly UV). No flammable material in the vicinity and a fire bucket ready to hand are also recommended.

It's probably easier to find some workshop, which can weld up something that suits, than mess around with learning to weld.

Yes, but the welder was cheap enough, and I intend to have FUN!

#605 ::: Dan Boone ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 08:14 PM:

I hate to drop this at the end of a huge month-old open thread, but as there is no newer one:

Needlecraft Wallpaper, being the decorative endpapers from The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Needlecraft, 1946 reprint.

Possibly relevant to the interests of some of the company here assembled.

#606 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 08:45 PM:

My father had an oxyacetylene rig as far back as I can remember. Somewhere along the line he also acquired a small arc-welder. He used the O-A rig in the garage. (His shop also included a 36-inch lathe, a bench-top drill press, a bench saw, and later a jeweler's lathe, a free-standing drill press, a band saw, and a small milling machine. Engineer clear to the bone.)

#607 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 09:39 PM:

Carol Kimball #602: Ah yes, the Viking birthday song (three overlapping lyric sets, heh heh heh).

#608 ::: Dave Harmon, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 09:41 PM:

Viking birthday song, but not Wyman's same mistake, methinks. Maybe overlinked.

#609 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 10:25 PM:

On welding: yes, ventilation. I don't even solder without my make-shift fume hood. Denver has a Hackspace that I've been debating joining. They say they have an industrial sewing machine, so that alone is worth the membership fee for me; they have the welding equipment and it requires a class to use. There is no way I would weld in or near this house -- our neighbors are too close, we don't have a garage or a concrete driveway. I have a healthy respect for both fire and electricity. I think the Hackspace uses arc rather than OA welding.

No more power tools until we move, though. I'd love to use the ones we have more, but they're awkward to get to and use.

Learning the basics of welding adds one skill point to my Zombie Preparedness Badge. Sadly, by the time I was old enough to learn actual blacksmithing from my great-grandfather, he was too frail to teach me. The forge is still mostly intact -- there's even a pile of 30 year old coal for it -- but four states away.

I'll have the preliminary Sketchup plans up sometime next week, and make a formal Request for Comment then. Because this project is just getting weird...

#610 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Another voice saying "Happy Birthday Patrick!"

#611 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 11:56 AM:

Mary Aileen @603

Was the library badly damaged?

And Patrick: Happy birthday!

#612 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 12:22 PM:

Dan Boone @605:

Would you believe that I have that very book, in that very edition?

I didn't either, so I went downstairs and checked.

It's a very good reference, with lots of mend-and-make-do tips for a country just out of a major war (and not yet out of rationing). I inherited it from my grandmother-in-law about ten years ago, along with her thread stash, hook and eye collection, and button box.

#613 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 01:43 PM:

CZEdwards @579:

"Portable (sign post/banner/arrow/etc.) Hole" ideas, sans welding, supplies generally readily available at a good hardware store or even a big box home supply store.

If you don't mind it looking "different", you could likely screw some iron plumbing pipe bits together to make something functional. Say 1-2 feet of ~2"pipe to recieve the banner pole (larger or smaller depending on your banner pole diameter), then either one or more pipe reducers as needed to get down to the smallest OD iron pipe they have, then get a length of that small pipe as your "spike". Very heavy, pound it in with a big mallet.

Alternate construction method: a long piece of "highway sign post stock" (end view looks sorta like a cross-section of a top hat, has bolt holes at regular intervals) to serve as both spike and support, and get at least two big eyebolts to bolt into a couple of the bolt holes ~1 foot apart to serve as the banner receiver. More sharp edges than the other method, unfortunately, but probably lighter. Again, pound it in with a big mallet.

#614 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 02:23 PM:

Over the past couple of days I have reviewed about 75 applications for a Research Analyst position with my organization, and I have these comments for the job-hunting population at large. (They are not aimed at any Fluorospherians currently searching.)

1. Don't send me a resume that has nothing to do with my position because there's one word in my job title or job description that looks like a half-assed match. If there's a bot making these suggestions, it's not well trained. (Linky-site folks, I'm looking at you. I was about ready to quit reading applications sent from there until I finally hit one or two that had paid attention to my post.)

2. If I ask for a cover letter, a resume, and a writing sample, please send me a cover letter, a resume, and a writing sample. A link to the writing sample online is fine, but not if it's going to sing and dance at me. I can forego the cover letter if I have to, but an expression of interest in the position will be in your favor. So will some indication of personality; I won't hold it against you if your cover letter is bureaucrat-speak, but I may skim some of it, and you will have missed a chance to engage me. (However, I don't recommend going beyond personality into downright weird.)

3. If I am recruiting for a position in Field A, do not send me a cover letter talking about how much you look forward to using your skills to make a contribution in Field B, when A and B are not very closely related at all. Don't send me a resume whose job objective is a position in Field B, either. And, while we're at it, don't send me a cover letter talking about how much you'd like to work at Last-Place-You-Sent-Your-Resume-But-Not-My-Organization. It's not a deal-breaker if you're a great match otherwise, but it's a strike against you, and if you're sitting on the fence, it will push you off in the wrong direction.

4. If I am recruiting for an analyst in Field A, and all your experience is in Field B but you think that your analytic skills will transfer, you may be right. But your case will be much stronger if you (a) send me a cover letter (see point 2 above), (b) tell me in your cover letter why you think your skills in Field B are relevant, and (c) express believable interest in either Field A or in my particular organization.

5. I do understand that circumstances lead people to apply for jobs that aren't a great fit because those pesky bills have to be paid. (I helped my husband with an 11-month job search a few years ago. 'Nuff said.) However, know that you are much more persuasive if your application package shows an interest in THIS job, not just A job.

6. For those of you who wonder if the time-consuming process of tailoring a cover letter and/or resume for a specific job is worth it, I can say that each one of those I pulled out of the slush pile made me want to cheer. I won't be able to hire them all, but they really did stand out.

That is all.

#615 ::: OtterB is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 02:25 PM:

Visiting the gnomes, not sure why. Not that I object, mind you. Nice folks, the gnomes. But not where I intended to be headed.

[The Word of Power™ "-resume" (with the hyphen) is a common spam marker. -- Murio Boranto, Duty Gnome]

#616 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 02:37 PM:

For pounding into really hard ground, my rocket club used one of THESE. It's a steel tube with a closed end, that you put over the post, and pound with. Look up "Fence post pounder". But that only works if more than a couple feet stick up out of the ground even when fully pounded in. Still, it's much easier to use, with less chance of inadvertent self-pounding, than a sledgehammer.

The engineering firm I work for uses 1/2" iron pipe to mark property boundaries; it can be driven into hard ground with a sledge, but the top will deform some, so if you're using iron pipe as your "spike", the bottom coupling to expand out into your holder will probably have to be oversized, which would mean it would rattle around and not be stable. You could screw another piece of pipe onto it to use as the pounding surface, but I'd worry that the threads would deform enough under stress that you wouldn't be able to unscrew them. Something like a fencepost that you can screw or clamp your "hole" to sounds like the best bet to me; you don't care if the top gets deformed from pounding that way.

#617 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 03:06 PM:

Cally Soukoup (611): The structure of the building is sound, but the interior needs a lot of work, including electrical, sheetrocking, new carpet, etc. Plus we lost about 15% of the ground floor collection plus computers and the custom-built service desks. Suddenly this morning, the school district (which owns the building itself but not the contents) decided to fast-track the repairs/renovations. But it's still going to take a while.

#618 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 03:28 PM:

I'm surprised that having lost any of the ground floor collection, you only lost 15%. I take it the water rose to just the level of the bottom shelf? I was afraid it was going to be an all-or-nothing situation.

In any case, I'm glad the building itself is basically sound; replenishing the collection will take time, but at least you'll have a place to do it in.

#619 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 03:35 PM:

Carol @ 601: I could have inflicted what's listed as verse nine, but I would have had to have looked it up. Your ribs can thank me.

@ 602: I blame Uncle Timmy. ;-) (obscure fan reference)

Dave @ 607: Thanks for the links.

#620 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 03:55 PM:

Cally Soukup (618): The water only covered the bottom row of shelves, yes. But we did lose some higher books to mold before the remediation team got in there. What really hurts is losing all of our local history photographs--they were in the bottom drawer of that cabinet. Another problem is that we have no record of what books had to be discarded. It's going to take years to get our catalog records up to date.

Right now I'd settle for being able to reopen the building. We do have a tiny branch library (one of two) that may be able to reopen in a few weeks. Even with extended hours, that's going to be very limited service. But that's still better than the None that we have right now.

#621 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Oh, man, it's a pity they couldn't have at least taken photos of the books before they were trashed, so someone could have made lists. I suppose the priority was to get rid of the moisture and mold that they contained, though.

I imagine you're already thought of documenting the last book on each second-to-bottom shelf, and the first book on the next top shelf, so someone can go through the catalog alphabetically and/or numerically and figure it out (minus, of course, returns of checked out books)?

Sorry, I'm probably being hlepy.

#622 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 04:37 PM:


I ran across this story the other day and am trying to figure out a charitable explanation, where the gaming company isn't just playing silly buggers and Amazon isn't just taking the easy, non-thinking way of dealing with complaints (and could they be brought to suit over restraint of trade?)

#623 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 06:28 PM:

Cally Soukup (621): It's a good thought. That method, or something similar, has occurred to me. I haven't passed on the suggestion yet because we're still a long way from returning the surviving books to the shelves* and the director has a lot of other things on his mind. But I will definitely bring it up when we're closer to reshelving the collection.

*They're currently in boxes on the second floor. 2740 boxes, to be precise.

#624 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 06:52 PM:

Craig R. #622: Games Workshop is notorious in the gaming industry for pulling stunts like that. And yes, Amazon's taking the easy way out (as they also have a history of doing). No need for a charitable reading there...

#625 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Another example of implausible posing of female characters. In this case, these are implausible work clothes for potion making. The stockings would be full of spark holes in no time, and the underlying skin would be burned. Heels are a hazard in such an environment. The hat should be a hairnet, and her upper body should be protected from splashes and bumps of the cooking potion.

Depending on the nature of the specific potion, eye protection is also recommended. For example, any potion containing blind-worm's sting or adder's fork is a severe blindness hazard when at or near boiling temperature, and eye protection is also suggested when hemlock, gall of goat, or slips of yew are included (though only severe irritation is likely).

#626 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 09:35 PM:

The hazards of including Liver of Blaspheming Jew, while well-known, are not a practical consideration in this enlightened age.

#627 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 09:44 PM:

Xopher: I disagree. Blaspheming Jews have the same risk profile for Hepatitis B as the rest of us. Universal precautions should certainly be followed in the presence of splash risk.

#628 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2013, 10:44 PM:

The point, Lila, was that anyone who uses that ingredient doesn't deserve to be warned about its hazards. You just ruined that.

(V'z grnfvat, va pnfr vg jnfa'g boivbhf.)

#629 ::: Dan Boone ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:43 AM:

Abi #612: "Would you believe that I have that very book, in that very edition?"

Well, of course I don't disbelieve it -- but I'd stipulate to "amazing" without any trouble at all. There can't be a ton of those floating around any more even if a ton of them got printed.

#630 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 06:24 AM:

This just won the internets for me today:

Crazy(but I had to look up the acronym "MBB" - apparently it's "my blood boils", which I can definitely relate to)Soph

#631 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 07:51 AM:

Xopher: now see, this is a prime example of the problem with wishing harm on people who deserve it; harm is contagious. (/simulated epidemiological high dudgeon)

#632 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 11:31 AM:

crazysoph #630: Commander Hadfield is also a redditor (from space!), who posted a recording of the ambient noise of the space station in response to a fellow redditor's request.

And also a Christmas song that he wrote and recorded. From space.

He's awesome. But I still want a Moonbase. ;)

#633 ::: Jennifer Baughman is Visiting Gnomes In Space ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 11:32 AM:

Probably for a couple links to reddit. I can offer some havarti fudge?

[Indeed it was. Any mention whatever of reddit gets gnomed because there is so darned much spam that links to or mentions them. -- Corno Brique, Duty Gnome]

#634 ::: Jennifer Baughman is Visiting Gnomes In Space ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 11:33 AM:

There were links, and probably a Word of Power, and my first gnomulation comment also got gnomulated.

I still have havarti fudge to offer...

#635 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 12:08 PM:

#614 ::: OtterB

People having to send out resumes to get unemployment benefits might also be part of the problem.

#636 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Xopher, Lila, I suppose potions-makers are pretty far down the recipient list to get even the livers that aren't suitable for live transplant?

What? This blaspheming Jew and organ donor wouldn't mind. Not observant enough to insist on being buried intact, and I wouldn't be using it any more? I didn't see anything in the recipe that insisted on purpose-caught specimens.

I blaspheme plenty, over multiple religions. Sometimes I even fail to joyously partake of a hot dog on Fridays. /obDiscordia

#637 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Rikibeth @ 635... And do you wear a fake beard when you participate in a stoning?

#638 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Oh, and that flowing skirt is definitely at risk for catching fire on the coals under the pot. Trousers would be better, and neither should be of a synthetic fabric, as synthetics melt when set on fire. Wool is a good choice, because it smolders. Rayon is terrible, as it goes up like a torch. Ideally, the coals should have a fire screen around them -- the whole design is a hazard.

#639 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Little-known fact: the O in OSHA stands for Occultists'.

#640 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @634, good point on the requirement to submit resumes for unemployment being a distorting factor.

#641 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:46 PM:

Open-threadiness of a science/statistics flavor: Orac has some discussion of the latest study of mammography and overdiagnosis. He has written some really nice blog posts over the years (many linked from this article) on why it's a lot harder than it looks to determine whether some screening test actually makes things better or worse for patients[1], or even whether an apparent increase in expected survival time for a given kind of cancer is actually good news[2].

Orac made one really important point in his post as a disclaimer: this study and his comments on it are talking about mass screening of women without any other signs or symptoms of breast cancer. If you have signs or symptoms already, overdiagnosis or false positives are apparently not much of a problem, whereas not diagnosing breast cancer in time can kill you.

It strikes me that medical screening tests on healthy people are a lot like attempts to use profiling or checklists to find potential terrorists, mass-shooters, or other criminals before they strike. The more rare the people you're looking for are, the more false positives will dominate your screening, till at the extreme end, you're a TSA guy throwing away pocketknives and water bottles all day, and never seeing an actual terrorist in your entire career.

[1] A big problem is the rate of false positives, especially if you include "cancerous cells that would never progress to the point of killing you" as a false positive. But any screening test you do to millions of people is going to give you some healthy people with positive tests, and if there are too many of them and the next step in diagnosis or treatment is too hard on you, then the screening test is a net loss.

[2] If you detect an incurable disease a year earlier, you may accomplish nothing more than to give the patient a year longer to arrange his funeral. Orac has a wonderful diagram illustrating this in the post.

#642 ::: albatross, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:48 PM:

For some reason, the gnomes find my posts especially yummy.

#643 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 01:53 PM:


Yes! When I was unemployed, several years ago, the resume/cover letter pairs I sent out were entirely peripheral to my actual job search, which I carried out by way of contacts in my field.

#644 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 02:09 PM:

Those are Nomex stockings she's wearing.

#645 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 02:11 PM:

Y'all should read this: I have measured out my life in login codes.

And if that person doesn't hang out in ML already, they really should.

#646 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 02:22 PM:

The whole "let's have a substantial open fire in the middle of a closed room" thing is also pretty hazardous. How long until the ceiling catches fire? And what about fume management?

It doesn't look like she has good containment to prevent spillage of burning fuel when more fuel is added, or if the fuel shifts under the weight of the cauldron. While the floor is tile, there are flammable furnishings (and feet) quite near.

Speaking of fuel shifting under the weight of the cauldron, isn't that round-bottomed design a huge spill risk? One side of the fuel mass burns a little faster than the other side, due to drafts, and the whole cauldron tips over. And over. And over. As it's raised somewhat off the floor, there's a good chance of nearly 100% spillage as the rim falls below the bottom of the cauldron. Mmmmm, red-hot potion. Just what everyone wants to wash their floor with. And their feet. And their furniture.

Hasn't she ever heard of fireplaces? And pot hooks?

#647 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Open thready question:
New computer acquired, with blu ray.
Old monitor kept, as it is 24inch, UltraSharp, has USB ports in the side, and would be expensive to replace.

Says the customer service rep from the company from which we bought the comptuer:
Blu Ray won't run on this machine as the monitor doesn't have some kind of HDCP encryption thing, as it was built before blu ray was invented, and before blu ray required this HDCP encryption thing in all monitors.

Is there a solution for this outside buying a whole new fancy monitor?

#648 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 02:59 PM:

There are copies of that Modern Home Needlecraft book on ABE -- discounting the ones that look like PODs, at least 8 -- so it's not particularly uncommon. This is probably similar to the Birthday Problem: there don't have to be that many copies out there of a given book for two people in a group as large as the commentariat to each have a copy. Some books, there's a really high chance of several of us having (e.g. Among Others, which has been discussed here). Some, quite low (e.g. Lilian May Miller's Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden, a very nice but obscure bit of poetry by a fine artist -- any other copies out there?). But on a craft subject, for a useful book: not unlikely at all.

#649 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 03:44 PM:

Arrrgghhhhh . . .

An open question to those who live with gas appliances:

The gas water heater in my new house turns out to have a hidden defect. It lights up and heats water, but the burner compartment at the bottom isn't properly sealed. The bolt that lets the inspection door be battened down is sheared off.

The unit looks like it had been repaired half-heartedly in the past. I'm wondering if it is near its end of life (7 years?) and might be better off replaced.

Any one have experience with those on-demand water heaters? They look to be about twice the price of the ones with tanks, but there'd possibly be a tax credit.

#650 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Stephan Jones @ 649

If your water heater is like the ones I'm familiar with, a standard sheet metal screw will replace the bolt quite nicely (and having the inspection door open slightly is not a major problem.)

If you want to replace it, tankless water heaters are not bad (I had an electric one in the house I built, and my wife's parents have a gas one) but the benefits aren't real large; the waste heat is not wasted except during air conditioning season, and it takes a bit more water every time to get hot water (the first gallon or so in a tankless water heater is not hot.)

#651 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Lila 631: Oh, Lila, Lila. I'm not wishing harm on those who deserve it! I'm just assuming that in our more decent age, it's no longer a serious health hazard. And also that if precautions are NOT properly taken, perhaps outbreaks of Hep B among potion-users will help us trace the anti-Semitic organ hunters! Though of course the users may not know the ingredients, they really should inspect the labeling of the potions for the "Human-Organ Free" icon. </self-righteous prissiness>

Rikibeth 636: It's my understanding that the magical potency of LBJ (a bizarre coincidence of initials) declines even more rapidly than its transplantability. There are even some who say that the Jew must be in the act of blaspheming while the liver is extracted! There really is no humane way to obtain this ingredient (and before you ask, yes, the ENTIRE liver must be used).

That's not even to consider the poor users committing cannibalism, all unknowing.

____ 638: I understand Rayon isn't as bad as it used to be. But one thing I learned in outdoor fire circles, quite seriously: bugspray on a synthetic fabric is a combination that makes the garment go up in a flash. I've intervened to change the course of a hand-linked dance that had two loops running between two fires when I saw women (and men) in long skirts getting dangerously close to the fire.

Cally 646: ...isn't that round-bottomed design a huge spill risk?

That would be why the traditional cauldron has three legs (cast as a solid piece with the rest).

#652 ::: Xopher Halftongue is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Mention of a certain disease? A brand-named fabric?

#653 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 05:37 PM:

Stefan Jones @649:

We just had to replace our 12 year old gas water heater (as in, "it died yesterday"). When I asked the plumber what the average life span is for said water heater, he replied, "Seven to ten years, so you got your money's worth out of this one."

I do not like electric water heaters, in our area we've lost power to both ice storms and wind storms, at least with gas you can make hot food and take hot showers even if the power is out. FWIW

#654 ::: Xopher Halftongue figures out why he was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Ah. It was the word 'Jew' preceded by the definite article.

#655 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 06:36 PM:

OtterB #614 and Nancy Lebovitz #635: Another factor might be poorly-programmed job search websites. Husband got hit earlier this month with an audit of his job search logs because he's been rejecting so many "job possibilities" from the state job boards--most of them because they have some requirement he's explicitly indicated on his profile that he lacks. Such as advanced scientific or legal degrees. Everyone at the workforce center knows the website's cacked, but fixing it would cost money. And with the workforce center privatized here in Texas... well, it's easier just to harass the people looking for work.

#656 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2013, 09:57 PM:

crazysoph @ 630: I had heard "MBB" in the particular context of that tweet explained to mean "My Best, Bill" -- William Shatner's personal sign-off. Makes slightly more sense in context, anyway!

#657 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 12:39 AM:

Anybody know a pilot with a plane in Albuquerque? Or somewhere in the Southwest? Cory Doctorow is looking for one (has to do with tour dates not meshing with flight times).

Serge, you live in Albuquerque, right?

#658 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 02:32 AM:

Stefan Jones @649: One hidden virtue to the old-fashioned big tank of hot water here in "earthquake country" is that it's a decent reserve supply of water in the event of a disaster. The newer ones are much better insulated than they used to be, so they're more energy-efficient than older models.

#659 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 09:49 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @#655: that's just evil.

#660 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 02:53 PM:


Much sympathy. I've only gotten a few hits from the state job boards, but they've been things where I said "sure, I'll look at it" because I come close enough to the qualifications that I could, in fact, do the thing. (If they want n years experience of something and I have n/2 years, that doesn't mean I lack the skills.)

Nonetheless, I have about nine hours to find a second plausible thing to apply for for this week. (Whatever else is true about those "two new job contacts a week" rules, they are especially tricky in late December and early January. *sigh*)

#661 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 04:07 PM:


Obviously she cast a protection spell before starting work on the potions...

Either that, or she's just THAT good...


#662 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 05:10 PM:

In reference to Patrick's Sidelight story on "America's Criminal Element," from today's Union Leader: Money for lead removal available, but few takers

#663 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 08:06 PM:

Bookstore juxtaposition:

Peter Pan The Art of War
J M Barrie Sun Tzu

Not sure what these books have in common...

#664 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 08:12 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 649:
On the subject of water heaters...

My impression is that what dies on a water heater is usually inside the tank or pipes. We recently had little bits of plastic show up in the faucet filters, and the plumber said that was plastic from the tubes inside the water heater, and we should replace it. It was 15 years old, but water heaters might last a lot longer in Portland's soft water than they do in a place with hard water? We put that one in 15 years ago — the previous one died 4 days after we moved into this house.

The problem on your water heater sounds like it's just a bit of external hardware, so I'd try to get that fixed.

When we replaced our oil furnace with a natural gas one, I asked about putting in a tankless water heater. The contractor didn't push it at all. It was very expensive, and he said that they don't necessarily use less energy. A water heater with a tank puts out a little energy all the time. A tankless one puts out a high burst of energy while the hot water is running. They are great if you have a houseful of people taking showers, where a tank can't keep up. They're also good if your tank would have to go in a tight space.

Welcome to home ownership!

#665 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 08:55 PM:

janetl, Stefan Jones:

The other issue for some people with tankless heaters is that you have no tank of water if the water supply goes out, and you instantly have no hot water if the gas/electricity goes out.

#666 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 09:40 PM:


The most memorable bookstore juxtaposition I have run across:

What Native Americans Really Think, About Captain Cook, For Example
Reviving Ophelia, Saving The Selves of Adolescent Girls

#668 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 10:02 PM:

Gnomed again, perhaps for a NYT link.

#669 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 10:10 PM:

I found the leaded gasoline story fascinating, though I do wonder how well if ultimately holds up. (In particular, I don't think the Flynn effect (rising raw scores on IQ tests requiring a renorming upward every few years) stopped during the years when leaded gas was introduced and became widespread, and you'd expect to see IQ scores drop if lots more kids were being exposed to lead.).

I wonder how often our storytelling-machine brains create rock-solid-seeming plausible explanations for stuff, or lead us to spend years yelling at each other over our alternative group-identity-linked explanations, while some unknown cause unrelated to any of our stories is really driving things. We're arguing over whether the plague is being caused by the witches or the secret Jews, never noticing those fleas biting our ankles, having just jumped off a dying rat.

#670 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 11:29 PM:

The story I read was focused on the parallel rises and falls in crime rates and lead pollution from gasoline, for which the evidence may be more solid.

#671 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 11:35 PM:

On the lead story, it is very suggestive that crime rates, with the time offset, match so well with leaded-fuel use, particularly with the timing differences in different localities. The Flynn effect might be partly from that cause, but, anecdotally I am pretty sure that teaching has changed in significant ways.

What could be detectable is an age-specific Flynn effect. The crime figures lag gasoline lead levels by 23 years, and a good many educational stats cover children who are much younger. Very roughly, if you have figures for a couple of distinct age cohorts the 10-year-olds should lag the lead levels by around 11 years. Though maternal blood levels could matter a lot.

This could be a far more precise tool for matching the timing, since an particular school year has a much narrower age range than crime stats do. What I have seen for crime is often based on 10-year age ranges.

#672 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2013, 11:49 PM:

Thanks all for insights on water heaters.

Interestingly, the model I have doesn't need electricity at all to operate. It will keep making hot water even during a blackout.

I am going to have a look at it tomorrow, to see if I can figure out a way to lock down that door myself. If not . . . well, I suppose there is no better introduction to homeownership than a plumber's bill.

#673 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 11:19 AM:

Stefan Jones #672:

There *is* a better intro to home ownership: waiting for the plumber (or indeed anyone like him), which has to happen, frequently multiple times,* before he can present you with the bill.

* It is a law of all repair jobs that at least one trip to the appropriate supply place (hardware store, plumbers' supply, repairman's own warehouse) is required.

#674 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 11:50 AM:

joann @ 673 It is a law of all repair jobs that at least one trip to the appropriate supply place (hardware store, plumbers' supply, repairman's own warehouse) is required.

And if it's you that's doing the repair, the corollary is that you'll have grease/grime/sawdust smeared up to your elbows, you'll be sweaty and ugly and frazzled, and you'll run into three people you know at the hardware store....

#675 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 12:59 PM:

I see that actor Danny Glover is involved in a petition to nominate SF fan (and sometime economist) Paul Krugman for the position of Treasury Secretary. I'd *love* to see that, and the grimaces of the GOP as its folks excrete bricks.

#676 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Cassy B #674:

BTDT from the other end: I used to be able to triage customers depending on just how filthed-out they were. Usually the most desperate-looking ended up back in the plumbing and thence out of my area.

#677 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 01:06 PM:

Re the latest post in Abi's Parhelia: I am pretty sure there was a short story in Analog on the same subject, possibly in the '70s - a senior historian's letters pointing out to an enthusiastic colleague or student that he would ruin his career if he were to treat the mythological stories of a "World War II" as real history, given the exhaustive internal evidence that they were just symbolic folktales.

With nearly 40 years between them, I'm sure this one was a coincidental hit on the same idea - besides, the story is just so obviously unrealistic. (I mean really, the good guy leaders are named "Church Hill", and "Rose Garden"? Obviously those are symbolic epithets which later got attached to the real people in those positions, and the crippled American leader is obviously based on the wounded Fisher King from the Grail legend.)

#678 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Question for the hivemind:

I moved the majority of my freezer contents from old to knew.

One surprise was that my fancy new fridge has slightly less freezer space than the old.

Another surprise was . . . pork chops! A sealed "family size" package of pork chops. With a "sell by" date of May 2009.

I know that they've been hard-frozen all this time.

What do I do with them?

[ ] Prepare and eat them as pork chops
[ ] Use them as stew meat
[ ] Cook thoroughly and feed them to the dog
[ ] Throw away
[ ] Leave house; summon hazmat team for safe removal.

#679 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 01:36 PM:

Clifton #677:

See also the copy editing mistakes of the American Civil War (e.g. two generals of the same name, only on opposite sides; another individual being both a general and an admiral; and the war starting and ending on yet another individual's property).

#680 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 01:54 PM:

Clifton #677:

See also the copy editing mistakes of the American Civil War (e.g. two generals of the same name, only on opposite sides; another individual being both a general and an admiral; and the war starting and ending on yet another individual's property).

#681 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 01:54 PM:

Stefan, #678: According to my partner, those chops are still safe but likely to be freezer-burnt and somewhat lacking in flavor. He suggests as options:

1) Thaw, debone, grind, and use as meatloaf or in chili, where other seasoning will conceal any lack of flavor.

2) Contact your local animal rescue, who will happily take them off your hands. Dogs don't care about freezer burn.

#682 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 02:19 PM:

O.K., I have burned more of this morning than I care to contemplate trying to track this down with no luck, so I need someone who's been in the U.K. to answer my question...

Some time ago, I ran into a mention which I can't find again (Metafilter?) to a feature film made in the early 60's based on folktales which one of the U.K. broadcasters cut into three television episodes that they showed each year at Christmastime, providing high-powered nightmare fuel to at least a generation of children. It was made in the USSR, or perhaps in East Germany, and apparently had production values akin to those Finnish ones that MST3K adapted. Since my wife is a professional illustrator who has on occasion done illustrations based on folktales I'd like to try to find the complete movie for her, since she should be out of the "scared out of your mind" demographic. (For those interested in bizarre and wtf? safety films inflicted on children this series was repeatedly compared to "Apaches" and "One Got Fat" on the "Why did they ever?" scale.) Does anyone know the name of this?

#683 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 02:29 PM:

@Lee: Thanks!

The stand mixer I bought myself as a "you finally got a house!" gift came with a bonus food grinder, so I may try option 1.

#684 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 02:46 PM:

To Bruce at #682: I don't know the feature film you refer to but it brings to mind the series "The Singing Ringing Tree", which regularly had me hiding behind the sofa.

I have a good friend who might be able to answer your question, though, so I'll come back if he can help.

#685 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Bruce @682: In terms of production values and some plot points it sounds like "Apple War", but I doubt that would have been that scary (about fairy-tale beings preventing the building of "Euro-Deuchney"). It's obscure enough, though. When I saw it in the 90s, Scarecrow Video couldn't find a copy other than on actual film. That may have changed.

#686 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 03:30 PM:


When I used to work at my dad's hardware store, there was almost always someone who'd show up when we were closed for the New Years' inventory. We'd hear a banging at the door, look up from the yet-another-bin-of-small-electric-bits, and see some poor soul, wide-eyed, dishevelled, often dripping, and holding up a plumbing part. We'd unlock the door, hand him a new trap or fill valve or whatever, and send him on his way.

The sad thing is, the last time I did some plumbing work, even though I KNOW the Plumbing Rules:

1) Plumbing has MANY DIFFERENT "standards" none of which are compatible with any of the others.
2) Plan on making three trips to the store.

I still had to make three trips to the store, because I forgot to measure one bit of tubing.

#687 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 03:37 PM:

Jane Smith: "The Singing Ringing Tree" has got to be it. The folks commenting on the series kept saying how creepy the fish was, and how the transfer from color to B&W done when it was chopped into TV episodes made it even creepier. I'll chech the video stores for it. (I'm not going to try for "Apaches," which seems to have been dragged out and threaded onto the projector at every urban school in the U.K. just to show that farms kill. It has been suggested that it be retitled "The Darwin Awards.")

#688 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 03:55 PM:

Tom: The film of "The Apple War" has been caught in a family copyright mess caused by the lack of a good will that from what I've read makes Mike Ford's estate problems a chummy and collaborative situation. There was a limited edition DVD released a year or two ago for the equivalent of $99.00 that may mean the film may become available again outside the USA. (I think it would be easier to buy a DVD of "Nick Carter in Prague.")

#689 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 05:12 PM:

Apparently there is also a wind-powered musical sculpture called "The Singing Ringing Tree", and it is also creepy.

#690 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 06:46 PM:

Clifton @677, yes, the name “Roosevelt” was a standard popular nickname for American presidents in the early 20th century, derived from the White House’s famous rose garden.

#691 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 06:58 PM:

joann @ 673 ...
It is a law of all repair jobs that at least one trip to the appropriate supply place (hardware store, plumbers' supply, repairman's own warehouse) is required.

I've just gotten independent confirmation that no, it's not just me thinking that my staircase has developed hips, thanks to the neighbour on the other side of the wall doing renovations -- next step is causing their 'repair job' to have a bunch of trips to an appropriate supply place ...

#692 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 08:02 PM:

Re #622, does anyone else remember the Games Workshop guy showing up here during the Infernokrusher thread?

... oh, my, that was back in June 2005. Time does fly.

#693 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 08:42 PM:

Clifton #677 et seq.: Hmm... this is fitting into my volume in Lucien's library.

#694 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 09:03 PM:

HLN: I've implemented a work around to stop my fog lights from draining my cars' battery. If they come on now, I'm calling an exorcist, or maybe Stephen King.....

#695 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 09:22 PM:

692 Sandy:

Ah, yes. Here's the dweeb from Games Workshop (the folks who are claiming trademark on the term "Space Marine" in written material, despite prior art extending back to at least the 1930s) his own self, back in 2005.

#696 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 11:54 PM:

I fixed the door on my house's water heater with a $0.93 strap tie, bent at the ends to form a spring-loaded external bar:

#697 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 12:37 AM:


That's a very clever fix.

#698 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 12:53 AM:

Clifton @677: That's "Letter From a Higher Critic", by Stewart Robb, published in the November 1966 Analog. I happened to remember the title, whence it was easy to find the details.

#699 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 01:10 AM:

Stefan Jones @683: You've been doing all that baking without a stand mixer? Oh, you are going to love that thing!

#700 ::: Jane Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 01:49 AM:

Bruce at 687: I didn't realise the Singing Ringing Tree was originally a film, or that it had been in colour. I might track down a copy of it for myself now. Don't expect it to be beautiful, or well-produced: it was pretty rough even when I saw it, which was probably in the late 1960s. But it does have a certain peculiar charm of its own.

Lila, at 689: I just looked up the Singing Ringing Tree sculpture and it's only about an hour's drive away from me. I might go and look at that: thank you for mentioning it here. I hadn't heard of it before and it looks great.

#701 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 02:27 AM:

Jane Smith @700 -- it's on YouTube, in Russian; look for the title with 1957 added. Not adding 1957 only gives you the sculpture in the first page of hits.

#703 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 08:27 AM:

Dave Bell @702: I wonder if they make house calls. I ordered a box of 72 condoms from Amazon, to keep my son properly supplied for the next few -- years? Months? One hopes it is surely more than weeks!

#704 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 09:46 AM:

More recent attack on the plausibility of WW2.

I can't remember whether it's been cited here. Is there a way to search the urls on a site?

#705 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 10:00 AM:

You want the good link first or the evil link first?

I recommend evil first, so you have some chance of salvaging your day.

#706 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 10:06 AM:

Oops-- the contemporary plot holes link was in abi's Parhelia. Still, is there a way to search a site (or a page, for that matter) for a url?

#707 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Cassy B. @674: you'll have grease/grime/sawdust smeared up to your elbows, you'll be sweaty and ugly and frazzled, and you'll run into three people you know at the hardware store....

If anybody has issues with seeing me at the hardware store when I'm sweaty and ugly and frazzled, all I can say is they seriously need something better to worry about.

#708 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 01:38 PM:

Maxculine-style clothing designed for women's bodies.

Butch women and pre-op transmen are an under-served market. These companies are trying to address that.

#709 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 01:39 PM:

Very likely for a Word of Power. I have chocolate-dipped candied ginger...

#710 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 01:59 PM:

@Janetl: I actually FOUND a (low end) stand mixer last summer. It was in a "FREE PLEASE TAKE" box left by the dumpsters. I had to get beaters for it. It was wonderful! Then, on the second time I used it, I killed it. Low end stand mixers do no do well versus four batches of banana bread.

I'm going to be a lot more careful with my KitchenAid.

#711 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 710: I've had a Kitchenaid since 2007 and have used and abused it in epic fashion (e.g., batch of cookies that nearly overflowed the 5qt bowl; countless large batches of bread dough) and it's never faltered. Some of the newer ones - e.g., my mother's 6qt one of similar vintage - seem to have less grunt, but the worst that will likely happen is that you'll trip the thermal fuse and it'll need an hour or two to cool off to reset itself. Don't worry about working a Kitchenaid hard.

#712 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 04:51 PM:

@Benjamin: Thanks, good to know. I'll probably treat it gingerly at first. I was so ashamed when I killed that "found" stand mixer. It is hard to overcome a trauma like that. :-/

I'll probably be actually be moving into my new place next week. I'll have to think of an inaugural baked good to break in the mixer and new over with.

#713 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 05:26 PM:

Lee @708, thanks for a nice piece of gender-subversive suit porn.

#714 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 07:00 PM:

I've killed a Cuisinart food processor before. Turns out, the older ones are much more durable.

#715 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 07:11 PM:

When I was in the market for a stand mixer, I ended up buying a Viking. It seems the more recent KitchenAids have plastic gears...

Not a good idea when doing multiple loaves (the Yule Mincemeat bread being a recent example). If the recipe makes 2+ loaves, you want a heavy duty mixer. And even so, I'm contemplating tweaking the recipe to make things easier for the mixer.

#716 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 08:34 PM:

I have a KitchenAid. It was my mothers, so it's from the 70s. (Unfortunately the newer accessories won't fit it.) Now I need a kitchen it will fit in...

#717 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 11:45 PM:

Out of sheer curiosity, I just watched an episode of the original Irwin Allen The Time Tunnel followed by the first twenty minutes of the 2002 remake on YouTube. Casual observation: the original Tunnel set was clearly inspired by Forbidden Planet and is still pretty cool despite having had a budget of what I would guess to be less than New Who and a high corn factor during jumps because the Tunnel activation was done by firecrackers and smoke pots. The remake had much more money involved for the Tunnel set, but the coolness factor was way, way down and the jump effect/tunnel activation made you long for the smoke pots.

Apparently the Allen estate has been pushing for another remake since then, but with little success, perhaps because the concept behind the 2002 remake was somewhere between Quantum Leap and Seven Days. I wonder if they'll ever convince Fox to try again...

#718 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 11:55 PM:

@Bruce: I didn't even know there WAS a Time Tunnel remake!

I tried watching an episode of the original (which I just barely remember seeing as a wee kid) on Hulu. It featured Bruce Dern as another time traveler. It was pretty bland.

#719 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2013, 11:57 PM:

Any guesses what this is?

Part of it looks like a pizza cutter.

Maybe a ravioli cutter?

#720 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 12:17 AM:

Yes, it's an edging tool for ravioli. Compare this picture.

#721 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 12:23 AM:


My grandmother used to churn out ravioli for certain family get-togethers. I don't remember any special tools used, but then I again I would have been playing with uncles and cousins.

Some of my cousins learned how to make the family recipe, but didn't keep the tradition up. It has been years since anybody has tried.

I seriously miss that stuff.

#722 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 12:44 AM:

Speaking of Kitchenaid mixers, I have one from about 2004 or so. It's remarkably loud. Is this normal? It worries me.

#723 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 01:16 AM:

Brooks Moses @ 722: They are loud. Has the volume changed over time? The clearance between the beater and the bowl is adjustable — there are a lot of webpages that describe how to adjust it.

#724 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 01:36 AM:

janetl @723: Thanks! It's not a beater-and-bowl noise; it's just as loud with no beater attached. The noise hasn't changed over the time that I've owned it, but I bought it as a refurbished unit -- and it only occurred to me to worry about the noise some months after I bought it.

#725 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 05:20 AM:

I don't think of my kitchenaid as particularly loud - I can talk over it, at somewhat increased volume. I reserve loud for the new and utterly abominable cuisinart food processor that I thought would be an upgrade from the one my mother gave me years ago (it's about as old as I am) - the new one is the lovechild of a food processor and a blender, and was loud enough, the one time I used it, to leave my ears ringing for 30 minutes afterward.

#726 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 08:22 AM:

Brooks Moses @ 722

You probably don't need to worry.

The stronger KitchenAid mixers have steel and bronze gears, like a commercial mixer. These are naturally somewhat loud, but are very nearly indestructible.

#727 ::: Matt R ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 11:05 AM:

Hi all,

Longtime lurker, very occasional poster here. I think the last time was on death masks. Anyhow, I live in Milwaukee and I just wanted to let the ML community know about the plight of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. Basically, it is raising funds for a new home for "The only museum on the planet dedicated to the preservation, study and use of wood type". There is a fundraiser being held in Milwaukee this week ( If people are interested in further news or ways they can help, I'll try to stay on top of the story. This seems like a community that would be interested.

#728 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 12:38 PM:

I can finally show off the cover for "Mist", my wife's contemporary-fantasy novel, to be published by Tor in July.

#729 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Publishing popcorn time: John Colby is trying to force Wikipedia to advertise his new edition of The Stars My Destination by holding their fair-use quotations of the book for legal ransom. You may watch the show here.

#730 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 02:47 PM:

Stefan Jones: I tried watching an episode of the original (which I just barely remember seeing as a wee kid) on Hulu. It featured Bruce Dern as another time traveler. It was pretty bland.

It suffered from the problems inherent in most Irwin Allen SF shows, but it did have a really neat set. Briscoe County Jr, it's not.

#731 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 03:08 PM:

WRT remakes, I finally broke down and gave the new(er) Battlestar Galactica a try. (I remember cringing at the thought when I heard Richard Hatch pitching it at the '96 Chicago Comic Con.)

I enjoyed the music. The special effects are excellent.

Other than, why? Well, okay, it's at least differently bad than the original. But...well, I managed to force myself through the first two seasons. (Why? Because I'd run out of other stuff to watch while doing artwork...?)

#732 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 03:33 PM:

Jacque: my answer to "why" for the newer BSG was "Jamie Bamber", with a side order of "Michael Trucco" and some "Katee Sackhoff", plus "Edward James Olmos rocks", but it wasn't enough to sustain my interest through the whole thing. Part of the problem was "James Callis looks like my boyfriend but I want to push Gaius Baltar out an airlock, and the cognitive dissonance is too much for me," but a lot of it was just "wtf?" Eventually it turned into "look at my roommate's laptop whenever I hear Jamie Bamber's voice, because he is pretty." I couldn't get emotionally invested.

#733 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 03:35 PM:

Serge @728, I tried to look at the link and was unable to access it - perhaps because I'm not on f-book? In any case, congrats to your wife.

#734 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 03:56 PM:

Let us go then, you and I,
while the evening is sprawled out across the sky
like a drunkard, passed out in the gutter.
The patrons scowl, and mutter.

#735 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 04:13 PM:


Yeah, I tried getting into the remake of BSG, but beyond being chronically short of time, I'm chronically short of spoons. And spending an hour watching that show was just too depressing and dark to be something I wanted to do. (I guess eventually things get better, but early on, between the major characters we have:

n. Rffragvnyyl nyy bs uhznaxvaq rkgrezvangrq, jvgu n cngurgvp erzanag trggvat njnl.

o. Bar znwbe punenpgre qlvat bs pnapre.

p. Bar znwbe punenpgre jub vf na nypbubyvp.

q. Bar jub vf nccneragyl ybfvat uvf zvaq, be creuncf fbzrubj va pbzzhavpngvba jvgu gur plybaf--abobql pna gryy.

r. N pbhcyr jub ner yvivat haqre haornenoyr, fbhy-pehfuvat thvyg.

s. Fbzr punenpgref jub ner nccneragyl haxabjvat plybaf, jnvgvat gb or jbxra hc fb gurl pna zheqre nyy gurve sevraqf.

And that's basically all in place by about the second episode. I was beginning to feel like I should watch a documentary on Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, instead, so I could be a little less depressed.

#736 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 04:13 PM:

OtterB @ 733... Thanks! HERE is another link to the cover of Sue's fantasy novel.

#737 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 04:24 PM:

Serge, that's shiny! Congratulations to Sue.

#738 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 04:28 PM:

Rikibeth @ 737... Thanks!

#739 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 04:32 PM:

albatross @735: I guess eventually things get better

Not that I was able to detect. I kept on as long as I did, because people who like other things I like were giving it rave reviews. I finally gave up at the start of the third season. I decided maybe honor would be served if I watched, like, the last five episodes.

Couldn't do it. Made it through one and a half of them. It was still dark and depressing, and it seemed like they just kept adding characters gung ghearq bhg gb or Plybaf, and there was this whole weird incestuous vibe, and it just felt too much like the "stories" we would come up with when I was a kid because we'd played out the last story thread but didn't want to go in for the evening yet.

I found the Baltar character to be intermitently amusing; he was clearly shooting for "plucky comic relief," and the actor was actually even almost up to it. But the whole business was just so tangled and nonsensical that my disbelief suspenders kept snapping and smacking me in the face. And "frak." Srsly? At least they did away with all the spurious "alien" units of measurement from the old series, but the actors never sounded natural saying it, and it was completely gratuitous anyway, as far as I could tell. "If you can't blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit." Um: not.

And as for the depressiveness? They apparently decided, in the third season, that it wasn't dark enough.

You know, I can get behind a certain amount of good-versus-evil ambiguity (the original Blake's 7 did this really well), but the current fashion of just not bothering to have any characters that I like or care about is getting really...tedious.

And BSG is particularly egregious because, as you point out: cast? One has to wonder what it was that attracted people like Olmos and McDonnell to the project in the first place.

Even a couple of seasons of Doctor Who hasn't been enough to bleach out my brain adequately.

#740 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 05:08 PM:

OT even for an open thread/shameless bragging:

I just wrote "the end" after the last chapter of a 64-kiloword fan fiction.

1. Good God, I can't believe I did that.

2. Good God, I need a job (life?).

#741 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 06:23 PM:

Jacque 731: I liked it because it had a main culture of "good guys" who were polytheists, and a main culture of "bad guys" who were monotheists (my snotty comment at the time was "just like the real world!"—but please note I don't think monotheists are necessarily bad and gods know polytheists aren't necessarily good). And it became very human, good drama, politically relevant (an absolutely gut-wrenching episode on the ethics of suicide bombing, for example, didn't go to ANY of the obvious places), and really thoughtful.

Some of the human characters are utterly without morals, or become hideously corrupt in their zeal to pursue the Cylon infiltrators (think The Crucible). Most of the Cylon characters have some redeeming qualities, and all have complex characters. Also, I really like seeing the same actor playing sharply contrasting characters, and the humanoid Cylons do that in spades. All of any given model start in the same place, but their different experiences change them profoundly. It's really a great opportunity for some of the actors that play them, and they come through beautifully in my opinion.

Also, Jamie Bamber. And Tahmoh Penikett. THOSE arguments are pretty much incontrovertible as far as I'm concerned.

Oh, and "So say we all." That's the best "We agree with this prayer" thing I've EVER heard, better than "so mote it be" and wayyy better than "amen."

albatross 735: While that's all true, it's the early setup. I guess I was lucky enough to watch it when I was in good emotional shape (and when I am again, I will probably watch Game of Thrones, which I've avoided for reasons very similar to the ones you cite here).

I particularly want to address your f. Note that this is a spoiler from where you are now: Ubj fbzr bs gurz erfvfg guvf naq bguref snvy gb vf cneg bs gur qenzn. Naq gur Plybaf ner nznmrq jura gurl svaq bhg gung gur uhznaf nera'g xvyyvat rirel Plyba gurl qvfpbire nhgbzngvpnyyl; guvf (va cneg) yrnqf fbzr bs gurz gb pbapyhqr gung rkgrezvangvat uhznaf jnf onq naq jebat naq gurl jnag gb xrrc gur bguref sebz svavfuvat gur wbo.

Jacque 739: OK, you're not going to like it. It's a tragedy for most of the characters, a sad-but-uplifting ending for a few more, and even the "happy ending" some get is kind of ironic. far as 'frak' goes, do you have the same problem with FarScape's 'frell', 'dren', 'hezmana' etc.? Granted BSG uses 'frak' for all those, but I think the invented-swear-word thing is a pretty good convention for allowing characters to swear without getting the show in trouble with the FCC. I guess my suspension of disbelief will stretch to that, given the ridiculous rules they have to contend with in the US.

#742 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 06:32 PM:

Portions of the UK are cool because of the stiff wind coming off the Irish sea. Especially this time of year.

However, I really camer here to mention that I watched Downton Abbey over the last couple nights.

Observation 1: (On sunday at least) I haven't seen that much buffering since the days of realplayer. It took 2 hours to watch an hour of show. Their CDN recovered by last night though.

Observation 2: I would have much rather been watching the trials and perils of Vorkosigan House, except that I don't think that there'd be as much drama with the help. There's always this drama free competence at that level of the household.

#743 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 06:33 PM:

Portions of the UK are cool because of the stiff wind coming off the Irish sea. Especially this time of year.

However, I really camer here to mention that I watched Downton Abbey over the last couple nights.

Observation 1: (On sunday at least) I haven't seen that much buffering since the days of realplayer. It took 2 hours to watch an hour of show. Their CDN recovered by last night though.

Observation 2: I would have much rather been watching the trials and perils of Vorkosigan House, except that I don't think that there'd be as much drama with the help. There's always this drama free competence at that level of the household.

#744 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Jacque @731, because it was well-acted, often dramatically tense, and many of the conflicts within it were interesting. And James Callis (as Dr Baltar) was tremendous fun to watch.

It wasn’t without flaws. The opening scene of the mini-series was pretty terrible — both stupid and casually sexist. And the ending was terrible as well. (Anyone else notice that the ending is basically Leonard Jeffries’s “ice people” theory?) But in between those two points was a lot of good material.

It’s just struck me that the show has aged unusually quickly. This was a show being made as the Iraq War was new. Watching warbloggers’ heads exploding as the show progressed — having started out seemingly portraying the Cylons as al-Qaeda stand-ins, and then turning around and making them stand-ins for the Coalition forces in Iraq — was a part of the experience that I don’t think someone watching the show now can appreciate.

#745 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2013, 10:30 PM:

For what it's worth, I find the ending to the new BSG series much improved by the 60-odd-chapter fanfic that fixes it by making it a Star Trek crossover.

#746 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 12:07 AM:

I was linked to the fanfic Brooks mentions from here (the title is Going Native) and I agree it's a much better ending than the one we actually got -- albeit that's setting the bar fairly low. Jacque, you might want to read it, though. It starts about midway through season 3, so you'll have seen everything you need to.

(You do have to be able to read "Gaius" misspelled as "Gauis" without grinding your teeth too hard.)

#747 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 12:19 AM:

I loved the ending of BSG.

Of course, this may be partly because it's the ending I predicted during the second season. Everyone laughed at me and scoffed. HA!

But also: Gurl qvqa'g fnir gur Cerfvqrag; fur qvrq nf cerqvpgrq, ohg va wbl.

#748 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 12:35 AM:

I was a devoted watcher of new BSG during its run. The grimness of it was part of the appeal.

It has absolutely no rewatch value for me. Even during its run I could not stand to watch an episode twice.

#749 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 02:39 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @742: I liked it because it had a main culture of "good guys" who were polytheists, and a main culture of "bad guys" who were monotheists

Yeah, that was one point that had me grinning (though I was never really clear where they were going with it).

And it became very human, good drama, politically relevant

That was one thing that puzzled me. I guess part of it was that the world-building absolutely failed for me. While they didn't go for the spurious-alien-measurements that the original series did, other "cultural" things bounced off of me: the octagonal paper and pictures, to make it "alien," and yet so much of it was just bog-standard contemporary American culture. It would have worked much better for me if it had been just some unexplained alternate world (think Kings), but as SF, it was just sloppy (for my money), and the dissonances kept popping me out of the story.

Oh, and "So say we all."

Hee. Every time they said that, I thought of you and smiled.

It's really a great opportunity for some of the actors that play them, and they come through beautifully in my opinion.

I'm pretty sure that I was doomed to never really give this show a fair shake, just because the original annoyed me so much. It's disappointing. I would have liked to have enjoyed it.

Also, Jamie Bamber. And Tahmoh Penikett. THOSE arguments are pretty much incontrovertible as far as I'm concerned.

THOSE arguments are absolutely unassailable, I concur. :-)

I guess I was lucky enough to watch it when I was in good emotional shape

Heh. My mother was known to comment, of a Sunday morning, "I must be in a good mood today. The Sunday funnies are actually funny." My mood this winter has been...suboptimal. far as 'frak' goes, do you have the same problem with FarScape's 'frell', 'dren', 'hezmana' etc.?

Can't say; I've never been able to get into Farscape. I've tried it a few times, and have mostly just slid off. At some point, I'm going to have another go, now that Ben Browder and Claudia Black are members of my "family" (compliments of SG1), and I can watch it in a concentrated dose (which I find fundamentally changes the experience). I was able to deal with the made-up cursewords in Firefly, but there was enough "plausible" "etymology" that it didn't strain my disbelief suspenders—or at least there enough "meta" running that it didn't pop me out of the story.

David Goldfarb @748: Jacque, you might want to read it, though. It starts about midway through season 3, so you'll have seen everything you need to.

Nahhh, s'okay. I think I've satisfied my curiosity wrt BSG.

And eric reminds me that there's no accounting for taste; I've been catching up on Downton Abbey (seasons 1 & 2, so far) and finding it entirely pleasant. But then, it has one of Xopher's THOSE arguments, in the form of Bates. BEST smile lines in the history of orbicularis oculi, IMnsHO.

And meanwhile, West Wing is streaming on Netflix again. Speaking of smile lines, can you say "Richard Schiff"?

#750 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 03:22 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 698: AKICIML. (I expected that someone would likely have full details.)

#751 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 03:41 AM:

Clifton: Well, that's the kind of trivia I have a good head for. I'm surprised Tom Whitmore didn't get to it first.

#752 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 07:46 AM:

There's a Kickstarter project to help finish the documentary about Jay Lake and his fight with cancer.
Go help.

Details are HERE.

#753 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Lila, #740: What fandom?

Also, is anyone else here going to be at GAFilk this weekend? Fragano? Lila?

#754 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Lee @ # 755, the Avengers movie (the comic book one, not the Mrs. Peel one). It's at fanfiction dot net and archiveofourown dot org; my username in both places is hellseries. (I've also written 2 Cowboys & Aliens and one Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)

(/shameless self-promotion)

GAFilk sounds intriguing...I'll think about it. Off to work now!

#755 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 01:58 PM:

I'll be at GAFilk. I get in tomorrow evening.

#756 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 01:59 PM:

Serge Broom @754: I passed that on to Karen, and we've made a mutual donation. So you've had an effect!

#757 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 02:37 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 758... Glad to hear. Jay Lake deserves no less. My favorite anecdote about him occurred in 2008 at the Denver worldcon. I was staying a the hotel right across the street from the convention center. As I was going down the hotel elevator, Lake came onboard and I said "Hello". He wasn't sure if I was someone he might known, but I said I was just an SF fan, to which he replied there's no such thing as 'just' a fan. A distinguished-looking older gent also in the elevator said he was just a fan too. I told Lake that he probably knew who that gent was. That was Robert Silverberg.

#758 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 03:13 PM:

Hey, we'd have sent support no matter how we heard, Serge. We gave Jay a ride back to Portland from Seattle after one of the Locus banquets, and he submitted the final draft of a novel from the backseat of the car while we were heading down I-5. It looks like a very interesting project.

#759 ::: Tom Whitmore visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Do you need a ride somewhere?

#760 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 04:10 PM:

(Back from work)

Yes, I will definitely be at GAFilk, though only during the day on Saturday. Meetup?

#761 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Lila, #760: To be sure, although I'll be stuck at the dealer table. OTOH, I can probably arrange for my partner to come hold down the fort long enough for us to do lunch. (I made him a deal that if he came along for company on the trip and help with load-in and load-out, I'd run the tables solo so that he could spend a few days updating his website without interruptions.)

#762 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 04:28 PM:

Lee: cool! We can continue discussion via email: myfirstname at markandmyfirstname dot com.

#763 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 05:07 PM:


Local woman trips on the street, falls over, scrapes up her palms and bruises, scrapes and cuts both knees. The left one significantly, right one less so.

Woman spends portion of evening at the local minor injuries and accidents clinic and gets patched up.

She reports having intended to spend the evening swing dancing but sits instead at home on the sofa with a painful knee and a sympathetic cat so all in all things could have been much better but they could also have been worse.

#764 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 05:32 PM:

Sica: OUCH OUCH OUCH. Heal quickly and well! And hooray for sympathetic cats, they fill you up with endorphins and oxytocin. ;-)

#765 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 05:54 PM:

Sica: Gravity sucks, man. <cheech marin>

Happee kitteh buzzes!

#767 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 07:05 PM:


Appropriate first meal prepared in a new home?

#768 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 08:22 PM:

Stefan, IDK about a meal, but your first visitor should bring bread and salt.

#769 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 08:25 PM:

Stefan @767, and you want to buy a new broom; don't take the old one from your old house or apartment. (No, I don't know why; my grandmother used to insist on that.)

#770 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 09:02 PM:

You leave all the bad dirt behind.

#771 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 09:19 PM:

Sica: Owwwwwwww. May fast healing be yours.

#772 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 09:23 PM:

Let's all point and laugh at these stupid jackholes.

I would never laugh at people who are simply born with below-average native intelligence. But people who are stupid in the sense that they willfully reject reasonable thought are absolutely fair game, and in fact IMO it's a positive duty to ridicule them, because they must be robbed of the power they wield in society.

#773 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 09:40 PM:

It's World Net Daily who are the jackholes in this case. Missed that the first time through.

#774 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2013, 10:14 PM:

Xopher @ 772, I'll see your crazies and raise you: Sandy Hook was a fake

How do these people manage to dress themselves? (For that matter, how can they look in a mirror....)


#775 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 12:03 AM:

Harder to laugh at those, Cassy. In fact, not wishing them dead is an effort. I'm winning, but I'm not even going to try not to hate them.

There are some things you can't believe without being a bad person. Probably first, but certainly as a result.

#776 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 01:06 AM:

HLN: Area cat in mid-stage renal failure has been approved (pending labs) for a stem-cell research study. It may or may not extend and/or improve her quality of life, but that's okay -- she's 19 and spoiled rotten. It will, with luck and good science, improve other cats' lives, and with greater luck, improve the lives of other living creatures (including humans one day.) Area cat was a very good girl for the nice doctor.

Also, if I may, I am finally rebuilding my blog that I let die with mac dot com, and am officially flogging it. (Truly, if I'd known Word press was this much easier than iWeb, I would have done this months ago.) I've got about half of my old posts up and marked as archive and a couple on my Waterloo project, including the initial sketch-ups for the Suitcase Cottage.

#777 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 04:20 AM:

Lila and Lee, I'll look for you at GAFilk. (I'm packed. Time to sleep, then to rise and go to airport. Yay!)

#778 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 09:54 AM:

Cassy and Xopher:

This is a rant which isn't really directed at you guys, though this discussion is what triggered it. There's this ugly pattern I've noticed in media of all kinds, including the blogosphere, which seems quite unhealthy to me.

For just about any crazy, evil, creepy belief or idea you can imagine, there is a community of people somewhere on the internet who holds that belief, or at least is willing to say they do. Often, there will be websites, publications, etc. Any large news story is likely to generate conspiracy theories--and occasionally, there really will be a conspiracy, though probably they won't be as entertaining stories as the conspiracy theories that become popular. (Look for fewer James Bond like spies and leakproof thousand-person conspiracies, and more guys taking a job from their brother-in-law after they steer the government contract his way.)

So this makes me doubt the value, most of the time, of the kind of news story or talk show topic or blog post in which someone digs some horrible bunch of people out from under whatever rock they inhabit, and spends a few days pointing out what horrible people they are, while the audience joins in screaming at them or laughing at them (assuming they're horrible in a funny rather than disturbing way). It's hard for me to see how it makes the world a better place, or the audience better informed or better people.

A secondary problem is that often, the people digging the weirdos out from under their rock aren't too concerned with understanding the people they're snarling at or ridiculing. So it's not uncommon to find out that a lot of public venom has been dumped on someone who wasn't really quite what they were represented as being. (Though they may also have been every bit as bad as they looked, but for different reasons than the blogger or reporter or talk show host discussed.)

Now, stupid and evil ideas need to be confronted with better ones. But most of the value there is in confronting evil and stupid ideas with a lot of influence in the world, or the potential for a lot of influence. There are plenty of those built into the ruling-class consensus that guides our country, but they're less fun to ridicule or snarl at, because they have powerful defenders with loud public voices. And yet, the goofy idea that Sandy Hook never happened will never have a millionth the impact on the world as the evil idea that if the president does it, it's legal, or that anything nasty done to scary alleged child molesters or terrorists or drug dealers is acceptable, or that the more powerful you are, the less you should be held personally responsible for any crimes you commit. But it seems like, a lot of the time, we ignore all those things (which are actually kind-of contentious and complicated and involve pissing off powerful people and arguing against our own team) in favor of the easy exercise of finding some idiot on the net somewhere who says something really awful and offensive and nutty. Indeed, it seems like these are substitutes for one another--more time spent pointing and laughing at the village idiot is less time talking about whether the roads are in such lousy repair because the local government is corrupt and incompetent.

#779 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:11 AM:

Had to come squee -- someone wants to pay me $25 for half an hour of my time to teach him to use his nexus tablet!!!

Employment! Sort of. Still, thrilling.

#780 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:30 AM:

Elliott Mason (779): That's terrific!

#781 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:31 AM:

Related to the sitting and rising test mentioned in the opening of the new Dysfunctional Families Day thread, it's notable that the test is people middle-aged and older. There's a discussion here[PDF] that goes into a lot of detail on measures of risk, which ages they work for, and so on. It's a actuarial panel discussion, but I think it should be comprehensible to a non-actuary. (I think it's an interesting subject, and I'm professionally interested in it, so it's not easy to be sure.)

#782 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:35 AM:

Elliott Mason: The Boy has had a great deal of luck with an ad in the local newspaper-for-seniors, offering help learning how to navigate one's computer enough to check email, defragging/maintenance services, etc.

#783 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:49 AM:

Lila, Lee, Elise: Sadly, we can't be at GAFilk this goround. For an explanation inquire at fledgist at comcast dot fishingdevice.

#784 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 12:04 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 779... Bravo!

#785 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 12:25 PM:

He happened across me (and kidlet) at McD's on Wed -- I was throwing her at the indoor playground, he was trying to get WiFi. He saw me on mine and diffidently struck up a convo, and this morning he called to make an appt. He's kind of endearingly totally lost about it, despite being a retired engineer -- not a computer person, I suppose.

I really, really enjoy doing THIS part of tech support, plus $25 in pin money. If nothing else, it covers kid's meal from last time, plus some.

#786 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 12:55 PM:

New, or possibly just new to me:

"Blood samples were spun at 1500rpm because the centrifuge made a scary noise at higher speeds"

"I used students as subjects because rats are expensive and you get too attached to them"

#787 ::: Sandy B., gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 12:57 PM:

I presume because I used a link to That Which Twits.

I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, diet food and bourbon.

#788 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 01:09 PM:

So publishing professionals, I have a question.

Assume a small (but Yog's-Law-following) press whose main money-maker is a series of pulpy short novels, written by a fairly prolific author. How long would it take from him delivering a manuscript to the physical book hitting the shelves?

#789 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 02:53 PM:

There is a fundraiser to help Jay Lake himself. This is different from the Kickstarter mentionned yesterday. Details are HERE.

#790 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 05:20 PM:

Teresa & Abi.

Saw this and thought of you. Having done needle point and cross stitch and full sized wood working this woman has some amazing skills.

#791 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Just got gnomed. Do I offer up pumpkin and oatmeal cake or not?

#792 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 06:26 PM:

Serge @798: And I see that it has already raised its $20000 initial goal in considerably less than 24 hours. The amount of "F*** cancer!" sentiment among Jay's friends is impressive.

#793 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 06:46 PM:

The folks at Fox News evidently are unclear on the symbolic nature of money. They appear to believe that a 1 trillion dollar platinum coin would have to be made of 1 trillion dollars worth of platinum, which would, you know, be quite large, and very heavy. Heavier than a submarine.

No, really. Go to DailyKos if you don't believe me; they've got the screenshot.

I'm just sitting here giggling and thinking about hundred dollar bills, and credit cards, and like that.

#794 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 07:05 PM:

Perhaps they think that fiat money has something to do with Italian cars, so they're against it?

#795 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 07:52 PM:

The comments on that post are pretty funny. What if currency changed physical size to go with its exchange value?

#796 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 08:19 PM:

Brooks Moses @ 792... The amount of "F*** cancer!" sentiment among Jay's friends is impressive.

No kidding.

By the way, one of the goodies of the fund drive was Mary Robinette Kowal's reading of excerpts from classics of literature as if she was doing phone sex.

I knew she was multi-talented.

#797 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 08:27 PM:

Invoking open-threadedness: I am not a cat person, so I glazed over pretty quickly doing an Internet search on the topic of home cooked/prepared diet for cats. Does anyone have practical experience in this area? The ultimate internet glaze-over was this extended discussion of the merits of various grinders. I think the article eventually got to recipes and instructions, but ssnnnnnzzszsz

#798 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 08:31 PM:

Let me be more specific: home cooked/prepared low iodine diets for cats. I am not a cat person , and this is not my cat. However, she is a good cat.

#799 ::: Tracie is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 08:38 PM:

Your Lownesses have seized my second post, which amplified my first post. I do not have any low iodine cat food, and I doubt you would like it anyway. How about ham and home made biscuits instead. And a beer.

#800 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 08:45 PM:

I believe that the word that fox is missing completely is seigniorage.

Well, that and reality.

#801 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 09:07 PM:


She is now at Gafilk. If you are also at Gafilk, please feel free to find her.


Personally, I think she'll be at the Waffle House, having waffle with over-easy fried egg on top.

Fragano, are you also there?


#802 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 09:55 PM:

Grrr. Really, really pissed off.

Imagine this: Someone makes a movie where the heroes are "Jew hunters." They hunt down the evil Jews who are these monstrous horned creatures who kidnap Christian children and (insert blood libel here). Lots of battle scenes, with really terrifying monstrous critters called Jews.

There'd be an outcry, of course. The producers would go on TV and say "We didn't mean anything about the Jewish religion! We're not talking about the Jews who are a real religion! Our movie is about the evil Jews of legend who (blood libel)."

Would anyone buy that? Of course not. It's obvious bullshit.

Would you go to that movie, even if it had Jeremy Renner in it? Of course you wouldn't.

Well, don't go to Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters either. The difference is that Witches are a tiny, powerless minority religion who no one cares about offending. There's no more substance to the difference than that.

#803 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 10:16 PM:

I meant, of course, whom no one cares about offending.

#804 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 10:40 PM:

Xopher @ 803... There are movies like James Purefoy's "Solomon Kane", where someone did care.

#805 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:25 PM:

Thanks, Serge. I looked at IMDB for that, and it said that the hero was a 16th century warrior fighting "the Overload."

I submitted a correction.

#806 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:49 PM:

Hey, a lot of us fight the overload. We deserve a movie too. Even if the overload usually wins.

#807 ::: Tom Whitmore visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2013, 11:49 PM:

I must have overloaded them!

#808 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 12:08 AM:

Xopher, I promise not to go to that movie. Not only that, I will say rude, cranky things about it even though I have not seen it.


#809 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 12:26 AM:

#781 SamChevre :

Very interesting link. Some parts are great information, other parts are way more information about the insurance business than I had ever thought about.

#810 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 12:31 AM:

Two things:

1) A friend of mine is looking for the Chinese script of the phrase 'thank you' meaning 'for service'; in Cantonese, it is pronounced mmm-goi. She's gotten one translation, but her double-checking isn't confirming it.

2) A story I wrote: Walking Home.

#811 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 04:18 AM:

Diatryma @810:

A very, very good story. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

#812 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 07:44 AM:

Xopher @ #803, despite being a Jeremy Renner addict, I had already decided not to go see it on the basis of the red trailer, which turned my stomach.

Diatryma @#810, that was beautiful and devastating. Thank you!

#813 ::: Lila's post sleeps with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 07:46 AM:

Possibly due to an incautiously-used word of power.

Contrite, she offers up roasted vegetables with savory, thyme and basil.

#814 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 08:01 AM:

What effect do trolls have on discussions? This article suggests that the more rude and insulting the discussion, the more peoples' beliefs freeze up--it's much harder to reconsider your views in the midst of an angry argument. Since the whole world is now filled with people who scream insults at their opponents, online and on mainstream mass media, there's probably some effect on how hard it is to get anyone to rethink their positions.

#815 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 08:03 AM:

Diatryma #810: Wow. That one's a gut punch.

#816 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 08:38 AM:

Diatryma @810, excellent.

#817 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Lizzy L @ 793

Apparently, the idea that a billion-dollar platinum coin would need to be made out of a billion dollars worth of platinum is actually reasonable. Kevin Drum (definitely not a Fox News person) has a discussion of the issue here. (TL:DR: the authorization is for bullion coins, which have values based on their metal content.)

#818 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 11:53 AM:

Hi everybody *waves*

I'm having a bit of trouble with my google-fu today. I need a writing app that works with Dropbox, my windows laptop, and my ipod. Can the group mind suggest something? Maybe something from experience?*

I'm really hoping for a "write once, never have to think about where it is" kind of setup. Text formatting like bold/italic would be helpful, and the ability to understand unicode (for working with Japanese characters) would also be really helpful.

Thank you, everyone!

*tech reviewers have these preferences, you see, but I'm never sure if they've used the software for a day, a week, or an hour before they deliver their verdict.

#819 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 12:06 PM:

Diatryma #810: My HK-born, multi-dialect speaking Chinese language geek co-worker says:

- That is spoken Cantonese only and it is written as 唔該
- 唔 is a Cantonese term
- very much equivalent to 不 in formal Chinese
- it makes the word following it read negative
Me:this is all traditional idiographs (because Cantonese)? And what is the following word then?
Him: yes, it would be traditional as it is not an official character. It is what is known as a dialect character. The word following it is "該" which means "should".
- so put it together it means "should not" as in "you should not have"
- For example "you should not have done something for me, but I am glad that you did"
- like saying "oh you shouldn't have" in English

IM conversation, which explains the broken ups. I figured I'd quote it verbatim to minimize any chance of playing telephony with it in reformatting.

#820 ::: Mycroft W: gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Likely for a bunch of chinese characters randomly dropped into an IM-style conversation.

When I get around to having my Westvleteren 12 sampling party, I'll raise a glass to the gnomes?

#821 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 01:53 PM:

kimiko @818: do you specifically need Dropbox, or just to be able to access your documents anywhere?

For the latter, I know people who like Google Docs, and some who like Evernote. The latter has the advantage of also working offline, but I once lost an update on my phone when I reconnected and Evernote received an error while trying to upload the update. I was disappointed (I expected that it would preserve my changes and keep trying to upload them, rather than discarding them), but I still use Evernote, if a little less enthusiastically than before.

What I use the most is any plain text editor and just manually saving to/opening from a Dropbox folder. My preference is vim or gvim (because I'm an old-school nerd), but notepad or pretty much any word processor (saving in plain text) will work too. Of course this fails the "text formatting like bold/italic" preference. I've used this across my Windows laptop, my wife's Mac laptop, my Ubuntu desktop at work, and my Android phone; I haven't yet tried it with my wife's iPad, but I expect it would work there too.

#822 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 02:13 PM:


I have had very good experiences with Writings, an iPad app that's basically nothing but a text editor. It claims to synch with Dropbox, but I haven't ever used that feature. It plays nicely with emailing, copying/pasting, and iTunes transfers.

I also have Pages, which isn't too bad (it provides some more word processing features), but I don't see any reference to Dropbox synchronization. (But maybe it's there somewhere I haven't noticed yet.)

As an aside, if you end up editing/reviewing many papers, I really strongly recommend a note-taking/markup program like Notability (my favorite) or NoteTaker, and a stylus. I find the cheaper Targus styluses too sticky (like trying to write with an eraser), but really like some of the Bamboo ones. It takes a little getting used to, because the screen just doesn't have the precision of a pen, but it's really nice for taking a PDF file and marking it up like it was a paper copy.

#823 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 02:55 PM:


Wow, powerful. There's good closure, and I continue to think about your characters and speculate backstory.

Well done.

Do you have more?

#824 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 03:08 PM:

*sigh* Because the freezer compartment in my new fridge is too small to accommodate it, I'll be forced to bake and start eating the Marie Callendar Razzleberry Pie when I move in tomorrow night.

#825 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 03:15 PM:

Diatryma @810: Thank you for the link. Not only a powerful story, but I'd not come across the site before, so thank you for directing my attenton to it. I'm sure I'll spend lots of short time periods reading there. (I actually have a very short (650 words) story which is one of the few bits of fiction I've written in the past 15 years, which I've been wondering whether I could market. They say they're looking for short stuff, so maybe...)

#826 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Diatryma #810: That made me cry. Beautiful.

#827 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 03:53 PM:

Serge Broom @ 796: one of the goodies..." I had raised my mug while I was reading that sentence. Very glad I hadn't actually taken a sip, and rather lucky not to tip it all over the keyboard!

#828 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 04:08 PM:

HLN: First snowdrop of the year up and BLOOMING! (WTF?! The earliest I've had one bloom prior to this was the beginning of February.) Temperature here today 60F.

Since the ground isn't frozen I planted the pack of 15 snowdrop bulbs I'd forgotten I had bought around the lampost. The clematis on the lampost is showing big juicy buds. So is the winter-blooming apricot.

And the rosemary (which is almost waist-high) is bright and green, thriving even though we have had nights with temperatures going down into the single digits. Weird, just...weird.

#829 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Mycroft W: thank you! I will point my friend to your post. The dialect thing makes a lot of sense, actually, as she's been getting mixed results.

Many others: thank you! Daily SF did a very good job with the story and I'm quite happy with it. The other fiction I have online is in Ideomancer and Futures from Nature, but those are much shorter.

#830 ::: Diatryma is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Possibly for too many phrases of gratitude.

#831 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 06:15 PM:

Diatryma @810 That was gorgeous (and heartbreaking).

#832 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Diatryma @810: Beautiful. Powerful. Thank you.

#833 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Diatryma @810: Beautiful. Powerful. Thank you.

#834 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 09:11 PM:

I'll take Jérémie Renier over Jeremy Renner.

#835 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 11:04 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 824: You have my (insincere) sympathy on being forced to eat the pie. Do you now have the room for a small chest freezer? They are fabulous for freezing one' s mass baking production at the holidays!

#836 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2013, 11:35 PM:

Sam Chevre @817, one of the comments under Kevin Drum's article points to an article by Lawrence Tribe that points to the actual law. It doesn't just authorize platinum bullion coins, but also proof coins (Ooh, shiny!), and is sufficiently plainly written that Tribe thinks it can't lose in court even though it wasn't the original intent of Congress.

There's also a comment by the Treasury guy who helped draft the law, which says that the possibility of the trillion-dollar platinum coin was unintended (but he's just fine with it, and thinks it can't possibly cause economic problems, which is the kind of thinking you'd expect from a guy who wrote a law that accidentally allows trillion-dollar coins.)

What I thought was really amusing was that the Treasury guy wrote the law along with Representative Mike Castle of Delaware. You may remember him - he's the moderate Republican who lost his primary race to the Tea Party's Christine "not a witch" O'Donnell. And it's the Tea Party who will get spanked hardest if Obama calls their bluff and either mints the coin or lets them do a government shutdown.

#837 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 01:27 AM:

This Isn't The Petition Response You're Looking For.

A Death Star might be a jobs program, but not enough trillion dollar platinum coins, apparently.

#838 ::: CZEdwards has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 01:29 AM:

A link, and a short comment.

Birthday cookies, my friends?

#839 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:04 AM:

It's after midnight here.
In that case...

Happy Birthday, Bill Higgins!!!

#840 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:11 AM:

A public service announcement:

If you set out rat traps, say in a remote and inaccessible part of your living space, and if one of them catches a rat and the others don't catch anything for days, do not stop checking the traps, or put it off for too long. No, not even if you think there was only one rat and you haven't heard any more scratching or gnawing noises since the trap got it.

Once it dawned on us what "that smell" was, it fell to me to climb up into the ceiling space, double-bag and remove two thoroughly dead rats, and clean up the residue. Scraping with a putty knife was involved, along with a lot of orange spray (Orange Guard) to mask the smell.

Lessons learned:
1) It's not just one rat. Don't kid yourself.
2) No matter how much of a pain it is to bring the ladder in and climb up there, doing it daily beats the alternative.
3) Buy more traps.

#841 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:27 AM:

Clifton: ok, that puts the vermin problems that the Amazing Girlfriend and I have been dealing with in perspective. We've been dealing with ants in our apartment for the last six weeks or so, and this week, we kicked things up a level. We'd called (and emailed) our management company several times since late November, but the extent of their efforts on our behalf had been to send in their handyman with a can of bug spray. We'd also spent more money than I want to think about on more bug spray and baited traps of various and sundry kinds. So, a few nights ago, I wrote up a very polite but very forceful description of the issues we'd been having, and we hand-delivered it to the management company the next morning. We woke up to the exterminator (rather than the handyman) knocking on our door this morning.

This might have been precipitated by finding (and vacuuming up) about 300 dead ants from one of our closets. Which I will happily take over cleaning up deceased rodents.

#842 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:43 AM:

I have been doing a bit of Googling around the question of how the US Government can resolve the contradictory dictates of Congress (We have passed a Buget which requires you to spend money. We have also passed laws which prevent you getting the money to pay the Budget).

A good many of the high-ranking pages in the searches are full of conspiratorial froth (One described Reuters as a Jewish newspaper: loud and clamorous alarm bells ring.)

Just as in the UK, the overall impression is of a crazed patriarch declaring that the family has no money to spend, while doing nothing to increase the family's income. Straining the analogy, the family is not going to touch the Patriarch's personal wealth, the feckless daughters are getting their meagre allowance cut, and no way are they going to be allowed to leave home and get a paying job.

(The politicians who use the Family Budget analogy to justify spending less money, continually ignore that a real family would be looking for ways of earning money, even if it means that somebody has to pay for Jimmy's new suit for the job interview.)

There's that line from the show and movie 1776: "I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm; and that three or more become a Congress!"

#843 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:43 AM:

I have been doing a bit of Googling around the question of how the US Government can resolve the contradictory dictates of Congress (We have passed a Buget which requires you to spend money. We have also passed laws which prevent you getting the money to pay the Budget).

A good many of the high-ranking pages in the searches are full of conspiratorial froth (One described Reuters as a Jewish newspaper: loud and clamorous alarm bells ring.)

Just as in the UK, the overall impression is of a crazed patriarch declaring that the family has no money to spend, while doing nothing to increase the family's income. Straining the analogy, the family is not going to touch the Patriarch's personal wealth, the feckless daughters are getting their meagre allowance cut, and no way are they going to be allowed to leave home and get a paying job.

(The politicians who use the Family Budget analogy to justify spending less money, continually ignore that a real family would be looking for ways of earning money, even if it means that somebody has to pay for Jimmy's new suit for the job interview.)

There's that line from the show and movie 1776: "I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm; and that three or more become a Congress!"

#844 ::: Dave Bell has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:48 AM:

Possibly because I quoted a few triggery words from a piece of conspiratorial froth, as an example of how dangerous Google Searches for background on political issues are becoming.

Nothing special in the kitchen, but I make a point of brewing good coffee, and I can bring back an extra fish and chips if the gnomes care to call for lunch.

#845 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:55 AM:

I note for purposes of the next Open Thread that the World Darts Championship is running. Well, one of the World Darts Championships. This sounds a bit like boxing.

Those who have watched such things on TV will know the numeric significance, but references to snooker on Open Thread 147 deal with something far less commonplace.

#846 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 04:55 AM:

It is amazing how few words have to be changed to convert the song "Congratulations Tom Dewey" into "Congratulations Mitt Romney." Sorry, but I was a History major and it's been bugging me that nobody picked up on this at any point during the election.

#847 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 07:52 AM:

And if I remember correctly my other notes about today...

Happy Birthday, Paula Lieberman!!

#848 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 10:34 AM:

#810 ::: Diatryma:

Seconding the high opinions of your story-- I was especially impressed by "Everyone has blood on their back teeth."

"Blood on their hands" is about being blamed. "Blood on their back teeth" is about being haunted.

#849 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 01:33 PM:

Clifton @840: Yes, that smell really is something, isn't it? We used to get dead mice dying around the house in inaccessible places occasionally (250-year-old farmhouse). Nothing to do but accept the smell for a few days.

Benjamin Wolfe @841: sympathies for the ants and good luck in dealing with them. We haven't had any since we put in the new double glazing (including the back door and the patio doors (they were getting through the rotting wood in the bottom part of the frames), but I vividly remember ants all over the kitchen on one occasion and, on another, forming a trail across my home office to and from the apple core I'd accidentally left in my backpack...

Re. Jim's Diffractions - love the Death Star response (which has made it onto the BBC news), and the paper sculptures in Edinburgh libraries etc.

Re. PNH's sidelight "What does it mean to be privileged." Yes. Back when I was in my early teens, my mother gave each on me, my sister and my brother a black & white TV. We joked about carrying then back to my Dad's place and, if stopped, saying "Honest, Officer, we were given them!" But we were laughing because we knew that, IF we'd carried them, rather than being given a car ride, while getting stopped was a possibility, the worst that would happen was a few minutes while they contacted our mother to confirm this. But then we're white and middle class...

And Happy Birthday Paula Lieberman.

#850 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 01:53 PM:

You may have some more efficient way of finding this out, but is down.

jtablesession::Store Failed
DB function failed with error number 1062
Duplicate entry 'p04b37jl8hvi31tkte955a4l91' for key 'PRIMARY' SQL=INSERT INTO `jos_session` ( `session_id`,`time`,`username`,`gid`,`guest`,`client_id` ) VALUES ( 'p04b37jl8hvi31tkte955a4l91','1358016733','','0','1','0' )

#851 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 02:00 PM: seems to be back now.

#852 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 03:54 PM:

Benjamin: We have a huge ant problem too, in certain rooms of the house; we're working on that. It's a bit of a shock to pick up Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, for instance, and get a sudden outflux of panicky ants bearing grubs. These ants seem to virtually ignore all the poison baits we've tried, and what they clearly want is to nest, by preference inside the spines of hardcover books, inside DVD cases, and inside music CD cases. Some ants are grease ants and some are sugar ants, but evidently we get culture ants.

On the bright side, I think we've nearly wiped out the population of giant cockroach (aka palmetto bugs) over the last couple months, between poison baits and sealing up our food in really heavy-duty airtight containers or in multi-layered containers.

I just got back from the store with more rat traps and will be setting them up shortly. When it comes to vermin in our house, the ethical wibbling which keeps me mostly vegetarian gets turned off abruptly. (I even like rats, as pets; they're quite charming animals. Just not in my ceiling or walls, thank you.)

#853 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 04:10 PM:

TNH #801:

We couldn't be at GAFilk this year, for reasons I'll be happy to explain in email. However, Elise decided to brave the weather and traffic (which was particularly horrible because Atlanta traffic ties itself into knots whenever it rains, which it does with frequency) and come over here yesterday afternoon. A good time was had by all, including the ruler of the household Marjorie the Cat.

#854 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Re: Teresa's Particle of "ASL We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", I was interested to see that the "whoo-oo, whoo-oo" got its own gesture -- a somewhat suggestive one.

#855 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2013, 10:07 PM:

Thank you Jeremy and albatross!
I'm sorry for my tardy reply.

I specifically like Dropbox, because I trust it, and because it "just works" in the background, without me needing to think about it. I don't specifically _need_ it, but I understand that a lot of nice apps use it as a storage back end, and I already use it to keep things sync'd between work and home.

I used to use a freeware notepad program for xp, but I'd rather have something that did light formatting, the way wordpad on win98 did. I'm on windows 7 now, and hopefully will be for some time to come. Now I'm using whateve the latest version of Word is, but I can't say it's my sort of thing, and if I could find something that would work seamlessly with something I could run on an ipad in the future, that would be great. I tried the Cory Doctrow style "keep it all in text files, and use version control" thing, and it's just too many things to remember to do. I don't have an ipad yet, but I do have an ipod that runs iOS 5, so some things are an option.

Albatross, I'm going to look into "Writings", that sounds promising, and see if it is ipod compatible. And probably the note taking programs as well.

Having had some time to think about it away from the computer, it occurs to me that I should head on over to Absolute Write and see what kinds of stuff they talk about in the forums. I guess I could formulate my goal as: finding a word processor that keeps track of things for me so I never have to move my attention from what I am writing, or to wonder where my stuff is when I am not writing. You know, paper, but better :)

wishing you all peace.

#856 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 12:14 AM:

HLN: Area woman gives physics-teacher-friend Spherical Cow of Uniform Density as made by Mary Aileen. Physics teacher laughs and starts plotting how to use it in lesson plans....

#857 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:10 AM:

re 837/particle: That is the most awesome White House response ever.

#858 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:10 AM:

First meal in new house: Salad and reheated pizza.

I didn't start the razzleberry pie in time for it to be cool enough to eat for dessert. So, tomorrow!

#859 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 10:58 AM:

Dave Harmon @854: Technically, that was Signed English, not ASL (you can tell because for every word in the song, they lipsynch it precisely and have one gesture per word) -- and the oooooh gesture is the letter O, moved around. That gets done a lot in signing songs. :->

My fave ASL sign interpreter (largely retired now, but a good back catalog) is CaptainValor on YouTube -- for example, his version of Jonathan Coulton's Re: Your Brains is lovely.

#860 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 11:07 AM:

Captain Valor is amazing. I particularly love "I'm Your Moon".

#861 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 12:24 PM:

Cassy B. (856): I'm so glad he liked it!

#862 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Are Spherical Cows of Uniform Density commonly available? I want one.

#863 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:10 PM:

Whatever code caused links to change color after you'd clicked on them seems not to be working for me this morning. I'm on a Mac (running Snow Leopard), using Chrome.

alas for my comment bookmarking technique.

#864 ::: Rikibeth has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:11 PM:

Probably for mentions of hardware, operating systems, and software.

Is it too early to offer the gnomes some booze-filled chocolates?

#865 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:23 PM:

Sandy B. (861): No, sorry, they're not going into mass production. I've made two, which is already one more than I usually make of things.

#866 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Someone should produce beach balls painted to look like cows. They make a bundle.

(If these already exist, Google is hiding them from me.)

#867 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Sandy B (862)/me (865): Ooooo, look! Spherical cows!

#868 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Includes spherical cows Not recommended for the arachnophobic.

See also Baa, the lamb of the apocalypse.

#869 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 06:14 PM:

And they are of uniform density!

#870 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 08:32 PM:

Teresa's particle "pardon me while I die" is funny and all, but I feel guilty because I, along with two other Fluorosphereans who shall remain nameless, were recently in an Arby's discussing slash fanfic and "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" and before we were done all the other customers had left.

I'm just sayin'.

#871 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 08:33 PM:

One ohnosecond later: I WAS in an Arby's, not 'I... were'.

#872 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2013, 10:05 PM:

Well, if you had left out the commas and said "and" rather than "along with", "were would have been correct.

#873 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 01:37 AM:

About the new Diffraction (How to Ice a Cake... Nude): He's not very good at icing a cake. Of course, the video isn't really about icing a cake, but still!

#874 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 08:10 AM:

This is a speakably cute way to start a Monday morning.

#875 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 09:45 AM:

xeger @ 784... :-)

#876 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 09:11 PM:

So, okay, on the topic of broken appliances, what does it mean when you're heating your dinner (at 350°), and you hear "Pfff pff pfffff PFFF!" coming from your oven, and you open the oven door to discover that a two-three inch segment of the lower element is white-hot and spitting flames and, oh yeah, seems to be melting?

#877 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 09:15 PM:

Jacque (876): At a guess, it means that you were lucky not to have a fire.

#878 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 09:56 PM:

Jacque @876

On the bright side, you won't wonder why the oven doesn't work, unlike some people, whose lower element died silently and whose upper element was enough to preheat the oven but got turned off when the knob was turned from preheat to bake, yielding, 30 minutes later, uncooked, lukewarm rice.

(Why yes, yes, I did used to cook rice in the oven.)

#879 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 10:51 PM:

I wanted to quote the line that was referenced somewhere here that said the NRA wants to protect us from an unlikely dystopia rather than the dystopia we have now, and my google-fu is weak tonight. Anyone remember where it's from?

#880 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 11:18 PM:

James Fallows has a post up at The Atlantic in which he recommends disabling Java if you use Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or IE.

I know nothing, but many folks here are tremendously knowledgeable about such matters. What do you think? Good advice?

#881 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 11:21 PM:

Light was made at GAFilk! Sadly, Fragano couldn't join us this year.

Diatryma, #810: Wow.

Dave B., #842: The politicians who use the Family Budget analogy to justify spending less money, continually ignore that a real family would be looking for ways of earning money, even if it means that somebody has to pay for Jimmy's new suit for the job interview.

They also gloss over the inconvenient detail that, unlike many families, the government HAS the ability to increase its income level. Because the way to do that is... to increase taxes on the very rich, who are paying less now than they have at any time since the tax system was instituted. And that's anathema.

#882 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 11:25 PM:

Lizzy L @ 880: Yes, it's a good idea to disable Java plugins in the browser(s) you use, until the bug/vulnerability is fixed. My IT folks at work recommended doing so.

Not to be confused with Javascript (Curses on whoever did that naming! They aren't the same thing at all)

#883 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2013, 11:26 PM:

Tom Whitmore @879:
This is the dyst of all possible topias.

#884 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 12:39 AM:

Jacque @876 -- I posted something on the DFD thread about my oven failing in a spectacular manner -- That's what just happened to you. Mine arced in the neatest spiral.

What you were getting is an electric arc from the element to the shell of the oven. Your element is now dead and will need to be replaced. It's likely about $40, and it should just pop in after power is shut off at the breaker and the old element is unscrewed (they're user replacable). Hopefully this hasn't done anything bad to the controller, if that goes, it's not (normally) a user replaceable part.

#885 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 01:34 AM:

Hmmm. Not sure if I can do anything about this, but maybe someone out there has an idea . . .

I cleaned out the kitchen in my old apartment this evening. I didn't plan on cleaning up, but I thought I'd get the ball rolling by peeling off the Contact paper I applied in 2002.

In most cases the paper came up and the surface underneath was fairly clean. Not so the overhead cabinet where I'd kept olive oil, cooking oil, etc. There was a nice greasy stain on the particle-board-ish wood under the Contact paper (which itself was in a spectacularly gunky state).

Is there anything that would draw out the oil? A layer of baking soda or soemthing?

#886 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 02:02 AM:

eric @884: Ah! I wondered if that would be replacable. (The oven is, I suspect, in excess of thirty years old.) Actually, it looks like what happened is that the element broke (do I vaguely recall that they are some flavor of ceramic?) and then arced across the break. I suspect that the "flames" were actually a spray of vaporized element. There's a lovely little airbrushed fan of "smoke" on the floor of the oven. The shell, far as I can tell, is otherwise unaffected. And I will say: it was, indeed, spectacular. Thinking about it, I'm a little surprised that it didn't blow the circuit. It must have been drawing some serious current.

Stefan Jones @885: My go-to substance for gooey messes of that sort is Goo Gone. May take some work and some elbow grease, but it's a fairly reliable oily-sticky-spooge solvent.

#887 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 06:11 AM:

re 886: Actually that's a pretty typical element burnout; as long as it didn't manage to weld itself to the inside of the oven replacement is usually quite routine.

#888 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 11:09 AM:

My range has two 40-amp breakers in the box. Lots of current.

#889 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 12:48 PM:

Jacque: Our oven did something similar recently, except that the elements seem to be undamaged; the problem is that the temperature probe in the back seems to have exploded. At the very least, there's something solvent-smelling where there shouldn't be... Fortunately, we just have to get the apartment maintenance out to fix or replace it.

Unfortunately, it got our last Pyrex casserole pan* so hot that immediately upon being placed on the stovetop and exposed to air, it exploded. Husband was lucky; he heard the first *crack* and got out of range.

*Pyrex bakeware, we discovered, is no longer made of borosilicate glass; instead, it's made of the cheaper (and less heat-resistant) tempered soda-lime glass. Never buying it again.

#890 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 01:43 PM:

WRT oven-fail: On a related note, the temperature control knob for the oven has suddenly, in the last week or so, become incredibly hard to turn—but only in the going-to-higher-temperature direction. In the going-to-lower-temperature direction, it's just fine. It's been eons since I've seen the inside of a rheostat, but I wonder if there's some carbonization going on (and if it has anything to do with the element going kablooey).

What I really need is a new stove, but AH HATES SHOPPING....

#891 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 05:47 PM:

I mis-read Abi's Parhelia as "Why the Atlantic's Scientology Advertorial was Bad On Feminism, Transphobia and Free Speech," and didn't realize my error until I clicked on it and only one of the lines changed color.

#892 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 07:00 PM:

Jacque: I'd say that balky controls take it from the realm of easy user repair to maybe a real repair person is a better idea.

#893 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 10:58 PM:

Regarding Jim's sidebar "How to Ice a Cake... Nude", the bookstore I work at recently got a book Things You Can Do While You're Naked. We filed it in the humor section, as it does feature "conveniently placed objects" in the pics.

I note that Googling that book took a bit of effort to get past various nudist and humor sites....

#894 ::: Dave Harmon is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 10:59 PM:

probably for a book link.

#895 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2013, 11:45 PM:

Scientology self-destructing by way of a real estate scam.

My impression is that Hubbard was a sociopath who wanted to build Scientology. Miscavage is a sociopath who doesn't care about Scientology and if he's only getting a million dollars a year, he isn't trying very hard.

#896 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 09:15 AM:

Actually, my link title might be too certain-- the article title was about whether Scientology is self-destructing.

I think it's hard to imagine it surviving the current policy of demanding huge contributions for religious buildings which are left empty for a while and then being told that members can't use the buildings without paying rent to the central organization.

#897 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 09:56 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 885: I reduced the motor oil stain on a concrete driveway with a poultice of laundry detergent powder.

And, for your new place — I have a shallow, plastic bin in the cabinet for my bottles of oil

#898 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 12:52 PM:

@janetl: Yes, I'm going to look for a tray to put on my "oil shelf."

And also move most of my oils to a "kitchen stuff" shelf in the garage.

#899 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 03:57 PM:

There's an interesting challenge I've seen in a few places on the net, to describe your job using only the 1000 most common words in English (as in the XKCD description of US Space Team's Up Goer Five).

Here's my effort:
I work with doctors who study how to avoid people being sick, especially in their hearts. It is easy to confuse different reasons for being sick, and I use numbers to help the doctors understand if the real cause is what they guess. I also study how to decide what numbers to get and from how many people, so that we can be sure, but not use too much money or time. I need to use a computer because there are lots of numbers to study, and I write stuff so the computer can help other people plan and use numbers to find things out.

Also, there are lots of cool jobs for people who use numbers to help people find things out, so lots of students want to learn how. At my school, we (try to) help them learn.

#900 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 04:57 PM:

This is just to say
I have hidden
your status updates
that were in
your newsfeed

in which
you were expressing

Forgive me
they were so frothy
re: guns
and Obama

#901 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 05:15 PM:

Heather Dale needs help.

Specifically: she has tried to apply for YouTube's "partner" status, in which one gets paid for views one one's videos. YouTube SAYS SHE DOESN'T OWN HER OWN MUSIC, and she can't contact a live person to discuss the issue.

#902 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 06:28 PM:

janetl @897
"Stefan Jones @ 885: I reduced the motor oil stain on a concrete driveway with a poultice of laundry detergent powder."

I did the same thing with cheap kitty litter. Ground it in with my boots and swept it up. For larger spills, sop up what you can, then leave a layer of kitty litter, and turn it over once a day for a few days, then scoop up. Grind some fresh litter into the stubborn parts.

#903 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2013, 10:10 PM:

Jacque #886:

Thinking about it, I'm a little surprised that it didn't blow the circuit. It must have been drawing some serious current.

Should be no more (and probably less) current than the element normally draws: the path of the current includes all of the heating element, just like it did in normal operation. Therefore the entire resistance of the element is still in the circuit, as well as that of the arc. (This would not be the case if there was an arc between two different points on the element.)

The reason that spot can be so spectacular is that its resistance is higher, meaning more of the total power output (P = I2R) is concentrated at that location, overheating it, rather than across the entire element.

(Disclaimer: IANAElectricalEngineer. Or an oven repairman.)

#904 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2013, 01:42 AM:

Serge, #839:

Belated thanks for the birthday wishes. It was a good day. May the next year be good to you.

#905 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2013, 06:47 AM:

Kevin Reid #903, Jacque #886: a arc between two different points on the element

Or a short that cut out most of the element entirely, such as from the electrical input to the casing (that is, "ground"). That would cut out the heater resistance entirely, and hopefully blow some fuses or circuit breakers.

#906 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2013, 06:59 AM:

Looks like Open Thread 180 is now, well, open.

#907 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2013, 07:01 AM:

Tch. My attempt to be helpful would have been more successful if I'd got the link format right...

#908 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2013, 07:52 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 904... Thanks.

#909 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Paul: How about "Open Thread 180 is now, um, open."

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