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November 6, 2013

Open Thread 190
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:02 PM *

Everclear 190 is the highest-proof alcoholic beverage commercially available. Yes, you can run a motorcycle on it.

(The music clip is “For Everclear” by Jerrod Niemann from his site.)

For those who say “Gasoline and alcohol don’t mix,” nonsense! Gasoline and alcohol mix just fine! (Little known trivia fact: If you mix a liter of gasoline with a liter of alcohol the resulting mixture is less than two liters….)

Continued from Open Thread 189. Cotinued in Open thread 191.
Comments on Open Thread 190:
#1 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:18 PM:

I did not know Everclear also came in a 151 proof version. Learn something new every day. {burp}

#2 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:32 PM:

from the "commercially available" link:

Although it is legal in Virginia, it is not sold there due to the fact that the state liquor stores cannot sell any type of a grain alcohol that lacks flavor or color.

But that means Virginia can't sell vodka!

#3 ::: Claudia ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:37 PM:

Or that vodka must be made of potatoes, in order to be sold in Virginia.

#4 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:48 PM:

Scraps @2: They can if it's proper vodka and made from potatoes, not grain. :->

#5 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:51 PM:

Run a motorcycle? Hell, you can run a rocket on that! The V-2 and Redstone rockets ran on 150 proof ethanol, and it was the fuel that launched Shepard and Grissom into space.

#6 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:35 PM:

Well, to be fair, there is also 200 proof USP alcohol, but that takes a chemistry supply house. And runs, last I looked, about $50/liter

I wish I could get Everclear 190 here in CA. It'd be useful for my infusion projects. I just make do with the Vodka of the Gods. Seriously, it's what it says on the label.

#7 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:37 PM:

Weirdly, you can't get Everclear in New Hampshire.

#8 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:44 PM:

I think I nearly unintentionally killed myself when dared to take a good swig of some absolute alcohol once (pilfered, I suspect, from a high-class university chem lab), but the folks I was with stopped me from taking more than a tiny sip.

#9 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:59 PM:

Everclear and Welch's Grape Juice = Purple Jesus

#10 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:03 AM:

There's a video you can find on the 'Net of some guy apparently chugging half-a-bottle of Everclear 190.

There's a reason it's called "intoxication": that stuff is toxic.

#11 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:07 AM:

Note for #6: Everclear is sold as a beverage, in liquor stores. USP ethyl alcohol isn't. (And beware of the 100% alcohol. It's dried with sulfuric acid to get out that last 4% water.)

#12 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:16 AM:

True. USP ethyl alcohol isn't a beverage, even if the USP designation means that it's putatively food-safe. And you really, really don't want to drink the lab-grade 200 proof, for exactly the reason Jim mentioned. Sulfuric acid isn't your friend.

The USP variant is, actually more like $110/liter (just looked).

#13 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:18 AM:

HLN: Area Man and Area Women send 20lbs of Candy Corn to Area Author. Area Couple notes that there are things to be said for post-Halloween candy sales. It's entertaining when the shipping for the candy in question cost five times what the candy did. The whole endeavor didn't crack $20. For 30 bags of candy corn.

#14 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:48 AM:

I use Everclear 190 as a safe cleaning fluid and disinfectant. I cannot imagine using it for a mixed drink or even making a cordial. Vodka is so much less expensive per unit of alcohol typically.

#15 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:53 AM:

And then there's 307 Ale...

Steve C., #9: So-called, I am given to understand, because (1) it's purple, and (2) you take one sip and say, "JEEzus!"

#16 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:14 AM:

#0: Little known trivia fact: If you mix a liter of gasoline with a liter of alcohol the resulting mixture is less than two liters….

The same is true with alcohol and water. AIUI, in both cases the two substances are in a true solution with each other, which allows packing efficiencies for the molecules.

#17 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 07:53 AM:

At a friend's liquor infusion party, one of the other guests thought she'd make lemon Skittle liquor by putting a bunch of yellow Skittles in a bottle of Everclear.

At the follow-up tasting party two weeks later, the resulting substance was the color of a yellow highlighter, and grown people were daring each other to try a spoonful. I refused. The guy who took the dare described it as "medical-grade."

This has put me off the idea of using Everclear for infusions, even proper herb, fruit, and/or spice infusions. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't know how I'd balance it properly in a cocktail.

A liquor infusion party is a great party idea, though, if your friends drink alcohol. Everyone brings some liquor and something(s) to infuse. Party host provides lots of little canning jars and labeling supplies. People swap infusion ideas and supplies, and collaborate (and experiment) freely. Then the host keeps all the jars for two weeks.

Then everyone returns for tasting. Host provides eye droppers to everyone, so they can taste 20+ infusions without dying. People mix up tiny cocktails drop by drop. We discover that dried-cherry bourbon is amazing when sweetened with agave nectar, and that chai spices work better in dark rum than in vodka. And that Skittle Everclear is toxic.

#18 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:07 AM:

I'm reminded of horilka, which (until I googled) I'd only heard of-- the SCA pronunciation, at least, was hrilka.

IIRC, the recipe was 1 part honey to three parts vodka, leave on the back shelf of a car for two weeks.

This was from the olden days, before people were likely to have opinions about types of honey.

I tablespoon of honey at bedtime improves sleep for enough people (including me, I think) to be worth experimenting with.

How universal is dessert?

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:15 AM:

I've tasted 180 proof alcohol. When you open the demijohn the stuff starts to evaporate.

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:19 AM:

Dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain
their reds and yellows dull on the dark ground,
so much of sorrow is already plain

to us who listen as the boughs complain
at the winds passage with a sighing sound.
Dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain

are one more sign of life's passing campaign
against eternity; this is one round.
So much of sorrow is already plain

and we're the losers since we never gain
a single inch, nor hope for a rebound.
Dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain

are but the markers of our lost terrain,
someone will come and heap them in a mound:
so much of sorrow is already plain,

it is reality, nothing arcane,
our normal vista, not a thing profound;
dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain:
so much of sorrow is already plain.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:20 AM:

Dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain
their reds and yellows dull on the dark ground,
so much of sorrow is already plain

to us who listen as the boughs complain
at the winds passage with a sighing sound.
Dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain

are one more sign of life's passing campaign
against eternity; this is one round.
So much of sorrow is already plain

and we're the losers since we never gain
a single inch, nor hope for a rebound.
Dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain

are but the markers of our lost terrain,
someone will come and heap them in a mound:
so much of sorrow is already plain,

it is reality, nothing arcane,
our normal vista, not a thing profound;
dead leaves piled up in the slow steady rain:
so much of sorrow is already plain.

#22 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:21 AM:

Lee @ #15 -

Exactly. I only tasted the concoction once in my life. That and Southern Comfort are something I'll never ever do again.

#23 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:27 AM:

Everclear is sold in Virginia, but you need a license to buy it. I tried to get one--it was a comedy of bureaucracy (it's intended for people who regularly buy large quantities; the agent ended up saying "why don't you just buy it when you are traveling".)

It works quite well for infusions that are then diluted; I use it for making limoncello if I'm in a hurry (vodka works as well, but it needs to steep longer.)

Peel of 1 dozen lemons and 1 lime, microplaned off.
Put in a quart jar, cover with vodka, shake occasionally for 2 weeks. (If using Everclear--add about 1 cup Everclear, let sit for a day, add the vodka).
Strain and squeeze, cover with the rest of the 1.75l (1l if using Everclear of vodka, shake, strain and squeeze again.

Dissolve 2 cups sugar in 1.5 cups (2 cups if using Everclear) water, cool, mix with the lemon-infused vodka.

Makes 3 .75l bottles.

#24 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:27 AM:

Open threadiness: Over on Twitter, @scalzi is ruminating on how unlikely he is ever to tell a woman to make him a sandwich.

This brings to mind the question: would I want Scalzi to make me a sandwich? On balance--no, probably not. (Though he has demonstrated a flair for pie.)

I would, however, pay money to have Steven Brust write me a description of a sandwich.

Actually, I can think of several authors to whom that applies. (Many of my favorite authors are deeply interested in food.) I'm sure, for example, that not only Vlad Taltos, but also Ma Kosti, Ogion of Gont (chevre!), and Mole's friend Rat, could make a damn fine sandwich.

Dammit, now I want an FSFnal sandwich bar. I should go get breakfast.

#25 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:28 AM:

Credit where credit is due: that is Katie Loeb's recipe, which I got from the egullet forum.

#26 ::: Tobermory ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:30 AM:

Looking for book recommendations.

I'm currently reading Steven Erikson's Malazan series (currently on 6 of 10), and am interested in reading more fantasy novels in the same vein e.g. ridiculously complex political, military and religious machinations, with a dose of philosophy, a sense of humor, and an acknowledgment that war and ptsd are intimately connected.

#27 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:33 AM:

HLN: Area amateur astronomer gets new telescope. Area amateur's spouse says, "What, again???".

New telescope

#29 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:45 AM:

Everclear ... Y'know you can't taste everclear in punch, especially punch with homemade red wine as one of the major ingredients...

#30 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:46 AM:

Caroline @ 17

I've used Everclear to make fruit brandy/ fruit infusions. I mixed the Everclear 50/50 with water before adding it to the fruit. It wasn't bad, but it did need a little extra sugar to mellow it.

#31 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:54 AM:


Beneath the leafpile in the winter rain
Life's alchemy turns red and gold to brown,
Dead leaves transmuting into soil again.

The process needs no manager, no brain.
Small fragments into smaller bits ground down
Beneath the leafpile in the winter rain

Are today's chorus in the slow refrain
No fire from space or howling flood can drown:
Dead leaves transmuting into soil again.

If such a process yielded Nature gain,
Where would she put it? Seek her shining crown
Beneath the leafpile in the winter rain.

Life's meaning's only life. You see it plain,
Whether it makes you dance, weep, smile or frown,
Beneath the leafpile in the winter rain,
Dead leaves transmuting into soil again.

(With apologies for following champagne with a Bud Light chaser)

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:28 AM:

Lila #31: Very nice!

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:28 AM:

Lila #31: Very nice!

#34 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:33 AM:

The thread's initial subject reminds me of the various suggestions I've come across for drinking games, my favorite being "Have a stiff drink whn something depressing happens in Kenneth Branagh's TV series 'Wallander'".

#35 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:57 AM:

Serge @ 34 -

That reminds of the old Bob Newhart show where you were supposed to take a drink when someone said, "Hi, Bob."

#36 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:06 AM:

#30 ::: Victoria
I've used Everclear to make fruit brandy/ fruit infusions. I mixed the Everclear 50/50 with water before adding it to the fruit. It wasn't bad, but it did need a little extra sugar to mellow it.

I figured out the cost of the alcohol in a bottle of vodka vs. the cost of the bottle of Everclear and I found the vodka was generally less expensive per unit of alcohol for middle or lower market brands like Skyy or Smirnoff. So I only top up with a little bit of Everclear if I really need to bring the alcohol content up, otherwise I just use vodka for cordials.

#37 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:14 AM:

Jim @ #11: Sulfuric acid? Not likely. For one thing, you'll produce diethyl ether as a byproduct.

200-proof lab alcohol is usually made by distillation with benzene to get the last traces of water off as a benzene/water/ethanol azeotrope. The trace benzene left in the alcohol usually won't matter in a chemical reaction when you're using ethanol as solvent, but it sure as hell won't do your liver, your brain, or your bone marrow any good.

"Gold label" absolute alcohol, used when benzene contamination is a problem (as, for example, in UV spectroscopy), is dried by a different process, typically using desiccants such as molecular sieves or cornmeal.

#38 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:17 AM:

Everclear is a much better solvent for extraction of botanical essences than the lower-proof spirits like vodka.

#39 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:18 AM:

The concentrated alcohol is good for extracting some flavors that don't dissolve well in water, and after you've gotten them separated from the plant bits, diluting is fine.

(And yeah, it's annoying that we can't get Everclear 190 here in California; about half the US states limit drinking alcohol to 151 proof. Most infusions work ok with the weaker stuff, and it's a bit more effective than vodka, but if I'm visiting a state that sells the real thing I'll occasionally bring back a bottle.)

#40 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:46 AM:

So if I want to make my own vanilla extract, what alcohol is recommended?

I live in Pennsylvania, and have no idea whether I can get Everclear 190 here or not.

#41 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:06 PM:

I would think a good vodka would work fine.

Incidentally, you can improve vodkas by giving three or four passes through a water filter of the type found in supermarkets.

#42 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:06 PM:

Probably not, because state stores. You can get it in DC.

#43 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:11 PM:

Carrie S.@40: My friend who is doing/has done this is using fairly standard 80 proof vodka. I've tasted it, and it's pretty good--but he used lots of vanilla beans, and leaves it to infuse for a long time (he's had a jug going, with occasional bits removed and topped up with plain booze and beans swapped out every so often, for I think five years now). Your milage may, of course, vary. I've also heard good things about using bourbon, but some folks feel that's a waste as you'll be covering the interesting flavors there with intense vanilla.

#44 ::: which.chick ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:31 PM:

Theophylact @ #42 and Carrie S> @ #40. Pa resident with google-fu here. Everclear is sold in PA at state stores. It used to be a thing you had to apply for permission to buy (first) and then with your letter of permission, you could go in and buy it. Before that (early 1990's) you could buy it but you had to sign that you knew it could kill you if consumed indiscriminately. (It was the cheapest way to drunkify a lot of college kids. Combine everclear with 1 metal "dorm-size" trashcan with plastic-bag liner, a couple of gallons of grape kool-aid, a hunk or three of dry ice (available from the creamery), and as much fruit as you could steal from the dining hall, cut up in pieces. Voila. Classy punch, or at least whoppingly-alcoholic yet inexpensive punch. Good times.)

But anyway, state store issues notwithstanding, you can buy Everclear in PA.

#45 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:34 PM:

It seems Everclear is not available in QC; however, the SAQ does sell something called Global Alcool which appears almost equivalent.

#46 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:35 PM:

Carrie S.@40 - I use cheap bourbon for making vanilla extract - the vanilla makes it work, and good bourbon would be wasted under all the vanilla. By cheap, I mean "whatever stuff is corn whiskey or blended Kentucky or Tennessee whiskey at the rock-bottom prices." Usually one of the Olds - Crow and Grand-Dad are cheapest here, but sometimes an off-brand shows up that's extra cheap. But sour mash whiskey and vanilla work very well indeed.
Now I want to try dried cherry bourbon. And cucumber dill grain spirits. Hmmmm. Something to do with the 190 Everclear (no longer available to be purchased in our state) that my father left. We've used it for cleaning, so far.

#47 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:41 PM:

(Reposting due to 500 error eating post)

The leaf poems inspire me to upload a photo taken about this time of year in Massachusetts, 2007. Absent Friends

(Might just be me, but hovering the cursor over the link gets me a preview, and holding shift whilst doing so gets a preview that wants to own the screen.)

#48 ::: which.chick ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:43 PM:

Update on PA and Everclear: Using the PaLCB website, it appears that my local liquor store (three blocks distant) contains 10 units (750 ml bottle is the "unit" size) of 190 Everclear. It's eighteen dollars a bottle list price (probably there's tax, too). They also carry the 151 Everclear, if that matters.

#49 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:43 PM:

State liquor regulations are even weirder than most laws. Used to be that in New York you couldn't buy 1.75 liter bottles of booze, but you could buy miniatures. New Jersey was the exact reverse. In New York you could buy beer only in food stores, not liquor stores. (In DC you can buy miniatures, but only if they add up to a half-pint.)

#50 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 12:46 PM:

Sorry: a pint (six minis).

#51 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:06 PM:

Some Texas liquor laws -

Grocery stores can sell beer and wine, but not liquor. Beer and wine can't be sold before noon on Sunday.

Liquor stores can liquor, beer, and wine. They can sell 1.75 liter bottles, and miniatures, but it's a minimum purchase of two minis. Liquor stores close at 9PM and all day Sunday.

#52 ::: Liz Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:06 PM:

The strongest alcohol I've ever had was poteen (aka Irish moonshine), hand imported by a friend from Belfast. I'm not sure what the strength was, or if it was handmade, but, having met my Irish friend's family, it wouldn't surprise me. This is a guy who once drank lighter fluid. ("It sounded like a good idea at the time.")

#53 ::: Liz Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:07 PM:

Aw, my first ever gnoming!

#54 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Maryland alcohol laws vary by county. Beer and wine can't be bought in grocery stores, except where they can, or where the chain has a single-location exception in that county, or where the location was grandfathered in prior to the prohibition. Some counties have hard liquor sold only in county-run stores, most don't. Some allow Sunday sales, some don't, some only during the holiday season. There's a reason lots of MD residents stock up in DC or VA.

(The gory details from wikipedia.)

#55 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:22 PM:

I think the next time I have money and fresh strawberries I will test the proposition that 190 proof then dilution works better than using vodka for making a cordial. I think three versions of the test will give useful information. One in vodka for a unit of time, one in Everclear for a unit of time then diluted with purified water to give the same strength as the vodka infusion, and one in vodka for twice the same unit of time. I think strawberries would be one of the best fruits to test since they have such a delicate flavor but I would welcome an alternate suggestion for a good test.

#56 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Carrie S @ 40: I just make my vanilla extract with whatever cheap vodka I can get my hands on. These days, I'm fond of either $6/750ml or $11/1.75L Trader Joe's Finest. I'm not drinking the extract, so I'm not using the $30/750ml bottle of good vodka I have from a local distillery. The trick I've found for making good extract in a reasonable time frame is to use immense quantities of vanilla - the kits you occasionally see with a single, solitary bean in them won't do anything on much less than a geologic time scale. For a 500ml bottle, I'd take 10-15 beans, cut them in half (you can split them, but you don't need to), shove them in a bottle, pour vodka to cover and then stick it in a cupboard for at least a couple of weeks. The beans can stay in there until the end of time, but it'll be ready to use in 2-3 weeks.

I've heard about making vanilla extract with rum or bourbon; there's no reason you can't, but I've never tried it. I'm usually after pretty clean vanilla flavor in my extract (at the moment, I've both Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian extracts that I've made, and they're subtly different), so I'd be reluctant - for my own use - to use a base spirit that tasted of anything.

If you wanted to make a larger batch, I'd get a gasketed canning jar (Crate and Barrel sells them in sizes from 500ml up through 4 or 5 liters), get a pound or half a pound of vanilla beans, prep them as I've described above and toss it all in the jar for a few weeks. Doing it in a widemouth jar would let you discard the pods if you want.

#57 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:33 PM:

New York State has two types of off-site license, and a specific store can only get one.

Food stores (including convenience stores, bodegas, and the like) can get a license to sell beer, cider, wine coolers, and similar beverages. Wine or spirits aren't allowed.

Liquor stores can get a license to sell wines, spirits, liqueurs, etc, but not beers, ciders, wine coolers, or any other food product.

I know of at least three instances where "Bob's Grocery" and "Bob's Liquor" (for various values of Bob) coexist in the same building, with very little difference in building trade dress (same colors, fonts, etc). Technically separate businesses with separate entrances, etc, but obviously related.

#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:35 PM:

Nashville fandom, at the time I got into it, had a signature drink known as Swill. I actually found the recipe for it online:

"Take a clean wastebasket, add a gallon of real orange juice. Real Krogers* orange juice that's got the pulp in it that you have to shake up. A quart of ReaLemon juice. A quart of Welch's Grape Juice. A half a gallon of cheap vodka. Stir it all up. Take a blender, fill it half full with the mixture, go all the way to the top with ice. Two tablespoons of sugar in the top of the blender. Put the lid on the blender and let it run for about 45 seconds, then enjoy."

Nancy, #18: That reminds me of Rivengut, the formula for which IIRC was: one part honey, one part apple juice, one part Everclear, let sit for a week. It was a specialty of the Barony of Rivenstar**.

Steve C., #22: The other thing I remember hearing called "Purple Jesus Punch" is what I think of as "frat party punch" -- the host provides a clean plastic barrel containing some grape juice, and everyone who arrives brings some of their favorite booze to dump into the barrel. I cannot imagine this as being anything but nasty, and dangerous as well.

Kip, #47: No previews for me, using Firefox. Just the normal URL down in the bottom left corner of the screen.

* Relevant to the pluralization-of-company-names discussion in the last Open Thread!

** Which, to my shame, I had to go look up on a map; my brain kept defaulting to "Rivendell", and I knew that wasn't right.

#59 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:40 PM:

One thing that I've wanted to try but haven't yet is using a NO2 whipped cream dispenser to do infusions, as seen here on the Cooking Issues blog. (awesome blog, shame they aren't updating much the last few years)

My favorite infusion these days is chopped ginger in 151 rum. Add 1/8 tsp to rum and coke and it's yummy.

#60 ::: eric is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:41 PM:

I've got an infusion for the gnomes. With ginger.

#61 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:57 PM:

Given the mention of drinking lighter fluid at #52 I think this is the moment for a link to Withnail and I's lighter fluid scene.

Whitnail: "Liar. What's in your toolbox?"

"No, we have nothing. Sit down."

"Liar. You've got antifreeze."

"You bloody fool, you should never mix your drinks!"

Laughing and then retching follows.

#62 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Fragano @ 20 and Lila @ 31: both excellent poems. I'm starting to think there ought to be a specific ML poetry collection.

#63 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 02:30 PM:

These days, I'm fond of either $6/750ml or $11/1.75L Trader Joe's Finest.

As I am in PA, my Trader Joe's-es do not sell alcohol, but I'm sure I can get something equivalent at the state store.

I keep trying to remember to buy a nice big lot of vanilla beans, and failing.

#64 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 02:38 PM:

One thing I learned in University: "Jello Shooters made with Everclear don't freeze." At least, not at refrigerator freezer temperatures.

No points for figuring out where and why I learned that.

My friend in high school (AB legal age is 18, so *he* wasn't underage) used to distill vodka to the azeotropic point, and then filter with copper sulphate. And then distill again to get rid of the copper sulphate pentahydrate. He claimed he got 197 proof. He used to bring along 100ml graduated bottles of the stuff.

#65 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 02:48 PM:

In my days as a young fan, there was a popular trashcan punch called blog. It featured cranberry juice, apple juice (or apple cider, if you wanted murky), white wine, club soda or 7up, and vodka or (it was rumored) everclear. Boone's Farm apple wine (89 cents a bottle) worked well in place of cheap white wine.

#66 ::: James V ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 02:55 PM:

Steve C @51: Hasn't there been some movement on making it legal to buy liquor in Texas on Sunday or am I misremembering?

I grew up in one of the wettest dry counties in Texas, some would say the wettest dry county, and was shocked when it went wet.

#67 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 02:57 PM:

OK, assembled SF elders: comments on the Atlantic click-bait story claiming that Verhoeven's Starship Troopers is actually a sophisticated piece of political satire?

#68 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 03:07 PM:

SummerStorms @189/965:I'm probably going to have to use multiple resumes for multiple situations

Yes, this is the currently recommended practice. In point of fact, I think I have five different resumes in that folder.

At the moment, however, I'm trying to come up with the best general resume that I can

Yes. This is a good approach. A "master" resume you can use as a template, with all the pieces you can shuffle around to mix and match.

never even bother looking at volunteer activities

I could see that being the case where volunteer-related skills are set out in a separate section, and grouped with things like hobbies and interests.

However, the recommendation I've seen that I like (haven't used it personally, though, as I don't have skills that apply) is to simply list the volunteer activity as if it was another job. If you get asked about whether that was paid work, you just say, "I chose to donate that time."

I'm debating the possible wisdom of moving my skill set to a position following my work history. Is that advisable?

My understanding of the purpose of a resume is to depict yourself as someone who can perform needed duties. From that standpoint, what you can do is more relevent than where and when you did it.

#69 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 03:28 PM:

#58 ::: Lee

My SCA background was pretty much Bhakail. (Philadelphia)

#67 ::: C. Wingate

I seem to remember a consensus when the ST movie came out that Verhoeven either misunderstood or hated the book, and turned a pro-military novel into an anti-military movie.

#70 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 03:34 PM:

Pretty sure Everclear is not something that can be bought in the UK.

Vanilla extract, on the other hand, can. What you can't get here is clove extract, so I used to make that very successfully using vodka. (I no longer need to do it because of the wide availability of ground cloves, but it used to be the case that you bought cloves whole, put them into your stewed apple or whatever, and then fished them out again afterwards. Since I really like cloves and tend to cook in bulk, this would be a faff, as there would be a lot of them.)

I know someone who makes an astonishing, not to say faintly alarming, variety of alcoholic infusions. I have not sampled any of them. This is for a very good reason. This particular person has very little sense of taste left; some years ago they were beaned by a malefactor while attempting to reason him out of malefacting, and ended up with brain damage. One of the effects of this brain damage was to wreck their sense of taste, and now about all they can taste is sweetness.

I know other people who have been brave enough to sample these concoctions. Their advice is invariably "don't do it".

#71 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 03:39 PM:

I think I'd have put the whole cloves in a bit of cheesecloth or a mesh tea ball, for easier extraction. Liquids can go through just fine. (I did that with the spices for a batch of chutney.)

#72 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 03:41 PM:

These aren't the Kinkades you're looking for.

#73 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 03:51 PM:

C Wingate @67 The quote in the article "...a ruthlessly funny and keenly self-aware sendup of right-wing militarism," somewhat overstates the case. Starship Troopers is clearly an amusing piece of satire, and also a strong example of the thing it is satirising, a dumb war film.

(It is just as well that the unhappiness of the critics prevented any sequels being made, as inevitably Starship Troopers 3 would have had a musical scene in which the Sky Marshal sings an upbeat call to arms.)

#74 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 04:07 PM:

re 69: If you believe Wikipedia the only things used from the book were the title and some of the character names. The script itself was started independently before they licensed the book.

re 73: I hate to have to tell you this but there have been three direct-to-disc sequels, the second of which they even got Van Dien back to play Colonel Rico.

#75 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 04:10 PM:

James V. @ #66 -

I've heard some legislators were considering that, but there's some lobbying by the liquor stores themselves against the bill. They say the extra costs of staying open on Sunday would eat into their profits. The main group in favor are the distributors.

#76 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 04:39 PM:

C. Wingate @74: If you believe Wikipedia the only things used from the book were the title and some of the character names. The script itself was started independently before they licensed the book.

I had occasion to watch the first one again not too long ago, and I was actually surprised at how closely they stuck to the book. Leaving aside the whole powered suit thing, of course. I recall, back in the day, somebody in RASSF commenting that the movie was actually framed as a recruiting video, which ties in nicely with the satire aspect posited above.

#77 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 05:48 PM:

FFrraaggaannoo LLeeddggiisstteerr #2201, Lila #31: Both very nice! And Lila, that's certainly not horse pee!

#78 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:05 PM:

Buddha Buck, #57: TN has (or at least had when I was living there) a similar peculiarity -- grocery stores couldn't sell alcohol at all, and the places that could were either "package stores" (beer, cider, and I believe wine) or "liquor stores" (hard liquor). It was very common to see one of each adjacent to each other, obviously owned and run by the same people.

Mongoose, #62: It's been discussed before; I believe the discussion ran aground on issues relating to copyright and permissions. If this could ever be resolved, I would love to have such a volume.

James, #66: You can buy liquor on Sunday in Texas, but not until after noon. At the Renaissance Faire, they fire a cannon on Sunday to let everyone know that the booze is now available. OTOH, that's by-the-drink, not from a liquor store.

C. Wingate, #67: My beef with the movie was (and remains) that THEY TOOK THE POWER SUITS OUT OF IT. The suits are almost their own character in the book; the use of them informs everything in the plot. Without the power suits, you may have any kind of movie you please, but it is at best "inspired by" Starship Troopers.

Nancy, #69: I remember people saying that it was best analyzed using the principle of "The Purloined Letter" -- that Verhoeven got SO many things SO wrong that it couldn't possibly have been done by accident. ISTR also that at some point he gave an interview in which he pretty much said that flat-out.

#79 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:13 PM:

Lee @ 78... it is at best "inspired by" Starship Troopers

That can't beat the credits of "I, Robot", which was *suggested* by the Asimov book.

#80 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:14 PM:

What really annoyed me about the ST movie was how stupid it was militarily. Giant ships orbiting thisclosetogether in orbit and then pasted by these slow-moving fireballs lofted from the surface. Infantry with glorified M16s fighting bugs on the surface. Where was the air support? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

#81 ::: James V ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Lee @78: Yes. Not at the stores. Not yet.

I've a friend that runs a renfaire in East Texas in what was previously a dry area. He managed to finesse the county liquor laws by having the local home brewing club offer samples and provide demos for a donation. I need to see if he managed all the permits to handle it above board.

#82 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:28 PM:

Serge Broom @79: I was calling I, Robot "inspired by the back cover of the book" at the time, and I still think that's a legit category of adaptation movies. :->

#83 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:30 PM:

Back in the day, the War Puppies group in the SCA (East Kingdom) used to have a Trania* Party. Trania, as they made it, was Everclear with lime Kool-Ade, and possibly a secret ingredient. Each jug (yes, jug) of this had a (sealed) green glowstick in it, so the drink would appear to be radioactive.

The least of the criticisms leveled at this practice was that it was very much Not Period.

I once used Everclear to make a Damiana** liqueur. I sweetened it with honey. My partner at the time, who had mostly become a roommate by then, drank it up while I was letting it settle for decantation (taking a shot or two before going out tomcatting; given his habits, it didn't take long for the entire bottle to be gone); I never got to so much as taste it.

If I'd made a second batch, I'd've used good vodka for the extraction and superfine sugar for the sweetener. But at about that time I stopped drinking, for unrelated reasons.

*Yes, name from "The Corbomite Maneuver."
**An herb with a reputation as an aphrodisiac.

#84 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:37 PM:

Jacques @68

The writing program Scrivener might be a very good tool for that sort of process. It essentially splits a text into logical blocks and makes it easy to pick and arrange those blocks for the final text. For writing stuff, some of those blocks can be research notes, or a master description of a character, or other working data which isn't going to appear in the final story.

There are templates for such things as standard script layouts.

Since there is a demo version which operates for 30 days, it's worth a look.

Literature and Latte: the producers of Scrivener

It could be seen as a Word Processor built around a different approach to writing, and kept fairly simple.

#85 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:38 PM:

Elliott Mason@ 82... That's about right.

#86 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Xopher @ 83... a (sealed) green glowstick in it, so the drink would appear to be radioactive

Remember Mister Scott's perplexity about the green drink when he wound up on the NCC-1701-D?

#87 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:46 PM:

I am using Scrivener for NaNoWriMo this year. And I cannot say I am using the full range of features. Things are going well this year.

I am going to get on with the story, but I have a text-block labelled "Insert explicit sex scene here."

#88 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 06:46 PM:

Looks like Midori, actually.

#89 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 07:07 PM:

Steve @80

But the military *is* dumb. Of course it's perfectly safe to bomb low-tech cultures because what can they do? They've got nothing and we've got airplanes and skyscrapers. Giant skyscrapers, thisclosetogether.

When I tried to read Starship Troopers, it was still the Vietnam War, and all I could see was the judas goat bleating at the slaughterhouse door. I still experience a certain amount of fury. In American Caesar, William Manchester makes the point that the atom bomb means that every war is now a limited war and not an existentialist one, which changes the moral calculus between the general and his men. I now appreciate that a lot of people didn't get that memo, so perhaps they aren't the monsters that they seem, and on that basis I was able to go to the movie and enjoy it. How to have wordy Heinlein wingnut dialogue? Naked in the shower. Brilliant.

#90 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:11 PM:

Serge Broom #79: Except that in fact, the I, Robot movie took at least as much by Jack Williamson's Humanoids duology. With an action-movie plot grafted in. Mind you, it was still better as a movie than Starship Troopers.

#91 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:12 PM:

Me #90: OK, that was kinda mangled, but you get the idea.

#92 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:45 PM:

As a former chemist, I've known for a long time that equal volumes of ethanol and water mix to less than the sum of the volumes; I didn't know about ethanol with gasoline, and wouldn't have suspected it. ML is again educational....

Benjamin Wolfe @ 12: IIRC (from 34 years away) "USP" does not mean consumable; it means the substance meets a set of standards. The standards may apply to consumables, or to substances which must be taken in very small doses, or anything in between.

xeger @ 29: there are lots of things with a stronger taste than simple alcohol; sugar in quantity is the simplest, cf Sneaky Pete (roughly, sugared-vodka slushy with food coloring).

#93 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:51 PM:

Mongoose @ 70:

I've met that person and their vodkas (first at a memorable party at a memorable con over there in '96), but only tasted the orange/citrus one and ignored the pepper and - I think the third was garlic? (Before international postage from the US to there became impossible, I'd make pear/ginger jam and send it, since ginger is among the few things they could still taste. Also coffee, citrus, and chocolate, IIRC.)

#94 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 08:58 PM:

Lila, Fragano: Very nice, even though everything is spring-green here.

#95 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:10 PM:

C. Wingate, #67 Neil W #73.

My brother (who majored in film) was definitely of Neil W's opinion when he saw the movie.

#96 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 09:48 PM:

I recall hearing of a snarky review of a movie version of The Three Musketeers that stated "Based on the candy bar of the same name."

#97 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:03 PM:

I see a comment I enjoy, like HelenS's on the Three Musketeers, and I want to click the like button that isn't there. I'm FBookified.

On another topic, the Houston Chronicle instituted a new comment system which features a dirty word filter. It's thorough. Type the word "bypass" and it's replaced by "byp***", thus saving us from ass.

#98 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:17 PM:

James, #81: Would that be Scarborough, or Sherwood Forest Faire?

Xopher, #83: I've seen "Romulan Ale" done that way at various con parties. I've never been curious enough to ask what was in it besides the glow-stick.

CHip, #92: I don't think I've ever been exposed to PGA directly, but based on my experiences with other stuff I would be willing to bet something significant that you couldn't sneak a Sneaky Pete past my nose. I appear to be sensitive to the smell and taste of alcohol in ridiculously low concentrations. And yes, it does have both.

#99 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:28 PM:

At one time, I was informed that the official drink of the U. of Chicago Linguistics department was "Leering Death"; this consisted of Koolaid mixed directly with vodka in place of the water.

This is remarkably fit for purpose, and does not taste anywhere near as powerful as it is. I've made it subsequently on rare occasions, all of which have proved quite memorable.

#100 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:08 PM:

We used to watch WYAH (Pat Robertson owned it at the time) when it was local to us in Virginia. In reruns of… it was either Remington Steele or Matt Houston… there were these gaps in the sound track. We were pretty sure they were bleeping "heck" and "darn."

A friend of mine has been operating a weekly chat that I've been participating in for many years. He tries different hosts from time to time. One of them was quite aggressive in what it wouldn't let us say (though we sometimes had people drop in who were looking for dirty talkin'). Dick Van Dyke's name, for instance, was censored twice over every time. **** Van ****. Sensitive people needed to be protected from reference to bad cockney accents!

#101 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 90... Yes, Williamson's Humanoids too, who also made an appearance in Spielberg's "A.I."

And yes, Smith's movie is better than "Trooper".

#102 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:43 PM:

Comment system's name starts with a V and ends with an a? If so, SFGate is using it (started three weeks ago), and commenters are Not Happy, only partly because of the over-active nanny-filter.

#103 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 12:24 AM:

Bizarre Candy Facts:

Three Musketeer bars used to consist of three separate candy bars, each with a different flavor.

#104 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:37 AM:

Kip W @100: Now dead chat room host would substitute synonyms for "bad" words. The favorite was "rooster lollipop."

#105 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:37 AM:

Orycon 35 is starting up. I suggested a gathering of the light awhile ago. There wasn't enough of a response to merit trying to schedule something, I don't think. If you see me around (Janet isn't that popular a name), please say hi!

#106 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:55 AM:

I'll be on program and spending time at the Sasquan fan table at Orycon, so I should be easy to find.

#107 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 04:31 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe@56 - I've made vanilla extract using light rum instead of vodka; worked ok either way.

The extract that I've found to be dangerous is limoncello - it tastes too much like sweet lemon drink and covers up the alcohol taste, and goes well straight or with mixers, so it's easy to consume more alcohol than I should in a short period of time.

#108 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 07:53 AM:

Xopher @ 83: I noticed that objections to periodicity fell in inverse proportion to alcohol content.

#109 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:40 AM:

P J Evans @ #102 -

I don't know the name of the commenting system, but since SFGATE and are both Hearst enterprises, it wouldn't surprise that they're using the same system.

#110 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:48 AM:

I saw Verhoevens startship troopers in the cinema, and thought it was an unsophisticated piece of political satire. I was a student then, and knew very little, but I thought it was obvious.

I agree it followed the plot rather well, yet missed out serious chunks of what made the book special, e.g. the armoured suits. But all that played into the satire of it.

The question I find interesting is how many books it caused to be written in reaction to it. Harrison's Bill the Galactic hero; one by Gordon R. Dickson, Armour, by John Steakley, which was better than I thought it would be, shame he never managed to write much else. I don't know if The Forever War was stimulated by it.

#111 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:55 AM:

I'm digging all the commenter hate at SFGate, especially the tantrums over not being able to down-vote anymore.

#112 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 09:31 AM:

Dave Arnold at Cooking Issues ("The International Culinary Center's Tech'N Stuff Blog") and the associated podcast has a lot of information about infusions, distillations and impregnations. There are some cheap ways of getting concentrated flavors and fragrances. He's especially fond of using a whipped-cream maker (like a seltzer bottle) with a couple of nitrous oxide cartridges. The N2O is a good non-polar solvent, the pressure helps to permeate the substrate, and the N2O evaporates completely on releasing the pressure. CO2 works too, but its acidic properties may be undesirable depending on the stuff you want to extract.

He also likes to use vacuum-sealers with liquids to quick-marinate foods.

#113 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 09:32 AM:

#110 ::: guthrie :

The Dickson novel was _Naked to the Stars_.

I thought there was some Eric Frank Russell (maybe the Dawnworld books?) that was written in response to ST, but those turned out to be earlier.

#115 ::: John A Arkansawyer is sleeping with the gnomefishes ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 09:46 AM:

I just labeled a pot full of coffee as "Dark Roast, possibly stale, of uncertain strength, USE AT YR OWN RISK." If the gnomes want to take the chance on it, they're welcome to a cup or two.

#116 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 10:05 AM:

glinda @ 93: oh, bless you! That was a lovely thing to do.

Did you by any chance, at the same con, run across my best friend? He's known to most of the world as Mole. Big chap, dark hair, beard, glasses, looks Russian (which he half is), unexpectedly sings countertenor rather gloriously, may have been running around the place in a cassock.

#117 ::: James V ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 10:41 AM:

Lee @ 98: It's Four Winds in Smith County.

#118 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 11:08 AM:

Every time the topic of Starship Troopers comes up I feel vaguely awkward, because when I read the BOOK back in high school, I was under the impression that it was satirical. You know. Showing the brutal madness of war from inside the head of someone who actually thought he was doing a good thing in participating in it that way.

And then the movie came out, and I thought that they camped the satire up too much when they should've let it stand on its somewhat more subtle merits, just like in the book. Though mostly I didn't mind, because of course Hollywood wouldn't trust anyone to get that satire was satire unless they were being beaten over the head with it. So, you know, standard adaptation distillation. Strip the book down to the most important parts, crank the contrast and brightness up further, make sure it's really obvious. Fair enough.

And then I talked to fans of the book. Who were outraged at the movie because it didn't take the book seriously enough, and I was ready to agree until I found out that the book...wasn't satire? Actually?

Anyway. That made for some awkward conversations.

#119 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 11:09 AM:

It looks like something went wrong with the latest Parhelia. The top one now has two asterisks; one of those has a link behind it.

#120 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 11:12 AM:

Thanks, Mary Aileen. I've fixed it.

#121 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 11:51 AM:

guthrie @#110:

The question I find interesting is how many books it caused to be written in reaction to it. Harrison's Bill the Galactic hero; one by Gordon R. Dickson, Armour, by John Steakley, which was better than I thought it would be, shame he never managed to write much else. I don't know if The Forever War was stimulated by it.

Armour is a throughly engaging book about PTSD and what living through a Starship Troopers like universe would do to a human, even a Heinlein-ish Competent Male.

Steakley also wrote Vampire$ which is great fun.

I did once find a blog he wrote, which was sad, because in this blog he seemed to be one of those sad/scary Right Wing Americans (RWA) who went nuts after 9/11 and wanted to declare a crusade on Islam because of the actions of 19 extremists, mostly Saudis. (Why do none of those RWAs ever blame Saudis and their funding of Wahabbist extremism for terrorism? It's like labelling all Christians with the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church.)

(I have this thing I call reread clusters: If I reread Starship Troopers, I'm going to read Armour and The Forever War directly after. Just like if I pick out Cryptomicon, I'm also reading Enigma by Hugh Sebag Montefiore, The Code Book by Simon Singh, and Enigma by Robert Harris. It gives me a whole bunch of angles on a particular topic.)

#122 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 12:19 PM:

guthrie, #110: When you say, "how many books it caused to be written in reaction to it," you're talking about the original book, not the movie, right? That didn't parse properly for me at first.

James, #117: Huh, hadn't heard about that one. I'll have to go look it up.

Odaiwai, #121: Sadly, that pretty much is what Steakley turned into toward the end. I remember knowing him when I lived in Tennessee, and then meeting him again in Texas and being shocked at the change in his attitudes.

#123 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Xopher, back in my SCA days, someone gave me instructions on how to make damiana liqueur: Brew a pot of damiana tea (standard teaspoon-dry-herb-per-cup strength, ISTR) and sweeten to taste with honey. Mix with an equal volume of vodka; bottle and let rest for a month.

I couldn't speak to its aphrodisiac qualities, but it worked brilliantly for relief of menstrual cramps. I stuck a label on the bottle that said "Remedy" (yes, Black Crowes reference intended) and it served me well for a long time.

#124 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:04 PM:

Wasn't Gerrold's (unfinished) War with the Chtorr series a pretty transparent response to Starship Troopers? I also thought at least some of the ideas from ST were played with in Ender's Game--among other things, the buggers were not unlike the bugs.

I read ST many years ago, and it seemed a pretty straightforward attempt to build a particular world built on particular principles, and then defend it internally. And the point seemed pretty clearly to be to describe and justify some of his own deeply-held principles--not the requirement that you can only be a citizen if you've served in the military or civil service and are now retired, but rather his notion of why patriotism is pro-survival for the group, as well as morally required for the individual. I enjoyed the book despite not quite accepting his premises, FWIW, though I think he was needlessly heavy-handed in justifying his message. (The bit with his dad was particularly goofy, IMO.)

There's a funny conflict in Heinlein's expressed beliefs in his stories: On one hand, there's a pretty common notion of pulling together and fighting and sacrificing yourself for the common good. On the other hand, there's a pretty common notion of realizing your society is screwy and either silently withdrawing or striking out on your own for something better.
If he had a way to reconcile those two, I don't know what it was.

Time Enough for Love spoilers follow:

Gur ovg va GRSY jurer Ynmnehf sryg boyvtrq gb wbva gur nezl naq svtug va Jbeyq Jne 1 ernyyl fgnaqf bhg gb zr. Ng bar yriry, guvf jnf fvzcyl ahgf--ur pbhyq cerfhznoyl unir znantrq gb fxvc gur pbhagel orsber ur tbg qensgrq, naq fvg bhg guvf jne gung ur xarj unq abguvat gb qb jvgu uvz naq jbhyq nppbzcyvfu abguvat ng nyy. Gurer jnf ab cngevbgvfz-nf-fheiviny-inyhr tbvat ba gurer. Uvf zbgvingvba jnf ragveryl onfrq ba xrrcvat gur ertneq bs Ven naq gur Fzvgu snzvyl. Abj, ur unq fbzr rzbgvbany naq crefbany ernfbaf sbe gung--ur jnf trggvat gb fcraq gvzr jvgu uvf bja snzvyl naq uvzfrys, jubz ur unqa'g frra sbe nobhg n gubhfnaq lrnef. Vg zvtug unir orra gbb cnvashy gb ybfr gung pbaarpgvba. Ohg V rkcrpg gung gurer'f nyfb fbzrguvat ryfr tbvat ba gurer--zbfg cngevbgvfz vf cebonoyl zber bs gur "xrrc gur snvgu jvgu zl snzvyl naq sevraqf" guna "cebgrpg gur gevor." Vs lbh jbaqrerq jul zber vagryyvtrag, qrprag, frafvoyr crbcyr qvqa'g fxvc gur pbhagel gb nibvq orvat qensgrq sbe jnef gung jrer hygvzngryl cbvagyrff rkrepvfrf va oybbqfurq naq zvfrel, guvf cebonoyl pncgherq gurve erny ernfbaf sne zber guna gur qvssvphygl bs znxvat vg gb Zrkvpb be Netragvan, be snxvat na vawhel, be jungrire.

#125 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:09 PM:

odaiwai and Lee:

Fear is the mind killer. Concentrated socially validated fear of the Other is an even more potent killer of both the mind and the conscience. Get people scared and mad enough, frame it in tribal terms, and you're halfway to justifying the worst atrocities imaginable.

And think about the really out-there guys who were screaming for holy war on Islam, or for nuking Mecca, or for rounding up Muslims and putting them into camps. The really important role they have played in our post-9/11 insanity was to slide the Overton window over far enough that torture and assassination and massive unaccountable surveillance are mainstream policies now. Because hey, compared to nuking Mecca, merely incinerating the odd Pakistani wedding party for looking suspicious to a drone pilot looks like a perfectly sensible and humane policy.

#126 ::: gnomes have kidnapped albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:11 PM:

I wonder if I can buy my freedom with this leftover Halloween candy.

#127 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:11 PM:

albatross@ 124: I suspect trying to figure out Heinlein is a mug's game, given the amount of effort he and Ginny spent in altering the record of their lives. I play that game, but I don't expect to win, or to break even.

That said: Be Ynmnehf ernyyl jnagrq gb trg ynvq.

#128 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:28 PM:

One thing to remember about Starship Troopers is that was originally intended to be part of his young adult series, but Scribner's bounced it. So it went to Putnam's and Heinlein was done with Scribner's.

#129 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 01:37 PM:

As always, you find the damnedest things in the comments. Under the Heinlein clickbait, a most remarkable proposition was put forth: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is a satire on Ayn Rand. Who knew?

#130 ::: James V ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 02:04 PM:

I've found it interesting to follow what is known on the evolution of Heinlein's beliefs. It seems to me that he veered conservative libertarian after marrying Ginny. If so, he wouldn't be the first person to change and reconcile their beliefs because of love and he certainly wasn't the last.

#131 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 02:26 PM:

odaiwai @ #121: Don't forget The Codebreakers by David Kahn!

#132 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 02:54 PM:

Dr Paisley @ #104
The substitution thing reminds me of a character the webcomic Skin Horse (go comics link to the first strip because the Skin Horse homepage is slow-ish). The cyborg black ops helicopter has censor software installed in him because the motorfingers that built him got tired of all his marsh-mellow toasting swearing. His first line is "What're you looking at, rabbit-punchers?"

It is my favorite webcomic about a talking dog, cross dressing psychologist, and undead bioweapon. (They here from the government to help you!)

#133 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 02:59 PM:

Dr. Paisley 104: Kip W @100: Now dead chat room host would substitute synonyms for "bad" words. The favorite was "rooster lollipop."

Wil Wheaton's board used to substitute "Person who is much smarter than I am" for the six-letter F word.

Too much of this, though, and you end up with the clbuttic problem, especially if your system doesn't recognize word boundaries. There are no English football clubs called Buttocksnal or Svaginahorpe. Even if your system can find whole words, you could still run into the problem a hate group had a couple of years back, where they referred to the athletic accomplishments of Tyson Homosexual.

#134 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Mishalak @ 131: that character (Alex) is why my new expression of ultimate annoyance is "Pork pork pork pork pork pork pork mukluk!"

#135 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Abi, after reading your tram stop sex parhelion, "All mouth and nae trousers" is my new favorite catchphrase.

#136 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 04:04 PM:

I've been dealing with tinnitus in my left ear for a week. Not debilitating, but annoying.

ENT appointment next week.

In the meantime: Anyone know what kind of screwdriver would be best for digging out all of those little bones and nerve endings?

#137 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 04:13 PM:

Anybody else remembers that the helmets from "Starship Troopers" made it into the early episodes of "Firefly"?

#138 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 04:14 PM:

Mishalak @ 36
I was following a recipe for homemade cordial. It called for Everclear, water, fruit, and 3-6 months of steeping. It worked. At the time, Everclear was cheaper than good quality, double distilled vodka which was the alternate spirit.

#139 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 04:35 PM:

You have my siincere and abiding sympathy. (I've had tinnitus for some years. It's occasionally more than slightly annoying.)

#140 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 04:36 PM:

Stefan, the screwdriver won't work, since the "sound" doesn't start that far out.

Purely out of curiosity have you taken a lot of aspirin lately?

#141 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 04:46 PM:

Stefan, the screwdriver won't work, since the "sound" doesn't start that far out.

Clearly a sonic screwdriver is required.

#142 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Or an upside-down one like M.F.K.Fisher's upside-down martini -

Reverse the proportions of the vodka and orange juice.

You'll still have the noise, but you won't care.

Voice of experience...[joking]

#143 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Today's Sidelight, "Grantland Is Awesome" -- it is, it is -- two days ago on the same scandal, also Grantland, Andrew Sharp. And even ESPN, for once making sense in an opinion column (Jason Whitlock).

#144 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #133: And how about the third member of the trio, Manchester United?

Lila #135: I've always liked the Texas version "All hat and no cattle", which also seems more potentially gender-neutral. There must be others, too. Anyone have suggestions?

I see from the Grauniad that there's a competing British version "All mouth and trousers" that means much the same thing -- ie, implying the metaphorical emptiness of the said trousers.

#145 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 05:45 PM:

@129 That guy had a really interesting take on Heinlein. I can't quite take on board all of his hypothesis*. I will say that the theory that most of Heinlein being of the form 'If A and B then surely X, Y and Z' does appeal to me, and that A and B and probably X, Y and Z are things that Heinlein had thoughts and wanted to write about.

I guess that has me agreeing with albatross @124; I read ST many years ago, and it seemed a pretty straightforward attempt to build a particular world built on particular principles, and then defend it internally.

Lee @78, although I am pretty sure there have been no sequels, if there had been Starship Troopers 3: Marauder would undoubtedly have had power armour. Possibly due to budget restrictions they would only turn up at the last minute to save the day.

* Although Time Enough For Love as a satire on Hubbard is really, really tempting.

#146 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 06:41 PM:

@Jim: The tinnitus has been accompanied by mild cold symptoms (ear infection?) so I've been taking two aspirin twice a day.

But not every day, and not before the ringing showed up.

Only other meds: Zyrtec in the morning, Benadryl at night. And not always. I'm frequently med-free. Unless you count coffee.

#148 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 07:07 PM:

Reason I ask is that tintinitis is a common side effect of aspirin use.

#149 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Thomas @ 114, Avram @ 147: not to be confused with "All That Meat and No Potatoes", which refers to something else entirely.

There is a tangentially related Southernism: "Your big ol' alligator mouth gon' get your little ol' hummin'bird ass in trouble." (I have a wirehaired mini-dachshund who's the living embodiment of that expression.)

#150 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 07:31 PM:

Big Hat, No Cattle. (I had no idea this was SFnal.)

#151 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 07:32 PM:

I had to resort to Wikipedia to make sure that M. F. K. Fisher is not M. A. R. Barker.

#152 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:13 PM:

Re: Starship Troopers.

I have an unresearched theory that the power suits from Starship Troopers led to the host of anime power armor stories.

I've heard Heinlein was very big in Japan.

#153 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:33 PM:


I went hunting for her description but cannot find the book. In her younger days she preferred Gibsons or nigh-straight gin, by the time she'd mellowed into California she liked dry red vermouth with just a splash of excellent gin.

In "As They Were" she writes how she might be found quietly dead between the stove and the icebox, with a glass of vermouth in one hand and an overripe pear in the other.

I might be confabulating her with another woman who wrote idiosyncratically about food and retired to California about that era, but I'm sure it was her. Didn't she and Julia Child occasionally visit? Maybe it's Julia, about Mary Frances.

#154 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:40 PM:

My intermittent tinnitus usually cuts in only when it is very quiet, and usually sounds pleasantly like crickets; I regard that as very lucky indeed. (In fact, it took me a while to figure out that there couldn't possibly be crickets chirping all of the times it was sounding like crickets.) It's nearly vanished in recent months, so I think it is likely either the antidepressants or that-ADHD-drug-which-would-get-this-post-gnomed were contributing to it.

#155 ::: James V ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:50 PM:

Rob @ 152: If I remember correctly, the 1970s anime Starship Troopers, loosely based on the novel, was made to set the record straight because of all the other powered battle armor anime that came before.

#156 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 08:59 PM:

Re the Wolverine & Hercules Particle, 2 observations:

1) The second link hijacked my browser and wouldn't let me back-arrow out of it.

2) Throughout the comment thread (or at least as far down as I read, which was a fair amount), we once again have the Amazing Invisible Bisexual.

#157 ::: Adel ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 09:57 PM:


@154 Clifton

My bet would be the antidepressants. Tinnitus is a fairly well known side effect of certain SSRIs and SNRIs (at least through anecdata) that isn't talked about much by those who actually prescribe it. (1) I even went through testing with an audiologist while I still had insurance in 2012, who found no physical cause for it. I have been (unfortunately) off the medication for over a year, and the ringing persists.

Mine takes on the wonderful quality of a higher-pitched tone reminiscent of the tuning machine we used in band class. If it's really quiet, I can almost make out a chord. I envy you your pleasant chirping.

(1) The write up on the Mayo Clinic site states that 'certain antidepressants' may 'worsen' tinnitus, but doesn't actually claim them as a possible cause. WebMD does better.

#158 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2013, 02:11 AM:

Troll from the San Francisco Bay Bridge. It was installed under the old bridge during the repairs after the 1989 quake, and is currently at the Oakland Museum.

"There's a great deal of mystery surrounding any troll," Goodwin said, "but a special amount of mystery surrounding this troll."

#159 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2013, 07:17 PM:

Jim Macdonald, Professor Hahn remembers you, and says hello. :)

@tinnitus, certain fluorescent lights sound like tinnitus to those of us young enough to hear them.

#160 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2013, 11:34 PM:

A look at eleven regions of the US, and the affects they had on the culture and people who live there.

The eleven American Natioons

#161 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 12:36 AM:

Then there's the auto-replace that, along with not letting me use Dick Cavett's name in a discussion of Rocky Horror, knows that "breeder" is sometimes a slur, and therefore autoreplaces it with "irresponsible parent of the human variety." This is jarring in a discussion of animal rescue groups that dislike professional dog and cat breeders. A lot of the autoreplace is silliness such as "Wingadingdingy Cavett" or "bacon-fed knave" instead of "bastard," but "dog irresponsible parents of the human variety" can wind up insulting people when the unmodified text was complimentary.

#162 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 12:42 AM:

Apropos of an open thread:

You're all aware that November is NaNoWriMo. You may not be aware that it's also NaNoGenMo, "National Novel Generation Month" -- a challenge to *write a program* which will *generate* a 50k-word nodel. It doesn't have to be a *good* novel, obviously.

I decided to undertake a generator in a possibly familiar style. I call the result: "Redwreath and Goldstar Have Traveled to Deathsgate".


The Python script that generated this ("the Paarfi-o-matic") can be found at

(Publishers: I am currently unagented, but can be reached BEHIND THE HOT WATER PIPES, VICTORIA STATION.)

#163 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 01:14 AM:

"Can I have my shoe back?"
- Stan Lee

- Loki

We just came back from watching "Thor: The Insufficiently Lit World".

#164 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 07:00 AM:

Steve C., 160: The descriptions sound right, but the boundaries are wrong. Long Island isn't part of Yankeedom and the part of Missouri I lived in is most definitely part of Greater Appalachia.

#165 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 09:47 AM:

Avram @ #147
Wiktionary lists a bunch of phrases of that form

I particularly liked, "All booster, no payload."

#166 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Well, hello internets! Pardon my typos, please, as I am one-eyed, following a retinal detachment and surgery to repair it. I look like I"ve been in a small fight, but it"s not really too bad. I will be resting face-down for two to three weeks, per surgoen"s orders, so I expect I"ll be sleeping a lot. My FF is taking fabulous care of me, even though she did take a picture of me as I recovered from the anesthesia. If I get a patch, I promise to fly the pirate flag.

#167 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 11:45 AM:

Serge: I think my favorite was "Apparently there'll be a line."

#168 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Ginger @166, oh dear! Best wishes for a swift and complete recovery.

#169 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Here's looking at you, Ginger! Get better soon.

#170 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 12:24 PM:

Best wishes for a quick recovery, Ginger!

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 12:59 PM:

I'm not sure that 'ow' is the bet word, but spending three weeks face-down surely deserves it!

#172 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Holding you in the Light, Ginger.

#173 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Oh dear, Ginger. I think I mentioned my father's coping strategies for bubbled-dom-- he got a lot of chainmail done because that meant looking down at his work. He came close to asking the movie theatre to let him sit in the projecting booth for a similar reason, but never needed it. If you're straight face-down, you might find table work to do.

Whatever angle you may be at, I wish you a swift and easy recovery.

#174 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Ginger, best wishes for a swift and uneventful recovery!

#175 ::: James V ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Get better soonest, Ginger.

#176 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Ginger: Glad you recognized the problem and got zapped in time. ARRRR!

#177 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 02:27 PM:

In the Department of Extreme Irony, I work for the Eye Institute. My retinal surgeon asked me if I knew Doctor "John Smith", and of course I did. I have done similar surgeries in various species, so it was a very interesting ride as a patient. The main difference is, I'm responsible for putting all the medications in my eye, rather than prescribing them for my techs to administer.

#178 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 02:31 PM:

Ginger, we had a neighbor who was visiting a son in upstate NY when her retina detached. She made arrangements with her ophthalmologist, flew home to California by herself, and got it fixed.

#179 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 02:40 PM:

I'm so sorry, Ginger.

That is a seriously-no-fun kind of event.

My best wishes for an uncomplicated recovery.

#180 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Ginger, more best wishes for a speedy recovery.

This is apparently what I avoided by seeing to my retinal tear right away. That was a minor annoyance compared to what you've experienced.

#181 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Ginger, adding my sympathies and best wishes. Sounds ghastly. Good job you have the FF!

#182 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 04:06 PM:

I had this weird, uncanny premonition. I found myself in primordial times among aliens. They were squamous, rugose cones. My mind had been swapped. I knew I was there for a reason, but I couldn't find the boss cone. Then today when I tried to make a convention hotel reservation on the phone, they couldn't find the Boskone 51 block. As I said, a weird uncanny premonition.

#183 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Mishalak @165, maybe "all payload, no booster" might be a better metaphor. Like the man who was, his wife complained, "physically inadequate". When he was examined by a doctor and found to have quite a large penis, she impatiently said, "Yes, but where's the arse to swing it?"

@ tinnitus, mine began in early childhood, but in the form of occasional sustained notes (at the time, I thought I must be especially sensitive to noises from electronics), and an occasional loud noise, swelling rapidly and then fading rapidly, very much like feedback. It evolved into a frequent sound like cicadas buzzing (and which I long thought was), and these days is a more or less constant chorus ranging from a sound rather like the leaking of air from an almost-blocked sinus to a large field of cicadas. My recently taking a job in a noisy industrial environment probably isn't helping -- one more reason for me to find a new one ASAP. My hearing was never all that good, and I think the tinnitus is making that worse.

#184 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Ginger, if you have an android based phone, might I recommend the free app simply called "voice reading?" Point it at a news article, fanfic or text of your choice, and tell it to play. It's perfectly understandable, though the pronunciation is somewhat odd at time.

I'm sure other platforms have similar apps.

(I have eye issues of my own, and there are days when all I can do is lay in bed in a dark room, bored, and unable to see because MY EYES HURT. I listen to a lot of escapist fiction ...)

#185 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 08:34 PM:

Ginger #166: Ouch... Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

#186 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 09:59 PM:

Stefan @ 146

The tinnitus has been accompanied by mild cold symptoms (ear infection?)

My tinnitus began coincident with [1] a bad cold (no ear infection) 11 years ago. Still going strong. More evident than usual if I'm tired, sick, or low on sleep. Very evident if I'm in an otherwise quiet environment. Contributes significantly to sleep problems but has been mitigated effectively (although not always conveniently) by the use of audiobooks as a sleep aid. I have the "field of cicadas" version. Very occasionally the "loud pure tone" version but I almost suspect that's an independent issue.

I suspect it occasionally contributes to my difficulty in understanding indistinct speech. It definitely exacerbates difficulties understanding phone calls, especially when the caller is on speaker phone and there's a lot of noise.

[1] Causal relationship undetermined.

#187 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 12:05 AM:

@Heather: So far the hum hasn't effected my sleep . . . but worry about the cause has. Brain tumor? Giant parasitic worm? Maybe I'll find out on Wednesday morning! ;-)

While I can hear it now, the tinnitus *might* be decreasing. Or perhaps I'm getting used to it, or able to ignore it when I'm doing other things.

#188 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 12:22 AM:

Mine can vary in volume.

I remember reading, last year or the year before, that they found that, if it isn't caused by drugs or disease, it seems to be caused by the brain turning up its internal volume, trying to compensate for subtle hearing loss.

#189 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 12:43 AM:

In the spirit of open-threadiness, I will be in NYC the entire week of Thanksgiving (through part of the Monday afterward). And while a fair amount of that time will be taken up by hanging with my textile-geek homies (the first weekend), spending time with my-girlfriend-who-lives-in-NYC, and going off to Darkovercon (the second weekend), I would be interested in exploring the possibility of meeting face-to-face with anyone in that vicinity who might have the time and inclination to do so.

#190 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 02:46 AM:

Ginger @166

Android has good support for Text To Voice, though the Kindle reader doesn't support it. Do a search on "TTS" and you will find voices in the Play store. Some are free, but the current CereProc voices are worth paying for. SVOX are another source.

Play Store ebooks are in a DRM-protected ePub format, which is a minor annoyance with the customary solutions.

It can be taken as read that TTS systems will get some words wrong, in a predictable sort of way, just as a naive reader struggles with them. The systems are best when the voice-language matches the text: if you like a particular foreign accent, expect strangeness.

I read some of a history of the Spanish Civil War via TTS and the handling of personal and place names was strange.

(My recent laser eye surgery was far less of a problem than yours.)

#191 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:50 AM:

P J Evans #188: it's been a while, but my understanding is that what we casually think of as human hearing, is very far from a passive reception and processing of sound waves. There are internal feedback loops which include not only "simulated" signals, but actual sound production in the ear.

Tinnitus is the more common failure mode when those feedback loops get disrupted, but ISTR there actually are a few people whose ears produce externally audible noise (which they can't hear).

#192 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:55 AM:

HLN: Local woman is emailed announcement of a Ph.D. program that offers a full-ride assistantship (tuition plus stipend) in her field (in which she has an associate degree, plus a bachelor's and 3 yrs grad coursework in unrelated fields). Program encourages applicants with clnical backgroun. Woman bursts into tears.

Woman puts on brass bra, starts researching application guidelines, rounds up 2 of the 3 necessary letters of support, and decides to fucking go for it. "What have I got to lose?" she asks, still intermittently weeping in terror.

#193 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Ginger #166: Ow! Best wishes.

#194 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 12:11 PM:

I've heard of that, but it's hard to grok what living with it must be like. (Mine is a fairly high-pitched whistly/insecty sound, but it can suddenly change pitch or volume. And it can be very annoying, especially with a telephone that's also noisy.)

#195 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 12:38 PM:

On one of the older Great War threads, there was a brief discussion about Edwardian class inequality in Britain, which included Teresa saying, "Ask me about Irish crochet tea gowns sometime".

So, Teresa, what about Irish crochet tea gowns?

#196 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 01:11 PM:

Ginger, empathy on the surgery and the recovery.

I'll repeat myself somewhat by recommending old-time radio shows for entertainment that doesn't put demands on your eye bones. Archive, for instance, has many hours of Gunsmoke (outstandingly well done, from writing to acting to sound effects), and others. My favorites include Lux Radio Theatre, which does radio versions of movies in an hour (45 minutes or so plus ads), often with either original cast members or inspired substitutes. Seriously, go first to The Maltese Falcon and listen to Edward G. Robinson as Sam Spade! There are SF shows like X Minus 1, cop shows, comedies, and more.

It's a little disheartening to hear how hokey some of it was, but there's a lot of good material in there. If you're lying immobile, you might not want to hear Johnny Got His Gun, even for Cagney's performance.

Lux has The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland and Hans Conried. They have It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson. They have Arsenic and Old Lace with Boris Karloff. They have Bogart in Casablanca, and "Shadow of a Doubt" with William Powell in the Joseph Cotten role. Powell also recaps the first two Thin Man movies with about 75% of the original casts. (Screen Director's Guild has good half-hour versions, with similarly inspired casting.)

Also, a show called "This is My Best" has the only good adaptation ever made of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." It stars Robert Benchley and skips the irrelevant interpolations that haunt all the others.

Anyway, get better. Here's looking at you.

#197 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 01:22 PM:

HLN: local herpestid went back to the doctor this afternoon to discuss progress of anti-anxiety medication, and said "well, it's helping somewhat, but what I really need is a job, and you can't prescribe me one of those, unfortunately". Sympathetic doctor brainstormed a few ideas and finally came up with online maths tuition, which looked like a good one.

Local herpestid returned home, posted about this upon the Book of Face, and fully expected a pile of comments pointing out the drawbacks of trying that. "But in fact, I'm very pleasantly surprised," they told HLN. "Everyone's being extremely positive about it. I haven't had a single person mention any possible pitfalls yet. Obviously, if there are any I need to know about them, but at the moment this is looking like a pretty decent plan for converting mathematical acumen plus glacial patience into a reasonable income."

#198 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 01:26 PM:

I think I just read a lie in print and I'd appreciate your help in proving that's what it is:

Has anyone seen the word "puke" in a recent mainstream comic strip, other than yesterday's Doonesbury?

#199 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Lila @192, wishing you the very best with your application, and congratulations on the courage to move on it.

#200 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Mongoose #197: So essentially, he did prescribe you a job? LOL!

John A Arkansawyer #198: No specific reference, but Calvin & Hobbes seems like a good candidate. So do Zits and Stone Soup... for that matter, any strip with children as main characters.

#201 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 01:49 PM:

Lila (192): Best of luck!

#202 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Dave H., #191: One of the most interesting things about our Western Parks trip a few years ago was stopping in a few places that were absolutely silent -- no other cars, no people, no mechanical noises, no wind, very little in the way of wildlife sounds. Standing quietly and listening to the silence, thinking about how the whole world used to sound like this, was one of the coolest things I've ever done. I tried to get some video of one of these places, but you can't hear the silence in the video because of the camera's own sounds.

Lila, #192: Good luck!

#203 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Lila @192: Good luck! I applaud your courage and brass armor.

Everyone: thanks for all the suggestions; I'm bookmarking them all for my recovery, with deep gratitude. My eye seems to be healing nicely, and I am coping with the left-side-down restrictions, although I will be very happy when I can finally shift sides again.

#204 ::: Ginger has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 02:09 PM:

I can offer peanuts, Perrier, or dried apricots.

#205 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 02:55 PM:

Thanks, everyone, for the encouraging words. Further progress: got me a GRE test prep book, and the youngest says "go for it! We'll race to a Ph.D." (her application's due a couple months before mine).

#206 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 03:20 PM:

Lee #202: Um, "the whole world" hasn't been silent since we got an atmosphere, let alone animal life! Those deserts out west are notable for their (sometimes) quietness, largely because of the lack of life there (both human and other), but even someone from medieval or ancient times would have been almost as awed as you.

As a side note, you abbreviated my name as "Dave H." For myself, I wouldn't care (indeed, I sometimes abbreviate it that way in E-mail signature), but I have occasionally seen a "Dave H." who isn't me, commenting on ML.

#208 ::: John A Arkansawyer has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 03:32 PM:

And for once, my comment was neither an attempt to be Amusing or "amusing". All I can offer is some freshly-brewed office coffee.

#209 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 04:24 PM:

So, about the E-cigarette thing, my Mom pointed me at this skeptical article in our semi-local paper.

I'm not hugely impressed by it -- while the individual claims are plausible, the presentation smells like a hit piece -- but I figured I'd bring it out for comparison. I do agree that the FDA really ought to be regulating E-cigarettes and similar devices.

#210 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 04:36 PM:


I am attempting to re-read Castiglione's Book of the Courtier after many years. We read selected passages in a survey course in Italian Renaissance back in high school.

I seem to recall a passage where somebody says that when speaking of others who you are not at liberty to say everything about, an adjective will suffice, i. e. a description, without getting into what makes you say that description.

I have been combing through the book and not finding what I thought I remembered reading. Does anyone else recall?

#211 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 04:59 PM:

AKICIML: I seek the Fluorospheric wisdom about snowblowers.

I've recently moved in with someone who possesses a vintage Toro snowblower, one of the S-200 series from, so the serial number tells me, 1980. I've already downloaded the operator's and service manuals online.

However. I have never USED a snowblower, nor do I have any experience with two-stroke engines - no motorcycles, alas, and all my lawnmower experience has been with electric and push-reel types.

This thing has been stored outside, unsheltered, for Ghu knows how many years.

Is this a situation where I should get a professional's opinion/estimate on whether it can be made to work at ALL before I start in on trying to get it working for the winter? How complicated ARE these beasties, after all?

I am moderately handy, but no wizard; I am pretty good at following instructions and diagrams, and I've been able to do things like change ungrounded outlets to grounded by putting in a grounding pigtail and swapping the receptacle, and lo these many years back I put a heater core in a Chevette (it was on the engine side of the firewall, so I didn't have to crouch under the steering wheel)...but I chickened out on the 1930s wall-mounted faucet replacement and had the plumber do it. And a good thing, too, as it turned out that there were bits an inexperienced person could have broken off that would have meant ripping out the wall to fix.

And, assuming I can GET it working, how temperamental are they to operate? I do know about not getting my hands anywhere near the blades or the discharge chute, and that it can retain some ability to rotate even after you shut it off. I have plenty of respect for the dangers it presents. What I want to know is whether I'll get so annoyed trying to use it that I should stick to my trusty shovel instead (ergonomically bent handle, plastic scoop with metal blade) as I did for all the winters in the previous place, only admitting defeat when we'd had well over a foot at once.

Previous place: driveway about the total footprint of eight cars, essentially level, plus about 20 feet of front walkway and a single house-lot's worth of sidewalk, lightly sloped.

Current place: steeply sloped driveway that accommodates one Chevy Aveo and one Subaru Outback with no room left over, 20' of somewhat less steeply sloped front walk (with two stairs to the level sidewalk at the bottom), and the house is on a double lot, one of which is a corner, so we've gone from one house's worth of sidewalk to THREE. You can see why the snowblower starts to look attractive - but if I'm cussing at it every few feet, it won't seem like such a good trade.

#212 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 05:33 PM:

1) Change the oil (assuming that it has separate oil and fuel, rather than fuel-mixed-with-oil) and the filter. Change the air filter too.

2) Drain out the old fuel. There's a very good chance the fuel system is completely blocked by varnish from dead and decaying gasoline. Perhaps you can clean it out. Perhaps not.

3) Not only should you keep your hands out of the blades/discharge, don't try to clean them out with a stick, either.

Perhaps, after changing oil, filters, and fuel, it starts. If it does, hurrah!

4) Keep a shovel handy anyway.

#213 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Rikibeth @ 211

I know nothing about snowblowers, but a good deal about 2-stroke engines--I'll talk about the engine portion.

Two-strokes are really simple, and generally break in a few ways.

From easiest to hardest;
Replace the sparkplugs; while you are at it, pour a spoonful of engine oil into each cylinder.
Drain and replace the fuel with mixed gas--use non-ethanol gas and synthetic oil if possible.
Check/replace the fuel tubing.
If it's electric start, I know nothing about the electric start. If it's a pull start, get the pull start working (new cord, oil things up); that's not too hard.
Rebuild the carburetor; that requires working with small parts, and I usually get a mechanic to do it--it is cheap. ($20 or so.)

Give it a dose of starter fluid and pull the starter until it starts.

#214 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 05:52 PM:

Jim: Mixed oil-and-fuel, and the manual suggests that you acquire oil specifically meant for 2-stroke engines (of course they suggest their own branded stuff) and warns against multi-viscosity oils.

What would a person use to clean out a gummed-up fuel system? (I'm betting it will be gummed up.)

Not cleaning it out with a stick? Even after it's turned off? How DOES one unblock a blocked-up snowblower, then?

And oh yes, the ergonomic shovels came with me when I moved. Not getting rid of them.

Sam: glad to hear that the failure modes are limited, and that a mechanic's attention shouldn't be too expensive. It appears to have both pull start and electric start modes -- naturally, the cord's gone missing, but that should be possible to replace.

Given what new snowblowers cost, if I can get this one working for under a couple hundred bucks, I'll count it a win.

#215 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 06:02 PM:

I'm able to manage my tinnitus (mild, medium frequency hissing (approximately), right ear) by relaxing the right side of my neck. Specifically, I run my attention repeatedly down the big muscle on the side of my neck for a few minutes. I haven't experimented enough with stroking or rubbing the muscle to compare the effectiveness of various methods.

I've tried to catch the moment when the tinnitus stops, but that makes the process not work.

A couple of times, I've felt a pull in my ear when I turned my head, which makes it easier to believe there's a connection between the muscle and the state of my ear.

#216 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 06:27 PM:

The tinnitus discussion has made me think about some (probably sleep-deprivation-caused; long story) sensory Weird I've been having lately. Not tinnitus, but I'm having a hellishly worse time picking out particular verbal input from moderately-to-very-noisy backgrounds than usual. Also, my taste and smell are all out of whack ... sometimes. I made a pot of tomato-and-meat sauce and tasted it and all I could taste was ketchup; a discerning second opinion from my co-parent detected not even a hint of such a thing, so I think it was just a software problem on my end. Similarly, a later pot of chicken soup registered mostly as "it's food, I like it and want to eat it" without any of my usual ability to analyze the taste, identify spice components, etc.

I've had tinnitus (for a day or two at most; more usually hours) and this isn't like that. The only thing I can compare it to is a most-of-a-week period, right after I got my first metal filling, where I could swear I was hearing a very, very faint radio station in my head. I could hear the rhythm of the announcer's voice that was probably the station-identification bug, bits that were ads, and some mariachi-eque music. Not UNPLEASANT, exactly (I enjoyed the music), but really really weird. I could ignore it when in moderately-noisy situations, but at night when I was trying to sleep it was very distracting. I actually tried to find a matching station on the FM or AM dial, but no dice. And then it went away, never to recur.

#217 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 06:50 PM:

Ginger: Ugg, and good luck. You know you can get 33 episodes of the old "The Shadow" radio series online?

Lila @192: Good luck with that - go for it.

Mongoose @197: Good luck with that to you as well.

#218 ::: dcb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 06:51 PM:

Too many offerings of things going well for people? I have chocolate fingers.

#219 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 06:55 PM:

The fact that I have mildly swollen lymph nodes and a congested feeling near my tinnitus ear gives me hope that it is a temporary thing, associated with an infection.

Of course, that could be a tumor, or fifteen feet of tropical parasitic worm. Always look on the bright side! #B^/

#220 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Rikibeth @214, a blocked snowblower chute can be cleared with a stick (NEVER your hand) AFTER you have shut it off and you are CERTAIN all moving parts have stopped moving.

If you're lucky, you'll have a separate impeller that propels the snow up the chute and it'll never (or hardly ever) clog). If you're unlucky and it's "heart-attack snow", be prepared to shut down the beast frequently to clear the chute.

My next-door neighbor, after one particularly warm-and-sticky snowfall, inquired what make and model snowblower I owned. He was shutting down and clearing every ten feet; I was motoring along. I felt really sorry for him and finished his driveway, too.

The next day a delivery truck arrived...

But even a snowblower you have to stop and clear regularly is less awful than shovelling heavy snow.


#221 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:02 PM:

Rikibeth @#214

I have a two-stroke snowblower, and a love-hate relationship with it. It is noisy and smelly, but once it starts, it's pretty hard to stop. When it plugs up, I use a retired car scraper to remove the plug of wet snow. It moves dry stuff well, and wet rather less so. I have had it for over twenty years.

Mixing the fuel and oil is straightforward but best done with care, as there's likely to be some spillage. Last winter I got a fancy mixing jar for the job. I use heavy nitrile gloves for this task.

The primary impeller may have rubber parts. They should be replaceable if broken down.

At the end of the season, run the tank dry.

You clean carburetors with a proprietary solvent labeled "carburetor cleaner", and dispose of the waste solvent carefully.

How big is the engine,and is it a single stage or two stage machine? My single stage machine relies on the main impeller to force the snow up and out. This is not great with wet snow, but is simple. The two-stage machines have a second, driven, impeller in the ejection chute. More complex, more effective.

#222 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:07 PM:

An additional snowthrower trick is to use dry silicone spray to reduce the amount of snow that sticks. This works for shovels, too, actually.

#223 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:36 PM:

odaiwai @121 on reread clusters:

There's Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, of course, and One Hundred Years of Solitude and Desolation Road, and Three Men in a Boat and To Say Nothing of the Dog, for fairly obvious reasons. I read Lover's Vows the last time I reread Mansfield Park, but I don't think I'll be re-reading it as often (if at all). Similarly, I'm embarked on a long-term project to (re)read some or all the epics that The Compleat Enchanter is based on before re-reading The Compleat Enchanter, but they're so long that I don't know if I'll repeat this project again. I started reading Orlando Furioso for the first time (in Barbara Reynolds' very enjoyable translation) last November, and am now almost finished with a second reading of The Faerie Queene; I'll probably re-read one or both Eddas after that, and maybe the Kalevala as well.

Mishalak @132 on Skin Horse:

Skin Horse is one of my two or three favorite ongoing webcomics, along with Gunnerkrigg Court and... I'm not sure what else I would rank with them. I recently re-read the archives of Skin Horse for the third or fourth time.

Lawrence Watt-Evans is serializing a fantasy novel, Ishta's Companion, on his website. It's in his Ethshar setting (the setting of The Misenchanted Sword and ten or twelve other novels) but it stands alone as well as any of the Ethshar novels and better than some.

#224 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:43 PM:

John A @198: I happened to notice it because it bothered me a little, and yes, I did notice the word "puke" in a recent comic. A bird or man-bird is on a psychiatrist's couch, and he uses the word describing what the mother of most any baby bird is known for doing. Oh, almost forgot to say where: it was in Dan Piraro's daily surrealish panel gag strip, "Bizarro."

#225 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:51 PM:

Really, though, the reason I came here was to ask if anybody knows a lilting children's (possibly) song about little piggies, that ends:

Cornbread and cabbage,
Fit for a King
But poor little piggies will eat
Any old thing.

I only recently found out it was "cornbread" and not "corned beef," and most likely "poor" little piggies instead of "four." This is what comes of learning a song extremely early in life.

I've been kind of successful in finding mysterious little snatches of song that came down from my parents and their ancestors. Another that has eluded me was sung to me by Mom once, and she said it came from some music book she saw decades before (like in the 30s, I'll say), with the following words:

Ten tom turkeys in a row,
Marching off to Buffalo…

I think she sang me the next part and I forgot it. Or maybe she skipped it. But a line or two go by, and then we wrap it all up:

Tell me, Tommy, if you can,
Why is it you [march? strut?] so grand?
'Certainly! Can't you see
We're marching to a TROT?'

Pretty exciting stuff. There's one other song that goes through my head that probably nobody else on earth ever thinks about, because it was written in a collaborative way by a class I was in — fourth grade or sixth seem likely — about Halloween. The teacher guided us through picking some rhyming words, making lines out of them, making up a tune (the first part of the tune was by me. Me!) and putting them all together. Think there's any chance anybody else in the class still knows it? Some day I'll reconstruct what I remember, make up something to fill the gaps, and claim I remembered the whole thing. Who'll disprove it?

#226 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 09:57 PM:

The Toast have an amazing piece today about 'obvious' classic-lit metaphors that the original poster compleeeeetely missed until they were blatantly pointed out to her. If you have similar trauma/memories, you are invited to post them in the comments for sympathy and dark commiserative laughter.

#228 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 10:47 PM:

Cassy B: I may have an oddly placed tipping point where "cantankerous machine" becomes more annoying than "shoveling lots of heavy snow" - I won't know until I can compare from experience, but I know my tolerances for heavy shoveling, and I know how frustrated I can get with Clogged Vacuum Cleaner Hose/Tangled Vacuum Cleaner Beater Bar or Wonky Sewing Machine Bobbin, and shutting down and clearing every ten feet might well push me over into "at least hand shoveling is QUIETER" territory.

Henry: According to the manual, it's a 2.25 horsepower engine, 85.3cc, and it claims to have a "two-section, drum-type" impeller. It's a Toro S200 Model 38130, if that helps. About 20" wide. Not especially unwieldy for me to push on bare ground, or lift & carry, when it's shut off.

Is there a reason not to use a reclaimed 1-quart glass pasta sauce jar for mixing the oil and gasoline? I have plenty of those, and I can dedicate a funnel for fueling. Nitrile gloves are part of my regular handyperson supplies, no issue there.

Next question, though: the manual says "only use the extension cord that came with the snowblower." How hard do I have to believe that? Is there some magic property their cord would have had that is not to be found in a heavy-duty, 14-gauge outdoor extension cord? I am inclined to doubt the manual, here.

Of course, I realize that the more effort I put into getting this thing tuned up and running, the less likely I am to get much use out of it this winter. I'm willing to run that gamble. Though, on the gripping hand, that might translate into "more ice than snow", which would NOT be my first choice. Not with the sloped front walk and steeper driveway! I spent today discovering just how long it takes to drill a 1 5/8"-deep hole into concrete with a masonry bit, for the railing I'm trying to put up, because I know already that the walk in its current un-railinged state is a winter deathtrap.

#229 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:06 PM:

Trying to think of a nice, smallish xmas present for my dark chocolate loving aunt in Chicago and I thought I could make my standard Flourless Chocolate Cake of Extreme Peril with The Completely Extraneous Ganache Icing, but I am in Los Angeles. Is there a way to ship this and have it arrive relatively intact? I could also do truffles again, which I did a couple of years ago to much acclaim, but they are a good deal more labor intensive than the torte. And tempering. ugh.

#230 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:14 PM:

nerdycellist: Does the cake require refrigeration for safety, or is the gating factor "ganache not melting"? I would think some combination of Overnight Shipping, Small Cooler, and Picnic Ice would work, and then the question just becomes how expensive the shipping is.

I know that ganache icing can withstand being frozen and then thawing, but isn't as wonderful texturally as never-frozen. However, freezing the finished cake, putting it in an insulated container, and shipping it overnight might do the trick.

#231 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:23 PM:

I think it's pretty safe at room temperature for at least a day. That's how I've stored it in the past. I get at-cost FedEx shipping at work, so I can overnight it. I expect it will be kept fairly cold for most of its time. My biggest concern is keeping it from bouncing around too much, but without marring the top or smushing the cake. I thought about sending it in the spring-form I baked it in (extra bonus gift!) and then padding around it, but that still leaves space for it to be jostled out of the pan. And also, the ganache would just be a layer on top, rather than a coating all around.

#232 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:56 PM:

Your idea of shipping it in the springform pan sounds like a good start. For not marring the top, what I'd do is go to a restaurant supply store and buy an oversized roll of heavy-duty plastic wrap - you want something at least twice as wide as the diameter of your pan. Wrap the cake, pan and all, over-and-over two or three times: think "mummify". Then I'd cut a cardboard circle slightly larger than the diameter of the pan, put it on top of the plastic wrap, and mummify it several more turns, so it's nice and secure. Then you can nestle it in crumpled paper (or packing peanuts, should you have them handy) in a box a couple of inches wider in each direction than the diameter of the pan. You want a nice buffer zone of packing material on all sides of the cake, but you also want it to be in pretty snugly.

Disclaimer: I have never shipped flourless chocolate cake, but I have packaged similar cakes for local catering delivery (hence the suggestions about mummifying and the cardboard shield) and I've packed many, MANY shrink-wrapped wicker gift baskets of shelf-stable food goodies for UPS delivery in cardboard boxes with packing peanuts. Two years running for a local natural-and-gourmet-foods grocery that later sold out to a national chain. We sold a LOT of gift baskets.

#233 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 12:00 AM:

Rikibeth: Is there a reason not to use a reclaimed 1-quart glass pasta sauce jar for mixing the oil and gasoline?

I don't think so. There is standard advice not to store toxic chemicals in anything that looks like a food container, but even that wouldn't prevent temporary mixing.

#234 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 12:26 AM:

thomas: As I don't have any small children in my household, I have a slightly flexible definition of "looks like a food container" - if I've removed the original food labels, applied an encircling strip of hot-pink duct tape on which I've written the contents or purpose in large letters, and put the container away from food storage and in the company of other not-food items, IMHO it no longer "looks like a food container". This applies to utensils/equipment that might be otherwise identical to cooking equipment, too - the measuring cups I use for bleach and detergent are on top of the washing machine, labeled "LAUNDRY ONLY" in black Sharpie on pink duct tape. I'd write "MOTOR OIL" on my dedicated funnel.

I use a five-gallon plastic pickle tub to store my rice in the pantry (it's big enough to hold 20lbs, which is why I nabbed it) but if I had a second pickle tub, I wouldn't hesitate to put it in the garage to hold ice melter, as long as I gave it the big pink label. I no longer work at the place where I swiped the first one, though.

I developed the "large labels on not-for-food" habit when I was working at the bakery-café with the Boss From Hell, who didn't have any purpose-made sanitizer solution pails for cleaning cloths in the kitchen - might have been one out front for the baristas, but God only knows how she expected me to keep my bench clean. Five-pound peanut butter tubs were a good size, though, and I repurposed several empties - and labeled them to keep them separate from the empties we were using for food storage, not so much from worrying about the sanitizer as to make sure we would always HAVE some.

#235 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 12:48 AM:


If you'd like to test and see how such a cake ships, I'm available to report on results, and I live in the Chicago area <big toothy grin>...

#236 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 01:33 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 226: The Toast piece and commentary are great fun. Thank you!

#237 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 02:01 AM:

Elliott Mason @216:
The tinnitus discussion has made me think about some (probably sleep-deprivation-caused; long story) sensory Weird I've been having lately. Not tinnitus, but I'm having a hellishly worse time picking out particular verbal input from moderately-to-very-noisy backgrounds than usual. Also, my taste and smell are all out of whack ... sometimes.

YMMV, of course, but those are both symptoms of insufficient rest and/or insufficient light in winter for me. Other ancillary symptoms are gloom around the corners of my eyes, hunger for carbohydrates, and gooseflesh.

(Why, yes, I am just listing out my current physical sensations. Does it show?)

#238 ::: Mongoose, also gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 05:25 AM:

Elliott @ 226: interesting piece, but not sure I buy all the explanations. Especially not the one about the plums being a metaphor for adultery. After all, didn't Mrs Williams actually write a response?

#239 ::: Mongoose, sorry, not gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 05:26 AM:

...realised the instant after I'd hit "Post". Ack. Sorry!

#240 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 05:46 AM:

re 228: Safety officers everywhere cringe at a sentence containing both the words "gasoline" and "glass jar". I don't know what the fuel consumption of a snow blower looks like, really this beast needs a proper gas can.

#241 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 05:49 AM:

Rikibeth #234: Just to say, that's not "a slightly flexible definition of 'looks like a food container'", that's professional-quality relabeling and hazard marking.

#242 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 06:32 AM:

Dave Harmon: well, I WAS a professional! Where the safety factor breaks down is that a pre-literate child might not pick up on the "no commercial label, presence of bright pink tape" as a This Is Not Food marker, and might in particular mistake a toxic liquid for a potable one that had formerly been in the container. That's about it though - in my experience, even an adult who can't read English well enough to figure out what my bright pink label says about the contents (a not uncommon circumstance with dishwashers in restaurant kitchens) will at least stop and look at what's in a full container or grab an empty that doesn't have the label, if they can't find someone to ask. That's another reason why the bright pink: whether the kitchen uses pre-printed, color-coded day/date/contents labels or just writes "Hummus, 10/23" on a bit of masking tape, bright pink duct tape is still going to grab you.

C. Wingate: Upon re-reading the manual, the mixing instructions are for one gallon, not one quart, so if I used the pasta jar at all, it'd be for measuring the first quart of gasoline and then the 4 ounces of oil into the gallon gas can. I'm thinking that a 4-cup plastic measuring cup with a handle (and a bright pink label) would be the way to go. My conditioned responses go "glass: non-reactive, doesn't melt on casual contact with hot surfaces" and gravitate towards it for any substance I'm inclined to treat with suspicion, rather than backing away from it because "breakable", but since gasoline jerrycans are heavy-duty plastic and so are motor oil bottles, if I stop and think about it for a second I have no need to worry about using a plastic container.

#243 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 06:35 AM:

Rikibeth #228 - re. the power cable, is there something useful at one end, like an RCD, i.e. a thingy that cuts the power instantly as soon as you cut the cable? Or are there odd connectors for which bodging a connection would be wrong?

I'd say mix away in the glass jar, but make sure it is completely empy after use, and then either clean it out or seal it up, store it labelled, and never open it near a live flame because vapour is really exciting.

#244 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 06:59 AM:

guthrie: I've just been reading the pdf of the service manual, which seems (unlike the owner's manual) to have the starting assumption that the reader can tell a hawk from a handsaw when the wind is southerly, and it says "Use the extension cord provided with the Electric Start (P.N. 28-9170) or any 16 gauge 2 or 3 wire cord", so my nice solid 14-gauge outdoor cord should be FINE.

The service manual also makes it clear that this is a single-stage machine.

Toro produced the pull-start version of this thing from 1979-1984, but only made the electric-start model until 1981. I hope that doesn't mean the electric start is unreliable.

#245 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 07:58 AM:

Noticed something fun in the credits for "Thor: The Dark World". One of the persons listed in the Iceland location crew has a first name Thor and another person has a middle name Thor.

#246 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 08:30 AM:

Rikibeth, re: mixing oil & gas.

I had a two-stroke boat motor for years. I'd suggest just mixing in a (red plastic) gasoline container, of the sort one can buy inexpensively at gas stations. They usually come in one gallon and two gallon sizes, and they're deliberately sized big enough that the extra oil WILL fit. Dispense one gallon at the gas station; funnel in the oil; shake to mix.

Pro tip: Write "OIL ADDED" in big Sharpy letters on the jerrycan; you do NOT want to accidentally use your pre-mixed two-stroke gas/oil in a car engine or lawnmower.

With regard to clearing the chute every ten feet; I should mention this was a very heavy, slushy, awful snow; it came down hard and fast but it was barely 32F. "Heart-attack snow." This was an edge-case, not a standard event. My neighbor's old snowblower (which was, as I recall, about 2-3 HP) generally operated just fine; normally he might have to shut down and clear it once, maybe twice, over the course of clearing a 100' driveway. (I envied him that snowblower when I was shoveling my own driveway by hand before we bought our own; believe me!)

#247 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 08:32 AM:

Lila #192: Best of luck with the application.

#248 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 10:05 AM:

Rikibeth @ 228

Is there a reason not to use a reclaimed 1-quart glass pasta sauce jar for mixing the oil and gasoline?


Do not ever put gasoline in glass--if you drop it and there's any spark or fire nearby it can explode, if there's a fire and the jar heats it can crack and make a fire burst. Gasoline and glass do not mix unless you are making weapons.

Plastic gas cans are made out of non-flammable, heat-resistant plastic. I wouldn't use any other plastic container as a substitute.

#249 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 10:07 AM:

Additional safety tip: Make sure the surface you are clearing doesn't have gravel or other small objects on it. The snow blower can pick them up and pitch them with sufficient force to bust a window, or maim bystanders.

#250 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 10:08 AM:

As far as I know, I've had tinnitus all my life, so much so that I thought this was the normal state for everybody.

#251 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 11:08 AM:

Why not add a Mr. Yuck sticker to the pink duct tape on the container? That usually gets the "DO NOT EAT!" point across.

#252 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 01:15 PM:

If you really want to scare off toddlers, paste pictures of vegetables to the jar.

#253 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Regarding storage of hazardous substances in former food containers, I have a hypersensitivity to this issue that borders on the irrational. A kid I knew through church when I was in grade school came across household lye stored in an old soda pop bottle in his parents' garage. They were still reconstructing his esophagus years later. I've even been known to flip out on storage in the opposite direction, e.g., the friend who stored emergency drinking water supplies in old well-rinsed bleach bottles (because the trace residual chlorine kept it sanitary). I will freely admit my irrationality on this topic. When called on it, I am happy to pass it off as my own idiosyncratic version of ritual food purity laws.

#254 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Ali Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half has been interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air". The audio of the interview should be available here after 5 pm Eastern:

#255 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 01:41 PM:

I hear that Miyazaki has un-retired again. For a samurai manga, this time.

#256 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 01:59 PM:

Stefan @ 252: but that would only work if no toddler liked vegetables, ever. That's patently not the case.

I never heard of the "toddlers don't like vegetables" trope until I was maybe about eight or nine, and found one of my younger sisters' comics lying around the house. There was a cartoon strip in it about a character called Rosie. Rosie, apparently, liked cake, ice cream, and something else I can't remember, but she hated cabbage. My initial reaction was "why would she hate cabbage so much that it would be used as a sort of punch line?". Granted, school cabbage tended to be a bit watery and flavourless, but Rosie was pre-school, so presumably she was getting delicious home-cooked cabbage, right? Fancy not liking that!

Similarly, I don't recall anyone at school who didn't like vegetables. It was only when I was grown up that I met one or two people who claimed not to like any kind of vegetables at all, and that this had always been the case. Even so, they seem to be very much a minority, so I'm still not sure where the trope originates.

As for me, I grew peas on the pocket-handkerchief of otherwise useless garden that I was allowed to cultivate, and when they were ready I'd take a handful of pods to school and eat them at break. Delicious, juicy, fresh peas, bursting with flavour, and so tender you could eat the pod and all (which I invariably did). Yum!

#257 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 03:03 PM:

Michael I @245: I gather that Thor or Tor is a moderately common name in Scandinavian countries.

#258 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Michael I @245 / David Goldfarb @257:

Though there's fewer boys getting the name these days than there used to be, Tor/Thor/Tore is an extremely common name in Norway at least - and I'd imagine it's even more common in Iceland, them still being old-fashioned norsemen. It'd be more surprising to see film credits without the name.

#259 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 03:59 PM:

Boiled liver?

#260 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 08:01 PM:

Elliott Mason @226:
I take any claims of "this must be a metaphor" with a very large grain of salt.

Once upon a time, I wrote a fanfic. A reader commented that it was a brilliant metaphor for one of the central plot points of the series. Such a thing had never occurred to me when I was writing it.

I concluded that metaphors are at least as much a function of the reader as of the work.

#261 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 08:10 PM:

Rikibeth #242: Where the safety factor breaks down is that a pre-literate child might not pick up on the ... This Is Not Food marker

Or any other marker whatsoever, such as skull-and-crossbones, "zap triangles", and so on. (The "Mr. Yuck" stickers sound interesting, but I wouldn't count on them too far.) At some point, parental responsibility needs to act directly, and physically deny small children access to dangerous spaces and materials (via locked doors, inaccessible cabinets, supervision, etc.)

#262 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 08:18 PM:

Chris @260: Or, sometimes, as Seanan McGuire found when she wrote a song by lifting most of Galadriel's lines verbatim from the text, when you take the text on purpose you get the subtext for free. :->

#263 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 08:25 PM:

Chris (260): When I was 17, I wrote a fairy tale parody in which the princess was such a spoiled brat that the prince turned down her hand in marriage after rescuing her. My creative writing teacher's interpretation was that I was obviously dubious about marriage. Uh, no.

I also wrote one about that time in which the prince was completely useless and the princess rescued herself.

#264 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Heather 253: I'm with you. Err on the side of safety.

That said, my test for whether something in my refrigerator is still good (assuming it smells OK) is "eat it and see if I die." But for the consumption of my friends, I throw away anything that I think might not be entirely fresh.

Mongoose 256: I've told the story of my sort-of nephew and why he loved cavatelli with broccoli, right? "If you eat cavatelli with broccoli," he solemnly informed me when he was about six, "you don't have to eat vegetables. The broccoli takes care of it."

#265 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 09:10 PM:

Xopher: that cavatelli/broccoli line is adorable.

Never had any trouble getting my kids to eat vegetables. We had a garden, so that helped. The middle one loathes bananas and has since infancy, but she likes pretty much everything else. The youngest tolerates soy poorly and, inexplicably, doesn't like pie of any kind. Go figure.

#266 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 09:14 PM:

Mary Aileen @263, In one of those odd coincidences, I just today read a short story by Laurell K Hamilton called "Can He Bake A Cherry Pie", with the premise that gur vzcevfbarq cevapr jub pna bayl or serrq ol n cevaprff gheaf bhg abg gb or na rtbgvfgvpny wrex abg jbegu gur gebhoyr. (Va n frafr, fur NYFB serrf urefrys sebz n irel onq neenatrq zneevntr ng gur fnzr gvzr.)

#267 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 09:27 PM:

Xopher @ 264... eat it and see if I die

That reminds me of the Far Side cartoon where a man opens his fridge and sees one bowl pointing a gun at the condiments, and the caption reads

"When potato salad goes bad"

#268 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 09:31 PM:

My brother and I were proud that we liked vegetables. Including some of the weirder ones -- weird for the 50s, at least. Avocados (alligator pears!), asparagus, artichokes, olives, etc. (Yes, I know a couple of those are really fruits.) We weren't afraid of them, like those other wimpy kids. By the 60s we were eating beef tartare, snails, curry, oxtail soup, and yogurt (which was quite exotic in those days). My mother prepared all sorts of strange things for Sunday dinner.

#269 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 09:44 PM:

Cassy B.: good to know about the extra room in the red plastic gas cans! The snowblower operator's manual is all about mixing the oil with the first quart of gas and then putting the other three quarts into the container, I assume because it would mix more efficiently somehow, but your approach sounds good.

The service manual also suggests that a partial tank of fuel/oil mix, when drained from a snowblower, can be added to a car gas tank that's at least half full without ill effects, but I have to wonder if that's as true for modern cars as it would have been when the snowblower was built, in 1980. I suspect at the very least that you'd get blue smoke coming out the tailpipe and build up some deposits, or possibly clog fuel injectors. In any case, I don't plan on trying it.

SamChevre: I appreciate the warning! As I said, my danger reactions are calibrated on a different set of hazards, so it's good to know what I'm not seeing.

I told my dad about the snowblower. His reaction was "sure, try the carb cleaner, but don't be surprised if it never runs again." He's never owned a snowblower himself (this is why I have zero experience with them) but we did have gas mowers when I was a kid, until he switched to electric ones, so he's got experience of gummed-up two-stroke motors, I'm sure.

I'll probably pick up the carb cleaner tomorrow. For now, I'm attempting optimism.

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 09:49 PM:

Anti-bullying PSA.

Shows a man going thru a day at the office being treated the way bullied kids are treated in school. Trigger warnings for the obvious reason.

Why, WHY do we refuse to treat behavior that is clearly assault AS assault just because the perps and the victims are classmates?

#271 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 09:56 PM:

Nitpick: not a PSA, but an ad for a documentary.

#272 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 10:32 PM:

Rikibeth @269: In 1980 cars didn't have fuel injectors, they had carburetors, which worked significantly differently. I wouldn't put anything but gasoline in a modern car's gas tank.

#273 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 10:41 PM:

I was taught that kids don't like vegetables and that any kid who did was freakish. Like many things I was taught, the rules changed without warning. This was very confusing.

#274 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 11:21 PM:

I am now going to express frustration with myself by writing about other people.

You know who I hate? People who say they are perfectionists as the answer to the asinine "name your worse quality" question during interviews for employment.

I am a perfectionist (at least some of the time). This meant that today I could not actually bring myself to leave my house for free beer because I could not find satisfaction with my attire. Free New Belgian Ale at that and I could not go enjoy it due to this... ridiculous obsession.

If you say you are a perfectionist and you have never done something maddeningly irrational because of perfectionism I will find you and I will cut you... once I find the perfect knife. And once I manage to actually leave my house.

#275 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2013, 11:49 PM:

Elliott Mason: well, except for diesel cars, and you wouldn't have wanted to put gas/oil mix in those, either!

The car I learned to drive on was an early-1980s full-size GM wagon with very finicky habits: I got way too familiar with popping off the air cleaner and twiddling the idle set screw in the carb until it agreed to behave. My dad seemed to take this as a matter of course; he was great at explaining how leaner or richer mixtures affected the performance, but never gave me a good explanation for why that car had such a narrow margin of error, when most people never seemed to have to touch theirs.

The service manual covers models made from 1966 to 2000 (though the detail's a little sketchy on pre-1972 machines), so you'd think they'd have updated that bit about fuel/oil mix to reflect modern cars, but I've seen how technical manuals get written, and I wouldn't count on it not being a cut-and-paste from the days when carburetors were the norm.

#276 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:36 AM:

Rikibeth @275 -- actually, many years of Saabs had two-stroke engines that required oil be added to the gasoline when you filled up. I know, because a friend had one, and I had to do this occasionally.

#277 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 04:09 AM:

Carburettors vary a lot. On the Land Rover I had, 1960s engineering, there was a design/construction weakness that could affect the mixture, a heat related warping of the metal. After I lapped down the joint to bring it within the range the gasket could cope with, the normal adjustments worked.

Injector based systems, whether direct into the cylinder or into the intake manifold, rely on totally different engineering, with higher precision and depending on clean fuel as the lubricant.

In my old Land Rover, I wouldn't have worried about a bit of oil in the fuel. But with a fuel injection system, no. The same with diesel in a petrol engine: you need to drain the fuel system, but a carburettor isn't going to be damaged.

I more or less gave up on the details when the computers took over from purely mechanical engine control systems for fuel and spark timing.

#278 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 06:57 AM:

Dave Bell, your giving-up sounds like it matches mine. When I was driving 1980s beaters, I spent a goodly amount of time tinkering under their hoods, even if only to give better diagnostic info to my mechanic, but when I bought my current car new five years ago, I got the extended warranty, and the only time I've done anything more complicated than refill the windshield washer fluid was the time when, at the mechanic's advice, I hung a stocking full of mothballs inside the engine compartment to deter the local mice from chewing through a second wiring harness. (Mice aren't covered under warranty. Who knew?)

I admit that if the proprietary diagnostic dongle and software weren't so expensive, I'd be tempted to get them, because it would be cool to be able to read the error codes myself, even if I didn't trust myself to do the repairs (which I don't). But that's wishful thinking.

#279 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 08:48 AM:

Mishalak, I agree. When people tell me they wish their kids had a bit more perfectionism, I ask them how many school projects have been destroyed the night before they're due because they're ruined (by a misstep that will dry or fade) or just not right. Higher standards, sure, want those as much as you want. But perfectionism is to high standards as anorexia is to self-discipline.

#280 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 09:32 AM:

re 277: I'm pretty sure that US VW Rabbits had CFI from the start, or at least from quite early on (the 1980-ish on I had certainly did), which was eventually modified by filling in the hole that allowed you to adjust the mixture and adding another injector that allowed the computer to fine tune things.

I didn't give up working on cars because of that, but because the car makers kept making simply getting at the parts too difficult. The turning point for me came when my father and I changed the timing belt on one of the many escorts we had. We didn't have a garage and it was, of course, forty degrees and windy, but at least we had the car on the carport. And after considerable time already spent on this, we determined that we would have to release one of the motor mounts and lower that side of the engine to clear some obstruction. We did manage all this, but as far as I was concerned I was through working on cars.

#281 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 10:03 AM:

re 278: My mechanic did once suggest getting one of the code readers, but I just never could quite move myself to do it.

re 274: I always interpret this "claim" of a fault as being a type A person bragging about being a details person. I don't believe them either.

On vegetables and the tastes of toddlers: My eldest developed teeth very early and when we took him with us to the Royal Mile (Scottish pub) the question arose as to what to feed him. We got a cheese platter, whereupon he seized upon the Stilton and consumed it all. He still has a taste for blue cheeses. Somewhat later, back when we could still afford such things, he would consume a slice of the country pate (including the cornichon) at our favorite French place. His brother took to filching onions from my wife's salad (though his tastes have become conspicuously pedestrian since). I grew up in a typical depression parents you-must-try-everything household so the question of not liking vegetables wasn't even on the table.

#282 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 10:33 AM:

Oh my... Tony Robinson, aka Blackadder's Baldric has been knighted. His cunning plan finally worked.

#283 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 10:38 AM:

Rikibeth @278:

Since 1996 every car sold in the US has to have a OBD-II connector and a standard set of codes. The connector is located under the dash near the driver's seat. You can get an ODB-II Bluetooth adapter from the South American River for about $15, and there's easily available software for Android phones that'll talk to it. There's probably iOS software that'll do the same, but I haven't looked for it.

The software won't decode the proprietary codes (that haven't been leaked), but there are a lot of standard codes that reveal a lot as well.

#284 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 10:38 AM:

My father, the born engineer, once told me that not everything worth doing is worth doing well.

#285 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Is there a non-awful but safe answer to "What's your worst quality?"

People who think perfectionism would improve someone's life sound like the people who say they'd like to be anorexic so they could lose some weight.

#286 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 12:06 PM:

Oh, this is fun. Joey meets real horses. (With bonus grays—gorgeous!)

#287 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 12:28 PM:

Fuel injection is, like every other automotive development, something that started out on sports and luxury cars and then trickled down. Modern electronic injection with knock sensors (i.e. distributorless) came in with Bosch Motronic on the BMW 732i in 1979. The last carb-fed cars in first-world markests were poverty-spec models and sold in the 1990s.

(Diesel engines are injected by definition. The liquid behaves in a different manner to petrol.)

Put diesel in the tank of a petrol-fueled car, and you need to clean out the fuel system. Put petrol in the tank of a diesel-fueled car, and you may need a new injection pump. (The pump relies on the lubricating properties of the diesel oil.)

You can still work on cars up to around model year 2000, but there's a lot of breakable plastic and incomprehensible electronics. And lots of stuff will be inaccessible and/or require special tools.

On vegetables: I couldn't be forced to eat boiled vegetables as a child, but would happily eat them raw and viewed sliced kohlrabi as a treat. I'll only resentfully eat boiled veggies even now, because boiling ruins them.

#288 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 01:01 PM:

Is there a non-awful but safe answer to "What's your worst quality?"

I say, "I suck at finding more work to do if the assigned stuff is done." (Only in a more work-approved manner, of course.) I don't know if that's "non-awful but safe", though I point out that I am currently employed.

#289 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 285

Is there a non-awful but safe answer to "What's your worst quality?"

I hate that question, too.

The best advice I've gotten was, "Pick something that's easy for the person you are talking to to see and to assess." That way, to the extent it's a weakness, it won't get exaggerated.

#290 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 01:15 PM:

"I'm 52 years old, so if you're looking for someone to do an unassisted transfer of a 400-lb. patient, I'm not the one you're looking for" was an answer to "what are your weaknesses?" that did NOT get me hired or called back. :-P

On the other hand, it was true.

#291 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 01:15 PM:

C. Wingate @ #281
I always interpret this "claim" of a fault as being a type A person bragging about being a details person. I don't believe them either.

Nancy Lebovitz @ #285
Is there a non-awful but safe answer to "What's your worst quality?"

Really, I blame the awful question more than anything else. The question is about as clever and answerable as, "Does this outfit make me look fat?" And if I did not need a job I would answer with something along the lines of, "Well, my worst quality is being judgmental, like right now I am wondering if I want to work for a company that routinely ask questions that will result in the hiring of liars who can answer in a kiss ass manner over honest people."

My own 'real' answer is to ask a question in return. "Would you like to hear a few minutes of introspection from me or is this a test to see how cleverly I can tap dance around a hard question? Because I am quite adept at either task, I just want to know which demonstration you would prefer."

Still, as an actual person who sometimes suffers from perfectionism the perfectionist answer frustrates me.

#292 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Rikibeth @ 278:
There was a period when those code readers were really expensive, but I got mine off Am*z*n for $22 a couple years ago, and I've seen them as low as $15 via mail-order. Compared to the $75 a mechanic wanted to charge the hanai daughter for pulling the codes on her Honda, it was a no-brainer. It came with a CD with a code lookup database (nnn = random misfires on all cylinders... which told me that it was probably the plugs, which was correct) and you can find most of the proprietary manufacturer codes online. It's been kind of fun to play with when there's a problem, actually. (Though I agree with you, I still miss working on my old Civic with the carburetor and manually adjustable distributor.)

If you've got an Android phone or tablet, there are some really cool apps which can turn your tablet or phone into a kind of super race-car touch-screen dashboard if you buy a slightly more expensive code reader dongle with Bluetooth. Not my thing, but it did look pretty cool.

#293 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:13 PM:

I once answered that question--in a telephone interview--with, "I *hate* using telephones." I got the job.

#294 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:28 PM:

Mary Aileen @293, heh. I was thinking that a humorously subversive answer to that question would probably be lost on anyone who would include that question in their interview, but perhaps not.

#295 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:36 PM:

OtterB (294): It was in fact an entirely honest answer! It probably did help that the venue proved that I could deal with phones despite my hatred of them.

#296 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:38 PM:

ENT doctor's working theory: Tinnitus may be due to endolymphatic hydrops. High lymphatic system pressure. Which fits with the congested, swollen lymph node feelings.

Suggested solution: diuretics. Lizard draining time!

I didn't think to mention that I drink an awful lot of water. I always have a big glass on my desk, and drain it regularly.

#297 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:39 PM:

Re: 2 stroke engines.

Apparently* the Ethanol in gas in the US is bad for some 2 stroke engines. It separates and can cause overheating if you wind up in the high ethanol side.

I've recently noticed a single ethanol free pump at one of the local gas stations. I'm going to try it for the next gallon of 2 stroke dedicated fuel. I use about a gallon a year in my various yard implements.

* According to my local rental/2 stroke repair place.

#298 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Nancy, #285: Back in my interviewing days, I tended to say "Procrastination -- I get stuff done, but the last couple of days before the deadline tend to be hectic." Since many people consider that mode of operation to be admirable, it was a safe answer that had the benefit of being at least partly true. (I have traits I consider worse, but those would not be safe to mention.)

Clifton, #292: I will also note that any Auto Zone shop can pull those codes, and won't charge you for the privilege. I took advantage of that once to find out whether the Check Engine light was anything I needed to worry about before I could get back from Dallas to Houston. (It wasn't.)

#299 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Many good points have already been stated here.
On the snowblower: If you have the shop manual, and exploded parts diagrams, you've got most of what you need to make it easier to work on. 2-stroke spark ignition gasoline engines need air, fuel, oil, spark and compression. If it has been sitting/not running for over a year, pull the spark plug and put a teaspoon or few of motor oil in the cylinder through the hole before you try to crank it. First crank should be done without the spark plug in - you want to see if it spins, and if you get compression (put thumb over sparkplug hole, it should get pushed off, much like how a garden hose's flow will push your thumb off the end. If you want, get a compression gauge from an auto parts place, but unless the manual has numbers to check against you'll only learn "has some compression" or "has none"). If it does NOT spin, or has no compression, figure out what is wrong before spending any more money on it. You can use the electric start to spin it - if the starter doesn't look too corroded/doesn't have frayed wires, etc. A friend is useful here, to steady the machine and/or handle plugging in/unplugging the starter. Fixing the pull starter can also be done, but you're spending money on parts before you know if it spins.

If it spins and has compression, check the spark and work on that fuel system. Spark can be checked by putting the wire back on the sparkplug and laying it on the engine so the metal outside of the plug makes contact with the metal of the engine. Crank and watch the plug. If no spark, check for bad wiring of kill switches, etc. first before digging into the rest of the ignition system. It's usually built into the flywheel and can be a bear to get to.

For the fuel system, clean the tank out first. Fresh gas might work, but a concentrated fuel system cleaner might work better. Be careful when pulling fuel lines off - they get hard, and can break off the fittings they are on in really bad cases. Replace them with fuel-rated hose, a Fleet Farm or Farm&Fleet or small engine/motorsports repair place ought to have the right stuff. Auto parts place hose is generally too thick. If the tank is metal and rusty, get an inline fuel filter and a few spare ones. You'll want to clean and re-seal the tank but that's a specialized process and can wait for next year, so long as you have spare filters. You can make it less likely to have a plugged filter by tossing a handful of spare change in the tank with your cleaner of choice, sealing it all up, and shaking vigorously (OUTSIDE!!!) to knock off the bigger flakes of rust, etc.

For the carb, if not mentioned in the manual, when taking it apart, be sure to count the number of turns it takes to screw in any adjustable screws/knobs/jets/needles to just finger tight. That is your record of what it was set at when it last (maybe) ran. The manual should tell you a place to start at (2 turns out, or similar - ie, turn it all the way in to just finger tight, then back out 2 full turns) when tuning, but knowing where it was can help. If it is way off where the manual says it should be, trust the manual first. A good first thing to check is just pulling off the float bowl - if it is really grody in there, might as well finish taking it apart. If it doesn't look too bad, just spray that out and put it back on. Might start with fresh gas/oil mix. Important tip about carb cleaning: take out all rubber and plastic parts before immersing/spraying the rest of the carb. Diaphragms and the like are often eaten by carb cleaner. Be gentle when cleaning - an old toothbrush can help scrub stuff. If you find hard, white or green deposits that no amount of carb cleaner or scrubbing take off, it might be corroded. An ultrasonic cleaner will make short work of such deposits. (Ultrasonic cleaners work great for cleaning in general!) Carb kits are relatively inexpensive, to get all the gaskets and o-rings and whatnot for putting it all back together again.

For the rest of the machine, see what the manual has to say about what needs greasing, oiling, adjustment, etc. Make sure the moving bits move and the non-moving bits don't. Look for bushings (like the ones that the beater/brush rollers in powered vacuum cleaner heads spin in) that are worn - some heavy grease can get them through a season, but you'll want to replace them if you can. Go ahead and clean it off good while you have it apart. Dish soap and water goes a long way. Rusty stuff? Sand it down and hit it with some Rustoleum or your preferred rusty metal paint. At least knock off the flakes/chunks so it can move and won't cut your hands. If you feel like it, go ahead and sand it down to bare metal and give it a good prime coat and top coat.

For disposal of bad gas, solvent-based carb cleaner, oily gas, etc. you can use it up in small amounts in your 4-stroke lawnmower (if you have one). Say 1 ounce per full tank of clean gas - just don't leave any of the old stuff in the mower at the end of the season. If it has water or rust in it, though, don't put it in any engine you care about. Otherwise, "check local laws for proper disposal" (call repair shops, junkyards, etc.)

I'm a gearhead, so what I consider "doable" is often a bit off from what others would say. That said, you can still work on modern cars - especially if you have a good feel for common symptoms, etc. as the basics haven't changed in a very long time. There are also problems that a code-reader WON'T find that a "classic" mechanic CAN - due to that affinity for "how things should sound/feel/smell". Pistons still go up and down, valves still open and close, fuel and air are still fed through manifolds in the correct proportions (more or less) into the cylinder and are ignited by a spark. (Change details as appropriate for diesel.) Computer controls have made the engines more efficient and more reliable and increased the time between required service.

The two biggest impediments to working on modern cars, IMHO, are the super-tight packaging and the plethora of electronics/wiring/tubing. Close upon the heels of those two is an increased proliferation of "we don't sell that part, it's a component of #expensiveassembly, and you have to buy the whole thing." The electronics in and of themselves aren't bad, but they introduce new failure modes - cold solder joints, failed chips/components, etc. - while presenting ever more connectors that can get dirty, corrode, or similar.

Some cars are far easier to work on than others. If you want to do your own work, getting a "friendly" car is important. How easy is it to change a headlight/taillight bulb? Where's the oil filter, can you reach it? Can you get to all the spark plugs? Where's the fuel filter? How about the fuel pump? (Most are in the tank these days - an expensive fix, and the best argument for running clean fuel you can find!)

I still do some work on the family cars, but far less than when I had my old 70's Land Cruiser. While it required a lot more attention than any modern vehicle, it was more rewarding to work on because it was a fun vehicle. I'm slowly teaching myself how to fix an '84 Kawasaki KZ550 because it is fun to ride, and I like fiddling with the mechanical bits.

#300 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 03:02 PM:

285 Nancy Lebovitz

Is there a non-awful but safe answer to "What's your worst quality?"

The last time I was unemployed, I had to take one of those "How to Interview" workshops. The instructor had several books, all on how to be the interviewer and how to be the interviewee.

That question is in all of them. The answer we were told to give? "Say you're a perfectionist."

Which was was really irritating on a couple of levels - first of all, the interviewers have read the books too, they know they're getting the 'book' answer; second of all, those of us who are actually perfectionists can't give that answer any more.

When asked the question at interview, I answered without thinking, "You've read that book too!"

Luckily, he laughed. I got that job.

#301 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 03:03 PM:

On the "worst quality" question, I was advised to pick something that could potentially be an issue in some environments but that would be less likely to be so in your preferred workplace. For myself, I usually mention that I'm not a particularly tidy person, so I tend to have papers and things strewn across my desk and stacked haphazardly. Since I don't work in a public-facing role and my work is not dependent on maintaining the organization of paper and things, it's a relatively harmless trait. And since I'm not sure I would manage to keep working for any location that insisted on super-organization at the desktop level, it works out fine.

#302 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 03:26 PM:

eric @#297: re: ethanol in gas.

It takes a bit of water to get the ethanol to separate out. If it does separate, you end up with a slug of low-proof water/alcohol mix in the bottom of your fuel tank. Engine won't run well, if at all, on it. There's also no oil in that slug - the oil is in the gasoline that is floating on top. If you use the engine regularly, and don't fill in the rain, it is not a real worry. Seasonal storage, on the other hand, store only with non-oxy gas or drain the system completely. If you use only a gallon a year of premix then, yeah, the non-oxy is a good choice - it isn't cheap. Add some Sta-Bil or similar, too.

Rikibeth: eric does have a point about ethanol and older 2 strokes. 10% ethanol gasoline has a bit less BTU's per gallon than non-oxygenated gasoline, which effectively leans out the mixture, which can make it run hotter. If you find you have to richen the mixture up considerably to get it to idle on 10% ethanol gasoline, you might consider re-jetting a bit richer at full power (bigger main jet). Ask your friendly local small engine repair shop about it, or just use non-oxy gas. Also, don't mix up any more pre-mix than you can use in a season. Spare gasoline can go in any engine. Spare pre-mix, only in carbureted, older engines in dilute amounts. Not for high-performance/high compression engines.

#303 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 04:18 PM:

cajunfj40: very valuable information! I was under the impression that, at least in New England, the ethanol content of standard gasoline varied seasonally, and was higher in summer, but my info may be out of date.

The shop manual did mention that about counting the number of turns for adjusting the carb, but it's good to hear it again.

The manual also didn't say anything about removing rubber or plastic bits when using carb cleaner, and it has fairly detailed instructions - this is a Tecumseh AH520 engine, with a diaphragm and a nylon check ball, so it says. However, it does say "if it still won't start, complete disassembly and soaking may be required," and I take it that's where the "remove all plastic and rubber bits" comes in?

I think, in my case, if it goes beyond the described "squirt carb cleaner into the jet until the check ball pops loose" procedure, it's going to a mechanic for the more thorough cleaning-and-probably-rebuilding.

As for working on my current car, all your cautions are why I got the extended warranty, which is still in effect even after I've paid off the car. The engine compartment on a Chevy Aveo is MUCH more crowded than on a GM wagon or an old Volvo 240, and noticeably more crowded than its ancestor the 1981 Chevette.

I have found (in 20+ years of car ownership) that being able to read the shop manuals and understand the processes involved has helped me at least go in knowing what a problem is, even if I don't have the tools or mastery of technique to deal with it myself. It's served me well for other household things, too, which is good, because since I moved in here, I've had to replace the oven's bottom heating element (two screws and two clips, did that myself), get the 1930s wall-mounted kitchen sink faucet replaced (totally above my pay grade, that was the plumber), re-caulk the upstairs tub so I could shower without soaking the kitchen ceiling (hey! a $3.99 tube of caulk fixed it, no expensive tile guy!), ground a whole lot of outlets, and convince my housemate that if the furnace worked but there wasn't any hot water unless the radiators were actively heating the house, this was not the way the system was designed to work and it was time to get the heater/plumber/electrical guys in again. That took studying the furnace manual so I could say "it says right here that the hot water is controlled separately." Turned out to be the electronic control unit on the hot water tank, which was an expensive damn part, but we have hot water now.

I do like to know what's going on with my machines, even if I leave the actual fixing to someone else.

#304 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 04:36 PM:

Something that is both true for me and an adequate answer to "tell me what's wrong with you in an employment sense" is, I find it very hard to sit still. If there's a lull at work, I line up 'fidget' useful tasks ahead of time that I can do between customers/between calls/while waiting for the job to run/etc: dusting, cleaning surfaces, alphabetizing books when I worked at the bookstore, general tidying, or when I had an office job I'd often queue up a few little "this won't take long to bang out" jobs in the morning because I knew I'd have some waiting downtime in the afternoon when I could do them (like filing/sorting/minor data entry).

If I am genuinely expected to stand there like a friendly mannequin without visibly accomplishing anything or moving, I find it very difficult. Luckily nowadays I can sometimes run an unobtrusive earbud into one ear and have podcasts for company, turning them offwith a hand under the counter/in my pocket when I'm back 'on'.

#305 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 04:50 PM:

Speaking above of Thor, any chance of a movie thread?

#306 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 05:47 PM:

I wonder if "I need some combination of clear instructions/clear parameters/clear goal (pick two) before I can work confidently" is a safe answer to that question? Because once I have those things, I work quickly, competently, and independently, but without them, well, that's iffier.

#307 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 06:05 PM:

Rikibeth @#303:
very valuable information! I was under the impression that, at least in New England, the ethanol content of standard gasoline varied seasonally, and was higher in summer, but my info may be out of date.

You're quite welcome. Sharing information helps all around - I get old knowledge corrected, other folks benefit from the odd bits and bobs that've gotten lodged in my head. Also, the read/write cycle refreshes the memory somewhat.

Gasoline ethanol content may well vary seasonally, and by station as well - check local laws. This DOE site has a matrix of laws by state/federal/etc. If you want to find non-oxy gas, search online for it or find a local motorcycle/snowmobile/hot rod/classic car club - many members use only non-oxy gas in their classics due to the potential detrimental effect of ethanol on fuel system components not designed for it.

Note: ethanol content may rise to 15% (labeling *should* be required...) soon due to a new law. That might be high enough to be worrisome in older small engines.

..."if it still won't start, complete disassembly and soaking may be required," and I take it that's where the "remove all plastic and rubber bits" comes in?

Yes. Good manual, looks like. Glad you were able to identify the engine, too - makes it easier to get the right parts.

Do call around to various mechanics if you decide to bring it in and check their rates - some places dislike working on partly dis-assembled stuff, and may price accordingly. Also scan Craigslist and similar local advertising venues for used snowblowers/mowers/etc for sale - if a single person sells a lot, they may be an "advanced hobbyist" who works on stuff, you might get a better deal. There's an older gentleman along one of my commutes to work who always has a mower, outboard motor, snowblower or similar out front for sale. When the garage door is up, you can see all manner of tools, bits, bobs and other mechanical mayhem laying about. He's also got a fine old Ford Model A (IIRC - I'm a Toyota guy...) and appears to be having a good time fooling around with mechanical stuff.

One of my potential retirement plans for keeping busy is hanging up a sign offering repair for "anything carbureted". By the time I'm retired, I may be in the distinct minority of folks willing to do so.

I do like to know what's going on with my machines, even if I leave the actual fixing to someone else.

Yes, this. 'Ware the guy selling muffler bearings... BTW, if you want a funny video of deadpan technobabble, search up a video on the "Turbo Encabulator".

#308 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 06:21 PM:

Clifton @ 292: In addition, for iPhone now (and soon for Android), there's a Bluetooth-dongle-plus-app package called Automatic (dongle costs $99, app is free) that not only reads engine codes (and gives you possible solutions), but also gives you trip-by-trip data on your gas mileage. Pretty neat, if you already have an iPhone.

#309 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 06:36 PM:

I have realised that the fiddling I have been doing with my late mother's sewing machine has been a substitute for geeking about petrol engines.

The machines which were developed and produced from about 1895 through to about 1950, and some of them stayed in production for longer, were engineered to last. A few models are still made in China, although the quality may not be as high.

They produce the basic straight lockstitch, but there are ingenious contrivances which will give you buttonholes, zigzag stitching, and other useful little features.

I really don't recommend using a 50-year-old electric motor but you can get new replacements, or fit a hand crank.

I am looking at replacing some rather rough looking curtains in the kitchen. The previous owner of the house installed them, and they are not very good. I think I have found some better fabric on eBay, the actual sewing seems managable, and the end result will cut the heat loss.

And, well, it's the kitchen. If it doesn't come out exactly right, it's not going to be a disaster.

Meanwhile, I put in a bid for a more modern machine on eBay, it was described as faulty, starting bid 99p, and nobody else bid on it.

It's working fine. I had to remove some tangled thread around the bobbin, and I fitted a new needle, but it's a decent basic electric machine costing me less (with delivery) than one of those cheap toy-level contraptions.

I have already done a few quick repairs. Since my neck (and a few other parts) are a bit large, I tend to have shirts with rather long sleeves. I managed to shorten one pair of sleeves without a major disaster, but I was still learning.

Sewing, I venture to suggest, is a little like cooking. For some rather senseless reason it has been, for most of my life, presented as women's work. And the history of industrial sewing is littered with instances of male management being careless of women's lives (which may be standard capitalism with the dial turned up to 11).

But at least we get chefs on TV, and have been for a long time. It's sometimes way too fancy cooking, but it is cooking. Apart from a very few comedy shows—I recall something called Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width— sewing is still something men don't do. At most, it's fashion as a design process, with a huge unreported gap between the initial drawing and the catwalk.

#310 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Dave, one of the neighbors, when I was young, did the sewing for his family. It's been a long time, but he was either an engineer or a physicist. It wasn't widely known at the time, but I can say that I never noticed that his kids were dressed differently in any way.

#311 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 06:46 PM:

We currently have two sewing machines in the house, both heavy metal Kenmore models - one is from the 50's and the other from the 70's. The older machine belonged to my roommate's grandfather, who sewed all of her grandparents' household curtains and fittings. The younger belonged to her mother. There is only one straight stitch presser foot between them, owing to Kenmore's weird proprietary shank. I am told we can acquire a spare over eBay. The Sew & Vac place we took the machines to for cleaning and oiling were happy to see them, and we've been told they'll sew through leather if we need to. We're still working on carving out an attractive yet functional space from our giant open plan apartment dining/living room area, but I wouldn't trade one of these for a more portable lightweight modern thing for the world. (I might trade one for a quality serger though.)

#312 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 07:09 PM:

I have my mother-in-law's Singer Featherweight, because my sister (I think) got my mom's 301. I come from a household dominated by my father's omnicompetence, but at any rate my parents both had a decidedly unisex outlook on Life Skills. I don't do much day-to-day sewing but I've done a bunch of mad costumes including Legolas and the Blood Red Dress from the LOTR movies. Just don't ask me to do pants.

#313 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 07:37 PM:

Sewing machines, oh yes. There are more sewing machines than residents in this house right now, even though Homeowner can't sew on a button. As for the others - Accompanying Housemate brought her modern lightweight Singer, I brought a late-1980s Bernette 440 which is in need of a bit of attention I haven't been able to give it yet (the straight stitch setting seems to think it should be a very narrow zigzag) and an operational, turn-of-the-century Singer treadle machine with tons of accessories and a beautiful cabinet, that I am reluctantly considering selling because I don't USE it (except as a table for the Bernette) and I haven't really got a place to put it here, and in any case I'm adopting the 1950s Brother cabinet machine that was in the bedroom I moved into as my primary machine, and upstairs in the attic there's a Singer portable of similar vintage that's going to move into the kid's bedroom, which, had I realized it was there this summer before moving in, I could have let the kid take to college, instead of the kid spending summer job money on a low-end modern portable.

We probably don't need that many machines. But I hesitate to get rid of my Bernette, because although it's acting a little flaky now, it's a good solid metal machine with metal parts, and it's held up for twenty-five years, and I know its ways.

#314 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 07:41 PM:

My parents have some sort of heavy metal Kenmore which is my mom's, but my dad was the one who did all the sewing when I was a kid (now neither of them does) - he is also the cook in the house, though my mom can when she needs to, so I grew up vaguely amused by household gender roles but not under the impression that they were sensible.

#315 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 08:14 PM:

Dave B., #309: My partner sews. He's got more sewing machines than you can shake a stick at, including both a serger and an antique industrial Singer that will sew leather or heavy canvas. He made his own leather cellphone holster. He's going to reverse-engineer the Pashmina jacket that cost me $70 and make me a new one from 2 identical Pashmina shawls that cost $4 each (because it's pretty obvious that this is how the one I've got was made).

As for me, I view sewing machines the same way a lot of people view computers: they're complicated, they're arcane, and if I touch it the wrong way it's going to break! I can do minor repairs with needle and thread, and that's the end of my expertise.

He's also a better cook than I am. I can feed myself in a pinch, but we eat much better with him doing the cooking.

#316 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 11:02 PM:

C. Wingate @ 280: I can understand your unhappiness with timing-belt work on a model of that vintage. My first car bought new was a 1986 Mazda 323; it was also the least-mileaged of my cars when I donated it, because replacing the timing belt required major disassembly -- >>$1000K in work -- and was called for every 60K miles. I deliberately planned my next buy to happen at 120K.

Dave Bell @ 309, etc: any of you who get to Boston should go by a clothing store on Newbury St. (fancy shopping district) near Clarendon; it has ~200 seriously vintage(*) sewing machines in the windows. All of them look very durable.

* as in, older style/design than the one I remember from home in the 1950's (when said machine was probably not new).

#317 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 11:07 PM:

I wish I had the knowledge to keep my old old Singer working properly, but short of getting it tuned again and begging the shop to point me toward someone who knows this exact machine and can help me figure things out, there's not much I can do. The manual I found based on the serial number doesn't describe the machine exactly-- it doesn't have a stitch length indicator or a backstitch control at all-- and I've been burned by asking people who said they knew a lot who then gave me zero credit for knowing anything at all.

At the moment, though, our house has three sewing machines, two mine and one active. The active one is my roommate's excellent present-to-self.

#318 ::: N. E. Mouse ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 11:29 PM:

Posting this anonymously as a semi-rant, because I'm not actually looking for help ($) from anyone -- this is just a rant. Didn't want anyone to think I was angling for money. I'll survive; I have the support of family and a plan. Ranting. Just ranting.

I am disabled. I have a genetic disorder with a ton of complications. After holding down the same job (and loving the job) for fifteen years, I had to give it up because my body just wouldn't do it anymore. I will probably never be able to work a routine day job again. I have too many bad days and too many doctor appointments (I'm up to eight in the last four weeks so far, including a spinal tap, and I have an MRI Monday that's scheduled to last two hours.)

However, I have improved enough, mostly due to lack of physical and emotional work stress, that I've lost my coverage with my private disability insurer, Unum. I'm just not sick enough anymore to qualify, based on the lab work and doctor reports.

As I have essentially $0 income right now and I'm surviving with the help of family members, I looked into food stamps.

Getting food stamps requires (a) going to the county seat to apply, which is a 100 mile one-way trip over narrow, windy country roads. Then (B) I will need to attend "job training" courses on a monthly basis, also at the county seat. There's a waiver if you're on social security disability, but I am not disabled enough to qualify for SSDI. I'm just disabled enough to not be able to work every day.

Estimated cost of each run to the county? $70-$80.

Estimated food stamp benefit? $180.

Net benefit $110.

I can pinch a penny until it squeaks and I cook from scratch and eight months out of the year, we have a family garden, buuuuut ... $110 isn't going to go very far.

Estimated cost to go fishing at a nearby local creek? $5.00 per round trip. Less, if I take a quad that's more fuel efficient than my truck. Trout limit is 6/day, plus unlimited crawdads. This time of year, there's plenty of fish and they're about a pound each. They are definitely healthier than store bought food.

I think I'll be eating a lot of fish, and relying on the kindness of family ... and maybe trying to get one last crop of radishes in before the January snows start. Radishes pan fried in butter are truly yummy.

(My long term plan is to revive a home business I had selling used and vintage toys, which I used to do very, very well at. So long term, I'll be okay. Short term, I'll be eating at the Food Bank of Dad ...)

#319 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 12:35 AM:

Dave Bell @ 309: What sort of kitchen curtains are you planning? Shirr-on-rod curtains are quick and easy to make. Tab-top ones are rather tedious (sewing all those narrow rectangles) but straightforward. My mother, who could tailor a lined suit, swore over getting lined drapes to hang properly.

Shirr-on-rod are fine for curtains that you don't open and close much. I've done them for curtains that are looped back on either side of a narrow window, or for a cafe curtain that's left closed. Tab-top are easy to open & close. Stitching rings to a suitably heavy curtain-top will also let you open & close curtains easily.

#320 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 02:36 AM:

Diatryma @317

There is a huge variety, but there is a good manual on refurbishing sewing machines here, dealing with the commonest Singer models, suitable for being sent to Africa and doing useful work.

I am not trying to guess which model you have, but the ways that stitch-length and backstitch were controlled and indicated did change with time. The machine I have is a later-model 99K, with an up-down lever to control these settings. The early models had a rotary knob.

This site is good for identifying Singer sewing machines from before 1970. It has photographs.

#321 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 03:05 AM:

JanetI @319

It sounds like there's a difference between British and American English.

The usual basic British curtain uses a header tape with loops to hold hooks that attach curtain to support. This might be your shirr-on-rod, or not far from it. The header tape is stiff enough to hold up the top hem to screen the rod/rail when the curtains are enclosed.

The Coco Cola of British curtain systems is Rufflette. Done properly, the curtain fabric is about twice the width of the window, and draw-cords in the header tape are used to create pleats.

The commonplace support system is a moulded plastic rail with a smooth or decorated side facing the room, and plastic sliders running in a track on the other side. All that shows of the sliders is a little ring which accepts the curtain hook.

And there are variations to all this.

Narrower header tapes can be used for the curtain pole with visible rings. I suspect my parents never really noticed the developments after the 1960s, beyond a rather narrow mechanical view of the available hardware. And they lived through post-war Austerity. Why waste fabric on pleating?

#322 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 05:23 AM:

Dave Bell #309- yes, sewing has been a womans thing in Britain. Well, home sewing that is, still male tailors about, but it got folded into the "Things married women do for their families".
ON the other hand I know lots of men who sew, including myself, but that is because we do re-enactment and want to make clothes to fit ourselfs in the design that we want. Certainly amongst the younger generations, the days of expecting your wife/ partner to sew them for you are long gone.

#323 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 06:39 AM:

N. E. Mouse #318: It may or may not be comforting to realize, they're doing that on purpose. When the government cuts social-services funding without actually changing the eligibility requirements, what the agencies generally do is cut back on access, making it harder to apply. They also start knocking people off the rolls for bullshit reasons, which private insurers are also likely to do in the name of "cutting costs".

Note that you might be able to get somewhere by actually appealing the private insurer's decision¹, possibly with the aid of a gov't agency. Declaring you "not-disabled" when you still can't work (regardless of doctor's notes) is openly dubious, and a appeals office or judge is likely to agree. The doctor's office may also be helpful in figuring out how to appeal and providing documentation.

¹ Which amounts to a corporate entity saying "we don't want to pay for you anymore, nyah nyah", and various government agencies may have their own takes on that.

#324 ::: N.E. Mouse ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 11:05 AM:

Dave, I'm actually going in for an MRI monday and do plan to appeal. I'm not holding out a lot of hope, however. I have improved in some areas, in things that can be measured, and what's left is cervical dystonia and migraines and a very bad back and chronic iritis, plus some non-disabling asthma and heart issues that just make medicating me more challenging. It's hard to prove the pain level is disabling. The MRI should show some pretty dramatic back issues but it becomes their doctor's opinion against my doctor's opinion.

And yeah, Unum is playing the Nyah-Nyah, you're not disabled, game quite well.

I have enough good days at this point that I'm hopeful I WILL be able to make a living with a business of my own and I actually like working, but the bad days suck.

#325 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 11:30 AM:

Dave B., #321: You're describing what I would think of as "pull-cord drapes", because that's how the sliders are moved to open and close the drapes. This is the most formal style of window treatment.

I think janetl's "shirr-on-rod" curtains are what I would call "rod-pocket" or "cafe-style". Either the top hem is open enough to put a rod thru, or sometimes there's a second line of stitching an inch or so further down or a separate piece of fabric stitched to the back of the upper hem to form a fabric tube. The rods used with these are narrow (about 1cm diameter) and often extendable to fit a range of widths, and are supported by brackets on each side; they're not well-suited to picture windows. (Apparently "cafe-style" technically refers to the variety that covers only the lower half of the window.)

This illustration (which uses still different terminology for some of the styles) may clarify things for you.

#326 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 11:35 AM:

Header tape for hooks is used on what we call drapes in the US: generally they're made with heavy fabric, and block most of the light.

Cafe curtains: Half-height, hung to block the lower half of the window. They'll usually be hung from the rod with tabs or rings, and the top is frequently scalloped for looks.

Glass sheers: made of something like scrim (an open weave), they're wider than the window and gathered on a top rod running through a pocket, and sometimes also a bottom rod. Usually used on the window side of drapes, they block the view (somewhat) but not light.

#327 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 12:48 PM:

OK, more on curtains.

That American site is showing some very "aspirational" curtain styling. Curtains like that are a sort of showing-off.

Glass sheers sound to have something of the same purpose as "lace curtains", which you might have seen mentioned in some English fiction.

The rod pocket style sounds close to obsolete in British use, though the curtains were supported by strong wires of coiled spring steel sheathed in plastic. You can still get these curtain wires

The plastic track seems to sit at the lower end of the modern British market, with visible curtain rods being a bit fancy, whether the curtain has tabs or is attached to rings threaded around the rod.

These days, we are being encouraged to use thermal lining. I wonder, a little, if diminishing returns are setting in. On the other hand, I just fitted an LED bulb with a built-in motion sensor in one hallway. So I don't have to grope for light switches in the dark, but it only is on when somebody is there. That might pay for itself.

The big improvements in energy cost came with CFL lightin, but there are some things LEDs are good for, and they seem to have supplanted hot filaments in flashlights. Pick the right modern battery tech, with low self-discharge, and your go-bag changes a bit.

I think I am rambling...

#328 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 01:52 PM:

N. E. Mouse: I have heard that Unum is involved in a number of lawsuits for doing just this kind of thing to other people (taking insurance payments from them, and then finding reasons not to pay out when a claim is made). I don't have full details of this, but someone else here may know more about that. If you do the sort of things Dave suggests @ 323, it may well help your case if you've got some information about those lawsuits, because they will demonstrate that Unum has a track record of ripping people off.

And now they're over here too, trying to cosy up to our politicians (of all parties); this, incidentally, is how I heard that they were involved in these lawsuits. What they appear to be trying to do here is get the politicians to break the NHS and the welfare system as much as possible, so that people will be frightened and buy Unum insurance policies... which I dare say they will then find convenient reasons not to pay out on. They should be sent packing forthwith.

#329 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 03:16 PM:

The Google Book project is fair use. It's just district court opinion, but it is SDNY. (And it's a very clear and readable opinion.)

Opinions will vary, but I'm quite happy.

#330 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 04:24 PM:

Re: previous conversation about sewing being a gendered task:

I find myself thinking a lot about this lately. Sewing anything much beyond the most basic square item requires 3-D spatial visualization skills. If you're designing your own pattern or doing alterations, the 3-D spatial visualization requirement gets even higher. In "common wisdom," men are better at 3-D spatial visualization and are therefore naturally better at science and engineering and more inclined to become scientists and engineers. Why, then, aren't men naturally better at sewing and more inclined to become tailors? And if women are naturally better at sewing, then how are those 3-D visualization skills different and why don't they "count" for science talent?

This really has more to do with my frustration with the whole "spatial intelligence = science talent" business. But it really is true that sewing requires spatial visualization skills. You have to envision how the pattern pieces will go together, and how the 2-D pattern and fabric will work on a 3-D person (or 3-D object, if you're sewing something like a furniture slipcover). I'm absolutely in awe of people who can do this without a lot of trial and error.

#331 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 04:54 PM:

I have nothing to add to it at the moment, but I'm following the sewing machine/sewing bit of the thread with avid interest, having just picked up sewing again several years after walking away from it in disgust. I find myself needing to develop some tailoring skills these days, to take in trousers (I am intimidated so much by this), and take up men's dress shirts—in the pursuit of inexpensively enlarging a wardrobe that has been shrinking as I've been slimming down. So if anyone has any good books or websites or the like to recommend for someone who wants to learn to alter (and eventually make) chiefly men's business wear and suits, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Additional open threadiness: I am not typically a poet, but my morning commute furnished me with some people-watching that turned into a poem.

The morning bus

Before she even sits down
they are arguing.
Already? Still? Again? He
Must be her husband.
I, too, am long-married;
I know the tone in which
a woman argues with her spouse.
Low, intimate,
half exasperation, all

I hear only scattered words:
"Jesus." "Children." "Money."
Her voice sharpens,
she makes a point
she thinks will carry.
Then softens again
(he must be obdurate),
a brook over stones;
this is an argument well-worn
as a riverbed.

She falls silent, looks away,
then back, to take it up again
with the empty seat beside her.

The life of the dead is placed
In the memory of the living.

#332 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 05:18 PM:

alsafi: Wow. (parenthetical statement appended to make this look less like spam)

#333 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 05:23 PM:

You might find Mabel Erwin's 'Practical Dress Design' useful - it shows how to fit patterns, including how to tell what's wrong by looking at the way the garment fits someone (the way it wrinkles or rides up or down). You can probably find it online for money, but there's a free PDF of the 1954 edition here - scroll down past the drawings and the link is the words 'Get it!'
It's a book I appreciate.

Also, check fabric stores - they'll usually have basic sewing books.

#334 ::: P J Evans has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 05:25 PM:

I have some 'pizza' jack cheese (it has sun-dried tomatoes and basil in it, but it isn't pizza flavored).

#335 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 05:53 PM:

alsafi #331: oof. That's a stunner all right.

Caroline #330: That "men are spatial" thing is purely a statistical difference. Individuals vary widely in their abilities, and no human ability short of pregnancy is limited to a single gender.

There are, however, strong social stereotypes about abilities versus gender, and those make a big difference in what activities people pursue.¹

Thus, where sewing is considered "female", girls and women with strong spatial skills would find sewing to be a natural and socially acceptable outlet for their abilities.

Of course, the stereotypes are prone to assign low-status jobs to women, even splitting otherwise-identical jobs by gender. Thus in recent history, men sewing are commonly "tailors" -- professionals and merchants -- while women sewing are, if not "mere homemakers", at most "seamstresses" -- a service or factory job.

Similarly, a "secretary" was classically² a male role, the privy assistant to someone important -- and more, the keeper of their secrets, thus secretary. When the job became stereotypically female, they in due course got redefined as "typists" and later "administrative assistants".

¹ Those stereotypes also vary by culture; the classic example is that in Italy, mathematics is traditionally female, because it's abstract and not "getting your hands dirty". Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of female Italian mathematicians.

² As in, from ancient Rome through the Middle Ages and beyond.

#336 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 07:19 PM:

alsafi 331: I add my 'wow' to others wowed before me.

#337 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 07:25 PM:

Alsafi @331: That is quite a poem.

#338 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 07:57 PM:

Thanks for that, alsafi.

#339 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 08:09 PM:

I know the model of my Singer, but the exact type is much less pertinent than the fact that the manual is wrong. It's a 99 with a dial for stitch length, but no indicator whatsoever. It's nowhere near the top of the to-do list, either, which is kind of a shame. I made a skirt with it some years ago.

#340 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Try a fabric store for books on sewing.

#341 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 10:04 PM:

P J Evans @339: The major chain craft stores, which is as close as much of the country gets to 'a fabric store,' have surprisingly cruddy selection of actual detailed info on things like how to tailor or draft patterns. They're a lot more interested in selling you basic get-into-a-craft books (which makes sense, they'll sell more of them) and don't tend to stock anything advanced or thoughtful.

Public libraries usually do, though.

#342 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 10:21 PM:

I wasn't thinking of that kind of book, although the gnomed comment had a link to a page where you can download a book on pattern design (it's a good one). What I had in mind was a basic sewing book, which helps with stuff like how to shorten a sleeve or, with luck, do basic pattern adjustments. I'm sure they're available online, also.

The PDF was linked from this page
toward the bottom, past all the sample drawing pages. The link is at 'Get this'.

#343 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 10:49 PM:

Also used-book stores. The place I work for¹ has quite a lot of books about sewing and other textile crafts. While I haven't perused many of them, at least some of them are clearly oriented to beginners, and others to progressively more advanced folks. I'm quite sure at least some of those cover alterations. And many of those books look new enough that they're probably still in print.

¹ Daedalus Used Books of Charlottesville, <toot toot>. Not to be confused with the Baltimore outfit that's much more active online. I can post the phone # if desired.

#344 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2013, 11:03 PM:

re 283: This kickstarter (I'm acquainted with Phil) looks interesting. (I figure it's about even odds the gnomes will take an interest in it, too.) I'm probably not kicking in--the money is just not sitting around right now waiting to be spent--but I kind of wish I could. I have sent it to my wife to show her father, though.

#345 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 12:54 AM:

Years ago, when I worked in a call center, there was a young man in his early 20's, whose wife had died, and who was raising three small children alone. Between calls he would hand sew and embroider their outfits -- very cute, stylish outfits for the little girls, plus the occasional play costume. (He made them all "Disney Princess" dresses once, for Halloween, that were fantastic. One of his girls went as Mulan and he did a ton of embroidery on her dress. It was a work of art.)

The number of women who were romantically attracted to him was amazing ...

#346 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 03:40 AM:

Diatryma @339

The thread-length adjustment mechanism on your machine does get described in the Netley refurbishment guide, including which way to work the knob to shorten and lengthen the stitch.

Refurbishing Machine Top

The tension adjuster may also be different.

There are also some variations on the bobbin winder.

It will be pure luck if you find an exactly matching manual on-line. The physical manual I have has a couple of vital pages missing, and I had to do a bit of hunting.

#347 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 03:53 AM:

Jacque @286: That was good. It's an amazing show and it wouldn't work if the horses were less convincing. Just - if anyone goes to see War Horse, take tissues. Lots of tissues.

Cheryl @300: Not only "those of us who are actually perfectionists can't give that answer any more" but my recent line-manager-from-hell basically started my annual appraisal by stating that I was a perfectionist*, and that that was good, BUT - and then proceeded to blame that for all the delays, all the behind-on-deadlines which were actually due to a whole host of other factors. I tried to tell her some of those other factors but she wasn't interested in hearing facts which disagreed with her opinions. Very frustrating.

I have a similar answer to that given by oliviacw @301: I tend to use the "geological strata" method of filing papers - if it was three weeks ago, it must be about -this- far down the pile. However, I would add that my -computer- filing system is much more organised and would enable most other people to find the files and (electronic) papers.

N. E. Mouse @318: Rant away - that's a very irritating position to be in. Good luck for your long-term home business to work well.

alsafi @331: That's lovely.

*Actually, I don't think I am; I just have fairly high standards which I expect my work to meet, in particular, being factually accurate and, whever possible, going back to the original reference not a review (which may have got things wrong). And I proof read properly.

#348 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 04:18 AM:

Open Thread:

If you are at all Dr. Who inclined, the night of the doctor, a Moffat written short episode, just went up on the web as something of a prelude to the 50th anniversary.

As he says though, probably not the Doctor you were expecting.

#349 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 06:08 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #343: In short, that project is to enable modern electronic surveillance on your car. They assure you that all the data will be contained in your "personal cloud", while being fully integrated with other iThing applications... but frankly, I don't see how they can warrant against the future.

Cygnet #345: The number of women who were romantically attracted to him was amazing ...

Devoted caretaker, valuable skills, dextrous hands... what's not to like?

#350 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 08:48 AM:


Mathbabe is awesome--one of my favorite nerd-blogs.

And this piece--on being a mathematician and a mother--is really good, and I find that it echoes my experience as a father.

#351 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 09:07 AM:

SamChevre #349: That article is cool, but I wanted to point out that her next article adds a lot more meat to TNH's #AskJPM sidebar (J.P. Morgan gets Twitted).

#352 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 09:34 AM:

A while ago I infodumped on dog evolution. There's a neat, very readable Carl Zimmer article informed by recent research for people who are still interested.

#353 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 11:18 AM:

Re the free labor in OSS article:

This is part of a bigger pattern, with much the same thing happening w.r.t. paid writing gigs, and at another level, research. (You can do research and write it up and get publications, but you need to have time to do it.) All of these make it easier for outsiders to become insiders, and for people with few or no commitments to jumpstart their careers. (Because doing an extra 20 hours a week of unpaid work looks a lot more palatable if you're a single 23 year old living in your parents' basement than if you're a married 33 year old with a child and a mortgage.)

Open source software and the blogosphere and the wonderful podcasts out there are all high-quality unpaid labor, which makes the world a richer and better place, but which also pushes older, established people out of their positions, and builds a kind of filter that keeps some people (those who can't spend a few years working for tips or exposure) out of those fields entirely. The hard part of trying to fix it is that those things are actually making the world a lot better for almost everyone. It's a better world for having OpenOffice and Emacs and Python and R in it, and for having them available free. It's a better world for having a world of blogs with diverse and interesting points of view replacing the Thomas Friedmans and Richard Cohens of the world. And in both cases, there really is a meritocracy, and some really talented and productive people really do rise up and become prominent and share their productivity with even more of the world. Whatever we can do to decrease the downside of these things (barriers to entry, years of unpaid labor required to get into many fields, poor job stability for those in the fields now) needs to not break the good parts of them.

#354 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 11:46 AM:

When I see--as I did recently--something in a job requirement about "giving back to the community with open source", I just laugh and--as I did recently--reject applying for even a six-figure job for which I'm highly qualified in exactly the place I want to live.

I recently saw how that works to get other people to do unpaid work in the interest of a BigCorp. Screw that.

#355 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 02:22 PM:

I've just realized, via a Twitter conversation with a trans* person, that I'm a cisvestite!

Not just at home either—I wear the clothes culturally assigned to my birth-assigned gender out in public.

I'm not quite certain what I should do.

(This was one of those turn-the-tables conversations, and it's raising all sorts of cool issues, pointing out the prejudice inherent in assumptions about markedness, all like that.)

#356 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 02:35 PM:

alsafi @331 --
Lo these many years ago now, I sewed a proper dress shirt for my husband using McCall's 9351. The instructions were done by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch, and they were fantastic. They have a website (, but you can probably find old publications and patterns by poking around on the internet, used bookstores, etc.

I also find my "New Simplicity Sewing Book" to be perpetually useful. It's not new, it's over 30 years old at this point, but it's got a lot of great basic information; I believe it's still possible to find used copies.

Adding my applause for your poem.

#357 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 02:40 PM:

albatross @353:

I was aware of the irony of posting that link on a blog, yes. The fact that I do a lot of writing for free is (a) definitely the privilege of only having to work so hard for my living wage, and (b) probably diluting the hell out of the market for paid prose.

I guess one question I have about the writing side of things is whether the professional model is the only way to go? People have been paid for stringing words together for a long time, but it's never been the case that all words so strung have been paid for.

I don't know. It's not something I've got the historical background to analyze more closely.

#358 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Also, yes, asalfi @331, that is astonishingly, painfully beautiful.

#359 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 02:47 PM:

P J Evans @ 333: you have made this mongoose very, very happy. In fact, you have caused uncontrolled squeeing in a tiny corner of the north of England. This is particularly welcome, because I have to say the last year or so has been a veritable desert of squeelessness.

I now not only have the PDF you linked, but also, having followed various other links from that: a 1919 volume entitled Clothing for Women (shared on the Book of Face, since I have a friend who is a professional costumer and that is right in her time period); Practical Dress Design; and a comprehensive two-volume guide entitled Fundamentals of Patternmaking. It's all heavily biased towards women's clothing, because these things always are, but that is not a problem, since one can then adapt the same skills to handle any type of figure.

My interest in this kind of thing runs in the family. My great-uncle was a highly skilled needleman who did upholstery for a living (and was for ever boasting about how he worked for The Quality, but then, let's face it, he was excellent at what he did) and embroidery in his spare time. One of his tapestries hung over his fireplace for very many years. I was asked if I wanted it after he died, and reluctantly I had to turn it down; it was a beautiful piece of work, but it was so big I had nowhere to put it.

#360 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 03:11 PM:

I have (or should have, somewhere in one of the boxes) an earlier edition of Erwin. I've found it useful: the directions for making a cape, starting from a shirt pattern that fits, produced one that fit and hung very well. And, after reading the fitting section, I've found myself noticing the signs of Not Big Enough.

#361 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 04:04 PM:

Cygnet, #345: Men who openly engage in any kind of "female-tagged" skills because they enjoy them often find that this is a "chick magnet". I suspect that a large part of the reason is that it reads as "I'm confident enough in my masculinity that I don't have to spend all my time proving I'm a Real Man". But like Murphy's Law, it fails if you try to invoke it deliberately!

albatross, #353: The Linux people I know say that the downside of open-source is that because it's all volunteer work, people are much more likely to go for the New! Shiny! features, while areas that need improvement in applications that have been out for a while go begging. This is a common failure mode in a lot of volunteer activities, not just software -- nobody wants to put in the time on the boring stuff.

#362 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 04:40 PM:

Following on from the latest Parhelion, Laurie Penny goes off on one of her splendid rants on the same subject. As usual, don't read the comments unless you have a strong stomach.

#363 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Yes, I've been downloading several of those books on patternmaking.

And Charles Stross has done a blog post on how 3D printing is looming over the clothing business. They already have spray-on felt. And, when it comes to getting news coverage it's not hard to imagine the models they're spraying it onto.

And I am no expert, but I know why "bias cut" means something important.

I checked the pricing for my curtains plan. Getting somebody else to make them could easily cost a couple of hundred quid.

#364 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Diatryma @ 317 ...
I wish I had the knowledge to keep my old old Singer working properly, but short of getting it tuned again and begging the shop to point me toward someone who knows this exact machine and can help me figure things out, there's not much I can do. The manual I found based on the serial number doesn't describe the machine exactly-- it doesn't have a stitch length indicator or a backstitch control at all-- and I've been burned by asking people who said they knew a lot who then gave me zero credit for knowing anything at all.

Do you have the serial number and/or could send it my way? I've amassed something of a collection of information on various singer machines over time, and might have something useful.

Out of my Singer machines, 3 of them don't have anything particularly useful when it comes to stitch length (or if they even have a backstitch), fwiw.

#365 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 05:46 PM:

This is how the treadle I learned to sew on at age 7 set stitch length.

Manually adjust by moving the lever up/down while stitching on a piece of test fabric.
When it's in the right spot, tighten the screw.

If the machine sews in reverse as well as straight, move the lever all the way up to go back, and then down to the set screw. This is useful when you need to shorten stitches to go around a tight curve or right into a corner, and then return to your preferred setting.

#366 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 09:43 PM:

alsafi (#331), that is wonderful. I was working on a short story on somewhat the same line, for my writing group. But I've decided to give it up, because your poem is perfect.

There are plenty of other things I can write about.

Years ago, our son, then about 3 years old, referred to those who are "gone to the heaven in our heads". Where all such treasured memories reside.

#367 ::: Older is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 09:47 PM:

Gosh, I wonder why.

[Three blank spaces in a row. -- Ciors Vasalini, Duty Gnome]

#368 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 09:56 PM:

So, tonight was the birthday party for my younger nephew, the family foodie. His "big" present was a molecular gastronomy kit. (Why yes, this is a seriously geeky family.) I told him to have fun making mad-science food. ;-)

#369 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 10:01 PM:

Elliott Mason #352: It seems intuitive to me that the Siberian fox experiment argues strongly in favor of multiple loci of domestication. (That is, the same process in different locations would very likely have produced very similar results -- perhaps very similar even on the genetic level.) if The question is, how well can the genetic tree of dogs be distinguished from a possibly overlapping genetic tree of wolves?

#370 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 10:02 PM:

Xeger, I won't remember without an email. Username at gmail, and I'll try to get down to the basement this weekend.

#371 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 11:03 PM:

Dcb @#347

A friend found War Horse very triggery for alcoholism, just a warning to other with family histories.

#372 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2013, 11:05 PM:

Dave H., #369: Yeah, really. Why does there have to be just one time and place where dogs were first domesticated? Independent invention has been a Thing for as long as I can remember, and that's just about science and technology where there are good records. This whole thing sounds like a territorial squabble to me; each team of scientists wants to get credit for being The One Who Found The First Dog.

#373 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 02:41 AM:

AKICIML: is there an adequate substitute for mirepoix in making soup delicious that does not involve onions? (or a host of other things...)

#374 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 03:23 AM:

Lee @ 372

Yeah, really. Why does there have to be just one time and place where dogs were first domesticated?

I have the same opinion about the origin of human language. The debate always seems to be about tracing down THE original human invention of language, but it seems to me that once the physical and mental pre-requisites for language were in place (and they must have come into being for some reason other than preparing for language) then the creation of languages would be inevitable. Now, given language spread, replacement, etc., I consider it quite plausible that all current languages may derive from a single evolutionary ancestor, but I find it implausible that there was only ever one invention of language.

#375 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 03:46 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @374: Linguist weighing in here (admittedly only an undergrad). In principle, there's no reason language could not have originated many times. There are a handful of facts suggesting a single origin:
- Languages with click sounds only appear in one place/family, which is usually interpreted to indicate that they are the oldest continuous language family, and it is the same place as the pretty-genetically-plausible origin of humans
- A lot of data on language migration matches patterns of human migration (there's troublesome feedback here, though, circular research)
- We haven't found anything to suggest (but how could we know?) that a given group of humans lost and then rediscovered language
Which suggests the simplest explanation is to claim that we developed language at the origin point before we spread to cover the Earth.

I'd be fascinated to see evidence for multiple origins.

#376 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 06:32 AM:

estelendur @ 375: linguist here also, though merely an enthusiastic and well-read amateur with a strong interest in prehistory.

I find it entirely credible that humans developed language very early, before they began to spread out of Africa. The reason for this is that humans have been obliged to hunt in order to survive until (from an evolutionary point of view) extremely recently. We can't outrun most prey animals; we don't have sharp claws or teeth; we don't have a good sense of smell compared to most other animals; and, though we have amazing daytime vision, our night vision is no great shakes. So, in order to hunt effectively, we need brains and teamwork.

Now, generally speaking, a band of very early humans couldn't kill an animal immediately outright, unless they were very lucky. This is suggested by careful micro-examination of animal bones found in middens. It's not uncommon to find a bone which has been nicked by a weapon and then healed, showing that the animal got away on a previous occasion. The kind of blade-based weapon which would kill an animal outright wasn't developed until the Upper Palaeolithic, many thousands of years after humans first evolved (and by which time they had spread out over an enormous area). This, in turn, suggests that the usual practice was to wound an animal and then follow the poor creature until it either expired through loss of blood or slowed down enough for the band to catch it and finish it off at close quarters.

I think this would be pretty hard to do without language. You can imagine a group tracking a wounded animal and then arguing about which way it went. If you don't have language, this reduces to a number of people all pointing in different directions, which isn't helpful and will more than likely lose you the animal. If you do, however, the people who are pointing in different directions can explain why they are doing so, and the explanation that seems most reasonable to the group will tend to carry the argument.

Granted, this is not solid evidence. But it seems like a reasonable thing to use as a single brick in the wall.

#377 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 07:33 AM:

Mongoose #376: My understanding it that humans' big hunting talent wasn't tracking so much as running prey down on the chase. (IIUC, we're talking savanna rather than forest.)

So it might simply work to track past the prey's sprint period (perhaps scattering a bit), and optionally yelling when you spot the thing. So group hunting might well precede language as such.

Totally not a linguist here, but beyond the click-based tongues, I'm boggled by the differences between tonal and non-tonal languages. But yeah, how could we tell... and given the prevalence of proto-linguistic communication in the animal kingdom (IIUC we're still not sure if the cetaceans are all that "proto-"), an early origin does seem likely.

#378 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 08:24 AM:


How far outside the onion border does it need to be? Garlic and shallots are popular.

Beyond that, there is the family of fermented umami concentrates: soy sauce, marmite, Worcester sauce, miso paste. Fish sauce if you swing that way. I've taken to keeping a big jar of miso in the fridge for all soup-like situations.

#379 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 08:51 AM:

Mongoose @ #362, wow. That is indeed splendid. And heartening.

#380 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 10:13 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @374 wondered if there mightn't be multiple first-languages for humans ...

The thing is, some things seem to really only have ever been invented once. One of those things is NOT writing; there are at least three separate loci where as far as we can determine people VERY FAR AWAY from each other came up with writing systems.

But those systems were syllable-based -- the Chinese locus is one of them, and Egyptian hieroglyphics are another, with South America being the third. I think current thinking is that Linear A arose from someone having seen Egyptian script and coming home to apply the principles to their own language with their own squiggles, so that counts as contagion, not pure invention. Similar things happened in Asia -- there are scripts out there that are not directly descended from the Chinese character-set but probably arose after their society had SEEN Chinese writing on something and thought it looked useful. A modern example would be Sequoyah's invention of a writing system for Cherokee after learning about written English.

However, as best we can determine, an alphabet-style writing system (with letters for bare phonemes, not whole syllables, so most languages can be written with fewer than 36 symbols) has -- we think -- only arisen once, with all the ones now in use either direct descendants or contagion-cousins of it. We used to think of the oldest proper example as the Phoenician Alphabet, first used to write Semitic-language texts on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, but now the oldest inscription in it we have is from Egypt and quite a bit older so who knows. It also appears to be a Semitic language, and there were a bunch of Semitic peoples living in Egypt doing the pick-crops-build-stuff migrant labor thing at the time (the exploits of one such group in the situation has been written up in a Very Well-Known Book), so after they went back to live in the eastern Med, it evolved eventually into what the Phoenicians used, who spread it EVERYWHERE through their trading empire.

I've been listening to the History of English Podcast (which amuses me by deciding the 'history of English' starts with Proto-Indo-European and progressing from there ... whee!), and he's going through some interesting stuff in Ep 12 or so about how as the alphabet was borrowed into new languages it added or lost glyphs, or had them re-used because Language A used consonants that Language B lacked, so they saw no need for the letter; but Language B made a distinction between (say) a ph-sound and a f-sound, so they felt they needed two letters there instead of one, and made an extra.

Also, chickens were only domesticated once (we think). Dogs are complicated not only by "there might have been multiple domestications" but by the tendency for wolves to out-cross the line repeatedly back to wild stock, even on very domesticated dogs.

#381 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 11:17 AM:

I understand that tones in Chinese are the remnants of multi-syllable words. (Still doesn't explain much.)

#382 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 11:30 AM:

*trying to suppress feeling slightly prickly*

Um ... regarding my expressed opinions on linguistics ... I do have a PhD in the field, but thanks everyone for explaining the basics to me.

estelendur @ 375 There are a handful of facts suggesting a single origin

I find none of these items overwhelmingly convincing on the topic. For example, if only one language family used click sounds, that would normally be taken as extremely strong evidence that the feature was a limited innovation, not that it's a feature of a hypothetical ur-language. (It also isn't the case that only one language family uses them, but that's by the by.) It's also good to avoid arguments that talk about "oldest language" or "oldest language family" when postulating a single origin for language. After all, if all languages are descended from a single invention, then in what way are they not all equally ancient?

Yes, language family spread matches patterns of genetic migration, but not in an absolute correspondence. Language transmission is not dependent on genetic transmission and the loss or replacement of a language does not require either genocide or complete intermarriage.

I'm not in the slightest suggesting that any group of humans gained and then lost language and then re-gained it. I'm suggesting that for the development of language to be as inevitable as it seems to have been, it is behaviorally implausible that it did not spontaneously emerge multiple times once the physical and mental capacity existed. A single invention would be as behaviorally implausible as an idea that tool-using was only invented once and then transmitted culturally solely from that single behavior. And we can observe repeated independent inventions of tool-using among non-human primates in real time. Language is more complex, but just as much a situational product of the ability and the utility.

But it is quite plausible that after language had been independently developed multiple times, some of those independent groups of language users may have shifted eventually to the language(s) developed by other groups of speakers (or simply adopted a sufficiency of another language that the traces of their original one were overwhelmed), such that what eventually survived in use may be linearly traceable to only a small subset, or even only a single one of those original inventions. In fact, the study of long-scale genetic transmission (e.g., mitochondrial DNA markers) points out how easy it is for even simple statistical drift to reduce ancestor-diversity with respect to a present population without any need to postulate a limited set of ancestors. (I'm referring here to the popular misunderstanding of the "7 female ancestors of all Europeans" analysis as implying that there was a point in history where there were only 7 women).

Language changes and spreads from one speech community to another. This is the truest thing that can be said of language. There are plenty of demonstrable cases where a region with a great diversity of unrelated languages (relatively speaking) saw the spread and adoption of a single dominant language or language cluster without any need for postulating extremes such as genocide or previously unpopulated landscapes. The case of Indo-European's just-barely-short-of-complete takeover of Europe is only the most extreme (and to Westerners the most familiar) case -- and it happened in part in solidly historic times.

#383 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 11:55 AM:

@Heather Rose Jones: Sorry, I got excited about New Learnings and infodumped. Hopefully others might find my post more novel :->

#384 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 12:15 PM:

You know, a lot of the speculation I've seen on how dogs were domesticated goes along the lines of, "Bold wolf starts scavenging from human midden piles, humans allow it to stick around. Eventually, tame dog results." But I look at how humans use hunting dogs today, and I wonder if the story wasn't somewhat different.

There's only a few basic ways that humans hunt with dogs now.

1) Dogs find prey that humans can't, get it moving, and humans kill it. (Birds hiding in heavy cover, raccoons, bunnies, etc.)

2) Dogs locate and chase things up trees. Humans shoot it out of the tree. (Everything from big cats and bears to raccoons and squirrels.)

3) Dogs actually run down and leap into a fight with a difficult-to-kill animal. Humans, slower, eventually catch up and kill the animal. (Pigs, bears, in modern times -- in historic times, deer and wild cattle.)

I can easily envision paleolithic humans bringing home a cute wolf cub for the kids to play with and/or to raise on scraps until it's big enough to eat. Wolf cub grows up, tags along on hunts with the humans. Adult wolf, now nicely socialized with humans, and faster than they are, learns to run down and corner and/or grab and hold onto prey. Humans follow up and make the kill. All share in the bounty. This is not that different than how wolves hunt anyway, so it doesn't break the wolf's brain to hunt with the humans.

Humans go, "Hmm, this works." And go get more wolf cubs. Then they select the offspring of those wolf cubs that are the easiest to handle, and/or the toughest in a fight (the mortality rate among catch dogs in modern hunting is pretty high) and dogs are born ... then as humans created civilization, we selected dogs with specific traits for needed for hunting specific types of prey or for other tasks like guarding livestock without eating it.

#385 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 12:17 PM:

Weighing in late, but that was a really beautiful poem, alsafi.

#386 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 12:18 PM:

Cygnet @384: Problem with that is, wolves aren't that easily tamable. Adolescent cubs start getting really violent a certain percentage of the time, and handraised wolfpups often end up viewing humans as alien non-pack. However, pre-domesticated wolf-dog-precursors from midden scavenging still have hunting instincts, and if taken out and around with their owners, would hunt 'for the pack'.

#387 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 12:20 PM:

asalfi @331, Nice. Economical. Unexpectedly powerful. I looked twice at one of the line divisions, but graciously allowed you to keep it. (I know, right?)


"What is your biggest flaw?"

"Well. I love doing the work, but sometimes, after it's done, I just hate cleaning up all the darn blood, you know what I mean? I wish somebody else would do it. But hey, I do it. I just, I just like to complain sometimes."

#388 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 12:22 PM:

Addendum to my @386: It's also why we never had things like zebra cavalry/plowing, or moose cavalry, or ... well, any of the other large charismatic herd creatures that never got successfully domesticated despite millenia of trying. Also why even today, working elephants are technically tamed and not actually domesticated.

Some species are innately more tamable or domesticatable than others, and wolves pre-domesticated themselves (as far as we can tell) through finding an environment with selection pressures that changed their brain chemistry in a way humans found useful.

#389 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 12:35 PM:

Inspired by 331, I changed a couple of words and reposted a brief story I wrote for Deathless Pose back in ought-nine.

Family Talk.

Written for the prompt, "On one night of the year, the dead speak."

#390 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Security warning:

There's apparently a new malware package called "BetterSurf" which allegedly has opportunistically exploited some kind of security vulnerability in the change to switch YouTube comments to Google+. It does "drive-by downloads" of the malware package and silently installs itself. Symptoms include a bunch of new ads appearing when you do a Google search, and new pop-up ads appearing on websites.

If you've visited YouTube in the past few days, especially if you use Firefox, check for it. It does show up in the Add-ons tab under Firefox Extensions.

Firefox has just started detecting and disabling the browser extension, which is how I found out about it, but that may be just the tip of the iceberg - I have just read some reports that it installs a directory in Program Files and an updater, which means anything could be coming down that road before long.

No advice yet on how to remove it; I've got to get it off my wife's computer so I'll report back when I've done that. Ironically, I just installed NoScript for her a day or two ago but apparently not soon enough.

* The YouTube connection could be coincidental; now that I think about it, virtually everybody on the Internet will report and remember having gone to YouTube sometime in the last few days and that could be enough to create a spurious correlation.

#391 ::: SamChevres ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 01:27 PM:

Cygnet @ 384

I would add that hunting dogs don't have to be particularly fond of or safe around humans.

In the area my wife grew up in (swampy, brushy country) hunting deer with dogs was common. The usual way to do this is to set up a line of hunters to shoot, and have a mixed group of humans and dogs form a rough line and drive the deer towards them.

This kind of hunting is obviously a group activity; it's normally done by hunting clubs, which keep dog packs. However, one particularly poor hunt club was notorious for not doing so. Instead, before hunting season, they would round up all the stray dogs they could find, pen them up and feed them for a few weeks, and then turn the dogs loose, with drivers behind them, to run deer. After hunting season, they would turn all the dogs loose again.

This kind of interaction is mutually beneficial, and doesn't require particularly human-friendly dogs.

Heather Rose Jones @ 382 (and others)

I've wondered--how is "language" defined for linguists? Clearly, some birds and mammals use sound to communicate; at what point does "uses sound to communicate" become "language?"
(Thanks for suppressing the prickliness; I find it hard to remember who knows what in the Fluorosphere.)

#392 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 02:15 PM:

SamChevre(s) @ 391: you have become plural. Is this intentional or a slip of the finger?

#393 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Sam Chevre, yeah -- I've seen a few catch dogs (used for hunting bear around here) that I wouldn't consider safe pets. The bears sometimes go up a tree, but not always. Sometimes the trees around here aren't big enough.

Hunting elk with dogs isn't legal here, but I've always thought it would work pretty well. Elk have a tendency to stop and stand their ground when dogs go after them. One of our neighbors had a pit bull go after an elk, and the elk won -- the dog ended up with a fractured skull and a bunch of stitches. Using slightly smarter dogs (or at least ones who've survived being kicked a few times and learned to duck), it'd be an easy way to hunt.

All a paleolithic human hunter would need to do would be to send a few protodogs after an elk herd, and then when the elk herd stopped to trample the protodogs, the humans would be able to catch up and pick out the tastiest looking member of the herd.

#394 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 03:15 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @378: Non-allium. Also non-soy, more's the pity. Marmite might work…

Elliott Mason @380: I loved reading the arguments over the origin (both place and age) of runes. As far as anyone can tell, they're probably descended from a Northern Italic writing system that some Germanic trader took back to his people. Ogham, apparently, was developed to be Not Latin Writing, so is directly connected despite being not of the lineage.

Heather Rose Jones @382: I do have a PhD in the field
I'm so sorry; I had no idea! *tucks information away for future reference, so as not to accidentally offend again*

And you make a lot of good points, on which I am too embarrassed to comment and should have been able to see the edges of and thereby Not Make Fool of Self.

#395 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 03:26 PM:

SamChevre(s) @391: As I understand it (not an expert, but have done some bibliographical research into ape communication/language, particularly e.g. Kanzi and other bonobos), language is not about sounds necessarily but about recognition of symbols representing things/actions.

(As an aside, I have an SF idea which would have vaguely snow-leopard based aliens which have large spaceships, always with at least two exits from each room, rarely spend time with two or more individuals in the same room, and communicate primarily by leaving notes for each other). [Snow leopards, leave their scents at particular spots e.g. specific bits of cliff, and it appears, based on their behaviour, that the next snow leopard along can tell how recently the other snow leopard was there and therefore whether it's worth staying and hunting in the area or not. I just like extrapolating from scent marks to complex symbol-based communication without the communicators seeing each other].

#396 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 03:43 PM:

There's still only one of me, regardless of what my fingers think--thanks for noting the slip, Mongoose.

Estelendur @ 394

If you're looking to make a non-onion version of standard mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery), you can just double the carrot. (Carrot/parsnip is often an adequate substitute for onion in cooking; onions and breastfeeding newborns haven't gone together for any of our children.)

Also, asafoetida is somewhat-substitutable flavor for browned garlic.

#397 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 05:21 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @gorilla/292: [Guinea pigs are] they're generally myopic

Okay, we now have a rather direct measure of just how truly abysmal guinea pig vision is: Yeti is out patrolling the living room, looking for girls to whom to pitch woo. At one point he glances over, sees something, and says "Purrr-purrr purr prrrrrrrrrrr" as he dashes closer. What he'd taken for a girl (from about a foot away) turned out to be a roughly guinea-pig-sized piece of newspaper, leaning on edge up against the fence.

This is a very sketchy piece of paper, though. Since everybody's either in their bedrooms or upstairs, I opened the gates to the Cliff Palace's lower level. When he goes inside to investigate (well, it never hurts to check, right?), the piece of paper falls over flat. But it is slightly curled, so if he nudges one end in the course of sniffing (turns out it smells like girls, anyway), the other end wiggles, causing him to dash away in panic.

It's a difficult business, trying to find a little love of a Saturday afternoon.

#398 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 06:28 PM:

Kip W #389: Oh, this is fun: It insists that I log in. After logging in at the page headlined "One Account. All Of Google", I get this message:

Your current account (***) does not have access to view this page.

#399 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 06:36 PM:

dcb @395: I would happily/cheerfully/with great delight read that story.

SamChevre @396: Good to know. And it seems that onion- or garlic-infused oil, with no actual alliac substance left, is also acceptable… So, doubling the carrots and kicking in a little flavored oil might be an option.

Incidentally, I imagine one or more people know how to make onion- or garlic-infused oil?

#400 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 06:58 PM:

estelendur @ 373

I used to use a pinch of 5 spices and a couple dashes of soy sauce to round out my broths. My husband dislikes anise, so I usually don't anymore, but I'm pretty fond of the effect.

#401 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 07:22 PM:

Kip W, you've given us a link that you yourself would use to log in and edit the post, not the link for everyone to read it.

#402 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 07:56 PM:

dcb, #395: That's a terrific idea; unfortunately, it's not by itself a story idea -- it's part of the worldbuilding for a story. If you can come up with a story set in a universe that includes your scent-communicating aliens, I would very much like to read it! One fairly obvious idea: a First Contact story in which humans (or other visual/aural-based-communicating aliens) encounter your scent-communicators and Hijinks Ensue as each side tries to figure out how the other gets anything done.

#403 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 08:01 PM:

So here I am, feeling incredulous that (as best Google can tell me) this joke has not yet been made in any public forum:

The other day upon the stair
I met a boy who didn't care.
Again today he didn't care.
And by the way, his name's Pierre.

#404 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 08:10 PM:

Modesto Kid, 403: Brilliant!

#405 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 09:30 PM:

dcb #395: Adding onto Lee: I hate to be a party pooper, but you also need to explain why they can't, say, call to each other from the next room. Broadcast is so much simpler, and sound is easy in almost any sort of atmosphere.

You may need a radically non-Earthlike environment, or some exotic local hazard (sound-hunting air-piranha?), to explain why they don't do that. I note that James White (Sector General) had a story featuring a space-dwelling species -- not spaceships, but vacuum -- that communicated by touch. (He did not attempt to explain how they evolved in the first place.)

#406 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 10:15 PM:

SamChevre # 391

The question of how "language" is defined has provided fodder for entire careers. As I come from the cognitive linguistics community, I'm quite happy with fuzzy categories that involve goodness of fit rather than rule-based membership structures. But it is a good starting point to note that some of the core concepts that make something "language" rather than simply "communication" include:

* relatively arbitrary token-to-meaning relationships (with an acknowledging bow to the fact that most languages have pockets of sound-symbolism and that many signed languages use mime as one of the inputs to vocabulary)

* the ability to represent abstract ideas, non-immediate (past and future) contexts, and hypotheticals (I'm kind of making this one up myself, but it's an important distinction from communications that are concerned only with immediately present needs, objects, and interactions)

* the ability to generate new meaningful forms and structures to cover communicative needs not covered by the existing system

One problem in discussing the topic is that many people (many linguists included) have an underlying presumption that human language is necessarily Unique and Special, and therefore definitions of "language" are often convoluted in order to dance around things like sign-using non-human primates and the rather amazing performances of individual creatures like Alex the African Grey parrot. On the other hand, these linguistic gerrymanders often end up excluding certain human languages. (Signed languages are often a blind spot for the definitions -- and have at various times been erroneously considered little more than gestures and mime.)

I, personally, and quite comfortable with the notion that there are things that lie on the fuzzy edges of "language" that non-human creatures are capable of.

estelendur @ 394

I apologize for making you feel bad. Yes, I was feeling rather miffed, and I said so because I was afraid it was going to come out in the tone of my post and I wanted to be up front about my reaction. But two wrongs don't make a right. Please don't refrain from discussing things out of embarrassment on my account.

#407 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 11:27 PM:

As an entirely random aside, hearing about Alex the African Grey reminds me that he startled the hell out of me about a decade ago - I was a high school student working at the MIT Media Lab one summer, and Alex thought that humans walking past his glass-walled room to get coffee was a good reason to make quite a bit of noise. Never got to talk to him, even though I worked down the hall that summer and three subsequent ones.

#408 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 11:34 PM:

Gad, how did I ever become so exclusive? By posting the wrong link— Shut up.

Okay, let's try again: Family Talk. A rather short story.

And thanks, folks, for trying AND for telling me what I did wrong. This time.

#409 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 11:42 PM:

Estelendur @ 394 - Mushrooms can help add depth to the soup, and tomato/paste/sauce. Sometimes rutabagas or turnips help, depending on the soup. I haven't tried kale in a soup, but it seems like it might work. Wakame seaweed can be good. Various peppers.

And of course some people use meat, but I'm not one of them. And some people use MSG; I've tried adding it to a few things but haven't noticed a difference.

#410 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2013, 11:43 PM:

Re language, ObSF: Janet Kagan's HellSpark tackles some of the many problems inherent in "what makes a language"; this is wrapped up in a murder mystery which in turn is wrapped up in a First Contact story, because the question of language is integral to deciding how the entire incident is going to be handled. In the HellSpark universe, the three things a species must have in order to be considered sapient* are art, artifacts, and language -- and now the scout team is dealing with a species who appear to be unmistakably sapient, and yet have nothing easily identifiable as any of these.

* The book uses the term "sentient", but IMO "sapient" fits better. There is History about the usage of these two words in SF.

#411 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 12:00 AM:

estelendur@394: (non-soy)

I've seen rice miso and corn miso in fancy grocery places. I *think* they were single-grain (that is, not "rice and soy").

Possibly expensive, possibly worth trying.

#412 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 12:11 AM:

Update to above: nope, I am wrong. The rice miso contains soy. However, I see a couple of brands of soy-free chickpea miso. Will have to try some.

#413 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 12:50 AM:

I understood (or thought I understood, you know how it is?) that syntax is considered an essential element of how-you-say actual language, and that it would follow that what Washoe and the other apes use is not precisely language, not yet. It's more an expanded list of calls, but in visual form, because their vocal apparatus can't manage the sound formations.

I take it that this isn't really the case?

#414 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 06:08 AM:

So I have a pair of Bulova titanium glasses frames purchased when I was more flush. Someone steps on them and bends the hinge point on one of the temple pieces: one of the few points that won't flex. Oh, says I, maybe I can purchase a replacement temple piece from Bulova. I go to their website and click the Bulova Eyewear link. 404 Not Found. Oh dear, says I, maybe I'd better let someone know, at which point I learn that there is apparently no way to report this without calling them on the phone. Simian overly calloused onaninists I cry, but not in those words.

#415 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 08:54 AM:

It's possible to make customized-ingredient miso, given the fermentation base ("koji", available at some Asian food stores and on the internets) and at least several warm months to wait out the fermentation. I think commercial koji is usually made with rice?

The miso-making process is pretty easy-- cook and semi-mash your main ingredient (usually soybeans, but evidently other stuff can be used), mix with koji and salt and maybe so e existing miso, put in a large straight-sided container with secondary containment to catch the probable tamari runoff, weight down the proto-miso mass, and leave it alone for "at least one hot summer" is how the instructions I've used state it. At the end, mash everything up and maybe put it through a food mill.

#416 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 09:32 AM:

Julie L. @415: ObAnimeRecc ... there's an anime called Moyashimon (link goes to free legal streaming on Crunchyroll) whose mildly-SFnal premise is that the main character 'can see microbes,' though what he sees isn't much like what is seen through electron microscopes in the same universe, more like little tutelary spirits of one kind or another.

Said character is the presumptive heir of a (Japanese, of course) family that grows pure cultures for fermenting miso, soy, etc -- they make koji, among other things. He's going to an agricultural university with his bestie from the business next door (which makes sake), and then Hijinks Ensue And There Is College (sort of).

Warning: the first several episodes include scenes of (to me) excessive, over-the-top, look-away-from-screen grossness involving fermented foods, because the professor into whose orbit the protagonist falls studies fermentation and is, um, a promoter. That gradually tapers off and there are more hijinks, plot, and real genuine character moments.

Plus, stick around after the credits for Microbe Theater, where the little cute animated microbe characters infodump fascinatingly on fermentation, microbes, etc. :-> So if you want to know how miso is made, etc, it's a lot of fun.

#417 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 09:34 AM:

Except the link, um, no link. Moyashimon on Crunchyroll.

#418 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 09:57 AM:

Dave Luckett #413: I dunno about Washoe, but I'm pretty sure Koko has syntax for her gestural communication. IIRC, she's also both repurposed existing signs, and occasionally created new ones.

#419 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 11:23 AM:

HLN: Local human attends friend/sister's senior harp recital at $famous music school$. "I'm so proud of her," local human says. "She was so beautiful up there. The music was lovely too."

Heather Rose Jones @406, thank you.

With that in mind, my contribution to the "what is language" thread:
The Special Snowflakeness of language that I have heard about the most is connected to Noam Chomsky, who I'm not going to get into except to say that he claimed that the thing which made human languages different from(/better than) animal forms of communication was our use of 'recursive' (that is, infinitely nestable) structures, which was all well and good until Daniel Everett may have discovered a human language which does not use recursive structures.

I think this probably falls into "the ability to generate new meaningful forms and structures".

Personally I have no objection to the idea that we are not Special Language Snowflakes but also have no idea how we would establish to our satisfaction that, say, dolphins had something we could meaningfully call language.

Everyone with soup suggestions, expressions of gratitude! I shall have to make a list. The idea of making miso would be very tempting if I knew where I would be living this summer (being descended from a homebrewer and a scientist).

#420 ::: estelendur is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 11:25 AM:

Probably for imprudently punctuated gratitude

#421 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Both Daves @ 418

That is my understanding as well: "syntax" -- in the sense that the relative order and organization of the language tokens carries additional meaning -- is a feature of both the simplified signed languages and the visual-symbol based "Yerkish" taught to non-human primates. And from my reading, I understand that lexical innovation to describe things they hadn't been given words for has been a feature of all of these experiments.

(Please note that my own study only intersected with these topics as general background in the field, so while I have informed opinions on the philosophical question of "what is a language", I don't have special insider knowledge of language acquisition studies.)

#422 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 04:00 PM:

estelunder 419: Chomsky likes to ignore all performance issues, and all issues where performance might impact competence. All through school when I would ask a Generative Linguist about "...but the human brain simply doesn't work that way" (and this is in the late 70s, when we knew much less, so they were contradicting stuff that's now pretty basic), I'd get "it's not a performance model."

Well, what was it, then? It also wasn't a competence model from which any useful performance model could be constructed. It certainly wasn't a model of what humans were actually doing when they use language, or a model of how language is represented on the actual wetware it runs on.

So no, you can't have infinite center embeddings, because the human brain is not infinite, and any sentence generated has to be a) generable by a human brain and b) interpretable by a human brain. (This is much truer for speech than for writing, where the paper (or electronic medium or whatever) is used by the brain as offline storage, and much more complex sentences can be written and read than can be spoken and heard with comprehension; but there's still a limit.) Where Chomsky is right is that the structure of language itself shouldn't limit the number of center embeddings; that limit varies from person to person and is dependent on their skills, alertness, etc.

My favorite demonstration of this is to speak the following sequence of sentences to people:

This is Jack, who the house was built by.
This is Jack, who the house that the grain lay in was built by.
This is Jack, who the house that the grain that the rat nibbled lay in was built by.
This is Jack, who the house that the grain that the rat that the cat killed nibbled lay in was built by...
...and so on. At some point (usually before you get to the cow with the crumpled horn) the person's eyes glaze over and you can tell that they can no longer parse the sentences.

There's a reason why there are no such naturally-occurring sentences (there are some pretty howling examples, but not nearly out of the realm that can be accounted for by a finite-state automaton).

Why yes, I did study linguistics with David G. Lockwood. Why do you ask?

#423 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 04:05 PM:

And now I'm saddened to learn that Lockwood died in 2007 and I never heard. Not that we were in touch, or that I was in touch with any of my linguist colleagues in years and years. I just wish I'd known.

#424 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 04:18 PM:

On an unrelated matter, I've just learned to my surprise that the national Episcopal Church doesn't actually endorse the "Open Table" concept that was practiced at $Parish under the previous rector. I was going to ask the new rector about it anyway (and probably should have done before taking communion from him) but now it seems a little more urgent.

(For those not versed in these things: an Open Table means anyone (of any religion or none) can take communion. I'm Wiccan; I take the bread as a symbol of my membership in the community at $Parish, where I've been singing in the choir for years and years. This was all OK with the previous rector, and completely understood by the congregation. The national church apparently thinks communion should be open only to baptized Christians. The Bishop of $Diocese will not make a fuss, I'm told. It's up to the rector.)

#425 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Lee @402: Oh yes, I know that by itself it's not a story, just a proto-idea for worldbuilding. If/when I get an actual story idea (which would indeed probably be about a First Contact situation or similar) I'll try to write it.

estelendur, @399: Thanks!

I am, however, busy writing a non-fiction book at the present, with a set publication deadline less than a year away (and I've not yet got a full chapter ready to start approaching publishers), so unless the story suddenly impinges itself on my consciousness, I'm unlikely to try to write it for the present little while.

Dave Harmon @405: But these hypothetical aliens don't have the vocal apparatus for complex vocal communication - they only have basic calls few basic things - like "help!" and "I'm here; keep away" and "ready to mate now". Why develop and use clumsy sounds when delicate gradations of scents (or symbols standing for those scents) are so much more nuanced?

Dave Luckett @413: There's been some suggestion of syntax in the language used by Kanzi et al. I'd have to go look it up because it's a little while now since I was researching it, but there was some definite order noted in e.g. use of symbol/gesture combinations. [And I see Heather Rose Jones @421 has given some additional information].

#426 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Xopher@422: I find that I'm fine with the first three sentences and then get lost in your fourth.

#427 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 05:29 PM:

Well, I'm a words guy and have a degree's worth (an undergrad degree, not in Heather Rose Jones' league) of practice working odd sentences.

But "...that the dog worried killed nibbled lay in was built by" forms no parses in my brain.

#428 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Just put some old photos online that might amuse:

Early cosplay

#429 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Xopher @ 427: I deliberately posted a sentence consisting of a lot of nested relative clauses on the Book of Face a few weeks ago. Had I known you liked that sort of thing, I'd have reposted it here. Now, of course, I can't remember it, except that it was something to do with the cat.

It usually is.

#430 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 06:13 PM:

I love it, Mongoose. There'll be other times.

Was it here that I first saw "I'm a linguist, so I like ambiguity more than most people."?

#431 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 06:17 PM:

Xopher: found it!

"The clothes peg, which I am using to fasten the towel, which prevents the cat, who is sitting on my shoulder, from snagging my jumper, around my neck, accidentally went into my dessert."

#432 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 06:31 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #422:¹ Yeah. I'd say the idea of "satisficing" kicks in here. Certainly, our brains don't do "general" recursion, because we don't have an infinite stack with hardware extending out into the Platonic Realm or wherever. What we surely do instead is a flexible implementation of recursion, built over some non-infinite structure, which can handle enough levels for realistic purposes.

¹ And isn't your epithet ironic for this discussion?

#433 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 07:37 PM:

dcb #425: But these hypothetical aliens don't have the vocal apparatus for complex vocal communication - they only have basic calls [for a] few basic things - like "help!" and "I'm here; keep away" and "ready to mate now".

But again, why not, when you're assuming they've had enough development to produce sapience?

Earth might well have insects that could make sounds for all three of those; even if there doesn't actually happen to be such a species, its discovery wouldn't break much new ground (except perhaps that insects social enough for "help!" wouldn't be expected to also be territorial against each other).

Off-hand I can think of the following noise-making methods used on Earth: Rubbing serrated "sticks", vibrating tympanums, whistling/hissing, whatever cetaceans use (apparently two different methods), vocal cords/larynx, syrinx (birds), rattling (as in snakes), and pounding on nearby surfaces.

Under conditions prompting intelligence and social interaction, why would none of those be available for evolutionary elaboration, when the alternative is a method that requires physically visiting your correspondent's former location? It's not impossible to construct a justification for that, but it does warrant justification. For that matter, given scent communication, why wouldn't the scents be broadcast? (And that has certainly been done in SF -- the examples I recall were mostly plants or plant-analogues).

On consideration, I think your root concept is faulty -- those snow leopards are leaving markings --actual traces of their presence and physiological state -- rather than messages with potentially-arbitrary content. I would be very surprised if the Earthly leopards could lie in scent about their health, diet, mating status, or so forth, but deceptive vocal calls, postural signals, etc. are routine among Earthly life.

#434 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed. ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Several possible reasons. I can share my mac&cheese with mix-ins: red bell pepper, mushrooms, and overly-hot sausage. (Must remember to avoid that variety in future....)

#435 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 07:51 PM:

Mongoose 432: That's gorgeous. Arcane!

Dave 433: I agree with your assessment. Of course, that's all any recursion is, in any real implementation.

And yes, isn't it? Never a polyglot, but now hemiglossic. You can imagine how thrilled I was to find out what they were going to do.

#436 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 07:53 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #430: "I'm a linguist, so I like ambiguity more than most people."

Hmm -- that may be ambiguous in print, but in spoken English, it would normally be disambiguated by intonation. Flattening the tone would IMHO bias listeners to the misanthropic reading.

#437 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 08:00 PM:

Actually, I think I've managed to pronounce it in a way that is neither flat nor unambiguous. But yes, that's certainly chiefly a written ambiguity. Most work in speech or in writing but not both—or at any rate work much better in one than the other.

For example, if I say that medieval people never surrendered without fighting for a while first,* then said "Resistance is feudal," that would work only in the spoken language.†

*Not asserting that this is true.
†And only in the US, and only prior to ST:TNG, when everyone started to pronounce the other word "FEW-tile." And not before it either, because before that it wasn't funny. So it fails completely, one of those jokes I just couldn't make work. I offer its dissected corpse as an example.

#438 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 08:04 PM:

David Goldfarb #426: Whereas I start to lose track of the third, feeling a distinct need for more punctuation.

#439 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 08:24 PM:

But if resistance was feudal, why would they stop?

#440 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 08:40 PM:

Regarding the sentences with nested structure, I feel a marked decrease in ability to parse when one of the clauses consists of a single word (e.g. "killed", "nibbled"), compared to when it's a multi-word clause (e.g. "lay in", "was built by"). I'm not sure if this means anything important about human parsing abilities.

#441 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 08:57 PM:

Rob Hansen @428: They did amuse. Thanks for the link.

#442 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 09:32 PM:

I got pissed at this article, which seems to me to be just one more kind of "kids these days" bashing, and I wrote a rant in my LJ about it. Then I started trying to write a rebuttal along the lines of "13 things you can do that your grandparents couldn't" -- only I realized fairly quickly that most of the examples I was coming up with were of the "see, isn't the future cool?" variety, which isn't really what I wanted.

So now I'm crowdsourcing some research. What life skills do you think of as essential that your grandparents wouldn't have been able to do? It's okay if they involve technology; what I'm trying not to do is make technology the only point in the essay. How has society changed to make different skills important?

(My partner suggests that one major point should be "live openly as gay, with a partner to whom you are married". Yes, I know, not applicable everywhere, but that's the sort of thing I'm looking for in addition to things like "reheat yesterday's leftovers in 2 minutes and without dirtying a new pan" or "call AAA for help when you've broken down on a back-country road". Although "call AAA for help" nearly qualifies on its own, since the group was founded in 1902.)

#443 ::: Lee, be-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 09:33 PM:

Probably for a Word of Power, given the subject of the post.

#444 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 10:07 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @422: Yes, Chomsky's is not a performance model - I saw him speak this summer, if anyone's curious what he's currently theorizing. There's some fun contradictions in there, too, mostly between the lecture and the Q&A. (I can hunt down the video if anyone's interested enough, probably)

Xopher @423, my condolences :(

#445 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 11:38 PM:

Lee @442: We may need something more specific than 'your grandparents,' because all of my grandparents were born by 1924, so they all lived in a world with AAA (though, of course, not mobile telephony until after they were all thoroughly my grandparents).

One for your list: In ten minutes of typing I can publicly shame a major corporation into giving me decent, instant tech support (assuming I have a Twitter account).

I can also, assuming I am somewhere that I have Internet (say, my living room), near-instantly acquire a copy of the user's manual for almost every major object in my posession, from my car to my 1902 Singer sewing machine to my printer to my dishwasher. My grandparents and mom could lay hands on them just as quickly, but that's because they had (and maintained) several thoroughly-organized file cabinets to keep such things in.

[No matter how many times I vaccilate, both 'publically' and 'publicly' look wrong, so I flipped a coin]

#446 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2013, 11:49 PM:

Lee #442:

Modern skillz your grandparents probably didn't need

- Work for a female employer/manager
- Organise and live with shared domestic/parenting responsibilities
- Type (at least your grandfather probably didn't)
- Remember multiple passwords more complicated than "swordfish"
- Know when to stop reading work email at home/on vacation
- Know when you need to go to the doctor [doctors couldn't really do anything back then, but didn't charge much so it didn't matter a lot]

#447 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:01 AM:


A couple of questions about the southern hemisphere and sun-related ritual, that people here must know (and I hope it isn't inappropriate to ask)

First, do southern-hemisphere Pagans typically celebrate occasions such as Beltane on the same day as in the northern hemisphere, or at the same point in the solar year?

Second, do the 'widdershins' and 'deosil' directions get reversed to match the motion of the sun, or used in the same way as in the Northern hemisphere?

I've wondered about these for a while, and was specifically prompted by the combination of warmer weather here in NZ with the winter-based symbols of the approaching holiday season. Some of the snow decorations have been replaced by pohutukawa, but there's still a lot of seasonally mixed midwinter symbolism.

#448 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:16 AM:

I'm not sure about Beltane and such. I understand, though, that they do NOT reverse widdershins and deosil, which strikes me as very odd...or did, until I realized that I still use West as the direction of Water, even though I live on the East Coast of my continent.

I think they do celebrate the summer solstice in December, but I'm not completely sure. No Southern Hemisphere Pagans have asked ME what to do, but I would tell them to be tuned to Nature as they find it where they live. The cross-quarter days, though...even less sure. Though in NZ they'd be more likely to have a good source for the natural indicator of Imbolg (the lactation of sheep) than we do in New Jersey, I suspect they celebrate it on either February 2 or August 1 (because it's easier to plan by the calendar).

In that general connection, I've always found it hard to imagine what it must be like to be Wiccan in Southern California. To me the cycles of the seasons are a huge deal, and I like the changes to be dramatic. But then I've never lived where the main difference is whether there's snow on top of the mountain or not. I expect they find their way perfectly well; it's just that *I* can't imagine quite what they do.

#449 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:33 AM:

Well, the seasons are a bit more subtle than in, say, the Northeast. The winter birds have been showing up, and the summer birds have become less conspicuous (the orioles do usually go south, even from here). Trees lose their leaves, it gets colder at night, the days are shorter (currently about 10 1/2 hours).

#450 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:55 AM:

Xopher #448:

Thanks, that's very helpful.

Easter here, and even more in Australia, is an interesting one -- the 'light' symbolism is all wrong for autumn, but the 'new life' is entirely appropriate for the end of summer and the return of rain.

#451 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:56 AM:

what it must be like to be Wiccan in Southern California. To me the cycles of the seasons are a huge deal, and I like the changes to be dramatic.

The seasons `Rivers are Dry' and `Rivers are Full' are dramatically different; so are several of the seasonal winds; so is the genus of fruit glowing in the trees.

#452 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:01 AM:

Thomas@447: Not being either pagan or a southern hemisphere inhabitant, I can't give you a definitive answer to your question, but -- based on my acquaintance with human nature in general and the behavior of religious groups in particular -- I will bet that there are at least two local schools of thought on the subject, and a great deal of vigorous argument.

#453 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:17 AM:

There's a lot more of 'rivers are dry' (or nearly), including most of the rainy season.

(The latest in 'Stupid Ideas involving the LA River' is BMW wanting to use Mini-based submarines in the river, as a way of commuting. Apparently they think it's possible to dam the river to have the water deep enough to sue their mini-subs. It isn't floating....)

#454 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 02:12 AM:

As a California boy for most of my life (albeit Northern rather than Southern) I will say that I find seasons and weather in general to be highly overrated. (grin)

I went looking for information about seasons in Houston and found this list:

Almost summer
Still summer

...which after four years here I will say seems about right.

#455 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 03:35 AM:

Dave Harmon @433: I will just comment that (1) non human primates as closely related to us as bonobos and common chimpanzees do not have the vocal apparatus to produce complex words; boonbos do, nevertheless, apparently convey messages such as "went this way" at trail junctions; (2) people in the deaf community manage okay with alternative forms of communication; (3) these are my hypothetical aliens, not yours. (Or to put it another way, I never asked you to tear my idea to shreds and you're made me seriously regret that I brought up my flight of whimsy here).

#456 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 05:18 AM:

There was a previous discussion of funeral potatoes (?), and I finally tracked down Death Warmed Over, a collection of funeral recipes and customs.

For some reason, searching on [funeral cookbook] didn't turn it up, and I had to track down the physical book to recover the title. How primitive!

As for language, Chulo, a Year Among the Coatimundi describes a year of close amateur study of coatimundis (they're something like social racoons) which found that coatimundis have at least a little syntax-- word order can affect meaning.

#457 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 07:49 AM:


My understanding is that the "doctors couldn't really do anything back then" statement should be qualified a bit. They usually couldn't do much to affect the course of an ailment (aside from a few special situations like surgery or setting broken bones) but they were already fairly good at diagnosis. Which means that you did at least learn what (if anything) was wrong and what was likely to happen.

#458 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 08:00 AM:

Lee @442, career management. Your grandparents were far more likely to have kept the same job (or at least the same occupation) for an entire working life, and much less likely to have needed to make decisions about reskilling / relocating / changing employers / positioning themselves in the workplace.

Work with / live next door to someone of a significantly different religion (as opposed to a different flavor of Christian Protestant) with understanding of and respect for their differing traditions

#459 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 08:04 AM:

Re "doctors couldn't do anything": there was a period between the late 1930s and the mid-1960s when you could cure an astounding array of bacterial diseases with a single course of antibiotics or sulfa drugs. (James Herriot was practicing veterinary medicine just as sulfa drugs came in, and has some dramatic stories about them.) Those days, alas, are gone.

My PARENTS were born in the 19-teens. My paternal grandfather was born in 1865. I'm 52. ("Generation" does not always equal 25 years!)

Things I can do that my parents couldn't:

Maintain a friendship with someone I've never met face to face.

Recognize the symptoms of a stroke as it's happening and take effective action.

Research a word, a recipe, an illness, a medication, a historical fact, a biography, etc. etc. without leaving my house.

Write 50,000 words in 30 days* and end up with a readable manuscript (not because they weren't good writers, but because they'd have had to do it on a manual typewriter and make corrections by hand, either by scribbling in the margins or by using White-Out).

*Well, theoretically. In practice I'm a couple thousand words behind at this point. Partly because I wrote 8000 words of something else. NaNoWriMo + Yuletide = overcommitment.

#460 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:07 AM:

Lila @ 459... Maintain a friendship with someone I've never met face to face

Yes. YES.

#461 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:14 AM:

New Skills thread: We need to know of, be aware of, and NOT USE a whole range of slurs/offensive language, because more people will notice and care. "Sleeveless ribbed undershirt," for example, is the only non-slur description of the garment I've found (though I've heard in regular use at least three DIFFERENT slur-based nouns for it).

Nancy Lebovitz @456: You reminded me of a YA mystery-type-novel I read as a kid, with a female protagonist (at, I think, an archaeological or paleontological dig? She was Vry Srs about going into whatever it was as a field) with a pet coati who loved daikon best in the world ever as a treat. Her grandfather was Japanese issei and raised vegetables under a plastic hoop greenhouse in California.

I can't find it. I wonder if it's very very out of print? I seem to recall it was of a series, and I'd love to go back and read it as an adult now ...

#462 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:25 AM:

Addendum to my @461: Found the book. It's the Turquoise Toad Mystery by Georgess McHargue. Turns out the protagonist was the boy, the girl was his friend (but you can tell where my sympathies lay!).

#463 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:37 AM:

re 461: Wait, what!? When did "tank top" get to be pejorative?

#464 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:40 AM:

C. Wingate @463: to me, a tank top is an exclusively feminine garment and has spaghetti straps and a sleeveless ribbed tee has wider shoulders? Regional variation, perhaps.

#465 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Examples. By my lights, this is a tank top, and this is a sleeveless ribbed tee (which I spent over a decade unable to speak about, as all the descriptors I knew were slurs, especially for plain white ones).

Google Images, however, include both under searches for each, so I may be being overly picky.

#466 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Probably for suspiciously-formatted links.

#467 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:54 AM:

@442: It's not HARD to fix a running toilet or change a tire, but if you're 19 you haven't had as many opportunities to learn as your 50-year-old father. (I learned to fix holes in ceilings last year.) And That Cat Site skews young and loud.

My father is about "your grandfather" age to That Cat Site, maybe older, and he does have a lot of skills I don't. He's started companies. And he does have most of the skills I do; we both skew technical, and he's been programming on and off since the 1960s. He's a good typist.

There are at least three sorts of "Your grandparents couldn't" skills:

*Tools. Forty years ago the F.E. exam required you to calculate arctangents. Now that's become trivial. I would tend to consider handwriting vs. typing a "better tools" argument, although it's not as obvious as long division vs. calculators vs. Wolfram Alpha .

*Individual quirks. My grandmother, who ran an art gallery and wrote like a hundred checks a month, couldn't balance her checkbook; my father [b. 1934] is blue-brown colorblind and tone deaf. So I've got that on each of them. My dad knows some math that I don't and vice versa. He's better on hands-on mechanical stuff, I have more thermodynamics.

*Legitimate new skills. Typing is a skill that, by and large, most people didn't have 40 years ago. Keeping friends you've never met in real life, per Lila@459, is a new skill [except for pen pals, I suppose, but then ... I have a hundred pen pals?] Navigating data smog ( is run by St*rmfr*nt , for example) is a new skill for most of us.

I think the tools, the brain extenders are the real breakthrough. Earlier this morning I was discussing gasoline prices online and I found the average gasoline price in the US in 2005, calculated the rate of inflation for gasoline [about 9%, or doubling in 8 years] and looked up the rate of CPI inflation [20% in the last 8 years.] I mean, why wouldn't you use the facts? They're right there. "I don't know [x], but..." is becoming less and less of an excuse. ("I don't know the energy cost by year of photovoltaic panels, but you can approximate with the money cost." is the last time I used that excuse. I think.)

#468 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:56 AM:

Gnomed. Probably for trigger words (I bleeped out fgbezsebag ohg abg and I'm sure I missed something else. )

Leftover breakfast pizza, Your Lownesses?

#469 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:01 AM:

Is "A-Shirt" perjorative? Because I only know one other name for it, perjorative.

Wait, I just remembered another slur. So two.

#470 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:16 AM:

Sandy B. @467: The slurs I know are aimed at Italians, blacks, and poor-violent-people-generally (with the assumption that A implies B), one term each.

#471 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:21 AM:

estelendur @ stock-making

This is more an info-dump than an answer.

Mirepoix (celery onions carrots) doesn't really add much umami--it adds sugar and color and aromatics. You can substitute other herbs for the celery, and other sweet things for the onions and carrots, fairly well. (For example, the use of caramelized sugar as a stock ingredient in Vietnamese and some Indian cuisines is a close relative.)

Umami (meatiness/richness) is tricky--there are a lot of sources, but they tend to have pretty distinct flavors. Barabara Fisher's series on umami at Tigers and Strawberries is one of the best references I know. (The link goes to an archive page for the month.) Anything fermented, particularly fermented proteins; yeast products; tomatoes.)

Xopher et al RE seasons

And then you have the Southern comment about the seasons in the northern Great Lakes region(Buffalo, for example). "One of those places where they have only two seasons--winter, and the Fourth of July."

#472 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:30 AM:

>> "Sleeveless ribbed undershirt"

I think "singlet" would work. It doesn't capture "ribbed", but I wonder if ribbed is really a necessary characteristic.

#473 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:39 AM:

Elliot@468: The ones I know are your first and third. I don't think I need to know your second one.

#474 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:41 AM:

I think of a "singlet" as intended to be worn for physical activity and perfectly acceptable public wear when engaging or about to engage in that activity. To me it's missing the essential "undershirt" nature.

#475 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:41 AM:

Mathematics is singing to us.

This is pi, expressed in base 12, played as a melody. I found the frequent modulations disorientating, but it's still surprisingly listenable.

#476 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:45 AM:

I work in retail. A young woman once asked me if we had any shirts of that description, using a questionable slang term for them, and I honestly had no idea what she was talking about. If she'd actually said "sleeveless, ribbed, white men's undershirt", I'd have had no problem helping her right away.

#477 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:47 AM:

(@474: "White" modifies "undershirt", not "men". I hope that was clear.)

#478 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 11:38 AM:

Lila @ 459

Things I can do that my parents couldn't:

Maintain a friendship with someone I've never met face to face.

Just after WWII, my grandmother's church in New Jersey set up a "sister" relationship with a church in Lille, France, to assist with channeling post-war charity. The daughter of the French pastor knew English and handled the correspondence. My grandmother handled the correspondence on the New Jersey end and the two of them grew to be close friends with the letters continuing regularly long after the charitable needs were finished. In 1969 when my family was in Europe, we made a special trip to Lille to visit the now quite elderly pastor and my grandmother's pen-pal. But my grandmother never did travel overseas, and never met her friend face-to-face.

Friendship by correspondence is a longstanding tradition.

#479 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 11:40 AM:

In the UK, any garment of that nature is called a "vest" (which I'm aware means what we refer to as a "waistcoat" in the USA). You then qualify it with adjectives in order to get the exact type you want. Hence: string vest (not often worn these days, and I don't think I've ever seen one for sale); sleeveless vest (the type under discussion here); thermal vest; and so on.

#480 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Lila@459: Things I can do that my parents couldn't:

Maintain a friendship with someone I've never met face to face.

The term "pen-pal" was around long before computers.
On the article of men's underclothing in question: I've seen the term "muscle tee" applied, but am uncertain as to whether it refers to the whole category or a subset. For that matter, given the speed with which these things can change, I find myself unable to determine with certainty whether or not "muscle tee" is itself a slur.

#481 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 11:49 AM:

Re pen pals: true, but the relative frequency of remote vs f2f friendships appears to me to have changed drastically. But maybe I'm wrong about that.

#482 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:08 PM:

dcb #455: I am sorry, I got way too critical for a casual discussion. Please, don't hesitate to bring in ideas on my account! Even if I sometimes get too rough in intellectual play, consider that I'm still taking the idea as worth thinking about.

(I seem to be apologizing a lot lately -- I suspect I need to exercise more caution.)

#483 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:15 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 476... Friendship by correspondence is a longstanding tradition

True. Heck, that's how my wife and I first met.
Today though, you can have a much faster conversation with that friend.

#484 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:25 PM:

re: ribbed, sleeveless undershirt: I've heard "tank top" used to refer generically to men's or women's, spaghetti-strap or thicker straps (i.e. an inch wide), ribbed or smooth - basically, anything that vaguely fits that description. And it's non-perjorative - just a generic descriptor.

Again, may be regional...

#485 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:33 PM:

re 464: Apparently not in american apparel.

re 470: "Singlet" is ambiguous as it fairly commonly refers to a one-piece wrestling garment.

re 478: "Muscle shirt" used to be commonly used around here but seems to have been pushed out by "tank top". I've never heard anyone say any of the pejorative versions, though I've seen "wife-beater" in print. Part of it may be that around it here they're extremely common summer attire for little kids.

#486 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 12:53 PM:

Mongoose #477: I haven't seen a string vest since the days of my childhood. I wore one (actually more than one) then.

#487 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:08 PM:

I'm not remotely a linguist or anything, but the way I understand the evolution of language goes like this:

a. Human language is really impressive and complex, and allows for the ability to express things that you've never heard expressed before.

b. Some animals can handle some complexity of language, but nothing like full human language.

c. Normal humans can, in principle, learn any human language. If raised to it, they can learn that language flawlessly.

d. There's a fair bit of the brain that seems to be devoted to language processing in pretty specific ways (like regions of the brain that, when damaged, lead to a pretty consistent kind of loss of language ability).

These four seem like they strongly suggest a single origin for the evolution of the *ability* to use language. There have to have been a whole lot of generations of heavy selection for the useful brain features of language. Once humankind scattered, we could all continue evolving those abilities (evolution doesn't care about direction, so that includes both gaining and losing abilities), but if we had developed the core mental abilities separately, then there would presumably be elements in (say) English that Australian Aboriginees would find difficult to master (and vice versa) because they lacked the physical adaptations in their brain development.

Is this a basically correct picture? I'm a complete amateur here, having read a couple books and a couple articles.

It seems like once we had the basic brain hardware to handle human languages, you could easily have loss of big chunks of language (when you separated down to a small group where the linguistic version of neutral drift and mutation could go to work), and their later re-emergence. And you could also have complete loss of language, but I'd expect that to require a really massive tragedy (like something killing off the grownups so only the small kids survive, or something). Wasn't there a story awhile back about a bunch of deaf kids evolving a new complete sign language in a generation or two?

I'm stating all this in the hopes that I get the usenet-like response. (That is, the best way to get good information is to post wrong information and wait for people to tell you you're wrong.)

#488 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:08 PM:


#489 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:22 PM:

If you liked James Micken's "The Night Watch" (PNH's sidelight about zombies and systems programmers) you might also enjoy his "The Slow Winter", about monsters and CPU architecture, which I first saw described by jwz as "this is the best article you will read on processor design for the next eighteen months".

#490 ::: Jeremy Leader is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:24 PM:

... probably for excessive links to weird programmers' rants (you can decide for yourself which noun the adjective applies to).

Would their lownesses like some of the broccoli and chicken soup I have in the lunchroom fridge?

#491 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:35 PM:

WRT language and hypothetical ETs, I'm of the opinion that communication with them would be far more difficult that we'd like. There's no evidence as yet that evolution will proceed on other worlds in the same general direction as it did on Earth.

When we find an effective way of true communication with African Grey parrots, great apes, cetaceans, and cephalopods, then I think we might have a shot at communicating with ETs (which are bound to be much stranger than the aforementioned classes).

#492 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:53 PM:

SteveC: If human brain adaptations to language and human language fit together well, then an alien evolved language will be *massively* harder to learn than any human language, no matter how weird and distant from those you already speak. I imagine communicating would be more like a mix of math, programing, and writing complicated musical pieces. Those are all examples where there are some ways of thinking that are forced on us by nature, but which we didn't really evolve to do. They're all still human behaviors, and so humans *can* do them. But they're also hard enough to do that getting to be any good at them takes quite a bit of work, and most people never do get any good at them, both from lack of interest/time spent, and probably also from lack of talent.

I imagine communicating with a single alien species would be a demanding field of specialization, complete with lots of impressive computing tools, heruistics, and lore for doing it.

#493 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 01:54 PM:

Because of considerations of distance and money, my now-husband and I carried on most of the first four years of our relationship via snail mail. There is a HUGE difference between writing 4-5 letters a week vs. Facebook, email, texting, Skype, cellphones etc. I remember when making a long distance call required a double handful of quarters. We didn't do that very often.

#494 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 02:20 PM:

Elliott @416/417: Thanks for the Moyashimon anime rec; we've watched 6 eps of season 1 so far and the series is delightful... there also seems to be a live-action drama?

I especially enjoy the deeply ingrained infodumpiness about all things microbial, which is clearly meant as a feature rather than (ahem) a bug.

#495 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 02:37 PM:

Julie L @491: that was a massive draw for me, too. :-> The live-action version appears to be a later remake based upon the original manga. It takes a lot of its visual style from the first-season credit sequences of the anime, apparently. I haven't watched it yet.

I also love the "regular (Japanese) college experience, but dialed up to WACKY" aspects, because I've been gradually becoming familiar with the Japanese education system through watching animes set in it (and then researching "which bits of this were ordinary and which bits were intended as satire??" on a variety of websites). It Is Not Like Ours, and I'm a worldbuilding fan, so.

If you like the college-life aspects of Moyashimon, you might also greatly enjoy Silver Spoon -- it's a lot shorter (one season) and has no spec-fic elements. A kid with amazeballs test scores chooses to go to a remote, enormous agricultural college instead of a big-name Tokyo university for personal reasons, has a fish-out-of-water coming-of-age and discovers what he really wants out of life.

#496 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 02:40 PM:

albatross #485: I suspect your (c) hides a possible selection bias.

There are people who are unable to learn their land's native tongue -- formerly called "idiots" (etc.) or mutes, but nowadays they'd likely get a diagnosis of "language impairment". Of course some of those cases can be explained by physical handicaps such as deafness, or severe mental retardation. But if the doctors can't "see" anything wrong physically, or a familiar pattern of learning disability, they'll still label the kid with a "neurological" diagnosis that might be no more meaningful than describing the problem in Latin.

There are also some people who "don't speak very well" even in their native tongue, despite educational opportunities and being otherwise apparently competent. They may frequently show bad grammar and/or spelling, choose the wrong word, mangle sentences, etc. Those may not do well academically or even socially, but they generally pass in the spectrum of human variation.

I would hope it's been tested whether, say, babies of European ethnicities who were adopted into China, actually learn their adoptive tongue as well as ethnic locals. I just don't know the results of any such tests.

#497 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 02:44 PM:

Dave Harmon @480: Apology much appreciated. I realise that for you it was just an interesting discussion, and you couldn't know I was going to react this way.

Note: I may be less able to cope with stuff at the moment because I'm injured and can't run (and I'm looking at a year estimated recovery time) and running was not only my main pass time and main form of exercise but also a major part of my social life and my main form of stress relief. And work is still stressful and I'm feeling very frustrated. So, not on an even keel at the moment.

#498 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 02:50 PM:

dcb #494: I'm injured and can't run... looking at a year ... main pastime ... exercise ... social life ... stress relief.

Aww, that's a really sucky place to be in. Virtual hugs offered, if you want.

#499 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 03:06 PM:

Dave Harmon @495: Thank you. Virtual hug appreciated.

Dave Harmon @493: I read one that infants raised in a culture with a tonal language are never or rarely tone-deaf. I wondered whether rather it was that children in a society with a tonal language, who are actually tone-deaf, would be labelled as idiots for being unable to learn the language?

#500 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 03:09 PM:

AFAIK, learning a language from very early childhood is the best way to learn it, and has nothing to do with ethnic background.
AFAIK, language doesn't generally affect brain structure, although, something like ASL as a first language may change neural connections.

#501 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 03:39 PM:

PJ Evans @ 497... learning a language from very early childhood is the best way to learn it

I cut my teeth on Bugs Bunny cartoons.

#502 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:09 PM:

Elliott, #464: To me, a tank top is the one with wider straps (it resembles the bathing suit called a tank suit), while the women's top with spaghetti straps is a camisole, often shortened to "cami". But I might also call that shirt a muscle shirt. Also, I think the difference between "undershirt with sleeves" and "T-shirt" has become so blurred as to be nearly nonexistent, so the unadorned word "undershirt" also implies sleeveless to me.

and @468, I was familiar with the last one you mention but had not heard the others, although your description is enough for me to extrapolate them.

SamChevre, #469: There's also what Midwesterners say about their own region -- "We have two seasons, winter and construction." My description of Houston weather is a grumpy observation that we have two seasons, shirtsleeve and Too Goddamn Hot.

Mongoose, #477: I had to go look up "string vest", but having seen it, I can now say that T-shirt versions of this were popular in the US in the 80s; many of them had sports logos and were meant to be worn in public. My now-ex had one in plain black that he used to wear at cons.

My first mental image for "string vest" was more like this -- an American-style vest made in openwork crochet, intended to be worn as a decorative overlayer.

#503 ::: Lee is with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:11 PM:

No idea why. Bacon?

#504 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:18 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #448: I realized that I still use West as the direction of Water, even though I live on the East Coast of my continent.

I remember years ago being a guest at a ritual that used a compass point/element association at a site with very strong, contradictory physical markers: something on the order of the sea to the East, a cliff to the West, a bonfire to the North, and the wind blowing from the South. I found it striking, although I certainly wasn't going to point it out.

#505 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:24 PM:

dcb #496: I wondered whether rather it was that children in a society with a tonal language, who are actually tone-deaf, would be labelled as idiots for being unable to learn the language?

Yeah, that's the sort of thing I'm thinking of. Humans, especially young ones, are really good at adapting to whatever challenges they face. Usually, they succeed....

#506 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:43 PM:

estelendur @373: Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón de La Vera) is one of my current go-to spices for this kind of thing. It's particularly good for the class of dishes which often take meat as a flavoring (lentil or bean soups and stews, for example), or with roasted vegetables. It adds a bit of sweetness, a bit of richness, and a bit of smokiness. It doesn't imitate meat (or a mirepoix), but it does fill in the flavor profile in its own way.

#507 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:53 PM:

clew 451: Still seems rather subtle compared to "look out the window and everything's green" vs. "look out the window and everything's white." If you have go looking and examine things, that's what I mean by not very dramatic.

And you can drive around all over the place in SoCal and never see a river. My mom lives in Riverside, which was apparently named ironically (no, I know it isn't, but on none of my many visits there have I ever seen so much as a glimpse of the Santa Ana River).

David 454: Starhawk gave a list of what she might name the moons of San Francisco, if she adopted the indigenous custom of naming moons, including:

Fog Rolls In Moon
Fog Sticks Around Moon
Fog Sticks Around Some More Moon
Rainreturn Moon

Elliott 464: Huh. 'Tank Top' was never gendered to me, though calling upper-body garments 'tops' does tend to imply women's garments in my dialect. That may be why it's so often shortened to 'tank'.

SamChevre 469: I've heard Winter and Road Construction, as Lee points out at 499.

Bruce 470: To me a singlet is that thing wrestlers (the real kind, not the professional kind) wear, one continuous garment from mid-thigh to shoulder, and made of thin, stretchy, skin-hugging material.

One of my favorite things to see certain types of men in, actually.

Mongoose 473: They've arranged it with chords and grouped the notes in a way that suggests melody, but of course the "melody" line isn't actually in any key at any time.

Thanks for this. It's actually lovely. And MY brain thinks there are repeating melodic lines in there. My brain is crazy.

Teka Lynn 475: I don't know whether it's sad or hilarious (or some of both) that you have to clarify that (a reasonable precaution, though I for one read it correctly). I can just imagine "no, you see, the WHITE men's undershirt is made of more expensive fabric..." Oy and facepalm.

dcb 496: I remember hearing on I-think Radio Lab that 80% of native speakers of Mandarin have perfect pitch. I don't remember the number for native English speakers, but I'm pretty sure it was a single digit.

Lee 499: Yeah, I call a "string vest" a mesh tank. T-shirt version, a mesh t-shirt.

#508 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:54 PM:

clew 451: Still seems rather subtle compared to "look out the window and everything's green" vs. "look out the window and everything's white." If you have go looking and examine things, that's what I mean by not very dramatic.

And you can drive around all over the place in SoCal and never see a river. My mom lives in Riverside, which was apparently named ironically (no, I know it isn't, but on none of my many visits there have I ever seen so much as a glimpse of the Santa Ana River).

David 454: Starhawk gave a list of what she might name the moons of San Francisco, if she adopted the indigenous custom of naming moons, including:

Fog Rolls In Moon
Fog Sticks Around Moon
Fog Sticks Around Some More Moon
Rainreturn Moon

Elliott 464: Huh. 'Tank Top' was never gendered to me, though calling upper-body garments 'tops' does tend to imply women's garments in my dialect. That may be why it's so often shortened to 'tank'.

SamChevre 469: I've heard Winter and Road Construction, as Lee points out at 499.

Bruce 470: To me a singlet is that thing wrestlers (the real kind, not the professional kind) wear, one continuous garment from mid-thigh to shoulder, and made of thin, stretchy, skin-hugging material.

One of my favorite things to see certain types of men in, actually.

Mongoose 473: They've arranged it with chords and grouped the notes in a way that suggests melody, but of course the "melody" line isn't actually in any key at any time.

Thanks for this. It's actually lovely. And MY brain thinks there are repeating melodic lines in there. My brain is crazy.

Teka Lynn 475: I don't know whether it's sad or hilarious (or some of both) that you have to clarify that (a reasonable precaution, though I for one read it correctly). I can just imagine "no, you see, the WHITE men's undershirt is made of more expensive fabric..." Oy and facepalm.

dcb 496: I remember hearing on I-think Radio Lab that 80% of native speakers of Mandarin have perfect pitch. I don't remember the number for native English speakers, but I'm pretty sure it was a single digit.

Lee 499: Yeah, I call a "string vest" a mesh tank. T-shirt version, a mesh t-shirt.

#509 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 04:55 PM:

OK, that first one threw a 500 Internal Server Error, so I thought it didn't post and posted it again. My apologies. If a mod could kill one of those, I'd be appreciative.

#510 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 05:13 PM:

As soon as my kid's asleep (her bedroom opens off the kitchen, and I can't go Be Interesting in there while trying to encourage her to nap) I'm going to make savory garlic cheddar straws and pinwheel cinnamon cookies ... what do YOU do with leftover piecrust in your household, if that's the sort of problem that ever arises?

#511 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 06:00 PM:


Kolochkis. Definitely kolochkis.

On a related ancestral ethnic treat front, I'm devastated to report I can't find my aebleskivver pan. Sigh.

#512 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 06:01 PM:

I stuff it in my mouth. Cookie Monster noises optional.

#513 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 06:50 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @127: I suspect trying to figure out Heinlein is a mug's game, given the amount of effort he and Ginny spent in altering the record of their lives.

Specifics, please?

(I'm running way behind in the thread; apologies if this has been answered upthread. I'll get to it. Eventually.)

#514 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 07:53 PM:

Aebelskivver pans turn up moderately often at garage sales around here, Cassy (like once or twice a year) -- would you like an eye kept out for one? The shipping would probably be prohibitive, though....

#515 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 08:08 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 507

What do you do with leftover pie crust? If you are me, make milk flitche (flich-uh). Put scraps of rolled-out pie crust on a pan, pour just a spoonful of milk on each, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake, eat hot.

#516 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 08:23 PM:

Heh. He gets us mixed up even in text!

You're right, Tom, the shipping is probably prohibitive. What I ought to do is ask the Minnesotans to keep an eye out for a nice old aebleskivver pan (I'd think it would be their home territory, after all!), as I do make it to Minicon and sometimes Fourth Street and/or Fallcon.

#517 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 08:45 PM:

Payson, AZ's seasons are Fall, Mud, Fire, and Thunderstorm. There might be some snow on top of the mud at times. Occasionally the mud freezes.

#518 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 09:03 PM:

Lodge Logic makes new cast iron aebleskivver pans, for what it's worth. They're not terribly expensive and if they're like other things lodge makes, the quality is equivalent to antique cast iron.

#519 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:22 PM:

Sorry about that, Cally! Hey, we'll be at Fourth Street this year, so if I see one between now and then, I'll bring it (unless you tell me not to). It would have to be a nice one, not one of the cheap ones....

#520 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:26 PM:

Jacque @ 510: If I recall correctly, there were at least three paper-burning sessions at the Heinleins' before his death. There's a lot gone we'll probably never know, like so much about Leslyn and her life and work.

#521 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 10:37 PM:

#517 ::: John A Arkansawyer

On the other hand, a lot of the themes in later Heinlein show up in For Us, the Living, so there's some stability of personality.

It's been a while since I read the book, but I remember noticing cats and nudism.

#522 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 11:19 PM:

For those who support new magazines and YA genre fiction:

Inscription is a magazine with an inclusive and diverse sensibility aimed at teenage readers. I know many of the people involved in its founding and would really love to see it get the kind of support it deserves. The Indiegogo page is here for those interested in supporting it.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with their first year.

#523 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 12:10 AM:

Via my mom, an amazing 18th-Century automaton.

What do we call that? Gearpunk? Except it really was made in the 18th Century.

#524 ::: N.E. Mouse ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 12:15 AM:

This is still a rant and I'm still incognito because I'm still just ranting.

However, I may have a better case against Unum than I thought. One of the issues -- one of several medical issues I have -- is that Unum is basically saying, "Prove you have cervical dystonia and you're not just faking it."

PROVING that I'm not just tensing my muscles up and faking it has been hard. It's basically Unum going, "Nyah-Nyah, we don't want to pay you, so we're going to say you're faking it. And even if you aren't faking it, it doesn't hurt and you can work, because we say so. "

Hell yes it hurts.

The MRI (TWO HOURS in an MRI tube) came back showing very obvious asymmetry in my neck muscles. Crystal clear, no mistaking it, my left side muscles are MUCH bigger than my right and my cervical spine curves to the left. I also have much more degeneration than the last MRI 18 months ago.

My lumbar spine is worse, no surprise there. "Severe disk degeneration" according to the radiologist, with a side order of arthritis.

I really hope I don't need surgery on my neck ... I'll be talking to the doc in a few weeks about it. Hopefully Unum won't continue to insist that the cervical dystonia is an unprovable diagnosis and that my pain is self reported.

Ah, well, if I can't get Unum to see sense with an appeal, I WILL be looking to join one of the class action suits against them. And life goes on ...

#525 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 06:24 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #523: Surely one of the automata that inspired the movie Hugo.

#526 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 06:28 AM:

Where I was born, the seasons go: Wet and Windy, Humid, Wet and Muddy, Wet and Chilly. Where I live now, it's pretty much the same except that you can substitute Damp for Wet in all cases.

#527 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 08:27 AM:

N. E. Mouse @524 Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch.

Cervical surgery is no longer the crapshoot it once was, but it's still no picnic in the park. I hope you're able to avoid that step. It would be nice to be able to avoid the wrangle with Unum as well, but I realize that might be wose than the surgery and post-op treatment.

#528 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 08:44 AM:

N.E. Mouse: fucking hell, ALL fucking pain is self-reported, do they think people come with pain gauges installed??

As I say to my patients, tell me if it hurts; you're in there, I'm not.

I dropped out of grad school with torticollis (due to a herniated cervical disk which wasn't detected at the time because they didn't fucking look).

I wish you the best in your treatment and recovery, and I hope your insurance company gets its ass handed to it.

#529 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 09:37 AM:


Are you familiar with John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars? For a lighthearted* take on aliens that communicate via graded scent emissions.

*for values of "lighthearted" that could said to equate to "one long fart joke"

#530 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 09:39 AM:

Ranting at the universe: why do software companies have to decide they know the one, best way to interact with a dataset and remove all other ways 'for your own good'? In this case, I can now no longer print a Google calendar 'month'-type layout that bridges the end of a month (say, the last two weeks of November and the first two of December): it Oh-So-Helpfully pagebreaks at the week where the month changes!?!

I was finding that functionality useful, thankyouverymuch, not a bug, and I would like it BACK, but I doubt it will return; there is no obvious way to report a complaint, but I went through their unhelpful 'help' documentation and said it wasn't useful and why.

Grmph. It's like Google wants to be Apple, the way they're making their defaults unchangeable and then changing their mind about what should be default (yes, I'm looking at you, default-scrolling BACKWARDS suddenly, Apple! At least I could unchoose that one BECAUSE DESKTOPS ARE NOT TABLETS).

#531 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:16 AM:

Russ @ 529

You're thinking of the first chapter of The Android's Dream, also by Scalzi. May I recommend the Mark Reads version?

#532 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:17 AM:

Xopher @523: Thanks! This is perhaps the most justly famed automaton of its day — and even since — and this is an unusually fine look at it.

We visited York in 1997, and passed a storefront that said MUSEUM OF AUTOMATA. I practically jumped up and down with joy, and we set aside time to go visit the place, which turned out to have closed up shop six months before we got there.

My interest in such things probably goes back to the little mechanical displays we used to see in the window of Anderson's Jewelers in my home town; little electrical tableaux with happy puppet people engaged in some repeated activity five or ten seconds long. They didn't change it often enough to suit me, and it only took a couple of minutes to feel sated with whatever it was, but my sisters and I were always keenly interested in going by the place to see what was new in Anderson's window.

#533 ::: Cally Soukup visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:19 AM:

Umm, I think there's some leftover gumbo around here somewhere....

#534 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:20 AM:

Kip W @ 189::900, ff

I got hold of the only circulating copy of The White Deer in greater Boston. I've read it twice, deliberately comparing it with The Thirteen Clocks (which isn't entirely fair, because the latter is an ineradicable part of my growing up), and I'm reached two somewhat contradictory conclusions: The White Deer is (a) a more complex and adult work (cf the quest-for-the-sword chapter), and (b) a mess in which Thurber is still learning how to Story, pitching in everything he can think of rather than carving away everything that doesn't look like an elephant. But it was certainly worth reading; thanks for pointing it out.

Gaiman recently did the intro for a reissue of The Thirteen Clocks, and read the first chapter for a video. (I'm not sure I like the video as I've got other versions engraved in memory, but it's definitely striking.) I wonder if he's seen The White Deer -- it's certainly an interesting riff on Story, as most of his works are.

#535 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:45 AM:

On the subject of automatons (sort of): MIT has a small museum, and this exhibit is delightful—Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson.
The webpage has some videos of the sculptures/machines in motion, but the real delight is in being right next to the wishbone as it walks, or looking up at the "birds". Unlike the (absolutely wonderful) automaton @523, the point isn't in hiding the automation, it's all about revealing it. And unlike the glorious complexity of the clockwork in the automaton, these machines are often very simple in how they work, yet the motion they achieve can seem very naturalistic and complex.

I saw another, very different kinetic sculpture recently at the 2013 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. The artist, Pedro Reyes, has been working with re-purposed guns, and has created several musical instruments that randomly play short bursts of music. Disarm (Mechanized). It's not at all a pretty sculpture to look at, but it sounds lovely, and there's great fun in the randomness. The reactions of people walking through that room are surprise and smiles—and then you realize that the xylophone you're admiring as it plays is a row of gun barrels, all pointing at you.

#536 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:16 AM:

me @ 316: The window full of old sewing machines is 126 Newbury St; Google Earth has a picture, but not good-enough resolution to show what they are if you don't already know.

Xopher @ 504: I don't think I believe the claim for perfect pitch; the Mandarin I've heard (and was briefly taught) had very wide tone shifts -- enough that the color changed, not just the pitch.

on Lee @ 442:

   Lila @ 459: Professional writers did manage those totals using typewriters. I don't know how Hubbard or Fanthorpe did it -- maybe they could both carry blocks-of-meaning to spill out like guitar riffs, and think enough ahead to have usable text steadily ready to type, but they did. (I've heard at least one cheap trick: always empty the revolver. But that only provides a few words.) That such output is easier for the rest of us now seems to me more like cool stuff rather than a skill.
   You have an even wider generation spread than I do; my paternal grandfather was born in 1859 (late enough that one of my great-uncles died in the Civil War), but I'm 60. The male ancestors came out of long times in the wilderness (missionary/preacher in Wyoming territory, teaching in high-country New Mexico); what affected the late marriages/children in your line?

There are a lot of other cool-stuff things that occur to me related to travel, but ISTM there's at least one new skill: the ability to orient onesself (geographically and socially) in a new location/context. This depends heavily on tech (cheap travel to get there, tools to use on arrival), but I wonder whether 2-3 generations back were open enough to handle this even if they'd been given someone to drive the tools for them. This loops back into opennesses that other people have pointed out (e.g., working with women/nonWASPs).
   Relatedly, what about the ability to learn to use the new tools? Would previous generations have done as well if given the tools as early as we were? Did they have the attitude that new tools were worth learning after those most-flexible years?
      Both of these generalize otterb@458.
   And there's the whole balance-career-and-children skill; granted this falls more heavily on women, but ISTM that men of recent generations have also moved away from the strict division-of-labor -- especially in survival skills, as shown by the comments on cooking in this thread. (My father and maternal grandfather both cooked -- staples, not just specialties -- but IIRC that was considered uncommon.)

#537 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:29 AM:

CHip: what affected the late marriages/children in your line?
For starters, my grandfather remarried after his first wife died. My grandmother (the second wife) was much younger than he. There are rumors that my eldest uncle was attracted to her, before she ended up marrying his father.

In the other case, not a late marriage, just a long one. My eldest sib was 20 when I was born.

#538 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:36 AM:

CHip @533: Yeah, it's possible that the book's a structural mess, as witness the fact I have a favorite chapter. I've read The Thirteen Clocks more times than The White Deer, but it's more of an organic whole for me. The Wonderful O is probably the one I've read the fewest times. When the calendar permits, I might investigate that.

#539 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:41 AM:

re Rob Hansen @ 428: can someone closer to the field than I am say whether these are cosplay or hall costumes -- assuming there's a difference? I've understood cosplay to be dressing as a character from visual media (so the costume implies (if not including) behavior as well as appearance); there's at least one portrayed illustration (Karen Anderson as a Planet Stories cover), but it's from a single pose rather than a character with a [back]story. AFAICT, most of these costumes come out of people's (fevered?) imaginations.

One comment on the text. There may have been hostility to the costumes themselves due to the mundane media's look-at-the-freaks pictures; that was mostly before my time. But as fandom drifted from hall costumes to large-scale masquerades, some (both in and out of costume) saw the costumes as becoming about entertainment-of-the-masses, which some saw as an unhealthy move away from we're-all-making-our-own-entertainment.
   Yes, those are weasel words. I've worked masquerades on three continents and been in fandom for 40 years, but I'm not going to pretend I have an all-encompassing view of how wide those sentiments were (or are...); I'm especially unsure how much some of my bruises affect my observations, let alone how many of both come from the loudmouthed fringe rather than the mainstream.

#540 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Lila @ 536: Interesting; that sort of span of siblings used to be common (witness my grandfather), but AFAICT is much less so in our generation.

Kip W @ 537: I was struck less by the overall structure than by the amount of random cleverness stuffed in, especially in the first couple of chapters. (cf a pair of collaborators I knew; one once told me she had often to tell the other it was time for some plot.) I may be too often distracted by from the macro by the micro.

#541 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:48 AM:

HLN: local herpestid is having a crisis.

It seems I haven't been paid any benefit since 2 October - a fact I had missed, since I had a float, live very frugally, and don't often check my balance. I found out when I went to see my advisor at the JobCentre today and she said, "Oh, I didn't think you were coming - I'd been told your claim had been stopped." I said that I hadn't been informed of this, and could she please investigate? (Not only that, but I've been in there to sign on three or four times since that date, and on none of these occasions was I alerted.)

It appears that someone in Ramsgate accidentally or arbitrarily stopped it. My advisor, who is extremely sympathetic (and was as confused as I was), couldn't do anything to reinstate my claim. She did what she could, however, which was to print out a list of local Citizens' Advice Bureaux and advise me to go to one of them and talk to them about making a new claim. She said I was to give them her number and ask them to ring her, and she would confirm all the relevant details. She also says I need to ask for the new claim to be backdated to 3 October; she doesn't think they'll do it, because honestly they don't care, but they certainly won't if I don't ask.

I am completely out of cope at the moment (not that I had much of it before this latest bombshell). I'm going to talk to them tomorrow, once I can gather some spoons. In the meantime, I have to eat, which means I need to get the maths tutoring business off the ground a lot faster than I originally anticipated. I am now the Maths Tamer, and I have a new business e-mail address at znguf-gnzre@znvy.pbz; wouldn't normally tout for business here, but I'm kind of desperate. If you know anyone (within the UK) who needs maths tuition up to A-level standard, please feel free to share this address around once you've un-ROTted it.

In a word... ack.

#542 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 12:19 PM:

Mongoose, ack indeed! Hope the new claim can be started promptly and without further bureaucratic hassle, and that the maths tutoring gets off the ground quickly.

#543 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 01:53 PM:

SamChevre @391 Instead, before hunting season, they would round up all the stray dogs they could find, pen them up and feed them for a few weeks, and then turn the dogs loose, with drivers behind them, to run deer. After hunting season, they would turn all the dogs loose again.
This kind of interaction is mutually beneficial

I beg to differ – it’s beneficial to this type of hunter, since they don’t have to support their hypothetically ownerless dog packs all year when they’re not otherwise making use of them, but it’s certainly not beneficial to the dogs. In my part of the country (rural Virginia county), the pounds and animal rescue groups are inundated every year in December with poor, luckless hounds who’ve been dumped and left to starve.

#544 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 01:58 PM:

#538 ::: CHip

For what it's worth, I went to a play-by-mail convention which had a no hall costumes policy, and it turned out that a number of the attendees liked it-- hall costumes were more weirdness than they wanted to deal with.

I can't remember whether that was the only place I heard some fear of costumers-- the idea was that a costumer might have identity with the character, and might do anything.

#545 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 02:03 PM:

Russ 529: I haven't read Agent to the Stars, but I just finished rereading The Android's Dream, and it begins with an extended fart joke—one that causes an interstellar diplomatic incident. In fact the diplomatic incident is why they need to find the Android's Dream, and fast.

Did you give the wrong title, or did Scalzi write TWO fart-joke novels? (Come to think of it, if anyone would...)

CHip 535: That episode of Radio Lab played a recording of the same person saying the same phrase in Mandarin twice, a week apart. It sounded identical to my moderately-musical ear—and I mean like two copies of the same tape identical.

Doesn't prove the percentages, of course. But.

Mongoose 540: That's horrible. Hope things will be resolved quickly.

Fuck the Tories.

#546 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 02:45 PM:

Clarentine @ 543

I would certainly not arguing that hunting with a stray dog pack[1] is now beneficial to the dogs; certainly this practice is worse for everyone than a properly kept hunting pack of domestic dogs.

With wild proto-dogs/slightly human-associated wolves (since I was thinking about domestication), it does seem that this sort of collaborative hunting would be mutually beneficial, and might account for early human uses of "dogs".

1) This was also rural eastern Virginia--Charles City County.

#547 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Lila, #536: My partner was the youngest of three and a "menopause child"; his oldest brother was 22 years his senior, and his grandmother was born in 1882.

My mother, born in 1920, was the youngest of 4 sibs, but they were much more closely spaced (only 7 years from oldest to youngest), and my grandmother was born in 1890. I am the youngest of my generation by 8 years, mostly because my mother didn't marry until she was 30 and then it was 5 more years before they adopted me.

CHip, #538: That is what I was also given to understand as the original meaning of "cosplay" -- but it seems to have rapidly evolved (over the course of about the last 5 years) to include original character concepts as well, and is fast displacing the term "costuming" altogether.

#548 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 03:01 PM:

"Good evening. I am a lizard-woman from the Dawn of Time. This is my wife."

Local man is almost done with watching Matt Smith's run as the Doctor.

#549 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 03:22 PM:

Lee @ #547 -

That reminded me of my best friend in high school, who was conceived after his father had a vasectomy. Some people are just really determined to be born.

As I understand it, sometimes vasectomies back then (the 50's) would sometimes come undone. The snipped ends of the vas deferens could reconnect and your vas deferens would engender a vast difference in your life.

#550 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 05:12 PM:

All that about Scalzi reminds me of a humorous sf novel I like-- Year Zero by Rob Reid-- it's a satire about music copyright somewhat in the spirit of Hitchhiker's Guide.

#551 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 05:12 PM:

And, in the annals of subtle (meh) implementations of religious bigotry, this. Note that the school will "supplement" the brought-from-home lunch if the parent didn't provide what the Province of Manitoba thinks is appropriate. Note that this is an attack on observant Jews (because it requires both 1 milk and 1 meat in the same meal) and on observant Hindus (because it requires meat at all). Note also that if your child is gluten intolerant or allergic to their "supplemental" food, they will just cheerfully kill your child and charge you ten bucks.

Oh, you say, Manitoba couldn't have intended those guidelines as an attack on Jews, Hindus, or gluten intolerant or allergic people? I say thee, Fuck That: any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

Yeah, I'm kinda seething with rage over this. (I just noticed the milk and meat thing today.) And it doesn't even matter if Manitoba somehow determined that it has no Jews or vegetarians; they've proclaimed their province as a place where Jews and Hindus are unwelcome to send their kids to public schools, and where allergic kids are to be purged from the population.

Godwin trembles upon my lips. If anything, it's worse because it's almost certainly out of sheer stupidity.

#552 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 08:02 PM:

Clarentine #543: Which in fact is likely where my own dog came from -- she was found in Culpeper, two Decembers ago. (A truck driver got her to the SPCA.) And that would certainly explain her aggressive foraging behavior....

#553 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 09:20 PM:

@551 Xopher Halftongue

On the Manitoba Family Services and Labour website, you can find the Best Practices Licensing Manual for Early Learning and Child Care Centres (PDF). Under the "FOOD PROVIDED" section, it says:

Where a meal is provided, registered dieticians recommend a balanced meal including at least:
(a) one serving from Milk Products
(b) one serving from Meats and Alternatives*
(c) one serving from Grain Products
(d) two servings from Vegetables and Fruit
as outlined in Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
The names of children with food allergies and their respective conditions should be posted in
food preparation areas for the information of staff members only. Centres choosing to post this
information in any other manner must obtain parental permission.
Special feeding instructions for a child in attendance in the centre should comply with written
instructions from a parent or guardian.

This would seem to apply to both children who have religious food requirements, and those who have allergies or must follow special diets for other reasons.

What this boils down to is that this particular school has taken Manitoba's "Best Practice" guidelines and is applying them in an asinine manner, not that the province hates Jews, Hindus, or anyone else.

*emphasis mine

#554 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 09:36 PM:

We saw one of those 18th century automata recently at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. It has the largest repertoire of any such automaton known: 4 drawings and 3 poems. (One of them gives the identity of the maker, which the Franklin didn't know when they acquired it; only when they ran the mechanism was that mystery solved.) They have it set up now so you can see the inner workings.

The Franklin Institute has a page on the automaton (with demonstration videos) here. I believe it's still on display, but you might want to call ahead to confirm this if you're planning on making a special trip here to see it.

#555 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:08 PM:

@551, 553

Oh, and if you like, you can see the Canada Food Guide (PDF).

It suggests soy milk for those who don't drink dairy, and for meat alternatives: fish, legumes, tofu, eggs, peanut or nut butters, shelled nuts or seeds.

The province appears to have passed a regulation with good intentions, that is, to promote healthy eating habits in children. It is imperfect, as most things are, but not to the extent the website you first cited implies.

The administrators of this particular school appear to have taken the application of the regulation more than one step too far.

And, while I was searching, I also checked out CCSM c158, which is the actual Manitoba Child Care Regulation in question (THE COMMUNITY CHILD CARE STANDARDS ACT). Under the Nutrition section (16.3), it says "the licensee shall ensure that nutritious foods in accordance with Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating issued by the Minister of Health (Canada) are served". That's it, no further details.

There's a bunch of other stuff in the Regulation, if you want to go read it here.

#556 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 10:57 PM:

No, Russ has got it right. The aliens in Agent to the Stars do indeed communicate by minute gradations in strong smells, all of which are noxious to the human nose. The smells get stronger as speech gets more vehement. This results in at least one human passing out from the olfactory overload when the aliens start having a shouty argument. So, yes, it rather is like a novel-length fart joke in a sense.

Which doesn't dispute that the literal chapter-long fart joke is found in The Android's Dream. But, speaking as someone who's read it, Russ's description of Agent to the Stars is quite accurate.

#557 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2013, 11:06 PM:

Cheryl, thanks. It's good to know that it was the school, not the province, being stupid, bigoted, and bloody dangerous. I probably should have checked into it myself, but I was almost shaking with rage when I read what the school sent home with the child.

Nicole, so Scalzi really did two two novels with fart jokes. Like I said, if anyone would...

Seriously, thanks for the clarification.

#558 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 12:16 AM:

The Cheez-Its incident sounds like the result of a well-meaning regulation implemented and enforced in the most obnoxious way possible.

That note, and the fine, and the itemized list, suggest someone overbearing, fussy, and petty. $10 to give a kid a handful of crackers in a baggy?

#559 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 01:27 AM:

Hey! The home page in Firefox loads with the Nov 12 entry about Richard Cohen's column at the top of the page! Has anyone else noticed this?

#560 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 01:37 AM:

Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" lip-synched on fake TV channels and the characters on those channels. Amazingly good work by an Israeli 20-something.


#561 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 01:51 AM:

I've been thinking about the article Lee pointed out at 442, and I finally realized what was bugging me (aside from the narrow-minded use of "everyone" to mean "my immediate friends and peers"). Half of those skills are only a couple generations old. I believe telephone books and telephone numbers didn't become widespread in the US until the early 20th century (the first coast-to-coast long-distance call in the US was 1915). Likewise for auto maintenance; it was only about 100 years ago that cars started to spread really widely. As for home maintenance, indoor plumbing didn't really become universal in the US until the first half of the 20th century, and likewise for electrification. The "sewing" item shows someone wrestling with a sewing machine, which didn't exist until partway through the 19th century.

#562 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 02:08 AM:

@557 Xopher Halftongue

If I could get a job whose description was "look stuff up all day", I'd think that was a great job. I look stuff up for fun. When I'm bored, I randomly look shit up (seriously, if anyone knows of a job that matches that description, could you let me know? I will totally apply right now).

I was an odd child.

Is there still such thing as a Look-It-Up club? When I was a kid, maybe grade 2, our teacher took us down to the library one day and turned us over to the librarian, who introduced us to the concept of "reference material", which in that small school consisted of a couple of encyclopedia sets, French and English dictionaries, and two local newspapers. She explained to us what they were for, how they were arranged, and how they could be used to find stuff out. Then, were were each given an index card with a short query on it, and told to look it up and write a few sentences on the back of the card.

Once the assignment was complete, we received a certificate that we were now members of the Look-It-Up Club. I was in piggy heaven. It started my lifelong habit of reading encyclopedias as a past-time.

So, any time I can look stuff up for someone? It makes me happy.

I'm sorry you were so upset by the content of the article. It was bad reporting to begin with.

@558 Stefan Jones
If I were one of the parents, I'd be inclined to complain to the MFSL.

#563 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 02:18 AM:

@me in 562


pastime pastime pastime pastime pastime pastime pastime pastime pastime pastime

My spellchecker hates me.


#564 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 02:21 AM:

Linkmeister @559: When I open Making Light in Safari, I see the post about Richard Cohen at the top of the page. I just tried Firefox (which I rarely use) and it's more or less the same there. That post is the most recent one, so I don't quite understand why its being at the top is remarkable. Am I missing something?

#565 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 02:55 AM:

Xopher #504, Chip # 536:

The Mandarin/perfect pitch thing does seem to be true, but less extreme than the claims. There's a conference abstract by Diana Deutsch (et al) from UCSD, looking at the proportion with absolute pitch at the Eastman School of Music and at a prestigious Beijing conservatory.

The Beijing students were much more likely to have absolute pitch, either measured by naming notes exactly (about 50% vs 10%) or by naming notes to within a semitone (about 70% vs 10%). In all cases, those who started music training earlier performed better. So, either this is a genetic difference (which I, as a geneticist, find hard to believe), or language makes the difference, or absolute pitch is trainable in some way other than language (and the Chinese know the secret).

I think the most plausible explanation is that it's the tonal language, though I would really like to see data on, say, Thai.

#566 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 04:57 AM:

I think it was here on Making Light that I heard about GoldieBlox, wasn't it?

If not, or if no one remembers: they are awesome. The video I remember seeing (I thought here?) can be found on Youtube.

Well, HuffPost has an article about their latest video (Rube Goldberg!!), and their opportunity to have a SuperBowl commercial.

I'm in love with the idea of this stuff. I'm so tired of the frelling Pink Aisle.

"Girls build the spaceship
Girls code the new app
Girls that grow up knowing
That they could engineer that"

#567 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 06:31 AM:

thomas #565: Actually, that study would be subject to a different flavor of selection bias: China has a much bigger population, so their top music students are likely selected from a much larger pool of candidates.

So, the study may be relevant to the "collective achievement" of the two nations, but probably not to the abilities of their general populations.

#568 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 06:39 AM:

Cheryl @ 566: the Pink Aisle is a recent phenomenon. It didn't exist when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s. Some toys (notably dolls) were seen as specifically gendered, but, on the whole, toys were just toys. My sisters and I happily played with all kinds, and nobody raised an eyebrow about anything being supposedly non-gender-appropriate. (I recall one of my sisters' favourite things being the bright yellow Tonka truck, which was tough enough for one of us to stand on. I can't recall which kind relative bought them that, but it was inspired.)

I strongly suspect that the gendering of toys is a marketing ploy aimed at families with both boys and girls. The toys are gendered to discourage sharing among siblings, which means the manufacturer sells more toys. (I'm told, though I haven't seen this myself, that some toys are sold in two versions with "girl" packaging and "boy" packaging, but the actual toy is the same in both cases.)

But there's another factor. At that time, certainly in that place, there wasn't nearly so much emphasis placed on children's gender as there is now. There was some - a girl might be told to "walk like a lady", which apparently meant taking silly little steps rather than a natural stride, or a boy might be told that "boys don't cry" in the teeth of all the available evidence. But, by comparison with today, children were fairly sexless. You'd be put in Big Gender Box A or Big Gender Box B, but the boxes were pretty stretchy, much more so than they were for adults.

This explains why I was pretty much comfortable in the box I'd been put in for a long time. I'd got used to stretching it as a child, and by the time I grew up the adult versions were starting to get a bit stretchier and I'd had a lot of practice at stretching mine. It was only when I started to realise that I'd stretched it so thin in places that it was developing holes that I came to the conclusion that I didn't really fit in it. Or in the other box. Hence I now happily identify as non-gendered.

Now, if I'd grown up in a world where almost all toys came in either a pink or a blue box, most girls' clothes were pink, boys' clothes had a little more variety but not as much as I actually did grow up with, and not many children's clothes were flat-out unisex... well, I'd have got very uncomfortable a great deal earlier. It's not at all unlikely I would have ended up identifying as transgender, not because either box would have fitted me very well, but simply because Assigned Box would barely have fitted at all, whereas Non-Assigned Box would have at least fitted a little better. I do wonder if the extreme gendering of children's toys and clothes is behind the tendency of people to identify as transgender at younger and younger ages. Not that it's in any way a bad thing to be clear who and what you are as early as possible; but I'm not sure it's quite so wonderful if this clarity is forced by overly rigid circumstances.

#569 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 06:57 AM:

Mongoose @541 - I will mention this to teaching people who are sometimes asked about tutors. I do not know if the recommendation of someone they used to work with of someone on the internet will yield any results, but it's worth a try. I understand that tutoring for the 11+ is something of a thing.

(Also Xopher @545) While we're at it, Fuck Ramsgate Jobcentre who mostly do an adequate job, but when they cock things up really go to town on it.

#570 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 07:38 AM:

I think absolute pitch may well be trainable. Or at least, that you can train a singer to a pretty close approximation.

My college choir director was interested in this question. He found that if he asked one of his singers for, e.g., a B flat, they could only give a rough approximation; but if he asked them to start singing one of the pieces we'd been working on, they'd nearly always start on the right pitch without thinking about it.

(My college roommate had absolute pitch from early childhood. It drove her crazy. If a solo instrument or ensemble was tuned a little higher or lower than A=440 Hz, for example, I wouldn't notice, as long as it was in tune with itself. But it made her wince.)

#571 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 08:14 AM:

One thing about absolute pitch is that it's not actually always very helpful. It can be very useful for musicians not having absolute pitch but instead a very good sense of relative pitch.

Having to play say with string instruments tuned down a half note to match a really old piano in a church where the piano can't support the tension of the strings if they were tuned up that last half note isn't a problem if you don't have absolute pitch but can be difficult if you do.

#572 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 08:46 AM:

Lila, I have a little list of musical phrases that I know end on specific notes, so if I'm asked to produce, say, middle C, I can go, "When you sing you begin with do..." and, as they say, Bob's yer uncle. (That one can also get me D and E.) If pressed the lead-up can be eliminated.

I'm quite good at matching pitches and I learn music quickly, but I'm actually weirdly bad at telling whether two notes in succession go up or down. I have to sing them and feel what my throat does.

#573 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 09:44 AM:

China may be better at streaming good-pitch or absolute-pitch children into music; in the US some proportion (including my mother) often get turned off the concept early because of all the ways absolute pitch can be actively painful if you're around a lot of mediocre or mainstream music. If you get straight into conservatory and are only around The Cream Of The Crop, it becomes far less of a burden on your life.

I have very very good relative pitch. I do not have absolute pitch. The most musicky thing my mother ever did with her absolute pitch was get a summer job tuning up the orchestra (before every performance) for a travelling company of Jesus Christ Superstar, and play a little guitar/sing folk with her friends.

#574 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 09:54 AM:

Neil @ 569: much appreciated. (And, incidentally, I have no idea what Ramsgate were doing with my claim in the first place. I don't live within two hundred miles of Ramsgate.)

Regarding absolute pitch: it is to some degree trainable. My best friend, who's a very good semi-pro countertenor, says he pitches using muscle memory, and that is pretty accurate, though not 100%. But if you have really good natural absolute pitch, then the piano that is half a note out isn't a problem to you. You just log it as a different tuning.

Star Tenor (as I think I may have mentioned before) has this kind of absolute pitch. He sings a lot of mediaeval music, which was written before standard tuning was invented, so he has to be able to handle all kinds of esoteric mediaeval micro-tunings. In the early music group he used to belong to, they used him for pitching. They'd try different tunings, finally settle on one that sounded right, and then ask him to sing a chromatic scale in that tuning. He'd cheerfully oblige. He called it his party trick.

Their reaction was "well, if you want to go to that kind of party..." *grin*

#575 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 10:02 AM:

Cheryl (562): If I could get a job whose description was "look stuff up all day", I'd think that was a great job.

Librarian resembles that description. On good days.

#576 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 10:32 AM:

I take it last night's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was an interesting one, judging from the number of posts to that thread. I've got some spare time soon. Should I watch the Thor movie first? Or just go ahead with the TV show tonight?

#577 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 10:35 AM:

You don't need to know anything from the movie that can't be gleaned from the trailers, so I'd say go ahead and watch.

#578 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 10:43 AM:

My wife's job IS "look things up all day." She's a researcher for a social science consulting firm.

#579 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 10:56 AM:

Mongoose @568: My experience with growing up as a small-ish child in the 1980s was not at all that gender roles were flexible among children. (I am not entirely sure how much change there was in this area from the 60s/70s.) However, it was certainly the case that gender roles among children were more...unwritten rules rather than explicit ones, if that makes any sense? No one told me "girls don't do this" because it was obvious from context that Girls Don't Do This, and nobody said "this is only for boys" because it was obvious from context that This Is Only For Boys.

There was plenty of overlap, but there were clear, rigid areas of no overlap. Everyone could wear dirty play clothes day to day, but only boys could wear pants to church, and only girls could wear dresses. Everyone could read books and hang from trees, but only girls played with dolls and only boys put together model airplanes.

In some ways, the unstated rules were all the more frustrating as a child, because I was frequently angry at restrictions that I couldn't clearly articulate. Because it wasn't someone saying "You're a girl, you can't do that!", but a child's fuzzy awareness that certain options just weren't being presented to me. (Sometimes quite inadvertently. My father was surprised, years later, when I told him that I would have liked to have made model airplanes with him like my brother did. He never thought to offer, because he thought I would ask; I never thought to ask, because it seemed so clearly Just For Boys, since I only ever saw boys do it.) And sometimes it was pretty explicit propaganda; by high school, I was being shown videos in class explaining how those Wacky Liberals might claim there were no differences between men and women, but studies showed that men were just naturally better at spatial thinking, and women were inherently better at noticing clothing details, and little boys were always more active/aggressive and little girls were always more nurturing/passive.

My fuzzy adult opinion is that a lot of the more vigorous gender-marking is a reaction to the blurring of the lines. Now that there's not quite so widespread quiet community enforcement of Only For Boys/Girls, it's being made explicit instead. You can't just assume that people will fall into Proper Gender Roles automatically, after all, like in the Good Old Days. (I may be abusing sarcastic/emphatic capitalization here.) Now you have to tell them outright, from early on, or they might get the wrong ideas.

And part of that is that adult women are visibly performing many more roles than they were sometimes allowed--especially in upper/middle-class areas--and thus little boys and little girls won't just assume that Girls Don't Do That and Boys Wouldn't Touch That, on account of having seen contradictions already.

#580 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 11:21 AM:

Oh, good! Another one! (I thought I was the only one who reads reference books for fun.)

The job I had involved research and figuring-it-out, and I loved it. Then I got shuffled into doing stuff I'm less good at, and it got away from me.

#581 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 11:28 AM:

I was lucky enough to have parents who weren't into gender roles to that extent. It probably helped that my mother had been a lab tech in an oilfield and didn't believe that women couldn't do math and science.
My sister and I had a lot of fun with the box of blocks and plastic bricks. Dolls, not so much. Now we get lost in hardware stores.

#582 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 11:35 AM:

Fade Manley @579 My fuzzy adult opinion is that a lot of the more vigorous gender-marking is a reaction to the blurring of the lines.

Perhaps it's an extinction burst. We can hope.

Along that line, within the past few weeks I have run across a couple of "never thought I'd hear that" with respect to same-sex marriage. In the first, I'm taking a water aerobics class at the Y; the students are all middle-aged and up women. As the group chats before class, the teacher has been telling us about the home purchase of her daughter and the daughter's girlfriend. Discussion is all about the joys and challenges of first-time homeownership. In the second, an acquaintance was talking about a phone interview for an accounting job with a conservative old-line regional firm; she told them up front that she would want health care coverage for her same-sex partner and that it wasn't worth an interview if that wasn't possible. She was surprised to find that not only was it possible, she wasn't even trailblazing in the firm.

The next step is that I stop noticing things like this because it's so expected.

#583 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 12:38 PM:

Lila, #570: I've never had absolute pitch, but when I was singing in my college choir, I had a very good feel for where any given note on the staff fell in my voice. That's long gone now thru lack of practice. My relative pitch has always been very good, and that continues to be useful.

#584 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Grrrrrr! Given the family history I really expected this and shouldn't be bugged, but I'm joining Club Lipitor. I hope I can get generics, or a punch card.

#585 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 01:14 PM:

I mentioned a name of a product.

If I can't enjoy fatty foods, neither can the gnomes!

#586 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 01:59 PM:

John Arkansawyer@576

I think it's fine to watch the episode before you watch the new Thor movie.

#587 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 01:59 PM:

Stefan @ 584 -

Generic Atorvastatin is available, and I heard the cost is falling.

#588 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 02:05 PM:

David Goldfarb, nope. My mistake. I haven't been here in a few days and I thought I'd seen a post dated more recently than Nov. 12. Whoops.

#589 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Absolute pitch can be an actual detriment in some circumstances.

Our choir director's wife and son (who is still singing soprano at the moment) both have absolute pitch. (Our choir director does not, and he was both thrilled and annoyed when the kid started correcting his pitch when they were singing in the car.) They fill in occasionally when we have inadequate sopranage.

Well, one week we were singing an anthem from LEVAS. It was also in the hymnal, but in a different key. They picked up the hymnal by mistake; we started singing and...well, you can imagine. They knew they were right, you see: it was right on the page there. The rest of us singing in a different key? They assumed we'd correct. I think they realized what was wrong partway through, but it was too late to change books.

As for music training, I think people have a better shot at manifesting absolute pitch if they're taught in Fixed Do solfege, where Do is always C♮ (and they have names for all the notes in the chromatic scale). In the US we mostly learn Movable Do, where Do is the major keynote of whatever key you're in. Listening to a Fixed Do person give the solfege for an E♭ minor scale is truly impressive (and I cannot reproduce it, since I only know seven or nine solfege syllables). We might be better at rehearsing in one key and performing in another, though I have trouble with that because of muscle memory.

Even in Movable Do, though, the La method for natural minor is far superior to the Do method; if you're in A minor, the A is LA, not Do!

Cheryl 562: I used to read dictionaries. (I've only read one cover to cover, and it was a usage dictionary, not a full unabridged or anything.) I would browse the dictionary until I found a word I didn't know, and read its definition. Lots of those led to others.

Mongoose 574: I briefly studied raga singing. Not only can the scales be almost anything (sharps and flats on any of the scale notes in any configuration), but they aren't tuned quite how they are in the West, and how a given note is tuned depends on the raga. So you might have a flatted Re* in one raga that's slightly different in pitch from a flatted Re in another raga (that has different scale configurations above or below).

The only people who can actually make sense of this are what our teacher called "just intonation geeks." He and two of the students were in that category; I haven't heard so many fractions mentioned since I was in grade school. The rest of us just had to listen, try to imitate, and correct when the others told us we were off pitch.

*The only common note-name between solfege and sargam, the scale-naming system in use in Indian classical music.

#590 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 03:10 PM:

@568 Mongoose

I'm 45, and yeah, I remember when toys were way less gendered. I think one of my favourite Xmas presents ever was the Fisher Price Castle (dragons! secret passages! trick stairs!), which back then came in ordinary grey, but now comes in gendered versions.

The only two dolls I enjoyed, as I recall, were Pedal Pretty and Saucy Face, which, you may have noticed, both do something mechanically.

Other than that, I used to spend hours with my best friend Billy and his Biggest Sandpile Ever With All The Tonkas. We would recreate the LG projects, using water from the lake...

Other than that, we spent all our time riding bikes, climbing trees, canoeing, swimming - completely unsupervised! Why are we not dead?

I never heard anyone say, ever, that girls shouldn't do these things. I'm solidly het and cisgendered, so my liking these things had nothing to do with sexuality or gender.

#591 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 03:25 PM:

@575 Mary Aileen

Librarian resembles that description. On good days.

Yeah. I think if I'd ever been told when I was younger that I was smart enough to do... well, anything, I might have gone for Library Science (also assuming I could have convinced my family that post-secondary education of any kind was a necessary thing).

If I were to start now, though, I'd be retirement age by the time I finished my degree. So I am envious of you, and of others who have jobs that they actually like.

#592 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 03:45 PM:

I don't know if this is a step forward or a step back, but it's certainly a step more weird for gendered toys; the pink and purple Nerf Rebelle line of girls nerf guns. I assume the Heartbreaker Bow is at least partially inspired by The Hunger Games.

#593 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 04:31 PM:

Xopher and others on singing and pitch: the closest I've come to what I think absolute pitch might feel like was when I was trying to teach myself to sing Kathy Mar's Give My Children Wings from listening to the CD. I would sing along with the CD, and then sing it in my head, and then try to sing it acapella without the CD and there was one note I CONSTANTLY blew. I couldn't figure it out, it drove me mad. Then I got chords for it and learned to sing it while playing the guitar for accompaniment ... and I could hit that note! It wasn't even hard!

Turns out Ms. Mar (though she will deny it) modulates key slightly for that one section, or at very least introduces a note that DOES NOT BELONG in the main key of the song, and my Music Coprocessor was autocorrecting me because 'clearly that was wrong'.

Oddest sensation: I was singing along in my head (as I do) while singing along in my throat, and my head-note came out fine and dandy and like I remembered from the CD, but I flatted (it seemed like) in reality and couldn't make my throat GO there. Very weird.

It would be handy to be able to get more use out of sheet music than I do, but it's also very handy to be able to be in a group singing something and when we need to shift it, say, three half-steps down to make it work in everyone's range or keep the flautist happy, I can carry on just fine and properly in tune if you give me my starting note, whereas some of my sight-singing friends have a darn hard time.

I have also occasionally impressed them by singing 'the same' harmony line I usually sing OVER the melody UNDER it instead, inverted to make it sound right, on the fly, because the person singing lead is singing it up in soprano instead of down in alto/tenor like I usually sing along with ...

I guess that's part of my musical 'party trick'. The other one is that I can match timbres on the fly with another singer, making it sound like they're double-tracking; we used to call it 'psychic singing' in grade school choir. I have a voice simply made for singing backup, it has almost no color or personality on its own. :->

#594 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 05:10 PM:

What a handy bit of open thread! I've been asked to find software to train somebody to sing on key...

Thus far, Vocal Lab looks plausible, but I'd love recommendations if folk have any...

#595 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 05:22 PM:

I'm impressed. That's much more than I can do. (I'm lucky if I can carry a tune in a bucket when it's frozen.)

#596 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Copying my comment on the article PNH linked on "prepositional" because":

I agree with Linda that it's not exactly a preposition. I'd say it's some sort of "interrupt", a meta-syntactic usage. It is a reference to the traditional usage. By traditional rules, you'd expect a clause there, but instead you get just a keyword, and the user is invited to fill in the clause. This makes it familiar. Saying "we went west, because mountains" implies that the reader will know if the speaker was sightseeing to the west, or going around the obstacle to the north.

The "interrupt" idea came when I realized that the very first usage I saw of it was probably the ironic "... and all this is inarguable, because shut up". There the interrupt is explicit, it's implying some abusive arguing tactic or the like, rather than an actual justification or support. The expanded usage may be a fad now, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might take root. We'll see.

PS: Citizen_E, I loved the little poem!

#597 ::: Ian C. Racey ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 06:55 PM:

Neil W @592--Ahh, the Nerf Rebelle. I rather suspect it represents a step forward for R&D but a step back for marketing. I think that what probably happened is the people in charge of making new toys noticed there's a market amongst their girl customers for projectile weapons (and yes, I bet The Hunger Games was a big part of that), but that the people in charge of selling the toys (or someone senior to both groups of people) was so stuck in the notion of romance-and-cooking-are-for-girls/action-war-and-engines-are-for-boys that it literally did not occur to them to market a bow and arrow for girls as something to bring down your enemies or your dinner, rather than something to pierce the heart of your true love.

#598 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 07:38 PM:

Stefan: *
I assume you've seen the recent NYT articles on changes to the statin prescription guidelines?

The guidelines were just changed, and the NYT quoted some doctors as saying they will cause a whole lot more people - millions, at the least - to be prescribed statins, with no evidence at all that it will benefit them. (It will however dramatically benefit the bottom lines of the pharmacology companies which financially support the recommending organization and have ties to some of the experts issuing the report.) Op-ed here:

One of their other articles mentioned an online risk calculator which doctors are now being directed to, where no matter what kind of health factors you put into it, it seemed to never report less than a 7.5% 10 year risk of a heart attack, which is the minimum the new guidelines say should put you on statins.

Maybe the science is good, maybe it's not, maybe this was an honest garden-variety screw-up, but something smells fishy here. Worth asking your doctor if he ran your numbers through that calculator?

* ... and I had to go double-check that I had your name right, following the recent discussion.

#599 ::: Clifton is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Probably for talking about st*t*ns, with associated URLs.

#600 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2013, 11:37 PM:

I freaking love Costco. Month supply of st*t*s cost less than $10.

I suspect I'm going to be eating lots of guacamole.

#601 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 10:19 AM:

Ferrett Steinmetz on small children and gender role enforcement.

#602 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 10:32 AM:

The first time I remember seeing the weird ", because " construction was on Radley Balko's blog. I'm pretty sure it was "because fuck you."

But it was also in the end of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance. Because Mark.

#603 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 11:24 AM:

thomas @ 565: Beyond Dave Harmon's point (that the Beijing conservatory is a more select group than Eastman), conservatory students overall are hardly representative. Is there anything on what the general population can do, both in absolute/naming pitch and in discriminating between two arbitrary close pitches (i.e., which is higher)? I wouldn't be surprised by a difference, but the figure Xopher cited (80% of all native Mandarin speakers) is higher than the paper's quote for trained musicians.

Mongoose @ 568: I'm not sure it's true that gender roles are much more rigorously defined these days; there are some obvious contradictions to this in the U.S. (Title IX, disappearance of home ec, girls taking shop when shop is offered at all, ...) but those are (AFAICT) on the other side of the water from you and specific high-profile instances rather than a clear pattern. If it is true, it leads to an interesting possibility: is some of the increase in the number of children acknowledged as transgendered happening because gender roles are being so much more tightly defined? (cf the argument that more children have allergies because they're being kept in cleaner environments and not exposed to possible desensitants.)

562/580: I no longer read reference books for fun, but that's partly due to the web and partly because there are too many unread books that fall somewhat near my tastes. But I did read most of the World Book Encyclopedia during ages 9-13 (when the nearest library was at best a once-a-week trip away); this may have been encouraged because dinner-table conversation frequently called for looking things up, such that we sometimes had several volumes spread around by the time dinner was over. (I don't remember whether the side table was already there or was brought in so the dining table wouldn't be too crowded.) This may have been affected by both my parents having taught for a long time at private high schools; they were definitely about digging rather than cramming.

Xopher @ 589: LEVAS?

Clifton @ 598: by the time your comment was posted, the Boston Globe had run the next couple of stories; there's a ruckus in some large medical group because some of the people who reviewed the material supporting the calculator had major objections which they felt were ignored; the objectors went public when (right after?) the calculator was publicized, and are now getting criticized for not making their arguments collegially first. (One story observed that the calculator was also \missing/ cases that any clinician would be expected to flag.) ISTM that right now is a bad time to accept one's practitioner's recommendation for statins without at least asking where the rec comes from (as you suggest to Stefan).

A thought on what-new-generations-can-do: I realized belatedly that a lot of the specific instances fall under the general rubric of something that could be called openmindedness -- although that term usually doesn't cover doing as much as accepting. Whatever you want to call it, this is an SF theme worthy of at least one SFRA paper (not that I'd know whether someone has already done this -- although I once tried to scratch around the edges of it).
      The oldest example I can point to as the basis of a story is Synapse Beta-sub-16 in Sturgeon's "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff"(*), which deals specifically with a high-speed version; people who know this story may be amused that the computer I'm typing this on is named Googie, because we've already been through the above names. Herbert's The Santaroga Barrier relates, although it's focused as much on blocking old bad information as on absorbing good new. (It's also Herbert's most drug-focused novel -- imagine drawing a book out of the spice scenes from Dune -- which weakens the idea of new skills.) My favorite pair is The Shockwave Rider and The Stone that Never Came Down, which I see as Brunner taking (in two successive books) two opposed slants on the development -- not just drug vs pure skill, but Wells-style miracle vs personal achievement, collaborative vs loner, ordinary people vs superman, all of these held up by the setting (UK vs US).
      wrt the original question: is being suspicious of Authority a new skill, or has it fallen over into obsessions? The upcoming anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has brought this back into focus; ISTM that The Prisoner is as much of a landmark, as it points to both malpractice and confusion by Authority.

(*) This story should still be findable in many libraries, in volume 1 of Boucher's Treasury of Science Fiction; it's worth reading, even if some of the types grate on current sensibilities.

#604 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 12:00 PM:

LEVAS is Lift Every Voice and Sing, the ECUSA Afro-American hymnal supplement.

#605 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 12:25 PM:

The Z-man is in jail again.

The text at the link describes my reaction perfectly.

#606 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 01:30 PM:

Nancy @ 601 re Ferrett Steinmetz:
This is very much the way many small kids react to my long hair in a ponytail. (A lot less common than it used to be for men, back in the '90s...) They're fascinated; some of them ask "Why do you have long hair?" or say "Boys don't wear long hair!" And then after they've seen me a few more times, they treat it as perfectly normal - for me.

The other interesting thing I've noticed about it is that it tends to get them actually talking to me. I think some kids under 12 are more apt to start talking with me than with a lot of adults, because I am a source of strangeness, and then as I treat them as conversational equals and enjoy interesting conversations with them, they're more apt to continue talking to me. (Particularly when they find out that I read some of the popular kids' and YA fantasy books.)

Less of that now that I'm not hanging out to pick my son up after school at his school's playground; I kind of miss that, now that I come to think about it. Unfortunately that context is required; adult men hanging out at a children's playground is otherwise Highly Suspicious. Perhaps rightfully, but it's unfortunate, for the possible positive interactions lost both to kids and adults.

#607 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Stefan: Why guacamole? Is avocado a good source of the "good fats"?

My cholesterol numbers are great, but my wife's aren't. Being vegetarian and health-conscious, we were already eating a diet relatively low in saturated fats, but she's now stopped eating cheese and other fat-rich dairy products we used to fall back on. I've increased my substitution of olive oil for other types and sources of fats, as olive oil seems to have all kinds of health benefits and adds a wonderful flavor to a lot of things. (E.g. toss pasta in olive oil in place of butter, use olive oil when sautéing or stir-frying in place of peanut, canola, or generic vegetable oils, etc.) We're also eating more nuts as a protein source, particularly almonds and other tree nuts.

#608 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 02:26 PM:

@Clifton: I've read good things about avacados. A "good fat" that *might* help overall cholesterol levels. Wikipedia level so far; I'll continue to research.

FWIW: Costco now sells avacado oil, which has the same uses as olive oil but can withstand much higher temperatures.

I bought a big sack of walnuts yesterday and will be eating a palmful with breakfast.

#609 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 02:38 PM:

A further P.S. on cooking:
We also bought an olive oil mister, and now I use it a lot - where I might previously have tossed vegetables in it before roasting, now I spray them lightly with it instead, which uses less oil but gets the same flavor. (I had had one previously, years ago, but ended up not using it much and then it clogged up and I threw it out.)

Roast cauliflower (easiest-recipe-in-the-world version):
1 head of cauliflower, any size
~ 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp kosher salt or sea salt, optional

Cut into small florets, toss or spray with olive oil, place on a cookie sheet. (If you're lazy about dishwashing, cover the sheet with foil.) Optionally sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 until partially browned, about 30 minutes, turning once.

You can serve it over pasta or as a side dish, use it in further recipes, or just nom it directly.

#610 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Musical topic. In a recent practice session at the piano, I started out rather disappointed in how it was going, and decided it was because I wasn't paying enough attention to where I was in the music, so I assigned an imaginary hench to be responsible for getting a continuous eyeball reading from where I needed to be in the score. The hench did well enough that I had a second one make a quick tally of all the notes I was to be pressing in that event, and a while later I may have set one to pointing out how loud or soft I should be.

Since then, I've been playing with a lot fewer errors, proceeding through former mine fields almost unexploded. I recommend the use of invisible, intangible, and/or ineffable henchpeople to anybody. I think the idea came from a recent session with a Grofe transcription with a series of counter-intuitive chords in both hands early on; I gave a standing instruction to my right hand that if the left didn't get the melody out, to bear down on the index finger of the right, because the melody was repeated up there. I should add that my hands don't talk back to me. What a silly idea. No, it's all very logical, really.

#611 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 03:36 PM:

Open threadiness: I had a weird realization today while getting a haircut. I got really uncomfortable sitting in front of a mirror for the time it took. (Not long; basically just got the whole mass whacked off at shoulder level.)

I've been growing my hair out for several years, and I don't wear makeup, so I very rarely look at myself in a mirror for more than a few seconds at a time.

I'd forgotten how much I dislike my face. In my head I'm a lot better-looking. (Not to mention younger.)

Luckily, I'm not the one who has to look at me all day!

#612 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 04:06 PM:

CHip 603: C. Wingate has it right at 604. Sorry for not explaining.

#613 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 04:08 PM:

Lila @611 - someone recently posted in my office, near the bathrooms, a note that says "Looking good, feeling good." I keep wanting to post next to it that they have it backward - feeling good needs to be a higher priority than looking good, IMO. :-)

#614 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 04:11 PM:

Clifton @607: yes, avocado is another source of "good fats".

I also add ground hemp seeds and ground flax seeds to my breakfast, and have a helping of whole chia seeds in water at some point during the day.

#615 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 04:14 PM:

Clarentine: my current favorite motivational poster is this one. Probably not a good pick for the workplace. (At least not for most workplaces.)

Katisha's also good. "My left shoulderblade is a MIRACLE of loveliness!" (Also "I am an acquired taste.")

#616 ::: Lila sleeps with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 04:15 PM:

Probably for linking to that site that sounds like little birdies.

#617 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 05:33 PM:

The distinguished gentleman from Nevada has pulled the pin out of the grenade. Judicial nominations are not the only ones affected by this rule change, but for some idea of the extent of the problem, notes that there are currently 93 vacancies in the federal circuit and district courts, with 38 of these representing a judicial emergency, and 17 future vacancies, with 53 nominations hanging fire. Plus all the agency heads waiting in the wings.

#618 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 06:20 PM:

Clifton #606: I kind of miss that, now that I come to think about it. Unfortunately that context is required; adult men hanging out at a children's playground is otherwise Highly Suspicious.

Yeah, I'm expecting to miss that some when I do give Gracie away. But yeah....

I'm divided about whether it's "rightfully": On the one hand, most men are not a danger to the children, and there's that whole "takes a village" thing. On the other hand, there's a genuine security problem from the "bad actors", and population density has aggravated that issue in recent times. (If there's more people in reach of a given kid, there will also be more aspiring molesters within reach. This applies to other sorts of crime too.)

Clarentine, #613: It may have been meant to unpack as "if you make the effort to look good, that will make you feel good". Which is probably true for most people, but also badly counterproductive for some.

#619 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 06:23 PM:

Not sure why.

#620 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 07:03 PM:

fidelio, #617: About bloody damn time. I still think Obama should have withdrawn all his nominations back around 2010, when it became obvious that the Republicans were going to block every last one of them (and most of these have been hanging fire since then), and then done a round of recess appointments.

No, you do not get to deliberately sabotage the government and then use the fact that it's not working to push your own agenda.

#621 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 07:04 PM:

Man sings Stairway to Heaven backwards, then plays video backwards. One of the more bizarre art projects I've seen.

#622 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 07:13 PM:

dcb @ 614

a helping of whole chia seeds

At one point I briefly tried regular[1] consumption of "chia seed husks in water" in the usually recommended form (mix briskly then drink quickly before it gets all weird on you) with unsatisfactory results. When I gave up on what I was "supposed" to do with them, I discovered that when soaked in just barely enough liquid to sop up and left to sit for 10 minutes, they make a remarkably good imitation of zero-calorie cream of wheat. Though I confess my favorite breakfast fails on the zero-calorie scale because I soak them in unflavored yogurt with variable savory or fruity additives. I keep meaning to do other experiments with using chia as a pudding-thickener. But why in the world does anyone recommend consuming them as a granular liquid suspension?

[1] See what I did there?

#623 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 07:16 PM:

HLN: area man will have his cat's right eye removed due to the spot inside which doctors diagnose as cancer. Ultrasounds reveal no metastasis, prognosis is optimistic.

Area man feels sad but remembers finding cat under the porch six years ago: a kitten mewling piteously and unable to take more than two steps without falling over. Man tells self that her life is much better than it would have been, and that cats recover well from enucleation.

#624 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 07:50 PM:

@622 johnofjack

I had my cat's leg removed when he had cancer on his paw. He recovered quite well, and got used to his missing leg within a few weeks. I'm sure your cat will get used to being one-eyed shortly, and continue to have a much better life than she would have had if she'd been left under the porch.

I'll keep a good thought for you and your kitty.

#625 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Good cat thoughts from here as well, johnofjack. One-eyed cats seem to get around just fine -- we don't have one, but do have a deaf cat (and have dealt with cats with various other problems). You're quite right about her life being much better with you than it might have been!

#626 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 08:26 PM:

@622 johnofjack
Cats and blindness is not an area I'm familiar with, but I'm chiming in because my blind dog is sitting on my feet grumbling to go out to bark at the 3 legged cat next-door. Pepper went blind quite quickly and had what I call a small period of depression*. With some training and TLC, she was able to learn her way around better than I dreamed would be possible. We've moved twice since then, and she's been a trooper each time.

I'm guessing your kittie will adapt to the one eyed situation more easily than she will adapt to the necessary cone-of-shame** and various restrictions during recuperation. I've never had to give a cat meds and I do not envy you that. Both the vet and the ophthalmologist did not seem to give me the sense that THEY considered enucleation a horrible thing when they brought it up.

* I am not at all trying to minimize depression by surmising that was what afflicted a dog. As a sufferer of treatment resistant clinical/major depression, dysthymia, and SAD, I'm rather unfortunately aware of how these diseases/disease spectrum can smash a person to nowhere.

** Just assuming cats dislike that lovely collar even more than the doggies. Wait, how does a kittie even wear one of those into a litter box?

#627 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 08:28 PM:

@622 johnofjack
Cats and blindness is not an area I'm familiar with, but I'm chiming in because my blind dog is sitting on my feet grumbling to go out to bark at the 3 legged cat next-door. Pepper went blind quite quickly and had what I call a small period of depression*. With some training and TLC, she was able to learn her way around better than I dreamed would be possible. We've moved twice since then, and she's been a trooper each time.

I'm guessing your kittie will adapt to the one eyed situation more easily than she will adapt to the necessary cone-of-shame** and various restrictions during recuperation. I've never had to give a cat meds and I do not envy you that. Both the vet and the ophthalmologist did not seem to give me the sense that THEY considered enucleation a horrible thing when they brought it up.

* I am not at all trying to minimize depression by surmising that was what afflicted a dog. As a sufferer of treatment resistant clinical/major depression, dysthymia, and SAD, I'm rather unfortunately aware of how these diseases/disease spectrum can smash a person to nowhere.

** Just assuming cats dislike that lovely collar even more than the doggies. Wait, how does a kittie even wear one of those into a litter box?

#628 ::: TrishB is sorry for double posting ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 08:30 PM:

Sorry for the doubling up. First time round gave me a Chrome error.

#629 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 09:14 PM:

@625 TrishB

Wait, how does a kittie even wear [a cone of shame] into a litter box?

When my old cat had to wear his, I took the lid off of the litter box, otherwise he would not have fit in.

#630 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 09:42 PM:

@628 Cheryl

Well, of course that makes perfect sense, and the whole process of uncone/cone is probably as much fun as guiding a recalcitrant cone-wearing dog down a set of stairs. Stubbornness will be invoked.

#631 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 10:19 PM:

Salmon burger + bun + spoonful of papaya salsa =

* W * I * N *

My biggest regret at not being in my old apartment is dumpster diving. End-of-the-month "we can't bring this with us!" sales netted me some amazing gear, including this George Foreman grill. Pretty much unused. Clean (although I sterilized it). Efficient. I do miss the one I wore out, which had a little bun toaster dome on top.

#632 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 10:19 PM:

@629 TrishB

Well, of course that makes perfect sense, and the whole process of uncone/cone is probably as much fun as guiding a recalcitrant cone-wearing dog down a set of stairs. Stubbornness will be invoked.

By the time my poor Rischa needed to wear a cone, he had already been through so many other medical indignities that he just sort of accepted it with limp despair.

Your Cat May Vary.

#633 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2013, 11:52 PM:

AKICML: I'm searching for a TV series that is over a dozen one-hour episodes long. It examines events such as an eruption in Iceland from geological, ecological, and sociological perspectives. Locations besides Iceland include Niagara Falls, the red strata of the East Coast, etc. Our whole family loved the show when it was on Netflix, but it's been gone for a year and a half. Unfortunately it has one of those (active adjective) + (word denoting our homeworld) titles that turns fungible in the memory. We would very much like to see it again. Can anyone help?

#634 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 12:07 AM:

Never mind--between us the husband and I finally found it! How the Earth Was Made. It's a really good all-ages introduction to geology and its place among the sciences and in daily life.

#635 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 04:02 AM:

A few times, I have noticed here the different feel of text in the edit box and as finally posted. It arises, I think, from the different line length. This paragraph edits as five lines, and you are seeing two, at most.

Quite a few guidelines on text structure seem to come from the visuals of the printed page, and in this digital age, things are a bit different. There is a point to trying to express a basic argument in a small enough space to be read without page-turning, and that principle of avoiding excessive size transfers to the question of the length of a paragraph. Here, we are writing in a space around 50 characters wide, not enormously different from a typewriter on paper with adequate margins. The display, depending on our type-size choice, can be enormously wider.

In the early days, a computer screen displayed fewer characters than a typed page. Now it can display more, but with a different line length. Has this change affected the structure of our text?

#636 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 06:54 AM:

Cheryl @ 624, Tom Whitmore @ 625, TrishB @ 626: thanks. She's a sweet cat, but neurotic. I'm hoping she won't be traumatized by the experience.

#637 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 08:32 AM:

johnofjack @622: More good thoughts for you and your kitty. Most animals adapt to these things really well. Give her lots and lots of reassurance if she wants it (and allow her to hide and sleep if she needs to do that).

#638 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 09:42 AM:

Dave Bell @ 635, I've notice that problem between page and screen with ebooks. Some are formatted exactly like the dead-tree book, with a line-space thought-break except in rare cases where the thought-break spanned a dead-tree page-break and the publisher puts in the *** thought-break symbol. This can be maddening with an ebook -- was that a thought-break on the page-turn? I'd best rescale the page and see if there's a gap...

Other publishers put in a *** or other such thought-break symbol every time. Much, much better for those of us reading on screens.

#639 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 10:17 AM:

Of traumatic interest: Atlantic story on people developing PTSD from time in the ICU.

#641 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 11:17 AM:

lee @ 620: the problem with recess appointments is that they expire -- and tend to prejudice against permanent appointment. A bull-in-a-china-shop type can do a lot in a year; a judge less so. (For that matter, I'm not sure judges \can/ be given recess appointments.)

#642 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 11:58 AM:

More to the point, of all the presidential nominees that have ever been filibustered, nearly half of them have been filibustered under Obama.

82 is how many people the Republicans have held up in these two administrations. The number that have been similarly treated in THE ENTIRE REST OF OUR COUNTRY'S HISTORY? 86.

This is ridiculous. If they're going to act like children who can't be trusted to be safe with scissors we have to take them away from them.

#643 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 11:58 AM:

Probably for spaces.

#645 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 12:27 PM:

AKICML kitchen division:

I'm making a recipe that only uses up a cup of the quart of buttermilk that was the smallest amount I could find. What sort of things can I do with the rest that don't involve baking, as the seasonal calorie barrage is already beginning? And does this stuff keep, once opened? Or should I just (as it were) eat the remainder, which isn't exactly all that expensive in the overall scheme of things? (It should be obvious that buttermilk is nowhere within my personal culinary tradition.)

#646 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 12:40 PM:

Leftover buttermilk can be used to make fresh cheese, though it's not nec'ly the most cost-effective use of resources since you'll also need about a gallon of regular milk to make maybe 1 lb of paneer-type pressed cheese or slightly more of drained but unpressed cottage/ricotta-type cheese.

#647 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Ian C Racey @597 It may just be me, but I see a little more hope in the ambiguity of the name "Heartbreaker".

And then I got distracted and wrote this:

I am left here and my heart is broken
I watch frozen as you walk out the door
I wish I’d never heard those words spoken
From now on you can’t hurt me anymore

I watch frozen, as you walk out the door
It will end soon, of that I have no doubt
From now on you can’t hurt me anymore
If only I knew what this is all about

It will end soon, of that I have no doubt
I really think that this is for the best
If only I knew what this is all about
The blood runs, blade piercing my chest

“I really think that this is for the best.”
I wish I’d never heard those words spoken
The blood runs, blade piercing my chest
I am left here and my heart is broken

#648 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 12:50 PM:

Why I have powdered dry buttermilk: so I don't have to deal with extra.

#649 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 12:58 PM:

joann @ #644: there are soups that use buttermilk to add body and piquancy. I think they're tasty. Example.

Also, buttermilk pancakes, but they're not low-cal.

I don't know if plain buttermilk freezes well, but pancakes do, and can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and reheated in the microwave.

#650 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:04 PM:

C. Wingate:
When I saw Laurie Anderson perform a few years ago, she told a story about how she had broken her neck when she was a kid (diving into too shallow a pool) and ended up in intensive care, told she might not live and would be permanently paralyzed, and would never walk again. She talked about how she'd always remembered and told that story as her own triumph over circumstances, or as "See what idiots those doctors were!", or as "I sure showed all of them!".

Then she told how, as she'd gotten older, she'd gradually started remembering the other side of it: the other kids who would come in with horrible injuries or burns; the way other kids would disappear during the night, and just wouldn't be there the next day; how it felt to lie awake almost every night, terrified, and unable to move; and just how utterly frightened and helpless she felt.

It sounded like it was deeply traumatic for her, so much so that it took a long time for her to be able to recall it and attend to how it truly felt.

#651 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:13 PM:

I second the pancakes. I made some lovely pancakes and then wrapped them two-by-two in Glad Press&Seal (I don't have a vacuum sealer) and froze most of them. It was great to have an actual hot pancake breakfast on days when I would ordinarily go for a bagel.

I am now buying the powdered buttermilk, which will keep for quite a bit of time in the fridge. The only thing it does not work well for is the batter on the deep fried pickle chips. It works just ducky for baking.

#652 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:21 PM:

Dave Bell @635: A few times, I have noticed here the different feel of text in the edit box and as finally posted.

There is a 'triangle-of-dots' in the bottom-right of the edit box, which allows you to re-size the edit box.

However, even when you change the size, it goes back to the default size the next time you use it (including a re-edit following a 'Preview'). Consequently, I rarely bother to use this feature.

I'm using Firefox; maybe your browser would handle it differently.

#653 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:23 PM:

Waffles freeze very well, too. (I reheated them in a toaster.)

#654 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:24 PM:

Regarding buttermilk, I have found that I can substitute homemade kefir for buttermilk provided I get the acid level right by using some fresh milk with it. 50/50 works for pancakes. If you are the sort of person who likes kefir it can be a cost effective thing to have around for baking and drinking when not baking. Also it is so much easier than yogurt.

#655 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:25 PM:

#649: Anderson told that story at a performance in Vancouver, WA a few years back. Chilling.

(The performance was held in a large high school auditorium. When it was over, I headed back to my car, which was parked by a playing field. In the field was a guy, maybe in his twenties, flying a kite. This was at nine or ten at night.

"There's something about flying a kite at night that's very unseemly." -- Marge Simpson)

#656 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Oh, and re:pancakes - when they say "do not overmix", they totally mean it. Don't use a whisk and stir it so it looks like smooth cake batter. It's preferable to have an accidental lump of flour than an overmixed batter. The lack of serious mixing is what makes the pancake so delightfully floofy.

#657 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:50 PM:

P J Evans #647:

Powdered buttermilk? Wow. That had never even occurred to me. (Like I said, buttermilk in general just not on the radar. And I tend to ignore powdered milk, too.) I should probably get some just to keep around for the next non-canonical cooking event.

Everyone else: I think I'll be going with something in the soupy area, now that I know what to look for. Sounds like my version of leb-lebi might be improved by buttermilk as well as the usual egg yolk(s). It should use up some of the rest.

#658 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 01:55 PM:

I use powdered buttermilk for baking, but there are canonical substitutions for buttermilk that involve adding acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to regular milk. Google for 'buttermilk substitute', or look in the back of a general cookbook if you have one that has a list of common substitutes.

#659 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 02:36 PM:

@656 nerdycellist

Oh, and re:pancakes - when they say "do not overmix", they totally mean it. Don't use a whisk and stir it so it looks like smooth cake batter. It's preferable to have an accidental lump of flour than an overmixed batter. The lack of serious mixing is what makes the pancake so delightfully floofy.

This might depend on different recipes? Because I whisk my pancake batter all the time, and I assure you, their foofiness is, indeed, delightful.

Leaving a flour lump would translate into a mouthful of unmixed flour while eating. Which would be not delightful.

#660 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Small lumps are okay - they aren't dry flour by the time you eat the pancake.

#661 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 02:57 PM:

@657 joann

Sounds like my version of leb-lebi might be improved by buttermilk as well as the usual egg yolk(s). It should use up some of the rest.

Leb-lebi? Say, you wouldn't want to post your recipe for that, would you?

#663 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Dave Harmon @618 - no doubt you are correct; this was in a law office, so the emphasis on appearance is not unexpected, but because of its placement (in the hallway leading to the ladies' room, on a mirror), it made me first blink, then scowl. The scowl need not have been if the chirpy "encouragement"/admonishment had been directed to all staff. Professional women do not need more pressure to prioritize looking decorative, thank you very much.

(And from an earlier post: we also have one of those previously-abandoned hunting dogs, a beagle; she came to us via the Orange County pound--not so very far from your own girl's Culpeper origin!)

#664 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 04:54 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @621: I've never heard of trying to take them as a granular liquid suspension. Maybe because I came to know about them via ultrarunning books such as "Born to Run". Luckily, I actually like drinking the "frogspawn". I really wasn't sure that I would, the first time, but thankfully I do.

#665 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 06:02 PM:

joannn @ 645

Things to do with buttermilk, other than make awesome biscuits (of which Sam is VERY envious) and awesome pancakes (of which Sam is only slightly less envious) and delicious tender rolls (just substitute buttermilk for the water): drink it; make lassi with it (blend it with fruit, or salt); let it sit in the refrigerator until you want it again (it keeps for months.

#666 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 06:29 PM:

AKICIML: There are now a lot of kinds of tape that come in blue. What precisely is the canonical Blue Tape, which comes off cleanly without leaving residue? And is the no-residue bit still true even if you leave it in place for a year or three before removing it?

#667 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 06:39 PM:

Mary Aileen @666:
Gaffer tape, perhaps?

#668 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 06:42 PM:

I've seen wide blue masking tape. Masking tape can be problematic if left in place for years, though.

The gaff tape I'm familiar with is black.

#669 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 06:57 PM:

The blue masking tape often called 'painter's tape' is what you're talking about, but if you leave it on for more than a week I can't make any promises.

There's another product called blue-tack (or Blu-Tak?) that's more of a putty that is recommended for, say, hanging posters on the walls of dorm rooms or other places you ARE NOT ALLOWED to mar the paint job. I know it comes off clean after a year, because I helped a friend move. But it's more 'take a small ball and squish it between the wall and the thing you're hanging,' not tape.

#670 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 07:01 PM:

3M makes a number of special-purpose masking tapes, some blue, some green (as well as the generic tan), with varying characteristics. Some provide a sharper edge, some adhere more strongly, some can be left on longer while still remaining easy to remove. A little searching reveals that they've trademarked "ScotchBlue". They have a tape selector to help choose, but they don't address how long their tapes can be left. A competitor says one of their tapes can be left up to 21 days, another up to 60, but notes that UV exposure can shorten that time.

#671 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 07:03 PM:

Mary Aileen @666--Most home improvement stores will be happy to sell you something called 'blue painter's tape', which is similar to masking tape but is supposed to represent an improvement on that product. If I was having trouble finding a roll, either in the tape & adhesive section or the painting supplies section, I'd ask for it by that designation, not leaving out the 'painter's' part of the formula.

#672 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 07:19 PM:

The canonical blue tape is blue masking tape. It does come off cleanly longer than than the older kind of masking tape, but I don't have any personal experience to say how much longer.

#673 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 07:25 PM:

John Boehner signed up for Obamacare today: he began the process as a stunt, but wound up getting a good deal on health insurance.

And lucky for him! Turns out Obamacare even covers preexisting orangeness.

#674 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 07:35 PM:

Anyone else watched Almost Human? After hearing some good word of mouth, I watched the pilot online and I'm impressed. It's a well-realized dsytopian 2048, and Karl Urban and Michael Ealy do a good job as the traumatized cop and his android partner.

I think it's better than Agents of SHIELD.

Almost Human first episode

#675 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 07:54 PM:

#667-672: Thanks all. Blue painter's tape sounds like the right thing.

Elliott Mason (669): I'm familiar with the blue-tack stuff, under the name 'poster putty'. It will in fact sometimes leave a slight oily residue on the walls when the posters come down, but at least it doesn't pull the paint off. But for this purpose I need actual tape.

#676 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 07:58 PM:

The first time I tried to preview the above, I got an error message:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Clicking the Back button and then reclicking the Preview button worked.

#677 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 08:00 PM:

Mary Aileen @666: I think you want painter's masking tape, and in most cases it will come off fairly cleanly even after an extended period of time, but it does depend on things like relative humidity and exposure to sunlight, so YMMV.

HLN: Area woman, vision still blurry due to gas bubble as well as cycloplegia, finds herself distracted by now 9-week old kittens. Her FF, upon arrival, had to search through the house to find our correspondant. Alas, although it is Friday, the traditional pizza must be forgone due to unsteady lower intestinal fortitude, secondary to prolonged recent stressors, admitted the local women. In standby, however, there are reserves of freshly made borscht, waiting to engage in support of healing.

#678 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 09:16 PM:

Steve C @674: Almost Human is also on free Hulu (no payment required, but only watchable on computers unless you pay).

Interestingly, the closed captions had a radically different line than the sound track at one point:

Fbhaqgenpx: Lbh'er yhpxl lbh tbg gur bar jvgu gur oyrrqvat urneg.

Pncgvba: P'zba, pbjobl, trg lbhe chefr. Jr'er yrnivat.

The person speaking was off-camera at the time, it could be a later re-dub that they didn't fix the captions? Odd, anyway. I'm used to mondegreens in my cc feed, but that's clearly a rewrite or something, not a miskey or mishear.

#679 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 09:20 PM:

In other news, I have cooked a batch of blueberry muffins using dried blueberries (also containing oatmeal, yogurt, cinnamon, and vanilla) that I actively like eating.

Since I don't like blueberries this is becroggling to me. I actually can't taste them; they're sort of little texture-nodules embedded in the bread, mildly distasteful (to me; texture issue) but quickly over.

This may be a way to get more fruit/nutrients/antioxidants/etc into myself ... Now if only the kid who specifically requested blueberry muffins today were interested in eating them I'd be completely over the moon. She won't touch 'em. Luckily, we grownups like 'em fine.

#680 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 09:31 PM:

Elliott Mason @679: I've seen that a number of times on various shows, where I suspect they rewrote a line at the last minute, it never made it into the copy of the script used to create the captions, and nobody caught the difference.

#681 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 09:46 PM:

Painters' tape: we recommend Frog Tape. It's green, and you can get it at Staples or Home Despot. Does an even better job of not letting stuff under the edges.

#682 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 09:56 PM:

cheryl #661:

I don't really have a leb-lebi recipe, more something I consed up after watching Ian Wright in Tunisia on Globetrekker. (He wasn't too keen on what he had, but it sounded interesting.) I make a sort of onion soup with added canned garbanzo beans, and get out my Big Pho Bowl. Four or five baguette slices in the bottom (shows you how big the bowl is), pour olive oil over, put an egg yolk or two in the middle, pour the hot soup over that, and throw in either harissa or the jalapeno cilantro dip I get from the local Lebanese shop, plus dash of lemon juice and some chopped oil-cured black olives and maybe some capers. Expect to feel very full.

#683 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 10:00 PM:

The buttermilk went into some highly enviable pumpkin bread, recipe from America's Test Kitchen, also involving cream cheese, toasted pecans (they said walnuts but we're mildly allergic) and an awful lot of brown sugar.

#684 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 10:00 PM:

The buttermilk went into some highly enviable pumpkin bread, recipe from America's Test Kitchen, also involving cream cheese, toasted pecans (they said walnuts but we're mildly allergic) and an awful lot of brown sugar.

#685 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 10:01 PM:

I seem to have encountered a dread server error, hence the double post. It also muttered about a 404.

#686 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 10:10 PM:

joann (681): I'm not actually painting anything; I want to tape down some wires, longish-term, and would like them not be all sticky with tape residue when I eventually remove them.

----- (683): Sounds yummy!

#687 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 11:17 PM:

Mary Aileen @686, My experience with years-old masking tape is that it doesn't leave a sticky residue, it leaves a gritty residue. Like dried-up glue. I presume (but do not know) that specialized masking tape like the blue or green stuff would be similar.

#688 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2013, 11:52 PM:

Mary Aileen:

In one of the convention discussions on or linked from Making Light I seem to recall mention of the great diversity of blue tapes and the revelation of the secret name of the most-non-paint-removing version.

That's vague enough to be almost useless, isn't it. Sorry.

#689 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 01:17 AM:

For today's Google Doodle: an 8-bit Doctor Who videogame. Link is to the Slate article, which is a bit more permanent than just linking to Google....

#690 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 01:35 AM:

When I had new windows installed, the installers taped plastic to the wallpaper in my kitchen using blue tape. This was puzzling, since they could have taped it to the nearby painted cabinets. I saw the tape as they were starting to clean up, and expressed alarm. The worker said, "Oh, no. It's blue tape and won't damage anything." He pulled off the long strip of tape, and it peeled the surface of the wallpaper off for its entire length.

They were very apologetic. I didn't want to repaper the whole kitchen, and there was no hope of matching the old wallpaper, but I was fine with them painting that wall.

The painter showed up, opened the paint, and it was the wrong color. They got the right color, and painted the wall. He moved the curtains to the middle of the rod and wrapped them in plastic to keep them clean while he painted. When he was done, and the paint was still wet, he took off the plastic, and got paint on the curtains.

As the paint dried, I began to wonder about how little time he'd left between coats. I checked the can, and realized he hadn't left enough time. It dried very, very slowly. I think it was weeks later before I put up a picture. When I checked it later, I found the back of the frame adhered to the paint.

They are good windows, and seem to be installed just fine.

#691 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 02:03 AM:

Wow, someone just called me Chrissy on Facebook.

And we weren't even fighting.

I asked her not to. If she does it again, it's block time.

#692 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 02:12 AM:

Annnnnd a little back and forth later, I got a very nice apology. It's so nice when things work out.

#693 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 03:51 AM:

Mary Aileen @666 and thomas @688, here’s a thread about room parties from 2006 that mentions the blue tape; scroll down to comment #28, by Erik V Olson. And here’s the Googling trick that found it for me.

#694 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 04:13 AM:

It feels a little churlish, but the concentration by the BBC of Doctor Who is starting to feel excessive. I have other things to do, but over the last few days the programming has been excessive.

Thursday was about four hours, running until after midnight, and not all available via iPlayer. There was another lump on Friday.

I could have booked a ticket for the 3D version in one of the local cinemas. No thanks. Maybe I should watch Worzel Gummidge instead.

#695 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 04:17 AM:

Avram #693

Yes, that's it

Also sprach Eric V. Olson of General Technics

For hotel and party signs, the answer is clear, 3M Scotch-Blue Painter's Masking Tape, PN 2090. It costs about $5 a roll. It is cheap at five times the price. Cheap tape can damage paint or wallpaper. 3M 2090 was made to be stuck to paint for 14 days, and come off cleanly.

For the paranoid, and for brand new hotels, or for hotels costing more than $500 a night rack, 3m Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape For Delicate Surfaces, PN 2080. It costs more, it won't hold anything up but a piece of paper (and if the wall is dirty, it won't even hold that) but if there is anything that will not damage the surface, this is it. It also costs more. I don't stock 2080 in the hotel kits, but I will buy it if I sense or find a need. 2090 is the right answer 99% of the time.
#696 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 10:19 AM:

thomas (688): I have the same memory. That's why I asked here: I was hoping the local expert would chime in.

...And I see Avram found it, at 693. Much gnome-avoiding gratitude.

Sounds like it might not be strong enough for my purposes, though. I don't need to hold the cord down, I need to hold it up.

Cassy B (687): Good to know.

#697 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 10:32 AM:

I think of the blue tape as "Access Tape." That's because 90% of the time it's been in my visual field was at WisCon, marking out wheelchair and hearing-impaired access areas.

#698 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 11:10 AM:

JanetL @690: I feel some Flanders and Swann coming on ...

#699 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 11:49 AM:

Mary Aileen: Holding cords in place without leaving residue is the primary purpose of gaffer tape. Reviews on suitability for long-term use vary - some people get residue after a few weeks, others say they've removed it cleanly after years. Cost may also be an issue.

*All knowledge in this post was obtained online. I have no personal experience.

#700 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 12:04 PM:

Note that while gaffer tape often LOOKS like duct tape, it's very much NOT duct tape. Make sure you get the stuff that actually calls itself gaffer tape.

#701 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 12:16 PM:

Cally @ #700: definitely. Among the many differences: duct tape is flammable. Gaffer tape is not.

#703 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 12:34 PM:

Dave Bell at # 635: That's a thought-provoking question. I'm not sure what I think about how reading online changes the way we write. I do know that guidelines for writing for the web emphasize making your point in the first few words and not forcing the readers to scroll down. But I think these advice-givers primarily have smart phones in mind.

#704 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Note that while gaffer tape often LOOKS like duct tape, it's very much NOT duct tape. Make sure you get the stuff that actually calls itself gaffer tape.

#705 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 12:46 PM:

Oops, sorry for the double post. Silly of me to believe an error message....

#706 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 01:22 PM:

Cally @705: Trust, but verify. :->

#707 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 05:32 PM:

One wonders at the person who could write "The scripture also mentions Christians and Jewish people should also be subjective."

#708 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Open thread (Who, no spoilers)

Steven Moffat knocked it out of the park - a real David Tenant episode mixed with a real Matt Smith episode mixed with *all the nostalgias* and a companion coming into their own. Watched with my wife who only knows new who, was not that enamoured of the last series or two, and was blown away.

Am amazing bit of television.

#709 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 06:30 PM:

Doctor Who was great fun. There was an 'afterparty' on BBC3 immediately afterwards, featuring lots of old faces it was nice to see again, filtered through the trademark idiocy of BBC3. They did a live linkup with One Direction in LA. There was a several-second delay and a few minutes of excruciating live embarrassment ensued. Mr Moffat is seen trying to sink into the sofa in shame.

#710 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 06:39 PM:

I went to see the anniversary special in a theater (which was just about packed, btw). Google Maps told me it was a 30 minute drive, so I left 50 minutes before the scheduled time. Then traffic stretched the drive out to an hour. But then they didn't actually start screening the program until forty minutes after the scheduled time, so that worked out. (I was really unhappy during that drive.)

Totally agreed with Russ@708: the only way I could imagine that being better is if they'd managed to get Eccleston to appear. I laughed out loud (literally) and I cheered (okay, not literally).

#711 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 07:15 PM:

I agree. This episode was definitely hit for six.

#712 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 07:16 PM:

My very recent experience with 4 years-old masking tape is that it leaves a residue if you're lucky. Otherwise, it leaves masking tape behind. Argh.

#713 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 07:20 PM:

Returning to the word mines: "As a result of male dominance, woman’s suffrage arose and allowed for the study feminism to thrive." Does anyone have a number for the Samaritans?

#714 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 07:31 PM:

Tracie (712): Hmmm. Maybe I'd be better off using the clear packing tape again. At least that came up.

#715 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 07:46 PM:

#712 Tracie, I have had some success moving old masking tape with isopropyl alcohol. I used the isopropyl on a cloth, let it sit a minute or so, moved the cloth along, and peeled the tape. I also have plastic scrapers in the form-factor of double-sided razor blades, quite handy for this.

#716 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 07:58 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 713: Please convey my best wishes to the author, adding that I said, "You're welcome."

#717 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 08:00 PM:

DoctorWho50th spoilers:

Qvqa'g jr nyernql xabj sebz gur raq bs Graanag'f gvzr gung Tnyyvserl jnfa'g qrfgeblrq? Va snpg, evtug nsgre gur fcrpvny gurl oebnqpnfg gur fgbel jurer gur Tnyyvserlnaf pbzr bhg bs gurve rkgenhavirefny gvzrybpx naq gel gb gnxr bire gur Rnegu.

V thrff lbh pbhyq nethr gung gur gvzrybpx jnf evtug orsber gurl jrer tbvat gb or qrfgeblrq, ohg vg jnf pyrne gung Gra xarj gurl unqa'g orra qrfgeblrq va gur byqre rcvfbqr.

#718 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 08:02 PM:

DoctorWho50th spoilers:

Qvqa'g jr nyernql xabj sebz gur raq bs Graanag'f gvzr gung Tnyyvserl jnfa'g qrfgeblrq? Va snpg, evtug nsgre gur fcrpvny gurl oebnqpnfg gur fgbel jurer gur Tnyyvserlnaf pbzr bhg bs gurve rkgenhavirefny gvzrybpx naq gel gb gnxr bire gur Rnegu.

V thrff lbh pbhyq nethr gung gur gvzrybpx jnf evtug orsber gurl jrer tbvat gb or qrfgeblrq, ohg vg jnf pyrne gung Gra xarj gurl unqa'g orra qrfgeblrq va gur byqre rcvfbqr.

#719 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 08:07 PM:

OK, now that time it explicitly told me posting had failed. Sorry, folks.

#720 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 08:35 PM:

The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot: "With the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who about to film, the 'Classic' Doctors are keen to be involved. But do they manage it?"

#721 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 08:44 PM:

Xopher #718:

Doctor Who 50th Spoilers cyphered:
Erzrzore gung jr ner gbyq gung gur pbairetrapr bs gur Qbpgbef jvyy or sbetbggra. Cyhf, jr frr gung Uheg'f Qbpgbe ortvaf gb ertrarengr va uvf GNEQVF vzzrqvngryl hcba yrnivat gur Angvbany Tnyyrel.

V engure yvxrq gur Gbz Onxre pnzrb, ogj. Gung jnf n ybiryl tenpr abgr.

#722 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 09:16 PM:

So far, Atlantis seems to have little to recommend it other than a hunky lead.

This not being the least of virtues, I'm watching it.

#723 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 09:35 PM:

#713 ::: Fragano Ledgister

Has anyone ever seen a student make the transition from incoherence to comprehensibility? If so, what did it take?

#724 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 09:40 PM:

Doctor Who spoilers:

Sentnab, V nterr, gur Gbz Onxre pnzrb jnf n cresrpg pbqn gb gur rcvfbqr.

Gurer unq orra fhpu n terng nzbhag bs ulcr yrnqvat hc gb guvf gung V jnf nsenvq vg jbhyqa'g qryvire. Ohg gurl chyyrq vg bss.

Guvatf V yvxrq: gur jnl gur guerr Qbpgbef vagrenpgrq. Gur qvssrerag fglyrf bs Graanag, Fzvgu, naq Uheg pbzcyrzragrq rnpu bgure.

Gur vqrn bs gur nanylfvf bs gur jbbqra qbbe va gur Gbjre jbhyq or cebprffrq bire gvzr ol gur fbavp fperjqeviref -- naq gura gur qbbe orvat haybpxrq gur jubyr gvzr.

Frrvat Ovyyvr Cvcre ntnva. Ybiryl jbzna.

Vg jnf terng.

#725 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 09:47 PM:

OK, the identification of Crete with Atlantis notwithstanding, Minos and his bull were in Crete. Also, if you're going to borrow from Renault, the Minotaur is the Man Bull, not the Earth Bull. If there's an earthquake by the end of the episode, I'll buy the episode title.

Fragano 721: Ohg abg gur nqiragher jvgu gur Znfgre, qhevat juvpu Gra nyernql xarj gung Tnyyvserl unq abg orra oheag. Gung unccrarq nsgre guvf rcvfbqr va uvf crefbany gvzryvar, ohg ur pyrneyl qvqa'g sbetrg vg. Naq gurer'f abg rkphfr sbe Ryrira abg xabjvat vg, fvapr rira vs ur qvqa'g erzrzore GQBGQ ur unq gb erzrzore GRBG.

#726 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 10:05 PM:

Atlantis is a two-eye show. "Eye" for Idiotic and "eye" for Eye Candy. Seriously, it's almost as crackbrained as, and shreds mythology even more than, the old Hercules series, but without the latter's wit and clever dialogue.

Gorgeous lead, though.

#727 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 11:14 PM:

Xopher, I entirely concur with your assessment of Atlantis. The eye candy was what made it possible for me to wait it out until the Graham Norton Show came on so I could see Matt Smith and David Tennant.

And, while the lead in Atlantis was very pretty, David Tennant is much more my style.

#728 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 11:16 PM:

Oldster, #673: Will this experience cause Boehner to change anything he says or does concerning Obamacare? Of course not; he doesn't want to be RINO'd in the next primary election.

#729 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2013, 11:35 PM:

Non Spoilery:

There have been "Doctors get together for an adventure" specials before of course, but they've had a contrived "stunt" feel to them.

This one seemed justified. It was about erqrzcgvba naq frpbaq punaprf.

Gbz Onxre / gur phengbe jnf Sna Freivpr, ohg irel jrypbzr. V thrff lbh pbhyq whfgvsl vg ol univat n sne-shgher Qbpgbe tnvavat gur cbjre gb znavchyngr uvf nccrnenapr qhevat n ertrarengvba.

#730 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 12:34 AM:

Last month, I helped my cousin set up her new-to-her PC. I cleared out old profiles, installed AVG and Malwarebytes, got her set with email, Facebook, and Skype (so she could chat with her granddaughter in TO).

She called me yesterday because she can't connect to the internet. I advised her to contact her ISP, which she did, and she called be back to tell me that apparently she no longer has a network driver.

Where did it go? Well, my cousin told me, her friend from down the hall has been "fixing" her computer. After a short chat, I realised her friend

- doesn't know how to copy and paste
- says her Dell Windows XP PC doesn't have a C drive because "it's different"
- advised my cousin to remove AVG because it was interfering with playing an online game.

System Restore it is!

#731 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 02:00 AM:

Mary Aileen: Does it have to be tape?
3M Command
products have various kinds or cable organizers, as well as the more common hooks.

#732 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 07:42 AM:

Gender essentialism kills people.

Some of the top researchers in anal cancer (in both male and female patients) are OB-GYNs. Now they've been told to stop treating and doing research on male patients or lose their certification.

#733 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 08:39 AM:

Xopher Halftongue@725

How about: Gur gvzrybeqf fraq gur zrffntr gb gur znfgre sebz n zbzrag orsber gur oheavat bs Tnyyvserl va na nggrzcg gb oernx gur gvzrybpx naq oevat gur cynarg guebhtu gvzr naq fcnpr gb rfpncr. Jura gurl'er erohssrq ol gur Qbpgbe, gur cynarg oheaf (be fb ur guvaxf). Pna gung or pebj-oneerq va?

Be ryfr pnyy vg gur vzcbffvovyvgl bs xrrcvat zrzbevrf fgenvtug npebff zhygvcyr crefbany gvzryvarf.

Rira sernxvre vf gur vzcyvpngvba gung gur *svefg* qbpgbe xarj nobhg gur gvzr jne (pyrnerq hc ol gur zrzbel fpenzoyr gung unccraf jura ur pebffrf uvf bja gvzr fgernz V thrff, ohg fgvyy...).

V guvax - sbe n frira frnfba (be zber...) ergpba bs n gvzr geniry fubj juvpu unf bayl n abqqvat npdhnvagnapr jvgu pnaba naq pbafvfgrapl ng gur orfg bs gvzrf - gur 50gu qvq na haoryvrinoyr wbo bs cerggl zhpu svggvat va naq znxvat frafr.

#734 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 09:57 AM:

HLN: local aspiring author reports "I have good news and bad news on NaNoWriMo Day 24.

Good news: I just went back and re-read my WIP from the beginning. It's pretty good.

Bad news: I need someone else to take over writing it so I can find out what happens next!"

#735 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 10:13 AM:

There's some evidence that honey before sleep improves sleep. Some people use a teaspoon, some use a tablespoon. It doesn't have to be immediately before sleep. It seems to work for a large majority of the people who try it, but not everyone.

It helps to not eat sugar during the day.

It works for me in a very observable way-- without honey, I wake up more times during the night than I can keep track of. With honey, I wake up once.

#736 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 10:14 AM:

I've been gnomed-- possibly for a link, possibly for mentioning honey so many times it might seem as though I'm selling it.

Would the gnomes like some pine barrens honey?

#737 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 10:56 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #723:

It can happen. It generally takes having errors pointed out, having good writing modelled, and getting the student a lot of help. The student generally wants to do better.

#738 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 11:39 AM:

mary aileen @ 686/696: none of the paper tapes are good for wires, which have too much bulk and mass (especially if you're hanging the wires); I would not recommend packing tape (to put it mildly). Gaffer tape is probably the least-bad choice; if your concern about residue is only for the wires, you can even get tape that has adhesive on the outer parts only. One problem: such tapes are generally sold only in large rolls (50+ yards). will certainly have something, possibly cheaper than your local even with shipping, but it will probably still cost $15+; if you know any techies (e.g., at the local SF convention), ask them if they can give you a piece or buy the rest of the roll from you.

#739 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Allan Beatty @ 702: interesting fact. But I think my point stands; Eisenhower was doing genuine recess appointments (to make sure that fatalities didn't leave the court short-staffed) and enough of a centrist to get away with it; neither party could today.
      I'm especially amused that his first recess appointment was Earl Warren, who the Republicans probably would have choked on if they'd had a crystal ball. (Eisenhower himself has been said to have massively regretted appointing Warren, but Wikipedia cites another source denying that Eisenhower ever said so.)

#740 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 12:24 PM:

janetl (731): I have two cord-taming puposes in mind. I need to run a phone cord ~30' around a corner from one room to another, taping it down securely where it crosses a doorway. And I want to put the toaster oven on the other side of the sink, which means running its cord across the back of the sink; I want to secure it *up*, where it won't get wet. Hooks might work for the second purpose, but only if they're both secure (no risk of falling) and removable (rental apartment). I think tape is a better choice.

I bought Scotch blue painter's tape this morning. We'll see how it goes.

...And I just saw CHip's #738. Looks like the painter's tape is a mistake. Oops.

#741 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Command hooks are both very secure and very removable; we use them for everything from cord-management (like a place to stick one end of my ebook charger on the side of my nightstand so I don't have to fish around on the floor constantly in the dust bunnies for the end that's in the power strip) to hanging the kid's apron on one, and she yanks on that puppy pretty good. They come in multiple sizes/ranges of strength.

#742 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 12:55 PM:

Mary Aileen:
The details about what you're using it for help a lot, particularly "rental apartment".

For running the cord safely above the sink, I'd use either cup-hooks or (better) heavy-duty staples from a staple gun. No residue on cord, and it is much easier to fill tiny holes than to remove any kind of tape from walls leaving no mark.

The staple-gun might work well for the phone cord also, especially going through the doorway to make sure it doesn't slip and get crushed, though there are also some things you can get for putting over a cord running along the floor - not sure what they're called, but it's a cord cover with a low flat profile, tapered to the ground on each side and made of rubbery plastic. Basically it holds the cord in place and makes it not trip-over-able, if that were a word. I don't suppose a cheap cordless phone is an option? -- because that's certainly how I'd solve it if it were.

[Bring back the ? -- punctuation combo! Nineteenth century writers used all kinds of interesting combinations of punctuation with dashes, which are now Not Done. Also combinatinos should totally be a word and not a typo.]

#743 ::: Clifton is gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Probably creative punctuation. Perhaps the gnomes would like to try some pumpkin and cream-cheese frosting jelly roll things - store bought at Costco but pretty good.

#744 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 01:24 PM:

Clifton (742): Staples won't work; that's a tile wall over the sink. I don't think cup-hooks will work either--in my experience the suction cups ones don't stay up indefinitely, and I can't see how to attach anything else in a removable manner. What I might do is get an over-sink shelf and wrap the cord around the length of it.

A cordless phone is the obvious alternative solution, but I hate cordless phones. I may still go with that, though.

#745 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Command Hooks come in a bath version for tile, although the regular ones should work in a less wet environment than a shower. Depending on the size and number of cords, the outdoor lights version currently on sale should also work.

#746 ::: Tracie is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Would Your Lownesses like coffe or tea with Your apple pie? Shenandoah apples.

#747 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @735: ...Wake up more times per night than you can count? Have you seen a doctor about that? That isn't normal, and is likely a symptom of some sort of sleep problem such as apnea. In which case the honey may only be keeping you from waking up enough to remember waking, rather than actually helping the underlying problem.

#748 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 02:19 PM:

I'll also suggest Command Hooks; I've used them in five different rental apartments now for a variety of purposes, and they work wonderfully without taking paint/plaster/anything else with them when you take them down.

#749 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 02:43 PM:

Xopher #725: You're right. That's a pretty big plot hole.

#750 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Tracie (745): Those look extremely promising. Much gratitude.

#751 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 06:00 PM:

@732: This is horrifying. What about trans men who need gynecological exams? Will they no longer be allowed to visit gynecologists?

I'm really angry that valuable cancer detection/screening will not be available to people who need it because they're going to the "wrong" doctor. Outrageous.

#752 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 08:15 PM:

#747 ::: David Goldfarb

Almost certainly hot flashes.

#753 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 08:51 PM:

Teka Lynn at # 751: I hope that the gender essentialists who want to control which patients a doctor can treat would consider trans men to still be women. Or at least they would if they were consistently wrong.

#754 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Sounds to me more as though they are specialty essentialists.

#755 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Well, "we have to treat women, and just tell our non-women-facing colleagues how to do the procedures we've been doing on women for 20 years and have all the experience in.", says the male head of the College of Looking at Women's Special Bits. The male director of evaluation agreed.

Okay, I can see an issue where if too many OB-GYN went over to treating mostly anal issues (and mostly men), we'd exascerbate the problems we're having with "trials on men, because women add way too many variables, especially if they might get pregnant" leading to "do not take X if you are pregnant or might become pregnant" (because we never tested it, so the FDA never certified it) - but, seriously?

#756 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2013, 03:21 PM:

Open threadiness, from the You Can't Make This Shit Up (because no one would believe it) Department: Man planning murder accidentally buttdials intended victim. While discussing the actual murder plans, that is.

#757 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2013, 03:44 PM:

Lila: That's more or less the plot of the famous Suspense radio play "Sorry, Wrong Number", except in that case it was crossed wires. I never thought it'd come true, though.

#758 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Updated to chill a new audience: "Sorry, Wrong Butt-Dial."

#759 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2013, 06:01 PM:

Hitchcock's "Dial D for Derrière"?

#760 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2013, 06:12 PM:

abi, the article at your parhelia, "Why I make bad decisions", is very well written, and very powerful. I read a number of the comments, and the author replies in a very amazing way to, well, the normal vitriol one finds in the comments.

There's a lot there. Scalzi's "Being Poor" was great - this comes from a different direction, and is as good, or better.

Buried in there somewhere is a link to My Mother, My Daughter, which is absolutely gut-wrenching.

I don't think I'll ever really understand where the folks who write pieces like these are coming from (due to luck, privilege, etc.), but what I do understand, well, "ouch" doesn't begin to cover it.

Keep posting these. Every little bit of even partial understanding helps.

#761 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 01:15 AM:

TNH, thank you for the link to Old Finnish People With Things On Their Heads. Juan and I went to Kiasma when we were in Helsinki, and it was one of the high points of our entire trip.

They have a whale made out of square wooden organ pipes, and it hangs there in space and you can walk around it, and I could HEAR it because those pipes are huge. It was the most amazing thing. I grinned so big I thought my mouth might get stuck.

#762 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 07:47 AM:

A sad day for all cruciverbalists.

#763 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 08:17 AM:

ARRGGGHH! Our old mail server, which has been falling over repeatedly for the past 2-3 years, has finally died. Okay, so I have to move properly to using "myname@newwork" rather than the "myname@oldwork" ("oldwork" organisation was absorbed into "newwork" organisation a few years ago). No big deal BUT I've been using oldwork email for some 17 years, so:

1) because oldwork mail server has died, I'm going to have to go through and notify lots and lots of people individually - I can't just ask Outlook to send an email to everyone.
2) I've got so much in Outlook (lots of emails with attachments, over the years) that it won't save as a single .pst file (too big, apparently), so I'm going to have to go through and save 60+ folders as separate .pst files then copy them to two places for safety then build up the new Outlook.
3) We can't just set up an autoforwarding system from "oldmail" to "newmail" (because the server won't start up) so if someone tries to contact me on the email address I've been using for the last 17 years, it will bounce.

Not happy.

Additionally, I've been using gmail for my personal email for some months and it's getting unmanegable. Anyone got any suggestions for a free email system I can use which will allow me to set up folders within my Inbox?

#764 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 09:46 AM:

Tykewriter @762: yes. He's irreplaceable. That said, there are worse ways to go than "aged 92, still at the very top of your game".

I'm enjoying this thread on people's favourite clues. (Mine is the Dunmow Flitch one mentioned in the OP).

#765 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 09:49 AM:

("Top of your game" professionally, that is. No intention to make light of his pretty horrible illness. Sorry. Head full of cold and not thinking clearly today.)

#766 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 10:24 AM:

dcb @ 763: Gmail will let you set up folders, but it's so long since I set mine up that I can't remember how to do it.

#767 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 10:46 AM:


I think you have to do it with the web interface (not a local mail client), and you need the full web interface, not the one it wants to give you with a tablet or phone. This can be a pain in the a-- when you're somewhere with *only* your tablet and your phone. It is often quite a pain to find a way to get back into the full web page instead of the crippled tablet page. I have no idea why they do that--someone got too clever, I guess.

#768 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 10:57 AM:

This article talks about why Obama didn't know (or didn't say) that the healthcare website project was a disaster that would never go live on time. The writer is confused about how this happened, but I'm sure not--I've worked on software projects before. In software projects, there is often this odd form of reverse-mushroom-management, in which each layer of the management hierarchy filters out some of the cries of danger and impending disaster from the layer below them (often to avoid p-ssing off the boss). This whole thing looks pretty standard to me--there's a huge software project, the CEO's reputation is on the line, and his immediate underlings tell him everything's going to be fine. Meanwhile, they're discounting some of the concerns about possible problems from the high level managers below them, while leaning on them to get the problems fixed somehow. And those managers are doing the same, and so on down the chain, till you get to the actual developers and testers who are screaming bloody murder and being told to shut up and get with the program.

There is a certain shared gallows camaraderie working on a project that you and all your team members all know is a certain disaster, but which you cannot get your management to acknowledge has any problems that more work and dedication and positive thinking from your team cannot fix, somehow.

#769 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 11:17 AM:

It actually did go live on schedule, and they found out it needed to be fixed - which has been happening, and it works much better now.
(I know the feeling: I worked at a wholesale nursery that converted its paper inventory system to computer, and there were all kinds of interesting quirks, mostly due, I think, to the paper system having some real shortcuts in it. They were avoidable problems, but it would have required changing the way they looked at things.)

#770 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 01:47 PM:

I worked for Health and Human Services (aka Health, Education and Welfare when I came on board) and using IT, with all its' advantages has always been resisted by certain layers of the agency's hierarchy.

Which means they contract out for a lot of it -- but how do you supervise that which you don't understand? Audit didn't get its' own IT troubleshooting department until about 5 years ago, when we'd been using desktops since 1995.

The Federal government continually stabs itself in the foot by Congress's unwillingness to fund what it mandates. It doesn't help that the Republicans seem to want to always spike the guns...

#771 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Pope Francis attacks 'tyranny' of unfettered capitalism, 'idolatry of money'

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March. In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare."
#772 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 770... how do you supervise that which you don't understand?

Supervisors are supposed to understand?

#773 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 03:24 PM:

So I mentioned on the book of faces that the plot bunnies are forcing me to write a thing, announced that it would be derivative, and requested beta readers. Someone asked what it was going to be about and I said "suburban bookseller saves the world. They said write what you know. And lord knows I've saved the world enough..." and bless him, but one of my old HS friends with a super-genius IQ asked (honestly) about when I saved the world. This is not the first time he has responded to my (mild) attempts at humor with earnestness. Does anyone know the word or phrase that describes what I attempted to do with that allegedly humorous sentence, so I can gently explain to my friend before anyone else mocks him? In the past he as appreciated explanations of things that go over his head. Or is his reaction a sign that I should stay away from writing or attempting humor?

#774 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 03:26 PM:

HLN weather: Snow and sleet in the Houston area. It's gotta be a sign of the apocalypse.

#775 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 03:34 PM:

"It was self-mocking humor."?

#776 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 03:57 PM:

@773 - Ludicrous exaggeration?

My NaNoWriMo is also a response to write what you know, which is why there are rockets and lasers and occult murders and white collar crime. Also an opera*.

* I don't actually know a lot about opera, but I have sat in the same room as people who do and were gossiping about what went on several times, which is pretty much the same thing (I hope)

#777 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 03:57 PM:

nerdycellist @773: FWIW, your blurb made me smile.

#778 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 04:17 PM:

Mongoose @766, albatross @767: I've only ever used gmail on a laptop, using the web interface - I wouldn't know how to set it up with a "local main client" whatever that is. And I've never used it on a tablet or a phone, 'cos I don't have a tablet or a smartphone. But I've never seen any option to be able to sort into folders. It graciously decided to provide me with three tabs - Primary, Social and Promotions - a while back, but that's all.

If ANYONE can tell me how to set up folders in gmail then I would be VERY VERY grateful.

#779 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 04:27 PM:

If everyone did nothing but write what they knew, there'd be no SF. No fantasy. Not much fiction of any kind, to be honest.

I once got lambasted for presuming to write SF in which one of the main protagonists was a non-gendered asexual person of colour. How, I was asked, could I possibly write about the experience of such a person? (Note that the questioner knew perfectly well that I'm a non-gendered, asexual white person.) I told them that if I accepted that argument, I couldn't possibly have any characters who were male, female, or sexual. That would, I submit, rather limit things.

(And we won't even start on the fact that my protagonist lives on Mars and spends most of the story on Titan, and therefore just possibly has a rather different set of experiences from a hypothetical non-gendered asexual person of colour living on Earth around now.)

#780 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 04:56 PM:

There's a 'create folder' option in Gmail, hiding under the folder icon on the menu bar above the inbox (the little arrrow goes to a dropdown menu).

My annoyance is that on a netbook screen, I can't scroll down the sidebar menu all the way to the bottom.

#781 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 05:02 PM:


On my Gmail web view, it shows the existing set of folders (Gmail calls them labels), and at the bottom is an entry that says "More." When I click it, I get "manage labels" and "create new label." I can get a new folder by clicking on "create new label".

If you want to automatically filter some email to show up in the new folder, you go to "manage labels", and then look at the top (on my view, anyway) of the screen, to find the "filters" tab. It's pretty user-friendly from there. Or you can just copy things into the folder (label, according to Google) manually.

Does this help?

#782 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 05:11 PM:

Write what you know is a good idea as a starting point, a somewhat weaker end point and extremely unhelpful as a universal rule.

The tutor on a creative writing I went on had done her masters on vampire fiction, and has a pretty encyclopedic knowledge of bloodsuckers on the page. While we're at it, I've been 'studying' SF for more than 30 years so I hope I know something about it.

#783 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 05:20 PM:

I use Gmail as my primary work account, so I have dozens of folders set up, or "labels" as Gmail calls them.

In my Gmail account - I'm not going to presume it works the same for everyone, because sometimes they try out user-interface changes on just a portion of their users - if I click the checkbox by a message or messages to select it, a bunch of additional icons appear above the main message list.

One of them is a "Labels" icon, showing a stylized tag, which adds a label or tag to a message. In Gmail, "Tag" and "Label" are synonymous to each other and to "Folder". A message can be in any number of "Folders" concurrently because they're just tags attached to it.

To create a new label, tag, or folder, click on the Labels icon and start typing the name of the desired folder, for example Annoying Emails. If you have folders, the drop-down will at first show the ones matching what you've typed, and also show ["Annoying Emails" (create new)] at the bottom of the drop-down. When you click a choice on that drop-down, whether it's an existing one you picked or a new one you are creating, it gets applied to the currently checked emails.

To the left of the Label icon is a "Folder" icon, which on hover identifies itself as "Move to". This works exactly like the one on the left, except that in addition to putting the label on the emails, it also takes it out of the Inbox. That makes it work close enough to the way folders work in other mail systems that you can probably get by treating that as a "Folders" icon and ignoring the "Labels" icon most of the time. (BTW, the icon on the left which identifies as "Archive" simply takes a message out of the Inbox without deleting it, so using "Move to..." folder "Foo" is exactly equivalent to using the "Labels" icon to label a message with "Foo" and then picking "Archive" to take it out of your Inbox.

You do need to start by selecting a message, or you'll never see the icons for those drop-downs you need to create the folder. This could be what's been throwing you, or it may work differently for your account. Try and see if this works for you?

#784 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 05:20 PM:

albatross #768, P J Evans #769, Lori Coulson #770:

A likely summary of the process:
The Development of the Plan.

#785 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 05:33 PM:

Denizens of Making Light may be interested in an ongoing project of mine, wherein blog posts about interesting things stand in for the chocolate in an advent calendar. They may also be far better at explaining it in a way that sounds interesting. Anyway, it's here and signups for this year are now open.

#786 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2013, 06:26 PM:

P J Evans, albatross, Clifton: thanks to all of you - I FINALLY found a well-hidden bit that said "create new label" - I have been looking, honest, but since I wasn't looking in the right place (silly me; I thought it would be under "settings" or somewhere else reasonably obvious), nor for the right word (label) I wasn't finding it.

More appreciative words would follow but that would just lead to this being gnomed...

#787 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 04:15 AM:

duckbunny @ 785: once again I am astonished by the smallness of the world. I had a look at your Advent Knowledge site (would join in if I had more spoons, but right now I don't, I'm afraid), and discovered that the "how it works" page was posted by one Aquarion. I'm pretty sure there can't be two Aquarions (Aquaria?). Discworld fan, lives in London, writes code... right?

#788 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 06:12 AM:

Xopher Halftongue@725, Fragano@721, me@733

If you're still at all interested, there's some discussion of this in the comments of MGK's review, and the AVClub review picks it up as a hole but doesn't try to fill it. So at the very least you're not alone in seeing a problem there, though my take is that it niggles but there are ways to wave it away if you're sufficiently so inclined.

#789 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 08:45 AM:

nerdycellist @ 773

Your description of your friend reminds me of myself. Speaking for myself, and leaving how well this applies to him to your judgment.

I greatly appreciate people telling me if they were joking and I thought they were serious.

I'm [1] somewhere on the mild end of the autism spectrum. One key thing that means for me [2] is that I can't easily read people--are they joking or serious? Bored, or interested? Attracted, or just enjoying a conversation? With that deficit, I have to choose a response, knowing that it won't always be appropriate[3]. For me, I assume people are serious unless I'm very sure they are joking; in one case, I look stupid, in the other, I can look like an insensitive jerk. I'd rather look stupid.

1)almost certainly, though no formal diagnosis.
2) Common/typical for high-functioning autism.
3) Note that this drives a lot my jumpiness about some forms of harassment accusations.

dcb @ 763

Gmail has two functions, neither of which work quite like an Outlook folder. The labels have been explained well already. The other is the "tabs"--primary, social, promotions, updates, forums. To the right of whatever tabs are showing, there's a dropdown arrow that let's you select which are shown. You can select an email, and in the "more" box at the top of the screen, set a filter to categorize messages like it into one of those tabs. Tabs are exclusive, unlike labels. You can't change the names of the tabs, and only five are available.

#790 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 10:08 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 784: that sequence is exactly what I was thinking of from albatross's grousing; thanks for finding the cite (and the other sardonic bits with it). I've been through something like that sequence....

#792 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 11:09 AM:

Thanks, SamChevre @#789 -

I responded gently with Neil @ #776's "ludicrous exaggeration" and continued with another mild funny and a smiley emoticon. The conversation has continued with no hurt feelings or clueless mockery as far as I can tell, so success!

I know from experience that if I respond to one of his posts with an aside or something tangentially related to expand and continue the conversation it irritates him, whereas if someone shifts the subject slightly when I post, I'm happy to follow the conversational drift. I just read the article that Nancy Lebovitz@ #791 posted and don't think I would do well in France. I'd never start any conversations for fear that they'd be too boring.

#793 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 12:02 PM:

Russ #788: It's an interesting argument. Certainly, it allows for Gallifrey to be brought back in in some way.

I'm now looking forward to seeing how Peter Capaldi is going to be brought in. I'm also wondering how much of Capaldi's Doctor is going to be Malcolm Shpxvat Tucker.

#794 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 12:11 PM:

732, and everyone else who posted about the OB/Gyn Board insisting that their members may only treat women: according to MedPage, they've changed their minds and dumped that policy. As they should have. Heads, meet butts.

#795 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 12:32 PM:

For those of you actively following Doctor Who, or even those who loved the old stuff but haven't really gotten into the new, the Tardis Eruditorum is a don't-miss piece of in-depth, amazingly written, historically-focussed, exhaustive lit-crit. He has also published (an edited, updated version of) it as a series of e-books, sorted by era, so you can pay him for his efforts and have something simpler to handle in an e-reader format.

This is some of the best writing about media, period, I've ever read, and he really gets the nexus of silly/awesome/FEELS that the Doctor can, at his best, be. A lot of Mr. Sandifer's sentences are laugh-out-loud funny, and he integrates an awful lot of the existing fan-crit of the series with behind-the-scenes historical info and his own not-insignificant insights and theories, as well as contextualizing it with a lot of things of-its-period that would have been obvious to viewers who got to watch it on the Beeb as it came out, but is mostly invisible to a viewer like me, whose first exposure was PBS reruns of mostly-Tom-Baker-with-some-Pertwee-and-Davison, in random order.

I also find fascinating that the comment threads are still sporadically active on years-old entries, with people commenting about (for example) the ways that newly-refound material or newly-aired New Who has changed their view of the episode reviewed.

As of this comment, the latest episode he has writen up is Partners in Crime.

I'm still back at The Invasion, so it'll take me a while of bedtime reading to come up to 'current'. And I anticipate enjoying every screenful of it. :->

#796 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 12:47 PM:

Ninety-four years ago today, my father was born in a rural district called Mango Walk about a mile from the village of Mountainside, Jamaica. Twelve years ago, on the 16th of November, 2001, he died in the village of Pontedoporco, municipality of Paderne, Galicia, Spain. In between he saw some of the most momentous changes in modern history.

He was born a subject of George V and died one of Elizabeth II. He watched as depth charges were dropped in a vain attempt to sink a German submarine during the Second World War. He landed on Ellis Island, along with what seemed to be a boatload of his brothers, cousins, and an uncle. When he migrated to Britain nine years later, trans-Atlantic commercial flight was still so new that he was issued a certificate.

He made his living repairing televisions, but his heart was in his homeland, and every penny he could save went towards buying property in Jamaica. That he did. He became what amounted to a substantial landowner. Unfortunately, one who was always cash-poor. He wanted to see his children educated beyond the point he had been. There he succeeded. But in the end he had to leave his homeland for another.

His ashes lie in a family tomb not far from the Atlantic near the town of Sada on the northwest coast of Spain. Among all those white people, he's the only black one. Among all those Catholics, the only Protestant. He's also the only Jew.

#797 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 01:27 PM:

Fragano @796:

I don't know if it's proper Dutch etiquette to say "gefeliciteerd" to the relatives when the birthday person is deceased, but I'm not properly Dutch. So gefeliciteerd aan de verjaardag van je vader. I know your relationship with him was not always easy, but for the ways in which he was a good father to you, I honor him.

#798 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Lizzy L @ #794, thanks for the update!

#799 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 02:03 PM:

Fragano... What abi said.

#800 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 02:44 PM:

Mongoose @787: the odds of two Aquarions matching that description seem excessively small. Hail and well met!

#801 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 02:47 PM:

Abi #797/Serge #799: Thank you.

#802 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 05:47 PM:

The hanai daughter just got offered her first job. It's nothing special, just working as a sales minion at Ross, a discount clothing chain, but she's still thrilled and so am I. It's definitely something to be thankful for, and another step on the road to having a life of her own.

#803 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 06:43 PM:

789 ::: SamChevre @789: Thanks for the explanation. Actually I'd already got the tabs sorted; it was the apparent inability to separate any further that was frustrating me.

#804 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 06:55 PM:

Fragano @796: On the yahrtzeit, it is customary to say "May the neshama have a aliya", or essentially, to wish for blessings upon the departed soul. In this, I join my voice to the others, and also send you my continued regards for your loss.

#805 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 06:55 PM:

Fragano @796: On the yahrtzeit, it is customary to say "May the neshama have a aliya", or essentially, to wish for blessings upon the departed soul. In this, I join my voice to the others, and also send you my continued regards for your loss.

#806 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 09:46 PM:

From Slacktivist, this afternoon:

Sturgeon's Law of Science Fishion: Ninety percent of everything is carp.

#807 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 01:36 AM:

Interesting article on the way the press has been treated under the Obama administration.

#808 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 02:02 AM:

In random news, I've just figured out that Nancy Lebovitz is the creator of the various calligraphic buttons that I picked up at Arisia* back in 2005 or so, and used (among other ways) as editorial commentary toward my then-advisor. I've still got a few of them kicking around, after more moves than I care to think about.

Truly, all things are contained in Making Light.

*To date, my one and only con. As an 18 year old fan at the time with no idea, aside from the vague ramblings of the friend who took me, it was a bit of a surprise, overall.

#809 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 02:32 AM:

Benjamin, #808: Heh. I first encountered Nancy at Chicon V in 1991. At that point I'd been going to cons for 15 years or so, but we'd never crossed orbits before. I had also been seriously acquiring buttons for at least 5 or 6 years by then, and had what I thought of as a decent collection. And there were three entire tables full of buttons I'd never seen before! I went absolutely nuts -- spent my entire dealer-room budget for the day on buttons, roughly a hundred of them.

#810 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 06:04 AM:

808/9: Whoa, really? I bought a bunch at AggieCon in the late 80s.

#811 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 09:53 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #808: I keep forgetting and then being reminded. I should dig out my old Bag-o-Buttons (at least half of them probably Nancy's) from wherever it's settled to; my current environs are fond of occasional whimsies.

#812 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 09:54 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #808: I keep forgetting and then being reminded. I should dig out my old Bag-o-Buttons (at least half of them probably Nancy's) from wherever it's settled to; my current environs are fond of occasional whimsies.

#813 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 10:11 AM:

Somewhere I have a "Speaker to teletypes" button, but I don't even have a teletype any more. Clearly I need to get one.

#814 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 10:25 AM:

Ginger #804: Thank you.

#815 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 11:33 AM:

Apropos of nothing except silliness, I present you a snoring hamsterlet.

#816 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 12:45 PM:

This year's trip to visit The Girlfriend In New York has not been cursed with the awful head-cold I had last year so I've been able to take full advantage of having an inside contact on Broadway and have been seeing shows right and left. Anyone interested in my reviews of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder or Waiting for Godot or The Glass Menagerie can find them on my LiveJournal. Also enjoyed have been been book and fabric shopping, assorted museums, and a brief obligatory viewing of the Macy's parade. Why, you'd think we don't have culture of our own out in California. New York was even kind enough to provide me with a smidge of snow last weekend.

Happy thanksgiving to all in whatever way you celebrate (including the null set).

#817 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 12:59 PM:

TexAnne, #810: In the late 80s, I was living in Nashville and Texas might as well have been the moon. I don't know why she didn't hit the Southern con circuit -- or maybe she did, but not the ones I went to. You'd think I would remember if she'd been at ConFederation or Nolacon, though...

#818 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 01:01 PM:

TexAnne, #810: In the late 80s, I was living in Nashville and Texas might as well have been the moon. I don't know why she didn't hit the Southern con circuit -- or maybe she did, but not the ones I went to. You'd think I would remember if she'd been at ConFederation or Nolacon, though...

#819 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 01:03 PM:

Okay, that's weird. I got the "Internal Server Error" message, backed out, hit Refresh several times to see if it had posted. No. Re-posted, and it came out twice. I wonder if, when we see that message, it means that the first post has hung up in the system and will shake loose if you post something else? Have to try that next time.

#820 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Just reading Abi's particle on clowns in Norfolk.

"Urging townsfolk not to give the clowns the satisfaction of a reaction, police said: "That's what they are after.""

I suspect a BBC story counts as a reaction, too.

Anyone else notice that the front-pagers' particles seem to sit idle for days on end, and then suddenly there's a wave of new ones?

This calls for a particle-wave theory....

#821 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 05:29 PM:

FX: surfs to front page, waves at particles.

Hmm, I see what you mean.

#822 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 05:59 PM:

There were the clowns in the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, who were quite startling enough.

We got ringside seats, and they'd asked my parents something that I didn't hear.

It was the clowns.

The third bucket of whitewash was actually scraps of white paper, which accidentally got chucked over us.

I think John and I were disappointingly un-moved by the trick. My father told me that the ticket office had asked if we were likely to be easily frightened.

We're weird in this family, I think.

I felt some of the same lack of excitement when I watched the first part of The Hobbit. Maybe it was just an excess of lets-show-off-3D shots.

#823 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 07:25 PM:

Elliott, thanks for the link to the Tardis Eruditorum -- through it I found A Golden Thread: An Unofficial Critical History of Wonder Woman, which Andrew is now diving into.

#824 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2013, 10:35 PM:

Sarah @823: I imagine that's about the same sort of thing, only with a different subject; I gleefully anticipate being able to dive into it once I've worked through all the Doctor stuff.

#825 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 12:24 AM:

Boy, these artworks. Pushy damn things.

So I'm spinning down last night after molding a bunch of black egg blanks, (it's like half-past Owl's Fart–quarter-to Sparrow's Fart), when I get an idea for an egg with helical scales. I've been fiddling with idea for a few months now, and just haven't gotten one to go anyplace satisfying. But, what the heck, won't take long to just sit down and sketch out some lines on a blank, right? I've been playing with metalics, colors, and clear finish blends to make el-fako mother-of pearl, and I spoilt myself Tuesday and bought some new brushes and fresh paint on the way home.

Half a dozen reigns* later, after much backing and filling, I've actually got a pretty cool first coat. (It clearly wants to be the Swiss Re tower when it grows up.)

So I hang it up, pour a first coat of clear on it. I'm squinting at it, thinking about maybe doing a top layer of counter-rotating colors. It squints back at me (figuratively speaking). It folds its arms and pinches its lips (also figuratively speaking).

"Well, we'll see," I say, and toddle off to get breakfast. (You know you've been living in Boulder too long when you've got wheat grass and organic dandilions from Whole Foods for the pigs' T-day brekky.)

The Five(ish) Doctors (which very nearly caused me to literally pee my pants—yes, literally literally, not figuratively literally). (Damn, I had no idea Davidson was that good a writer and director.)

Argh, sez I to myself. Oh, all right. Having missed the streaming, I pop over to iTunes, shell out the $8, set up the download (which, as usual, takes five tries; I've long since given up expecting Apple to remember the last password they extorted from me). Yes, my payment settup is still the same. Yes, I still want to download it. Yes, I still want to buy the damn thing, I just said so! ::pant:: ::pant:: ::pant:: (it's a good thing I'm in a good mood....)

"Your download is ready to play." I hit the > button—

——Geez, no kidding, Russ! It's really kinda scary how good those two are together.

Argh. Hungry. Pause. Head to the kitchen to get breakfast ... but another egg snags me.

Donkey wants out. Of course.

Don't want to waste the Doctors on artwork, what to watch, what to watch.... Ah! Disney's Hunchback** while I sketch. Sun's slanting in under the upstairs balcony, making it hard to see the MacBook's screen. The sketch, for a wonder, goes quickly. Hang up the new egg, give it a first coat of gesso—this one wants its base-coat to be white.

Argh. Still hungry.

Time for lunch, maybe. Some garlic noodles and tea. Finish Hunchback, take bowl into kitchen. Third coat of clear on Mr. Swiss Re. I squint at it. It squints back. Its lips are still firmly pressed together. I think it might actually be scowling at me now.

Sit down to—

Say. You know? If I found a nice bird-call, or maybe a flute tone, I wonder if I could get Audacity to make a, whatchacallit, sample for me. To, like, make into a synth voice. Or whatever you call it. There's a wee tune sort of tickling at the back of my mind.... As I reach for Safari to go looking—ya know, there's that audio file that Melissa Singer's multiply-talented teen stitched together for me last year. That one last niggling little transition....)

Poke. Prod. Grumble at Audacity. ("Gargh." "You know, you could RTFM" "Where's the sport in that?" Okay, fine. Fire up Google....) Hah! Got it! Finally! Now that's what I had in's dark out. Wait, what? When the hell did that happen?

Well, okay. Um, I guess. Donkey wants to go in. (It does happen.) (Actually, I think he's been wanting to go in for a few hours by now.) Catch him over by the Cliff Palace. Snag Woofie (without getting bit), swap.

Hm. Hungry. Wander into kitchen. Look at egg. Which is pretty well dry now. Okay, can start thinking about that top layer of col—

"Nope. I'm done."


"I said I'm done. Thank you."


"No, really. I'm just exactly like I need to be. (Well, I mean, without this thing stuck in my ends.)"

"...handle..." I say faintly.

"Yeah, handle. But, yeah, I'm just fine, thank you."

"Really." I bite my lip, thinking how cool that top coat—






"Just-" "No."

"B—" "Nope."

I look at it. It looks back at me. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

"You know, you really do look like that phallic thing in London."

It smirks.

I look at it.

"Okay, fine." I sigh.

"Really, it's okay. Less work for you."

"But—okay. Geez!"

It looks smug.

"You at least want a coat of varnish, so you don't stick to every damn thing?"

Primly, "Yes, please."

I swap paint bottles, get the right funnel.

"You know, it really is much less work. You can work on that other helical one."

"It's still wet." I sulk.

It grins.

"Fine! I said! Here!" I pour varnish over it. It positively preens.

And this, boys, girls, and others, is how I spent my Turkey Day.*** How was your day?

* QE I through Cromwell, if memory serves.

** Whatever else is going on in my financial life, I do have to say that I get my money's worth out of Netflix.

*** And yes I am doing a rolicking case of sleep-deprivation-induced hypomania,**** why do you ask?

**** Say that fast three times with marbles in your mouth.

Shit. Still hungry.

#826 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 12:51 AM:

"Okay, fine. Here. Happy now?"

"But there's still that...thing on me."

"Well, you don't want to scratch your pretty new finish, right?"


"Well, okay then."

"Well, how would you like it if you got hung out, in front of Ghod and everybody, in your pajamas?"


"Okay, fine."

See what I mean?

#827 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 01:14 AM:

Jacque: Ooh, pretty.

My Thanksgiving was a spent a bit more conventionally on helping cook and eat a large meal. I got to meet my stepbrother's children for the first time, which was nice. Seems like your day was at least productive.

#828 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 03:11 AM:

Katniss Everdeen Kills Everything.

Crackalicious mashup of cuts from Hunger Games and damn near every other movie that has arrows in it, including the Disney Robin Hood. Nice bit with Avatar in the middle. All backed with Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot".

#829 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 04:43 AM:

Jacque: that's gorgeous! (And I can totally sympathise. Writing does that too, even though I don't tend to stay up till all hours over it.)

#830 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 04:43 AM:

Jacque: that's gorgeous! (And I can totally sympathise. Writing does that too, even though I don't tend to stay up till all hours over it.)

#831 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 05:22 AM:

David & Mongoose: Thank you. It thinks so, too. (I, of course, can see all the "flaws." :-\ )

Mongoose: Writing does that too

Don't it though? At least artwork doesn't tend fugue me out the same way. Back when I was putting a lot of time in on fiction, more than once I came to, standing on a street corner, after I don't know how many light cycles, having come down with a chapter. It's a lovely sensation but disconcerting.

At least with the artwork, when I go away, I tend to be safe at home.

#832 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 05:28 AM:

$#!T! $#!T$#!T$#!T! This is what I get for falling behind on the Open Thread.

#833 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 08:11 AM:

HLN: Local man watches the new Disney animated movie "Frozen". Afterwards gets this image of both of the daughters posting on one of the Dysfunctional Family threads.

#834 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 10:24 AM:

Stunningly beautiful, Jacque!

#835 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Jacque, that's gorgeous!

I have just finished a pair of mittens, with cables on the back and everything. They're a bit too big, but I meant them to go over bike gloves, so that's alright. Now, due to Sense Of Accomplishment, the potential projects are multiplying beyond my ability to yarn or patient...

#836 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 04:05 PM:

Women of the future, as predicted in the past.

Anti- and pro-suffrage political cartoons from the early 20th century. One of them even shows *gasp* a female minister!

#837 ::: Lee is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 04:06 PM:

No Thanksgiving leftovers, alas -- but how about some pumpkin pudding?

#838 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Carol & estelendur: Thank you!

estelendur @835: Sense Of Accomplishment, the potential projects are multiplying beyond my ability to yarn or patient...

I Have A Theory About That: Creative projects are actually sentient entities that live in another plane of existence. For whatever reason, they have a powerful drive to instantiate into this plane. They are forever watching for the least tiniest crack or portal in the membrane that separates the two.

Creative expressions are one such portal, and these glow like sparks in the night, on that other plane. When someone on our side is creating, that spark flares bright, and the entities flock towards it. When a creator is actually accomplishing stuff, the light bursts into nova brightness, and the flock becomes a mad, Black Friday-style rush on the door.

(For whatever reason, solar radiation tends to obscure those portals from our side, which is why ideas and insights so commonly pop into one's head in the wee small hours of the night.)

So Now You Know. :-)

#839 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 05:39 PM:

Hadda say gratefultudes. Would their lownesses care to share some of this morning's purple oatmeal?

#840 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 05:40 PM:

I don't often do sprung rhythm, but this seemed to demand it.

A motley collection
of middle-aged nerds
building up words
into shared reflection;
we polish them bright,
and fill the holes
with scraps of our souls.
We are Making Light.

#841 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 10:27 PM:

And in Highly Local Pestilential News, my annual bronchitis attack seems to have escalated to walking pneumonia.

#842 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 10:41 PM:

Best wishes for your quick recovery. (I've had bronchitis that came close enough they did x-rays: 'take a deep breath, hold it - belay that!')

#843 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 11:49 PM:

Thank you. Thank you, Ghod. Thank you, ghods, all of you.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

If he had died on my birthday, I would have been SERIOUSLY TORQUED OFF.

(Okay. I think maybe it's time to have me a little belated freak-out.)

#844 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2013, 11:50 PM:

Mongoose @840: That wants a catchy little tune, to go with it.

#845 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2013, 05:50 AM:

The video in Paula Helm Murray's @815 led me on to this one.

#846 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2013, 05:56 AM:

Oh, dear. I enjoy Simon's Cat, but this guy...!

#847 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2013, 03:34 PM:

I'm still reeling at how good Disney's "Frozen" was, and how fundamentally un-Disney a movie it was. Without spoilers, it is actively, amazingly feminist, and actively attacks or deconstructs almost all of what we have come to know as the "Disney princess phenomenon," wherein heroines must be pliant and rescued by men and defined by their relationships to men.

Also, Sven is the best Sven.

I am amazed not only that this was made, but that it was made by Disney, not Dreamworks or any of the other animation studios that have recently made their business out of being UnMouselike. I hope to almighty goodness that this is a sign of a new trend in Lassiter's reign, and not a fluke that will be disavowed and forgotten (the way Lilo and Stitch was).

#848 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2013, 04:32 PM:

re 842: Thanks. And a BIG thumbs up to Mycroft for cluing me in on

#849 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2013, 08:38 PM:

What little hype I'd seen for Frozen led me to believe it was a story about a snowman.

I guess I'm going to have to see it!

I'm astonished that Disney / Pixar made WALL-E a brutally anti-consumerist satire. For a few weeks after the opening there was a mind-blowingly versimilitudinous website. Searing satire of corporate hegemony, with fake products, news items, and a EULA that required readers to surrender their souls.

It was soon taken down, and redirected to a pathetic, token WALL-E website that offered tours of the Exion.

#850 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 12:30 PM:

Just had a rather spoon-destroying exchange on the Book of Face. I shall try to summarise it as briefly as possible while still fairly representing the other person's point of view. (Please note - and this is something I apparently couldn't get across to this person - that I don't have any problem with swearing in general, although I very rarely do it myself.)

Mongoose: I think it's unprofessional to overuse swearing in online articles. I've concluded that the authors do it because they were told at school that they shouldn't overuse the word "very".

Other Person: No, it isn't, and it's wrong and bordering on arrogant to say so. If you're offended by swearing, it's just your personal opinion.

M: I didn't say I was offended by swearing. I said it was unprofessional to overuse it. I stand by that.

OP: Swearing gives an emphasis that other forms of language can't give.

M: Not if you use it all the time. If you do that, you lose the emphasis and it just becomes background noise.

OP: But you saying it's overused is still just your opinion. I think it works.

M: OK, we're not going to resolve this one by talking about it. I suggest an experiment. Let's find a article in which I think the emphasis has been lost by swearing too much, but you think it works. We then replace every swear word by an equivalent non-swear word (on a one-to-one basis, to make it fair), and see if any words stand out as being overused.

OP: That's ridiculous. Saying you want to replace all the swear words with one word simply proves that you're biased.

M: Ah... sorry. That's not what I was trying to say. What I meant by "a one-to-one basis" was that each swear word should be replaced by its own unique non-swear word.

OP: Well, anyway, I find that your experiment wouldn't work because [can't fill in this bit as their reasons weren't clear]. And you're biased. It's wrong to call hard-working writers unprofessional. And I swear and I'm not ashamed of it.

M: I really feel I'm not communicating here at all. But thank you for letting me know the experiment wouldn't work.

I'm now confused and feeling a bit battered. This person is intelligent. Why was it so hard for them to hear what I was really saying?

#851 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 02:26 PM:

Mongoose @850: Interesting question! On the one hand, swear words are just words, with various meanings and various levels of emotional intensity, to be used as part of one's vocabulary just like any other words. On the other hand, swear words tend to have more emotional intensity, and the response to them varies widely depending on the reader's background. Some people will shut down when they encounter words they consider too strong; others will have a strong "swearing is freedom!" association, so any suggestion of toning down the swearing feels stifling to them. I suspect you may have triggered something of the latter response in your Other Person.

Also, "It's wrong to call hard-working writers unprofessional" strikes me as silly. Degree of effort and professionalism are orthogonal. On the other hand, I wouldn't describe over-use of swear words as "unprofessional", but as ineffective writing. And of course effectiveness of writing depends to some extent on the reader. To some people, (some) swear words are mere noise words, and so using them in writing will seem perfectly appropriate to those readers, and in fact may signal that the writer is a member of their peer group. I suspect that's the case for Cracked, where the primary target audience seems to be young American males in college or immediately after.

#852 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 02:57 PM:

I think it was case that the imaginary you inside the other person's head said something different.

You said, "overuse swearing" and he heard you say something like, "those ignorant people are cussing every other word".

#853 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 04:45 PM:

Mongoose @850 You seem clear enough. They seem to be arguing with someone else; either the person Steve C describes, or possibly someone like a lady on a creative writing course I was on who declared there was never any need to use swear words.

By great effort I kept the language in my work for that course clean, except for one use of the word "tits". She did not approve.

#854 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Jeremy @ 851, Steve @ 852: yup. I think you may both be on to something.

I regrouped and attempted to clarify matters. I finally realised that #Person was arguing with my definition of "excessive" in the particular context I'd chosen, rather than objecting to the idea that excessive repetition of anything in writing (whether it's swearing, the word "very", or anything else) doesn't make for good writing. Which they were, but once I did clarify and apologise for the misunderstanding, they then told me straight out that they didn't believe there was an objective standard for good or bad writing.

I decided not to continue with the discussion at this point. #Person is a writer. #Person is actually quite a good writer, from what I've seen of their work. I imagine that #Person works quite hard to ensure that their writing is good. I do not have the spoons right now to point out to someone, no matter how gently, that they don't act as though there was really no objective standard for writing.

Granted, there's a certain amount of wriggle room; also granted, there is context dependence. An article which would be fine on Cracked would be completely inappropriate for the Independent or the New York Times. Nonetheless, it's possible to say, objectively and unequivocally, that some writing is excellent and some is terrible. That is not a matter of personal taste. (#Person was trying to accuse me of making it out to be, which I had to point out was absolutely not the case. There is some excellent writing I don't like.) There are clear criteria, such as plot coherence and characterisation, and less easily definable but still perfectly recognisable criteria such as sentence flow.

#855 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Mongoose @850: I'm now confused and feeling a bit battered. This person is intelligent. Why was it so hard for them to hear what I was really saying?

Smells like you pushed a button, to me. If you like this person, and have an otherwise good relationship with him or her, I'd chalk it up to that and let it drop. I wouldn't take it personally (although feeling battered is not an inappropriate response. Perhaps some [unicorn chaser of your choice] is in order? Here: have one on me.)

If you do not otherwise have a good relationship with this person, I would note this experience carefully, approach the person cautiously in the future, and keep a weather eye out for Patterns. If they do it to you, they probably do it to others, as well.

And on the topic of swear words, I'm generally with you, with exceptions. Where I'm with you, it's because the writer seems to me to be being lazy, and going more for emotion than information in their emphasis. Where I differ is where it's done well. Case in point: Whoopi Goldberg. Sometimes, her swearing gets tiresome for me. When she makes it work, though, it works like gangbusters, and it's all in the delivery. She manages to add color and flavor in a way that just couldn't be done with milder language. My favorite example is the movie Jumpin' Jack Flash.


#856 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 05:07 PM:

mongoose: I think you're right to let it drop, and I think you (and others) are right that the person was arguing past you instead of engaging with what you actually said.

It seems to me that, in order to be considered a swearword, a word has to stand somewhat outside the borders of polite (professional?) discourse. How else does one distinguish a swearword from an ordinary word? Therefore, yes, if everyone uses the erstwhile swearword all the time without regard for the context in which it is being spoken/written, it will indeed lose its punch, and possibly its status as a swearword.

#857 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Jacque @ 855: *gnome-sidestepping expression of gratitude* Awww, cuuuuute!

And, absolutely: I have no problem with swearing done well. The whole point of swearing (at least in writing) is to pull the listener up short. Sometimes you need to do that. If it's done too often, then it no longer has that effect; it's just hot air. But when you do need to do that, it's a very effective method, and it can be absolutely the right one in many contexts.

#858 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 05:33 PM:

Mongoose @857:

Just so you know, you can now be grateful in the clear. We've just switched spam-fighting systems, and the new one is able to handle it.

The gnomes are getting quietly but thoroughly drunk right now.

#859 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 06:11 PM:

Neil, #853: This is a tangent, but I do not consider "tits" to be anything approaching a swear word. It's slangy, somewhat sexist, and rather vulgar, which is not at all the same thing. It sounds to me as though that person's rule would have been better expressed as "no vulgar language" than "no swearing".

(And if you're writing a Regency novel, "tits" is a perfectly acceptable upper-class idiom for "horses".)

#860 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 06:29 PM:

Lee (859): Not to mention the birds.

#861 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 06:44 PM:

Just one more thought on this before I crash out (and, Neil @ 853, sorry I didn't see your comment at first; we were posting at more or less the same time).

There is one occasion where swearing (or vulgar language in general) is always appropriate, regardless of the sensibilities of creative writing teachers. That is when you are representing someone whose use of that kind of language is part of their character. Granted, you may want to tone it down in some way, especially if you're writing for a family audience, hence the number of invented swear words in SF and fantasy. Nonetheless, if you've got a character who talks in a certain way, you need to show that they talk in that way. If you're using euphemisms or paraphrases to do that, you have to make it clear to the audience that that is what you're doing, and that your hard-bitten space pirate didn't actually utter the words "Oh, bother! How irksome!" (OK, that's exaggerated to the point of silliness, but you get my point, I'm sure.)

My best friend can swear with verve and a certain poetic feeling when he's annoyed. One day, I decided to filk Poe's The Raven for him. As myself, I very rarely swear, but on this occasion I was writing in character, and this was the result. Anyone who knows my best friend can instantly recognise him from it.

#862 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 07:09 PM:

Lee @859 In context: I needed something that a 12 year old girl would be told off for saying, but would be acceptable in a story for that age group. She is of course repeating someone else when she describes something that went wrong as going tits up*.

The lady in question was not the tutor and for all her insistence on proper language did not seem to think that timekeeping was a virtue.

* For that matter I took part in rugby match at school in which a player was sent off for swearing. "But I only said 'Bloody'" he complained.

@861 Surely your hard-bitten space pirate says "By Klono's carbduralloy claws!"

I have to admit that my NaNoWriMo features a character who has somewhat salty language at the best of times. Then I lock her in an opera house filled with people and a violence-inducing hallucinogen. During that scene she uses all the swears.

#863 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 07:31 PM:

By the left frontal lobe of the Sky Demon!


Is anyone else here interested in a discussion of "Catching Fire"? Maybe via a spoiler thread?

#864 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 08:42 PM:

Attention Austin folx: My friend who had the private-party viewing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last year is doing it again for The Desolation of Smaug. (Link goes to Book of Face, so I don't know how well it will work for those without accounts therewith, but it's supposed to be a public event.)

Friday, Dec. 13, 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM, at the Alamo Drafthouse on Anderson Lane. Cost is $20/person, and I know there are spaces left. Contact me at fgneqernzre@zvaqfcevat.pbz if you're interested and I'll put you in touch with the person collecting the money.

#865 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2013, 10:48 PM:

Neil W @ 862:

"Surely your hard-bitten space pirate says "By Klono's carbduralloy claws!"

*peals of laughter*

(I was 11 or 12 when I first encountered Doc Smith, I think in the Skylark series. One of the characters says "Damfino", and it took me years to realize that was "Damned if I know" in a form Mrs. Grundy and her ilk wouldn't notice.)

#866 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 12:13 AM:

I watched "Hunger Games" on Netflix the other night.

It was a lot better than I'd been led to believe. And rather shockingly intense. Unpleasantly so. Unpleasant because kids were involved, both as victims and aggressors.

I'm actually conflicted about seeing the new movie. I'm not an "impressionable adult," but I'd rather have the option to pause and watch the rest of this particular film later.

#867 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 01:49 AM:

Mongoose @857: The whole point of swearing (at least in writing) is to pull the listener up short.

Heh: If swearing is overused, the listener develops a "hard mouth," as the equestrians say. It's the condition that horses get when riders yank on the reins too much.

abi @858: The gnomes are getting quietly but thoroughly drunk right now.

Well, if anybody deserves a good night of hard drinking, it is certainly their lownesses. I hope the glass tower's infirmary has a lot of IV banana bags and B vitamin supplements on hand. They shouldn't have to suffer through hangovers on a Monday morning, if the tech is available.

Mongoose @861: if you've got a character who talks in a certain way, you need to show that they talk in that way.

I am now reminded of the character Ritchie in Spider Robinson's Variable Star, who was given special dispensation by the presiding judge to speak in "his own idiom," as requiring him to avoid swearing would be "roughly equivalent to requiring me speak while avoiding all words containing the letter 't'."

If you're using euphemisms or paraphrases to do that, you have to make it clear to the audience that that is what you're doing

Heinlein's dodge was having his characters say things like "unprintable" in place of the swearword (which, even then, were used sparingly), which quite got across the flavor without (to my eye, at least) making it come off as an euphemism. Indeed, it was ages before I worked out that was the textual equivalent of "[censored]". I just parsed it as an in-story colloquialism. Sometimes he'd add described action, as in: He swore emphatically. Altogether, managed to get the idea across without ever offending Boy's Life's delicate sensibilities.


So, what are "sand shoes," and why are they worthy of scorn?

#868 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 02:04 AM:

Heinlein's dodge was having his characters say things like "unprintable"

The first dozen or so novels Dick Francis wrote continued little bad language as I recognized it. I thought "effing," which his bad guys used fairly frequently, was some brand new word until I realized what he was doing some twenty years later. Felt a little foolish, I did.

#869 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 05:04 AM:

Neil @ 862: "By Klono's carbduralloy claws!"

*big grin* Of course! What else would s/he say?

Side note: "Oh, bother! How irksome" is a kind of family joke. My dad is another one who swears when he gets annoyed, but far less poetically than my best friend, which is why I'm hoping that, when I visit my parents over Christmas this year, either the tree will already be up or I will be in time to put up all the very tiny baubles. It rather takes the shine off preparing for Christmas when you've got someone fumbling with the baubles and repeatedly muttering "oh, $#!t" every time he drops one, which is almost every time he picks one up.

However, he doesn't like to tell you that he swears. So he'll be on the phone talking about some incident that annoyed him, and the conversation will go like this:

Dad: And then I said, "Oh, bother! How irksome."
Me: That's what you said, is it?
Dad: Of course!

He and I both know perfectly well that this was nothing like what he said, but that exchange always amuses both of us.

#870 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 05:36 AM:


A trifle precious, don’t you think?
Getting so cut up about a dog?
A smallish fluffy white one
Who hadn’t been herself for quite some time,
Was tired, sore, and sick, and old.
It was her time. I know that.
And knew I could not choose the good.
There was no good,
Only bad, and there was also worse,
And if you do not choose, you’ve chosen.

Oh, sure. I know.
That mystic Jesuit was right.
Not Morgan that I mourn for, but for me,
And what I did. For what I had to do.
A trifle precious, don’t you think?

Because I had to be there,
Or else she would have been afraid.
She trusted me, and I betrayed…

Betrayed? No, no. For everyone agrees,
We acted out of love. We did. We did.
Perhaps I will believe it, if I say
It to myself enough. Some day.

A trifle precious, don’t you think?
Why, yes, it was. And now it’s lost.

#871 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 06:00 AM:

Dave Luckett @870:

That's excellent, beautiful and sad. Thank you.

#872 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 06:46 AM:

Dave Luckett @870
Applause seems wrong for the mood, so I'll offer a nod of respect and recognition.

#873 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 07:45 AM:

Dave Luckett @870, now I'm crying....

#874 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 08:01 AM:

Dave: tears before breakfast.

To honor that kind of relationship, I don't begrudge them.

#875 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 08:10 AM:

Dave Luckett #870: Nicely, and sadly, put.

#876 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 09:33 AM:

Jacque @ 867: Another Heinlein swearing dodge that I enjoy is "[Character] made an anatomically improbable suggestion."

Depending on context, sometimes I think this means "Go f--- yourself," and sometimes I think it means "Shove it up your a--." It might also mean "F--- [thing]."

In any case, I find it an entertaining circumlocution.

#877 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Dave Luckett #870: Gulp.

#878 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 10:53 AM:

I'm fond of two swearing circumlocutions. Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang gives us "adjectival", because a hardbitten bushranger can't cut the profanities entirely but neither can he include them in a letter to his unborn daughter. (Ned Kelly almost certainly didn't speak in what we'd now recognise as a broad Australian accent but it's still fun to hear the word that way).

And then there's Terry Pratchett's hitman in The Truth, whose use of "—ing" causes some characters to wonder how he manages to pronounce an em-dash, and others to hear what he really meant...

(On the subject of virginals) "So named because it's an instrument for —ing young ladies."
"Really? My goodness. I thought it was a sort of early piano."

#879 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 10:55 AM:

I'm fond of two swearing circumlocutions. Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang gives us "adjectival", because a hardbitten bushranger can't cut the profanities entirely but neither can he include them in a letter to his unborn daughter. (Ned Kelly almost certainly didn't speak in what we'd now recognise as a broad Australian accent but it's still fun to hear the word that way).

And then there's Terry Pratchett's hitman in The Truth, whose use of "—ing" causes some characters to wonder how he manages to pronounce an em-dash, and others to hear what he really meant...

(On the subject of virginals) "So named because it's an instrument for —ing young ladies."
"Really? My goodness. I thought it was a sort of early piano."

#880 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 11:27 AM:

James E @ 879... "Really? My goodness. I thought it was a sort of early piano."

That reminds me of the "Moonlighting" episode that sent up "The Taming of the Shrew" and had Maddy/Catherine mention pianist envy.

#881 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 11:59 AM:

Jacque @ 867
I think Sand Shoes are a reference to the 10th doctors trainers. See How to dress like the 10th doctor

Tonight I watched "An adventure in Space and Time", the dramatisation of the first episode/series, wherein a grand-daughter of William Hartnell made an appearance.

In the Five (Ish) doctor's Reboot, we have (along with some previous doctors), the sons of Jon Pertwee and Peter Troughton.

Basically, every doctor (or their descendants) who wished to be involved in the 50th Anniversary got some screen time. And the fact that Christopher Ecclestone refused to take part when the granddaughter of William Hartnell and the sons of Troughton and Pertwee as well as *every* *other* living Doctor came back to take part in the show's 50th anniversary celebrations is more and more obnoxious.

He may have thought it was a principled stand, but it looks more and more like a petulant strop.

#882 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 12:01 PM:

Jacque @ 867
I think Sand Shoes are a reference to the 10th doctors trainers. See How to dress like the 10th doctor

Tonight I watched "An adventure in Space and Time", the dramatisation of the first episode/series, wherein a grand-daughter of William Hartnell made an appearance.

In the Five (Ish) doctor's Reboot, we have (along with some previous doctors), the sons of Jon Pertwee and Peter Troughton.

Basically, every doctor (or their descendants) who wished to be involved in the 50th Anniversary got some screen time. And the fact that Christopher Ecclestone refused to take part when the granddaughter of William Hartnell and the sons of Troughton and Pertwee as well as *every* *other* living Doctor came back to take part in the show's 50th anniversary celebrations is more and more obnoxious.

He may have thought it was a principled stand, but it looks more and more like a petulant strop.

#883 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 12:07 PM:

Aiyeee gojira! - Double post - I have some rather nice dark chocolate with Mango flavour from a recent trip to Perth...

#884 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 01:22 PM:

On a thread at Lawyersgunsmoneyblog, I requested a Douglas Adams/Chaucer mashup called "The Pilgrim's Guide to Canterbury".

Someone else (who goes by "WJTS") took me up on it, and provided the following, which people here will enjoy as well:

Kente ys bigge. Muchel bigge. Youe will not belevest how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly bigge yt ys. Ich mene, yowe thinkest yt ys a long way down the rod to the alchymyst’s, but that ys as a mustard seede to Kente. Listou…

#885 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 01:26 PM:

oldster: that is awesome. I want more. (Sounds like a great candidate for the Yuletide fic exchange!)

#886 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 01:26 PM:

oldster: that is awesome. I want more. (Sounds like a great candidate for the Yuletide fic exchange!)

#887 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Yikes! Apologies for the double post.

#888 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 01:39 PM:

It's great, isn't it? And I can take no credit for it, merely having wished that it might be produced.

You can also imagine trying to retell the CT in Adams' dialect, for that matter. "The Tabard at the End of Southwark".

#889 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 02:15 PM:

Here's the LOLCAT translator's take on Adams:


#890 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Mongoose @850, funny you should have brought this up. Just a couple weeks ago, I was struck by a series of people in my Twitter feed riffing off of the title of the Facebook page “I F*cking Love Science”, and started writing something I meant to post here, but never got around to finishing. Maybe later tonight I’ll see if I can whip the unsatisfying bits into shape and release it into the world.

#891 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Neil W @862, it’s tough for me to remember that “bloody” is (or used to be) a real swear word in the UK, considered shocking in polite company. Over hear it’s just a signifier of Britishness.

There’s a bit in Stoker’s Dracula where Van Helsing is relating a talk he had with some sailors, and he sort of translates the swearing by taking it literally: “Whereupon the captain tell him that he had better be quick, with blood, for that his ship will leave the place, of blood, before the turn of the tide, with blood. […] Final the captain, more red than ever, and in more tongues, tell him that he doesn’t want no Frenchmen, with bloom upon them and also with blood, in his ship, with blood on her also.”

#892 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 02:35 PM:

Dave L., #870: My condolences on your loss. That's a lovely eulogy.

(Tangentially: I hope no one has actually been disparaging your grief as "precious", or in any other way, and that this was poetic license for the sake of your final couplet. Anyone who would do something like that is [REDACTED] not a person whose opinion is worthy of being noticed.)

Caroline, #876: Other swearing dodges that I've encountered (and occasionally employed) are (1) to have someone swear in a language that the viewpoint character doesn't know, but recognizes it as a cussword by the tone; and (2) to have other characters comment on the cussing, often with admiration for its scope and variety.

#893 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 02:54 PM:

Dave Luckett #870 - that was heartbreaking and real. My thoughts are with you for making the best lousy decision you could. The next dog I get will be one of the immortal breeds.

In the weeks after we put Ardala down, I found a lot of solace in this blog post:

#894 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Dave Luckett @870: Beautiful, and my sympathies. I've had to do that too many times this year.

Still missing the one I sang home...

#895 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 03:15 PM:

glinda @ #865;
One of the characters says "Damfino", and it took me years to realize that was "Damned if I know" in a form Mrs. Grundy and her ilk wouldn't notice.
Mrs. Grundy was being very dim, then; perhaps deliberately. Buster Keaton christens a ship with that name in a 1921 short, and I'm sure he wasn't the first to use the joke.

#896 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 03:41 PM:

#891 ::: Avram
Supposedly, Gilbert and Sullivan got in some hot water for initially titling an opera “Ruddygore,” and had to change it to the spelling “Ruddigore,” which would seem to be a euphemism for a euphemism. Gilbert claimed someone had even told him that there was no qualitative difference between the terms “ruddy” and “bloody,” to which Gilbert fired back, “so if I were to say ‘I admire your ruddy countenance,’ you’d hear it as ‘I like your bloody cheek?’”

#897 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Etiquette (or maybe ethics) question: someone on Twitter followed me. The account was dedicated to promoting conservative candidates, and the avatar was Obama with a long nose. I did the block-unblock thing to break his Follow of me.

I figure he couldn't have been following me for any reason that's good for ME. "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" isn't good for the enemies. And I see no reason I should benefit HIM.

So is that wrong? Is that rude?

Mongoose 869: It would be terribly unfair of me to blame you for the very painful coughing fit (coughing + cracked ribs = no no no please no) I just experienced, as a result of the fit of giggles and laughs that seized me bodily when I read your account of your families use of 'Oh, bother! How irksome.'

I do not, in fact, blame you. In fact, please do it again if you possibly can.

Note to self: steal this one.

Dave 870: Wow. What abi said.

odaiwai 881: Oh, I don't know. Given that he left the show because he felt the crew were being mistreated (among other reasons), I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt.

ibid. 883: Are we offering goodies to atone for double posts now? I thought that was only to get a comment out of Durance Vile.

I can't keep track of these rules.

Lee 892: (1) to have someone swear in a language that the viewpoint character doesn't know

...or that most of the TV audience doesn't know! </obFirefly>

(2) to have other characters comment on the cussing, often with admiration for its scope and variety.

I remember a bit from Fire From Heaven, where during their first (childhood) encounter, Alexander starts swearing at Hephaistion; something like "Alexander, who could keep it up for some time, became aware of respect and did so." Loved that bit.

#898 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 04:24 PM:

catching up

Ginger, hope all is going well with the eye.

Kip W @ 196, gnome-able words of power
tanQ for suggesting Old Time Radio. I used to listen to half hour shows on the radio late at night. These will be marvelous to listen to.

Lee @202
One of the things that brought home to me how *huge* the Grand Canyon is, was the silence. Standing at the rim, I had sound behind me, cars, people, wind in the trees. In front of me, nothing. I've never heard nothing before. No sound of any kind, not even wind. It is truly an amazing not-sound.

#899 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 04:57 PM:

On the indirect report of heated expostulations:

I seem to recall from the Pickwick Papers that there is a character given to exclaiming, "Oh! My eye!" when encountering any matter for surprise.

This is given in direct speech several times, and then Dickens the narrator at one point comments, "Having apostrophised his eye, in a species of rapture, five or six times, the youth took the head of the little table...."

I always found that an elegant indirection.

#900 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 05:18 PM:

On Frozen: yes. Yes. A thousand yeses. I saw it last Tuesday and recommended it to everyone around me. It is not the movie the trailers advertise in any way. It is so much better. A couple wobbles-- bits that must have been put in as a result of blackmail, and not even mild blackmail but the serious shit-- but I mean seriously that movie.

In other news, I've started an Etsy shop. I am pretty sure this link will go to it. It's embroidery and such for weddings, though of course I could do other occasions. In case you know someone getting married.

Then go see Frozen. Really.

#901 ::: Ian C. Racey ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 05:28 PM:

odaiwai @881

I don't know that I see it as a matter either of principles or petulance, but simply an actor being offered a professional opportunity and turning it down. In the absence of any indication that he was particularly vocal or churlish in his refusal--and the only public statement I can find is Moffat talking about how polite he was when he said no--I don't know that we really have grounds to criticise him. I'd have loved to see him back, but I think it'd be unreasonable to expect him to make career choices based on gratifying my fannish urges. It's neither the first nor the highest-profile instance of a former Doctor refusing to appear in an anniversary story, after all.

(I don't take Moffat saying he was polite to mean he definitely was polite, of course, so much as I take it to mean that Moffat is a professional and understands that there's no point in stirring up a fluff if you don't have reason to. But then, I'd expect Eccleston would have been polite for much the same reason.)

#902 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Dave @ 870: that made me cry. Much sympathy on your loss.

Avram @ 891: it still is, in our family. Both my mother and I swear very infrequently, and if you hear either of us say "bloody", it has shock value. This worked to very good effect when I brought a friend's debut CD for them to listen to. The friend in question is an outstanding young countertenor. I'm afraid Dad was a little dubious, partly because he's not much used to countertenors and partly because he's rather old-fashioned and knows that my friend is gay, but he did at least concede that he sang well. Mum, bless her, was much more enthusiastic. She listened to the recording, and declared, "He's good. [Pause] Actually, he's bloody good."

I took enormous delight in relaying this to my friend.

Xopher @ 897: no, not rude at all - you didn't ask him to follow you. Also, much sympathy over the coughing fit (I know exactly what that is like; coughing is the main symptom of my asthma, and it can be severe at times), but delighted to have provided amusement.

#903 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 07:07 PM:

Xopher, #897: I wouldn't say that was rude at all. While I haven't blocked anyone from my Twitter account yet (because I hardly ever use it!), I have certainly blocked people on both LJ and Facebook, and would have no hesitation about doing the same on Twitter if I thought it advisable. My account, my decisions.

#904 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 07:19 PM:

Dave Luckett: @870: Yeah. That.

odaiwai @881: I think Sand Shoes are a reference to the 10th doctors trainers.

Yes, but what are they? What makes shoes sand shoes but not (say) boat shoes? is what I want to know. And why are they worthy of scorn?

#905 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 07:29 PM:

I will be eternally grateful for not having had bronchitis at the same time that I had broken ribs. It was not-fun enough without that kind of complication.

#906 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 08:50 PM:

And in more Highly Local Pestilential News, it appears that the radiologist has, upon review of my X-rays, determined that I do NOT have walking pneumonia after all, just one of my more extreme cases of bronchitis.

#907 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 08:54 PM:

Thanks to everyone. I couldn't make it go in rhyme. It came out strained, forced, remote. This seemed right. I don't know why. Possibly because I haven't yet achieved the tranquility to recollect the emotions in.

It's that aspect of it - watching myself - that makes the guilt worse, you know. I'm enough of a writer to have formed the habit of observing my own emotions as a sort of test bed, to have part of me sitting off someplace and watching them. How they work, what are the physical manifestations. How I can use them.

"Use" them? Make them useful? What kind of sociopath would do that?

Lee #892. No. Nobody has suggested for a moment that I'm being too precious. I was double-playing a word. Very poetical. See the clever device. How ingenious. Yeah, sure.

#908 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 09:20 PM:

Jacque @#904 "sand shoes" was what we called canvas shoes with rubber soles, when I lived in Scotland. It just was the word we used. In North America they might be Keds, not as solid as running shoes. We wore them for gym class.

#909 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 09:39 PM:

@ C: Bronchitis is awful, but better than pneumonia!

#910 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2013, 10:20 PM:

Dave Luckett @907
People process emotions in lots of ways. You're a writer, so you process them by observing and writing. This does not seem cause for guilt to me.

#911 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 02:20 AM:

"Boating shoes" means several different things, some what dependent on social class but also location. For some people, they're Sperry Topsiders or equivalent shoes that you bought to wear on your boat or look like you were going to. Flat rubber bottoms, leather uppers.

For others, they're the shoes that started out as regular shoes or sneakers, then degraded to the stage of being gardening shoes (or equivalent activities if you don't garden), and then after that became boating shoes. Most of the boating I did as a kid was in Boy Scouts, and I've done occasional canoeing since then, and beat-up sneakers really are about the right thing to wear for that - better protection than flipflops, and you still don't care if they get wet.

#912 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 06:17 AM:

Back to the swearing, if I may: I've just recalled that there was a very sweary character (a felinoid, which makes sense!) in one of Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson's Hoka books. This resulted in some particularly wonderful examples of periphrasis, my personal favourite being "You [can't recall the first bit] of an origin of which the compilers of the Book of Leviticus would not have approved!"

#913 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 07:04 AM:

Jacque @ 867: "Heinlein's dodge was having his characters say things like 'unprintable' in place of the swearword"

In at least one place that caused me long-term confusion. In The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Manny calls one character a "dirty-word intellectual". I assumed that meant someone whose intellectualism had something to do with dirty words.

#914 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 07:19 AM:

I have read references to swearing in various earlier 20th century fiction books, but also recall mention that it was possible to learn new swear words. As in, there was a huge variety of them back then. Or, maybe the author was using hyperbolae.
This kind of confused me when I was younger, and as an adult it seems more like a century ago, they still had pretty much the same swear words as we do now, at least in Britain.
Bloody certainly was regarded as a swear word.
And a mere 20 odd years ago I was told off at scout camp for telling another one to bugger off. So I think there's been some evolution in use even recently.

#915 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 07:23 AM:

Diatryma @ 900
Out of curiosity, what are the wobbles? Because I've been seeing comments all over Tumblr lambasting it for being "problematic," but not specifying in what way.

#916 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 08:17 AM:

Dave Luckett @ #907, you're in good company at least: in Gaudy Night, Lord Peter is teaching Harriet how to defend herself against a probable attack, and she's mentally rewriting the (emotionally charged) scene into something rather sleazy for her current novel.

Or as Australian poet Les Murray said about his depression: "I said to the Black Dog, you bastard, you make me cry, I'll make you sing".

Art is transformative; but to work the transformation, you have to have material to work on. Life's the only material we've got.

#917 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 08:56 AM:

Diatryma @900, Sara @915: Well, to start with, rirelbar vf cnyre guna V nz, vapyhqvat gur 'sbervta nzonffnqbef,' juvpu jbhyq unir orra na nznmvat cynpr gb vagebqhpr qvirefvgl bs nccrnenapr ....

#918 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 09:46 AM:

This looks like something of interest to serious bike riders. I do wonder: How does one keep it from being stolen? I'm an amateur at this, so pardon my ignorance if there's an obvious answer as to how it locks up.

#919 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:05 AM:

Diatryma @#600: Thank you, thank you, thank you for charging a price for your handwork that reflects the time it actually takes to do.

I've been contemplating running a Kickstarter to buy one of those hand-cranked sock machines, because I might be able to sell those for a price that would make it worth the time. People with more money than sense might pay me $30 for a pair of socks; not even Bill Gates would pay me $300, no matter what the yarn was made of...

#920 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:37 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 918

There are two ways of locking up a bike to protect the wheels from being stolen; depending on location, people may use both.

The first is to use locking skewers, which take a special wrench to remove. (These come in various grades, just like locks.) The second is to lock the wheel inside the frame, like this, or to the frame, like this.

Electric-assist wheels and bike are becoming more and more popular for commuting, based on my anecdata.

#921 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:40 AM:

#808 ::: Benjamin Wolfe,
#809 ::: Lee
#810 ::: TexAnne
#811 ::: Dave Harmon :::
#813 ::: Cadbury Moose

Thanks very much-- I feel incredibly fortunate to be selling something people like so much in my favorite community.

I didn't do the southern circuit much-- a fair distance from Delaware, and I had an impression that people weren't as free-spending.

I did go to Nolacon II, but not to Confederation.

Upcoming slogan: "iTired There's a nap for that"

#845 ::: Jacque

I love the way the cat starts out with an "I'm not even going to bother to act" attitude, and then at 1:00 looks at the dog and thinks and thinks and bats once and then gets into it.


Euphemisms: I saw a mention of an effing knife in a Max Shulman novel when I was a kid, and just assumed it was some specific kind of knife used in the movie industry.

My mother would use "you're full of soup" when I was a kid-- I could tell she didn't agree with what was being said, but I was bewildered by the phrase because I couldn't see what was wrong with being full of soup.

#922 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:19 AM:

'Pogo' was good for creative euphemistic swearing. ('Frugal rotterblaggers!' is the one I remember.)

#923 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:20 AM:

There is a family term of art I'd like to share, in re the swearing thread: my daughter's auntie Emy refers to children who are being (age-appropriate) oppositional, angry obstructionists as 'a snorp'. I suppose it's one-to-one replaceable with 'a little sh**', but it seems to add additional flavor to the term, in my view. Connotation added to an identical denotation?

#924 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Avram @891 It's rare to find someone who considers using the word 'bloody' actually shocking. If you were to use the word while having tea with the vicar, your maiden aunt is more likely to give you a hard stare and move the cake plate out of your reach rather than have a fainting fit.

@921 - People in the restaurant industry have been known to use the phrase "in the soup" when telling stories about things going wrong in the kitchen. As well as keeping the maiden aunt happy it's pleasingly appropriate to the environment in which the story takes place.

#925 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:39 AM:

Is it really possible that an Open Thread has reached 924 entries and not one of them is mine?

Guess I've been busy elsewhere lately.

#926 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Sorry for my late responses: I'm GMT + 08:00 and that doesn't help with following along in real time.

Xopher @881:

Oh, I don't know. Given that he left the show because he felt the crew were being mistreated (among other reasons), I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt.

I should apologise to Mr Ecclestone for calling him petulant and stroppy. I'm just really curious about his reasons for not appearing given that no other Doctor either found those reasons a sufficient issue to not appear. I suspect those reasons to be just the way the BBC treats the people who actually make the shows, which are kind of dealt with in "And Adventure in Time and Space". In that production, Verity Lambert passionately defends the creative choices against the management, despite a notable element of self-doubt in those choices. And actors and directors struggle with penny-pinching production values and some technical staff who really don't have passion for what they're creating but just treat it as a dull job.

Ian C. Racey @901

(I don't take Moffat saying he was polite to mean he definitely was polite, of course, so much as I take it to mean that Moffat is a professional and understands that there's no point in stirring up a fluff if you don't have reason to. But then, I'd expect Eccleston would have been polite for much the same reason.)

As you said, all involved are professionals and, I'm sure the conversation was very polite, and I'm almost positive it went along the following lines:
RTD & Moffat: Hi Chris. The role of the War Doctor was written for you and if you want it it's yours.
Ecclestone: My reasons for leaving are still there, and I'm afraid I couldn't do the rôle without constantly thinking about $ISSUE.
RTD & M: We understand. *sad sigh* We're going to have to draft a theatre luvvy for the rôle then.
E: I think Joanna Lumley's not too busy these days...
RTD & M: *snort* Maybe someone with a little more gravitas and smaller etheric beam locators...
E: Rowan Atkinson?
RTD & M: Wait a minute, that could just work... Damn: it's been done (Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death)

Jacque @904:
I thought initially that "sand shoes" were a reference to desert boots, which are a trademark, so the BBC can't refer to them: ( [they're quite strict on the non-commercial thing over there.], but of course the 10th doctor wore trainers, not desert boots, so then I went back to trainers.

#927 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Neil, #925: I think of "in the soup" as fungible with "in the doghouse" or, more generally, "in trouble". And I know I've heard that usage for quite a long time.

#928 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:54 AM:

Lee @ 927: me too.

#929 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Lee @ #927, or "in the weeds", which may be restaurant-specific.

#930 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 12:06 PM:

Odawai @ 926...

"Say hello to the Spikes of Doom!"
"Say hello to the Sofa of Reasonable Comfort."

#931 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 12:08 PM:

SamChevre @ 920: I don't know locking skewers. Perhaps they're the answer. I don't think the other locking mechanisms are, because these things appear to be solid discs. Maybe there's a locking hole not visible, of course.

#932 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 12:12 PM:

swearing subthread: Billions of blistering blue barnacles!

#933 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 12:18 PM:

Lila @929: In the weeds is golf-derived: if you hit your ball outside the greens and fairway (which is mown nicely), and even outside the rough (which is longer but still fairly manicured), you've gone all the way into the weeds (hedgerows and such): good luck finding your ball!

#934 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 12:26 PM:

OtterB @932: My mother spent much of the 1980s working as a general contractor, in construction. Any guy who worked her crew and gave her lip or acted like a sexist pig didn't get hired back, but she also had to interact with other crews and with bosses; she found that if she swore (because, say, she hit her thumb with a hammer) on the jobsite they suddenly started treating her no longer like One Of The Guys, but like a Girl Who Doesn't Belong. So she retrained her entire swearing reflexes: all SH-swears turned into "Suffering SUCCOTASH" and all her f- swears turned into "FORNICATING HIPPOPOTAMI." One Christmas, her guys all chipped in to buy her a Sandra Boynton-type cartoon mug with piles and piles of rather nonplussed-looking hippos all piled atop each other on it. :->

#935 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 12:27 PM:

Lila@ #916: in Gaudy Night, Lord Peter is teaching Harriet how to defend herself against a probable attack, and she's mentally rewriting the (emotionally charged) scene into something rather sleazy for her current novel.

Hm -- wonder if that's a recurring theme in Sayers -- in Nine Tailors, (teenage girl whose name I can't recall) mentions that she ponders her father's death and tries to make it into a story because then she can sort of stand outside of it, and it's easier to cope.

#936 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Lin Daniel #898:

And then there was the time we were at the Grand Canyon and went out nearer to the edge than we probably should at night, at a spot where there were no lights at all, as Mars was due to make its closest approach in however long. Not only did we get a trip to Mars, we also got a trip an eon or so into the past, as yes, it was dead quiet around us, and then, suddenly, as the temperature dropped, a very quiet ghostly wind arose from down inside the canyon. One of the more amazing experiences I've ever had.

#937 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 02:19 PM:

Elliott Mason @934, love the hippopotami

#938 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 02:48 PM:

Indeed the hippopotami are wondrous.

That reminds me of a piece of very quick thinking by Alan Green, a sports commentator on Radio 5 Live, some time in the early 1990s. Jim Beglin, who was summarising, observed, "There'll be a lot of Fs coming from the Liverpool bench at the moment."

Quick as a flash, Green replied, "Yes - he'll be telling his defenders to get further forward."

#939 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 05:30 PM:

I think there was at least one brownish face in Frozen; I remember seeing one and being pleased, at least.

My wobbles are less problematic in terms of social justice and more in terms of taste. I disliked the snowman showing up, though he did well enough throughout the movie, and both his song and the trolls' weren't to my taste given the rest of the movie. But I've had the latter in my head for days now and there are much worse Disney songs.

On Etsy: yeah, I figure I won't sell very many (if any at all) but I am doing high-quality work meant to last. What I do sell will be valued.

#940 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 06:05 PM:

More Pope Francis awesome: he worked as a bouncer in Buenos Aires when he was young. It's also said that he sneaks out of the Vatican at night to give money to the poor.

#941 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 06:34 PM:

Oh dear . . . the bad-choices-because-of-poverty essayist turns out to be not what she claimed:

If this were just a matter of illumination, I suppose she could claim to have been writing about an amalgam-person facing realistic challenges, with consequent effects on planning and choices.

But asking for money for herself based on this . . . bad, harmful move.

I'll stick with Scalzi's "Being Poor."

#942 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 06:41 PM:

Regarding invented swears, Niven did that well. In the Gil The Arm Era, the "hard-bitten detective" swears with "censored" and "bleep". A (much) older character (who remembers real swearwords) twits him about it, provoking the immortal line: "Censor my masculine image." In the Known Space novels, they use "tanj", which I eventually figured out was short for "there ain't no justice".

#943 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 07:00 PM:

I remember at least one use of "unprintable" in a Lensman book.

#944 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 07:36 PM:

A quote from abi's Parhelion about internships*:
Twitter forces you to think aphoristically. Some say the character limit inhibits creativity, but I see it as a challenge that pushes you to carefully consider every word. It is a good exercise for any writer.

To which I had 2 responses in quick succession:
1) That's why I prefer sonnets to free-verse, because they're more of a challenge.
2) Progressives should work on getting our talking points down to something that can be expressed in a tweet.** There are already people who do this quite well. There need to be more of them.

* Which, BTW, if you haven't looked at it you should. I was struck by the parallels between the unpaid-internship culture and the vanity-publishing culture.

** I already have some experience with this because of having to polish slogans for buttons and bumper stickers. Twitter would actually be a little easier than either of those!

#945 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 08:14 PM:

I was in chat with a friend who also appreciates Tintin, and for a while we debated the theory that Captain Haddock is really just swearing up a storm, and the barnacles and all are merely expurgation.

I've heard that Dad used to be admired for his ability to curse for a sustained period without slowing down or repeating himself. By the time I came along, he'd settled on a fairly ritualized subset of all that. I never have performed "The Cursing Polka" for him. Just too self-conscious. It's popular with my generation and after, in the family.

The movie JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY had a number of pretty good gags in it, starting with the opening bit when the date 1936 appears on screen, and a car runs over it. One of the characters swears a lot, but never gets it quite right. "Farging cork-sogger" is pretty useful. Darrin McGavin swore a blue streak in A CHRISTMAS STORY without more than perhaps one or two recognizable words. (Which reminds me of an odd fact I got from Excelsior, You Fathead!, a bio/appreciation of Jean Shepherd: in real life, the Old Man ran off with his secretary and moved to Florida. Huh.)

Last, but by no means least, one of my sisters told me about this the other day, and I'm all about sharing it with everyone: Three Men in a Boat, on YouTube — a 1975 TV production, scripted by Tom Stoppard, and starring Tim Curry and Michael Palin. At the length, it must leave out a favorite episode or so, but it captures Jerome's writing perfectly, even when they're indulging in a gag made up for the production. Two thumbs up, to say nothing of a paw.

Jerome wrote a sequel, by the way, Three Men on the Bummel. Like a good solid handful of his writings, it's available at Project Gutenberg.

#946 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 08:15 PM:

Pale kings and princes
Bowed whene'er he came;
Pirate ships would lower their flags
When Puff sighed for his Dame.

#947 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 08:26 PM:

I still get a giggle out of the SNL cork soakers routine. Sometimes I'm perpetually 12 years old.

#948 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 09:46 PM:

I had a Domestic Mystery the week before last.

I'd purchased two 1 lb. containers of fat-free cottage cheese. I remember putting them in the grocery basket. I remember scanning and bagging them.

But when I went to put a scoop on my salad the next day . . . no cottage cheese in the fridge.

I checked the car, I checked the pantry. I opened up a random selection of cottage cheese containers in the freezer . . . I use them to store frozen food, you see.

Today, while selecting the week's entrees to defrost I found one of the containers of cottage cheese. The other is no doubt lurking down in there.

Well, at least they weren't rotting somewhere.

This is all prelude to asking:

Are there any recipes that might use cottage cheese that has been frozen? It will likely be gritty and liquidy, but maybe there is some dish that could use it.

#949 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 09:59 PM:

You might be able to use it instead of ricotta, if it's going to be cooked.

#950 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:07 PM:

Cottage cheese is not an adequate substitute for ricotta. I recall getting a cheese blintz off the breakfast buffet at a hotel once, and the hotel had used cottage cheese instead of ricotta, which I didn't realize until I bit into it. I gave up after that one bite; it was vile.

#951 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:23 PM:

I never learned to like regular cheesecake because Mom always made it with cottage cheese blended in Jell-o somehow, with a graham crumb crust and other ingredients (including some shredded lemon zest, I think). I associate it with the 4th of July.

Um, but anyway, since it gets blended, perhaps it would work with frozen-and-thawed cottage cheese. I haven't found it online yet. The ones I see require baking, and this one sets up in the fridge until it's ready. Maybe it's something like this, which doesn't conflict with anything I remember about how Mom made it while I goofed around somewhere else.

#952 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:51 PM:

My mother always mixed cottage cheese in with the eggs before scrambling them, and now I can't eat scrambled eggs without dairy included. These days I usually use plain Greek yogurt.

#953 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:52 PM:

Cottage cheese blended with jello sounds vile.

Cooks Illustrated has some pasta recipes that use cottage cheese instead of ricotta - for the flavor. I wouldn't use it in a cheese danish, but I'm also not fond of cheese danish.

#954 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 10:53 PM:

I have a spinach lasagna recipe that uses cottage cheese mixed with defrosted & drained frozen chopped spinach and shredded mozzarella in the filling. Layer with lasagna noodles and a thick tomato/onion/green pepper sauce, top with parmesan and a little more mozzarella.

#955 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:08 PM:

With regards to seasons, I moved from Southern California, which kept the snow sensibly on the mountains where we could visit it from time to time, to upstate NY, with ohdearghods real seasons (leaf turning is awesome) and real snow on the front porch. However, we have five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, pothole. Pothole season can merge with all the others, but is mostly found right after the snow melts.

I would be farther along in catching up, but I got seriously sidetracked downloading books from Gutenberg.

#956 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2013, 11:43 PM:

George Takei's official cologne.

One guess as to what it's called...

#957 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 02:08 AM:

There's a new open thread, when people want to move over.

#958 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 10:30 AM:

Mongoose @861

Your filk of The Raven is amazing, complete with authentically strained internal rhymes! Thanks for sharing that with me, and I trust you avoid penguin infestations in the future.

Kip @951

Ooh, Three Men in a Boat! Stoppard! Palin! CURRY!


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