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January 7, 2014

Open thread 192
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:14 PM *

So my daughter had a visit with a district nurse this week. It’s something all Dutch kids in her grade have: a chance to make sure health problems are being caught early, and that all kids have some basic information about nutrition, health, puberty, drugs, alcohol, and sex before adolescence kicks in.

They gave her a pamphlet labeled, “What you should know about puberty as a girl”. It has pages titled:

  • Changes: what is happening to your body?
  • I’m bleeding! (with very cute little winged menstrual pads)
  • I feel so strange (mood swings)
  • Butterflies in your tummy (romantic attraction)
  • In love with a girl?
  • Do you know what you want? (consent)
  • Be smart about media (with a great paragraph about the difference between sex in fiction/movies and real sex)
  • You need to know this beforehand (contraception)

I am floored by this book. Let me translate the page about being gay:

In love with a girl?

Boy or girl?

Not all girls like boys. They can just as easily like girls. It can also happen that they sometimes like a boy and sometimes a girl.

Homo or bi

Girls who like girls are called lesbisch‡. Boys who like boys are called homo. It can also happen that sometimes you like a boy and sometimes a girl. That’s called biseksueel.

Sophie (11): My neighbors* are gay. They have a daughter. Nice, huh?

Laura (10): My mother says that it doesn’t matter if you fall in love with a girl or a boy. Only if you’re happy.

Am I lesbian?

Most kids figure out during puberty if they’re attracted to girls or boys. Some kids know very young if they’re attracted to girls, others not. So it’s just fine if you’re not clear on that yet. Take the time to figure it out! Are you uncertain whether you’re lesbian? That’s perfectly natural. Often, you’ll know after puberty what you are exactly. In any case, try to enjoy it if you fall in love, whether it’s with a girl or a boy.

Nothing wrong with it

Homosexuality is just as normal as heterosexuality. It’s just that there are many fewer gay people than straight ones. Some people may react† if you say that you’re lesbian. Maybe you’re afraid that others will bully you about it or not accept you? Take the time to understand your feelings, and choose a time to tell others when you’re ready. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with liking girls.

‡ all these terms are adjectives
* buurmannen, a word that specifically means “male neighbors” rather than the gender-neutral buren
† alas, I gather from my ground-level reports that this is not quite as rare a thing as the pamphlet says

Continued from Open thread 191. Continued in Open thread 193.

Continued from Open thread 191

Comments on Open thread 192:
#1 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 05:30 PM:

Maybe it's just the mood I'm in today, but reading that translation made me tear up. God. How I wish I'd had something like that to read when I was a kid.

#2 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 05:31 PM:

Dear God, it's nice to have an occasional dispatch from the civilized world.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 05:42 PM:

It's probably worth mentioning that the Dutch teenage pregnancy rate is about a tenth of the American.

Also, note that the differences they list between fictional and real sex include the illusion that people have it all the time, that they go straight from eye contact to bed, that attraction is based on certain specific appearances, and that people are all physically flawless. I also learned that shoppen is the Dutch word for "to Photoshop".

#4 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 05:55 PM:

I'm with Lila on this.

I'll add, as an aside, that this improved my day (which started with, "Ah, crap. The espresso machine lost its mind* again and dumped a couple liters of water in the kitchen." Given that yesterday finished off with a dentist visit and being given a 60% chance of needing a root canal [I find out tomorrow afternoon, when Exploratory Drilling happens], I'm kind of grumpy.

* Literally. It's a temperature-controlled beast and it melted it's brain box. Again. And now I'm not under warranty, although my reseller is going to bat for me. For what this thing cost (don't ask - really), it should not be doing this.

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 06:07 PM:

Yes, Western civilization certainly would be a good idea (pace Gandhi). Nice to see this as a stepping stone on the way there.

#6 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 06:22 PM:

So wonderful. It makes me want to tear up too.

#7 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 06:26 PM:

Abi @3: I also learned that shoppen is the Dutch word for "to Photoshop".

Here in the US, we’ve got the slang term “shoop”. As a verb, it means to modify an image with software; as a noun, an image so modified. (Example: “It’s a shoop — I can tell by the pixels.”)

#8 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 06:27 PM:

† alas, I gather from my ground-level reports that this is not quite as rare a thing as the pamphlet says

Probably not. But it IS being pointed out, to every young person in the country, that the people who react badly are in the wrong.

#9 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 06:36 PM:

I shared this with my roommate. We are both happy and encouraged that it exists somewhere, and we wish it existed here.

#10 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 07:02 PM:

I had already been daydreaming about emigrating to the Netherlands before my baby is born.

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 07:23 PM:

Spare million dollars?

Well-translated editions of that, surreptitiously handed out in sixth grade classrooms across the country.

After a few thousand are burned in front of local news cameras by bug-eyed-with-outrage parents and pastors, the kids will start distributing and reading them out of sheer defiance.

* * *

Anyone have experience with rice cookers and brown rice?

I'm not sure what ratio of water to rice is desireable. Or even if my rice cooker is calibrated to handle brown rice.

#12 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 07:31 PM:

Stefan: roughly 2:1; 2 cups water to 1 cup brown rice, about 40 minutes, and no calibration is normally required. I believe rice cookers are normally designed to shut off once all the liquid water has been absorbed by the grain, at which point the pot's temperature starts rising above the boiling point. I usually add an extra 1/4 cup water "for the pot" but have no idea how essential that is.

When you're in a hurry, "hapa rice" made with 1:1 brown and white rice, cooks almost as fast as white rice and is tastier. I use 1.5:1 water:rice for that, i.e. 3 c water (+ 1/4 c) to 1 cup brown and 1 cup white.

Mmmm, rice.

#13 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 08:14 PM:

I don't use a rice cooker, but do something similar on the stovetop -- 4 cups water to 2-1/3 cup brown rice. The stovetop method uses a large pan, and involves heating the rice by frying it in a little bit of oil (under a tablespoon, enough to coat the bottom of the pan well when heated) until it smells nice (stirring the whole time) then adding boiling water and immediately reducing the heat. Cover. Leave it untouched on a very low flame for 45 min, then turn it off -- and leave it alone for another 45 min before fluffing it.

Produced several meals (for two people) worth of very tasty rice.

#14 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 08:24 PM:

Fade, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. Also -- longing for a time machine, so I can take this pamphlet (in English) back to Lizzy L and her friends in 1959.

Yes, it gets better. But there are plenty of places in the US today where this pamphlet would be read with horror.

#15 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 09:20 PM:

Does the pamphlet make it explicit that it's okay to not be attracted to anyone?

Because figuring out asexuality is a thing is something I did only in my mid-thirties, and I'd prefer that the next generation had an easier time of it.

#16 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 09:22 PM:

neotoma: You're not the only one wondering that (and I'm not even ace myself).

#17 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 09:22 PM:

Wow, that is fabulous. I'm going to copy that text against future need. Would you mind very much posting a full translation of the "sex and the media" part as well?

Avram, #7: That term must be regional, because I've never encountered it until now.

#18 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 09:51 PM:

Meanwhile in HFN* the car thermometer read -2 F when I left the house this morning, and around 3 in the afternoon I get a call from my wife. We are watching over a friend's house while he is away, and she has discovered that there are apparently frozen pipes. Worse, there is also apparently no heat. So I leave work early and head down, where we discover that the circa 1990 electronic and programmable thermostat doesn't work at all, not just that it needs new batteries. However, we have a solution: our heat and AC have separate thermostats, and the AC one is a very basic model which looks as though it should work fine as a temporary replacement. And it does, except for the next problem: it's going to take hours to re-warm the house, and we can't stay around that long. So tomorrow morning as soon as I put #3 on the school bus, I'm going to be heading down with my laptop and try to do some office work in a frigid house while I wait for the water to either (a) flow normally, or (b) start dripping in the walls, in the latter case sending me belting downstairs and hope that the water cutoffs are where I think they are. What fun.

*Highly Frozen News

#19 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 10:07 PM:

C Wingate, YIKES!!!! One of my terrors. I have a 1912 house, we had the furnace go mostly down in the coldest part of the winter several years ago. We have circulated water radiators -- freezing would be a total disaster. I was unemployed at the time, my mom helped us out with the money to replace the boiler.

On the up side, it cut our bills to about 1/3. On the down side, our basement gets cold enough now that the trap in the washing machine freezes when it gets as cold as it has lately.

#20 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 10:46 PM:

Lee @17, I can attest to having encountered 'shoop' entirely through internet channels, several years ago. But, indeed, these channels* were in a region of the internet which one would be quite justified in avoiding altogether; so though it seems to have leaked out here and there, perhaps it is still a regionalism. :)

*4chan/b/, a Famously Horrible messageboard

#21 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 10:48 PM:

Once again, I am pleasantly amazed by the Dutch; that matter-of-fact approach to sexuality is so helpful even if it doesn't cover all the possibilities, because it prepares the children for life as adults without a load of guilt or shame, without using language that creates "others", and allows for a basic understanding of anatomy. Brava!

Using the last of my use-or-lose vacation time this week, so I am lucky to avoid the Deep Freeze (although I did step outside with the dogs this morning, just to be perverse). I've also been scheduled for my cataract surgery, which will be next Monday. The FG will transport me to and from, after which I fully expect to (a) email the family and (b) fall asleep, just like my mother did. The cataract, being traumatically-induced, has progressed rather startlingly. My son, naturally, thought it was "Cool", but I am ready to get rid of this ASAP. Give me the topical anesthetic, and I'll do it myself.

In the meantime, I've been catching up on everything from Classic Who to Orange is the New Black; starting to learn some coding from Code Academy; cleaning and rearranging Stuff in the house, and making a List of Things To Do for the handyman. Which reminds me, I must put that drawer on the list.

#22 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 10:58 PM:

abi, I think that the consensus seems to be that we would dearly love a translation or PDF with translation to pass around. "Oh, you have a girl entering puberty? Here's a great pamphlet that a friend of mine found!" followed by a URL. *bats eyes* *knows that if you're too busy, this is not a mandate*

After all, we all know that once it's on the Internet, it's forever.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 11:07 PM:

HLN: Local woman just had a phone call polling on car buying. Hung up at question on importance of GPS and connectivity, as machine refused to recognize answer, even though it was a valid option. (Note that poll did not include 'Hell no' as a choice.)

#24 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 11:27 PM:

OP: I called John in from the other room to read it for himself. When he was done, we looked at each other and said, more or less simultaneously and almost word for word, "This is a thing. That exists. Right now. Wow."

Stefan Jones @11: Even more doable than a spare three million, what this requires is a printer-enabled grass roots movement. And it wouldn't take one copy per child per school. Get it into a few hands and the students will pass them around.

The FAA rules on Things Dropped From Planes, if I recall correctly from the last time I studied the FAR/AIM (one of these days I'll get back to it) are pretty much "nothing that could conceivably cause damage or injury." My first pilot instructor and I would brainstorm what sort of fun things might be legal to drop from a Cessna 172. (We regretfully concluded that dropping water balloons on the house of That One Guy, the one who lived on the downwind leg of the pattern and called up all infuriated any time a plane drifted a hair north of Jay Road, "I don't want a plane dropping on MY house!", was probably out.) Anyway, leafletting from prop planes is a fine, time-honored tradition.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 03:58 AM:

The pamphlet doesn't address asexuality, which is a notable gap. (It also doesn't touch on poly.) I looked on the "butterflies in your tummy" page, where I did find a very good step by step explanation of French kissing. I can check "do you know what you want?" when I get home this evening (busy life).

I need to look at the copyright information (if any) before I go posting pages and pages of it online, even in translation. But it occurs to me that if the world needs a good, sex-positive puberty PDF, it's perfectly feasible to write one. My main point in this entry is kids are being taught this kind of thing right now.

(Also, don't mistake the Netherlands for kid paradise. This week, Alex has had his pencil case stolen for the third time, and he's been being cyberstalked by a classmate. We are in the early stages of raising a stink with the school about it. We may be doing well about sexuality, but bullying remains a problem.)

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 04:39 AM:

As a single man, I wouldn't touch the idea of distributing this with the proverbial bargepole. Every so often, I come across something that, while describing something abusive to women, seems to class men as the enemy.

All men.

I know we're better than that here. I think we know here that some of the abuse patterns are similar for low-status men and for women. My memories of my schooldays are fading, and I cannot discount the possibility that a woman with power can be as bad as a man.

Abi isn't being that stupid, she knows the pamphlet is for the daughters of the Netherlands. Any scheme to do what this is doing has to provide for the sons too, and I think we're all confident the Dutch are doing that, just on lack-of-craziness grounds.

Is there some better label than "patriarchy"? One which encompasses the abuse of mostly male power, and that fear of the loas of an illusion of power?

Some of the abusers on Twitter seem to deny that they as easily target men as women. Some are hiding behind masks, depending on a virtual reputation, based on "I am right" and attacking all who challenge that.

Call it "bullying". Is it really any different to what some of us saw in our schooldays?

There's a connection, at least. The victim, it has been said, sees the actions of the bully as a desirable tactic. "I will," they say, "Make sure my children are strong enough not to be bullied." It becomes all about the action, and nothing about the reasons. Real whatevers fight and win. They don't compromise. They don't accept that they might be wrong.

Is sociopathy the hidden principle of the education systems of the English-speaking world?

And is Buffy's Principal Snyder that principle made demonic flesh?

(You think I could miss out that line?)

#27 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 04:54 AM:

Dave Bell @26:

I must confess that I am entirely at a loss where you see anything in the excerpt from that pamphlet that indicates that it describes men as the enemy. Please believe me that none of it does.

Boys get a different pamphlet, about the changes to their bodies, with quotes and pictures by and about boys rather than girls. I don't recall it clearly from three years ago, but I think it also had a page about homosexuality.

Is there some better label than "patriarchy"? One which encompasses the abuse of mostly male power, and that fear of the loas of an illusion of power?

Try looking up the word "kyriarchy", which is a term for the hierarchical structure of society in the abstract.

One thing, though:

Some of the abusers on Twitter seem to deny that they as easily target men as women

That could be because many of the abusers on Twitter don't "as easily target men as women." It really is not balanced or even-handed. Women really do get an enormously greater amount of truly vile and hateful treatment, including but not limited to explicitly gendered hateful treatment, for saying exactly the same things as men in the public forum. Here, for instance, is an excerpt from a study that shows that bots with female names get 25 times more abusive messages than bots with masculine names.

Please don't posit an equivalency. It really isn't there.

This is not to say that all men do this, or that all the people who do this are men. But it's not an even, balanced situation. It's just not, and I can barely convey how depressing and exhausting it is to have to explain that fact over and over again.

Shorter me: where are you getting this? It's not based on anything I wrote, and it's not based on the genuine reality of the internet. What's up?

#28 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 05:03 AM:

As usual when the Lower 48 is being walloped by the Polar Express (Polar Vortex? Was it renamed this year, or are they different things?), we're having springlike temperatures on the Gulf Coast of Alaska. I saw a mosquito the other day, and new clover is coming up.

However, the coldest day of the year is usually in the first half of February and the first stirrings of spring are in April, so we have some time left to go.

#29 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:14 AM:

Usual drismal winter weather here in Pugetropolis. For once I count my blessings.
I too wish the educational mat'l you describe had included asexuality, both not having feelings at all and not having them for people.
Also various trans issues. When the body doesn't match the soul.
And your body belongs to YOU.
Still, a good start.
And good response, Abi, to #26.

#30 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:42 AM:

So do the Dutch call French kissing "French kissing"?

Or is this another "vice Anglais" situation where every nation attributes it to an unloved neighbor?

("No, thank you, I would *not* like a Flemish kiss. I'm just recovering from a nasty Qatar myself.")

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:52 AM:

Angiportus @29:

Transgender issues have been addressed in school, in a clear and understanding way (basically, sometimes people's bodies don't match the gender their brains have, and so sometimes people change their bodies to match.) I'd expect that a trans* kid would get a more individualized treatment rather than a standard brochure.

And "your body is your own" is in "Do you know what you want?" There's a bit about a kid who doesn't want her parents to kiss her on the lips any more, and how they don't because she asked them not to. It's not just sexual consent.

oldster @30:

I was translating. They call it tongue kissing (tongkussen).

Also, the school just emailed us to say they'd told the whole class that stealing other people's possessions was against the school rules, and that if Alex's pencil case wasn't returned by the end of the day, the kids in question were going to find themselves in very hot water indeed.

The pencil case was returned, and the kids who took it are, from what I can gather, properly scared now.

I have to say, I'm grateful for the prompt and effective action.

#32 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:54 AM:

I once asked my French friend (born in Vietnam when it still was part of France's empire, but I digress) what French-kissing was, and she couldn't tell me. A kiss is just a kiss? (Cue in 'Casablanca')

#33 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 07:03 AM:

As for 'patriarchy' as it is currently used... It is my theory that Rankin-Bass's "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" celebrates a post-patriarchy world. After all, each and every authority figure in it is male and a jerk who demands that you conform. All except for Yukon Cornelius.

#34 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 07:37 AM:

Dave Bell wrote: that fear of the loas of an illusion of power?

I know this is probably a typo for "loss", but I love the image. The Loa of Illusion of Power is probably a fairly substantial one these days, with all the people sacrificing to it/her/him.

Serge wrote: each and every authority figure in it is male and a jerk who demands that you conform

The Boy and I spend a lot of time mocking Santa every year. I think my favorite (for certain values of "favorite") moment is when the elves are showing Santa their song and he sits there fidgiting and sighing because Heaven forbid he listen respectfully to this special thing his employees practiced for him. Makes me want to do a Rocky callback.

#35 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 07:50 AM:

Abi @31--

So they blame it on the Tong people? Oh great--way to start a new Tong war.

#36 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 08:17 AM:

re 19: Fortunately it's forced air. After about 45 minutes we're up to 35 F.

#37 ::: Auke ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 08:21 AM:

Hi Abi, did you refer to one of the Rutgers WPF booklets? I don't see an English version online, though they do sell an English board game on girl empowerment. They do have English publications, though these seem to be aimed more at older girls and boys (16-18).

My wife and I had good experiences with the predecessor of Rutgers WPF, the Rutgers Stichting. Given their work, you might not be surprised to hear that in 2002 the Christian / right-wing government stopped subsidising them. I'm glad to hear that they have found other ways to remain active.

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 08:36 AM:

Auke @37:

Yes! That's them! (And this is why I'm not going to reproduce or translate them in their entirety. They're copyrighted material.)

#39 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 10:08 AM:

Carrie S @ 34... And the elf overseer, instead of realizing that the boss is an ungrateful creep with no taste in music, and seeing his position in the power structure threatened, instead turns on those below him.

#40 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 10:41 AM:

Every time I watch Rudolph, I get more upset about what a bigot Santa is. And is the future dentist named Herbie or Hermie? I could never be sure.

#41 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 10:44 AM:


Santa's a bigot and the rot goes down through the command structure. And the only reason any of them get over it is because Rudolph ends up being useful to them.

I vastly prefer the Grinch. To the point that last year I wrote fanfic of it. :)

#42 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 10:56 AM:

About Hermie... It might amuse you to watch Edward Norton's "The Incredible Hulk". There's a scene where Banner comes home, and finds refuge in the dinner of an old man. That old man was played by Paul Soles, who had done the voice of Hermie. (And of the Hulk and of Banner in the Sixties cartoon.)

#43 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 11:32 AM:

I think Scarleteen has been mentioned in Making Light comments before, but it deserves re-mention for inclusive, non-judgemental information about sexual and reproductive health for people of all genders and orientations. It's aimed at teens, but I found it in my twenties and still found it incredibly valuable.

Scarleteen is everything I didn't know I needed to know when I was a teenager. I want to go back to my Catholic high school and put stickers with their URL all over the place.

#44 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Sundre @43

I'm in my 50s, and I'm finding it helpful. It's filling in some of the blank spots everybody thinks every body knows. Thank you.

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 12:38 PM:

I think they're calling it a vortex because it curled around to the south and west.

#46 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:15 PM:

Sundre and Lin, Scarleteen is a wonderful resource, and Heather Corinna and everyone there are doing excellent work. They're always grateful for donations that can keep them going, so since you've mentioned them and reminded me, I am going to go make one. "Help keep the best sex ed online free and also fabulous," as they say.

(Heather's also a brilliant photographer. She once did a photoessay of me called "Elise and Her Crows," inspired by Patrick's remark that he admired the crow's feet by my eyes. In addition to being an excellent artist, she's the hardest working sex educator I've ever met, and I've met some pretty dedicated ones. We're lucky to have her.)

#47 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:28 PM:

I am delighted to see that the Dutch are still essentially enlightened.

I am also delighted having seen the final resting place of Emperor Norton I and the Widow Norton (and having learned of the existence of the Widow Norton). Most intriguing. Yep, another long-distance work trip in progress.

#48 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:32 PM:

My main point in this entry is kids are being taught this kind of thing right now.

*beams* Yeah! And thank you for posting it, it made me sit around and grin for eons, relative time.

#49 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:43 PM:

I passed the game link to my sisters, whose daughters are at or approaching that age.

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:44 PM:

I wonder what the one for boys is like. This is the kind of information that I would have loved to have had when I was the relevant age, back in the late 1960s. Of course, we have passed a whole lot of water since then.

I'd migrate to the Netherlands except that I think that in the municipality where I'd be happiest, Kralendijk, they're a lot more strait-laced than in Amsterdam.

#51 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:54 PM:

Deep in the forest withies climb each tree,
birds cry our presence, we are monsters here;
beneath our feet the little creatures flee.

In each small clearing there's not much to see
the light of morning seems harsh and austere;
deep in the forest withies climb each tree,

wild pines in the high branches in the lee
of the bright breezes which bring so much cheer,
beneath our feet the little creatures flee

much further in avoiding the decree
of the hard fate that they all seem to fear
deep in the forest. Withies climb each tree,

commensal vision where we might agree
on how life comes both to survive and share
beneath our feet. The little creatures flee

while we explain how these things come to be
in dappled light, within this pleasant air
deep in the forest withies climb each tree;
beneath our feet the little creatures flee.

#52 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:58 PM:

Dave B., #26: Like abi, I am at a loss to see where your rant here connects to the excerpt she quoted. Could you perhaps be a little more explicit about what it was that you found triggering?

There are people now who are saying that "teaching children how to deal with bullying" doesn't address the problem, any more than "teaching women how to avoid rape" addresses that problem. (I see the two as being closely connected -- threats of rape are often part of bullying directed at women, and bullying of both men and women can include rape, cf. Abu Ghraib. Both are about hurting someone else because you can.)

#53 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:59 PM:

elise @46: Heather's also a brilliant photographer. She once did a photoessay of me called "Elise and Her Crows," inspired by Patrick's remark that he admired the crow's feet by my eyes.

URL, s'il vous plait? I'm a fan of a good set of crow's feet.

#54 ::: Branko Collin ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 02:41 PM:

There's a sex-ed programme on Dutch public television called Dr Corrie which is aimed at fifth and sixth graders. (It's part of something called School TV which is made specifically for watching in school.)

I only found out about it because a bunch of Catholics got upset about it and started a campaign/website called Stop Dokter Corrie. Ironically one of the episodes they are against is it seems the one that says "it is important to start kissing only when you are ready for it. Don't do it because somebody else wants you to. There is no right or wrong age to start kissing."

#55 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 02:56 PM:

abi, this is wonderful! I almost wish it weren't the next Open Thread, so the conversation could be more focused, but I'm so glad to read this (increasingly grim news from Russia has been getting me down).

I wonder if the boys' version is exactly parallel. I'd think that...well, don't boys usually reach puberty a bit later than girls? So maybe how you talk to them about it might be a little different (ten-year-olds are a bit different from thirteen-year-olds, or whatever the ages are now)?

Just curious.

Dave Bell, I read your comment with a jaw that just kept dropping. I can't imagine what on Earth you're talking about.

#56 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 03:25 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 28... PJ Evans @ 45... You've seen the poster for "Sharknado vs Polar Vortex"?

#57 ::: Joris M ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 03:47 PM:

Xopher @56

I checked the pdf available at the link Auke posted in 37, it seems the texts for boys and girls are parallel for most parts. This version seems to be intended to get to children almost before they'd really need it.

#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Branko, #54: Oh, I can tell you why that upsets them. It's saying that people should be able to decide for themselves when it's okay to start kissing. Implicit in the "don't do it just because someone else wants you to" is also "don't not do it just because someone else says you shouldn't". To the objectors, it should have said, "wait until your parents or the Church tell you it's okay".

Joris, #57: Which is as it should be. If you wait until they need it, it's too late.

#59 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 04:29 PM:

neotoma @ 15: you speak for me also.

abi @ 31: I'm heartened that you got such a positive response from the school. It's an uphill struggle if the school isn't fully committed to prevention of bullying.

Fragano @ 51: that's superb.

HLN: local herpestid has been reading Virginia Woolf for the first time (yay for free e-books on the brand new reader which was a Christmas present!) and now feels a little dizzy. "It was rather like being inside a kaleidoscope," they told HLN. Some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read, but very disorientating."

When asked if they planned to read any more Woolf in the future, local herpestid replied, "More than likely. But right now I'm just going to read some Sherlock Holmes stories to get my feet back on the ground."

#60 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 04:40 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @51, applause!

#61 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 05:30 PM:

In case any Sherlock fans didn't know, according to BBC America's Tumblr, Sherlock returns to PBS (not BBC America as some people have been saying) on January 19 at 10 PM.

abi 31: I'm so glad the school behaved appropriately. And that word is chosen with care, because that particular solution wouldn't work everywhere. The kids there clearly believe that being civilized is good and that being in trouble is bad, which speaks well for the school and the Netherlands.

Rats. Just got over my most recent "wanna be Canadian" spell, and now I'm having a "wanna be Dutch" spell. I will just say "Geert Wilders" a few times and no doubt it will pass. But even WITH the PVV...sheesh.

Joris 57: Lee 58 speaks wisdom here. My point was that "just before they need it" is, from what I know, a bit later for boys than for girls. Though certainly in my life...well, some things started up before I actually reached puberty. But I had older boys in my life who...well. Not going to talk about that here.

Mongoose 59: It's an uphill struggle if the school isn't fully committed to prevention of bullying.

And most schools aren't. In fact, in some cases the school uses bullying to maintain the hierarchy that keeps the teachers and administrators in control. (This has been discussed here before, but I'm not sure when or in what thread.)

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:37 PM:

Mongoose & Cassy B: Thank you!

#63 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 06:43 PM:

So four hours into thaw out, and everything is going again except an upstairs tub with a really weird faucet, and the hot side of the basement laundry tub, which is so dead I suspect it is cut out. Suddenly from upstairs there is the sound of a sudden flow of water. Unfortunately it is not from the faucet, but from in the walls. I rush downstairs and cut the house water, then my son lays towels on the first floor while I set out a couple of coolers downstairs to catch the dripping. Fortunately the plumber was able to come and fix things, and the water damage seems to be extremely minimal. PVC pipes, BTW, do not fail at all gracefully. They shatter lengthwise into shards.

#64 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 07:09 PM:

C. Wingate, #63: That is very true, and is also why (after a brief experimental period) the SCA banned the use of PVC pipe as a base for fighting weapons. When a PVC-based sword breaks, the tip flies off in a random direction, and may have a sharp point sticking out of the broken section; that could really hurt someone if it landed wrong. Rattan, when it breaks, tends to bend rather than snap; not all of the material breaks at once, and what's left holds the tip in place.

#65 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 08:41 PM:

So, I had a look at the pdf files, both the girl one and the boy one. They are indeed very similar. (The boy one has just as much pink and purple as the girl one, which is kind of nice to see—it shows that the colours are an aesthetic choice rather than a gendered one.)

One thing that bugs me a little bit is that even a couple of the quotations are nearly identical, although they're attributed to different people. "Mijn buurmannen zijn homo. Ze hebben en dochtertje. Leuk, toch?" says Sophie (11), in the meisje version. And "Mijn buurmannen zijn homo. Ze hebben nu ook en dochtertje. Leuk toch!" says Marc (10), in the jongen version. This seems like the sort of thing that could diminish the pamphlets’ credibility unnecessarily if a meisje and a jongen happen to compare notes. But that's a minor quibble.

#66 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 10:21 PM:

Ok, Abi, that's just cool.

HLN: Area woman receives call from home warranty company. "We're sorry, Miz. Your cooktop is too old to get replacement parts. Instead, you have a budget of $2k for purchase & installation of a new cooktop." Area woman heard squeeing about the only good thing to happen today.

In other news, local realtor highly recommends home warranties to clients and acquaintances with yet more added personal testimony. "So, my stove stopped working three days before Christmas during the first of four holiday dinners," she began...

#67 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 11:30 PM:

hyper-temporal unlocal news: if you're in Canada or the northern US and you've got clear skies tonight-the-8th/9th, you might see auroras. A mass-o-sun arrives around 3am EST on the 9th.

To check without going outside, look at the Auroral Oval picture on Spaceweather (map with auroral overlay on the left-side column [It also has a map for Europe.]). Yellow/Red over your location is good.

#68 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 11:32 PM:

I wish there'd been a pamphlet like that around when I went to a "health ed" class in 5th grade, around about 1985. All the boys were kicked out of the room (AFAIK they didn't get any education) for an hour, and they explained basic human biology -- periods, puberty, and pregnancy. The school nurse took one hour, gave us all a sample pack of sanitary napkins, and called it done. They didn't mention AIDs until one of the kids brought it up and it was quickly glossed over as something we didn't need to worry about if we weren't having sex and nobody bled on us ...

(Given some of the girls in my class were teenage refugees who were years behind the other kids educationally, and that this was a rough inner city school, "too young to have sex" was probably a false assumption.)

I actually pretty much knew the facts of life by then anyway -- my grandmother made sure I knew what I needed to. (Though, some of Gramma's information was outdated by virtue of her being born in 1916. I was at my grandmother's house for the summer when I was thirteen and I told her I needed sanitary napkins within the next week. I was very confused when she asked me if I needed a belt for them too ...)

In other news, I woke at 3 AM yesterday to no heat in my travel trailer. This being the Arizona high country, heat is actually necessary -- by the time it was dawn, the cats' water bowl had a film of ice on it and my electric mattress pad, several blankets, and three cats under the covers with me were definitely not keeping up with the cold. I am glad that the pipes didn't freeze!

After a few choice swear words from my father, and a few equally choice words from me, and much concern over the possibility of Yet Another Bill (the 35 year old septic tank is also dying) we discovered that this particular travel trailer (A) a panel of house-hold type breakers and (B) a HIDDEN panel of automotive fuses next to the breaker box. Counter-intuitively, the furnace has a 15 amp AUTOMOTIVE fuse, not a breaker.

We replaced the fuse.

Hallelujah. Let there be heat.

So far it hasn't blown a fuse again. The power was flickering that night due to high winds, so I'm hoping that was what caused the fuse to fry. We so can't afford another bill.

#69 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:15 AM:

When I was in fifth grade (I think), one day all us boys were taken out to play some goddamned sport while the girls got to watch a movie!

I was outraged. My family didn't go to the movies often, we had no TV at home, and this was 1969 (or '70), so there was no internet, no source of video entertainment. How unfair to deprive us of this while providing it to the girls! I said so to the teacher, and some of the other boys agreed. Much discussion ensued.

"It was on menstruation," she finally cried, expecting that to end the conversation right there.

I was embarrassed to tears at that point, not that I knew exactly what menstruation was, just that it was one of those words people whispered. But I was not about to back down, so I said I'd still like to see the movie, because shouldn't I also know what was going on with the girls?

Eventually they gave in and the girls got sent out to play a game (yuck) and we watched the movie. I can't remember what the other boys' reactions were, but I was glad to understand something I hadn't known about before. I think the teacher actually wound up being pleased that we took an interest, but...well, it was 1969 (or '70), and my memory is spotty.

You know, that "more knowledge please" attitude is something I got from my dad. Had lots of problems, he and I, but he deserves credit for that. Much credit.

#70 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Jacque @53: The full set is on Heather's subscription site, femmerotic, I believe, but here are a few public (and therefore at least marginally SFW* depending on your workplace) links:

Start here, and hit the arrow to the right to page through the nine photos in that clump.

She did this glorious thing which I use as a userpic in a bunch of places. The leaf shadows are from a long bolt of lace.

*Heather does a lot of nudes. She's really, really good at it. We met when she asked for volunteers who were not young/thin/conventionally-pretty, and became fast friends. I miss her like mad since she moved away, and need to get out to her city again.

#71 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 03:04 AM:

I've got a post in "Internal Server Error" limbo, I wonder if another post will shake it loose?

Just so this isn't totally vacuous, I'll talk about something very odd that happened to me last Saturday: I woke up and there was a patch of numbness on the side of my right thumb. It didn't seriously affect my manual dexterity, and over the last half week sensation has been slowly returning to it -- it's almost but not quite back to normal by now. But I've never had anything like that happen before. If it weren't getting better I'd be seeing my doctor.

#72 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 03:05 AM:

Hm, and the post shows up in "last 1000 comments" but not in the thread itself. ("Dreadful Phrases".)

#73 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 05:45 AM:

George RR Martin's Cocteau Theater in Santa Fé is showing all of "Game of Thrones" every Monday for free. It's my understanding that the small theater was packed and had to turn away many people.

#74 ::: Paul A. thinks David Goldfarb may have found his way back to the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 08:27 AM:

At least, the behaviour he's describing reminds me very much of what used to happen when the gnomes took an interest in a message.

(Looking at it in David's view-all-by, I'm inclined to suspect Punctuation.)

#75 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:22 AM:

elise, those are lovely! I have long admired that lace-shadows icon.

#76 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:41 AM:

David Goldfarb: I am not even Dr. Google, but some of that relates to how my Weird Elbow Thing (whose neurology appointment has been, because of the cold emergency and knock-on emergency/missed appointments effects, postponed till I know-not-when) first presented.

Because of that, I can say that one thing that CAN cause symptoms like yours is irritation/pinching (we know not which in my case yet -- I'm going to see a neurologist) of the nerves that go down through the elbow towards your hands. There are two, one on either side of the bony protuberance in your elbow; they're what you whack in 'funny-bone' situations. One handles the inner half (your thumb, index finger, and middle finger) the other handles the outer half (pinky, ring finger, middle finger).

Yes, the halves overlap, adding up to more than five fingers total capacity. See also 'non-designed architecture'. :->

Ways to narrow down whether it's elbows for you too: If you bend your arms tightly and put your elbows on a surface and your hands under your chin and lean like that, does it start feeling funny or painful after a while? The two things that trigger for me are pressure on the 'funny-bone' region just above my elbow point or keeping them bent at less than 90deg.

In both cases, my hands start to go pins-and-needles; if I keep annoying it they go number and/or hurt. The last time I had this, during gestation, something ELSE happened that I thought was unrelated but my doc said I should mention to the specialist: I had an issue where I'd go to pick up something incidental (glass of water was the classic), think I had a firm grip, and have it go cascading to the floor.

This has trained me to pick things up with a finger under their bottoms and now I no longer know if I have lack of grip strength/lack of ability to sense not gripping enough. :->

Part of the differential diagnosis between elbow-nerves and tendonitis (for pain; numbness is more likely nerve-related) includes standing one cubit from a wall and pushing on it with your elbows in a right-angle configuration; if it's the tendons that'll hurt like a bugbear.

Going into some detail because there might be general interest, and also because of the history of listing symptoms on ML and having someone else go, "Ohhhhh, wait, I should talk to my doctor about that too, now that you mention it."

#77 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:45 AM:

... postponedc. My appointment has been postponed. (eyes my fingers and internal spellcheck module sidelong)

#78 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Elise @ #70

met when she asked for volunteers who were not young/thin/conventionally-pretty

Sort-of related: the forum I frequent over on Ravelry sometimes has pin-up threads. Thing is, most of the men I find attractive are not conventionally handsome (I have a thing for character actors), and while the forum is pretty broadminded, I don’t want to do the equivalent of throwing a bucket of cold water over anyone who doesn’t share my tastes. OTOH, starting a “not-conventionally-handsome” thread seems potentially problematic, in several ways that I will leave to the readers imaginations. Even if “Strange Attractors” would be a cute subject heading. So basically I’m asking for advice here before I ask over there.

#79 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Actually, David's comment was not gnomed, and its disposition was not the product of any faults of its form or content.

What happened is a product of the particular failure modes of Movable Type's comment-publication process. Basically, posting something to MT is a two-step process. First, the content is saved to the database, and then the pages are rebuilt as static files for serving through the tubes. (Contrast this to WordPress, which serves dynamically-created pages.)

What happened was that the second step, the page build process, failed partway through. So the recent posts list and David's (view all by) pages were built, but O Tragedy! the blog entry page was not, because crash.

To shake one of those loose, you need to post another comment on the same thread. That'll trigger a rebuild of the last n thousand comment lists, your (view all by), and the blog entry page itself.

I know we're seeing a Whole Lotta Errors these days. This is a conversation that has to happen with People Not Me, which requires PNM to have time to tackle it.

I can, however, assure everyone that the backup process is working.

#80 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 10:20 AM:

#78 ::: Sarah
I'll bet Rav would be okay with it. And if not, so what? They don't seem to have mounted a Death Squad.

FWIW, Steve Buscemi would top my list.

Love the photos of you et. al., Elise.

#81 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 10:24 AM:

elise @ 70

What a gorgeous, lovely set of pictures. They're absolutely beautiful!

#82 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 10:29 AM:

@ elise

I should probably go on to note that I'm married and plan to stay that way, so you needn't worry that I'm going to get all stalker-ish or anything. I simply felt moved to compliment the artist and her model.

#83 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 10:51 AM:

Sarah -
Which forum, please? You can PM me on Rav - carolkimball.

#84 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 11:55 AM:

I don't usually go for the conventionally handsome. [Magazine]'s list of the hottest normally has my picks somewhere between 10 and 20, if listed at all. It was with much pleasure, and a smidge of concern over my preferences becoming more conventional, when Hugh Jackman* was voted hottest man of the year some years back. Since then, my preferences have gone back to the previous positions in the list.

*I'm a sucker for a great smile, and Hugh Jackman has a spectacular smile. He smiles with his whole face.

#85 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:08 PM:

Cygnet @68: I was very confused when she asked me if I needed a belt for them too ...)

Oh ghods, now there's a memory. I still have the scar on my tailbone from that first one....

Xopher Halftongue @69: "It was on menstruation,"

Go, young Xopher! I mind the time I had to explain female bidness to an adult boyfriend.... See also: most of the men I know will, like, run from the room when the topic comes up.

On the other hand, it provided a nice trump card when the guys in electronics school were trying to gross out me and my one female classmate. I finally got tired of it. "You want gross," I thinks to myself, "I'll give you gross." I swear, the ringleader turned so bright red I though he was going to have an aneurysm. Never gave us any crap again.

elise @70: Ah yes! Very good! Interesting: you bear more than a passing resemblance to my best friend in high school.

On the topic of great crow's feet, I'm inordinately please with this picture of a coworker. Entirely by accident, I discovered a trick: I initially traced the outlines of the image onto the paper with my empty ballpoint pen (retained for the purpose). Turns out that drawing obliquely over the tracks, they form very precise highlights, which would be impossible to do otherwise.

Elliott Mason @76: Because of that, I can say that one thing that CAN cause symptoms like yours is irritation/pinching (we know not which in my case yet -- I'm going to see a neurologist) of the nerves that go down through the elbow towards your hands.

That can even result from pinching/irritation in one's neck. I have to remember to press my shoulders down when I'm riding my bike, otherwise several fingers go numb.

Carol Kimball @80: Willem Dafoe would be top of my list. Unfortunately, he's an example of "you shouldn't meet your heroes."

Lin Daniel @84: Hugh Jackman +1

Ewen McGregor is another one. That guy is having way too much fun, living his life.

For classic crow's feet, I always think of Brendan Coyle of Downton Abbey fame. They're not even really "crow's feet" in the classical sense, but they totally work for me.

See also: David Tennant. (& BTW, I really hope he and Matt Smith find more excuses to work together. They're chemistry is just magic.)

#86 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:34 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 71, augmenting the advice from Elliott @ 76 et al.

There's a lot of mileage on the nerves to the fingers that can be affected to produce tingling/numbness. And the number of different nerves involved can make the patterns of what's affected rather strange. It starts where the nerves come off the spine (right where the neck turns into the back)where any sort of pinching or tension can have effects farther on. Then the nerves travel through your shoulder blade area, which is also a favorite spot for muscle tension to pinch them. Then, as noted, going around the elbow joint and through the wrist are additional pinch-points. A good orthopedist can help sort out the possible sources.

I had a severe problem a decade ago where I'd managed to pinch the C7 spinal nerve on my right side which resulted in burning pain across my shoulder and down the back of my arm and almost complete numbness in two of my fingers. (And then the idiot doctor at the emergency room -- I was away from home at the time -- insisted it must be a sports-related shoulder injury despite my vehement insistence that I knew what I'd been doing with my body and I knew when the symptoms had started and nothing he was saying made any logical sense.)

More transiently -- as mentioned elsewhere above -- bicycling can give me much more transient numbness in specific fingers due to shoulder positioning relative to the nerve pathways.

At the moment, I'm dealing with some nearly-chronic finger numbness that comes and goes relative to shoulder/neck tension due to work stress. Fortunately none of my problem seem to come from tendon or wrist issues.

My advice (IANAMD) is that if it comes and goes very regularly or if it sticks around for 24 hours at a time, consult with an orthopedist of that is logistically possible for you. At the very least, you can get advice on stretches/exercises and which interim anti-inflammatory/analgesics might be appropriate.

#87 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:40 PM:

Chiming in on the chorus of "it could be coming from your neck". In my work as a physical therapist assistant, I've run across a good many patients whose finger/hand symptoms, initially misdiagnosed as either carpal tunnel (nerve compression at the wrist) or cubital tunnel (nerve compression at the elbow) turned out to be caused by nerve compression at the neck. If that's what your problem turns out to be, it is absolutely treatable with physical therapy, in a "fix it and make sure it doesn't come back" sense (may require ongoing adherence to home exercises).

#88 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:41 PM:

(whoops, hit "post" too soon!)

Jacque @ #85, that portrait is lovely!

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:50 PM:

I had muscles in my neck that were so tense that I was losing feeling in the hand at the other end of that arm. (Fortunately, I've managed to avoid that kind of tension since then.)

#90 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 01:06 PM:

I get a sharp needlelike pain in my right elbow when my neck needs a chiro adjustment. I see a chiropractor regularly as I have a pinched nerve in the middle of my back and a touch of scoliosis from a childhhod injury. If you don't like the results you get from an orthopedist, consider a chiropractor.

Heather Rose Jones @86
I spent more than 5 hours in excruciating pain because the ER doctor kept trying to prove I had appendicitis. Because 17 year olds don't have kidney stones. One of the advantages of being older is that I can look an ER or urgent care doctor in the eye and ask, "how long have you known me?" Pause while he, and it has always been a 'he' who pulls this, searches for an answer. I say, "I've known me for [current age] years, and have been dealing with this issue for quite a lot of them." Most of the time it works.

#91 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 01:13 PM:

Jacque @85:
Wow, that's stunning.

HLN, Bullying Edition:
Further details emerge.

The leerjaarcoördinator (head teacher for the students in that grade) told the class that there had been thefts from one of the student, and that one of them had taken place in the boy's locker room at gym (this is true). He didn't mention what was stolen, or from whom, or that it was also bullying.

He said that he was going to give the miscreant a chance to confess to him, that day only, privately in his office. Otherwise all the boys of the class were going to be kept after school on Friday. And when the thief was discovered, the punishment for theft would be applied.

Unsurprisingly, the kid confessed. I thought at first that he'd also returned the pencil case, but that's not so (I suspect it went into a trash can.) So I've just compiled a list of everything that was in the two pencil cases, the one stolen in December and the one taken Monday. And the kid is going to have to pay, as well as writing an apology to Alex.

Will he try something else? I don't know—but I know that the school now knows that bullying is going on, and whom to watch for it. The manner and speed of their reaction encourages me that they'll take it seriously.

#92 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 01:36 PM:

Lila @87: turned out to be caused by nerve compression at the neck. If that's what your problem turns out to be, it is absolutely treatable with physical therapy

Although mileage varies wildly. I finally fired the PT my doctor sent me to for the inflamed nerve root in my neck. Not only did his ministrations not help (and he only got around to actually doing anything on my fifth visit—!?), but his "diagnostics" re-injured me. Every. Single. Time. After five iterationss, I eventually caught a clue and quit going. What finally turned the trick was a combination of osteopathy and Pilates. (Which additionally fixed alignment issues all the way down to my feet.)

& @88 & abi: Thank you! (The party in question just walked past my desk. :-> ) That thing he did dangling his glasses was completely unconscious on his part. It wasn't until I was choosing the pose and noticed how well it worked.

One of the biggest challenges, I find, when getting images of people, is to get them to not pose.

abi @91: Yay, school! At the very least, the bully can't fall back on "the consent of silence," which is definitely not nothing.

#93 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 01:39 PM:

abi: Is it known if the thief is the same party as the cyberstalker?

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 01:57 PM:

Jacque @93:
It is not known to me. Which is fine, as long as the authorities have all the information and act on it all. And they have, this far, earned my trust.

#95 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 02:32 PM:

Jacque @92: in portraiture my dream goal is to depict someone as they look TO me, which usually means a) lively and b) not their "you're taking my picture..." face.

#96 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 02:35 PM:

As I Recall, circa 1975:

In fifth grade, the girls of all the classes went to a special assembly. There were rumors of a film. I forget what us boys did.

In sixth grade boys had an assembly; the various classes gathered in one room and watched a rather clunky and earnest film strip with leaden narration and bland schematic diagrams of Parts. The gym teacher and my teacher had a short Q&A afterwards. I remember them awkwardly introducing the notion of Gross-Out Function Parity: Sure, girls have periods, but boys get nocturnal emissions.

* * *
For the curious, an assortment of What's Going On Down There films of various vintages are available on

#97 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 02:46 PM:

If Alex's experience is anything to go by, next year Fiona gets the Super Embarrassing Lesson. The whole class, together, learns how to put a condom on a model penis. Said model penis is passed around so that everyone gets a chance to do it.

Not gender-split. Not a banana or a cucumber. Everyone together, condoms, model penis. They do it toward the end of the school year, and I gather it's pretty embarrassing.

But, as I said to Alex after he did it, it does mean that when you have to do it for real, it won't be your first time.

#98 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 02:49 PM:

Well, of course Fiona may never have to do it for real. Then again, Alex may not either, depending on many factors.

Probability, of course, is quite otherwise. Not disputing that the SEL is a good idea.

Of course, condoms may be obsolete if the right nanotech comes along, but that's less likely to happen in the next few years.

#99 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 02:54 PM:

The strong statistical probability is that Alex will do it for real at some point. Fiona, less so, but it's still a greater-than even possibility. So I reckon the lesson is, well, prophylactic.

#100 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 02:56 PM:

That's what I meant to say. But I didn't come up with the pun. Alas for me that I didn't conceive of it first.

#101 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 03:25 PM:

Since Dave Bell isn't responding, I'm going to hazard a guess that his comment didn't have anything to do with the contents of the pamphlet, but with Stefan's comment @11. Specifically, I'm going to guess that Stefan's comment prompted a strong feeling that in most English-speaking countries, including the US, it would be very risky for a man of any age to give out pamphlets related to sex to an audience including teen or preteen girls, and riskier yet to talk with one about the topic.

If that's what he was thinking, I'd actually agree with that - I commented on a recent thread that it feels risky to me to just chat with kids in general without some strong social excuse - though I think it has little to do with feminism or "men are the enemy".

It has much more to do IMHO with 1) some justified worry about pedophiles, 2) a whole lot more overblown paranoia about "OMG pedophiles are everywhere, save the children!", 3) a societal fear, due to religious and authoritarian reasons, of children being better-informed on sexual topics, and 4) a deathly fear of learning that some children may have sexual feelings or ideas of their own, to the point that the topic can't easily or safely be discussed openly by anyone.

#102 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 03:35 PM:

P.S. That only addresses the first part, of course. I have no idea what the part about bullying was supposed to relate to, although it seemed clear it was triggered in some way.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 04:03 PM:

Elliott Mason @95: in portraiture my dream goal is to depict someone as they look TO me, which usually means a) lively and b) not their "you're taking my picture..." face.

Yes, exactly!

abi @97: Not gender-split. Not a banana or a cucumber. Everyone together, condoms, model penis.

I 'member when my sex ed came around ('69), it was co-ed, and we got all the anatomical diagrams, and descriptions of the various cycles and physiological responses and stuff. What they didn't cover, however, was how the sperm got from the man to the woman. This was left as an exercise for the student. I was not quite smart enough to make the deductive leap.

(The gap was finally filled by a classmate, during a conversation over the back fence. "OMG, he puts what where!?")

& @99: So I reckon the lesson is, well, prophylactic.

Friend of mine was in a punk rock band, back in the late '70s, named The Prophylactics. When they performed, they taped condoms all over their instruments and equipment. I asked if this meant they were a rubber band. My only answer was a very dirty look.

#104 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 04:38 PM:

Carol Kimball @ #83
Sarah -
Which forum, please?

LSG (the Bang thread or Team I'll-be-in-my-bunk)

Thing is, if people are curating a collection of images that they personally find attractive, it's quite a different thing from public appearance-shaming; and there's no arguing with taste, which is why fanfic archives tend to have a lot of searchable tags so that users can find their kinks and avoid their squicks. Within a fairly broad forum, however, I'm not sure how to avoid (a) spoiling the fun of people who don't want to ogle Steve Buscemi; (b) fragment into a thousand super-detailed pin-up threads, or (c) draw a line between "conventionally" and "unconventionally" attractive, which might open a can of worms.

#105 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 04:52 PM:

Xopher @ 100, I see what you did there, but I refuse to egg you on.

#106 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Cassy, I'd hate to think that Abi was a bad seed; I certainly hope this doesn't spawn a series of puns!

#107 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Sarah, please start a topic called "Strange Attractors"!!!

In the meantime, I'll check out ... erm, the obvious.

#108 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 05:16 PM:

It's fertile territory for humor. Though I'm not foreskin anyone to participate.

(Sorry. No, really, very sorry. But not sorry enough not to make the pun.)

#109 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 05:21 PM:

Anybody game for bun mots?

#110 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 06:02 PM:

Jacque @103: There's overlap for you. Richard Moorman (we called him Richard then; well, I called him Richard-o) said in his D'APAzine something about the Prophylactics, and I made the same joke.


To Absent Friends.

#111 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 06:15 PM:

abi has no one to blame but herself. The seminal post was hers. It's a good rule: don't put your punsters to the teste unless you want them to rise to the occasion. I mean, I'm sure she saw that coming.

Not that that is in any way a cliticism. I like chains as much as anyone!

#112 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 06:36 PM:

I always find these rude pun threads funny, but the idea of joining in is kind of embarrassing. Even though they make me laugh, I'm too cowardly to write anything with such a dirty double meaning.

Guys, I really love your spunk.

#113 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 06:44 PM:

But how many of us will come together for a Gathering of Light at the Worldcon[SM]? It could make a vas deferens to the event.

#114 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 06:48 PM:

A topic of interest to these threads.

#115 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 07:11 PM:

HLN: Local woman discovers chocolate in her pocket. "Hah!" she is heard to exclaim, "And it's the good kind, too!"

#116 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 07:14 PM:

Kip W @110: Richard Moorman ... To Absent Friends.

::raises glass::

#117 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 07:15 PM:

Jacque @85: That's a really good drawing.

#118 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 07:31 PM:

The Simpsons tribute to Hayao Miyazaki:


#119 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 07:33 PM:

David: Thank you!

Our Bosnian cleaning guy just came in. I've recently inculcated him into the practice of Knock Knock jokes. Tonight, he presented me with this one:

Him: "Knock knock."

Me: "Who's there?"

Him: "Doctor."


#120 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 07:39 PM:


The First Knock-Knock Joke. The Knock-Knock Joke that must never be answered. Hidden in plain sight.


#121 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 07:53 PM:

Niall 112: Guys, I really love your spunk.

Hah! You had me going. But watch out, some scumbag could wander in at any point.

#122 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 08:56 PM:

I know the penis mightier than the sword, but that was pretty limp.

#123 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:13 PM:

OK, Strange Attractor thread launched with publicity still from Ruggles of Red Gap (SFW, unless your workplace has something against 1930s screwball comedy, carousel animals, or Charles Laughton.)

#124 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:20 PM:

There's a vas deferens between a dirty pun and a clean one. At least that's what I've found.

#125 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Jacque #85: Oh, that is very nice. Sounds like a useful drawing trick, too.

#126 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Dave: Thank you! Yeah, that is a good trick. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to do it deliberately.

@Distal Neurology: ... or the kind of tingling you get in your hands as you walk the three blocks home with 60 lbs of groceries hanging from your backpack. Nice to know I can do it, but...Uff-da!

#127 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Elliott Mason @76: I tried the experiment for two minutes, and didn't notice anything happening.

A possibly-related data point is that on Friday and that same Saturday I was having some discomfort in my lower back, which normally isn't a problem area for me. (Despite having spent two decades in a job which involved schlepping around cases of paper every day. A big thank-you to Tom Whitmore, who when I was first starting gave me valuable tips on proper lifting technique.)

#128 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 10:38 PM:

Because this is the right place to ask: Would anyone like to volunteer to be a go-to person for the occasional transliteration/identification of small amounts of text in (a) Cyrillic (probably Russian) or (b) Hebrew characters, from tombstones? A heavy week would probably be 10-15 stones, and mostly I care about the names and dates (plus if it says 'beloved sister,' 'my maiden name was,' etc), so not paragraphs of text.

I mean, I could stick the images in a publically-shared dropbox folder and let everyone play, but that seems kind of spammy of the community. :->

Context in case needed: I photograph, index, and input-to-Find-A-Grave a couple of small, oldish ethnic cemeteries near me. One is Jewish and has some seriously nonzero occurrences of the two scripts listed above, neither of which I have much of any idea how to pronounce. At least the Czech tombstones, somebody's made a convenient lookup table of the sorts of things most likely to occur, and I can use that pretty well.

If you're interested in learning how to do what I do, only on cemeteries near YOU, toss me an email: I'm 2ells2tees on that google place's mail servers, and I love enthusing about my crowdsourced history [obsession] hobby.

#129 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 11:37 PM:

Elliott Mason @128: that google place's mail servers is, alas, ambiguous, as they operate multiple domains for the purpose. These days they only let your register for new addresses in, but previously they have also used

#130 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Jules @129: I see I was too elliptical. I'm at with no frills. :->

#131 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 11:44 PM:

I don't recall if I put this here before, but Elliott Mason's post reminds me of this grave in a Jewish cemetery in West Springfield, MA. I was photographing stones, and became interested in the inset photo portrait on the stone. It made me a little sad that this person's face (a young man or boy, I was guessing) had lost so much of its substance.

In my experience with toner and photocopiers, the part that flakes off the most is usually the solid black areas, so I put in a little time one day restoring it with that in mind. The results surprised me a bit. As you can probably tell, my guess was wrong.

Did I put this up here before? I seem to recall that someone translated some or all of the inscription, but I didn't carry that over into my flickr page — rather slack of me, or maybe I didn't feel like I had the right to make a name public under the circumstances.

Maybe it was on LiveJournal. That sounds kind of right.

#132 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 11:48 PM:

Pain in the arms and hands is tricky. Two coworkers had elbow pain and went to the same physiatrist. One was diagnosed with weak muscles on one side of her back causing a nerve thingy, the other with a damaged tendon in his arm. Both got different PT, and got better. One had previously been diagnosed by her general practitioner as "tennis elbow" and given an arm strap for it—which did not help.

#133 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 01:37 AM:

I have brachial neuritis, which is an inflammation of the nerves in my shoulder. In my case, it's secondary to dystonia causing edema of the muscles. For me, it's chronic (which is unusual), but it is very much aggravated by certain activities and motions. For most people, it's a once-in-a-lifetime type thing that can happen for no apparent reason, or it can be caused by a mass or injury.

For me, it started with an acute, and very painful, flare caused by physical therapy to try to loosen my muscles up. Painful as in "way more painful than kidney stones" -- which I happened to get at the same time, lucky me.

The symptoms are pretty similar to a pinched cervical nerve, but the outcome can be a lot more devastating. I got very lucky -- my right arm isn't "quite right" after two years but it's usable.

It's something worth asking the doctor about if you're having symptoms. I very nearly had neck surgery but the surgeon was good enough to catch my problem was in my shoulder, not my neck, when he was screening me for surgery.

Notably, when I went to the ER for the kidney stones and told them that my shoulder hurt even worse than the stones, they diagnosed me with a pinched nerve.

(Google the usual reliable sources for more information on brachial neuritis.)

Oh, and the ER made me wait 8 hours before seeing me. Apparently, they thought I was drug seeking. They got much nicer to me when the CT scan showed multiple kidney stones ... and were shocked when I turned down morphine because by that time it was 1 AM and I had an appointment with the spinal surgeon at 8 AM the next morning that I had to drive myself to! They were absolutely useless when it came to the pain in my shoulder and arm, however, and I quickly determined that I was going to get no treatment from them for the "pinched nerve."

(I knew from past experience that toradol works better on kidney stones than opiates anyway, and without the unpleasant side effects. I also knew from past experience just how unpleasant renal colic can get, and how much better the right meds can make it.)

#134 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 10:07 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 124

That joke left me prostate, though I didn't do more than glans at it.

#135 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 11:30 AM:

HLN: I was going to do some sort of clever set-up first but ...

Daughter of Mystery is officially released! I don't have a hard-copy in my hot little hands yet. (If I post a picture on facebook of me holding my book would that be a "shelfie"?)

Remember, local peeps: I'll be holding a release party on February 9 at the Other Change of Hobbit, so if you can stand to wait that long, contact them to reserve a copy.

#136 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 12:06 PM:

Let's not go half-cocked.

#137 ::: Mary Aileen reports old spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 12:17 PM:

very old spam (or rather, rudeness)

The followup is pretty entertaining, though.

#138 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 12:29 PM:

Followup to my #137: Looks like those bits may be being left on purpose, because otherwise the later comments don't make sense.

#139 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 12:53 PM:

Serge, been watching "Live and Let Die" lately?

#140 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 01:06 PM:

Got no spurt of creativity, punwise. It may have been here that I saw the Midwest Teen Sex Show . If not: pretty good sexual resource.

#141 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 01:54 PM:

Are postings to the punfest suppose to be a circumcise, or are there no hard and fast rules?

#142 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 01:57 PM:

I wonder if the puns have reached their climax yet? (This post to see if I can break a post out of 404-jail.)

#143 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 02:00 PM:

...and it did! Post was merely hiding, not caught in a sextangle.

#144 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 02:24 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 139... The scene where Yaphet Kotto is testing Jane Seymour's prophetic abilities while threatening to shorten Roger Moore's digit?

#145 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 03:03 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @135, congratulations!

#146 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 135... Felicitations!

#147 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 04:05 PM:

Pun threads condominate the territory, all right. It's getting downright seedy around here. I prepuce a toast to all those doing such a bang-up job.

#148 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 04:26 PM:

Serge, I think it's Bond's last line in the scene before that one, but I have a weird memory for scraps of screenplay and music...

#149 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 05:33 PM:

HLN: area man and family are spending the night in a hotel, as most belongings have been loaded on a moving truck. Children demand yogurt and waffles for breakfast.

Random open-threadiness: an interesting article on being female on the internet, from Megan McArdle. Point I found most enlightening:

What I’m saying is that I think all people are unfairly hard on women and minorities on the other side than they are on opponents who are men....we have an unconscious and unfair double standard. Sometimes it manifests itself in sheer crazy. More often it manifests in dismissing women on the grounds that they couldn’t possibly have anything to add to the conversation.
...I frequently see lists of “writers I like” or “bloggers I like” or what have you, and there’s usually a spot for “Folks on the other side who I enjoy.”...
And in the decade-plus I’ve been writing on the Internet, I have almost never seen a woman in those slots.....I think the same holds true for minority writers, though I am less sure of that.
...we know how to use the delete button. But we don’t have a button for the people who automatically delete us from the list of grown-ups who should be taken seriously.

#150 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 06:07 PM:

Coming a little late to David Goldfarb's hand numbness -- and just wanting to say that other people have said everything I'd say. It's most likely nerve stuff, and it can be happening pretty much anywhere between the brain and the hand; many, if not most, GPs don't have a lot of training about such nerve issues; and talking to someone you trust who does have such training (PT, massage therapist, chiropractor, osteopath or the like) if it happens more than occasionally is a really good idea. If it's mild and transient -- there are bigger things to worry about in the world.

#151 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 08:59 PM:

SamChevre @ #149, McCardle's adding her thoughts to Amanda Hess's long essay at Pacific Standard, which is well worth reading. McCardle linked to it but didn't quote directly. That's a shame; there's plenty to quote.

#152 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 09:01 PM:

SamChevre @ #149, McCardle's adding her thoughts to Amanda Hess's long essay at Pacific Standard, which is well worth reading. McCardle linked to it but didn't quote directly. That's a shame; there's plenty to quote.

#153 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 09:01 PM:

Huh. Internal server error alarm, so I reposted. Oh well.

#154 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 10:42 PM:

SamChevre @ 149: May your move go as just as smoothly and low stress as it is possible for a move to go. May Massachusetts be a delight to explore.

#155 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2014, 10:49 PM:

The treatment of women on the internet *is* a real problem.

I'd rather hear about it from Amanda Hess, though.

Megan McArdle, a.k.a. "Jane Galt," the fact-free glibertarian, has proven time and time again throughout her hackish career that no one should take her seriously. Entirely without regard to her gender; she has earned her reputation by being a glibertarian who at the same time always repeats the official RIght-Wing Wurlitzer nonsense of the moment.

Not to mention her classic suggestion of 2003 that people demonstrating against the Iraq War should be beaten with 2x4s.

I am sorry that she has received gender-based abuse. No one deserves abuse for those reasons.

#156 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 12:32 AM:

Post lost in the Erroriverse. I'll just say that it's ALSO not OK to fat-shame Chris Christie (and yes, I hate him as much as anyone).

#157 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 12:33 AM:

Trying again, since it didn't get popped out:

As I've said before, if you say that Margaret Thatcher was a fascist,* that's not misogynist.

If you say that Margaret Thatcher was a fascist b***h, that's misogynist. And it's not OK, no matter how much righteous hatred for Margaret Thatcher may fill your soul.†

There actually is a certain type of female troll who will call you a misogynist for any criticism of a woman (especially if you criticize them, of course). These people are assholes. Pay them no mind.

*You may or may not be correct or justified in saying so; that's not the point.
†Plenty filled mine while she was alive, believe me. I hate her less now that she's dead (saving my energy).

#158 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 02:48 AM:

I got it from Kurt Busiek's Facebook Wall / Tumblr...this picture might be a shoop but even if it is, it's darn funny.

#159 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 03:01 AM:

Okay, a little bit more research reveals that it is in fact faked. Still funny, though.

#160 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 03:03 AM:

I had a professor at Berkeley whose name was George Sensabaugh -- excellent teacher, and if you get a chance to tae a class from him do so. He put up outside his door a lot of labels where his name was misspelled. He labeled the one which had him as "George Sensabagel" with the word "Sensahumor." That's one of the reasons I remember him!

#161 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 07:41 AM:

Xopher @157, agree as far as it goes that it's not misogynist to disagree with a woman, even to disagree vehmently or rudely. But, to follow your line of argument, if you only call out fascist women and fascist men always get a pass, then there starts to be a misogynist pattern even if your words are never gender-based.

This is, of course, the general and not the personal "you." And it's often hard to see at the individual level.

#162 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 08:14 AM:

OtterB @161--

I completely agree: we can discriminate through our silences, as well as through our use of words.

If I never said rude things about male right-wing hacks who pretend to be daring unconventional libertarians but happen to parrot whatever Rove and the Koch Brothers are pushing that day, then my complaints about McArdle would be de facto discriminatory, even if couched in non-discriminatory language.

So let me take this opportunity to say that Glenn Reynolds, just for starters, has *also* proven throughout his hackish career that no one should take him seriously. And David Brooks is just a small variation on the same theme--another puppet of the Republican propaganda machine who pretends to be a voice of sobriety and independence. Like McArdle, they too deserve to be abused on the internet, not for their gender but for their viciousness and for the damage that they do.

It is important to be an equal-opportunity despiser of all of one's enemies.

#163 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 09:32 AM:

oldster @162, not intending to imply that was what you are doing, just to Xopher's point at what misogyny was and wasn't. You were responding to a particular point about a particular statement by a particular happened-to-be-female person. In that context it doesn't make sense to go off-topic to equally problematic statements by male persons. I was thinking more about overall patterns.

#164 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 09:50 AM:

OtterB @163--
No problem, I was not feeling targeted by you. I just welcomed the opportunity to spread the opprobrium more evenly.

("Opprobrium," said Sir Francis Bacon, "is like muck: not good except it be spread.")

#165 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 02:30 PM:

I'm decluttering, and came across my old 35mm camera with its small assortment of lenses and gadgets. Is anyone still taking pictures with film?

#166 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 04:00 PM:

Turns out that one of my Facebook friends is still using film, so the camera and extra lenses is going to a good home.

#167 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 04:24 PM:

>> Is anyone still taking pictures with film?

Posted just today at MetaFilter:

#168 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 05:31 PM:

I went to see "Her." (Not to be confused with "She.")

Another SF movie from the modern crop of film makers who can make SF that isn't "movie" SF.

Liked it overall. A tiny bit long. An interesting mix of pathos, humor, and discomfort.

* * *
Small nit:

Theodore is established in the first scene as a professional letter writer; he works for "Beautiful Handwritten"

About 2/3rds of the way through . . .

. . . "Fnznagun" pbzcvyrf n yvfg bs Gurbqber'f orfg yrggref naq *fraqf gurz gb n choyvfure.*

Guvf fgevxrf zr nf:

N) N ivbyngvba bs ohfvarff rguvpf. Rira vs gur pbzcnal qbrfa'g unir nal evtugf gb gur yrggref, gurl qb unir na boyvtngvba naq qhgl gb xrrc gurz frpher naq cevingr. Gurbqber fubhyq chg uvf sbbg qbja naq jvguqenja gur obbx.

O) N ivbyngvba bs gur _fhccbfrq_ jevgref' naq erpvcvragf' cevinpl. Gurer pbhyq or n ybg bs guvatf va gubfr yrggref gung jbhyq or rzoneenffvat.

#169 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 08:51 PM:

Home sick, surfing Web. Thing I learned today that I would be better off not knowing: There are multiple artists who were inspired by My Neighbor Totoro, a movie about two little girls who move into the country and their nearest neighbor, a kindly, generous person who happens to be a forest spirit--inspired by the fresh greenery, the cuteness, and the simple story of children's heartbreaks and hopes to make art in which Totoro and his kind are eldritch horrors who enjoy terrorizing children and devouring humankind.

What is even the point?

#170 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 09:13 PM:

Jenny Islander@169 -- One of the bases of creativity is to look at things a little differently. I'm a big Totoro fan -- and it's still interesting to think about what would have been involved if the Totoro spirits were actually "evil" under standard interpretations. It's not entirely inconsistent with the film -- the fact that adults can't see or connect with the spirits is moderately telling (and look at how the older girl almost doesn't get to join in when they're riding the wind). The film is complex enough to allow difficult interpretations.

Lovecraft has a lot to answer for.

#171 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 09:30 PM:

Jenny Islander @169: Um, the darker strands of Totoro-adjacent stuff I've run into are often inspired by two real-world Japan things: Totoro was initially theatrically released as a double-feature with Grave of the Fireflies, which is, um ... not light-hearted.

Secondly, there is some speculation that Totoro might be at least partly inspired by a case where two little girls wandered into the woods and died -- in that reading, all of the Totoro movie is experienced after death by the protagonists.

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 09:55 PM:

The darker side of spirits can be found a plenty in Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

I'd leave Totoro alone.

#173 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 10:26 PM:

re 169: Ironically, we just watched Rise of the Guardians this evening over dinner.

#174 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 11:04 PM:

Janetl, you can also get adaptors to use old manual focus lenses on modern digital SLR cameras. eBay sellers have them available for most any camera combination. Some of the older lenses had really nice optics. The lenses will remain manual focus/manual aperture but that's not necessarily always a drawback.

(I wish someone would come up with a way to retrofit vintage cameras with modern digital innards. I really loved my old Minolta SRTs from the 1960's, but digital is so much easier and cheaper in so many ways. I just miss the hand feel of a heavy chunk of metal with big sturdy knobs and dials on it.)

#175 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 11:12 PM:

I love the hand feel of my metal-body manual pentax. I don't so much love the weight of the camera bag with five lenses and a flash. And the complete and utter lack of water resistance. (My P&S digital is adventure-proof. Can't take it scuba diving but that's probably about it.)

I spent a bit too much time browsing the film link and further links instead of writing as I had intended. I want so much to try out some of the multi-exposure techniques described, but... weather. Well, and city light pollution, if the weather improves, but that can be used as an interesting light source too.

#176 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2014, 11:37 PM:

I can't find the vaccination thread. (Or a search field. Hidden in plain site?)


11-year-old girl dies from flu after parents refuse to have her vaccinated

An 11-year-old Tennessee girl died earlier this week of complications from the flu just three days after contracting the potentially deadly virus.

The death of Savannah Hyden is just the latest in a growing number of flu-related deaths that has health officials worried.

Hyden died about 5 p.m. Wednesday at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital near Vanderbilt University near Nashvilled. According to her parents, the girl had not been given a flu vaccine this year.

Hayden's parents say they declined to get their daughter vaccinated because they were worried about the potential side effects sometimes caused by the vaccine.

'You only think [vaccines] for the weak and the elderly — those that don’t have the immunity to fight it off,' Fiser said. 'You would never imagine that a healthy child really would need the flu shot at all.'

Hayden, the girl's parents admit, did not have health insurance.

#177 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 12:05 AM:

Deeper darker Totoro? I would rather stick with the interpretation that moving to an unfamiliar place can be scary, but most strangers are really kind and well-intentioned; that children's ability to imagine whole worlds is important to their well-being; that even when Mom and Dad are very busy and/or sick, they will still do their best to look after you (assuming that they are not mired in dysfunction); that ordinary, unspectacular, unmonetized places are important and should be cared for--which AFAIK was the stated point of making this movie.

#178 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 01:03 AM:

janra @ 175: I have periodic bouts of longing for a digital SLR and the control of interchangeable lenses, but if I lift one, I retreat quickly to my Nikon Coolpix. A great camera that I'm not willing to carry with me won't take many pictures!

#179 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 01:10 AM:

In the flu epidemic of 1918, it was mostly the young and healthy who died.

#180 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 02:07 AM:

For the integration of the two ideas, Jenny Islander, I'd suggest watching Spirited Away again (I'm assuming you've seen it). Almost everything in it seems dark when first encountered, or at some point in dealing with it; and in the end, each of those darknesses has its own positive side.

Looking at the spirits in Totoro as ambiguous -- not necessarily good, as they seem to the children, but more complex -- is a useful idea, to me. I like the complexity of the world (just finished rewatching both Spirited Away and the Doctor Who episode "The Christmas Invasion" -- neither one has a simple version of "good" involved).

Mileage varies. I think it's useful to demonstrate that.

#181 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 09:54 AM:

Camera sub-thread: just bought a Nikon FinePix S8200 because it has a decent zoom (x40)*, a viewfinder as well as a screen** AND it works off AA batteries***. Anyone used one of these?

Now just have to hope it actually does what I want it to do (take pictures of animals, mostly in zoos, and take pictures of runners, mostly as they are approaching at reasonable speed), and that I can learn to adjust it to what settings I need, quickly.

[My lovely Kodak with x10 zoom is eight years old, the shutter button is getting hard to press, it only takes a picture about every 7 seconds, and it is not very good on overcast days, so I decided I needed a new one - but I'm not ready to go up to SLR and mess with learning to use it properly and carrying lenses around and everything)

* For when the animal I'm trying to photograph is at the far side of its enclosure.
** For when I'm in bright light and can't really see the screen, and sometimes I just find it easier to focus on what I want with a viewfinder

***I have loads of rechargeable AAs and in a pinch can buy some non-rechargeables pretty much anywhere. With camera-specific rechargeable I would have to buy a couple of spares to allow for taking 1,000+ shots in a day at a zoo.

#182 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 10:41 AM:

#179 P J Evans
In the flu epidemic of 1918, it was mostly the young and healthy who died.

Weren't a lot of the 1918 'flu victims killed by their own immune response? In that case, it would make sense that those with the strongest systems were the worst hit.

#183 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 11:00 AM:

Internal Server Error, or you'd get to hear me complain about my insurance not covering a pneumonia shot.

#184 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 11:06 AM:

That one didn't make it onto the comment database at all, I'm afraid.

#185 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 11:50 AM:

@dcb: I have a Nikon FinePix S8000fd, bought for the zoom, quality optics, and use of AA batteries. A great camera, but a little bulky for carrying around.

I now treat it as my "studio" camera; I bought a A/C power pack for use around the house.

#186 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 11:52 AM:


Megan McArdle's posts don't teach me anything as often as they should, but there's a lot more to her writing than reading off the Koch Bros script. There are times she seems to be reaching to find some justification for her team's positions (to the extent beltway moderate libertarians are a team), but she also does sometimes have something interesting to say. I find myself really feeling like I got something from a post of hers about as often as I do from a post of TaNehisi Coates'. (She writes about stuff I'm generally more interested in, but TNC is a better writer, so it kinda balances out.)

There's a danger here: when someone disagrees with you on a lot of issues, or opposes your team, it's easy to find reasons why they're worthless and can be ignored. But that's kind-of a fancy way of blinding yourself. If you don't read and hear stuff that offends and upsets you sometimes, you are probably not learning much.

And I rather suspect there's also a danger in McArdle's position in the world. She would do better to spend less mental energy keeping inside the lines of what her team considers acceptable, and more energy independently thinking stuff through, with the insights that her finance and economics background give her. But then she might fall out with her team.

#187 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 04:59 PM:

Hey, British people (and people with access to British TV)! Do we need/want a Sherlock spoilers thread?

#188 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 06:02 PM:

I have one or two thoughts on Sherlock. For a start there should have been more snogging.

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 06:13 PM:

I've put up a spoiler thread. Let's keep all the show references there.

#190 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 06:33 PM:

OtterB 161: But, to follow your line of argument, if you only call out fascist women and fascist men always get a pass, then there starts to be a misogynist pattern even if your words are never gender-based.

I agree entirely with you and oldster here. I was speaking about particular remarks, rather than about the total context of remarks...which if that's what I always did would miss a lot of the structures of oppression!

Stefan 176: The anti-vaxxers claim another innocent life. Stochastic manslaughter.

P J 179: Same with hantavirus. The reason in that case is that the disease response is what kills; it's a cascade of something or other, basically amounting to the body being so desperate to get rid of the virus that it floods the lungs with liquid.

Annnd now I see that Sarah says the same thing about the 1918 flu. So yeah. Not sure how that interacts with vaccination.

abi 187, 189: Thank you!We Sherlock fans without access to British TV appreciate it.

#191 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 07:56 PM:

Xopher @ 190: I believe that the term you're looking for is "cytokine storm."

As for how such a thing would interact with vaccines; since the entire point of a vaccine is to kick off a low level immune response so your immune system learns to recognize the infectious agent, things shouldn't get bad enough to generate such a response from the vaccine (especially with a killed infectious agent or a recombinant vaccine).

Assuming that the vaccine took, subsequent exposure to the infectious agent should trigger a targeted response that takes place early enough that a cytokine storm never has a chance to happen. I suspect that a big piece of the problem with a cytokine storm is that it's not a targeted response; it's more "Kill it, kill it, kill it with fire and never mind the collateral damage."

Elliott Mason: With the caveat that I last took Russian in 1986, I might be able to help you with the Cyrillic. You'll have to find someone else for Hebrew. Of course people with more recent experience with Cyrillic should get priority over me, and please keep in mind that Russian has dropped some letters over the centuries (at least one in the last century) which other Cyrillic using languages, e.g. Ukrainian, may not have. I can be reached at rhoadan at the same email provider that you use.

#192 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Inquisitive 191: That's it! Thank you.

I knew 'tetryon cascade' wasn't right, but it was blocking me from remembering 'cytokine storm'.

And your explanation makes tons of sense too. Thank you.

Also, I missed Elliott's request. Elliott, I can also transliterate Cyrillic. Translating Russian is another story. I can read some Old Cyrillic and am aware of some variations (like Ukranian, which has some extra letters that aren't in Russian). I can even dig out my books on Glagolytic, but I suspect the graves you're working on aren't that old!

#193 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 09:14 PM:

Well, I know month names come up regularly; is that "too much Russian" for you, Xopher? If not, email me via gmail at my nom-de-net there, 2ells2tees, and I'll give you a photo to try. :->

#194 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 10:04 PM:

PK Evans @ 179: for some unrecalled reason, I once spent some time wandering around a huge Montreal cemetery. The saddest sight was a separated area with many close-packed tiny stones, which I guessed (from "Sourd" and "Aveugle" (and maybe dates?) on two steles) were for handicapped children who had died when the flu burned through their shelter.

#195 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2014, 11:25 PM:

For some reason, both of my children have been extra-clingy of late. Which means I'm spending a lot of time buried under kids* or having them say, "I need you, Mommy."

Daddy is being left out in the cold. And Mommy is getting a little wild-eyed.

*"Ow ow get off my hair," kind of buried.

#196 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 01:03 AM:

Local-to-Minneapolis news:

Ericka Johnson, local fan and big-hearted woman, passed away yesterday evening. She was a good one. She dealt with medical stuff and disability with fortitude and grace and honesty, and her spirit shone through. She was generous and kind and perceptive.

She is missed by her partner Peter and by pretty much anybody who ever met her.

#197 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 01:18 AM:

BBC reports India's last polio case was three years ago. Yes, there are places where irresponsible idiots aren't vaccinating their kids, or where evil thugs are attacking vaccination programs for political reasons, but there's also been real success. And if India can do it, there's hope for getting their neighbors and near-neighbors in Pakistan and Afghanistan to do it as well.

#198 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 05:44 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 197: I'd throttle back on the "evil thugs" description. After the fake vaccination campaign used to locate Osama bin Laden, they have some justification even though that doesn't seem to be the reason they claim they're doing it. That was one of the Obama administration's dumber moves.

#199 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 02:29 PM:

Two questions that I'd like feedback on from an intelligent and thoughtful group.

First: Does the idea that prisons want to discourage people from visiting need defending? To me it's obviously true, and it's obvious why (an array of semi-legitimate and deeply non-legitimate reasons), but I'm wondering if other people find this as obvious as I do (a friend I was talking to yesterday did not).

Second: Having had a blog post trigger a lengthy but off-topic reminiscence, and posting it as a comment before realizing it was inappropriate, does it make me a bad person that I then referred to this lapse as "going Postal"? (If you don't know why it might, never mind.)

So, can anyone point me to an intelligent and thoughtful group I could ask? JUST KIDDING, I mean you.

#200 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 03:51 PM:

Bill Stewart #197, Inquisitive Raven #198: I'd say that the CIA use of vaccination programs for their operations in Pakistan falls under "evil thugs are attacking vaccination programs for political reasons".

#201 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Xopher @199 Does the idea that prisons want to discourage people from visiting need defending?

"Defending" seems strong, but if you asked if it needed supporting, I'd say it would for me as someone who doesn't know much about the subject. In particular, I would expect that some policies to deal with genuine security concerns (perhaps the semi-legitimate reasons you mention?) will have a side effect of discouraging visiting, and thus would like some evidence that matters go beyond that to a direct intent to deter visiting.

#202 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 03:55 PM:

Shaking loose a response to Xopher from an Internal Server Error, I hope.

#203 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 04:24 PM:

Xopher, I think the answer to "Does X make me a bad person?" is, for most values of X likely to be engaged in by a person capable of asking such a question, going to be "No."

(I personally don't use the phrase "going Postal" at all, for reasons of my own discomfort, which are multiple and various and have nothing to do with whether anyone else should use it.)

#204 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 04:32 PM:

Nicole, in this case the capital P is important. It's a joke on the old phrase and a reference to a specific person. I might have said "I went v. Postal." The v. standing for VERY of course!

#205 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 05:09 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @199: Whether you're a bad person depends on how much name-dropping you did in the comment.

#206 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 05:50 PM:

OtterB @201

"Supporting," and also perhaps "unpacking."

At the very, very legit end, prisons should* protect prisoners from unwanted visitors and keep visitors from bringing in contraband.

Both of those things do, to some degree, discourage visitors. If I have to get on your visitor list before I can drop by, that's a reasonable precaution and not a huge roadblock, but if I don't know I'll be in town until the day before my visit, it might stop me. If I have to be searched before I can visit you, maybe I'll do my filial duty by visiting Grandma at the hospital instead of Grandad in the state pen.

Somewhere in the middle, a lot of prisons limit visiting hours. I think that's mostly a budget and staffing issue: somebody has to check those visitors in, supervise the visits, check the visitors out, etc. That costs money, so the prison balances their budget and staffing against the prisoners' visitation rights.

At the far end, maybe the prison really doesn't want any visitors ever, even if it doesn't cost them anything or expose anyone to any risks.

Which are you talking about, Xopher?

My personal suspicion is that probably most prison administrations do want visitors, in the abstract. In a perfect world, they'd love inmates to get regular visits from supportive families and friends. They probably do take some steps to make that easy, as long as those steps are cheap, safe, and easy. On the other hand, they pay much more attention and put much more effort into preventing "problem" visits and punishing "problem" prisoners, and if the measures they take happen to make it harder for your grandma to visit you, Model Inmate #277, well, that's just too bad.

*I mean, y'know, I ain't exactly happy that prisons exist. But for the sake of argument, if they do exist, they should do this stuff.

#207 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 05:56 PM:

re 199: Visiting those in prison is numbered among the acts in Matthew 25 which distinguishes the sheep from the goats, so as far as Christians are concerned the discouragement of this act is (at least to the degree that this passage is taken strongly) something to be objected to.

#208 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 06:49 PM:


So are you suggesting that you might have been Missing some Manners?

#209 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Stefan, #176: For future reference, the title of the thread you were seeking is "Why We Immunize".

Xopher, #199: Re "going Postal", the pun would get a *snerk* out of me, but I wouldn't use the phrase myself. IMO it falls into the category of "funny enough not to be offensive, but a bit tasteless to re-post". Note that this line will fall in different places for different people.

Dave H., #200: Agreed.

C. Wingate, #207: Good point. I would also wonder how much of said discouragement stems from a desire to conceal abuse from outside witnesses.

#210 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 08:50 PM:

David 205: No namedropping at all.

I'm glad you, for one, see the joke.

Devin 206: You're talking about an ideal prison. I'm talking about prisons who can't withstand widespread knowledge of conditions inside them, because if too many people know about them, they'll have to clean up their act, and that will cost money, and for the for-profit ones, bite into their bottom line. Of course, the visits themselves cost money, as you point out.

My friend was getting ready to visit a prison, and had to fill out a form, which had a section on the top for her to fill out, and a "for prison use only" section at the bottom.

Would you turn that over? I bet most people wouldn't.

On the BACK were two sections of information, and between them a line for her signature. The form wasn't valid without the signature, of course, and they designed the form to make it as easy as possible to miss it. She found it only because she reasoned that there had to be a signature line somewhere. Not everyone would figure that out.

I think the form was designed that way on purpose to make it harder to visit.

C. 207: JUST SO. I've often said that if everyone who claims the label "Christian" visited someone in prison once a year, prison reform would be inevitable. And if all the Christians in the US decided that no one should go unvisited, it would happen in a matter of months.

I'm not a Christian, but if the church where I sing had a Visiting Ministry, I would participate.

Michael 208: I'm sorry to disappoint, but I'm not getting the joke here. Is it a Buffy reference?

Lee 209: Thank you. That's exactly what I was looking for. And I agree about the desire to conceal abuse.

#211 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 10:40 PM:

Bill and Raven:

Letter to Obama about the polio vaccine ruse. Killing Bin Laden was a huge deal politically, but probably had little real effect on terrorism. If it interferes with eradication of polio, that will be a humanitarian disaster.

#212 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 11:40 PM:

Xopher@210 in re Michael@208: I suspect a play on Miss Manners and Emily Post.

#213 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2014, 11:44 PM:

That reminds me of a trivia question I find mildly amusing: Miss Manners' family name is of course Manners. In one column, she reveals her given name. What is it?

#214 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 12:00 AM:

Uh . . . where is Making Light's search function?

It may be hidden in plain sight. Or on a secondary page. In either case, I cannot find it.

#215 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 12:20 AM:

There's no link to it readily accessible. However, you can reach it easily enough: if you ask your browser to go to "" (where xxx is any page not actually existing -- it could be "foo", it could be "search", it could be "WingedVictoryOfSamothrace", it could even actually be "xxx") it will take you to the "404 Not Found" page...which, amazingly enough, has the search function on it.

I also find that typing into Google "" and then a search string, is useful.

#216 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Thanks David. I could have sworn there was a search field at one time.

* * *
The Cartoon Network show "Steven Universe" it totally adorable. Goofy kid inherits magic gemstone from his late mystic-warrior mom; is teamed up with her team mates to defend the world.

#217 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 01:03 AM:

David Goldfarb @215, I believe she claimed her given name was "Miss".

#218 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 01:04 AM:

Oops, I meant @213.

#219 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 01:38 AM:

Stefan@216: Yes, there was. It got lost at some point.

jonesnori@217: Very good! It's improper, after all, for a person to claim a title for themself. Therefore "Miss" must not in fact be a title.

#220 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 03:10 AM:

David 212: That makes sense, except for the Xander part. Can't make sense of that.

#221 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 03:28 AM:

Oh, that. My guess is that it was just a braino.

#222 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 07:37 AM:


#208 was intended to be cascading off of your quip in #199 "does it make me a bad person that I then referred to this lapse as "going Postal"?".

(And yes, David Goldfarb correctly caught that "Missing ... Manners" was a reference to Miss Manners.)

#223 ::: Chocolate Covered Cotton ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 12:40 PM:

Avram@#7Here in the US, we’ve got the slang term “shoop”. As a verb, it means to modify an image with software; as a noun, an image so modified.

The impression I got from Salt N Pepa was that "to shoop" meant something very, very different.

(Possibly NSFW for sexually explicit lyrics and lots of sexualized images of hot dudes.)

(I was actually concerned about the appropriateness of posting this comment and link until I read the pun subthread.)

#224 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 12:42 PM:
David 205: ....I'm glad you, for one, see the joke.

What I hear when you say that: "I'm glad you, for one, see the joke, unlike everyone else who made the mistake of answering my question in good faith!"

You know, Xopher, that I am not comfortable with a given phrase regardless of context is not the same as "not seeing the joke." It is not the case that if I had "seen the joke" I would have been fine with the phrase. It may simply be the case that your sense of humor and mine vary sufficiently from each other that I don't find the joke funny.

I very specifically did not go into why I'm uncomfortable with the phrase even when it's used as a joke in reference to specific things ... because I absolutely do not want to come across as arguing that my comfort levels are "right" and yours are "wrong".

But it sure sounds like you were looking for ONE SPECIFIC SORT OF ANSWER and everything else is to be discarded as "not seeing the joke."

I feel like the victim of an underhanded "gotcha." It's a rotten way to feel. But I suppose it was my mistake to be drawn in, even with the good intent of reassuring a friend that it would take a hell of a lot for me to think of him as a bad person.

I still don't think of you as a bad person. But this has been an unpleasant interaction for me and it will take some time to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.


#225 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 01:00 PM:

No, no! Nicole, not what I meant at all! I'm so sorry that my bad phrasing could be read that way, and for the hurt that I caused by writing it badly.

I would never intentionally hurt you or belittle what you have to say, and I'm deeply sorry that I did, in this case, cause hurt and feelings of belittlement.

No, I wasn't sure that anyone had noted the reference to a specific commenter who used to comment here until he was banned, and who still comments elseweb in much the same way. David 205 was the first time I was sure anyone had caught that, as opposed to the reference to the seeming rash of workplace shootings some years ago in the Post Office.

I'm sorry that I failed to communicate that and wound up hurting you. The fact that I didn't intend it doesn't lessen the hurt, I realize, so I can just say that I'm sorry.

And I'm equally sorry to anyone else who feels the same way and didn't say so. It's not what I meant.

Looks like I blew it again. Dammit.

#226 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 01:18 PM:


Didn't register until now who the "Post" of the original message was really a reference to.

(And yes, I had assumed it was a pun on Emily Post.)

#227 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 02:18 PM:

@pnh Your latest sidelight, that story about toast, is so much more. Amazing is too humble a term, but I can't pick the right superlative. Thank you, very much, for that link.

Seriously, all y'all go read that.

Worth the tears at work, that is.

#228 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 02:30 PM:

And abi, your "cold fact" Parhelia: A much needed reminder that stopping to help people is *really damned important*. Especially when it's cold out.

I need to restock my in-vehicle calorie kit. (have blanket, shovel, sweatshirt - I'm in an urban area) At a minimum, the munchies help keep the low blood sugar ogre away. In extremis, they could save a life.

#229 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 07:13 PM:

Xopher, #225: I certainly did not get that joke. I took it as a reference to the Post Office, which falls into the zone of "black humor that I can snicker about but wouldn't be comfortable repeating". And now I do get the joke you meant, but it took Michael's comment for me to make that connection.

#230 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 07:33 PM:

Patrick's "story about toast": There's A lot I could say about cognitive outsourcing and the nature of culture spread. But I think the most basic thing I see there is, "sometimes it's the cracked ones who let the light into the world".

#231 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 07:56 PM:

ISWYD there, Dave H, and so did all the Beautiful Losers.

#232 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 08:57 PM:

Whoa - Chi-Fi just chose to delay their convention a year rather than give in to a hotel's discomfort with the conference's anti-harassment policy. That's quite a stand!

#233 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 09:38 PM:

It appears I should not have made that joke. The reference did not come across, and there was no way to it without going through the Post Office reference, which makes people I don't want to make uncomfortable uncomfortable.

And then on top of that I hurt Nicole, which is the last thing I want to do.


#234 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 11:17 PM:

This is strange. I just got my new voter registration card in the mail (they renew on a 2-year cycle in Texas), and I happened to notice that my gender was given as M. So I got out my old card, and lo and behold it's wrong on that one too. Apparently it's been wrong ever since I registered to vote here (which would be 15 years, give-or-take) and neither I nor any of the election officials who have looked at my card* ever noticed until now.

Needless to say, I am not allowing this state of affairs to stand. Texas is one of the states which have been scrambling desperately to suppress as many votes as they can, especially for women, and I no longer dare assume that future election officials will be as unobservant as the ones up to now seem to have been. There is a space on the back of the card to note errors and return it to the registrar's office for correction and reissue, and that will be happening tomorrow.

* I have voted in 4 presidential elections and their associated primaries, was a precinct caucus member for the 2008 election, and also voted in a number of local and state elections. It's not as though nobody ever had the chance to catch it.

#235 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 11:27 PM:

Hey, does anybody else sometimes get those ads about one special food you can eat in order to lose weight FOREVAH, but the picture looks like some horrific object you would never in a million years want to eat--raw tripe, or a sea squirt, or some bizarre berry bulging with clear slime? Anybody know what those objects actually are? I'm not sure that some of them aren't plastic. Or even which are meant to be plants and which animals.

#236 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 11:38 PM:

Jenny Islander, I get those ads with great frequency. I've just checked and the images aren't garcinia cambogia or dragonfruit - I'm going to try a TinEye reverse image search to see if I can sort out what the Alien Substances are.

#237 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2014, 11:54 PM:

AKICIML, but this one may be really out there.

I've got three or four 19th century (guess) oil paintings that lived in my parents' house as "the ancestors". I have no idea who they are. These paintings have been through some serious weathering -- a fire generating smoke damage in 1968, parents who smoked regularly, lots of chipping to the frames. They're seriously beaten.

I'm wondering if there's a conservation program out there that wants paintings in this sort of shape in order to train conservators. Someone in Seattle would be best -- Portland apparently has a program at the U of O, but I don't know anyone involved.

There's a minuscule chance that one of the paintings would turn out to be by (e.g.) Whistler or someone similar, and if that happens and it's a million dollar piece -- I'd want a reasonable percentage. At the $1K level - not worried.

Does anyone know of such a program? Simple Googling didn't give me useful results. If you find something useful by Googling, can you include your search string so I can look at it?

Email addresses for folks who would know about such programs are also appreciated, particularly if I can use your name as a contact.

Thanks for any help.

#238 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 12:15 AM:

Interesting - while image searching on "garcinia cambogia" leads mostly to pictures of a fruit that looks like a small green pumpkin on the outside and citrusy-yellow on the inside, clicking an ad illustrated with a very spiky yellow fruit with a green pulpy interior containing suspended seeds that look like pumpkin seeds leads to a testimonial for garcinia cambogia, and other ads for the same product are illustrated with that round purply-red fruit with the white segments in the interior.

The things that look like salmon roe except pale pink and the things that look like tripe haven't cycled up yet. I have an odd feeling they'll promote the same snake oil.

TinEye wasn't able to tell me what the spiky yellow or purply-red things were. I'm going to keep trying. I'm really curious.

#239 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 12:33 AM:

Further update: the purply-red thing with the white segments inside is a mangosteen, which is a different Garcinia species.

#240 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:00 AM:

I haven’t seen the ad, but the spiky yellow fruit sounds like it could be Cucumis metuliferus, also known as the kiwano or horned melon. I bought and ate one once, just because I saw it for sale at a gourmet grocery near work, and hey, it’s not every day you see a piece of fruit that looks like a prop from a science fiction movie. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t terribly exciting either.

The Wikipedia article suggest adding a bit of salt or sugar, which I might try if I’m ever in a position to eat one again.

Mangosteen, on the other hand, is delicious.

#241 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:21 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @233: That kind of thing is one of the reasons why I don't comment very often; it's too easy to say something the wrong way.

#242 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:20 AM:

Avram: yup, that's the spiky one, all right.

Annoyingly enough, clicking on one weight loss ad seems to have modified the algorithm or something for whatever mechanical conspiracy is delivering my ads: now I'm getting ads for everything BUT weight loss. The mysterious pale pink jelly bubbles have failed to put in an appearance at all.

#243 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:46 AM:

However, searching on "fruit pink bubbles" led me to the Australian Finger Lime, which comes in several colors, including both green and pink. One of the descriptions of the pulp is "citrus caviar". It's definitely the weird-pink-bubbles photo.

As far as I can tell, it has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss. It just LOOKS cool, I guess.

#244 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 07:52 AM:

Passing on some kudos to the entire Making Light crew.

Fred Clark over at Slacktivist ( has recently started "Blog of the Day" postings.

Making Light is today's "Blog of the Day".

Two quotes from the posting:

"Making Light has got one of the best comment sections on the Internet. I go there and lurk, mostly, like I’m a busboy at the Algonquin."

"All of which is to say that I have no idea what they might write about next. But I’m looking forward to finding out, and you should join me."

Go over and read the whole column for more well-deserved praise.

#245 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 08:01 AM:

Tom Whitmore #231: ISWYD there, Dave H, and so did all the Beautiful Losers.

Hmm?? I wasn't sure what you were talking about, so I googled. Book, Album/Song, Film?

The Bob Seger song is what the phrase evokes to me, I should probably check out the book. (The film looks suspiciously BTDT.)

My original comment was something I picked up as the tagline from a midnight movie, but that can't be its origin.

#246 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 09:14 AM:

I've just read a piece on the Atlantic web site that intrigued me. Since the 1940s, it appears that the rate of death from lightning strikes in the US has dropped dramatically. This appears to be the result of increased urbanisation, but the relationship is not altogether clear. I lived in a very rural area for several years and didn't get blasted, though I've observed enough blasted trees to take the phenomenon seriously. When you've used a young ebony tree for firewood because it was killed by a lightning strike you have a very different attitude to being outdoors in a thunderstorm, including not taking shelter under trees.

#247 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 09:26 AM:

Dave Harmon @245, "There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in" is from Leonard Cohen's Anthem.

#248 ::: Adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 09:33 AM:

Elliott: I can help you sort out the Hebrew, and if it's too much for me I can forward it on to a good friend to help sort it out (she's in the middle of a divorce and in need of some distraction anyway, honestly. And she loves history and genealogy and cemeteries, so it'd be right up her alley.)

Xopher: Yes, yes, yes, about prisons not wanting visitors. I concur that modern USian prisons need secrecy to hide their terrible human rights abuses, and discourage visitation for precisely that reason. I have a dear friend who was in one for several years, and he tells stories that will curl your hair. The most hair-curling part, too, is how clear it is from the telling that they were not extraordinary occurrences.

(One of the least hair-curling of those stories: in at least one prison he was in (he got moved around quite a bit for Reasons), they assigned him to the kitchen. Which put him in position to observe that the prisoners were regularly being fed oatmeal for breakfast -- out of bags of oats clearly labelled "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION".)

#250 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 10:31 AM:

Fragano @249
oh. Literature .
Testing against books that time has filtered seems a bit circular? Self-fulfilling? "Hi! We've written software that proves successful books are successful."
Let them filter the Tor slush pile with it.

#251 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 10:37 AM:

And on a totally separate note, my new tablet suggested 'crogglement' when typing the above. I don't know if it learned that from me, or the geeks who programmed the thing are awesome .

#252 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 10:46 AM:

Dave Harmon -- Pendrift's got 90% of the answer -- the last 10% is that Cohen's first novel was entitled "Beautiful Losers." Which Pendrift probably also got, but didn't make explicit.

Now if I'd really wanted to obscure that reference, I would have said "Katherine Tekakwitha" instead of "Beautiful Losers" -- she's the protagonist of the novel (as I recall, working from memory rather than actually doing research to make sure I'm right, which probably puts me in the category of someone who's wrong on the internet).

Which leads to a copyediting point -- should "internet" be capitalized, as a proper noun, at this point? Some house styles say it should, and I'm leaning towards saying it shouldn't. I expect several different opinions from this crowd.

#253 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 10:58 AM:

Tom, one might suspect this to be your favorite game!
(And Beautiful Losers is his second book.)

#254 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:02 AM:

Huh, I didn't know Leonard Cohen had ever written a novel. Judging by the journal excerpts he once published in a magazine of Buddhism, it would be worth reading - they were very funny in a drily self-deprecating way. (Some of it specifically to those who meditate: "I lit a stick of incense, folded my legs into the lotus position, and for the next 45 minutes thought about how much I hated one of my ex-wives." Others just funny: "The beach was full of beautiful women who I desired very uniformly at a very low level of intensity.")

#255 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:33 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 235, Rikibeth @ 238 et al.
re: magical weight-loss objects

Every time I see the image of the capsule spilling pinkish roe-like stuff, I imagine to myself that it's the egg-case of a parasitic worm and that cures me of any sort of further curiosity. (All the weight-loss claims would align perfectly in that scenario.)

#256 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Jenny Islander (235): The ones I get mostly seem to be depicting raw eggs. And, yeah, if you tried to make me eat raw eggs, I'd lose weight all right--because I'd throw up everything I'd eaten in the last month.

#257 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Disgusting weight loss images may be a filter. Those who click thru anyway may be the truly desperate or gullible, and therefore can ba sold anything with the right key words attached.

#258 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 01:02 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @255:

I read something once - probably apocryphal - about a marvelously successful weight loss camp and clinic sometime in the first half of the 20th century. Their patients all lost weight very consistently, even though the regimen was pretty much standard except for the capsules containing their secret weight loss formula which they had to take at the beginning of their stay and again at the end of the stay.

You guessed it, the first contained a tapeworm, and the final one a vermicide. Probably apocryphal, but it makes a good story.

(Apologies to those grossed out - it's been on my mind as we recently adopted a dog, and sure enough....)

#259 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 01:16 PM:

I am currently sitting in the Jury Assembly Room, which is much less Austen-ian than one might hope, waiting to see if I'm going on a panel. We have been admonished not to discuss any court case on social media, so the tweety thing and book of faces have been blocked (so has fandomwank, probably because it's on a social media type platform, not because LA county has anything in particular against fandom). I am hovering between hoping I get on a jury because I think I would be good at it and I'm kind of a square about my Civic Duty, etc, and hoping I don't because my huge, multi-national corporate owners only pay for one day of jury duty. At least, that's what's in the union contract; if I were a regular employee, it would be unlimited.

#260 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 01:36 PM:

Tom Whitmore #252: So it's just an intersection at Leonard Cohen, eh? I'm less curious about the book now that I finished reading the WP article on it; introducing postmodernism to Canada is all very well, but I probably don't have the patience for it these days.

Heather Rose Jones #255: There are rumors of such a thing.

#261 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 01:48 PM:

Fragano, #249: To me, that article sounds as though the "key to writing success" is to write at about the 6th-grade level. I'd also like to see further tests of the predictive ability of this algorithm, preferably with just-published books where there's no established sales record to expect to find. IOW, not impressed.

Lin, #257: That's a very good point. We already know that text spammers deliberately use poor English as a filter to catch only the most gullible marks.

#262 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 01:54 PM:

Lee #261: I've a feeling that it is more a case of econometricians reinventing the wheel. Certainly, good writing is clear writing. We should also remember that there's a whole scene in Shakespeare (in Henry V in French, ending with a dirty joke. One that's still dirty after four centuries. So much for avoiding foreign words.

#263 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 02:17 PM:

Pendrift, you're right -- being wrong on the internet is apparently one of my favorite games. Or perhaps favourite -- everyone's a Canadian, eh?

#264 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 02:43 PM:

Marriage equality battle comes to Texas.

Since the well-merited demise of DOMA, lawsuits have been filed in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio asking for Texas' "one man, one woman" constitutional amendment to be struck down. I wish them luck.

#265 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 02:54 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara @ 232, before the internet lands on Starwood Corporation's collective head, I should mention that at least three of Chicago's conventions (Windycon, Capricon, and Duckon) have been held in Starwood (Westin) hotels for years with no problems or issues with Westin or Starwood that I'm aware of.... and I know the hotel liaison for one of those conventions.

What we have here are charges by one person (the convention chair) of one other person (the hotel representative) of verbal misconduct; nothing in writing, apparently.

And I should further note that although Chi-Fi claimed to expect 1500 fans, neither I nor any of a dozen-or-so other Chicago-area convention-goers that I polled on the subject last night and this morning have ever even heard of Chi-Fi, nor do we know who anyone on the convention committee is. Other than the con chair, James Dobbs, whose name sounds vaguely familiar, but whom I do not know personally. (This is especially interesting, because I know some SMOFs, and if they don't know who is on the concom...)

This doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it does go to credibility.

I'm not saying this incident happened. I'm not saying this incident didn't happened. I'm saying, let's not drop the internet on anyone's head until we're reasonably sure what happened.

#266 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 02:57 PM:

Michael I @244:

Now I'm squeeing. Fred Clark is one of the voices of sanity on the internet. I admire him tremendously. How fantastic that he likes this blog!

But I do wish his commentariat would worry a little less about joining in here. We don't bite (unless asked to)!

#267 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:09 PM:

Could we promise them fluffy iguana cookies?

#268 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:13 PM:

P J Evans @267, what kind of cookies do fluffy iguanas like?

#269 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:33 PM:

ML eez zee blogue du jour.

#270 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Ones with lots of greens?(Damfino.)

#271 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:42 PM:

#266, abi:

You may not bite, but it is still more than a little intimidating sometimes. Especially when poetry starts happening.

#272 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:43 PM:

I just went over there and made encouraging comments to a couple of people who were talking about their hesitation.

I think this blog operates on the Delany Smartness principle: everyone is treated as if they know something the hosts and other commenters don't, but would like to (i.e. they're treated as if they're "smart"). If someone acts like a jerk (and keeps it up), they're smashed pitilessly and banned...but not without regret for whatever it was they'd've had to contribute had they been able to be polite.

I'm kind of a loudmouth, but I'm not JUST a loudmouth, and I do try to take my lumps when I'm wrong or behave badly, rather then stomp off in a huff, convinced I'm Always Right. If I can comment on Making Light, so can any number of other people currently lurking because they don't think their ideas are original enough, or their writing good enough.

#273 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 03:47 PM:

In the "WTF Hollywood?" dept...

They're working on a romantic adaptation of... drumroll... "1984"

#274 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:07 PM:

Xopher @ 272... convinced I'm Always Right

I thought *I* was always right.

#275 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:11 PM:

Three rights make a left...?

#276 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:11 PM:

Only when the two of you agree with me.

#277 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:31 PM:

(avoids contributing to the impression that this is some sort of elite place that isn't welcoming, after snotty elitist reference-dropping earlier...)

#278 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:45 PM:

Waving at the Slackivist folks. Y'all come on in!

#279 ::: Quixote ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:50 PM:

Abi @ 266

As I mentioned over at Slacktivist, I often find that I'll think of something to contribute, then find someone has beaten me to it. So I do comment, just not terribly often.

The vibe I get here is that of a fairly well-run con-suite at an SF convention. Conversation is weird and dynamic the way I like it, but also allows for people to jump into a circle of strangers and start conversing. The latter part always feels rude to me and makes me anxious enough that I don't do it personally. I know it's not rude in the context of an SF convention - in fact, it's often encouraged - but I can't shake that internal programming. Even when it's on-line and not "real life" - I'm still me regardless of the setting.

That's not to say I wouldn't do it with people I know. It's just that here on ML, I haven't broken through that line from "stranger" to "people I know".

This is just me inching closer to that point.

#280 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 04:55 PM:

Serge didn't mention the most ridiculous thing about the 1984 adaptation. It stars Kristin Stewart.

I'm on record as saying I'll watch Nicholas Hoult do anything (I watched Jack the Giant Slayer, FFS). I now have to amend that to almost anything. I will not watch a romantic adaptation of 1984 no matter who stars. And I won't watch any wooden object, including but not limited to Kristin Stewart, pose through a romantic movie, displaying an entire range of emotions from A to B.

I'm suspicious that this is a hoax.

#281 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 05:20 PM:

And now I have some asshole who claims to be in Lagos bragging on my Twitter mentions about how much he hates "gayism" and how much he loves his guns. So far I'm making fun of him, but I'm getting ready to block him before I tell him just what to do with his gun.

#282 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 05:37 PM:

Xopher @ 280... Oh, her...

As for this possiby being a hoax...

I'm still waiting for "Brave New World - The Musical".

#283 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 05:40 PM:

For those concerned about how one "breaks into" a community such as our present venue, I will note that the first post of this extremely shy and reticent contributor was technical information on the average pore size of commercial coffee filters. So you never know...

#284 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 05:47 PM:

Tom Whitmore @252, Clifton @254, Dave Harmon @260: When I tried reading both books some fifteen years ago, I found Favourite Game easier to start than Beautiful Losers, structurally and stylistically. Not that it mattered, because I bounced off them in the first twenty pages. It might be time to give them another shot. But I revisit his poetry collections regularly.

#285 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Lee @261 said:To me, that article sounds as though the "key to writing success" is to write at about the 6th-grade level.
I wonder what the authors of the piece make of the staggering success of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books, which I'm pretty sure have a more-than-5th-grade reading level and were mostly devoured by 2nd graders. :->

Cassy B. @265: You know me, and I knew about it (I was just closeted, apparently). Several other people I think you know who are my Facebook friends have also friended them. You might know James Dobbs if you saw his face; he attends local conventions and cosplays. Mostly he doesn't do sercon panels or gaming, so you might not travel in the same circles as him. Other people on the concom include some past heads of departments or longtime department seconds at the local Big Three general cons, plus people who have reasonably extensive conrunning experience via the organization of Anime Central etc (local geekstuff that isn't Big Three cons). The guy who most often does their Facebook posts runs a NW-side regular games night thing. And possibly other stuff, but that's how I know his name/face.

It kind of explicitly didn't include the kind of people that regularly get onto concoms and are well-known to the regular concommers of the Big Three, because it was being run by people who felt (or so the few I've spoken to said) they had TRIED to get onto the concoms of the big three and were, as it were, not permitted to do so. Sometimes because all the jobs were already taken by known-responsible people and there weren't any openings for new blood.

All the ones I know of personally are my age (37) or significantly younger, as were most of the potential attendees with whom I am personally familiar. The Facebook group's general membership includes a lot of faces in the icons that I'm used to seeing at local conventions, but again, mostly not people who felt their fannish needs were being met by current Big Three convention programming choices; the other main constituency excited about it was fans who really, really don't want to have to drive to a convention hotel, because they live in the city proper and don't/can't/don't like to drive, especially not out to the suburbs just to park all weekend.

It was going to be an amazingly interesting experiment, one that I hoped would succeed; I still do, sort of. I'm not sure how many paid pre-reges they had, but it was a distinctly nonzero number just among people I know to go out on dinner runs with (slightly better than nodding, but sometimes I don't know their mundane names? That kind of acquaintance). I think Chicago fandom can easily sustain four major conventions a year, especially if the new one gets more of the have-a-family, live-in-the-city-proper fans back into regular conventioneering.

#286 ::: Cassy B. spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Elliott @285, thanks for the update; this is mostly information I haven't heard. That's the problem with getting one's facts from fannish subgroups; they can be incredibly clannish, so it's easy not to get the full story.

Which may also explain why I hadn't heard of this convention at all before the whole thing blew up.

#287 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 06:24 PM:

Elliott @285, thanks for the update; this is mostly information I haven't heard. That's the problem with getting one's facts from fannish subgroups; they can be incredibly clannish, so it's easy not to get the full story.

Which may also explain why I hadn't heard of this convention at all before the whole thing blew up.

#288 ::: Cassy B. doesn't spot spam after all ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 06:26 PM:

No spam upthread; just a sticky nym. I thought I'd caught it before it posted, but no luck; just a double post...

Sorry, gnomes.

#289 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 06:30 PM:

Elliot @ 285
I wonder what the authors of the piece make of the staggering success of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books, which I'm pretty sure have a more-than-5th-grade reading level and were mostly devoured by 2nd graders. :->

Make that 2nd graders through high school students -- they had a big fandom among my daughter's friends in high school, including juniors -- through 50-somethings -- I thought they were great! (I forget what age my son was when he started them, but 2nd grade might well be about right.)

#290 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 07:02 PM:

My mother seemed to like them, judging by the number that were on her shelves when she died, and she was well over 80.

#291 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 07:15 PM:

Pendrift @284 -- I think he makes a much better poet than a novelist, as well -- they may not be worth you revisiting them. As a poet/lyricist -- there aren't many who can touch him.

#292 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 08:35 PM:

Jon Bing has died, age 69. Law professor (among other things), science fiction author - and fan. His cooperation with Tor Åge Bringsværd pretty much brought science fiction to Norway.

I didn't know him personally but the Bing/Bringsværd kids' series about starship Alexandria was some of the first SF I read. There's probably a generation of Norwegian fans who shared that experience.

RIP mr. Bing, those shoulders must be getting weary from all us dwarfs standing on them.

#293 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 09:18 PM:

I rarely goad anti-gays by quoting the Bible at them, but today I did. Gave him the David and Jonathan thing, then told him that he was trying to cast the first stone with a beam in his eye, so no wonder his aim was terrible.

#294 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 09:55 PM:

What blows my mind is the people who say "Gays are bad because Leviticus" while cheerfully eating shellfish and pork, wearing clothes of mixed fibers, and getting tattoos.

#295 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 09:58 PM:

Welcome, Slactivist folks! We promise not to kill any of you with sheep!

#296 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 10:15 PM:

I left this over at Slacktivist, but I think their comments system swallowed it.

Yeah, it can be intimidating. But they're actually pretty friendly.

On First Looking into Chapman's Homepage

One's bashful reticence can last for years
the fear that they're too clever, quick and bright.
Oh, it's a thing: there's no use making light
of humble lurker's apprehensive fears.
They published him; she's famous ILR;
they all met at that con, that house, that night.
For outsiders it's anxious-making, light
as it may seem to those who know them well.
Those artful comments--you'd think they rehearse
the witty banter, it all sounds so tight.
They cook, write novels, sometimes making light
and breezy, easy, lapidary verse.
A stranger there myself, I say: "jump in!"
You've only fears to lose, and friends to win.

#297 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:05 PM:

In case anyone was wondering, I've had my cataract surgery done, although just before the surgery a bit of cataract popped out into the posterior chamber (aka the vitreous), and will need to be removed. I've been bouncing between the cataract guy and the retinal for months now, sigh. Oh well, at least the new lens is Much Better than the old one, and once the last remnants of the old lens are vacuumed up, I will be almost back to normal vision. The retina is clearly healing, in the meantime.

#298 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:24 PM:

Good to hear that, Ginger.

#299 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:30 PM:

Ginger, I'm glad. Good wishes.

#300 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:36 PM:

Tom Whitmore @252: A tale of St. Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwitha's life in the seventeenth century is definitely a major element of Beautiful Losers, but the modern nameless narrator is the protagonist. (I read it a few years back. There are reasons that songs by writers-of-depressing-but-gorgeous-songs don't usually last more than four or five minutes, is what I have to say about that.)

#301 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:37 PM:

Cheers for healing progress, Ginger, and best wishes for more.

#302 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Yay, Ginger!

#303 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2014, 11:53 PM:

Good-oh Ginger!

My mother was very pleased with her procedures.

#304 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 12:00 AM:

Oldster, I like that.

Ginger, on your cataract surgery, my father might still have a bit of old lens in one of his eyes. He noticed it and experimented a bit to see what various angles would do (he's that kind of guy and it's not the first time something weird has happened with his vision).

#305 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 12:32 AM:

Ginger: Yay for healing and better vision!

#306 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 12:43 AM:

So: I get lots of junk mail from charities. I only make contributions in late fall, so most of the envelopes and papers go straight to recycling.

Wrinkle: A small but significant fraction of the return envelopes come with stamps!

Sometimes the return envelope will be suitable for reuse. I cover the bar codes and address with white labels and just use them.

Sometimes there will be a business reply envelope with a few stamps added. Often just a few cents!

Are there any techniques for safely peeling adhesive stamps from paper? I hate to throw good stamps out, but they're building up.

#307 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 01:01 AM:

HLN: Back on the island after a long 24 hours over on the other side. HLWife is now a US Citizen, having endured the large unwieldy bureaucracy that is USCIS. Apparently, at this stage in the game, they're a lot more polite and competently doing their job than at the green card meetings 10+ years ago. I don't know if it's that naturalization is less contentious than the green card hearings, or that the department is better. They have tremendous power, and the people who have it seem to be using it reasonably responsibly. FWIW, the Passports at the State Department seem to be similar. A long form, money, a bunch of time, and at the end, a document pops out.

While sitting in the audience at the ceremony, I was struck by the difference between what was shown on screen and talked about and what's happening with certain TLAs. A recurring theme was freedom, yet... I guess I'm free to have my metadata recorded.

The whole process is interesting, especially the 100 facts that they deem important enough to cover in the civics test part of the application. I had to be careful when assisting the learning that I didn't interject current answers that weren't 'correct', e.g: What is the Rule of Law? A good idea. and What keeps one branch of government from getting to powerful? Apparently nothing.

#308 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 01:40 AM:

Congrats Ginger! Glad your eye is recovering.

And congrats also to Eric and now HL wife. When my former colleague Yuka went through naturalization, it seemed she ended up knowing a lot more civics than most American citizens.

#309 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 03:11 AM:

oldster @296: Very nice.

#310 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 04:13 AM:

@Lin Daniel no. 257: Like the spam about the Nigerian prince being deliberately badly written, to filter out people who might discern the scam?

Makes sense. I can't imagine eating that thing that I can't tell whether it's a plastic object that goes into the body, a swollen item that came out of a body, a sea creature, or some type of bladder kelp, unless I were in utter despair.

#311 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 04:18 AM:

Stefan Jones @306: When I collected used stamps as a kid I used to soak them to get them off the envelopes. I can't recall now whether I used water or alcohol, but a Google search turns up multiple references to soaking in water, so it was probably that. The adhesive gets dissolved in the process, so you'll some sort of glue to attach them to a new envelope.

#312 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 04:23 AM:

Well, I sure did a wonderful job of proofreading that. Time for bed, I think...

#313 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 07:30 AM:

Ginger: best wishes for your continued recovery and recovered vision!

#314 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 07:31 AM:

Bravo, Ginger!

#315 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 07:54 AM:

Carrie S. #294: What blows my mind is the people who say "Gays are bad because Leviticus" while cheerfully eating shellfish and pork, wearing clothes of mixed fibers, and getting tattoos.

And doubly so if said people are Christians rather than Orthodox Jews... AIUI, Jesus explicitly released his followers from the Levitical rules!

Ginger #297: Yay!

Stefan Jones #306: Mind the denominations, and watch out for infra-red routing codes on the envelopes.

eric #307: Congratulations and Felicitations!
(And to Clifton, converting to Judaism works the same way -- you need to learn "ALL the rules", which most born-and-raised Jews won't have.)

#316 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 09:52 AM:

25 years ago this morning...

Sue and I undertook the long drive from Toronto, leaving Canada to move to Sue's native California. A ride during which we came across very diverse landscapes, some of which I thought of as Mars in the early days of terraforming, driving thru Salt Lake City but never seeing it because the whole area was under a blanket of icy mist, seeing a road sign that pointed toward Deeth Starr Valley, and, five days after the trip's beginning, approaching the Bay Area while, thru fortuitous timing, our tape deck was playing "Startrekking Across the Universe".

#317 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Congratulations, Ginger! One of these days, in another decade or so, I'll be in the same situation.

#318 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 11:21 AM:

Steaming works (a temperature-controlled pot or burner is very helpful), and leaves some of the adhesive. Note that the stamps will still need to be glued a bit, because they'll curl.

#319 ::: Jacque flags the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 11:37 AM:

It appears that ML's css has gone walkies? It comes up for me with very minimal formatting, and no inline formatting. Or is the skin a javascript thing? (We had a javascript patch go through this week.) (Site response is also verrry slooowww...)

What is everybody else seeing?

#320 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 11:42 AM:

I'm getting a slow connection, and I had one page load without CSS, but now I'm getting all the bells and whistles back.

#321 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 11:51 AM:

Carrie S. @294, Dave Harmon @315: Be aware of the guy who tattooed the anti-gay Leviticus verse onto his arm, and somehow did not disappear in a puff of logic:

#322 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 01:10 PM:

Has anyone else noticed that the latest spam fad is variations on court summonses? I've been seeing tons of these in my online Known Spam folder (the stuff Earthlink filters for me automatically), and a few have slipped thru to my inbox.

#323 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 01:49 PM:

Jon/PJ Evans/et al.: Aren't most of those old methods for getting stamps off via steaming, soaking, etc. based on the old-style water-based gummy adhesive? Do they still work with the modern-style sticker-backed stamps, which is all I see these days?

Lee: Yeah, I've been getting a lot of those "court summons" spams lately. I think most of them have malware embedded in the email - a zip file or doc file attachment which I'm not about to try to open - so I assume they're from a worm or botnet. (See also: things that I wouldn't have imagined saying outside a SF novel 20 years ago.)

#324 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 01:53 PM:

Ginger @297: Great to hear about the ocular progress - hope things continue to improve.

oldster @296: Enjoyed that.

#325 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 01:53 PM:

Oldster @296: Well done!

#326 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 02:01 PM:

Dave Harmon @315: Jesus did not release his followers from Levitical teachings. He did say loving God and your neighbor were the most important laws, which meant that sometimes Levitical laws could be broken for a greater purpose, such as healing even on the Sabbath. I understand that most modern Jews would agree.

Gentile followers, however, were released from doing full conversions to Judaism, not by Jesus, but by the apostles after Jesus' death. Paul was the chief supporter of this change, and he got his way in the end.

#327 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 02:15 PM:

RE Clifton's question: Yes, I'm dealing with modern-day "peel and stick" stamps.

Thanks for all the responses.

#328 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 02:27 PM:

If you don't mind the stamps possibly looking funny afterwards, you can use a product like Goo Gone to de-stickify the adhesive.

#329 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 02:29 PM:

Eric (#307) I think the immigration people *must* be nicer and more competent now than they were 10 or so years ago. Our three from Ethiopia, who were supposed to get a free pass to citizenship, since we had adopted them, met with so many stallings and delays and incorrect instructions that by the time we reached the end of the process, only one of them was under 16 and eligible for citizenship through adoption.

But a few months ago, we heard from the girls that they had both completed the citizenship process, and one of them had been jumped from the middle to the end by an interviewer who asked how it was that they hadn't been made citizens automatically when they arrived. She attempted to explain, but of course none of us actually understand why, and the lady she was talking to said, "Well, this is terrible! I'm just going to approve you, and never mind all those fees."

So, after all those years, and all that obstruction, they are now citizens. We actually wrote to our congresspersons about it back then, and among the replies was one that particularly stands out: The congressperson's assistant told us it couldn't be done because (somethingorother), and as proof, sent us a page of high-lighted regulations on which the high-lighted portion clearly said that it *should* be done.

#330 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Stefan @306, rather than removing the stamps from the envelope, would just cutting them out still attached to the paper behind them, and then gluing them onto the new envelope for re-use, be a possibility? Most of the suggested methods for removing stamp from envelope sound like they'd render the adhesive unusable anyway.

#331 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 03:18 PM:

#295 Cally Soukup
Welcome, Slactivist folks! We promise not to kill any of you with sheep!

Awwww! Why did you promise that? I was totally looking forward to adding "killed a slactivist with a sheep" to my exotic deaths bingo card. All the other unseelie are way ahead of me! Jenny Greenteeth disemboweled a boing-boing commenter with a unicorn.

#332 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 03:45 PM:

re 315/326: If you take the Acts as an authority, the relevant text is the council in chapter 15, in which Peter (having had the vision of the sheet and visited Cornelius a chapter or so earlier) was the one pushing this. Even so it does seem there was quite a bit of tension over this through the apostolic period.

#333 ::: Jacque: gnomes, nevermind? ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 04:15 PM:

me @319: Okay, the skin did eventually load. Just seems to have come in last. How weird.

#334 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 05:08 PM:

Jacque at half a Beast

Possibly Idumea was standing on one end of it or Rael had nailed it to the floor as a warning to spammers?

#335 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 05:33 PM:

The Professor, aka Russell Johnson, has passed away.

#336 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 05:47 PM:


My office no longer has a receptionist. "We're saving the stockholders money by making everybody else's job harder!"

#337 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 05:57 PM:

Serge @ #335 - Now Ginger and Mary Ann are the only ones left.

#338 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 06:22 PM:

nerdycellist: the union got worse benefits than regular employees? Do enLighten us -- on this and on your jury service if there was anything interesting. (I've been summoned ~7 times to ~6 different buildings due to political distributions and the Massachusetts 1-day/trial system; completely dismissed several times, challenged out twice, served once -- and then lotteried off for deliberations when nobody on the deliberately-oversize jury had to disappear.)

Elliot Mason @ 285: the last time I heard some people claiming they weren't being allowed on the concom, they were wankers. (That was a long time ago, when there were far fewer concoms to try to get onto.) It will be interesting to see how competent the Chi-Fi people turn out to be if they can come to an agreement with a hotel.

#339 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 07:07 PM:

CHip @338: That's a question I'm interested to see the answer for, too. :->

#340 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 08:39 PM:

Mishalak @331

I didn't promise that we wouldn't kill them with goats, giraffes, or other ruminants, now, did I?

#341 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 10:33 PM:

Cassy B. and Elliott Mason, thanks for the additional information about Chi-Fi! I shall wait and see.

#342 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Surreal Fashion from Miss Aniela [via Metafilter and Popurls.] They have somewhat the air of Magritte paintings, but are original photos, heavily processed and collaged.

A few examples which struck me:
The Fisherman's Daughter
Away with the Canaries
... but just walk through them all....

#343 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 12:52 AM:

#340 : Cally Soukup
I didn't promise that we wouldn't kill them with goats, giraffes, or other ruminants, now, did I?

That... is a very good point. Not quite the pure joy of getting a Slacktivist with a sheep once they left the safety of their website but still fun. I call moose.

Also, is it wrong that I now have a mental picture of you as Mad Madam Mim?

#344 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 12:56 AM:

Well, my many fine qualities of generally not being a big ol' racist and understanding English pretty well make me an ideal juror, so I won't be able to discuss it until Tuesday at the earliest, possibly Wednesday.

As far as my union getting fewer days than non-union folks, my guess is that it's specifically my union that didn't bother to negotiate that one. I bet the more powerful unions, like the Teamsters, have a better Jury Duty payment system. I'm pretty cranky about it (I personally think all employers should be required to cover at least five days per year, but we seem to have moved into a world where requiring employers to not be a bunch of dickbags just means they stamp their feet and hire only "contractors".) but not enough to make a stink. After all, I do have sick/personal time. More concerning to me is the disposition of my boss, who at one point wrote a co-worker up for mistakes she made and complained that she just didn't catch on fast enough after all the time she took off for her radiation treatment to treat her thyroid cancer. Or last month, when a co-worker stated she was going to have to be in late one day because her husband was having surgery - and the boss responded not with "Gosh, I hope he's OK," but "well who's going to take care of [task A] when you're out?!!" For as much as pro-corporate toadies bitch about how hard it is to fire a lazy union employee, I'd like to force them to work under my gormless sexist boss, who's been under HR investigation for at least two years while no fewer than three competent union people have been sort of squooshed out of a job. The aforementioned cancer survivor decided it wasn't worth her sanity and eventually took a payout and moved to Minnesota.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I'll be working half days for the remainder of the trial just so my boss doesn't find an excuse to make things so miserable that I leave.

#345 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 01:43 AM:

nerdycellist, surely the city/state pays something too? I seem to remember I was paid $30/day twenty years ago when I served on a jury. Plus free passes on the parking tickets my car accrued in city lots while I was sequestered in the courtroom or jury room.

#346 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 03:13 AM:

Stefan Jones@336, sigh, some pointy-haired boss probably got credit for saving money, and won't get blame for that customer who comes over for a meeting and can't find the person they're meeting with.

Many years ago, when phone answering systems were a new shiny high-tech toy, the people who set up the office space we moved into decided that engineers could have them, and managers who didn't have secretaries to answer their phones could have them, but the clerk who handled the stockroom, loading dock, mailroom, and many other functions in the building was just a peon who didn't rate such a perk. It would have been a much more efficient use of my time if they'd given him the answering service instead of me, and multiply that by the hundred or so other engineers in the building; I don't remember if we ever got that past the bureaucracy.

#347 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 04:37 AM:

Mishalak @ #343 wrote: I call moose.

You rang?

Anyway, I'm more of an ungulate than a ruminant, so am probably no use for the purpose intended. (Unless you want me to feed them cocoa-dusted truffles and double chocolate stout until they explode? (That could be rather messy and would almost certainly upset the gnomes.))

#348 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 07:25 AM:

John Dobson has died at the age of 98.

Inventor of the Dobsonian Mount for telescopes; popularizer of astronomy; and author of one of my favorite quotations, directed to his telescope-mirror-grinding class: "Now the very worst state you can end up in at the end of this class is the state of not having a telescope; and that's the state you're in now!"

#349 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 09:32 AM:

HLN: Local homeowner and hobbyist cook utterly delighted to cross an item off his bucket list: he is now the proud possessor of a bright-red KitchenAid stand mixer. "It seems a silly thing to be so happy about, but I've wanted one of these for AGES," Mr. Mason said. "Our old mixer was really underpowered and starting to smell like burnt wiring every time we used it."

Suggestions are solicited as to how best to inaugurate its service. Readers may address him via classified box #MIXERYAY at this paper. Current contenders include kneading yeast bread, creaming butter/sugar together for cookies to amuse his child, and whipping egg whites into a fluffy meringue just to prove he can, although he has no particular use for them after whipped.

#350 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 09:45 AM:

The state pays $15 per day for jury duty (excluding the first day of selection), plus 34 cents a mile one way. Parking is free.

#351 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 09:49 AM:

Elliott @ 349; Buckeyes. Peanut butter and butter and sugar, blended, cooled, and dipped into melted chocolate. Easy enough the child can help roll the balls and dip them, and robust enough to break a hand mixer...

#352 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 09:49 AM:

For those of you who follow and enjoy the writing of Seanan McGuire, the author recently announced that she just made the transition too full-time writer. Yes, she had a day-time job besides her writing, the massive output of which she apparently had managed by skipping on that thing called 'sleep'. Why is she now finally making the jump? Because of the Affordable Care Act. The country will be a better place because of the ACA and of its storytellers.

#353 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 09:51 AM:

Serge Broom @352, so glad to hear that; I really like Seanan. She's a charming, funny, super-bright woman. (And she'll be at Windycon in Chicago this November....)

#354 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 09:59 AM:

In re Seanan: that's amazing! I know the plan for quitting the day job used to be "when we sell the option for Deadline to Hollywood."

#355 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 10:29 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 349: I remember the first time I used my KitchenAid mixed. More power!

Recipe that really benefits: Flourless chocolate torte. You whip whole eggs to the "ribbon stage", then gently whisk into melted chocolate and butter (there's some sugar and boiling water here & there). Because of the fat in the egg yolks, those eggs take a long time to whip up like egg whites. The resulting dessert is glorious.

#356 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 11:32 AM:

Cassy B. #151

Can you believe I only got round to encountering buckeyes at a Christmas party this year? Truly delightful objects ...

#357 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 11:36 AM:

Elliott Mason #349:

One thing you can do with meringue stuff is to make meringue kisses: drop spoonfuls on baking sheet and put in a *very* slow oven for many hours. If you make large enough flat patties when you do this, you can then fill them, oreo-style, with either whipped cream or pastry cream (both of which should give the new Red Shiny an additional workout).

#358 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 11:39 AM:

me #356:

Make that Cassy B at #351. (I blame cedar pollen for inflaming my eyes.)

#359 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 01:28 PM:

Piggybacking on joann #357: Meringue kisses are lovely with the addition of chocolate chips and/or a drop of peppermint extract and possibly a drop of food coloring. I was taught to make them by preheating the oven, turning it off just before the pans go in, and leaving them in the oven overnight (with a "Do not open until morning" note taped to the oven door for passersby).

#360 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 02:29 PM:

A note about the Sherlock spoiler thread: I strongly recommend not reading it until you've seen all three of the new episodes. From the very beginning, people talk about the interactions of things revealed in all three eps. Including surprises you may not want to know about early.

#361 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 03:10 PM:

AKICIML: At my last visit, my doctor prescribed me physical therapy and medication for my borked knee, and also wrote a prescription for an MRI (because she wants to know just what's going on in the soft-tissue injury).

How does one fill a prescription for an MRI?? Walgreens doesn't stock them, and my usual go-to for odd businesses (ask google maps for ____ near my house) doesn't seem to be turning anything up. All I get is scamlicious-looking sites offering to help me comparison-shop for a provider, and I don't know which are actual scams and which are consumerishly useful.

I have fairly good insurance, so I'm not worried I'll be $6000 out of pocket suddenly, but it's something I've never once had to have done. Every other major diagnostic test, the doctor (a different doctor, back then, from the one I have now) scheduled me an appt at the lab/hospital they used and I just had to turn up for it on time.

#362 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 03:17 PM:

Elliott Mason @361, there's actually a place advertising MRIs just down the street from where I live.

Googling (no quotes) "MRI Services Chicago" got quite a large number of hits, many from very reputable hospitals. I'd suggest calling a convenient hospital near you and asking how one schedules an appointment...

#363 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 03:19 PM:

The science of earworms.

Gets a little too far into philosophy for my taste toward the end, but the first part is interesting.

I almost always have an earworm running if I'm not actively listening to something else. Right now it's the Clam Chowder version of "Away Rio", which I haven't heard or thought about in quite a long time, so I have no idea why my brain decided to serve it up today. What's your earworm?

#364 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 04:08 PM:

@Elliot: Ask your insurer. They probably have a list of in-network imaging places.

Of course, you could go to Costco for your MRI. The price is right, but you need to get two of them.

#365 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 04:33 PM:

Apparently, I'm a Scary Person. Those of you who've met me in real life can laugh now. The rest of you ... I'm a middle aged, average height, slightly plump, hunch-backed woman with thick glasses and a wardrobe consisting of brightly colored t-shirts and jeans. Maybe the hunchback did it, I don't know.

Despite living in the middle of nowhere, we do get the occasional "luxury" car down our road. There's tons of vacation homes around here plus a huge compound owned by a family of 1%ers. There's also some church camps and retreats nearby. Basically, you never know what you'll see on the road -- everything from old farm pickups with a couple dogs in the back, to the latest in luxury.

Anyway, I rounded a blind corner on the road ... and there's a mid-2000's Bentley with its blinkers on in the road, and a very, very, flat and well shredded tire. If I had to guess, they slid into the bar ditch and the tire had a rude encounter with a sharp rock. The Bentley had luggage and groceries piled up in the back seat, so I'm guessing they headed to or from one of the vacation homes.

Beside the Bentley were two young women. They were well dressed, wearing heels and expensive clothes. They looked to be late teens or early 20's. One had her cell phone up in the air, obviously trying to get a signal. Unfortunately, there's no cell signal in that area -- they were down in a hollow.

I decided I would stop and help them move the car to a safer location (not on a blind corner) and then change the tire, since they weren't going to be able to call AAA where they were at. I've changed my share of tires and had jeans on. They definitely weren't dressed for it -- they had on tights and skirts and expensive sweaters. Changing a tire is not really a big deal for me. (I'm not sure where the spare is on a Bentley, but I assumed I could figure it out, y'know?)

Plus, they were in a really bad spot -- it's a nasty blind corner, and I've seen wrecks there before. If nothing else, I wanted to try to get them to move (flat tire or no) a few hundred yards down the road.

So, I pulled up and got out. They took one look at me and dove for cover in the car. The one on the driver's side cracked the window an inch and stammered out that she had help coming because she'd just called her "auto club." There was total and complete fear in their eyes, which was the last reaction I'd expected.

Ah, well. Rejection sucks.

I suggested they needed to move the car, slowly and carefully, up the road to a straight and wide stretch that was around the corner so that they didn't get creamed by someone whipping around that corner. Then I told them that if their "help" didn't show up, there was a bar about a mile up the road that had a phone -- and that the fire department was next door and the fire fighters might be willing to help her change the tire too.

I then asked if they wanted me to call anyone and got a firm, "No! You can go now!" In a panicky voice. Oookay. I went on my way. I called 911 anyway when I reached an area with cell coverage, and let them know the girls were broken down at XYZ milepost on ABC road, and someone might want to check on them.

Then I reminded myself that I'm very glad to live in this part of the world, where everybody helps everybody else and an offer of assistance is NOT seen as threatening, for the most part. They were staring at me with wide-eyed honest-to-God fear.

They were gone when I drove by there four hours later. I'll have to ask the staff at the bar if the girls walked to the bar. (The cops can take hours to show up, particularly for a non-emergency.) Given where they broke down, and given the local culture, they probably had offers of assistance from the majority of locals that passed.

I sure hope they didn't have a heart attack if one of our local "old timers" or working cowboys stopped to try to help them. If they think *I'm* scary, they should wait until they meet some of the other locals.

#366 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Stefan Jones @364: I have no idea why that didn't occur to me, but it didn't. Of course my insurance's find-a-doc section had a subsection (not seen before, because not needed) for medical imaging providers! I found one reasonably convenient and now have an appointment.

It's probably generational that I still view the upcoming Deep Tissue Medical Scan With Intense Magnetism as completely an sfnal moment of awesome, right? See where your body's gone wrong with the POWER OF PHYSICS! So Asimovian.

Of course, I knew I was living in a more medically-utopian future than I thought I was when my childhood friend splintered several vertebrae in a skiing accident and was walking again a few days later, and cleared for bumper cars and diving within three years.

#367 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 05:26 PM:

Cally @360:

I've updated the post to say it's for all three episodes.

#368 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 05:44 PM:


MRIs are generally considered uncomfortable and (if you are claustrophobic) scary.

I got mine because the orthopedist suspected a bulging disc as the cause of sciatic pain.

I was in really bad shape at the time. I had trouble sleeping, and could hardly drive. The technician offered me a lumbar support pillow while I was in the tube . . . and damned if I wasn't more comfortable than I'd been in weeks.

Yes, it was a bulging disc. Stretches have all but banished the pain.

#369 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 06:16 PM:

Stefan Jones: I'm not worried about the test, it's probably exactly the sort of thing I don't mind doing. I've heard they can pipe you audio from a source you choose? If they can, I'm totes going to listen to my podcasts while I'm in there and be happy as a lying-flat clam. :->

#370 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 06:30 PM:

Well, I got my Covered California card before the New Year, and I've used it to go to the doctor, to get blood tests, and to buy medicine.
The doctor gave me some lovely physical therapy referrals (but he poo-poohed my suggestion that he prescribe "regular physical therapy visits for the rest of my life"). However, nobody knows which physical therapists are in the network. Especially not the physical therapists. And since my old place seems to have gone out of business, I'm dealing with strangers.

Also, the "find a provider" page on the website produces a random collection of names with phone numbers where the people who answer the phones have never heard of them.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll end up with a physical therapist eventually. And everything else I've done under Covered California so far has worked without a jolt.

#371 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 07:04 PM:

Cygnet -
Good for you for your Samaritan efforts, even though the direct one was so flatly refused.

Those pore lil' delicate flaurs. Sounds like they've never had to notice what most of humanity looks like (i.e. not perfectly trim, tanned & buffed).

#372 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 07:38 PM:

I hesitated to enter the discussion of how to re-use stamps, but I think I had better tell you all that for decades now, the Post Office has considered a stamp "used" as soon as it is applied to a surface other than the backing it comes on. And they strongly disapprove of re-using stamps. So anything you do needs to be undetectable. Or at least, barely noticeable. However, they're not gonna arrest you if you try it (as one of my more paranoid friends supposed). They will just return it for good postage.

To achieve low detectability, I would suggest a solvent such as goo-gone or goof-off, but cut out the piece of paper with the stamp on and apply the solvent to the back of the paper rather than to the front of the stamp.

#373 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 07:42 PM:

#372: I've been using "fully stamped" envelopes for years with no problems.

I probably shouldn't stress over the 5 cents in stamps inexplicably stuck to a USO return envelope . . . but I do. My inner cheapskate would never let me sleep if I threw them out.

#374 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 08:07 PM:

Cygnet, #365: I can think of several scenarios which might explain this. In no particular order:

1) They've both had "don't trust strangers" pounded into them all their lives, possibly with a side of "I've got money, and you could be kidnapped by someone who wants to hurt me".

2) OMG, I don't want Daddy to find out I slid into the ditch! And if the locals know, they might gossip!

3) They were supposed to be somewhere else, or there's a relationship there which is being kept hidden, or possibly both.

IOW, it's possible that their fear was not of you specifically, but of something connected with their situation that you represented.

#375 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 08:14 PM:

Cygnet #365: My goodness! Suppose you had looked like me? Some people are trapped by their stereotypes.

#376 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 08:36 PM:

So I have a KitchenAid. And a kid who is addicted to cooking how-to shows on YouTube (usually the ones that show how to do decorative stuff with sweets).

Thus, the first thing we have made with the KitchenAid is Rainbow Cake -- a simple white cake batter split five ways, with four getting Wilton's coloring in them, plopped in the cake pan bullseye style.

It's in the oven. It ought to taste ok by her lights, no matter what else; and ideally, when we cut it, it'll be zebra-style wiggly stripes in rainbow.

Pix when done. I might need to repeat last night's "mega-hot bath with a mixed drink and movies" to recover, but the kid's amused and standing in the kitchen cooking has helped my knee feel a little better.

#378 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Carol, if they chose to walk to the bar (which also has an attached diner, but is small enough that the bartender usually does double duty as a waitress), they'd have found a lot more of us imperfect country people.

Let's just say a lot of local characters hang out there. It's a typical small town bar and diner -- people go there to hang out with their buddies, shoot pool, watch the TV, and just hang out. It's very safe and friendly, and people look out for each other. However, it's definitely not a fancy place. Probably the most upscale thing they do is host a biker rally a few times a year.

And who knows -- maybe they climbed up to the top of a hill (in high heels?) and did call AAA, and they were just waiting for a tow truck.

#379 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 10:17 PM:

Have I ever told the story here of telling someone that yes, Leonard Cohen wrote novels? I like them a lot, myself, and can see why some folks wouldn't. If I do tell the story, keep that in mind and don't be offended.

Looping all the way around to the original post, I teach this through my church. I've only taught the 4-6 classes, but I plan to train for all of them. It's so rewarding.

We had an email thread among one of our committees recently and the cost of the training came up. There was, as is common whenever money is spent anywhere, grousing about how much it cost, and whether we couldn't use that money for other things, and did we really have enough kids to make it worthwhile, and should we even bother with teaching the young adult and adult courses. I'm sure you've all been there.

I must have grown a great deal in the last couple of years, because I didn't send any snotty emails back. I only wrote one and deleted it without regret. Instead, I said this is exactly the sort of question we'd talk about in the other class/discussion group I'm teaching, about current issues in our religion. I tried this last year and it failed, I think because I was ambitiously trying to use books. This time, it'll be articles from our quarterly magazine.

The article for Sunday? This. Note the third to last paragraph. That's my dream. We'll see how it goes.

#380 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 10:35 PM:

374, Lee -- all of the above occurred to me, though I suspect it was probably option one given the degree of real fear.

#381 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2014, 11:09 PM:

Elliott @366: When you've had your MRI, come tell us whether you're one of the people who can hear the marimba music when they tune the thing, OK?

I've had so many of them that I had my first one back when they still called it NMRI. (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging -- yeah, they changed that name pretty fast.)

One of them, it was high summer in Minneapolis, and somehow a mosquito got into the room, and then into the tube with me. They were doing my head for some reason (probably the time I lost peripheral vision for a while), and it was particularly hard to hold still because the mosquito landed on my face and walked up and down for the whole half-hour-to-forty-minutes a scan used to take. And it never bit me the whole time. But the anticipation was overwhelming. It was funny after I got out, but not until then.

#382 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 12:04 AM:

Raaaaainbow Caaaaake (et seq; for more photos click through the set).

Dye added to this basic recipe, though I'm not sure I recommend it. It was very simple to make, but I agree with the enthusiastic first comment's factuality but not its enthusiasm: they said "It tastes just like a sugar cookie." And so it does, which is weird, because it's cake. :-> Would probably taste good with additional flavorant besides just vanilla extract. It WAS very simple to make, so I might do it again (barring any other simple-but-tastier recipe being available). I might also try slipping some cream cheese into it, that'd be interesting.

#383 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 12:10 AM:

I made my first batch of onion marmalade.

Oh, man . . . many onions will die in my kitchen.

Oh, yes indeed.

#384 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 12:31 AM:

@Stefan Jones: In my life, I've had one root canal (and may it be the only one.) It cured my back pain.

Well, really, it was three hours slightly head-down in a perfectly ergonomic chair that did that. When I get back pain, it tends to be of the "squished in the wrong direction" variety, so inversion and stretching was exactly what I needed and had found hard to get.

#385 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 02:44 AM:

Janetl: Do you have a recipe for that flourless chocolate torte? I'd like to see if I can make that safe for partner's pancreas, which spends much of its time threatening to strike. He misses chocolate almost as much as I miss playing with food.

Cygnet: huh. Well... okay then. And people wonder why some people so fear the idea of class war... Good on you for stopping. I do hope they made it where they were headed, and that the next samaritan wasn't driving a flying saucer. Because that wouldn't be a good impression to make on the theoretical interstellar neighbors.

Though... the heels aren't necessarily a limiting factor. My mother lives in heels; she even wears high wedge heeled sneakers. And she's a construction project manager who spends a lot of time on site. I think the only thing she doesn't do in heels is sleep and swim. She has high-heeled flip-flops.

Elliott Mason: The cake looks lovely. I've made that cake; it was my tried'n'true base for experiments because it always rises and it's forgiving. Cinnamon (or pie spice blend) in the 1/4 tsp range helps. So does lemon zest. So does changing the sugar -- half brown is very nice. So does switching out the milk for either buttermilk or half sour cream/yogurt and half liquid milk. And if you've got a tall sided dish (think soufflé dish) or a springform...

Slice 6-ish tart apples, toss with half-a-lemon juice and cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice as for your version of pie -- but no sugar. Grease the tall dish and lay in a pretty pattern (or just dump if presentation doesn't matter) a layer of slices. Sprinkle just a little brown sugar over the first layer (1 tablespoon? you're going for a caramelized base) and splash around about 1 tablespoon of melted butter, then top with some of the batter, some more apples, some more batter, ending with batter. You can get layer-y, or not. Bake per recipe times about 1.5 (I bake at altitude), until top of cake is firm to touch and pick removes clean. Let cool in place, then upside down it. (Or be impatient and scoop.) Some people add raisins and/or nuts into their apple cakes. (Some people are also prone to litter or text at the opera. I am sure they have their reasons, and I shall not judge.)

As written, it's a fine base for a good filling or foil, but yes, it needs help for complexity. Also, when poured over a thick base of frozen tart cherries, it was a stellar cobbler-y thing. (I really miss baking. And I want cake now.)

Would you like a KA pasta attachment? I can't use mine anymore and it should do more than collect dust. If so, permission is granted for access to my email address.

Stefan Jones: onion marmalade. Ooo. I wonder if I can reduce-sub a different sweet. I've got palm, honey and maple. Because that sounds like it would be brilliant over zucchini ribbons with shredded chicken. (Must make other half slice many onions. They don't affect him.)

#386 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 07:41 AM:


sleep and swim

"Now introducing our new line of high-heeled flippers."


#387 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 09:24 AM:

CZEdwards @385: Funnily enough, a friend of mine just offered to trade her meatgrinder attachment (which she doesn't use and I expressed an interest in) for a pasta attachment, should I find one when out thrifting. So although I don't have a personal ambition to pasta-make, I can offer to find it a very loving home? :->

#388 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 09:46 AM:

Elliott Mason (382): That link took me to a Flickr sign-in page. (I don't have an account there.)

#389 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 12:53 PM:

Mary Aileen:
Try reloading the page. I think it's Flickr's version of a combined login/and ad for Flickr; I got that when I first went to the Surreal Fashion page. When I reloaded it went away and I got to the right page, and I didn't get it on following the Rainbow cake link.

#390 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 01:57 PM:

Clifton (389): Thanks. When I went back to the page it loaded fine.

Elliott, that cake is stunning.

#391 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 02:08 PM:

Vocabulariy help requested: my internal dictionary is down. Does English have a word for "take less time [to do]" equivalent to dematerialize (takes less material [to make]) or demonetize? 'Efficient' or 'streamline' don't explicitly have a timey-wimey root word.

If this word doesn't exist, what would it be: dechronitize? Detempus? Do any romance languages have this word?

#392 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Elliott Mason: done. I'm a huge fan of our meat grinder attachment, and as long as the pasta attachment is seeing occasional sunlight, all is good. Rot13'ed Pbafgnaprrqjneqf at the gee male. I probably won't get it out until mid February at this rate, but I don't mind being prodded.

#393 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 03:42 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @391: "hasten"? I have to say "dematerialize" does not mean, to me, "takes less material [to make]) but "separates into its consituent atoms (or possibly smaller particles than that)" - the New Oxford Dictionary of English agrees with me.

#394 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 04:01 PM:

Kathryn #391 - shorten?
And what dcb said.

#395 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 04:14 PM:

CZEdwards @385: Some people add raisins and/or nuts into their apple cakes. (Some people are also prone to litter or text at the opera. I am sure they have their reasons, and I shall not judge.)
Hee! Texting at the opera seems like a near-apotheosis of many things one might say about class and privilege and technology and "omg descent of society!!!" But as you say, they have their reasons.

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @391, huh. I haven't the faintest idea. 'Dechronitize' is promising, though. It sounds like it wants to be a word. :)

#396 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 04:23 PM:

The word that comes to mind for "uses less material in" is "lightweight"; as in "they've lightweighted these plastic bags to the point that the corners of a cereal box will poke holes in them".

For time, I'd probably just say "speeds up".

#397 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 04:35 PM:

I'd say "speeds up" too. I must admit, however, that the verb 'briefen' did pop into my benighted brain. "Weighing instead of measuring by volume briefens my baking process enormously."

#398 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 04:48 PM:

AKICIML: Hey guys, can anyone point me to an image on der T00bz of a paint-spattered object in the foreground and the spatter (with void) in the background? I'm working on a merit badge for the DFD thread, but having trouble getting the image to snap into focus in my brain, and my Google-fu is failing me.

My first draft is here, but something about the shadow/paint blowback isn't working, and I don't have enough brain to figure out what it is.

#399 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 05:12 PM:

Xopher, that's a very useful verb you have there. I like it!

#400 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 06:17 PM:

Kathryn: try "accelerate" as transitive verb - for example, "accelerates software development", or "accelerates the paint drying". I think there's a decent history of that as a standard usage, e.g. plastic hardeners referred to as accelerants.

#401 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 06:37 PM:

Kathryn: cost-engineer (also value-engineer), perhaps? Possibly also "productionize".

#402 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 06:54 PM:

My family had an Electrolux vacuum from the 1940s, a low-slung model that looked a bit like a diesel locomotive on sled-runners. Near the switch was a dial to adjust the speed, and instead of saying "fast" and "slow", it said "hasten" and "retard".

Amazing how archaic that sounds now--a bit like the accents in movies of that era.

#403 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 08:33 PM:

CZEdwards @385:
Janetl: Do you have a recipe for that flourless chocolate torte? I'd like to see if I can make that safe for partner's pancreas, which spends much of its time threatening to strike. He misses chocolate almost as much as I miss playing with food.

Flourless chocolate torte is a baked custard, not a cake. I learned this recipe in a class at a culinary school. (It was a weekend class, for amateurs.) I looked for torte recipes online, and none of the ones I found had the same procedure, so I don't know if their results would be as tasty, so I'm transcribing it here. Rikibeth or Benjamin Wolfe can doubtless correct and improve this.

I was taught to coat it with ganache. Because it's a custard, it's best baked in a water bath. I was taught not to use springform pans because they leak (though of course you can use aluminum foil to mitigate that). I like the drama of using a regular pan, and turning a torte or cheesecake out of it with extreme violence.

Making the torte
You'll want a large whisk, and a large rubber scraper/spatula.

9"x3" pan -- if the eggs are well whipped, a 2" tall pan may not be big enough.
This recipe will also make two 7"x2" pans very nicely. That's more practical, really, as a 9" chocolate torte is a whole lotta rich eating. You can freeze it after it's coated with ganache, so you can have one small one, and then the second one several weeks later.

Butter the pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment, and butter that.

Preheat oven to 350 F. You'll also need baking sheet with a tall rim, or a large roasting pan, for the water bath.

12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 ounces water
1 Tablespoon dark rum
6 oz sugar
9 oz soft butter (room temperature) cut into chunks
6 eggs
3 oz sugar

Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl, shaped suitably for whisking

Bring water and 6 oz of sugar to a boil.

Pour the boiling water over the chocolate, and stir & swipe with the spatula and whisk until it's melted smoothly. Stir in the butter, and get it well combined, too.

Meanwhile, set the 6 eggs to beating in a stand mixer. After a bit, add the 3 oz of sugar. Beat until the volume has increased substantially -- to the 'ribbon stage'. You can't get whole eggs to stiff peaks like you can egg white, but when you take the beaters or rubber spatula and drop some egg back into the mixture, it should look like a ribbon and hold its shape on the surface.

Fold the eggs into the chocolate. In a perfect world you'd just fold it all together, but you'll have to use the whisk, too, to get it combined smoothly.

Pour into the pan, put it in the larger container in the oven and add water for the water bath. Bake at 350 for about an hour. You'll want an internal temperature of about 160. Should just be a little jiggly in the middle.

Let it cool slowly to room temperature.

Cover tightly, and freeze for at least 2 hours before coating with ganache.

When you're ready to coat it with ganache, you get the thrill of turning it out of the pan! Make the ganache, and set it to cool. Have a 9" round ready to put the torte on (it's not sturdy enough to work with unless it's on a round). Put out a sturdy wooden cutting board, and turn on a burner. Slightly warm the bottom of the pan, then slam it upside-down on the cutting board to drop the torte out of the pan. Peel off the parchment, turn it onto the 9" round, and put it onto a wire rack.

Pour the ganache over the torte.

You can slice it now, or when you serve it. I have 10" knife for cake slicing. I put it in a pitcher of hot water, dry it with a paper towel, then slice through once. Draw the knife out, scrape the chocolatey goodness onto a saucer, rinse it off, heat it, and repeat. That will give you a torte that looks pretty but is neatly sliced and ready to serve. And you get to snack on the chocolate you've saved on the saucer.

Store in the fridge until shortly before serving.

Any ganache recipe should be fine, but I always use this one from the same class.

12 oz cream
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz soft butter

Bring cream to a boil, pour over chocolate and stir until melted. Stir in butter.
This is enough to coat the torte with a whole lot left over. You should probably cut this recipe down, but since I'm usually only making the torte as part of a dessert buffet extravaganza, I use the extra to frost another cake, or roll into truffles.

#404 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 08:46 PM:

Linkmeister @ 345: states vary. In MA, corporations are expected to cover 3 days of service (I'm forget whether that's a law or just an assumption), after which the state pays something so low (IIRC) that many companies just say "sign the check over to us and we'll keep paying your regular salary" on the grounds that jury service doesn't hit that often.

Elliott @ 349: bread is good; my spouse and I go through ~1.5 loaves a week. OTOH, there's this gingersnap recipe that killed the old mixer; said spouse now does batches that can be frozen in sections. PS: the cake is impressive.

Lee @ 363: the refrain of "One Toke over the Line"; damfino why.

#405 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 08:47 PM:

Here are two 7" tortes, just out of the oven.

Here's a 9" one, decorated with white chocolate swirled into the ganache to make a suitable Halloween spiderweb.

#406 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 09:53 PM:

re 391: Well, there's "abbreviate" though it tends more to implying "cut short due to incompletion" than "finish more quickly." But then, there is also "expedite".

#407 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 10:17 PM:

janetl @405: Congratulations, you have caused my husband to add 'dark rum' to our grocery list for tomorrow. :->

#408 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 10:56 PM:

It's a good idea to let ganache cool by itself (I pour it into a flat pan and cover it with plastic wrap and leave it strictly alone) in between the mixing-up and the spreading-around. This is because the things that keep it emulsified when it's hot are different from the things that do so when it's cool, and there's a gap in the middle-temperature range where agitation could cause it to break.

Depends on many factors. May not happen. So sayeth my CIA candy book.

#409 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2014, 11:52 PM:

JanetL: Thank you for the recipe. I *think* I can alter it to appease the sugar-hating demon who now reigns over our kitchen. I'll figure it out, probably later rather than sooner. Between small amounts of crushed palm sugar and a couple of sugar alcohols that play well with heat, it might be doable. I may have to skip the ganache, though, to keep it balanced. Which is simply tragic.

Jacque: There is a scene in the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You where the Katrina analogue protagonist and the Petruchio analogue protagonist play a form of paintball that more closely resembles a water balloon fight. They get quite spattered, and stills from that might work. (It's not on Netflix streaming, but it's worth the two hours and hitting Video Station if you can bear modern reinterpretations of Shakespeare as a high school farce. And I think it does a decent job of handling the Problem of Katrina.)

Alternately, a google image search on the holiday Holi or "festival of colours" might be useful. (A festival that Boulder would find entertaining, I think...)

#410 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 03:00 AM:

Elliott Mason @382: Rainbow Cake is awesome!

#411 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 03:10 AM:

From, I got linked to an interesting Doctor Who-related video.

We all know that Ron Grainer composed the opening theme music; fewer people may have heard the name Delia Derbyshire, who while working for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop used pure tone generators and sound effects to create the actual recordings that played over the opening credits for 17 years. (I say recordings because there were some changes made about three years in, to my mind improvements.)

I hadn't previously heard of an album called "The Exciting Television Music of Ron Grainer". It turns out that there is one, and that on it Ron Grainer did his own version of the Doctor Who theme. And you can hear it by going to YouTube (perhaps via this handy link).

Spoiler alert:

It's awful. It's practically disco -- you might as well just play "Apache" over the opening credits and have done. Ugggh.

The thing about the Derbyshire version that nobody seems to get is that it has its own uncompromising beat that does not condescend to be danceable. Every single person who has ever done another version of the theme has given it a dance beat, and to my mind ruined it. So now it seems that Ron Grainer himself understood the theme worse than anybody.

(The one exception is the first version of the theme used in the new series. Based on a version that I've heard that wasn't used, though, Murray Gold wanted to. I speculate that Russell Davies asked him to make it sound more like the classic Derbyshire theme...and as Gold tweaked the theme over the next few years it did move away from that.)

#412 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 11:36 AM:

On ganache: I can testify to the success of Xopher's approach. Om nom.

On 10 Things I Hate About You: it's one of the very few DVDs that survived the Great Moving Purge. Best high-school AU ever.

On the smallness of the world, or maybe just Boston: I'm not at Arisia, having forgotten to register, but I did have dinner with Doyle and Macdonald last night. At the T stop afterwards, there was a small group of people who were obviously congoers. I smiled, trying hard not to look like a mundane, and then I squinted at two of them and said, ", excuse me, are you my downstairs neighbors?" AND THEY WERE.

#413 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 01:05 PM:

TexAnne (412): Are you planning to go to Boskone? How about anyone else? I'll be there, with my artwork; it will be my first Boskone since 1990 or 1991, when it was in exile in Springfield.

#414 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 01:35 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 413... in exile in Springfield

Is that like being sent to Coventry?

#415 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Serge @414:

If it's in Springfield, I think it has rather more yellow people sayig "D'oh!" and rather few bicycles than Coventry.

#416 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 02:18 PM:

Mary Aileen @413: I plan to go, if I can book a flight.

#417 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 02:48 PM:

abi @ 415... GI Joe's Cobra lives in Springfield. Probably next door to Homer.

#418 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 05:56 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara @232, Elliott Mason @235:

There's a detailed article on Amazing Stories regarding the Chi-Fi situation.

#419 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 07:17 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 411: That's so horrible that it makes the Welsh Orchestra that plays the NuWho theme sound good. In case you couldn't tell, I don't like how the theme's been rescored for the new show. I think it got worse when Moffat took over from Davies, too.

#420 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 08:18 PM:

David G., #411: Good heavens. I thought for a minute that I was listening to the theme from Magnum, P.I. or The A-Team. Or maybe the Dr. Who theme done Hooked on Classics-style, but that doesn't explain the heavy brass. Here, have an antidote (which I imagine you and most people here are probably already familiar with) -- a mashup/dance mix that actually works.

Inquisitive Raven, #419: I rather like the new theme. But then, I also really like the updated Mission:Impossible theme from the first movie, so you are at liberty to consider my tastes suspect. :-)

#421 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2014, 10:57 PM:, the sugar for the tea does not go in the boiling noodle water...

#422 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 12:42 AM:

Back from Arisia. It was great. Looking forward to Boskone.

If anybody here waved at me and I smiled blankly -- or missed it entirely -- I apologize. That happens a lot.

#423 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 01:36 AM:

And the boiling water for the tea shouldn't go on the cold cereal. (I've done that. At least once.)

#424 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 08:36 AM:

And the milk for the tea doesn't go in the electric kettle .

#425 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 09:22 AM:

And ground coffee beans do not go in the water reservoir.

(Very close call.)

#426 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 10:20 AM:

OJ on the cereal doesn't work either...

#427 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 10:56 AM:

At least when I find myself putting the cereal box away in the fridge I can stop and go, "Wait, I bet I know where I put the milk ..." early in the process. Instead of the next morning.

#428 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 11:28 AM:

And the orange juice does not go in the coffee mug ... especially not after you've already put the cream and sugar in it.

#429 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Laundry does not go in the dishwasher*, or vice versa.

*Freshly dyed silk and wool do sometimes go in the dishwasher to steam-set, but then the dishwasher will be otherwise empty and the fabric will be wrapped in parchment paper. Dishes do not go in the washing machine.

#430 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 11:31 AM:

re: "[x] does not go in [y]"

I've been doing so much Rong.

#431 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Boiling water does not go in the tea caddy (unless you want tea that you can stand a crowbar upright in).

Nor does it go in the sugar bowl (though this moose no longer puts sugar in tea, and only a small amount in coffee).

#432 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 11:47 AM:

dcb: OJ on the cereal doesn't work either...

Actually that one's not bad IMO, especially with a whole-grain or granola type cereal. I used to do that on purpose occasionally. I concede however that it could be pretty astonishing if it weren't what you intended.

#433 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 11:54 AM:

Re Teresa's particle: needs bigger teeth.
"I'll tell you where I keep the gun, Sam, but you need to be sitting down first."

#434 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Clifton - which particle? Unpack your comment a bit, please?

#435 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 12:39 PM:

[x] does not go in [y]

:laughing uncontrollably, because yeah, those are familiar:

#436 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 01:22 PM:

Carol: That probably did need a little more explication. Both ricotta gnocchi and blue-footed boobies are probably better without Big Sharp Teeth.

The "guess the date on this art" link, however, goes to some church carvings which look exactly like gur punenpgref Fnz naq Znk sebz gur phyg pbzvp Fnz naq Znk: Serrynapr Cbyvpr, juvpu nyfb unq n pynffvp YhpnfNegf pbzchgre nqiragher tnzr onfrq ba gurz. (Ol gur jnl, vg'f Znk gur ohaal, abg gur qbt, jub unf Tvnag Funec Grrgu.)

#437 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 01:54 PM:

P.S. for those having trouble getting Teresa's floating title text to ROT-13 it, it reads: "Xvycrpx Puhepu, Naab Qbzvav Ryrira-sbegl. Znlor vg'f n fvtany sebz n ybfg gvzr geniryyre gung ur'f fghpx va gur Gjrysgu Praghel naq jnagf gb or erfphrq."

#438 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 01:59 PM:

Clifton: thanks.

My immediate association with the carved stone art was Nick Parks, though not quite.

I didn't have the history of Sam/Max though recognized them on Google Images.

I'm relieved that the boobies won't be showing up with Big Sharp Teeth any time soon.

#439 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 02:00 PM:

Clifton: thanks.

My immediate association with the carved stone art was Nick Parks, though not quite.

I didn't have the history of Sam/Max though recognized them on Google Images.

I'm relieved that the boobies won't be showing up with Big Sharp Teeth any time soon.

#440 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 02:02 PM:

Got the "cannot post, 404 Error" and upon backing/filling double-posted.

How embarrassing.

#441 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 03:15 PM:

I think I've caught myself doing most of the "X does not go in Y" items, usually before actually doing them. I do remember one bleary morning putting whole coffee beans in a coffee filter and staring at it for a minute, knowing something was wrong with the picture.

On a completely different topic, it looks like there's an interesting story unfolding here (starting here, from a box of old letters at a flea market). I'm curious to see where it goes.

#442 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 03:20 PM:

The breakfast dishes do not go in the refrigerator. The milk does not go in the sink.

Reversing these, however, may be acceptable.

#443 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 03:53 PM:

The garbage bag does not go on the shelf. The toaster does not go out to the garage.

#444 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 03:59 PM:

I remember finding the cereal box in the fridge, but I don't remember putting it in there. The milk was in the fridge, though.

#445 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 04:00 PM:

I remember finding the cereal box in the fridge, but I don't remember putting it in there. The milk was in the fridge, though.

#446 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 04:02 PM:

the internal-server-error (plus 404). Last time I hit the back button and reposted, but it only went through once. This time it went twice.

#447 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 04:13 PM:

David Goldfarb @410: We all know that Ron Grainer composed the opening theme music; fewer people may have heard the name Delia Derbyshire

Really? I've known her name for decades and she's revered by many as the mother of electronic music. Ron Grainer himself wanted to give her co-writing credit in the Who credits but the Beeb refused. But then she never has been given the credit she deserved by them. It's why she quit in disgust in the 1970s and turned her back on music for the next two decades. Electronic music fans sought her out in the late-1990s and convinced her to start recording again. Sadly, she died in the early 2000s. The largest body of her work still exists in the vaults of the BBC, who have shown no interest in letting it see the light of day. There's a petition to get them to move on this, but who knows if it will get anywhere. Seriously, hers is a fascinating story. You should do some googling.

#448 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 04:50 PM:

I only noticed the milk/breakfast dishes thing because the milk was in the sink.

#449 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Clifton @ 433: "Where'd you get the gun, John?" (The linked video should be silent, shouldn't it?)

#450 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 04:58 PM:

I knew when the carvings were made as soon as I saw them, but I have an advantage: I'm a medievalist! Those Romanesque eyes are unmistakable.

#451 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 05:03 PM:

OK, MLK day AKICIML query:

Any churchgoing people know of a hymn about MLK other than "Blessèd Martin"? I am so sick of that hymn! Its lyrics are clumsy, its tune is lackluster, and...well, the harmonies I've heard for it are boring in the extreme.

OTOH we clearly need to sing a hymn for MLK on the Sunday closest to MLK day. I just wish we had a better one.

#452 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 05:12 PM:

We have been getting a spate of calls (8 so far today!) from someone whose caller ID information comes up as "Unknown name, Unknown number". Our system is set up to automatically reject unidentified calls (because most of them are spam), but occasionally VOIP calls hit the same trigger. If this is you or someone you know... send us an e-mail.

#453 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 05:23 PM:

Xopher, 451: Modern hymns are all like that, AFAICT. Better to use a nonspecific martyrdom one (if there are any, I don't know), or possibly an Easter/funeral one. Or maybe write another verse to "I sing a song."

#454 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 05:33 PM:

The Episcopal Church doesn't formally proclaim saints, but he's treated as a holy person to be revered (the most they ever do). Our former pastor, with all his flaws, has a better hymn than Martin of Selma (with all his)!

That hymn, though, is based on his ideas, not about him. Since he's not dead and so on.

#455 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 06:13 PM:

Xopher @ 451: We sang one--okay, a song, if not a hymn-yesterday called Dream A Dream. I don't have the score any more, and I couldn't find it online. My Bing-fu isn't strong enough to get information via such a common phrase.

Depending on how adventurous your music director and your choir are, you're better off using secular music.

#456 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 07:26 PM:

TexAnne: boy, are they. I made my sister laugh by saying that everything John Rutter writes sounds like a bank commercial, but she didn't deny it was true. (Also I will never forget his rhyming "over" with "Jehovah" in his translation of "Va Pensiero".)

#457 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 08:10 PM:

John A., 455: Searching on "Dream a Dream lyrics" produces this, this, this, and this. (I find that adding "lyrics" to your search terms helps immensely if what you're hunting is a song.) I don't know if any of them would be suitable, but that last one sounds quite promising.

also @449, thank you for the earworm. :-)

#458 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Xopher, back in high school, the choir sang for an MLK Day breakfast. We did "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" because, we were told, it was the great man's favorite.

#459 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 09:47 PM:

My glasses do not go in the cup that holds my toothbrush. I will require help in finding them (because, severely myopic) if I do this.

#460 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 10:21 PM:

"Precious Lord" is a profoundly moving hymn, particularly given the circumstances of its composition. (It's an expression of hope and trust during deep grief.) One could do a lot worse than anything by Thomas A. Dorsey.

#461 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 10:38 PM:

Xopher: another recommendation for Precious Lord. There are lots of arrangements. Not only did MLK reportedly like it, but it has the line "I have dreamed a great dream"

#462 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 10:40 PM:


Ursula LeGuin's "The ones who walk away from Omelas" has the line
This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.

I recognise 'the banality of evil'. Is 'the terrible boredom of pain' also a well-known reference?

#463 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 10:49 PM:

Lila, 456: Oh goody, now I'm earwormed with the Iron Chef guy--"the [unusual ingredient] battle is OVAH!"

It is perhaps bedtime in HLN-land.

#464 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2014, 10:55 PM:

thomas @462 -- not that I can find easily.

#465 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 12:13 AM:

That Doctor Who theme is so epically awful that it is glorious in that Star Wars Disco kind of way. Shared.

Catholicism has its awful hymns too (some of which have been borrowed from the Protestants, but we have plenty of horrible songwriters on our own.) I have a particular loathing for Rain Down by Jaime Cortez. "Rain down, rain down, rain down your love on your people." Maybe if it were performed at a children's mass.

#466 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:02 AM:

This may be the coolest Sailormoon redesign I have ever seen.

Often the redesigned senshi are either Angsty McDarkglare or Sexy McHotpants. But this redesign captures the spirit of the originals: they're pretty, they're here to kick your butt, and they look like they stepped out of a romantic space opera.

And Chibi Moon is the cutest she's ever been.

#467 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:08 AM:

B. Durbin @ 465: My mother, who was a devout Catholic and subject to a teensy bit of unchristian competitiveness, was known to sigh and say "The protestants have all the good hymns."

#468 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:17 AM:

@Xopher no. 451: Dr. King inspired a triple-decker's worth of spirituals, gospel, R&B, etc. Not knowing whether you have the instruments to carry the more rockin' tunes, may I suggest "Up to the Mountain" by Patty Griffin?

#469 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:20 AM:

Thanks everyone for the hymn/song suggestions. I'll look into some of them and see what works.

#470 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:38 AM:

The water for diluting the freshly-brewed batch of tea does not go into the waiting cup with the ice. (Fortunately, that's an easy fix.)

#471 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 02:52 AM:

Grabbing the scrub brush to stir the cocoa....

#472 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 03:15 AM:

It usually happens when I'm extremely tired. Once I went into the kitchen with a cloth napkin and an empty bowl, dumped the cloth napkin into the trash, and opened the door to the basement to fire the bowl down into the laundry pile at the base of the stairs. I just barely stopped myself!

Also, part of my "idiosyncratic drug reactions" is that the recommended dose of acetaminophen will make me so confused that I seem drunk, and it's usually category slippage such as the above. When I forgot which side of the road I was supposed to be on (look, the left lane just felt right, okay?), with kids in the car no less, I arranged to stay home whenever my headaches got bad enough to need painkillers.

#473 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 04:33 AM:

Lila, ...everything John Rutter writes sounds like a bank commercial...

I am SO going to steal that ♪. Thank you.

♪(But not without attribution.)

#474 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 08:00 AM:

Rutter swings back and forth between some pretty challenging and modern music (which I generally like) and what I took to calling "BBC music". Unfortunately most of the former is too big and too difficult to be sung in the typical parish church, or for that matter in a service at all. I remember the first time I heard the Gloria and being blown away by the second movement, only to have the last movement start and think, "crap, it's that perky-perky stuff again."

re 467: I can get as snarky as anyone would like on the subject of Cath-Pop and the St. Louis J Boys, but on the other hand in the trad-liturgy groups I hang around at the edges of the Catholics tend to take this attitude that actual hymn signing is an unwanted and dangerous impurity. Considering the excesses of ceremonial which they hold as the standard to be approached if not met (with a huge array of nearly supernumerary servers and minor clergy) this strikes me as a questionable attitude. But I have also had a suspicion for a very long time that they only trust words and are afraid of the way music skips over all that and heads straight in to the heart.

#475 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 08:19 AM:

Jenny Islander #472: You probably should check again if any other OTC painkiller could do (have you tried naproxen, the new guy on the block?). Acetaminophen has other issues, and that confusion could lead to dangerous multi-dosing.

Not really a household thing, but at the bookstores in the alphabetized sections, I regularly see where customers have put books "back" at about the right horizontal position, but one shelf below where they should be. I didn't understand that until one day I was really tired, and caught myself doing it! (That is mostly the customers, I have to be really tired to muff shelving.)

#476 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 08:20 AM:

Tom Whitmore: Thanks. So if it's a reference it must be a very obscure one.

#477 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 09:46 AM:

tykewriter @ #473, you're welcome!

I forgot to mention that my sister is a choir director. Atlanta area Fluorospherians might enjoy her concerts.

#478 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 09:47 AM:

So today I start my first course of steroids ever, following the fairly complicated algorithm printed on the back of the bubble pack for how to take 6 pills the first day and taper down to 1 pill the last day.

Downside: I have to actually eat meal-sized meals at regular intervals (because the pills are taken "before breakfast," "before lunch," "after dinner," and "at bedtime"), which apparently I mostly don't do -- this discovered by missing my breakfast pill yesterday and then thinking about it at each I-would-be-taking-a-pill-now-if-I'd-started-today interval.

Anecdotes about Steroid Courses You Have Known are solicited, if you feel like sharing. I know looooong courses of steroids are awful (Kathleen Sloan pronounced Carla Ulbrich's song Prednisone "the most medically-accurate song I've ever heard," which isn't promising), but this is just a quickie dosepak.

Amusingly, I'm not going to be able to spot mild versions of most of the side effects on the box, because I'm on Day 1 of my menstrual cycle, too. Lower-intestine output density changes? Yeah, right; that happens anyway. Likewise appetite issues and nausea. :->

Methylprednisolone, if it matters.

#479 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 09:57 AM:

Elliott, I haven't taken the dose pack myself, but many of my patients have gotten good short-term results. (I work in a PT clinic, so my main reference for steroid dose packs is "last week patient was in too much pain to exercise, this week we've made good progress because pain levels are much lower.")

#480 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 10:31 AM:

Elliott, I had that dose pack last fall for an asthma/incipient pneumonia problem. I had no adverse side effects. Actually, I had a general sense of physical well being.

#481 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 10:35 AM:

Lila: That's why I got prescribed it (and an anti-inflammatory); my first PT appt is tomorrow. MRI on Friday. I'd have started taking it sooner except for cock-ups around the prescription and getting it filled.

#482 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 10:47 AM:

Elliott Mason (478): I hope you have better reactions to prednisone than my family does. Prednisone, even at dose-pack level, makes me crazy: jumpy, unable to sleep*, and emotional volatile†. It also makes my heart race. My mother has similar physical reactions, although she's been able to take the very low doses she needs for her current medical condition.

*and so wired that I don't feel it until I'm off the prednisone, whereupon I crash
†both mood swings and hair-trigger emotional responses.

#483 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 11:07 AM:

Lee @ 457: And none of those four are the one we sang. As I said, the commonness of the phrase makes it hard to search for.

I, too, thought of Precious Lord. It's a lovely song. It's not specific to King, and that's what I think was being sought.

#484 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 11:16 AM:

Elliott Mason @478: I was on prednisone for a couple of years. Chipmunk cheeks. Weight gain (30lbs). Buffalo hump. General sense of well-being and feeling better and stronger than I ever had. Until I didn't: Crippling anxiety disorder. Depression. Nb: use extreme caution if you're doing Chinese herbs, too. Turns out licorice has many prednisone-like effects, and the two combined served to jack my blood pressure unpleasantly. Also can interact unpleasantly with some SSRIs.

#485 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 11:39 AM:

Related [x] into [y], prep category:
Do not set day's clean clothes on toilet until lid is closed.

Fail narrowly averted.

#486 ::: Cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 11:54 AM:

Lila @477:

Thank you! I've been looking for a chorus or singing outlet in the Atlanta area for a while now. Email away!

#487 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 11:59 AM:

Interesting how many [x]/[y] things seem to be breakfast-related. (Or early-morning generally.) Hypothesis: many could be avoided if caffeine were already ingested?

#488 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 12:01 PM:

TexAnne #450:

It's enough to make an art historian run into the woods while tearing her hair.

#489 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 12:14 PM:

#487 ::: joann
File that under "need coffee to make coffee"...

#490 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 12:26 PM:

cajunfj40 #489:

Indeed. I tried a fancy K-cup-like thing on the theory that it would automate a bunch of stuff. Turned out it had its own failure modes, not x into y, but equally damaging: run out of water in the tank, put the pod in backwards, choose the wrong amount (think about overflowing an espresso cup). All solvable with the amount of attention that I can only pay after I have already mainlined the espresso. Short of an AI to make my coffee I don't know how to solve the conundrum.

As for my favorite x into y, try "the spoons do not go into the garbage can in the pullout right next to the dishwasher", and "the clear flour canister does not go in the fridge as if it were milk". (Oddly enough, has nothing to do with caffeination levels, and at least I've never tried to put the milk in with the flour.)

#491 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:03 PM:

I do keep flour in the fridge - it minimizes the number of unwanted ingredients. (Two-pound bag. It's not a lot of space.)

#492 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:14 PM:

#490 ::: joann re: milk in fridge

I keep white sugar in a used distilled water jug. At one point it had gravitated to the back of the counter behind other clutter. A visitor became increasingly antsy and finally pointed out that my milk was probably past its expiration date (the content level was visibly at an angle).

Since then, I've kept my backup sugar out of sight.

#493 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 01:54 PM:

#490 ::: joann

Can you get a coffee maker with a timer on it? Set up the pot the night before and program it to start brewing about 15 minutes before you get up/need that first cup.

#494 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 02:13 PM:


If you leave the Keurig turned on overnight. and fill the tank with water and position the pod in the holder without closing it, you should be able to get coffee by closing the lid and pushing one button, which you can probably do even before drinking any coffee.

#495 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 02:15 PM:

Pretty and amazing, but mostly pretty amazing. Videos of birds in flight where the flight path is tracked.

#496 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 02:32 PM:

Our parish has often sung "Lift Every Voice and Sing" around Martin Luther King day. It's also relevant, though it was written before King was born.

It is a more difficult song than "Precious Lord" (which we've also done), since the melody ranges almost as widely as the Star Spangled Banner. In the _Lead Me, Guide Me_ hymnal, it goes up to an F; it's often good to transpose it down for congregational singing if you can easily manage that.

You might also find the contents of _Lead Me, Guide Me_ worth looking through for more ideas. It's promoted as containing "the full breadth of African American church music that is suitable for Catholic worship...", and I suspect that many of the songs would also be suitable for Episcopalian worship. You can see what songs are included on the publisher's information page.

(I haven't used this edition myself, but our parish uses an earlier edition as a supplementary hymnal. The "Indexes" link on that page gives you a PDF that will tell you all the songs that are included, indexed by topic, scripture passage, metrical structure, and other criteria.)

#497 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 02:33 PM:

@495: D'ya suppose they ever crash into each other? "Dammit, George, I was aiming for that branch!" "Well, ya shoulda signaled!"

#498 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 02:56 PM:

Mary Aileen: my mother and grandmother have extreme side effects from basically every opiate, right down to dental anesthetics. A family trait I am pleased NOT to have inherited along with the ones I don't mind getting... They hallucinate and become combative.

#499 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 03:04 PM:

John A., #483: Yeah, the other problem is that there are a couple of popular songs with that phrase (the one from Les Miz tops the list), which sort of overwhelm the chances of finding less-common ones because they'll be down around page 11 in a Google search.

Xopher, have you considered soliciting a MLK tribute song from the filk community? We do write about social/historical issues -- the legacies of Tom Lehrer and Stan Rogers are important elements of filk.

joann, #490: That sounds like a "shift the thinking stuff to the night before" problem to me. Would a machine with a timer be useful for you, that you could set up in the evening to have your coffee ready when you get up?

(Being a severe Night Person myself, I find that it's much better for me to go to bed a bit later with the things I need to think about already done than to trust I'll have enough functional brain cells to do them right in the morning.)

#500 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 03:28 PM:

re which comes first, the coffee or the need for coffee in order to make the coffee:

It's actually a Nespresso, so that the only timer I could use is an outboard one. This would likely interfere with any other uses, and take up significant space around the outlet, which is right behind a rather portly toaster oven. Night Before Setup also relies on my being downstairs after supper, which is less likely than not. What I've ended up doing is remembering to keep an eye on the water level when I'm doing counter cleanup after breakfast. As to the other stuff, each falls in the not-so-often category; after all, I *do* manage to bathe and put my contacts in before approaching the kitchen, so I'm not totally sleepwalking ...

Spouse did have a coffee maker with a timer, but a) brewed coffee, not espresso, and b) not used anymore because of design failure

(Side rant: why does every timer have a different interface, with all instructions printed in 2-pt type, none of them at all intuitive, all relying on markings on the device plastic that are even less legible?)

#501 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 03:45 PM:

My former online community had the concept of the Coffee Paradox, which is the fact that it is possible to get into such a state of coffee deprivation that one cannot make coffee.

It has happened to me. More than once.

#502 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 04:01 PM:

#500 ::: joann
...markings on the device plastic that are even less legible?

Which is why all my black buttons/dials on black backgrounds have circles around key buttons or lines of whiteout at specific settings.

My microwave has raised dots on strategic numbers on its flat-glass front. It's easy to slide my finger to punch a less common time without having to put on a light.

The mattress tag police evidently consider these alterations outside their purview. I don't care what I've done to the resale value - and c'mon, the 80's CRT I watch VHS tapes on?

#503 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 04:19 PM:

One for the atheists secularists. I posted this elsenet before Christmas, but I thought it might be appreciated here

Today we have War against Christmas. Last month
we had compulsory insurance, and next year
we will probably have martial law. But today
Today we have War against Christmas
"Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion1",

but today we have War against Christmas

This is the White House Christmas Tree. And this
is the National Christmas Tree, whose use you will see
when you're watching the Pageant of Peace. And this is the Muslim Usurper,
which in your case you have not got. "The Court asserted pointedly:
We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being2"

which in our case we have not got

This is the creche, which is always displayed
With a facile nod to tradition. And please do not let me
See anyone label it Christian. You can call it tradition
If you have any right to be here. "Presidential Proclamations and messages
have also issued to commemorate Jewish Heritage Week3"

which no-one would label as Christian

And this, you can see, is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to get on TV, as you see. They run frantically
backwards and forwards, they call this spreading the news.
"Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders4";
we call this spreading the news.

We call this spreading the news: it is just our tradition,
if you have any right to be here: like the creche and the tree
and the cards, and the "secular legislative purpose5"
Which in their case they have not got: and the peace and goodwill
and the crowds running backwards and forwards
For today we have War against Christmas

1. If you have to ask...
2. Lynch v Donelly, Burger J for the court
3. loc cit
4. Lynch v Donnelly, O'Connor J concurring
5. Lemon v Kurtzman, Burger J for the court.

#504 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Victoria @495: Oh, WOW! Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

#505 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 04:56 PM:

Today it is 5degF outdoors, and so our house was incredibly dry indoors despite that we have lovely radiators and not horrible moisture-sucking ductwork central heating (no insult to your heating method if you like it; purely idiosyncratic opinionating on my part).

So I am spending a bit of time this afternoon "making noodles badly" -- boiling a pot of water for a significant amount of time on the stove to get water vapor into the air. And then eventually I'll top it up and make noodles. :->

We have purpose-built humidifiers, which might do the job with fewer energy inputs, but all of them have fossilized crud on their filters, alas.

#506 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Elliott Mason @505: Since I live in the UK, humidifiers are not something we have or ever need. Could have done with dehumidifiers, however, back in my flat where I used to mop about a mug full of water off each of the large* windowsills every morning through the winter until I got double glazing - with trickle vents.

* About 4 ft by 2ft 6, sticking out of the room - great for housing plants, including my "Triffid" rubber plant.

#507 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 05:49 PM:

With the radiators, if you want cheap humidification that doesn't involve boiling water -- soak a small towel or washcloth in water. Place on radiator. Repeat (or soak) as needed. For night-time use: put small towel or washcloth in glass of water (for wicking purposes). Place on pieplate on radiator, or on floor near radiator if you have cats.

I often use this method, or similar, in hotels which are almost always Too Dry. Having started to do this means I get a lot fewer sore throats at conventions.

The boiling might actually be helpful when the humidity is starting out at near-0%; my method works fine when it's just low.

#508 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Our radiators never get all that hot, but a wet towel might work nicely. Leaving a pot on the radiator (my childhood method) won't, because ours are hot-water, not steam.

#509 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 06:05 PM:

Even with hot-water radiators, it should work -- the heated water evaporates long before it boils. Basically, the low temperature air outside carries much less water vapor than warm air does; and without a source of water, that leaches the water out of the air inside. The damp towel becomes a water source -- it has a much larger effective surface area than a pan of water, so it's much more efficient at getting water into the air.

Give it a try and see if it gives you enough humidity -- it's cheap and simple to try and easily reversible if it doesn't work well enough for you.

#510 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 06:05 PM:

Random open-thready political comment:

Sometimes it seems like the big two parties have closed ranks to the extent that no popular movement can budge them on important issues like the war on terror. And so it's really interesting to note the two big examples where this hasn't happened:

a. Gay marriage--pushed locally into the courts, with most prominent Democrats waiting to really support it until they could see that it was going to become widespread. And now it's beginning to be accepted by a fair number of prominent Republicans as well.

b. Marijuana legalization/decriminalization--pushed locally in referenda, again with most politicians barely willing to acknowledge it until it looked like a winner.

You now can see more and more mainstream voices in favor of both, including the president.

This is an example of why despair is wrong. Change is possible even when the whole establishment is closing ranks against it and treats the notjon of some change as a joke. I very much hope that we will see something like this for our domestic surveillance state and war on terror/sociopathic foreign policy.

#511 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 06:06 PM:

Yeah, for any fancy coffee maker, it's probably best to shift the thinking to the night before.

I on the other hand go the other way, with an unpowered drip filter. Habit does pretty well at getting things in the right order,¹ and with only a cupful of water, most of the possible failures are non-catastrophic.²

¹ Put water in pot, set on stove, turn on stove. Put plastic filter-holder on mug, add paper filter, add spoonful of grounds. Wait for water to boil, pour into filter, watch it drain.
² I've had bad luck with supposedly-whistling kettles -- their failure modes can involve melted plastic, instead of just boiling a pot dry.

Apropos of nothing: How to Godwin a zombie movie.... :-)

#512 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 06:24 PM:

The whistling kettles I've ha had metal on the inside of the spout lid, so there was little danger of melting plastic. On the other hand, hard water is a real problem, and the spout-opener will break.

#513 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 06:26 PM:

abi @ 415: that depends on \which/ Springfield; I was told decades ago that it's the most common town name in the US -- which is probably why Groening (or his producer?) chose it. The one that Boskone was exiled to is flat enough that I wouldn't expect it to be short on bicycles -- especially as it's part of the less-reactionary enclave that a previous governor gerrymandered around when trying to return a House seat to the Republicans (see Massachusetts First Congressional District for the full bizarrerie).

C. Wingate @ 474: I got the impression from somewhere that organized Catholicism didn't believe in participation by the congregation; this may just be a view from the outside.
    wrt Rutter: IMO, the Gloria is not nearly as bad as Vivaldi's, which I've been stuck with twice; V seems to me to have inspired "The Seasonings" (S 1/2tsp).

thomas @ 503: on a button (Nancy's?) at Arisia: "You put your hand on the Bible and swore to defend the Constitution -- not the other way around."

Elliott @ 508: the pot method sometimes works on hot-water radiators; it depends on the exact tempurature, but any reservoir of heat will up the evaporation rate from an open container. I haven't tried it on ours because they are all covered by shelves which have long since been occupied -- and because I want the humidity \way/ up after too many voice losses.

#514 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 06:48 PM:

What happens when everyone in a generally-poor community gets a stipend?

Exactly the reverse of what Republicans tell us happens with welfare. Children are healthier; they do better in school and disciplinary problems drop; most of them achieve independent adulthood, get jobs, etc., and as adults they have fewer mental-health problems. Notably, they also get better parenting, because energy that the parents used to have to expend on sheer survival is now available to be used for the benefit of their children.

(Obviously, it's more complex than that, and the article goes into some of that complexity in significant detail. But the net result is a real slap in the face for "austerity politics" that never demand sacrifices from anyone but the poor.)

#515 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 07:06 PM:

So, suppose you're the principal of a public high school, and you find out one of your senior boys is being bullied. Come to find out, he's over 18 and has been doing gay pr0n to help pay the family bills* and some kids found out about it, passed his picture around, and have been giving him a hard time. Do you:

a. Inform the bullies that neither bullying nor passing around such pictures is acceptable behavior at your school, making it absolutely clear that outside employment is none of the school's business.
b. Ignore the whole thing and hope it goes away.
c. Suspend the student in question for being a "disruptive influence," for just enough days to ensure that he can't graduate.

You guessed it. The principal chose option c, and when she got flak for it, claimed that the kid had made threats against other students. A police investigation found no evidence of this.

Amazingly, the other students rallied to his defense. They actually staged a walkout from class in protest of his suspension. Either he was extremely popular before the incident, or we just have a better class of high school students today than we had when I was one (or can quite believe). I will try to believe the latter, since it makes me feel better about my fellow humans.

The story has a happy ending, at least for now. The district is claiming it was all about the threats in the first place (yeah right), and that since the police found no evidence supporting that, the kid will be allowed to go back to school tomorrow.

I certainly think it's inadvisable to do pr0n while still in high school, and I also think the pr0n site probably exploited his economic situation to his disadvantage (though he apparently doesn't see it that way at all), but for the principal to add to his hardship by trying to deny him a diploma is just reprehensible.

*While that particular fact makes him more sympathetic, I realize it has no bearing on the rights involved here; it would have been equally wrong to suspend him if he'd been spending it entirely in riotous living. Btw, his mother knew what he was doing and was grateful.

Lee 499: Never thought of that! Not sure how I'd go about it. I suppose any good tune from the Episcopal Hymnal (1982, revised) would do, huh?

Come to think of it, I might be able to do that myself. But that's a last resort. I'd rather find something that already exists, because...well, "suspicion of anything new" is overstating it drastically, but music published by a publisher has more credibility with our choir director.

#516 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 08:22 PM:

CHip @474: No, the Catholics are theoretically very much in favour of the whole assembly singing. It just translates imperfectly to practice. For example, from the Vatican II document Musicam Sacram

16. One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song. Therefore the active participation of the whole people, which is shown in singing, is to be carefully promoted as follows:

(a) It should first of all include acclamations, responses to the greetings of the priest and ministers and to the prayers of litany form, and also antiphons and psalms, refrains or repeated responses, hymns and canticles.

(b) Through suitable instruction and practices, the people should be gradually led to a fuller—indeed, to a complete—participation in those parts of the singing which pertain to them.

(c) Some of the people's song, however, especially if the faithful have not yet been sufficiently instructed, or if musical settings for several voices are used, can be handed over to the choir alone, provided that the people are not excluded from those parts that concern them. But the usage of entrusting to the choir alone the entire singing of the whole Proper and of the whole Ordinary, to the complete exclusion of the people's participation in the singing, is to be deprecated.

Vivaldi's Gloria: parts of it I really like(the duet in Domini Deus), quite a lot is sewing-machine music, and parts are verging on ridiculous (Domini fili unigenite, I'm looking at you)

#517 ::: Oil-upon-the-waters ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 08:51 PM:


You mentioned that your church has LEVAS (Lift Every Voice and Sing II, the Episcopal African American hymnal): what about 229, Keep the Dream Alive? Specifically mentions Martin, and is better than Blessed Martin, which is unfortunately tedious.

BTW Take my Hand, Precious Lord, is 106

#518 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 09:08 PM:

I've tried the sopping-wet towels on my hot-water radiators. Barely had I left and re-entered the room than they were stone dry.

Admittedly, Denver.

I switched to thrift-store metal bread pans and refilled them several times a day.

What's made the biggest difference is green plants in big pots in deep tubs, 2" of water refilled from the bottom (to avoid those pesky little black flies) a day after the reservoirs are dry. Weekly. Oxygen and air-scrubbing were the original agendas.

I haven't bothered with the bread pans this winter.

#519 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 10:00 PM:

thomas, 516: you're not an alto, are you?

I also really like the "Et in terra pax" from that Gloria. It's not as much fun as the Domine fili's bouncy happy inégal...but we can't all be Baroque dance numbers, I suppose.

#520 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 10:21 PM:

TexAnne: Not an alto, no. I do have a countertenor range, but not reliably and not good enough voice quality to be worth it.

At the Boxing Day sing-a-long Messiah in Seattle I sometimes sang the alto part, and it has occasionally been useful for helping real contraltos learn their parts in a piece I already know.

#521 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 10:29 PM:

TexAnne - was it Houston where you used to live?

I'm there until the end of March (well, not this week, I'm in LA). What should someone without a car definitely see, apart from the museums.

#522 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 10:58 PM:

@Avram no. 240: I just saw these for sale at the local supermarket! The vendor stickers say "Cuke-asaurus."

#523 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2014, 11:01 PM:

Insane book-banning, NZ edition.

Often when people talk about books being banned it just means that libraries aren't being allowed to stock them. And usually New Zealand is relatively libertarian on social control. That's why this comes as a shock.

The winner of the national young-adult book award last year, Ted Dawes's Into the River, has been given an R14 rating -- books aren't routinely rated, but if someone asks, they will be.

Now, this isn't a nice book. It's about a Maori boy who gets a scholarship to a prestigious Auckland school, but it's about deculturation and prejudice and isolation. Its rating was probably affected by the drug use and the (few, graphic, unromanticised, brief) casual sex scenes.

Into the River is aimed at 15+ readers. A lot of 13-year-olds wouldn't want to read this book and shouldn't. You could make a case that they shouldn't be able to buy it -- I'll leave that argument to people who have kids, work with kids professionally, or are/have recently been kids. But the rating means it is illegal for parents to give this book to 13yr olds. A parent could, in theory, go to prison for that.

#524 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 12:01 AM:

Any ideas for humidifying in a forced-air system? We have ceiling vents rather than radiators or baseboard heaters.

Thanks for the MLK Jr hymn ideas. I'm with Xopher on this one.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 12:04 AM:

thomas, #521: I live in Houston, and I don't have a day job and would be willing to spend some time ferrying you around. Drop me a note at fgneqernzre@zvaqfcevat.pbz (ROT-13'd).

#526 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 12:16 AM:

@Jonesnori no. 524: We have floor-vent forced air and a horror of moldy humidifiers. We use mixing bowls filled with water from a boiling kettle by the head of the bed just before sleeping. Put the bowl on a low chair or box to bring the steam up near nose level. During the day, we rely on steaming mugs of whatever, water splashed on the face, and taking turns washing dishes. But we only get really dry air in the depths of winter.

#527 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 01:54 AM:

For anyone who's interested, the premiere of Russia's new Sherlock Holmes series is up on YouTube. If the BBC Sherlock isn't your cup of tea, you may well like this one better; it's canon-period, and the acting is rather less over-the-top. Use the CC button at the bottom of the screen to get English subtitles.

#528 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 02:01 AM:

Lee, I'm not sure I want to patronize anything that comes out of the neo-Soviet state right now.

#529 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 02:13 AM:

Oil-upon-the-waters 517: Hah! Now that sounds promising. I'll have a look.

#530 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 03:07 AM:

Xopher, that's why I said "for anyone who's interested". I didn't expect you to be among those who might be.

#531 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 08:50 AM:

thomas, 521; Lee, 525: Ha, I was about to say "no, but Lee is there." Have fun!

#532 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Jenny Islander @526, I should have mentioned that five cats live at my house. Still, I may be able to use a modified version of that idea - thanks.

Our vents are in the ceiling, by the way.

#533 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 12:34 PM:

jonesnori/Lenore Jones @532:

I guess you'd have to put them on the floor so they're less likely to get knocked over. It should work other than that, although the water level will go down faster than it would by evaporation alone, due to the cats drinking the water (and then being annoyed with you because the water is hot). :)

#534 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 12:43 PM:

Has this gone around? Siberian mummy with spectacular tattoos: 'twas new to me.

#535 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 03:39 PM:

In search of: audiobook recommendations for a long drive. I have audible credits, I like urban fantasy, literary fantasy, social SF, dystopian SF, some space opera, regency and Georgian era historicals and romances and mysteries, but I'm not a big mystery or romance reader otherwise. I do not like Stefan Rudnicki's voice. (Sorry.) I've read the first Vorkosgian book, but Grover Gardner's voice is all wrong for that series. Scott Brick is good, but I find him a bit William Shatner is chewing scenery a little too often.

I've got the first volume of GRRM's epic and haven't managed to get past chapter three. I just keep bouncing. Liked the first October Day from Seanan McGuire. I like Guy Gavriel Kay, but find them tough for driving because concentration.

Space opera: I love Kage Baker, but Ben Bova leaves me cold. I'm over Heinlein. I don't really like military SF.

There's pretty much nothing mentioned in Ready Player One that I haven't read at least once. I prefer female readers or full casts for drives.

#536 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 04:14 PM:

CZEdwards @535: Tamora Pierce's Provost's Dog series (starts with "Terrier") about Beka Cooper has a female reader who does a whole bunch of neat character-voice work throughout. Think police procedural (main character is an apprentice guard) with forensics, in a late-medievally-type world with magic. And magic forensics.

#537 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 05:03 PM:

Sandy @ 534
The find is a couple decades old (note that the article is about transfer of the display from one institution to another) so it's been around a few times. I've even seen some of those tattoos on modern bodies as a result. The site had some really great textile finds as well, which is why I became aware of it.

#538 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 05:34 PM:

CZEdwards @ #535: James Marsters does an awesome job on the Dresden Files books (all but Ghost Story, which is read by John Glover--not bad, but not as good as Marsters IMO).

Patrick Tull is PHENOMENAL on the Aubrey and Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian.

Ready Player One, read by Wil Wheaton, was excellent. WW also recorded several of John Scalzi's works.

In case you're willing to make an exception for a contemporary mystery, Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels, read by Joe Mantegna, are a terrific match between writer and reader. On the historical mystery front, I recommend the Holmes on the Range cowboy mysteries, set in the 1890s and read by William Dufris.

#539 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 06:02 PM:

Neil Gaiman is an amazing reader -- even if you generally like full casts, I'd recommend listening to one of his. And his stories are pretty amazing too.

#540 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 07:30 PM:

Found it! Dream A Dream, by Ed Robertson. It really is a lovely song.

#541 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 07:40 PM:

JUSTICE IS SERVED. Well, my jury duty is over at least. In case you were wondering, it was a drug possession charge and we reached a unanimous "guilty" verdict. None of us was particularly happy with it - many drug laws being stupid, the hinky nature of the search - but we were asked to use only the evidence as presented and judge only on the possession charge. We were also told that although we are not supposed to consider sentencing during deliberations, that it's not a "third strike" for this person, nor would the crime have counted as a "third strike" anyhow, so at least I don't feel like I've ruined a life or something. Now I get to wait about 10 days for my magnanimous $45.

#542 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 09:10 PM:

CZEdwards - strong agree on Patrick Tull reading the Aubrey/Maturin series.

Please email me privately if you'd like to borrow my discs -

#543 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 11:18 PM:

Elliott Mason: agreed on the Tamora Pierces. I like her books, so I might go for comfort.

Lila: yes, indeedy, James Marsters has a yummy voice and he works for the Dresden series. (Already got 'em; have a couple almost memorized. Ghost Story is inexplicably not available in audio. /blinks innocently) I like Patrick Tull's interpretation of the Aubrey/Maturins (I'm in book 5 or 6 now) but they're not good for driving for me thanks to all of the terminology, which takes concentration I think I need for the road. And agreed on Wil Wheaton -- I like his RPO (and everything he's done for Scalzi). Those are already in my library.* I'll give the Spencers a test listen. Thanks!

Tom Whitmore: also, agreed. I may grab Neverwhere since I've only read it, and I'd like to see Neil's interpretation. I think I've got everything else.

Carol: Thank you. That's a generous offer, and if I had more time, I'd probably take you up on it, but tomorrow is all about getting wheelchairs for the next 2 months, and Friday is all about furniture delivery, and Saturday morning, I'm booking towards Nebraska and points east. I do appreciate the offer.

Nerdycellist: oi. That's... I don't have words for how awful that is. It's like we don't actually value civic responsibility. /Wanders away, grumbling about broken legal system, obvious fix, what the hell...

* I probably should have mentioned that I have an extensive audible library - in the 800 volume range. Several years ago, we thought I had glaucoma. Being the prepper/control freak and story addict that I am, I started replicating my library in both electronic -- since ereaders have more adjustable fonts and contrast -- and audio when possible, plus I find audiobooks make doing both repetitive statistics and housework go faster. Turns out, my optic nerves are not turning bad, but audiobooks make me go for walks and clean the grout, so not a waste.

#544 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2014, 11:40 PM:

Audiobooks mostly don't work for me (I'm, um, largely off fiction of late for reasons I can't understand, except for voraciously gobbling certain fanfic, sometimes even rereading -- and I never reread within a decade. Srsly weird), but my life would suuuuuuuck without podcasts. It's a prosthetic, like having an extra bionic limb that calms me down and allows me to deal with things (like leaving the house, driving, wrangling the kid, and going to a park with her) that otherwise would be Far Too Perilous.

It modulates my Peril Tinted Sunglasses, I guess is one way of putting it, and makes me feel less like a mouse trapped on a city-block sized featureless plain, with hawks circling above.

#545 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 12:39 AM:

CZEdwards @ #535

I found the reader of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell to be quite pleasant. I also like the Patrick Tull readings of the Patrick OBrian sea faring novels to be entertaining and the way he does voices helps keep track of who is speaking without being excessively precious.

#546 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 11:45 AM:

I find my own relationship to audiobooks so idiosyncratic that I'm hesitant to make recommendations to others. I like very specific genres (and voices) in very specific circumstances, and the overlap of books that I like to read on paper and the books I like to hear in audio is peculiar as well. Some of the match-ups:

Long, dense "classical" works for road trips or quiet household tasks (e.g., weeding but not mowing, picking up and putting away but not vacuuming). Some obtained free from LibriVox, others as gifts.

Highly familiar favorite "re-reads" for treating insomnia. Mostly from Librivox and from a very specific set of readers whose voices I find pleasant and soothing.

Short fiction for gym workouts (when I can get by without a driving beat keeping me on task). This is one category where I'm willing to take risks and try unfamiliar stuff. Pod Castle is my go-to source.

One might think that my commute would be an ideal opportunity for more consumption but I have an aversion to earbuds on transit (personal security paranoia) and furthermore my commute time is dedicated to brainstorming/writing on my own fiction.

I fantasize about having an audio version of my own novel and hiring my favorite LibriVox reader (Karen Savage) to record it. Who knows? It could happen.

#547 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Audio books are IMHO the best way to get reacquainted with the classics that were meant to be heard - i.e. the Iliad.

"Rosy-fingered dawn" becomes a soothing familiar phrase rather than "skip-that-wad-o-text".

#548 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 12:24 PM:

CZEdwards #535:

If you haven't listened already, try Neil Gaiman Presents: Swordspoint and its sequels, written by Ellen Kushner, read by Ellen Kushner and a larger cast. The books, fantasies of manners that pick up elements of Regencies, urban fantasies and swashbuckling political/Ruritanian romances, are squarely in your requested genres, and they're performed beautifully.

Ellen Kushner, besides being a very fine novelist, has also been a radio host for NPR. She has a lovely, melodious voice and she knows how to use it. For this series, she's basically invented a cross between the audiobook and the radio drama. Kushner reads many scenes herself, but in pivotal conversations and some set pieces, actors read the lines with the help of sound effects (clashing swords, opening doors, etc). This works extremely well most of the time, although there are incongruous bits. (For example, protagonist Richard sounds quite different in Kushner's voice and his actor's voice.)

#549 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 01:26 PM:

Thanks for all of the recommendations, again. I grabbed three Discworlds (I like Stephen Briggs' readings and the Watch thread), Beka Cooper, the second October Daye, Keith Roberts' Pavane (which I recall reading a long time ago), Carol Berg's The Spirit Lens, and the prequel to the Privilege of the Sword (which I have loved since I was a teenager, but I bounced off Swordspoint then because teenager not ready to cope.) If those, plus The Gentlemen Bastards and Stephenson's Zodiac don't keep me going, please don't send out search parties. I have lost the will to live and am done.

Elliott Mason: yes, to podcasts. (Thinking about it, I spend a lot of time wearing headphones...)

#550 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 01:28 PM:

Thanks for all of the recommendations, again. I grabbed three Discworlds (I like Stephen Briggs' readings and the Watch thread), Beka Cooper, the second October Daye, Keith Roberts' Pavane (which I recall reading a long time ago), Carol Berg's The Spirit Lens, and the prequel to the Privilege of the Sword (which I have loved since I was a teenager, but I bounced off Swordspoint then because teenager not ready to cope.) If those, plus The Gentlemen Bastards and Stephenson's Zodiac don't keep me going, please don't send out search parties. I have lost the will to live and am done.

Elliott Mason: yes, to podcasts. (Thinking about it, I spend a lot of time wearing headphones...)

#551 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Internal server error. Sorry for the duplicate.

#552 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 01:42 PM:

"Keith Roberts' Pavane"

I think that one only works on coal-fired MP3 players, though.

#553 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 02:26 PM:

On stories meant to be heard: one of my favorite parts near the end of Kate Elliott's Cold Magic books is when the reason for certain rote phrases becomes clear. They reminded me of the Odyssey, but I hadn't figured it out yet.

#554 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 04:00 PM:

Anyone else think the US Olympic uniforms look like they were designed as a joke by someone who works for Saturday Night Live?

DAMN those are ugly and stupid looking.

Also, Germany did good.

#555 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 04:24 PM:


Germany did good

Is this in reference to their uniforms or something else?

#556 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 05:00 PM:

The Norwegian curling team has uniforms that ... well, turn down the brightness and contrast on your screen.
Whoever designed the US men's speedskating outfit has some problems, though.

#557 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2014, 07:17 PM:

The only thing more depressing than hearing Mike Huckabee say things is the knowledge that there are people who take those things seriously.

#558 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 01:06 AM:

Xopher -

The US uniforms look like 80% of the fat lady stuff in stock at any given US department store - ugly, unflattering, seasonal and/or patriotic appliqued sweaters and baggy sweat pants. (the other 20% of fat lady clothing is junior-wear that was super on-trend three years ago for the straight sizes - so not actually fashionable).

I will say this for it - at least those sweaters were made in the US and are actual natural fibers.

#559 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 02:42 AM:

On the US Olympics attire: others online contend that Lauren was either a) holding a grudge for all the grief the label took last time for the uniforms being made in China or b) entering the uniforms into a global Ugly Sweater contest.

#560 ::: Cadbury Moose reckons "Kami" is linkspamming @ #560 ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:00 AM:

Boilerplate post and suspicious link.

#561 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:19 AM:

Yep. Spam. Canned.

#562 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 07:48 AM:

Stefan @ 557: What's really depressing about Huckabee is that, as Arkansaw governor at least, he was a relatively decent guy. He was willing (maybe a little too willing) to use the power of clemency. He supported taxes a few times, mostly for good reasons, and property tax equalization. He helped put through the ARKids health insurance program. And he tried to get all our tobacco money into the health budget instead of the general fund.

As I've come to expect, even our more liberal Democrats, being Clintonistas, bashed him from the right whenever they could. And they could, because he was overall a moderate governor.

I still didn't support him, but he wasn't a scumbag either. As non-Reconstruction Republican governors go, he was no Win Rockefeller, but he was no Frank White, either. If this year's swine wins...well, I'd rather fight than dwell on that.

#563 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:01 AM:

I just got a server errror. If this double posts, that's why:

In more cheerful news, I've recently adopted a cat. The sad part--though helpul for me--is that the very same week, a friend made that last vet trip with her two seventeen-year-old sweeties. So I inherited two kitties worth of cat stuff.

I've just about run out of cat food. I'd been slipping her cheese for a couple of days while I tried to decide what to buy. What do you all like for a mature cat with no known health problems? I plan to stay with dry food.

The adoption story is slightly funny.

The daughter and I were at a friend's house over the Christmas/New Year's holidays when this pretty tabby came up on the porch. My friend shooed her away, and I commented on what a pretty kitty she was.

I learned she was the cat of their nearby friend, who'd gone to the cat rescue for a second cat, which promptly drove this cat out of the house. (I'd've taken the new cat back to the rescue place for a trade-in, myself.)

I was asked if I wanted to adopt this cat myself.

They must've slipped me kitty valium, too, cause next thing I knew, I was driving home with a quietly crying cat.

Now she's on the arm of my chair. I think I'll pet her.

#564 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:25 AM:

Michael 555: Their uniforms, which are as close to saying "fuck you, Putin, you homophobic dick" as they can probably get away with. I only wish my country had such guts.

#565 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:49 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 563, if you know what she was eating, I'd buy more of that. (Cats can go on hunger strikes if their food isn't what they're used to.) For what it's worth, my vet recommends "NutriMax" and my cats seem to thrive on it. If you do change out foods, mix a little of the new in with the old, and gradually ramp up the proportions of new until you've switched her over; that will minimize the chance of the "this isn't food!" reaction. Congratulations on your new family member, and my condolences to your friend.

#566 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:51 AM:

Xopher @564:

The wonderful thing is that these were probably selected well in advance, and have perfect plausible deniability. They aren't a perfect match for the flag. They are lovely, bright colors that suggest sunshine, blue skies, and green trees. It's all about Nature! Honest, guv!

But in view of what's been going on, even if the resemblance was entirely unintentional, many people are going to go with your interpretation, because the thought of a finger in Vlad's eye is too irresistable. I wonder what sort of flags we'll see in the closing ceremonies, or if people will choose that moment to suddenly appear in prismatic scarves.

#567 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:15 AM:

#563, John A Arkansawyer:

My primary recommendation for cat food is to read the ingredients list and make sure the first half-dozen ingredients are all meat-related. If corn or rice are near the top of the list, move on.

I use Orijen dry primarily, with occasional Innova wet as a treat.

#568 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:30 AM:

Open threaded weather comment - this ice business is for the birds. Houston is not meant for this.

#569 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:44 AM:

Weather-related note.

Central heating--definitely a great invention.

#570 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Additional weather-related note: electric mattress pads are WONDERFUL. Warm bed, and you can't accidentally kick off the source of warmth in the middle of the night.... And you can pile on blankets. (I don't get a psychological feel of "warm" without heavy blankets....)

#571 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 10:16 AM:

Ah, electric mattress pads are wonderful. I'm no longer cold at night (thanks, menopause!) so I didn't bother to put mine on, but now that I'm reminded of it, I might put one on the guest room bed.

In other news, one of the four kittens has a new home, with one of my technicians and her cat (a 3-yr old male). Kitten has found the cat's tail to be an excellent toy.

#572 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 10:51 AM:

I went out and bought a hot water bottle. I can put it against the small of my back once my feet are warmed up. It's lovely.

#573 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:02 AM:

Turns out the cat food I inherited was fancy elderly-cat-with-bad-kidneys food, so I'm back to square one.

#574 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:07 AM:

Interesting... I knew they were going to start all over again with the "Fantastic Four" movies, but what I didn't know is that Sue Storm's bro Johnny will be black. Neat. Now, let's hope the filmmakers remember to put some effort in the writing this time.

#575 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:21 AM:

John: All of our cats thrived for years on the vet's recommended Hills CD (for cats with urinary or kidney problems), because one of them had had bladder crystals and we didn't want to try to feed them different diets. None of the others ever developed any urinary tract problems and have done well in general. We finally stopped feeding them that after his death, and are now feeding them Science Diet "Age-Defying" dry food. In general our vets have approved of Science Diet dry food.

Don't overfeed; half a cup a day is enough for most indoor cats.

#576 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:38 AM:

OTOH the Norwegian curling team uniforms should count as psychological warfare.

#577 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:54 AM:

556 PJ Evans, 566 fidelio, et al: It's a fair bit more "well in advance" than you might think: It's a tradition. Actually the story's pretty funny.

As a curler, I'd hate to play them - the opposition is usually "just out of sight". As a curler, I'd guarantee that actually playing as that team (where I have to stare at the skip all through my delivery) would take some practise...

But I'm sure the "P,YHD" nature of it isn't lost on them. That was certainly part of the speculation about the team in Vancouver...

#578 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 12:28 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 563 ...
In more cheerful news, I've recently adopted a cat.
I've just about run out of cat food. I'd been slipping her cheese for a couple of days while I tried to decide what to buy. What do you all like for a mature cat with no known health problems? I plan to stay with dry food.

It must be something in the air -- I'm adopting a kitten tomorrow :D

I fed my cats science diet adult original for years, but recently switched over to Wellness core original, which seems to agree better with their digestive systems, unless they eat way too quickly, in which case nothing at all does.

Other HLN -- have a newly acquired cast for a broken something-in-the-wrist area; am hoping for removal after 4 weeks, rather than replacement.

#579 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 12:39 PM:

John A., #562: "Clintonistas"? Is it really necessary to compare your state's more progressive politicians to a regime that the US spent far too much of our tax money trying to overthrow?

Re cat food, we've been using the 4Health brand, available at Tractor Supply Company; our cats prefer the flavor that comes in the tan bag. (This is our best available compromise between "food that won't put dietary stress on the one who's in the early stages of renal failure" and "food we can actually afford to feed all the cats, because we can't isolate that one".) Prior to that, we were using Authority brand food from PetSmart, but our cats like the 4Health better. Also, I don't think it will harm your cat to eat the specialty food until you can get new.

Xopher, #564: The Norway curling team appears to have hired Leisure Suit Larry to design their uniforms. What are they trying to do, distract their opponents' eyes from the stones?

#580 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 12:56 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @ 562... our more liberal Democrats, being Clintonistas

Oh, puh-lease...

#581 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 12:58 PM:

xeger at 578: do not, do not feed your cat dry food. Dry kibble is mostly grain products, which is inimical to cats' health, since cats are true carnivores.

If you must feed the cat dry food, there are brands which are grain free. Expensive, but I believe worth it in vet bills later.

Check out this website.

#582 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 01:01 PM:

Mycroft @ 577

"P,YHD"? Pardon, your head is disintegrating? Please, you hold discos? Pundit, yes he did? I have absolutely no idea what your abbreviation means. And neither does the interwebs.

Internal server error and 404. Let's see if this gives me a dupe.

#583 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 01:30 PM:

Mycroft @577--I was talking about the German team unforms, with their PRIDE flag resemblance.

(and also Lee @579--The Norwegian curlers do make a tradition of this, and a piece I read quoted one of the team members as saying it helped lift them up, so to speak--with pants like that you have to play your best, or people just point and laugh! Apparently it started last time around (with the crazy diamond pattern) because of a mistake in shipping, so that they had to go out and get other pants on short notice.

If you can bring yourself to look closely at this year's pants, they represent a section of the Norwegian flag repeated over and over and over again in a terrifying diagonal.

#584 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Seconding Lizzy L. @581:

Look for a "grain-free" dry cat food if you MUST feed dry. Once we switched our cats stopped the "gorge and barf" routine.

I recommend Felidae, Solid Gold's "Indigo Moon," and Taste of the Wild. Luciano's breeder recommends Wellness, and I've heard good things about Blue Buffalo.

(Note: We also went grain-free for the dogs, because the cats like to raid the dogs' dishes, we feed a mix of Canidae and Taste of the Wild.)

#585 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 02:20 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 584 & Lizzy L. @581:
Look for a "grain-free" dry cat food if you MUST feed dry. Once we switched our cats stopped the "gorge and barf" routine.

To be clear -- Wellness -is- a grain-free dry cat food. Also, at this point, the 'gorge and barf' happens rarely, and is directly related to one of two things:
(1) I didn't notice they were out of cat food overnight, so they're STAAAAAAARRRRVING
(2) Cat A being a shit to Cat B about getting to one of the food bowls (there are several), resulting in Cat B gorging.

The cat that was prone to barfing is the one that recently died of colon cancer, so it seems plausible that the food wasn't the culprit there.

All that aside, I don't think it's reasonable to say that wet catfood is inherently good either -- there's plenty of wet catfood that's mostly crap, as well.

#586 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 02:22 PM:

My parents fed only dry cat food for years (and so did I) and the only problem was during hot weather, when the cats shed and shed and got hairballs.

I suspect there's a lot of cat-to-cat variability.

#587 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 02:48 PM:

With respect to cats, and their choice of foods, there is indeed a wide range of palatability. There is also a difference between vomiting (bringing up food from the stomach or intestines) and regurgitation (food never reached as far as stomach, remained within esophagus). In cats, regurgitation is very common, and in many cases, is related to the speed at which said cat consumed said food. In some cats, I have suspected a mild food intolerance, as people have reported a correlation with the brand or flavor that seems to enhance regurgitation. Also, long-haired cats, with their increased predisposition to hairballs, tend to regurgitate more often.

Vomiting is such a non-specific reaction that there is literally nothing that can be pointed to as "the" inducing factor. Isolating the underlying cause requires a lengthy work-up, so I doubt that the food is always the issue.

As for the grain ingredients, please note that the "ideal" food for cats is whole mice, including the murine digestive tract, which is often filled with grain, along with bones and hair. (Why mice? They have the highest levels of taurine, which is not only essential for cats but is critical for their health.) I am not so sure that eliminating grain products is so absolutely necessary for cats. They are indeed obligate carnivores, but (anecdata not equalling data) I have known a fair number of cats who not only liked non-animal-based foods, they actively sought out and ate these. I had one myself, who liked to eat bok choy, bean sprouts, dried peaches, fresh melon, and on. I will also mention that there are some brave souls who have actually managed to feed cats a vegetarian diet (with supplements), although I certainly do not recommend it to anyone.

My bottom line, as a cat owner and as a veterinarian is this: feed the cat the best quality food you can afford (and that the cat will eat). Over the years, I've found that some cats do very well with dry food left out so they can nibble ad lib, and a spoonful of canned food twice a day; conversely, I have cats who get wet food twice daily in larger quantities, and only a small amount of dry food as a treat. It really depends on the cat or cats. You do have to feed all of them the same diet, but feeding a young adult cat with renal diet is perfectly acceptable. Kittens need a higher protein diet during growth, but adults can drop that, especially as they get older than 7 years of age (but note that the requirements change again as they move into "extreme" geriatric ages greater than 14 years, with higher protein levels again).

Currently, I have two elderly cats (Brady, with cancer and early renal dysfunction, and Junie B), one young adult who is overweight (3-yr old), and three kittens. Feeding for Brady and the young adult is canned food with some dry; everyone else is primarily canned food all the time. Lucky for Cleo, she now gets to eat renal diet along with Brady.

#588 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 03:04 PM:

Ginger, we had one that liked the remains of a bowl of bean soup (made with a ham hock). Didn't seem to cause any problems, and the cat was a good hunter so it wasn't like it didn't get what it needed.

#589 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 03:17 PM:

Open threadiness:

BBC article on some jail time for particularly nasty, abusive tweets against one of the women who was pushing for a female to be put on British pound notes. I don't know exactly what the legal issues were here, though it sounded like they were making credible-sounding threats of violence, so I imagine it wasn't hard to make some kind of case.

I don't suppose this is representative enough to come up with a profile of the kind of person who does this crap, but at least the two pictures didn't look entirely unlike what I would have expected. I also have no idea if this kind of prosecution will actually have any effect. There is a creepy online version of the lynchmob mentality which I have seen from time to time, and I think it sweeps susceptible people up in much the same way as a real riot or lynchmob does. I wonder how well deterrence works here.

#590 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Cally Soukup @582: Xopher's 564 includes the 4 words whose acronym is P,YHD complete with comma, in order.

On feeding cats -- we serve wet food to our cats twice daily, and let them free-feed on dry -- and we have no weight problems. The deaf white 16-yr-old started having kidney problems (only visible in tests) -- changing to dry foods with less phosphorus (and adding epakitin at a low dose) actually improved her test numbers very slightly, which the vet said was rare. Enjoy your new kitties!

#591 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 03:37 PM:

Gotta say, that BBC article (albatross at 589) made me quite happy. I don't like cages for animals or people, but people who terrorize other people, however they do it, should suffer some unpleasant consequences. A short spell in jail seems appropriate. Also, Jane Austen on the paper money? YES.

I can haz Mark Twain on the $10 bill, pleez?

#592 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Make it on the $20. Then we won't have to look at Andy Jackson any more.

#593 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:06 PM:

PJ at 592: YES.

#594 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:08 PM:

Lee, Serge @ 579-580: With all due respect, I see them up close and you don't, and their decisions affect me on a daily basis. I've been considerably kinder in describing them here than I am to people locally.

If it's the term "Clintonista" that bothers you, you have a point. But there's "fashionista" and "barista". I'm not sure this is any worse.

#595 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:16 PM:

Because hamster

(dear gnomes, please don't gnome me... )

#596 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:29 PM:

It's the political part. It rubs me the wrong way, and I'm not one of their fans.

#597 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:37 PM:

If that's Mr Arkansawyer's nomenclature, based on the actual facts on the ground, that's his nomenclature.

I wonder if it might be a more fruitful conversation to find out why, and what his experiences are, rather than jumping all over him for a word that he finds accurate? Wouldn't that be an interesting discussion?

#598 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:37 PM:

One of the lines of evidence for cat domestication is cats that ate a lot of millet -- possibly in rats, but one of them (the aged cat?) was relatively low in the food-chain but high in millet-consumption, which suggests it ate millet directly.

I believe the evidence is even stronger for dogs, here and elsewhere, that they domesticated by eating grains.

PNAS paper, may be paywalled.

#599 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:41 PM:

Our cat is fed mostly Hills Nature's Best - because it's the only food she doesn't go squitty on. She gets a small amount of wet food every evening.

She gets all the dry food scattered between ten different feeding puzzles (mostly home-made) and has to work in various ways to get it - pulling it out with her paw, mainly, sometimes pulling "mice" out first to get at the food hidden behind them; some of the puzzles need to be batted around the floor etc. It's been fascinating to see her learn to work out how to get the food (first time we put it into a simple box where she had to put her paw in to get it out she was totally confused) and now she works out new devices pretty quickly. She really seems to enjoy the "hunting" aspect, and it keeps her occupied a lot longer than just eating out of a bowl. I would strongly recommend it (I can provide more details on working up from simple to harder puzzles).

And she loves corn thins, malted wheats and broccoli leaves. We have video evidence of her late sister ignoring an open bag of cat food while gnawing away at cauliflower leaves (still attached to the cauliflower) and purring loudly.

#600 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:47 PM:

According to people who have done so, switching to a raw meat and bones diet tends to improve the health of cats that just go around being poorly with nothing diagnosably wrong with them. BUT--you have to choose only those raw products that you yourself would feel safe eating cooked, buy a variety of body parts including organs, maintain strict hygiene in food preparation and storage, confine the cat to one spot while it eats, and clean up the eating area immediately afterward.

#601 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:53 PM:

I free feed my overlord-who-purrs Purina One hairball formula. He also gets a quarter of a can of gooshy food in the morning as a treat. And the occasional pinch of cheese when I'm making quesadillas. He's not a fish eater but will eat dairy in every form I've given him so far. Even swiss cheese, which my previous cheese-aholic wouldn't touch.

I think the real rule for feeding cats is pay attention. I had a cat who liked change-up, and another who would stop eating for two days if the dry food so much as looked different. Some thrive on dry, some get fat. Some need special ingredients, some manage just fine on "whatever". I'd change to a hairball formula every spring just because, and a lazy-fat-indoor cat formula in the winter. And supplement young cats as needed.

#602 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:55 PM:

582 Cally: Sorry to confuse - I was acronyming from this here thread. It's a quote of Xopher's, above (564).

Fidelio - I conflated. My apologies.

#603 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 05:59 PM:

dcb @599
Yes, please. I don't let Merlin out because he's declawed (previous people) and would like to give him more to play with. Yvaqnavry@hfn.arg

#604 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 06:03 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 600: you have to choose only those raw products that you yourself would feel safe eating cooked, buy a variety of body parts including organs

I can do one or the other, but not both. I find organs organ-ick.

abi @ 597: I wasn't planning on replying again because I felt my temper starting to engage, but on second thought, I'll be more relaxed after helping decorate the church tonight for two friends' engagement party, and glad to explain myself if asked.

#605 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 06:08 PM:

Lin Daniel @603:

Will do! But not until tomorrow (it's 11 pm here and I'm just off to bed).

#606 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 06:11 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @604:

I want to assure you that any asking will be polite and respectful. It will first seek to understand, not to persuade without waiting for facts. And it will acknowledge your right to differing interpretations, opinions, and conclusions even after the facts are understood.

Or I will be most vexed.

Because really—this is not how we roll on Making Light. I'm displeased and a little shocked by this knee-jerk impulse to jump all over a word rather than seeking to understand a fellow member of our community. I quite seriously thought better of us.

#607 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 06:13 PM:

#599 dcb

I don't have, nor am likely to acquire, a feline overlord, but would love to find out more about your cat puzzles.


#608 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 06:16 PM:

#599, dcb:

I would be interested in hearing about how to get cats started with puzzle solving. I don't know if it would work on my 14 year old cat but it's worth a try. Treat in a box to be pulled out with the paw, hm. I have heard of using kleenex boxes in that way, so I guess that's the starting point?

#609 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 06:54 PM:

John A #604:

I am a life-long vegetarian. I will not eat meats, muscle or organ meat. They are not "ick" to me, they are "not food" to me. And yet, if I were to go to the local charcuterie and buy a fresh kidney, I would not feel that eating it was unsafe. I wouldn't eat it, but I would be willing to feed it to my cat. Ick isn't a factor, safety is.

#610 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 07:30 PM:

Ginger, #587: Re cats eating non-meat foods, my late beloved Mina adored tomatoes. We couldn't leave a ripe tomato on the kitchen counter; she'd knock it off onto the floor and gnaw on it. She would try to swipe the tomato slice out of your sandwich. She would ignore the pizza toppings to lick the tomato sauce off the crust. My partner also once caught her nose-down in his mixed vegetables chowing down, but I think part of that may have been their resemblance to kibble. As I understand it, "obligate carnivore" means that the majority of the diet should be meat, not that eating non-meat food will poison them or something.

albatross, #589: at least the two pictures didn't look entirely unlike what I would have expected

Man, that's creepy as fuck. Exactly WHAT did you expect them to look like? ObWednesdayAddams: "I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everybody else." And so did those two.

abi, #606: I quite seriously thought better of us.

So did I, which is why I said something. And I feel no need to say anything further.

#611 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 07:39 PM:

Lee @610:

Indeed, I think you've said quite enough, if you're not going to engage your fellow community member in conversation.

#612 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 07:53 PM:

Look. The way we persuade other people to change their views (or their vocabulary) is very seldom by jumping immediately down their throats when they come up with something that might be a problem.

We may do those neat, exhibitionistic decapitations of trolls pour encourager les autres, but everyone else, whether a long-standing member of this community or a rank newby, is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

Ask. Discuss. Listen. We're a community. Act like one, damn it.

#613 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Ginger@587, my "obligate carnivore" once rooted through a grocery bag that I'd left on the floor while unpacking other bags, because there was no meat in it. Intrigued, I pulled out the items and displayed them to the cat. He insisted he wanted a carrot. NOW. mrrrOOWWW! NOW!!! I had more carrots than I needed, so I shrugged and gave one to him. He licked it for a solid hour. It was, however, a one-time behavior; he displayed no interest in carrots after that.

However, there was the time that my husband caught that same cat (Skyler) fishing in his martini-on-the-rocks. Skyler already had his paw in the drink, so my husband figured he'd just see what the cat was up to. It was a hot day, and my husband assumed that Skyler was after an ice cube. He wasn't; he was after the olive.

The cat was, alas, encourage by my husband's non-interference and became a veritable olive fiend. It got to the point that we had to buy cheap olives for the cat, so that when my husband made himself a martini, he'd put a cheap olive on the floor for Skyler. After the first time I stepped on the olive, he started issuing "green and squishy alerts" when he did so...

Skyler had my husband well trained. And the cat knew the smell of gin; when my husband made a gin-and-tonic, Skyler still demanded his olive. "Gin and tonics don't have olives" my husband would inform the cat. Skyler didn't care; he demanded... and received... his green and squishy tribute.

#614 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:45 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 594... If it's the term "Clintonista" that bothers you, you have a point. But there's "fashionista" and "barista". I'm not sure this is any worse.

That may be, but 'clintonista' carries way more negative baggage. You appear to have very good reasons for using the word, but you're not telling us what those reasons are. Being told 'I know so and so but I'm not at liberty to give any proof' isn't a particularly fruitful approach to a debate. Anyway.

#615 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:51 PM:

Cassy B. @613: Quinn Yarbro had a cat that preferred carrot juice to liver. I watched her put a plate of each on the floor -- the cat ignored the liver, but was ecstatic over lapping up the juice.

I've known several cats that love cantaloupe. But then, I know people who put salt on their cantaloupe. Spoils it, it does, my precious, those nasty saltings.... Oh, sorry, got lost for a second there.

#616 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:58 PM:

HLN: area man is in new area. Area man is impressed by new employer (it's a sad commentary on former employer that "basicly sane" is impressive), and by awesome level of cold. OTOH, former area has more snow currently than new area.

#617 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 08:59 PM:

I don't recall John saying he was "not at liberty" to say anything. Can you point to that comment, Serge? Is it near any of the comments where I suggested that community members engage with him, perhaps by asking him questions and trying to understand his point of view? Or the one where I had to assure him he would be treated with the respect and manners that a fellow denizen of this place should expect as a default?

#618 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:01 PM:

On the feeding of cats... Sammy liked pretzel sticks, the little ones. It tended to result in sweeping that part of the kitchen floor afterward, because cat teeth aren't well suited for eating them, but something about them made her very happy.

#619 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:02 PM:

Clintonista and fashionista both seem to have a militaristic connotation to me - I always assumed that they were created in the style of "Sandinista". And following the definition of fashionista, a Clintonista would be someone who obsessively follows and adopts Clinton's actions and opinions.

I think the reason people took offense to the use of the word is because it seems to reduce all Clinton supporters to slavering fans, discounting any intelligent reasoning they may have for supporting Clinton.

But then again, there's John A Arkansawyer's experience of things. I have met enough slavering fans of particular politicians or worldviews to know that there are sure to be SOME of those for Clinton.

#620 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:07 PM:

I think it's a misunderstanding, myself. AIUI, John will be back later, after the party decorating and whatall.

I will say that it's a term that raises a lot of unhappy political associations, unlike fashionista and barista, which are pretty neutral, and the politicians it's applied to are not on my list of favorites. (I also object to a lot of other political nicknames that are pejorative. It turns people into things.)

#621 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:10 PM:

abi @ 617... True. He said "I see them up close and you don't" without any explanations though, I assumed there was a reason why he couldn't tell. I stand corrected.

#622 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:14 PM:

Thank you, shadowsong and PJ Evans. Much more the thing.

Now since it's gone 3AM here, I'm off to bed. Please don't leave me headdesking in the morning.

#623 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:49 PM:


Both pictures hit my "creepy" button, but I don't really have an explanation for why. And the BBC may have gone out of their way to find images that struck that way, or I may have been primed to find them that way because I'd read some stuff about the abusive messages these women were receiving.

#624 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:02 PM:

Serge @ 621: That's what I meant. Thanks for understanding. I'll drop the term here. That's more consistent, really. I'm a lot fonder of the Sandinistas than I am of Clintonism.

I am trying to gather my thoughts to say more. Let me put it this way for now:

My folks are from Arkansas. I moved here with them when I was nineteen, the year Bill Clinton won his first election. (He lost in '74.) He's a magnetic personality. I voted for him in every general election till 1996, when I'd had enough.

All that time, I've watched local politics pretty much from the outside. I'm well to the left of the Democratic Party (despite being a Democrat. There's some sort of paradox there).

So here's last week's cover story from the local weekly.

Now, there are some good people mentioned in that story. Bobby Roberts has done real fine stuff with our library system. I didn't go to trial on a false charge because Judge Rudy Moore, as the prosecutor told the arresting officers, likes them to have probable cause when they stop someone. And Ernest Dumas, who wrote it, is a consistently humane voice in the Times. But look at how he describes lying:

"not being forthright about his Oval Office dalliance with an intern"

(Despite having no use for Clinton in the first place, despite all he'd done to working America in his first term, and despite the fact that he'd lied under oath, I vocally defended him in the impeachment idiocy.)

Then there's Mike Ross. He's kind of a dick, politically. (Never met him, myself.) People are holding their nose and voting for him this November. I'll probably do the same, since his opponent, Tom Cotton, is downright evil.

But that's the Clinton legacy here. We've kept Democrats in office by moving the party way, way to the right. I don't believe in "the worse, the better", but I do think sometimes you can't get there from here. I can't bring myself to oppose rotten Democratic candidates against evil Republican candidates, because the damage will be too great, but I'm not terribly disheartened by the likelihood the Republicans will control our government by next year.

That's going to be a kick in my crotch. It will damage my life. I don't want it to happen. It will make for an incredibly awful few years, maybe into the 2030s, by which time I'll be an old man. But there may be no other way forward.

Why? Because the "Clinton acolytes" (Ernie Dumas' phrase, not mine--I'd say worse) have learned his cynicism, his opportunism, and his willingness to win at any cost--to others, not to themselves. They temporize with evil.

The Times is the example that nags at me the worst. They are unabashed Clinton...damn it, I'm trying to be civil about them and failing. Look: Their columnists, their editors? All old dead straight white guys, even the young one and the gay one. They had a black woman columnist who joined them in the exodus from the once-proud Arkansas Gazette when it was bought by the dreadful (editorially--it was and is a good news operation) Democrat. That's it.

I could go through a long litany of complaints about the Times, but I'm going to limit myself to three. I could generalize this to other political actors in the state, but I'm going to limit myself there, too.

Earlier this year, the Times had a public panel discussion on crime and punishment. The scheduled participants were the Times chief blogger and former editor as moderator, a Republican representative from Conway, and the mayor of Little Rock, a non-partisan position filled by a former Democratic legislator, all white. (And I could talk about his legislative history, but I'll skip that.) At the last minute, they added a black Little Rock city council member.

I went to that discussion. It was was pretty much the two white politicians against the one black politician, with a biased ref siding with the white guys. There were several black ladies there who worked in the justice system. They spoke from the audience about what they had seen and experienced. I also spoke, consciously invoking my white privilege in the hopes of getting an idea into the Republican representative's head. It hurt me to do that.

Afterward, as I was leaving with the black ladies, I could tell they were ticked at me. I didn't blame them. I felt bad about it, too. The only people who got quoted in the paper? Me and a white lady who complimented the panel.

That Republican representative who is self-described as favoring punishment over rehabilitation? He was one of the Times' twenty-five Visionary Arkansans last year. The black lady who directed the Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University? The one who's currently directing the Racial Disparities in the Arkansas Criminal Justice System project? I think they mentioned her upon her appointments. Otherwise, she doesn't exist. Not sufficiently visionary, I guess, compared to a prison builder.

Then this summer, we had the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice Roberts' cynical throwing us the bone of same-sex marriage, kinda sorta, after a disastrous term and the day after gutting the Voting Rights Act. I believe the Times ran seven different pieces praising the Windsor decision, and one letter to the editor about the Voting Rights Act. I get wanting to celebrate victories, but that struck me as a little disproportionate.

The guest editorial that issue came from an active Times blog commenter, a nice lady in a same-sex partnership. I like her (virtually--never met her physically. She was understandably secretive because her partner was in the service and thus vulnerable). I also was pretty much beside myself the day she commented that since black people in California voted 2-to-1 the wrong way on Prop. 8, she didn't see any reason to support black civil rights.

I'm dead serious when I say she's a nice lady. If I didn't think that, I wouldn't have despaired so of it.

One more example. Four years back, a local politician, Joyce Elliott, a black lady who led a successful strike against the North Little Rock school system, ran against Tim Griffin, a Karl Rove protege who'd been involved in vote caging in Florida, for Congress. She lost. The Times endorsed her, but gave her no real support. (They also turned their backs on her when she was later hounded out of a job, which in turn destroyed a major social program.)

Two years later, a nice enough old white guy who'd done some good things in the past ran against Griffin. He'd beaten his first DWI charge a few years ago, then got another one up in Fayetteville (third district--we're in the second) while he was running for office. Did the Times turn their backs on him? Why, no. He got a nice cover story and good coverage throughout his campaign. He, like Joyce Elliott, lost. He ran two percentage points ahead of her.

Two percentage points. That's the difference in the second district between a black lady and a white guy. But the consistent theme of the Times--tacitly, of course--is black people need to let white people run the political show.

This is not specific to the Times. It is the common sense among the "good people" atop the Democratic Party. (Sure, mean people suck. You know who else sucks? Nice people. In my opinion, the nice people do more damage.)

This is what I think of as Clintonism. Not bigoted, but racist as hell. Structurally racist, powered by mostly good hearts.

Man. I've gone on, haven't I? I could talk all night. Let me stop here.

#625 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:52 PM:

In regards to cat food, one of our cats started losing his hair, which was fairly obvious as he's a white-skinned black-furred kitty. (Siamese/Maine Coon cross at a guess.) Apparently a common reason for this is food allergies, so we switched to a grain-free blend from Wellness. And both kitties perked up considerably; they've been happier and more active than they were a few years back (they are teenagers, so this is no small thing.) So I suggest paying attention to the general health of your cat and changing small things like that if you can.

CZEdwards, in regards to Springfield—anyone who has ever been to the Springfield in Oregon knew that it was where the Simpsons were. I mean, when I started dating the man I married, and he took me down to visit Eugene (the other side of the interstate, and where Berkeley went when Berkeley got too upscale), we went to a mall on the Springfield side, and you could feel the difference. It's the weirdest thing, but I never realized how much a city had a feel until we did that.

#626 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 12:48 AM:

That's how I feel about the Democrats: the 'centrists', the ones who were Republicans thirty years ago, are running the show, and those of us who are farther to the left than that get blamed for everything, because we're convenient targets, never mind that we don't like their policies. (It's called 'hippie-punching', in the places I hang out online.) A lot of us refer to ourselves as DFHs, because we're upholding, as best we can, the Democratic ideals of the 60s, and the heck with the corp-rat owned people like the Clintons and Obama.
I'm getting tired of having to vote for the lesser of two weevils. Hell, I'm getting tired of dealing with a political system where all the people with power seem determined to turn the country back to some kind of feudal state.

FWIW, I have relatives in Massachusetts who can't stand Kennedys in politics.

#627 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 02:46 AM:

It's funny about state politics, as John A Arkansawyer notes. Right now in Hawai'i we have a woman, currently a US House Rep., who was named by the dying Senator Dan Inouye (nine terms in the Senate) as his chosen replacement to fill out the remaining four years of his term. Governor Abercrombie, who had himself been a US House Rep. and worked with Inouye for about 15 years, went against Inouye's choice and picked the current Lt. Gov. So now we have Inouye's choice leaving her US House job to run against Abercrombie's incumbent choice for the seat this fall in a special election (required because this is the next election held after Inouye's seat was vacated).

The Democratic Party has split down the middle. We have old bulls (two former Governors) supporting Inouye's choice and many younger people supporting the younger guy. They're fighting over unions (I think Hawai'i may be the most unionized state left in the country in percentage of work force terms). They're fighting over inconsequential stuff because they both basically are in line on the big stuff. It's crazy. I think Colleen Hanabusa is running as much on "I'm in my 60s and this is my last shot at the big office" as she is on principle. Brian Schatz, 20 years younger than she, is running on a different principle: "I'm the incumbent now, chosen by the governor. Why should I bow out?"

There are no notable Republicans worth electing in this state and probably won't be for another bazillion years, so the above race is for all the marbles.

#628 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 04:33 AM:

“Clintonista” is a fairly common nickname for Clinton supporters, going back over two decades. It’s not even always an insult, honest. This isn’t even the first time it’s been used on this blog!

I feel as if someone had called The New York Times “The Grey Lady” and gotten jumped on for implied sexism and ageism.

#629 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 04:54 AM:

Thanks, John. Right now I'm finding that eating crow isn't so bad, even without condiments.

#630 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 07:19 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #624: I forget who said it, but I think it's a reasonable claim that Clinton was the best Republican President we've had (they didn't say, but I assume "since Lincoln" was implied).

As I've said before, the Democrats have basically been beaten into Stockholm syndrome by the Republicans over the last 50 years. The GOP has been methodically running social-engineering techniques on the Democrats that long, methodically removing their best leaders and anyone with inconvenient ideas about actually fixing the country's problems. The current lineup is the result of that selection process. That includes the former Republicans who've switched in protest of GOP radicalization -- Or just hoping for a chance to win.

Unfortunately, our country is facing environmental and structural crises that are not only endangering us, but rippling out to the world. Some of those were aggravated or caused outright by the GOP -- but in any case, conservative ideology is fundamentally unsuited to responding to any fundamental crisis, because that's exactly when you need new thinking and new actions. By neutering America's liberal party, the GOP may well have rendered us politically incapable of responding constructively to the oncoming disasters.

#631 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 08:44 AM:

Thanks for listening, y'all. I hadn't intended to go on at such length, but sometimes it's hard to get me to quit.

There is another side to the story. It's not my side and someone else can tell it, but I'll say this much:

We elected a Democratic senator in 2002. (He had some help from the incumbent, who dumped his wife of nearly thirty years for a young staffer.) He's not great, but in college, I saw him perform an act of principle. And ENDA.

Clinton himself did some good things for the state as governor. But he always--always!--put himself first. I know politicians do that sort of thing or fail, but I don't ever recall him deliberately putting himself at risk for the public's gain.

And now I really will stop for a while.

#632 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:57 AM:

Another weird dream, this one a horrible nightmare. Too triggery to describe in full, but the weird (as opposed to just terrifying) part wasn't. Victims were chosen for a kind of sacrifice by reaching into a bag and drawing out one of the giant (fist-sized) artichoke hearts that were inside; if you drew a yellow one, you were one of the victims.

#633 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:51 AM:

Democrats and Republicans.

I will note, again, that "the increasing conservatism of Democrats" always makes me want to ask "what color is the sky on your planet, and are the winters very warm there?"

Putting it in Corey Robin's useful categories, there's always been a tension between those who wanted lots of little hierarchies that could check each other (conservatives) and those who wanted only a few big hierarchies, that they and people like them controlled (progressives). (Liberal/authoritarian is a different axis.)

It looks from where I sit like the progressive policy of breaking all the institutions that non-progressives control and rely on is going a lot better than the conservative attempt to hang on to at least a few of them.

#634 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 11:08 AM:

SamChevre @633:

I can't say that I recognize either conservatives or progressives as I see them in that definition.

What I see is that many causes that progressives care about are taking a hammering. It's true that marriage equality is creeping outward, but the War on Women is a good name for a pattern of things that Republicans are pushing and too many Democrats are not willing to stand up against. Likewise, the idea that poverty is a personal fault, and the relentless punishment of that fault in word and deed, even when solving it would be cheaper and more humane. The pervasive bashing of immigrants, organized labor, and international diplomacy that doesn't include intermittent small wars. All of these things are ones that people who identify as conservatives prioritize, and they're ones that progressives seem to be losing the battle on. We're just about scraping by with expanding health care in the face of relentless, savage and dishonest tactics by conservative politicians.

If you want to slice the world that way, go for it. But it doesn't match either my experience or any useful distinction I use in political discourse.

#635 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 11:54 AM:

So glad I didn't reply to SamChevre before abi said everything I would have, plus things I didn't think of, minus the anger I might have included, and much more articulately than I possibly could have put any of it.

Hear, hear. Thank you, abi.

#636 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 12:22 PM:

I missed three issues: preserving the rights of Americans to vote, climate change, and the abuses of the market as a mechanism for allocating resources.

#637 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 12:34 PM:


#638 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 12:51 PM:

Let me note upfront: I'm still moving, and one part of the move that's being a real problem is internet access. Please, assume that something came up, not I'm ignoring you, if I don't respond.

abi @ 634 et al

Two distinctions that might help me make sense are between a decision and a decision-making procedure, and between comparing to the past and comparing to ideals.

Also, this quote from heresiarch is helpful.

Note that the way progressives (Corey Robin included) would state their position isn't about small vs large hierarchies, but about hierarchy vs equality; however, the "equality" ends up meaning, in my opinion, in practice, fewer but larger hierarchies.

I'll try to talk specifics later, but does that make sense? For example, on voting rights, Republicans might want to go back to 1990 (pre-motor voter), although no one seems to be proposing even quite that far--much less the more-traditional position of property/income/literacy qualifications for voting. On feminist-version women's rights issues, it isn't until the 1960's that the traditional Christian opposition to abortion, contraception, and extra-marital sex caused any tension between Christians and government, or the traditional conservatives insistence that "innocent until proven guilty in an open proceeding with all relevant information presented" was seriously questioned.

That's why I see progressives as winning massively; traditionally-conservative positions aren't even being seriously discussed anymore. What's being called "wildly reactionary" is "maybe the 1990's were better."

#639 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 12:57 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 590, Mycroft @ 602

Thanks; I'd read the previous post earlier, and had forgotten exactly what had been said in it. Had I read the two messages in one lump, I probably would have gotten it.

#640 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:08 PM:

SamChevre @638:

Note that the way progressives (Corey Robin included) would state their position isn't about small vs large hierarchies, but about hierarchy vs equality;

Corey Robin is neither here nor there in terms of my politics. I've never read him, and I don't necessarily agree with anything he says.

however, the "equality" ends up meaning, in my opinion, in practice, fewer but larger hierarchies.

You are entitled to your opinion, but I'd note that casting equality in terms of hierarchies is, in essence, ignoring equality as a thing except insofar as it affects hierarchies. I'd rather say, "hierarchies are not my yardstick" and go pursue equality. It's a much more important axis of observation, in my opinion, and one that leads to a better society.

it isn't until the 1960's that the traditional Christian opposition to abortion, contraception, and extra-marital sex caused any tension between Christians and government,

One of these things is not like the others. Abortion is a late-comer to the list; there is no historical united "traditional Christian opposition" to it. Actually, two of these things are late-comers, since widespread Protestant opposition to contraception is also a recent arrival (to the extent that it has actually arrived even now.)

I'll give you extramarital sex, though I'd point out that the real issue is separation of church and state: how much should the government legislate moral matters? And we've been going to and fro on that since forever.

or the traditional conservatives insistence that "innocent until proven guilty in an open proceeding with all relevant information presented" was seriously questioned.

I really need this unpacked. The only thing I can even conceive you're talking about is military tribunals and the rise of intelligence/anti-terror apparatis. And the people who kicked that one off described themselves as conservatives.

Look. You can go into hierarchies and all that, but I'm just going by how people describe themselves. I look at the people who call themselves conservatives, and they have a set of priorities, positions and behaviors. I look at the people who describe themselves as progressives, and I see a different set.

I'm simply doing people the courtesy of taking them at their words about what they would like to be called—what they are. And I'm sure that the people who call themselves conservatives have reasons for the positions they take, but I've never heard them articulated in a fashion that makes me agree with them. The people who call themselves progressives, meanwhile, say things that make sense to me.

#641 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:19 PM:

Open threadiness: This makes me happy to be living in the future. Preschooler gets robotic hand. Built by a high school robotics team. With parts from a 3-D printer.

Article here

(link via Jim Hines's LJ)

#642 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:20 PM:

Avram, #628: Whereas I feel as though I objected, rather mildly, to an instance of political name-calling and got scolded as if I had written an insult-laden diatribe. What bothers me is not the disagreement, but the disproportionate response.

The term has always bugged me, and will doubtless continue to bug me, for the same sort of reasons that tagging "-nazi" onto things does. But now at least I know to keep my mouth shut.

SamChevre, #633: As opposed to the GOP's increasingly-successful attempts to tear down every piece of political, scientific, and social progress America has made since the end of the Great Depression?

Also, not sure what you mean by "the institutions that non-progressives control and rely on" -- could you expand on that a bit?

abi, #636: I would also include in that list the Republican attacks on science teaching in general*, and on the religious freedom of anyone who's not one particular stripe of Christian.

* cf. Texas specifically calling for the teaching of critical thinking to be removed from the public-school curriculum.

#643 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:21 PM:

SamChevre @ 638: Could you please unpack what you mean about "fewer but larger hierarchies" and "traditionally-conservative positions aren't even being seriously discussed anymore?" Because the sky is a brilliant almost cloudless blue in my universe, but --

Never mind; abi beat me to it.

#644 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:26 PM:

abi @ 640

I have to disagree on abortion; the earliest piece of Christian writing we have (the Didache--approximately AD 100) condemns it.

I think that calling people by the names they prefer is helpful, but it's tricky with conservatives--they might be trying to conserve anything or any time period in the last millenium. That's why I find Corey Robin's definition of conservatism as pro-[small] hierarchy helpful.

I'm not at all trying to say that equality is only interesting as it affects hierarchy. I'm saying that legal requirements of equality end up empowering a particular hierarchy. Equality is also useful and interesting aside from hierarchy.

#645 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:27 PM:

abi @ 640

I have to disagree on abortion; the earliest piece of Christian writing we have (the Didache--approximately AD 100) condemns it.

I think that calling people by the names they prefer is helpful, but it's tricky with conservatives--they might be trying to conserve anything or any time period in the last millenium. That's why I find Corey Robin's definition of conservatism as pro-[small] hierarchy helpful.

I'm not at all trying to say that equality is only interesting as it affects hierarchy. I'm saying that legal requirements of equality end up empowering a particular hierarchy. Equality is also useful and interesting aside from hierarchy.

#646 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:28 PM:

Lee @642:

I was over-hasty. I apologize. I saw an incipient dogpile, I was going to bed, and I wanted John to feel able to unpack and articulate his experience, rather than being jumped all over for the word.

I still do think that there were more constructive ways to ask him why he used that term, including The term has always bugged me, and will doubtless continue to bug me, for the same sort of reasons that tagging "-nazi" onto things does. Because that localizes the objection to you, and gives him space to meet you with an explanation of why he used it.

When you say you'd thought better of Making Light before someone used a term that you don't like, it's a kind of universalizing assertion about your perspective. It does not encourage conversation, or meetings of minds.

#647 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:34 PM:

"Traditionally" Protestants had been ok with abortion before the late 1970s, and ok with contraception (for married people) before 2000 or so. Even the Southern Baptists thought abortion should be legal. There's this "we've always been at war with Eastasia" thing going on that make it look like Protestants, especially Evangelicals, have always, always, always opposed both contraception and abortion, but that's not actually the case. Indeed, evangelicals have only really jumped on the Catholic bandwagon of anti-contraception within the last ten years. Here's a brief overview on Evangelical thought on abortion:

#648 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 01:37 PM:

SamChevre @645:

Just because one piece of writing condemns it does not mean that there has been a unified tradition of opposition to it in Christianity. Many people have said many things about many topics in Christianity over time; that isn't what makes unified Christian culture.

And abortion was not a priority in American politics until relatively recently. It's a latecomer, which is one of the reasons that many of us suspect that it's a proxy for other things to do with control, particularly of women. (Otherwise, for instance, there would be widespread support for good sex education and birth control, both of which demonstrably reduce the incidence of abortion. Think abortion is bad? Take measures to reduce it.)

I think that calling people by the names they prefer is helpful, but it's tricky with conservatives--they might be trying to conserve anything or any time period in the last millenium.

I find that in the American political arena, there's really not that much divergence about what conservatives are trying to conserve. Mind you, much of it never actually existed in the first place, and what did had costs they don't often include in the equation.

That's why I find Corey Robin's definition of conservatism as pro-[small] hierarchy helpful.

On you go, but you're not persuading me, or leaving yourself in a position to have much of a meanigful conversation with people with more descriptivist vocabulary. It's like if I spent a lot of time explaining to people that tomatoes are technically a fruit when they want to discuss salad vegetables.

#649 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 02:10 PM:

Lee @ 642: I think abi also intervened early because she could tell I was about to get pissy. When I use the phrase "With all due respect", I'm not unlikely to follow up with "That's nice" or "Bless your heart". It just goes downhill from there.

I'm glad I didn't. abi helped keep that from happening, for which I'm grateful.

#650 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 02:18 PM:

Ginger, so senior cats require higher protein? Did not know that. We give ours some wet food each day, dry alone seems to create more problems with hairballs. Right now the oldest cat in the bunch is seven. We lost our last senior citizen last year.

The strangest non-catfood thing one of my cats demanded was a share of my Grandmother's fruitcake. Cinnabar the Abyssinian was a strange and wonderful beast.* Even stranger was the blue Abyssinian kitten who was chowing down on her breeder's banana at their bench at the cat show. And Jan had a Siamese that liked wine...I am willing to bet that no matter the food item, some cat somewhere, will eat it.

*He was the only cat I've had that was allergic to any food with artificial colors.

#651 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 02:30 PM:

@644, 645--

The Didachê is a charming little text, but its views on abortion are not so clear-cut.

It tells us not to kill the "teknon" (i.e. child), either before or after it is born. But there was debate in antiquity about when an "embryon" (yup, embryo) becomes a "teknon". It may take several months for an embryon to become a teknon.

So this might be expressing a ban on all abortion. Or it might be expressing a ban only on late-term abortions. Or it might be expressing a ban on abortions after quickening, which became the main-stream Catholic doctrine for centuries.

But it is far from clear what is being prohibited (other than post-birth infanticide). Ancient medical and biological categories don't match up very well with our own. A lot of interpretation is needed, no matter which way you want to come down, and that means that any short summary will reflect the interpreter's biases more than anything determinate in the ancient text.

#652 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Fred at Slacktivist has done several posts on this particular topic. He's an evengelical Protestant, but he also knows his church history, and the anti-abortion movement didn't exist before about 1980.
Contraceptives have been in existence since ancient Egypt. Abortion is probably just as old.

#653 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Personal opinion only: the centrist Democrats are conservatives. The Republican party is now reactionary: they want to turn the clock back to a mythical golden age, and they don't care who gets hurt in the process.

Personal opinion only: 'hierarchy' seems to be pretty much the giant-sized version of 'just follow the orders you're given'. It's anti-democratic, because it assumes that most people don't know how to run anything and should have no voice, and only the people at the top are entitled to give orders.

#654 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 03:09 PM:

Link to one of Fred's posts on revisionism and the history of the anti-abortion movement.

#655 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Rather, there was an anti-abortion movement, but it was the position of the Catholic church. The position of Protestant Christians was indifferent, shading to "If the Catholics are against it, I guess we're for it." (Cue Tom Lehrer routine.)

As to US political parties -- I like to say, admittedly without a lot of real research, that the Democrats are currently a coalition party of moderate conservatives, moderate liberals, and radical liberals. Center-right types dominate the top spots. (But this is not because everyone in the party thinks "Yeah, center-right is the best compromise.")

I could spin fantasies of how this would rearrange itself into something more sensible if the GOP vanished and Fox went off the air. But it would be intellectual masturbation.

#656 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 03:36 PM:

abi, #646: When I'm trying not to lose my temper, sometimes I get over-cryptic and make matters worse. What I should have said was something more like, "I thought that not demonizing our opponents by name-calling was also part of the standards of the community." However, it appears that my position on the term "Clintonista" is a minority view, so perhaps the sentiment was misplaced. (Also, a useful reminder about the inability of other people to read one's subtext.)

Cally, #647 and P.J. Evans, #652: My (possibly faulty) memory suggests that the anti-abortion movement as a political entity is a direct response to Roe v. Wade. Before that, it wasn't necessary -- because abortion was illegal in most of the country, so what would have been the point? This does not square, in my mind, with the argument that Protestants were mostly okay with abortion until just recently. "not having to think about it" and "being okay with it" are two different things.

Similarly, there was a long period in the 19th and early 20th century when contraception was illegal even for married couples, and even writing about it could get you arrested. And I don't think it was because Catholics were running the country at the time. There's an excellent piece of research-fic, Consanguinity, which addresses both this and the issue of first-cousin marriage in the context of the period, and includes footnotes to source references.

#657 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 03:48 PM:

One cat's journey into puzzle solving

Pictures (not in order, and not including (1)) at: Freya and Feeding Toys

1) Small box, about 2.5 - 3 inches square. One side open. The cat has to partially put her head into the box and/or use a paw to pull the piece of food out of the box.
(It actually took her quite a while to learn to use her paw for this).

2) Slightly larger box, 4 x 4 inches square, one side open but with a strip of card attached across it so the cat HAS to either use a paw to pull the piece of foor out, or bat the box around until the food comes out. Or she can put her paw in and hook pices of food out.

3) Small box (as in no. 1) with large holes in two side - the cat has to bat the box around so that one of the sides with a hole in goes face down and the food falls out.

4) Larger box (3.5 x 3.5 x 9 inches) with two holes about 1.5 inches square cut into each of two opposite long sides - one near the end and one in the middle on ech side, such that two of the holes are about opposite each other in the middle, but the other holes are at opposite ends. Keep the "doors" attached so you can decide how many to leave open.

5) Box about 6 x 11 x 3 inches high. On one long side, one "door" near each end. On the top, two "windows". Cat has to variously use paw through the different holes to get the food to come out one of the holes.

6) large Ring: This was supposed to be a toy containing a ping pong ball that the cat was supposed to bat around inside the ring (something like It also has several holes in the top of the ring. I stuff the ring full of "mice" then drop bits of food in. The cat has to look/smell for where the food is, then pull the mice out and pull the food pieces out.

7) Clear plastic cylinder. (Started use about the same time as (4), when I got a clear tube containing three tennis balls and realised I could adapt it). This is sealed at both end but has a large hole cut in the cylinder near one end. The cat has to bat it around until the food moves down to the end with the hole out and falls out as the cylinder is pushed around.

8) Cat feeding ball - opaque plastic ball with a small hole in it. The cat has to push this around and eventually pieces of food will fall out the hole. Note: I bought this ages ago; she never worked out how to use it until AFTER she had worked out how to get food out the cylinder and realised that the noise when she pushed it meant there was indeed food inside it. If you can find one that's transparent so the cat can see the food, that might be easier.

8) Kong Cat Wobbler. She was given this for Christmas and I thought it would take her ages to work it out. She worked it out in one evening. I did give her added incentive by putting special treats inside AND by reinforcing her when she did the correct thing (pull on the soft thing until the end goes on the floor, then, keeping it on its side, roll it around until the food falls out the hole) but didn't roll it for long enough.

- My cat definitely hunts by sight as well as smell (and by sound sometimes, to work out whether any pieces are still inside the box/ball).
- Special, extra-smelly treats can be used to encourage the cat to start with, swapping to ordinary dry food once s/he's got the idea.
- It is important to make the puzzles easy to start with so the cat does not get discouraged and give up.
- Watching her jumping eagerly from one side of a box to the other, peering into the box, ears pricked forwards and so on, there is no doubt that she enjoys the "hunt".
I don't think the Kong Cat Wobbler would work if the cat has no claws, as the cat hooks its claws into the "tail" to pull the body of the toy horizontal.

#658 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 03:53 PM:

(Also, completely peripherally, the Sandinistas were a left-wing group that came to power after the overthrow of a US-supported dictator of the least charming kind. Their objectives included land reform, access to education, literacy, health care, and equality for women. The extent to which they would have achieved these things had it not been for the systematic and targeted interference of the US-backed Contras is, of course, unknowable, but they certainly started with a good set of ideals, and tried very hard to bring them to fruition against horiffically violent opposition.

Their hands weren't clean, particularly toward the end of the war—curtailing of civil liberties, censoring the press, and suspension of due process. But there are worse groups to be compared to. The Contras, for instance, who were indiscriminate thugs in the pay of a foreign power, without scruples or limits.)

#659 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 03:56 PM:

Thanks for those links to Slactivist about the U-turn in Protestant dogma concerning abortion. Extremely interesting.

#660 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 04:07 PM:

dcb: Marvelous!

I'm grinning putting imaginary cats up against these.

I know a dog that will toss a Kong into the air and bark at it. Is there any cat noise happening with these puzzles?

The implausible visual hooked to my last is a cat, on back, tummy full, completely relaxed, purring at the volume of a tiger.

#661 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 04:28 PM:

P J 653: Personal opinion only: the centrist Democrats are conservatives. The Republican party is now reactionary: they want to turn the clock back to a mythical golden age, and they don't care who gets hurt in the process.

I share this opinion, except that I'd omit the word 'centrist'—I think the Democratic Party is conservative, and I wish there were a real liberal party that I could meaningfully vote for.

Personal opinion only: 'hierarchy' seems to be pretty much the giant-sized version of 'just follow the orders you're given'. It's anti-democratic, because it assumes that most people don't know how to run anything and should have no voice, and only the people at the top are entitled to give orders.

Just so; why SamChevre keeps saying the left wants bigger hierarchies mystifies me.

abi 658: And the Sandanistas left power peacefully when they lost a free and fair election, which no one, including me, thought they would do.

#662 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 04:41 PM:

Xopher, there are still liberals, the old kind, left in the Democratic party, But they don't have much power, and the people who are running it seem to think that having an actual left wing is somehow a bad idea.
If there were a viable liberal/progressive party, I'd join it. Hell, if there were a viable socialist party, I'd join it. (My brother was a member of the Peace&Freedom Party, then a Green and since those are both practically dead, he joined the Democrats.

#663 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 04:49 PM:

Carol Kimball @660: No, no noise. She's not a very vocal cat, although she has started mewing to tell us to feed her.

She does actually put her paw in the top of the large flat box and use that to move the pieces of food closer to the other holes, or occasionally she'll even hook a piece of foot and bring it out through one of the holes in the top.

We also put some pieces of food on top of the bookcases, so she has to jump up several levels to reach the food (thus getting some exercise).

#664 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 04:54 PM:

P J Evans, if we ever get a viable Socialist party, I'll be right behind you. We need more Senator Bernie Sanders, but I think they broke the mold when he was created.

#665 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 06:00 PM:

Depending upon the exact wording of the poll support for socialism in the United States varies between 1/4 and 1/3 of the population. That would seem, to me, to not be enough to form a viable party without changes to the system of electing representatives. Getting to 1/3 support is probably enough to lose nearly everywhere in a first past the post individual district system.

To change the system of electing representatives I think socialists would have to make common cause with libertarians and the even more conservative wing of the Republican party and it would have to start at the state level.

Otherwise it is just Ralph Nader saying there is no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush all over again.

#666 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 06:05 PM:

I think the solution is to form left caucuses (cauci?) inside the party and hold firm against madness. I'm trying to find time.

#667 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 06:11 PM:

I can see no way that socialism, as I understand and believe in it, is compatible with libertarianism as espoused and practiced by the Americans I have encountered.

#668 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 06:15 PM:

And a quick check and it seems the libertarian numbers are in the range of 1/10 to 1/4 in the US, again depending on who is doing the polling. Using pessimistic number this gets the hypothetical group to put proportional representation on the ballot in a state with ballot initiatives at about 35%... So clearly they would need to also team up with the very conservative wing to have a chance.

Using optimistic numbers an assuming that some middle of the road voters would vote for it on either fairness or "get rid of the loonies" it could theoretically be done.

#669 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 06:17 PM:

abi @ #667

I was unclear. I mean making common cause to get proportional representation. Uniting around one issue. Probably with both sides thinking that as soon as they start getting elected they will be the ultimate big winner in the new system.

#670 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 06:21 PM:

Since I'm a Brit as well as an American, I'm afraid that I have a violent allergy to political marriages of convenience and the making of common cause. Because, damn it, I used to be a LibDem supporter.

(Sellout bastards.)

#671 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 06:23 PM:

libertarian =/= liberal

#672 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 07:18 PM:

HLN: kitten containment failure results in early introduction. Much confusion ensues, and is still ensuing.

Alpha cat is fascinated, and is following kitten around, hissing with her whiskers forward. Beta cat is hiding from the two fast moving things.

Kitten, OTOH, is far more interested in exploring and occasional whining for attention than anything else.

#673 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 08:06 PM:

Found this after following a link from @scalzi to another video featuring the same performer.

Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue.

#674 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 08:17 PM:

P J 662: Yes, this is so. I was a member of DSA back in the day. I sure wish it had a chance of electing candidates to national office on its own.

abi 667: Well, there are lef-libertarians and right-libertarians, but the ones in the US are mostly right- (sorry to the left- ones here), and I think you're right.

Of course, at the beginning anarchism and socialism were slightly different flavors of the same movement, if I was taught truly, and split a bit later. Even then there were Authoritarian Socialists and Libertarian Socialists, but only the Authoritarians actually took over any countries. And that's where the libertarian movement came from...they started out as a brand of socialist, odd as that may seem today.

#675 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 08:39 PM:

A bunch of Broadway people put together this fake Russian-Broadway musical to point and laugh at Putin and his stupid anti-gay law. The Great Red Way Responds to Putinic Stupidity.

Россия с ума сошла. Долой Путина.

#676 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 08:53 PM:

Oh, and it's called Love and Punishment.

#677 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:23 PM:

HLN: local woman checks on status of her grad school application, discovers that ETS apparently sent her GRE scores from the first time she took it (in 1984) instead of the second time (December 2013).

Local woman sends emails to ETS and grad school and wishes there were a train she could fling herself under without distressing relatives and train staff/passengers. More realistically, wishes people would stop fucking things up after charging large sums of money for them, and that someone at the school had notified her there was a problem.

#678 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:44 PM:

Lengthy overview of libertarian socialism. Of course, as Xopher points out, there are all kinds of libertarians, and all kinds of socialists too.

#679 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:10 PM:

Allan Beatty #678: The thought that Errico Malatesta, George Woodcock, Piotr Kropotkin, Paul Goodman, or Emma Goldman should be put into the same category as Rand Paul, Ayn Rand, or any of the numerous Republicans who want to toke would, doubtless, make them want to throw up.

#680 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 12:15 AM:

Mishalak @668

I was actually randomly picked for a poll, in a rather bogus manner. I was checking over my elderly uncle's home while he was in hospital, and the pollsters turned up.

The poll questions were structured to provoke particular replies. They forced the expression of clearly positive or negative opinions (slightly controversial in the Statistics trade), presented wild future scenarios out of the blue with the same question polarity (easy to give the same response to all, without thinking), and seemed short of anything to establish context (all the political questions were about future EU power grabs, nothing about UK politics).

My tentative conclusion is that there is a poll about to be published saying that British voters are opposed to the EU having more power.

One of the dog-whistle questions was a proposal for the EU to have a "European Justice Minister". What makes this odd is that Viviane Reding is already the European Commissioner with responsibility for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship. It's a new Commission post, but it's already established. She's the Luxembourger on the Commission.

(I am looking some of this stuff up, and it makes the question even more suspect.)

There are newspaper writers who make a living from gloating over the disappointing poll results of a particular political party. One hopes that the political parties commission accurate polls for their own use, but the way in which opinion polls can be set up to give the result the customer wants are myriad.

The family statistician says he could be bought, but he isn't cheap, and he would rather give a political party honest data, and let them do the lying.

The election for the European Parliament takes place in May.

#681 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 02:01 AM:

Dave Bell @ #680, there's a similar example from a Fox News poll recently:

Take the results, for example, from the news network’s latest national survey, published this morning [Friday, 1/24/14]. It included this truly extraordinary gem:

“In the aftermath of the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya, the Obama administration falsely claimed it was a spontaneous assault in response to an offensive online video, even though the administration had intelligence reports that the attacks were connected to terrorist groups tied to al Qaeda.”

Remember, this is part of a question in a poll conducted by an ostensible news organization. It went on to ask respondents, “Which of the following do you think best describes why Obama administration officials gave false information?”

Fair and balanced network, huh? "We Report, You Decide," huh?
#682 ::: Czedwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 02:15 AM:

Checking in. Kansas was long but easy - dry roads, clear weather, light traffic. Missouri traffic heavier but not bad. In Illinois now, winding down to sleep a while. All is well.

#683 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 04:07 AM:

Linkmeister @681, that kind of thing is called push polling. The poll data are secondary; the main point of the practice is to spread an idea or image about a candidate.

#684 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 04:21 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Today, local man and local woman will celebrate the 28th anniversary of their wedding by going to a rep theater playing "The 7 Faces of D. Lao".

#685 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 04:44 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Today is also the 28th anniversary of local man and local woman seeing "Forbidden Planet" together for the first time.

#686 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 06:34 AM:

About obligate-carnivore cats: I used to dig up a flat of tall grass for the balcony cats. They would gather around and graze it down. Pretty funny.

Unfortunately I didn't have a camera in those days. I'm going to have to try to stage it with the current cats, most of whom do not have a free-range past, (so not used to grass) and see if I can get some pictures.

#687 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 07:03 AM:

Congratulations, Serge and Sue!

#688 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 08:40 AM:

I was hoping the parhelion about "font glasses" meant that someone had invented a pair of glasses that would change the font of whatever type you look at to one of your choice. Alas, it was not to be.

#689 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Xopher (688): That's what I thought it was going to be, too. Alas. The actual glasses are pretty lame, especially since those pointy bits by the bridge on the Garamond glasses look like they would hurt. The Helvetica glasses are bland but reasonable, but dubbing them 'Helvetica' is just a gimmick.

#690 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 10:35 AM:

I'm not terribly enthusiastic about gaining power by changing electoral methods, since that implies you gained enough power to change something basic about the system and used it to change something relatively trivial.

#691 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 10:49 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 679: That's a pretty good summary that Alan Beatty linked to. I just skimmed it today to make sure it hadn't changed fundamentally, and there's nary a Rand in it. I've just bitterly accepted that the right has captured the word.

HLN: Area man fails to find Hills Science Diet at the local supermarket and buys IAMS instead. "I had a friend with numerous healthy cats who swore by it," he said, "and I was running out of cheese."

The cat in question had no comment, as its mouth was full.

#692 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 11:07 AM:

Patrick, thank you for sidebarring Elizabeth Bear's post about "things I have learned from playing folk guitar"

As someone who started playing just very recently and knows very little, it's good to see what I have to look forward to.

#693 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 11:23 AM:

Xopher@688: Sadly, the prototype of that still crashes when it tries to convert from Comic Sans, massively reducing its usefulness.

#694 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 11:26 AM:

Here is a very nice writeup about a long-used term in the herbalist community being trademarked and over-policed:

Trademarking Tradition: the Fire Cider® Controversy

#695 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Xopher #688:

Whereas I was hoping it would tell me what font things were in.

#696 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 11:43 AM:

Mary Aileen #689:

When I was a teenager, the term "granny glasses" was used for wire-rims, frequently of elongated octagonal or hexagonal shape. They were cool. But for me, the real granny glasses were ones that looked exactly like the Helvetica frames, because that was what my grandmother wore. Not cool then, and I still can't persuade myself that they could possibly be so. (The Garamonds, OTOH, have possibilities, at least for me.) All, of course, merely reiterating the truth of "De gustibus ..."

#697 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 11:58 AM:

Students of family dysfunction will find much to analyze in August: Osage County. But those who are concerned about triggers should avoid it.

#698 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 12:02 PM:

Well, yes, Fragano. Any collection of real people is going to be more complex than any political ideology.

#699 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 12:06 PM:

On font glasses: it's not quite the same thing, but they remind me a display of Pantone-branded mugs I saw a few years ago. What I remember is that the manufacturer hadn't managed to get color consistency from mug to mug, which struck me as utterly wrong.

(I can, however, recommend the Pantone board books for anyone shopping for first books for a baby, just for general entertainment value. I haven't checked the color reproduction, nor do I intend to.)

#700 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 12:37 PM:

John A Arkansawyer@690: I'm not terribly enthusiastic about gaining power by changing electoral methods, since that implies you gained enough power to change something basic about the system and used it to change something relatively trivial.

That doesn't sound right to me, for a few reasons:

The details of the electoral system aren't trivial (or no one would worry about gerrymandering one way or the other, just to pick one example).

Since power shifts over time, the power to change something may be temporary, but the effects of a change in the electoral system can be longer lasting (again, as in gerrymandering).

The scenario in which several parties who have nothing in common get together to change the electoral system is one in which they might well not be able to get anything else done, or at least nothing else coherent. It might be that the best you can hope for is that such a coalition does the thing they assembled for and then falls apart as expeditiously as possible.

#701 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 01:31 PM:

Joy Freeman@694, the Fire Cider thing:

Huh interesting. I have a half-empty bottle of that in my fridge.

From my point of view, the company has a point. I never heard the term "fire cider" until a friend posted a review of the company's product. I never saw it written without the capital letters until today. The company made a product, they marketed it, and it exists outside the herbalist community because of them.

(Whether they should have called it "Shire City Fire Cider" and avoided this mess, I don't know. Maybe. Probably. Was that obvious at the time, though?)

As for the stuff itself: like I said, I have a half-empty bottle. I put small amounts in seltzer and ginger ale, and that was fun to drink for a while, but the novelty palled.

I also tried making vinegar pie with it. Do not do this. Ever.

#702 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 02:05 PM:

It seems our technological darlings have been conspiring to drive down wages for the engineers who make their products possible.

The Techtopus

#703 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 03:03 PM:

Allan Beatty #698: Oh, absolutely.

#704 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 04:01 PM:

Steve C. @ 702: Indeed. This story has been bubbling up for a while now. I expect glibertarian techies to nod and wink and tighten their own chains. After all, maybe they can grow up to be a giant corporation someday.

I must say this in praise of rank-and-file libertarians: In my experience, they are reliably anti-war, more so than Democrats.

And in other news of the fat and bloated, Venture Capitalist Compares Criticism of Income Inequality to Kristallnacht.

There is one obvious difference: The Jews were innocent victims.

It all tries my commitment to using non-violent methods at least as long as possible. I wish no harm to flesh-and-blood humans ever, but I wouldn't mind seeing a few corporate "persons" put on a metaphorical hook and slaughtered in the public interest.

#705 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 04:10 PM:

An Indian judge and mother comments on the recriminalization of homosexuality in India. Apparently the judgement is not only immoral and callously indifferent to the well-being of Indian gays (which we knew) but pretty damn dubious in Indian law as well (which I, for one, did not).

#706 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 04:31 PM:

I once had a cat that would eat bread, brewer's yeast and beets.

#707 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 04:48 PM:

Mary Aileen @689, those “pointy bits” are part of what’s commonly called a keyhole bridge. They’re a common form of frame design. The alternatives are the saddle bridge and the pad. Keyhole bridges are good for people who don’t like pads, and have thin noses.

(This is apparently the thread where I spout off about obscure vocabulary.)

You’re right about the font glasses being a gimmick. The allegedly fonty bits don’t actually look much like the letterform features they’re alleged to resemble, especially in the case of the Garamond frame.

#708 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 06:02 PM:

Avram @ #683, except that push polling is usually an activity of a captive polling firm or private survey company, not something done by a purported news network.

#709 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 06:36 PM:

Steve C. #702: While the agreements discussed are clearly monopolistic, I have some serious issues with the tone of the article: It's not only not trying to show a balance, it's actively inflammatory -- notably, by consistently referring to the wage-fixing agreement as a "wage-theft agreement".

Andrew Plotkin #701: It should be fairly straightforward to overturn the trademark, or at least smack down the company's overreaching demands. The problem is that somebody will need to actually file the appeal or challenge, and pay for the fight, and small crafters don't often have spare cash lying around.

#710 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 07:04 PM:

dotless ı @ #700
The details of the electoral system aren't trivial (or no one would worry about gerrymandering one way or the other, just to pick one example).

Since power shifts over time, the power to change something may be temporary, but the effects of a change in the electoral system can be longer lasting (again, as in gerrymandering).

I agree, of course, and will add that the rules of the game change the way that debate is conducted. Proportional representation is not likely to produce utopia, but certainly some very sensibly run governments like New Zealand and Norway use it. And, I think, with a viable path to election by smaller parties I think it might keep the larger parties somewhat more honest. A more open marketplace of ideas due to fewer barriers to entry, to use capitalistic jargon.

#711 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Xopher @ #705, thanks for that link. The voices of reason and compassion need all the signal-boosting they can get.

Particularly disturbing (and rightfully called out) is the idea that if there aren't very many of x type of people, they don't need rights.

#712 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 09:16 PM:

HLN: Woman, visiting her husband in the Boston area for the next 1.5 weeks to check out potential interesting areas to live in, discovers that any mention of where she's from provokes instant laughter and questioning about the awful mayor of her city. She was later overheard wondering if it would be easier to claim another location as her home instead.

#713 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 09:35 PM:

Linkmaster, #708: I think they key word there is "purported". What evidence do we have that Faux News is anything but a captive propaganda machine? And push-polling would definitely be within the purview of such.

#714 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 09:37 PM:

dotless i, Mishalak @ 700, 710: Those are fair objections. I don't agree, but you make good points. Being a doctrinaire leftie, I just think there are better targets for the amount of power that has to be expended to make that kind of change.

Not that I'd stop you from trying. I was bummed when Arkansas took away the fusion party strategy, like the Working Families Party in New York uses. If I were fighting for an electoral reform, that's what I'd shoot for.

#715 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 09:41 PM:

thomas @ 516: Interesting. I've forgotten where I got that idea from, or I'd try to backtrace it for an explanation.

nerdycellist @ 541: Congratulations on surviving. I'd hate to be on such a case (although I'd probably be frank about my beliefs about drug laws and get excluded), although I've been brought up but not paneled for a harder case.

Serge Broom @ 574: How are they rationalizing a blond's brother being black? Do we get some more Marvel-style angst from adoption/fostering/half-sibs/...?

Lizzy L @ 581: what do you do with a cat that thinks canned isn't food? Not that I don't mind sticking with dry -- but we tried ours on several cans to see what a 6-week feral would eat, and they were all ignored.

Dave Harmon @ 630: It's unclear that the Republicans have been social-engineering the Democrats as people; what I've read is that right after Goldwater the Republicans started building right-wing "think" tanks to make their views look respectable.

abi @ 657: Thanks for the link; will investigate. Ours seems blase about a simple bat-it-until-something-falls-out ball, but his (cat-specific) vet doesn't have anything more complicated.

#716 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 709: You're right that "wage theft" is the wrong term. That's a specific type of criminal behavior, and this isn't that.

That said, I'm okay with the tone. Those companies are doing a Bad Thing. When the 800-pound gorilla is on the wrong end of that see-saw, I say hit the other with the Million-Pound Shithammer and balance be damned.

(Not that I have anything against my fellow primates. 800-pound gorilla is just an expression. Have a banana, Hannah.)

#717 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 10:55 PM:

Carol Witt @712: So, for those of us with weak memories...where are you from?

#718 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 06:21 AM:

CHip @ 715... They haven't said, as far as I know. Maybe dad remarried. No matter what, I give them points for trying.

#719 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 07:11 AM:

One of the things that came out of the coalition agreement between Conervatives and Lib-Dems in the UK, in 2010, was a promise for a referendum on proportional representation in elections to the Westminster Parliament.

This referendum was held, and PR lost.

What gets me about it was the amount of lying that went on about the proposal. It was essentially the "Australian" system, as used for Hugo Awards, so I knew how it worked. Maybe that biased me, but the anti-PR propaganda was full of lies. I could recognise them. They were shouting about examples of bad governments in foreign countries which used PR, which were elected by different PR systems.

So that idea is dead for a couple of decades.

It left me with the feeling that the promises the Conservatives made were worthless. They'd rig things so that their "honest efforts" would fail.

We're not used to coalitions in the UK. Our politicians don't know how o make them work, how to do the give-and-take trading on policies which makes them possible. And how can you even make a deal when the other side don't keep promises?

Last year the Conservative Party went to great lengths to hide their election promises from the world, after three years of non-delivery and contradiction.

There are days I hope I am mistaken, but when the election comes my only reason to vote is to make sure an incumbent loses, and so to break the pattern of prolonged government by one side or another. The Conservatives were in government from 1979 to 1997, Labour from 1997 to 2010, and I don't want either side to think they can do it again. I want them to be more scared of losing.

And the only way they seem to know of winning a vote is to tell obvious lies. It's reached the point where the UKIP, xenophobic, homophobic, distasteful in so many ways, so unrepresentative of the modern England that exists outside government, actually comes across as honest.

#720 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 07:30 AM:

David Goldfarb @ #717: Toronto.

I don't think it's a problem of a weak memory. I don't post enough anywhere to be memorable. :)

#721 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 08:51 AM:

Mention has been made here of the trousers sported by the Norwegian curling team. The inimitable Charles Pierce has weighed in, down near the end of this post. (Although, in connection with another topic, in the same post he has also added "soaking in the warm waters of Lake Schadenfreude" to the public lexicon, for those who find they cannot indulge in a slice of Schadenfreude pie.)

#722 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 09:34 AM:

PJ Evans @ 588: Cats like all kinds of things! Many of my cats learned to wait until I finished, and I would let them lick the bowl (of soup, pasta with sauce, ice cream, cereal and milk, whatever). As long as a cat is eating a complete diet (as defined by nutritionists), then they can have anything else in small quantities.

Lin Daniel @601: Very good points -- each cat has its own likes/dislikes. I have to watch out because Brady likes to nibble, walk away, nibble more, leave again, etc., throughout the day. Cleo sees food and eats it all.

Lee @610: Correct, obligate carnivores must have meat daily, but they can certainly eat other things along with the meat. It's the amino acids that are found solely in animal muscles which they need most of all, such as taurine, or they die from aa deficiencies.

dcb @ 657: Many thanks for the puzzle feeders! The FF has Cleo's brother, who is a voracious hunter of food, but alas, he hunts from the FF's plate and fork. This will help him tremendously.

#723 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 09:35 AM:

HLN: Woman reads link @477, grits her teeth, kicks her introversion and insecurities down to the basement, and emails about auditions. Goes to auditions and is now a member of an honest-to-goodness chorus for the first time in years.

Much thanks and appreciation to Lila for the link. I am super-excited about this.

#724 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 10:06 AM:

CHip #715: It's unclear that the Republicans have been social-engineering the Democrats as people; what I've read is that right after Goldwater the Republicans started building right-wing "think" tanks to make their views look respectable.

"Social engineering" is how I'd summarize the collective effect of their dirty-tricks campaigns and tacics over the last few decades. The Dems who were most effective at resisting them (notably President Clinton) got targeted campaigns of smears, persecution over minor offenses, heavily funded opponents backed by disinformation campaigns, and miscellaneous harrassment. Would-be entrants to the Dem roster got some of that too, along with anyone whose position was too far left.

A lot of those folks were simply driven out of politics, and most of the survivors are the ones who learned to keep their heads down. (Few have positions too strong for the Repubs to crack.) The result is what I've been calling "political battered-wife syndrome".

#725 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 10:25 AM:

HLN: A local woman's feline has a well known history of food allergies. Said food allergies have mostly been controlled through feeding a hypo allergenic diet. However after a number of years the feline in question appears to be starting to develop allergies to the hypo allergenic diet. Local vet suggest switching to a different brand of hypo allergenic cat food.

Local woman is given instruction on how to slowly taper previously mentioned cat from one food to the other to avoid any upsets be they behavioural, biological or hygenic.

Predictably enough said cat turns out to strongly prefer the new cat food, enough so that the pet eats around the old food in the mixed up bowl of kibble (ratio 1/4 new food 3/4 new food) and assembles a full meal out of only new brand of cat food.

Result is a minor litterbox explosion and multiple bouts of cat barf clean up. Local woman did not enjoy the overall experience and recommends being even more careful when needing to transition cats from one diet to the other.

Local vet responded with (paraphrased): "Woah, yeah that cat really does have a sensitive digestive system" when asked for comment after the episode

#726 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 10:31 AM:

HLN: We would like to issue a correction to the news article posted at #725. The ratios of cat food were originally written as (ratio 1/4 new food 3/4 new food) but should be: (ratio 1/4 new food 3/4 old food).

We apologise for any inconvenience.

#727 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 11:03 AM:

Me #630, #724, CHip #715: Ah,a light dawns. I'm not talking about social-engineering in the cracker's sense, but the Repubs actually manipulating the social composition and social patterns of the Dems.

#728 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 11:10 AM:

Note to self: It's very good that you're managing to get to a Structural Mess Problem that's been like that for at least 10mo. It's also great that you NOTICED the first signs of ack ack ack death by dust ack ack (slight breathing tickles and prickly feelings on the skin of the forearms) and went and got the air filter, and took an antihistamine.

Next time, before you go into the room that YOU ALREADY KNOW IS HORRIBLY DUSTY, try an antihistamine and a dust mask in the first place?

(settling dust mask firmly into place before second incursion into room)

In other news, joy: an unexpected kid-home-all-day day because school's closed.

At least I spent most of yesterday getting Grownup Company (and letting the kid run off her ya-yas with other kids), so I'm kind of fresh. A bit. As witness the digging-out-old-problem-that-has-a-deadline -- our spare bedroom WILL be occupied in a couple of weeks when my in-laws arrive for kid birthday celebrations. It was cluttered and in need of a cleaning BEFORE we took its main shelving unit out to use somewhere else. Now everything that was on that shelving unit is piled on the bed. Suboptimal. :->

Today's goal: at least enboxify and neatly stack a significant proportion of the currently-lose clutter, and strip the linens from the bed and wash them. Wish me luck. I expect the exigencies of kid-care will distract me from the mess at sufficient intervals for me to implement diagnostics as to my ability to continue.

#729 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 11:34 AM:

We have a lettuce-loving cat. Colour us surprised at this.

#730 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 11:43 AM:

Goshdarn, I wish I weren't so good at injuring myself in ways that are painful-but-not-actually-catastrophic. Specifically, I stumbled in the basement while retrieving empty cardboard boxes, and stabbed myself in the shoulder on a piece of disused hasp sticking out of the wall. Well, it would be stabbed if it were sharp; as it is, it's just a really, really deep tissue jab in the meaty part of my deltoid, through my clothes, that hasn't broken the skin but WOW OW OUCH. Trying not to cry in front of the kid because I don't want to explain it.

Considering I'm already wearing a flannel bandanna over most of my face OVER a dust mask to prevent itchies, and now I've got a sandwich ziploc of frozen peas shoved firmly up the bicep of my pajama shirt, I have a feeling this is definitely one of the moments it is clear I'm actually from the Vaudeville Universe next door, because I happen upon towering moments of slapstickery. :->

(I'm already on a maintainance dose of an NSAID [Etodolac] for my knee problem, so I think probably taking ibuprofen is counterindicated. If the icepack doesn't help in a while, I'll consider other methods. Ow)

#731 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 12:00 PM:

cylian @723, congratulations! I joined a women's barbershop chorus a couple of years ago after not having sung with a group for 30+ years, and it's such fun.

cylian and other singing fluorospherians might enjoy Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others by Stacy Horn. I did.

#732 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 12:48 PM:

CHip at 715: I've never had that problem, so I can't respond from experience, sorry. Maybe other folks here can be helpful.

#733 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Ginger @722: You're welcome; hope they work for Cleo's brother. As you can no doubt see, I just used what boxes I had available, started simple and worked up. I have one about 15 x 12 x 3 inches and I'm working out how many openings on one long side and holes in the top it will need to enable her to get the food out if she works at it. Okay, so maybe I'll start with openings on both long sides...

It was AMAZING watching her work out the Kong toy in just a few hours, given how long it took her to work out the feeder ball initially. And it's clear from her body language that she really does enjoy the "hunt". She's also lazy, which has the benefit that she doesn't always bother to get the food out of all the toys, which means she has snacks left for later when she does get peckish before her next mealtime (and if she can't be bothered to roll the ball around to get the food out, she can't be that hungry even if she's parading back and forth between me and the computer screen telling me she's starving).

Sica@ 725: Sympathies. Every time I've tried a different adult diet on my feline overlord, she's fine at a 25/75 new/old mix but as soon as it creeps up towards the 50/50 mark, she starts with diarrhoea. Oh well, thankfully the last time I asked Hills were not planning on stopping making their Nature's Best diets any time soon.

#734 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Re Teresa's guilt and email particle: I can relate a bit to that one; I certainly used to feel a lot of guilt feelings over answering email and have tended to accumulate it. I'm now back up to 1300-some messages in my personal inbox, 500-some unread, going way back. I just can't bring myself to delete unread email (other than spam or junk of course.) At least it no longer feels guilt-laden as it used to.

I did accidentally stumble across something which saved me one whole emotional radioactive waste dump.

Voicemail on the phone used to be a huge toxic area for me, because I don't like phone calls in general and like taking messages off voicemail even less, and when it involved calling someone back I'd usually leave the message sitting there to deal with later, and then they'd build up to where it became hateful to even check voicemail.

When I got my iPhone a few years ago, I was putting off setting up voicemail for a little bit, and then I realized I was doing perfectly well without it. If I miss a call, I see it next time I look at the phone, and I call back whoever called me - usually pretty promptly - if they haven't already texted or emailed me by then which they often have. No voicemail throws other people off a bit when they call me, and I have to concede that I'm creating a slight inconvenience for them in not letting them leave a voice message, but I feel it's compensated for by their getting a better and faster actual response from me. Not having a big radioactive backlog of voicemail has detoxified that one area of my life, plus has me managing my time better.

#735 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 04:50 PM:

We've got a mouse in the kitchen, somewhere. If our old mouser was still with us, it would have been dispatched some time ago, and left in one tidy piece for us to dispose of. (score for 1 year, Cat: 25, me: 2. The previous owner fed the birds with seed, and didn't control the mice.) However the current feline professional help is a little less talented. She is in her prime, a reasonably well fed cat if measuring by weight, less so if measuring by starving yowls around dinner time.

I think she just doesn't have the practice, since this is the first indoor mouse in her lifetime. We've seen her hunt it twice, flush it out, and not get it.

#736 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 06:52 PM:

Elliott Mason @730: stabbed myself in the shoulder on a piece of disused hasp sticking out of the wall. Well, it would be stabbed if it were sharp; as it is, it's just a really, really deep tissue jab in the meaty part of my deltoid, through my clothes, that hasn't broken the skin but WOW OW OUCH.

I did the same thing, only different, a couple of weeks ago. Was sailing down a long straight street on my way home from work (in the dark, though with a light afixed to my helmet). Apparently, the windstorm over the weekend had shaken a branch loose (no news there), but the branch was a trident with tines about 5–7". Laying in the bike lane, pointy bits foremost. I didn't realize it was there until I ran into it. We wrestled while I brought the bike to a stop. Took me a minute to extricate myself and the bike. (I hove the thing over the fence into the yard whence it presumably came.)

Had some quite spectacular bruises on my right thigh embellishing the scrapes, which are clearing up much faster than I would have expected. I spent the following couple of days trying not to think about it, because there were so very many ways that situation could have gone resolutely pear-shaped.

#737 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 07:07 PM:

Elliott Mason @730, ouch! But I must admit I laughed at your description of the Vaudeville Universe next door.

And Jacque @736, ouch to you, too. That could indeed have gone pear-shaped, so glad it was no worse than it was.

#738 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 07:57 PM:

@735 eric

I think she just doesn't have the practice, since this is the first indoor mouse in her lifetime. We've seen her hunt it twice, flush it out, and not get it.

Are you sure she knows how? Cats are not actually born knowing how to catch and kill mice; they have to be taught by their mothers.

#739 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 08:20 PM:

Cheryl @738:

Dougal, the older mouser, learned later in life. He was just this bad at ~5ish when presented with a mouse that we would have liked done in. Cornered. Literally*. He just didn't get it.

I think it was the target rich environment later in life. He was an ambush hunter° We got the kittens before he got too old, and hoped that they'd get something from him, or learn themselves before he wasn't around.

But the target rich environment is outside, and after losing one of the kittens to something pointy (probably a coyote), Daphne has spent the last couple years inside. All sleep and no practice makes fluffy a dull mouser.

* and I mean literally, not ironically. There was a mouse in the corner, with a cat between it and freedom
° I hope. I can't imagine a 20lb maine coon that thunders when running being anything but an ambusher.

#740 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 08:35 PM:

OtterB @737: I used to be mildly ashamed of how clumsy I was. Then someone pointed out to me it wasn't just ordinary clumsiness, but flamboyant repeated accidental slapstick ... and they're right. So I guess it's a superpower. :->

#741 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2014, 09:41 PM:

Jacque @ 736

Ouch. Ouch. I'm sorry. Please God don't let that happen to me. Please.

#742 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 02:17 AM:

Well, fuck. Pete Seeger is dead. But a good long run.

#743 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 03:49 AM:

How weird is this extended cold period?

I've lived in northern Delaware or Philadelphia my whole life, and I don't think I've seen anything like it. I was born in 1953, and it's quite possible I wasn't paying attention till I was ten or so.

However, this much cold (repeated lows below 15F/-9.5C) seems quite unusual. The amount of snow hasn't been especially striking here, and might be a little on the low side.

#744 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 06:24 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer #742: That was not the best news to which to wake up, believe me. On the other hand, one of my best memories of my father was coming upon him washing dishes and singing "Where have all the flowers gone".

Pete Seeger was one of the truly great voices of the past century, a person who made the world better for having been in it.

#745 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:18 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 744: I couldn't get to sleep last night and got back up. It wasn't the best news to hear then, either.

It's a selfish way to look at it, but I planned and failed twice in the last few years to get to the Clearwater festival and had hoped to see him. Now I won't. I mean, if I make it, I'll see him everywhere there. But I guess he won't see me.

#746 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:55 AM:

re 743: Not too weird yet, though definitely down in the unusual. 1977 was colder here though, at least so far.

#747 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 09:58 AM:

Dave Harmon @724
political battered-wife syndrome

Thank you. That's a much better explanation as to why I don't, and won't, run for political office. I've never liked feeding the popular "all politicians are liars" in part because it undermines my effort to get complainers to run ("if you don't like the guy in office, why don't you run?").[1]

[1] The excuses they come up with are legion and sometimes highly amusing.

#748 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 10:00 AM:

My usual excuse for not running is "I'm too honest."

#750 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 01:24 PM:

Twenty-eight years ago today.

#751 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 01:53 PM:

Cheryl @738: Cats are not actually born knowing how to catch and kill mice; they have to be taught by their mothers.

Was sitting in my living room reading of a late summer afternoon. I slowly become aware of the continual fussing of a bird outside. After a bit, I realized I'd been hearing this for quite a while. After listening to it for a while more (very unusual for a bird to fuss continuously for that long), I finally go investigate.

I get outside; there's a female robin sitting in a tree near my building, in absolute hysterics. I realize she's scolding at the apartment below me. As I'm walking toward it, I notice, in the grass, the mostly-eaten carcass of a young robin. I look over at my neighbor's sliding glass door. Inside is another young robin, flapping and struggling to get away from the kittens that are chasing it around in the blinds. WTF? I think to myself. Then I see that the hallway door to the outside is blocked open. I go in, and see that the apartment's door to the hall is open.

Mom cat is inside, supervising the lesson. Righteously steamed, by this point, I go in, confiscate the young robin, close the front door to the apartment with the cats inside, take the robin out and put hir on the highest tree branch I can reach, and then go home to write my neighbor a nasty note, which I leave under her door. Mom robin, thank Ghu, quiets down after that. When I checked later, there was no sign of either robin.


#752 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Good gods. A new Sappho fragment has been found! Not-great article. They call her a "poetess," which makes me wonder what century they're living in.

But the key is more Sappho poems.

#753 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 02:45 PM:

Currently in Houston, 28°. The forecast says it's supposed to get up to 42 today, but given that it's nearly 2 PM already I don't think that's going to happen.

Saturday's projected high: 77°.

WTF, weather? It's been up and down like a bloody sine wave for the last couple of weeks.

#754 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 03:07 PM:

Lee: 30 degrees here, and SNOWING! (which is a rare treat for us).

The Weather Service just changed its prediction from less than 2" to 2" to 4" by tomorrow morning.

Fortunately, we shut down the clinic early today, and I don't have to be at work till 1 tomorrow.

My snow-loving Aussie mix, who hasn't seen any for several years, is pleased. (The very old mini-dachshund, who has a bare belly, is less pleased.)

#755 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 04:16 PM:

@751 Jacque

Then I see that the hallway door to the outside is blocked open. I go in, and see that the apartment's door to the hall is open.


Just... the cats were exhibiting perfectly appropriate cat behaviour, though in a kind of bizarre situation. WTF is up with that owner? Who does that? Anything could have happened to those kittens! If they'd gotten out, or if something like a skunk or raccoon had gotten in...

I mean, even outside of the bird situation, the person in question walked away and left the apartment door open, and was either not there, or was there and didn't notice a perfect stranger come in and wander around the apartment! Luckily for zir, you were only there for the robin...

#756 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Cheryl: Yeah. What you said. Fortunately, it's generally a pretty safe neighborhood. But...yeah.

#757 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 06:04 PM:

Atlanta is covered in snow and ice which, had it happened on a weekend or even after rush hour was over, would have been exciting and lovely. Unfortunately it showed up around noon and, unlike past Atlanta snows, when it started, it went from flurries to Frozen Roads in less than an hour. Normal Atlanta Snows usually cover grass and porches first so you have plenty of warning for "I should head home now." This one...less so. The traffic maps have been a very angry shade of red since around 1:00, and there's no sign that it's letting up.

The immediate family is safe and sound, and all but one of my very closest circle are home safe. The other is posting g+ updates at stop lights to let us know his progress. There are, however, a whole lot of my friends who are 4+ hours into their commute home and are looking at another 4 to go. It's also getting dark and the roads will continue to get icier as the temperatures drop.

On the good hand, there was a snow-fight and a very happy dog+child romping through the snow, and hot chocolate...still, I will be much happier when all of my friends have finished checking in.

This is why I stay home if at all possible when snow threatens my city. It's not the snow; it's the 4+ hour drive home in the snow.

#758 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 06:10 PM:

Pete Seeger dead?

All I can say is: Maybe I can finally get some sleep, what with all that hammering the morning, in the evening . . . all over this land.


#759 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 06:35 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #758, not to mention all those oarlocks creaking as Michael rowed that boat ashore. Or all those people asking where all the flowers have gone.

You could take solace in the Bible and turn turn turn over in bed.

#760 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 06:59 PM:

In reading the "Best Entry-Level SF" Sidelight, this bit caught my eye:
Once you say "science fiction," you've fallen so far down the the stereotype hole of rocket ships and Barbarella that it's difficult to claw your way back out. Label your science fiction as a story about hacking, or a story about food and monoculture, call it a dystopia, call it an apocalypse, call it a war story, call the story anything at all other than the dreaded words "science fiction" and you've probably got a shot at connecting with your entry-level reader.

So... how would you introduce someone to a good SF book without labeling it "science fiction"? I'll take a crack it it: Mother of Storms by John Barnes is a fictional look at the potential consequences of global climate change, with some riffing on global politics and artificial intelligence as well.

#761 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Re Atlanta's horrible weather: Fragano, are you OK?

#762 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 07:25 PM:

Dear Past-Me, Fragano just tweeted that he's fine.

#763 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 07:49 PM:

AKICIML: Does anyone have a reasonably good-tasting basic white/yellow cake recipe? Ideally one that doesn't involve me whipping egg whites and folding them in (because I can do that but I don't really feel like it)?

I used one off the internet for the last Rainbow Cake and it tasted, um, decidedly uninteresting to any grownup in this household. We'd have an easier time eating the next cake before it goes stale if we liked how it tasted. :->

#764 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Try this one. The egg whites get mixed with milk and then beaten into the dry ingredients.

#765 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:27 PM:

Open threadiness: I just want to share the joy that is lol my thesis.

#766 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:35 PM:

Elliott, 763: 1-2-3-4 cakes tend to be very forgiving; my mother's version calls for both almond and vanilla.

#767 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:36 PM:

The sudden deep freeze and frozen precip in Texas and other parts of the south has people marveling at the wintry blast. But this kind of thing used to be a fairly common occurrence twenty to thirty years ago and before. In 1973, for instance, it snowed three times in Houston. It's only in the last couple of decades has this kind of thing become rare.

#768 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:44 PM:

TexAnne @766: Nut allergy, so no almond extract in the house. What's a 1-2-3-4 cake?

#769 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 08:54 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #742: He'll be missed, of course -- but yes, he had both a long life, and a full one.

#770 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 09:06 PM:

Stefan Jones, #758, and Linkmeister, #759:

The Lion sleeps tonight.

#771 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 09:07 PM:

It was only four or five years ago that Charlottesville got hammered by a heavy snow... and discovered it didn't have nearly enough snowplows (I'm not sure it had any), or other plans for such a thing. They fixed that before the next snowstorm a year or two later -- but the point is, it hadn't happened in so long that they didn't have the equipment to deal with it.

#772 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 09:15 PM:

The shocking thing for me about Pete Seeger dying was realizing that he was "only" 94, and only about 10 years older than my mom. Having grown up with his music - it's only in later years I realized what folkies my parents had been - I had always thought of him as somehow sort of omnipresent throughout the 20th century. No; but he'd managed to become that sort of fixture in the folk scene by the time I was born.

Anyway, a hell of a good run, and look at the changes he saw and pushed along. In the '50s when he was writing music for the Civil Rights movement, I doubt he ever imagined playing at the inauguration of a black US President; but I bet he wouldn't have been surprised to hear that he'd still be protesting against Wall Street at age 93.

#773 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 09:20 PM:

Steve C., 767: I'm not sure about that. I grew up in Beaumont, and snow was not and is not a regular occurrence in Southeast Texas. However, drought, polar vortices, and summers that regularly hit 100+ for days on end are new things, cursed be the Kochs and all their works.

Elliott, 768: My recipe box is currently...somewhere, but there are many versions available on the Internet. I think it's a Southern recipe, but it's also pretty much just pound cake: 1c milk, 2c sugar, 3c flour, 4 eggs, plus flavorings, salt, baking powder, I'm probably forgetting something. I bet citrus extracts would be nice with the vanilla, or just plain vanilla is always good.

#774 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 09:50 PM:

I'm frozen. Today's high was 0. Fahrenheit. Plus several gazillion in windchill. And the wind may go whistlin' done the plains in Oklahoma, but here, it just howls. And does not stop.

My mother says that I bring bad weather to Indiana -- I was born during a paralyzingly awful blizzard, and the only reason I was born in a hospital instead of in a car or at home is because my uncle drove the snow plow directly in front of my grandparents. I think Mom may be right -- every time I've been here, there's been something. Last time was flooding, plus December's Snowmageddon; time before that, it was an ice storm, and before that, 75 mph hour straight winds that destroyed the garage. When I was in kindergarten, we had an extra long winter break because 6 feet of snow in 12 days, and first grade had two months of deep freeze (and at least one very late school bus that resulted in me standing in 2 feet of snow for about 1.5 hours and turned a kid-cold into a week in hospital with pneumonia.)

I don't seem to do this to any other state or nation. For this state's sake, I should not come here anymore. And I'm trying to make that happen.

We're on track to leave tomorrow. My car resembles the Joads' from The Grapes of Wrath but I got everything except the lampshades. I call this a win.

Everyone at the facility here is now behind the move and being very helpful. So whatever the weirdness was last week, it's all resolved now.

And capstone - I am very happy to hear the economic justice theme being so big in the SOTU. This is important.

#775 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 09:58 PM:

TexAnne, admittedly the snow is much rarer occurrence. I don't have the link handy, but I recently saw a comparison of January low temps over the past 30 years for SE Texas, and we had considerably more freezing days 20-30 years ago.

XKCD on the weather

#776 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 10:02 PM:

Huh. I've only ever seen pound cakes baked in loaf pans -- do they bake all right if poured in a flat layer-cake style pan, does anyone know?

#777 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 10:45 PM:

Big weather news in Oregon is that it is raining.

It shouldn't be news. Dry, dry winter!

#778 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2014, 11:26 PM:

#776, Elliott Mason:

Well, a half-recipe pound cake in a full-size loaf pan cooked fine, it was just really low due to less material. So, probably it would be ok. You may have to watch the colour more closely, not sure how much faster it would cook with the higher surface area to volume ratio.

#779 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 12:05 AM:

@ Elliott Mason:

I baked pound cake in mini-loaf pans, baby Bundt pans, muffin tins, and once, because I was trying to feed a lot of people and look good, a triple batch in a Cathedral Bundt. I used a probe thermometer to test for done (bake until internal temp reaches 210 F, then cool.)

Pound cakes are forgiving, as long as the butter-egg-sugar creaming gets fluffy enough.

#780 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 12:38 AM:

As usual when the Lower 48 is experiencing Fimbulwinter, we have been having a steady succession of wet gales with temperatures as high as the lows 40s Fahrenheit. But this time it's gone too far. Native plants that aren't generally fooled by a warm snap have woken up. The buds are swelling on the wild berry bushes and some are even bursting; the low-lying plants that grow on the dark gravel fields are showing rosettes of new leaves.

Historically, the coldest time of the year falls around Valentine's Day, and spring proper doesn't begin until early April per temperature records. If this goes on any longer, we may lose an entire year's berry crop as all the new growth gets nipped off by the inevitable freeze-up. And that will mean more bears investigating Dumpsters.

#781 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 12:45 AM:

The bears in California are awake, because it hasn't been cold enough for them to hibernate.

#782 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 07:16 AM:

More snow down in Charlottesville.

But hey, good news! Federal government looks into permitting the 'miracle crop' it suppressed after WW2: Hemp.

#784 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 10:48 AM:

The gremlins have gone too far. Yesterday morning my regular prescription glasses were nowhere to be found. I use those every day nearly all day. I got by yesterday with my emergency backup single-focus glasses for driving and distance, and my computer glasses for reading and close work, but it left me with noticeable eyestrain by the end of the day. They still couldn't be found by evening, even after checking every drawer or kitchen cupboard where I might have put them when in the middle of something, checking the refrigerator and freezer, checking under and behind things where the cats might have knocked them, checking most of the bookshelves...

I think the next step is to make a pendulum and try divining for them. This has worked for me sometimes to find people's lost items including my own. If that fails, we are teetering on the brink of open war with the gremlins. Any suggestions?

#785 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 10:52 AM:

It's been my experience that lost things turn up after I buy a replacement. The gremlins know.

#786 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 10:53 AM:

Clifton: I feel your pain. Pockets of coats you haven't worn this week?

#787 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 11:02 AM:

Steve: A replacement will definitely be in the cards, as I needed an eye exam anyway, but I liked those frames (and they were expensive.)

Elliott: Worth a try, but I'll try the pendulum method first. It sometimes works unnervingly well.

#788 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 11:11 AM:

Clifton @784: Have somebody else come in to look for them? Somebody who will not not see the things you don't see.

#789 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 11:58 AM:

Anecdata on winter: I was young in the midwest in the early 70's. Family history suggests that the weather was colder, as stories start like:" It got up to 20 degrees, so we bundled everyone up and went outside", generally asserting that this was after a stretch of below 0 (F) weather where the kids were driving the parents nuts.

I don't know what to make of it -- I can't find weather data to support or refute it.

#790 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 12:11 PM:

Clifton @784 Fallen off the back of a nightstand or end table? To the side of cushions on a couch or chair?

#791 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 12:54 PM:

Dave H., #782: That is good news! Hemp fiber is also a more-sustainable feedstock for paper, which the article doesn't mention. It is possible that hemp could become a replacement for tobacco as a cash crop, which would be a win on two fronts.

Clifton, #784: I've heard it suggested that you try walking around your quarters calling the object by name. You might feel silly, but the worst that can happen is that it doesn't work.

#792 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 02:16 PM:

Yesterday it took us a bit over two and a half hours to get home. Gail got let out of work at noon and she came over to my office. We shut down at one. I was advising a student, and didn't leave until half past one.

We took one look at the interstate and noted that it was already a car park, so we went down Lee Street and Campbelton Road instead. Eventually Campbelton Road turned into a car park, but we were able to detour down Fairburn Road to Camp Creek Parkway. All of this took over an hour and a half. Then we turned off Camp Creek, and took Butner, because Camp Creek looked likely to turn into another car park before we got to Campbelton. Butner was an adventure itself. We passed one accident scene (two cars off the road on different sides and an ambulance arriving). Eventually reaching a point where another impromptu car park had started. At that point Waze was able to provide us with a detour which got us to our road only three and a quarter miles from home. Then, just a mile from our subdivision we encountered a truck that had gone off the road and was trying to get off the road and an idiot in a pick-up who had stopped and was not certain what to do. So people were coming up the hill past the labouring truck, while we couldn't go forward. Finally, the idiot in the pick-up decided to move and we were able to go on and get home, arriving at just after four with nerves completely shot.

Normally the commute from office to home takes thirty minutes. We were lucky, there were people stuck on the road all night.

#793 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 02:16 PM:

Yesterday it took us a bit over two and a half hours to get home. Gail got let out of work at noon and she came over to my office. We shut down at one. I was advising a student, and didn't leave until half past one.

We took one look at the interstate and noted that it was already a car park, so we went down Lee Street and Campbelton Road instead. Eventually Campbelton Road turned into a car park, but we were able to detour down Fairburn Road to Camp Creek Parkway. All of this took over an hour and a half. Then we turned off Camp Creek, and took Butner, because Camp Creek looked likely to turn into another car park before we got to Campbelton. Butner was an adventure itself. We passed one accident scene (two cars off the road on different sides and an ambulance arriving). Eventually reaching a point where another impromptu car park had started. At that point Waze was able to provide us with a detour which got us to our road only three and a quarter miles from home. Then, just a mile from our subdivision we encountered a truck that had gone off the road and was trying to get off the road and an idiot in a pick-up who had stopped and was not certain what to do. So people were coming up the hill past the labouring truck, while we couldn't go forward. Finally, the idiot in the pick-up decided to move and we were able to go on and get home, arriving at just after four with nerves completely shot.

Normally the commute from office to home takes thirty minutes. We were lucky, there were people stuck on the road all night.

#794 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 02:48 PM:

Fragano (792/3): I'm glad you made it home safely. What a mess! Atlanta's never been good at dealing with winter weather, but it's not usually quite this awful.

#795 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 03:10 PM:

And in Atlanta, they're scapegoating the forecasters.

Forecasters blamed

#796 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 03:29 PM:

Steve C. #795: The governor of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta are busily blaming everyone but themselves for the screwup.

#797 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 04:19 PM:

I am feeling reasonably pleased with myself. My kid's school (built about a hundred years ago) still has half an auditorium of original-to-the-school seating, with cast-iron bases and bentwood seats/backs. Because CPS closed 50 schools this year, including some that were just remodeled (grr, argh, different rant), CPS main office is amidst a 'who can use things that are just sitting unused in the closed school buildings' inventory, and it's been decided that our school is going to get brand-new aud seats from somewhere that just had them installed last year.

The principal figured we could sell the old ones as scrap metal and raise funds that way for various things that Really Need Money. I pointed out that if she'd give me a few weeks, I could probably find a vintage-fixtures place that would pay significantly more to salvage them and sell them on into a second life.

I now might be sitting on a tidy little bidding war for them, and so I haz a smug. :-> Not only fundraising-yay, but my inner Old House Living junkie feels virtuous for finding them homes that aren't a scrapyard. Not quite settled yet, and I am also pleased to be able to handle the back-and-forthing of early days of negotiation, because man does my principal have a full plate (two days closed because of extreme cold, and then this morning the preschool location couldn't open because the WATER MAIN was frozen -- etc).

#798 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 07:26 PM:

Did someone here ask about the name of a fraud where the fraudster makes a number of true predictions for free, then says "no more predictions, I'm selling my system."? There's no system, instead the fraudster divided the potential victims into groups, and each group got different predictions. Eventually, a few people have the impression of an unbroken accurate series.

Anyway, the scam is called The Inverted Pyramid, and the place I'd seen it described was in the thoroughly charming "Adam Had Three Brothers" by R. A. Lafferty.

#799 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 07:55 PM:

Nancy: I don't think I asked about its name, but I think I mentioned it in one of Teresa's past fraud threads. I read about it somewhere long ago and had never known it had a name, so thanks!

That site you link has a great list of a lot of different schemes and scams with their names and overviews. It looks like it came mostly from Wikipedia, but the scam you mention doesn't appear on the Wikipedia page.

#800 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 08:16 PM:

Jacque @ 788: I was vocally woeful and enlisted the whole household in helping search at various points; three pairs of eyes other than mine. Nobody turned it up.

OtterB @ 790: Checked there, but thanks for the suggestion and I'll probably check those places again just to be sure. It beats rechecking the places I've already looked several times.

Lee @ 791: Possibly the best suggestion yet. The kids already think I'm weird, and my wife knows I'm weird, so there is no downside to trying something silly. (And I have had something like this approach work sometimes in the past!)

#801 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Clifton @800, if you're going to try something weird ... is there anything else you could look for in the house? Some book or kitchen item that went mysteriously missing? Because I all too often find something only when I'm looking for something else.

#802 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 08:44 PM:

OtterB, the phenomenon of ED-pocket displacement is underrated. Often the only way to find something lost is to lose something else; this is because the extradimensional pocket can hold one object, and when you lose the second one, it knocks out the first one.

#803 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 08:48 PM:

This works for me sometimes. I stand in the middle of the room and say, "I believe in the law of the conservation of matter. Therefore, [object] cannot have disappeared."

I have two theories about why it might work. One is that thinking about large abstractions like the law of conservation of matter breaks tunnel vision and makes it easier to remember where something might be, or to see it when it's right in front of you.

Or possibly the law of conservation of matter doesn't work reliably, but the universe doesn't like to be caught cheating.

#804 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Gremlins and missing objects.
After diligently hunting for something I really need right now , like my car keys, I'll stand in the middle of the living room and state very firmly and loudly that if my keys don't show up in the next round of searching, I'M CALLING AM EXORCIST. My keys have never failed to show up. The house gremlins like to push it, but that tells them the fun has stopped being funny.

#805 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 09:39 PM:

An exorcist.
Spotted after I hit post.

#806 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 11:00 PM:

From Neil Gaiman's journal, this video features a string quartet version of the Doctor Who theme. I think I would go so far as to call it the second-best version I've heard. (Number one of course being Delia Derbyshire's original.)

#807 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 11:19 PM:

Composing with birds.

Random inspiration can produce listenable music.

#808 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2014, 11:33 PM:

David G., #807: That one didn't do much for me -- but a couple of hops from it I found this version, which is very cool.

#809 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 02:47 AM:

Fairly predictably, that version doesn't do a great deal for me. I'd rate it higher than some versions that have aired over the opening credits, to be sure.

#810 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 02:56 AM:

Elliott Mason @797: Well done you, and good luck for it all going through properly.

Clifton @784: I take it you've already pulled out the bed and had a look behind/under there, and under the pillow but inside the pillowcase? (This from the woman who once was looking for her pencil, finally put it down to have both hands free to search with, then a few seconds later went, "wait a minute..." Also, more recently, caught asking where my second towel was, in the changing rooms after swimming (immediately after which I realised it was already wrapped around my head).

#811 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 05:09 AM:

Ethical dilemmas of the internet age:

I want to point out this blog post, because I know there are Fluorospherians interested in the topic of "things irate authors do that are unlikely to improve the situation".

However, the thing this irate author has done is to ask his readers to pester Patrick Nielsen Hayden on his behalf, so will I, as one of his readers, make myself part of the problem if I now press Post?

#812 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 06:14 AM:

@784, Clifton -- I've lost my glasses any number of times due to the fact I can't see them when I put them down, also because cats. I can't blame that on gremlins, just on being blind as a bat!

(An eye doc once told me that I wasn't legal to drive without glasses. I laughed and told him I couldn't find my CAR without glasses.)

My household gremlins like sharpies, rolls of strapping tape (I make a living selling stuff on eBay), and my back brace, however. It took me two days to find my back brace last week -- and it turned up behind my couch. ???? The little things I can understand, but the back brace...? It's a bit bulky to go missing.

In other news, I haz a vent. I'm currently in the hospital, experiencing the joys of a raging kidney infection (the words "pus in your kidney" is never a phrase one wants to hear) and a 9mm kidney stone. However, After two days, I'm finally coherent enough to communicate with people beyond grunts and to COMPLAIN. This SUCKS. However, I am grateful that I can now carry on complete conversations and type and use my laptop. There was a period of time there that all I seemed to be able to say was, "Hurt!" and "More blankets!" (Due to chills.)

I won't be going home soon, but I'm definitely more alert and coherent and feeling overall better. I'm actually up to reading Making Light and enjoying the collective intelligent conversation on this board!

Oh, and my history of being a freak of nature continues. My kidney on the left side is apparently divided into two lobes, and each lobe has its own drainage system. Past kidney docs MISSED the fact that I had a kidney that was split in two, and two ureters. I've had I-don't-know how many CT scans and been scoped, too. Nobody caught this. It sounds like I basically have two left kidneys, just barely connected with a band of connective tissue. My new kidney doc is going over my scans to see if my right kidney is the same way. It would explain a LOT.

I also have a second spleen and a few other odd quirks. My father observed, "Well, twins run in the family ... maybe you ATE YOUR TWIN before birth and all that is left is a few extra internal organs! LOLOLOL. I love my dad's sense of humor.

On the bright side, I haz good insurance now -- the most I should pay out of pocket is $3000 (that's my catastrophic max). I don't know HOW I'm going to pay that, but the financial hit could be so, so, much worse. THANK YOU, Obamacare! My catastrophic max under my old plan was several thousand dollars, and there were a lot of things they didn't cover.

I didn't want to meet that in JANUARY, but hey, my medical care will be free the rest of the year! I was wondering how I was going to afford a few of the more expensive procedures and physical therapy I need, where payment is required up front ... my dad's covering my Obamacare premium, but neither of us could afford a number of expensive, needed, procedures that wouldn't be fully covered until the deductible was met.

Not a problem anymore ... I'm sure the hospital will set up a payment plan with me, if they don't have some sort of financial assistance.

(Hey, maybe my gremlin is actually the ghost of the twin I ate in utero. LOLOL.)

#813 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 08:04 AM:

One for Teresa: hand-made armor for your guinea pig

Is your pet guinea pig tired of wandering around the house unarmored and vulnerable? Do they get picked on by other guinea pigs? Has your guinea pig ever wanted to go with you to a Renaissance Faire but had nothing to wear?

Sadly, this is a relisting because the successful bidder on the previous listing didn't pay up.

#814 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 10:59 AM:

otter b and xopher (@801/802): I call that T--'s Law of Serendipity (hey, I named it!). It's a powerful force when used for Good.

Clifton, good luck finding your glasses! I, too, have known the frustration of having had something Right Here which then disappeared. We still have not found my mother's brown vest.

HLN: Area woman has now been scheduled for her third eye surgery, on next Wednesday morning. "ACK! I have to be at the medical center by 6 am that morning!" she exclaimed. "Being the first patient of the day is nice, but the time! I hope the FF can wake up enough to drive us there," she went on to say. She admitted that it would be nice to have a clear view of life through that eye again, and expressed gratitude that her eye has already demonstrated healing of the retina. "Binocular vision," she explained, "is partly the work of the eyes, and partly the work of the brain. As the eyes come back into alignment, the brain reincorporates that data into the videostream, in real time adjustments, which are fascinating to watch."

#815 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Deliberate misreading is fun dept:

HLN: Area woman has now been scheduled for her third eye surgery

Whoa! Ginger has a third eye! Is it visible ("right in the middle of her forehead")? Is it her pineal gland? Can she teleport by engaging its wonderfulness?

#816 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 12:06 PM:

Carol Kimball #815: I'd be more interested in knowing if she can use it to generate a red dot to intrigue her feline overlords.

#817 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 12:11 PM:

Fragano #816

Ooh! Ooh!

Wouldn't that be a superpower worth having?

#818 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 12:16 PM:

Cygnet @812: maybe you ATE YOUR TWIN

This is totally a thing. Either that, or you're a misincarnated mutant Timelord changeling.

#819 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 12:38 PM:

Nat Torkington said something brilliant today over at O'Reilly Radar:

One of the requirements of the DeepMind acquisition was that Google agreed to create an AI safety and ethics review board to ensure this technology is developed safely. Page’s First Law of Robotics: A robot may not block an advertisement, nor through inaction, allow an advertisement to come to harm.
#820 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 12:47 PM:

#818 -- I know it is, and so does my dad, which made it all the funnier. The doctor's expression was priceless.

It's probably just a congenital issue, according to the doc. He said that it WAS unusual for both lobes of the kidney to be fully developed, fully functional, and to have their own ureter with each separately connected to the bladder. However, it wasn't unheard of.

My nurse yesterday described it as, "Cool!"

I have to kinda agree. If you're going to have a congenital abnormality, what essentially amounts to an extra kidney is probably one of the better ones to have.

#821 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 01:39 PM:

There's a lot of human variation out there whose posessors only find out they're variants when, um, something goes horribly wrong somewhere (often independent of the variation) and medical science needs to Take A Closer Look.

#822 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 01:42 PM:

Cygnet @812: Certainly better than my sister, who has only one kidney, and that one's kinda deformed.

She didn't discover it until she was in her 30s, though, so it clearly hasn't slowed her down at all.

#823 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 01:49 PM:

The book gremlins have struck again. This time, they've made off with _The Dragon Waiting_ - and I know it *was* in this apartment, because I re-read it a year or so after I moved in.

Luckily, Thriftbooks had a copy. One copy. Even more luckily, I had enough money in my checking account to buy it.

(damned gremlins.) (*grumble*)

#824 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 02:05 PM:

Jacque, #818: EW. Also, don't let the batshit-crazies find out about this, or it will be the next anti-woman crusade.

Glinda, #823: Our household black hole has been hiding our hardcover copy of Diplomatic Immunity for long enough that I finally re-bought it in paperback just to be able to re-read it.

#825 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 02:27 PM:

Cygnet 812: Good grief, do get well quickly! I'm wincing just reading about it.

While I wouldn't say "ate," it's not unheard of for a pair of fraternal twins to merge early enough that the end result is one person, but late enough that some organs come from one twin and others from the other (that's not the same as fetus in fetu, right?). I guess if that happens with identicals it's impossible to detect. First I've personally heard of duplicated organs, though it seems likely to stem (SWIDT) from a similar cause.

Elliott 821: Indeed. There was a Radio Lab story a while back about a woman who needed a kidney and discovered that not only were none of her kids a match, but according to the genes she wasn't their mother. This was a case of fraternal-twin merging, and the happy ending was that her kidneys came from the twin who DID match her kids. Had she not needed a transplant, she never would have noticed.

#826 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 02:31 PM:

There's also micro-chimerism, which is apparently fairly common among people who have gestated: some of the fetus' stem cells get loose in the gestator's blood stream and wander around and find happy homes, and then later when something goes KASPLOEY they can wake up and do stem-cell-therapy things to fill the gap in function.

#827 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 04:16 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 815: I'll never tell. (Insert Evil Laugh (tm) here)

Fragano @ 816: I have a red dot and I'm not afraid to use it. (Laughs evilly again)

#828 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 04:19 PM:

Ginger #827: I say nozzing, nozzing.

#829 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 08:33 PM:

I'm still in the hospital, and they're still trying to figure out -- completely -- what's wrong with me. They need to get the infection under control before they can whack the stone with ultrasound down in Phoenix at Saint Joe's 100 miles away(no lithotripsy machine in Payson, because small town) but the stent was supposed to relieve the pain and pressure. They tried to put me on oral meds and let's just say I ended up crying in pain before they went back to morphine. I don't, normally, cry from pain.

I don't think the antibiotics they've tried are getting the infection. They'll have cultures back tomorrow to find out for sure.

Only complaint about the service? The hospital food is vile, in a special uber-healthy way. I am NOT a picky eater. I will basically eat anything that I'm not allergic to. However, they are very proud of the fact that they're going by the FDA food guidelines of "X" number of servings of "X" number of types of food per day, with precise calories and sodium levels calculated out. This is not a "special" diet for people who need to lose weight or have health restrictions. This is their every-day diet for everyone, which, IMHO, ignores the fact that sick people tend to need more calories AND need tasty food to encourage them to eat. Whoever designed their menu had no working knowledge of herbs and spices and was salt phobic.

It's ... interesting. Everyone I've talked to, including the staff, is put off by it.

I normally cook from scratch, to the point of canning my own veggies. I'm sometimes teased that my recipe for chicken soup starts with "catch the chicken." I cook HEALTHY food, and still make it taste good. I rarely eat out, and when I do, it's things I can't make myself, so eating this hospital's food has been a bit of a shock. It's GROSS.

I've pretty much been living on sodas and (low salt) saltines. You can't get extra salt packets, either. The Taco Bell lunch my dad brought me was a real treat.

Other than that, it seems like a very good hospital. They're responsive and they're trying hard to make me comfortable -- I've been hospitalized a lot in my life (mostly for pneumonia) plus lots of ER visits for kidney stones, asthma attacks, broken bones, back problems, etc. and this has been the best hospital visit I've ever had. It's a TINY hospital, with a lot of outdated equipment, but it seems to be well run and the staff motivated to do the right thing. The staff is all very upbeat and happy in their interactions with each other and with me. It's clear listening to the staff that they know a lot of their patients from the community. The kidney doc's got a doctor friend with a house just a couple ridges away from us, out in BFE. One of the night nurses saw my address and knew my eye doc lived two doors down from us. I talked about living in the country with another nurse, and he knew what our HOUSE looked like because he'd known the previous owners. You gotta love a small town.

(Payson, as a whole, tends to be a very nice town, with very nice people. The Payson culture seems to have spilled into the Payson hospital.)

They transport anything critical to the Valley by helicopter and just handle the small stuff (and a kidney infection in need of taming qualifies as "small stuff") here. If they can't figure me out, I'm sure I'll be headed down to the Valley (likely to Saint Joe's or the Mayo Clinic) but for now, they seem to be doing just fine.

#830 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 09:26 PM:

Elliott Mason #826: ISTR that works the other way too, and most of us are carrying some maternal cells.

#831 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 09:30 PM:

Okay, this is dumb, but could I get a hand here? Whenever I post something to Craigslist, I can never actually see my posting when I go directly to their site. Could somebody please go look at in the "free stuff" section, and tell me if they see a post for "Free hollow log?" (I have this strong feeling I'm missing something obvious....)

#833 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 09:41 PM:

Steve C.: Thanks! It finally showed up for me, too. (Technology is so cool. When it works.)

#834 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 10:46 PM:

I hope you're out of there soon Cygnet! Having Internet access in a hospital must make things a bit more tolerable.

#835 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 10:51 PM:

HLN: Area woman has apparently pissed off a weather god. Area woman accomplished a largely uneventful drive from St. Louis to Salina, Kansas, where she learned that yet more snow is predicted on the I-70 corridor. Area woman hopes the morning will be seasonally dry and dun rather than wet and white. Area woman also offers her best wishes to KDOT and CODOT for their usual and continued competence in maintaining said interstate.

Area woman has also realized she is not a competent full-time carer. Area woman castigates herself for not locating the significant funding to provide non-emergency medical transport. Area woman knows limits. Area woman has about one day left. Area woman currently plans to rewrite her living will and DNR to be far more strict and has located an excellent motivation for diet, strength training and engaging with the medical profession.

One more day.

Cygnet: I hope the drugs do their job and you feel better very soon. PRMC is a very good small hospital; I had a classmate in HS who was way too young to be driving alone from Snowflake to the Valley and managed to wrap zir car around several things while coming down the rim. In terms of trauma, they certainly kept zir alive and probably prevented severe brain damage.

I'd totally smuggle you in some spice/herb blends if I was anywhere closer.

Fragano: Very glad you're both safe and made it home.

#836 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 10:54 PM:

Cygnet, ow! ow!
I've had kidney infections since I was 15, and stones since I was 17. Except for the first stone, where I was in excruciating pain for several hours because the ER doctor said 17 year olds don't get kidney stones, I haven't had a lot of trouble. I have issues but not at your level. May all medication work as required and you and your extra parts go home soon. (Extra parts is cool.)

Payson is a lovely town. I had an aunt who lived there, many long years ago. She and another aunt who lived somewhere near the Blue Ridge ranger station would meet for dinner in Strawberry.

#837 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 11:19 PM:

Another good item from Gaiman's blog: a love song to an author. (Starts with commentary from ~10:00; song at ~11:30. My apologies if this doesn't drop you in the right part of the video....) This won't be new to anyone who keeps up, or who has the tour record, but I'm behind. I've never read the author but was awed by the song.

#838 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 06:47 AM:

Payson Region isn't officially a trauma center, iirc, but I'm sure they see a LOT given the population they serve. Quad vs. tree and elk vs. car alone would be enough to keep their ER hopping, nevermind all the people who go play in the forest and get hurt. As far as I know, they stabilize patients and then if they need further care, they send them down to the Valley to one of the trauma centers there. I've heard their chopper take off several times since I've been here. However, their staff has to have substantial experience with trauma!

And yeah, they've got Wifi. This is awesome. It's free, and it's fast. I've been streaming Pandora since I got coherent enough to operate a laptop (a couple days after arrival) and the hospital staff seems surprised by this. (Personally, I'd think that a few music channels on the TV would be well received by patients.)

And, I am still feverish. They tried to change my antibiotic again last night to Levaquin. I said HELL NO and reminded them I was allergic to it. They're trying to figure out what to give me, now, as the rocephin isn't working.

I've had kidney stones and kidney infections before, but never like this. This is pretty much my idea of hell. *shrug* However, this, too, shall eventually pass.

#839 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 07:40 AM:

Cygnet, sending healing thoughts your way.

CZEdwards, good wishes your direction, too, that both the weather and your spoon supply hold out.

#840 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 10:36 AM:

I think I've stemmed the spam flood. I'll keep an eye on things.

#841 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 10:46 AM:

@840: Thank you.

#842 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 10:47 AM:

You're welcome, Buddha Buck. Thank you for flagging.

#843 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 11:27 AM:

Gracious, Cygnet! My best wishes on your recovery, and thanks for your helpful good wishes.

The glasses, the gremlins, or both are being obdurate. I formulated a plan of sorts last night: it's time to find my current lens Rx - that in itself will take a while, although I know I saw it recently when cleaning up old files - order an immediate cheap pair of progressives as a temporary replacement, and schedule an optometrist appointment for a more permanent replacement.

I needed to get my eyes checked again anyway; that's a year or more overdue. I suppose the missing glasses feel they're doing me a favor by making me urgently attend to an Important Matter. It's just a particularly poor time for it.

#844 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 11:39 AM:

#837 ::: CHip

I also recommend the first song, "I Google You".

If I had a time machine, I'd like to take some intriguing items back to John Campbell to see what he'd make of them-- in particular, A Fire Upon the Deep. I'm not a monster, after he'd told me what he thought was science fiction and what was fact, I'd tell him.

It would be even more fun to bring him "I Google You", including the introduction. Would he find it extremely surprising that smoking had become illegal in bars?

#845 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 12:07 PM:

I'd throw in a solar-powered scientific calculator, just for the fun of it. Look, John, no batteries!

#846 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 12:09 PM:

If you're going to take a book to freak out John Campbell, I'd take Cory Doctorow's _Little Brother_ -- and watch him boggle when you tell him how much of it is real and how little of it is invented tech.

#847 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 01:13 PM:

Cygnet -- yikes! I hope they find the right antibiotic soon to knock out your infection, so they can take care of the stone. It sounds pretty miserable -- I'm glad they got you back on pain meds that seem to actually work. You've got my virtual moral support.

I'm glad to hear the hospital is good, responsive, and communicative! We recently went through a situation where a family member was hospitalized, and doctors, nurses, and staff were infuriatingly uncommunicative and unresponsive. So I am very, very grateful for responsive hospital people these days.

And speaking of kidneys:

I've been going through a battery of tests to see whether I can be a living kidney donor to a family member. Yesterday, I got official word that I am approved as a living donor! …Cue anxiety attack.

It feels like nerves about a thing I fundamentally want to do. It doesn't feel like "this situation is really wrong" anxiety. However, I would really like to talk it out with someone (or multiple people).

I don't think this is a "need more information" kind of anxiety. I've done bunches of reading, gotten lots of information given to me, and asked many questions of the team who has been evaluating me as a donor. I feel like I'm pretty well-educated about the entire process, including the long-term outcomes for donors.

It's also not a "feeling pressured" kind of anxiety. Nobody asked me or expected me to donate; in fact I got some pushback on the idea. If I decided tomorrow that I didn't want to do it, I wouldn't catch any flak. In fact, a number of people would be more relieved than anything.

The anxiety is more about how to mentally deal with things that are fundamentally unknown. Like how much the transplant will improve the recipient's quality of life, and how long that improvement will last. Whether I will ultimately feel like the pain and exhaustion of surgery were worth it.

Any recommendations for where I might go to talk to other people who have been living organ donors, or have received transplants from living donors, or are their family members, close friends, etc.? Or other suggestions for thinking/working through the anxiety and unknowns of this issue?

Because of some recent health issues this family member has had, the surgery can't happen sooner than 6 months from now. So I have some processing time.

#848 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Olympic Sponsors Feeling The Heat. The anti-gay thing is really rebounding on them. Coke's Internet-to-bottles scheme is precious, and whoever let it through to production for this deployment needs be fired for recklessness.

#849 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 01:22 PM:

CZEdwards #835 Thank you.

Today we are back at work. Gail's job had a two-hour delay, which she didn't find out till she got there. Mine didn't, but I'm glad I got there or my TA wouldn't have been able to get into a classroom.

In spite of it being in the 40s, there is still snow on the ground, and more importantly, ice on the ground, in lots of places. I'm hoping the journey home this evening will be uneventful. I also hope that the post will be delivered. The couriers having been stayed from their appointed rounds by the sheer danger of taking to the roads.

#850 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 02:15 PM:


I made the mistake of passing the gnocchi recipe past the northern Italian guy down the row.

"If it isn't made from potatoes, it isn't gnocchi! It might be good, but don't call it that."

I think I'll make it anyway, and hope my grandmother's spirit doesn't strike me down.

#851 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Stefan, that was my thought, but...well, what DO you call them then?

I have the same problem with pesto. If it ain't basil, it ain't pesto IMO. Had "pesto" one time that was made with SPINACH. Not only was it the wrong flavor, they hadn't washed the spinach adequately and it had grit in it. I believe that was the only time I've actually sent a dish back.

#852 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz writes in #844:

If I had a time machine, I'd like to take some intriguing items back to John Campbell to see what he'd make of them-- in particular, A Fire Upon the Deep. I'm not a monster, after he'd told me what he thought was science fiction and what was fact, I'd tell him.

It would be even more fun to bring him "I Google You", including the introduction. Would he find it extremely surprising that smoking had become illegal in bars?

Nancy's daydream has me dredging up Lewis Padgett's* story "The Proud Robot," which Campbell published in 1943, and replacing the verb "vasten" with another verb.

“How'd you know where to reach me?”

“I googled you,” the robot said.


"I googled you were at the Vox-View studios, with Patsy Brock."

"What's googled?" Gallegher wanted to know.

"It's a sense I've got. You've nothing remotely like it, so I can't describe it to you. It's like a combination of Twitter and prescience."


"Oh, you don't have Twitter, either..."

* "Lewis Padgett:" pseudonym for Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore.

#853 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 02:49 PM:

Stefan @850: Your neighbor is wrong. Gnocchi go back at least to Roman times, possibly earlier. Ricotta isn't much younger, and like gnocchi is a traditional food of the poor. Potatoes, on the other hand, didn't come to Europe until the 16th century.

All this means is that your neighbor's grandmother always made potato gnocchi. It's very traditional of him to insist on it, since one of the mottos of Italian cooking is "My grandmother's way or the highway."

Was your nonna from the side of the family you share with Julia? I think I may have heard about her cooking.

#854 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 03:01 PM:

Xopher @851: Technically pesto describes anything pounded -- think mortar and pesto. The best-known pesto is the Genoese kind made with basil, but there are variants all over Italy, France, Croatia ...

This question appears to be more clear-cut than the gnocchi problem. If you say "pesto" and don't otherwise specify, it should be the kind made with basil.

#855 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 03:01 PM:

Xopher @851: Technically pesto describes anything pounded -- think mortar and pesto. The best-known pesto is the Genoese kind made with basil, but there are variants all over Italy, France, Croatia ...

This question appears to be more clear-cut than the gnocchi problem. If you say "pesto" and don't otherwise specify, it should be the kind made with basil.

#856 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 03:13 PM:

That's a fine mnemonic, but in fact 'pestle' comes from a different root. Can't find it back to IE, but it's from Latin pistillum, and is related to 'pistil'—in fact pistils are called that because they look like a pestle!

#857 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 03:19 PM:

I once had a very good pseudo-pesto which was made with arugula rather than basil, but otherwise basil is a must. I don't think people eat pesto for the fact that it's pounded and/or finely-chopped/blended green leafy things; they want a kick in the taste buds, which means basil will work and spinach mostly won't.

On another note entirely, I just found the most wonderful site on Metafilter: The Philosopher's Mail (which is, yes, meant to make you think of The Daily Mail, except that it's not vile. The articles really are worth reading.)

#858 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 03:28 PM:

My impression is that in Mexico, mole' is a range of sauces, but in America it's bitter chocolate with hot pepper.

There's probably a word for the way cultures get simplified when they get transmitted over distances. actually, simplification happens over time, too, now that I think about it.

#859 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 03:49 PM:

TNH asked: Was your nonna from the side of the family you share with Julia? I think I may have heard about her cooking.

Yes indeed. Marvelous gnocchi, ravioli, and chicken & polenta dishes. Peasant food that is now considered gourmet.

Various cousins, including Julia, picked up recipes. But since the big family get togethers have gotten rarer (and especially since I moved 2800 miles away) and I haven't had any of those dishes in years.

So! I buy ricotta on the way home.

RE pesto, the family source was my grandmother's cousin (?), who grew basil in the backyard of her tiny house in Fort Lee. Zia Yolanda would likely have shook her head and chuckled doubtfully at any other sort.

Oh! Here is the Village Voice review of the family restaurant:

#860 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 03:50 PM:

John @ 857

Or cilantro. Or mint. Or probably a range of other things that herbier people than I could identify. I used to sub basil plus mint or parsley into my salsas in lieu of cilantro; there's a lot of potential in substituting various herbs across different cuisines, without demanding that people give up on the basic concept. (It was definitely salsa, not bruschetta. Totally different impact.)

#861 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 04:23 PM:

On pesto: Adding a little spinach to the basil will keep it green, and shouldn't change the flavor.

#862 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 04:30 PM:

Possibly useful book for arguing history of Italian food.

#863 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 04:45 PM:

On the subject of Italian food and history, just this week I've gotten back to work on my excessively geeky analysis of the underlying structure of 16th c. Italian chef Cristoforo di Messisbugo's banquet menus. You can find the whole series of posts so far on my LiveJournal under the tag 'messisbugo'.

When researching historic cookery, I'm always fascinated by the concept of "theme and variations". What are the characteristics that make a dish or a meal a member of the category X? What can you change? What can't you change? If you change something, what are the appropriate substitutions? When I first started browsing through Messisbugo's menus, it was clear that they were following some sort of definite template and I wanted to see how much of that template was extractable simply from the raw data.

#864 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 05:32 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @858 My impression is that in Mexico, mole' is a range of sauces, but in America it's bitter chocolate with hot pepper.

Of the 'classic' seven molés of Oaxaca, three are hot pepper sauces with chocolate and spices and stuff (poblano/rojo, negro, coloradito). Three more (amarillo, verde, chichilo) have basically similar construction without the chocolate, and the manchamantel is a completely different tomato, fruit, and chili cooking sauce. And, of course, there are infinite variations and elaborations and new inventions; these are just the classics.

I think US molé not otherwise specified is usually molé poblano or molé negro -- distinguishable by colour (dark brown vs inky black).

I haven't tried any of the non-chocolate ones, but molé poblano is one of the great North American culinary inventions. It even has an apocryphal origin story involving nuns.

#865 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 06:59 PM:

#864 thomas re: nun story

Is that the one with the toast?!

#866 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 06:59 PM:

("Seven Molés of Oaxaca" sounds like the title of an inspiring book turned movie.)

#867 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 07:11 PM:

Caroline @847: I have reached out to a coworker who is a kidney donor. Will put you in touch when I get back clearance to do so.

#868 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 07:48 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 866: I've been seeing "Seven Moles of Oaxaca", minus the accent, as either a heroic fantasy series or something you have to brave in a D&D scenario.

I was once served a purported molé enchilada in a purportedly Mexican restaurant in North Bend, Washington State which tasted as though it had been made with Hershey's milk chocolate or possibly Hershey's chocolate syrup - sickeningly sweet and with not much to the flavor other than dilute chocolate. That was a shocking creature to face unexpectedly. The waitress seemed entirely unaware that there was anything out of the ordinary about this, and was astounded that I might have expected something different.

#869 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 08:00 PM:


Kudos to the plow teams of CODOT and KDOT -- they did a great job. Also to whatever weather deity accepted my offered deal -- yes, indeed, the carbon of this venture has already been offset and with the next billing cycle, we will switch to 100% wind electricity.

As of 2:30 this afternoon, my grandmother's physical care is not my problem. She seems to be settling in well enough, though of course very tired. Then again, so am I.

Lessons learned: Do your kegels. Core strength is not to be taken lightly. Take the sitting to standing test seriously. Deal with mental and neurological health issues early and often because minor stuff festers and compounds into major. Stand up straight. There are more channels playing Law & Order on a continuous loop than can be counted. The definition of a wheelchair accessible hotel room is poorly understood and often dead wrong. Also, most doors and wheelchair ramps are stunningly badly designed if you actually have to use them. Recliners are both of the devil and Best Thing Evars.

#870 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 08:25 PM:

I have a nifty little cookbook called "Pestos!" by Dorothy Rankin. In the intro, she quotes Ed Giobbi "when I was in Genoa, I tried to find the truly authentic version, but that experience convinced me there is no such thing"

Basil, red basil, basil and sorrel, basil and watercress, fennel (seeds and bulb), oregano, sage and parsley, tarragon, thyme, lemon thyme, and finally anchovy and parsley. I've only made three or four of these, but the fennel one and the anchovy both sound like I should try them. Anchovy pesto pizza, topped with basil and tomatoes, anyone?

#871 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 08:41 PM:

CZEdwards -
Congratulations on a job of staggering complexity (not counting the Weather Daemon Input) handled superlatively.

#872 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 09:01 PM:

Incidentally, since there is either nothing more or volumes more to be said on the nature of moles, I'll just note that I've never seen it spelled with (or pronounced with) an accent, and that it's the same root as guacamole (it's from the Nahuatl for "mixture").

The only one I've made myself is mole negro, "the one with chocolate", which took all day, but I've had very good coloradito and an invented "mole de los dioses" (which was mostly huitlacoche, and was amazing) in LA.

Clifton @868, I think mole at anything other than a specifically Oaxacan restaurant may be the dread scenario to be braved in D&D....

#873 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 09:11 PM:

Lorax @#872 a friend of mine had the ahuacatls to make authentic mole for 200 people at an SCA feast, served with handmade tortillas. Pretty good stuff, this New World cooking. But it took all day.

#874 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 09:26 PM:

Re: Pesto and basil -- any time I smell basil, I am transported instantly in time to summers as a child, when my mother always had a few large plants by the front door of the house.

I always plant basil in my garden to this day, even if I don't cook with it much. A big grocery bag of leaves or rooted cuttings makes a fine gift to friends, and as far as I'm concerned, it's not a garden without that smell.

In other news, I found out the culture results on my kidney infection. The offending bug, klebsiella pneumonia. This is Not Good, but they seem to have caught it in time. I may get to go home tomorrow. Due to allergies to almost every antibiotic on the planet that kills klebsiella, I now have a PICC line and will be returning to the hospital every day for an infusion until further notice. Apparently, gentamicin is the only drug I can take which kills it, and it's a risky old-school antibiotic that needs careful monitoring.

This does mean I get to say my two left kidneys have pneumonia. :-)

#875 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Cygnet (874): I'm glad they figured out what the problem is. Possibly going home tomorrow is great news, even with trips back in for antibiotic monitoring.

And this--
my two left kidneys have pneumonia
--is a truly marvelous line!

#876 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 09:43 PM:

I am tempted on buying one of those closet-sized greenhouses for my balcony, for to grow basil and other herb-ish things.

@Cygnet: Better the bug you know! I hope the infection gets knocked out quickly.

* * *
I would love to see some billionaire pay a bounty for new antibiotics. On the grounds that they never get used in livestock operations, or sold over-the-counter. Perhaps only for use in hospitals.

#877 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 09:52 PM:

Cygnet, what Mary Aileen said.

Clifton, I learned to rate Mexican restaurants by their salsa. If the salsa is insipid, expect less-than-authentic "mexican" food. I ate at a place claiming authenticity that didn't serve salsa with chips. Having been seated, and leaving would have caused issues, I ordered chicken with rice. Even American style, it's edible. It wasn't bad but it wasn't Mexican.

#878 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 10:14 PM:

There currently a place in Sun Valley with mole de los dioses, among others.

#879 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 10:20 PM:

I'm not super fond of mole myself. To me it's generally sort of bland, like all those ingredients got together and vetoed each other's contributions. A lot of the mole around here is store-bought, but mole served in restaurants that make good pozole and chile verde and so on seems bland to me too.

It's been a while since I condsidered the question of "authenticity," though. Probably because of where I live, where the large majority of food professionals at every level and in every tradition and field are Mexican.

#880 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 11:41 PM:

I was caught in Winter Storm Janus. Got up bright and early at the Stiles's, about to make the last leg home. The storm was set to start at 1. At 8:15 am, it was very clear, so I decided to hop on the road. At 8:30, leaving the gas station, some flakes were falling. It took four hours to get to Williamsport. Not sure how long it usually takes, but boy did this feel long. After there, the roads were decent enough I pressed homeward.

#881 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Fragano 816 Ginger@827 Re: red dot - My wife's board-gaming group had a post-Christmas gift exchanging/stealing party. I ended up with a Shark with a frickin' laser pointer! It has been used to taunt cats.

There are a bunch of Mexican restaurants around here with fairly similar menus, great salsa, same "Grandma's special sauce" (because it's different members of the same family running them.) The mole' sauce is kind of strange; too sweet for me, but not cloyingly thick, not particularly chocolatey, and a lighter brown than mole negro, and I get it fairly often. I forget where they're from, but I don't think they're Oaxacan.

My recent attempt at cooking a not-quite-canonical dish was stamppot; my wife recently gave me a pressure cooker, and there's been a lot of kale in the farmer's markets, so I got some boiling potatoes, pressure-cooked them, cooked the kale and added fried onions and mushrooms (as a substitute for sausage), and it worked pretty well.

#882 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 02:20 AM:

Hey, if you want to simultaneously giggle, sob, and infect everyone within audio range with an earworm, try this:

Summary: In order to publicize their needs and adoptable animals, a bunch of volunteers at a pet shelter decide to do a single-take camera-in-motion lip-sync video to "Take a Chance on Me" and nail it.

Bonus no. 1: They keep singing after the music shuts off and turn out to be pretty good.

Bonus no. 2: The puppy at the end . . is named Chance. Corny as heck, I know, but somebody's chopping onions in here anyway.

#883 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 02:30 AM:

Lin Daniel @ 877: One of my favorite Mexican restaurants doesn't serve chips and salsa. The family is from Michoácan, and my impression is that chips aren't big there. They serve pickled carrots as an appetizer instead, and they are delicious. It's in Centralia, Washington -- La Tarasca.

#884 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 03:17 AM:

882: Sweet Creation! That appears to be one long take. Crikey, I wonder how many times they had to do it to get it right? That's even more impressive than the Robert Carlyle Johnny Walker vid.

I love the way the dogs are all, "Well, not sure, but okay," and the cats are, "OMG WTF?"

#885 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 07:02 AM:

Heads up: we're in the middle of intermittent spam floods, and the Duty Gnomes need to be out for a few hours. I've done what I can to protect us, but if another one comes through, there's no need to flag. I'll notice, and I'll shovel the steaming mess out when I get back.

I apologize for any inconvenience. It will be temporary.

#886 ::: KayTei isn't sleepy ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 07:16 AM:

Here, have a poem, courtesy of insomnia, which makes everything seem like a good idea!

The spammer sat at his machine
Exuding innocence;
His eyes took on a fervent sheen
Belying this pretense.
The sentence fragments on the screen
resisted making sense.

Persistently misspelled throughout,
Their relevancy vague,
Their links so often used to tout
Cheap impotency aids -
They scattered randomly about
their target's forum page.

The gnomes, safe in their fortresses
Were stricken with dismay.
Their spam hunters' relentlessness
Not quite enough to stay
The oozing flood of sentences
From seeing light of day.

Their duty clear to set things right,
They cleaned the barbeque,
Mixed marinades, set coals alight,
Baked up some cookies, too.
The feast of spam would span the night,
And feed an army, too.

At break of day, their bellies round
And duties satisfied,
The spam was no where to be found,
Impressively excised.

#887 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 08:29 AM:

CZEdwards @869: really glad to hear that your journey was concluded so successfully.

Cygnet @874: "This does mean I get to say my two left kidneys have pneumonia" That's a fantastic quote. (I'm slightly pedantic so I will point out that the organism in question is actually called Klebsiella pneumoniae, but the difference might not have been obvious verbally). And yes, gentamicin can be not-good for the ears and for the kidneys, but in the circumstances... Good luck for a rapid response to treatment.

#888 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 09:04 AM:

KayTei: loud applause!

#889 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 09:47 AM:

883, janetl
Good to know. I'm now recalling a Sonoran-style restaurant that only served salsa and chips because it was expected. They had a lot of stuff with cocoa and/or cinnamon, and thick grainy corn tortillas. Great stuff. Went out of business, probably due in part to an iffy location.

#890 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 11:56 AM:

Carol Kimball @865: re molé origin story.

The story is that the bishop was paying a surprise visit to the convent, and they weren't prepared to receive him in proper style. They killed their old turkey and made a sauce of basically everything in the pantry: stale bread, peppers, garlic, some seeds/nuts, garlic. It turned out as molé poblano.

It's clearly apocryphal because of the widespread use of molés and their relationship to the nearly-as-complex pepper sauces in nearby regions and countries.

#891 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 12:01 PM:

So I'm in Houston now (as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I would be).

My flight got in at six am. I've just spent four and a half hours in border control, waiting for my case to work its way up to someone who could, in five minutes, determine that I did in fact have exactly the sort of visa I should have for my trip here.

I'm sure if I wasn't a white academic from a friendly country that has few people trying to move to the US this would happen a lot more often. It still sucks when it does happen.

#892 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 12:03 PM:

On the other hand, the sisters did have a school where they taught girls cooking and housekeeping.

#893 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 12:05 PM:

Finishing the thought - they probably did the cooking for the bishop, too. 'Mole del palacio' sounds like something for a fancy dinner for him.

#894 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Thomas @891, that sucks. And I'm sure you're right about it being even more trouble for non-white people. I'm glad you made it through eventually.

#895 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 01:31 PM:

#890 ::: thomas

Yup, that's the story I was thinking of, with "Chicken Marengo" implications (what do you serve freshly-arrived conqueror Napoleon when the countryside has been ravaged by soldiers?). James Burke's introduced me to this concept in Connections. The Great Man loved it (or at least said he did, hey, it was food)? Better document it for future generations.

There's a chile recipe in the Colorado Cache cookbook that has a similar panty (oops, pantry)-emptying feel. Still not enough bulk? Throw in a can of black olives...

#896 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 01:37 PM:

#893 PJ Evans

Yup. Cross-posting for your enjoyment, folks!

And sloppy editing by moi - "James Burke" should have been stripped of its possessive.

#897 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 02:23 PM:

Lorax@872. Yes, you're right, there shouldn't be an accent. It's like the very tempting but spurious enyay you often see on habanero.

#898 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 02:39 PM:

Possibly because of the mention of nuns, this is reminding me of a large and yummy class of Portuguese deserts based on egg yolks. The story I was told was that nuns used to use egg whites to stiffen their wimples and came up with many and varied uses for the excess yolks. Wikipedia mentions the story but asserts that, in fact, egg whites were an export product for Portugal in the 18th-19th centuries, used for multiple purposes. In any case, excess egg yolks and yummy desserts; one of which, tying back to the nuns, is called "barriga de freira", "nun's belly".

#899 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 06:58 PM:

I have thoroughly earwormed myself. And so I am coming to you all in the hopes that shared pain is lightened. ;-) Amazing Grace TTTO Siberian Khatru. (No link so that I won't disturb those who don't know this is the Yes song whose first line is "Sing, bird of prey".)

#900 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2014, 07:34 PM:

Another observation related to US border control:

There's a really well-done video (this is a longer cut, by about 50%) that shows when you are waiting in long lines to have your documents examined. It starts with the Golden Gate bridge and the Washington monument, and goes on through impressive scenery (Rockies, Grand Canyon, pretty mesas, bald eagle, grizzly bear catching salmon), Americana (kid on tyre swing, house raising, white picket fence, red barn painted with US flag, space-shuttle takeoff), and photos or videos of a wide range of smiling individuals, couples, and families. They include urban people (Chicago, LA, Seattle, New York) as well as farmers, cowboys, and truckers, and a full range of ethnicities and ages. It closes with the Statue of Liberty.

For people returning home it's a great set of images of the US, and for visitors it says 'this is an amazing country with all sorts of people, including some just like you'.

What I think is interesting, which I didn't notice until about the tenth repeat is that there's exactly one church visible in the video. A mosque, as a background for a still of two women in hijab.

#901 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 01:04 AM:

Jacque, #884: That style (I think it's generally known as LipDub) appears to be A Thing, and yes, it's impressive as hell. This is one of my favorites. Bonus: find Waldo!

thomas, #891: If you're still interested in having a Native Guide for running around the city, drop me a line at fgneqernzre@zvaqfcevat.pbz. If you already did and got no answer, comment here -- it's possible that you hit the spam filter at the Earthlink end.

#902 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 02:40 AM:

We have 3 books, free to first inquiry, which might be of interest to someone here.

- What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew
From Fox Hunting to Whist - the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England
Daniel Pool

- The Rise & Fall of a Regency Dandy
The Life and Times of Scrope Berdmore Davies
T. A. J. Burnett

- Jane Austen's Town and Country Style
(lots and lots of photos and drawings -- architecture, artifacts, food, fashion, fabrics)
Susan Watkins

If interested, drop a note with your mailing address to enhyg42@tznvy.pbz.

#903 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 08:21 AM:

HLN: Universe is conspiring, in the form of feline settling in, to assure that no night of sleep shall be complete without interruption, and no morning shall be complete without some unpleasant and unfortunate discovery (usually liquid) upon slithering, half-awake, down the stairs to the main floor.

#904 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 01:26 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 871 and dcb @ 887:

Thanks so much. That was something I needed to hear. (Family cross-talk is currently running irritating to aggravating, and makes me glad none of the rest of them are within clue-by-four distance.)

Xeger @ 903:

Is the liquid from the end with one eye, or two? Because daily liquid vomit is an Issue. Daily inappropriate pee can be, too*, but vomit means something systemic. Cats will scarf-and-barf, especially after a dietary change, but that's chunky. A liquid puddle means stomach acid, and in my experience, means Kidneys Suboptimal and Deteriorating.

*Either litterbox is Wrong**, or a UTI or feline passive-aggression or the place smells like it should be a litterbox and this is where it should be.

** Wrong litterboxes are in the wrong place, or too covered, or too uncovered, or litter is wrong, or sides are too high, or too low, or somebody else is always in it, or it smells funny or just... No. Because cats are divas that way.

#905 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 04:12 PM:

CZEdwards @ 904 ...
Is the liquid from the end with one eye, or two? Because daily liquid vomit is an Issue. Daily inappropriate pee can be, too*, but vomit means something systemic. Cats will scarf-and-barf, especially after a dietary change, but that's chunky. A liquid puddle means stomach acid, and in my experience, means Kidneys Suboptimal and Deteriorating...

Having three cats, there's plenty of scope for mess. This morning was two of the cats having an exceedingly loud disagreement (although neither seems to have connected), and one apparently pissing herself as a result.

The morning before was "Oooh! Snow melt! Let me track that everywhere" ...

The morning before that was "I just gorged on food, and promptly puked the lumpy bits back up again"

... it's like they're taking turns to find something annoying to do.

#906 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 04:49 PM:

There's a new open thread to wander over to when it's time. No need to rush, mind.

#907 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 05:47 PM:

xeger @905: I'm told there's nothing quite like the sensation of cold, slimy cat hairball under your bare foot when you get up in the morning... So far I've managed to avoid stepping on those, but I'm sure it will happen some day.

At least the varied nature of the substances involved does not suggest any particular medical problem!

#908 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 06:55 PM:

It is shedding season. I'll be using this deprecated Open Thread to store stray bit of fur; the landfill sent me a court order telling me I couldn't dump Kira's sheddings there any more.

#909 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 06:59 PM:

You might want to look into having them spun into yarn. (You too could have a dog-fur coat.)

#910 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 08:20 PM:

Stefan Jones@908, P J Evans @909: or if you have a garden, dig the hair into the soil. Helps hold water, and makes a nice source of nitrogen.

#911 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 08:20 PM:

Stefan Jones@908, P J Evans @909: or if you have a garden, dig the hair into the soil. Helps hold water, and makes a nice source of nitrogen.

#912 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 08:23 PM:

me @ 910-911: ...and I have no idea why that double-posted.

#913 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 11:29 PM:

I am collecting Kira's fur for yarn-making purposes!

#914 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:48 AM:

Steve C. @ 832

Free Hollow Log

I'm getting older and more cautious. Could you fill me in on what Ms. Log did before I submit my name to her amnesty petition? I didn't see anything about the accusations against her, just some ad copy which must've bled into the article.

dcb @ 907:

I'm told there's nothing quite like the sensation of cold, slimy cat hairball under your bare foot when you get up in the morning.

No, there isn't. There is something worse.

I lived in a large studio apartment with a half-wall between the kitchen and the sleeping area. I'd put various things extending the wall--a sofa, a chifforobe, a Farfisa organ--there over the years. There remained a narrow passage between the end of that and the gas stove, on which I often simmered winter chili and toasted croissants, which heated the apartment. I traversed this small gap every time I went from bedroom to bathroom.

My cats never adjusted to my relaxed way of housework, which included their litter box. Given varnish wafting from the antique shop next door and shiitakes drying under my window, I sometimes found cat shit a pleasant accent.

My cats did not.

So when I woke up in the dark, headed to make coffee or have my wake-up piss, if I walked through that narrow gap and felt squishing cat shit under my bare sole, I was effectively reminded to tend the damn litter box.

They never crapped anywhere else in the house, just the litter box and that little narrow passage. Smart cats.

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