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February 2, 2014

Open thread 193
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:28 PM *

Via elseweb, a nicely geeky blog: Botanical Accuracy, which corrects botanical errors by people who should know better.

The writer, Dr. Lena Struwe, is an associate professor and herbarium director at Rutgers University. She finds and explains errors on Canadian bankotes, fine Danish porcelain, and Batman villains in comics with equal scholarship and patience.

This is the internet: each of us with our own pixel of the Great Picture to display, our own angle on the multifaceted world to share. This is what we do.

Continued from Open thread 192. Continued in Open thread 194.

Comments on Open thread 193:
#1 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 05:02 PM:

Since this is an open thread, I hope I can use it to ask for advice. I tend to have vivid semi-lucid dreams that would make great novels. Only my talent and skill is non-fiction writing. So I thought of starting a blog that simply describes the dreams along with boiler plate that puts them into the public domain. The problem: in my experience the last thing most fiction writers need is story ideas. They have plenty of their own. So if I started such a blog in hopes that someone would actually use the ideas, would I be wasting my time?

#2 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Holy botanical inaccuracy, Batman!

#3 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 05:47 PM:

Gar Lipow @1 So if I started such a blog in hopes that someone would actually use the ideas, would I be wasting my time?

Perhaps? The process whereby people come by ideas for writing stories is individual and mysterious. It could be that one of your dreams would spark something, although perhaps not anything recognisable from your dream. If you want to blog them, then it's got to be because you want to blog them. Anything coming from it would have to be a bonus.

Of course, I say that, when I had an especially vivid dream last week, woke up and scribbled down the plot in great detail. Here's what I wrote:

She breaks people out of prison and gives birth to robots.

Solid gold there, I reckon.

#4 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 05:48 PM:

Well, it just goes to show. You can't judge a banknote before you've botany thing with it.

#5 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 06:14 PM:

I am amused to note that the article on Batman villains includes a call-out to S.M. Stirling's Changed World series.

#6 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 06:19 PM:

In the world of Mira Grant's novel Feed, there's a horrific zombie epidemic, but at least there is no common cold. Is that really such a bad trade? cough, cough

#7 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 06:32 PM:

janetl, 6: Speaking as one who has just learned that it's possible to have a cold and a sinus infection at the same

#8 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 06:43 PM:

While there is no common cold (or, in fact, other infectious agents) in the Newsflesh world (Feed and the other two books in the trilogy), the risen dead are a rather dramatic problem in their own right. Much as colds suck, I think they're snot a problem in comparison to a worldwide zombie outbreak.

#9 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 06:46 PM:

Well, no other infectious agents isn't quite right: there's the Kellis-Amberlee virus, which is the zombification vector. I'm quite fond of the story Seanan tells about how she came up with it, which boils down to "ask virologists questions and come up with something that elicits an immediate 'combining those two virii would be really, staggeringly bad' reaction"

#10 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 07:13 PM:

Re: botanical accuracy (what a great site!), I discovered when my kids were small that plant illustrations, particularly in children's books, are an encyclopedia of You Don't Know What You Don't Know. Examples: clover flowers are not the same size as peonies. Asters and jonquils do not bloom at the same time.

(For similar problems with animals, see for example: leafcutter ants don't live in Africa (I'm looking at you, The Lion King). Lions don't live in the jungle. Penguins don't live in the Arctic. Sesame Street gets this stuff wrong ALL THE DAMN TIME. Do their writers think all the animals on earth are in Central Park Zoo?)

#11 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 07:14 PM:

As I recall, Kellis-Amberlee was a combination of two, and one of them was a cure for cancer. So not just no colds, also no cancer. How about that as a tradeoff?

#12 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 07:16 PM:

Maximilian Schell died yesterday.
He was 83.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died today.
He was 46.
Heroine overdose.

#13 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 07:36 PM:

Have I yet seen a bankote without an error? And given the grimness of the subject, I can't help but wonder at the agency of a heroine overdose.

#14 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 07:50 PM:

Sandra Boynton's otherwise totally delightful Going to Bed Book became spoiled for me when I realized, after reading it to my child for the umpty-hundredth time, that a crescent moon can't possibly be rising when the sun has just set. If it's rising when the sun sets, it has to be a full moon - it's simple geometry, damn it!

I've never enjoyed that book as much since, which is too bad, since it's very charming. (Well, also it makes no sense for all the animals to take their baths, get into pajamas and then go exercise before bed. They'll get their pajamas all sweaty! As a parent, I feel qualified to say they should exercise first and then take baths and get in their pajamas, and then they can read a little if they want before bedtime.)

#15 ::: Ven Crane ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 08:26 PM:

Although England is by and large a green and pleasant land there are still some rather desolate looking bits that can double for other places. The quarries of Dr Who are a famous example. For landscapes with a little plant growth however there are a number of pitfalls. Watching an enthralling Middle Eastern set episode of Ultimate Force I earned no popularity for exclaiming "That's Rosebay Willowherb you won't find that on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border!

#16 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 08:57 PM:

Just read Abi's parhelion about the ghosts of the tsunami.

I'm about as hard-boiled a case as you can be--rationalist, materialist, atheist, etc. etc. I think when you are dead, nothing survives, and that's an end on it.


Reading that series of accounts is very, very moving. It would be almost beside the point to ask, "but are the ghosts real? are these cases of possession, or merely biochemical imbalance?" It would be almost impertinent.

The cause of these episodes is the death of 20,000 people in a tsunami. What the intervening links in the causal change from those deaths to those episodes may be, whether ghostly possessions or psychological distress, is less important. Bless the people who care for the victims.

#17 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 09:01 PM:

It bugs me when I see CGI-animated dinosaurs (that are being portrayed as in their own time period -- not dinosaurs in our time, etc) and grass in the same frame. There, I've admitted it.

#18 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 09:07 PM:

Clifton @ #14, not to mention that exercising right before bed makes it harder to get to sleep.

#19 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 10:59 PM:

oldster @ 16: indeed. I hope they can find the necessary peace and the social will to both heal and mend.

I admit that I've been watching for reports of how the mass trauma in Japan would manifest*. I can't say I expected ghosts, but I expected something different from the way it manifests in western cultures because Japan is more communitarian and group-oriented. When the culture says that displaying grief and horror makes one an object of attention, and also says that being an object of attention is bad for the community, it makes sense to project that grief and horror onto someone else. Even if that someone else is a ghost. After consideration, it doesn't even surprise me much that the various incidents are so uniform -- Japanese cultural cohesion and homogeneity being what they are, and given how Not Talking About It seems to be the modus operandi.

It seems to me an imminently rational way to cope, all things considered. Given the cultural expectation of nearby persons who happen to be dead** who are entitled to community respect, and the culture-wide lack of spoons to deal with the disaster... having recurrent episodes of possession allows for cathartic grief and to help the society as a whole grieve.

*Because professional interest. Trauma psych is my main focus this decade.

** The whole concept really reminds me of SIASL's Martian Old Ones.

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2014, 11:34 PM:

#14: Comparatively few mammals sweat. [/rare pedantic mood]

#21 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 12:17 AM:

Lila: that depends. Cardio, no. But stretches, light strength work, or yoga? not always bad. I have found letting the blood circulate a little after sitting for a while actually makes going to bed slightly easier. Not that i do it enough regardless.

(And in an extreme case, if my wonky hip gets restless, if I don't respond by getting up and doing exercise (Strength/stretch) I will not sleep until I am miserable exhausted.)

#22 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 12:22 AM:

Gar Lipow @ 1: I have dreams that sometimes get turned into novels by me. But I wouldn't have much interest in doing so to someone else's.

I've also heard a couple of people say there is nothing less interesting than hearing about someone else's dreams. I have not always found this true, but the exceptions were notable for a reason, and that reason is the grain of truth.

However, while you say your talent lies in non-fiction writing. Have you made the experiment and don't like the results? (And if so, is this simply because you're less practiced at it than at your usual writing style?) Do you simply wish to not adopt another writing hobby? What makes you so sure that the products of your own imagination are not ripe for your own plucking?

#23 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 01:18 AM:

Gar Lipow @ #1, I have lots of vivid dreams, but memory of them rarely lasts very long. I'll make a present of one that did to any fiction writer who comes along and finds it:

I had a dream that I was driving around some politician who looked suspiciously like Chris Christie in an early Sixties car, kind of like this one (a Ford Fairlane): It had been fully restored, but the price paid was that the rear window was covered with decals advertising all the shops who had put in the time to restore it. We had a lovely conversation about cars (I knew this was a dream because in it i was knowledgeable about cars, which I'm certainly not in my waking hours) and ended up at a restaurant where his staff had already arrived. There was a beer in a pilsner glass in front of each of the two empty seats along with a plate with what looked like a full serving of Tony Roma's Onion Loaf (

My cousin noted on FB that the Christie connection with Fairlane is pretty clear, given the GW Bridge traffic plot. Other than that, I have no explanation.

#24 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 02:29 AM:

I have made the experiment. Non-fiction is not just a hobby. I have been published, am good at meeting deadlines. Fiction - have tried and failed. Maybe I could learn, but presently don't have to skills

Also I understand your skepticism about a dream yielding a decent plot. So here is an example:

It is a sort of spinoff from Oliver Twist, where at the end Oliver is happily situated and the Artful Dodger life is spared, but the Dodger is transported to Australia. So in my dream, the Artful Dodger has to survive the brutal conditions for Australian convicts. His survival instincts serve him well, but as the slave labor portion of his sentence finishes, he has to choose between true redemption and just becoming a more respectable type of predator. Meanwhile in an alternate steampunk Victorian era, the Dodger is transported to the Empire's moon colony where he faces a similar dilemma. In 21st century Bangladesh, still another Dodger, part of a notorious group of email scammers, who recruit mostly from the gigantic social medial "Like" click farms, escapes jail time after saving the life of undercover police agent "Twisty", but faces a decade long exile from the internet which is part of his release terms. This 21st century Dodger confronts a moral dilemma of his own when he is offered a chance to return to the electronic world if he will become an agent for a corrupt and brutal task force jointly run by the NSA and the Bangladeshi police force. All three Dodgers dream of and learn from each other. Could all these worlds be real? Are any of them real ? Does some dark truth underlie the connection between the three "Artful Dodgers" in their three different universes?

Now I don't get dreams that detailed all the time, But often enough. Dunno, if I'm going to post them I'd like there to at least a slim chance of them being useful to someone. At any rate don't think the above is a typical boring dream narrative.

#25 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 02:42 AM:

Update: The books I posted about here have now all been spoken for. May their new owners find them useful and/or enjoyable!

#26 ::: Narmitaj ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:04 AM:

@ Serge Broom - And Pete Seeger died aged 94 last week, which reminded me of a Private Eye comment a few years ago on the death of Googie Withers:


"The tragic death of the actress Googie Withers at the shockingly late age of 94 has created another new member of what has come to be known as 'The 94 Club'. Miss Withers was merely one of that galaxy of outstanding cultural figures whose lives were suddenly cut tragically long at the fateful age of 94. The star of 1940s revues joins an elite band of those other untroubled geniuses who never lived to see their 95th year.
"The glittering roll call of fame includes the playwright Bernard Shaw, the novelist Anthony Powell, the legendary journalist Bill Deedes, the food connoisseur and bon viveur Egon Ronay, the inventor of Superglue, Harry Wesley Coover, and quite a lot of others whose names can be found on Wikipedia. The question, as ever, remains the same. Why are so many of our great creative geniuses snatched from us at this particular age? What is it about the number 94 that spells the end for so many [cont. age 94]"

For those who don't know Private Eye, it's a fortnightly British satirical mag and "cont page 94" is a standard get-out spoofing tediously long newspaper articles (there is never a page 94). Googie Withers died the same month as Amy Winehouse, who of course sparked a slew of hand-wringing "27 Club" articles about Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain etc.

#27 ::: Narmitaj ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:16 AM:

On dreams... I did wake from an exciting dream this morning, where I had jumped off a very tall building. I wasn't trying to kill myself, in the dream it was a way down to the ground on a route that I had taken before, but on the way down I couldn't recall how to land safely, and I was thinking about where to aim for while bumping off the walls. In the end I just landed on my back in some gravel and woke up.

Oddly, though, thinking of that dream when I woke reminded me, for some reason, that I had gone back to university in my 40s to do a politics degree. But in fact, after a few more moments wakefulness, I realised I hadn't in fact done that, I was merely re-remembering some other largely-forgotten dream from some years ago. Somehow the place where deep dream memories are buried had been jiggled, I guess.

#28 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:31 AM:

CZEdwards @19--

It would be fascinating to see how the current reactions in Japan compare to the reactions in Indonesia after the Aceh tsunami of 2004. Whatever is happening is, as you say, at least partly mediated by the culture in which it is occurring. So it might show somewhat different manifestations in a different culture.

DIfferent (and less sober) thought for a comparative anthropological study:
I'd like to see how much disorderly and destructive behavior occurred last night in Denver, and compare it to a similar post-defeat night before marijuana legalization. If only we could get British football hooligans to switch intoxicants!

#29 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 08:32 AM:

Lenora Rose @ #21, true. But IIRC in the book in question, the exercises shown are cardio and weight lifting.

#30 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 08:33 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 193.913 ...
> I am collecting Kira's fur for yarn-making purposes!

I've been thinking about trying needle felting with feline fur[0] -- it certainly mats up nicely when rolled, so it seems like it should also be willing to needle felt.

On the other domestic front, there were no unfortunate substances of any sort this morning, all felines were accounted for, and no incidents other than some minor hissing.

This seems entirely too reasonable for a Monday morning, and I'm waiting for some spark-ish surprise to pop out of the woodwork.

[0] based on the sudden showers of cat hair, I'm thinking it's -that- time of year again.

#31 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 09:52 AM:

Yesterday, I caught a rerun of "Special Victims Unit", in which Alex Kingston, aka River Song, played a character called Miranda Pond.

#32 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 10:44 AM:

Monday Morning Engrish.

I'm looking to buy a Baofeng UV-5 ham radio transceiver. I can figure out what the description is supposed to say, but the engrish is amusing.

You get up to 128 memories.
...I hope I make more than 128 memories before this radio breaks.

Upgrade the frame material.
...and with that upgrade comes
Metallic, more durable and more fashionable.
...I hadn't realized fashion was something that motivated a ham.

The new English,German,French instruction, more convenient and more humanized.
...I'm not holding out hope the new, humanized edition is better written.

The New 2013 packing,more beautiful and quite well-done.
...The beauty of the packaging is, of course, essential.

With full high two colors LED definition display, the screen exquisite clarity.
...I'm looking forward to finding out what this actually means.

And thus ends your engrish lesson for Monday Morning. Have a nice day.

#33 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 11:48 AM:

Hyper-Local News: Local woman has discovered that salmon-sushi-flavored potato chips exist, though she has not worked up the courage to open the bag yet.

#34 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 12:13 PM:

@ Gar Lipow no. 1: There used to be a hugely entertaining magazine called Dream International Quarterly that featured exactly that, along with dream poetry, short fiction based on dreams (including a horror story that has stayed with me for years), etc. It proves that no matter what the etiquette writers say, other people's dreams can be interesting. You might see if it's still around.

I have dreams like that, BTW.

#35 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Re the second act of the Potterdammerung: A commenter at another site said that Rowling's opinion should be meaningful only to people who were "still trying to grind out fanfic." And I immediately thought, Still?

Here's an exercise that may restore people's faith in cockeyed humanity or plunge them into despair at human foibles:

1. Go to three letters you know what they are dot fanfiction dot net.

2. Click Browse, then Books, and find the Harry Potter archive. Look at the running tally. Jaw-dropping, isn't it? And that's just for fics rated through Teen.

3. Now find the Filter button and add these conditions in this order, checking the tally after each click: Over 100,000 words, Complete, English.

4. Adjust the Filter settings to "Rating: All" and look again. Either laugh or scream.

5. Make a note of the title that appears at the head of the results. Check back in a few days and it will probably be the second one down.

TL;DR: At this one site alone, there are over 3,200 completed novel-length Harry Potter fanfics just in English, with a new one appearing about once a week. The total number of HP fics at this site, from novels down to drabbles, exceeds 0.6 million.

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 12:32 PM:

In the deep silence, when the heavy snow
had closed the ways and frozen every road,
each of us certain that no river flowed
and turning inwards for the gentle glow
of home and hope that love will soon bestow
on all of those who have found out the code
of normal joy, there's no more human mode
for us to find nor for the heart to know.
Yet as the dark descends on the cold city
we're held together by another light,
clearer and kinder than we might deserve,
safe in a time we know for rough and gritty
and made secure by truth instead of might;
we find the gold around the final curve.

#37 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Gar Lipow @ 24

It's a damn shame that you aren't a fiction writer because that sounds like a truly fabulous story. (And definitely an exception to the standard wisdom that dream-based story ideas are of interest only to the dreamer/writer.) What I'm amazed at is that you were able to retain that level of detail on waking in order to record it. I can generally only do that if I have iPad or paper standing by right when I wake up.

#38 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 02:32 PM:

I don't know if this is ML-worthy:
A personal injury lawyer bought local Superb Owl time for this two minute ad, described in the link as "batshit amazing."

Contains flaming sledgehammer, power chords.

#39 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 04:12 PM:

Caution: the "Christmas on the Theremin" link plays sound with no warning, no option, and no way (that I could find) to turn it off. Might be interesting stuff on that page, and I'll find out when I'm willing to listen to "We Three Kings" played on the theremin while I'm reading it. Right now I've got the radio on.

#40 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 04:17 PM:

Ven Crane @ #15:
I earned no popularity for exclaiming "That's Rosebay Willowherb you won't find that on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border!

Is that the stuff that colonizes bomb-sites and scorched earth?

#41 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:07 PM:

Jenny Islander @35 - I'm running on the theory that J K Rowling is actually an internet troll who gets a kick out of reading fandom_wank and other such communities.

#42 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:20 PM:

@ Sarah no. 40: Yup. Epilobium/Chamerion angustifolium, AKA great willow-herb; here we call it fireweed for exactly that reason. It may grow more than six feet tall; you can use the new sprouts like lemon-flavored asparagus, the leaves for tea, the stems for fiber, and the fluff for pillows. Also, its flowers make an excellent syrup called homesteaders' honey.

A relative E./C. latifolium, likes gravel banks near permanent fresh water; for this reason it is known as riverbeauty.

#43 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:23 PM:

grackle @13: And given the grimness of the subject, I can't help but wonder at the agency of a heroine overdose.


Clifton @14: If it's rising when the sun sets, it has to be a full moon - it's simple geometry, damn it!

Neil deGrasse Tyson is always on at talk show hosts for having their celestial mechanics all wrong: "Conan O'Brien, your moon is in the wrong part of the sky!" "Jon Stewart, your Earth is rotating backwards!" I always think to myself, "Neil, son, you're gonna wear yourself out." I wonder how he deals with the science in the skiffy in movies and TV?

CZEdwards @19: ** The whole concept really reminds me of SIASL's Martian Old Ones.

Yeah, I was thinking about that, too. In fact, I can't help but wonder if that was one of the sources for Heinlein's idea.

Gar Lipow @24: Fiction - have tried and failed.

In the spirit of Lenora Rose's most excellent inquiry, what does "failed" mean? Tried to write fiction and was unable to write it? As in: the words didn't come? Or, as in, the result was unsatisfactory? Tried to publish and failed? Which is to say, didn't sell?

Narmitaj @27: Somehow the place where deep dream memories are buried had been jiggled, I guess.

My brain will quite happily spin up any and all memories necessary to support the conceit of a dream. I have a recurring dream where I'm stuck having had to go back to living back with my mother. If only I could get my own place...oh wait, I used to have my own place...oh wait, I do have my own place, if I could just get back to it...then I wake up, and it takes a few minutes of reviewing my "live action" memory to remember that I never did go back and live with them after moving out at 20.

oldster @28: It's not the reaction to defeats we have to worry about. It's the wins.

@38: Wow. My prime impression? $$$$$ went into making/showing that ad.

#44 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:25 PM:

oldster, #28: I'd like to see how much disorderly and destructive behavior occurred last night in Denver, and compare it to a similar post-defeat night before marijuana legalization.

The change hasn't been in place long enough yet to have a significant effect on the culture. In another decade or so, that would indeed be an interesting study to see.

xeger, #30: There's a book about that.

Velma, #33: The last time I was in LA I saw sriracha-flavored potato chips. Alas, they were only available in full-sized bags, and I didn't quite have the nerve to invest that much money in an experiment. I would definitely have tried them if I could have gotten a snack-sized bag.

Jenny, #35: I know. I have the same kind of reaction every time I hear some (usually male) pundit say that women just aren't interested in male-on-male sex. "PLEASE, for the love of ghod, somebody send him a link to!"

In this case, I think part of the issue may be that this person thinks that fanfic only happens (1) around the things that they hear about it happening around, and (2) only while those things are still the Hot!New!Thing! The idea that fic happens about pretty much anything somebody somewhere likes, and that the age or popularity of said thing is irrelevant, is just not on the radar at all.

Sandy, #38: That is badass.

#45 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:41 PM:

I wonder how he deals with the science in the skiffy in movies and TV?

My favorite example of that is in Ladyhawke (not a great movie by any standard), where there was a total eclipse of the sun the day after a full moon night. This never happens.

#46 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:54 PM:

Of course, if there are multiple moons . . .

#47 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 05:56 PM:

There weren't.

#48 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:04 PM:

@Stefan Jones no. 46: Aside from details such as the bad timing of the eclipse and the weirdly '80s soundtrack, Ladyhawke is such a pitch-perfect work of medieval fantasy that it seems like a retelling of some troubador's masterwork. No, the story was made up of whole cloth by a scriptwriter. It's just that good.

#49 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:11 PM:

I thought it was horrible. Broderick's accent was pure cheese, Hauer's acting was lame at best, and...well, that's enough. I admit it wasn't the story that I thought was bad.

#50 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:28 PM:

I remember Ladyhawke well, except for the music; I haven't seen it for a few years, and the Suck Fairy may have been at work.

A related question- because the curse in Ladyhawke was SO wonderful. As an RPG rules lawyer, I've always tried to come up with some reason why successful curses are always so poetic; never "You, turn into a goldfish; you, diarrhea until death." Anyone have a plausible in-world excuse? Or is it just artistic license?

#51 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:32 PM:

Aesthetic appeal makes stories endure?

#52 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:36 PM:

Jenny Islander (48): In fact, I spent a while trying to track down the "original" story--or at least figure out if there really was one.

I like Ladyhawke a lot; I expected the music to be jarring, but it worked (for me).

#53 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 06:47 PM:

I was helping run I-Con out on Long Island on the year we got a sneak preview copy of Ladyhawke.

Unfortunately we didn't have the proper lens, so the characters all appeared . . . stretched.

There was one edit that had half the audience convinced we had missed a reel of film.

Afterwards, there was a spirited discussion among some in the lobby as to what went on between the lady on the wolf. Ehrrm-ahem.

#54 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 07:03 PM:

re: Ladyhawke

I've tried several times to watch this, but the horrible soundtrack (did they screw up the recording so badly they had to loop everything?) bounced me right out.

The concept (from what I've heard) is intriguing.

#55 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 07:04 PM:

@39 Xopher Halftongue

Caution: the "Christmas on the Theremin" link plays sound with no warning, no option, and no way (that I could find) to turn it off. Might be interesting stuff on that page, and I'll find out when I'm willing to listen to "We Three Kings" played on the theremin while I'm reading it. Right now I've got the radio on.

It did not autoplay for me; I had to hit the play button to the left of the title, "A Theremin Christmas Pudding - Peter Pringle" (which then turned into a pause button so I could stop it).

I'm using Firefox 26.0 with NoScript installed.

#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Jenny, #48: The soundtrack was done by Alan Parsons. I remember my then-husband and I spotting that in the credits and saying, "No wonder we liked it so much!" and going out and buying the album. As to the story, I'm pretty sure I've seen that concept elsewhere, but whether before or after the movie I couldn't say. The movie may have added a trope to the set!

#57 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 07:13 PM:

Re: the Ladyhawke curse. I really enjoyed the movie, despite the soundtrack. (Actually, I don't mind Alan Parsons Project at all, but I agree it's a little jarring for a "medieval" story.)

But the curse was "...a night without a day; a day without a night". Or something very similar. It *should* have been "A night without a sunset; a day without a dawn."


#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 07:17 PM:

Oh, the other thing I remember liking about Ladyhawke: it was one of the few movies I've ever seen where the Big Climactic Swordfight actually looked realistic to me. I'm used to critiquing these things from the POV of having watched a lot of SCA fighting and being able to see where one or both fighters are using horrible technique or missing a wide-open shot. My impression of that fight could be summed up as, "wow, those guys know what they're doing with those 2-handers!"

#59 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 07:22 PM:

I watched the Superbowl Scientology advert on Slate.

It looks like something a movie adaptation of a dystopian-future YA novel would include to indicate that there is something weird and sinister going on. You can imagine the teen characters watching it on their classroom VidScreen while ominious music plays.

And . . . seriously, knobs and dials? If you're going for a retro-future vibe, COS, you should have gears or Nixie tubes!

#60 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 08:01 PM:

@Lee no. 56: Yes, I've heard it described as the only realistic fight with medieval swords on film (as of the date the comment was made). I like that it isn't flashy, it quickly becomes less than graceful, and before the end both combatants are exhausted and trying to kill each other by any means available.

If only the swords didn't look like highly polished cast metal wallhangers.

#61 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 08:38 PM:

A curse saying, "You, become a goldfish" is in the backstory of Seanan McGuire's October Daye urban fantasy series. (I got the first book as a freebie at Worldcon, and just finished reading the second; I anticipate reading the rest in due time.)

#62 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 10:03 PM:

My favorite thing about LadyHawke might be obscure: the horses are all having AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF FUN, especially the bignormous black draftie Hauer rides. Tail flagged high, all his body language shouting "OH BOY OH BOY WHEEEEEEE OH BOY YAY I LOVE THIS."

A nice change from some other movies, I tell you what. I first started specifically watching for it after I realized a lupus-born Bone Gnawer Garou (werewolf -- in this case, born a stray dog and then were-humaned at puberty for those of you not WW-fluent) character of mine was watching Wishbone on PBS not only for the learning-English practice, but to laugh at how bad the dog-to-English 'translation' voiceovers supposedly from Wishbone's POV were.

#63 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 10:05 PM:

Oh, one more of note: in some werewolf-and-vampires movie (Underworld? It was a while ago) there's a scene where Hellish Dobermans dash feverishly at the protag (who is scrambling over a wall to escape them), supposely with blood on their minds.

Even with a day-for-night filter and careful editing, it's really hard to disguise that those dogs are DARN CHEERFUL and clearly playing adorably in the jump-on-the-human sense ...

#64 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 10:38 PM:

I may have to rewatch Ladyhawke.

@Elliot: I rewatched "The Box of Delights" recently. At the end of the first episode, and the start of the second, the lead is menaced by wolves. A couple were real wolves, filmed trotting along and not looking fierce at all. The rest were big dogs, possibly one of the Belgian shepherd breeds, looking very happy for the chance to romp around.

#65 ::: gleomstapa ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 10:38 PM:

Lee #58 and Jenny Islander #60: The swordfighting in Ladyhawke is great because it was choreographed by William Hobbs, who is great. He's also responsible for the fights in the 1973 Three Musketeers and Rob Roy, among others. I remember thinking the Ladyhawke fights were a little more hokey than his other work, but they matched the tone of the movie well.

#66 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 11:08 PM:

And 'Robin and Marian'. That fight near the end looked real.

#67 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 11:33 PM:

The big black draft-looking horse in Ladyhawke is a Friesian. Gorgeous horse. I admit to watching the movie multiple times because of the horse.

I also enjoyed Matthew Broderick's character's method for talking with God, and have adapted it for my own use.

#68 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 11:36 PM:

Oldster @ 28: apparently, there was almost no disorderly last night, at least according to news reports I heard today. It sounded like there was less than on a weeknight St Pat's or a Wednesday Halloween. (Not a fan of the game(1) at all, so we watched Farscape and had a nice quiet day off.) I'd say it was too early for legalization to be a factor -- we really are still working out the new shape of What It Means -- but give it a few seasons(2). Of course, I also think that, given the news reports of how utterly lopsided the game was, the potential for any rioting on either side was low. It wasn't a hotly contested event. Fans on both sides had several hours to absorb what was apparently a foregone conclusion, and generally, people respond better when events are predictable. On the winning side, there was little tension to be blown off by overturning cars or smashing windows, just a smug strut to be performed. (I'd say the same if Denver had won -- Broncos fans can be repulsive winners as well as repulsive losers.) The losing side had time to process, and according to reports, gave up on the whole thing early and went home to sell their stocks. From all of the post-mortems of other sports riots I've read, the thing that seems to predict if it will be a bad night to be out is how close the final score was, and how fair and impartial the umpires were perceived to be. Blowouts don't make for good improvisational, spontaneous street theater.

Unfortunately, the 2004 tsunami mass trauma is really not showing up in the literature, for I think a couple of reasons. First, relative affluence of the respective areas is a big factor. There are simply more psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and psych-savvy semi-pros (like the priest in the article) per capita in even northern Japan than in Indonesia, and Japan has a more functional emergency response infrastructure -- it's hard to worry about psychological trauma when tetanus and malaria are more immediate threats. Second, we learned from both 2004 and 2005's Katrina how better to identify and mitigate acute stress reactions in mass trauma events(4), but in the learning, we got behind the publication curve. Third, Indonesia can't really be called a unified culture -- if I recall correctly, Indonesia has something like 700 spoken languages, each representing a specific micro-culture, which makes the cataloging of culture-specific acute and post stress reactions far more ahem interesting.

Xeger @ 30 and previous thread: whew. Glad to hear they're taking their protest puddles in shifts. And yes, to me that sounds like a temporary truce to organize a resistance. Have you considered sleeping whilst wearing an SCBA rig? Because with ours, that sort of nice usually presages an attempt to smother us in our sleep.

Re: Ladyhawke (and other fictional poetic curses): in-world, the poetry could be necessary if you take the idea that the structure of the language is the framework or the machinery for the power of the curse. A declarative statement (You're a goldfish) by necessity has less frame on which to hang the power so less space in which to weave the interlocking threads. It also has less space for creative weaseling to dispel the power. To create a potent, declarative statement curse requires so much more raw power that it's effectively impossible (as in, rolling a boulder uphill), but creating a poetic curse is like using a wedge and lever to get the boulder uphill. The mechanical advantage of the poetic machinery is such that the cure is more efficient, but has more points of failure.

(1) that's an understatement. My work is with mental illness and mental injury and the idea of paying people to take multiple brain injuries for fun'n'profit has horrified me since I saw my first on-field concussion when I was a 13 year old second clarinet wearing a silly, furry hat. I am fundamentally unequipped to understand the attraction.

(2) assuming local disgust doesn't manifest as selling the franchise to Upper Paducah at a fire sale discount and being done with the whole enterprise.(3)

(3) hey, a girl can hope.

(4) those being the majorest natural disaster mass trauma events to have occurred since we started getting a better handle on acute and post trauma stress in the early 1990s. War/genocide provides a lot of data and unfortunately a lot of casualties, but there is an enormous difference in reaction to human on human violence than to planet on human devastation.

#69 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2014, 11:37 PM:

@ Sandy B. 50
"You, turn into a goldfish; you, diarrhea until death."
I was actually just playing around with as story that featured the later as threat (it doesn't end up getting used). Mostly because I like puns, so there is plot relevant grimoire that has "cursing the crap out of your enemies" as a chapter title.

#70 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:27 AM:

1) Yeah, I love Ladyhawke. Never got some of the subtleties. Just enjoyed the movie.

2) >the spirit of Lenora Rose's most excellent inquiry, what does "failed" mean? Tried to write fiction and was unable to write it? As in: the words didn't come? Or, as in, the result was unsatisfactory?

Tried to write fiction and it came out garbage. Tried to write fiction and it was going great guns and then I got stuck. I have completed some flash fiction I considered successful and even was published. But that was pure inspiration and inspiration without skill apparently can't last past a few hundred words.

3) Someone asked how I remembered dreams in such detail. Suffer from fragmented sleep, which means I constantly wake up and fall asleep and wake up and fall asleep throughout the night. Not insomnia but a sleep disorder nonetheless. Dreams in their pure form are fragmented images. Dream narrative is created in the twilight zone between sleeping and waking as you wake up. So if you suffer from constantly interrupted sleep then you spend a lot more time in that twilight state making up stories - or sometimes one long coherent story. And if they seem like good ones I write them up right away. Not all my dreams are worth writing down. Plenty of boring stuff like last nights: being chased by dinosaurs while the back of my neck is gnawed by a weasel.

#71 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:36 AM:

Elliott Mason @62: A nice change from some other movies, I tell you what.

Sadly, I'm given to understand that they actually shot the hawk. Don't recall the specific source, but it seems that (Spain?) doesn't have the same animal welfare laws as the US.

#72 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 01:00 AM:

I've had a lot of dreams with interesting set-ups that end up devolving into tedious trips on foreign mass transit systems.

#73 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 01:24 AM:

#38: I feel like I'm missing something. Is it a piece of american culture (or culture local to that specific part of america) that makes the connection between a guy losing his brother, and setting stuff on fire and becoming an ambulance-chaser? I mean, losing his brother to crime and going away from criminal defence I can see, but the rest of it just baffles me.

#24 & #70, Gar Lipow: I was under the impression that one typically tried and failed multiple times before succeeding, in most things involving a learnable skill. Also, sounds like an interesting story.

#69, Beowulf: I remember reading a (comedy/fantasy) book in which a wizard who didn't think his powers actually worked cursed a guard's bowels to liquefy, in a fit of pique. Not unto death, but the guard did get in trouble with his superior. I had forgotten about that story until now. I think it also had a carnivorous talking donkey in it.

#74 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 03:03 AM:

Grump grump grump grump.

Yet another site I used to/would like to post at has retooled its posting procedure. Yet again I see on the left, "Sign in with any of these services, identified by the nifty symbols," and on the right "Or use Disqus." So I sign in on the left. And what I get is a registration form for Disqus. It doesn't matter that I already have a username and password for one of the services shown on the left because I cannot proceed until I agree to sign up for Disqus.

No. No, I do not want another whimsically functional and dubiously secure service bouncing my personal information around the ether, no, I do not want to curate a goddamn personal profile, no, NO, I do not want to net or face or like or tweet or whatever the latest Awesome Thing is. I want to talk to people on the Intertubes about things that interest us both, without first having to let some third party go through my purse!

Even a magazine to which I have a subscription will not allow me to comment on an article I read in the dead-tree edition without first signing up for Disqus. You know what I say to that? I say I still have a roll of Forever Stamps and Disqus can kiss my grits.

#75 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 03:21 AM:

> I was under the impression that one typically tried and failed multiple times before succeeding, in most things involving a learnable skill.

Yes. And it is also true that the learnable skills I already have take time to practice and improve. Even if I were a skilled fiction writer I have more dream narratives that would make good novels than I will ever have time to write. Given the time it will take me to acquire fiction writing skill in my spare time, it is a certainty that I will write between zero and a fraction of the novels I can conceive. I would love the rest to have a shot at not going to waste. Anyway, I hope I have not taken too much time with this stuff. Many topics of more interest than my little dilemma, but this really was (from a selfish point of view) the right place to ask the question. (That is, I received genuinely useful answers and thought provoking questions.) So thanks to you all, and won't bring it up further except in answer to specific queries.

#76 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 06:05 AM:

PJ Evans @ 66... And 'Robin and Marian'. That fight near the end looked real.

It's my understanding that the fight (seen HERE) was overseen by one of the top people in that kind of things.

#77 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 06:06 AM:

Speaking of Medieval Affairs, "The Lion in Winter" has been called by CJ Cherryh one of her favorite Christmas movies.

#78 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:27 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #62, I think those hellish Dobermans were in one of the Omen movies (a series that also features James Earl Jones in a leopardskin hat solemnly intoning "if they try to come here, I will spit a leopard."

gleomstapa@ #65, oh--that Rob Roy fight is my go-to for "looks like an actual sword fight."

janra @ #73, no, I don't think you're missing anything. The guy is using his dead brother and the evil mayor (not, interestingly, the person/people who actually killed the brother) as fuel for his righteous transformation into SUPERLAWYER. It left a horrible taste in my mouth. I hope my death is never used in a commercial. Especially by one of my relatives.

#79 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 08:54 AM:

Xopher writes in #45:

My favorite example of that is in Ladyhawke (not a great movie by any standard), where there was a total eclipse of the sun the day after a full moon night. This never happens.

Stefan Jones, #46:

Of course, if there are multiple moons . . .

Xopher, #47:

There weren't.

Perhaps it was a stunt moon.

Jenny Islander, #48:

Aside from details such as the bad timing of the eclipse and the weirdly '80s soundtrack, Ladyhawke is such a pitch-perfect work of medieval fantasy that it seems like a retelling of some troubador's masterwork.

Jenny, you point toward the perfect way to reconcile my fondness for this movie with my hard-SF-fan urge to point out technical flaws:

Its screenwriters* have concocted such a pitch-perfect work of medieval fantasy that it seems like a retelling of a masterwork of some troubadour who didn't understand astronomy very well!

This thought makes me happy.

Xopher, Ladyhawke is a great movie by my wife's standards: it's her all-time-favorite. It has what she's looking for when she wants to see a movie. I, too, am very fond of it, for the reasons discussed here. It's the first movie I purchased when I acquired a DVD player.

Okay, Matthew Broderick's character is too American-kid to suit me, and doesn't seem to belong in the same movie as the other characters. But it remains a solid fantasy film.

* Story by Edward Khmara, screenplay by Edward Khmara, Michael Thomas, Tom Mankiewicz, and David Peoples.

#80 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 08:54 AM:

Serge 77: Mine too. I try to watch it every year.

#81 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:14 AM:

The Lion in Winter, Die Hard, and It's a Wonderful Life: the triple feature for when you want mood whiplash.

I don't like It's a Wonderful Life, in large part because George Bailey is such a jerk. In the end sequence he has reason, but he's a jerk well before that.

#82 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:16 AM:

re 67: ... and one of the most magnificent movie horses ever.

Ladyhawke is one of those movies that manages to transcend a multitude of faults and for me succeeds in spite of them. I like Alan Parsons, but the score was just not right; Matthew Broderick's character is good be he just couldn't quite look the part. And let's just not think about the astronomical problem. But it was well-written and stylish.

And the horse.

#83 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:31 AM:

One of the best parts of "LadyHawke" was the late Leo McKern. You can't go wrong with Leo McKern.

#84 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Re Ladyhawke: It's my hazy and possibly wrong recollection that the hawk used was a red tailed hawk. Buteo jamaicensis. A bird much used by modern austringers but not known by pre-Columbian Europeans.

So...what is this New World bird doing in medieval France? And it's my understanding that birds in genus Buteo are called buzzards in British English (any British Fluorospherians are of course welcome to comment on this). So shouldn't the movie title be Ladybuzzard?

#85 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 10:24 AM:

Anne Sheller @84, I'm hardly a bird expert, but there are lots of red-tailed hawks in my area of northern Illinois and the bird in the movie Ladyhawke looks just like them. Tail included.

#86 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 10:31 AM:

Possibly due to the discussion here, I had a heavily plotful dream this morning, complete with several impressive "should be a CGI action setpiece in a big budget movie" scenes. While waking up I endeavored to tell it to myself repeatedly to help it stick in my waking mind; I think I have succeeded in that.

Unfortunately, if I were to try to shortstoryify it (or at greater length), I'd have to come up with Good Reasons behind some aspects of the dream that are Just Like That Because Hey Look That's AWESOME.

It uses post-apocalyptic at-least-30-years-from-now-US-based setting, very sparsely populated, with a lot of people using what remains of our sturdier housing stock as much older nomadic bands of humans used cliffside rock shelters. Though that's not the cool part, it IS the part that would need a lot more worldbuilding effort expended to make it Not Stupid.

The cool part is the monster: protean, eldritch, shape-shifting packs of 'direwolves' (it came with the name attached) that pour across the landscape like a cross between a tsunami and locusts. They howl as they approach. They see and hear very well, but do not scent-track. They cannot climb anything more challenging than stairs, but they can leap 20 feet vertically with no particular trouble. A very periodic scourge something between a plague and a boogieman, which then, of course, as Our Protagonist interacts with it, becomes more complicated than that.

#87 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Oh, and I should note: direwolves only eat the living (down to bugs and yeast). Food stores and corpses that were corpses when they arrived? Untouched.

#88 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 10:43 AM:

Hmmm, that implies some kind of mystical origin for them.

I'm imagining the fortifications on old apartment blocks now. "No one lives below the third floor", and a lot of inter-building walkways and rooftop gardens...

#89 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 10:59 AM:

@73, janra I would read that if you ever remember the name.

#90 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:03 AM:

Anne Sheller @84: If you're willing to regard the movie charitably and/or the hawk anthropomorphically, we could call it an example of race-blind casting rather than an anachronism: it's a red-tailed hawk playing the role of a European hawk....

#91 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:04 AM:

@73, janra I would read that if you ever remember the name.

#92 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:14 AM:

So...what is this New World bird doing in medieval France?

She's clearly a magical hawk; perhaps using a non-native species reflects that. After all, why should the magic be restricted to local birds?

ISTR that he's a fairly generic (though also magical, obviously) wolf; does anyone know what species?

#93 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:21 AM:

Carrie S: Far less frequently than that. Like, twice in a single person's lifetime would be AN AWFUL LOT. At least in the part of the world where my dream was set (very sparsely populated, relatively few structures remaining -- former farmland in our time).

The Big Twist happens when our protagonist (who is having far more direwolf exposure than is either statistically likely for her or AT ALL DESIRABLE) runs across someone who actually says he knows how to fight them, and then is revealed to have a connection etc etc.

Gah. I wish I could write better. I know what HAPPENED, but every time I try to convey it, it ends up being like Some Dude pigeonholing you at a convention to tell you ALL ABOUT his roleplaying game. I have occasionally taken successful dictation from my muse, but when it's not the heat of the moment I have nothing to fall back upon.

#94 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:54 AM:

ANOTHER ONE! I cannot talk to people about yet another topic because Disqus!

Is there some secret level of gold and awesome to Disqus that I don't get to see because I refuse to join? Some point at which the tendency of Disqus to shift usernames around, forget to load comments, etc., is offset by, I dunno, a Disqus team using my personal info to find and paint my house?

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:04 PM:

Serge, it's the same choreographer.

#96 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:08 PM:

Jenny, you know Disqus suqs. I don't have anything in my profile except the avatar picture, and it's set to private to keep out the @#$%^& trolls. That's about as private as I can make it.

#97 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:12 PM:

#89, Beowulf:

Once I started thinking about it, more details came to mind. As I recall, the title character goes to barbarian school, and in one of the sequels spends some time at a resort called "thongs" (sandals being a real resort chain). It's silly fluff and I think it's been ten years since I read it.

"Ronan the Barbarian" by James Bibby.

#98 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:41 PM:

Sergre Broom #76 - so that's where people get the idea they can fight with an axe and a single handed sword! I've seen it many times on the re-enactment battlefield and it usually looks pretty lame, as did that fight. Well okay that's a bit unfair, there's some reasonable bits in it. I can easily imagine tired men flailing about a bit at close quarters in the hope of hitting the legs when they can't see anything obvious and the draw cut on the maille was nice, although I'm not entirely sure that would cut real maille in real life.

Elliot Mason #86 - that is indeed a complex and cinematic dream. I have often thought people like you, and indeed myself, could make a living by piping our dreams out as stories to other people. My one last night involved coming up with the idea of doing a short tv series of Charlie Stross's "Halting State", but there were some odd things going on in dream Edinburgh at the time and I never got anywhere with it.

#99 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Jenny Islander @94, it's my understanding that lots of sites use Disqus because it plugs into the code of an existing site and allows you to have comments without having to code it all yourself. Some people who use social media professionally also like to use it themselves because it lets them have one profile across many websites.

Given that those folks are also often involved in choosing how comments are enabled on their employers' websites on a technical level (e.g., Do we have to code this all ourselves, or is there a plug-in we can use?), you see how it became widespread.

#100 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 12:58 PM:

Regarding that fight in "Robin and Marian"... I had heard praise about it from someone who does swordfighting. Maybe he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does.

#101 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 01:20 PM:

I was looking for info about the bird used in Ladyhawke, and the best I have found so far is this:

It does say that it's a red-tailed hawk, which is indeed an anachronism, but was probably done because they are easier to train. It also says that the bird went on to work in one of Universal Studios stage shows, so it seems unlikely that it was actually shot during the making of the movie, which is good to hear. I've always enjoyed Ladyhawke, and knowing that they'd killed the real bird would have ruined for me.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to find the actual source link that the answer used, but I'll keep looking.

#102 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 02:08 PM:

About the eclipse in Ladyhawke: the screenwriter says, "While the original script was not based on a myth, I did not research eclipses during the writing of the screenplay. The original screenplay used a different dramatic device, and did not feature an eclipse." So I guess the issue with the full moon/eclipse proximity was added during production.

#103 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 02:48 PM:

Serge #100 - it all kind of depends, because we've got very little evidence of how people fought in the putative time of the legend, i.e. late 12th century. We've obviously got MS illustrations, and I don't recall seeing one so odd as an axe and a sword at once, but they are notoriously difficult to properly interpret. We've got the circa 1300 book on sword and buckler, i33, held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds (I have touched and looked at it *hisses golum like*)
which shows a well developed style of sword and buckler fencing that, it has been argued by an expert on Byzantine history, is based on techniques you can see in illustrations from 2 or 300 years earlier in Byzantium.

Now what i33 shows is, allowing for the fact they are using bucklers and so things are different, are attacks to the head, some wrestling, stabbing in the gut, and of course when you try turning the 2D into 3D you get the kind of set aside I think I saw at least once in that clip. But you certainly don't raise your sword and swing down with your entire body weight to bury it in the earth, because that leaves you wide open to your oponent cutting you somewhere.

i33 also shows the priest entering and doing a draw cut on the extended arm of the scholar. Of course neither are armoured, so such attacks will definitely cause damage.
A thrust to maille will almost certainly finish someone off, going through the maille, as the clip shows.
But on the other hand, thinking about it and having a look through the internet, where lots of enthusiastic americans have helpfully tested all sorts of medieval weapons against armour and photographed it* as well as read the old stories, and it seems that swords could cut maille, just not so often or so easily, obviously not with a nice draw-cut, it'll need more than that. In fact you're more likely to cause massive bruising, perhaps break a bone, without cutting the maille at all.

Also knowledge of historical fencing has improved massively since even the 90's, so we need more historical films to show it, he typed hopefully.

* there's a thesis in there somewhere about how digital cameras make it much easier to provide good helpful pictures thus aiding improved understanding, but it's probably so obvious you don't need that.

#104 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 03:15 PM:

Guthrie @ 103... it seems that swords could cut maille, just not so often or so easily, obviously not with a nice draw-cut

I figured that they wanted something more cinematic than Robert Shaw going ouch. By the way. that scene is the second time that Connery and Shaw went at it each other in a movie.

#105 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 03:40 PM:

In response to PNH sidelight about the rightwingers and Coke's latest commercial.

Most of what I've seen reported is people who have no sense of history going off half-cocked. See also the comments on Scalzi's blog. A lot of educated and aware conservatives are okay with Coke's latest ad.

#106 ::: Victoria\ ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 04:09 PM:

HLN. Enjoying the snow storm from the comfort of my home. (Yay for closures and weather awareness!)

While following links of interest I came to a realization. You know you're a knitter when... you can tell the difference between a chain mail coif and a garter stitch coif at a glance. Although, when push comes to shove, it takes more than one kind of geek to realize They Got It Wrong.

#107 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 04:35 PM:


There is *always* some group of idiots protesting whatever thing they don't like, often apparently just to get attention. Not uncommonly, some moderately well known people will jump on the bandwagon, because moderately well known people (especially pundits and radio/ TV personalities) are often not all that smart or wise.

The whole form of blog post / media article that amounts to "get a load of *these* idiots" seems like one that doesn't add much value to the world. The internet is vast, and full of idiots.

#108 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 06:00 PM:

In light of Ms. Rowling having second thoughts about Ron and Hermione, what might other authors say (posthumously) about their plot choices?

Sophocles: "If I had to do it over again, I'd probably leave out the whole mother thing. You won't believe some of the fanfic that's been generated."

Herman Melville: "Ishmael? I shoulda stuck with Robert. But I was thinking about fish, and the -ish sound kept coming up."

#109 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 06:31 PM:

Open threadiness: Ursula Vernon, on the intersection of D&D and ICS.

#110 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 06:46 PM:

Lee @ #44: The idea that fic happens about pretty much anything somebody somewhere likes, and that the age or popularity of said thing is irrelevant, is just not on the radar at all.

I occasionally browse the index of fandoms at AO3, and it always fascinates me to see what's inspired fanfics (so far) and what hasn't. Of course when you get down to the less-widespread fandoms, the difference between a half-dozen stories and zero stories is often one single enthusiastic writer.

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 06:53 PM:

Um, you just linked to this thread.
Maybe you wanted this site, the second post?

#112 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 06:57 PM:

Sarah @110: Of course when you get down to the less-widespread fandoms, the difference between a half-dozen stories and zero stories is often one single enthusiastic writer.

There's a particular fandom on AO3 that currently has 91 works. 59 of those are mine; 11 more are gift fics for me. So, yeah, there is a lot to be said for what a single enthusiastic writer can do, especially if they can convince a few other people to be enthusiastic too.

#113 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Cheryl @ #101: Red-tailed hawks also have a rather distinctive whistling call, which in the movies gets dubbed onto every bird of prey, owls only excepted, up to and including griffins. It's the Wilhelm Scream of bird calls.

#114 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:06 PM:

Semi-snotty linguistic question. Can I ask when the word switched from "mail" to "maille"? Because "maille" is not English but French; why are people acting like they're Normans when even the Normans didn't call it that?

#115 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:17 PM:

I think it's to keep it from being confused with stuff that goes into mailboxes.

#116 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:44 PM:

Cheryl writes in #101:

I was looking for info about the bird used in Ladyhawke, and the best I have found so far is this...

There are Web sites devoted to planes in movies and to guns in movies. Surely some bird enthusiast has put up a Birds in Movies site-- to help answer questions like this?

#117 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 07:51 PM:

The redtail's scream is even more impressive when he's telling his buddies he just spotted lunch...

My Chihuahua.

(The hawk would follow us from the house to the park, ever hopeful.)

#118 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 08:07 PM:

PJ, 115: But that's what context is for.

#119 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 08:26 PM:

Bill Higgins @#116
Many years ago, birder and fan Barry Kent Mackay remarked that he found most movies with outdoor scenes unconvincing because the bird song is nearly always Californian.

#120 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:05 PM:

Jenny Islander #94. I use Disqus for my blog because I don't know any other easy way to allow comments on Tumblr. It sucks less than not allowing comments at all.

(the blogs that annoy me are the ones that require a Google/Facebook/Twitter ID and a CAPTCHA and then stick the comment in a moderation queue. Overkill much?)

#121 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:06 PM:

Henry Troup @119: Universal Hollywood sign for 'it's nighttime and quiet' is either crickets (far from universal worldwide, or even across the US) or the Pacific treefrog, Pseudacris regilla* (link goes to an mp3; for a wider variety of mp3s of different sized groups go here.

Why? Because if a sound recordist needs a new recording of either they can go into a reasonably quiet backyardy place in southern California and record some. Despite Hollywood's testimony, however, the Pacific treefrog occurs neither in Chicago, Boston, nor sub-saharan Africa ... and howler monkeys don't live in Africa either, they're South American, even though their noises are shorthand for "Jungle!"

<*> Formerly, in my childhood, it was called Hyla regilla, which was wonderful for singing to the tune of Hava Nagila. Alas, Pseudacris may be more taxonomically accurate by current standards (there's been several waves of lumping versus splitting since the 80s), but it doesn't scan.

Yes, I was the kind of child who memorized scientific polynomial names (Paromyscus leucopus novaboracensis was one that impressed my mom, though as she's the one who dymo-taped it on the aquarium that ours lived in, I think it's at least partly her fault) of living critters AS WELL as fossil charismatic megafauna. That was the part of my childhood where I thought I was going to grow up to get a PhD in zoology (and do my gradwork either in Lawrence, Kansas, or a tossup between Scripps or Woods Hole). Ahh, the alternate universes next door, the paths not taken ...

#122 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 09:20 PM:

The palm trees in 'San Francisco' are another one. It isn't that there aren't any, but many of them are Phoenix palms and old.

#123 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2014, 11:22 PM:

I saw a movie on tv, name of which I have mercifully forgotten, that did the red tailed hawk scream for a great horned owl. I was not amused.

#124 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:08 AM:

TexAnne at 118: try doing a google search for "mail". I don't like maille much either, but it's better than chainmail.

#125 ::: Victoria\ ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:10 AM:

My personal favorite cinema oops was the oak tree that produced apples. Can't remember the name of the movie, but when I mentioned it to my friends who were watching it with me... "And that your only problem with the movie?" We'd been having a good time watching Bad Movies with a Theme -- that day's was theme had to do with fairy tales.

#126 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:13 AM:

@97 Thanks.
As for Disqus it helps that it is less sucky on the blog/forum creator end, but mostly its just that it lucked into becoming the standard and there is a lot of benefit to having a single system that can be used on a lot of sites.

#127 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:23 AM:

I would just like to state that I do not understand why the world needs a remake of Robocop. In fact I'm pretty sure it does not.

#128 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:47 AM:

Sad news -- Mark Rogers, of Samurai Cat fame (the graphic novels were published by Tor), has died. Heart attack while hiking, according to his Wikipedia page.

#129 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:52 AM:

TexAnne, #114: I consider "maille" to be along the same lines as "Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe" -- basically, someone is being either cutesy or pretentious. The same goes for the overuse of "y" as a substitute vowel for either "i" or "e".

#130 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 05:16 AM:

TexAnne #114 - so what did the Normans and later people call it?
Here in the UK, we've been switching away from the definitely wrong "Chainmail" for a few years now, moving to the more accurate "maille" coming from french for net, IIRC. If you have any better words I'll see what I can do to get them used.

Note- arms and armour are not my area of expertise, I just read a lot and it overlaps with archaeometallurgy which is something I know a lot about.

Xopher #127 - indeed it does not. Apparently it's going to be a PG-13 as well, so certainly not an accurate documentary on the policing methods of the future or a satire upon current police work and the operations of big corporations.

#131 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 05:54 AM:


...but it's better than chainmail

Oh...was it never really called that? As someone whose entire knowlege of pre-modern weaponry and armour comes from AD&D, I know a lot of terms but am wrong about what they mean (and the number of their referents one can sensibly carry) in varied and interesting ways.

#132 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 07:07 AM:

Russ - wikipedia has information on it; it seems it came from Sir Walter Scott and his ilk, thus is a long way from the medieval period.
You might be interested to know that you call a suit of armour a "Harness", not, well, a suit of armour. I've read the word myself in 15th century texts.

#133 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 07:28 AM:

Xopher @127, Guthrie @130 Quite apart from the PG-13/12A rating, my swift look down the cast list seems to indicate that in this version Robocop has no sassy female (ex-)partner. Unless it is frighteningly clever it does seem a poor choice of remake. Maybe next time someone thinks of a reboot, they could make an original dumb action film instead.

#134 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 07:34 AM:

As for moons, I once wrote a story in which a character was to be trapped in a room that would be flooded by the tide, so I made it a spring tide, with a full moon. So far so good. Then they went in while the tide was out. At that point I realised the time most likely for them to go in would be about midnight which would usually be high tide at full moon.

I solved it by deciding it was a long way up a tidal river on the East coast of England, so the tide came in later. The top of the tidal reach of the Thames would be perfect, except it was supposed to be a lonely house in a marsh, and somebody put London in the way.

#135 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 08:58 AM:

Another example of reporting glaring (to some) inaccuracies: movies that use typefaces that did not exist in the period they took place.

#136 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 09:11 AM:

Erik Nelson @135: the most egregious example of that in my experience is the 2007 Sense and Sensibility mini-series, in which the camera focuses on a "family Bible" with space for births and deaths at the front, and the entire page looks as if it's been taken from an 1880s volume, with the florid display faces and all. The allegedly handwritten names are also pretty clearly printed in a calligraphy-script that isn't characteristic of the early 19th century, but they're not as glaring as the solid Late-Victorian feel of the header!

#137 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 09:28 AM:

Anachronisms... Anybody else remembers the miniseries "Mysterious Island", with Patrick Stewart as Nemo? Bad enough tha the Nautilus looked as cramped as a tricked-up U-Boat, but when asked about the island's various huge critters, he explained it was caused by radio-activity and nobody went 'what?'. That's when I switched channels.

#138 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 10:22 AM:


Thank you - my ignorance has diminished an iota.

#139 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:12 AM:

Caroline @192/847: Any recommendations for where I might go to talk to other people who have been living organ donors

I have forwarded contact information to abi for a friend of mine who's a kidney donor. If you email her at her nym here at this domain, she can get that to you.

#140 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:13 AM:

Can I just say, apropos of nothing, that Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples is absolutely amazing work--brilliant, funny, high-stakes, hugely entertaining, and with some of the best comics art I've ever seen? It also mixes sci-fi and fantasy in a way that creates a very quirky world which is nonetheless believable.

#141 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:05 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #121: and howler monkeys don't live in Africa either, they're South American, even though their noises are shorthand for "Jungle!"

See also: the kookaburra, native to Australia and to the soundtracks of movie jungles.

#142 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:15 PM:

And furthermore: The cry of the loon, shorthand for "you are now out in the Big Lonely," and thus used in movies set in deserts.

#143 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:41 PM:

HLN: Local woman experiences the rare sensation of having her eyeballs frost over upon leaving the house this morning. Even wearing ALL THE CLOTHES, she reports that she is not overwarm.

Carrie S. @92: ISTR that he's a fairly generic (though also magical, obviously) wolf; does anyone know what species?

IMDb's trivia page says, "Four Siberian wolves were imported from California to portray the lupine alter-ego persona of Captain Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer)."


... Several different hawks were used. One to sit on Rutger Hauer's arm and another for the flying scenes. A third [hawk] proved to be mostly unusable, as it enjoyed Hauer's company so much that it would ruffle its feathers when seated on his arm, making it look more like a chicken than a stately hawk.

Lori Coulson @117: The hawk would follow us from the house to the park, ever hopeful.

Sticks in my mind that's one reason the national parks want you to keep your dog on a leash.

Henry Troup @119: Many years ago, birder and fan Barry Kent Mackay remarked that he found most movies with outdoor scenes unconvincing because the bird song is nearly always Californian.

I love me some Murder, She Wrote, but one of their foley artists seems to think that "outdoor bird noises" = budgies. Nevermind if it's California, New England, Europe, ...? This got better in later seasons, but I'm still noticing it about every fourth episode.

#144 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:50 PM:

it enjoyed Hauer's company so much that it would ruffle its feathers when seated on his arm

I heard that most of the snakes in Conan the Barbarian would just fall asleep on James Earl Jones, and would have to be prodded between takes so the audience would know the budget had stretched to real snakes.

#145 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:54 PM:

A couple of years ago I saw video of an injured wolf being rescued in Italy (sadly, it appears as though the wolf ultimately did not recover) and was struck, among other things, by how different it looked from a N. American wolf -- smaller, for a start. They named it Navarre.

#146 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:57 PM:

It sure sounds like Hauer, whatever his inadequacies as an actor here (he was fine in Blad Runner), was someone in whose presence animals were very happy. That speaks well for him.

#147 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:04 PM:

Ad featuring the languages that were rejected from Coke's multilingual Superbowl ad:

#148 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:36 PM:

Style Guide for Das IntarWeebz.

#149 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 02:07 PM:

#143, Jacque:

"one of their foley artists seems to think that "outdoor bird noises" = budgies"

I saw an outdoor budgie several times at one work site. It had made friends with a flock of little brown birds about the same size, and despite being bright blue and always the last to leave when a human got within ten steps of wherever the flock had landed, it stayed with them. I suspect its friends were the only reason it was still alive. (It was wearing a leg band.)

#150 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 02:17 PM:

In re keeping one's chihuahuas leashed around raptors ... the efforts to aid the recovery of bald eagles in the Hudson River valley have succeeded to the point that they now circle over Manhattan not infrequently.

Central Park DOES have signs stating clearly that if your pet weighs less than 30lbs you should ONLY walk it ON A LEASH and UNDER TREE COVER. And yet multiple times a year someone tries to sue the parks over their yip-dog running free in Strawberry Fields being snatched up by a baldie and carried off to feed its young.

DNR does try to reunite owners with collars, when they clear out the nests at the end of season ... some of those collars are really expensive.

#151 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 02:17 PM:

Bill Higgins #79: Perhaps it was a stunt moon.


Gar Lipow #70: Ever Tried. Ever Failed.

Also, David Malki and Ryan North are having fun with their Bookwar

#152 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 02:21 PM:

janra: Heh. When I was living in Minneapolis, I happened to be walking to a Sacred Harp session when I noticed, on the lawn ahead, what looked like an albino in the flock of sparrows feeding in a lawn. Got closer: that's not a sparrow, that's a budgie! She didn't bolt with the rest when I got close, and so I leaned down and offered my finger for her to climb onto. She didn't fly away until I actually touched her.

So the second time, I didn't bother offering her my finger. I just slowly reached towards her and when I was close enough, grabbed her. Wrapped her in a fold in my shirt and took her home with me. ("Scream scream scream!" Bite bite bite!) Named her "Ruth" because the green male I already had was named "Mnementh."

Where I live now, I see an escaped budgie in the trees every few years. Most recent one was obviously very happy, with the puffy face and the smug talk-talk. Didn't survive the first cold snap, of course.

#153 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 03:36 PM:

The last time I got on a scale was mid-2012, at a clinic operated by the homeless shelter where I could have had my cats with me. When opening my case with them, I had to have a medical exam and TB test, and I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. (Considering the amount of stress I was under, this in no way surprised me.)

I made my last trip to that clinic (while I had my post-accident rental car) to see if they wanted to renew the scrip for my BP prescription, and my weigh-in was something between 255-260 lbs, at which weight I had actually been pretty stable for a number of years. Again, considering the stress I was under, plus the cheap high-carb meals usually served at the shelter where I was living at the time, I was surprised I hadn't gained weight.

Lately, my clothes have been feeling slightly looser, so I just weighed myself on a digital scale in our shipping department...

240.5 pounds.

I haz a happy. :)

#154 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 03:53 PM:

We have feral budgies in Amsterdam and thereabouts. Flocks of them, sitting in green clusters in the trees. They're not escapees, but rather, descendants of escapees, now thoroughly wild.

Takes some getting used to at first.

#155 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 04:02 PM:

Neil W #134.

In fact, high tide and moon at zenith do not always, or even as a general rule, go together. I know not about the UK, but here in New Zealand, at any given time every possible state of the tide exists somewhere on our coastline. The cycle is linked to the moon, but not the phase.

At a recent RASNZ Conference a speaker put up a display demonstrating this, and we watched the pretty colours representing the tides chase each other round the coast.

Naturally, the two ends of Cook Strait are way out of sync. Hence the ferocious currents that run through Cook Strait (which are why it was not swum until the 1960s in spite of being less than half the width of the English Channel).

The only way to be sure is to look up the published tide tables for the area that interests you.

J Homes

#156 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 04:10 PM:

abi @ 154... feral budgies in Amsterdam

That sounds like the premise for a Monty Python skit.

#157 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 04:13 PM:

"It's not pinin', it's passed on!"

"Samen leven."

#158 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 04:49 PM:

abi @154: I don't know if it's the same species as the ones over there, but we've got lots of feral parakeets in Brussels too.

#159 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 06:00 PM:

It's quite likely. I suspect the number of species that are both common enough to be pets and hardy enough to deal with our shared climate is relatively small...

#160 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 06:09 PM:

Are budgies and parakeets different names for the same thing? Or are they different birds?

I've tried to look this up several times, but my brain always goes all woozily at the explanation.

#161 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Budgies (budgerigar*) are often called parakeets, but apparently the latter technically refers to a different class of critters, more like what you see in Pendrift's link. The Wikipedia page says that "parakeet" is a "non-taxonomical term that refers to any of a number of small parrots with long, flat and tapered tails."

* I've been told (non-authoritatively) that "budgerigar" is a corruption of an Australian Aborigine word that means "little green thing that's good to eat." (Though I think you'd have to be awfully hungry for budgie meat to be worth the trouble.)

#162 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 06:21 PM:

wrt the species in Ladyhawke: I did production on the Compleat Anachronist issue on falconry a few years before the movie came out. For some reason I remember that the would-be falconer's first bird (in the U.S.) must always be a red-tail, because they're common; you could work with other species after you had a license saying that you knew enough not to break their birds. Possibly the red-tail was chosen because there would be no issues about training it and taking it abroad? (Leaving unanswered the question of why they didn't hire local talent -- are there fewer cinematic-level animal trainers in Spain?)

Steve C @ 108: I don't think leaving out the mother thing would have worked; IIRC the myth was established well before then. But I can certainly imagine him ruing the sequel, Oedipus at Colonus, in which he used an undefined part of the story to promote Athens: "I made them look good, and see what they did to me!"

Elliott @ 150: that's impressive; I didn't know a bald eagle could lift that much. OTOH, I thought they were more fish-eaters -- but I suppose they'll take whatever prey is handy.
    People do tend to underestimate birds; I once saw a local tell a tourist on the Boston Common that not restraining her yapper from a gander during chick season was a Bad Idea, likely to result in a broken dog. I understand the local branta Canadensis are bigger than the migratory variety; they certainly aren't impressed by anything smaller than them, and not by most bigger things.

Syd @ 153: congratulations!

in re budgies -- does anyone remember a somewhat-recent ~documentary about feral parakeets(?) on Telegraph Hill? IMDB search doesn't seem to understand "and".

#163 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 06:32 PM:

Jacque (161): Thanks. No wonder I'm confused. Hopefully the explanation will stick this time.

CHip (162): Would it be The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill? (I googled it, and that IMDB entry was the first link.)

#164 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 06:34 PM:

Parrots, I thought. Big green parrots.

#165 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 07:50 PM:

I've never seen The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill but I've trimmed thousands of flyers for it down to bleeding edges.

#166 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 08:01 PM:

On feral budgies, I live close to Cornwall Park, Auckland, a large park in suburbia, much of which is a farm. There are of course many escaped pets, including breeding populations of Australian Rosellas. I've recently started spotting a very fluffy bunny (as opposed to the wild rabbits), which has been very lucky in the paddock it has chosen - it's one that people don't let their dogs run free in, due to the proximity of the farm manager's house.

#167 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 08:34 PM:

CHip @162: Baldies would much rather steal a fish from an osprey, as their first choice; second is either catching a fish themselves or finding something dead and eating it. But apparently there are two or three individuals within easy flight of Manhattan who occasionally go looking for rabbits. Well, dogs, actually, but the eagle isn't to know that until after they've caught it ...

#168 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 09:06 PM:

Elliott: Well, dogs, actually, but the eagle isn't to know that until after they've caught it ...

Oh, I don't know about that. I'm given to understand (by a falconer I met at a Highlander convention, of all places) that their eyesight is more than good enough to make that distinction from altitude. And I can easily image that a nice fat, lazy peekapoo woud be a major improvement over a tough, stringy rabbit.

HLN: Hollow Log has been freed. Apparently destined to become a beehive in its old age.

#169 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 09:58 PM:

The "Three Russian Bogaturs" is a series of hilarious short cartoons, pitting medieval heroes against adversaries as diverse as Darth Vader, the iceberg that sand the Titanic, and Freddy Kreuger.

There a good selection in this blog post:

#170 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 10:03 PM:

Jacque #161 (Though I think you'd have to be awfully hungry for budgie meat to be worth the trouble.)

They do come in large Costco-sized multipacks, for example

Think of them as like aerial sardines.

#171 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 10:52 PM:

The Harry Potter stuff is making me think about that universe again.

Ron and Hermione's relationship always bugged me, because it was a very specific, very common type of overused trope that irritates me. Essentially: "smart powerful cool girl ends up with normal guy who brings nothing to the table except the fact that he's liked her for a long time." This is distinctly different than "smart powerful cool girl ends up with a guy whose expertise and skills are in completely different areas and not directly comparable." I like that fine.

I'm not going to do my full Ron rant right now, unless the Potter discussion gets more lively here. Let's just say I am drawn to fictional couples by the kind of emotional and intellectual interaction they're shown having, and most of Ron and Hermione's romantic interactions seemed to consist of nothing more than "I've known you forever, I find you physically attractive, and I decided I'd date you when I was 12, thus we are destined to be a couple." I can understand how that'd be wish fulfillment or nostalgia for some people, but... not for me.

That said, I was never completely sold on Hermione and Harry, either. They had a slightly better dynamic, where they'd learn things about functioning in society and self-discipline from each other. But the relationship I thought was being set up for romance was Harry and Luna. She saw to the core of his deepest flaws - his anger, his stubbornness, his willingness to rush to judgment - and helped him calm down, be more mindful, and let things go. Interacting with her taught him to focus on the difference between things he was really certain about, things he really cared about, and things he was wasting his energy raging about for no good reason. It was a subtle and interesting relationship, and I was impressed with what Rowling was doing with it...

Then I realized it was all an accident. She hadn't meant any of that subtlety and emotional growth to mean anything special. The same thing is true for my other favorite part of the series: the complexity and sympatheticness of Snape's character. Rowling said in another interview that she thought the only reason people could possibly like Snape was that they were picturing Allan Rickman - but I liked Snape long before the movies were cast.

So my two favorite things in the Potter books were accidents that didn't end up having any meaningful resolution. I still like the books, and you can learn a lot about the power of a particular type of non-standard worldbuilding from them. The world is the part I still enjoy instinctively (despite the many logical problems I can see with it.)

I'm not sure if there's a lesson in this, but I find it interesting.

#172 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:34 PM:

I'm always willing to toss out what an author said in an interview, versus what they actually wrote. Especially when it's years after publication date.

Authors have selective memory just like the rest of us. (Plus they flail for something interesting to say when a microphone is shoved at them, ditto.)

Also -- geez, if you start rejecting story elements that started as *accidents*... (Long retro-analysis of _The Lord of the Rings_ deleted as too obvious to mention.)

#173 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 01:04 AM:

Re: feral parakeets, there is a bird called a monk parakeet which is pigeon-sized, noisy, and bright green, and has established breeding populations in several locations in the United States, including New York, Connecticut, Texas, Illinois, Oregon, and Florida (why, yes, I looked it up - why do you ask?). I've seen them at their Brooklyn College athletic grounds hangout.

Budgerigars are much smaller and more slender (and not always green). My understanding is that they're not hardy enough for our climate except in Florida. I'm surprised to hear they're hardy enough for the Netherlands - is it possible it's a different parakeet, Abi?

#174 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 01:31 AM:

AKICIML, food edition:

My has-newly-become-a-vegetarian cousin is in town visiting for a month or so, staying with her grandmother. She's still learning how to cook for herself (she's 18), and her grandmother is totally hapless. Gma's a terrible cook to begin with, and she really has no grasp of the word "vegetarian" (when asked by another cousin if gdaughter was vegan, Gma replied, "no, she eats all her vegetables". The next day, she offered gdaughter a hot dog for lunch).

So, I'm going through my recipe collection looking for things she can make, and I'm realising how many of my no-meat soup recipes contain dairy!

My question for the Fluorosphere: what's the best substitute for milk and/or cream in a soup? Rice milk? Almond? Coconut? I wouldn't want the flavours to change too much...

Since I'm pretty sure poor gdaughter hasn't had much more than dry rice krispies and some apples for the past two days, I'd really like to get her grocery shopping tomorrow. If nothing else, I'll tell her to pick up all the beans/legumes/grains that she can.

#175 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 01:48 AM:

Cheryl @ 174: If she's vegetarian, not vegan, then there's no need to avoid dairy and eggs. If she is vegan, then I recommend hunting down vegan recipes online, rather than experimenting with substitutions for dairy. When we've tried substitutions, results have varied a lot.

#176 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 02:25 AM:

@175 janetl

If she's vegetarian, not vegan, then there's no need to avoid dairy and eggs.

She doesn't refer to herself as vegan, but I know she doesn't eat dairy or eggs.

If she is vegan, then I recommend hunting down vegan recipes online, rather than experimenting with substitutions for dairy.

I'll certainly do that too, but I was hoping for a simple way to convert some of my favourites.

When we've tried substitutions, results have varied a lot.

Thanks for the info!

#177 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 04:56 AM:

On the Harry Potter romantic resolutions:

Harry and Hermione are both outsiders, muggle-raised. and highly talented. They have a different view of the wizard world because of that. Harry has the family connections that Hermione does not.

Ron and Ginny are insiders of a particular sort. They're not aristocrats. They're a very rural, middle-class at best, sort of family. Yeoman wizards, if you like, the semi-mythical heart of English wizardry.

It's The Darling Buds of May with wizardry, maybe the TV version rather than the original.

Not all the aristocrats we see are of the Malfoy sort, nor are all the urban wizards somehow im-natural, but Ron and Ginny are more than just individuals. They are expressions of a particular mythic archetype of English lore.

And maybe passing them off as somehow stupid or inadequate is to be part of this modern age that casts off too much of the past. None of them need be quite real people, but the Weasley family are people who, eventually, say "Enough!", and get on and do something.

#178 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:54 AM:

jonesnori/Lenore Jones @173

On the one hand, I don't have very fine distinctions among pet bird species; when I moved to the UK, I found that what I was accustomed to calling a parakeet was being called a budgie. That's about the limit of my sophistication.

On the other hand, the birds I'm referring to are a good deal smaller than pigeons.

A little web research tells me that they're probably Rose-ringed parakeets.

#179 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 06:15 AM:

Russ #138 - you're welcome.

#181 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 08:42 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @172: I'm always willing to toss out what an author said in an interview, versus what they actually wrote.

Bradbury always seems to agree in interviews that Fahrenheit 451 was about censorship, whereas to me the significant part of the story was that most people had already stopped reading books by the time the government in that story had banned them, which is why there was no significant resistance to the law. Admittedly this leaves one wondering why so much effort is put into hunting books down and burning them -- my various headcannons are (a) it's a make-work project, (b) it's making an example of non-conformists, in order to keep everyone else in line, or (c) it's actually a reverse-psychology attempt to get everyone reading again by making it cool and rebellious.

#182 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 08:44 AM:

J Homes @155

Tides are complex as all get out. I admit that I was basing the tides on East Kent and the Humber estuary in England, which is where I've lived the vast majority of my life. Which worked out fine as that is where it was set.

New Zealand tides, as I've just discovered by taking a look at the Wikipedia, run completely differently to ones in the UK. Clearly I will need to research this before writing about tides there. (High Tide runs around the archipelago in a counter-clockwise circle? What madness is this!)

#183 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 08:54 AM:

Leah Miller @171 I didn't think that Hermione and Ron getting together was especially implausible*. I do think that for them to still be together (20?) years later glosses over what must have been some stressful and difficult changes to their relationship. But then again, no one gets divorced in the wizard world.

* Combine the powerful bond from the shared experiences during the fight with Voldemort, some general attraction and teenage hormones and it could easily happen.

#184 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:01 AM:

Cheryl @ 174

I'm neither vegetarian nor vegan, but I have to avoid dairy products. What to substitute for milk and cream depends greatly on the recipe, and what role the milk/cream was playing.

For thickened sauces with fat (white sauce, many cream soups), and in much baking, water is a fine substitute for milk; if you are substituting for cream, increase the fat content of the roux to compensate.

Where the milk is smoothing the flavor (think of the effect of milk in coffee, or tomato soup), nothing is a perfect substitute; rice milk, thin white sauce made with water, and coconut milk can all sort-of work depending on the recipe.

Where cream is serving as a fat source, oil and water often works (in French-style lentils, for example.)

My experience is that it's often better to give up on "how do I make this without milk" and move to "what can I make that doesn't have milk."

One really good source of non-dairy recipes is Jewish cookbooks.

A fair number of the recipes in the Fast Cheap Good thread are vegan.

#185 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:01 AM:

Cheryl #174: Unfortunately, none of the ur-milks I've seen is really suitable for substitution in cooking, mostly because most of them in the markets are sweetened to varying degrees, and if you can find unsweetened forms, they have fairly strong flavors and sometimes texture issues.

Of course, it's different if you're building a recipe around the particular ur-milk, but alas, it sounds like Grandma is unlikely to have that sort of flexibility.

#186 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:43 AM:

My dead-simple, emergency or no-spoons vegan suggestions: hummus, store-bought or handmade from canned chickpeas. (Just take the 5 minutes and squirt the canned, rinsed chickpeas through your fingers to remove the skins.) Pita or pita chips, Non-dairy guacamole, aka mashed avocado plus a little fresh salsa, if you can get a small amount from the deli. Avocados should be cheapish this time of year. Canned pumpkin or butternut squash soup. (Acquire 1 can of either, 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk, vegetable soup base or broth or granules, some curry powder. Mix squash, coconut milk, 1 cup of reconstituted vegetable stock in sauce pan, bring to simmer. Curry powder & salt to taste. Also works with canned in water sweet potatoes, but requires mashing.) Bean chili, made with canned beans and canned tomatoes and a packet of bog-standard chili seasoning -- follow packet instructions, but sub beans for meat. Produce. Nut or peanut butter. Bread products. We were partial to cauliflower and zucchini korma, made with a jar of korma sauce (Tiger Tiger brand but Patak's isn't deadly), a bag of frozen cauliflower, one zucchini chopped into half moon slices and a diced onion. Sauté veg in oil/ghee, pour sauce over top, let simmer while rice is cooking. Baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. Pomodoro sauce (tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, all chopped and cooked lightly in olive oil with some dried Italian blend seasoning) tossed with pasta. If you're feeling both adventurous and decadent, scallion pancakes are very easy, very vegan, tasty and filling, but nutritionally iffy and require kneading.

#187 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:48 AM:

CZEdwards @ 186

Note pleae that korma sauce almost always has butter or cream in it. (And curry paste very often has seafood of some kind.)

#188 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:06 AM:

CZEdwards@186, doesn't bread have egg in it? Is there such a thing as vegan bread? (I don't know; that's why I'm asking.)

#189 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:08 AM:

#171 ::: Leah Miller

This reminds me of how much I appreciate the Modesty Blaise/Giles Pennyfeather pairing. She's an expert fighter, and her platonic friend Willie Gavin is a fellow expert fighter. So she ends up with a doctor who's notable for his emotional skills, and has sufficient courage and toughness to do well in the Blaiseiverse.

I'm very fond of Luna. Any recommendations for Luna fanfic? I did want to see more of her in canon.

Amends, or Truth and Reconciliation is an excellent fanfic about Hermione during the year after the end of canon. Unfortunately, it's not finished (though there's still hope).

Ron doesn't work out, and Neville is the better choice.

I'm not sure this is a fair reading of canon, but it's been a while since I've read canon, and I like the fic enough that I don't care.

It's basically a very smart Hermione up against massive obstacles sort of story, not to mention having what happens when a computer programmer designs magical defenses.

#190 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:26 AM:

Cassy B: Bread must contain flour, water, yeast, and salt -- that's it. It may also contain almost anything else, from an egg or some milk to chunk additions like raisins or various spices, but flour/water/yeast/salt is your classic bread algorithm.

#191 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:27 AM:

Elliott @190, thanks; you can tell I'm not a baker. <smile>

#192 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz: It's so far from canon that it's definitely out at the crackfic end of the spectrum, but the Case of the Unwelcome Owl is (a) awesome and (b) contains Luna Lovegood. It also explains a lot about the Sherlockverse. :->

#193 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:40 AM:

I also haven't found much luck in swapping out fake-dairy in soups. I have, however, found a lot of luck with Moosewood cookbooks. My go-to "anyone and everyone can eat this" recipe comes from there, and a number of other recipes work well for handling almost all dietary and allergy restrictions.

Lima Bean Stew is my strong recommendation: canned or frozen lima beans, corn, tomatoes in roughly equal amounts, cumin, onions, some garlic. Serve over rice/couscous/quinoa and add avocado/cilantro/cheese as desired. I recommend following the recipe, but that alone will get you something edible.

It's gluten-free, vegan, can have cheese added for the non-vegan, and is generally safe for most allergic folks. (There's always the corner cases who can't eat tomatoes or whatever.) You can spice it up with some cayenne if you like, and the avocados make it taste a little bit decadent.

#194 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 11:39 AM:

Serge Broom @ #2
Holy botanical inaccuracy, Batman!

I am almost positive that should have been Holly botanical inaccuracy, Batman! It is winter after all.

#195 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 12:12 PM:

Abi @178, interesting. That parakeet sounds almost a menace!

#196 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 12:25 PM:

Cheryl@174: One easy vegan-compatible soup we've been playing with lately is a sweet potato, ginger, and miso soup. We've used cauliflower for the thickening originally provided by dairy, with no detectable loss of flavor. Proportions are approximate and flexible; the recipe is pretty forgiving:

3 medium onions, sliced
2-3 tbsp grated or sliced fresh ginger
3-4 medium sweet potatoes, cut in chunks
1 medium head cauliflower without greens, cut in chunks
olive oil
stock to cover
miso to taste (we've been tending toward 1/4 cup)

Saute the onions in olive oil until slightly browned.
Add the ginger and saute until the ginger becomes fragrant.
Add sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and stock to cover.
Simmer until everything is soft.
Add miso.

The strongest flavors are from ginger and miso, with sweet potatoes coming up second, which makes everything else extremely flexible. We've added other root vegetables like carrots, and it's been fine. For stock we've used chicken stock and we've used water with vegetarian bouillon, and both have been equally good. For miso we tend to a strong, dark akamiso, but again, the recipe is flexible. If you don't have a miso strainer then it's probably best to first mix the miso with a bit of the soup in a separate bowl before adding it to the pot.

By the way, this is the kind of recipe that makes us fall in love with our stick blender. We would probably make a lot less soup if we didn't own one. Being able to do the blending step without decanting is really, really nice. If you're looking for a gift for someone who makes this sort of soup, I strongly recommend looking in that direction.

#197 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 12:26 PM:

I meant to add, speaking of stick blenders: they're also handy for making hot chocolate; which, going back to the original question, comes out very well made with almond milk.

#198 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 12:27 PM:

#192 ::: Elliott Mason

Thanks for the Luna fanfic link. I'm checking out more by FayJay.


Any thoughts about capitalizing on the taste of hemp milk instead of just using it as a milk substitute?

#199 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Mishalak @ 194... Groan. :-)

#200 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 03:44 PM:

Mushroom barley soup is another nice, hearty soup with neither milk nor meat. Sauteed onions, add mushrooms, herbs and spices (I use sage, thyme, and black pepper), and a bunch of water. Simmer until the mushrooms are thoroughly cooked and it smells like soup; add much less barley than you think you should, simmer until the barley is done (about half an hour).

I haven't given amounts, because tastes vary and recipes abound. It's my favorite soup (except the one that starts the same way but then adds flour and milk instead of barley, but that's a dairy soup).

#201 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 04:03 PM:

Cheryl@174 There are several different brands that sell more or less premade Indian entree's. All are vegetarian, and most are vegan. If you also make some rice they work well as a meal, I just finished on of brown rice and Kitchens' of India's lentils .

#202 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 04:07 PM:

(When you add too much barley, it thickens the soup too much. And if you have a whole lot of mushrooms in there as I usually do, it becomes Mushroom Barely Soup - Almost Stew.)

#203 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 04:10 PM:

I once, as an experiment, blended soft silken tofu with vegetable broth to produce a vegan "cream" soup base. Good texture, tasted a little beany. Once I added chopped mushrooms, onion, and garlic, sautéed in a bit of olive oil, it became a quite acceptable soup.

#204 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:00 PM:

Leek and potato soup is different, but extremely good, with coconut milk instead of dairy.

It's even better (but not vegan) with a bit of Thai green curry paste -- one could add as many of the ingredients of green curry paste as were available and allowable.

[some self-identified vegans don't mind the amount of seafood you get in green curry paste, but one would, of course, have to ask]

#205 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:08 PM:

@Potterfans: One thing Ron brings that Hermione might find interesting/attractive is family and lots of it. Hermione isn't as isolated as Harry, but she's an only child (I believe). And Harry certainly liked being part of the Weasley's.

It's been a very long time since I read the books, and I don't remember how much we know about Ron and Hermione when Harry wasn't around. I don't even remember Ron getting that much screen time in the books. Maybe R&H have a shared interest in unicorn scrimshaw and barbershop quartets, for all I know.

#206 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:09 PM:

ARGH. "Weasleys". Spotted it the second after I hit post and before it posted.

#207 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:32 PM:

unicorn scrimshaw

Gathered, not hunted, I hope???

#208 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:32 PM:

Xopher @202, Oh, but I *like* "Barely Soup" -- if it's thick enough to eat with a fork, I'm not at all unhappy.... <grin> This would be a case where tastes differ, I think.

#209 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 05:33 PM:

thomas: "[some self-identified vegans don't mind the amount of seafood you get in green curry paste, but one would, of course, have to ask]"

It seems strange for a vegan, but it makes me glad I decided to go from vegetarian to pescitarian, as I never knew green curry was made with fish sauce (and apparently, shrimp).

#211 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 07:43 PM:

My Unintentionally Vegan Minestrone, which I make at least every other week:

1-2 onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
About half a carrot, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 can each kidney, cannellini, & garbanzo beans
1 small (8oz?) can tomato sauce
about 2 quarts water or veggie stock
Bay leaf, oregano, thyme, rosemary
3/4 cup dry ditalini

Saute the chopped veggies in olive oil, with salt. Add the herbs and tomato sauce, and saute a little longer to meld the flavors. Drain and rinse the canned beans, and add them in along with the potato and sliced carrot, and then add the liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes and carrots are tender (this is the minimum time, you can leave it simmering as long as you please, just add more liquid if it reduces too much). When ready to serve, cook the ditalini separately, drain them, and add them in. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

I am sure you could use cooked dried beans, but I have a very poor track record over the last 25 years of cooking those without boiling them dry, so I've given up. Using canned beans means this can be ready in an hour. :)

#212 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 08:21 PM:

People keep forgetting that Ron Weasley is very, very good at chess, and is willing to work hard to learn things he doesn't know even when people with loads of natural talent have gone before him, as with Harry and the Quidditch team. I read their relationship as two highly intelligent people, one of whom is more grounded and practical while the other is more apt to question conventional wisdom.

But frankly I didn't want any of them to just up and marry their high school sweethearts, without even an aside about the years it took to get to that point a la Tangled.

Also I wanted Snape to go "Sod the lot of you, my bitterness and I are going to America," and discover that in America wizards have therapists. Really, the British Wizarding World was like one ingrown backwater small town spread over umpteen square miles.

#213 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 08:36 PM:

A vegan favorite recipe: Wedding Lentils[1]

2 cups red lentils (masoor dal)
Rinse, cover generously with water, put on to boil.
2 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger about an inch long
Chop and add to the lentils
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp tumeric
Add, cook until lentils are tender.

1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves

Simmer a bit, and taste; add more salt or cayenne if needed. Finish immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

When ready to serve, heat up (microwave is best). Add:
1 can coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut, which is sweetened)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped.

Good with rice, or on bread.

1) Named because I made them the first time for our wedding in a mad scramble after realizing that there was nothing but bread and fruit for the vegans.

#214 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:07 PM:

On inaccuracies: my personal favorite was some years back when Scientific American put out a special issue on geophysics. The cover featured a color drawing of a planet made of gears...meshed so they could not turn. And sometimes I think that might explain some things...

#215 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:07 PM:

I am amused by the custom logo Google has come up with to mark the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics. It depicts a set of athletes engaged in Olympic winter sports, against a multi-colored background -- not the colors of the Olympic rings, though, more a... what's the word? Yes: a rainbow.

Also, in the space under the search box there's currently a quotation from the Olympic Charter featuring the phrases "mutual understanding" and "without discrimination of any kind".

#216 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:12 PM:

>> ... simmer until the barley is done (about half an hour).

This depends a lot on altitude, or maybe on your definition of "done". At 5200 feet, I usually cook barley for an hour and a half.

#217 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:21 PM:

Was it here that I saw the German Olympic team uniforms described as "Basically, 'Screw you, Putin, you homophobic jerk' in clothing form"?

#218 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:31 PM:

News of the me: I'll be at Boskone the weekend of 14 Feb.

Other than that, I have etrogim blooming my window, orchids on the kitchen counter, yarn growing on the spinning wheel (commissions can be arranged), and generally a decent slice of life, if a bit busy (I have a photo project in mind, which I've been testbedding on my phone; need to talk to the advocate to arrange for the best way to go back to school, am getting married in May, spending a month in England/Ireland/Canada in August, etc.).

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 09:57 PM:

Congratulations would appear to be in order!

#220 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:03 PM:

Terry Karney (218): Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!

I'll look for you at Boskone.

#221 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:12 PM:

Nice to hear from you, Terry! That all sounds like good stuff.

Cheryl @ 174: Here's a suggestion in the stuff-hapless-grandmother-could-cook category:

One of our standard household meals when everybody is exhausted but hungry is completely simple: Make whole wheat spaghetti (more flavorful and filling than plain kind), serve with reheated jarred tomato spaghetti sauce (e.g. Classico Tomato-Basil) and some sort of steamed or microwaved veg to go with it, usually broccoli or cauliflower. It's healthy and vegan as long as you don't dump a bunch of cheese on top (though the cheese helps with protein.) Teach your cousin to make that, and she need not starve in the future. It's a fairly cheap meal too, especially as we get the w.w. spaghetti in bulk from Costco.

Rikibeth: That's not entirely unlike my huge vat of minestrone recipe, though I usually do cook dried beans from scratch. (If the beans are really old, though, there's a distinct possibility of the beans still being a little crunchy the next day.)

#222 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 10:44 PM:

Regarding curry: I think I specified curry powder, which is usually turmeric, fenugreek, clove, anise, cinnamon, pepper, and sometimes salt in varying amounts. I like Penzey's blends but Spice Island aren't bad. Store brands are often stale and nasty. I don't play with green (thai) curry paste. It pings some super taster bitter-sour for me.

Bread technically doesn't even require commercial yeast. Sourdough being a thing. Many commercial raised breads are or can be vegan, especially the simpler ones like pita, supermarket French/Italian, and (shudder) Wonder Bread. Many quick breads (like muffins in a loaf pan) are not.

One of the Patak's and two of the Tiger Tiger bottled sauces are dairy free (or the other way round -- memory being friable). All are yellow, mild, with a distinct Anglo-Indian curry flavor. They use coconut and arrowroot as their creamy thickness. Those are the ones in the emergency box, because they have a longer shelf life.

We were never vegan, but accommodating. While we personally sometimes practiced Don't Ask Don't Tell vegetarianism (usually with soups because the spoon cost of demanding a complete list of stock ingredients got excessive) I know others don't, especially those who are veg* for ethical rather than health reasons. Thus, always reading recipes and ingredients.

#223 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 11:28 PM:

Updatery. Kidney stone smashed to smithereens at Phoenix's Saint Joe's hospital via lithotripsy. I feel quite a bit better, though I am definitely not 100% and still need too many pain meds to function. But I'm upright and eating again. I've lost fifteen pounds, but I can't recommend this particular diet. Still on IV gentamicin for the foreseeable future. This is an evil drug all around, but better than being dead ...

Turns out I had "severe sepsis" when admitted to Payson, which explains why I felt like dying crap at the time. It also occurs to me that Payson Regional might have saved my life -- time from arrival tp heavy doses of an IV antibiotics was probably around half an hour. They changed antibiotics a couple times while I was in the hospital, too, either because the bug wasn't sensitive to it or because, allergic patient is allergic.

In the past, when I've gone to other hospitals, I've had very poor treatment for kidney stones and kidney infections -- sometimes so bad that it was like, "Why bother?"

Anyway, life is looking brighter now.

Oh, and it's supposed to snow tonight. Assuming we don't get snowed in, this is a good thing. We've had dustings of snow twice this week without even enough moisture to make the ground wet -- this is supposed to be 3-5 inches. Perfect. It needs to do this every few days until spring! Yay for moisture from the sky, and double yay for freezing temperatures. (We have thick red clay. I much prefer it frozen to muddy around here. I can put on a jacket much easier than I can clean mud off of everything including the animals.)

#224 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Cassy 208: Oh, me too.

Bruce 216: I'll take your word for it. I live at sea level. Hoboken is on the Hudson Estuary (so the Hudson flows "upriver" when the tide comes in).

Well, OK, not at sea level. But most of the altitude of my kitchen is the three flights I walk up to get to it.

Carrie 217: Yes.

Terry 218: You kinda buried the lede there! Congratulations!

#225 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2014, 11:47 PM:


It ran in the early 70s, on Saturday mornings. A kiddie show, but not a cartoon. Artsy and brainy.

It might not have been a network show. I vaguely recall that it ran on WOR Channel 9 in the NYC area, but I could be wrong about that.

The framing device: A troupe of medieval entertainers visit town. Intro shows them rolling in in wagons as a theme song is sung. I could hum you the song, but don't recall a single lyric.

It was a variety show of sorts. The performers do sketches, sing songs. One regular bit: Two robed philosophers deal in tangled logic.

Any ideas?

#226 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 12:02 AM:

@Cygnet: Glad things are looking up. Amazing what difference teh right facility makes.

* * *
Portland & Environs got hit with what for the area was an astonishingly fierce snowstorm. By Midwestern standards it would likely be considered a brief flurry, but it made quite a mess. I managed to break the sturdy push-broom I was using to sweep off my driveway; snapped the brush when I whacked it on the end to shed some of the snow. Oh well.

#227 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 12:12 AM:

It's been raining lightly in my corner of LA this evening. Chilly, too, but not so much that I didn't go out for a while this morning.

#228 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 12:50 AM:

I can hear a nor'wester blowing in now. It's supposed to dump up to 4 inches of snow on us before swinging to the east and dying down. This after we got clover, dandelions, sorrel, comfrey, and snow-on-the-mountain coming up and the buds breaking on native berry bushes even in the shade. This is the worst warm snap I can remember. Also it was the third warmest January in recorded local history.

#229 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:20 AM:

Thanks so much for all the recipe help!

After talking to her today, I think what my newly-veg-cousin really needs is information. She did get to the grocery store, where she bought mostly fresh vegetables and some pasta. As far as I can tell, she hasn't had any protein since she got here, and based on our conversation, I think she is not getting anywhere near enough.

I've already said that her Gma is a terrible cook, but I don't think I really conveyed the whole truth: Gma will eat four things.

- white spaghettini (NOT spaghetti) with Prego sauce
- Kraft Dinner (Macaroni & Cheese)
- rice krispies
- steak, which has been covered* in "barbecue" sauce and cooked in the oven on a cookie sheet (served with mashed potatoes, no veg)

I'm leaving out various desserts and junk food.

Her daughter does eat a wide variety of food, but she never actually learned how to cook any of it. She lives on restaurant take-out (or eat-in).

So, gdaughter is kind of starting from zero. I'm happy that she's interested in what she eats, and wants to change it from what she's always had, but she has no experience with just day-to-day cooking, let alone figuring out how to balance nutritional needs.

She's offline at Gma's house, so I'll try and find info online that I can print for her, and I'm happy to cook with her and teach her what I know - I'm not vegetarian, but I have vegetarian friends and I like to feed people - I'm just afraid of infodumping, and of coming off like I'm her instructor, you know?

Thanks again for all the help, and if you have any good sites for the newly veggie/vegan, I'd be grateful for any more!

*by which I mean, no meat is visible through the coating

#230 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:29 AM:

Xopher: Terry 218: You kinda buried the lede there! Congratulations!

No, I didn't. Since we have limited space the ability to invite is limited. What was important in the message (of a timely nature) is that folks who want to see me in Boston can do so.

I did forget to say that the London/Ireland trip includes LonCon and ShamrocKon.

#231 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:33 AM:

CZEdwards: Most commercial curry powders also have some chile peppers. I know this because Merav can't have nightshades.

Garam Masala is usually chile free, and has cumin, fenugreek, roast coriander, turmeric, and anise. It may have clove.

Having been forced to learn how to make non-chile curries, the secret is the fenugreek, though curry leaves help.

#232 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:05 AM:

I have Spice Hunter curry seasoning and garam masala.
The curry seasoning does include chiles (fourth ingredient), but the full list is:
cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, saffron
You could probably leave out the chile and red pepper without it being too noticeable. (It smells wonderful.)
The garam masala is cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cardamom.

#233 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:26 AM:

Cheryl @229: gdaughter is kind of starting from zero. I'm happy that she's interested in what she eats, and wants to change it from what she's always had

A cookbook I've encountered that might be useful: The Gradual Vegetarian by Lisa Tracy. She also has a website.

#234 ::: Aquila1nz ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 05:52 AM:

Neil W @182

Auckland has two high tides about 3 hours apart, one in each harbour. And there are Portage Rds in 3 different parts of Auckland which tells you just how close together the two harbours are - I think the smallest gap is less than a mile.

So yes, like J Homes, my reaction to a high tide at full moon having to be at midnight was "but it can't be the same everywhere!"

#235 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 07:15 AM:

Congratulations Terry!

#236 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 07:23 AM:

@234 My only visit to New Zealand, when I arrived in Auckland I had crossed 13 timezones and due to not being able to sleep on the planes had been up 42 hours. About three days later I suddenly felt myself again and knew all the streets within three blocks of where I was staying, but had no actual memory of walking them. I had taken pictures and made notes on the pictures, so was able to recreate most of what I'd done. I'd ridden at least one ferry so may have learnt about the tides and then forgotten it entirely.

Later, and out of the cities, I did have a moment when I stepped out of a pub and looked into the sky and thought "I don't recognise these stars AT ALL. How drunk am I?" before remembering about the Southern Hemisphere.

#237 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 07:57 AM:

PJ Evans @ 232... Spice Hunter

Starring Peter Strauss and Molly Ringwald.

#238 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 08:51 AM:

Open threadiness addressed to Jim MacDonald: In the interests of making sure any EMS responders that I have to deal with have ready access to my relevant medical information, I have been looking into some means of providing that information digital, options I have come up with so far are: Smartphone app (Android in my case), a high tech version of a medic alert bracelet, and rolling my own with a teeny tiny USB flash drive (form factor, not capacity) that fits in a silicone wristband (I need a good way to secure the wristband).

I suspect that the USB medic alert bracelet is overkill, and would rather not roll my own if I can avoid it. That leave Android apps, of which there are quite a few. I've been trying to figure out just what information I really need to store. The obvious things are emergency contact information, relevant medical conditions, drug allergies and current meds. Was there anything else I should keep in such an app? Can you recommend any specific apps?

One app I found had a pretty nifty idea; put an emergency contact and the most critical medical information on the phone's lock screen with an ID photo so the EMS responders can get the info even if you're unconscious. Sadly, I found the implementation lacking.

#239 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 08:59 AM:

I am taking a big step, and changing ISP.

The switchover should be late next week, and fairly smooth. Since I possess my own domain name, which points to one of the big email services, There's nothing that needs changing. A few odd pictures and files might vanish from web-space, but there's nothing recent.

My phone provider changes as part of the deal, but the number doesn't change. It's one of those conveniences arising from the history of the British telephone network and the development of its regulation.

It is remarkable how suddenly you get passed to senior managers and offered a plethora of engineers as soon as you say you want the code number needed to facilitate the move. The normal help to customers is nothing like as enthusiastic.

One big change in the latter half of 2013 was the rise of streaming video services. I reached the conclusion that my old ISP was not going to get enough backhaul capacity to cope with the increased demand. There's a radio station I sometimes listen to which has a 48kbps stream, and even that is unreliable in the evenings.

They have not even said anything about a future deployment of IPv6.

Will the new ISP be better? It should be, and I have nothing to lose.

#240 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 09:22 AM:

While we're recipes-ing, I have a vegan split-pea soup that got people at an SCA feast come up and be belligerent at me. It was billed as both the vegan option and the low-spice non-adventurous-food option (out of a buffet of soups/stews that included Chicken and Quinces and a mongolian spiced goat thing, among others). They insisted it had ham hock in it, they could TASTE it, how DARE I make vegans eat HAM HOCK!

I assured them that a pig had been no closer to it than being adjacent in the freezer while it was stored, but they didn't believe me. :->

The last step is made much easier by the application of a stick blender, if you have such a thing. It is adapted heavily from a recipe called 'Hernerakkaa' from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. Freezes/reheats beautifully. I made over 15 gallons of it in large batches and can testify that it's fairly simple and automatable.

Hearty Vegan Split Pea Soup
serves ~6.

- 2 cups dried split peas (yellow, green, or a mixture)
- 8 cups water
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 large carrots
- 2-3 stalks of celery
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 generous pinch allspice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- salt, pepper to taste

Rinse peas in large pot; pour off water. Bring the measured amount of water and rinsed peas to a rolling boil. Lower heat to a simmer; add spices and vegetables (all veggies should be chopped into pieces no larger than 3/4" cubes). Simmer 1.5 hours or until peas very soft. Puree to a smooth texture.

#241 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 09:44 AM:

Split pea soup always tastes like it's got pork in it to me, even when it's only been made with peas, water, and onion. Beats me.

#242 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:02 AM:

Xopher @202: Barely Soup

:-), but I do that a lot.

Cheryl #229: If she's starting from zero, I'd hand her the original -- Lappe's Diet For a Small Planet.

Elliott Mason #240: I wouldn't puree, its nice to have some texture....

#243 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:03 AM:

Terry #218: Congratulations!

#244 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Dave 242: Me too!

Lappe is fine as a cookbook, but the argument she presents doesn't hold up. It is, however, the argument that made me try being vegetarian "for a week" in 1978.

#245 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:18 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #244: Which argument are you thinking of? Her big thing is the resource usage for meat, and that's still an issue.

#246 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:19 AM:

Because AKICIML, in re Rainbow Loom -- does anyone know where I can go to get INSTRUCTIONS on the patterns, and not 'tutorial videos'? I really hate sitting through step-by-step videos, I'd much rather have text with good pictures.

#247 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:33 AM:

True, Dave, but it's not like we can take the grain fed to cattle and ship it to the hungry in the third world. It's much more complex than that.

#248 ::: gleomstapa ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:34 AM:

Cheryl #229: Rather than Diet for a Small Planet, I'd recommend Laurel's Kitchen. It has a good nutrition section and gives good advice on structuring meals when there's no meat involved. I also like its recipes better than Lappe's. For laying out a basic general approach to vegetarian cookery, I think Laurel's Kitchen can't be beat. The first edition (1970s) is better than the second edition (1980s), since the latter came out during the low-fat craze.

That's for basic cooking. When I'm feeling festive, I pull out Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.

#249 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 10:49 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #247: True, Dave, but it's not like we can take the grain fed to cattle and ship it to the hungry in the third world.

Actually we could, but getting it past the abusive governments, warlords, and profiteers, would take way more than food choices. :-~

In any case, we could certainly take the water used for cattle and use it elsewhere. The critical resources shift, but the theme remains.

#250 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 11:05 AM:

That's part of what makes it complicated.

Too much of the world is cattle range, and too little is forest, and the percentage is getting worse all the time. If everyone were vegetarian, it would help a lot on global warming, I bet: trees sequester carbon, and cows fart methane.

So, let's kill all the meat cattle (hey, I gotta have my milk butter cream cheese stuff) by shooting acorns into their heads! Problem solved.*

On a more serious note, this is the demonstration I was at yesterday. I think I was standing just to the right of the photographer when that first pic was taken.

*No, I'm not serious, either that this would be a good idea or that it would solve the problem.

#251 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 11:22 AM:

One issue with Lappe (whose cookbook I learned a decent lot) in this case is that Diet for a Small Planet relies heavily on eggs and dairy products for protein.

I tend to make vegan food that comes from cultures where it's common; resources I like:

Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian (weighted toward Indian, a really helpful guide to grains and legumes)
The still-up but not been updated in years Tigers and Strawberries (All cuisines, but more for cooks with a fair amount of experience and well-stocked pantries.)
Eileen Yin-Fei Lo The Chinese Kitchen

Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is good too--more varied and more beginner-friendly than the books above.

#252 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 12:48 PM:

Stefan #225: Megan Arnott might be able to help you out. She gave this paper, Saturday Morning Medieval at Kalamazoo a couple years ago. The paper is about cartoons, but she may know or be intrigued by the show you're thinking of.

#253 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:07 PM:

If the US were to go 100% vegetarian, I see zero reason to think this would actually decrease hunger in the world at all. There are sensible moral arguments for vegetarianism (I don't buy them, but they exist), but this isn't one of them.

#254 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:19 PM:

As I recall from Oceanography and marine biology courses, the tide is (more or less) A six hour cycle, with the higher of the two high tides being about an hour behind the moon's position. This isn't true for places like the Gulf Coast of the US which have a twelve hour tidal wave (so there is one high tide a day), and the geographic features of the landmass can affect that a lot (so that some places have a sudden influx, and then a stasis, and a sudden outflow, as well as things like tidal bores (see the Severn River).

The way the Golden Gate affects water flow means there is a fair bit of difference in the tidal shift as you go south/north in the bay. The patterns for a given piece of beach are predictable (which was useful to me in planning photography sessions: I could look at the moon and get a pretty good idea where the tide was; though if had been a few months since the last one I might be correct about being near the turning of the tide, but not which way it was running).

In, tides have rules, but they are far from simple, which means one can (generally) put them where one needs them for a story; so long as there isn't a need to keep track of them for the sake of continuity, one is going to be just fine.

#255 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 01:58 PM:

Apparently the "Ron and Hermione" interview has been skewed and oversimplified considerably . Who could have foreseen such a thing?

#256 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:20 PM:

#249 ::: Dave Harmon

I think it would be much harder to ship significant amount of water than to ship grain. Am I missing something?

#257 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Neil W @236 When I moved to the UK from NZ (temporarily, for my "Overseas Experience") I was sitting in my cousin's yard in the late afternoon. The sun was annoying me, but I thought "the sun will move, and the shadow of that tree will shade me." Five minutes later, I realised the sun was moving the "wrong" way!

#258 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:30 PM:

I just read Sandy B.'s mention of the "Ron and Hermione" interview followed immediately by Nancy Lebovitz's "I think it would be much harder to ship significant amount of water than to ship grain" and was momentarily very confused when I misread a verb (twice) in the second.

#259 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:40 PM:

#258 -- "shipping grain", so that's how they came up with the idea for Double Chex!

#260 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 02:43 PM:

Water/grain OTP!

#261 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 04:34 PM:

Q. Pheevr@260: Water/grain OTP!

Spouse looking over shoulder says, "Please! It's water/grain/yeast OT3!"

#262 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 04:41 PM:

Continuing re Cheryl @ 174, 229:

The best vegan food comes from sources where you don't need to substitute anything for dairy, because there wasn't any dairy in the original recipe. Generally if there's milk or cream in a recipe, as in a cream soup, rather than substitute some kind of nut-milk or soy milk, I'd first look at whether it could be simply made without it using water or vegetable stock instead and would still be good. Frequently the answer is yes. The more you are substituting for milk, cream, butter, or cheese, and the more integral they are to the recipe, the more "off" the results will be.

General good sources of vegetarian and/or vegan recipes:

Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (which I think is the one Sam Chevre was referring to) is awesome. Because it contains many recipes from parts of the world where dairy and eggs are not in heavy use, it contains a lot of "automatically vegan" recipes. (This cookbook is also notable as one of the few things which my ex-wife and I are in full agreement about.)

All the Moosewood cookbooks; I think I end up actually using the first Moosewood and Enchanted Broccoli Forest the most. However, the Moosewood cookbooks come out of the same US vegetarian wave of the '70s as The Vegetarian Epicure so there's a tendency to the latter's "Not delicious enough? Add more butter and cream!" recipe style. They have enough vegan-compatible recipes to be useful, though, and for a beginning cook they're very encouraging as they help promote a free-wheeling approach to cooking: don't have this ingredient? try throwing in any of these instead!

The N.Y. Times "Wellness" section has had a surprisingly high proportion of delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes in recent years.

I love The Vegetarian Epicure aka Veg Ep and originally learned a lot of my cooking from it, but there aren't a lot of recipes in it which I could feed a vegan or a very health-conscious vegetarian.

#263 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 05:37 PM:

Once more I find myself digging in the word mines and struggling with students who think of the English language as an arcane code of some kind. Either that, or they write their essays at the very last minute.

Thus these declarations:

If women are formally educated, they will be able to attribute more to society, stimulating growth.

She takes a more aggressive approach and directly challenges men to make a change in the way they oppress women.

The first is a simple confusion, the second, on the other hand, had me groaning.

#264 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 06:21 PM:

dotless ı @261: And quite right, too. I was being unthinkingly monogamonormative. Mea culpa.

#265 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 06:21 PM:

Small update on my change of ISP: it takes effect sometime on Saturday 15th Feb (UK time)

#266 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 06:21 PM:

I have seen arguments about how wonderful it would be if everyone was vegetarian or vegan before. Let's take my island as an example.

Our economy depends heavily on fishing, including some of the best salmon fisheries in the world. The fisheries are maintained by catch limits and by sheltering young salmon in hatcheries (this can be as simple as a wire cage in an existing lake) in order to increase the numbers that go down to the sea to develop. However, wild salmon must have clear water running over gravel beds in order to reproduce. This leads to strict laws about what can and can't be done within X yards of a salmon stream.

Our island is very rugged and the climate is extreme. Even in these days of global warming, large areas of the island are labeled either "extremely marginal for most crops" or "better have a greenhouse" on maps made by Cooperative Extension. Some of this land can be used by milk animals, but we have to deal with bears that are so big and so plentiful that the most successful local rancher switched to raising bison for meat instead; bison can protect themselves from local bears, cattle can't. So, in order to go vegetarian, we would have to either remove local pavement and housing in order to keep cattle right in the middle of town, the way we used to, or else shoot a lot of bears. Eggs? Chickens need a lot of grain in our long winters, so we would either have to import it on fuel-burning barges or else use arable land.

Local arable land is either very steep, so you must carefully terrace it and cultivate by hand, or else down in the same valleys as the salmon streams. A vegetarian diet would have us all working on the steep slopes by hand along with doing our money jobs, or else a large percentage of us would have to quit our money jobs and become stoop-labor farmers, struggling to produce a surplus with either hand tools or petroleum-powered one-person cultivators and the like. Veganism would require so much land near salmon streams to be turned over to cultivation that the fisheries would be destroyed over much, possibly all, of the island.

On top of that, we have fewer than half a dozen leguminous crops that will grow here, only one oilseed, and a few grain crops that are all marginal. That's an awfully small basket for our metaphorical eggs.

#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 06:38 PM:

Obvious solution: eat bears. :-)

#268 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 06:57 PM:

Another snowstorm day in Portland!

Actually just a gentle, continuous accumulation, but highly problematical. Fortunately I have a short, easily scraped driveway and walks.

I left work early so I could get home before the roads became insane. I used the extra time to finish off the ricotta in the fridge via another big batch of gnocchi:

Tonight I boil, brown, and sauce them.

#269 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Lore Sjoberg is amused that Disney's last couple of animated features had one-word verb titles.

He wonders if the studio will re-title its classics, and has created matching posters:

#270 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 07:58 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #256: I was certainly not proposing sending the water away! Unlike Lappe's grain, clean water is rarely surplus these days, and can (should) be conserved or used locally.

#271 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 08:15 PM:

Sort of apropos that Coke ad, I'm finding "The Great Language Game" a lot of fun. Listen & see if you can guess which language is being spoken. It's multiple choice & you get three lives. My three goes so far gave scores of 450, 550 & 600. I'm better at picking Asian languages than European ones.

HLN: Back at work after a holiday in Vietnam, Cambodia & Bangkok. That saying that travel broadens the mind & makes you appreciate home all the more? It's true.

#272 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 08:30 PM:

Stefan Jones #269: Well, they certainly wouldn't use those titles! I gather Lore Sjoberg is a Rude Boy (regardless of actual gender).

#273 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 09:07 PM:

Soon Lee @ #271, that is cool! Thanks for the link.

#274 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 09:10 PM:

Terry #218: Congratulations!

#275 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 11:05 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 272: I gather Lore Sjoberg is a Rude Boy (regardless of actual gender).
In my early days reading the internet, one of my favorite websites was called The Brunching Shuttlecocks. Sjöberg was one of its creators. He's still being funny on the internet.

#276 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 11:15 PM:

The Lore Sjoberg project I miss most is Alt Text.

#277 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 12:01 AM:

I know I saw somebody in recent months (?) in some thread on Making Light saying they had wanted to buy a cheap pair of glasses, and how their optometrist or opthalmologist was refusing to give them a copy of their prescription. I thought that was wrong, but didn't have the info to back it up at the time.

While shopping for cheap glasses myself just now, I stumbled across a reference to the FTC's Eyeglass Prescription Release Rule; the link was broken, but I tracked it down to here as a starting point: 2004 FTC overview of its enforcement of the contact lens and eyeglass Prescription Release Rule, which in turn led me here: Prescriptions for Eye Glasses and Contact Lenses

Briefly, it's been legally required of all optometrists and opthalmologists since 1978 to turn over your prescription on request, and they should damn well know about it and comply politely. (If you take advantage of it, make sure they write your inter-pupillary distance on the form, as it's not always included, and you need it to order glasses.)

If anybody remembers who was looking, or on what thread, please feel free to share this with them.

#278 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 12:13 AM:

Clifton #277:
Was it Lila here?

#279 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 12:42 AM:

Hmmph. "Comatose" isn't a verb. "Sedated" or "Tranqed" seem rather more suitable. Gotta wonder what was on that spindle she pricked herself with.

#280 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 02:32 AM:

#30 xeger re needle felting of cat fur.

My cats independently invented felting. Twice.

First there were the longhairs Pandora and Cheesecake, who went through a place I did not get mended quickly enough, where the screen had come loose on one edge of the balcony door. And their fur pulled off on the screen, and with their repeated passages through, they felted it into and through the edge of the screen.

Now there is Rex, who still thinks he is a kitten, my kitten, and kneads his claws into my neck. So in the summer I have to know where my towel is. But in the winter, I wear a knitted headband with alpacas on it, that's too small, around my neck as protection. And he is needle-felting it.

#281 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 08:38 AM:

#240, #241:

There was a variety of potato crisps used to be sold around here that always registered to me as tasting like roast chicken, despite having no obviously chicken-related ingredients. If memory serves, the key flavour note was rosemary.

#282 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 09:00 AM:

Clifton @ 277, if you're thinking of me, the issue wasn't that he woudn't give me a copy of my prescription; it was that he refused to write me a prescription for single-vision lenses for the distance I'd need to work on the computer. He was perfectly happy to give me a copy of the prescription for the bifocals I have to take off to use the computer. (Though the prescription, still hanging unused on my bulletin board, is missing some of the information I'd need to order my own lenses online; a moot point, since my current bifocals are not very different from what I'd be getting, and I don't feel like spending that much money on something that won't solve my problem.)

#283 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 09:15 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 240: I got to be friendly with the owner/chef of a local restaurant which served halal food. One day I asked him how he got his beans so remarkably tasty without using pork to season it. "It's all in the spices," he told me.

He was an interesting cat to talk with. It's a pity his restaurant didn't take hold.

#284 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 09:46 AM:

Paul A @281 When I lived in Leeds, they used to sell hedgehog-flavoured crisps. I think there was a court case where it emerged that they didn't contain any actual hedgehogs.

#285 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:08 AM:

Further research reveals the existence of a fine legal distinction (in UK law) between 'hedgehog flavoured crisps', which are required to contain actual hedgehogs, and 'hedgehog flavour crisps', which need not.

#286 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:17 AM:

praisegod@285: Delightful!

#287 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:22 AM:

It's a well-known veggie fakemeat principle that if you want something to taste like sausage, you put sage* and fennel in it. I love that combination, but haven't eaten sausage in decades. The Gimme Lean brand of soysage has a good texture when cooked, but not quite enough sage/fennel for my taste, so I add some when using it.

*I'm very fond of the folk etymology for 'sausage' that claims it comes from 'sau' (sow) plus 'sage', but it isn't true. It's from a Latin word that means "salted." It strikes me as entirely possible that the practice of adding sage to the meat in the preparation process may come from this folk etymology, but I have no evidence for that.

#288 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 11:53 AM:

Lila: My misunderstanding, then.

I think for computer glasses, the prescription itself is the same - the Rx just specifies the correction your eyes need for normal vision at a standard distance. To bring the focus closer for reading or computer, the lens maker would just add an adjustment by X diopters. (That's why there is only one prescription needed, even for bifocals, trifocals, or progressives.) If you find an optician or lens maker which offers computer glasses, they should be able to do it with the Rx you've got, plus a measurement of your pupil distance (PD).

See if one of the ultra-cheap online glasses shops, like, offers computer glasses - if so, you should be able to get a pair of single-focus lenses with cheap frames for as little as $7-10. If those work well, you can order another pair with nicer frames and still pay vastly less for both than one pair would have cost you from your regular optician.

My optician convinced me a couple years ago to shell out for progressive computer glasses - arms length focus in the top/middle, reading distance in the lower section - and I love them, though those lenses will be more expensive even online.

#289 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 11:57 AM:

HLN: Local man gradually convinces recalcitrant elderly cat to become a lap cat. "I've always held out for independence", purred the local cat, "but once I realized I could get a half hour of continuous petting in the morning while he was drinking coffee, using the sunlight lamp and browsing on the computer, I changed my mind. It also turns out laps are comfortably warm!"

#290 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Also, congratulations to Terry Karney @218

#291 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 01:25 PM:

Fragano Ledgister: She takes a more aggressive approach and directly challenges men to make a change in the way they oppress women.

Lie to me: tell me this was an essay on Ann Coulter.

#292 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 01:44 PM:

Clifton @262, Madhur Jaffrey's "World of the East Vegetarian Cooking" and "World Vegetarian" are not the same book (I have them both); the former is older and more limited in scope than the latter, which is truly global. I prefer "World Vegetarian" but both are good. Neither is vegan; both contain numerous "incidentally vegan" recipes, by which I mean recipes that started out vegan rather than becoming that way through substitution or omission of animal-based ingredients. Like many here I find those much nicer than the "soy cheese, soy protein crumbles, fake eggs" parade of many veganized recipes.

#294 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 04:28 PM:

Lila @282: he refused to write me a prescription for single-vision lenses for the distance I'd need to work on the computer.

Did he condescend to tell you why?

praisegod barebones @285: 'hedgehog flavoured crisps'

An American friend of a friend reported the disconcerting experience of asking for "weasel flavoured crisps" as a jest, and having the clerk actually go looking for them.

And I've neglected to congratulate Terry Karney!

#295 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 04:29 PM:

lorax @ 292: Oh hey, awesome! Thanks for the correction and the new cookbook to check out!

#296 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Jacque: nope. Just said he couldn't do it. I lacked the spoons to pursue it further.

#297 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Terry, congratulations!

I'd like to co-sign the recommendations for the original Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. With the first Moosewood, do hunt around for an earlier edition, not the revised one that came out in the late 1980s or early 1990s, because, like the other one mentioned above, the revision was designed to lower the fat content of the recipes, to the detriment of flavor.

I've been feeding a vegetarian kid since 2004, and maintaining a vegetarian kitchen since 2006. While we're not vegan, and while I favor the "use whole foods instead of substitute foods" approach as a rule, I can cheerfully recommend Morningstar Farms Vegan Grillers veggie burgers as an easy and palatable protein source for the newly veg*. I deal with a couple of very picky eaters, and the Vegan Grillers protein-pucks pass their palates. I suggest giving them a quick spritz of cooking spray before putting them in the oven, because they do tend to be dry.

One thing I endorse doing with a new veg* is sitting down and sorting out how many things they consider normal Things To Eat are already veg*. Already-vegan things include the aforementioned hummus, PBJ sandwiches, bean burritos hold the cheese, oatmeal... I'm leaving out pasta with vegetable sauces because the young woman's already got that.

I'm about to go downstairs and make Unintentionally Vegan Stir-Fry. I have a go-to garlic sauce recipe, but many packaged sauces will be fine (just scan the label for hidden fish), and I use the pre-cubed Nasoya extra-firm tofu because I am LAZY, and because it's the firmest one out there, even more so than the extra-firm block, and using a whole package at once means I don't have to keep track of Changing The Tofu Water. I put in broccoli, baby corn, and water chestnuts, but stir fry is one of those things where you can use anything that pleases you.

#298 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 05:24 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #291: Fortunately for my sanity, but unfortunately for the student, no it wasn't. I'm not yet teaching a course on inane political thought (in which case Coulter, Dinesh D'Souza, Phyllis Schlafly and James Taranto might well be among the set texts).

#299 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 08:50 PM:

I'm not a vegetarian; I eat chicken and eggs (free range only) occasionally and fish occasionally, and bacon once or twice a month. I drink my coffee with half and half. But I mostly eat lots of vegetables with legumes or rice/bean noodles or brown rice, and I'm always looking for tasty, quick, simple vegetable dishes. So thanks for the recommendation for the Moosewood Collective Vegetarian Cookbook; I've already found a good breakfast recipe.

#300 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 09:59 PM:

praisegod barebones #284

From Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers

"If you say 'our perry is made from fresh-plucked pears only', then it's got to be made from pears only, or the statement is actionable. If you just say it's made 'from pears', without the 'only', the betting is that it's probably made chiefly of pears; but if you say made 'with pears' you generally mean that you use a peck of pears to a ton of turnips, and the law cannot touch you -- such are the niceties of our English tongue"

Miss Sayers worked in an advertising office, so she knew whereof she wrote.

#301 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:14 PM:

I mentioned this a couple of open threads back, but sweet Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón de La Vera) is another of those spices that can bring up meat associations, adding both richness and smokiness. It gets a lot of use around here. (We're not trying to replace meat; we just really like it.)

#302 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:17 PM:

Thanks so much for all the vegetarian cooking suggestions, everyone! I'm going to try and spend some time cooking with her tomorrow, so we'll see what she wants to make first.

Apropos of feeding your vegetarian friend, I stumbled across this article in my web searches:
Chicken Stock Doesn’t Count as Meat.

I'm just... stunned. Just at the utterly breathtaking arrogance of this pillock.

I guess the best I can hope for is that all his veggie friends know him for what he is now, and have stayed far away.

#303 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:24 PM:

Some chicken stock has very little actual chicken in it - it's another case of reading ingredients.

#304 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 10:46 PM:

@303 P J Evans

Some chicken stock has very little actual chicken in it - it's another case of reading ingredients.

I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about.

My homemade chicken stock is made from chicken. I know this, because I made it from chicken bones and leftover chicken bits.

My store-bought chicken stock has, as its first two ingredients, water and concentrated chicken stock (then, spices and things).

How can you have chicken stock without chicken?

And even if it was "very little chicken", it would still not be right to serve it to vegetarians/vegans.

#305 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 11:39 PM:

Cheryl: Not quite as reprehensible as ignoring someone's food alergy.

#306 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2014, 11:54 PM:

Cheryl #302/304:

That's asshole behaviour. I would never intentionally feed someone food that's on their no-list. A good alternative I use is Massel, vegan stocks that do a good job of tasting like chicken or beef stock.

#307 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 12:23 AM:

Cheryl, I agree with you on that - if someone doesn't eat meat of fish or whatever, you don't use something that includes that. (Products that aren't what they appear: syrup that's all corn syrup with flavors (natural and artificial) about the fifth ingredient down. I have "chicken" bouillon where chicken is the fourth item on the list, after salt and sugar - there's very little chicken in it.)

I once took a double batch of brownies to work. One half had diced green chilies in it, and each of those had a toothpick stuck in it: spiked brownies.

#308 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:43 AM:

The Language Game is fun, but it's kicking me hard when I get sets like, "Croatian, Bosnian, Slovenian, Dutch".

In that one I have to hope for Dutch, because I can parse the other slavic languages well enough to know they aren't Russian or Ukranian, but not well enough to distinguish them from each other.

#309 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:47 AM:

What a fucking scumbag. I hope that all his friends realize he has no respect for their personal autonomy at all.

He won't die from eating small amounts of shit and urine. So when I put both in the food I serve to him, he shouldn't complain. Asshole.

#310 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:10 AM:

As far as computer glasses go, IIR the directions from correctly, your progressive/bifocal prescription will include a sphere measurement which is how myopic you are, and an "add" figure which is the correction for reading. To figure out the prescription for your single vision computer glasses, divide the "add" figure by 2 and add the result to your sphere measurement.

This faq page might help.

#311 ::: Arthur Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:58 AM:

Interesting. Ma in Little House sounds like Ayn Rand's mother, who made her give away her toys, thus convincing her that altruism is the root of all evil. Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, whose contribution to Little House was somewhere between editorial assistance and writing the whole thing, was one of the leading libertarian thinkers of the 1930s.

#312 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 09:15 AM:

Arthur Hlavaty @311: That is fascinating. I wonder if anyone has done a study on under what circumstances people's parents directly affect their belief systems?

I've been reading George Lakoff's book Moral Politics, which is summarized nicely in the Red Family, Blue Family link on the most recent DF thread. It makes me wonder where and how those concepts of the family are passed on or acquired.

Also argh, that broth-using meat-centric jerk. Not only does he believe that a vegetarian entree isn't "real" (which is when I stopped reading), he doesn't see vegetable stock as a challenge to his apparently amazing chef skills, which would be a, you know, healthy-for-his-friends way to deal with that.

#313 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 09:19 AM:

Terry Karney@308

Although they perhaps shouldn't have included Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian as separate languages anyway. My understanding is that linguists would consider them as different "standard" variants of the same language.

It's sort of like if they had included both Quebecois and Parisian French in the game.

#314 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 09:27 AM:

Just to clarify, the reason I mentioned Serbian in my #313 is because I noticed it in the list of languages.

(I also notice that the game includes both Hindi and Urdu as separate languages.)

#315 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 10:39 AM:

One thing you'll notice if you get way, way down into what's allowable in foods are things like the maximum allowable amount of rat feces in cereal. After a certain point of dilution, worrying about meat in food is homeopathy (homeopathetic?)

#316 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 11:24 AM:

@John A Arkansawyer, 315: I don't think anyone else is talking about parts-per-billion of meat here.

#317 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 12:25 PM:

Sandy B. @ 316: No, we're not. And I do think someone who intentionally doses a veg* with non-veg* food is doing something wrong. (If nothing else, meat can give non-meat eaters the runs.) But where do you draw the line?

I separate this into two cases: People who don't eat meat because they have ethical qualms against mistreating animals get my utmost cooperation, as do those whose doctors have told them they have to stop.

People who don't eat meat because they've got ethical problems with diverting resources from more efficient food production or because they think it's healthier for them? I wouldn't dose them, either, but some of them could be a little less picky as guests.

#318 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 12:53 PM:

I'm not sure that the reasons someone goes veggie are any of my business. I mean, sometimes they'll tell me, either as a discussion (interesting) or a lecture (tiresome). But people make all kinds of dietary choices, and in general, I'm as interested in policing those as I am in policing their relationship or sartorial ones.

If I'm struggling to find a recipe to suit their needs, yes, it's more work to be their host. But I'm not sure drilling down into the reasons that they're not fitting into my recipe books is a productive or fair way to deal with that.

#319 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:00 PM:

Also, and apropos of nothing that I have encountered on Making Light, if I ever hear that anyone has used any conversation that I have hosted, started, or moderated as a reason to twittermob, emailbomb, or otherwise repeatedly hound and distress another person, I will be thoroughly upset. And pissed off. And disappointed. In iterating layers all the way down, past where the turtles run out.

Just in case anyone was ever, in the future, wondering if they should.

#320 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:03 PM:

I'm not a vegetarian, but two of my kids are, so I have some experience cooking for vegetarians. (Also the one kid who's not vegetarian is soy intolerant, which made things interesting when they were all living at home.)

I wouldn't have a problem with a prospective host saying "we're having meat/pork/raw fish/whatever, I hope that's not a problem for you; if it is maybe we could meet for lunch somewhere at another time." But I would have a HELL of a problem with someone trying to stealth me into eating something I had decided not to eat, for whatever reason. Deciding that your guests aren't competent to choose for themselves what they will consume is not the act of a friend.

#321 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:10 PM:

#315: Compare the acceptability of these two scenarios:

1. Rats live in grain silos, despite the best efforts to eradicate them. Especially since rat poisons tend to be poisonous to humans as well. If rat feces is noticed in the storage or processing of grain, that grain is removed and disposed of, but tradeoffs of cost and time prevent detailed inspection and analysis of more than just a test sample at any given time. So it is inevitable, but regrettable, that some rat feces will make its way past the sifters and cleaners, and all the way into the final product.

2. Bob knows rats live in his grain-shed. He also knows that the heat and processing of cooking will kill any pathogens in rat feces, so he doesn't care, and doesn't bother to make sure his grain is clean. His customers assume that the occasional black speck in his bread is some sort of unusual seed, and never ask. It's harmless, so why tell them otherwise?

As a vegetarian who eats out, I know there is ample room for accidental exposure to "homeopathic" levels of meat. I know grills get reused without decontamination, that oils and other aerosols get everywhere in a kitchen, etc. And I ignore that, because it's out of sight and not intentional (although I won't eat Japanese hibachi anymore because it's hard to ignore when making the vegetables on the same grill as the meat is part of the show).

But the author of that post is taking more of the latter approach. He knows chicken is unacceptable to his guests, but he is deliberately using it without telling them. He sees no harm, and besides, doing otherwise would inconvenience him.

There are well-meaning, but clueless, cooks out there. I have, under the direction of the cook, carelessly put the mushrooms for my vegetarian quiche into a pan of bacon grease. When I complained, the cook told me "But you always cook mushrooms in bacon fat" (I don't). I have been to a thanksgiving dinner where the hosts thoughtfully changed their stuffing recipe to be vegetarian for me, then thoughtlessly cooked it in the bird. These people were trying, but weren't thinking.

This guy is thinking, and is not respecting his guests. He is making deliberate choices, knowing that if those choices were known it would be objectionable. This goes beyond carelessness, beyond ignorance, and into malice.

#322 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:22 PM:

Re "trying, but not thinking" about vegetarian cooking: I once picked up an awesome-looking Indian vegetarian cookbook from Reader's Digest Books. Profuse illustrations of process and product, clear descriptions, tons of cooking tips--exactly what I needed to learn the basics of another cuisine.

Except that every and I do mean EVERY main-dish recipe in the book called for chicken broth! What, Swanson's doesn't sell vegetable broth in the same blue and white cans? I explained the problem to the librarian and AFAIK it's off the shelf, but sheesh!

As for the jerk quoted at no. 302 . . . oh, I can't think of anything fit for a Sunday.

#323 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:34 PM:

I've probably told this story before.

When I was in university, I lived in a co-op with about 60 women. We were supposed to have one "main" dish and one vegetarian dish every night, but our cooks really did not get vegetarian cooking. One week the vegetarian options included broccoli and cheese twice and cauliflower and cheese once. Our vegetarians were, effectively, denied the benefit of having dinners cooked for them.

So a friend and I (neither of us vegetarian) decided we'd bid for cooking one night, and make it vegetarian night with a vegan side option.

Oh. My. God. The complaints. The anger. The hectoring at the house meeting where we announced this. It was...well, it was like talking about cycling on an unmoderated news site. But we got voted in, and we did it. Every week we'd pick another theme: hearty soups, Chinese food, Indian food, etc.

The vegetarians hoarded our leftovers. And, in the end, after we served consistently tasty food, the house came round. The cooks for the rest of the week borrowed our recipies and generally upped their game.

And my friend went veggie, which didn't surprise me in the least.

#324 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:56 PM:

abi @ 318: It's not something I inquire about, either, but that that doesn't keep me knowing, or from being told.

(I remembered reading that piece a while back. It's an interesting argument which doesn't convince me. I wonder if it actually changed any minds? I'd be really interested in knowing the answer, if it were possible to know.)

I make a good-faith effort to respect dietary preferences. Some folks make that easy; other times, I wonder if I'm being dealt with in the same good faith in which I'm trying to deal with them. I still try, but I do wonder.

But there's a limit to how far I'll go. I wonder where it is?

#325 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 01:59 PM:

abi @ 323... it was like talking about cycling on an unmoderated news site

Like the folks arguing about whether to follow the sandal of Brian or his gourd?

#326 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 02:00 PM:

@ food subthread:

One of my friends is allergic to dairy in nearly-homeopathic* quantities. Whenever he eats out, he always always calls ahead to make sure they can accommodate his allergy. Except for vegan places, or dedicatedly kosher places, or places that otherwise are scrupulously precise about avoiding cross-contamination. I think there are maybe ten non-food-professional people in the world whom he'll allow to cook for him. Not that the level of care his food requires needs, morally or practically, to be applied to every meal preparation, but I would argue that perhaps one should aim for contamination to fall below the *detectable* level [which happens to be very low in his case]?

abi @323, that sounds awesome. Congrats to you and your friend on changing that food culture so effectively. :)

*for understandable reasons, he doesn't particularly want to look for the lower limit. The only blessing is that it isn't (yet?) an anaphylactic reaction

#327 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 02:54 PM:

Cheryl #304: I read the piece in Slate and found it incredibly annoying. Slate has published pieces I've found challenging, but that one was from the position of 'I'm a jerk and everyone who doesn't agree with me had better adopt my world-view'.

#328 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 02:58 PM:

This is a
fascinating piece in The Atlantic. I note that half the comments, including mine, when I read it focused on the fact that the writer called Catalan a 'dialect'.

#329 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 03:58 PM:

John 317: I'm a vegetarian, but not in any of your categories. In fact I have TWO reasons for being a vegetarian and neither of them is any of the ones you cite. Do I have to explain my reasons in detail before you decide how flexible I'm required to be as your guest?

abi 318: But I'm not sure drilling down into the reasons that they're not fitting into my recipe books is a productive or fair way to deal with that.

Thank you.

Buddha 321: Eloquently put. I agree. Thank you.

abi 323: Excellent! No, I don't think I have heard that story before.

#330 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 03:59 PM:

Re vegan vs non-vegan, and trace amounts of this and that in food.

I heard/read, within the last year, and don't remember where, that there are some vegetarian diets which provide adequate protein in India, and not in the US. Because, presumably IIRC, from what whoever-said-it was thinking, bugs in the grain, etc.

But there could also be significant differences in nutrient content of heirloom varieties of grain in India vs agribusiness/ chemical fertilizer/ GMO crops in US.

#331 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 04:39 PM:

Bean salad
1 can each cut green beans, cut yellow (wax) beans, and red kidney beans, all drained and rinsed

optional additions:
baby corn, sliced mushrooms, sliced bamboo shoots, sliced water chestnuts, sliced black olives, etc

Assemble and add salad dressing.

#332 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 04:40 PM:

Xopher @ 329: Two answers. First, since I don't know your reasons, I'd assume they were good ones until proven otherwise. Second, I don't think you'd be a jerk about it. I've known folks who were.

My personal definition of grace has to do with not being a jerk. One of my best friends went to Nicaragua during the war to fix small engines for farmers. (He said. I wonder.) He's been a vegetarian longer than I've known him. The country was at war and rations were thin, so his skipping meat apparently wasn't noted by the people he worked with, which he realized at the goodbye dinner they threw him, when they served him a nice, thick, juicy steak.

He looked at the steak. Then he looked at all the people he'd gotten to know and love there, and thought about what it must have cost them to get him this steak. Then he ate it.

"It was the best steak I've ever had," he told me.

That's the only meat he's eaten (knowingly--it's hard to always know) in over forty years.

He's got a very sound constitution, plus he was working for the Good Guys, so one of those reasons is probably why it didn't make him sick as a dog. He's also incredibly gracious in ways that I wish I were.

#333 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:03 PM:

Re. the Laura Ingalls Wilder particle, the thing that struck me, between that one and one that was linked to in the comments to it, was how the family situation was so much part of how the parents viewed the world, and the restrictions placed upon the parents by themselves and by society. Which was then related to how they acted with other people and the government, even if it wasn't necessarily in their best interests.
So I saw similarities with what many people today seem to be saying, about getting the government out of their life, wanting freedom etc, but either they are benefiting from the social services, or are happy to let other people die off. The mindset of the Wilder's is alive and well today.
Hmm, I think the writers did a good job of explicating things, even if I can't convey what I think/ feel about it very well.

#334 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:04 PM:

Kudos to the gnomes: four infestations cleared before I could report the last!

#335 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:12 PM:

Re tides, full moons and time of day: (#134,155,182,234,254)

As people have said, different all around the world. Some places 2 high tides a day, equal* , others one. And tides going up a bay are significantly later than on the open coast. Also much more rise/drop, as the water piles up. ie. Puget Sound. Depends on the bottom contour.

On the US Pacific coast, 2 a day, sometimes not much different, but at new moon and full moon there are feet of difference between higher high and lower high.

I was a marine biology student, going down to the Oregon coast for low tides year-round, twice a month at new moon and full moon. Those were the 2 times of the month with the highest highs and the lowest lows.

In the winter, the lower low was at night, say 10:00pm. In the spring and summer, lower low is in early morning, just at dawn. Of course, it changes by (59 minutes? IIRC) every day, but at new moon and full moon that's when it was. It is fun to look at a graphical tide table which shows the waves.

*(New Zealand sounds fascinating, I had no idea.)

#336 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:47 PM:

Cheryl @ 304

Telma makes chicken stock cubes that are kosher parve (no meat). I've never seen anyone call them on the difference; we're usually to appreciative of the added flexibility. Osem and Imagine do chicken-style and no-chicken broths, respectively. Which both explains how some chicken broths "aren't" (labeling clarity differs) and makes this guy's position even less comprehensible.

For our part, my husband keeps kosher, but we tell people he's vegetarian for simplicity. I suppose being tricked isn't the worst thing that could happen to him, but it's pretty disrespectful. My brother doesn't eat anything with a face for ethical reasons, and I figure it's pretty much the same as my husband's religious convictions, down to the level of respect and straight-dealing required.

Plenty of other reasons have been mentioned and I think those are all important too (very, in the case of allergies or other medical limitations).

#337 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 05:51 PM:

Note: Parve isn't necessarily vegetarian. A friend just reminded me that when she first met me she offered me tuna salad, figuring that anything parve would be OK!

#338 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 06:35 PM:

Cheryl@302: I'm struggling to resist really unhelpful reactions to that piece. Going for the positive, one of my happiest cooking discoveries was that a large pan of very-dark-roasted vegetables, deglazed and made into stock, provided a more interesting and layered flavor than beef stock. I definitely preferred it in, say, French onion soup, where the broth is a major element of the flavor. (Unfortunately, it's now been long enough since I made that stock that I'd have to do some experimentation to recover the exact recipe I used.)

With regard to guests' eating restrictions, if I can't deal with those restrictions for whatever reason then I arrange another way to get together. The guests who are most challenging are really the ones who won't tell me what their restrictions are. (This is their right, of course; it's just hard to make sure someone can eat if you can't figure out what they can eat. A much easier variant I've gotten is "It's too complicated; let me just bring a dish.")

#339 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 07:33 PM:

John A Arkansawyer@332: If you've read Digger, you'll know what scene you've just reminded me of. (If not, I highly recommend the book, but I can't figure out how to describe the scene out of context without making the book sound awful.)

#340 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 07:49 PM:

Fragano Ledgister@328: From the Department of Giving Them Too Much Credit: I briefly wondered what they thought Catalan was a dialect of. Is there a pan-Occitan agenda at the Atlantic?

#341 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 07:54 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @339, heh. As it happens I've just been rereading Digger, and I know exactly what you mean.

#342 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 08:00 PM:

#322 ::: Jenny Islander

It seems like a shame to get rid of an otherwise good book instead of putting a sticker on it warning about the chicken broth.

Bob Shea (co-author of Illuminatus! and author of historical novels) was a variety of Buddhist who was vegetarian but believed that accepting hospitality trumped vegetarianism. I don't know how common that is.

#343 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 08:14 PM:

Dotless i #340: I've no idea (unless the writer thinks that all Romance languages are dialects of Latin, which is a viable position). My position comes from annoyance with people who say things of a slightly different kind, like 'Galician is the most beautiful dialect of Spanish'; my response to that being ¡Qué carafio! or simply ¡Merda!

#344 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 08:17 PM:

Re Laura Ingalls Wilder--

Yes, it is important to remember that these books are libertarian propaganda, written by one of Ayn Rand's friends, and successfully infiltrated into nurseries all around America.

It is deeply pernicious stuff.

But I am surprised that someone could go on at length about how horrible Ma is, without talking about the genuine horror of Pa.

This is one of the most shiftless, undisciplined con-men who ever lived. He repeatedly gets a new grant of land from the government, strips all of the assets, and then complains that he needs to move west.

Furthermore, he often goes off to the cities, gets drunk and spends all of the money, and then comes back and tells the kids flagrantly preposterous stories about having been stuck in a snowbank for weeks surviving on the candy that he meant to give them.

Pull the other one.

Despite Wilder's besotted oblivion, it is not hard to see exactly what sort of a man he was--a loser, a drunk, and a government dependent.

Who, of course, has been adopted as a brave symbol of self-reliance by libertarians.

#345 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 08:44 PM:

re: Pa as shiftless drunk

I loved the Little House books as a kid but have been leery of revisiting them (despite still having the full set) because: Suck Fairy. I don't remember anything in the canon about Pa being burdened with anything but too much wanderlust.

Has this gotten pasted over from the real Charles Ingalls?

#346 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 08:46 PM:

That's... reading an awful lot into stories that were basically tales from somebody's childhood. The official biographies that I've read haven't differed largely in the major stuff, just in some things that the author left out or amalgamated.

On that note, my mother-in-law lived for much of her early marriage in a house in North Dakota with no indoor plumbing at all, so the stories on how they got by sound very familiar.

#347 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 08:48 PM:


Just re-read them, knowing what you know now about dysfunctional families.

#348 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 08:59 PM:

Speaking of politely eating what you're served: Years ago, I was eating a very low fat diet in an effort to lower my cholesterol. My diet was about 10% fat by calories. We're talking trace amounts.

Went to dinner at a friend's house, and she set aside some plain spaghetti for me, without the rich meat sauce she'd made for everyone else. So far, so good. Then she put it all on my plate and topped it with about a half cup of grated Parmesan cheese. I ate it. I spent the night tossing and turning in misery. Finally, shortly before I was due to go to work in the morning, I threw up. I swore that I would never again eat to be polite.

I should have just pushed it around the plate, smiling, and denied being hungry if asked.

Note to hosts: Don't ask!

#349 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 09:47 PM:

dotless ı, OtterB: I'm not sure whether to thank you or damn you, but I believe you've just brought another comic into my life. I'll go with "Thank you!" for now, but if I stay up too late to get to work tomorrow, I may issue a revised edition.

#350 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 09:51 PM:

Eat what's put in front of you. My then-not-ex-mother-in-law and I had a discussion on that very topic. She was raised to eat all she was given. She stated that I should do the same because it's the polite thing to do. I asked if it was more polite to refuse food or eat it and risk vomiting at the table. She never answered the question but we had "serve yourself" meals at her house after that.

#351 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 10:09 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @349, my earlier response was misdirected to you when it should have been to dotless ı

In any case, I originally encountered Digger due to a recommendation from someone on Making Light; Xopher, I think. I wish you as much joy of it as I have.

#352 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 10:38 PM:

They tried to pull that "eat what's in front of you" stuff at my grade school. They stopped after I gave them back the cottage cheese. That's the only time I've had to vomit at the table.

#353 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 11:11 PM:

My parents used a modified version of 'eat what's in front of you': if it made you sick, you didn't have to eat it, and you didn't have to eat more than two bites if you really didn't like it. But they also didn't generally serve stuff we didn't like enough to eat.

#354 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 11:36 PM:

oldster: I believe -- if I'm remembering the biographies I've read correctly -- that only the Ingalls' South Dakota farm was a Homestead Act claim. The Wisconsin cabin of the Big Woods was bought with a mortgage, and the "Indian Territory" (actually Kansas, not the Oklahoma it says in the book) one was, well, they were squatters, with Pa betting he'd soon be legally able to register a claim, and he bet wrong. I'm less certain about the status of Plum Creek, and the books skip over their time managing a hotel in Burr Oaks, Iowa.

I won't try to argue that he was a good provider. He wasn't. But I give him more credit for at least trying than *spits* Bronson Alcott.

#355 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 11:49 PM:

Abi, I liked your story. I'm reading the Heath brothers' Switch right now, about how to encourage people and communities to change, and it helps me see your story with a new lens.

#356 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 11:54 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #342:

It depends on the variant of Buddhism. Eating meat is allowable for Theravada, but not for Mahayana Buddhists.

(Just got back from a holiday in Vietnam, Cambodia & Bangkok where I was reminded of the differences.)

#357 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:07 AM:

Carol Kimball, re: Little House books and the Suck Fairy: it depends on how you come to them. I still get a great deal of pleasure out of them, despite realizing now how flawed and frequently desperate their lives were, and despite some cringeworthy moments of racism. I've tended to come back to them as a History of Material Culture text, so I'm looking at the food (I also own the Little House Cookbook and have used it almost as much as Lobscouse and Spotted Dog) and the sewing and all of the pre-industrial manufacturing that the Wilders were still doing on their farm in Malone. Because I've cooked on open hearths and woodstoves and made hand-sewn garments and woven fabric on a loom, there's a lot of depth and richness in the descriptions of everyday things there for me.

I no longer envy Laura's life the way that I did when I was little, though. Nor do I feel deprived, as I did then, that New England doesn't usually get the sort of winter that hit the Great Plains in the 1880s. I didn't understand the difference in local climates then, and I was certain it was a sign of degenerate modern times that we weren't getting snow up to the windows -- the Blizzard of '78 seemed much more in line with what SHE got for weather, and I was awfully pleased with it at the time.

I can also read them now and be intensely grateful for modern medicine. Measles, scarlet fever, malaria, diphtheria...very glad to have done without those!

#358 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:23 AM:

Xopher @ 337

True, that. I was really responding to "but whatever it is, it doesn't have chicken." But I do see where that could cause problems for vegetarians, yes.

#359 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:23 AM:

Xopher @ 337

True, that. I was really responding to "but whatever it is, it doesn't have chicken." But I do see where that could cause problems for vegetarians, yes.

#360 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:25 AM:

The first "too close to call" pair I spotted were Slovenia, and Slovak.

I'll leave the Quebecois/Parisian question to Serge.

#361 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:26 AM:

I am pretty solidly of the opinion that if I invite you to my house and give you food, it is my responsibility to make sure I'm giving you something you can actually eat. Whether your food requirements are based on health, religion, ethics, is not my business.

This is very important to me, since I am very much a member of the "You Are In My House So I Must Feed You" group. I would consider myself utterly out of bounds if I knowingly served a guest something they have told me they can't eat.

I have an odd dietary requirement of my own: I'm allergic to pork. While it's not life threatening, it is vastly unpleasant, and I have been sent to the hospital for it in the past. Kosher food is definitely my friend.

Recently, someone was talking about how they've been making this great pasta sauce recipe, with ground beef, ground veal, ground pork... and I said something like, "wow, it's to bad I won't be able to try it, it sounds tasty. I'm allergic to pork".

She replied (and tone is important here, because hers was utterly smug and self-important, as was the expression on her face): "Well, I'll just give you some anyway and you'll never know.

And my filter melted.

I'm reasonably certain I said more swear words to her in the following minute than I've used in 10 years. You and I will both figure it out when I collapse on your kitchen floor, you ignorant bitch was the first sentence, and it went on from there.

Once I finally wound down, and stopped to catch my breath, do you know what she said? "Oh, well. I didn't know that you meant you were, like, really allergic."

WT actual F?

I walked away, having no further spoons. I don't think my reaction was right; I've been having a rough year or so and I'm about out of cutlery most days, so I know I just spewed ALLTHESTRESSEVER at her. I will have to apologise the next time I see her.

Still, what is with that mindset? That incredible sense of privilege and entitlement that 'I am allowed to override your stated preferences whenever I want to, because, I want to'.

I don't get it.

#362 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:35 AM:

I am pretty solidly of the opinion that if I invite you to my house and give you food, it is my responsibility to make sure I'm giving you something you can actually eat. Whether your food requirements are based on health, religion, ethics, is not my business.

This is very important to me, since I am very much a member of the "You Are In My House So I Must Feed You" group. I would consider myself utterly out of bounds if I knowingly served a guest something they have told me they can't eat.

I have an odd dietary requirement of my own: I'm allergic to pork. While it's not life threatening, it is vastly unpleasant, and I have been sent to the hospital for it in the past. Kosher food is definitely my friend.

Recently, someone was talking about how they've been making this great pasta sauce recipe, with ground beef, ground veal, ground pork... and I said something like, "wow, it's to bad I won't be able to try it, it sounds tasty. I'm allergic to pork".

She replied (and tone is important here, because hers was utterly smug and self-important, as was the expression on her face): "Well, I'll just give you some anyway and you'll never know.

And my filter melted.

I'm reasonably certain I said more swear words to her in the following minute than I've used in 10 years. You and I will both figure it out when I collapse on your kitchen floor, you ignorant bitch was the first sentence, and it went on from there.

Once I finally wound down, and stopped to catch my breath, do you know what she said? "Oh, well. I didn't know that you meant you were, like, really allergic."

WT actual F?

I walked away, having no further spoons. I don't think my reaction was right; I've been having a rough year or so and I'm about out of cutlery most days, so I know I just spewed ALLTHESTRESSEVER at her. I will have to apologise the next time I see her.

Still, what is with that mindset? That incredible sense of privilege and entitlement that 'I am allowed to override your stated preferences whenever I want to, because, I want to'.

I don't get it.

#363 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:41 AM:


The first time I tried to post that I got

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Didn't see it on page reload, so tried again, and, oh, there it is!


#364 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:52 AM:

Re the asshole and the chicken stock: He's ignoring people's wishes.

He's saying their ethical systems are inferior to his desire to be a lazy cook. Would he say, "I only used a little bit of shrimp shells in the tomato soup, so it's not a big deal that you are an Observant Jew? Would he tell a Muslim, "it was only fried in lard, it's not like fed you a pig's flesh,"? Would he say to a Hindu, "never mind that I used marrow to finish the sauce; it was tasty, right,"?

All of those would be stone-cold asshole moves.

If a person is a vegetarian (or tells me they are gluten free; or they, "don't do avocado", or whatever it is, I, as a good host (and decent person) accommodate them; or tell them I can't. Because it doesn't matter what my personal prejudices are (and I have some... I don't do avocados, abhor cooked spinach and will make a technicolor display on the tablecloth if you put mango in my food), those are are the things your guests (to whom one has an obligation) have told you are anathema to them.

Because they are guests. I don't take hospitality to the level of the Norse, or the Ancient Irish, or Noah, but guest are guest, and I, as the person extending hospitality believe it that anything they ask which isn't beyond some level of reasonable (ok, that's not quite true. I'm serious about hospitality, I will go to moderately unreasonable lengths to be certain I can provide why my guests want, but I have a lot of atavistic throwbacks in my nature).

This guy... he doesn't know what hospitality means. I shan't be his guest, and were I to discover I had been hosted by him, I should shake the dust from my sandals when I left.

#365 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:03 AM:

I'm actually feeling really close to the bone on the asshole with the chicken stock.

1: My fiancée keeps kosher. 2: She has allergies, and, at present, a really restrictive food regimen. 3: We are having a wedding.

Catering, Oh My God! We are blessed in that we have a very good caterer, who has practice with allergies, doesn't care that this is not only a mixed marriage, but a non-traditional one (it's a poly-relationship, and there are actually two different ceremonies being conducted: everyone we've talked to about it has been splendid), but even with that we've had to talk the caterer around because when the list of her allergies, and the allergies of our guests were presented to them they plotzed (because they thought we wanted them to make sure everything was edible by everybody. Once we managed to make it plain that what we wanted was that no one had to go without being able to eat at least some of every sort of thing (appetizers, main course, sides, etc.: so that even if limited they'd not be watching everyone else eat [between Jewish and my Irish/Czech attitudes to food, and my partners sensitivity to people who don't get to eat, this is not going to be allowed at our wedding]) it was looking touch and go for about half an hour on the last conference call.

So I might be a touch more cranky on this than otherwise... but Jesus Christ he's an arrogant shithead.

#366 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:49 AM:

re: the Little House books
Thanks, Rikibeth (357). I've also sewn clothes, split logs, chopped kindling, cooked on a woodstove, etc. though the looms I've woven on would charitably be categorized as toys. I used to hunt through the grass for nails that jumped free from my dad's carpentering (just like L.I.W.!), though it was less to straighten and reuse them than minimize the tetanus hazard from stepping on them. I'm in strong agreement with your philosophy.

In the late 50s someone had written up the Kansas site fifty miles out from Independence*, mentioning that "the original well is still on the property". It generated a reviewer's snark: "What did they think happened to it? That it was pulled, chopped up, and sold for postholes?" ...although even as a little kid I knew that the Ingalls' hand-dug well would not be good for postholes.

Typing this has brought the realization that you can't recycle sod into new buildings, either.

I'm joyously confabulating plum thickets with Bugs (Daffy?) wandering through with Portable Holes.

* Was that Malone? Or Plum Creek? Wild plum grows along every tiny rivulet, generating confusion across the great plains over whether the local Plum Creek was her Plum Creek.

#367 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:57 AM:

Terry @ 365

I helped a friend cater a largish wedding reception full of dietary conflicts like these.

We hit up a party store and color-coded the serving dishes. Much less tedious than labels, which tend to get dislodged.

#368 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:41 AM:

Catching up after having been on the road for several days...

dotless i, #197: I have always thought of "hot chocolate" as being what you get when you make it with hot water; using hot milk makes it "cocoa". I will drink either, but have a preference for the former.

Clifton, #262: That sounds a lot like how I feel about vegetarian food in general. Trying to fake the meat in a recipe never tastes right; I'd rather have something that's straightforwardly vegetarian. Although a couple of experiences at vegetarian restaurants have suggested that fully-vegetarian menus use a different spice set than I would choose in making the same dishes.

Clifton, #289: IME, when elderly cats who have never been fond of lap-sitting start becoming lap-cats, you've got somewhere between 1 and 2 years to go with them. Just as a heads-up.

P J Evans, #303: If it has any chicken in it at all, one should not serve it to vegetarians. And if it doesn't have any chicken at all, it's fraudulently labeled.

estelendur, #312: I've wondered that myself. My parents were both emphatically IO, while I am equally emphatically NC; my tentative hypothesis is that it's because we lived 10 hours away from anyone on either side of the family when I was growing up, and one strand of the web wasn't strong enough to ensnare me.

Lila, #320: Deciding that your guests aren't competent to choose for themselves what they will consume is not the act of a friend.

QFT. Furthermore, it's transitive; if I found out that one of my friends had done that to another of my friends, the former would be ejected from my circle of friends at escape velocity. That is just so skeezy on so many levels.

Secondary thought: At root, that's a consent issue. I don't think I'd want to date this guy either; who knows what else he's got consent problems about?

dotless i, #339: Oh, yes. Someone falling, thru a long set of circumstances all of which make perfect in-story sense, into a situation in which for ritual reasons they MUST eat something they would normally avoid. And Ursula does a lovely job of delineating the issues, the reasons why Digger can't just say no, and the unpleasant sequelae.

Lin, #350: I remember having lunch at a friend's house when I was about 8, and having a glass of milk put in front of me because kids are expected to drink milk because it's healthy. I don't have a physical problem with milk, but I seriously hate the taste of it. My solution was to chug the glass (so that I didn't have to deal with the taste more than once) and then request water.

Cheryl, #361: Your reaction was exactly right. Do not guilt yourself into thinking you owe her an apology -- after all, she just casually said that she'd have no problem with poisoning you! SHE owes YOU an apology. And by rubbing her nose in it like that, you may have saved someone else's life in the future, by making her aware that "I'm allergic to X" is NOT THE SAME THING as "I don't like X".

Linking this back to the chicken-stock asshole, I have known someone who was allergic to any kind of poultry. As in anaphylactic-shock, hospital-NOW allergic. What's going to happen the first time someone with a poultry allergy sits down to one of this creep's dinners?

#369 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:27 AM:

Lee, the chicken-stock asshole is gay and has a partner, so you wouldn't have to worry about dating him.

Yes, a gay man who doesn't understand that people have a basic right to decide what they will and won't do with their own bodies. SMH.

Cheryl, you've pointed out another kind of asshole in the mix: the person who says "I'm allergic to X" when they mean "I don't like X." I think this probably usually begins as a convenient lie to avoid eating X among people like our CSA; where it becomes dangerous is when people start openly using it as a shorthand for dislikes and preferences, which undermines its literal (and I mean literally literal, goddam it) use by people whose lives may actually depend on it.

So your friend was being a jerk, but there were also TONS of other jerks who helped set up that situation.

I've used the term 'semiotic undermining' for this kind of thing. It almost got me killed once; a certain intersection on my commute had no light, and everyone turned left at it. Because everyone did, it became the default, so no one signaled. So one day I was crossing the street and was nearly run down by someone who was NOT turning left!

Oddly enough the least blame for that, IMO, goes to the person who nearly ran me down, who had a right to rely on the real default of not signalling non-turns. I get some blame (as does the sauce maker in your story) for buying into the false bad default, but to my mind the greatest share of blame goes to the people who undermined the semiotics of not signalling. And they weren't even present when the problem arose, which is what makes semiotic undermining so insidious.

#370 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:42 AM:

At what point does what used to be meat stop being meat? I put (with her permission--I wasn't sure it was okay) meat into my vegetarian landlady's compost. At some point, it stopped being meat. Can that happen from other forms of processing?

I'm sorry if I sounded less-than-respectful of other people's dietary requirements and choices earlier. As a very picky eater, I have no room to criticize others, especially since my pickiness is mostly a matter of taste and not need.

But man! Some of the hippies I've cooked for. It wasn't making multiple batches of food to feed everyone*. That was okay. It was having them stand over me and criticize me as I cooked their food because I was also cooking food they didn't approve of.

*I'm not a very skilled cook. I just have several simple, large-serving dishes I've learned to make. They're pretty good.

#371 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:42 AM:

Does anyone know whether Cheesecake Factory is reliably good about food issues?

I was at one with someone who has some food restrictions. They had someone in a suit discuss what she could and couldn't eat, and they got the meal right.

I get the impression Cheesecake Factory has tight centralized controls, so this might be policy rather than good sense at the individual restaurant.

#372 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:55 AM:

Open thready: Ran into the comment policy at another blog and thought you'd appreciate it.

I can't tell if it's convergent evolution or smart people learning from each other, but many of the places I like to hang out have similar comment policies.

#373 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:02 AM:

John, not a composter, but I read up on it a while back, and one thing they stressed was never to put meat in the compost. Not sure why, though it strikes me that attracting scavenger-predators is probably not a good thing.

Lee Hayes had his ashes plowed into his vegetable garden. As Judy Harrow put it, "it would take either a very conscious or a very UNconscious person to eat those vegetables." I would eat vegetables grown in that compost, but I would also eat vegetables from Hayes' garden.

You did sound disrespectful before, but I accept your apology, and boy do those "hippies" sound like jerks. They're the kind of people who at one point had me saying things like "I'm a vegetarian, but not an asshole," to forestall defensive reactions by people who'd only run into the asshole variety.

#374 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:12 AM:

I think that the processing* by another living thing might be the key with compost et cetera. Someone on a no-grains-or-carbs diet, whether voluntary paleo or involuntary due to other health issues, can still eat beef because the cow has taken all the grain and grass and processed it. We don't generally consider the urine fertilizing the garden when it comes from carnivores; the meat they've eaten has been processed into nitrogenous waste, then the plants further process it. What it becomes is different from what it was-- compost is not food, beef is not grass. With a limited number of atoms available, the line has to be somewhere, and that's where I think it makes sense.

*I think that what I mean by 'process' is 'transform'. Processing is treating a thing to make it another version of that thing-- carrots to mashed roast carrots, duck to duck fat. Transformation is turning a thing into another thing entirely, like newspaper clippings to dirt or pizza into breastmilk and eventually into baby poop.

#375 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:16 AM:

Re: food preferences and assholery. I'm reminded of a situation many, many years ago when one of my older sisters brought home a boyfriend for Thanksgiving. My mother, whatever her other faults, being a consummate hostess, she asked said boyfriend what kind of turkey stuffing was traditional in his family. (Our own stuffing is a highly-problematic-to-non-family-members egg and sage stuffing. Or sage and egg stuffing. It's got enough sage in it that it's green. And enoght egg that it's glutinous.) He named something mildly unusual, like oyster stuffing. (I don't recall the exact request). My mother, in those pre-internet days, ran all over creation trying to find a good recipe and did her best to create it. After the meal, she asked boyfriend if it matched his family's stuffing. Boyfriend replied, "I dunno; I've never had it but I heard of it and it sounded good."

That's assholery, too.

#376 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:33 AM:

Open threadiness: a piece I'm editing referred to "the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Tom Friedman". The mind recoils in horror at the prospect.

#377 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:34 AM:

Is "Little House on the Prairie Dog" an appropriate way to mash up two of the subthreads?

#378 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:49 AM:

Serge @ 377: I don't know, but it's a hell of a different path for The Wizard of Oz to take.

#379 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Lee (368): I have always thought of "hot chocolate" as being what you get when you make it with hot water; using hot milk makes it "cocoa".

Whereas I also thought of 'hot chocolate' and cocoa' as exact synonyms.

#380 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:02 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #370, Xopher Halftongue #373:

I dimly recall that some moderate extra measures are needed to compost meat, including but not limited to fencing out animals.

#381 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:04 AM:

In regards to the jerk who thinks that putting chicken stock into everything and ignoring the wishes of his guests makes him a Superior Cook...

I am fortunate enough to have a friend who really likes high end restaurants, so I have been to a number with him. We've taken large groups out to some of our city's most highly regarded dining establishments, and the single thing that I can point to that separates the Very Good from the Utterly Amazing is the willingness and ability of the establishment to cater to and allow for all of the allergies present as well as providing food that each member of the party is interested in eating.

The list of allergies (actual allergies, some life-threatening and all with unpleasant side effects for even trace amounts) in my circle includes lemons, fish, legumes, pork, tree nuts, peanuts, mussels, and gluten. When we call ahead and inform the place of our requirements, they are always accommodating, and we have never had any issues with the food that we've gotten. We're going out again this Saturday, and when we spoke to the restaurant, they were delighted both with the fact that we alerted them early and because it would "give the chef at least a small challenge" in fixing the meal.

It's okay to not be a good cook, and to be uncertain how to handle someone who has allergies. What's not okay is thinking that your unwillingness to be accommodating somehow makes your skills and knowledge superior.

#382 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:31 AM:

john, who is incognito and definitely not at work @ #140: Yes! I think Saga is the only comic book I'm buying right now. So many great touches: Lying Cat, the vine traps you can break by sharing a secret, the super subtle message inside a possibly very banal novel... And sometimes the art gets really gross, but it earns it, most of the time. The Stalk should look the way the Stalk looks.

#383 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:35 AM:

Lee: Local cat Einstein is 16 already, and his brother Newton died of cancer last year. If he only gets one or two more years, he'll still have had a good run, and I'll be happy if we can make all of them maximized-petting years. He's a really sweet cat and has always loved petting, just wouldn't get in or stay in laps. He still won't, except for this special morning period. (Leaning sideways to reach the keyboard now without disturbing him here...)

#384 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:49 AM:

I was talking with some folks at Foolscap and mentioned the Carl Brandon Society, the Outer Alliance, and Broad Universe as examples of organizations working on diversity in speculative fiction & fandom. I mentioned them as folks whom conrunners might invite to host a reading or party.

I couldn't help but think that I'm missing an organization or two, or maybe more. Which groups should I add to this list?

#385 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:08 AM:

I have a friend who says he's allergic to alcohol because it's something most people understand immediately. What's really going on is that he lacks the enzyme for breaking down alcohol into something that the human body can deal with. Even the little bit of alcohol in barbecue sauce will send him to the hospital. Mr. Chicken-stock Asshole would find out rather quickly that "what you don't know is in the food won't hurt you" can kill people if one of his guests had that level of allergy.

I had to feed a group of people on a couple of hours notice. The dietary restrictions included onion allergy, low cholesterol diet, low calorie diet (not the same person as the cholesterol person), and diabetes. The onion allergy was not so severe as to require separate cooking utensils/pan, so I did stir fry with chicken marinated in two different sauces, and a whole lot of shredded and diced veggies, Mongolian barbecue style. It was so well received, I had to chase the line-up for seconds out of the kitchen until I got to eat.

AKICIML, how does one do wok-based cooking on an electric stove?

#386 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:09 AM:

So I wasn't able to work (work being an eBay store) for about three weeks, because kidney infection and sick. I am now functional, for certain values of "functional."

And, of course, my cheap ink jet printer is kaput. Three weeks without use was enough to dry out the print head, and I can't get it working again. I've managed to get an older printer working well enough to print postage labels, but it's a temporary fix because the older printer has its own issues. (Issues related to cats sitting on it and breaking the paper tray ... sigh.)

The breadth of knowledge on Making Light never ceases to amaze me. Anyone got a good recommendation for an inexpensive laser printer? Monochrome is fine, it needs to be able to handle sticky labels without choking and average-size cats sitting on it without breaking, and cheap cartridges are a bonus. Otherwise, I'm not fussy.

Suggestions? :-)

(And seriously. Cat-proofing should be part of the design process of any gadget. Because, cats.)

#387 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:09 AM:

Lee@368: I have always thought of "hot chocolate" as being what you get when you make it with hot water; using hot milk makes it "cocoa".

I wonder if that's a regional difference. A quick search on the web finds people who make the distinction, but in the opposite direction to yours. Growing up, though, I only encountered the term "hot chocolate", and there was usually milk involved, whether fresh or dry. My own preference is currently for the milk-based drink, preferably with a chunk of this chocolate, which is where the stick blender comes in handy.

(Actually, my real preference is for the Spanish-style thick-enough-to-hold-your-spoon-upright chocolate, but that's not what I usually make.)

Xopher Halftongue@369: I get what you're saying about people using "allergy" to mean "dislike" (although I don't see that happen much myself; more often I see "allergy" in place of "strong food sensitivity that isn't technically an allergy"), but I don't think that removes much blame from Cheryl's acquaintance in this case. However weak a meaning she was giving to "allergy", there's still the assertion that she'd intentionally deprive Cheryl of consent.

Regarding restaurants handling food restrictions: some time back I was trying to arrange a nice dinner out with someone who was very sensitive to garlic, and I called a few restaurants I liked to see if they'd be able to handle it. I really appreciated the one (generally excellent) restaurant where I called, they thought for half a second, and then simply said, "No, I'm sorry, it really won't work. There's maybe one appetizer and some desserts." The waiter at the restaurant we wound up at, on the other hand, made things complicated, due to either excessive confidence in or excessive terror of the kitchen: we went through three rounds of ordering and having him come back to apologize. When he finally did what we'd asked at the beginning and actually asked the kitchen what could be made, though, the chef sent him back with a copy of the menu fully annotated with exactly what would have to be altered in each dish, which was perfect for us.

#388 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:19 AM:

cygnet @386, we bought a Canon MF4890dw last summer and so far are pleased with it, but I haven't tried to print on labels. Nor am I sure about cats, but I don't think the output paper tray is large enough to appeal to them. (We had to construct an output block of cardboard because otherwise pages ended up on the floor.)

#389 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:07 PM:

I think people will like Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge. The author went from punk activism to being in charge of cheese at a big cooperative, and writes about cheese, the cheese industry, selling cheese, learning about cheese, and walking the line between appreciating quality and getting pretentious.

What brought the book to mind was the bit upthread about overcritical hippies. He mentions the problem of people who've never done farming setting moral standards that don't make sense for the food they eat.

#390 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:10 PM:

Lin Daniel @385, they sell flat-bottomed woks with saucepan handles for use on electric stoves. Put the pan directly on the burner and proceed as usual.

#391 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:48 PM:

Sumana @384: one group that's working at the next level up to push diversity is Clarion West. The six instructors for the individual weeks are chosen with an eye to making sure that they represent ethnic, sexual, gender and other diversities. And by training the next generation of writers: they're pushing the writers into consideration of diversity as they write.

There will be an interesting article at some point in about 20 years about how the different workshops and writers' groups in SF/F affected the genre in the early 21st Century. Clarion West produces a different kind of writer from (say) Viable Paradise; and each one seems to be generating a group of people who spend a lot of time talking with each other. In the same way that the Futurians had a major influence on Golden Age SF, I think the workshops will have a set of influences on this period. It's probably too soon to tell what those influences will be.

#392 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:48 PM:

Cheryl @361: I don't think my reaction was right.

Oh, I dunno. For my money, looks like you got it exactly right. I might have added, "Here, let me slip you a tasty little something liberally salted with, say, serum of ipecac, and I'll just stand over here out of range while you 'enjoy' it 'and you'll never know'. Sound good?"

I will have to apologise the next time I see her.

I have to say, you are far more generous than I would ever be. That would be the end of any relationship I would have with that person, ever, with extreme prejudice.

I got nailed twice by friends unknowingly feeding me flax seed. If anybody ever did that to me intentionally, presuming they "knew better," I would find myself thinking seriously about bringing them up on charges of aggravated assault. (I'm assuming that's the category deliberate poisoning would fall into?)

As a counterpoint to the assholic shithead thread, I'd like to make a recommendation: A friend and I went to Boulder's Dushanbe Teahouse. This friend has, like, every food sensitivity there is: gluten & lactose, for a start. Then there's his allergies to fungus and onions, and...oh I forget what-all. Anyway, the waitress brought out a photocopied sheet with a grid on it—of food sensitivities. Playing allergy bingo, they were actually able to assemble a menu around his needs, and delivered unto him a tasty meal he could actually eat. It was amazing to watch. (And, (although I think this was a different trip), they brought out a tin of fish food at my request, because the goldfish in the pool next to our table were begging at me piteously. They hadn't been fed for years. (They said.) It was fun to drop in a tiny crumb of (the appropriate) food, and watch it get pounced on voraciously.)

Terry Karney @365: no one had to go without being able to eat at least some of every sort of thing (appetizers, main course, sides, etc.:

I wonder if anyone has gotten around to programming the app for this, correlating guests/food sensitivities/recipe ingredients/dinner course.... It's an obvious niche market.

Carol Kimball @366: a reviewer's snark: "What did they think happened to it? That it was pulled, chopped up, and sold for postholes?"

Oh, ghods. ::pounds desk, stifling giggles:: Effing perfect!

Lee @368: IME, when elderly cats who have never been fond of lap-sitting start becoming lap-cats, you've got somewhere between 1 and 2 years to go with them. Just as a heads-up.

This is also true of guinea pigs, where "years" is "weeks." Also ferrets. The one time my friend's ferret Fagan begged to sit in my lap and sleep turned out to be about two weeks before he passed away.

Secondary thought: At root, that's a consent issue. I don't think I'd want to date this guy either; who knows what else he's got consent problems about?

YES. That's what's been chewing at the back of my brain about this. Thank you for articulating it.

Nancy Lebovitz @371: I get the impression Cheesecake Factory has tight centralized controls

Being a large corporation, I imagine they have wholesale-rate paranoia about legal liability.

Xopher Halftongue @373: not a composter, but I read up on it a while back, and one thing they stressed was never to put meat in the compost. Not sure why, though it strikes me that attracting scavenger-predators is probably not a good thing.

The scavenger-predator thing is part of it, but my understanding is that back-yard composting doesn't get hot enough to cook out any pathogens. Industrial-grade composting (such as Boulder County's facility) does. I gather it's a matter of surface-to-volume ratio.

Lin Daniel @385: "what you don't know is in the food won't hurt you"

My mother had a parable she was fond of for this context. Little farm wife opens the urn of butter she'd churned up yesterday, finds a mouse dead in it. "Hm," she thinks. Picks out the mouse, packs it up, takes it off to the General Store. Storekeep, accepts the butter she's selling him. "What he doesn't know won't hurt him," she reassures herself. Storekeep, suspicious when she asks to buy a pound of the butter he has in stock, smiles agreeably, goes in the back, takes the butter she's sold him out of the package she brought it in, puts it in ones of his store packages. Brings it out, hands it over to her. She goes away happy. He thinks, with a smile, "What she doesn't know won't hurt her."

#393 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 12:58 PM:

@ Cygnet:

My last two laser printers were Samsung. One was $150, the other maybe $90. They worked/ work great.

(The first one had a problem with the sheet intake grabber thing; after five years it eventually got too smooth to reliably grab. After buying the new one I found an online guide to turning the grabber thing around, exposing a fresh surface. I gave the printer to a co-worker's son, who is still using it.)

#394 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:07 PM:

@368 Lee & 392 Jacque

Well... I'm not sure how to phrase this.

I don't think I was wrong to be upset, or even angry. I do think that the shrieking, swearing rant was not OK, and that's what the apology will be for (while still being clear that what she said was wrong wrong wrong).

She's a relative that I don't see very often; she's only about 21, so I have hope that she can gain more knowledge as she ages. "Shrieking rant" is not a good teaching method.

#395 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:12 PM:

Some guy name John McWhorter, an associate professor at Columbia University, claims the comma is dead, and says he cannot see the point of the Oxford Comma.

Slate is rather more thoughtful on the issues and considers whether low-comma texting, tweeting, and such are going to overwhelm more serious writing.

Newspapers in other parts of the world have picked up on this, and have apparently misunderstood the academic significance of McWhorter's job title.

In the meantime I shall dedicate this post to my parents, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Sir Terry Pratchett.

#396 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:15 PM:

Re: wok cooking on electric stoves.

One of my dreams is to one day re-do the kitchen & get gas burners. I think the only way to get proper wok hei is to cook with gas.

In the meantime, I do wok-style cooking using slightly deeper & heavier flat-bottom frypans. The deeper frypan allows more vigorous stirring without food falling out. A heavier frypan (more metal) allows it to retain heat better (wait until the pan is nice & hot before commencing cooking). I always cook with heating turned to maximum, so don't use non-stick frypans else the non-stick coating burns off. Not an ideal solution but it gets the job done.

I've tried:
- a portable electric induction wok but the induction gave uneven heating.

- a wok stand so you can place a normal wok on a flat electric stove surface. But it loses too much heating because of the gap.

- electric woks, but they are too slow to heat resulting in more of a stew than a fry.

#397 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Inspired by Cygnet: I'm overdue for getting a new computer -- my current one has both a damaged case and an obsolete graphics system (just fell out of the manufacturer's support list, and Linux's). I'd like to be able to dual-boot Windows & Linux, do the usual web and media things (plus, ideally, TV capture), and run Minecraft at much better speeds (currently I think the graphics card and/or sound system are the limiting factors). I do want a desktop rather than a laptop, and I already have a nice monitor. I don't need screaming power, just not at the very back of the tech curve.

What can I expect to have to pay for something suitable? And what manufacturers are reputable these days? I remember getting a Micron system back in the day (check off the boxes for various options) and liking it, but at a quick glance they don't seem to be selling systems anymore, just parts.

#398 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 02:08 PM:

Lin @ 385: My Chinese teacher in high school was also a gourmet Chinese cook, and he said that traditional American cast iron frying pans made the best wok for cooking on American stoves. I think the key for the right results in a Chinese wok-style stir fry is a pan which can bring small bits of food in contact with a very very hot surface while they're rapidly stirred. The traditional way to do that is the thin bowl-shaped steel wok over a very direct high flame under the bottom, but another way to do it is a thicker pan which holds heat well, brought to a high even temperature.

#399 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 02:10 PM:

Cygnet @ 386: Since I'm the Printer Whisperer in the lab here, my advice for cheap to buy, cheap to run monochrome printers is a laser printer from Brother. The Amazing Girlfriend and I own one that cost $90 or so, does automatic duplexing and has a built-in wifi connection, so it only needs power to sit on our home network. We got it for printing scientific papers, since the 24" banner printer isn't exactly the right tool for that. If you don't need duplexing, you can often find it and its cousins for $70 or so. We go through one $40 toner cartridge a year or so, although there are lots of very cheap ($10-15) generics out there if you want to go that route.

#400 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Dave Harmon @397: It's always better to get a new computer next month than this. Always. Computer technology is advancing at a pace that next month today's choice will be cheaper, and today's price will get you a noticeably better machine.

But blindly following that will mean you never get a computer, since next month is always a month away.

That said, compared to the machine you currently have, even the lowest entry level machines available today would meet your needs. Looking at the online store I just bought a 17.3" laptop with 8GB ram and a 1TB hard drive for $650, I found many low-end desktop machines for under $300. Going up to $400 or $500 yields nicer machines, but not necessarily by much. Brands I trust include HP, Acer, Lenovo, Gateway, although for desktop machines I usually build/upgrade my own, rather than buying pre-built.

I do have some concern, though, about your "nice monitor". If you are that obsolete in your graphics system, it may be that you are also obsolete in your monitor. Does it support DVI? HDMI? VGA? You will need to double-check that your machine will output that form.

One complication that shouldn't affect your purchase, but something to keep in mind: Since you bought your last machine, the industry has started the process of switching to EFI or uEFI for booting instead of BIOS. Booting with EFI is a requirement for Win8 and Win8.1, but it isn't as easy to get Linux to boot under it. I've been trying for days to get my new laptop to dual boot properly -- the system will handle both EFI and BIOS booting, but Windows won't work if booted BIOS and Linux can't see the EFI stuff if booted BIOS, and I can't convince the EFI bootloader to see my Linux system. Be prepared for a fight with the system if you can't find someone to configure it for you.

#401 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 02:37 PM:

Mary Aileen, #379: I can deal with the "synonyms" view more readily than I can the occasionally-encountered usage that's the exact reverse of mine. But if someone is using the terms synonymously, I do want to know which style of preparation they consider the default.

Clifton, #383: Yeah, our Grey Mouser is like that. He's always been perfectly willing to have his head scritched by anyone for as long as they're willing to do it, and will try to grab your hand and pull it back when you move away. But until quite recently, he has not been a lap cat at all, and he's still uncertain about the protocols (as in, he'll jump in your lap and just stand there for as much as 5 minutes before finally settling in).

dotless I, #387: I'd buy regional, but I don't discount the possibility that it may be idiosyncratic. I can no longer remember whether I was taught the distinction or came up with it on my own. Oh, and I share your liking for the Spanish-style very-dark-chocolate-with-cinnamon-and-maybe-hot-pepper.

Nancy, #389: The bit that jumped out at me in the book's description was: Edgar bluffed his way into his cheese job knowing almost nothing

AIUI, this is actually a fairly common thing for men to do and get away with. Women tend not to apply for positions for which they actively lack the qualifications, and even if they do, are much more likely to be turned down for said lack.

Which has nothing to do with how good the book is, but I believe in pointing out the water to the fish when appropriate. :-)

Dave B., #395: At root, this is a design flaw on the standard smartphone keyboard. The number of times I need to use a comma (which requires going to a second screen) vs. the number of times I want to type ".com" (which is available as a 1-key option on the main screen) suggests very strongly that these two keys should have been swapped. But I am stubborn, and refuse to let technological annoyances interfere with my writing style.

Also, I do not believe that "what people do in a character-limited medium such as Twitter" is a good metric for "how one should write everything under all circumstances".

Dave H., #397: Do you have a Goodwill computer store near you? If so, it's worth expanding your inquiry to cover things that are 1 or 2 steps behind the Hottest New Tech, and checking to see if someone who insists on top-of-the-line equipment has gotten rid of one of those. We tend to run behind the tech curve, and someone else's boat anchor has often been our upgrade for a lot less money than we'd have spent on new stuff.

#402 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:15 PM:

I saw the chicken-stock article posted on FB some months back, read it, had steam come out of my ears for about five minutes, started to compose a lengthy, righteous, ragey blast in response -- and then realized "Oh. I've just been successfully trolled."

Now, why Slate decided to give this guy a platform for trolling… actually, I do know. Pageviews. Ugh.

(For the record, when I cook for other people, I consider it only courteous to do my best to accommodate their stated dietary choices, restrictions, and preferences. If I'm unable or unwilling to do so, I consider it only decent to tell them so, as long before the meal as possible, so that they can make decisions accordingly.)

#403 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:17 PM:

#392 ::: Jacque

>>Nancy Lebovitz @371: I get the impression Cheesecake Factory has tight centralized controls

>Being a large corporation, I imagine they have wholesale-rate paranoia about legal liability.

They probably do, but just being at risk for legal punishment doesn't mean a corporation is meticulous about doing something well.

It's also conceivable that they want customers to have a good experience, not to mention that they might have a major executive (and/or their family) who has significant food sensitivities.

One of the problems with reward and punishment is that they make it too easy to ignore that people might have intrinsic motivations.

#404 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Re: Printers: I own a Brother monochrome printer as well, purchased when I was in a poetry-writing class that meant churning out pages and pages and pages of text to pass around pretty much every single week. While the ink cartridge is desperately in need of replacement at the moment--some years later--I've found a very reliable and cost-effective workhorse for home printing. Highly recommended.

#405 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:41 PM:

Another concurring recommendation for Brother monochrome laser printers - our Brother laser printer/fax/scanner/copier is still plugging away after a number of years. I think it was only $80-$90 on a Costco special. It's been reading "Low Toner!" for a couple of months now, and while I really need to buy some more toner, it hasn't decided to just refuse to print until it's given a new toner cartridge, unlike some brands.

It balks on card stock which is too stiff, though, as we found at last year when my son was trying to make cards for a board game he was creating, so I'm not sure whether it's the best choice for label printing.

#406 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:46 PM:

Cheryl, 'allergic to' is one term I hear very clearly. I'd have had a similar reaction. (I'm allergic to penicillin, as in anaphylaxis, so there's a whole lot of antibiotics I never use. Fortunately it doesn't prevent me from enjoying blue cheeses.)

#407 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:46 PM:

I took a class with McWhorter a zillion years ago, at UC Berkeley. One of the most engaging lecturers I ever had. Dave Bell at #395, I think McWhorter's saying something more like "we could do without the Oxford comma and we would basically be okay; people would understand the meanings of these lists reasonably well" but he's saying it descriptively, not prescriptively.

Dave Harmon, I buy from ZaReason - everything's guaranteed to run Linux well, but you'd have to put Windows on there yourself. It might be useful mainly as a reference catalogue.

#408 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:53 PM:

There's a 'Little House' museum about 15 miles from Independence. It's not far from the airport, a couple of miles off US75.

#409 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:55 PM:

Tom Whitmore, I'm glad that Clarion West workshops include attention to diversity in teacher selection. It is good to be aware of Clarion West and of relevant publishing venues (e.g., Expanded Horizons, Diverse Energies) as part of the whole ecology. But I'm trying to compile a list of groups more like Broad Universe, for whom diversity is the agenda.

#410 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:55 PM:

@LittleHouse: Huh. WRT Ma hating Indians. I don't remember any of that. ('Course, this was on the order of fifty years ago, now.) But what I do remember was that those books were read to us by a student teacher—who was Native American.

#411 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Nancy @403:

There was an article a couple of years ago in the New Yorker entitled Inside The Cheesecake Factory about our health-care system (comparing and contrasting how hospitals work and how The Cheesecake Factory works). It touches on some of these issues, and made me want to go to a Cheesecake Factory sometime.

The Cheesecake Factory does have tight central controls, with screens in the kitchen showing the ingredients, recipes, and times for every order going through the kitchen, including any special requests. This, and their predictive software, allow them to set, and meet, a national goal of less than 2.5% food waste. So they maintain very tight controls.

Although it wasn't mentioned, I would expect allergies would be easily managed by their system, as long as they know about them.

I suspect your experience @371 is standard in that case, not a one-off from that location.

#412 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Use a frying pan - woks aren't designed for electric burners.

#413 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 03:59 PM:

The recipes on this page are guaranteed to revolt, and likely endanger, everybody:

One of the recipes has the teaser line "If you want to be happy when company comes." It is a hollowed-out log of bologna, with a core of mashed peas in gelatin.

I'm trying to think of what kind of host would take delight in serving this. Maybe one who hates company? Or, since the accompanying illustration shows the hosts welcoming a couple in uniform at their door, German collaborators?

Some of the other items could be the result of contest to depict, in food form, what the flesh-and-blood portion of a Dalek looks like.

#414 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 04:12 PM:

I'll second the Brother laser printers. We've got a 2240HD, usb only, but serving stuff is what linux boxes are for. It's decently supported out of the box on OSX/Ubuntu. Not sure about win*. 20+ pages a minute, though duplex slows that down a bunch, maybe to 7 or so. Toner isn't that expensive, and does last quite a long while. I think we're at something like 2 cents a page.

Newegg tends to have deals on it every so often -- if you're paying more than $100 it's going to go on sale a day after you buy.

#415 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 04:31 PM:

My husband is anaphylactically allergic to fish (by which I mean "does it have a vertebral column and finlike limbs and live in water -- and no fur"; all the fish-shaped swimmy vertebrates are verboten, including sharks and rays, but mollusks and crustaceans are fine) and nuts (by which I mean almost every single thing that has the syllable 'nut' in its name in English -- all the tree nuts, all the Australian stuff like macadamias that aren't related but grow on trees, plus things like peanuts and pine nuts that are botanically no relation at all).

This is actually, despite its severity and breadth, not that bad of an allergy set to work around in restaurants. We avoid Thai/Vietnamese/Filipino unless we know the kitchen, because fish sauce and peanut oil are pretty ubiquitous in the cuisines. Sushi actually works well, because the amount of anal-retentiveness good sushi chefs have about knife cleanliness means that even if he's given a vegetarian roll made right after a salmon maki he doesn't react. The problem with sushi is the stuff that gets rolled in fish eggs, and occasional unwillingness by serving staff to present the non-fish rolls on a plate separate from the coated-in-fish-eggs rolls (which leads to transfer of allergen). In general, restaurants are pretty good about the server being asked at ordering whether thing A or Thing B has whatever in it (and if so, is it leave-offable); if not, there's usually a completely unproblematic option to order, though he does have to be careful with places that do deep-fried battered fish in any description, because the oil can set him off if he gets a deep-fried something-else, like fries.

We went to Wildfire, a steakhouse run by Lettuce Entertain You, and had no issue about entree ordering, so didn't mention to the staff (he doesn't like coming off -- even in his own head -- as a Sally Albright). For dessert, there were several enticing options, but one of them was mentioned as having toasted almond or something sprinkled on top. When the server returned to take our order, John asked him if the underlying slice-of-whatever was nut-containing or if it was just the garnish. The server said he didn't know but he could check. John said yes, please check; if the dessert is non-nutty I'd like it but please leave off the nut garnish because I'm allergic.

The server blanched and took extensive notes on his order pad, quizzing every other diner present about whether we had any food issues or not. Dessert went well, but then the manager came to our table to apologize and to ask us strongly, should we ever dine again, to disclose any allergies/kosher/etc when the server came the first time, because they have chain-wide requirements: every time any diner with a food issue comes in they have to fill out paperwork listing all possible sensitivities and keep it on file for three weeks. I was floored by this (and by the, frankly, somewhat oppressive YOU DID A WRONG THING AND MADE ME BE A BAD EMPLOYEE vibe the manager was giving off), but apparently corporate wants to be able to hit the file cabinet about any late-onset food problems or something that might have been caused by momentary cross-contamination between two different plates served to the same table, or whatever.

It did make us wonder if we wanted to go back again, um, ever, although on one level I'm glad they're allergy-aware. They're just not very allergy-WELCOMING (or weren't, that night, to us in particular).

On the upscale end, Ming Tsai keeps a binder at the server's station listing all items on the menu (including specials), with all ingredients included, color-coded by allergy and noted as to whether it's leave-out-able or not. The staff are trained on the binder, but in any case where they're not certain they can instantly check without having to find a chef, etc, and the cooking staff are also trained on routinely doing the dishes without the various allergens so it doesn't feel 'odd' to them and they know just what to do or substitute.

Chef Tsai's son has gluten sensitivity. :-> Someday I'd like to be able to afford (and be near enough, of course) to eat in his restaurant, but his binders full of allergens are only one of many reasons why.

#416 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 05:09 PM:

I rather enjoy Slate's contrarianism on the occasions (which, I grant you, are infrequent) when it's well-founded. They've printed a variety of articles on gluten. I find them fascinating. This article is one passed my smell test--and gives me a very good reason to chill out when I hear a claim to a food allergy that I find true but possibly exaggerated:

Ironically, the people who may benefit most from the current vogue are those who have been G-free all along. The proliferation of gluten-free products has made life for a full-blown celiac easier than it's ever been, and a greater awareness of gluten-related disorders has more celiac patients getting diagnosed than ever before. (There are still thought to be millions of undiagnosed cases in the United States.) Let's hope those gains aren't erased when the conventional wisdom shifts again and we leave this diet craze behind us.
#417 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 05:41 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 378... With Mrs.Olson as the Wicked Witch?

#418 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:15 PM:

Stefan, #413: First reaction: I've seen things every bit as disgusting as any of those items on the menu at upscale restaurants. Apparently what makes the difference in perception is the cost of the ingredients.

Further comments...
5. Frosted Ribbon Loaf: People eat bagels with lox and cream cheese, so there's nothing inherently yucky about this; I think it's just the form factor that's off-putting. Also, if I were making this, I'd savory up the cream cheese a bit with onion and/or garlic powder.

8. Atora Cup Steak Puddings: I think the icky factor here is that the cups are made of suet, which makes me wonder if they're as icky-seeming to our British friends as they are to Americans? But more importantly, before I noticed that it was suet, my brain parsed the molds as "mashed potatoes" -- and now I can see making individual shepherd's pies by lining muffin cups with mashed potatoes, adding a scoop of filling, and baking.

16. Ah yes, the Banana Candle which has been discussed here many times before. Made especially phallic in this incarnation by the drippy sploot running down the sides.

20. Igloo Meat Loaf: Even they admit that this one doesn't belong in the same class with the others; it's like my putative shepherd's-pie tarts turned upside down, is all. I notice that the recipe doesn't include instructions for how to get the mashed potatoes completely smooth and carve in the "snow block" lines, which would take a fairly steady hand. OTOH, it might also be interesting to carve actual "bricks" out of slices of raw potato and position them by hand over the meat before cooking.

#419 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:17 PM:

Carol Kimball: Malone, NY was Almanzo's boyhood home. It's very close to the Canadian border. It would be about an eight-hour road trip for me, and I'm tempted.

"Plum Creek" mostly corresponds to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

The "forty miles from Independence" site in Kansas (not actually forty, more like thirteen, according to the biography I've got) is the one from "Little House on the Prairie". Laura was younger when they were there than she's presented in the books.

And, reviewer snark aside, it's always possible that some later occupant could have chosen to fill in a previous well in favor of a newer one more conveniently sited, right?

#420 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:33 PM:

Jacque #392, quoting Xopher Halftongue @373: not a composter, but I read up on it a while back, and one thing they stressed was never to put meat in the compost. Not sure why, though it strikes me that attracting scavenger-predators is probably not a good thing.

Jacque herself:
The scavenger-predator thing is part of it, but my understanding is that back-yard composting doesn't get hot enough to cook out any pathogens. Industrial-grade composting (such as Boulder County's facility) does. I gather it's a matter of surface-to-volume ratio.

Me: we have a local business, East Side Compost Peddlers, that comes round on bicycles every week or so and collects your compost. I would have said they were doing a large enough business, but they don't want any meat anything of any description. So either they're super-picky on theological reasons, or they're still just not large enough.

#421 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 06:39 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #399: Seconding the Brother printers. They're cheap enough that spouse and I each have one. We're each on our second one in six or eight years, but only because of Close Encounters of the Lightning Kind. (Killed the Ethernet card in one and the wireless card in the other. Totally separate occurrences.) (We now have a whole-house surge suppressor.)

#422 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:12 PM:

#418: I would have no problem eating some of those. The igloo and the ribbon loaf in particular. Way off the chart fat-colorie wise, but not objectionable.

But sheesh, that shrimp-encrusted gelatin mold, and the bologna log with pea Jell-O inside. Oye.

#423 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:30 PM:

Wok on electric stove: Thank you all for suggestions and ideas. I have a flat bottomed wok-like pan, but it has a nonstick surface and I don't like subjecting nonstick surfaces to high heat.

Clifton @398, I have cast iron pans. I will stir-fry with enthusiasm. Thank you.

#424 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:40 PM:

Bologna log with pea jello:

I'm reminded of Peg Bracken's I Hate To Cook Book, wherein one chapter was
Luncheon For The Girls, or wait till you taste Maybelle's peanut butter aspic.


#425 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:43 PM:

Jenny Islander @212: Really, the British Wizarding World was like one ingrown backwater small town spread over umpteen square miles.

That's exactly what it is. By my calculations, the total population of Wizarding Britain is probably less than 5000.

#426 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 07:51 PM:

Lee @418 re: "beef suet cups"
The cups are mostly flour, mixed with fat as binder and some leavening, then shaped and baked. When lives consisted of a lot of hard labor, bodies craved fat, hence so many suet-based puddings. Lard is my preferred pie crust fat (I am an omnivore, believe animal fat is animal fat be it suet, lard or butter - though I don't go whole hog on it very often - and don't have cholesterol issues). Those puppies look more obscene than the "candles".

Rikibeth - thanks for the LH geography. Companion books such as Jane Duncan's Letter from Reachfar are da bomb. I have several for O'Brian such as the Lobscouse cookbook and will have to hunt up the LH one (saw a library? copy years ago). The only one extant for the Ingalls may be that "posthole" article.

#427 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:17 PM:

Composting meat subthread:

You can compost animal products--it takes lots of sawduct or comparable carbon-heavy medium. The problem is that there is no way to keep it from stinking. (Composting is one of the officially approved ways of disposing of small-scale slaughtering waste when home-butchering chickens, and of dead chickens in commercial growing operations.)

#428 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:20 PM:

Re: John McWhorter & Commas (Dave @ 295, Sumana @ 407)

I'd like to echo Sumana's point (although in my case I was a TA for McWhorter when he was at UC Berkeley, not a student of his). He specializes in linguistic studies of the up-to-the-minute vernacular and is very much a pragmatic descriptivist, not a prescriptivist. Saying that we could probably get by ok without commas most of the time is a bit different from saying we should do away with them entirely.

#429 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:23 PM:

Stefan, #413: I'm with Lee #418, in fact I'd say the writer should be ticketed for unwarranted snark.

For starters, some of those dishes probably are still showing up at Southern potlucks, notably the jello salads. Those molds, loaves, and rolls are purely a matter of culinary fashion -- it's just giving things a shape instead of plopping stuff into a big bowl.

Also, the Bologna-Pea loaf is advertised as "low point-cost", which probably means WW2 rationing. I'm betting several of the other recipes are likewise responses to wartime shortages. And those suet cups just represent attitudes from before modern cardio-awareness, with older dietary patterns. ("Red meat isn't bad for you... fuzzy blue-green meat, that's bad for you." ;-) )

#430 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:34 PM:

@SamChevre no. 417: Someone developed a way to compost dog feces at Alaskan dog yards, using sawdust from the woodpile as a carbon source--and putting the resultant mess inside a recycled fuel drum or piece of large pipe to contain the stench!

#431 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:49 PM:

Carol Kimball (426): Companion books such as Jane Duncan's Letter from Reachfar are da bomb.

Ooooo, someone else who reads Jane Duncan! ::bounces with excitement::

#432 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 08:59 PM:

Dave H., #429: In point of fact, those jello-and-cottage-cheese things are the only way that I find cottage cheese at all edible. I wonder if "low point cost" might have been early Weight Watchers? But rationing is probably the answer. Also, a high-fat diet isn't bad for your heart/arteries unless you're also eating heavy on the carbs. There's research to demonstrate that, but you'll never see it in diet books.

#433 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:13 PM:

Jenny @ 430: The outhouses near campsites in Volcano National Park where I was backpacking last summer are now replaced with composting toilets; you dump a scoop of sawdust down them when you're done. They were completely free of the usual outhouse cesspit stench; it was a pleasure to use them. Since they're built as a tower above what must be a tank of some kind, you also get a nice breeze and a fabulous view as a bonus.

#434 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:27 PM:

The bologna / pea-jello horror was almost certainly a wartime dish. Look at the little illustration; the proud hosts are welcoming two service people into their home.

Two service people who will, presumably, go back to the barracks swearing never to think harshly of S.O.S. again.

#435 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:27 PM:

Thank you all for the information on composting meat.

I'm surprised my landlady didn't know that! Or maybe she just realized I didn't use much and threw away even less. I can't bear to waste meat. It's bad enough the little animals die for us without us wasting the product.

#436 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:39 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 163: That's it! (I knew my web-fu was nothing to speak of, but I'm croggled somebody found it so quickly from a misdescription.)

Xopher @ 250: I recall a science-column answer on where the Great Plains came from; there isn't enough rain to support forests. IIRC, much of the Brazilian "entrepreneurial" destruction of rain forest is producing pasture, but that's not something we can control.

Jenny Islander @ 266: there's a big difference between raising cattle for local food and raising them so people a thousand miles away can have all the Big Macs they want.

Iniquisitive @ 310: by my experience, the mean diopter of bifocals/progessives is not reliably satisfactory for computer glasses; I suffered with this effect until I got an ophthalmologist who would actually measure what I needed at a computer distance, in addition to reading and pseudo-infinite distances. The difference isn't huge, but it's enough to be a problem.

Carol Kimball @ 366: IMO the snark was unjustified; did the snarker know for certain what weathering would or wouldn't do to a well in that environment? Traces of low-tech settlement can vanish quickly under the right (wrong?) circumstances.

Nancy L @ 371 (and followups): I've read of another chain (Bertucci's?) that got in serious trouble because the individual waitron didn't realize/parse/... that pesto would trigger a fatal nut allergy. I wouldn't assume any \particular/ big food chain would have been careful enough before the resulting court case, especially since it might have required treating the waitstaff like people -- instead of interchangeable parts, as I understand some chains commonly do. After the court case, maybe. Or maybe Cheesecake Factory decided that using \all/ the effects of close process management actually made economic sense?

Clifton @ 398 (re cast-iron pan for wokkery): wasn't there a link here ~recently reporting that cast iron really wasn't that good at distributing heat evenly?

Chris @ 425: I'm not sure I believe just 5000 Potterverse wizards in the UK; were >>90% of the people at the major quidditch match (that began #4) non-UK? (IIRC, it was a huge stadium even in the book.) IME, people can be small-minded even in a large population; Rowling reflects this in Temporary Vacancy, and may have been thinking of it when she made some of her characters so purblind.

The discussion on meat-like vegan flavor didn't bring up "umami", aka the fifth taste. I recall this being a news spurt about a decade ago, and thought it was found to be a form of savor associated with meat but findable in non-meat products/processing. Was there any research on effective vegan ways to do this, or am I misrecollecting the term or its utility?

Congratulations to Terry -- and is there interest in a Fluorospheric get-together at Boskone? I'll be entangled in setup until well into Friday and have no idea what in the neighborhood is reasonable AND tasty AND suitable for people's constraints; maybe Saturday before dinner time for liquids and optional nibbles at the lobby bar?

#437 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:49 PM:

I'll be at Boskone and would be interested in a Fluorospheran meet-up. However, I am having dinner with my niece on Saturday evening. However, however, a pre-dinner meetup at the lobby bar could work.

#438 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 09:52 PM:

HLN: My husband was warned in December that he was likely to be losing his job. This was confirmed in early January, with him on the job until the end of January with a not-unreasonable severance package. As it turns out, he is starting a new job next week, for a little more money, about a quarter of the commute, and tasks that are much more up his alley than the previous one. (The last time he was job hunting, when a start-up went belly-up about 4 years ago, he was unemployed for 11 months and took the just-vacated position, which has never been a great fit, so this is a vast improvement.)

In related news, as I was posting flyers about the Singing Valentines for sale through my women's barbershop chorus, he suggested he should send a quartet to his old office to sing, "Roses are red, Violets are blue, I'm better off without you."

#439 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:02 PM:

CHip 436: Well, we could stop the conversion of rainforest into pastureland, but not without a war.

Mushrooms are umami, and so is seaweed (though I hate seaweed). I believe MSG is an umami enhancer.

#440 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:03 PM:

I like my nieces take on those odd food offerings:

"Eeewww. Those don't look appetizing at all! Just very creative and ambitious haha."

It is true: They ARE creative and ambitious. A hell of a lot of work that shouldn't be discounted, even if the end result looks Cthulhuish.

#441 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:13 PM:

Speaking of felines and laps, there must have been something strange in the air today -- all of the cats not only wandered by to sit and cuddle, they actually stayed within arms reach all day (they normally retreat to some point that's Not Visible to the OTHER CATS!)

#442 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:14 PM:

Chiming in on the restaurants being responsible about food allergies: due to my mother's intolerance for onion (causes nasty unwanted effects like bleeding), we have always discussed this with waitrons. Recently, at a Maggiano's restaurant (a chain serving Italian food), we were very pleasantly surprised when the waiter brought a chef to the table to discuss her food options. Nothing second-hand; all up front and detailed so he wouldn't accidentally contaminate her food. It was a very positive experience.

#443 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:15 PM:

I just want to say thank you for the vegetarian recipe discussion. I want to shift to a more plant based diet for health reasons, and now I have some places to start!

#444 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 10:16 PM:

I kind of feel like I'm chucking too many comments in here, but I wanted to add one more...

I *so* wish we could have had a place for my mother like the "Dementia village" abi highlighted. She still would not have been entirely happy there, what with wishing to be back in her own house, but I think she would have been vastly happier than she was in the couple facilities where she spent her last few years. She was far from being able to function on her own; she couldn't have lived as she thought she wanted to; but she needn't have been as miserable as she was, and could have lived with so much more dignity in the setting that article describes.

#445 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:02 PM:

Carol Kimball: I also own a travel guidebook to the various Little House sites. If I planned to visit any of them, I'd have to check for updated information - I believe it came out in the 1990s - but, at the time of publication, it appeared that everywhere that she had lived (and Almanzo's boyhood home) had some sort of acknowledgement of the fact.

The suet cup puddings: suet is the classic fat for raised/freestanding pie crusts. Lobscouse and Spotted Dog has detailed instructions on making a hot water paste to form the freestanding "coffins"; hot water paste was often considered only semi-edible, because it was very tough. Tender, flaky piecrusts used cold water and lard, and weren't sturdy enough to be baked outside a dish, and certainly not sturdy enough to withstand having hot stock or gravy poured in through a hole in the top. The Atora recipe uses suet, cold water, and a form-retaining dish, so it's pretty clearly a compromise crust; in fact, it's a fairly traditional steak-and-kidney pudding where they're emphasizing the benefits of making multiple small units instead of one giant one.

My household went vegetarian before I had a good chance to experiment with freestanding suet crust. I *did* make a traditional suet-based Christmas boiled pudding once, prior to that, and it was FANTASTIC. The article-writer is clearly counting on readers being grossed out by the very mention of suet, and associating "pudding" only with milk custard.

I've given some thought to trying a freestanding crust based on vegetable shortening, but my experiments with shortening-based jam roly-poly haven't been entirely satisfactory, and I'm reluctant to put in the effort if it's going to be doomed from the start. I know Crisco isn't going to be suitable, because it was designed from the start to mimic the properties of lard, both for pie crust and deep frying. What I ought to do is look up the melting point of suet as opposed to lard, and see if pure palm oil (my Spectrum Organic solid shortening) is comparable. I can already tell empirically that palm oil is stiffer at room temperature than Crisco, just as suet is stiffer than lard, so it might have a chance.

#446 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:11 PM:

A little bit ago:

Cell phone: RING!

Me: "Hello? . . . Hello?"

Young woman: "Hey, did you hear the good news?"

Me: "Huh?"

Young woman: "I'm pregnant!"

Me: "Uh . . . who is calling?"

Young woman: "Don't you see the Caller ID?"

Me: "It says 'Withheld.' Could I ask who you are trying to reach?"

Young woman: "Grandpa."

Me: "Sorry, you've reached the wrong number. This is xxx-xxxx."


Could this have been the beginning of some kind of scam? A variant of the "I'm in jail in Canada!" call to a grandparent?

#447 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:27 PM:

Mushrooms and umami -- ISTR that shiitake mushrooms are particularly strong in umami. That in addition to MSG enhancing it.

#448 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2014, 11:38 PM:

I have been preparing steamed vegetables in great batches once a week. Carrots, onions, canned yams, and a quadruple handful of spinach. I mix them with olive oil and minced garlic, then parcel them into cottage cheese containers and microwave them.

One thing I need to learn how to do is prepare my own yams to dump in the steamer. Part way boil them? Bake them?

#449 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:02 AM:

Mushrooms work for umami; tomato paste also will help. Or so I understand.

#450 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:46 AM:

CHip @436: Cast iron is a funny beast. It can do well, some people swear by it, but it's way more trouble than it's worth for me. In fact, my cast iron fry pan would probably be the first pan to go in a kitchen pruning.

Compared to aluminum, for a given volume, cast iron stores half as much heat, (by weight, it's different, it stores 1.5x the heat of aluminum, but there's no way that you're going to have pans of equal weight). I'm seeing my Al/Stainless Clad pans are about 1/2 the thickness of the cast iron, so they have roughly the same heat capacity.

The kicker is that cast iron conducts heat 4x slower. (~55 W/MK vs 200W/MK for Al). I think in reading that, there's an additional factor of 2 because of the thickness, though the stainless cladding will affect that somewhat.

Personally, I find that cast iron is slow to heat, and slow to change heat. There's a hole in the center of the pan where it's just not as hot due to the center of the electrical burner. You've got to start it hot, so you risk scorching, but if you manage to crash the temperature, it takes a long time to bring it back up. It's kind of like a big truck that way. they get really annoyed if you kill their momentum. And then they're not as non-stick as non-stick, and not as easy to clean as stainless.

I've got a large cast iron fry pan that I wanted to use as a main, everyday sort of pan. I tried to make it work for years, and I'm done with it. It's not seasoned well enough to do eggs, and even if it was, I wouldn't be able to do the cheffy-flip with them. It's reactive, so tomatoes are out. And it just doesn't do fried rice well. Heck, it didn't even deep fry tofu cubes well. So, I've got a good non-stick egg pan that does eggs only. (well, two, a 10 and a 12", but I could live with one.). I've got a large non-stick saute (square sided) that makes wonderful fried rice in big enough batches to feed the family. And a 12" Al/stainless fry that's the workhorse for everything else.

#451 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:01 AM:

I use cast iron. But for very specific tasks. One, oven roasting since I do not want to put the non-stick in there at 350F or above. And it cleans up easier than a sheet pan. Also for broiling. Two, cornbread. And three, enameled cast iron Dutch oven for stews and soups.

#452 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:36 AM:

Re meat in compost: The decay cycle is different. Most people don't actually have a composting pile, so much as a very slow leaf-mold generator. Adding meat to that will interupt the cycle.

If you have a working pile (the sort which steams, and can get to temps which cause cumbustion of dry matter on the surface, adding meat in that part of the cycle isn't a big deal.

Cygnet: I'd use a disffusing plate (to even out the localised heat from the ring) and probably get a cast iron wok (which Lodge makes, with a flat-bottom, and an actual hemispheric interior). The carbon steel one's are crap, and aluminum is too prone to heat dumping, which means (even with it's greater ability to store heat, per unit of mass, the ability to keep it hot as you move foods through, some of which have high moisture content, and so suck up a lot of heat) it's harder to maintain temperature; which is exacerbated by the inability of electric stoves to quickly change the rate of heat they deliver.

eric: Re Aluminum and heat (I used to be a machinist, and have spent the past few years selling kitchen wares). Aluminum's heat capacitance/release is variable, depending on the alloy. It's also both soft (even in the hard alloys, such as the 7000 series, which is at the lower end of heat retention), so that it feels unpleasant when using metal implements.

The steel on the inside and outside of the pans is crappy at heat retention, and between the steel and the aluminum is usually a layer of something else to help with the bonding between the two.

So while your pan may be half the thickness of a your cast iron the actual aluminum is probably not as much as you've estimated (in the thicker pans at my work, with the largest slab of aluminum there is still as much as 1/5th the total thickness in non-aluminum materials).

I have a variety of pans, and still prefer my cast iron (both plain and enameled), but I use a gas burner, and so I have a lot more control of my heat supply; esp. as I can use a diffusing plate if I need to make sure I don't have a hot ring right over the flames.

Seasoning is one of those things some people are better at than others and another place where an electric heating element works against cast iron.

#453 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:31 AM:

Stefan, #446: And this would be why I don't answer calls with no number attached. :-)

I also frequently don't answer calls from numbers I don't recognize unless I'm expecting a call. If it's anything I need to hear about, they'll leave a message -- and if I look up the mystery number and the first Google hit is, that number goes straight into the block list.

#454 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 05:37 AM:

Oh. My.

This is 'What does the fox say' in Old English and I dearly want to call it "Hwæt sæġþ sē Siax" (with apologies for my inability to write the language, although I can kinda struggle through reading it).

#455 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:06 AM:

Thanks, Ingvar. Parheliated, because awesome.

#456 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 07:11 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara #407: ZaReason: Hmm. Their middle-of-the-road looks promising, but yeah, if I want Windows I need to add it on -- and from what I recall, that means replacing the original Linux with Windows first, then reclaiming some of the disk for Linux.

On the other hand, a casual look suggests that nowadays Windows itself is selling for under $100 -- If so that's great, but this is a fraction of what I remember. Am I being confused by upgrade prices or something?

#457 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 08:45 AM:

I use a cast-iron frying pan as my go-to cooking vessel, for everything including acidic foods. (I'm prone to anemia, and having a little iron leach into my food is a feature, not a bug.)

But the thing it is absolutely BEST at is making cornbread. Put pan, with butter, in cold oven and let it stay there as the pre-heat cycle begins, till the butter is thoroughly melted. Swirl butter around till it coats the bottom and halfway up the sides. Pour in batter, return to oven, cook as per recipe directions. The crust is PERFECT.

#458 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 09:04 AM:

CHip @436 and Mary Aileen: I'll also be at Boskone. Saturday, I expect to have dinner some time between 18:00 and 20:00; does that match up with the proposed gathering?

#459 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 09:14 AM:

I'm not willing to try cast iron because the special treatment is too much for me. In related news, while trying to clean slash season her cast-iron pan, my roommate started a grease fire. It turns out both our ways of putting out grease fires are wrong, according to the internet; they are not left out of the lists but specifically mentioned as things not to do (I was taught 'damp towel, not dripping' and she was taught 'smother with flour').

Cast iron is one of those topics where I am wary of assholes; I had a friend once refuse to give me her cornbread recipe because I admitted I didn't have a cast-iron skillet to cook it in. I wasn't raised with it and having one single item in the kitchen that cannot be treated like any of the rest is too much trouble for me.

It's going to be a few years before I buy more than a single replacement pot, anyway. No reason to get too me-blamey for not having the right things.

#460 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 09:46 AM:

Umami: the best reference I know is Barbara's series on Tigers and Strawberries. (The site is poorly indexed, so I'm linking the search to get the umami series.)

RE:Boskone--I can't attend the convention, but if there's a Gathering of Light I would try my best to attend.

#461 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 09:59 AM:

iamnothing (458): I'm meeting my niece for dinner at 7:00 (errr, 19:00), but I don't know where yet. So I'm free before that, but only until I have to leave to get wherever-it-is by 7:00.

#462 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Friday evening would actually be better for me for a Boskone meetup, but it sounds like CHip may not be available.

(My previous post attempt had a server error; let's see if this one shakes it loose.)

#463 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:19 AM:

Diatryma #459: It turns out both our ways of putting out grease fires are wrong, according to the internet; they are not left out of the lists but specifically mentioned as things not to do (I was taught 'damp towel, not dripping' and she was taught 'smother with flour').

Ouch. Congratulations on surviving those attempts! For those who haven't been there: Both of those tactics do indeed sound like "now you have two problems". The damp towel seems insufficient, and if so it would wick the grease (town's biggest candle), with some hot steam for a bonus. While a cloud of flour is scary flammable in it's own right....

#464 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:24 AM:

Diatryma @ #459:

I have a non-stick pan (a Jonelle, I think) that has the same care-for instructions as I learned for cast-iron (that is "don't use detergent; if you do, you need to re-oil the pan" and "once washed, leave on cooling ring to dry quicker; failing that, use a towel to get mostly dry, then paper until dry").

But, I think my liking for cast-iron is solely down to having grown up with cast-iron frying pans. I like the heft and weight of them. I like their aesthetics. I am used to them. That does not make them the right choice for anyone else.

#465 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Flour on a fire is a VERY BAD idea - it could potentially explode. Baking soda is what I've always heard as the go-to for a grease fire - you need a lot of it, though.

I understand that experience would make you wary of cast-iron; for others who may be considering them, though, I've found the "special care" is far less than required for, say, Teflon. The major effort is seasoning, and you can now buy pre-seasoned pans; they'd only ever need to be reseasoned if someone seriously abuses them (like attacking them with soap or scrubbers in an attempt to clean them.)

#466 ::: gleomstapa ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:37 AM:

Diatryma @ #459:

My only frying pan is a cast iron one. For what it's worth, I don't treat it that specially: I cook on it, using a metal spatula and moderate quantities of fat, and I avoid soaking it or leaving it wet. That's it. Detergent is fine, but usually not necessary -- right now the pan is smooth enough that eggs don't stick, which is smooth enough for me.

Is it better than alternatives? Maybe not, but I enjoy having a thing that I could bash an orc with. A sword would work for that too, but you can't cook pancakes on a sword. The pan appeals to my inner hobbit.

#467 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:45 AM:

lorax @465: There's a couple of schools about when a pan is "seasoned".

One school is that a seasoned pan is nearly non-stick when cooking, and that getting a properly seasoned pan required building up many, many layers of polymerized oil on the surface, either from deliberate seasoning cycles or just by using it for cooking stuff in hot oil repeatedly. A pan that has been regularly used for years or decades develops the seasoning over time, and it only gets better.

Another school is that the pan is seasoned when has enough polymerized oil to not rust. This doesn't take much, and provides one of the major benefits of seasoning for cast iron.

Guess which school the "pre-seasoned" pans follow?

One trick I've heard of, but haven't tried, for getting the classic non-stick seasoning cast iron pans of old are know for is to take your pan to a machine shop and have them mill the interior surface smooth and flat. Of course, this removes any existing seasoning, so you have to redo it. Old cast iron was milled smooth, modern is left textured from the sand casting. It apparently makes a difference, and makes the old pans sought after.

#468 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:03 AM:

On the seasoning of cast iron pans, I found this link interesting but haven't had occasion to use it yet (apologies if someone posted it here originally; I can't remember where/when I found it).

#469 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:08 AM:

lorax, #465: Now I'm boggling at the idea that non-stick cookware needs a lot of special care. Buy a couple of cheap plastic utensils so as not to scratch the coating; our non-stick pans go thru the dishwasher with everything else. If you don't have a dishwasher, you'd also need to buy a plastic scrubbie. And they last... not forever, but we've got pans that are a couple of decades old and still going strong.

My partner notes that if you're going to cook meat in a cast-iron skillet, you need to have a dedicated one for the purpose, or everything else you cook in it is going to taste of meat. For some people, this might be a feature. :-)

#470 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Cast iron pan?
Is that a new Olympic competition?
("I trust that pan as fast as I can cast it.")
Or the boycott of a new Olympic competition?
("Pan the casting of irons!")

#471 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:52 AM:

FWIW, here are a busy mother's rules for keeping a set of vintage cast-iron pans going:

1. Don't use over high heat. Medium-high is the limit. If you need to boil something, go get the copper-bottomed skillet or the soup pot.

2. Wipe out with a damp paper towel after cooking (and pouring off any usable bacon fat). If there are sticky bits, pour in a glass of water and let it sit until you can get to it.

3. Use the same plastic spatula you used to move the food around to scrape out the sticky bits when you have time.

4. Then scrub the pan with a scrubby sponge or other not-very-rough item and a drop of detergent. Or use a handful of salt, whichever is cheaper. Note: If there weren't any sticky bits, you don't have to wash it out at all.

5. The easiest way to dry it, because cast-iron pans turn towels black, is to put it on a burner or in an oven that you just used and turned off. If you have a lot of paper towels you can use them.

6. Then you can re-season it if you think it needs it. Pour in just a teaspoon of canola oil for a regular-sized skillet, wipe it all around with a paper towel (don't forget the handle), and leave on/in very low heat to dry.

#472 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:00 PM:

I understand that Lodge's pre-seasoned cast-iron is very good.
If you want to re-season old cast iron, it involves a bottle of flaxseed oil and several cycles of oiling and heating, according to the one cookbook I have that explains how to get that good polymerized-oil finish. You can find it here, by the person who developed it.

#473 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:27 PM:

My late mother-in-law had a complete set of Le Creuset pans, baking dishes and a stewpot suitable for an infantry regiment. Seasoned? They were veterans, a sort of Old Guard Grognards of cookware.

I have noticed an improvement in my cooking since we inherited them. The only drawback is that they are a little heavy for our admittedly somewhat flimsy cabinets.

#474 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:43 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 456: Windows has historically had a habit of overwriting the system boot loader with its own, rendering other operating systems unbootable until a more compliant loader was reinstalled. It doesn't generally require reinstalling the other OS completely, provided it's off in its own partition.

If you know from the beginning that you're going to go dual-boot and have Linux installed first, I'd just get two separate hard drives, install one OS to each, and set up Grub to chainload Windows when required. If the Linux hard drive is disconnected while installing Windows, the Windows boot loader can't stomp on it.

~$100 is a fairly normal price at the moment for a full OEM[1] copy of Windows 7 Home Premium or 8.1 not-Pro--other versions, or non-OEM retail-in-box copies will run a bit more, and some retailers may sell for a bit less. I'd be leery of anything that was a lot less, though.

[1] If I recall correctly, the difference between an OEM and a full copy is that Microsoft doesn't provide phone support services for OEM copies, and you're not supposed to be able to transfer them to a new motherboard.

#475 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 12:57 PM:

My attempts to set up a dual-boot laptop have failed, as several tries to install Linux failed to create an EFI-bootable Linux system, and a final attempt to try installing a different distribution succeeded, but only by wiping the Windows partitions from my drive without warning. I didn't have much on the Windows system except Steam and Civilizaton III.

I have acquired what my IT guy assures me is a perfectly legal copy of Windows 8.1 and I will try this again, starting from installing Windows first, so it's happy.

#476 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:05 PM:

Last week I obtained from a dumpster a . . . Dutch oven? A camping model dutch oven, perhaps. A heavy iron pot with a wire handle and a heavy domed lid.

It is in good shape, but the top of the lid worries me. It isn't rusty, but it looks like it wants to.

Can a lid top be seasoned?

#477 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:10 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #476:

Yes, heat it and oil it (in some order). Any oil works, but I would use a vegetable oil. You probably don't want the heat to be TOO high.

FWIW, it seems to work fairly well to season cast iron with butter or lard, as well. You're essentially looking at making complex hydrocarbon/iron coatings, so "fat" is the key, the specifics, meh.

In the past, I have had decent success using: butter, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil.

Untried: olive oil, lard, ...

#478 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:13 PM:

Olive oil has a pretty low smoking point, so probably not ideal.

#479 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:30 PM:

Stefan Jones @466: I had several calls like that in late November/early December. As my cellphone was in my purse in another room I got the voicemail:

"You'd better get to the hospital, Maude is in Room ___."

I have no one among my family and friends named Maude. About a week or so later, I turned my cellphone back on after seeing a film to find another voicemail, same phone number, only that one was about funeral arrangements for "Maude."

I'm still wondering if the person making the call ever found out they have the wrong number.

#480 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:34 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 479... I blame King Stephen.

#481 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:37 PM:

Because Ingvar M@454 earwormed me: What Does George Fox Say?

#482 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 01:59 PM:


#483 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:05 PM:

Signal-boosting for some friends of mine. They are trapped in West Virginia, no job market, no assets, living in an unhealthy dump of a house because it's rent-free. They have friends and relatives in Washington state, and might be able to find jobs there. After liquidating everything they can, they are still short on funds to cover the move, so they're running a fundraiser, offering the only thing they have: handcrafted items.

I've known these folks for over 20 years, and they've had one piece of bad luck after another. They helped me thru the rough patch after my divorce. I've already made a contribution, and now I'm spreading the word. Getting out of the Toxic South could be just the break they need to become self-supporting again.

#484 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Stefan Jones @476--absolutely, and what Ingvar said.

I suspect the lid got less in-use seasoning than the pot itself did, which would be why it looks as if rust is not far from its thoughts.

Any higher-smoke point fat will do, depending on your personal preferences, and make sure to get the outside of the pot and both sides of the lid. You could scrub the lid down with some soapless steel wool before oiling, if you're seeing an actual pre-rust bloom.

Also, anyone who might like a different (but beautiful) take on cast iron should google "Iitala cast iron" and see what shows up. Or you could try "potjie"...

#485 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:16 PM:

Rikibeth@445: My household went vegetarian before I had a good chance to experiment with freestanding suet crust.

I have seen "vegetable suet"—that is, vegetable fats chosen and prepared to be a good substitute for suet in baking—but only the UK or some more-recently-former colonies. Some British importers in the US carry it (here for example). I haven't attempted to make anything particularly sophisticated with it, but I was able to make a passable crust.

#486 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:20 PM:

#476, Stefan Jones: Sure. Give it a good hearty scrub with soap and water to knock anything off that will come off, hit it with some oil, then put it in the oven for a while. (This is the only time I'll use soap on cast iron.)

Bare iron starts to rust remarkably fast. I bought some unseasoned cast iron a few years back and the initial seasoning instructions said to scrub the storage oil off with soap and water, then coat with food oil and bake. So, I set to scrubbing all 5 pieces with soap and water. By the time I'd finished scrubbing the third one, the first was starting to turn pink-orange with the beginnings of rust. Oops. Re-scrubbed those to knock the rust off, and oiled them immediately before I moved on to the last two.

For further improvement of the seasoning with time, oil it every time you wash it and before you put it away, then that oil will bake in every time you use it. I was also advised to stick a piece of paper towel between the lid and the body so it doesn't seal tightly - if there's any water left inside after drying it, you want that to be able to evaporate and escape.

#478, Lila: Well, that might be why I had to open all my windows when I seasoned my cast iron :)

#487 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:35 PM:

Thanks for the feedback! I will clean the pot tonight. The how-to site linked to up above suggested flax seed oil, but I will try something cheaper first.

A demonstrator at Costco was showing off avacado oil the other week. Very high heat, as I understand. I don't fry much, but it might be an interesting oil to buy for that purpose. I want to try out fried artichoke hearts.

* * *

It is astonishing, what people throw away.

I can understand tossing the scratched-up non-stick cheap stuff, but I have found some wonderful, sturdy, cookware via dumpster diving through the years. Two examples:

That small stock pot is what I steam my vegetables in. Stainless steel, flawless, easy to clean and handle. I have an almost-big-enough steamer for it. Also my go-to pot for pasta. I had to buy a lid at Goodwill.

The skillet there had some baked-on crap. I scrubbed it clean, polished it with rubbing compound, and boiled water in it to excise any cooties. I have an almost identical, larger model that came to me by the same route. They both have thick, thick bottoms with a copper tinge.

#488 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:51 PM:

dotless i: thanks! I just found an article from a re-enactor cooking blog that explained my suet problem to me, and showed that I was on the right track with the melting point, it's not quite that simple:

Suet, as opposed to muscle fat, contains a higher level of a triglyceride known as glyceryl tristearate, otherwise known as stearin. The result is that suet has a higher melting point and congealing point than regular fat.

This little point of trivia is important in order to understand the old English recipes. Suet is grated or picked into small pieces as part of the process of preparing it for cooking. When mixed with other ingredients — let’s say the a batter for a traditional boiled pudding, the particles of suet retain their mass well into the cooking process. When the melting point of suet is finally reached, the surrounding batter has already begun to set. By the time full baking temperature is reached within the pudding, the suet has melted, leaving a void in the batter.

Consequently, the use of suet in such dishes as puddings, dumplings, and mince pie results in a spongy texture.

This is related to but emphatically not the same as the process that makes puff pastry flaky and puffy. In that instance, while you still have the "particles of fat coated with flour" structure, you're using butter, which is typically 20% water by weight. So the fat content melts, soaking into and tenderizing the gluten structure of the flour, but the water turns into steam, and the pressure of the steam forces the layers apart, and you get flakes. Small flakes if you've just made a pie crust to the texture of coarse crumbs before adding water to make it dough, long flat flakes if you've gone through the folding-and-turning process of puff pastries and other laminated doughs.

And here's the blog post again on why my jam roly-poly with vegetable shortening wasn't all I wanted it to be:

The problem is that while vegetable shortening’s melting point is relatively the same as suet, its congealing point is much lower. What that means is this: when we shot the video, we had to freeze the vegetable shortening in order to grate it. Then we had to keep it frozen until the very last second. But even then, the moment we added the grated vegetable shortening to the other ingredients, it lost its mass and acted like room-temperature butter, coating the other ingredients rather than retaining its particle shape. The final result was still a delicious pie, but it didn’t have the desired spongy texture that would have resulted from using suet.

At least I know it failed because SCIENCE!

#489 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 02:59 PM:

Oops, italics fail. The first quote from the blog goes up to "spongy texture." The bit about laminated butter doughs is all mine!

#490 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:02 PM:

@487 Stefan Jones

It is astonishing, what people throw away.

I hate throwing things away. While I don't dumpster dive myself, I don't see a problem with it. Around here, it's fairly normal to see furniture or other large items on a street corner or end of driveway with "Gratuit!" written on it, especially around July 1st (aka, Montreal Moving Day).

When I have stuff I no longer want, it gets offered first to my herd of cousins; if no one wants it, it goes to Entraide (unless it's obviously unusable/unrepairable).

#491 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:02 PM:

Stefan @487: It should be noted that there are (at least) two different schools of thought regarding the oils for seasoning, and they are clashing in this thread, even in your reply @487.

A lot of people in this thread have been saying use a high smoke point oil or fat for seasoning, and to not heat it high enough to smoke.

On the other hand, a lot of people have been linking to the "science of seasoning cast iron" page, which recommends using flax oil -- a *very* low smoke-point oil -- and heating it until it smokes.

I don't think everyone realizes the contradiction between the advices.

Personally, I believe that, over time, all these methods will work, but some will work faster than others. The flax oil technique was developed to be a *fast* method, giving you a strong, durable, slick seasoning quickly.

The more traditional methods basically boil down to using what you cook with, and cook with the pan a lot. Various oiling and heating protocols simulate cooking a lot with the pan to accomplish the same task rapidly.

Curiously, based on the science presented in the flax article, one could use flax oil to season a pan *without heat*, if one is willing to wait. After all, it's the same polymerization reaction for oil paints and oil finishes for wood, and those don't require baking to cure. Oil finishes usually contain chemicals to speed up the process, but it's not necessary.

#492 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:04 PM:

#488: Interesting stuff!

I really hope someone develops artery-scouring nanites soon, so I can use and eat more lovely "unhealthy" stuff and not worry about my Levels.

#493 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:19 PM:

Rikibeth@488: Interesting, and makes sense. As I said, I haven't played that much with vegetable suet beyond an initial trial, so I don't know how well it really approximates the effect of suet in cooking. I do remember it coming pre-grated (with some starch to keep it from reconnecting), so the intention, at least, is to substitute for grated suet.

#494 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:23 PM:

Tor Books making the Wall Street Journal - cool, but they're a business. But making the A-Head*? That's just awesome!

*That odd little feature story on the lower half of the front page, that's often the best part of the paper -- a lovely bit of jargon to know.

#495 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:38 PM:

Lila @ #478:

There is that. Probably worth testing at some point, for science.

Buddha Buck @ #491:

And if you use flax seed oil, use the right type, as the other one is poisonous. Personally, I stay well away from flax seed oil for anything but furniture polish, making self-igniting fabric and making linoleum.

#496 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 03:56 PM:

Really love the What Does George Fox Say parhelion. A lot of language in there that I didn't know was from Fox, and it's informative as well as funny.

#497 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 04:03 PM:

Ingvar @495: Personally, I'd use food-grade flax oil for seasoning pans, not linseed oil sold as a finish or paint ingredient.

Most of the latter have drying agents, especially if sold as "boiled linseed oil". It's the drying agents which are poisonous, not the oil itself. But stuff from the hardware store tends to be poorly labeled, so even if it did claim to be raw linseed oil I'd be overly cautious.

But the stuff I find in the refrigerator in the "natural foods" section of my grocery store I would trust. It's expensive, but it's not going to contain cobalt salts and petroleum distillates.

#498 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 04:20 PM:

eep! Has anybody anywhere actually suggested using any kind of non-food oil to season cast iron?

Because no. Just no. Use only the kind of fat you would cook with, because you *are* cooking with it.

It doesn't matter if it's a vegetable or animal fat, but it has to be a food fat.

#499 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 05:03 PM:

Those suet cup puddings look suspiciously shiny. They aren't very oddly shaped for actual suet puddings, but advertising and recipe illustrations are usually more regular. I would tend to expect any made by me to be less pale as well.

#500 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Buddha Buck @ #497

My (probably incorrect) recollection is that there is a difference between hot-pressed and cold-pressed oil, as well. But buying it in a form that makes you happy it is good-grade is probably a good idea.

#501 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 05:20 PM:

And food grade flax seed oil is very high in omega-3 (that's "omega minus three", showing the unsaturation is at three carbon atoms away from the end) fatty acids, which are claimed to have all sorts of good properties. It tastes really good in salads, but goes rancid very easily when exposed to ultraviolet -- which is why it's sold in opaque brown bottles by intelligent suppliers. And refrigerate it until you're going to use it -- again, degrades fairly quickly at room temperatures. Which is why I sort of wonder why one would want to use it to season a pan, at high temperatures.

#503 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:00 PM:

@502: So what's the mechanism? Oxidation?

#504 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:00 PM:


#505 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:18 PM:

AKICIML: Anyone know a way to make the scroll sliders show up better on Chrome? It's not Win7, because other scroll sliders show up fine. It's just Chrome where they're pale and poorly outlined and have no "ridges." I particularly have trouble on Tweetdeck where there are several of them.

They darken when you hover over them, which isn't helpful, because by then you've found them! Chrome doesn't have a lot of settings, being of the "we know better than you" school of design.

There are other things I don't like about it, but this is the one that's really making it consistently awkward to use.

#506 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:22 PM:

HLN: Area woman had a couple of guys ask directions of her in Polish today (in Amsterdam).

She suspects that they were pickpockets, since they then spoke in Russian, German, Dutch and broken English, did a very cute drunk friend/embarrassed friend double act, and insisted on taking a picture with her before wandering off in the very general direction of the Bloemenmarkt.

Unfortunately for them, Area Woman had nothing in her pockets and her handbag is not at all pickpocket-friendly.

Also, their accents in English weren't those of Polish people speaking English. Area Woman works wih Poles. She knows the accent, and this wasn't it.

#507 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:40 PM:

abi @ 506... Area Woman works wih Poles

Sounds... ah... exotic.

#508 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:51 PM:

#503, Jacque:

Yup, oxidation. Oxygen is highly reactive stuff and will attack many things, and often produces heat while it's doing so. Unsaturated oils (of which linseed is a good example) are prime targets for oxygen. As the temperature increases, the reaction speeds up and so does the amount of heat produced by that reaction, causing the temperature to rise even more, until the rags the oil is soaked into get hot enough to burn on their own. (Assuming heat isn't lost faster than it's produced, which is why a pile is the most dangerous way to store oily rags - it keeps the heat in.)

An interesting corollary to this includes: don't ever grease or oil the fittings on compressed oxygen lines.

#509 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Tom Whitmore #494: I note that the article probably should have been checked with NASA itself -- it refers to "carbon-60 nanotubes". AIUI, C-60 is a buckyball, not a tube.

#510 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 07:06 PM:

Dave: ...though there may be nanotubes that contain 60 carbon molecules....

HLN: Local woman has extremely silly thought. Having always envied her brother's participation in Boy Scouts, and all the Cool Stuff he got to do thereby, it occurs to local woman that she could fulfill the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, with or without the endorsement/recognition of the BSA.

It further occurs to local woman that, since it is extremely unlikely that she is unique in her sentiment, there is very possibly a population of other adults out there who have similar feelings.

Local woman ponders whether starting up a Grup Scouts organization would be fun enough to warrant the spoons necessary. (It belatedly occurs to woman that such an organization may already exist.)

#511 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Jacque #510: As I understand it, the Girl Scouts are at least as cool as the Boy Scouts, without the exclusionary baggage.

#512 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 07:34 PM:

HLN: Local woman appears to have caught the Con Crud. "It's just a cold," she says. "I'm medicating the symptoms, and fortunately this is a dead week for me."

#513 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 501
Flaxseed/lin(en)seed oil has a really useful property; it polymerizes very rapidly. That's why it's used as a wood finish. Boiling, or adding certain metal salts, speeds that polymerization process. (Linseed oil and red lead makes the red paint of old bridges; that sets hard and lasts a very long time. It's also seriously poisonous.)

So basically, flaxseed oil for seasoning pans is being heated to the point it turns into varnish.

#514 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 09:37 PM:

SamChevre -- I Did Not Know That, and thank you for enlightening me!

#515 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 09:53 PM:

I'm baking my found Dutch Oven. It is labeled "Wagner Ware SIDNEY." I'll have to look that up.

I'd forgotten that there was a bonus item: A maybe two quart iron pot. No lid or handle.


This might be a reproduction, but if it is real this thing is quite a find:

#516 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:02 PM:

OMG you guys. I just found the best thing on Netflix.

"Cockneys vs. Zombies". With HONOR BLACKMAN.

Wait till you see the high speed chase in which one of the parties is using a walker.

#517 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:05 PM:

Dutch Oven find!

Cockneys vs. Zombies sounds like fun.

#518 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 10:24 PM:

Budda Buck @467
That explains why my now-lost cast iron pan wouldn't get to non-stick. I gave up trying, washed it with soap and scrub when it looked to need it, dried it via heat, oiled it with peanut oil because that's what I cook with, and it did well. (I have no idea in which of the many moves it got legs and walked away.)

I nearly dismembered my then-not-ex when he left the cast iron pan to air dry after washing it with dishsoap. I rescued it from rust, heat dried and oiled it, and told him that if I ever caught him washing the cast iron again, I'd hit him with it. He never did.

I miss my 10-inch fry pan. All I'd have to do is wave it at someone and said someone would vacate my kitchen. I also miss my "tortilla flat", a 9 or 10 inch round flat cast iron pan. All the flat ones I find now are square. As soon as I get a working stove, I'm getting new cast iron.

#519 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:15 PM:

Tom Whitore @501 and SamChevre @513

It's not just linseed oil which will do that. There's a class of oils called "drying oils", which includes linseed, walnut, tung, and others, with the same property. When exposed to oxygen, the double-bonds break and covalently bond with oxygen, sometimes between neighboring fat molecules, cross-linking them.

But those aren't the only oils which can be used for seasoning. Similar, or analogous, processes work with nearly any fat when it's exposed to high heat. That's why oil spatters get baked onto the insides of ovens and surfaces of stoves and the like. It polymerizes into a tough, hard film or worse, and strongly resists being scrubbed off and won't react to detergents or soaps.

That's why oven cleaners use lye or similar alkalines to break the chemical bonds, and why the self-cleaning ovens use very high (900F or higher) temperatures to burn off the gunk. Regular oven temperatures, even those above the normal smoke points of the oils and fats that went into making the gunk, aren't hot enough to break down the stuff -- which is also why a seasoned pan can withstand higher temperatures than the oil you put in it without harm.

#520 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:35 PM:

I'll be at Boskone. I think I will only be there on Saturday.

#521 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:42 PM:

forecast for the next storm - stay safe and warm, because this oen may be worse than the last one.

#522 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2014, 11:54 PM:

re #90, #92 etc,
This week on "Says You" on the radio, they had the word farb, if I heard correctly. And the real definition of it was an "incompetent anachronist who gets the details wrong" in a movie. Like the radio tower in Gone with the Wind, apparently. I thought it seemed like a word this community could use.

#523 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 12:17 AM:

Lin Daniel @ 518: crepe pans are excellent for tortillas, come by default in round, and are pretty common. Though mine was for a heavy steel pizza pan because that's what I grew up seeing used since Sonora goes for blanket-sized tortillas.

Cockneys vs. Zombies is now in list. Thank you.

Jacque: I don't know how relevant this is for you NOW, but there's a group at the Boulder Towers who seem to be doing the life-long scouting concept. They have impeccable scouting timing, according to local gossip. Guess when they decided to go camping this year? Because it's not a memorable camping trip until you've set the picnic table on fire to signal that you're cut off so the helicopters can air lift you out... (IIRC and got the story without embellishment, the average age of this cohort was 75+.)

HLN: Area woman misses print editions of drug references. Current electronic versions are not throwable at walls, due to expense of underlying technology.

#524 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Portland's dramatic weekend accumulation of snow has pretty much washed away.

I hope those effected by the storms down south get away as easy.

#525 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 01:14 AM:

P J Evans, #521: Yeah, and my partner is going to have to drive right thru it on his way to KatsuCon. GoodThoughts for his safe travel would be welcomed.

#526 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 01:36 AM:

re seasoning cast iron:

Use removes some of the polymerised oils (and some oils "dry" better than others. I find canola/corn/safflower to be poor oils. Butter/lard/olive/grapeseed/teaseed are good. Flax seed is problematic, and I'll go into that in a moment).

"Pre seasoned" is a base, but pretty much just enough to keep the rust off. It's pretty heavy, but well dried. When I'm done cooking I clean the pan by pouring water in it, and using the flash-boil and a wok-brush/wooden spatula to break the food residue free. Wipe it out, and then wipe with a small bit of grapeseed, or teaseed, or olive oil, heat for about thirty seconds and call it done.

If I need to reseason I strip it (place pan upside down in oven, initiate shortest length the self-clean cycle will allow, open windows, turn on fans).

When done, scour with #000 steel wool, coat with a thin sheen of oil, bake at 400F for twenty minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool, repeat several times. For the last coat allow it to soak in the oven for at least an hour. (yes, 400F is above the smoke point of olive oil, it doesn't seem to smoke in these conditions).

Flaxseed oil is a very good drying oil BUT, it needs to be dried down completely at each coating; if you don't it will 1: taint the flavor of everything with the taste of flaxseed, and 2: go rancid if you go without using it for a couple of days.

So each soaking session with flaxseed need to be at least an hour, and the last one ought to be about two-hours. The one pan I treated this way was pretty good for finish, but I didn't bake it quite dry enough, and the taste of flaxseed was more than I cared for, so I stripped it and used grapeseed. You also need to drop the heat to about 350F

The issue of smoke point seems only to apply when the oil is in a liquid phase. This isn't a big deal for intitial seasoning, but if using olive oil for maintenance seasoning it may smoke if you are getting the pan to searing heats.

Dutch Ovens tend to like a semi-annual reseasoning (without stripping) because the moist cooking dissolves more of the seasoning. Lids may need to be reseasoned more than that If they are not being used regularly a good "dry down" session is in order. If they aren't dried all the way down, and the lid is on they can go rancid (propping it with a but of rolled paper-towel will reduce this). If this happens, pop them in a 400 degree oven for about twenty minutes.

re Teflon pans (and copper) the overheating them can cause the lining to separate, because the pan material expands too quickly for the lining to keep up (because they have very different rates/amounts of heat capacitance). I just had a customer come in with a saucepan which had a bubbled ring of teflon about to peel off the bottom from that mistake.

(this is the fruit of 30+ years of working with cast iron [on gas, electric and wood stoves, as well as using charcoal briquets and open fires to cook/maintain them]. It's a mishmosh of a fair bit of general research on them, and going on five years of selling cookware)

#527 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 01:39 AM:

I will be at Boskone all weekend (we have a wedding to attend on Friday, and are delivering the GoH, so I believe we arrive [late] on Thus. evening). Meetups can be arranged.

#528 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 02:03 AM:

I'm flying from Little Rock to Atlanta, then driving from Atlanta to Athens, on Thursday, and reversing the process on Sunday. At least, that's my plan. We'll see if it survives contact with the enemy.

#529 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 07:28 AM:

Re: the kitchen thread, my Mom just got a new stove. She needed a new cooktop anyway, and while she was at it, she decided to learn from repeated power failures... so I got to tell her "now you're cooking with gas!"

#530 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 08:44 AM:

John A Arkansawyer, right now it looks like driving on Thursday afternoon might be feasible. Don't know about the airport portion of the trip. Also, Athens is more likely than Atlanta to have massive power failures due to freezing rain--they're expecting more than half an inch of ice here. (I'm in Athens.) Sunday should be fine as far as road conditions, but we may not have power back by then.

#531 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 08:44 AM:

Belatedly delurking to say I'll be at Boskone too and would love to meet up with people.

#532 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 10:36 AM:

Has it been noted around here before that you can sing (parts of) "Truckin'" to the tune of the Corporal Bogey March from Bridge on the River Kwai? It is one of the most annoying earworms I can remember having.

#533 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 11:26 AM:

abi @ 506... Area Woman works with Poles

After yesterday, it is generally acknowledged that Area Man works with Zeros.

Luckily not his cow-orkers; just some of the clients...

#534 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 12:08 PM:

Lila @ 530: Half an inch? Jeebus! That may not melt even if it gets above freezing, as it's supposed to do. If Untied (stet) offers to let me stay in Houston Thursday, I should maybe take them up on it. Sure hate to miss the first night at the 40 Watt, though.

#535 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 01:00 PM:

...and, it has been replaced by "Uncorrected Personality Traits", which is just fine by me. Wistfully dreaming that the axes of time would shift in such a way that I could hear Bert Lahr singing the baritone part.

#536 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 01:08 PM:

John A Arkansawyer, AthensGaWeather on the Book of Face has pretty good info if you want to keep track of how it's looking down here. You might also check the 40 Watt's own web page to make sure they're not canceling (so far, no).

#537 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 02:28 PM:

John A Arkansawyer, Lila -- anyone up for an Athens gathering of light?

#538 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 02:45 PM:

TMK @ 535: "Wow! So..."

#539 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 03:00 PM:

Tracie @ 537: I'm relentlessly social, so if I make it there, sure! Friday is best, Saturday is doable, my evenings are booked:

Patterson says the shows will go on, so barring a total blackout and shutdown of the Watt, there will be rock to keep y'all warm.
#540 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 04:20 PM:

Tracie and John, I have to work Thurs. and Fri. (if I can get there!) but Saturday is open. Either of y'all interested in the Grit? or Hendershot's?

John, power's still on, roads are a skating rink, and NWS says no additional ice but 2.7 more inches of snow between now and tomorrow morning.

#541 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 05:24 PM:

Sorry to dump a bunch of topics; I'm catching up after a few days away.

CZEdwards@523, paper vs. online drug references - I've found Wikipedia is the only useful site for online references (plus the official sources it points to.) Google mostly gets sites that sell drugs (especially if you're looking for drug interaction references), or occasionally sites that talk about what drugs are useful for what.

Prescription glasses for computers - My optometrist tells me that the thing you need to adjust for computer distance vs. book distance is mainly the pupillary distance. At least for my vision, the distance vision is widest, book reading is 3mm less, computer is in between, plus maybe a bit weaker by .25-.5 diopter.

Minaw 335 Re: tides: The main tide cycle is 24 hours 50 min (or 12h25m if you prefer that form), and moonrise is that much later every day. It's approximately 24/28(24 hours/day, ~28 days for moon to revolve around earth.) Effectively, the moon's lazy by ~50min/day. But whether your local tides happen 12h25m apart or at some other intervals depends on the shape of your coastline, etc. For me there's also the issue that some of the local surfing beaches are better at low tide, others at high tide.

#542 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 05:40 PM:

re Boskone: The only place I can say, with any certainty, I will be is the Providence in 2020 party.

#543 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 05:59 PM:

For the Boskone meet-up, let's just go with CHip's suggestion of Saturday at the lobby bar before dinner. (5:00? 6:00?) Some of the group can then go on to dinner if they choose (but not me; as I said before, I'm dining with my niece that evening).

#544 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 06:00 PM:

follow-up to my #543: I'll be wearing my yellow lightbulb Fluorosphere button. (Note to self: dig out and pack said button.)

#545 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 06:02 PM:

Rikibeth@445 - I don't use palm oil; it's mainly grown in cut-down rainforests in Indonesia, which are critical habitat for orangutans, the Javan rhino, and some of the cats. (Terry Pratchett had some folks from The Orangutan Foundation talking at Discworldcon a few years ago on that.) It turns out to be really annoying, because it's a very cheap oil used in just about all packaged food from Asia - most ramen noodles, cookies, etc. I don't eat lard (I'm vegetarian) or Crisco (because yuk), so if I need a saturated fat, I'll use butter or coconut oil. The refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point and less coconut taste, so I'll usually use that instead of unrefined.

There is some palm oil that's grown responsibly (or, at least, in cut-down African rainforests, which are slightly less endangered than Indonesia's.) I think the Girl Scouts try to use that in their cookies, but those are the cookies that are traditionally supposed to have butter in them anyway.

My wife recently gave me a copy of Cooking for Geeks, by Jeff Potter, O'Reilly Press. Lots of interesting discussions on what's going on chemically and physically in cooking. One piece that's relevant here is they did some comparisons between piecrust recipes with different ratios of ingredients. The biggest difference between using butter vs. Crisco was that butter has about 20% water, so you have to adjust the amount of water in the recipe if you switch fats. They also talked a lot about seasoning pans - Terry mentioned stripping cast iron by putting it in the cleaning cycle of an oven. That's hot enough to burn off all the polymerized fats in the seasoning, which a regular stovetop usually isn't, and lets you start from scratch for re-seasoning.

#546 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 06:26 PM:

Mary Aileen @543: Sounds good to me. I'm attending a panel at 5:00, so won't get there until about 6:00.

#547 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 06:52 PM:

Squee! More Burgess Shale fossils!

#548 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 07:54 PM:

I will be all over Boskone. As I wrote elsewhere: paleofutures, Iceworld, kaffeeklatsch, physics, astronomy, dark matter, dark energy, and meteors.

If the Fluorospherians gather, please let me know. It might collide with my schedule.

#549 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 08:00 PM:

Gathering of Light: DV, I will be there. 6'4", bowtie and mustache--I'm fairly easy to spot in most crowds.

#550 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 08:01 PM:

I will be around Boskone but not necessarily very social.

#551 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 08:22 PM:

Lila and John: I may be out of town Saturday. Friday night is more doable, but I need to play Saturday by ear. I'm in the hospital right now. Not my heart this time, but the chest pains were just like angina. If the roads were drivable, I'd be home today. Costochondritis, most likely brought on by lifting too many boxes and severe coughing.

#552 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 08:57 PM:

Tracie: OW. Hope you feel better soon and can get home tomorrow. Friday evening/night is doable for me.

#553 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 11:15 PM:

The message board for the band I'm coming to Athens to see is full of woe and misery and cancelled flights. I'm feeling bad for lots of folks flying from the north, but not so bad that I'm not going to fly in from the south. I hope.

Friday late in the afternoon/early in the evening is best for me. And Tracie--that sounds awful! I've had something like it. Two days running folks at work drove me to the ER because of chest pains. Muscle spasms was what they told me. Knives was how it felt.

#554 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 11:38 PM:

R.I.P., Sid Caesar

#555 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:08 AM:

I'll be around Saturday at 5pm. Not sure what I'll be wearing, but I'll be the one with the purple Sofia the First single strap backpack.

I've found that making one's own bags is very useful for identification purposes, especially since I'm not very good at walking up to people and saying hello or recognizing them from their descriptions. At Arisia I swear it took me and another person I knew only online 10-15 minutes to identify each other on the not very crowded mezzanine.

#556 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:23 AM:

Not-so-HLN: My friends in Atlanta decided that they were tired of all the Christian end-of-the-world imagery for winter storms. So, instead of Snowmageddon, they're calling this one IceNarok.

#557 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:47 AM:

Bill Higgins @548: If a GoL collides with a schedule, what kind of particle is produced?

Some people are meeting in the lobby bar as early as 5:00 but others (me) won't be going until 6:00 -- it may be your panel that I'll be attending.

#558 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 09:09 AM:

Mary Aileen: my daughter and her friends are fond of "Hothlanta", though properly speaking that name already belongs to a previous storm.

John and Tracie, feel free to email me: yvyn ng znex naq yvyn qbg pbz.

#559 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 09:13 AM:

Lila (558): 'Hothlanta' is wonderful. (As a name, I hasten to add.)

Speaking of which, has anyone heard from Fragano since IceNarok started?

#560 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 10:10 AM:

I won't be at Boskone proper but may be able to drop by the hotel Saturday evening. If so, I'll try to find the GoL.

Remembering Sid Cesar: I did get to see him in the production of Die Fledermaus mentioned in the NYTimes obituary, where he took over the stage with mugging wide enough to reach the cheapless outrageously expensive seats. More recently (if slightly indirectly), I finally got to see My Favorite Year on a big screen not long ago, which was immensely satisfying.

#561 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 10:11 AM:

And you'd think, with all that, I could remember how to spell "Sid Caesar".

#562 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 10:46 AM:

Mah rage, let me show u it.

Basically, an app to "help you" make your writing "bold and clear", by which it means "boring and simplistic".

#563 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 10:49 AM:

@CastIronPeople: Lodge is on my "mad at you" list since I looked at a recent pan. The rough bottom enrages me, and it seemed that the handle had shrunk in the last twenty years, to the point that it would not be cool enough to pick up the pan by it. That last bit may be my imagination.

Seriously. Textured bottom. So you can't scrape a spatula along it cleanly. What were they thinking?

@526, Terry Karney : may I ask your opinion on Turbo Pots ? The theory is lovely. Heatsink[1] fins to capture more of the heat energy from the burning gas. I'm not sure about the specific engineering aspects and I don't know the cost-effectiveness. Anything you've heard of?

[1] I suppose technically they are 'heatsource' fins. They claim 30% more of the gas heat is captured. I want to experiment.

#564 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 11:50 AM:

Rikibeth @ 445: suet may be traditional, but a friend in a meat CSA has found (confirmed?) that leaf lard makes brilliant pie crusts. (She's a medievalist who has used it particularly effectively in a pork-and-apple savory pie.) It also makes great manteca(sp?), an Italian anise-flavored shortbreadish cookie.
    No, I don't know whether it's stiffer than other kinds of lard; IIRC, it's valued (by people who know it) for its fine texture.

gleomstapa @ 466: are you \sure/ you can't cook pancakes on a sword? ~"He ordered kebab on a flaming sword. I ordered scrambled eggs flambé on a saber and he never knew I was kidding." -- C. M. Kornbluth, The Syndic

Cheryl @ 490: so why is 1 July moving day in Montreal? I don't know whether there's a common day in other cities, but in Boston the big day is the Saturday nearest 1 September; this is usually ascribed to the large student population, although I don't know whether anyone has measured how many students move in leased housing (i.e., not dorm rooms).

Stefan Jones @ 524: OTOH, Boston's last major fall was followed by enough sub-freezing weather that it won't wash away any time soon -- even with today's fall expected to turn to rain.
    wrt the discussion of 3-4 weeks ago -- as of this week Boston's snowfall for this season was 10% above the mean, with plenty of time left for falls after today's. Boskone setup may run late, but it starts early enough that attendees won't see effects (except maybe a occasional wiped-looking concom); OTOH, 2 concom couples and a guest checked in last night to avoid today's mess.

(belatedly) Xopher @ 369: I will have to remember the term "semiotic undermining". (Would "semantic undermining" be as accurate for purely verbal cases such as Cheryl's?) The confusion may be worsened by people being told of allergies far more often than they see the effects; I'd never seen a reaction until my wife reacted to stonefruits/almonds when we were in our mid-40's.

I will certainly be around for the GoL as I'll have had recovery time. However, I was unclear in suggesting "the lobby bar" because there are two; Birch occupies much of the lobby (facing hotel registration), while City is in the sliver of lobby next to the front door. Birch is noisier (all those hard surfaces) and has a smaller menu, but their dress code is "casual" rather than "casual sophisticated" -- but the hotel may be underpopulated enough that City won't fuss about us. Unless I see a massive preference here I'll look in both places; the light-bulb button will be helpful.

#565 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 11:54 AM:

Sandy B @563: It would sort of surprise me if Lodge redesigned their patterns. I guess they might if they wore out, but remaking them to the same specs as the old patterns would be probably preferred. SO I don't think it's likely that the handle is smaller.

I've seen older cast iron pans with handles which have made me think that it must have been designed to be used by very strong children. Big pan, tiny handle.

My Lodge pan's handle gets hot, but so do my non-cast-iron pan handles. I keep a washcloth or towel around to grab hot pot/pan handles.

I've seen deliberately textured bottoms on non-stick stuff as well. Supposedly, it helps it be non-stick, but I don't see how.

I did get a set of pots at a "we are emptying out this building, and selling random abandoned stuff off before the skip comes" sidewalk sale for real cheap that has been amazing non-stick, and it is deliberately textured. No brands I can find on them, so I haven't been able to get more of it, so maybe it does have some effect.

As for lodge, I think they've advertised it as a benefit, but to me it says they've decided to save money by skipping a manufacturing step (the milling).

#566 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:01 PM:

I got to see him in 'Little Me', lo these many years ago, with the SF Civic Light Opera.

#567 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:10 PM:

CHip@564: suet may be traditional, but a friend in a meat CSA has found (confirmed?) that leaf lard makes brilliant pie crusts.

My impression, supported I think by Rikibeth's comment, is that leaf lard is preferred for flaky things and suet for things that have to stand up by themselves.

On Boskone GoL sites: since I'm not sure I'm coming I won't put in a vote about the location, but will note that there are actually four drink & eat spots in the hotel lobby, not counting the tiny Starbucks. At Arisia I never saw anyone blink at attire in any of those places, so I wouldn't count that as a factor in the choice.

#568 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:19 PM:

dotless i:
...leaf lard is preferred for flaky things and suet for things that have to stand up by themselves.


#569 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:25 PM:

Lodge pans dating back decades (over a century? possible) sometimes have that rough surface. They work just as well as the smooth type of pans, or perhaps even a bit better. I like Lodge, both the new pans and the older, and have a few of each. No problems at all with food sticking.

#570 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Chip (564): We should probably pick one of the lobby bars to avoid splitting the Gathering. I gather from your description that Birch is more visible; I'll vote for that one to get us started (without any firm preference either way).

#571 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:53 PM:

CHip 564: I will have to remember the term "semiotic undermining". (Would "semantic undermining" be as accurate for purely verbal cases such as Cheryl's?)

I think so, yes. Heather, do you agree?

The confusion may be worsened by people being told of allergies far more often than they see the effects; I'd never seen a reaction until my wife reacted to stonefruits/almonds when we were in our mid-40's.

That sounds plausible. I'm allergic to raw apple skin (my mouth itches for a while) and to hazelnuts (trip to the ER). If all you hear is "I'm allergic," even if you "believe in allergies" you might mistake the latter type for the former.

Btw both of those allergies could be to pesticides or other contaminants. Apples don't bother me if I wash the hell out of them (except sometimes) and I've chosen not to test my hazelnut allergy.

#572 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:55 PM:

Internal Server Error. Checking to see if this pushes out my previous.

#573 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Sunny and slightly overcast, 50 F in the Portland area.

The only remaining evidence of last week's snow storm in my neighborhood: A couple of carrots on the sidewalk.

I hope everyone back east and down the coast stays warm and safe.

#574 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Sandy B @563: It would sort of surprise me if Lodge redesigned their patterns. I guess they might if they wore out, but remaking them to the same specs as the old patterns would be probably preferred. SO I don't think it's likely that the handle is smaller.

I've seen older cast iron pans with handles which have made me think that it must have been designed to be used by very strong children. Big pan, tiny handle.

My Lodge pan's handle gets hot, but so do my non-cast-iron pan handles. I keep a washcloth or towel around to grab hot pot/pan handles.

I've seen deliberately textured bottoms on non-stick stuff as well. Supposedly, it helps it be non-stick, but I don't see how.

I did get a set of pots at a "we are emptying out this building, and selling random abandoned stuff off before the skip comes" sidewalk sale for real cheap that has been amazing non-stick, and it is deliberately textured. No brands I can find on them, so I haven't been able to get more of it, so maybe it does have some effect.

As for lodge, I think they've advertised it as a benefit, but to me it says they've decided to save money by skipping a manufacturing step (the milling).

#575 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 01:01 PM:

I apologize for the duplicate post. Internal Server Error, combined with switching over to actually working, caused me to re-submit an hour later.

#576 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 01:43 PM:

Well, Charlottesville is pretty buried under 8" or or so. I'm reasonably well-supplied, so I'm just waiting it out.

#577 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 01:49 PM:

Eek! Amtrak cancelled a lot of their New York to Boston trains for today. I hope they're running normally tomorrow. (For that matter, I hope I don't have too much trouble getting to the local commuter rail station tomorrow morning.)

#578 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 01:52 PM:

Regarding a textured surface being as good or better for non-stick than a smooth surface, this is an area of active research. It's counterintuitive; it seems like common sense that smooth things should stick less than rough things.

I was a talk a few years ago about how if you have a pebbled surface (the speaker compared it to a lotus leaf I think, which sheds rain without getting wet) instead of a perfectly smooth surface on the bottom of skis, they go faster because the wax sticks to the snow a lot less with that texture. Likewise, the champion swimmer guy's suit is a mimic of a shark's rough, sandpapery skin which lets him go even faster through the water, because the fabric sticks to the water a lot less with that texture. Then there was the article about how a specific weave of threads of a specific material (but not a solid smooth sheet of that material) would cause basically anything liquid to bounce right off of it -- not just prevent from sticking, but actively repel. They called it super-omniphobic material if I remember right, because it repelled both water *and* oil-based liquids.

I don't fully understand all the physics behind it, but it involves fluid dynamics, surface tension, and intermolecular attraction. So all I can say is, yes, some forms of roughness are less sticky than a smooth surface, and it's weird.

#579 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 01:59 PM:

@564 CHip

Cheryl @ 490: so why is 1 July moving day in Montreal? I don't know whether there's a common day in other cities, but in Boston the big day is the Saturday nearest 1 September; this is usually ascribed to the large student population, although I don't know whether anyone has measured how many students move in leased housing (i.e., not dorm rooms).

Basically, it's a hold-over from colonial New France.

There was a law passed at that time preventing landlords from making tenants leave in the middle of winter, setting the date for May 1st. This lasted until the early 1970's, when it started to interfere with the last month of school (which generally ends June 22nd or so). At that time, the law was updated to change the day to July 1st.

Although that part of the rental laws has since been done away with, tradition is sticky, and most leases in Montreal will still run July 1st to June 30th (which is why I had such a hard time finding a place available in April when I was forced to move in 2012).

Here endeth the lesson in Montreal Historical Trivia.

#580 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 02:11 PM:

I figured Lodge was saving material and/or reducing leverage. Because people complain about how heavy cast iron is.

In other open-thready news, I read this and I'm having trouble clearly figuring out what my disagreements are with it. Or if I agree, but don't want it to be true.

To oversimplify, the thesis seems to be "Science Fiction is stuck in the past."

I think some of it is true. I read a lot more fantasy than SF these days. I find a lot of sloppy thinking - steampunk that works like magic, in particular, grinds my teeth. I think there's a lot of SF and fantasy out there written by people who've mostly read SF and fantasy.

But I think Sturgeon's Law covers most of that. I can't think of what came out last year, specifically, that is wondrous strange and deserving, but Zoo City wasn't written that long ago. For example.

#581 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 02:37 PM:

AKICIML, raw material sourcing: I've googled around and not found a better price than about $6/lb for large lots of assorted-color plastic pony beads. Oriental Trading Co, usually my go-to for extremely cheap plastic tat, has failed me (they go about $8/lb). Anyone have any ideas or sources?

#582 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 03:14 PM:

CHip, #564: WRT people misusing the term "allergic", I wish they wouldn't too. But my take on it is that whether you think they're lying or not, you take it seriously on the basis of simple risk analysis. Worst case if they are lying, you go to a little extra effort. Worst case if they're not, you may kill someone. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

(Obviously, this is a useless argument with someone who doesn't believe allergies exist. But that's an altogether different level of problem.)

#583 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 03:19 PM:

Sandy B. #580: Mr. Kincaid seems almost globally dyspeptic. He's complaining that not enough stories have exotic narrative structures,¹ and are still using ideas and themes "from the past".² And he complains that stories "run out of steam halfway through" often enough to make me think it's not the stories, but the reader, who's running out of steam. Also, he's being snobby with his knowledge of past SF -- lots of "that was done 20 years ago".

On the other hand, he does have some stories that he likes, and some of his complaints are well taken. The point about stories that could have just as easily been set in historical periods... well, it's not a new complaint, but the flip side is that sometimes you don't actually need a historical context, and getting the details right can distract from the story. And yeah, a lot of writers are avoiding the near future because the present is unstable and foreboding. (Also, not everybody wants to write about ecological disaster and/or technological tyranny, or a deus ex machina for us to escape it.)

¹ Darn all those writers and readers who just want to tell a story without any shuffling and rearrangement!
² Compare to "there are no new ideas".

#584 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 03:23 PM:

On seeing-is-believing:

Ranked with increasing severity, videos or photos of people having allergic reactions would be useful as a follow-up when thoughtless clods pull that "oh, I'll slip it in and you'll never know" crap.

Is there already some kind of table or site for this? My google-fu ain't kicked in yet today.

#585 ::: Anne Sheller sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 03:43 PM: 585. Leastwise something pink and porkish.

#586 ::: Buddha Buck suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 03:50 PM:

Aman Verma's first post is mainly a broken link, matching his/her (optional) URL, as well as a generic comment that doesn't tie the link into the context. Looks like canned pork product to me.

#587 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 03:51 PM:

And the gnomes applied Spam-B-Gone even as I typed.

#589 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 04:17 PM:

Carrie @562: Gah! More a learning tool than a constantly used app for writers. One would think. Or one hopes, at any rate.

#590 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 05:32 PM:

Xopher @ 571 - re: CHip 564: I will have to remember the term "semiotic undermining". (Would "semantic undermining" be as accurate for purely verbal cases such as Cheryl's?)

I think so, yes. Heather, do you agree?

The purely verbal case is sometimes known as "semantic bleaching" although that's generally used for cases where the literal (literally) meaning of a word is giving way to a more grammatical function. (As in the case of "go" losing the sense of motion through space to indicate futurity.) The situation where involving the shift in meaning of "allergic" is perhaps better compared to the shift in "literally" -- "Stop it! You're literally killing me!" But the problem in trying to describe this as a specific linguistic phenomenon is that something like "semantic/semiotic undermining" is evaluative. Meanings of words/signs change all the time, and trying to categorize certain changes as inherently undesirable starts moving toward get-off-my-lawn-ism.

So my own personal take would be to approve of "semiotic undermining" as a coinage because it's focusing on signification (e.g., "the word 'allergy' is important because it signifies a life-threatening state") whereas "semantic undermining" focuses on definitional meaning. From a semiotic point of view, the distinction between "I'm allergic = I will go into anaphylactic shock" and "I'm allergic = I will experience severe gastrointestinal distress" is less critical than a semantic distinction whereby the first is valid and the second one not, while still preserving a useful distinction from "I'm allergic = it tastes terrible to me."

All in all, for the linguistic process, I think I'd stick with the existing "semantic bleaching" or simply "generalization of meaning".

#591 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 05:59 PM:

HLN: "I got here," said man not from Athens, "and it wasn't all that bad, once I'd missed my original flight."

Expect an email from me shortly, Lila.

#592 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 06:08 PM:

Heather 509: Thank you. That's very clear and helpful...and yes, the term 'semantic undermining' is intentionally evaluative, even prescriptive (though I suppose a bad sign could be undermined as well).

#593 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 06:49 PM:

I am not a linguist, but I do know about allergies, and that's a tricky one to use for semiotics (if I have the correct term). There are four types of allergies; the first -- Type I -- is immediate or anaphylactic, and can be life-threatening. That's the one you carry an epinephrine syringe for. The other three are much slower in development, and are not life-threatening. Type II is cytotoxic; Type III is immune complex, and Type IV is cell-mediated, or delayed (that's the classic tuberculin skin test).
Examples: II -- drug-induced hemolytic anemia; III - lupus, rheumatoid arthritis; IV -- contact dermatitis, granulomatous diseases.

When someone is allergic, they often don't know which type (other than the ones who have Type I), so it all gets lumped together as one great big "ALLERGY", and that's very misleading.

I hope that helps.

#594 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Tracie? Did you get home all right?

#595 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 07:17 PM:

Ginger, I had no idea there were different types of allergies. Where do hay fever and other respiratory allergies fall?

What about a drug allergy resulting in a full-body rash? I'm going to guess that the latter is an early Type I, which might result in anaphylactic shock if repeated. My allergies tend to be of this type or Type IV (contact dermatitis). I'm not prone to pollen allergies or systemic immune syndromes, though other members of my family have them.

I trace it to my mother's mother, who couldn't tolerate soaps with perfumes and was deathly allergic to bee stings.

#596 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 07:22 PM:

For those concerned, Fragano has been posting on Facebook, and not about anything distressing.

#597 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Posting again to shake loose a "server error" comment.

#598 ::: Mary Aileen has been semi-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 07:29 PM:

I had a comment eaten by a server error, and posting again didn't shake it loose like it usually does.

#599 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 07:42 PM:

Lenore Jones: skin rashes, urticaria, and pulmonary reactions tend to be Type I (not all Type I are anaphylactic, although they can become severe). Drug reactions are generally Type III, because it's the pathway that is important in distinguishing the allergic type, not the clinical signs. Type I is mediated by IgE, the antibody that then triggers histamine release. Type II is mediated by complement, other antibodies (not IgE), and by neutrophils, which are one of the white blood cells. Type III is mediated by antigen-antibody complexes; Type IV is mediated by other white blood cells (T cells, monocytes, and macrophages). There's some overlap as all four involve the antibodies, but we have several classes of antibodies: IgE, IgA, IgG, and IgM. The last two are part of Type III and IV reactions, whereas the first one is the Type I antibody (and possibly also some IgA, in the lungs).

#600 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 07:51 PM:

I am allergic to cigarette smoke and the crap they put in perfumes (especially cheap perfumes). At the moment, you won't be able to tell, except that "someone must have pissed in Mycroft's cornflakes this morning" - yeah, blinding headaches do that to one.

My mother is allergic to the same stuff - she starts coughing to the point of convulsions. This has happened so often and for so long that now her airway is so damaged that the coughing reaction happens "on its own" - a breath the wrong way, or a piece of dust, or a particularly crumbly piece of toast, or *any* "heat" spice at all, or...

The other reason Mycroft gets a little irritable about it is that he knows he's getting there eventually, and wishes to delay the inevitable. "Thank you so much for thinking your potential stink is more important than that", says he.

My partner is allergic to cigarette smoke (but not the perfumes). In concentrations I don't even notice, she starts throwing up.

One of our local bridge players is allergic to cigarette smoke and [perfumes]. There's no visible reaction, except extreme annoyance - unless you have an optometrist's kit. Her retinal blood vessels are collapsing, irrecoverably, over time.

Yeah, we "don't like it". No, it's not going to kill us. But who should get the consideration?

Note: I have explicit permission to use all of these people as examples.

#601 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:05 PM:

Carrie S.@562: Mark Liberman at Language Log does the obvious experiment of getting Hemingway to judge Hemingway (among other things). The results are as useful as you might expect.

#602 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:21 PM:

John, welcome to Hothens!

Lila, I'm home now. I sent you an email. If you don't get it, my address is Fgebatregunagrn ng tznvy qbg pbz .(That really does look like something from Lovecraft.)

#603 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:34 PM:

Ginger @ 593

And all those are "true" allergies--they involve the immune system. "Allergy" gets used loosely to describe the non-immune system mediated but dangerous anyway intolerances; for example, a relative of mine has galactosemia, and it's not uncommon to hear her described as "allergic to milk." (It's life-threatening, but it's a toxic rather than an allergic reaction.)

The distinction that I need, as a cook, is "how small a quantity is problematic?" For full-blown allergies, "not in the same kitchen at the same time" can be necessary; for other avoidance reasons, it's generally sufficient to wash everything in between.

#604 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:40 PM:

Jacque #588: Cute.... The commenters seem to think the camera is a GoPro, and they've noted that this would make a great commercial pitch for the brand. Right up there with Timex and Samsonite!

Love the ending....

#605 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 08:55 PM:

The juxtaposition of the allergy discussion and the cast-iron discussion makes me ask:

My cast-iron pan has been used to cook with peanut oil in the past, and I've at times used peanut oil for the "brush lightly with oil before putting it away" portion of caring for it. Does this render the pan unusable for cooking for someone with peanut allergies?

#606 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 09:05 PM:

#589: Sadly, Teresa, they appear to think they've actually made something useful.

#607 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Lorax: I'm quite sure it does, for those with the severe type of peanut allergy. A classmate of my son had the kind where simply touching a roasted peanut can trigger an immediate reaction, headed for full anaphylactic reaction; I guess that's what Ginger described as Type I. Needless to say we scrupulously scrutinized what we fed her and how we prepared it.

My wife's allergic reaction to berries can be triggered by eating a piece of fruit or dessert which a fresh strawberry or raspberry rested against - immediate tingling or burning in her mouth, often dizziness, and an asthma attack, usually followed by hives if she doesn't immediately take an antihistamine.

She's also severely allergic to Aloe vera. Do you know how many supposedly "hypoallergenic"* lotions, ointments, sunscreens and medicinal preparations of one kind or another contain #*&!!%**!#$ing Aloe vera gel added to them? Again, just starting to rub a little of the wrong stuff on her skin can trigger dizziness and an asthma attack.

As far as I know, the only brand of sunscreen which contains no aloe and which she can use is Neutrogena, and we have been unable to find any brand of OTC hydrocortisone cream (as opposed to ointment) which doesn't contain aloe.

* "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

#608 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 10:14 PM:

Clifton, you can get hydrocortisone without aloe - I've bought it at Target and at Walgreen's, as the house brand. I object to putting aloe in something that doesn't need it, because unnecessary ingredient is unnecessary.

#609 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2014, 11:18 PM:

My best friend is allergic to aloe; she will be delighted to hear she isn't the only one. We have two or three go-to brands for sunscreen although I don't remember at this time of year what they are.

Not that it matters. Come summer, we will have to do the Reading of the Ingredients anyway as the formulations change every year or so. They put the stuff in everything. I once had to take back some Kleenex because I'd missed the "now with aloe!" text.

My husband and daughter are allergic to peanuts. (Although both are of the milder, piteously not life threatening stage. This didn't, mind you, so the doctor from looking at my spouse in horror when she learned he didn't carry an epipen.) That one, at least, has gotten easier over time.

#610 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 05:18 AM:

I'm going offline until Monday. I'll look for people in the Birch bar Saturday evening. Hope to see you.

#611 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 06:48 AM:

So, Ginger: what class would my reacion to flax seed (severe vomiting and diarrhea a couple of hours later) fall into?

#612 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 07:26 AM:

TNH, mille gratias! That Beautiful Mars Latin particle was made for my daughter the Latin scholar, whose Mars research relies on images from HiRISE, and who has applied to the University of Arizona.

Mini-Gathering of Light scheduled for this evening. Report will follow!

#613 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 07:27 AM:

Have encountered the dread Internal Server Error. Attempting to dislodge previous message.

#614 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 08:13 AM:

I'm around (some people might say I'm L7). I had intermittent internet during the worst of the ice storm (it's Comcastic! is a swear word in these parts).

#615 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 08:13 AM:

I'm around (some people might say I'm L7). I had intermittent internet during the worst of the ice storm (it's Comcastic! is a swear word in these parts).

#616 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 09:30 AM:

John's favorite (for 'gee thanks' values of favorite) one of those included-ingredients problems is Preparation H, which uses shark-liver oil as the neutral carrier. Almost all the generic versions also use it.

Which would be fine, except fish products produce contact hives in John. He didn't actually find OUT about this ingredient until, um, he'd used it once. :-OOOOOOO

That said, he does react to sweet almond oil transfer to our bedsheets when I've used it as a moisturizer, but has no problem eating the vegetarian/shrimp options at sushi restaurants even when the chef has made a salmon roll immediately previous, because whatever it is sushi chefs do in the OBSESSIVE KNIFE CLEANLINESS routine cleans off what he's (anaphylactically) allergic to about fish.

#617 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 12:42 PM:

SamChevre@603: "Allergy" gets used loosely to describe the non-immune system mediated but dangerous anyway intolerances…

The distinction that I need, as a cook, is "how small a quantity is problematic?"

Right. Unless you're trying to give someone medical treatment it doesn't really matter why they can't have something, but if you're preparing food it does matter whether "can't have X" means "don't give them more than a trace of X", "don't feed X to them at all", or "don't prepare their food in a kitchen containing X". (There are other gradations, of course.) If someone I'm cooking for simply tells me that they can't have something then I assume the second but ask about the third. (With friends I might try to tease out the boundaries a bit more, depending on the ingredient, but since I don't like to push for people's medical history I tend to assume more restrictions unless told otherwise.)

#618 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 01:12 PM:

Jacque @ 611: Those reactions are generally "food intolerances" -- more a toxicity than an allergy -- although it could still be a Type I reaction. The GI tract is lined with IgA rather than IgE. Secretory reactions are more localized within the GI tract -- that is, each part of the GI has differences in how it reacts, what it reacts to, and when. So it's a little harder to define a GI reaction as strictly allergic or an intolerance, or some combination of the two. (Trivia: the GI tract is essentially a tube of "Outside" running through the "Inside", and consequently has a lot of protection against Outside Things.)

#619 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 01:30 PM:

Ginger, I'm interested in the allergy/immune topic but don't have enough background to follow your explanations (particularly the one in reply to my question). Can you recommend an article that can explain this more without assuming a lot of background? I'm usually fine with complex explanations, so it doesn't have to be overly simple, just not assuming background on the topic. Thanks!

#620 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 01:44 PM:

Speaking of trace ingredients (and probably of interest to no one other than Catholic celiacs, canon lawyers, and people like me who love finding out details like this): a few years ago I was at a Catholic mass which had a separate communion line for celiacs. It was one of those "this doesn't affect me at all, but I really wonder what rules apply" moments. Fortunately, Internet (although not immediately): of course there's a rule, which seems to be that the host must be made from wheat and must contain gluten, but that there's no minimum amount of gluten required. It's thus permissible to reduce the gluten to truly trace amounts, and there are now sources of suitable wafers made with wheat starch with gluten measured in micrograms. I find this sort of thing fascinating, although that may put me in a tiny class.

(Note: Consult an appropriate authority for any actions governing actual worship. I'm not one.)

#621 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 01:47 PM:

Lenore Jones @ 619: My apologies! Sometimes I forget not everyone has enough of a medical background to follow along. Here is one site that may give you the information you need. Most of the others I looked at -- including Wikipedia -- are still fairly technical. I can also write up an explanation of the basics of immunology without getting too technical; do let me know if that's what you would like.

#622 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 04:19 PM:

A few hours early, but...


#623 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 04:45 PM:

Abi is a Lupercalia baby!

#625 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 05:13 PM:

So going by Saints Day names, Abi is really Agape. Cool.

I am actually Mummolinus McAuley.

#626 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 05:15 PM:

Stefan @623:
No, I'm the day after Lupercalia, which day starts for me in less than an hour.

Serge @622:
Thank you! And thank you for the gift, which I'll open when we do Present Opening, shortly after cake tomorrow night. (And shortly after Laser Tag! Zap!)

#627 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 05:18 PM:

Many happy returns, abi! (Zap! Sounds like fun.)

#628 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 05:18 PM:

Mummolinus @625:

Oh, cool! I can work with that. Gives a person something to aim for.

#629 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 06:00 PM:

Happy Birthday Abi!

#630 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 06:07 PM:

My Mom's birthday is today (yup, Valentine's Day), but the whole family's snowed in in their respective homes. We'll be gathering next week...

#631 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 06:47 PM:

Ginger @618: Trivia: the GI tract is essentially a tube of "Outside" running through the "Inside", and consequently has a lot of protection against Outside Things.

Or: Astrology! We're all Toruses, topologically speaking.

#632 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Happy birthday, abi!

#633 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 07:47 PM:

I'll have to remember Jacque's Torus the next time someone brings up astrology around me.

#634 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 07:57 PM:

Re 620: a friend of mine has celiac disease, and she also has a supply of gluten-free hosts which she keeps in her refrigerator. When she goes to Mass, she brings one in a pyx. No problem. Googling "gluten-free hosts" provides a variety of links for those who are interested in this.

I avoid wheat, generally, but don't have celiac disease and can therefore tolerate the small amount of wheat in the host. And today (bad Lizzy!) I had two Thin Mints, because Valentine's Day!

#635 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Found by way of XKCD's "What If" There really is an ISO standard cup of tea. (Randall says it's 2 grams of tea per 100ml water, presumably he paid for the PDF.)

#636 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 09:05 PM:

Open threaded ramdomness...

Laurel and Hardy dance to Santana.

Oye Coma Vas

Valentine Day's Moon

#637 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Dotless I at #620: Anglicans, at least in Canada, are pretty calm about using wheatless items for the Eucharist. Rice crackers are commonly used, and a parishioner at our church has supplied on occasion some other kinds of cracker, including ones with seeds that aren't really within the rules.

#638 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 10:18 PM:

For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kinde,
Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
In swich aray men mighten hir ther finde.
This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
Bad every foul to take his owne place,
As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.

#639 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 10:19 PM:

For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kinde,
Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
In swich aray men mighten hir ther finde.
This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
Bad every foul to take his owne place,
As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.

#640 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 11:09 PM:

Ginger @621, thanks! Let me read the link and see how far I get. Cool!

Henry Troup @637, our Episcopal church in New Jersey (Diocese of Newark) uses rice crackers, too. We have a regular with celiac disease. We don't usually use wafers at all - we have a bread-baking ministry. I much prefer real bread to wafers.

#641 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 11:20 PM:

@636: AWWWRRROOOOOOOooooo......

#642 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 12:13 AM:

Dave Harmon (way back upthread): Alas, the Girl Scouts has a lot of program issues related to "making things relevant" (aka "make up your damned mind already.") The upshot is that a) you've never heard of the big award for Girl Scouts because it's changed at least three times in thirty years (in requirements if not in name), b) a lot of groups have almost entirely, if not completely, dropped the outdoor bits, and then wondered why the older girls didn't want to participate, c) the merit badge equivalents (whatever they're calling them now) are, in many cases, ridiculous*, and d) it can be hard if not impossible to find a troop when you're older, let alone one that does things you want to do.

On that last, I'm not kidding. I was a registered Girl Scout for twelve years, and the last six of those were basically in name only, since the troop I was able to find never met anyway. The last time I went camping with a troop was before I was a teenager, and even then, my troop decided to have a shopping expedition and a freaking makeup consultation. Pfeh. In all honesty, though, I asked a different parent/leader about why more groups didn't go camping, and she said that the organization—I don't know if she meant the council or a higher level—wouldn't let leaders take girls out without certification classes, all of which cost time and money.

Contrast that with the BSA, which has merit badges with real-life skills, groups that do camping, trailblazing, and all manner of cool things, and you start to see why there's a lot of teenaged Boy Scouts but very few teenaged Girl Scouts. (Oh, and I was a BSA summer camp counselor for four years, so this isn't just secondhand experience talking. To be a counselor at a Girl Scout camp, I would have had to first pay to be an intern.)

P.S. Most of the committed Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts I know agree that the best organization would have the structure and badges of the former with the principles of the latter.

*I was very big on merit badges as a Brownie and Junior. Then I got the book for the Cadet-level merit badges and started looking through it. There was one called "Car Repair" that looked promising until I parsed out that you could get the badge without ever looking under the hood of a car. I don't think I actually bothered with merit badges after that point. Amazingly, I've heard from people who have girls in the program now that it's gotten worse.

#643 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 05:10 AM:

Jacque #588, Dave Harmon #604 re data recovery
Solid state memory can be very resilient (although bonus point for the camera still operating).

A RNZAF trainer sadly crashed in 2010, killing the pilot, Nick Cree. Photo here

While there was no crash-resistent 'black box' as such, there was a data recorder fitted to the aircraft to gather performance data as part of a fatigue monitoring programme.

Per the Australian Transport Safety Bureau Report on the data extraction

Following preparatory research into the nature of the recorder's design and operation and the subsequent non-destructive examination to evaluate the physical condition of the damaged unit, a number of attempts were made to recover data from the removable secure digital/multimedia memory card (SD/MMC) - all of which were unsuccessful. Further examination of the recorder, however, located an on-board NAND flash memory device, which subsequently yielded a large quantity of valid recorded data after its removal from the primary circuitry and interrogation in a universal reader/programmer unit.

#644 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 07:36 AM:

B. Durbin #642: Aw, that's a shame.

#645 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 07:47 AM:

B Durbin @642, my daughters are now 19 and 21, and I was a Girl Scout leader while they were in elementary and middle school. We did at least some outdoor things. At that time, and as far as I know it's still true, a troop that wanted to go camping had to have an adult along who had been through the council's outdoor training, which included a weekend camping trip with one or two evenings of prep ahead of time. My recollection is that the fee for the training itself was minimal, and you had to chip in on food for the weekend. I had mixed feelings about it, because I had been camping and pretty much knew the skills already, but most of the women had not. All in all I think it was more a good thing than a bad. The trainers emphasized two things: safety, and teaching the girls the skills so that they could become independent instead of sitting around watching adults do things for them. Girls could participate in "high adventure" activities (rock climbing, caving, whitewater rafting, etc.) but the person or organization conducting the activity had to be certified by the council. It was restrictive, but not impossibly so. My older daughter and I joke about it on occasion in a dark way: you never see newspaper articles about a group of girl scouts lost on a mountain somewhere, it's always boy scouts - and it's not that the girl scouts aren't out there.

The girls were less interested in badges than we were when I was a scout many moons ago. I think it felt too much like school to them. Also, by the time they got to middle school, uniforms were seriously uncool and therefore there was no opportunity to wear the badges anyway.

I also think that the Girl Scout organization has suffered, paradoxically, from increasing opportunities for girls. When I was a scout in the 1960s to early 1970s, it was the first choice of many active girls. Now, with more other choices from sports to karate, it doesn't fill a unique niche.

My older daughter continued in scouting through the end of high school. The troop she joined after the earlier one folded put most of their time and effort into planning and fundraising for an 8-day trip to Ireland and England the summer after their junior year of high school. Although some of the girls continued to do outdoor things, including preparing for and participating in the Klondike Derby (winter camping skills competition run by the Boy Scouts). Several of the girls completed the Gold Award (the current GS equivalent of Eagle Scout); my daughter decided she couldn't juggle it with school.

Shorter me: the Girl Scouts have their issues, but they do offer girls a lot of value.

#646 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 08:03 AM:

Tracie, John A. Arkansawyer and I had our mini-Gathering of Light yesterday.

Food was eaten, stories were told, pictures were taken (but not by me).

And last night we had a small earthquake, though I for one didn't notice it. (Epicenter in SC, magnitude 4.1.)

#647 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 08:27 AM:

Re: Gathering of Light at Boskone.

I'm not going to be there; I'm not sufficiently comfortable with driving in snow to drive the 2 hours to Boston with it snowing.

#648 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 08:29 AM:

Lila@646 And last night we had a small earthquake

Possibly this should go in the "Superpowers" thread...


#649 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 08:39 AM:

Michael I, if so, my superpower has bad aim (at least 84 miles off target). Also, if so, it's a good thing my spouse and I live far from the nearest plate boundary.

#650 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 09:02 AM:

OtterB, Michael I, Jacque:

Thank you for the birthday wishes.

It's been pleasant so far—lunch in Amsterdam with the family, then they went off to get birthday presents for me. Now I'm going to noodle around doing crafty things till dinner, then the aforementioned laser tag and cake.

#651 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Dave Harmon @624: Oh wow. I've no idea who he is, or who the player he's talking about is, but kudos to both of them.

Happy Birthday to Abi! Hope you all enjoy the laser tag.

#652 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 10:55 AM:

Happy birthday, abi!

I was in girl scouts through middle school, but that troop didn't really do much (though we did go winter camping), and there wasn't one attached to my high school. Plus by then I was having problems with the "girl" part. But in elementary school what I really wanted was to be in cub scouts with my brother: they got to learn to whittle!

#653 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 11:20 AM:

Re Girl Scouts: I was in a troop for 3 years, from 4th to 6th grade. I didn't try to continue to Cadets for several reasons. (1) The troop in my school was kind of snobbish; it was made pretty clear to me that my lack of Brownie fly-up wings was a demerit. (2) We didn't actually do much that interested me. (3) There was no organized program for the pursuit of badges -- it was very much a "work on which ones you want, whenever you want" thing, which is not necessarily bad but there was no guidance whatsoever from the troop leaders. And participation was going to get significantly more expensive at the Cadet level, so I left.

In hindsight, I really suspect that this was more the fault of the local leadership than anything wrong with the organization itself.

#654 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 12:20 PM:

estelendur @ 652: Ah, whittling as a child. That prompted me to check, and I can still (just barely) see the scar on my thumb.

#655 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 12:23 PM:

@652 wasn't meant as a criticism teaching cub scouts to whittle. I was doing it unsupervised, with my first pen knife. Considering the angle of the scar on my thumb, I am completely mystified as to what I was doing!

#656 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 12:27 PM:

Further to Laurel, Hardy and Santana, I assume you've seen Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer dancing to Radiohead?

#657 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 12:58 PM:

Some here may be interested in this exhibition in Oxford, England, or at least in the catalogue. The exhibition runs until 27 April 2014.

#658 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 01:35 PM:

It was great meeting Tracie, Lila, and Lila's spouse--losing his name made me realize I remember names I've read so much better than those I've heard--and having them suggest The Grit, which was a tasty meal. I'd've cooked the green beans more, and grilled is better than sauteed, in my opinion, but the--aoli? aolio? aoali? spellcheck, so unhelpful!--was fine, as were the falafel. And the black-eyed peas were spectacular. (Real, too.)

I hate to make it sound like the food was more interesting than the conversation and the company, because that isn't so, but it was like talking with old friends, from which I keep the pleasant vibe longer than the content.

(Unless there's big news, of course, but none of us were pregnant.)

(At least, if anyone was, no one mentioned it.)

#659 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:32 PM:

John: Mark, and aioli, respectively. And I enjoyed the conversation a great deal, too.

#660 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 02:41 PM:

Some research on trolls:

#661 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 03:51 PM:

Open thready asking for help with annoying computer products: I have to use Word (2007 in this case) for a thing, and it is driving me buggy with distractions. I've turned off its propensity for obscuring the screen with French dictionary entries, but there's a wee little animated pencil writing in a twee little book at the bottom of my screen as long as I am typing and it is bothering my eyes and making me surly. How do I eliminate it? Anybody know?

#662 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 04:08 PM:

Whoops, never mind. A friend walked in the door and told me to right-click it: the annoying little book is taken away by un-checking "spelling and grammar" from the taskbar options.

I had no idea that was what the horrible little bugger even was.

#663 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 04:15 PM:

On Girl Scouts:

I looked at their website for curiosity, to see what they had, if anything, for adults. As expected, only leading-kids type things. That's ok, it's an organization for helping kids learn and do.

Then I found out that even if I wanted to do a leading-kids type thing, they wouldn't accept me as a member unless I lied.

#664 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Happy birthday, abi! Sounds like the day's been lovely so far--may it continue so, and may it open up a wonderful year!

#665 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 05:42 PM:

jonesnori/Lenore Jones @#640
A former rector of our parish used to quote a theologian who had said "I have no issue with the transformation of bread and wine into the Body of Christ. I have a huge issue with calling this wafer 'bread'". For a while, we had a bread baking ministry and fresh real bread. Alas, the popularity of (forbidden on paper) intinction amongst the parishioners eventually lead to a return to wafers.

#666 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Mongoose is back. Mongoose apologises for dropping off the planet for so long, promises they will start catching up on their e-mails from tomorrow (it's a bit late now tonight), and wishes Abi a very happy birthday. Glad I wasn't too late to do that.

Some explanation is warranted. I had almost run out of savings, and despite repeated phone calls to the local Citizens' Advice Bureau, had not been able to get hold of anyone. (I still haven't, but that's another matter. They are more and more overstretched and underfunded.) I honestly thought I was going to starve to death. Knowing that one is going to die is one thing, but knowing that one is going to die because one lives under a government that can't be bothered to provide the most basic human rights to an increasing number of its citizens is another. I couldn't handle it, and therefore I couldn't face getting into any kind of meaningful conversation with anyone, because I was afraid I would just be Not Handling It all over them, all the time. (I have been keeping a presence on the Book of Face, but the Book of Face isn't exactly meaningful. It's where I go to check that various people are OK, drop them a few lines of reassurance if they are not, and read linked articles, the bulk of which appear to be posted by Fragano these days.)

Then my parents, God bless them, sent me a substantial cheque. I shall not be starving for a while yet. It took a little while after that to feel communicative again, because relief can sometimes come as quite a shock to the system, even though it's a good one. But I'm now afloat again (fortunately not literally - no floods in this part of the UK), and, although I still badly need a job, the main thing is that I can eat.

I'm now thinking of setting up as a proofreader, given that there are two universities in this city which contain large numbers of worried students doing theses. I wasn't keen on that idea at first because I thought they'd all come at one time of year, but apparently they do tend to spread out quite nicely. I'll investigate how to advertise on Monday.

#667 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 06:28 PM:

PSA: I just got an e-mail from Kickstarter saying that they'd had a security breach, and suggesting that anyone who has an account there change their password both there and anywhere else they might have used it.

Y'know, eventually this is going to happen enough times in enough places that people will just start saying Fuckit and switch over to using unique passwords for every account in the first place, so that they don't have to go thru all the hassle of changing passwords all over the place when it does happen. Which will not be a bad thing.

#668 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 06:39 PM:

Welcome back Mongoose, I'm glad your crisis got sorted out!

In other news, Ellen Page has come out.

#669 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 06:42 PM:

re 661/662: At the office I inherited a Win 7 machine from someone else. It took forever to find out how to prevent it from making all the windows go transparent every time I moved the cursor to the lower right hand corner of the screen. I've always wondered why people in Redmond think this kind of thing is actually a good idea instead of a huge and unnecessary annoyance.

#670 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 06:46 PM:

re 665: Our rector before this managed to suppress intinction by providing a stash of the little Protestant cups and having a second chalice with a spout to pour in them. Unfortunately we seem stuck with wafers, though at least they are huge prescored ones which all do get broken.

#671 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 06:56 PM:

665/670 Intinction is forbidden? I had no idea. It is popular, though I think more than half of our parishioners drink from the chalice.

We bread-bakers try to pick recipes that don't crumb much and have a tight texture in case people dip it. I only dip if I'm sick.

#672 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 08:32 PM:

Open-threadiness: ITHAKA, the company that owns JSTOR (a "digital library" apparently*), is looking for an editor to create a JSTOR magazine (job located in NYC).

*my dad has worked for JSTOR since like almost the founding and I've always called it an online academic journal database

#673 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 08:55 PM:

Jonesnori/lenorejones @#671 the prohibition is local/diocesan and is itself intended as a sanitary measure. The argument is that fingers in the wine are not a good thing, and a highly possible accident. I don't think I have noticed that happening, though.

I do note that one prominent regional advocate of the small cups option is a Ph. D. And former senior Health Canada official. I have respect for his opinions, but I either take the common cup or just the wafer. Since I seem to have a drippy-nose cold, wafer only tomorrow.

#674 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 09:43 PM:

Belated happy birthday, abi.

#675 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2014, 11:25 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @662
Bless you for sharing that. I find that little moving pencil annoying too.

#676 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 05:45 AM:

And I learned a new word - I'd never heard of "intinction".

Lucy Kemnitzer @662: That pencil sounds as annoying as the old smirking paperclip.

C. Wingate @669: What I find REALLY annoying is the fact that the moment you move a not-full-screen window up to a corner it goes full-screen - so you can't get e.g. two iterations of Windows Explorer each taking up a full half of the screen for compare-and-contrast files in two folders...and now I just tried and it let me do it - but it hasn't been for the past XX months. Maybe someone eventually realised that was a bug, not a feature, and fixed it?

#677 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 06:50 AM:

If we're on to the wine, I should perhaps have said for completeness that there seemed to be a similar "trace amounts" requirement there*: that there must have been fermentation, but that there's no minimum amount of alcohol required.

* Again, specifically in the RCC, with my understanding based only on curious web searching.

#678 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 07:04 AM:

Catching up now on actual replies to contents of thread.

Elderly cat subthread: local cat Heidi has always been affectionate in the absence of anything scary (for which read my ex-spouse, my ex-lodger, or the cat I think I have to describe as her ex-brother) and happy to sit on my lap, but it's only in the last few months that she's decided she prefers to perch on my shoulder. Does this mean anything?

Cookware subthread: my mother swears by a thing called the Remoska. I would love one myself, but can't afford it at the moment, of course. This is a large pan with an electric heating element in the lid. It cooks all sorts of things cleanly and economically, and often in less time than it would take to use the oven. Much easier to clean, too.

Vegetarian/vegan recipes subthread: I think I've already posted the family gingerbread recipe, but in case I haven't, here it is for your delectation. For those outside the UK, Trex is a solid vegetable fat (the original recipe used lard, but any solid pure fat should work), and you should use the darkest sugar you can get for a fine complex flavour. I can't remember whether it was here or elsewhere that there was a long discussion about what to substitute for treacle and golden syrup if you can't get them where you live, but, wherever it was, I believe the eventual consensus was to use a combination of molasses and dark corn syrup. (Golden syrup is very sweet; treacle absolutely isn't. You're after a balance.)

Also, if your hand should happen to slip and you end up adding rather more ginger than the recipe suggests, that is considered in our family to be a feature rather than a bug.


12 oz (340g) wholemeal plain flour
pinch of salt
2 rounded tsp ground ginger
3 oz (85g) Trex
3 oz (85g) demerara sugar
6 oz (170g) golden syrup
6 oz (170g) black treacle
1 1/2 tsps bicarbonate of soda dissolved in approx 15 fl oz (430 ml) boiling water

Preheat oven to 150 C/300 F/Gas Mark 2, and line a square 20 cm (8") tin with double thickness greaseproof paper. Sift flour, salt and ginger together into a bowl. Add sugar. Rub in Trex. Weigh 250g (1/2 lb) of the mixture onto scales, make a well to take the syrup and treacle, then slide it all back into the bowl. Pour boiling water on bicarbonate of soda in a measuring jug. Stir. While still fizzing, pour into bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour the runny mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Test with a skewer to ensure it is cooked. Leave in the tin until cold.

The top will not be sticky when it comes out of the oven; if you want it sticky (and the general consensus in our family is that this is how it should be eaten), keep it for 2-3 days before cutting it.

#679 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 08:23 AM:

"I'd never heard of "intinction"."

Me neither, but shouldn't it also mean what the scientists did in Jurassic Park?

#680 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:15 AM:

At Boskone, having wonderful time. Met many flourospherians (Mary Eileen, Charlie Stross, Jim McDonald). Saw others whom I have met before (Patrick, Teresa, Bill Higgins, Job Singer, and others whom I am not recalling in the moment).

Talking, eating, drinking, singing commenced in many places.

Community and comity abounding.

#681 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:33 AM:

Mongoose, #678: I would definitely use more ginger than that. But I've been spoiled by Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Snaps, which contain ground ginger and grated fresh ginger and minced crystallized ginger, so most other ginger cookies taste bland now by comparison.

#682 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:41 AM:

Lee @ 681: those sound wonderful!

#683 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 11:49 AM:

@dreams_that_could_be_novels Here's what I woke up with this morning:

(There's a whole big long plotty story that goes before this, but I don't remember it.) Okay, we've finally captured Mad Evil Supergenius, and locked him up in the cell down in the back of the basement of our tech lab.

Our Leader drops the key in his pocket, dusts off his hands, and he and his second-in-command declare the rest of the day a holiday. Everbody off on vacation! A half-dozen people are designated to stay onsite, but everybody else: we're off for pizza!!

So, it's quiet, those who are left are off doing Stuff, and I'm wandering around the labs. I hear noises coming from the cell. I go to investigate. Just as I get there, I see the door's lock rattling. Then, a blade pokes through. MES has somehow, out of the little bit of stuff in his cell and on his person, managed to engineer something in the nature of a nail file. Now he's cutting through the lock with it. I think "Oh crap," and dash out, locking doors behind me.

But I realize: all these locks so far are of the bathroom door variety. (Yeah, yeah, dumb. Blame Dream Brain; we're making this up as we go along, remember?) The more robust locks are all on the entrances of the lab—and they lock from the inside! Oh shit shit shit! I race around and lock every door I can find—which are mostly of the minimal variety, and half face the wrong way. Then I run out to tell someone.

One problem: I'm a mute. (I started out as a dog, but Dream-Brain decided, I guess, that I needed opposable thumbs for the locking bit.) First team-mate, I'm frantically trying to convey the problem, but all that's coming across is that Something's Wrong! I race from person to person, and finally get across that what's wrong is in the lab.

People are starting to get back, by now, and are now milling around the courtyard in front of the lab. A couple of people have tried to go in, but I blocked their way: I don't want anyone going in there by themselves, and for sure not without knowing what the problem is. Our Leader will understand what I'm trying to tell them.

See, it's just occurred to me that MES is now certainly loose in there. But he hasn't come out. Of our tech lab.

Wait, there's Leader! I catch him as he's brushing his teeth—

And that's when I wake up.

#684 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 12:06 PM:

I've seen a couple of instances of phantom spam lately, and I haven't a clue what could cause it. The spammer isn't in the list of comments, but the spam is still in the thread. Is this deliberate on the spammer's part, or some sort of blog software bug?

#685 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:15 PM:

So the night after our little Gathering of Light, I had one of those dreams where you wake up, hope you'll have a different dream when you go back to sleep, and when you do, the dream gets worse.

The living in a big building with a lot of people was fun. The federal agent trying to nail me for money laundering wasn't, especially his buddy-buddy, trying-to-help manner. By the end, he and his cop buddies had gone to sea to lay cable in order to wiretap me. Their boat got wrecked and they had to knock on the door of their friendly neighborhood lighthouse for help. I'm not entirely sure how they got back to shore.

In other news, last night I got to sing with Peter Buck. Okay, only four words--actually, a two-word phrase repeated once, which is really one word four times, well-punctuated--but still. I wasn't expecting that.

That's me in the fedora. That's me in the crowd light, losing my inhibition. Trying to scream "Died, died!" as loud as I could when Patterson pointed the mike at me.

So how was your weekend? Mine was okay.

#686 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 01:19 PM:

I'm sorry I couldn't make it out to see people at the Boskone GoL. Last night's snow was the deciding factor.

#687 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 06:16 PM:

James Moar @#679
I have a surmise that the root of intinction has something to do with dipping a pen. The OED saith: "dipping in, especially to something colored " and also " Eccl. ... Especially as practiced in the Oriental churches"

I guess the bread is colored with wine.

#688 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 06:32 PM:

I looked for our gathering at Boskone. I did not see it or did not recognize it if I did, since many people on these threads I do not know the faces of. Oh well.
Maybe next time.

#689 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 06:54 PM:

Bill Stewart @545: the brand of palm oil I use (Spectrum Organic) claims it's sustainably harvested. I haven't actually tried cooking with coconut oil, though I buy it regularly; it's my hair conditioning/styling product. :) My solid fat of choice is butter, but because of butter's water content, I've determined that cookies hold a better structure if their fat is half butter and half shortening (it might be a better structure yet with all shortening, but the hell with that, I like to taste the butter) and my favorite pie crust recipe is Julia Child's pate brisee, which uses five parts butter to one part shortening. She says it tenderizes American flour, which she characterizes as harder than European flour. I say there's more variation than that - when I was in charge of the kitchen for a small bakery-cafe, experience taught me that Pillsbury all-purpose flour made better pie crusts than King Arthur, and when I looked closely at the nutrition labeling, Pillsbury was lower in protein and therefore in crust-toughening gluten than King Arthur, so I wasn't just imagining things, and of course I'm sure plenty of people know about softer White Lily brand flour being considered critical for tender biscuits - but, whatever flour I use in my pie crust, I've found that Julia Child's formula handles more easily than an all-butter crust, so I use it.

CHip @564: dotless i has it right. Leaf lard would make a terrific flaky pie crust or other pastry. It's perfectly traditional for that. It's too delicate for a freestanding "coffin" (melts before the starches have sufficiently gelatinized & the gluten sufficiently coagulated to hold the crust shape) and creates a different texture in boiled puddings than suet, for the same reason. Crisco was designed to mimic leaf lard's properties.

Palm oil is the closest to the high melting point of suet, but it's still not quite there.

#690 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 08:29 PM:

Cookies: I have not yet replicated this series of experiments. Author likes 100% butter in his cookies, and likes pre-browning it.

I admire the distance overboard this author goes, and fear that I might follow.

#691 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 09:59 PM:

Open threadiness: cattle cubism.

#692 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2014, 10:20 PM:

Erik Nelson (688): A few of us were kind of tucked at the back of the Birch bar in the main lobby, which made us hard to see. (It was the only bigger-than-two-seater free table that we saw when we got there, and not very big at that.) I ran into Hilary first, then CHip found us, then after a bit I flagged iamnothing down. Terry was with another group at the next table, but he came over a couple of times. We had a good chat, then I had to leave for dinner. Dunno what the others wound up doing after that.

#693 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 12:09 PM:

Light was made yesterday in Houston. Thomas and I spent the afternoon hanging out; we went to brunch with some of my friends, cruised one of the local boutique-shop areas, visited the Art Car Museum, had bubble tea, ate dinner at the Hobbit Cafe, and went to Valhalla (the grad-student pub at Rice). There was also an interlude of watching Animusic at my place, since he was unfamiliar with it. All in all, it was a fine, congenial time with good weather adding to the experience.

#694 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 12:34 PM:

Sue just had cataract surgery on her second eye.
Everything is fine.

#695 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 01:09 PM:

Serge @ 694 - That's great. Coincidentally, my wife had her (first eye) cataract surgery on Friday. All weekend long, she's been exclaiming, "I can SEE that sign! I can READ that license plate." We've knocked out the right side lens from her glasses.

#696 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 01:14 PM:

Steve C @ 695... Sue said the same thing. Once both eyes have adjusted, she'll need glasses only for closeups and computer work. The opposite of what she's been most of her life.

#697 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 01:32 PM:

RE: weekend activities. I must say that while I'm envious of the mentions of meet-ups at Boskone, I'm not at all envious of the weather out there (except in terms of abstract moisture content). This weekend's bit of Blessed Rain in my part of California passed in time to let me spend most of the weekend working in the yard/garden without getting too wet or muddy. I've now added a second multi-variety-graft espaliered fruit tree to the west end of the house where the orangery is developing, flanking the spot that will eventually be occupied by a lion-headed wall fountain (facing the future little round patio that will have the labyrinth design and the grapevine-entwined pergola). Then I constructed the last set of raised beds to frame the formal part of the herb/vegetable garden in the back yard and planted them with berry canes and strawberry sets. The next task is to set up the programmable irrigation system so that I can get everything watered adequately without waste or excess effort.

I'd say "enjoy your snow while you have it -- at least you don't have a drought" but these things are all relative.

#698 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 03:51 PM:

I know we have a number of NY/NJ fluorospherians. [thank you, spelling reference!] Terry Karney, Xopher, myself, the Nielsen Haydens, possibly others.

Has there ever been a local Gathering of Light? I feel like I've asked this question before, but don't remember the answer.

#699 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 04:09 PM:

Serge @694:

Oh, I'm glad it went well!

#700 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 08:41 PM:

Cheryl @ 579: fascinating! Thank you.

Erik Nelson @ 688: I urged a less-conspicuous location because the middle of the space seemed too noisy for conversation, but the ebbing&flooding crowd did make it hard to find; my apologies, and I'll remember that for the future. We had a good quiet time, including watching the reason more people weren't there.

#701 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 09:33 PM:

PSA: Loose batteries can start fires, and especially 9-volt batteries, which have their terminals close together (and usually have metal casings to boot). This video is from someone who ran into the worst-case scenario -- he had a bag of 9-volt batteries waiting for recycling in the garage... and they set his house on fire. You can see that he's still in shock, but that just adds power to his message.

Other batteries can short-circuit like this, but it's much harder, because you need to have enough metal around to form the short-circuit. But if they're rolling around in a "junk drawer", with random other metal objects around....

I keep all my batteries in the fridge, partly for longevity, but also to keep them from rolling loose in a drawer. Even in the fridge, it's best to keep batteries in their original package. If you don't have the package (such as the recycling situation that bit this guy), rubber-band them together, all pointing the same way. Then put them in little plastic bags (sandwich bags will do fine), one bundle per bag.

BTW, I note that we seem to have three fire posts, each with somewhat different emphasis. Perhaps they should be linked to each other?

#702 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 09:36 PM:

Where I worked, they asked that people tape over battery terminals, and if possible tape small batteries together in groups, to prevent problems. (It was also hard to get people to put them in the correct bins.)

#703 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2014, 10:29 PM:

P J Evans #702: Yes, the video guy mentions that too, I actually forgot to add it to my commentary, so thanks for mentioning it.

#704 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 12:56 AM:

Sandy B. @690: That cookie article is great stuff. Thanks for the link.

dotless ı @691: Your link made me chuckle.

#705 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 04:24 AM:

Delighted Health Insurance Executives Gather In Outdoor Coliseum To Watch Patient Battle Cancer

A tense hush reportedly fell over the arena moments later when a CT scan showed the cancer on the brink of remission, though the stadium soon erupted into emphatic cheers when the patient was not approved for further sessions of targeted chemotherapy that were deemed “medically unnecessary.”
#706 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 11:13 AM:

Earwormed on the bus this morning. You're welcome.

#707 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 701 - re: batteries

I once learned the hard way not to carry 9-volt batteries and loose change (especially including pennies) in the same pocket. (No fire, just uncomfortably hot.)

#708 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 12:24 PM:

abi @ 699... Thanks. We just came back from Sue's post-op and her peeper is doing well.

#709 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 12:33 PM:

Serge@694: I'm very glad to hear it went well.

Heather Rose Jones@697: multi-variety-graft espaliered fruit tree

Now you've got me envious.

However, while the snow has restricted our mobility a bit, we did take it as motivation to make pots of warm food. The long weekend included:

  • Caldo verde;

  • Braised short ribs with mushrooms and barley;

  • Sweet potato, ginger, and miso soup (mentioned upthread);

  • Oyster mushrooms with miso;

  • Kasha; and

  • preparation for a red lentil soup to be made this evening.

Also, maple hot toddies. Since it's snowing again now, knowing that some of the above is waiting at home is a particularly warming thought.

#710 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 01:25 PM:

dotless eye @ 709... :-) Thanks.

#711 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 02:04 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @#707

My 9V battery surprise came from a package of foil-wrapped cough drops in the same pocket. I got an actual 1st degree burn from it. Since then I usually tape the contacts or the little plastic cover down. If I tape the contacts on a battery I place to reuse, I put a first layer sticky side up, then cover that sticky side down with a longer tape. That way I don't get gunk on contacts.

Opinions vary as to the fire-starting probability, but I am not willing to set that at zero.

#712 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Glad to hear that Sue's vision is in good shape, Serge.

#713 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Mary Aileen @692 The rest of us left around 7:00.

#714 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 03:36 PM:

I think that was at least seven inches of snow over a period of about seven hours just now.

On the bright side, it was light and fluffy and I was able to get it first-pass cleared in about an hour.

Damn good thing, too, as I was unable to get that vintage snowblower working myself, and the repair shop looked at it and said "it's thirty years old, it's in overall poor condition even apart from the not-starting problem, don't sink any money into it," and so it's been shovels all the way down.

And there is not a bit of driveway salt to be found in any of the stores I checked.

I am SO DONE with winter.

#715 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 04:21 PM:

Rikibeth @#714
Sorry to hear the snowblower wouldn't cooperate, and I can easily believe a repair shop saying the age and condition mean isn't worth their looking into. 3 hrs quality shop time is comparable to a cheap new snowblower. I've got the "enjoys tinkering with obstinate engines/mechanicals" bump, so I'd be inclined to dink with it myself, but I lack space to do so, so it would sit until summer... and I lack space to let things sit, too!

We got ~6 inches overnight Sunday-Monday here, and the kids and I went out and shoveled for the second time this weekend. (Had a few inches or more Wednesday-Thursday last week and got to it on Saturday.) Tonight I may do the "chisel the rest of the driveway clear" bit since it is nearly 40 today. These thaw-freeze cycles are nice for clearing stuff, but make my car doors freeze open.

#716 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 04:27 PM:

I just got the best Google Voice Googlished message ever. (For those who don't have a Google number, Google attempts to understand your voice messages and then emails you the text. I say "attempts" because the general result is usually just gibberish.)

However, I got this today:

Hi, My name is God. I'm calling on behalf of your local state for me to give up all night. I'm at my mom's day them for you can give me a call back the number here is 555-555-5555. Thank you and have a great day.

(Only part changed is the phone number, obviously.)

If you can figure out the real message without listening to it, you're better at phonetic interpretation of than I am ...

#717 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 05:07 PM:

Cygnet @716. Heh. The phone call from God reminds me ... some years ago, we had a missed call that the caller ID said was from "John Paul II." Seeing as how the man had died not long before that, presumably if he wanted to talk to one of us, he didn't need the phone.

(One of my kids was taking piano lessons from a Catholic University student who had a part time job at the John Paul II Cultural Center, so there was a perfectly plausible mundane explanation. But it was amusing.)

#718 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2014, 08:24 PM:

Sandy B. @ #690
I admire the distance overboard this author goes, and fear that I might follow.

I admire how far overboard his is going, but he lost me at "chewy". I like thin crisp cookies that are either some distance along the path to becoming candy or a whole wheat tea biscuit. I also like 100% butter in my cookies.

#719 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 05:26 AM:

Following rain saturating the ground until soil cohesion has been lost, plus high winds, plus someone previously having cut the large branches off one side and left them on the other, the large oak tree at the bottom of our garden, and which was not previously on our property, is presently falling in very slow motion towards our garden. It's going to take out, at the least, our large garden shed, our boundary fence, and the greenhouse. The smaller shed may or may not survive (it's closer to the tree than the greenhouse is, but obviously less fragile). We have Stuff in the sheds but are not inclined to walk ouut under the tree to go and retrieve them, in case it chooses that moment to fall.

Meanwhile we wait for the neighbours who have, joint responsibility for the tree (it was on the boundary between their properties), to (a) talk to insurance companies (at least one of which isn't interested in paying for it to be taken down - because it has not fallen so has not yet caused any damage); (b) get quotes to have it taken down; (c) get it taken down.

Wish they would get on and get it sorted. Next high wind) - if not before - and it's gone (or rather, will have arrived in our garden).

#720 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 08:50 AM:

Cygnet #716: Why would God need to use a phone?

#721 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:05 AM:

Fragano @ 720: I'm not sure, but I'm pretty certain the devil uses the Infernet. Where else does spam come from?

#722 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:11 AM:

dcb, #719: Call your own insurance company. Tell them about the situation, including the fact that you lack any authority to prevent the imminent damage. They may be able to apply leverage that you as an individual cannot -- and even if they can't, they'll appreciate the heads-up. Also, document as completely as you can what is in the threatened structures, and their current appearance (with pictures taken from a safe distance).

Also, is your yard fenced so completely that someone could not casually walk into it from the street? If it's not, then the tree may represent a "public hazard" and there might be a government agency with the authority to take it down.

If your neighbors' lollygagging about does cause you to suffer the loss of your fence, shed(s), and greenhouse, insist on full replacement or as near to it as you can get. At that point, it's their negligence, and you can turn loose the Very Big Dogs from your own insurance company.

#723 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 12:55 PM:

I just got my first Amber Alert on my iPhone -- scared the crap out of me. (Looking it up online, somebody apparently kidnapped their 5-year-old niece, a couple of towns away. :-( )

#724 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 12:56 PM:

PS: You know what would be a good app? One to use the camera to ID the make of a car. The Amber alert was headlined with the car make.

#725 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 01:21 PM:

Lee @722: It's our back garden, accessible only through our house or via a (locked) side gate, so no public hazard.

Slightly reluctant to tell our insurance in case they decide that's a reason for putting UP the insurance - even if the tree gets taken care of*. But hm, maybe we ought to. thanks for making the suggestion.

*My car insurance company informed me that if you're in a car accident and it was not your fault, so they don't have to pay out anything - the other driver's insurance company takes the hit - your insurance company will STILL INCREASE your premiums because, statistically, the next accident you are in is more likely to be YOUR fault and therefore their liability...

#726 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 01:48 PM:

dcb @ 725

The car insurance case probably does not apply to the tree. Note, though, that there is another catch-22 with the tree, although it applies more strongly to your neighbors. Insurance companies often classify "remove unstable trees" as a maintenance item, and generally refuse to be held responsible for damages due to un-done maintenance. If your neighbor contacted insurance and the insurance refused to pay, there is a decent chance that the insurance will not pay for any damage the tree does if it falls--the neighbor is aware that it's a hazard and hasn't done anything about it (in the insurance comapny view.) Contacting your insurer si likely to be harmless.

The issue with car insurance (as best as I remember from exams) is that risky drivers are much more likely to be involved in not-at-fault accidents. (Attentive, defensive driving keeps you out of accidents in which you would not be at fault.) Thus, (some kinds of) not-at-fault accidents count in the "probably not a very good driver" guestimation--it's the flip side of the way some insurers forgive an accident every 5 years if you have no tickets--they are saying "probably a reasonably careful driver even if they screwed up once."

#727 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 02:48 PM:

Have you ever noticed that if you average out the digits in 258 and 966 you get 666 666? This is proof!

Of what, I don't know.

#728 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 03:23 PM:

SamChevre: When your car was in a car park at the time of the accident and you were nowhere near it? Apparently that will STILL kick in the "at higher risk" statistic.

Re. the tree, it's only been leaning since Saturday. All parties are doing their best to find tree surgeons who can tackle it and get quotes. But guess what, they're all busy just at the moment, because we've had all this rain and high winds and trees have been falling down all over the place...

#729 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 07:44 PM:

On the sidebar vis a vis Model Railroads as Fanfic, I wonder if fanfic existed before model railroads, or vice versa?

I don't just mean Lionel or whatever in the home around the Christmas tree, but fancy layouts and such, which seem to be the part that makes them potentially fanfic-ish.

I'm somewhat sure there were detailed layouts long before the Tech Model Railroad Club, but when was the inception of actual fanfic? Was it before the early to mid 60's (which may not even be the start of TMRC)? I do remember that Robert Bloch(?) story about fandom ruling the world after WW3, but I'm not sure that sort of thing counts as fanfic.

#730 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 07:51 PM:

DaveL @729, it depends strongly on how you define fanfic, and that's an argument even messier than trying to define, say, fantasy or science fiction.

I will cheerfully point to the Aeneid as fanfic, and I've heard of (but not read) a fairly extensive unfinished fanfic of Chaucer that was pretty contemporaneous. As to when the term originated, I couldn't say.

#731 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 08:41 PM:

My good deed for the day: warning an entomophobe not to read Perdido Street Station under any circumstances.

#732 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 08:45 PM:

Xopher: you might warn him/her/them to stay off Scalzi's blog for a while, too. (I sure have heard of a lot of cool new-to-me insects in the last couple of days!)

#733 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 08:48 PM:

That's how it came up. He said he couldn't bring himself to join the Insect Army.

#734 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:19 PM:

Xopher, thank you! I shall also note not to read it O_O (actually. How bad is it?)

#735 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:31 PM:

The [insect reference] tvnag-pbpxebnpu people aren't even the bad guys. There are no good guys at all. The monstrous evil is a [insect reference] tvnag ohggresyl with horrific powers.

Even a description of the Khepri might give an entomophobe nightmares.

#736 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:32 PM:

estelendur @ #734
Perdido Street Station is fairly mild unless tvnag vafrpgf, cnegvphyneyl tvnag pngrecvyynef naq zbguf , would (resist the slang word for vafrpgf , resist!) bother you.

#737 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:35 PM:

Oh yeah, I forgot about the Khepri. Vafrpgf headed people might be more squicky.

#738 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:40 PM:

Thank you, Mishalak, for subverting my careful efforts to make my reasoning readable to people with an insect phobia. That's really, really sucky behavior.

#739 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:49 PM:

Man, I just can't believe you would do that. I can only hope the mods will choose to erase or disemvowel your comments.

#740 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 09:49 PM:

Re model fanfic, why limit it to railways? My first thought was about 'alternative' markings on aircraft models, but I'm sure once little and big boys got hold of (lead!) 'little soldiers' over a hundred (two hundred?) years ago, realistic but unhistorical scenarios were created (as well as historical ones replayed). And nowdays the alternative aircraft are probably more likely to be computer based, anything from 2-D static representations to 3-D with interactive dynamic elements - sounding a lot like a computer game isn't it?

#741 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:29 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #739 & #738
I wrote without actually thinking about it. I am sorry, I do not have any phobias so I have no idea if what I wrote was excessively detailed. I assumed there was something about the plot points or spoilers in your rot-13 text.

No need to ban me though. I will just leave.

#742 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:47 PM:

As an insect-lover, I again feel distinctly unwelcome here. Perhaps I should leave as well? I ask for arbitration, if that's the term.

#743 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:48 PM:

Who's talking about banning you? I'm hoping for the deletion of the phobia-triggering bits of those two comments.

#744 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 10:54 PM:

Good grief, what the hell, iamnothing?!?! Did I say there was anything wrong with liking insects or anything even distantly related to that? I was trying to avoid triggering someone else's phobia and Mishalak did something I thought was phobia-triggering in just the ways I'd been avoiding. What on Earth does that have to do with making insect-lovers unwelcome?

I joined the Insect Army (Scarab Legion). I'm not an entomophobe. I'm just trying to be considerate of the sensitivities of others. If that offends you, I'm sorry.

#745 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:01 PM:

Could everyone just calm down a minute and not preemptively assume that everyone else in the thread hates them?

Xopher, this is an open thread. As I see it, that’s an invitation to discuss whatever. “Whatever” probably includes insects. Do you have some particular reason for believing that people with severe entomophobia will be browsing this thread?

#746 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:07 PM:

Yes, Avram. estelendur's comment at 734.

#747 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:13 PM:

To clarify: I take erasure and disemvoweling to be serious measures of community disapproval.

#748 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:17 PM:

Ah, sorry. Somehow my eyes blipped right over that one.

#749 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:17 PM:

I thought Mishalak was being deliberately triggering after I'd been so careful not to be.

#750 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:22 PM:

Just to be absolutely clear, I no longer think so. My apologies, Mishalak, for thinking the worst.

#751 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:31 PM:

The Rotten 13 have been applied!

#752 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:37 PM:

Thank you, Avram.

#753 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Still, I assume I'm not welcome to mention my pets even though others can mention theirs. I hope this is addressed; otherwise I'll be sorely tempted to push the issue.

#754 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 01:29 AM:

iamnothing @753:

A few points:

1. Disemvoweling is a measure of moderatorial displeasure. ROT-13, which was used in this case, is a technique for allowing people to choose what they read. It does not imply deprecation or disapproval in the least. It is most commonly used for plot spoilers in general threads.

Xopher was asking for deletion/disemvowelment because he thought that Mishalak was deliberately bringing up the topic after it was suggested that it be ROT-13'd, not because of the content of the topic at all. But that's not what Avram did.

2. Not every topic is appropriate for discussion in every venue. We have a number of subjects that we do not bring up on Making Light, such as abortion and gun control, not so much because of our various opinions on the matters as because what happens next hurts our community members.

With careful and considerate use of the non-deprecating technique of ROT-13, this can be avoided in the context of your pets, but if that were not the case, then perhaps Making Light would not be the venue to discuss them. Fortunately, the net is wide and contains many communities; you can be a member of more than one!

There are certainly topics that I do not discuss on Making Light. Some of them are for other reasons, but some are because it might hurt or bother other members here. If I want to talk about them, I do it elsewhere.

3. Expanding 2, do be aware that we comment here not as a right but as a privilege, at the sufferance of the blog owners. Although the mods all try to be fair in all matters, that is not the base law of blog commentary.

4. I am puzzled that a request to be considerate of others' phobias makes you angry. This is inconsistent with my image of you. I'm also more than a little grieved, if this is the case.

5. Please do not threaten to "push" any issue that the moderators have weighed in on.

#755 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 02:35 AM:

ErrolC @740 , the first mass-produced lead soldiers came out 117 years ago, in 1893.

#756 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 03:01 AM:

Avram & abi: Proceedural question: recognizing the issue of phobias, is it safe to discuss non-human people possessed of six legs in clear text? Or does a simple alert, such as <six-legged-people alert> suffice?

Because I am now curious about iamnothing's pets.

#757 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 03:04 AM:

D'oh! 1893 is 121 years ago, not 117 years ago. Blame this on my short night's sleep, due to work pressures at one end and a scratching cat at the other.

#758 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 03:31 AM:

I was going to ask. estelendur, where are your lines? I'm guessing (but I could be wrong) that naming insects is probably OK, but is it descriptions? detailed passages of prose? images? that make you go aargh?

I'd like to hear about iamnothing's pets too, but preferably in a way that's not going to leave you climbing over your seat back to get away from the screen.

#759 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 03:40 AM:

Andrew Wells @755 Thanks, I was rushing out the door. I knew about H.G.Wells and Little Wars: A Game for Boys, so knew they were wide-spread around WW1. But I knew that they were available earlier, for the purposes of Siborne's Large Waterloo Model at least. Now looking through my copy of Wellington's Smallest Victory I see there were some 75,000 figures in the model.

#760 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 03:41 AM:

Also, Xopher, assume good faith, please, and leave room for fallibility.

It's the mods' job to conclude otherwise, when other conclusions are warranted.

#761 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:13 AM:

abi @754
5. not threatening; predicting.
4. not angry, but feeling excluded.

pets are waiting patiently.

#762 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:13 AM:

Model soldiers: there are two big strands to the history. There are the fully shaped 3D models, typified by such companies as Britains in the UK, and "flats". The flats came out of Germany and resemble the sculpting of coins.

The 1893 Britains figures are significant because they were hollow-cast. But figures have been available since the 1730s, and the flat figures were still being used by wargamers in the 1960s.

#763 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:14 AM:

Model soldiers: there are two big strands to the history. There are the fully shaped 3D models, typified by such companies as Britains in the UK, and "flats". The flats came out of Germany and resemble the sculpting of coins.

The 1893 Britains figures are significant because they were hollow-cast. But figures have been available since the 1730s, and the flat figures were still being used by wargamers in the 1960s.

#764 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:25 AM:

iamnothing @761:
5. not threatening; predicting.

Well, if you're predicting that you'll be tempted, I get it. But if you're predicting that you'll push it, that's a threat.

4. not angry, but feeling excluded.

Please reread point 2. This may not be the venue, or the context, to discuss your pets. I don't know yet. Let's see whether it's going to trigger the heck out of your fellow community members, shall we? Because if it is, then, as I said, there's a big internet out there. There are other sites where you can talk about them.

I wasn't blowing smoke when I said that I have topics—ones that are huge for me! Ones that affect my emotional well-being to a material degree! Things I have wept over, that have left me feeling damaged and wretched, and have stopped my singing voice in my throat!—that I do not discuss on Making Light. Some of them are ones whose equivalents are discussed openly and freely in this community, but for specific reasons, it's not appropriate for me to bring my particular instances here. It happens. It makes me feel sad and lonely, but it's also the reality of living within a community.

pets are waiting patiently.

I hope you don't realize exactly how entitled and confrontational this sounds.

#765 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:29 AM:

I've had some bad news. I have failed the vision test needed to hold a driving licence. It's my visual field that is the problem.

So no driving anywhere. Which is a big thing for the modern world, outside of big cities.

It's my peripheral vision that is the obvious problem. I think I have been missing things for a while, though not in an obviously dangerous way. When I deliberately look in a mirror I still see the cars, but I don't always notice them without that deliberate look.

I shall still get to the Worldcon: I wasn't planning on driving into London. And I won't have to pay the costs of running a car. But it's a big change.

#766 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:33 AM:

Dave @765:

I'm sorry to hear that. How badly is it going to affect your life? Are you in a taxi-able context?

I'm glad you're still coming to Worldcon.

#767 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:36 AM:

"entitled and confrontational"

I have absolutley no idea what you mean. It is a simple fact.

English is too hard.

#768 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:45 AM:

iamnothing @767:

What I read in that comment is "my pets are waiting for the community to allow me to discuss them, regardless of other people's triggers, and without regard to the moderators' interventions."

Because your pets, unless they are quite extraordinary, are not waiting for anything that Making Light can give them.

I can see that you're feeling excluded. As I said, unfortunately, it's a natural part of being in a community—no one fits entirely. Everyone has bits that just can't be brought in, even if other people can bring equivalent bits in.

But to talk like your feelings of exclusion entitle you to push matters the mods have ruled on, and to use time pressure in an asynchronous environment as though others must keep to your schedule, is confrontational and entitled behavior.

Let the matter lie a bit. Back off, or talk about something else for a while. Go be with your pets while we figure out whether/how you can discuss them in the community.

And stop saying things that reduce to, "I'm going to cause trouble for the moderators unless I get my way." It means I have to be the Rule-Keeper rather than allowing my sympathetic side to show.

#769 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 06:17 AM:

A taxi would add up but I am close to a bus route and there is a railway station. There will be some short term problems on plans already made.

#770 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:13 AM:

Yes, I ought to have assumed positive intent. That's what I was apologizing for. If I had it to do over, I would say "Mishalak, I was Rot-13ing the possibly-upsetting bits because estelundur had expressed some degree of entomophobia." Probably I should have left it at that.

I'm sorry I didn't do that, and deeply hope I haven't driven Mishalak or iamnothing away from the community.

#771 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:19 AM:

ErrolWi @759, I know of a scale model depicting the Charge of the Light Brigade, which used around 1,000 figures - smaller than Waterloo, but still enough to impress me as a kid. It is many years since I have seen it - I should visit the regimental museum in question in its current home, and see if they still have it on display.

#772 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:20 AM:

Dave Bell, I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope it won't impact your life too severely. It sounds like you have a good handle on the strategies you'll need to use.

I've never driven, but I live in an area where that seldom causes a problem.

#773 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 08:02 AM:

Dave Bell: I'm sorry to hear. I'm interested in finding out how the various "distributed car" schemes work [Uber and whatever other car sharing models], but I wouldn't want to have to depend on them. Hopefully things will work out well.

(Are there discounts for buying taxi miles in bulk in advance? Are there nearby teens with cars and empty gas tanks?)

#774 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 08:18 AM:

Ack! O.O

Extent of phobia: seriously upset by some specific bugs, like centipedes and earwigs (but mostly pictures, or vivid descriptions), and also crawling swarming, the latter of which I have definitely encountered in stories before. Thank you, Xopher, abi, and others for the concern to avoid triggering, and perhaps it would have been simpler if I'd clarified the above in the first place!

Dave Bell: I'm sorry to hear that. I hope things work out okay, and keep doing so.

#775 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 08:28 AM:

Dave Bell: sorry to hear that. What are the trains like where you are?

If you need help finding the cheapest rail fares, please feel free to contact me (which you can do by clicking through to my website - there is a contact e-mail there). I have never been able to drive for physical reasons, so I have developed my train-fu to a fine art.

#776 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 08:30 AM:

estelendur, barring a few brief scenes, PSS shouldn't bother you. From the standpoint of entomophobia, that is; I don't have that particular phobia, but I found the book upsetting enough that I never read anything further by that author.

The person I warned off last night had a horror even of butterflies.

#777 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:06 AM:

Given the above, iamnothing, please tell us what kinds of insects you have as pets (if you want to). How did you choose them? How many do you have? What do you enjoy about having them?

#778 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:20 AM:

estelendur @774, given that, stay far, far away from the webserial "Worm" by Wildbow. Excellently written, and I recommend it to everyone else here, but it's about a rather dystopian world of superheroes/supervillians and the protagonist's superpower directly involves swarms of insects.

#779 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:46 AM:

abi @ 754... We have a number of subjects that we do not bring up on Making Light, such as abortion and gun control

Is gnu cholesterol off the table too?

#780 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:49 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @770 I'm ok with you now. Thanks. If I leave it will be because of savage and extreme _moderatorial_ misinterpretation of my statements.

I think it best to not say anything more about my pets except that they came with the apartment. Also nothing about the hexapods that kept me company when I was living in my car.

#781 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 10:14 AM:

iamnothing @780:

I am sorry that you felt that I was misinterpreting you.

I can only go by the words that I see and my experience of the ways they tend to influence the conversation. I'm as fallible as anyone else, however, and if you want to clarify what it was that you meant, I'll take it on board.

Do try to be verbose, if you do so. Your very short comments come across as hostile and combative. If that's not the intent, more words may well help.

#783 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 11:57 AM:

Those aren't so unusual - I can do without them, also, although I'm not phobic. (Other six-legged associates don't have that effect, not even millipedes.)

#784 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 12:03 PM:

Fragano @ 720 -- Well, if He tried a burning bush I'd probably turn the hose on it because of the fire danger around here. The last time missionaries showed up at my door, they got ran off by a stinky buck goat who blubbered at them and then peed on his own head, and I laughed at them. If He tried leaving me a stone tablet with a message on it, I'd think my father was pulling some sort of prank. And if I heard a Voice -- well, I'd just assume it's our resident ghost and ignore it.

Calling -- definitely the best choice.

#785 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 12:34 PM:

Conservative columnist/author exposed as a fraud.

It seems that Brent Bozell, a popular right-wing media critic with a syndicated newspaper column and several books to his name, didn't actually write any of it himself -- they are all the work of an uncredited ghost-writer.

This strikes me as interesting in light of the several discussions here about websites that offer "write-your-term-paper" services for students. Except that Bozell, being the employer rather than the client, didn't have to pay his ghost-writer more than a pittance.

#786 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 02:39 PM:

Dave Bell at 765: I'm sorry to hear that.

I will confess myself curious about your issues with your visual field - I'm a vision scientist by trade (something more than halfway through my PhD), and if you'd like, I'd be curious to hear whatever details you'd care to share.

In brief, peripheral vision loss generally takes a couple of forms; either it's a lack of input entirely (often, but not always, from retinal damage) or it's an inability to attend to a portion of the visual periphery (which has a host of sources in the brain). From what you've described, it sounds more like the latter (an issue of visual attention), since you say you can still see the cars when you look deliberately.

#787 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 02:41 PM:

Dave Bell @762 Thanks, I dabbled as a teenager. My University had (has!) a club, the Strategists and Tacticians Guild, although by the time I was there I was mainly playing (military) boardgames there.

It occurs to me that the Large Waterloo Model started as non-fiction, but was changed to alt-history (the facts as collected in the 1830s did not correspond with the Duke of Wellington's narrative).

(I should note that I use 'Errolwi' because it is my LiveJournal and Twitter handle, and wi = what-if.)

#788 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 02:46 PM:

Dave Bell @762, seconding my thanks for this information.

#789 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 02:59 PM:

Mongoose @775

Trains are pretty good from here, three lines converge (though one of them is an almost-invisible Saturday-only passenger service. Figuring the best rail fares might be tricky, but there's nothing urgent.

One awkward point is evening events. That's when the big cuts have been in public transport around here. A huge amount of stuff finishes after the last train. And then you have to get from the theatre or cinema or evening class to the station.

The buses are even worse.

#790 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 03:11 PM:

Benjamin @786

I have retinal damage from laser treatment. That doesn't rule out other problems. When I said looking deliberately, that's looking directly at the rear-view mirrors rather than just a mental state.

My vision has been adequate for a long time after the treatment. There's signs of something happening which might need treatment. The treatment can't be expected to improve my visual field.

There are procedures for challenging these decisions but, on what I know, my chances would not be good. Then again, I don't get to see the actual chart. I don't know how close to the line I am. I shall have to wait until the data gets to my Doctor.

#791 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 03:18 PM:

Dave @ 790: Ah. My apologies for reading too much in to your earlier description; I'd read 'looking deliberately' quite incorrectly because that's how visual attention is often described when there's no explicit distinction made between its subtypes. Regardless, if you need further treatment, I hope it goes well and you retain all the vision you currently have.

#792 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 04:58 PM:

Lee @ 785: having now decided to go into what I call "literary services" myself (which mainly means proofreading and ghost writing), I have felt the need to make it explicit on my website that I don't do academic work on students' behalf. I'm fine with someone paying me to take the credit for my work, but not when that work is supposed to be testing how much they know about a subject.

Dave Bell @ 789: oh, that's annoying - much sympathy. You would think they'd be glad to keep that going; from my experience, our trams are usually pretty busy in the evening. (They run till around midnight.)

#793 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:10 PM:

My major, um, disincentive to read Perdido Street Station was less the entomological references and more the complete, pervasive, repeated mention -- in great and vivid detail -- of excrement in every possibly conceivable variety.

It is a very shit-drenched book, and the language seems to revel in it.

I love the ballsy worldbuilding and I enjoyed the plot, but sometimes I had to put it down and go do something ELSE for a while. And several friends of mine didn't even make it past the prologue before their stomachs turned.

#794 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:28 PM:

I read the whole thing, but it completely turned me off that writer.

Part of the problem is that I don't really like horror, and I thought that was a fantasy novel when I picked it up. Dark fantasy, to be sure, and the line isn't at all clear, but to me it was on the horror side of the line. Not 100% sure what defines the line, except maybe that it's even bleaker than real life.

#795 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:40 PM:

Dave Bell @765: Sympathies. Good luck for working out the least-bad bus/train options.

#796 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 05:47 PM:


Look, I apologize. When it was clear that you were hurting in the 760's, I should have been compassionate, not harsh.

I could give you a bunch of reasons why I didn't, but the fact of the matter is, that isn't important. What's important is that I was unfair to you.

I'm sorry. I will try to do better in the future.

#797 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:11 PM:

abi @796 apology accepted. verbosity later, perhaps, I'm very tired.

#798 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:40 PM:

Xopher @794

I was lucky not to read Perdido Street Station first. You might like Un Lun Dun, which is Fun, with lots of subversion of tropes.

You might also like Kraken, which I've just reread, and which I suppose is technically urban fantasy set in London. I don't know if you'd find the treatment of religion in it fascinating or annoying. The book reminds me of Anthony Price (as does The City and The City) for gur qrgnvyrq nggragvba sbphfrq ba n pbzcyrk naq vagrerfgvat ceboyrz gung gheaf bhg abg npghnyyl gb or jung'f tbvat ba.

#799 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:48 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #794: The definition I half-remember (possibly by Clive Barker?) is that horror represents a hostile intrusion into our world, which must be either defeated or accommodated to resolve the plot. I suspect there's another condition I've mostly forgotten, something about the invasion violating the rules of our world -- thus many alien-invasion stories wouldn't count because invasion from Mars == invasion from Russia.

#800 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 07:52 PM:

Dave Harmon @799: So classic horror by that definition can only be set in our world? Hrm. That lets out PSS, I suppose, which isn't in our world by any stretch of anyone's imagination. Though it's pretty darn grimly horrifying.

#801 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Jacque, thanks for the link to the article about zombie subdivisions.

You've given me a name for something I like to look for. Scan a Delorme's atlas (I still find it easier to browse on paper) for some closely-spaced roads in the middle of nowhere, then go to Google Earth to see what if anything is actually there. Sometimes it's a zombie subdivision, sometimes it's a disused WWII munitions plant.

Besides the states mentioned in the article, there are a lot of them in California too.

#802 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 08:54 PM:

I like Cherie Priest's definition of horror that horror is where the rules break down. Science fiction and fantasy have different rules, but the rules work; horror is when the rules don't work at all and both characters and reader are thrown into confusion. It's the angles of Lovecraft, the impossible rooms in The Shining, and endless doors that open onto the same empty room.

#803 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:40 PM:

thomas 798: Well...maybe. It might be a case of the cat who sat on a hot stove lid would never sit on a cold one again. I also found that PSS had no likeable characters at all, the closest being the main Khepri character, and she...well, let's just say I found the book depressing as hell.

Are the other books like that too? I find that mostly writers either put at least one likeable character in every book or just don't write likeable characters.

Dave 799, Elliott 800, Diatryma 802: Sounds like it's not as simple as I want it to be, though clearly I need to avoid horror. It irritates me when the rules don't make sense even when I'm NOT also being terrified. (Currently pretty pissed off at Moffat for that.) Even nonsensical rules should be internally consistent.

I guess that's really put a finger on what I dislike about horror. I like to figure out how something works, and what the result of certain actions will be. I also like happy, or at least not totally grim, endings (I've read things where all the characters died, but that were OK in that regard). In horror it seems the only consistent rule is: you lose, everyone you like loses, good is always defeated.

If I want that, I'll watch the news. Actually even reality (which almost crushes me when I think about it) isn't quite that grim.

Inconsistency of rules isn't a problem in PSS as far as I can recall. All the badness is predictable from the principles as set forth; it's just inexorable, and none of the characters can stop it. Everything is bad and nothing is good.

I'll read that when I feel I've become excessively cheerful and optimistic. If I remember to, when I get to that lifetime.

So, since there's no way to distinguish dark-but-not-too-dark fantasy from too-dark fantasy, I guess I just need to avoid dark fantasy.

#804 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Xopher @776, Cassy B. @778, thanks :) I actually read The Scar (sequel i think) first and was mightily confused by the lack of context–but that one has different problems.

Elliott Mason @793, oh dear, maybe I won't read it.

Dave Harmon @799, Elliott @800: hostile intrusion into the protagonists' world? Also, Pacific Rim seems fairly clearly not to be horror, so I suspect there may be other conditions?

Diatryma @802, that seems like a good working definition, except it leaves out things like crazy ants (which I am very carefully Not Thinking About)

#805 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 11:01 PM:

Elliott Mason #800: As estelendur points out, intrusion into the protagonist's world would count... but it's certainly possible to write something that's not horror by that definition¹, but is still horrible. A possible term for that would be "grotesque fantasy". (Perhaps Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant would qualify.)

For Pacific Rim, it seems to me that the movie action takes place after the period where it would have qualified UTD -- by the "present" of the movie, it is (literally) a slugfest. The invaders have been "accommodated" as a straightforward enemy, up to and including black-market traders in enemy goodsalien relics.

I'm more curious as to whether War of the Worlds would qualify, in that IIRC the invaders are essentially unstoppable, military force is more-or-less useless against them, and it's not the humans' actions that resolve the plot. The Triffids is another peculiar case -- is the intrusion the Triffids themselves, or the comet? I forget where they originally came from, but in the book they were already "naturalized" as ornamental plants, and it was the comet/meteor shower that turned them into a threat. Maybe that one's more "natural disaster" than "horror".

¹ Which I'm not terribly invested in, especially as I'm only half-remembering it. Has anyone else seen anything like that definition, enough to place it properly?

#806 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 11:12 PM:

Jacque #782: We've got some of that here in Charlottesville too, but it's not just subdivisions: We do have "excess" developments that haven't been bought up, but we also have the infamous Western Bypass, which just got frozen by the Feds as, inter alia, "too little too late" (an entirely reasonable argument). And then there's a half-built would-be hotel on the Downtown Mall (ironically named the Landmark Hotel). The City Council has threatened to condemn that one as "blighted", since the second owner has not been proceeding with the work.

#807 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2014, 11:45 PM:

Diatryma #802: And "Where the rules don't work at all"... where does that put something like F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack?

#808 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:07 AM:

Dave Harmon, I'm not familiar with that one. For ants, as above, I'd say that's a less-spoken rule about how nature acts and the horror is expressed in their name. 'Horror' itself to me translates to a visceral 'this should not be' reaction. The usual trappings of horror, like vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, now have enough rules that I'm more likely to complain when an author gets it wrong.

This is distinct from the 'oh god no' reaction I've gotten from a few books. I think it's a matter of scale-- the two I'm thinking of have people acting as they should not, while more emphatic horror has the world acting as it should not.

#809 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:10 AM:

The town of Maricopa, south of Phoenix, has huge numbers of empty houses and zombie subdivisions. It's a real problem for people who are trying to live there because of crime, squatters, low property values, and poor quality construction. (Values have come up somewhat, but there was a time you could pick up a 4,000 square foot, two story, five or six bedroom, almost new repo'd home for 50K -- though I swear my mobile home was built better than some of those stick-and-stucco McMansions.)

#810 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:30 AM:

Hmmm. My quick-and-dirty definition of horror works out more or less to "supernatural + Kobiyashi Maru". The supernatural part is important, whether it's ghosts, zombies, animals acting in ways that animals don't act, or whatever. But also, it's a no-win situation for the protagonist. They can't escape, they can't defeat it, sooner or later whoopee we're all gonna die! I'm sure there are edge cases, but that covers most of the ones I can think of.

Minor grump: ever since the overhaul of the spam-handling mechanism, every time I close my browser it wipes my name & e-mail information from the posting form, which used to not happen. This is not a complaint, since it's a very minor inconvenience and well worth it for the improvement in the spam situation.

#811 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:59 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @803: My guess is that you would find at least one likable character in Un Lun Dun. It's a very different book than PSS.

#812 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 01:08 AM:

Coincidentally, I just picked up a used copy of Un Lun Dun.

Perdido Street Station and the others in the setting are baroque and rich and awful. I look forward to new ones, but I'm not sure if I could revisit any.

#813 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 01:12 AM:

Lee @ 810

Country Joe runs into Keyser Söze at a shopping mall in Dunwich?

#814 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 01:24 AM:

Oops, wrong Kobiyashi. Well, it was supposed to be surreal...

#815 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:11 AM:

Cygnet @809: I swear my mobile home was built better than some of those stick-and-stucco McMansions.

A friend bought one of those in Houston, reasoning that he'd "never have a chance to buy so much house again." After living in it for a while, he remarked scornfully about the invention of "biodegradable housing."

#816 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 06:34 AM:

Xopher @ 803: I guess that's really put a finger on what I dislike about horror. I like to figure out how something works, and what the result of certain actions will be. I also like happy, or at least not totally grim, endings (I've read things where all the characters died, but that were OK in that regard). In horror it seems the only consistent rule is: you lose, everyone you like loses, good is always defeated.

If I want that, I'll watch the news. Actually even reality (which almost crushes me when I think about it) isn't quite that grim.

Yes, yes, all of this! This very much explains why I can't cope with horror either, except very occasionally. The exceptions tend to be when I'm so busy admiring the style that I'm not actually horrified. Lovecraft, for some reason, does that to me. (I won't deny he sometimes makes me cringe, but that tends to be because of his assumptions about certain groups of people rather than his eldritch monsters.)

#817 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 06:46 AM:

Jacque @815 and cygnet @809 re "biodegradable housing" (great phrase)

My husband and I were just laughing last night over the wombat curse in Digger that is translated "I will build your dwelling from inferior materials!" Not so amusing when you're living in it, I suspect.

#818 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 07:37 AM:

Briefly, because heading off to dentist this morning:

Lee #810: But also, it's a no-win situation for the protagonist. What then of movies like Poltergeist, where the humans do in fact win? (Yes, there are sequels, but the same is often true of ordinary conflicts.)

Mongoose #816: I'm not actually horrified. Lovecraft, for some reason,

The thing is, except for people who are actually phobic about tentacles (or polysyllabics ;)), Lovecraft's triggers are simply dated!

We've gotten used to the idea of a vast universe, which might even be hostile (and we're ready to fight back no matter the odds). Racism has become declasse in our circles, and we squeal happily over photos of Tentacled Horrors From The Stygian Depths Of The Ocean. (We brought lights and sonar down there, too.) Insanity is illness, to be treated by professionals. Even variant subspecies of humanity, or modification of human form (e,g., transferring a brain to a robotic body for convenient space travel) are matters of speculation and curiosity rather than revulsion.

#819 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 07:41 AM:

PS: Compare the different triggers used by Charlie Stross in the Laundry: Brain damage, dire side effects of our technology (or hostile takeover thereof), an unwinnable war against enemies who strike from our midst, a universe where we have no safe home.

#820 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 08:40 AM:

Also, in the Guardian: Time Travellers: Please don't kill Hitler. Yep, SF has taken over.

#821 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 08:52 AM:

Staircase thought on my #819: That last item should probably be more like "our world doesn't actually belong to us".

#822 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 09:32 AM:

Dave H., #818: I've never seen Poltergeist, so I have no opinion.

and @820: If I wanted to eliminate someone from the timeline, I'd be far more likely to do it in the manner of Time and Again -- go back further in time and make sure that his parents never meet. There's more than one way to accomplish a goal.

#823 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 10:00 AM:

Brief fly-by, but it's making my poor eyes itch:
Kobayashi, please.

#824 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 10:38 AM:

I just realized that, for the first time ever, I can nominate my wife's writing for a Hugo.

#825 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:12 PM:

I'm feeling better today. I spent most of 7 hours yesterday riding on or waiting for 6 buses. When I got back from Boskone, my bus card had been deactivated, about 3 months in advance of schedule. So I had to go downtown to renew it. Fortunately, I found the SSI letter so I didn't have to take a detour to the Social Security office. Then I had 2 other errands, one in the far NE corner of the county.

#826 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:22 PM:

Lee: (re horror vs sf/fantasy)

That makes sense. A war story set in some particularly awful bit of WW1 might be more bloody, gory, horrible, and hopeless than most horror stories, and yet wouldn't really seem like horror. But let the survivor of that awful story awake one midnight to discover the ghosts of his previous buddies, whom he sacrificed to ensure his own survival, and we're in a horror movie. Similarly, if a comet smashes into the Earth and takes out civilization, so that there are bands of cannibals wandering around eating survivors. you're in an SF-flavored post-apocalyptic story. But if the dead start shamlbling across the face of the earth and eating survivors, you're in a horror, Zombie Apocalypse flavor. (But I thought WWZ was not really a horror story at all.)

I think the Change series is a weird mix of these. There are times when you feel like the rules are all changing that feel kinda like horror, and other times when it feels much more like fantasy or even like an SF-ish post-apocalyptic story.

#827 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:26 PM:

Mongoose's Adventures in Marketing, part 1 in (possibly?) an occasional series.

One of the local universities informed me that its student-wide advertising tended to be pretty expensive, and thought I might do better e-mailing round all the relevant departments and asking if they'd let me put a flyer on their student notice board. So I've been doing that, and so far have had three replies out of thirty-nine (not bad considering I asked them to reply within a week and it's Friday afternoon). I signed it Mx [initials] [surname].

None of the replies so far has used my title. I'm not so much annoyed about this as amused. The first one had no salutation at all, which is fine for a short e-mail reply. The second had "Hi" on its own. The third... dear me. Although Ms [Poshname] was very happy to help and offered to take ten copies of my flyer, she addressed me as "Dear [surname]".

I'm now wondering what I'll get next time someone replies.

#828 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Oh my. That was a long day. (I'd have been in screaming fits before the end of it.)

#829 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 12:34 PM:

The Borg in Star Trek are an insertion of horror into the universe. Partly, that's the creepiness of cybernetic zombies, but I think a big part of it is that soon after you start fighting them, your phasers stop having much effect on them, and they keep bypassing your defenses. They violate the rules of how you expect things to work in Star Trek. And even though those rules are often silly (Klingon boarding parties with swords?), once you have internalized them in your mind, things that break them probably kinda register as horror.

By contrast, I don't remember ever thinking the same thing about episodes with Q in them, even though he is much more breaking the rules than the Borg are.

#830 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 01:14 PM:

Warm Bodies didn't seem like horror at all, despite the brain-eating walking corpses and walking aggressive skeletons. Partly it was that the hero is on of the "monsters," but I think mostly it's that the comedy element made it seem impossible that it would end on a totally grim note.

Also, the rules are consistent, bullets work (mostly) and so on.

#831 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 01:23 PM:

albatross @ 829... Did you know that Q's dad was a world-reknown oboeist?

#832 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 01:30 PM:

Please tell me that when people seriously argue that 'supercede' is and ought to be an acceptable spelling, I don't have to

a) engage them seriously and try to convince them, or

b) flame them into charred bits of flesh and one scorched skeletal hand holding a dictionary.

Please tell me I should shake my head and walk away.

#833 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 01:58 PM:

So if I wanted to search the amassed AKICIML wisdom that is Making Light's comment threads, how do I do it? I can't find a box on the front page anymore, and when I went to /makinglight/search I got a wordpress page. It purported to let me search the comments, and then only linked me to the top posts (without any sign of how FAR DOWN the comments the string * I want occurs).

Please tell me there's a better way?

* for the record, 'candied'. I am candying some citrus peel and I remember people sharing their algorithms for this a while back.

#834 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:06 PM:

833: google: site: "candied"
The first hit is the fruitcake post. The second one is the chutney post.

#835 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:06 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 833

"search term" site:

Type it in google, or (easier) just go to the front page of makinglight in Chrome, type "site:" in front of the address, and a space and what you want ot search for after the address.

#836 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:18 PM:

I was going to suggest a similar Google search string, but it looks like they all have the same problem Elliott complained about: you get to the top of the page and then have to search within the page for the string. I don't know if there's a way to get a list of search results which gets you straight to the relevant comments.

#837 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:19 PM:

I wonder if the definition of "horror" given here makes it difficult to write an SF/Fantasy horror story. In horror, the rules are broken, but in SF/Fantasy, the rules are different. So to do a fantasy horror, you have to establish the different rules before you can break them.

The example of the Borg being horror injected into Star Trek works because the rules of the ST universe had been established already.

But in a SF/horror short story in a new universe, is someone walking out of the TV standard operating procedure or horror from the beyond? You can't tell yet.

#838 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:35 PM:

dotless ı @ 836

Elliott Mason @ 833

I go to the page, hit ctrl+F, and search the page.

Note to self: before replying with solution, read problem carefully.

#839 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:50 PM:

Xopher Halftongue@832: I always remember learning to spell that word by correcting my own postings to Usenet: back in the day, as many here will probably remember, one had to edit the headers of the new post to add a 'Supersedes: ...' line.

#840 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 02:55 PM:

If your plants are pollinated by a spelling bee, do they produce super seeds?

#841 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 03:04 PM:

iamnothing @825: That's a lousy day of bus travel. Sympathies.

#842 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 04:27 PM:

Mongoose@827, I'm curious; how would one pronounce "Mx."? "Hello, is this Mix Surname?" seems a trifle awkward to me, but perhaps that's just unfamiliarity.*

I think it's likely that people are just confused. I remember when "Ms." started to be promoted as a valid title in the 1970s (why, yes, I AM older than dirt) and how long it took for it to be accepted. Give it time...

*see below about being older than dirt...

#843 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 05:23 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #830: Sorry, Xopher, but Merriam-Webster Online says it's a variant dating back to the 17th century.

Buddha Buck #837: I wonder if the definition of "horror" given here makes it difficult to write an SF/Fantasy horror story. In horror, the rules are broken, but in SF/Fantasy, the rules are different. So to do a fantasy horror, you have to establish the different rules before you can break them.

Yes. This is also a problem with SF mysteries, where in theory anything could be pulled in. I think Niven laid out the necessary rules, in one of his prologues: If any SFnal device is relevant to the plot, it needs to be laid out ahead of time, and you need also to make sure that the world-rules don't provide alternate answers. Naturally, this applies as much to fantasy as science fiction mysteries.

For horror, I suspect the necessity is likewise to lay out the world-rules first, and show what normal life is like. I recall a trilogy of which I only read the first volume, Of Tangible Ghosts. That novel was not horror, it was international intrigue. However, it was set in an alternate history where ghosts were the difference -- for example, prior wars had left large sections of territory effectively uninhabitable, due to the excessive numbers of ghosts produced.

#844 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 05:30 PM:

Continuing from #843: To make it horror, the author would have had to bring in a new factor -- perhaps a new sort of ghost that was prone to possessing people, or something that freed ghosts from their death-sites to throng the cities, or even your classic Chthuloid horror.

#845 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 05:31 PM:

*sends the bees to Dave*

#846 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 05:35 PM:

Xopher #845: So has that got them out of your bonnet? ;-)

#847 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 05:47 PM:

And I forgot what I'd come back here to post: My normally technophobic boss¹ pointed me to The USPS's "Love Letters Project".

I should have suspected something was up; the sly dog didn't tell me that he and his wife are on the front page! (Interview #1)

¹ Obligatory plug: Daedalus Used Books of Charlottesville, not to be confused with the Baltimore outfit. No link, because no web presence (but Yelp loves us).

#848 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 05:50 PM:

Yes, hI've had them there for a while, so time for them to comb out. Honey soit qui mal y pense.

#849 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 05:58 PM:

Cassy B @ 842: there's no general agreement. I prefer "Mix", but other people pronounce it in different ways. I'll grant that it isn't the most obvious thing to pronounce.

Xopher @ 848: *splorf*

#850 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 09:13 PM:

P J Evans @828 and dcb @841: Fortunately, there aren't many days like that, and the weather was nice. Also, I got a few things done.

#852 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 10:24 PM:

Xopher #848: I had to look that up, but ow!

#853 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 10:30 PM:

Steve C. @ #851: I did the poor-woman's-version of that last June, when I took Megabus from Atlanta to Minneapolis and back to stay with Elise. It wasn't free, but it was cheap, and I recouped part of the cost by selling a story to my local alternative weekly.

#854 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2014, 11:05 PM:

Dave Harmon: That's L.E. Modesitt, from his more recent writing. He is a writer who has definitely improved with time*, and though I was introduced to his work through the Recluce series, I much prefer his science fiction. Of Tangible Ghosts is much closer in style to his SF work than the bulk of his fantasy.

*Some of his early work—which is often out of print—is downright incomprehensible, or you can see what point he was trying to get at, but he didn't quite get there. But as I said, he got better with time.

#855 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 02:39 AM:

Heh heh.

#856 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 03:03 PM:

Without REAL-ID license, will TSA require passport if plane never leaves USA?

Remember when "Papers, please" was the sign you were in Bad Guy territory?

#857 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 04:35 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 856... Major Strasse wants his Letters of Transit back.

#858 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 05:49 PM:

I seasoned the Warner Ware cast iron pot I found a few weeks back. The lid came out great:

The sides and bottom came out a bit patchy:

I guess I'll lay on a second coat.

#859 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 08:39 PM:

A woman, a dog, and a hunnert-dollar surgery.

(Scroll carefully--there's a slightly gory picture between the story, which you want to read, and the comments, which...)

#860 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 08:50 PM:

Coming back in to note that, while I've been active on Facebook and Twitter as they are apps on my mobile telephonic device and that little thing I can take to bed, I have been laid up since Thursday with a little bit of fever. 102 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday morning. It is now back to a normal (for me) 97.4. My engine normally runs cold. I thought things were odd on Tuesday when I was being examined by my friendly Ecuadorean nephrologist and my temperature was 98.3. It seemed a trifle warm to me, but he thought nothing of it. So, on Thursday and Friday I found myself battling triple digits and wondering why, if my body was so hot, I felt such chills?

#861 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 09:42 PM:

Sorry to hear you've not been feeling well, Fragano. Was just thinking of you before I came to this page. I don't envy you having to grade all those student papers that you quote the worst of from time to time. I've been copy-editing a book for a friend who is mostly a better writer, but this little gem told me it is time to take a break: The eyeballs in the next room quickly closed their door slowly and then turned the deadbolt.

#862 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 09:58 PM:

Fragano, sorry you're ill. Sending get-well wishes if you want them.

Allan, that is some ugly writing there. Sympathies.

#863 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 10:10 PM:

Allan Beatty #861: Thanks. Those are amazing eyeballs.

#864 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 10:11 PM:

Xopher #862: Thank you.

#865 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 10:37 PM:

Allan Beatty @ 861: That's terrible! Mr. and Mrs. Eyeball deserve to have their surname capitalized.

#866 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 11:06 PM:

Fragano, my best wishes for your prompt recovery.

Allan, those are some talented eyeballs. Prehensile lashes? Also, moving quickly and slowly simultaneously implies some kind of advanced temporal mechanics.

AKICIML: any French-speaking Fluorospherians willing to translate a few brief sentences into French for me so my Dresden Files fanfic will be less cringeworthy? (Sidenote: "Cringeworthy" would be a great name for a butler.)

#867 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2014, 11:10 PM:

OtterB @ 717: who says JPII wouldn't need a phone? Tools seem plausible, given that the "witch" of Endor was actually a medium; something impersonal is harder to condemn. Or consider Cordwainer Smith's "Angerhelm"; tools may just be easier.

Xopher @ 776, etc.: I am also not fond of horror qua horror (as I perceive it*), but I suspect different people draw the line in different places; e.g., is Last Call horror rather than dark fantasy? I thought PSS was brilliant in ideas \and/ intensely humanistic (speciesism not intended); I also thought the ending was positive, not an everything-has-fallen line. I've been less impressed by later works, although The City and The City (cap?) was a fascinating parable.

B. Durbin @ 854: I liked the first Recluce book as I felt it was an excellent working out of "nobody has all the right answers" -- the ~opposite ("one person has all the right answers") being far too common in both SF and fantasy. (Similar kudos to A Sorcerer and a Gentleman.) Later works palled; like you, I find his SF mostly more interesting.

* Some of my sense of the boundary comes from the late-lamented Year's Best Fantasy and Horror; ISdTM that Windling and Datlow deliberately divided along that line, although some of Datlow's selections were more how-well-can-we-do-a-classic or what-can-we-learn-from-this rather than how-many-readers-can-we-make-scream.

#868 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 01:02 AM:

Allan Beatty @861: That's truly Thogworthy. (Good name for a barbarian butler?)

#869 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 05:47 AM:

Fragano: hope you are feeling better now.

Allan: oh my. I am agog at the eyeballs.

#870 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 08:41 AM:

Fragano... I hope things improve soon.

#871 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 08:44 AM:

Fragano, hope you're feeling better now.

#872 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 10:14 AM:

Open Thready kvetch: Why does it bother me so much when people screw up symbolism?

I'm not particularly patriotic, but it annoys the heck out of me when people fly ragged, faded flags, or stick little flags in the ground on Memorial Day with the flag part trailing in the dirt.

Also, upside-down horseshoes! THE LUCK IS DRAINING OUT! And I don't believe in luck, moon magic, cold iron or any of the associated numina.

AND UNICORNS DON'T LOOK LIKE HORSES WITH HORNS EITHER. I know they don't exist, but your conception of this nonexistent creature is incorrect!

I guess it's like the guy in Good Omens: the church he staunchly avoided going to was the Church of England.

#873 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 10:38 AM:

Allan Beatty #861, Q. Pheevr #868: Indeed, I see Thog has an actual category for adventurous eyeballs.

#874 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:09 PM:

Thanks, all. I am feeling better.

Lila #866: Euripides Cringeworthy sounds like the perfect name for a butler. I have been listening to some M. C. Beaton 'Agatha Raisin' stories. One story featured a butler named Gustave who referred to the doughty detective as a 'Mrs Sultana', which amused me considerably. It is strange to contemplate that when I started reading sf back in the 1960s I didn't think that the future would involve getting canned Home Service (as it then was) programmes on my telephone, in America, while lying ill in bed.

#875 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Fragano: and his wife, Tawdry Cringeworthy. (I'm glad to hear you're feeling better!)

My personal "I'm living in the FUTURE!!" moments have included IRC chat with people in two different hemispheres and time zones separated by 5 to 12 hours; and live video chat with my child in Moscow. For free. Hell, I remember when long distance phone calls within the same state were around $4 per minute.

#876 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:33 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #874: I just had a text chat with my friend several states away, from a hiking trail, including sending him pictures of an interesting stump as I passed it. We could have done voice or Facetime, but I was walking....

#877 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:53 PM:

Okay, so here I am with a couple of, ahem, graduate student essays to read, and this sentence stands out: As the Europeans came trying to exploit the farmland for crops to export to Europe, deforestation and soil degradation became rampid. My first thought is 'does anyone have the number for the suicide hotline?'

#878 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 12:54 PM:

Okay, so here I am with a couple of, ahem, graduate student essays to read, and this sentence stands out: As the Europeans came trying to exploit the farmland for crops to export to Europe, deforestation and soil degradation became rampid. My first thought is 'does anyone have the number for the suicide hotline?'

#879 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 01:38 PM:

I haven't heard the word rampid since I was an undergraduate. It was the name of a mouse.

#880 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 01:44 PM:

HLN Local person has purchased a membership to Loncon 3. No flights or hotels have been booked yet. The State Department website on passports is utterly confusing.

#881 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 01:59 PM:

HLN: Offer for house in Portland has been accepted with closing date at the end of March, and local woman thinks she'd better hurry up and find a short term apartment in Pittsburgh. Looking forward to house hunting, but not to shepherding two cats through the move. They've lived their entire 13 years in this house, and cats Do Not Enjoy Change.

#882 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 02:03 PM:

janetl, how short term? I have an attic with a futon in it; if you think you need just a few weeks, something could be worked out.

#883 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 02:18 PM:

Xopher #803:

I think in the New Crobuzon books the lack of likeable characters is a deliberate part of the point, rather than a limitation of the author. In other books, the point is different.

So, I'd say the detective, Tyador Borlú, who is one of the viewpoint characters in The City and The City is likeable, as is Deeba in Un Lun Dun, and Billy and Marge and Dane in Kraken.

#884 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 03:13 PM:

Carrie S. @ 882: That's very kind, but there are 2 adults and 2 cats, and we probably need at least 2 months. (How symmetrical.) We'll be looking for a house, and then it will be at least 40 days to closing. My husband will be working from home, so I think we need a 2 bedroom apartment, so he can go into an "office" and close the door.

I hope we can meet up! I'll be looking for a house, looking for a job, and see about volunteering with Confluence-sff.

#885 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 03:33 PM:

@janetl: It has been 17 years since I lived in Pittsburgh, but recall enjoying it a lot. Many neighborhoods to choose from, with different character.

#886 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Fragano at 860: I was informed by my doctor that it's not uncommon to get chills when one is feverish. She explained why and it made all kinds of sense, but unfortunately I was sick at the time and not tracking. It has something to do with your body fighting infection, I think.

Hope you feel better soon!

#887 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 04:37 PM:

You know, janet, it occurs to me that my friend is looking to sell his house, and their moving date is in a little less than a month. If you'd like to email me at (rot13), I can put you guys in touch. I haven't a clue whether his house is suitable for your needs, but it might be.

#888 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 04:59 PM:

HLN: Local woman, in the pursuit of bias tape to put mouthguards on the hook ends of her aged bras (so they'll quit chewing little holes in the skin of her back), excavates a path to her sewing machine, so a new caftan may actually be in the cards before summer. "Woo-hoo!" she is reported to have said. In so doing, she also unearths a pre-finished source of plywood for the shelf she's installing to conveniently house kitchen clock and electronic scale. "Must be nesting season," she speculates.

She also discovers that recently-emptied laundry soap box is just the right size for household paperwork to-be-filed box. "I realized," she remarks, "that if I just drop stuff in on top as it comes in, it's sorted chronologically by default. I can then just deal it into individual categories at the end of the year. That eliminates a whole bunch of fiddly hand-work. WØØt!" she adds.

When asked to comment, local male guinea pig says, "Girls! Girls over there! Girls! Please, talk to me! Girls?"

Lila 872: Why does it bother me so much when people screw up symbolism?

Me, too. My buddy Matt, at his handfasting, had a bunch of those (admittedly, very pretty) Idea star lanterns hanging up in the reception hall. Made me nuts, because the center point aims downward. The priestess agreed; bothered her, too.

Also, upside-down horseshoes! THE LUCK IS DRAINING OUT!

Problem is, you can casually hang them upside down. Right side up takes technology. You'll be proud to know that the horseshoe over my front door is hanging properly.


Do too. :-)

iamnothing @880: HLN Local person has purchased a membership to Loncon 3. No flights or hotels have been booked yet.

Wow. I had no idea they were offering retroactive attending memberships. Where did you book your time travel, and what did it cost? (Or am I totally confused?)

Lizzy L @886: I was informed by my doctor that it's not uncommon to get chills when one is feverish.

I speculate that it has to do with reducing the radiation of heat from the body, as well as shivering to generate more. "Burn! Burn, I tell you!" I notice that, even if I'm drinking plenty of fluids, I also don't sweat when I'm feverish. I speculate that that's more of the heat-hoarding response. Then, of course, after the fever breaks, I start sweating profusely. (Almost said, "like a pig.")

Whenever I get a fever, I instinctively wrap up warm, so I don't generally experience the chills thing. It's totally perverse, I know, but I love me a good fever. (Hey, if you're gonna be sick, might as well enjoy the parts that don't actually, you know, hurt.)

#889 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 05:11 PM:

Lizzy L #886, Fragano #860

The chills during fever are for the usual reason: your body is trying to get warmer -- its thermostat is set higher than your current body temperature, even though your current body temperature is above normal.

#890 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 05:19 PM:

I'm watching Season 2 of the anime 'Silver Spoon' (geek from Tokyo goes to rural agricultural college to get away from his nutso family; hijinks ensue and everyone learns something) and he acquires a horseshoe to hang up for luck.

He ties strings through the nail-holes near the heel end and hangs it by that.

I've never seen a horseshoe hung on string that way but it makes perfect sense (AND is RIGHT SIDE UP).

#891 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 05:20 PM:

Addendum to my 890: screenshot. Not a string through the nail holes as I remembered; just tied around the ends.

#892 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Jacque @ 888: Loncon 3. I do not think that means what you think it means. *grin*

#893 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 05:53 PM:

While changing my ISP has made a difference, the olf one was delivering only a tiny fraction of the line's capacity during the evening, I have also done a bit of messing around with the phone extensions. The process seems to be rather different in the UK to the USA.

The basic British technology which connects the Telco wire to the customer's wires is the NTE5. This has a removable faceplate with an internal plug fitting into a socket. You can make all your connections to the faceplate and just plug it in.

The POTS voice signal and the broadband signal go down the same wire, and have to be separated by filters. The basic easy setup is a plug-in "microfilter" for every phone. But this puts the broadband signals on every extension wire, and picks up all the electrical noise that's out there.

You can get an ADSL faceplate. This has two sockets, one unfiltered for ADSL and one filtered for the ordinary phone. There are also IDC terminals for hard-wired extensions. These IDC connectors need to right tool to push the wire in.

It turns out that instead of twenty-five quid for the pre-quality tool that the telco engineer carries, you can get a clone for a couple of quid on eBay, and free delivery. Or, fuel included, you can spend around twice that to get to your local DIY store for a cheap piece of plastic.

I bought the Krone clone, I spent an awkward hour disconnecting the old faceplate and connecting the new. These things are never in an easy polace to get to.

Everything worked.

The connection speed reported at ADSL level doubled. The speed delivered seemed better, and right now it has come to close on the same doubling.

Did I need to change ISP? I've been getting better delivery of data all week. It would have been worth it without the hardware fix. Doubling the peak-time speed from my old ISP would still have been sod all.

But don't expect an extension to be wired according to the specified colour codes. Check how the old connection is made.

#894 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Jacque @888: How did Loncon 3 end up linked to Lonestarcon3? I could have used a time-machine, though, to attend multiple panels at the same time.

#895 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 06:18 PM:

Dave Bell @ #893

The blue and white pair are the canonical ones for extension wiring.

Orange and white are occasionally encountered in addition, but those are the ringing circuit used on the old "Loop Disconnect" (LD) rotary dial phones too prevent extension bells "tinkling" when another phone was dialling out. If you have those wires in place on a modern system (using all tone dial (DTMF) telephones) it can seriously impact your ADSL performance since only one of the orange pair is connected and this acts as an aerial (which has the effect of injecting a vast amount of radio frequency noise into the ADSL modem input).

#896 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 07:05 PM:

Lila @872 Also, upside-down horseshoes! THE LUCK IS DRAINING OUT! And I don't believe in luck, moon magic, cold iron or any of the associated numina.

Having a lump of cold iron to hand is useful not only if the fair folk come calling, but is also efficacious when applied properly to mortal trespassers. (NOT RECOMMENDED)

I guess it's like the guy in Good Omens: the church he staunchly avoided going to was the Church of England.

Not just him; that exactly describes my own church-going practices. It's not uncommon amongst people I know.

#897 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 08:12 PM:

Neil W: Not just him; that exactly describes my own church-going practices. It's not uncommon amongst people I know.

With the substitution of "Episcopal" for C of E, mine too.

#898 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 08:22 PM:

Neil W @#872

Of course, the place where the horseshoe is properly open end down is over the blacksmith's forge.

(Hmm... Luck Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Sparks?)

I know a blacksmith who tells a really good version of why horseshoes are lucky, BTW.

#899 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 08:26 PM:

Henry Troup: even I wouldn't argue folklore with a blacksmith. (They have fire. And hammers. And considerable upper-body strength.)

#900 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 09:06 PM:

Hmm, as a Pagan who attends an Episcopal church every Sunday...well, it's interesting.

#901 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 09:35 PM:

Going back to the allergy thread, I am today experiencing my third ever systemic reaction (full-body rash), probably from Cipro or Flagyl, which I'm on to fight an H Pylori infection. The rash is confusingly accompanied by modest fever, headache, and muscle weakness, and I also had nausea earlier. I suspect both drug side effects and allergic reaction. Doctors have been consulted. I've stopped the antibiotics and taken Benadryl and Advil (only when the fevwr went over 101). Xopher kindly went out for ginger ale and saltines. I'm feeling much better now, but I itch like the devil.

#902 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 09:40 PM:

Lenore Jones: ack! I hope things settle down quickly, and that you feel much better by tomorrow.

Xopher, I seem to remember you and I having some common ground on the issue of white wine for Communion, though I'm more of an agnostic now than I was at the time of that conversation.

#903 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 10:32 PM:

I've had full-body rashes -- for quite a while, I'd get one that lasted a week in the spring, when the weather warmed up for the first time. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Best of luck for a speedy recovery, Lenore.

(The second winter after I moved to Houston, I got them three times: in February when there was a warm spell, then again in March, and then when that one was almost gone it decided to start over from scratch. [No pun intended.] Thankfully I haven't gotten one since then.)

#904 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 11:17 PM:

Jacque #888: Beg pardon, but the "Idea Star Lantern" in that image is certainly not a pentagram, much less a pentacle. Note how the design runs without interruption over what would be the sides of a pentagram's central pentagon. <squints> For that matter, I don't think the point edges are even colinear.

#905 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2014, 11:56 PM:

When I make stars, they almost always come out upside down because of the slight slant. I decided they're all moving a little, so it doesn't count as upside down.

#906 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Cadbury Moose @895

BT used to cut off the bell wire with an I-plate, and you can still get them.

The standard British plug-in microfilter should have it's own ring capacitor, with just 2 and 5 connected to the line, and outputting the ring signal on 3. There are cheap ones which get this wrong. If you have something that needs a Ring signal, a BT SIN346 compliant microfilter will give you it.

I left the Ring line disconnected.

#907 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 02:43 AM:

Mongoose @892: Loncon 3. I do not think that means what you think it means. *grin*

Um, er, um. Yes, well. Uh, large weather we're having, isn't it?

(I would swear, on anything you'd care to name, that there was a "star" in between "Lon" and "con." Um, well, and an "e." Okay, maybe I should go to bed now....)

iamnothing @894: How did Loncon 3 end up linked to Lonestarcon3?

Because I was reading in word-units, rather than actually parsing the, you know, words. And because I am a potato.*

* A potato has many eyes, but does not see.

Dave Harmon @904: Conceded. But it still bugs me.

me @888: Ikea. Jeez. :-\

#908 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 07:11 AM:

The better the blacksmith, the less upper-body strength required, I think. Blacksmiths make tools.

Thog's Masterclass is a wonder and a startlement. I might name a band Lemurs Towards Destruction.

As far as "Mx": I am starting to feel old-fashioned. It's good. It means the culture is advancing.

#909 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 07:38 AM:


That's funny. I've never seen one that didn't.

#910 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 09:24 AM:

John A.: here's one, supporting the British royal arms.

Note the cloven hooves, donkey-style tail, and beard.

#911 ::: KevinT ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 09:35 AM:

Lila @ 866: I'm French and I'd be happy to help.
Re-lurking now.

#912 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 09:38 AM:

Thomas #889: That is truly counterintuitive. In effect, my body felt as if it was at (say) 90 degrees and was trying to get back to 97.6, while it was at 102. Those shivers were pretty awful.

#913 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 09:43 AM:

Kevin T, awesome! Please email me at (ROT13) yvyn ng znex naq yvyn qbg pbz (remove spaces and replace the "at") and I will be most grateful for your help.

If I can offer any beta-type advice in return (I'm pretty good on vegetable/herb gardening, physical therapy, medical terminology in general, and a few other areas), I'd be more than happy to.

#914 ::: KevinT ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 10:03 AM:

Lila @913: Done. Let me know if you got my email.

#915 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 11:40 AM:

Wasn't this what the Greeks called a unicorn?

#916 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Jacque @ 907: all I'm saying is... sleep is good.

On that note, local herpestid has bitten the bullet and ordered one of those bed wedges. The thing is, the asthma makes me cough, which on its own is not generally a big problem. However, the coughing tends to give me reflux, which makes me cough more, which... you get the idea. Once it's viciously circled a few times, it can be pretty unpleasant. So I have recently been sleeping propped up, which helps both the coughing and the reflux, except that if you're not very careful doing that, you can give yourself a bad back. This was what happened to me on Thursday. I was walking bent over all day, and I'd really rather not go through that again, hence the wedge.

I prefer not to think of myself as old so much as, you know, mature. Like fine wine and all that.

#917 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 02:37 PM:

Jaque #888 - what i read was that if you hang a horseshoe points upwards, the devil can sit in it. My vague memories are of variations in the saying and which way up a horseshoe should be depdending on geographical location.

#918 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 02:40 PM:

My sincere sympathies! (Been there, have those - and flat is not a way I sleep. Even a little slope helps.)

#919 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 03:22 PM:

Dave Bell wrote @ #906

BT used to cut off the bell wire with an I-plate, and you can still get them.

This moose is clearly out of touch and has not heard of an I-plate.

The standard British plug-in microfilter should have it's own ring capacitor, with just 2 and 5 connected to the line, and outputting the ring signal on 3. There are cheap ones which get this wrong. If you have something that needs a Ring signal, a BT SIN346 compliant microfilter will give you it.

Yes, but if you have the ring wire in play, it acts as a large antenna since it's a single conductor - the other leg of the orange pair is not used - and will pick up any interference that's floating about and feed it back through the bell isolating capacitor, degrading the signal to noise ratio on your ADSL link.

There's a hellacious lot of RF noise in built-up areas in the UK, mostly 50Hz modulated carriers from switchmode power supplies and plasma televisions. (Not to mention the infamous powerline networking radio jammers.)

I left the Ring line disconnected.

As you should (unless it's absolutely essential, in which case an RF filter on the bell line is a very good idea).

I need to find my Krone tool and do some rewiring at some point...

...ah! A swift websearch reveals that the I-plate is presumably a master socket front with an RF filter on the bell line. Splendid!

#920 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 03:29 PM:

Xopher, #832: If I didn't know that "supersede" was an exception, I would spell it "supercede" by analogy to "precede". It's one of those words that I have to stop and think about.

Cassy, #842: There are still a surprising number of curmudgeonly holdouts who insist (in the mistaken belief that they are being Terribly Witty) that a woman referring to herself as "Ms." must be a manuscript. It all comes down to issues of agency, and who is allowed to determine what a woman calls herself.

Interestingly, the use of "Ms." dates back to the 17th century, but it fell out of use and only began to be proposed again in the 20th century. Contrary to popular impression, there were attempts to revive it as early as 1901. I believe that much of the lingering resistance to it is the direct result of "not wanting the feminists to have won".

Allan, #861: Ouch! That sounds like one of the samples in the Wretched Writing book I picked up at GAFilk. (I think Fragano got the other available copy.) Examples range from 19th-century purple prose to things which have acquired unintended double entendres due to language change to... well, things that a decent editor should have caught even if the writer didn't. There were authors I recognized from English class and authors I recognized from years of SF reading. There were political authors writing steamy potboilers (and failing miserably at both the porn and the suspense). It's the sort of thing that gives one an idea of what dealing with a slushpile is like -- but every one of these examples is from an actual published book. I recommend it highly.

Lila, #872: One of my friends has a nice curmudgeonly rant about "Tell me again how much patriotism it shows to fly HALF a flag?", to which I will add, "And does your American flag have a tag saying 'Made in China' on it?"

Also, one of my most cherished art prints shows a traditional unicorn looking at the display window of "Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe" with a caption of, "ONE MORE fuzzy-wuzzy, bouncy-wouncy, cutesy-wootsy little unicorn and I'M GONNA RUN SOMEBODY THROUGH."

David G., #903: Ouch.

The way I found out I was allergic to penicillin was Interesting, though not life-threatening. I'd taken it many times before without trouble, but this time I had the Strep Throat From Hell and it must have been a higher dosage or something. All of a sudden the skin all over my body became hypersensitive -- as in, wearing clothes hurt! I freaked out, and my mother called the doctor (I was still living with my parents at the time), and the doctor said stop taking it NOW and never take penicillin again -- the next dose might send me into anaphylactic shock.

(Also interesting: the spellcheck doesn't recognize "anaphylactic".)

John A. / Lila: Even that one has a fairly horsey-looking head. Here's one where the origin in goat stock is a little more obvious. The head, I suspect, is what most people key on.

#921 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 03:36 PM:

Open threadiness: a friend on the Book of Face has just posted an alert about a Japanese restaurant in New York which has been closed by health and safety inspectors (temporarily, until it gets its act together).

I'm not in New York, nor ever likely to be, but for some reason I looked at the article, and I saw this:

"The restaurant offers sushi specials including the Lady Gaga ($16), made with shrimp tempura, eel and avocado, topped with spicy tuna..."

I'm afraid my immediate reaction was "O tempura, O morays!"

#922 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 03:44 PM:

mongoose: GROAN!

KevinT, thanks for your help. From posting to first favorite: less than 45 mins. A new record!

Lee: although it has a less horsey head, it has a more horsey tail. Don't think I've ever seen one with a goat tail, though.

#923 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 04:52 PM:

Mongoose #921: You really shouldn't channel Ginger or Serge that often!

#924 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 05:31 PM:


You'll see a whole string of those in this earlier Open Thread:

I think it was sparked off by Janet Croft at #19.

#925 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 05:40 PM:

But Fragano, Mongoose needs Ginger with their sushi. I do realize they need a Serge least currently.

#926 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 05:49 PM:

Xopher @ 925: I have just laughed so hard the cat nearly fell off my shoulder. Thank you!

#927 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:09 PM:

HLN: area woman is traveling both to (Toronto) and from places that are currently 21 degrees. "Easily amused, yes" she says.

#928 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:11 PM:


#929 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:22 PM:

Cadbury Moose @919

It looks like the I-plate, which is now called the BT Broadband Accelerator, is semi-obsolete.

The original NTE5 Master Socket wasn't made with broadband in mind, and connects the Ring wire. It most, you can disconnect the wire for a wired extension. If it's plug-in that option isn't available. Putting in an I-plate disconnects the wire.

An NTE5 with a BT Openreach logo makes the I-plate redundant. An ADSL faceplate also doesn't need the I-plate. Most of the references to the I-plate come from around five years ago.

#930 ::: Cal Dunn ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:38 PM:

I knew it was time to go home one night when I was writing an email in which I used the word "supercede"... and then got cross at the spellchecker for flagging it as wrong. I know better, honest. I even know how to use "comprise" properly.

Lee @920: When I found out I was allergic to penicillin (I had a lot of middle-ear infections when I was little, and it was the usual dose: I didn't have the hypersensitivity but I had terrible itchy hives all over) the doctor told me it's something that just happens occasionally, and I might be fine with another dose but I might go into anaphylactic shock so it was best to play it safe.

This led to a fun conversation with a doctor:

Cal: *fills in patient details form at new doctor's surgery, writes "Penicillin" in the allergy box*

[ten minutes later]

Doctor: Are you allergic to anything?
Cal: Yes, penicillin.

[five minutes later]

Doctor: So you'll take these penicillin lozenges...
Cal: No, I won't.
Doctor: Why not?

#931 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:41 PM:

Mongoose @916, my husband has that problem. One thing that helps him is taking an antacid (in his case, a Pepcid AC, but I doubt the brand matters) shortly before bed.

(Another thing that helped him was eliminating chocolate from his diet, to which it turns out he is mildly allergic; his unidentified skin rashes also went away...)


#932 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:41 PM:

Or the fun of being allergic to penicillin, and the doctor prescribing cephalosporin. I don't think so....

#933 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 06:47 PM:

Lee @920,

I write formal business letters for a living. If I had to guess whether Jane Doe, Purchasing Agent was a Mrs. or a Miss for salutation purposes, I'd have to take myself out back and shoot myself...

#934 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 09:15 PM:

Cal Dunn #930: Yikes! Were you able to find another, more competent, doctor?

#935 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 10:13 PM:

Grrrr . . . old college friend, long-time coworker, both diagnosed.

Fuck Cancer.

#936 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 11:14 PM:

Cassy B. #931

In my life it's hard enough solving the gender-symmetric problem of whether Jane Doe is Ms or Dr or Professor.

At least Dr is relatively safe -- so far I've only come across two people with a strong objection to it, and neither has been female (though I wouldn't actually be surprised if some senior and eminent nurses or midwives fell into that category).

#937 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2014, 11:18 PM:

Cassy, #933: Oh, I agree. From my POV, it's none of anyone else's business whether I'm married or not unless they're looking for a romantic partner! But you do get that subset who don't want to enter the 20th century. These are almost entirely male, except for the occasional female relative who refuses to address a woman by any form other than Mrs. Husbandsname.

Open Threadiness: Dance meets computer graphics, to spectacular effect.
A Japanese dance troupe celebrates Tokyo winning the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

#938 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 02:31 AM:

"Dance meets computer graphics, to spectacular effect"

I watched this and thought "This is a bunch of techniques that need to be put together into a dance."

Then I looked at the related videos, and in fact this was a bunch of techniques that the troupe pulled *from* a dance:

This is a longer piece, with some of the same graphics and sequences, but it's a clear story (albeit one which could have been pulled from any number of silly videogames). It also does way better unification of bodies and graphics.

I like this art form. Who else is doing it?

(Must suggest it to my demoscene friends.)

#939 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 02:40 AM:

I can't say I've got any objection to someone referring to me as Dr, but it's a good sign to me that they've not done their research. You see, I'm not a Doctor yet. Give me another year, and that might change.

Yes, I'm mightily amused by the journal I've dealt with recently that insisted on referring to me in all communication as Dr Wolfe.

#940 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 03:19 AM:

Lila @ 910: No, no. I mean a real unicorn.

#941 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 07:00 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #940: You mean like This guy's?

#942 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 07:20 AM:

I had four more replies yesterday. Again, not one of them used my title. I have to conclude that they're all thinking "weird unfamiliar title is weird and may bite".

#943 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 08:17 AM:

Thomas @936, oh, yes. Mostly inquiries come from businesses, which means "Mr." and "Ms." are de rigueur. (Although that leaves the problem of assigning gender to "Lynn" and "Pat" and "Chris" and "Kim". I'll actually start looking for social media pages in hopes of seeing a photo, and I'm not even on Facebook! Failing that, it's "Dear Chris Smith" which is a construction I dislike.) But whenever I get an inquiry from a university, I start digging deep into their website trying to figure out if Jane Doe is a postgrad, a maintenance person, or has her doctorate....

(I know there's a distinction between "Dr." and "Prof.", but frankly if I can find a PhD I'll just run with "Dr." and a sigh of relief. If they don't tell me, I just do the best I can, and if they can't accept that, it's their problem, not mine...)

#944 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 08:22 AM:

Mongoose @942, addendum to me @943, I could use "Mx" (is there a period?) for Chris Smith, I suppose, but I have the strong suspicion that the construction is too new and will therefore either a) confuse or b) offend. Which is not what one wishes to do in a formal business letter. <wry>

#945 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 08:50 AM:

Cassy B. #943: At HBCUs the usage is thus: All academics with a PhD are 'Dr'. So far, so good. All academics who lack a PhD, and all teaching assistants who have responsibility for classes on their own, are addressed as 'Professor'.

This is a practice that, as far as I can ascertain, dates back to the not-so-wonderful days of segregation when black American academics grasped for any shred of status they could get since they were denied any by the wider society. It could also lead to confusion for those of us not acquainted with the courtesies of the system.

At the first academic conference I ever attended, back in 1976, a young assistant lecturer of my acquaintance was addressed as 'Professor Lewis' having, at the time, only an MSc in government to qualify him for the post he had. The person who addressed him as 'professor' was an African-American academic who was unaware that at an English-model institution like the University of the West Indies different rules were followed. 'Professor Lewis's' response to being addressed by what was, after all, the wrong title, was to say 'Thanks for the promotion!' I was able to congratulate him on having achieved it, and more, 37 years later.

#946 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 08:59 AM:

@921 et passim: Eel have something to say about that, don't worry. I'm just floundering here, wondering how the hake I got into Mongoose's sushi. I guess it's just "tempura mutantur, et nos mutamur in eellis"?

#947 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 09:53 AM:

"You know, there's probably no news a father would rather hear than 'Your daughter is bullet-proof'."

From today's page of web comicbook 'Strong Female Protagonist'.

#948 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 10:00 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @939, referring to everyone as "Dr." is the standard practice for the scientific journals I'm familiar with as well (in astronomy). It's far easier for them, and they rightly figure that graduate students are not likely to be offended by the practice. If they try to get it right, they'll get it wrong sometimes in both directions, and it's far more likely that Dr. Wolfe will be offended by being addressed as Mr. Wolfe than vice-versa.

#949 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 10:08 AM:

Cassy B., Fragano Ledgister @ 943, 945: How interesting! My custom has always been to address college instructors as Professor until instructed otherwise. Partly this is because I spent time around MFA programs, where full professors often have no doctorates. (One of my two great teachers had no high school diploma and only two years of college.) Partly this is because on average I respect teachers more than I do holders of doctorates. Partly this is because I'd rather overestimate a job title than underestimate it.

(The perils of the alternative are too great to risk.)

Dave Harmon @ 941: Well, maybe. It's hard to dislike a man whose reaction to a unicorn thief is this:

After reclaiming him, I went and confronted John. He seemed quite unabashed at the whole incident, but he did apologize, and invited me into his trailer for a few drinks. We talked about our mutual interest in weird critters, and he gave me the nickel tour of his show. We hit it off, and I decided not to press charges. I dunno—I guess I felt that he was an archetype in his own genre, and we gave each other a certain mutual respect. But I’d still count my fingers after shaking hands with him!
#950 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Cassy B. @ 944: I don't know what you'd do in the USA, I'm afraid. Over here, it's easy enough; the standard practice is not to put a full stop after titles (though it's not actually wrong to do so if the title is an abbreviation). I thought putting the full stop after abbreviated titles, and only abbreviated titles, was standard American practice, but now I see you put one after "Ms", which isn't an abbreviation.

I can only offer the rather tentative advice that you treat "Mx" in whatever way you would treat "Ms", whatever the standard for that is in your country.

#951 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 11:09 AM:

Mongoose @942: I can sort of understand the “may bite” reaction. I always try to address people according to their preference, and I often look to how they sign themselves for guidance. But if I had never seen Mx before, I might not realize that it was a gender-neutral title. Ideally, I would have the presence of mind to search for it and learn about it, but I might just assume it was a typo. And if I thought it was a typo, then it would feel really insolent to use it in a reply—like I was throwing it back in the sender's face. But I wouldn't know whether it was a typo for Ms or for Mr (Ms seems more likely if the sender was using a qwerty keyboard, but you never know), so I'd probably try to find some reasonably respectful-sounding way of ducking the issue.

Of course, I would not assume that it meant ‘Mexico’ or ‘the thousand and tenth,’ just as no reasonable person would seriously assume that Ms before a person's name meant ‘manuscript.’ And hopefully the is-this-a-typo misgivings will recede as Mx gains currency and familiarity.

#952 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 11:12 AM:

Ginger #946: I suspect that it's all been done on porpoise.

#953 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 11:23 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer #949: There is a DFA degree, but very few institutions grant it, so, in effect the MFA is the normal terminal degree in the fine arts. Consequently, it's the degree that academic instructors in university art programmes have. This leads to some interesting issues, I gather, in the evaluation of tenure for art faculty, since they don't have the normal starting point for such evaluation the doctoral dissertation/thesis from which the first academic publication is normally drawn. Indeed most have no publications at all. They have to be evaluated by work exhibited and the critical response to the exhibitions.

#954 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 11:30 AM:

Another fin mess?

#955 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Yeah, if I saw "Mx" as a title, I'd assume it was a typo for either "Mr" or "Ms". This thread is the first place I've ever seen it.

#956 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 11:48 AM:

Winter Safety Warning:

Please remember, now that it’s winter, animals seek out the heat of vehicles to stay warm. Before starting your car, please check around the wheels and engine for these cold animals. You may not even notice they are there.
#957 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 01:13 PM:

I'm not remotely offended by being erroneously called Dr Wolfe, especially by a journal, but it's particularly amusing when undergrads make the mistake in person. Yes, this has happened.

#958 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 02:01 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @949, my difficulty is that I almost never know whether the person contacting my company from a university is an instructor or not (unless they happen to identify themselves as such, which is rare).

The company I work for sells industrial machinery. Sometimes email queries are from a professor trying to build something in the Mechanical Engineering department. Sometimes it's a guy in the university building maintenance department with no degrees at all but an amazing amount of practical competence. Which is why I try to be very, very careful to track down titles wherever possible when approached by a person identifying him/herself as being from a university or college.

Sure, there are people with doctorates in the business world as well, but almost all such folks fall into one of two camps:

a) laid-back enough that they don't care if they're called Mr./Ms., or

b) so full of themselves that every bit of correspondence they send will be labled as from Dr. Smith, PhD.

So that problem generally solves itself.

#959 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 02:11 PM:

Mongoose @950, thank you! I'm one of the lucky 10,000 people today! (per XKCD 1053) <grin> I don't know why I never noticed the lack of full-stops after "Mr" and "Mrs" in British literature; heaven knows I've read enough. I guess the eye fills in what it expects to see...

#960 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 02:19 PM:

In the university department where I used to work, there was a Dr Aki [redacted], who was female, and, as you might expect, Japanese. Even if you knew something about Japanese names, you wouldn't be able to tell her gender, since "Aki" is gender-neutral.

Since she was one of the senior lecturers, though, anyone familiar with the way British universities work would normally have automatically assumed that her title should be "Dr", even without checking her web page. But no, apparently not. There was one organisation that kept writing to her as "Mr Aki [redacted]", to her great amusement and everyone else's.

#961 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 02:56 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @938 -- I saw a similar interaction between film and stage actors back in 1968, in Prague -- can't remember the name of the theater. And it goes back a lot farther than that, on film -- Windsor McCay did work with humans interacting with animated characters back in the silent era.

#962 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 03:28 PM:

The dread alien Festoon Meld is soon to arrive in this open thread.

Please move your discussions to open thread 194

Erase this message before you leave to the Festoon don't know where we went.

#963 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 04:35 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 961

Small world collision time. I saw that show in Prague in 1968 too. The "Laterna Magika", right?

#964 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 05:26 PM:

Indeed that was the name, Heather! Small world definitely. We were there 5 days before the Russian tanks came in -- yourself?

#965 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 06:33 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 964

We got there about a month after the invasion -- it was touch and go whether we'd get approved for the trip after all. My Dad had a sabbatical year all lined up at a university there. I should note that I was 10 years old at the time. It was quite an educational year.

#966 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 08:59 PM:

Tom Whitmore, Heather Rose Jones: You know, it's been a while since someone made me feel young! While you were watching that show, I was (back in America) toddling around in diapers....

#967 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2014, 08:59 PM:

Hey, I was 15.

The emotional feel in the city before the tanks came in was like nothing I've felt before or since. I wandered away from my tour group, and rode the bus -- people wanted to talk about what was going on, and were glad to practice their English with a high-school boy. I just remember a sense of aliveness that remains incredibly uncommon, a sense that people thought they were actually changing the world.

#968 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Jacque @ #956

<Splutter!> It's on the level though, so this moose calls "'Shop!"

#969 ::: Wendy M. Grossman ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2014, 06:35 AM:

Gar Lipow: even before I saw the Dodger sample I'd have said that you just never know what may be useful to someone else or when. (I also have dreams with plots sometimes...)

Agatha Christie used to keep notebooks full of ideas and review them when she wanted something to write on the basis that even if they didn't inspire her to write *that* they might inspire her to write something *else*. Of course, she *was* Agatha Christie, who had more plots in her head than anyone who ever lived. But still. I'd say go for it. Maybe at some point they'll help *you*.


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