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July 30, 2014

Open thread 199
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:10 PM *

One of my long-running disgruntlements with survivalists and Galters is their collective ignorance of one key aspect of self-sufficiency: cloth. I can’t count how many people I’ve watched loading their own ammunition and slaughtering their own deer. But all the while, they’re wearing flannel shirts and jeans made of fabric that was woven on an industrial scale, from mechanically-spun fibers, before being shipped across the world either made up or on bolts. Even when they sew the garments themselves, their participation in our shared culture lies across their shoulders and hangs from their belts.

I suspect that a substantial element in this inconsistency is the relative priority of men’s work over women’s, which determines what actions are more valuable for Making A Statement. But I think a good deal of it is also simple blindness: fabric and clothing is so ubiquitous in our civilization that all we focus on is its variations (AKA fashion, style, or what those damn kids are wearing).

Spinning and weaving are crafts or hobbies (knitting and crochet less so). As a culture, we’ve forgotten how much of the lives of all classes of women, from the Middle Ages to well past Jane Austen’s time, was spent on thread, fabric, and clothing†. Our closets overflow*, and only the mindful consider how much of our history was made by people with at most two outfits, Sunday best and workaday garb. Even wealthy Bingley had but two new coats a year.

(I read somewhere that one of the reasons that the National Socialists did so well in Germany is that they gave people a chance to join organizations with uniforms, which is to say, provided them with clothing during the Depression.)

I often wonder what things we carry now the way that medieval women carried their distaffs: continuously, unconsciously, and (in the sweep of history) temporarily. What will our descendants look back on and say, “they spent so much time doing that. Thank goodness we don’t have to”?

† eg Mrs Norris in Mansfield Park: “That is a very foolish trick, Fanny, to be idling away all the evening upon a sofa. Why cannot you come and sit here, and employ yourself as we do? If you have no work of your own, I can supply you from the poor basket. There is all the new calico, that was bought last week, not touched yet. I am sure I almost broke my back by cutting it out.”
* with clothing that lasts less and less well, because cheaper fabrics keep the price down

Continued from Open thread 198

Comments on Open thread 199:
#1 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 04:28 PM:

I was struck by Taiichi Ohno's description in The Toyota Production System of how Sakichi Toyoda designed his automatic loom by watching his grandmother weave, and how at one time every house had a loom and made money by the sale of fabric. The experience informed his idea of autonomous automation -- autonomation -- automation with a human touch -- that a machine should stop itself when a problem occurs and allow a human to fix it, rather than continuing to mindlessly produce weak and unsalable cloth after one of the threads has broken.

#2 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 04:33 PM:

Last year I had a chance to learn to use a drop spindle. The wool was already shorn, cleaned, carded, and dyed, mind you.

After an hour of frustrating, painstaking (albeit eventually surprisingly gratifying) work, I had a small quantity of very lumpy, rather coarse yarn. And all I could think was, they made fine thread this way! Miles of it! (My google-fu let me down, but I found one site that mentions that 840 yards of one-ply cotton thread weighs one pound, and I figure a dress or shirt or tunic weighs at least that, if not rather more....)

#3 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 04:48 PM:

One of the many things I liked about the novel Hild was all the work of producing fiber, thread, fabric, and finished goods.

#4 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 04:51 PM:

I am reminded of the song in the musical 1776 where John and Abigail Adams are corresponding. He is concerned that the women spend time making saltpeter for the war effort; she is more concerned that the women are desperately short of straight pins.

We take so much for granted.

Thought-provoking, abi.

#5 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 04:54 PM:

I often wonder what things we carry now the way that medieval women carried their distaffs... What will our descendants look back on and say, “they spent so much time doing that. Thank goodness we don’t have to”?

Ooh! I know! I know!

Struggling with, fixing, customizing, and replacing our computers, smartphones, and software of one kind and another.

Migrated any WordPress websites recently? Transferred a domain? Upgraded your computer's OS, or replaced a hard drive? What a colossal headache, even for a so-called expert! For the first couple decades of personal computing in business settings and then in home use, it was a truism that computers ate up even more time than they liberated. We've gradually gotten to where they eat up less time to fiddle with, but still they create a ridiculous volume of extra tasks to take care of, in one form or another.

#6 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 04:54 PM:

(Reposting to try to unwedge the dread Internal Server Error.)

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 04:57 PM:

A lot of people were weavers, men included. I think at least as many must have been spinning thread for them.
The paperwork after one of my fourth-great-grandfathers died (1825) mentions hackles - that's one of the tools used in making threads (linen, AIUI).
On farms, everyone over about the age of four or five was going to be doing some kind of work, starting usually with feeding the chickens.

#8 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:01 PM:

It's not just the spinning and weaving, which was a huge development and may partly explain the industrial dominance of Britain. There was a whole series of interlinked inventions, just as, in the 1850s, the inventions came together to make a reliable sewing machine.

Maybe the key difference between Waterloo and Gettysburg isn't the rifled musket, it's the uniforms sewn with machines. The time needed to sew a shirt went from 15 hours to 1 hour, and principle of Adam Smith's pin makers could be applied.

#9 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:02 PM:

Hence, one of the great rants:

And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.

When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:

What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.

In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels,

The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.

And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.

Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

#10 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:12 PM:

That's because most people don't grasp just how close to the margin of survival the vast majority of people lived in the premodern era. The idea of abundance is so locked in our minds that it's difficult to imagine life without the cushions technology and infrastructure give us. After a lifetime reading history, it's only in recent years that I've truly begun to understand that.

A big part of that is that our study of history naturally gravitates towards the rich-the ones most active, most literate, most attractive. That's deceptive. It makes a tiny upper crust stand in for civilizations, an upper crust was much further from that margin of civilization than the vast majority of the population.

Survivalists make a lot of errors in their planning. I remember there was a Peak Oil site that was selling survival equipment for the dark days to come. Many of the items-water purifiers, for example-depended on spare parts and refills. Did the customers not think this through? And then there's the basic fact that if society really implodes, those smart enough to have a little will have it taken from by the starving masses that don't. You can't possibly stockpile enough ammunition to counter being outnumbered 100-1.

#11 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:14 PM:

It's one of my frustrations in much fantasy that cloth is not expensive enough.

Hodges prices give these comparisons:

4 yards of "Best Wool cloth" would rent a merchants' house for a year.

A weaver would earn enough in two days to buy 1 yard of the cheapest cloth.

#12 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:22 PM:

I have casebooks from a couple of Edinburgh detectives in the early 1800's (one nonfictional, one fictional based on him). A crime that comes up repeatedly is "child-stripping"', which is to say, stealing the clothing from a child that one comes across in the street. The clothing would then be re-sold; apparently there was enough money in so doing to make it a Thing.

Kids died of exposure from it. I find this intensely sad.

#13 ::: Zane ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:34 PM:

I spend a lot of my evening time teaching myself various pre-modern crafts, hand sewing clothing, etc, because I pretend to be a viking on the weekends. I've been doing it for 20 years. In that time, I've helped build a couple of warp weighted looms, and we've managed to weave just enough cloth on them at various displays to make 1 over shoulder bag. One of the women in a group I was in in Canberra managed the stirling task of weaving enough cloth to make 1 woollen tunic for herself, which was many tens of hours of work, after which the time to sew the tunic by hand was negligible. She's now trying to spin enough wool by hand to have enough to weave another one entirely from handspun wool.

Until recently in South America, you would notice in the high andes that the local women were constantly spinning with drop spindles. All the time, whenever you were not doing some other crucial task, you picked up your spindle and used it.

My non-reenactor friends think I'm crazy for blacksmithing, hand sewing clothing and shoes or smelting my own iron, or doing calligraphy with ink I've made myself, but that stuff is _easy_ compared to the time investment of making a couple of yards of good cloth.

#14 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:38 PM:

If you ever look at the lists that people published of what you're going to need to take the Oregon Trail (often riddled with errors or suppositions), you get a grasp of what it really took to make that sort of trip (which is probably the closest in time to really understanding what it is like to be on your own.) And even then, settlers had to bargain for food along the way, hunt their own, and abandon precious or necessary items along the journey. (I keep thinking that some entrepreneurs could have made some money by having fresh horses from the destination, going back along the trail for a couple of weeks to scavenge items.)

After all, how long did it take someone to get a full-sized anvil to the Oregon Territory? Or all of the rest of the blacksmithing tools? You can make a lot, but you have to have some basics first...

#15 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 05:40 PM:

According to a book of classical Greek history I have, a woolen cloak ran the average Periclean Athenian the modern equivalent of US$500-$2000, a pair of shoes $600-$800.

A table, by contrast, was $400-$600.

All subject to the vagaries of historical estimation, of course.

#16 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:01 PM:

The huge bottleneck in cloth production was getting the fiber into yarn, much less thread, so it could be woven (or knit). Every woman was a spinster until the burden of kiddies supplanted that job, and there were no moments free of spindle or knitting needles after that, either. Weavers were commonly men, which may have been practical - how much upper-body strength did it take to raise the heddles, throw the shuttle, and beat the weave on those heavy floor looms early on?

The spinning jenny was a technological advancement greeted with great dismay, though its quality of yarn was not good to begin with. One person could replace eight spinsters with the original.

#17 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:03 PM:

I've recommended this here before, but to take it back to the dawn of civilization, Elizabeth Wayland Barber's Women's work : the first 20,000 years : women, cloth, and society in early times.

(It delights me that one of her names is Wayland. I imagine her saying Well, on my fathers' side, this-and-such; But my *mothers* told me...!)

#18 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:04 PM:

The Wikipedia article on khadi is enlightening. Part of the British colonial system in India was to produce cotton, export it to British factories, and then sell the cloth or clothing back to the colonies.

(The classic Indian accent is mostly Welsh.)

(Paisley cloth is a Persian design that became the noted export of Paisley, Scotland.)

#19 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:06 PM:

They still do a lot of spinning in some parts of the Andes, due to some work by indigenous people who value textiles highly. (Probably an understatement.)

There's a woman named Abby Franquemont who was partly raised in that culture, and teaches spinning in the US and elsewhere in the English-speaking world. She writes a lot about this kind of thing. (All those ships' sails that were handspun with spindles and handwoven before the Industrial Revolution. I never thought of that before she ranted about how we undervalue textiles.)

Anyway, I found a blog post of hers that seems like a good summary of growing up in such a society.

Note: it is well worth reading through the Peru tag on her blog. Her most recent post is a heartbreaking and thought-provoking post about how she had to suddenly go to Peru to bury her mother, who was there for the last Tinkuy de Tejedores. (Like a conference for indigenous weavers.)

But this is the important quote for people who don't want to read that whole post:

"I tell people it’s like a fidget that’s productive; but it’s much more than only that. But it’s also… nothing at all, and totally ordinary. Yes, I spin (and ply) while I’m walking places, or standing around, or on the phone, or in meetings, or riding in the car, or in a waiting room. I hate dead times when I can’t do it; I will always try to find a way to spin, and I’m certain this is because of the Andean upbringing. So this is part, in my opinion, of why Andean techniques work the way they do — every spinner is like that, and every spinner finds ways to be able to spin during all the possible moments one might do so. So imagine if you spun with the time you might spend biting your nails, doodling on a notepad, waiting to stir the soup, waiting to pick up your kid from school, waiting for the bus… you would be surprised what you get done, and how easy it would become!"

#20 ::: Andre Guirard ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:17 PM:

Another time-consuming task that will probably get a lot more effortless, is getting from place to place. We're at the dawn of the self-driving car era, and we're also starting to see more and more situations where you Just Don't Need To Go There. I work from home -- no commute. If I want to see what's on a particular street corner, I usually can see it from Google street view. If I want entertainment, there's an awful lot I can do without leaving home. If I want to see entertainment with friends, I do need to go somewhere (or convince them to come to me). Lots of things are delivered, increasingly including groceries and anything else at all that I want to buy. Technologies are emerging that will let me print up whatever object I want at home. Then people are finally starting to figure out things about urban and suburban design that mean that the things I'd probably want to go to are much more likely to be within easy walking distance.

#21 ::: Janice in GA ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:24 PM:

I've done handspinning demonstrations on and off for years. I mostly use a spinning wheel, but occasionally someone watching wonders aloud what they did before the spinning wheel was invented. Then I pull out my spindle and stand up and show them how to walk around a spin, and talk about spinning while heading to market or watching the sheep. The appropriate people are impressed. The others just wander off.

I once thought of spinning enough wool to weave a cloak. I got about 600 yards into it and decided that with the time I had, I wouldn't live long enough to finish the SPINNING, much less the weaving and sewing. And that I lacked the patience to try. I saved the yarn and later dyed it and knitted it into a sweater.

I did once spin a mile of wool in a day during a challenge. It took me 10 hours of pretty continuous spinning. I'm a competent spinner, but not super fast. I tried to do the same thing with cotton, but only managed a kilometer. Cotton takes much more twist and time to spin decently.

It's all given me a right fair appreciation of the effort needed to produce clothing before the industrial revolution.

#22 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:26 PM:

In yesterday's Washington Post, the "Day in Photos" feature included a couple of snaps of people participating in a Stone Age re-enactment camp experience in Germany. Here is one of them:

The caption noted that the woman was working on a "primitive boat", but what I noticed was that the dress she's wearing is almost certainly machine sewn, and also glasses. (To say nothing of the next picture, which shows some of her colleagues shopping in a supermarket.)

#23 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 06:30 PM:


Surely it matters what breakdown or disaster or whatever you're imagining. I mean, if you're imagining a complete collapse of civilization, there's *nothing* that will prepare you for coming through that very well. Modern technology requires a lot of knowledge and capital and social arrangements that you simply can't replicate on your own, or even in a small community. You're not going to be fabbing your own microprocessors or synthesizing your own recombinant insulin in your little survivalist enclave, for example. Those are things that really only work in pretty large societies, where you can afford a fair bit of specialization. Survivors after some horrible civilization-ending disaster will inevitably be living off their capital for a long time to come. Part of that capital will be knowledge--a community of a few hundred survivors probably can't sustain advanced education, which means that the town doctor and engineer and pharmacist represent a huge amount of capital which depreciates as they age. Eventually, their apprentices will learn from them, but probably not nearly as well as they would have from specialist university programs with genuine experts in everything from solid-state physics to virology to organic chemistry available to teach them.

And getting back to abi's starting point with this post, it's interesting to think about the materials and skills that are all but invisible to us. What happens when your clothing wears out? Or when you run out of paper?

One of my favorite thoughts along these lines involve all the stuff that's done by all first world countries as a matter of course, but that is very seldom noticed. Think of flood and fire control projects, or public health regs that regulate what you can do with your sewage, or the fact that stray dogs in the US are rounded up and almost all dogs and cats are vaccinated for rabies (and we even distribute baits with rabies vaccine in them for wild animals!). Think about what it looks like when all that stuff stops because of social breakdown of some sort.

#24 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 07:31 PM:

#23: Definitely. The problem with any post-apocalyptic analysis is that tends to assume a complete implosion of society. If you look at history, this is practically unprecedented. I'm reading an economic history of the 17th century right now that blithely recounts immense population decreases-40% in Germany, 20-30% in Italy and Spain-yet civil authority remained firm. Most PA thinking in our society grows out of the idea of nuclear annihilation, which is, naturally, unprecedented, but I think that ignores the inertia of human society in all, but the worst, circumstances. If there's a major disaster, people will do their damnedest to keep the lights on. Smaller functions (like animal control) will go by the wayside, and they'll be missed. But I think the Peak Oil doomers and other of a similar vein may be surprised by the resilience of modern society.

I don't think we disagree here; I think we're just approaching the issue from two different directions.

#25 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 07:35 PM:

Very worst case I die inarguably, fast or slow. Something like "neighborhood star goes supernova" or "massive exchange of nuclear warheads."

Most cases, enough people are resilient enough that we could reconstruct a chunk of society and build back up. I mean, if we lose Japan's industry AND China's AND Germany's AND the US's ... that's pretty global and pretty impressive. Although some things don't work well without extreme precision. The amount of iron impurity that ruins a solar cell is parts per trillion, I discovered the other day.

Anyway, the percentage of "Amish rule" disasters seems pretty low to me.

#26 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 08:18 PM:

albatross @23: I was learning about "ways your pasta wheat can kill you" at work last week, and all I could think was "thank goodness for the USDA," because cadmium and blight happen whether you have a big farm or a small one. (The joke then goes, "this is why the anarchists should organize the communities and the socialists should organize the infrastructure, so I can have my little utopic egalitarian community AND not get food poisoning." [Yes, I am aware; hence 'utopic'])

Today I once again ran across "rich person decides their life is superficial and unsatisfying, decides to live like peasant" and it occurred to me, for the most part you have to choose, don't you, between "superficial" and precarious (minding that plenty of people living both romanticizeable-but-harder and prosaic-but-easier kinds of lives find them good)

#27 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 08:23 PM:

Of course, the best case is also that "Everybody dies." It's just at different times, in the best case.

I am inordinately fond of a T-shirt from Threadless which says on a carnivalesque banner, under a dapper skeleton, "Enjoy the Wonders of Life! Limited time offer."

#28 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 08:40 PM:

I have a friend who weaves wraps (and does other crafts) to sell. One of these days I'm going to have enough money to buy something of her making.

#29 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 09:03 PM:

I had Clifton @5's thought, basically--fiddling with technology/devices.

More potentially dystopic answers could include "eating" (if Soylent or its progeny take off), "sleeping" (that can cut a bunch of ways, good or bad), or "traveling" (OK, that one probably isn't dystopic if it means transporter beams).

#30 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 09:05 PM:

Fascinating book on overromanticizing preindustrial living: "Back from the Land," by Eleanor Agnew. She and her husband were two of many in the 70s who thought the nuclear/environmental/economic collapse of American society was imminent, and decided to retreat to the woods to avoid it. Her description of their first days in the Maine wilderness, living in a tent and her son getting blood poisoning from an infection, were quite unnerving.

When the disasters they expected failed to arrive after five years, she returned to the developed economy. Her ex-husband stayed in the log cabin they built-although he added electricity and central heating. An interesting work about survivalism from a repentant point of view.

#31 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 09:15 PM:

I apologize for being all trivial when everyone else is talking about apocalypse and the gendered nature of work and important things, but, as it is an open thread...

Am I the only one who saw the title and thought "oh my God, almost at open thread 200! squee!!"?

#32 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 10:24 PM:

"oh my God, almost at open thread 200!"

Well after the "Making Light" apocalypse of the 2040s, those who lived before it and managed not to perish still recall the disaster.

"We once had these things called Open Threads," a gray-haired veteran of the old days said. "We knew that weird things started to happen once we had 1000 posts in a thread. No problem, the thinking went-- we can always simply start a new one. It was even a reason for celebration-- a renewal of creativity and conversation. Some writers even started anticipating what theme best went with the next increment."

"What we didn't know then," he went on, shaking his head, "is that the weirdness increased exponentially as we approached 1000 open *threads*. And that we'd reach a critical mass at reaching that milestone. If we'd only known, we'd not have wasted the threads so blithely."

What exactly happened at Open Thread 1000 is still something no one's managed to completely explain. "The words all went crazy," the old
man explains. "When the flowersphere-- or whatever we called it then, I still don't remember-- went hypercritical, all the vowels were
instantly vaporized, worldwide. And even the consonants that weren't lost were thrown into chaos. Of the folks who lived, no one was
able to comprehend anyone else's speech or writing for weeks. We've painstakingly recovered coherent sentences since then. Still, the expressive range we've recovered is only a shadow of what it once was."

The man waved his hand. "We still haven't managed to reclaim all the vowels we had in the days before the Event," he sighed. "I've heard stories there was once a fifth one, after T, they say. I hope we'll recover it someday."

#33 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 10:37 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @32


#34 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 10:41 PM:

I'm personally hoping that there's no Open Thread 200. No, I'm not hoping for disaster: I'm hoping for Open Thread CC. If you want to know why I think that's such a cool idea, have a look at Open Thread C.

Of course, this is a Chutney, so I don't expect it. I only hope.

#35 ::: Omri ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 10:50 PM:

I'm almost 40, and my overflowing closets still have garments from my high school years, which I still wear and which have still not gotten threadbare.

While textile work is certain to become important in a shit-hits-the-fan scenario, the lag between disaster striking and us needing to start weaving and spinning and sewing is pretty long.

#36 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 11:01 PM:

I am told that my great-grandfather, an immigrant from Norway, was sending material assistance to his relatives as Norway was getting back on its feet after World War II. One of the things he sent was fabric.

#37 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 11:34 PM:

In case of apocalypse, I am looting JoAnn's. Not just for the bolts of fleece and sewing supplies, but because sometime after things settle down, there's going to be a kid who wants a princess dress or a cape or a special birthday outfit.

I've struggled a bit with my no-products-right-now Etsy shop and pricing wedding handkerchiefs. On the one hand, my time and expertise are worth something. On the other hand, people are not aware of this.

(State Fair results come in soonish I think. I hope. Eee.)

#38 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2014, 11:40 PM:

Some doomer (great word) acquaintances of mine did a TEOTWAKI* scenario campout. With their smart phones and laptops. *headdesk*

*The End Of The World As We Know It.

One of these characters was totally shocked when I said that if the entire world goes apocalyptic, I will die. I'm dependent on modern medicine to survive. He kept saying, "but what about...?" I said to every suggestion that if the world has gone as apocalyptic as he thinks it will, there will be no transportation to bring raw ingredients to a manufacturer, no transport to get it to me if it was manufactured. What about herbal? Again, we have the transport problem because those herbs do not grow here. What about...? Transport. Rinse. Repeat.

I have gotten the distinct feeling that a lot of these... characters have no clue. I'm going to send this marvelous but of info to them. And wait to see how long it takes them to dismiss the issue because "someone will figure it out." The contradictions inherent in their preparations is amusing. TEOTWKI, but we'll still have cellphones, laptops and the internet,** transportation and the necessary fuel, and antibiotics and anesthesia will always be available. And now clothing availability can be added to the list of things that will "always be there".

**And not one of them has a ham license.

#39 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 12:01 AM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @32: Wasn't that fifth vowel Y? And don't we still have it?

Erik Nelson @36: Material assistance indeed!

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 12:51 AM:

Omri, #35: Nice for you. A lot of people don't make it to 40 without either outgrowing or wearing out their clothes from high school. And "outgrowing" shouldn't be taken as a synonym for "getting fat", either -- a lot of both men and women have significant figure changes as they move from late adolescence into full adulthood. I went from rangy to curvy; I've known a number of men who got quite a bit broader in the shoulders and chest.

(You can see the same thing happen in both cats and dogs during their second year. The body proportions and head shape of a 3-year-old cat are quite different from those of the same cat at 1 year.)

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:19 AM:

#14: The Oregon Trail museum out near the Idaho border has a great section about packing your wagon. One activity lets kids put blocks representing items (family china, wood stove, barrel of flour) into a model wagon. A panel nearby has doors for each item, which you could open for a bit of advice.

And yes, the trail is littered with wood stoves, anvils, the family china, and grandmas' graves.

* * *
A long-ago issue of Whole Earth Quarterly had an essay by J. Baldwin. He attended a presentation by a family that decided to cut their ties with civilization. When the triumphalism became to think he asked: "Where did you get your axe?" (The title of the essay.) He pointed out that they hadn't cut their umbilical to industrial civilization, they just made it longer.

#42 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:31 AM:

RE clothes-reareness:

I wrote a solitaire RPG adventure where your fortune-seeking character arrives at the gates of the Big City wearing a barrel. He or she can't enter unless properly dressed. This means farm work, theft, washing corpses, and the like in the scruffy outcast settlement outside of the city walls.

There are several grades of clothing in game, ranging from peasant's tunic to "flash" clothing that a swell might wear. You can't get certain jobs, or even shop in certain parts of the city, if you have peasant or laborer's clothing.

#43 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:51 AM:

That reminds of the story I heard of my grandfather moving from rural northeastern Kentucky to southeastern Kansas, and discovering that clothing wasn't sold in 'hardware stores'.

#44 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 04:23 AM:

Omri @ 35: Clothes last pretty well if you do a clean sedentary job. A hard, physical, dirty job, not so much. Agriculture, forestry, building, etc are all very hard on clothes, which are partially protection.

#45 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:55 AM:

I like this thread. Not that I like making thread, I've not learnt to use the drop spindle.

One thing the survivalists don't really get is how a level of living standard is related to how many humans you have and the interactions between them. Living in cabins scattered across a mountain means it takes longer to get anywhere, communicate or do anything collective. And cloth manufacture is a good example. In Tudor England, specifically the broadcloth areas of Suffolk, the thread was spun by women at home, from wool given to them by the clothier. They might make up to a pound or so of thread a day, and it would be collected every 5 days or so by a man of business whose job it was to travel around collecting it. Much easier to do in rural Suffolk with dwellings every few hundred yards of concentrated in villages. Not so much on a mountain.

It took something like the output of 5 or 6 spinners to feed one weaver, who could make a 26yard by 5ft or so cloth in, IIRC, 3 or 4 days.

Which leads me to another point that people forget about - the finish. Broadcloth was fulled (done by a machine in a mill or by foot in a trough) had a nap raised (i.e. all the loose fibres and less loose ones were pulled out of the plane of the cloth by teazels, which I still can't find any of) and then it was shorn off, to give a losely packed, water repellent and smooth surface finish.

Something that is part of the fabric when made nowadays took a lot of work by individual craftsmen. There's a reason a bolt of cloth was at least as expensive as the yearly wage of such a craftsman. So, in the survivalist paradise, who is going to do all this hard work, and who will own the water mills which make a lot of it easier?

I'd like to be able to wear stuff from the end of my highschool period, but my shoulders and arms have changed since then, I filled out properly around 22 or 23. Although I did find a pair of M&S pants it has taken 16 years of wear to wear out!
I've been doing some volunteer work at a charity shop, and what amazes me is how much in the way of clothing comes through the shop. Some hasn't been worn at all, perhaps bought by mistake. A lot has a little wear on it, and the owner is getting rid of it because they fancy a change, or bought too much clothing and hardly wore it. An appreciable percentage of folk in the UK can just buy new clothes as often as they feel like it and clear their wardrobe out when they want to, and it goes to charity shops who sort it out and sell the better clothing to people who want or can only afford cheaper clothing.

And with such a cycle, the fact that much clothing is made using thinner fabric more cheaply just isn't noticed, because it isn't getting the level of wear it would have had 30 years ago.

#46 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:25 AM:

guthrie @ #45,You could always grow your own teasel, although I probably can't--apparently it's a noxious weed in the US.

We might be able to make do with scavenged Velcro hooks, which were, after all, basically designed to mimic teasel.

#47 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 08:10 AM:

Emma in Sydney @44, even some jobs you wouldn't think of are hard on clothes When I worked retail, I was forever blowing out my jeans at the knees, from the constant bending (lift with your back!) and kneeling on hard tile floors.

I was also pretty broke at the time, and, since it was a hippie grocery store, my solution was to grab sturdy upholstery-brocade scraps out of my fabric stash (SCA remnants, of course) and sew them on, adding a decorative feather-stitch around the edges. That way I could pretend it was a Style Thing and not "I don't have room in the budget to replace these jeans, not even at Goodwill."

If there's an apocalypse, I'm dead too. Me without my mood stabilizers...not good.

#48 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 08:40 AM:

Just prepping fiber is a huge amount of work, and fairly specific to what kind of fiber it is.

Wool needs to be sheared -- so you need sheep on the hoof -- scoured, picked, carded or combed. Linen needs to be retted, broken, scutched, and hackled. Cotton needs to be picked or ginned, and then carded or combed, though you could bow if if you don't have cards or combs.

And all of these assume you have the seed or the animals, the land for them, and sufficient water.

If you've ever seen a sheep-to-shawl competition, yes, you can weave a shawl in 3 hours, if you have a team of 4 to 6 spinners with wheels (which implies wheelwrights, somewhere), a shearer, a sheep, and a weaver with a loom that already has the warp on it.

#49 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:03 AM:

In Victorian and earlier novels, when anyone mentions women's "work", they always mean sewing, apart from that rhyme about a woman's work never being done.

Another interesting bit of linguistic trivia - Old English occupational surnames (Smith, Carter, Baker etc.) are almost all in the masculine form, but two appear as both masculine (Brewer and Webber) and feminine (Brewster and Webster) forms, which suggests to me that brewing and weaving were two occupations commonly done by women as well as men. Spinster is feminine, and doesn't appear as a surname, presumably because us spinsters tend not to leave any descendents, while Spinner does appear as a surname, but is pretty uncommon.

#50 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:26 AM:

In Xenophon's Memorabilia, there's an anecdote about Socrates advising a friend, whose house was full of family members turned into refugees during the invasion of Attica, to set the female family members to work spinning and weaving for sale; he considered this the simplest way to deal with the cost of housing them, as the value of what they produced would more than cover the start-up costs as well as their living expenses.

#51 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:30 AM:

For those close enough, the Textile Museum of Canada has a current exhibit called The Eternity Code: Archaeology, Textiles and Preservation which includes a number of remarkably lovely new world textiles.

The museum isn't large, but the weaving is amazing.

#52 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:40 AM:

There is an almost impossible-to-get-around problem here--a functioning society has all kinds of complexities that are more or less invisible. That means thinking clearly about what it would look like for society to collapse is hard. Along with that, *any* preparation for disaster is limited. There isn't really any way to survive, say, another dinosaur killer hitting the earth by individual prepping (diverting it might work, but that's not individual prepping). And yet, there are still ways you can be more or less prepared for survivable stuff, ranging from a fire in your house to an icestorm that leaves power off for a week to economic collapse to civil war. (Though I think the main survival tactic for a civil war is to GTFO as quickly as possible, in some way that doesn't leave you and your family stuck in some dismal relocation camp at the border.). I think it's way too easy to recognize the existence of disasters that can't be survived, and use them as an excuse not to prepare for the survivable stuff that's not even all that hard to get through. (From experience: having lots of flashlights and spare batteries around is a really big win if you're stuck without power for a few days, for example. Car chargers for your cellphone come in handy, too. This is something most people can prepare for, even if they're not ready to prepare for a zombie apocalypse.)

#53 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:41 AM:

"What will our descendants look back on and say, 'they spent so much time doing that. Thank goodness we don’t have to'?"

My guess is writing. Once we have the technology to cheaply record, store, and search video, I expect a lot of routine writing will be replaced by recorded video. We're almost there already, but we still need to figure out the searching part.

One of the side-effects will be that English class will be less about reading and writing and more about public speaking, dramatic presentation, and skills that are typically only taught in film school these days.

#54 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:52 AM:

It is possible to spin directly from a washed fleece without further processing, but you have to have more skill as a spinner to do it because there's more management as you go. I have not done this, but I have spoken with people who have.

It is also possible to spin directly from the seed (there are videos online) with certain varieties of cotton. Think of the cotton equivalent of cling-free peaches! I have done this, and found that it made for a more even and finer thread than what I've been able to spin otherwise. I actually had to set that aside because it didn't match what I've been spinning for a different project. And cotton needs to be boiled after spinning to get the natural waxy stuff off it.

But I agree that linen and hemp and other plant fibers are always more labor intensive before you can even start to spin the fiber. (Though I've read that milkweed stems don't need to be retted to get the fiber from them. Scutching still required.)

Things I usually have with me: spinning or knitting, smartphone, tablet, book (often on the table), keys, wallet, minor first aid things (ibuprofen, bandaids), and a multitool if I'm not going anywhere that security will kick up a fuss. It's hard to know what would seem strange in 200 years. Some of that already seems strange to the people around me. Whip out a sock-in-progress while at the grocery store and the comments range from awed ("You can do that without looking?") to perplexed ("You can buy socks at Walmart, you know."). Pull out a spindle, and people really don't know what to make of me. ("Are you weaving?")

And I also probably wouldn't make it very well in a post-apocalyptic world without my medication.

#55 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Guthrie @ #45 wrote:

...Broadcloth was fulled (done by a machine in a mill or by foot in a trough) had a nap raised (i.e. all the loose fibres and less loose ones were pulled out of the plane of the cloth by teazels, which I still can't find any of)...

Are you going to Loncon 3? There are teazels growing at the roadside near this moose and if they haven't been cut down I can always bring a few along.

#56 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:58 AM:

albatross@52, we have a "decorative" oil lantern that serves as a centerpiece on the dining room table... which we make sure to keep topped up with lamp oil. ("Lamp oil" is kerosene with some scent added. Kerosene from the kerosene heater would work just fine in a pinch.) During our non-as-infrequent-as-we'd-like power outages, an oil lantern puts out enough light to read by, and the fuel lasts for quite some time.

#57 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:08 AM:

As it's an open thread, I thought I'd share this from Balloon Juice about the Goathouse Refuge.

My aim is not to get people stirred up about the awfulness involved, but to get out the word that donations would be much appreciated. So before you give into the urge to vent, consider expressing your dismay by either helping to spread the word, or dropping a little bit of cash.

#58 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:09 AM:

If everyone spins, nobody uses it for a surname.

I have a friend who carries a portable wheel to most get-togethers, and just keeps producing thread upon thread (Much faster than drop spindle, if less plausible to do while, say, waiting for the cooking.) But, as you say, even her fleece has mostly been cleaned and carded and all.

For survivalists, one of the biggest questions I always have is, where do they think they'll go to find all the "pristine" and resource-rich wilderness they're supposedly looking for? Even most cabins have neighbours relatively close by; the few that don't have them within shouting distance are likely seasonal cabins, and not places you'd wish to be in winter. Most of the *arable* wild land is no longer wild. If they're striking out and want to actually, y'know, survive, they're almost certainly going to have to take over some farming complex, not some cabin in the woods. (Also, farms are one of the few placfes you can get a civilized sort of house *and* no immediate neighbours, if the farming property is big enough.) And yes, use the equipment present until the gas runs out, or the motor breaks down, *while* they're setting up their more primitive tools.

(And, more to the point, have to fight whomever owns the farm before you escape there, which means starting your utopia over bodies of humans).

Just as they'll almost certainly pack as much as they can from the remains of civilization (the lack of new cloth may even go unnoticed for a while, as there's a lot to find and work and wear through) instead of going out without tools and supplies.

But then, these aren't necessarily people trying to go Galt. These are people imagining the cities will be full of zombies or some other ebil thing, but navigable by the brave, that the army* will try to keep some semblance of civilization together. But they'll still try to flee to a defensible cabin in the woods, as the first bet. (Because there are no defensible locations or places to hide in a city, and there are no places with useful and necessary supplies. Never.)

And somehow things like, oh, toddlers in diapers, never seem to come up as thoughts. Everyone is supposed to be a competent adult. Because in the movies they are.

But nobody in these scenarios should ever really dream they're not going to be carrying on on the corpse of civilization, and using the tools and supplies produced by a massive industrial and transport complex, for a very long time. And they'll STILL miss/forget things, and even their most intrepid people may well die for what they miss.

Which is why personally I don't want to live in that world.

* Ditto, one hopes, the government as a whole, and definitely ditto all the people who will naturally cluster into communities, but that's not how they think.

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:15 AM:

albatross @52:

Given that, one of the more important things to do about the collapse of civilization is to prevent it.

Speaking as another kid of the 1970's civilization-is-doomed-lets-flee-it culture (my parents bought the land and built the cabin, but then did not move up there), I have my own views on survivalism and dropping out. And one of those views is that the seeming viability of pseudo-survivalism takes pressure off of the drive to keep things working and fix our problems.

#60 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:49 AM:

Then there’s the effort put into caring for garments when they can’t be easily replaced. I remember reading something once about sewing as a chore on 19th-century Japanese farms – not only were items, mended, turned, patched and resized; but when they could no longer be used on their own and had to be taken apart for use as patches on newer garments or as quilt batten, the *thread from the seams* was saved for re-use.

The final stage was when the very soft, worn fabric was turned into diapers.

#61 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:51 AM:

#32: Applause.

#34: Co-sign.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 11:13 AM:

Just appeared in my Twitter stream and relevant to our interests: Thermos overnighted hot coffee to various recipients in the US. The whole article is a fascinating look at the complex logistical network that supports not just the last leg of the journey, but all of the stages that the coffee went through from bean to cup.

#63 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 11:33 AM:

AlyxL @49

Also Baxter, originally the feminine form of baker.

Naomi Parkhurst @54

I've spun from locks, but yeah, it's not easy, and you usually need a flicker to open the locks up.

I've never spun cotton off the seed, but I suspect you need the long-staple varieties for that. And ideally, a charkha wheel for the speed.

#64 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 11:49 AM:

On spinning from the source - I'm sure I'm not the only person who's watched demos where someone is spinning straight off the angora rabbit.
It's pretty surreal to stand around having a conversation with someone who's working a wheel or spindle with a bunny in their lap and periodically plucks a chunk of fluff off the entirely undisturbed rabbit to keep spinning.

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 12:01 PM:

There's a feminine for 'baker' also: 'baxter'.

#66 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 12:07 PM:

Oooh! A thread thread! I'm another one of those historical-hobbyists who likes to do pre-industrial textile production. For those of you who describe learning to spin with a spindle and marveling at how anyone managed to do production-level work -- be comforted that like any other tast dependent on manual dexterity, it gets easier and you get better the more you do it. And -- as Naomi notes @19 -- working with a drop spindle means you can spin "casually" while doing all sorts of other tasks. (There are medieval illustrations of shepherdesses spinning while watching the sheep.) I'm certainly not at professional production levels of skill, but just to give a gauge:

I've been working on an on-and-off spinning and weaving project because I wanted to experiment with the "spin-directional check" effect. (This type of weaving effect gets mentioned casually in Nichola Griffith's Hild, which is lovely for textile descriptions.) Basically, you're weaving a checked cloth but rather than alternating two different colors of thread, you're alternating thread spun clockwise and anti-clockwise ("S" and "Z" in technical terminology). My goal is to make a 6ft by 6ft square cloak.

As I say, I'm a casual spinner, not professional level. By my very rough estimate, I can make about 50 yards of thread in an hour. I've already completed the warp and have most of the thread spun for the weft. At a very gross estimate, let's say a total of 5000 yards (probably more, but that's a nice round number). So that's 100 hours of spinning time alone before I start weaving. On the other hand, none of that spinning was done in isolation when I was doing nothing else. Usually I spin at SCA events while I'm talking to people, walking around looking at things, watching court, sitting in meetings, etc. At the typical SCA event I'll fill one spindle's-worth which is about 200 yards (again, very roughly - and I'm not spinning all the time I'm at the event). So that's 25 events which -- if I were more active and spinning more consistently at the events -- could easily be just a couple of years. BUT ... if I were spinning, say 8 hours a day (and if I were doing that, I'd get faster and better)I could finish all the yarn for that cloak in a couple of weeks.

The weaving will be harder, in one sense, because it's not a portable task and it will be much harder to multi-task while I'm doing it. (I expect to run through a bunch of audio-books in the process.) I have a blog entry showing a display I put together of the project-in-process and discussing some of the technical aspects.

Another overlooked aspect of pre-industrial clothing is how much more durable and re-usable it was. There was a massive trade in secondhand clothing and clothing was picked apart so the fabric could be re-purposed. My favorite tribute to the early medieval attitude toward clothing longevity is the Bernuthsfeld tunic which is almost more patches than original fabric.

#67 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 12:10 PM:

Yeah, I was using a takhli spindle for the cotton, and had to add a lot of extra twist in before I could spin the next bit. Normally it's not so long (spindles can be faster than many people think), but I don't ordinarily spin quite that finely. Though I plan to in future - I hope to make myself a handspun, handwoven summer shirt at some point. Still, I might have more luck finishing with a spindle than a charkha, simply because I do a lot of my spinning when I'm out and about, and spindles are far more portable.

#68 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 12:42 PM:

abi @59:Except inherent in many survivalist ideas is the theme that society doesn't deserve to survive, that its fate is the proper consequence of its corruption/decadence/greed/foulness, etc. Those who go into the wilderness generally consider themselves smarter and/or purer than those who will be consumed in the coming catastrophe. Dismay at the scale of death tends to be tempered with joy that everyone will finally see they were right.

I spent a lot of time reading Peak Oil sites and boards 'round about 2008. Many of the posters in those circles enjoyed thinking themselves the smartest people in the room, and looked forward to their coming validation.

#69 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 12:52 PM:

Per Sarah @60--

The Japanese term for futon covers and quilts made from patches is "boro". You can see in the examples I've linked to here how very basic these items are in their re-use of scraps of fabric.

The South Asian tradition of kanthas and rallis are a similar re-use of old fabric (generally old saris), and the pieces that are too badly worn to go on the outside of these quilts are used for the batting.

The patchwork quilt tradition began as a use of scraps of fabric as well, although cheap and plentiful textiles have obliterated that tradition in modern patchwork.

I've seen old quilts made in the US covered with new patchwork tops, as well, although the usual progression there (reflecting typical wear patterns) is 1) rebinding 2)insertion of applied patched to cover small areas of damage 3)putting on a new top, ov even a complete cover, when the necessary repairs become too extensive. The recovered item is usually tied to hold the layers together instead of requilted.

#70 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:12 PM:

When I was learning about the likelihood of a magnitude 9 earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, I could cope with the challenge getting my house bolted to the foundation, keeping water and food on hand, and so on. What I couldn't handle was the prospect of pulling someone out of wreckage, and watching them die from untreated injuries. Or watching someone who wasn't injured die from lack of access to insulin.

The logistics of getting people out, and supplies in, after an event like that, in that geography, is going to be challenging, to say the least.

#71 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:13 PM:

Also, commenting on the drop-spinning as multi-tasking: Not only was it possible to spin while doing other tasks, but spinning, as a light job requiring mostly patience and basic manual dexterity, could be done by people who weren't up to other tasks: children, the visually-impaired, invalids, the elderly. So could carding, for that matter, although that requires more a little more strength.

In subsistence economies, just about everyone out of diapers is doing something productive, and the basic economic unit is not the individual but the household--and the household is not the same as a nuclear family.

A good, readable compendium of pre-industrial English rural life was written by Dorothy Hartley: Lost Country Life. It's a good starting-point for learning about all the things that had to be done to get through the year and keep everyone fed, clothed, and housed. Spoiler: The work never ends.

#72 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:14 PM:

How/why, did the term "spinster" come to denote an unmarried woman?

#73 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:43 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst @54
The reply to "you can buy socks..." is "but not ones that look like this."

With regard to an apocalyptic situation, those who are currently living in/on "survival land and buildings" are more likely to survive. The currently city-based survivalists will probably be among the first to die, shot by the residents of the property the city kids are trying to move in on.

Dave* Twiddy @68
Spot on. The rest of us will be in the damaged but survivable cities and towns, *making* them work again because we have to.

Lenore Rose @58
Toddlers oh yes. Babies and diapers, ditto. I also find it amusing that the needs of fertile women aren't covered, either.

#74 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 01:56 PM:

The problem with teazels is that there are two types, the fullers teasel with barbs on the end, and the one that hasn't. Naturally, all the ones I've seen in the countryside are the normal useless sort, and I've tried two different packets of seed for fullers teasel and neither have grown at all. Given also that Mad Jack hasn't any either due to the really wet summer a couple of years ago and the internet isnt' helping, I'd be really grateful if anyone actually has any fullers teasels around (Offer avlid in UK or EU only due to postage costs) or sees any anywhere, because I want some to be a cloth shearer at Kentwell at some point in the future.

It's an indication of how many step changes there have been in technology since teasels were used that I just can't find any at all. Dyestuffs yes, but not teasels.

But I'm with Abi, better not to let civilisation fall at all, your chances of survival are much higher in a large group. Unfortunately the market and greedy people drive atomisation of society is driving along nicely and that'll have a similar effect.

#75 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:03 PM:

Lin Daniel: yep, that's pretty much what I say. I suspect people say that sort of thing because they remember when it used to be less expensive to buy the materials to make a garment than to buy the garment, which is no longer the case.

#76 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:07 PM:

janetl @72--It was a near-universal female skill, so it was an available legal (or respectable) means of self-support for an unmarried woman*. Here's am overview.

*I have no idea whether the term was ever comparable to Pratchett's use of the "Seamstresses' Guild" as a cover for women pursuing other means of self-support. However, there is Mistress Quickly's complaint about having her boarding house for hard-working needlewomen mistaken for a bawdy-house (you may decide for yourselves if she has a reasonable ground for complaint, based on Shakespeare's depiction of her domestic arrangements).

#77 ::: cjo ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:22 PM:

This is a tangent, but I wish I knew how to pick clothes so they last. I've purchased shirts that lasted for ten years, and shirts that shredded in two or even one. I can tell a little bit by the thickness of the fabric, but that still leaves me at a loss because I don't know where to go to find the good stuff at an affordable rate. Or which of the expensive places will deliver endurance, not just brand names. Shopping isn't a hobby of mine; I just want to go out and buy what I need. If anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear them.

#78 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:41 PM:

CJO @77, a non-trivial part of the problem is modern detergents. Almost all of them now have enzymes, which on the one hand makes them clean more effectively, but on the other hand eats the fabric slowly away.

On a related note, does anyone (in the US) know a good national brand of laundry detergent that does NOT have enzymes in it? Woolite used to be good, but I can't find the little "for delicate" bottles on my department store shelves any more, only the big jugs. Now With Enzymes. <wry>

The ingredients lists on the laundry detergent jugs are no help at all....

#79 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:43 PM:

My only thought is that if you’re willing and able to pick through the racks at thrift stores, the fact that the product is no longer brand new allows you to see what’s already starting to fall apart and what isn’t.

#80 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:44 PM:


I guess there is a built-in tension between:

a. Let's pull together and make (whatever community thing) work better.


b. Let's bail the hell out of (whatever broken community thing) that seems impossible to fix.

I don't know if this tension is especially American, though I kind-of suspect it is--you can see it really strongly in Heinlein's books, which kind-of alternate between the hero washing his hands of his broken civilization and trying to move on, or dedicating his life, fortune, and sacred honor to fighting for his civilization. Lazarus Long/Woodrow does both things at different points in his story.

If your neighborhood is kind-of going downhill, do you stay and try to make it better? Probably for awhile, but eventually, you may decide that the decline is beyond your power to fix, and decide to leave if you can. If your workplace has become a really unpleasant place to work, you may try to get things to improve, but again, at some point, you'll probably decide it's time to look for a better job.

I don't think there's a generic answer to the question of "should I stay and work on things or give up and start over somewhere else?" But I do suspect that American culture has a lot of the assumption that abandoning a failing community is a valid option, probably because so much of our culture was built by people who did just that, often several times since the great majority of Americans are descendants of immigrants, and since the US was basically a sequence of frontiers until the late 1800s.

#81 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:47 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @66, thank you for showing me an ancient precursor of my beloved sweater or rather, The Sweater:

#82 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:50 PM:

Quilt soap - the big name is Orvus. Which is also available in animal-supply places as 'Orvus WA', for considerably less money.
It's also used for things like embroidery and fine knitting.

#83 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Pretty much all my Lands' End clothing is on the order of ten years old, so I don't know if they've suffered loss of quality since being acquired by Sears in 2002. I've heard people say so, but that may be Good Old Days syndrome.

It used to last a long time and be inexpensive; part of the reason it was stereotypical preppy clothing.

#84 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:56 PM:

PJ Evans @82, thanks; I'll see if I can find it. What do you mean by "animal supply places"? Surely not pet shops. Farm & Fleet, and that sort of farm-based department store?

#85 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 02:56 PM:

cjo @ 77

If durability is your sole concern, I have two (tongue-in-cheek) words: polyester double-knit. The stuff wears amazingly (one of my friends has a 40-year-old tangerine orange dress, which has been worn by 3 or 4 people and is still in nearly-perfect shape.)

My rule of thumb for shirts is that thicker thread is stronger (oxford lasts better than pinpoint).

On survivalism/civilization collapsing, I tend to think of it in "what buys time" terms. It's sort of like keeping a shovel, a coat, and a flashlight in my car. It won't keep me alive all winter, but it ups the chance of being fine four hours later if something goes wrong. Similarly, having basic tools, some first aid supplies, an idea of how to get safe drinking water, stored food to last a few months, a bike--those make a lot of disasters more survivable.

Those things aren't just personal; they are part of the social infrastructure[2]. There may be some lone survivalists, but the ones I know are very much tied into larger networks of survivalists.

I don't tend to think of survivalism in wilderness terms, but I very much doubt big cities will be survivable for long if a major crash hits; the infrastructure is just too demanding[1]. The average suburb, on the other hand, is great-plenty of space to grow food, and you can walk to a few hundred houses.

1) Cities had horrendously-high death rates until a couple centuries ago; it takes a lot of infrastructure to manage sewage and water supply, and to get food into a city in good condition.

2) Social infrastructure is a term I use to describe the stuff that "people have"--not everyone, but enough that it's generally available. I noticed it in moving to Massachusetts; people have snow shovels, and snow blades for their pickups and Jeeps. That makes snow vastly less disruptive.

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 03:11 PM:

janetl, #70: One of the early scenes in S.M. Stirling's Changed World books is the discovery of the protagonist's elderly neighbors, both of whom were diabetic and who died within days of the Change when their insulin ran out. There are a lot of treatable conditions that would become irrevocable death sentences in a post-apocalyptic world -- things that rely on regular medication are only the most obvious. Severe myopia is one that's less obvious; right now I have my glasses, but my eyes get worse every year and sooner or later that wouldn't be enough without the ability to get new lenses. Or I'd get cataracts.

And @72: World Wide Words (one of the best etymology sites I know of) suggests that it's because So many women were described in marriage records as having the occupation of spinster that by the sixteenth century it began automatically to be used for all unmarried women and became the legal description, as Thomas Blount wrote in his Dictionary in 1656, “for all unmarried women, from the Viscounts Daughter downward”.

cjo, #77: Personal experience suggests that Land's End consistently provides well-made clothing that lasts for a long time. They're not cheap, but they're not designer-price either, and you do get what you pay for. Including non-knit pants hemmed to order for no extra charge.

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 03:19 PM:

Some pet shops, but it's more likely to be in larger-animal places.

#88 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 03:22 PM:

LL Bean has reasonably good quality clothing. They do have stuff at sale prices - that's when I bought shirts.

#89 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 03:42 PM:

Cassy B. @78 - alternatively, you could make your own. This website gives detailed directions, and they're easy to follow: (I am not a chemist, but I don't think any of the three ingredients qualify as enzymes.) All of the ingredients are shelf-stable. The only issue I've had with using this formula for more than a year now is the whites tend to slowly go grey.

#90 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 03:48 PM:

My experience with Lands End (I've bought my work shirts from them for almost 15 years.)

The quality hasn't gone down much on stuff they sold 10 years ago. HOWEVER, many of the new additions are lower-quality than the older product lines.

#91 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 03:55 PM:

Clarentine @89--DO you ever dry your whites outdoors, in strong sunshine? It's the traditional method for making sure whites stay white, along with bluing.

#92 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 04:00 PM:

The worldwide increase in the price of cotton probably has something to do with the lowered durability of clothes.

Manufacturers are making cotton garments thinner to maintain their costs -- witness how whisper-thin t-shirts came into style a few years ago -- and that means they don't hold up as well. I've really noticed it with jeans, where my favorite store is pushing lighter weight material with more spandex compared to the jeans I bought 5 years ago.

#93 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 04:07 PM:

Fidelio @91 - yep, I dry my clothes outdoors when weather and work hours permit. Last year, with record rainfall, I think I dried outdoors once. Outdoor clothes-drying also makes for a great fabric-softening system. :-) And the smell of sun-dried sheets cannot be topped, IMO.

#94 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 04:30 PM:

All our washing is sun dried, and we notice that clothes sourced from American stores online fade incredibly fast, in a few weeks or months. Where once fabric dyes were rated for 100s of hours of sunshine, they are now only required to withstand tens.

#95 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 04:30 PM:

AlyxL@ #49, Margery Kempe owned a brewery in King's Lynn, Norfolk, ca. 1400.

Re durable clothes, I not infrequently buy stuff made by L.L. Bean and Land's End from the thrift store. If you're not into thrift stores, it's worth buying new from them; one of the ways you can tell that Bean and Land's End make durable clothing is that if it doesn't last, they'll replace it at any time (yes, I have tested that claim).

#96 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 05:04 PM:

fidelio @ 76: *I have no idea whether the term was ever comparable to Pratchett's use of the "Seamstresses' Guild" as a cover for women pursuing other means of self-support.

That does seems to be a common use of seamstress. Tax records for old Seattle back during the logging days show a lot of unmarried men working in logging, shipping etc, and a whole lot of unmarried women working as seamstresses. Far more than seemed required for garments.

Hyperlocal news: Area woman announces that she has found a job. "It's about 2 miles from my house, so none of this city's dreaded bridges, tunnels, or parkways will bedevil my commute," she said. "I'm excited to be doing software QA again, especially because it's at small company blissfully free of any and all Test Case Management tools."

#97 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Janet1 @96, congratulations

#98 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 05:10 PM:

Orvus is primarily a wetting agent, so that the dirt loosens and floats away.

Originally found at tack and other large-animal shops. As long as we have horses and cattle, it will be available there comparatively inexpensively.

Most homemade soaps use a fat and lye. Lye is not a gentle cleaner.

#99 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 05:21 PM:

Anent cloth: We had sheep, and my father whittled my mother a spindle on which she spun coarse wool yarn. Enough to make caps, sweaters, and rugs. All honest, undyed homespun.

#100 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 05:24 PM:

So all we hear today is cannons’ boom
their echo forms our terrible surround,
for this whole century the world’s a tomb;

it isn’t that we just ran out of room
for good intentions, our shots will redound
so all we hear today is cannons’ boom

from shore to shore and the explosives’ bloom
accompanied by their pervading sound
for this whole century. The world’s a tomb

though skies are sunny, we are cast in gloom
parents and children thrown into the mound
so all we hear today is cannons’ boom.

Perhaps in time some scholar will exhume
the reason why we all now lie in ground;
for this whole century the world’s a tomb

and every hope has fallen down to doom
while goodness trust and honesty are bound
so all we hear today is cannons’ boom;
for this whole century the world’s a tomb.

#101 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 05:33 PM:

I'll be darned. Milk fiber is a thing. Who knew? (Found while looking up milkweed fiber.)

#102 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:05 PM:

Jacque @101

All kinds of things can be turned into spinning fiber. Whether it's a good idea (*cough*Ingeo*cough*) is another matter.

Here's a list that includes all the bio-synthetic fibers I've ever heard of, though it doesn't really cover the bamboo problem well. (There's two bamboo fibers made into fabric - one is the fibers from the stem: not synthetic. The other is cellulose.)

#103 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:20 PM:

Cassy B. wrote @#78:
CJO @77, a non-trivial part of the problem is modern detergents. Almost all of them now have enzymes, which on the one hand makes them clean more effectively, but on the other hand eats the fabric slowly away.

And never, ever use products like "Vanish"[TM] which are effectively a modern version of bleaching powder (the old one was Calcium Hypochlorite, CaOCl2, the new ones tend to be Sodium Percarbonate, apparently) and destroy organic fabrics extremely quickly. The first you will know about this is white powder "lint" all over your dark coloured T-shirts, followed by by lots of ripped shirts, bedlinen, etc., where only moderate stress is involved.

Some of those T-shirts are irreplaceable, damn it!

This moose has switched to using Fairy (Snow? - it used to be called that) or other non-enzyme, non-bleaching powder, detergent. I have no idea if "Dreft" is still manufactured, and Lux soap flakes are fundamentally incompatible with a drum type washing machine unless you want the whole place filled with foam on washdays.

#104 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:27 PM:

I'm afraid all I know about bleaching things is that if you use lye solution on your unbleached linens and put them in the sun they go whitemuch quicker than otherwise.

But wait, the enzymes eat away at the fabric? Dammit, I'm going to have to change washing powder then aren't I.

#105 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:29 PM:

There is a reason that most larp kit is machine sewn and unembroidered, and the reason is that we just don't care enough to take the time to hand sew our clothes. There are exceptions, and those people essentially have a whole second hobby of dressmaking. Just sewing an outfit or two a year is more than the great majority of us are willing to do. Spinning and weaving? Keeping the sheep to get the wool to make the thread to weave the cloth to stitch the cloak? Who has time for that nowadays?

#106 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:31 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @66

One of the things which seems pretty obvious from clothing history is how the how the shape of clothing changed for the lower classes. As spinning and weaving technology improved, reducing the cost of the cloth, the shapes of the pieces of cloth used to make a garment became more subtle. And then along came machine-sewing which made the actual assembly cheaper. I look at the descriptions of ancient and medieval clothing, and see far more simple rectangles of fabric as the base of a pattern.

#107 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:43 PM:

It's a lot easier to reuse the pieces if they're not cut in funny shapes beforehand. (It's also easier to sew: you can use the weave to guide your stitches.)

One thing the sewing machine brought was the ability to do tucks and a lot of other ornamentation that was extremely time-consuming to do by hand.

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:46 PM:

I got a couple of phone calls today that I think must be the latest thing in scams: phonebot (it's entirely recorded, and not voice activated) claims to be from IRS and tells you that a suit has been filed against you/your name, and you should call number (202) whatever.

(I figure scam because the IRS doesn't start with phone calls, they start with letters, and every suit I've ever heard of involves written notice first. That the phone number is officially in DC doesn't mean anything.)

#109 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:50 PM:

CassyB @78: I'm not sure if you'd be able to get the stuff, but the Nature Clean line of cleaning products advertises as enzyme free. And I've been really impressed with how well they clean, too. (a stain remover that gets out bike chain grease! truly!)

I've directed a couple of friends who do plant fiber spinning (i.e. hemp) to this thread. :) Figured they'd be interested. One works with fiber hemp professionally (geneticist), and what she wants for weaving is conveniently the stuff that's not good for analysis (i.e. the scraps). :)

#110 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:51 PM:

You also waste a lot less fabric if your garments are constructed from rectangles. Some of the older Folkwear patterns, which are based on traditional designs, are entirely made of rectangles. OTOH, cutting out a modern blouse with curves at the shoulder and armpit, and with all the pieces cut in the same direction on the straight grain of the fabric, you end up with a lot of scraps.

#111 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:51 PM:

Oops - wrong link (I posted the "where to buy" link). This is where they talk about the laundry cleaning liquid.

#112 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 06:52 PM:

I've been getting mountains of random calls, mostly "surveys." Five, last Sunday. "ThankyouIdon'trespondtosurveysorphonesolicitationofanykind,thankyougoodbye." It's gotten to where I hate answering the phone, it's so rare that it's someone I actually want to talk to.

#113 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Getting back into jobhunting. Apparently I'm easily discouraged. I made two separate mistakes today applying for a single job. I keep thinking, what if I AM putting my best foot forward?

#114 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:15 PM:

The ancient Greeks described the three fates, Lachesis, Atropos, and Clotho, as spinning out the days of our lives. What this thread has shown me is that the goddesses have to work very hard to make history happen.

#115 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:21 PM:

I was thinking about this thread as I made my way home this afternoon, and it occurred to me that one of the places you can really see the difference that modern clothing production makes is in infants' and children's clothes. When buying new clothes each year for individual children is not only possible but (because of the low resilience) necessary, kids' clothes follow adult fashions more closely. People sometimes notice this with girls' clothing and gripe about how "sexualized" they are, but I've never heard anyone point out that putting young boys, even toddlers, in full-length trousers is just as big a change from earlier generations of kids' wear; and the reason is, with cheap clothing plus washing machines, you don't need to worry that the lower legs of the trousers will get dirty, or that it will become obvious right away when the kid starts to get too tall for them. It's in infants' clothing though, that things are really obvious: highly gendered, miniaturized adult clothing, the outfits for male infants often sporting pockets; the other factor here, I think, is disposable diapers -- earlier clothing for toddlers either involved split-crotch trousers, or dresses for both sexes, because it just made changing (and later, toilet-training) that much easier.

#116 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:28 PM:

I'd pay $10 extra month if my landline included a service where I could punch a code on my phone and the spambot calling me would explode, or the live scam-caller would hear the Brown Note and suffer an attack of explosive bowel incontinence.

#117 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:30 PM:

I have tried spinning with a drop spindle and found it hard to maintain a consistent thickness to the resultant yarn. I also took a workshop at a yarn store that aimed at spinning a complex combo of yarns into a specialty yarn. I found this easier. The teacher was able to work with me as a individual and explain the direction of the feeds of the yarns I was combining. It makes a very luxurious yarn but may not be practical for large scale needs.

Ken Follett wrote extensively about textile production in his novel Pillars of the Earth, although novel's main story is about the building of a cathedral. I found it fascinating.

#118 ::: cjo ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:43 PM:

I appreciate the tips!

Cassy B@78, huh, I never knew that. I checked my detergent, and it does list "enzymes." My main concern in picking a detergent was making sure it was fragrance-free due to skin sensitivity issues.

@Claire@109, thanks for mentioning this, it sounds interesting. Changing detergent is stressful due to previously mentioned skin sensitivity, but this might be worth trying out.

Sarah @79, I love thrift stores! It turns shopping into a fun treasure hunt instead of a stressful experience where I feel like I'm entering a world I ought to know how to navigate, but don't. Plus if I make a mistake, I don't feel as bad because I spent less in the first place, and I can just give the item back to the store as a donation. I do find the results erratic, though.

SamChevre@85, cool! I didn't think to mention a strong bias toward cotton, again due to skin sensitivity. (Our respective doctors both steered us toward cotton.) I never realized polyester could be so durable though.

Lee@86, PJ Evans@88, Lila@95, cool, I'll try LL Bean and Lands End.

#119 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:44 PM:

Thena @ #64

Yes, I've seen that and spent some time watching and talking with the lady with the rabbit in her lap. I don't think she was at the last NYS Sheep and Wool Festival I went to (2011 or 2012). But she was a staple there for years.

#120 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 07:48 PM:

Sarah @ #60: I have a friend who complained when I mentioned buying silk T-shirts that it was too expensive to dry clean them all the time. I told her you dry clean it once and then wash it in cold water. She complained that was too time consuming and would ruin the silk. My comment back to her was along the lines of "Do you think the Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans had dry cleaning a thousand or so years ago?"

#121 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 08:19 PM:

PurpleGirl @117

It takes a lot of practice to hand spin even yarn. It takes weeks of fifteen minutes a day for most people to reach a basic level of proficiency. Except for the outliers: I've helped teach a couple of people to spin who caught on like *that*. We joked about remembering a past life or having really good spinners as ancestors.

Once you've reached that basic level of proficiency, you might be surprised by how much the remaining level of unevenness isn't obvious when you actually use the yarn for its intended purpose.

It's also worth deconstructing commercial yarn: most commercial yarn is not spun as evenly* as yarn spun by good hand spinners. The thing about industrialization is that it usually makes it possible for relatively unskilled people to supervise a machine making a lot of whatever-it-is quickly and cheaply; it doesn't necessarily mean you end up with high quality whatever-it-is. And that goes for supplies like yarn as well as end results.

*when the yarn in question is meant to be even, that is.

#122 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 08:22 PM:

moose @ #103: Dreft laundry soap is still made, they also now have a liquid stain remover. I couldn't find what is in Dreft on the stain remover bottle and I no longer have the box from the soap powder. My Key Food carries it, some supermarkets don't.

#123 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 08:38 PM:

Lila, #95: FYI, my understanding is that Land's End is a "blue" company while L.L. Bean is a "red" one. (Measured by how they treat their employees and what kinds of causes they donate money to support.) Since they sell very similar types of clothing, I've simply stopped shopping with Bean.

Jacque, #101: That's a good informational article, but it sure seems to be talking down to its audience, or assuming that they are completely scientifically illiterate, and perhaps lack linguistic ability as well. There was nothing in the quoted paragraph which was referred to as "in case your eyes just glazed over" which was in any way difficult to understand.

I think this is bugging me because I really dislike popular-science writing which is done from a "Science is HARD and SCARY!" viewpoint. The idea is to assume that your audience is capable of understanding it, and to encourage them to do so -- not to act like a Messenger From On High, sent to soothe the ignorant masses. And the latter definitely the vibe I got from the article.

Stefan, #116: We use PhoneTray Pro and have had good results with it. They maintain their own list of blocked numbers that never even get thru to you, and to which you can make your own reports to consider for addition. The downside is that it ties your landline into your computer, but since ours are in the same place anyhow, that's no big deal.

On our smartphones, we use the Advanced Call Blocker app, which also works very well. No spammer gets to call my cellphone more than once!

#124 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:38 PM:

I was looking at Phonetray, and for me the problem is that they need your phone hooked up to a dial-up modem, as well as whatever your computer is connected to.

#125 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 09:39 PM:

In Courtesans and Fishcakes (1997), a book about food, drink and sex in classical Athens, James Davidson recounts a common motif on the city's ceramics: a woman spinning or winding wool is approached by a young man carrying gifts or a money-bag. It's generally accepted that the men are paying for sex, but classicists have been confused by the women's seemingly domestic activity of spinning; as Davidson tells it, some have argued that they represent decent young ladies being seduced away from their household labour, while a more common analysis holds that they are prostitutes employing the spindle as a prop catering to their clients' supposed fetish for wifely virtue.

Davidson, however, points out that prostitutes were usually either slaves (whose owners would wish to exploit their labour as efficiently as possible) or poor free women (who could ill-afford to pass up any extra income). They are unlikely to have spent their time between clients lounging around unproductively: that is to say, prostitutes are probably depicted spinning wool because that's how most Athenian prostitutes spent much of their time when not directly engaged in sex work. A brothel could easily double as a textile factory. Excavations of such a building in the Ceramicus, the red light district of ancient Athens, found over a hundred loom weights.

#126 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:35 PM:

Re "Spinster as a last name" (@58 etc.): There are people with the last name Farmer. This site suggests that it's about as common as Potter. So that might be a strike against "too common for a last name."

#127 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:44 PM:

cjo @118, I found this out the hard way a few years ago when one of my cotton skirts tore under no stress to speak of, not at a seam... and then I looked and it was actually near-translucent in places. Since then, I found out that detergent makers found that if they had enzymes that ate tiny dangling threadlets that clothes "looked newer" (because no fuzz) even though it also ate very slightly at the rest of the fabric every time you wash it. I had to throw out several skirts I liked to wear to work, and do interior reinforcement on others that just had small weak spots (iron-on patches on the inside worked fine). I switched to Woolite and haven't noticed a problem since, but recently I can't find the Woolite labeled for delicate fabrics, only the big-jug Woolite that says it'll keep your clothes looking new longer.... which is code for "enzymes inside!".


#128 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:49 PM:

Sandy B @126, ah, but "Spinsters" marry out of the name. (Of course, you'd think "Baxters" and "Brewsters" would marry out of the name, too, so perhaps my hypothesis is flawed.)

#129 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 10:59 PM:

Sandy @ 126: Maybe this is too obvious, but I would think in an emerging patronymic system Spinster - as a female role name - could never become a common family name. If a woman was known locally as Jane (the) Spinster, presumably if she married Jack (the) Farmer their children would be Farmers (or Jack's sons) until they got trades of their own. So only spinsters (in the modern sense) would remain Spinsters by name, and few would have children.

#130 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2014, 11:01 PM:

(And I see Cassy just answered the same, more concisely.)

BTW, please all go read the latest in the Velma and Scraps thread. Things sound bad. Good wishes and prayers needed.

#131 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 12:44 AM:

Orvus, according to the MSDS by P&G is sodium lauryl Sulphate. Dawn dish soap, according to the MDSD by P&G, is sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, ethanol (booze), and various amine oxides. And water, in both. None of these ingredients are enzymes, and all are readily substituted for each other.

#132 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 01:03 AM:

Woolite is one of those products that I was told to avoid, years ago, because it's Not Good For Fine Fabrics. Or: why I use Orvus WA on the really good stuff.

'Kiss My Face' is, or was last I heard, supposed to be okay for silk.

#133 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 01:06 AM:

You can now be fired in Utah for talking about homophones:


#134 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 02:00 AM:

Rob, #133: Somebody over there just won this week's Internet for the comment, "Is this some kind of a which hunt?"

(Never mind that the joke slightly misfires for me, because W and WH are not pronounced identically in my dialect. It's still priceless.)

#135 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 02:05 AM:

Stefan Jones@116, I work for a phone company, and I'll see if I can convince product management to implement your suggestion. Finding employees willing to work on it will not be difficult.

#136 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 02:58 AM:

In the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, I think I'd be wearing a lot of leather. Tanning leather sounds a lot easier than spinning. It would also be better protection against the thorny brush and sharp rocks in this country, not to mention providing some protection against the bites of those pesky zombies.

#137 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 04:01 AM:

Terry Pratchett's book Dodger is set in early-Victorian London, and the clothing re-use of the time is a minor plot point.

With Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew making appearances, I find myself thinking that I learned more about the period from reading one Pratchett book than from all my teachers, English lit and history, tried to do.

#138 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 05:04 AM:

We use Charlie's Soap for our laundry because of skin sensitivities. (Too many "free and clear" products still make at least two of us end up with itchy rashes.) It has no enzymes. Unfortunately, it's expensive and not necessarily easy to get without mail order, from what family elsewhere have said.

#139 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 07:46 AM:

I've been using Ecover products for years. They have a fragrance-free range (Zero) as well as Non-bio - yes, the Zero range is also non-bio, as far as I know. (I think they -do- offer Bio versions, so check before you buy). See
Where to Buy for where to buy in the USA.

Before we found Ecover, my family used Persil non-bio due to my father's allergies.

From info. above, this* might explain why I'm still wearing T-shirts and other clothes which I've had since my teens or early 20s (I'm now mid-40s) and they haven't worn out.

* Along with my body shape staying pretty much the same. Although recently that's changed due to long-distance running, so some lower-body garments are now too small.

#140 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 08:09 AM:

Open threadiness, Medical Division:

I had minor dental work yesterday afternoon; specifically, a small cavity filled in a lower rear molar. This involved the use of a local anaesthetic, naturally.

When I started to get up from the dental chair, the room spun briefly. I wasn't nauseous or even dizzy per se; it's just that the room jumped around and I had to grab the wall to keep my balance. This happened multiple times (although less severely) over the course of the evening; I posit a problem with my inner ear. Is this a thing that can happen with anaesthesia to the jaw?

I thought I was completely recovered by the time I went to bed, but when I turned off the bedroom lights and tried to cross the room in the dark, I realized I had little sense of balance at all; apparently I'd been using my eyes as feedback to keep me balanced.

The whole experience was very odd.

#141 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 08:27 AM:

janetl @96:
Yay job! I know the pleasure of being able to actually break things rather than just think about breaking things...

Lila @110:
I've been costuming for Worldcon, and Fiona's going as Merida from Brave. I made her overdress in the proper medieval style, with a straight tabard front and triangles on the sides for fullness. The resultant dress uses the fabric very efficiently (which is good, because dyeing the coarse linen was a complex process and I'll never get that shade again), and moves in a way that pings my "medieval" bell.

SandyB @113:
I made two separate mistakes today applying for a single job. I keep thinking, what if I AM putting my best foot forward?

Sounds like Tapes to me. It's a tense and difficult thing, looking for a job. Of course you're going to be nervous and a little extra error-prone. Good luck and good heart.

Allan Beatty @114:

#142 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 08:55 AM:

Cassy B.

Lidocaine can have that sort of side effects if it gets into the bloodstream.

#143 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 09:21 AM:

P.J. Evans @108: yes, that is definitely a scam; the IRS has a page on their website warning people about it. Apparently comes in a bunch of varieties and was especially aggressive this year.

#144 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 09:51 AM:

SamChevre @142, good to know. Hope it clears my system soon; I'm mostly all right now but I did have one episode of loss-of-balance this morning. Very disconcerting...

#145 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 11:08 AM:

P. J. Evans #108, Zack #143:

By a curious coincidence, no sooner than I had finished reading P. J.'s plaint than the phone rang--with one of those messages, highly garbled. I believe they've called several times now, but this is the first message they've left.

#146 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 11:39 AM:

(coming in late, unfortunately)

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I started spinning about six years ago, and took to it so much that it has taken over a good portion of my life and living room. (Just acquired my fifth wheel, a Lendrum.)

I used to think that in a Lucifer's Hammer-type scenario, the enclave would let me in because I trained as a nurse, though my actual practice is years out of date. These days, I assume my chances would more be based on the fact that I have the knowledge and experience to take fleece raw off a sheep and turn it into clothing.

And yes, it takes a lot of time. Ravelry has an event called Tour de Fleece (TdF), where spinners set themselves goals for during the time of Tour de France. This year, my goal was to hand-card several pounds of washed Suffolk fleece and spin them up.

The washing had been done in small (8 oz. or so) batches over several days in my kitchen. There are other techniques -- faster ones that I've tried that gave me results I didn't like as well, and slower ones more suitable for fine fleece and laceweight spinning -- but this is the one that gives me the best trade-off of time versus results.

Hand-carding a bag of spinnable rolags (the output of a set of hand cards) took about six hours. Spinning those rolags long-draw style (which goes faster than other techniques) and plying the singles into two-ply skeins took about the same amount of time.

At the end of TdF (about 20 days), during which I devoted all the free time I had available to the Suffolk project, I ended up with 15 skeins of worsted-weight 2-ply yarn -- about 3 pounds in weight. That's enough yarn to knit one sweater, probably with some left over.

A weaver could weave that yarn into plain cloth in a day or two. But it's not that simple. First, the yarn I spun is woolen rather than worsted (i.e., soft and airy rather than compacted and smooth) because of both the preparation method (carding) and the spinning method (long draw) that I chose. That means it's probably not suitable for warp. Second, the yarn is a creamy white. A weaver would probably want to have either the warp or weft (or both) dyed to add interest to the cloth.

My interest is primarily in wheel spinning. I'm competent on a spindle, but I don't enjoy it as much. But from a historical point of view, spindles are where it's at. The treadle wheel as we know it, with a bobbin and flyer, was only state of the art for 250 years at most (earlier, there was a period of 200 to 300 years of more primitive wheels). After that, the spinning jenny put spinning as a profession out of business. Before that, it was all spindles, all the time. There are big spindles, small spindles, supported spindles, and drop spindles -- all tools to add twist to fiber and provide a matrix for holding spun fiber. Different cultures mostly settled on the spindle style that was appropriate for the fiber available to it. The spindle (and distaff) you use for spinning linen is much different from the one that's best for spinning cotton.

@Naomi Parkhurst -- I see we're familiar with many of the same sources, especially Abby Franquemont. Are you on Ravelry? I'm carbonel there.

#147 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 11:58 AM:

Bits and pieces (scraps and patches?)--

When Adam delved and Eva span,
Who was then the gentleman?

And even the queen--think Penelope.

(And a thread on threads. Whooda thunkit.)

#148 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 12:04 PM:

Beth Friedman @146

Yes, I'm on Ravelry - gannet's my username there.

I've been spinning for a few years, though it's not my main fiber focus. But I am surprised both by how quickly weaving goes when I actually sit down and do it and by how much I can spin in a week with just a spindle if I pick it up at every convenient moment. Knitting is much slower than weaving (though again, picking it up at every available moment helps on that front.)

What's that saying - it takes seven knitters to keep up with one spinner, but seven spinners to keep up with one weaver. (In terms of amount of yarn produced or used in the same amount of time.)

#149 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 12:23 PM:

abi, #141: Fiona's going as Merida from Brave.

I hope there will be pictures! Your description of the dress sounds very interesting.

#150 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 12:23 PM:

My primary crafting skill is bead weaving. I use a small hand loom, which is nothing more than a metal frame with a comb and a turnable dowel (with a nail in it) at each end. Tension is applied by turning the dowels and both warp and work can be wrapped around the dowels several times, increasing the maximum length to around thirty inches.

It produces beautiful work, especially when using silver-lined beads to give a shimmering quality to the output. When weaving size eleven beads at an inch wide, I can produce two inches an hour. I am blessed with an unusual degree of precision in following patterns - or at least my own - and rarely place my beads wrong. Errors significantly slow down the overall rate, as they can only be corrected by undoing everything that came after them. Two inches an hour is probably a good speed. At any rate, it hasn't increased since my first couple of feet.

It takes me eight hours of labour to produce a finished choker. This contains, assuming my usual habits, something less than five pounds worth of materials. The labour, at minimum wage, is worth fifty pounds.

In practice, I sell them for thirty, and not very many of them. And weaving on a loom is unusually quick for bead work. The technique nearest to equivalent in output is square stitch. I've used square stitch, and a one inch square took me about four hours.

I like the idea of hand made objects, but I can't afford to pay what they're really worth. I suspect few of us can.

#151 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 12:31 PM:


I like the term "social infrastructure." It's related to Jim's often-repeated advice that in any disaster, your first job is not to add to the number of people needing to be rescued. (Thus, don't jump into the pool to rescue the drowning child if you can't actually swim--the strong swimmer who happens along next will find *two* people drowning instead of one!) If everyone is prepared for a two-foot snowfall, say, then only a few very unlucky people will need rescue from it, and their neighbors or the EMS types will be able to handle the load. If nobody is prepared, then there will be huge numbers of people needing rescue, and the minority of neighbors who are prepared, along with the police/fire/ambulance people, will be completely swamped.

ISTM that preparing for disasters at some level is a pretty positive thing to do for this reason. When TSHTF, the more people were prepared for something like what happpened, the fewer people end up in a Red Cross shelter or something.

There's a flavor in much of the discussion of preparing for disasters that's sort-of gleeful in an Old-Testnament-Prophet sort of way--you b-stards have been Doin It Rong for too long, and now you're going to get what's coming to you. I guess that's just human nature, both in terms of ascribing all bad things to your pet hates, and also in terms of dividing the world into the virtuous (us) and the non-virtuous (them), for some value of us and them.

#152 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 12:45 PM:


Yeah, I think the other part of that is that human labor is just a lot more valuable than it was in the past, thanks to our greater capital and general wealth. A big part of that wealth is the availability of cheap manufactured goods. Handmade clothes, furniture, jewelry, etc. can't compete on cost with mass-produced materials except either at the very low end (when you don't have any job prospects even at minimum wage, so spending ten hours of skilled labor to get a dress for your kid makes sense) and at the very high end (when you care about quality and uniqueness and not about price).

#153 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 02:34 PM:

Well, okay, not going to do that again.

I've got a comfy chair that is an old hand-made thing that I bought second-hand thirty years ago. Being basically wood frame, there's not a lot to wear out, aside from the cushions. When a couple of the springs inevitably blew, I took it to a local upholstery shop to get the lot replaced.

The first bad sign was that, even when I called them, their whole attitude seemed to be, "Well, okay, we'll do it if you insist."

Gave me a projection of a week or two to finish it. (Really? Well, okay, I've worked in service bureaus. I know it's not how long that particular task will take, but rather how long the queue ahead of it is.)

This was four weeks ago. Didn't hear, didn't hear. I finally called them this morning. "Oh, yeah, we're just starting on that now. It'll be ready tomorrow." Trans.: "Uh, okay, we can do that for you if you insist."


I should have taken their first response as diagnostic. I'm a little afraid of what I'm going to be picking up.

#154 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 05:40 PM:

Duckbunny, #150: There's a bead-weaver here in Houston who reproduced the ApolloCon logo (without the year at the end) on a black background. The entire piece is about 2" x 18". NFS, of course; I don't even want to think about how long it took him to do that! First he had to chart the pattern, which would have been tricky enough given the sun, Earth, and moon making the Os, and then he had to weave it. And I don't think I ever got a picture of it, sorry.

#155 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 05:46 PM:

rikibeth (followup to 198::702): do you know when the Reform key-change happened? (i.e., was it always characteristic?) I've speculated that Marty Balin's Jewish background was one of the interesting influences in Jefferson Airplane; even before he formed JA, he was recording upbeat songs in minor keys -- which was not common IIRC in the early 1960's. (No, I don't know what denomination he was, or how much temple he attended.)

abi @ 198::910: fascinating story. Was it more remediable than the English/metric screwup that killed a (IIRC) Mars explorer?

Dave Bell @ 198::859: I add to the chorus of "Brilliant!"s -- you may have actually slowed down entropy a bit with that move. We've gotten several of those calls, but the best we've come up with on the fly is "which computer?". (we have multiple cheap laptops, partly for business reasons.)

Dave* @ 24: how much \central/ civil authority was there in those days? AFAICT, the law (e.g.) was mostly a local affair -- slow communications (cf guthrie@45) made centralized power a sometime thing. With more-centralized power comes more potential for breakdown when power is decapitated. I have read that the UK was so certain this was true that they arranged not just to shelter the high-and-mighty but to provide Regional Seats of Government to provide authority everywhere after a nuclear exchange. I also wonder whether those large die-offs affected the rulers as much as the peasants; the well-fed and under-crowded would have been at least somewhat less likely to fall to disease. Also, skills were more widely diffused; if you lose your smith, the neighboring villages' smiths might be able to make up part of his output.

John Mark Ockerbloom @32: <echoes applause>

Johan Larson @ 53: while video is now almost as random-access as writing, it is \slow/ by comparison in both consumption (100-200 wpm speaking vs 400-800 wpm reading) and creation. There are so many things not needing pictures that I don't see print ever giving way to video. There are SF authors who disagree with me; e.g., Charles Harness ("The Rose") thought we'd evolve beyond needing to read -- but he was a bit of a crank. It does paint an interesting picture of reversion to pre-literate societies in which verbal skills were paramount. (Note that "pre-literate" doesn't mean barbaric; from what I've read, Athenian Greece and established Rome had literate upper classes but even those levels worked by conversation and oratory more than by writing.)

abi @ 59 / Dave* @ 68: definitely agree (even if Brin overdrew these effects in The Postman).

guthrie @ 74: The Cloisters has fuller's teazel in its garden; maybe they can tell you where to find seed.

Cassy B @ 78: clothes dryers may be as much at fault as detergents. Clothes drying on a line don't generate lint -- or didn't when I was young; would air-dried clothes washed in detergents gradually turn to fuzz?

albatross @ 80: there's a difference between walking away from daily high-stress, and refusing to pay for programs-for-the-general-good; notice the idiocy that just barely continued funding for road repair (and alternatives -- a local mass-transit project was in danger).

Allan Beatty @ 144: ISTM that the discussion shows that the Fates have it easy; all they're doing is the part that most women used to do in every spare bit of time, rather than the many other tasks requiring less well-known training.

albatross @ 152: you omit a third category: people wanting clothing that isn't commercially available. SCA garb is clothing (not costume), but it's not found in stores and it's mostly not high-end; I also suspect there are still middle-class sewers who want mundane clothes in their own choice of materials. And I wonder how many people make their own high-end clothing; I hear that the people who make and fit clothing for the big couturiers are \very/ skilled, so the ability to match their work would be rare.

#156 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 07:39 PM:

CHip (155): I also suspect there are still middle-class sewers who want mundane clothes in their own choice of materials.

Yep. I'm one of them. And not just materials. When my favorite--completely unreplaceable--skirt got too shabby to wear to work*, I got a book on making patterns from finished clothes and copied it. Now I have a bunch of that skirt in different colors. Note that I am by no means an expert seamstress, but I can handle the basics and follow directions.

*I still wear it for weekends, when it doesn't matter how faded it is.

#157 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 08:52 PM:

The book that Mary Aileen linked to is the best among a few good ones. It's the one I wave at interested people.

Intuitively you would think that to copy a favorite garment, you should first disassemble it. That's a lot of needless fuss, and distorts the pieces.*

Part of my business is creating patterns, mock-ups, prototypes and floor models from ideas brought by those wishing to start clothing lines. It's been hard sustaining this trade with the plummeting quality of (even wholesale) yard goods we've had for some years. I regard with utmost horror anything that might strangle the supply.

*The rag trade term is a rub-off (as opposed to a knock-off, which is pirating). A one-off is recreating a favorite for one client, which invariably has a few changes.

#158 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 09:26 PM:

Mary Aileen @156: When my favorite--completely unreplaceable--skirt got too shabby to wear to work*, I got a book on making patterns from finished clothes and copied it. Now I have a bunch of that skirt in different colors. Note that I am by no means an expert seamstress, but I can handle the basics and follow directions.

Ooooh. Having just learned some basics of sewing this year, finally, I might have just found the "use case" for getting a sewing machine and continuing to sew as a hobby. I have problems finding pants I really like, and last week the dog chewed up one of my favorite pairs.

#159 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 09:44 PM:

Add me to the last few posters who sew because it's hard to find quite what we want in stores. I like slightly-retro clothes that are neither skin-tight nor ill-fitting; I've found a couple of vintage patterns that fit me well and some online tutorials on drafting simple patterns from your own measurements, and I've made multiple versions in different fabrics.

(OK, that's not the whole truth -- the artist/designer in me also likes to turn patterns around in my head and decide how to vary the construction *this* time.)

#160 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 10:45 PM:

John Larson @53, I hope not!

My hearing (as in ability to perceive sound) is fine (at 44, I can still hear the "teenager" ringtones), but my auditory processing is rubbish. I really /need/ text in order to be able to process and retain information. Oral instructions are useless to me. Likewise a series of spolen driving directions - I can only handle one directive at a time, so BLESS the map-function voice instructions that don't tell me three steps ahead and only confuse me - and even with those, I really do best if I read the overview first, so that the voice navigation is jogging my memory.

Today I found myself explaining to a friend how to track a tag on tumblr. I was so tired that I couldn't even GIVE verbal instructions. I grabbed a notebook and a pen out of my pocketbook and wrote the steps down. In a very conversational style...but I literally could not organize myself to explain it unless I mediated it through writing.

If text goes away entirely in favor of video, I will be damned near useless.

#161 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 11:01 PM:

Like anything else that supposes the *complete* death of a completely common facet of our culture, I am intensely skeptical of anyone who thinks audio/video will wholly replace text for information processing. It sounds like the "There will be nothing left but e-books" fear-mongering to me. In both cases, the real answer is that X is an increasing percentage of the total, and may continue that way for some time.

Those who predict its whole takeover mostly seem to be extrapolating the current increase in usage as if the graph will continue on the same line forever, which is true of very few things at all.

Those who predict its eventual plateau and the continued, if lessened, existence of the original medium seem to instead be arguing from observations of irreplaceable or at least superior usages.

#162 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2014, 11:27 PM:

Re Putin's latest publicity thing:

I would rather have a poodle as president, thanks. Leopards eat people.

#163 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 06:47 AM:

Does anyone have solid evidence on the idea that enzymes eat cotton?

It's my impression that Tide wrecked a number of my favorite t-shirts, but when (challenged by a friend) I poked around online, I found rather little verification for the idea enzymes affect cotton (as distinct from wool and silk).

#164 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 07:27 AM:

I got back into sewing when I lived in the UK, gained weight, and the difference between my heavy body shape (pear) and the local heavy body shape (apple) meant that I couldn't buy clothes that fit.

And then I got to like making my own skirts and dresses, in the styles I like, when I like. I lost the weight again, but didn't quit sewing. I do find that things are less expensive when I make them myself, mostly because my fabric content choices (natural fibers only, please) don't appear in low-end clothes.

It's also a time-saver for me, since I don't end up dragging through multiple shops looking for things that I like.

I have a number of basic patterns (a flared skirt, a darted skirt, a princess-line dress, a dress with darted bodice), which I vary to get the sorts of clothes that I like to wear. Indeed, my Worldcon costume (Éowyn's Shieldmaiden Dress) uses the darted bodice block for two of its elements. (I did have to learn to make a corset for that. Now I have all kinds of corsetry ideas...)

And yes, there will be Worldcon costume photos.

#165 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 08:17 AM:

Johan Larson @53:I can read and absorb faster than i can listen and absorb. Much faster. No way is video/audio an improvement for many things - e.g. reading a book (unless doing something which makes physically holding and reading from a book impossible) and certainly not for reading anything scientific.

If there's a video of something plus a transcript below, it's much faster and more informative for me to read the transcript.

#166 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 08:35 AM:

I continue to work on drafting a wide variety of patterns, some with better success than others; the trouser horror continues unabated, unfortunately.

It's ever so much easier to draft earlier styles of clothing (including corsets) -- many of them are either more forgiving, or better at rearranging the body to suit.

#167 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 08:40 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 156 & Carol Kimball @ 157
I recently had the astoundingly obvious epiphany that using tailors chalk to rub off improved the results exponentially. Apparently it's formatted just that much better than any other sort of pencil or chalk (never mind crayons, tailors chalk that's actually wax, or any number of other things that I've tried and had meh results with, in the past)

#168 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 09:37 AM:

CHip #155: albatross @ 152: you omit a third category: people wanting clothing that isn't commercially available. ...

People with non-standard body shapes (notably transsexuals).

And I wonder how many people make their own high-end clothing; I hear that the people who make and fit clothing for the big couturiers are \very/ skilled, so the ability to match their work would be rare.

Well, I'm sure they'd say so! ;-) Bluntly much of high-end fashion is high-end tribalism, with Artistic Statements mixed in. But the thing is, talent is a drag on the market these days, and plenty of people are capable of clothing design on that level. There are certainly skills to be learned in working with exotic materials, but consider also that many of those couture designs are "exhibition pieces", effectively unwashable. Very limited market there....

#169 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 09:37 AM:

Rikibeth, #160: I'm not as badly off as you, but I do have 2 issues with audio processing. First, I have really low-end sound filtering software in my head, so in a noisy environment it's often hard for me to parse speech (and no, I'm not losing my hearing; this has been a problem since college). Second, my brain privileges text over audio, so that I can't read and listen at the same time. For that matter, my brain seems to privilege thinking over audio -- it's easy for me to lose the thread of a conversation, or not hear music that I'm listening to, if I'm thinking about something else.

I don't have your problem with GPS oral prompting, though -- at least, not now that I've gotten used to it. At first, it was very disconcerting to have an unfamiliar voice start speaking to me out of thin air!

abi, #164: my fabric content choices (natural fibers only, please) don't appear in low-end clothes

I don't find this to be true at all. Even at Wal-Mart and Target, there is at least all-cotton clothing -- mostly cotton knits, to be sure, but it's there. The mid-range is where I see this happening; in my Roaman's catalogs, all the pretty fancy dresses are polyester. Maybe there's a regional difference?

my Worldcon costume (Éowyn's Shieldmaiden Dress)

Oh, I DO hope there will be pictures!

#170 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 09:39 AM:

Me #168: And in the ohnosecond, I realize I noted transexuals, but not the even more obvious case of transvestites!

#171 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 10:00 AM:

#169, Lee: I have the same two issues with my hearing. I've had my hearing tested and it's very good! In a noisy restaurant I can't follow conversations and end up feeling isolated, but in the same noisy restaurant I once pointed at a person sitting across from me and a couple of chairs down — who I couldn't have possibly had a conversation with — and said "your phone is ringing". He pulled his phone out of his shirt pocket and it was. He hadn't heard it.

I can only focus on audiobooks or podcasts if I'm doing something that completely occupies my hands, eyes, and very little of my brain (specifically not anything that needs language). Cooking, driving, painting walls, for example. My brain also privileges thinking over audio, but if I'm doing something manual, *then* it can focus on audio. I don't know if I could sew and listen to a podcast at the same time. Maybe once I get better at it so I don't have to think so hard about what I'm doing...

#172 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 10:06 AM:

Clifton (158): A word of caution: pants can be tricky to fit. Not exactly a beginner project.
I'm another who finds text much superior to audio/video. Not only can I read far faster than I can listen, but my mental processing is strongly oriented toward visual information (by which I mean text, not images--graphic novels just don't work for me at all). For example, when someone reads me a phone number or spells their name, I have a hard time writing it down without missing or reversing digits/letters. Poor auditory processing runs in the family; my sister had trouble in school because of it, and my father's has gotten so bad that he's officially hard of hearing*. A bit odd, considering all the muscians we have in the family, but brains are odd.

*Hearing aids don't help much, because the problem is in his brain, not his ears.

#173 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 10:40 AM:

I am reminded of a section from an archaic Latin text explaining how a man of the city, having purchased a country estate, should go about running it. After listing the thousand and one things that the slaves ought to be doing on any given day, and what they ought to be doing if the overseer claims there are reasons not to work on those specific projects, it finally comes to the issue of weather so bad that no one can work outside. In that case, the writer concludes, all of the slaves should be busy inside making caps out of the old rags.

The translation I did is a little dubious at this point, but it was eventually resolved in class that they were expected to be doing some sort of garment-creation work out of the remains of older garments or scraps of cloth. This, at least, was a gender-neutral activity; everything the female slaves did was dealt with roughly as "and make sure your villica keeps all the female slaves doing their work, and takes care of the sick slaves once she makes sure they're really sick and not just slacking."

#174 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 11:01 AM:

Abi @ 164... Yes, pictures are expected.

#175 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 11:37 AM:

*gibber* *gibber* *gibber*

I don't even know where to start, here! *happy grin*

My whole life, I've approached the whole fiber/textile thing from a personal angle, of connection to the world around me. "How does THAT work?" and "What happens if I do THIS?" Plus a deep sense of satisfaction when I could wear one of my projects.

I taught myself how to spin, using wool found on the land around Hadrian's Wall. Cackling like a fiend when I realized I was woolgathering, for real and true. (Acquiring the wheel is an whole 'nuther story.) I thought that the materials more or less taught me, so I get a bit intimidated when I hear about people spinning "from the fold" or whatever. After having learned how to spin on the wheel (pre-internet days, so no "quick, let's go consult some handy site written by a loving enthusiast"), I also learned how to spin on a drop spindle. Cotton, too. Somewhere in the house there is silk roving, and even angora straight from a bunny... as well as a number of wools in differing colors: meant for felting, but I quite happily card colors together in heathers...

And then "ooh! shiny!" took over, and I learned how to weave. I also wanted to weave something I could wear: my teacher made me very sad by telling me she didn't think most handspun fibers could stand up to the stresses endured by warp-threads, with the constant lifting (and rubbing) they'd undergo from lifting the harnesses and heddles. Still, I embarked on a couple of projects: learning the basics over a series of lesson hours that amounted to 40, then another 40 devoted to weaving my prize, a wrap/poncho.

I love weaving: you, the weaver, are present at the very edge of creating-from-nothing: warp threads that are under tension, that you know would just turn into a spaghetti-mess if you released that tension, but weft-by-weft pinned into their parallel order, creating this... stuff. Fabric that bends in all 3 dimensions and doesn't disintegrate, but can hold things, or become clothing for one's cold body. Heady stuff, that: I felt almost like a goddess, the first time I saw that transition.

It's no wonder to encounter weaving as a theme in the old mythological tales; cloth-making is truly an art of civilization, and of peace. You can run away with your knitting needles or your crochet hook, but weaving makes you a sitting duck. (Even if you're using a belt-loom, which I have... bought at a church bazaar; that evening, dear hubby trundled down the stairs to apologize for having let himself get distracted by some new software he'd bought, and I was all like, "Huh? What?" bent over that new toy.)

So, yeah, abi, very well articulated, about the survivalists and that lacuna regarding fabric, and later on, about how talking about "when" society collapses diverts our attention from trying to make that an "if", instead. (A riff on your answer to albatross in #59)

Crazy(and trying to re-spoon before Worldcon, so she can remember to bring some of this fun stuff...)Soph

#176 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 12:14 PM:

Crazysoph @175

I am still a baby weaver and have yet to use a handspun warp, but I have known people who spin and weave who say they have less trouble with warp thread breakage with their handspun than with commercial yarn. It all depends on the quality of the handspun, of course, and it's apparently a good idea to use an appropriate sizing on the warp thread. Still! Consider all the cloth woven from handspun before the spinning jenny.

And I've read that the weaving industry in England was suspicious about the quality of yarn handspun on newly-introduced spinning wheels to the point of requiring that warp be spindle-spun.

Do give it a try! If you're on Ravelry, there's a discussion group dedicated to weaving with handspun. It's fairly quiet, but the archives are useful.

#177 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 12:39 PM:

CHip "how much \central/ civil authority was there in those days?"

Let's look at some real-world examples. Central civil authority dissolved in China at the end of the Zhou and Han dynasties, in Japan at the end of the Muromachi shogunate, in Western Europe during the 5th century. What all of these had in common was military disruption. Plague and economic disruption had weakened all these regimes, but they didn't really collapse until open warfare, either internal or external, began.
So there was central authority, even in a premodern context, and its failure had an effect.

The interesting thing is, most modern post-apocalyptic scenarios begin with either plague or environmental catastrophe/resource depletion. But if you look at West Africa now, the main effect of plague appears to be to strengthen central authority. When central authority dissolved, as it did in Liberia and Sierra Leone, it was due to military disruption. When plague hits, people don't try to take authority into their own hands, they group together in fear. From what I've heard, people in the affected areas are doing whatever the government tells them to, in hopes they will be spared. I think there's a similar effect for natural disasters. After hurricanes and earthquakes the number of people who take to looting are far outnumbered by those who hunker down and wait for instructions.

The granddaddy of modern PA scenarios is the nuclear exchange, and it's hard to judge how realistic those scenarios are since nuclear conflict is unprecedented in human history. Nuclear devastation would be like a manmade natural disaster, but even worse in terms in terms of death, trauma, and infrastructure destruction. It might have the ability to disrupt society in ways nothing else could.

(When I say 'nuclear conflict,' I mean fullscale nuclear exchange. Use of nuclear weapons has a precedent, of course)

#178 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 12:56 PM:

I have read of Central Asian camel herders in the ?1910s, walking alongside their camels, spinning as they did so, and every few paces reaching out to grab a handful of camel hair to add to their spinning.

And people wonder why camels are so ill-tempered ...

#179 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 12:59 PM:

SamChevre @142, I sometimes use ointments containing lidocaine at ... the other end of my body from Cassy B. Do I need to worry about similar effects?

#180 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 01:07 PM:

This discussion had been generally skeptical of survivalism, including my posts, and for good reason. But yesterday I was reminded sharply of the reason for the phenomena. Someone has theorized that the recent sinkholes in Siberia are evidence that the long-dreaded methane outgassing from permafrost melt has begun in earnest. This might accelerate climate change from the catastrophic to the annihilationist. When I read this, the fear hit--the fear I remember so well from the Peak Oil Spring of '08, the fear for my children. For them, it seems like I should be doing something, no matter how futile it might be. And it would be probably futile, as has been discussed, and that's why I'm not going to try to buy a plot of land in central Maine and live off the grid and (fail to) make our own clothes. We wouldn't last five minutes. But I understand the urge.

#181 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 01:11 PM:

Dave* @180, I am in very much the same position as you. Except that, being on the right side of the pond, the plot of land I won't be buying is not in Maine. But it might be in Shetland.

#182 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Abi pointed me at this, because she knows I'd be interested, and also that I'm dreadfully behind on even fun things like reading Making Light.

I'm a professional botanist and agroecologist, and professional fiber artist, and semi-professional textile historian. I'd be a great person to have on your team post-apocalypse, if it weren't for the whole "modern medicine required for continued life" problem. (And apologies for any typos I miss: my fingers are numb from aforementioned modern medicine, and it's making typing a bit challenging.)

If we had a major apocalypse interfering with trade and industry (not, scarily, all that unlikely), I don't see fabric as all that much problem, really. We all, by historical standards/em>, have a lifetime supply of clothing in our closets, and an abundance of household linens. Sewing would be a useful skill, but we could get by without manufacture for quite some time. Decades, probably (long enough to lose the necessary skills completely?).

There's also a lot of infrastructure around: people who have spinning wheels or looms stashed away in an attic, etc. We wouldn't have to go back to spinning everything on a drop spindle and weaving it on a warp-weighted loom. I live in Amish country: there are also plenty of treadle sewing machines and other such tools around. I realize that in cities the situation is different, but cities have much bigger problems if long-distance transport or other infrastructure goes away. (Water? Food?)

My favorite aspect of this is how it plays out in world building. Where does stuff come from? What do people wear? How is it grown/extruded/whatever? How is it processed, and who does that? What powers that processing: people, water, electricity? How is class expressed in clothing?

Same for food: where is it grown (or produced in some other way)? What is traded long-distance, vs being local? In a low-tech society, food and fiber both illuminate the intersection between climate, technology, and trade.

I got to run a panel discussion on that topic at Confluence (Pittsburgh) this past weekend: such fun! This is a topic I could go on at great length about.

#183 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 04:20 PM:

Well thanks everyone here for encouraging me to get out my spindle again. It really does help for the fidgets. I'm terrible, but it's the process rather than the product that's the point for me.

Speaking of textile care - I was recently given a fluffy, super-heavy, cotton towel with "The Heavyweight" on the tag. Also on the tag - care instructions stating "Machine wash delicate, tumble dry low." !!!! Since when did we have to handle cotton terry towels with kid gloves? Is this a sort of "we know this is shoddy merchandise" CYA move by textile and garment manufacturers?

It would probably take 2-3 hours on low with nothing else in the dryer for this bath towel to actually get dry. Since I have to use communal pay washing facilities, this is deeply impractical. I checked with the person who gifted me the towel and she confirmed that she just washes them on perm-press and tumbles on broil and has had no problems with them.

#184 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 04:39 PM:

IIRC it was a member of the SCA who worked out a plausible practical explanation for the tendency of medieval European garments to be variations on a T-tunic for all classes, several centuries, and thousands of square miles. It's possible to draw a pattern to fit an average human body right on the unwound bolt without wasting more than a scrap or two; most pattern pieces will share at least one edge with another piece.

#185 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 04:43 PM:

Lee@169, Janra@171 - I've always had trouble hearing conversation with noisy backgrounds, and restaurants are unfortunately usually the worst. Got my hearing tested in college and it was fine. But that was decades ago, and a year or two ago my wife bugged me to go get it tested again and try some hearing aids. I do have the pretty typical age-related upper-frequency losses, and test-drove one hearing aid and then a pair of them for a week or two. Wearing one seemed to help (didn't matter which ear), wearing two drove me bonkers, like they're echoing inside my head because they're not perfectly in sync. There was a perfect place to try the things out - there's a local Middle Eastern restaurant that's the best of its genre and has the worst and most echoey acoustics of anywhere in the area.

Digital signal processing and circuit miniaturization have progressed radically over the years, but at least given the way such things are paid for in the US, this has meant that big clunky analog hearing aids that used to cost an inflation-adjusted $6000/pair have been superseded by very small in-ear digital $6000/pair hearing aids (or $20 as-seen-on-TV analog ones, about the size of a Bluetooth headset, which aren't very good.) It ought to be possible to fit high-quality signal processing into a headset for a few hundred dollars, considering that Bose does that with noise-cancellers, or a double-microphone pair of earbuds driven by an iPhone, and there are enough boomers getting into hearing aid age ranges there should be a market.

#186 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 04:50 PM:

A couple of years ago I was visiting some friends up in the city, walked into their flat, walked around the little robots charging in the hallway (because that's what kinds of friends I have), and peripherally noticed an upright piano in the living room corner, covered in cloth, and then looked again, because it wasn't a piano, it was a loom :-) She also has a closet full of various boxes of fiber, ranging from raw wool to spun to fabric. I don't think he has taught the robots to do anything with fabric except maybe precise color identification or sweeping up bits on the floor (some of them started out as Roombas.)

#187 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 04:56 PM:

Dave* @177

I've seen conflicting views of the nuclear conflict problem.

The radiation effects are not going to be good but, ugly though some of the effects are, it's a life expectancy and public health problem.

The more immediate effects, such as the blast and the thermal flash, may have been exaggerated. Flat desert land and ocean islands are differently affected to at least some city sites. And then there is a perception that treats a mile of total destruction as being half of a two-mile badly damaged area.

They didn't know about the nuclear winter effect in the 1950s, and they didn't have the long range ballistic missiles, and for a while there was the feeling, bad though it would be, that a country could survive. British planning set up nuclear shelters from which the survivors could be organised. And there would be few enough survivors that they could be fed and clothed, and enough to pass on the knowledge and rebuild and, in effect man a battered island that was a colony ship for Western Civilisation.

You could build some interesting story-telling on that, and I suppose John Wyndham depicted the hopeful end of the apocalypse scale. But my memories of old movies (Hollywood) and American SF seem to be biased towards a later period. Oh, there was On the Beach, but when missiles came into the equation, the hope died.

I knew something about stats, and could even see why Reagan's Star Wars didn't need to be close to be 100% effective to be useful. It just had to restore the unreliable targeting of missiles that made shooting first crazy.

There was more to it than that, but sometimes a nuclear war seemed to be more about bad dreams, panic, and Mad Max. Alternate History asks the what-if question, but there's always the real history. Nuclear was was there to set if a dramatic SF story, possibly involving mutated creatures in an empty desert that was only a camera angle away from Las Vegas.

It was, for much of my life, a Schrodinger's War, lurking catlike in the shadows. And what we have instead is almost as much a product of wild imagination. but quite real death and destruction. But since we don't have to keep our armies safe for the Big One, we can send them off in dribs and drabs and actually kill people.

#188 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Dave Harmon, #168: you seem to be answering praise of the people who make and fit couture clothing but what you write is condemnation of the designers. Not the same people.

#189 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 06:17 PM:

A couple weeks ago I attended (via webcast) the National Disaster Life Support conference. One of the sessions was about planning disaster response for a small (~10 kiloton) nuclear explosion in a city, say downtown Washington DC. It's, frankly, the stuff of nightmares, but it is being treated as "this is going to happen sooner or later, and we're going to have to deal with it when it does."

And of course, as soon as it happens once, it will keep happening, and it will become part of the new normal. Like hurricanes hitting NYC (also part of the conference).

One such event isn't a civilzation-ender. Several per decade, or several per year, year after year and decade after decade?

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 07:01 PM:

It's a lot of fun to look at the designer patterns i the Vogue pattern catalog, particularly the evening dress section. (Some designers are much better at flattering the figure than others.)

#191 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 07:36 PM:

Dave Bell @187/Lila @189

Once on an anime forum I saw someone post in honest confusion how animes could depict Hiroshima as a living city.
Wasn't it a wasteland for all time? In the same vein, you often see people discussing the effects of suitcase nuke like they were multimegaton hydrogen bombs.

In the decades since Hiroshima/Nagasaki, an image has grown of nuclear conflict. As Dave Bell pointed out,
it started out low, "survivable," but accumulated over time, from "On the Beach" to "Dr Strangelove" to "The Day After",
to Whitley Striber's "Warday," and then to "When the Wind Blows," until the idea has been fastened in the public
mind that any use of nuclear weapons==general nuclear exchange==the extinction of our species. In the absence of actual data,
the fear has become a taboo.

Which I completely support. I am 100% behind an irrational misunderstanding of the reasonably foreseeable effects
of nuclear weapons. It's the primary force behind the fact that no one's used them in anger since 1945.

What worries me, like Lila, is the effect of actual experience on that taboo. I think the first actors to use a nuclear
weapon will exile themselves from humanity. They will be hunted down and destroyed by all parties, like Osama Bin Laden times
ten. But then the precedent will be set. Subsequent users will not face such reaction. And while
it's hard to foresee nuclear action ever being routine, the idea that it might even slightly acceptable...

May it be many years before we need to find out.

#192 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Dave, the "nightmare" isn't so much the long-term effects on the strike zone (with a 10-kiloton bomb, not that huge) but the immediate short-term effects as the entire region's medical response capability is completely overwhelmed. Not so much by all the casualties (a few with serious radiation sickness, a lot of burns, a shit-ton of broken-glass injuries; more subtle radiation damage shows up later) but by the 100x as many people who AREN'T seriously hurt but rush themselves to the nearest hospital (this will go on for days to weeks after the blast). This happened after Aum Shinrikyo's gas attack on the Tokyo subway; in a nuclear strike it would be much, much, much worse.

As far as I know, nobody has yet made much progress in fending off the so-called "worried well". I think it was last year that some hospitals in Pennsylvania had to set up triage tents on their lawns to keep people with the flu (or who thought they might have, or might get, the flu) from swamping the ER.

(The other thing Aum Shinrikyo demonstrated is what a bad idea it is to bring contaminated patients into the ER; they contaminate the docs, nurses, other patients, etc. etc. Unfortunately, although ambulance drivers know this, helpful bystanders don't.)

#193 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 08:32 PM:

Dave* Twiddy@191: The first actors to use a nuclear weapon were not drummed out of humanity, or hunted down and destroyed. That would be us in the US.

The first non-state-level actors: you're probably right. But I don't think that much (in a historic sense) would happen to a state-level actor. Terrorists: you're probably right. I still worry more about state-level actors (though not much more).

#194 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2014, 08:51 PM:

Jenny Islander @ #184: It's possible to draw a pattern to fit an average human body right on the unwound bolt without wasting more than a scrap or two; most pattern pieces will share at least one edge with another piece.

The Textile Museum of Canada, mentioned upthread, held an exhibit a few years back on clothing of Imperial China (iirc it tended to focus on the last three or four centuries, understandably enough).

They suggested that many of the differences between Manchu and Han clothing could be traced to the fact that the former originally made most of their clothing from animal skins; and retained design elements (raglan sleeves and diagonal closures) based on cutting from the shape of a hide, even when they switched to woven fabrics.

#195 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 01:13 AM:

@194/Sarah: there's a book called "cut my cote" by... some canadian museum, can't remembe published many years ago that is largely about how weaving technology [backstrap vs pit looms] shapes clothing style: backstrap looms get you long narrow cloth and kimono, pit looms get you wide cloth and togas. It also mentioned the deer/manchu garment thing, I think: well worth a look at if you have access and an interest.

An interesting thing I realised, for the worldbuilders: if cloth is handspun and handwoven, embroidering it is a much smaller additional investment of labour than you're probably used to.

Personal note: for some years I had a huge bolt of black cotton [1600mm by... hundreds of metres, it was like 200mm thick] shoved under my bed, called it my end-of-the-world resources. Shoes would be better, of course.

#196 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 01:20 AM:

Louis Patterson @ 195 ...
@194/Sarah: there's a book called "cut my cote" by... some canadian museum, can't remembe published many years ago that is largely about how weaving technology [backstrap vs pit looms] shapes clothing style: backstrap looms get you long narrow cloth and kimono, pit looms get you wide cloth and togas. It also mentioned the deer/manchu garment thing, I think: well worth a look at if you have access and an interest.

I have the book, actually. It's from the Royal Ontario Museum, and doesn't have a whole lot to say about weaving, beyond the effect of fabric width on cut of shirts, from what I recall (it's downstairs, and I'm upstairs).

It's a very thin book, all of 36 pages (making it spectacularly easy to lose), but it's a nice reference for folks interested in various ways that cultures have made shirts.

#197 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 07:53 AM:

I do love my pseudo-mediaeval shirts, made with keyhole necklines and gussets in the armpits. But I confess, I cheat - I cut the sleeves as trapeziums, tapering toward the cuffs, rather than rectangles. It's more wasteful of fabric, but it makes the width of sleeve more comfortable. I also cut very crude, straight armscyes, because my shoulders need much less width than my hips, and cutting rectangular fronts wide enough to pull down past my waist makes the shoulders sag halfway to my elbows. I try to avoid curved seams, and darts, and modern close-fitted lines, but my body does not work well worth strict rectangles.

It's a very good point about embroidery as a comparatively labour-cheap addition before industrialisation. I'll make more of an effort to include it, with that in mind.

#198 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 08:16 AM:

clew #188: Dave Harmon, #168: you seem to be answering praise of the people who make and fit couture clothing but what you write is condemnation of the designers. Not the same people.

My understanding is that for couture especially, those people are at least "in the same outfit", with the crafters working under close and strict direction from the designer. In any case, my basic point stands: The couture designers who are well-known are those who made and cultivated contacts and relationships in the industry... and then "won a lottery" for actual success. The level of design does require a lot of artistic skill, but not world-class artistic genius.¹ So there are any number of other folks who could do as well at the actual design, without being able to sell them.

The matter of couture producing unmaintainable clothes for the super-rich is really another issue entirely. Now, there's nothing wrong with making a one-shot (or few-shot) costume for display, and celebrities are welcome to sink some of their wealth into those -- after all, display is much of their "job" as a celebrity. But IMHO, presenting such as examples to be followed in public fashion, is tacky if not sleazy, and very much an arrogance of the wealthy class.

¹ Greater population, access to education, and communication have also increased the number of "world-class" talents around. Consider the case of science: Einstein was likely the last person to be hailed as "the great scientific genius of his generation". Even within his lifetime, the next "scientific generation" didn't have only one person on that level, but a whole crowd, enough that even hyperbole couldn't pick one to anoint. The difference was made by both more people to pick from, and the 20th century developments in education and communications.

#199 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 10:04 AM:

What surprises me is that there isn't a parallel institution of common couture-- people who specialize is inventing and displaying fashion changes that make sense for most people.

Or does this exist and I haven't noticed it?

#200 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 10:23 AM:

SIXTEEN minutes, Of commercials. Every hour.

#201 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 10:39 AM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey #200: "And now, a brief interruption for the news..."

#202 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 10:52 AM:

And of course in the UK we had the classic 1984 docu-drama Threads (warning, spider visible from 0:01 if you don't like that sort of thing) which used the textile metaphor to depict the effects of a general nuclear exchange on Sheffield; mostly featuring unknown actors but narrated crisply by Paul (The future's bright, the future's Orange) Vaughan, it scared the crap out of a generation. It is the most depressing thing ever shown on British television.

#203 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 10:55 AM:

True fact: the portion on a print newspaper that is not occupied by ads is known as the "news hole".

#204 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 10:56 AM:

Ohnosecond: portion OF. Sorry about that.

#205 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 02:21 PM:

WRT spam/robocalls and caller ID, if I don't recognize the number, or it's just a city-state combo, or really descriptive names like "merchant serv" or "credit banking", I pick up and hang up in quick sequence.

I have found that if I answer the phone by saying "hello" and get a spam/robocall (I really need to get a phone with caller ID upstairs), the number of such calls will increase to as many as five or six a day. And within less than two days. If I do the "pick up hang up" routine, or "on off" button pushing, the number of calls dwindle to two or three per week, within less than a week.

#206 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 02:30 PM:

I tend to pick up without saying anything, because most of the ones I get are robocalls looking for a voice response to trigger them. (A surprising number are actual people who need a voice response to start their spiel. I can hear the background noises that tell me they're in a boiler room.) Then I hang up.

#207 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 04:19 PM:

P J Evans (206): My understanding is that the "actual people who need a voice response to start their spiel" are using an autodialer thingy that doesn't connect the human being until there's evidence (such as a voice response) that they have someone on the line. My experience is no sound at all until I've said Hello--usually twice, there's always a delay--then a person comes on, with background boiler room noises.

A few times it's been actual, genuine, companies-that-I-do-business-with using that kind of autodialer system. I do stay on the line with them--at least long enough to confirm that it's nothing I'm interested in--but that system guarantees that I start the call already pissed off. If they're going to interrupt my life by calling me, the least they can do is Be There when I pick up the phone.

(Caller ID doesn't help me; I am constitutionally unable to ignore a ringing phone.)

#208 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 04:23 PM:

@205/206: We just let the answering machine screen all calls. ALL calls. Anyone who needs to get through knows to leave a message.

#209 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 04:49 PM:

I have seen Guardians of the Galaxy and I have to say that it contains TNH bait in the form of the line 'I'm taking orders from a hamster!'

#210 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 05:14 PM:

Lila at 203, 204: ("newshole")

I used to work at a newspaper.

There was a postal regulation that it could only be a certain percentage ads, so we ran the numbers for the total ad sales through a spreadsheet to find out how many pages to make it.

This process can be very automatic if you do it all in the specialty program that ties the ad sales people's database records to the page-dummying program (i e I could put an ad on the page in the layout program and a report would be automatically generated saying what page it's on) and if you are working for one of those megaglomerates that own many newspapers, the sales people can "cross-sell" the same ad into many papers if that's what the customer wants.

Ad with is "standard advertising units", i e all columns are equally wide, and if different publications have different page size, they have different number of columns per page accordingly.

Then there is a script that pulls the ad images into the page when you are done building the page in Quark Xpress (or maybe they switched to InDesign after I was laid off.)

#211 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 05:41 PM:

That might be - but I'm hearing background noises, before I hear person speaking on my line. And if it's someone I do business with, no problem. Usually it isn't. (Actually, I'll do stuff like tap on the mike end of the handset, or blow into it, or whistle into it, to see if there's a response.) Live people calling are usually good with saying something when the receiver gets picked up.

#212 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Robodiallers, we hates them forever, we do. Likewise the <noun deleted> scammers that play tricks with caller-id, e,g: an allegedly "local" (to UK) call that lit up the "international" text on the Magic Box.

It almost tempts me to install Asterisk on a suitable box and add a few special features such as blacklisting, whitelisting, boiling oil listing, and especially for "Curved air market research": an endless loop of Darryl Way playing Vivaldi (all three versions).

Also I have a Racal SS291 "JAMCAT" - JAMming Communications ATtachment - that is in desperate need of an acoustic coupler so I can treat the next faux market research scammer to random morse, random tones, or simply white noise at high volume.


I wonder if the SIT tones as an outgoing message still trigger removal from the robodialler target list. Might also be worth a try.

#213 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 09:00 PM:

I especially hate the telemarketers whose calls don't end when I hang up.

#214 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2014, 10:39 PM:

I am so glad that we're mature enough as a society to have things like hospice and DNRs.

My father has a few weeks or months left. Really, it is utterly astonishing he's made it this long, and after so many close calls over decades this seems utterly anti-climactic.

It pisses me off that GOP cranks want to turn honest advice about advance directives into "death panels." Really, to hell with them. My parents are experienced enough about this sort of thing to know what questions to ask, but less educated and savvy people could doom loved ones to being life support zombies.

I'm considering sneaking my father a pound box assortment of See's Chocolates as a way of blowing up his systems if he wants a quick exit. That WOULD be the way to go.

#215 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 12:19 AM:

janra @171: I don't know if I could sew and listen to a podcast at the same time.

I'm very confident I couldn't. I do a lot of handwork while watching TV (or listening to audio), and as long as the process is pretty straightforward, I'm good. But if I have to figure something out and/or make a decision, I have to turn the noisemaker off. I don't think I have any particular audio processing issues (aside from limited bandwidth—visual-spatial is my power processor). But there are some things that chew up enough cycles that it'll soak up even my relatively weak and unrelated audio circuitry.

text/video: My issue with is that text is so much more scannable. Text with diagrams is my optimal learning mode. I find video tedious, because I have to sit through all the (often not useful) contextual crap to get the nut of what I'm after, and few videos are constructed to have strong, searchable imagery to flick past. That said, I love the thumbnail feature in some video programs, such as Netflix and Youtube. It annoys the crap out of me that my DVD software doesn't do that.

There are a very few topics where video is superior, where the process being discusssed is analog enough that video is more effective. Bob Ross's painting videos are one example. I can't imagine trying to do that in text, even with diagrams.

#216 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 01:03 AM:

fidelio: "I've seen old quilts made in the US covered with new patchwork tops, as well, although the usual progression there (reflecting typical wear patterns) is 1) rebinding 2)insertion of applied patched to cover small areas of damage 3)putting on a new top, ov even a complete cover, when the necessary repairs become too extensive. The recovered item is usually tied to hold the layers together instead of requilted."

Heh. My four-year-old has a Blanket that was getting adored to death. Somewhat unusually, the binding was far more durable than the quilt itself, so the process was patching, more patching, then an appeal to the original quilt maker to just do an entirely new top. As these are the days of sewing machines, it was quilted through. You can see the process starting here (the daisy fabric is the patching that was no longer adequate—and click the LEFT button to advance). And here is a pretty good pic of when it was new. Note the satin ruffle—the only part of the original quilt to show in the "new" version, and of course the most important part.

#217 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 01:04 AM:

#215: I depend on on-line articles to learn about various technical matters. The use of GUIs and configuring rather deep-fried things like virtual machines and software containers.

I *hate* it when a promising-looking article turns out to be a video, for much the same things you mention.

Bonus for text articles: Cutting and pasting command lines.

#218 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 06:38 AM:

CHip @ 155, I have no clue about when the musical differences emerged in Reform Judaism - I know very little about the history, though I vaguely remember that even from the beginning the liturgy slanted towards piano/organ accompaniment and official choirs, where such things weren't a part of Orthodox practice. I just know what I observed in the 1970s and 1980s. It was especially funny when a friend and I were listening to WERS one time and a Hebrew song we both knew came on, and I was all "where did THAT melody come from? It's all CHEERFUL and major-key!" and she said "well, it's a slightly weird arrangement in terms of phrasing, but I can hear its basis in what I learned," and sang a few bars, and then asked me what I'd learned, and I sang a bit of MY version, all minor-key, and then I said, "Wait, you went to a Reform temple, didn't you?" and she said "Yup. Let me guess - Conservative?" and we had a good laugh, because it was SO TRUE.

#219 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 06:57 AM:

Lee @169, maybe I wasn't clear enough on GPS oral prompting. I actually like it because the oral version only gives me one instruction at a time, rather than a human speaking who'll frequently try to say all the steps at once or tell me three ahead.

I AM a bit fussy about how it delivers the instructions. The TomTom protocol seems to like to prompt you three times for every turn, and is bossy about lane changes - and doesn't listen when I say "There's a CAR there, Mandy, I'll do it as soon as I can," but repeats itself until I do it. Same for stoplights. When my only experience was with TomTom, I HATED GPS, and used to say I'd only be able to tolerate it if they could have had Majel Barrett provide the voice, because I would implicitly trust the Enterprise. If Paul Bettany ever does a TomTom or other GPS voice recording, I'll happily pay for it, because I'll also trust Jarvis.

However, the way the iPhone has Siri deliver the instructions is much less like nagging. One prompt a quarter mile or the available distance in feet before the turn, and one prompt directly at the turn, and if you happen to be at a stoplight, she doesn't nag as often as Mandy TomTom did. And Siri says "Stay left for" instead of "get in the left lane," which means I spend a lot less time saying "there's a CAR there, have some patience" or "I already DID, Mandy."

I like Siri. Not as much as I'd like the Enterprise or Jarvis, but she feels like a friend.

#220 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 09:19 AM:

Getting back to spindles, distaffs, and women's use of same -- at least one of the survivors of the Beast (possibly beasts) of Gevaudan was a young woman who fought the creature off with a spindle. I'm wondering if spindles, together with hatpins and parasols, fall into the category of "things that are unlikely to be confiscated as weapons, but which can be used in a pinch against an attacker."

#221 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 10:41 AM:

The not answering thing just saved me hearing the start of another robotic telesales call on my mobile, so thanks!

#222 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Dave* Twiddy @177 (I keep looking for the footnote associated with your asterisk): I seem to remember hearing speculation that the event that kicked off the Dark Ages was a 535 eruption of Krakatoa. That would (did) certainly do the job, at least to a degree. (Anybody know when Yellowstone is due?)

#223 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 03:22 PM:

Dave* @180: And it would be probably futile

I've heard those predictions, and it's important to take them seriously. But OTOH, don't underestimate the power of Vested Interest. Scare the right people badly enough, and Stuff Will Happen. It'll probably still be a thorough-going clusterf*ck, but the human race is remarkably ingenious, given sufficient motivation.

Lila @189: One such event isn't a civilzation-ender. Several per decade, or several per year, year after year and decade after decade?

Kill or seriously impair agricultural output a couple years in a row; that'd probably do the job. How do things go if even the Mormons run out of stored food?

Lin Daniel @205: "pick up hang up"

That's a really good tip. I've been plagued with those damn things lately, to the point where I'm reluctant to answer my phone at all. (Now I just need to get a phone with caller ID. Getting one that also has an alert for voicemail would be good, too.)

Nancy Lebovitz @213: I especially hate the telemarketers whose calls don't end when I hang up.

AIUI, that's actually an aspect of the phone PBX; any incoming call doesn't disconnect until they hang up. Combine that with telemarketers not hanging up when you do...well. Nevertheless: hateful, yes.

Sarah @220: "things that are unlikely to be confiscated as weapons, but which can be used in a pinch against an attacker."

Nunchucks: rice flail. Sai: wagon wheel axle. Tonfa: millstone handle. I'm sure there are others. "A weapon, sir? No sir! Just a good, sturdy farm tool. Essential, really."

#224 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 04:34 PM:

Jacque #223: Nunchucks: rice flail. Sai: wagon wheel axle. Tonfa: millstone handle. I'm sure there are others. "A weapon, sir? No sir! Just a good, sturdy farm tool. Essential, really."

And of course in the West: Pitchfork, scythe, mallet, threshing-flails; q.v. "pole-arms". Anything can be used as a weapon, even if it's not specialized for such use. Or to put it another way, "weapon" isn't an essential quality, it's how you use the tool in question.

#225 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 05:00 PM:

Jacque @ #223 wrote:

Lin Daniel @205: "pick up hang up"

That's a really good tip. I've been plagued with those damn things lately, to the point where I'm reluctant to answer my phone at all. (Now I just need to get a phone with caller ID. Getting one that also has an alert for voicemail would be good, too.)

As Tanuki once said on a certain newsgroup: "What I really want is a phone with Caller IQ".

Nancy Lebovitz @213: I especially hate the telemarketers whose calls don't end when I hang up.

AIUI, that's actually an aspect of the phone PBX; any incoming call doesn't disconnect until they hang up.

Known as "Caller held". The old manual (corded, usually) switchboards were effectively "recipient held", as seen in detective films where someone gets the phone put down on them and jiggles the receiver rest (causing a light to flash at the switchboard for their line) to attract the operator.

Combine that with telemarketers not hanging up when you do...well. Nevertheless: hateful, yes.

Positively the worst is random dialling from a mobile phone in someone's pocket (usually in the pub, though other options happen). They don't know they've called anyone and shouting down the phone will not get their attention. The solution to that if you have caller-id and a (or another) mobile phone is to send them a text message which should get their attention. A friend did this to interrupt the accidental self-bugging of a legal conference about a rather messy divorce!

This moose prefers mobiles where the keyboard is physically covered (flip or slide phone) for exactly this reason. PIN locking is not effective since accidentally hitting 91 (in .US), 99 (in .UK) or 11 (just about anywhere) will unlock the keypad on the assumption that it's an emergency call - a subsequent pause may cause this to expire but leave the keypad live, from where random bumping by keys or pocket change can find your contact list or recent call history and then dial something.

Technology! (Bah!)

The "Emergency number bypasses everything" is part of the specification - it should even work with out of contract (and possibly even stolen/disabled) phones, BTW.

#226 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 05:06 PM:

Hyper-local news: hyper-local author, scrambling to finish first draft of a trilogy before this time next week (in order to ship it to an editor before worldcon) wails in anguish as HLA's muse springs not one, but two plot recomplications on him less than 5000 words before the target word-count limit.

Does anyone know a hyper-local stockist of Muse-B-Gone?

#227 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 05:22 PM:

Open threadiness:

It would appear that the CIA can get away with spying on congress with no consequences.

My bet:

a. Nobody will go to jail over this, and at most some low-level person will resign. At the really extreme end, some high level person will resign.

b. Sooner or later, someone will leak the unredacted report on CIA torture. That whistleblower will go to jail, because the administration and the justice department (who had zero interest in pursuing people involved in torture or other war crimes, nor those who spied on Congress to influence the contents of the report) will fall on them like a ton of bricks, using every surveillance and intelligence tool to root them out.

We have apparently joined the set of countries where the intelligence services are just too dangerous to take on. Neither the president nor the congressional leadership has any stomach at all for a fight with the CIA or NSA. Presumably because they don't think they'd come out of it too well.

This isn't going to end well for us.

#228 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 05:28 PM:

jiggles the receiver rest (causing a light to flash at the switchboard for their line)

This could still be done with some phone systems (like Centrex). Now there's generally a button to do it.

#229 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Charlie: Thinly gloss them over, and then pocket them to sell as the fourth book, when you've finished this set...?

#230 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 07:27 PM:

HLN: Local Man goes for periodic cancer checkup, receives clean bill of health. In addition, doctor says LM needn't come back for SIX MONTHS, lengthening the previous interval. "It shows his increased confidence that the cancer won't come back, or at least won't come back suddenly," Local Man says.

#231 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 07:28 PM:

Sarah @ 229

Wool combs. Used to comb wool in preparation for spinning worsted yarn and thread. Quite capable of going through a human ribcage if swung with malice or carelessness.

#232 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 07:36 PM:


#233 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 09:02 PM:

Re wool combs, 231. There's a Saint Blaise who was martyred with wool combs. There are some suitably gruesome medieval stained glass windows.

He is, of course, the patron saint of wool combers.

#234 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 09:10 PM:

Xopher: Io! Eia!

#235 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Lila @ 234: My brain immediately wants to parse that as "Ia! Ia!" Can I ask for an actual explanation, because I'm pretty sure the intention wasn't to evoke unspellable Lovecraftian chants.

#236 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Lenora Rose #235: IIUC, it's basically ancient Greek cheering, which survives in various religious rites including some Neo-Pagan practices. The older Greek rites, (or an imagined survival of them), was probably what Lovecraft was trying to evoke with his version....

#237 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 10:03 PM:

And, Xopher #230, congratulations!

#238 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2014, 10:03 PM:

Lenora Rose: both those words mean roughly "hooray!" in Latin. Cf. "Io Saturnalia!" and

Stetit puella
rufa tunica;
si quis eam tetigit,
tunica crepuit.

#239 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 03:19 AM:

Wasn't defense with combs a... classical Roman woman's approach? If she wasn't holding her fibula pin, maybe?

#240 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 07:29 AM:

Clew @ 239

Wool combs bear only a passing similarity to hair combs.

Think of at least one row of metal claws on a handle, and you'll have a more accurate picture.

Now, if classical Roman women were combing wool, then sure. I don't know much about that part.

#241 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 07:42 AM:

...aha! Googling gives me the information that the Romans used wool combs, though the book in question is talking about men employed to do it in the wool trade. Doesn't mean women didn't use the tools, though.

#242 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 09:53 AM:

Wool combs are fearsome objects, heavy and effective, and if some woman comes at you wielding them, you'd be better off running. I'm pretty sure that women used them in Tudor times; yet another example of women doing heavy physical labour that nowadays goes unappreciated.

#243 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 11:12 AM:

Local woman comes back from Alpha exhausted and exhilarated. I have read so many good stories in the past week and a half.

#244 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Thanks everyone!

I understand that the bang/exclamation point was originally a ligature or shorthand way of writing "Io." Which in turn implies that in spoken Latin, an emphatic sentence would end in "io." This practice continues to this day!

#245 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 01:56 PM:

Huh; in the same way that &: is shorthand for "et". Cool.

#246 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Yes, that one is a ligature undeniably. I was hesitating to call ! one because it's not connected to a single line like & and æ.

The other example is ?, which is a [whatever] for "quo."

#247 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 06:53 PM:

Xopher: logogram?

#248 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 06:55 PM:

Lila: glyph?

#249 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 07:43 PM:

(Just lost a minute trying to lisp 'io!'.)

Whoa, the wool combs are terrifying; one wouldn't want to get someone's hackles up while those were around.

All the pictures of Roman matrons working wool I've seen were of pretty seated spinning and weaving (doesn't mean some of them didn't do the heavy work too), and the combs for the hair were *mostly* of delicate bone or wood. If no-one else remembers it, I bet I'm imagining it, or it was a reference to something like a mantilla comb.

#250 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 07:45 PM:

How long was the gap between ending sentences with `io' as emphasis and ending sentences with `yo', likewise?

#251 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 08:05 PM:

To be clear, I was actually speculating that Latin speakers ended sentences with "Io." As for the modern usage, a young friend just this afternoon texted me about California auto insurance, and commented "That shit is expensive, yo." From what I've heard (not much) it's pronounced almost like a suffix on the last other word in the sentence.

#252 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 08:07 PM:

clew #249:

In the font I see for this page, "I" and "l" are indistinguishable, so I have a tendency to read "Io!" as if it were "Lo!". I do believe it's pronounced "Yo!", though.

Of course you don't want to get someones heckles up around wool combs. Combs are for wool, heckles are for flax.

#253 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 08:56 PM:

Meanwhile, in HLN:
We in Hawai'i now have not one but two hurricanes bearing down on us in near-perfect alignment with the entire island chain. Hurricane Iselle is currently Category 3 but it is projected (and hoped) she will weaken to a tropical storm before hitting the Big Island sometime Thursday night and proceeding onward to whack the remaining islands. Meanwhile Julio, following the same track a few days behind, is only a tropical storm but is projected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane by tomorrow and reach the Big Island by Sunday. Stores are all sold out of bottled water. Wheee fun.

#254 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 09:59 PM:

HLN: Local woman is eating fresh blackberries she picked herself within the hour. Yum. I ate some of the sun-warmed fruit as I gathered, then dropped some into a plastic bag.

(I've got other fruit in the house, from either the farmer's market or the supermarket. Good, but not the same thing.)

#255 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 10:00 PM:

HLN: Local woman is eating fresh blackberries she picked herself within the hour. Yum. I ate some of the sun-warmed fruit as I gathered, then dropped some into a plastic bag.

I've got other fruit in the house, from either the farmer's market or the supermarket. Good, but not the same thing.

[Reposting to try to dislodge the internal server error.]

#256 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 10:17 PM:

@Vicki: I've been doing that a LOT lately. On week weekend-day I walk to a shopping center, about 3.2 miles round trip; on the way out and the way back there are two outcroppings of blackberry "bushes." I generally end up eating a dozen or more as I walk, and gather more in a spare dog-poop bag for the following morning's cereal.

#257 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 11:25 PM:

now you're teaseling me, Buddha Buck.

#258 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2014, 11:27 PM:

(OED says heckle and hackle are just variants of each other. My vanity is comforted.)

#259 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 12:02 AM:

Clifton, #253: Good luck! Since our up-close-and-personal encounter with Ike, I'm a bit more antsy about hurricanes than I used to be.

#260 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 02:16 AM:

On heckels/hackles - in Dutch, the term for this tool is a cognate: hekel ("HAY-kəl"), and is part of an idiomatic expression. Ik heb een hekel aan iemand, or "I have a heckle about someone," means that you really, REALLY hate that person.

Uhm, did I tell that story already? It's a fun one, but not so fun that I couldn't restrain myself from retelling if I could just instead point to a comment...

Crazy(and trying to remember or get Google to cough up evidence of having told this one already)Soph

#261 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 08:02 AM:

guthrie @242

Yeah, when I first got my wool combs, I was intimidated by them. There's a number of amateur how-to videos in which people pretend to have massive claws.

If I were traveling by plane to a fiber conference, I'd either ship the combs separately or check them. Wouldn't be able to get away with carry-on.

And for years I only used them when my son was asleep. I'm enough of a klutz that I didn't want to have to worry about sudden little kid movements.

#262 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 09:29 AM:

I live near Philadelphia. We've been using "Yo!" as an attention-getter, etc. since long before I was born. Always wondered where it came from.

#263 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:03 AM:

Now I'm wondering if "Io" is one syllable or two, and if it was pronounced "yo", "eye-oh", "ee-oh", or something entirely different.

When it first came up in the discussion here, I mentally pronounced it "eye-oh" like the moon, but it looks like most people commenting read it as "yo".

#264 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:26 AM:

janra, the Latinists on here would know more than I would, but I believe it's one syllable with two moræ, and that both vowels are pronounced. (In Romance languages you can have more than one vowel in a single syllable, which confuses the heck out of English speakers.) The reason I'm not so sure is that I and J were not distinguished from each other until IIRC the early 19th Century, and I'm not sure Latin didn't have ANY glides; also, it was probably pronounced differently in Classical Latin than in Medieval Latin, and so on.

It's definitely not "eye-oh," though. "Ee-oh" or "Yo."

#265 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 12:05 PM:

The Latin of Adeste Fideles, in its original form, has Cantet nunc io chorus angelorum, ('now let the angelic choir sing io') where the scansion requires two syllables. Mind you, that's eighteenth century.

#266 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 12:11 PM:

Yeah, not everyone who wrote Latin poetry was...much of a Latinist.

#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 12:13 PM:

Clifton @253: not one but two hurricanes bearing down on us

Too much to hope that they just cancel each other out...?

Vicki @254: Local woman is eating fresh blackberries she picked herself within the hour.

Last week I discovered that a house on one of my routes home from work has raspberry bushes. I confess I poached a few. But, hey! The bushes are, like, hanging out over the sidewalk. Clearly public domain, right?

Also, if one looks closely, a lot of city-maintained landscaping features strawberry vines as low ground cover. Many of those also have wee fruits, hidden down underneath.

And then there's the elderberry tree on my corner, which, with the help of the birds, spreads a glorious purple mess around the nearby sidewalk and street.

Naomi Parkhurst @261: There's a number of amateur how-to videos in which people pretend to have massive claws.

Wolverine's secretly a spinner.

#268 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 12:51 PM:

#264, Xopher Halftongue:

In Romance languages you can have more than one vowel in a single syllable, which confuses the heck out of English speakers.

Now I'm curious. Can you tell me some french words that have this feature? I speak french, but only know a handful of words in a couple of other romance languages.

(Thinking a bit... is "lui" the sort of sound you're thinking of? I hear two distinct vowel sounds but it's one syllable.)

#269 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 01:18 PM:

I'm afraid I don't speak French, and I'm not sure of the pronunciation of that word. I think so, but one or the other of those might be a glide. If the u doesn't sound to you like a w and the i doesn't sound like a y, then yes.

I ran up against this when I was trying to learn Spanish. The question "¿Dónde está el hotel?" would have 7 syllables if counted as English counts syllables; in Spanish, it has 5, because the second syllable of 'Dónde' and the first syllable of 'está' are one, and similarly with 'está' and 'el'. It really is pronounced entirely differently too; in my rhotic dialect of English, I would put glottal stops between those words, but that's very poorly pronounced Spanish.

#270 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 01:53 PM:

HL pre- hurricane/tropical storm update: The flashlights and battery lanterns have been conspiring together with the batteries to drive us insane, by keeping us from figuring out which is working and which is not. (OK, this flashlight seems to be working, so we can put these D batteries in it to see which is OK... OK it lights up so these batteries are good, wait now it's off, no it's flashing on and off randomly when I move it. Wut.) But I just found where the battery tester had been randomly hidden so now we should be good.

#271 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 02:39 PM:

Someday when I have money, I want to lay in a couple of hand-crank flashlights and shortwave radio. (We hates batteries, we does. Cookie-power is so much more reliable.)

#272 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Open-threadiness: Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun flick, with an actual valid reason for the cheesy soundtrack. Also, it passes the Bechtel Test.

#273 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 04:53 PM:

I too have been wondering how "Io" is pronounced, but feel some revulsion towards pronouncing it "yo" probably due to the cultural connotations of that word.

#274 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 05:14 PM:

In re "io", Wikipedia's entry on Saturnalia suggests it may be pronounced either way, and cites this with a reference to the Oxford Latin Dictionary.

#275 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 07:05 PM:

Perhaps it's an off-glide. Lowered, the same as the front off-glides ai->ae.


#276 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 10:31 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 168: what clew@188 said. The more unusual ("fashionable") the designs are, the more unusual solutions the fabricators may need to know. I expect this is even more true if even an averagely-shaped person wants to copy something designed to be worn by an apparently anorexic model.
      Answering your #198: would the wealthy consumers who we're speculating about wear something displaying their own artistry? ISTM that carrying that off would take both artistry and nerve, since much of the point is wearing something with a Name behind it. I have my doubts about "close supervision" of fabricators by designers -- I suspect it's more hassling about the results than saying what stitch to use where -- but I certainly don't know enough detail to argue it.

Dave* @ 177: in your estimate, how much of the collapse was due to needed input not coming from the center, and how much was failed morale checks in all of the not-center? (e.g., how much support did the edges expect from the center in case of local trouble?) I would guess that the Japanese and Chinese cases involved limited initiative in the hinterlands, but I don't know how much biased ]history[ I've absorbed concerning Oriental bureaucracy vs the relative lack in Rome.

Xopher @ 230: excellent news! (This seems to be a week for good medical news; Valma is recovering, Devra Langsam is doing better, and a friend whose lungs were turning to stone just got a double transplant.)

Clifton @ 253: around here it would be bread, milk, and eggs that the stores are out of; a friend calls it the French Toast index of disaster nerves. Do the islands depend on heavily-processed water?

in re "io" pronunciation: there's also "Ding Dong! Merrily on High", in which each "io" ("And io, io, io, by priest and people sungen") is 2 distinct syllables with the accent on the second.

Xopher @ 269: some Italian can be just as bad. One of my grievances against Verdi operas (besides a shortage of good choruses) is the jawbreaking elision: "Gloria al' Egitto, al' Iside" (opening of the triumphal procession in Aida, already missing 2 syllables if I'm recalling the apostrophes correctly) crams 11 syllables into 8, including a 3fer: "ria al" goes all on \one/ sixteenth note.

#277 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:58 AM:

Now I'm wondering if the chant sung by the guards of the Wicked Witch of the West in the film version of The Wizard of Oz traces back to the Latin "io".

You know what I'm talking about. "Yo-ee-oh, eeyo-oh", while pacing and turning.

#278 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 03:04 AM:

CHip #276: I expect this is even more true if even an averagely-shaped person wants to copy something designed to be worn by an apparently anorexic model.

I know I'd be more impressed by managing that sort of functional change, while preserving the aesthetics of an existing design, than by many original designs from people who can tell their staff "just make it work on this model". I am biased towards hands-on folks and more practical clothing; I come from a family of artists, but my own temperament is "engineer".

would the wealthy consumers who we're speculating about wear something displaying their own artistry?

At that point they're not just consumers, they're artists or crafters too. Wearing your own work is at least "putting your money where your mouth is"!

#279 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 03:19 AM:

Hurricane ?= 90 mph winds ?= downed lines = electricity outages = no power at pumping stations = no water coming out of the taps. I suspect that equation applies most places that don't have buried lines.

#280 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:37 AM:

CHip @276, Dave Harmon @278:

I had a practical demonstration of this effect when I discovered that a friend of mine and I owned the same black-and-red cheongsam in the same size. I'm 5"4" and weighed about 125 at the time; said friend was a trans woman, about six feet tall and rail-thin. I looked at the dress on Vanessa and suddenly understood why I was never completely satisfied with how mine looked on me. My response was "Hey, Vanessa, can I borrow about eight inches of leg bone?"

It's also why I'm so impressed with the way Christian Siriano (a Project Runway winner) designs red-carpet gowns for Christina Hendricks. A lot of designers won't even lend her dresses to wear on the red carpet, because they "don't design dresses for people her size." Where by size they really mean "shape" - just in case you've forgotten "Our Mrs. Reynolds" or haven't watched Mad Men, she's not fat by any stretch of the imagination, but she's got bombshell curves, bosom and hips and all the rest. A thing I noticed over multiple seasons of Project Runway is that most of the designers seem happiest when they're fitting a model who's pretty flat-chested and doesn't have a significant booty; they appear to want to design in two dimensions, not three. Christian Siriano is happy to design things for Christina Hendricks that fit her in all dimensions and make her curves look fabulous, not like she's a sausage stuffed into a too-tight casing. The geometry involved must be more complex, but the imagination involved is the key part.

#281 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 07:42 AM:

Rikibeth #280: Yeah. Occasionally I've seen fashion students doing sketches of their ideas while out and about... and they always seem to be drawing the clothes onto runway-model bodies. I've seen this in three cities now: NYC, Cambridge, and Charlottesville. Their professors ought to be assigning projects to the effect of "dress celebrity X for event Y", where X is someone like Christina Hendricks, or Oprah, or Whoopi Goldberg. Bonus points for picking someone like, say, Roseanne.

#282 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:56 AM:

Clifton @279, I'm from the Midwest US, where watertowers dot the landscape like Tripods in The City of Gold & Lead. Certainly lack of power will mean the watertowers will eventually empty, but until they do the water in my area is (I'm fairly certain) gravity-fed.

(I welcome correction, but I've never in my life encountered a power-related water interruption. And that's with several-day-long power interruptions on a regular basis from bad thunderstorms.)

#283 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:05 AM:

I've never had a power-related water interruption either, including during a several-day-long outage following the derecho here two years ago. I see from Wikipedia that there were water restrictions due to pumping stations losing water, but I never heard about it at the time. (I was out of the country for the actual event and the first couple of days afterward, and only had about a day without power.) So while eventually a lack of power would cause a lack of water in many areas, absent a total disruption that's not going to be universal, and if there's any infrastructure left I'd imagine pumping stations will be high on the "get power back up here first" list.

#284 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:25 AM:

re: different body types

This is why I designed a sketch pad system with templates for widely varying body types. There are free ones here.

They sell primarily to sewing and design professionals. My original market research said there wouldn't be enough demand, but they were wrong.

People ARE working on designs beyond the 6' anorexic model. Just not many of us, and not publicized.

Christina Hendricks! Yes!!!

#285 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:37 AM:

279/282/283: Much of Long Island lost power for upwards of two weeks after Sandy, but the water was running. Long Beach didn't have potable water for the better part of a week, but that was because the local sewage treatment plant got ~6 feet of seawater in it during the height of the storm. The next sewage treatment plant over got ~9 feet, so there were water use restrictions in the area for months, but clean water was available. (I'm fairly sure that the other treatment plants in the area were able to divert some of their capacity.)

#286 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:18 AM:

I was inspired to do a Google search on tornadoes and municipal water towers, and was much surprised to hear that there are very few cases indeed of tornadoes taking them down. Surface damage, yes, but structural? Not so much. Apparently all that open space under them, plus the streamlined shape, lets the tornado just whoosh by. Not to minimize the fact that they're built with materials designed to hold up ten million pounds or so of water.

I was surprised when I was looking them up to discover that water towers were characterized as being features of rural and northern landscapes; do they not have them in the south? If not, how do they provide pressurized water? Or is that just my flatlander ignorance talking, since other places have hills or mountains they can put reservoirs on?

#287 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:39 AM:

Carol @ #284: Your tips on sewing for frail patients in wheelchairs are very well thought out. Have passed those along to some of my colleagues for patients and their families.

#288 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:50 AM:

I assumed the puzzlement over buying water in advance of hurricanes in Hawaii wasn't about whether you'd need water, but about why you'd buy flats of plastic bottles of the stuff instead of filling all the pots in the kitchen and any bathtubs you might have. (At least one news article has also talked about Spam being sold out, but it's Hawaii where they eat that, and it's certainly a sensible earthquake food if you're carnivorous.)

#289 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:59 AM:

Rikibeth, #280: *googles Christina Hendricks* OMG, she is GORGEOUS! That hair, that figure -- she's got the true 1940s pinup-calendar look. I'm glad she's found a designer who's willing to work with her.

Mary Aileen, #285: There are apparently a lot of short-term water issues that we don't hear much about. Toledo made the national news, but I wasn't familiar with any of the other examples in that story.

#290 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:16 PM:

Not-fiber combs.

#291 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Cally @ #286, we very much have water towers here in Georgia. The technical college I got my PTA degree from even had parking stickers with their water tower on them one year.

#292 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:36 PM:

Glad to have helped, Lila.

Sadly, I've had to prune good links re: wheelchair accommodations as their sites have gone 404.

Would anyone who knows other ones please contact me (click on my name)?

#293 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:44 PM:

Ogallala, Nebraska has a water tower mimicking an alien spaceship.

The first time I noticed it was at night. It has "running lights".

#294 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:02 PM:

No longer in use, but still present (because the locals insisted): the giant can of fruit cocktail. It hasn't always looked like the original version of the can, but it's been a local landmark - as a can of fruit cocktail - for a long, long time.

#295 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:04 PM:

re 279 et al.: The biggest weak spot in water systems isn't pumping; it's distribution. It's why when there is a really big earthquake, everything burns down: even when the pumps run, the water doesn't make it through the (ruptured) pipes.

"watertowers dot the landscape like Tripods in The City of Gold & Lead": on my list of "things I would do if I were hugely foolhardy and a lot younger," I put climbing the the big many-legged watertower near my father's house and painting a couple of huge angry eyes looking down on the traffic.

#296 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:11 PM:

There was a water tower in the rural county I grew up in, in east Tennessee.

There are water towers in Virginia; here are two notable ones (for their paint schemes).

The Apple Basket

The balloon (This one was a huge favorite of the children; we passed it whenever we went home to see my family, and there were ALWAYS questions when we planned a trip if we would pass it in daylight.)

#297 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:22 PM:

Oh, darn, I was just driving through Ogallala last week. (And the week before, in the other direction.) Had I But Known, I'd have looked for the UFO water tower.

And thanks, Lila. I wonder why my web search results implied so strongly that water towers weren't a Southern thing? Never having been to any of the Southern states (unless a couple of very brief visits to Ft. Lauderdale Fl. count), I have no knowledge of my own on the subject.

#298 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:35 PM:

I'm getting a little confused here. The washing powder discussion above has made me examine my washing powder.
I now find that the stuff I use in my washing machine is 15-30% oxygen based bleaching agents.

Eh? Oxygen based bleaching agents in both enzyme based and nonbiological powders? Has that always been the case? The internet suggests yes, but that % in the past were much lower.

But I have no idea when they started containing such a massive amount of bleach. To my mind you don't need so much of it, and it might also explain why some of my clothes are starting to look a bit odd. Also a big "contains bleach" might be a help given I just washed my golite outdoor polyester based shirt in the normal wash!

And, thanks to the wonders of modern profit drive corporations, none of the supermarkets are selling the colour preserving type of washing powder anymore. Odd that.

If I were of a conspiratorial turn of mind I'd say the washing powder companies are conspiring with the clothing companies to make our clothes last for shorter times.

#299 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:03 PM:

Water supply interrupted by power failure = anyone in a rural area with above ground power lines and an electric pump on the well.

My Mom has a couple of horrendous stories involving the above plus family members ill with the flu...

#300 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:10 PM:

Lori @299

Oh dear, that WOULD be awful.

I'm so used to water tower water that I was gobsmacked when the power went out at my former office and we couldn't flush the toilets. Even though it was in a firmly suburban area, it still had well water, with attendant electrical pump. I suppose it's a case of privilege; those of us with gravity-fed water don't really viscerally "get" how bad it can be when the power goes out for those with pump-fed water.

#301 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:44 PM:

I recently posted on the book of face "Lace knitting is hard, yo."

(For the non-knitters among you: lace knitting tends to include a lot of yarnovers, abbreviated "yo" in the patterns.)

#302 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:49 PM:

You can flush a toilet without a working water input by adding enough liquid to the bowl to get above the siphon. Adding non-personal water periodically gets old fast.

For winter vacations we didn't hook up the well to my family's cabin. We picked up drinking water down the road and sledded it in. My version of "to school barefoot seven miles in the snow" was ferrying hand-washing/flushing water up a considerable slope from the spring-fed river by using two buckets' bails over a crowbar. The water froze as it sloshed out (sometimes into my boots), and my younger sister was even more unwilling than I.

To avoid revisiting that aspect of my childhood, for short-term, limited water outages I stock several 3-gallon plastic cans. The contents are months-stale, but drinking water is otherwise covered.

#303 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 03:18 PM:

CHip@276: some Italian can be just as bad. One of my grievances against Verdi operas (besides a shortage of good choruses) is the jawbreaking elision: "Gloria al' Egitto, al' Iside"...

Back when I was working in speech recognition someone pointed out to me that in Italian you could easily get the word "i" between a word ending in "i" and a word beginning in "i", with that word "i" having absolutely no acoustic representation. (That is, even though native speakers would be sure they had "said" the word, there wasn't any difference in the actual sound produced when they did say the word and when they didn't.) It was a good workout for our modeling of linguistic context.

#304 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:05 PM:

In Portsmouth, Ohio we don't have a water tower per se. We have a large tank on top of the highest hill in town, and an underground reservoir built into the hill a bit lower down. My house is on the north side of that hill, maybe 2/3 of the way down. During short power outages I don't worry about the water supply. However, after the 2003 ice storm, the power was out long enough that there were water use restrictions citywide. I actually filled up a couple of buckets with ice and snow and brought them in to melt for flushing water. I had no heat in the house but it never got below freezing indoors, and I only had to do this once before they got the pumps up and water pressure started coming back.

#305 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Hawaii has almost no water towers; I'm not sure why. We used to have one memorable water tower in Honolulu, the giant pineapple over by Dole Cannery, but that was torn down years ago, despite vocal opposition and disappointment.

I hadn't even thought about water towers or the effect their lack might have on distribution. We do have big big storage tanks up on many of the hillsides in Honolulu, serving the same purpose, but I'm not sure how long they'd supply a busy city. In any case, stockpiling water has become deeply ingrained in my habits as A Thing You Do for hurricanes, along with batteries and non-perishable staple foods. (No Spam for us; instead, cans of lentil soup and garbanzos, and a lot of bulgur, which can be prepared just by soaking it.)

Why people buy cases of little bottles of water, that I don't know. In the past we've bought 5 gallon "jugs" but this year I bought 3 big Coleman picnic coolers on wheels; altogether they would hold over 40 gallons if we fill them all tonight, which is overkill for 4 people + pets, beyond our reasonable worst case.

#306 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:23 PM:

Despite what I said above, the hurricane-preparation flyers distributed to Long Islanders do advise having sufficient water on hand for 3-4 days, specified as a gallon of water per person per day.

#307 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:27 PM:

A short article on the great Dole Pineapple:
The Largest Pineapple in the World.
I can't believe it's been gone for 20 years now.

#308 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:29 PM:

Water towers: And then there's the FLORENCE Y'ALL water tower. I'm not sure the story there is entirely correct, though; the version I've heard is that because the tower is part of the city water system, the city said that it wasn't legit for a private entity to advertise on it. But in any case, the solution was the same -- change what it said with a minimum of repainting.

Southern water towers -- I've seen a number of them around TN and northern AL emblazoned with the name and mascot of the local high-school sports team.

#309 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:22 PM:

Going back to fabric and its relative inexpensive nature, I just took our dining room chairs, which had white fitted covers that had gotten extremely nasty due to Small Children (and which resisted being cleaned on-site), and put new fabric covers on them, stapled down. (The fitted covers are now being throughly soaked and will go through as many cleaning cycles as necessary.) Fabric cost for four chairs: $25 including Scotchguard. Admittedly, the fabric in question was on sale, but it was still in the "home decorating" cost line.

Not bad to make a room look less like a haven for slobs.

#310 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 07:57 PM:

Auckland NZ is blessed (for water supply purposes) with dozens of extinct-ish volcanic cones. Water is sourced via dams in the nearby Waitakere Ranges and the Waikato river to the south. Local pressure mainly comes from reseviors built in to (not on) various of the cones.

#311 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Lee @ #308, here too. (And also in the movie Thor, where the little NM town is proclaimed "Home of the Vikings!")

#312 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:21 PM:

Pre-disemvoweled spam -- a sample line from something that showed up in my spam filter:

YCur r h qu l f d fCr n w Cl r rCgr m th t m r duc Cur Cw r B ll B much 80%. YCu mu t B hCm Cwn r nd h v f r cr d t tC qu l f .

I am amused.

#313 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:43 PM:

From the "The more you know, the more jokes you get" department:

In the announcement of the latest squillion passwords stolen by evil doers, the name CyberVor was given to the group, where Vor is Russian for theif.

Which brings a whole new potential understanding of the Vor class, their relationship to tax collectors, and that they may have been named by the ethnic Russian settlers, but perhaps not comprised of them.

#314 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:59 PM:

IIRC, the "vor"="thief" thing is explicitly mentioned in one of Bujold's books.

#315 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:22 PM:

Eric #313: One notes that the Cyrillic letters for 'Vor' look to a non-Russian speaking Anglophone like, say, myself like 'Bop'. This leads to many, very interesting, thoughts about exactly what the 'Bop' class does.

#316 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:39 PM:

Possibly related question:

Who put the bop
In the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip
In the dip da dip da dip?

#317 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:52 AM:

#280 &c:

It's completely understandable that clothing manufacturers want to make clothing for basically tubular people: the seams are easier to sew and there's less waste cloth. Tubes can be covered with rectangles, which fit onto bolts of cloth; cones covered with triangles; but hyperboloids can only be neatly fitted with complicated pieces, usually requiring bias-to-bias seams, which can only be reliably sewn by skilled labor.

And consumers turn out to be happy enough with (basically) slightly stretchy pajamas. Much as I admire tailoring and dressmaking, knit pajamas for everyone might be a hedonic maximum. _Star Trek_ uniforms, after all...

#318 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Christina Hendricks. There was a mock women's magazine cover which featured the phrase "Gaze upon the prow of Christina Hendricks", that comes to mind every time I see her name in print. It may be replaced with "Gloriously 3-dimensional."

There used to be a large set of illustrators who could draw realistic bodies in all sorts of clothes, shapes and poses, from all sorts of angles, and that trade is -if not dying- much pruned down. Comic books have suffered, and I realized that, but I hadn't thought that it might have damaged fashion as well.

#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 05:22 AM:

clew @317: knit pajamas for everyone

I'm down with that. Jammies tend to be more comfy than "tailored" clothes, IME, as well. See also: karate gis or scrubs.

Indian styles have it nailed, though, for fashion. Saris are one of the few styles that make plus-size women look chic and feminine (by today's "standards"). And they're "loom-shaped."

#320 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:04 AM:

Jacque @ 319

That's the difference between draped clothes and sewn/tailored clothes. If your culture does draped clothes -- traditional India, ancient Greece, etc -- most clothes are loom-shaped and the look is all in how good you personally are at draping your garment in the correct and fashionable arrangement.

#321 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:05 AM:

Ooh, going back to "loom-shaped" and Cut My Cote, I don't find that book useful only for historical interest; I've found it a very practical guide for making medieval through 19th-century European shirts and shifts, and just recommended it to my ex-husband who was talking about wanting to make something styled after a yukata. He was saying something about "patterns" and I said "what, it's all rectangles!" "But the shaping around the shoulders?" "What shaping? RECTANGLES. Loom widths. Not to be cutting the nice fabric. Oh, and the one I have has openings on the underarm seams, I assume for ease of movement. Look, just order the book, it's $10 well spent." He is not an inexperienced clothing constructor, but most of his practical experience is in doublets.

#322 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:01 AM:

#319, Jacque: Jammies tend to be more comfy than "tailored" clothes, IME, as well.

I wonder how much of that is due to the "tailored" clothing being "tailored" to a body shape and size that is not the same as the person wearing it? Actual tailored clothing should fit perfectly.

#323 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:16 AM:

HLN: Area woman's daughter (10) has started coming into Amsterdam to have lunch with her during the summer vacation. It's a fairly trivial trip: walk 7 minutes to the bus stop, take the bus to Amsterdam Centraal Station, walk about 5 minutes to area woman's office. But it's also represented her First Time Solo on public transit and out and about in Amsterdam.

Area woman is enjoying this practice, and will be sorry when summer ends.

In further news, said Daughter called Area Woman before the most recent lunch and asked to borrow AW's jean jacket. AW consented and, seeing a future of clothes-borrowing on the horizon, began to consider what Embarrassing Things she might leave in the pockets of her most borrowable garments.

(*wicked cackle*)

#324 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Area Woman is a meanmeanmean woman.

#325 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:06 AM:

Clifton @253, any update to that HyperLocal News Report? One hopes that there is power and minimal flooding in your area....

#326 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:43 PM:

janra @#322, even when tailored clothes fit well, they don't always move well. Martial arts uniforms are cut the way they are for a reason! And when I'm doing my job, which includes demonstrating exercises, getting up and down from the floor, etc., I have to wear clothes that are either stretchy or somewhat loose-fitting if I don't want to rip seams.

#327 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:10 PM:

Cassy, thanks for asking! I should have thought of posting an update here; I've just been sending email updates to my daughter, and to the friend who's flying out here in a week for a long-planned vacation.

The quick version is: "So far, so good."

Iselle had dropped to a tropical storm before it made landfall on the Big Island, and it doesn't seem as though it did much damage beyond closed roads and power outages due to fallen trees and debris. We'll probably hear more by later in the day. Here in Honolulu, we're having heavy wind and rain since around 5 or 6am, but no worse than we've had earlier this year. It may get a little worse later in the day when Iselle passes at its closest to the south, but it shouldn't be too bad.

Julio is currently projected to weaken to a tropical storm and entirely miss the islands to the north, but we'll see come Sunday.

abi: Very cool for Area Woman's daughter; it's a good transition. My son started taking the public bus system home from school this past year, and then gradually generalized it to "Hey, I can go places on my own now if I really want to!" (There's a half mile walk to/from the nearest bus stop, but he's in good shape.)

#328 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 06:42 PM:


Until a few days back I was hoping my father would at least make it to his 80th b'day in a couple of weeks, but I'm no longer sure there'd be anything to celebrate in him lasting that long.

I'm going to deliberately tempt fate and see if I still have a suit suitable for a funeral.

#329 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 07:08 PM:

Stefan Jones @328, condolences. That's hard.

#330 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 07:19 PM:

@Cassy: Thanks . . . my mother is now ill too, from working and worrying keeping the old guy going entirely on her own. I really want . . . a conclusion, so she can heal up and move on.

#331 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 07:26 PM:

Stefan Jones (328/330): Sympathies. Death can be a release for all concerned--but that doesn't make it easy.

#332 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 07:48 PM:

Supernatural collective nouns. Available as a poster.

#333 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Stefan Jones @328, sympathies and good thoughts toward all your family. It is hard.

#334 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:52 PM:

janra @322: I wonder how much of that is due to the "tailored" clothing being "tailored" to a body shape and size that is not the same as the person wearing it? Actual tailored clothing should fit perfectly.

Quite a lot, I should imagine, but even so: unless the clothing precisely fits the body and has the same stretch and elasticity of skin, it's going to constrain movement. See also: uncomfortable.

Stefan Jones @328: Yes, the waiting is the hardest part. Good thoughts.

#335 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 09:45 PM:

Stefan: My sympathies. It's not easy, and it's hard to be honest about the situation and the thoughts around it.

#336 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 09:49 PM:

Stefan Jones, my condolences.

Rikibeth, have you seen _Make Your Own Japanese Clothes_? Algorithms for traditional garments, which are cut from loom widths -- though, a) this works best if you're the size the looms were designed for and b) they are cut up -- serious laundering involved completely taking the garment apart, reassembling the cloth as it had been on the loom, and washing it that way so ?the strain would be even?. Also, the author has some nice ideas on playing around with the traditional patterns.

#337 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 09:55 PM:

clew @ 336 ...
The patterns in that book are decidedly westernized -- they're certainly generally interesting, but shouldn't be represented as classic.

Stefan Jones @ 328 ...
My empathies. The uncertainty about an eventual certainty is wearing, at best.

#338 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Thanks, xeger -- can you recommend something more traditional?

#339 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:24 PM:

HLN: Local author -- still new enough to the trade to squee over such things -- has spotted entry for Book 2 on monopolistic book distribution site. Sources were able to confirm the presence of The Mystic Marriage in forthcoming listings.

(This is the sequel to Daughter of Mystery that involves alchemy.)

#340 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:28 PM:

I suppose I could post this HLN bulletin:
In the month of June, Man, 39 hooks up with Woman, 38. Woman (Polish, came to Norway six years ago with then-infant Son) works as teacher. Everybody gets along well.

Then in July disaster strikes. Woman will not be keeping teaching job next year, can't afford to be unemployed, may be forced to move back to Poland. Man says Woman and her Son (now 6) should move in with him. There is much rejoicing, but some work has to be done on the house, Man admits. The home of this slovenly bachelor isn't quite fit for a whole family, so a good deal of clutter goes out and that loft room finally gets fixed up as a bedroom.

In mid-August Woman gets her job back, thanks to circumstances beyond her control. Disaster averted, but the process of moving into Man's house is past the point of no return. Man reports being happy with the whole state of affairs, but it's been too bloody much of a roller coaster ride and he hopes things settle down now.

#341 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:15 AM:

Stefan Jones @328: The waiting is hard. I learned very specific and different things from each of my parents dying. Sounds as if you're well on the way to that as well. My sympathies.

#342 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 12:09 PM:

clew @336, I haven't seen it, but I did know that about unstitching kimono for cleaning! My goodness, the work involved...though on the one hand, it would all be straight seams and no curves, on the other hand, HAND STITCHING long straight seams!

#343 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 12:22 PM:

Rikibeth @342

I think I've read that kimono were sewn with a very long running stitch, since the seams weren't meant to last a long time. But I can't give a citation.

#344 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 12:38 PM:

Stefan Jones, my thoughts are with you - it's got to be rough.

Roy G. Ovrebo, I hope the move goes happily, and certainly improving a home from Slovenly Bachelor to Family-Friendly has got to be a good thing in any circumstance!

#345 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 12:44 PM:

I disassembled a cheap kimono (bought used). Long stitches, done in a heavy thread (something like buttonhole twist), so it was fairly easy to do.
The pieces were donated to the local quilters.

#346 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Stefan Jones, I wish you luck and strength in the days to come, and peace and healing after the conclusion.

#347 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:04 PM:

clew @ 338 ...
Thanks, xeger -- can you recommend something more traditional?

The first one that comes to hand is Vol 4 of the Home Encyclopedia -- but I can't seem to track down a useful reference, probably because it's from the 1960s, and is entirely in Japanese.

Off the top of my head, things that are off -- the fabric layout is done for western fabrics, rather than the typical japanese fabric width of 14" to 17", the neck space is formed by cutting ~3 3/4" perpendicular to the selvage around the shoulder, and then folded into the collar ( see also fabric reuse), pieces should be rectangular, and folded to form other shapes, to avoid wasting fabric (see also fabric reuse), a lot of the fussy detail's been glossed over, since it doesn't suit the attention span of large parts of the western world (eg: only ironing the outside curve of the sleeve, not the gathers, and always using two sets of stitching for the gathers)

Also, there's no mention of minor details like "flutter sleeves" (furisode) being strictly the domain of young, unmarried women (and looking like mutton dressed up as lamb on older women), and other similar things that one might care to know about.

Hrm... I could have sworn that he had a note saying to always wear kimono (et al) with the left side on top of right, but I can't seem to find that one, at all (only corpses would have the right side on top of the left).

This piece from Hanami Web is a decent survey of some of that sort of thing.

Depending on how traditional you're thinking of, the Kyoto Costume Museum is more historical than current, but is exceedingly well researched and put together.

#348 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:04 PM:

clew @ 338 ...
Thanks, xeger -- can you recommend something more traditional?

The first one that comes to hand is Vol 4 of the Home Encyclopedia -- but I can't seem to track down a useful reference, probably because it's from the 1960s, and is entirely in Japanese.

Off the top of my head, things that are off -- the fabric layout is done for western fabrics, rather than the typical japanese fabric width of 14" to 17", the neck space is formed by cutting ~3 3/4" perpendicular to the selvage around the shoulder, and then folded into the collar ( see also fabric reuse), pieces should be rectangular, and folded to form other shapes, to avoid wasting fabric (see also fabric reuse), a lot of the fussy detail's been glossed over, since it doesn't suit the attention span of large parts of the western world (eg: only ironing the outside curve of the sleeve, not the gathers, and always using two sets of stitching for the gathers)

Also, there's no mention of minor details like "flutter sleeves" (furisode) being strictly the domain of young, unmarried women (and looking like mutton dressed up as lamb on older women), and other similar things that one might care to know about.

Hrm... I could have sworn that he had a note saying to always wear kimono (et al) with the left side on top of right, but I can't seem to find that one, at all (only corpses would have the right side on top of the left).

This piece from Hanami Web is a decent survey of some of that sort of thing.

Depending on how traditional you're thinking of, the Kyoto Costume Museum is more historical than current, but is exceedingly well researched and put together.

#349 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:06 PM:

Hrm, apologies for the double post -- makinglight said:

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#350 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 03:33 PM:

abi @323: Sounds like a good way to get her started on independent travel.

Stefan Jones @328: Sympathies. Waiting like that is not easy.

Heather Rose Jones @339: Great!

Roy G. Ovrebo @340: Good luck for a quieter, more settled time.

#351 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 04:13 PM:

Stefan Jones #328: Sympathies.

#352 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 05:52 PM:

Thanks all for kind thoughts.

It is so tough dealing with incomplete and filtered-by-emotion information! I suspect that life expectancy in this case is a slumped to the left bell curve. My father could expire today, or make it to Christmas. My mother and sisters have arranged visits from friends and relatives while my mother -- utterly burned out by trying to be an in-home caregiver -- gets back on her feet. Being 2,800 miles away I'm doing things like recommending an mp3 player a half-blind technophobe might be able to handle (audiobooks).

#353 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 05:58 PM:

In lighter news:

Guardians of the Galaxy is great fun. Somewhere while watching it I had a thought along the lines of "this could be this generation's Star Wars." Which would be dandy because while it doesn't have the telenovela gravitas of "Star Wars," it is a much more humane and ferociously imaginative flick.

#354 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 06:25 PM:

It seems that while my mother was visiting my sister up in Massachusetts, she fell and hurt herself. Broken arm, and possible spinal fracture. She's under treatment there, and expected to return home soon.

#355 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 06:25 PM:

Okay, now that's what I'm talking about. Just got a ping on OKCupid. A couple of choice quotes from the profile:

Carbon monoxide: sorry Earthers but you know what they say " one man's emission is another mans atmosphere".

Vasaline: "the other clear meat"

Everything in "Men in Black" was true ;) Except of course, the parts that weren't.

#356 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 06:37 PM:

Dave Harmon @354, oof. Hope she has a smooth recovery.

#357 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 07:09 PM:

not really back here yet (computer collapse about two weeks ago, new system (wheee!) this last Sunday, still getting things reinstalled, yadda yadda, fibrofog)

ob Io pronunciation:


#358 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 08:12 PM:

I saw "Guardians of the Galaxy" today and found it delightful. While the raccoon is great, my first love is Groot.

It is remarkably free of physics.

#359 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 08:55 PM:

Groot is wonderful. Mercilessly when needed, but also compassionate. (Growing a flower for that urchin in Nowhere, when everyone else was worried about getting their pockets picked.)

Rocket was heroic and a team player when needed. There's a graphic going around twitter of the little beast, with the text "Risked his life to save more strangers than Superman in 'Man of Steel.'"

#360 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 09:53 PM:

Groot doesn't HAVE pockets.

I got that "They put two and a half movies' worth of stuff into one movie" feeling from Guardians of the Galaxy. It was fun, fast and there was a lot of it. And OH so quotable.

#361 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Agree on Guardians of the Galaxy. It didn't take itself too seriously, it had a ton of laughs, and a fair measure of heart.

How many Groots will we see at Halloween this year?

#362 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 11:31 PM:

I kept wanting to substitute classic Star Wars lines into bits of Guardians of the Galaxy. Especially when they were talking about the prospective return on the MacGuffin - I kept hearing "The reward would be..well, more than you can imagine?" "I dunno, I can imagine- quite a bit!"

I am of two minds about the initial fridging - some folks I know have decried it as yet another instance of the laziest way to provide a source of manpain for the protagonist, but looked at from another angle, the Dead Mother trope goes all the way back to fairy tales, and the mixtape seems to function very much as a Magic Ring or Invisibility Cloak or other mythic talisman, so I'm inclined to give the movie a pass on it.

It was cute. It was a fun couple of hours. If they make a music-reactive Dancing Groot toy, I will probably buy THREE.

But I don't think it'll ever supplant Star Wars.

#363 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 02:03 AM:

HLN: After over a decade of either not having a website at all for my business, or having one that was impossible for me to maintain by myself, I now have a website that's actually functional! Click on the link from my name if you want to take a look. Note: This is still very much a work in progress -- I'll be adding things for the next month or more, at the rate I'm going right now -- but there's certainly a representative sampling currently available.

#364 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 03:02 AM:

Well we just got back from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy and had a great time. I did an honest-to-god spit-take at the question "Who put the sticks up their butts?" in the "legend" explanation.

I'm not sure it'll be a generation-defining film, but I am sure there will be a lot of "I am Groot" uttered around our household for a while, with maybe a few side orders of "Don't call me a thesaurus!"

#365 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 10:17 AM:

We did our "dress rehearsal" of the Worldcon costumes this weekend (I'm still finishing details, but the substance of the costumes is done.)

Photos here on Flickr, if anyone is interested in having a peek.

A few notes:
* Alex's armor is made from an old motorcycle jacket that I got off of a "we can't even sell this" rack by a secondhand store. All the stitching was rotten, so I did a lot of resewing and reassembling into new forms.
* The metallic trim on his armor is actually spiral steel corset boning, which I started working with for my costume, but then thought it would do well as a decorative element.
* Fiona's outfit, unlike most Merida costumes, is actually a chemise and overdress. (Most costumers just put white fabric into the gaps of the green overdress, but the whole thing hangs better with a chemise.)
* I think her dress looks as good without the wig as with it. But she's only Merida with the wig, of course.
* If you're looking for a good, affordable coarse linen that dyes beautifully and looks good in costuming, IKEA is the place to go. Ditto undyed cotton.
* If I ever decide to machine-embroider in metallic thread on suede again, shoot me. That corset was...not easy.

#366 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 10:18 AM:

HLN: Local woman, frazzled by the seemingly-endless packing for her move to Boston in a couple of weeks, notices yet another cache of books. "I think that there will always be more books to pack," the woman exclaimed in frustration. "I did a lot of purging, though, I swear!"

When asked for a statement, her husband decided that it was wiser not to comment.

#367 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 10:48 AM:

abi @365, wonderful costumes, and what great pictures.

#368 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 10:58 AM:

abi #365: Awww! And those costumes are awesome. Your comment about Fiona's dress makes me think of "deep value".

#369 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 11:41 AM:

Abi, the costumes are gorgeous!!

#370 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:07 PM:

abi, #365: Wow! Those outfits are fabulous.

Are you planning to damp-braid your hair to get the Eowyn ripples? If so, I recommend dry-running that as well; different textures of hair require different thicknesses of braid for the look to work. Two thick braids give me a nice set of waves; six thinner ones (which I tried once) went triangular-Afro on me.

I totally agree about Merida's outfit needing a chemise. "Filling in the gaps with white fabric" would say cheap Halloween costume to me. But that outfit isn't a costume, it's garb. And I also agree that it looks just as good on her minus the wig -- the color flatters her natural hair and skin tone.

#371 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:14 PM:

abi, those are TERRIFIC costumes! Hats off to you!

And, Carol Witt, *squee*! I'm just recently moved to Boston myself - as of August 1, though there's still mop-up packing to do in CT. Drop me a line - email is my name at gmail - if you want to get together. We could even have a mini Gathering of Light if we wanted to try to assemble one. I'm in Dorchester, right on the Red Line. Where in the Boston area will you be, if you don't mind specifying? (Or by email.)

I did a lot of book purging in my last two moves, and REALLY I only had two and a half bookcases' worth plus the cookbooks, and I STILL wound up with ten or so banker's boxes of books and three of cookbooks (to be fair, one of the cookbook boxes is looseleaf binders filled with plastic-sleeved recipes and back issues of Cook's Illustrated).

#372 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:17 PM:

abi @ 365... Awesome!

#373 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:35 PM:

abi @ 365... Delightful!

Particularly fine is that they carry well from a distance and also repay attention up close.

#374 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 04:28 PM:

abi @365: Wow. GORGEOUS.

I think her dress looks as good without the wig as with it. But she's only Merida with the wig, of course.

I think the dress looks better without the wig. Not least because she looks more, um, herself.

#375 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 05:07 PM:

On the topic of clothing, and in particular that which fits but doesn't handle movement well: it has occurred to me that I have always been far more likely to destroy seams (and have gotten fairly decent at re-sewing them) than wear through the cloth — and especially so if it "fits well" instead of being a little oversized (my usual workaround). I don't know what kind of movement they plan for, if any, but it's certainly not that of someone who has the motor control/proprioception/balance add-on neurofail package.

(Speaking of which, I should probably put a sewing machine on my shopping list, since I'll probably need it within the next few months.)

#376 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 05:21 PM:

If you have a local sewing-machine store, check there. Your best bet, new or used, is one that isn't computerized: they're very reliable and not really expensive. (Singer is iffy these days. They're pushing the high-end computerized models, anyway.)

#377 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 06:00 PM:

Sewing machines: you have to go back a seriously long way to find something that can't do zig-zag stitches and buttonholes, and that certainly doesn't need a computer. There are also good reasons to have those features. I am not sure that computer-based machines add anything useful.

#378 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Sewing machines: When I participated in rec.crafts.textiles.quilting in the late '90s, people would periodically ask for advice on what machine to buy. If they didn't want to spend a thousand or two on a fancy computerized one with all the bells and whistles, the answer was to get an old (pre-1970*) Singer from a tag sale for fifty bucks and have it refurbished as needed. Following that advice, when my old sewing machine broke a few years ago, I bought a Singer 99K off eBay. Straight-stitch only, though.

*The Singer family sold the company in 1970; newer Singers aren't nearly as good.

(We had a similar discussion in Open Thread 156. Looks like the relevant bit starts here.)

#379 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 06:40 PM:

I've posted a time or two on my own adventures with my late mother's sewing machine, a Singer 99K. and I shall likely be wearing clothes I adjusted with it at the Worldcon. My legs are a bit short, or my waist a bit long. Straight stitch does a lot of useful sewing.

The "Featherweight" name applies to the old Singer 221 model, and there was apparently a Chinese duplicate, and to several recent machines which maybe won't endure but which are still mechanical rather than computerised. The 221 type seems to be one of the best straight-stitch machines ever, and while ancient people will pay serious money for them.

Be careful about old electric motors.

#380 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 06:48 PM:

I totally agree about Merida's outfit needing a chemise. "Filling in the gaps with white fabric" would say cheap Halloween costume to me.

So you all have seen the Renaissance-era dresses that have the upper and lower sleeves held together by ribbons? (Like this lady) There was an early episode of "The Tudors" that had Anne B. in such a dress...but she had no chemise under it. Just her bare elbows hangin' out for the world to see. That was not the most egregious of the costume errors on that show (though it falls under the general complaint of "these people aren't wearing enough underwear"), but it was one I particularly noticed.

"You can do that without looking?"

At Pennsic this past week I had someone express incredulity that I could knit stockinette while reading. Having recently past the point where I can truthfully say that I have formed the knit stitch literally a million times, I just kind of shrugged. Especially since this was Pennsic, where a woman knitting is rather more common than, say, pine trees.

#381 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 07:44 PM:

Dave Bell (379): Straight stitch does a lot of useful sewing.

Yes, indeed. I don't miss zigzag stitch much, although it would be nice to have it available if I want it.

#382 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 07:51 PM:

For those who are interested, there was a slide show with video clip at Frank Robinson's memorial service, now up on YouTube. Some early fannish photos, and a nice one of Frank holding an issue of Le Zombie for which he did the cover very near the end. Some amazing bits of gay history, as well. Seven minutes long.

#383 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 08:00 PM:

So through one of my small-f fandoms, I found this lovely poem.

"Harry went to Agincourt, ankle deep
in mud, and wistful, weary, thought of sleep;
thought of crowns and souls, and old life-goals told
to empty rooms when he was young and brash."

The author's LJ name is "B. Farrar", and it's noted in the sidebar that "Despite the name, I am neither English nor a former cowboy."

#384 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 08:09 PM:

I will be at LonCon (in Brighton now). Arriving in London on the evening of today/tomorrow. Taking in a play at the Globe on Tues.

I do have a mobile phone number in the UK, and will be on a panel at the con. Other meetings are more flexible.

#385 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 08:58 PM:

Great costumes, abi! I actually think Fiona's costume looks slightly better without the wig, but I take your point about it not being Merida.

#386 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:06 PM:

Olcer 196: It's the ACT Total Care Dry Mouth. It lasts long enough to let me get to sleep, but not all night. I used to use the Biotene Dry Mouth gum (for during the day), and found it very effective, but they discontinued it. I have these lozenges now, but I'm not terribly happy with them.

The active ingredient is usually xylitol, which is a sweetener, so they tend to be too sweet. The Salese soft tabs last an hour, but you do taste them the entire time. The ones I tried were wintergreen, and they stupidly flavored them with actual wintergreen oil, which burns my scar tissue. The other ones were peppermint, a flavor I detest.

#387 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:14 PM:

re the OP: I spin. I spin pretty finely (I do what is referred to as "chasing cobwebs). I can spin 300 yds out of two oz of wool (which netted about 110 yards of 3-ply; about buttonhole twist weight thread).

So I can spin about 2400 yards per pound.

I spun that in my spare time, mostly riding on the subway. I don't spin full time. I tuck it in when we are watching Dr. Who (or Once Upon A Time... which is amusing). I take ten minutes here, or there. I've not been as attentive as I might be this year, so I've only spun about three lbs since Jan.

But to warp a loom, that's a lot of yarn: and yarn which takes more time to make (it wants to be worsted [though some fabrics, like tweed, use a woolen spin for both warp and weft] and that takes longer). Sock wools take more time too, because they want to be three ply (most "spinner's yarn" is two-ply).

Even at that, two ply means at least three sets of spinning (one for each single, and one to ply them up). Add fiber prep (washing the wool, carding [or combing] it) and the setting when one is done, and cloth is a huge investment in time/effort.

If you want an interesting take on it, find Defoe's report of a day in a wool-market.

I will have some skeins with me at LonCon, and will be doing incidental demonstrations (because I travel with a couple of drop-spindles, and a passel of penny-whistles).

#388 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:55 PM:

Terry Karney @387: I tuck it in when we are watching Dr. Who (or Once Upon A Time... which is amusing)

I saw Robert Carlyle comment in an interview that he's becoming quite taken with spinning.

#389 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:59 PM:

Terry Karney: I just watched the "Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers," and immediately thought of your comment about getting someone to talk with nothing more than milk and cookies.

It seems the British set up this very comfortable estate with all the amenities to house their German officer POWs. And just let Of course, they'd bugged all the rooms.

#390 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 12:36 AM:

Abi @365:
I had never considered IKEA as a fabric store - I assumed that their textiles were all in pre-cut lengths, but it appears I was wrong. Thanks for the tip!

For people interested in other sources of linen and/or dyeable fabric, I recommend (linen) and Dharma Trading Co (dyeables, and also dye).

#391 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 07:12 AM:

I can also speak well of Wonderful linen, and when I ordered a lot for making shirts and shifts, they threw in what has become my favorite dishtowel ever.

#392 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 07:26 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 381 ...
Yes, indeed. I don't miss zigzag stitch much, although it would be nice to have it available if I want it.

You can get a zig-zag attachment for the old Singer machines (just make sure that you get a low shank vs a slant [yes, there's a reason I mention this...] )

#393 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 08:33 AM:

Terry Karney @387, I was at a small crafting-con a few weeks ago (MuseCon), and learned (sorta) how to use a drop-spindle. The lady who taught the class kindly provided an extra length of roving for me when I tentatively mentioned it might be nice to, oh, actually ply it and knit or crochet something small like a dice-bag. (I almost kinda-sorta know how to knit, too....)

So I have most of the first spindle of roving spun; it's kinda uneven but mostly twisted down to about kite-string thickness. She gave me a second spindle (made cleverly from an unsharpened pencil and a big fender-washer) for my second ply. But when I get the second spindle done, um.... I don't remember exactly how she said to ply it. Do I need a third spindle?

#394 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 09:25 AM:

xeger (392): Thanks for the information. I vaguely knew that zig-zag attachments might be available but had never investigated. (I think you're the one who clued me in a few years ago to the existence of buttonhole attachments. If so, I never adequately thanked you. I loves me my buttonholer!)

#395 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 09:39 AM:

Cassy: What you need is some way to remove the yarn from the spindles, or a third spindle.

I don't ply to spindle, I ply to wheel. There are tips/tricks online (such as using a beam with eyebolts to guide the yarns, and give you room to work without the energy trying to kink and tangle).

Right now I am off to Brighton Pavilion and a music shop. Then we head to London. I may have time to be more elaborate in a few hours.

#396 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 09:55 AM:

Terry Karney @395, no rush; based on how long it did to do the first spindle, I anticipate at least a week to fill the second one...

And thanks! (It just strikes me as a Cool Thing to have something that I actually use on a regular basis, like a dice bag (I'm a gamer) that I Made Myself from... well, not quite the sheep, but as close as I'm likely to get.

#397 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Cassy B.: Do you or your neighbors have any longhair cats or dogs? :-)

#398 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:13 PM:

Jacque, #397: I've seen people spinning dog fur, but not cat fur; my understanding is that cat fur is too smooth (or something) to spin well, and is better used for felting. If it could be spun, I could provide a local spinner a very steady supply just from our Spot, one of whose nicknames is "Shedder". She's a shorthair, but she's fluffy and sheds more than all the others put together.

#399 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:16 PM:

I have a zig-zag attachment for my Singer. I splurged a bit on this stuff last year.

#400 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Jacque @397, alas, my two cats are shorthairs, and the Akita that was owned by a friend of mine passed away a few years ago. (He shed a full garbage bag of fur every spring. Tight-packed.)

#401 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:51 PM:

Xopher, thank you! I don't remember if I have tried it and forgotten the name or not tried it, but I will look for it and find out.

I tried several brands of xylitol chewing gum, prescription and non-prescription, but found that they work only as long as I am chewing them and this doesn't help me get to sleep (for instance). Not to mention how much gum I would need. I'm not really a gum-chewer, so I'd chew, and spit it out, sort of reflexively, and need to take another piece.

#402 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 02:49 PM:

Brought up "oil and solar" in the Toni Weisskopf thread, am now bringing it over here in case of interest. Math in footnotes.

Oil and solar. To first order, solar energy doesn't replace oil in any way. [US-centric oversimplifications abound; more complexity available upon request.] [1] Gasoline and diesel are excellent ways of storing an enormous amount of energy in a small space, such that you can recharge in a short time. [2]

"Transportation energy" is a different problem from "electricity generation" and that's a different problem from "storage and peak matching." We can do "sustainable electricity generation", that's in process and I don't see a problem until we get over 75% sun/wind in any given area.

Here endeth the monologue.

Solar is good for the world in a variety of ways. [3] But it's not a replacement for gasoline. Might it be, eventually, a replacement for gasoline in some way? Not soon [4] and probably not directly [5].

[1]We generate less than 2% of our electricity from refined oil products, and use less than 2% of our refined oil products to make electricity. In contrast, we generate less than 0.5% of our electricity from PV, but use pretty much 100% of our PV to make electricity.
[2] 10 gallons of gasoline is 330 kWh and if you can fill a 10-gallon tank in 5.5 minutes [330 seconds] that makes the recharge "power" 3.6 MW .
[3]Solar generates 10-20% of the CO2 of coal, uses no water and generates no pollution at point of installation, has really low operation & maintenance cost, etc. The places in the world with lots of poor people all tend to have very good insolation, so it's good for poverty alleviation. And so forth.
[4] Tesla sold less than 50 kilocars last year and the US has around 100,000 kilocars on the road. How fast can they double, and how many times?
[5] There are some interesting, not-yet-scaled-up, projects involving synfuel. The Navy. for one, has a project making fuel from seawater + electricity. The Navy also pays a lot more for their fuel because it has to be shipped out to the middle of the ocean, so "cost effective" has a different meaning for them.

#403 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 03:06 PM:

Cassy B.: I would be happy to help you learn plying face to face if we can find a point of common availability. :-)

HLN: I am somewhat pleased at getting somewhere with a seriously backlogged task whose deadline approacheth perilous fast. Also I will have friends over tomorrow providing enough company to possibly bootstrap me into more, yay!

#404 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 03:29 PM:

Sandy, #402: Also, most of our plastics are made from petrochemical feedstock, and solar won't do a thing about that. I don't think plastics recycling has even made a dent in that stream yet, and we're not likely to give up plastic any time soon either.

#405 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Elliot Mason @403, I may take you up on that; worst case, Windycon is in only a few months...

(And I may need help and advice on exactly to go about knitting a dice bag. I pretty much can do a rectangle, right now. With only a knit stitch. Ideally, I'd want something like a really wide sock with no heel....)

#406 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 03:42 PM:

ElliotT Mason, I know you have two Ts in your name... <headdesk>

Oh, and I found a piece of roving from a very aborted try at learning to spin at last year's Musecon; I'm dividing it in half and adding it (half each) to the end of each spindle-of-half-twist. It's dark blue (as opposed to the burgundy/brown of the other wool) so my hypothetical eventual dice bag should (if I manage this right) not only be large enough to hold a reasonable amount of dice, but also have a burgundy/brown body with a wide dark-blue rim. I'm feeling tolerably clever right now....

#407 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 04:38 PM:

Sandy B. @ 402 -

Interesting points.

I think it's possible that electric vehicles could alter the second car dynamic of family car buying. One electric car for the person who commutes regularly (and can recharge nightly) and a second gas-powered vehicle when long-distance travel is needed. So electric cars can be a significant part of the mix without becoming predominant.

#409 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 06:53 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 394 ...
xeger (392): Thanks for the information. I vaguely knew that zig-zag attachments might be available but had never investigated. (I think you're the one who clued me in a few years ago to the existence of buttonhole attachments. If so, I never adequately thanked you. I loves me my buttonholer!)

It's very likely :D I'm generally enthusiastic about my ancient and not at all decrepit sewing (and other, tbh) machines.

My most recent acquisition of that sort is a hemstitcher and picot edger, which makes a truly frightening set of noises until you get used to it -- and does, indeed, work as advertised.

It also comes with a screwdriver that's bent in exactly the right place to fit under the head end easily, and making removing that (@#$&@(*# back screw on the throat plate comparatively easy (which, as you might guess, made me quite cheery!)

#410 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 07:12 PM:

It's been reported that Robin Williams has died.

#411 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 08:18 PM:

Steve C @410: I only met him twice, and the second time he recognized me in a very crowded setting (and correctly identified the time we'd met before). He was an amazing comedian, and we're poorer for his leaving us.

#412 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 08:26 PM:

Horrible storyabout the rendition of a family to Libya when we were trying to get Gadafi to be on our side in the WOT. This was under W.

There is just no way to spin this as anything but monstrous. And it's absolutely certain that nobody will suffer any consequences for doing it. Probably, even the details of who decided to do this and who was ultimately responsible will be redacted from the report. Terrorizing 12 year old girls to make nice with a dictator is an important part of US foreign policy which must be protected. whereas revealing the names of the people responsible for it would be needlessly cruel and heartless toward those hardworking, honest public servants.

#413 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 08:50 PM:

abi, those are beautiful costumes. I'm good friends with a costumer who believes in doing things The Right Way whenever possible (she does not eschew modern tricks or fastenings, but wants proper cuts and layers. And she wants corsets for corset periods, because people move differently when wearing them.) She would approve highly of what you've done there.

#414 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 10:40 PM:

Mostly I've been feeling angry about the unfairness of William's fate.

Then I saw this, and started feeling so freaking sad:

#415 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 11:06 PM:

Sandy B @402 et al:
I have a 50 mile roundtrip commute, and my paid-for car gets a bit over 30mpg. It almost never has more than me in it. We have a minivan for family drives. The lease on a new Smart ForTwo Electric is about the same as my monthly gasoline bill. If we were not trying to move, I'd get 240V pulled to the garage and switch.

With the Nissan Leaf, the upcoming Chevy Spark EV, and others, we are very close to an electric car being the more affordable choice for the commuter car in two car households that buy new.

The challenge to move off coal for baseload and natural gas for peaking for electricity production is multifaceted. We need better bulk energy storage - or PV so cheap an inefficient bulk storage (hydrogen via electrolysis plus fuel cells, etc.) is economical, an economical way to cool thermal cycle power plants (nuclear, solar thermal, geothermal, etc.) without using up freshwater we need for other uses, and upgrades to the grid to handle diverse sources and availability. Economical can come via engineering/manufacturing breakthrough, carbon taxes, or other means.

Battery tech and EV efficiency is already "good enough" for most commuters, if chargepoints were available at work and in rental housing. Then again, for cities, electric trolleybuses would be far more efficient per person-mile. @cstross is quite fond of mentioning the French nuclear powered trains, too. (electric trains, baseload nuclear power electric grid).

Nuclear fission is our best bet for a "bolt in" baseload powerplant to replace coal with current available tech, but solar thermal with thermal storage (hot rock, molten salt, other) is feasible. Add synfuel generation to soak up "excess" generation capacity and it can in a pinch be used to run existing natural gas peaker plants when there is extended lack of sunlight.

The politics of it all are a nightmare, of course. One scenario that I don't see get much play would be for the oil-rich and desert-rich countries that currently export lots of oil to go all-in for PV/other powered synthetic hydrocarbon (synfuel) production. They have the infrastructure and market connections/business relationships to sell it, for sure, and it would be seamless for current purchasers. Coal plants can be converted to synthetic oil (heck, synthetic coal...) or gas without a huge cost (been done for fossil gas many places...). That scenario has the advantage of being easy for the current oil/gas oligarchs to stomach, as they keep their current stature. Not as nice for the rest of us, but seems less impossible than cutting them out.

Plastic can be made from syngas - hydrocarbons are totally fungible at that level, and that natgas and oil are current feedstocks are largely due to their current low market price.

My next car, one way or another, will be electric, barring some really odd conditions. I want to convert an old FJ-40, but it is rather inefficient, so range and performance as a commuter will likely be poorer than a used Leaf for the same cash input - or the aforementioned Smart EV lease.

I can geek out about this stuff at length, but am limited by phone touchscreen keyboard away from work and an odd bug in HTTPS Everywhere on Chrome while at work.

Apologies for rambling/stiltedness/etc. This is one of my "comfortable" topics. Recent news (shooting, Gaza, ISIS, Robin Williams' depression/suicide, etc.) has me scrambling to keep brain on safe ground as breaking down won't help kid get to sleep... Kid nearly asleep now. Can go up to wife soon, not alone here by any means, so no need to worry for me.

Thanks for making such an inclusive space, y'all.

#416 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 11:25 PM:

Additional data: in California, the existing power grid is fueled by natural gas, hydro, wind, nuclear (right now, just Diablo Canyon), some solar, and a little geothermal (mostly Imperial Valley and the Geysers). Solar is used on a fair number of individual buildings (in my neighborhood, there's an industrial plant and a church with rooftop panels). I think there might be one coal plant, and it's a small private one: coal is pretty close to non-existent locally, and what little there is, is low-grade.
(I spent some time with EPA and other reports, locating power plants for work.)

#417 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 12:42 AM:

For Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

in despair, he said, what dreams may come
of age in the tortured mind of man?
fragments, parts of a greater sum,
sharp, wretched splinters of the eternal plan

or streams of sludge in search of a sump
to rationalize cause and effect,
a comforting lie to ease the loss, to pump
the joy from heaven to hell, to neglect

the sage advice of he who wisely taught
that "laughter is the tonic, the relief,
the surcease for pain" yet painful thought
rebounds with power such that no belief

will overcome the traps, the doubt, the lies,
unless we manage once again to improvise

#418 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 06:09 AM:

I've seen an argument that China has been running long-term plan for Solar PV since at least the turn of the century. It's part of the reason why Europe was getting antsy about cheap Chinese solar panels: China was starting production development for low-cost production of efficient panels and it wasn't dumping or subsidies.

It's something where there was a step-by-step series of five-year-plans, and they're starting to pay off. With other cost increases for fossil fuel, including the costs of the smog, China is at a cross-over point.

That, at least, is the argument I saw. And with the long-term planning involved, I can see it as possible. If the product cost works in their export markets, or maybe in third-world countries, we could have missed the boat.

Incidentally, compare cheap solar with small generators: there's a lot of Africa without a grid, and there are similar reasons for them using mobile phone tech rather than landline phone infrastructure. It easy to imagine a wind/solar mix at a medical centre in Africa (though the old generator would still be there as back-up ).

#419 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 06:13 AM:

Advance notice for Amsterdam-area peeps: there will be an Amsterdam Gathering of Light on 31 August, starting at 1 pm. It'll be at Proeflokaal de Prael in de Wallen.

More prominent notifications will be posted later.

#420 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 07:30 AM:

Jacque: I saw Robert Carlyle comment in an interview that he's becoming quite taken with spinning.

Maybe they will have a shot where the wheel isn't doing impossible things (seriously, I don't think a single instance of spinning in that show has been accurate to how wheels work).

Sarah: I'm wondering if spindles, together with hatpins and parasols, fall into the category of "things that are unlikely to be confiscated as weapons, but which can be used in a pinch against an attacker."

Depends on the spindle: one with a whorl weight might (think rock on a stick). but most aren't really suited. Delicate, and light. The heavier a spindle gets, the harder it is to spin fine yarns; so most aren't more than a couple of oz (and some are really lightweight, with tricks to move the mass to the outside of the whorl).

Re wool combs: Yes, scary (even the small two-row viking combs I have would be fearsome weapons, and I have protocols for how I lay them down when using them, and a dedicated storage place; to keep them from ending up in a random location.

English combs became quite large. One was bolted to a post, and then the other pulled the wool off of it. Then they were reversed. Once the wool was processed enough the fiber was pulled through a small eyelet (called a diz) into a long strand of fibers (all aligned) called "sliver" (long i, so that it's pronounced Sl-eye-ver). Referred to (in mass) as "top) is the preparation for worsted spinning. Which is part of why worsted yarns (not worsted weight) are more expensive.

Worsted is the usual spinning style for warp threads (done two-ply) because it's much harder wearing, and the warp gets a lot of strain in the weaving.

Carding is quicker, and easier, but the resultant rolags/batts are not as aligned, so there is more air (even if the spinner does a worsted draw), and they are more likely to break if used as warp, but they are fluffier, and warmer. In fulled fabrics the weft (at least) is made with woolen spun yarns.

For the home spinner commercial fiber will be either one style or the other, and may need to be carded/combed to switch the style before making the yarn.

Not all fibers are well suited to all treatments, so one has to learn (and even that can fail one. I recently tried to work some wool which was said to be very good for what I wanted to do, only to discover that it was very much carded treatment, and needs to be combed before I can see if this supplier's wool is suitable.

But, the treatment it's got now will make glorious sweater wool.

Xopher: I understand that the bang/exclamation point was originally a ligature or shorthand way of writing "Io." Which in turn implies that in spoken Latin, an emphatic sentence would end in "io." This practice continues to this day!

I'm reading a pretty good book on the history of punctuation, and that's not the history I recall him giving. I don't have it handy (in London, won't be home until Sept.). I"m not sure, from here, if I"m confusing myself, and I've not gotten to that chapter (I know I've read on the interrobang, and fear I may be mistaking aspects of that for the actual exclamation point).

What I do recall is that it's in the middle of the pack for age, not showing up until the beginning of the 15th century. It wasn't any form of common usuage. It could just be that someone using the convention of dots (from which we get periods and colons) had a sloppy stroke of the pen, and it caught on.

re question marks: It is not derived from quo, but started life as a varation of the punctuation system of Donatus (a librarian in Alexandria, devisor of the aforementioned set of dots). Alcuin of York called it "a bold of lightening, from right to left", placed above a stop.

The medevial manuscripts show the reverse of the "quaestio" transmogrication, with the Q shape getting more pronounced, not less.

Re "Vor": Speaking with Lois, she didn't know it when she wrote it, but incorporated it later. As a point of note this is not an obvious jest/play on words in the Russian editions as the name/class is spelled Forkosigan/For (it's also odd, to me, to read Aivan, for Ivan).

#421 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 07:48 AM:

cajunfj40, your post about electric cars finally made me realize that the "FJ40" in your name wasn't just a random combination of characters, so I looked it up.

Even though a Toyota Land Cruiser is not a Willys jeep, I want you to know that I've been earwormed with "Sugar Magnolia" as a result.

"She can dance a Cajun rhythm,
Jump like a Willys in four-wheel drive,
She's my summer love in the spring, fall, and winter,
She can make happy any man alive."

If I don't find the old iPod and the dock speakers soon, I may have to grab the CD of American Beauty and play it through my laptop.

#422 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:34 AM:

R.e. spinning, there's also the medieval great wheel to consider. A bit tricky to build properly so that it does't wobble annoyingly and turns well, they were in use by the 14th century in Europe, at least. But some cloth types really required well spin worsted type yarns.
Unfortunately when they did the Tudor monastery farm program last year, Ruth completely misused one rather than ask how to use it properly.

#423 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:36 AM:

Dave Bell #418 - coincidentally I was looking at the solar power in Africa thing today after someone mentioned it on a climate blog. Found this interesting article on how solar isn't taking off as well as it should. Surprise surprise, it's in part down to lack of capital to invest/ lend, current incumbents with political power and a couple of other issues.

Enough of the problems seem to be solvable that it should improve a lot in the next few years.

#424 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:58 AM:

dotless ı @ 303: Fascinating! I wonder whether anyone has tested how that pronunciation is perceived; e.g. can native speakers "hear" it on tape / deduce it from facial expression / assume it from grammatical context.... Or do they assume it from social context: e.g., "this is a {sloppy Southerner, ignorant foreigner} who is leaving out this particle"?

Clifton @ 305: how much would repairing the "pineapple" water tower have cost? I remember the fuss over the Citgo sign in Boston's Kenmore Square, but not where the cash came from to keep it standing; IIRC that's a common issue with publically displayed, privately owned artifacts.

Helen S @ 316: as recited by Leonard Nimoy?

abi @ 323: but where's the fun in that, when you have to \imagine/ the reaction instead of seeing it? Baby pictures (the canonical) seem so much more effective.... (No direct experience -- no children, and nearest collateral sprogs are >300 miles away.)

Sandy B @ 402: you say a tiny fraction of "refined" oil products are used for electricity -- but IIRC, much oil used for generation is the leftovers from refinement ("bunker oil"?). What the overall set/fraction of electricity sources in the US? I know that New England is heavily into natural gas -- but IIRC that's only about half the total.
      I question your statement that Navy fuel prices are heavily affected by having to be shipped to "the middle of the ocean". Civilian ocean shipping is \very/ cheap (I was quoted as low as $70/ton trans-Atlantic), and I wonder how much mid-ocean refueling is necessary outside of conditions requiring high-speed travel (e.g., wartime).
      Tesla may be the biggest shipper of pure-electric cars -- but many plug-in hybrids come from companies that already have large plants, lowering the cost of both shifting and selling. A friend with a Chevrolet Volt speaks of going months without refueling; quick refueling may be a win for gasoline due to the need for special dispensers, but electricity is \everywhere/ so a slow fill isn't as much of a problem.

#425 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 10:04 AM:

Was Breaking the Ward ever published? I want the scene where Pbany xvyyf Zntn.

(The peril of rereading something is finding many interesting discussions about it one would like to contribute to on r.a.s.w...ten years later. Zombie thread, yo.)

#426 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 10:25 AM:

Rikibeth @ #371:

And, Carol Witt, *squee*! I'm just recently moved to Boston myself - as of August 1, though there's still mop-up packing to do in CT. Drop me a line - email is my name at gmail - if you want to get together. We could even have a mini Gathering of Light if we wanted to try to assemble one. I'm in Dorchester, right on the Red Line. Where in the Boston area will you be, if you don't mind specifying? (Or by email.)

I'll be in Newtonville, so using the Green Line's D Branch when the local bus is running, and the Framingham/Worcester Line when necessary. Getting together and/or a Gathering of Light would be excellent! The current plan is to drive down on the 23rd and start to get settled before school activities begin on the 2nd (I'm going to the library school at Simmons), assuming that there are no issues at the border and the cat doesn't kill me for all of the trauma that I'll be causing. I'll send an email once I'm in town.

I did a lot of book purging in my last two moves, and REALLY I only had two and a half bookcases' worth plus the cookbooks, and I STILL wound up with ten or so banker's boxes of books and three of cookbooks (to be fair, one of the cookbook boxes is looseleaf binders filled with plastic-sleeved recipes and back issues of Cook's Illustrated).

I was surprised by how many boxes/bins are needed compared to the number of bookshelves used. Their weight means that there will be more trips than expected too, because the cargo trailer gets too heavy before it's filled.

#427 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 10:42 AM:

Carol, I had a 14' U-Haul, packed to the gills, with my framed pictures and mirrors laying flat and cushioned by blankets and towels in the back of my hatchback. I had random items on top of them, can't even remember what. And that was for one bedroom, my share of a kitchen (which did include a table and four chairs), and a notional office (huge desk, ordinary chair, 2-drawer file cabinet, and boxes of files). And at that I had to leave some low-priority clothes and the non-furniture contents of a second bedroom for other trips.

The cat isn't here yet. He's still living at his present home with Kid's dad, and we don't plan to bring him until we've moved everything that involves leaving a door open for extended times.

#428 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Steve C. @410: I found out this morning when I was peddling past Mork and Mindy's house and noticed people were putting flowers and signs on the fence. Then I noticed a Channel 9 news truck, and stopped to ask what was going on. :-(

#429 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 12:19 PM:

Terry Karney @420: Maybe they will have a shot where the wheel isn't doing impossible things

Well, maybe that's the required mode of operation needed to produce gold from straw...? :-)

#430 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 12:44 PM:

guthrie: R.e. spinning, there's also the medieval great wheel to consider. A bit tricky to build properly so that it does't wobble annoyingly and turns well, they were in use by the 14th century in Europe, at least. But some cloth types really required well spin worsted type yarns.

From my reading/the people I know who've used great wheels, they are great for woolen, not so much for worsted. What they are really good for is finely spun yarns, esp. if they have a "mother" on them to increase the ratio.

CHip: I question your statement that Navy fuel prices are heavily affected by having to be shipped to "the middle of the ocean". Civilian ocean shipping is \very/ cheap (I was quoted as low as $70/ton trans-Atlantic), and I wonder how much mid-ocean refueling is necessary outside of conditions requiring high-speed travel (e.g., wartime).

The Navy doesn't use civilian tankers to refuel. A fair bit of refueling at sea takes place because "PAC" tours are 3-6 months, and the carriers, being nuclear powered, don't need to make landfall. The attendant fleets are large, and they all need to be refueled, in all sorts of conditions.

Civil tankers don't have 1: the equipment to discharge, and 2: don't tend to carry refined products; they are designed to carry crude.

Carol/Rikibeth: I was surprised by how many boxes/bins are needed compared to the number of bookshelves used. Their weight means that there will be more trips than expected too, because the cargo trailer gets too heavy before it's filled.

I had enough to fill (more than) seven Billies. It filled most of a "cube" (as I used a mover to get my things cross country). I had a 14 moving van when I took my things from LA to SF.

#431 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Off to see Antony and Cleopatra at The Globe.

#432 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Dear open thread:

Twitter #Ferguson

My husband told me about this last night. He says it's been making him angry "for days." I never heard about it until then, and I'm still not hearing about it. Anywhere. "It's Twitter hashtag Ferguson," John tells me. And there it is.

Short story: White police kill unarmed black boy. Neighborhood protests. Police show up to protests with riot gear. Neighborhood appeals to police next county over. Next county over barricades public property to prevent protestors from gathering. Tear gas and rubber bullets continue to rain on protestors, including when they are standing in front of their own homes, because the Castle Doctrine apparently only applies if you're white. Everything is horrible.

Twitter finds this eye-witness account of the shooting death, and a single article on the Washington post. But mostly the only place to find out about this is on Twitter.

wtf i don't even.

#433 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 01:14 PM:

Nicole (432): Long Island's Newsday has had articles about the Ferguson story yesterday and today. But most of what I know about it comes from Twitter.

#434 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 02:12 PM:

Rikibeth @ 421:
Good song, that one. :-)
Crossing threads, in some sense I at least used to claim Land Cruisers as the object of my "true fandom". I miss the times I had when I was a part of both a local and national club, and a mailing list, and various annual events across the nation. In a way, I GAFIAted (FAFIAted?) from it when a pair of good friends in that fandom with me had a rather messy divorce, destroying a haven I had been to many a time to wrench, to chat, etc. Parked the 'cruiser not long after that, then moved, changed jobs, ran out of money after dissassembling it for a restoration, and held on to the carcass for another 6 years (through 2 more moves!) before selling it all off and starting a family. Have an old motorcycle now, but no time to work on it either. Only managed to ride it 60 miles in 4 years...
Need to move, shorten commute, gain garage/shop space, so I can wrench again and perhaps find a new haven of like-minded folks with a similar "really strong focus".

#435 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 02:29 PM:


Oddly enough, there was coverage on TVE (a Spanish TV network which puts many of its shows online--I watch it partly to improve my Spanish). And I have family and friends in the area, so I've seen some discussion on Facebook, mostly of the "stay safe" variety.

I think there's a common pattern of:

a. A questionable shooting[1].

b. A public protest, with police (over)reaction.

c. Opportunistic looting while the police are busy with the protest, which at this point may have degenerated into a riot.

I imagine in a few days, this will blow over. The policeman will probably eventually be returned to the force. Many of the stores that were looted and burned out will be gone forever--even if the buildings and inventory were insured, most small businesses like that can't survive being shut down for a month. The whole community will be much poorer all around.

[1] And one driver of the protests and anger here is that recognition that the police very seldom turn out to be responsible for having shot someone they shouldn't have shot, even if he's been shot several times in the back while unarmed. The big case in NYC recently even had the cops arresting the guy who recorded the police choking some poor guy to death, and then later arresting the video recorder's wife. I'm not sure this sort of thing would be defused by having actual independent investigations and trials, but it sure seems like it would help.

#436 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 02:38 PM:

Open threadiness: TWIV episode on ebola They have a very high ratio of informed discussion and facts to wild speculation and fear mongering.

On a broader note, one thing is really striking about podcasts and blogs. If you listen to/read the best ones, the low quality of most media (especially broadcast media) becomes *painfully* apparent. I imagine there are immensely stupid podcasts out there; certainly there are immensely stupid blogs. But they don't have the impact and draw of someone like CNN or Fox, and I never actually have to pay any attention to them.

And at another level, I wonder about the results of the kind of fragmentation you get when some people learn about ebola by listening to TWIV, and others learn about it by listening to Fox, or even some whack job that makes Fox look like a good source of information. I've told the story before of sitting with my mom and both of us looking at the news, and almost no stories were in common. I wonder what effects that kind of split has on the world.

#437 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 03:12 PM:

@various electrical:

@424, electricity sources:'s Electricity Browser has all the detail you could want. The short version is we're about 40% coal, 27% natural gas, 20% nuclear, 7% hydro, 4% wind and 2% everything else (for 2013.) Wind and sun have gone up by a factor of 15 and 20 [respectively] in the last 10 years, and solar today is about where wind was 10 years ago.

@424, Electric cars: I used to think that 90% isn't enough ("90% of the time, you do less than 50 miles a day", or whatever the number is) because 90% of the time, you don't need any passenger seats in your car. As long as the standard is a 2-car household, you can probably get around 90% of the remaining cases with planning. And electric cars will handle the remaining 1% of cases, although imperfectly. ("Yeah, I'm at the gas station charging, I'll be there in about an hour.") The fear of 8-hour-charges turned out to be overhyped.

@415, grid and baseload: This is a topic I myself am happy to ramble on about, and listen to others. We have a few years to work on the problem of storage. Here is a nifty little story about how better weather prediction lowers the amount of backup power needed to firm the grid against solar and wind irregularities. I personally suspect that we can get by with minimal storage until we're at 25% fossil or so. [This depends on our nuclear fleet staying the same size or even growing.] Which implies turning "Wind and solar" from 5% into 45% of our power.

Getting slightly off topic, I suspect that faster evolution is going to beat maybe-better ideas. To take an example from power generation, in 2008 PV cost $8.00/watt all-in. First quarter 2014 PV cost $1.83, utility-scale, all-in . They've done thousands of experiments, built a lot of 1 cm^2 devices, made millions of panels and done thousands of installations.

Since 2008, there have been about six solar thermal plants completed. Even if they were thermodynamically better, they're still on the first generation since 2008 and PV is on, like, the fifth since 2008.

In energy storage, batteries may not be the smartest way to do mass energy storage, but you can build 'em on tabletops and run thousands of experiments. They started out ten times too expensive and are now maybe ... two and a half times too expensive?

Outside batteries, there are some really interesting ideas going on there. There's a rail system with trains loaded with weights (APEX), there's a "ski lift" system with gravel, there's at least five compressed-air systems that I know of; there are a LOT of possible ways to store energy without batteries. But you're going to get one or two examples of each, and half a million batteries. They'd have to get everything right on the first try, and batteries can screw up dozens of times and still win.

I've got some ideas for gravitational energy storage, but I think it's a $10 million experiment to build the first one. I'd probably get beaten by someone who could build fifty variations of their battery idea, in a year, in a garage.

#438 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 03:49 PM:


I'm trying to remember the title of a Christmas movie I watched as a kid, probably between 1985-1995, about finding the perfect gift.

  • It starts off as a portal story - kid falls out of the real world and into a world made of ice and snow.
  • He is accompanied by an old woman with a "the other magi" sort of backstory - she gave away the perfect gift to someone she encountered on her way to Jesus, and she's been trying to find a replacement ever since.
  • There are small glowing fir trees that die as soon as you pick them up unless you are... selfless enough, I think.
  • The two main characters are walking, everyone else they meet is on ice skates.
  • Live action, not animated.
  • Probably TV or direct-to-video. I think it was full length.
Any ideas?

#439 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 04:14 PM:

Carol Witt #426 - over the last couple of years I have been tidying my attic and putting the books into plastic boxes (Books are my old childrens ones and inherited ones I don't have shelf space for, although I have taken some down to read them). The reason for htis is because of a mouse infestation, which chewed a couple of them, and because the attic got damp, so I realised I'd better look after the books better.

The problem now being that books in plastic boxes take up much more space than being stacked into cardboard boxes. It's hard/ expensive to find plastic boxes of a good efficient shape, and so the attic has a much greater height of boxes now with only a slightly smaller footprint.

So I feel your pain. I have no plans on moving yet, and have no idea what I will move my circa 3,000 books in bookcases into when moving. Some sort of antigravity device seems to be in order, then you could just move the bookcases themselves with the books in.

#440 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 04:28 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @432: I've been hearing about this on NPR for the last couple of days. It is getting some coverage there.

#441 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Sandy B:

That's a nice point at the end, about the advantages of being able to try variations of some design many times vs. having each trial take ten years and half a billion dollars.

My intuition here (I'm way, way outside my field) is that this comes up with things that don't scale in a straightforward way. Batteries can be built on a small scale, and then can be combined to allow more energy storage in a way that's not too hard to figure out. Are there alternatives that we could find that scale in a relatively straightforward way, so we could develop storage for one house, and use the same basic idea for a neighborhood or a city?

#442 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 06:22 PM:

David Gerrold spares no invective on CountenanceTome when it comes to Rush Limbaugh's repugnant remarks on Robin Williams.

#443 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 07:25 PM:

The most horrible thing about Rush Limbaugh is that he continues to have an audience; an audience large and loyal and enthusiastic enough have made him a wealthy man. It dismays me that I live in the same country as the people who eagerly lap up his hateful audio-vomit.

#444 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 08:05 PM:

albatross: This is bigger (in terms of the police reaction) than most. The got the FAA to ban all aircraft below 3,000 ft. That means no news crews in the air.

Their are also photos of the police chief's home... with the Stars and Bars.

The stats on stops shows a significant racial bias (7:1 for stops, with a 2:1 population ratio.

The search rate is twice as high, but the hit rate is only 2/3rds that of whites who are searched. Total number of whites searched was 47, blacks searched totals 562. Whites arrested = 36. Blacks arrested = 483.

Total population is 15,865, if 63 percent are black that's 4632 stops, out of a population of 9995. That's almost half the population. For whites it's 686 stops, out of 5235, or about 12 percent of the population.

There is a pattern here, and it's one which supports the contention that the cops have (at best) disdain for the black residents.

It ought to be big news.

#445 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 08:41 PM:

Sandy @437: they still have to work out some practical kinks, too. Such as that wind farms can be bat death traps.

#446 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 08:55 PM:

A different sort of police murder, from (of all places) The Weather Channel: The real Death Valley... Mass Graves and Migrant Deaths in Texas

#447 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:57 PM:

My reference book (Wind Energy Explained, 2nd ed.) for wind is from 2009 and at that point they didn't think bat deaths were a major problem based on a couple of 2006 studies. Unfortunate if exploding bat lung syndrome turned out to be a serious problem.

(Google helpfully suggested, in attempting to complete a search, "Texas Batsquatch." Apparently that's, if not a thing, a cryptothing.)

#448 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:59 PM:

C. Wingate @442, your link takes me to a Facebook page which I cannot read (not being a member). Can you summarize?

#449 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 10:19 PM:

@448 & @449, never mind; when I enabled Java I can see it. The man does know how to write....

#450 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Solar (as Chris Clarke has been talking about) can be lethal to birds (esp. wetlands migrators) who think the mirror farms are lakes and go out of their way (burning limited reserves) and/or get cooked.

#451 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 10:48 PM:

Lead acid batteries already scale up quite well for house level storage, and recycling them into new batteries when no longer useful is already a mature industry. On a larger scale, various redox flow batteries (Vanadium is one element exploited there) scale even better: just build a bigger set of electrolyte tanks. I don't recall the efficiency, though.

Lithium is good for energy/power density, needed for transport. Density not nearly as much of a concern for land-based storage.

Pumped hydro is good if you have the geology for it, too.

The grid is one of the harder parts: good places for solar/wind don't often have good enough powerlines. There are already places/times of year when solar/wind capacity is idled because hydropower is at full output, has seniority in purchasing contracts, and the grid is basically sized for the hydro full output.

Power companies are already having some economic trouble in some areas due to efficiency-driven (and other drivers) "demand destruction". Funding the transition is not a trivial thing, especially if we want it to go fast.

I'm curious about how fast "good enough" electric cars (not hybrids) arrive on the used market, at 70-80% of initial range on their factory battery. (Warranty on Leaf battery is 70% capacity left at 60 months/60 kmiles) There are already small businesses that refurbish hybrid battery packs, EV packs will also attract this attention. 60% capacity for 20% cost? Leases for battery packs priced close/below gas/oil change equivalent per mile?

Neat stuff ahead, but lots of things to work out.

#452 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 11:01 PM:

By the time I got around to unpacking my desk things tonight, where I knew the iPod and speakers to be lurking, I had already lost the earworm, replaced for most of the day by OMD's "If You Leave". However, I've found them now, and can have music tomorrow.

I also found my MOUSE, missing since the LAST move, nearly a year ago. I never fully unpacked my desk stuff in the last one, you see, and then circumstances led to me using my laptop in my bedroom rather than spend any time in the living room at all, so there never seemed to be any point.

I couldn't tell you what possessed me to drop the mouse into the shopping bag that was holding my writing reference books - really, desk decorations at this point, but I really do love the hardbound Bartlett's and Roget's that came from my grandparents' house and that I used through elementary and high school, even if they're outdated now. I'm really glad that I decided to take them out of their bag and set them up on the top of the desk with the gold scroll bookends. If I'd left them, I'd never have found the mouse.

#453 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:19 AM:

HLN: Woman tries out stand-up comedy. Had to wait for the perfect time.

#454 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:43 AM:

Carrie S. @425: No, Breaking the Ward was never published; I don't think that any significant portion of it was ever even written.

#455 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 01:12 AM:

albatross @ 435: I Keep stalling on this bit:

"c. Opportunistic looting while the police are busy with the protest, which at this point may have degenerated into a riot.

I imagine in a few days, this will blow over. The policeman will probably eventually be returned to the force. Many of the stores that were looted and burned out will be gone forever--even if the buildings and inventory were insured, most small businesses like that can't survive being shut down for a month. The whole community will be much poorer all around. "

In a few days, it will blow over that police are attacking people on their own front lawns. In a few days, it will all blow over except for the damage due to opportunistic looting. The community will be the poorer - because of the opportunistic looting and its damage to small businesses, not because a man was shot, not because the police have gone beyond not caring and into abusing the victims.

Opportunistic looting which, sorry, I haven't heard much about. Especially as compared to police-caused harm.

This reads wrong to me.

#456 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 03:42 AM:

From here in Britain the situation in Ferguson MO looks like crazy policing for a First World country. It's the local Police acting like thugs, though some of the pictures are showing a lot of Police from outside, like the French have their CRS, and it's not really reported.

But one important part of UK policing is the dependence on consent. Armed Police are unusual, and specialised. And there's a bit of shock at the sight of these specialised armed Police carrying their guns on routine Police work.

Yet other European countries, with routinely-armed Police, still emphasise the consent angle.

Balance: my parents, visiting cousins in Washington state, had a bit of a shock when an armed police officer happened to call. No raid, nothing out of the ordinary by British standards, but the guy had a gun. Yes, you can point to white privilege, but it happened to be a black cop.

What strikes me as ugly is that a majority-black district has overwhelmingly white government and police force, and they're being backed by what look like similarly white riot-trained police, and units looking like soldiers fighting a war.

Why aren't there black candidates winning elections? What has turned this into something looking like a war, and why have media reporters been locked out?

Maybe we're seeing the reason why Israel thinks they can do what they do. though at least the Ferguson Police can't deploy artillery.

(Yes, the British system does have riot police. They're ordinary cops who get get training in the tactics, which I suppose is a form of shieldwall. They don't get guns. They learn procedures to process an arrest quickly: things like the number on their uniform are important. Some of the pictures from Ferguson look not unlike them, but the protesters don't look like a riot. It's the stage where the riot teams would have been assembled, and bussed across the country to the troubled city, but they would be sitting in the bus, waiting, and hoping.)

#457 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:24 AM:

(dons cap of experience)

Re Riot Training, the National Guard, being tasked with that, is required to get some training. Because one of my commanders was in the LAPD (which has a very effective training program) I can speak to some of this.

LAPD does not use sheields. Officers tasked to being in a "Crowd Control Team" are without firearm; instead having a 36"/1m baton. They are in "sticks" of ten, with an officer directing them.

In larger situations there will be another officer, issuing commands to more than one of the officers controlling the "sticks".

In such a situation there will be a stick set in reserve, to do arrest raids into the crowd, or to manage rescue/recovery of isolated officers, or persons who have been injured.

Batons, in the rest positions, are held arms down, across the body. At the ready they are moved to a sort of "port arms", with the trailing hand near the hip, and the leading hand about breast high.

Advancing is done by means of a half-step, with a thrust of the baton, stomping move forward and the recovery of the trailing foot. Any commands to the crowd are made in unison. That helps keep the unit together (as moving in line is the hardest piece of military drill).

If the unit needs to move quickly the sticks are moved into a column of twos, and the advance is made in Double Time (i.e. they run). The officer commanding the stick tells them where they are going, so they don't overextend/find themselves isolated.

Well managed this arrangement allows cops to control groups with anywhere from a 10-20:1 ratio.

If the situation merits the use of firearms they are in an independent team, and fire control is NOT in the hands of the people with the weapons.

What's going on in Ferguson is a completely different thing. As I tweeted (and others have commented) those cops are more heavily armed than I was in April 2003. In April 2003 I was headed into a war. I had tens of thousands of people who were being paid to try to kill me.

I had less firepower on my person than those cops do (I had some more effective gear in the unit, machine guns, heavy machine guns, grenades, automatic grenade launchers: and we could call on even more: arty, tanks, choppers and fast movers. Again, I was in a god-damned war).

That's what angers me. It's what frightens me. It's what makes me more afraid of the possibility of civil war. If I were a citizen of Ferguson, I'd be out there screaming at the cops too.

#458 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:27 AM:

Brad Hicks is posting about what happens in Ferguson.

#459 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 08:57 AM:

shadowsong @ #438

I don't know the title, but I recall seeing that one too. There were two jester characters who sang a song about discussing "Nothing Matters," weren't there?

#460 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 09:34 AM:

Terry @457

One of the threats in a British riot is the petrol bomb. I suspect it's an easy way to get shot dead in the USA, and I don't think that's a crazy reaction.

But it means the British Police in a riot are trained to block petrol bombs (and other missiles) with their shields. They wear fire-resistant overalls. They don't want to get into the business of shooting rioters, and the armed police in the rest of Europe share that view.

I heard a few stories about the training from British cops. I heard a few other stories. And I can quite believe that the guns in the USA make a huge difference.

#461 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 10:30 AM:

One of Ben Aaronovitch's Folly books mentions petrol-bomb training; I remember it [possibly rhetorically] as a day of standing with a shield while people try to light you on fire. Good books, by the way. Turns out I've recommended them on here before.

#462 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 11:14 AM:


I saw pictures from Ferguson in the news that showed looted stores. As with all news coverage, I have no idea how representative this is of the situation--maybe it's the one place that got looted, maybe the whole town's business district is a flaming ruin. But there is a pretty consistent pattern that rioting leads to looting, and the looting can do a huge amount of damage. I assume the looting is opportunistic--the criminals see that attention is elsewhere and the police aren't responding to calls, and go steal some TVs. As far as I can see, the looting has nothing to do with the justice of the original protests, or whether rioting happened mainly from angry protesters or police provocation.


I wonder how they managed to get the FAA to do that! Is this a normal thing to be able to shut down all low-flying aircraft like this?


I grew up within a hundred miles of where these riots are going on, and know the local culture there. I can *easily* imagine awful racial tensions and racist police--it's actually pretty striking to go back to St Louis from the DC area where we live, and see how racially segregated a lot of the city is. I don't know specifics of this case, but it's easy enough to imagine how it happened.

In general, we (the US) have some big problems with how our police handle crowd control, and how militarized they are, and their willingness to protect their own in cases of police misconduct, and also with race-relations, and segregated black neighborhoods with lots of crime, and racial profiling, and all sorts of similar stuff. And they all combine to give us awful stories like this a couple times a year.

#463 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:03 PM:

Dave Bell @ 460

The guns are, possibly, an important difference; I don't think, though, that they are the key difference.

I have the impression that the English[1] police are still basically following Peel and his principles. This is only sometimes the case in the US>

The relationship between citizenry and police in the US is (like so much else) subculturally specific. The "Dick and Jane"[2] US has at least some remnant of that kind of police, and its attitudes seem to be based on history where that was normal. My part of US does not; it never did. In Appalachia, the police were always other; in some cases, a respectable enemy, but never us.[3] In the black-and-white South, the police were always part of the structure of white power.

This gets tangled up with the growth in black markets[5], and the growth in the pervasiveness of government. But I think that "the police have guns" is a consequence, not a cause, of "the police are our historic enemies." This ties into the "community-oriented" vs individualist discussion upthread as well.

1)I'm using English deliberately; this does NOT seem to have been the case in Northern Ireland.
2)White, suburban - my old choirmaster's "nice white people"
3)The Sheriff's men in Robin Hood are really the right analog.
4) The "black-and-white" South and Appalachia are quite different.
5) Marijuana now, alcohol before

#464 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:05 PM:

So, I'm looking for an antonym, and the online dictionaries keep giving me the wrong antonym. I'm starting with "xenophile/xenophilia", in the sense of sexual/etc. focus on people of other races/nations/cultures. The dictonaries offer only "xenophobe" as an opposite.

But the original sense is in contrast to a normal tendency to seek partners within one's own race/culture etc, which does not warrant being tagged as "phobic". I'm looking for the name of that normal tendency. Unfortunately, I have a distressing feeling that going back to the word roots gives "homophile", which has picked up an incompatible meaning.

#465 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:10 PM:

albatross @ 462:

First, please remove the excess letter-o from my name. AGAIN. At least this time it wasn't in the middle of a discussion of identity and labelling. Since on Making Light, the only other regular poster with a variant of my name is a Lenore, I can only assume you either know a Leonora elsewhere or are focused upon leonine names. If it helps you remember, Lenora is derived from Eleanore is derived from Helen, with no lions in sight.

My point was not that there was no opportunistic looting - I'm sure there is: It was on your rather odd emphasis on the looting as if it were the evil and the thing that was ruining the neighbourhood, and not AN evil. It seemed to put the focus on the looting and not on the police action as the worst aspect of the story.

Also something about "This will all blow over in a few days" -- but if that is in fact that you have had too much personal experience with this sort of thing and a bit burnt out, this is more understandable and less itch-inducing than the whiff of ennui I first caught off it.

#466 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:31 PM:

re 465: Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm reading a slight trace of bitter sarcasm in Albatross's responses here.

#467 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:38 PM:

SamChevre #463: I would say that American adherence to Peelian principles (and thanks for linking that list) has been dropping drastically over the last few generations, with a matching alienation of people from the law.

The relics of slavery and segregation go back of course to the 19th century and beyond, but after the Civil War, those were mostly relevant in the "black-and-white South", as you put it.

But then came Prohibition, and that affected pretty much the whole country -- between the public non-compliance and the police corruption, Prohibition seriously damaged the public's relations with not only the police, but the law itself. (It also brought large-scale organized crime into the country.)

And then a generation later, there was the return from WW2, where blacks who'd served in combat found that back home, they were expected to go right back to using the "colored" facilities and so on.

That led directly to the start of the modern Civil Rights movement, which led (less directly) to the Counterculture of the 60's and 70's. At each step there, more people, and especially young people, experienced the police as a hostile force rather than protectors, and the law as a means of suppression rather than a part of community. And rather than try to repair relations, too many of the police forces (including various Federal "enforcement agencies") just kept doubling down on violent suppression of "unrest", which have kept the problems going for the latest couple of generations. (This also ties into the ongoing attempts to "suppress" the homeless.)

#468 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:44 PM:

"There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people."
- Edward James Olmos in "Galactica"

#469 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 12:52 PM:

Dave @464: a normal tendency to seek partners within one's own race/culture etc, which does not warrant being tagged as "phobic". I'm looking for the name of that normal tendency.

"endogamy" (vs. "exogamy")?

#470 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 01:00 PM:

There is a long tradition of paramilitary policing in the Anglosphere, going back to the nineteenth century. In the United States, it has to do with race and goes back to the 'paterollers' who ensured that slaves did not seek to escape their bondage. In the UK it goes back to the heyday of empire and to the days of the Ascendancy in Ireland; it has to do with ensuring that the lesser breeds were firmly kept in place.

In both cases, the policing was armed and intended to suppress specific crimes, those of insubordination and rebellion. It's not an accident that post-colonial police forces in the West Indies have as their original model the Royal Irish Constabulary. Nor is it an accident that a majority black city like Ferguson, MO has a police force in which only three of the 53 officers are black. The police are not there to enforce the law and serve the people, the police are there to enforce the people and serve the few.

#471 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 01:09 PM:

TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions) can be set for any number of reasons. Whenever the President goes somewhere, they'll put a TFR with a 30 mile radius around his location. There are TFRs for big sporting events. Private pilots don't like them because they can restrict VFR flights.

The type of TFR, its duration, and the type of aviation it affects varies. The one for Ferguson was in response to reports of gunfire at police helicopters.

#472 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 01:15 PM:

A minor data point: my roommate lived in Oakland for a while. She has seen people from rich (white?) areas decide to come to Oakland to riot.

#473 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 01:17 PM:

#465 ::: Lenora Rose

I wouldn't be surprised if albatross is anchored on Leonora from Fidelio.

#474 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 01:29 PM:

I've been wondering whether a political movement against police excesses would be a good idea.

My initial notion was that mayors should lose elections for police outrages.

A friend who's more into politics than I am said that he doesn't have a mayor (I think) and that what would be needed is to influence the board of county commissioners, and that localities are organized in a wide variety of ways.

Still, there's a lot of evidence that journalism only helps a little (much better than nothing), and going through the court system (I think-- there may be some other method of arbitration) can get large cash awards for victims (again, much better than nothing), but doesn't affect policy and may not even lead to abusive officers getting fired.

A political fight-- I think it would take getting a lot of people to be single-issue voters-- would be very hard with no guarantee of victory, but is there any reason to think it would be a bad idea? Are there alternatives that might work better?

#475 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 01:29 PM:

See the Looting section, which I think says what most of us are trying to say.

#476 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 03:32 PM:

re 470: Calling Ferguson a "city" is really inadequate; it's like calling Lesotho a mighty nation. Ferguson is simply a residential neighborhood of St. Louis which for historical reasons has its own government, and it's surrounded on all sides by more of the same. Indeed, without the boundaries laid on the map, its extent cannot be determined at all. You can see from the census stats that it's poor, black, and with a lot of female-headed households. Given the surroundings and the kind of requirements laid on police hiring these days it's all too easy to hire whites from outside rather than blacks who know the community, without malice aforethought.

#477 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 03:43 PM:

I understand that in the 70s, Ferguson was majority white, and its government hasn't changed.

#478 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 03:57 PM:

Terry Karney@387

I recently spun what was supposed to be 10 grams of bombyx silk combed top. My goal was to see what yardage I could get if I was spinning for fine-but-easy -- not something that I'd have to pay attention and worry about it breaking every second. It took a couple of evenings, and I ended up with a 360-yard 2-ply skein that actually weighs 8 grams, which -- if my math is correct -- comes to 22,500 yards per pound. It's a beautiful little skein in gold and purple and green, but I'm not sure there's anything real-world-useful to be done with it. I did enter it into the Minnesota State Fair in the cellulose or 100% silk category.

#479 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 04:48 PM:

Julie L. #469: Thank you! That word-pair is actually more specific to the distinction I had in mind. And of course, that xeno- prefix has gotten around to a lot of places, and picked up some odd bedfellows. ;-)

#480 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:02 PM:

C. Wingate, #466: I think you're right that albatross is cynically suspecting that nothing of substance will be done about this, and that the news will be quickly supplanted by the next outrage everywhere but in the immediate area. However, it's also true that (whether it was intended so or not) #435 sounded as though the blame for the deterioration in the area was being placed squarely on the "opportunistic looting" without reference to the abuses that gave rise to the situation in which said looting could occur.

Some people, here and there, are starting to recognize and speak openly about the epidemic of murders by entitled white men with guns and anger management issues as a public-health problem. Perhaps it's time to take the same approach to the epidemic of out-of-control police forces.

Serge, #468: I think that is equally true when the police start to think of themselves as quasi-military, and that has definitely been happening here over the last decade or so. IOW, it doesn't matter which side the merge comes from, the results are equally toxic.

Steve C., #471: Interesting. That makes me wonder, in turn, if there actually were any reports of gunfire at police helicopters, or if that was just a convenient excuse to (as noted above) keep the news copters out of the area. It's an easy claim for someone on the scene to make, and who's going to check?

Beth, #478: What weight is it? (Got a picture?) That sounds like something which would make quite a bit of kumihimo cord, which could then be used for various decorative purposes.

#481 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:07 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #474: I've been wondering whether a political movement against police excesses would be a good idea.

I'd say this is of the same order as the other civil rights issues that have pushed their way to the public stage over recent decades. The question isn't whether it's a good idea, but when, and what needs to be done to prepare the way.

#482 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:21 PM:

Beth: I think the finest I've got is some targhee I got about 13,500 YPP out of (I'd say it's more like 13,700, but I underplied it, and need to put some more twist in it; which is why I didn't bring it to LonCon).

It's really nice, a rainbow striping yarn, with some good interference from the striping not being perfect. Very much a lacey yarn though.

Someday I am sure I will fall prey to the desire to get some neck-wool from Shetland and try to spin some honest-to-goodness Shetland Lace weight yarn.

#483 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:24 PM:

Lee, #478

The weights for yarn finer than lace weight (which my silk is) aren't really standardized. I've heard cobweb, zephyr, and gossamer used.

I don't have a decent photo, but plan to take some after I get it back from the fair in early September.

It would make a fair amount of kumihimo cord, but that again leaves the question of what to do with it, since (like spun yarn), it's usually not considered a final object. That's not always true, of course; I saw someone wearing one of my skeins as a necklace a couple of months ago. I'm not sure which is stranger -- her wearing a silken skein as a necklace, or the fact that I recognized it as my work, totally out of context and half a year after I sold it.

#484 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:31 PM:

P J Evans @ 477: It wasn't even that long ago. The census shows a dramatic white flight from 1990 to 2010, with the white percentage dropping from 74% in 1990 to 29% in 2010. I wonder what happened.

Lee @ 460: I would agree that in this case there is of course a racial element to it all. But I'm not convinced that big black guys in combat gear and anger management issues aren't a problem.

#485 ::: Rob Wynne (autographedcat) ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 05:42 PM:

Not wanting to distract from whatever serious topics may be going on, but I need to know:

Jacque @ 153: What happened with the chair?? Followup, please! :)

#486 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Rob Wynne: Oh my goodness. Hi there. Yes, I finally managed to get myself out there (it's a non-trivial trip) about a week and a half after I'd called and noodged them.

Have to say, they did a lovely job. Got it home, got it installed, and my plywood-seat-induced sciatica is slowly but surely healing up!

#487 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 09:09 PM:

Relevant to the Ferguson subthread, the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

#488 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 09:10 PM:

Relevant to the Ferguson subthread, the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

#490 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 10:24 PM:

Steve C, Lee @ 471, 480: This is a fantastic theory they've got: Someone is allegedly shooting at police helicopters, therefore other aircraft aren't allowed in the airspace.

I'm going to call bullshit on that. It only makes sense if it's news copters shooting at cops.

#491 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 10:56 PM:

The Furguson police (or possibly the county police, but who's going to make the distinction?) have just bought themselves a HUGE extra PR problem. They arrested a Washington Post and a Huffington Post reporter for the "crime" of not leaving a McDonalds fast enough. And assaulted at least one of them. AND refused to give a name or badge number.

What's that saying? Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel? You've got to admire their completeness, though: arresting a reporter for a major Old School ink newspaper and also a reporter for a major New School newsblog? That takes a certain genius...

#492 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 10:58 PM:

It's an excuse for keeping the news choppers out of video range.
(I didn't say it was a good excuse.)

#493 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 11:01 PM:

The local authorities - whoever is in charge of this particular flustercluck - don't seem to be aware how fast news spreads these days. Or the fact that cell phones transmit photos to people who aren't nearby, and can spread them really, really fast really far.

I've seen some of those photos. It's clearly an occupying force.

#494 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 12:05 AM:

If there's any justice, Missouri will have lots of highly experienced bad-attitude mall cops by Christmas.

#495 ::: Wyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 12:12 AM:

clew @17: squee! Barber's _Women's work_ is one of my favourite non-fiction books, in both subject and style. Both book and hands-on research, about distant times and cultures and places, written for laypeople, about a topic that rarely gets any attention at all. Sometime I would like to make/acquire one of the string skirts she discusses, because they sound like so much fun to wear.

#496 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 03:29 AM:

Re: Ferguson. "On August 14, 2014, citizens across America will gather in solidarity to hold vigils and observe a moment of silence to honor victims of Police Brutality". Search for #NMOS14. There are events planned in many cities.

#497 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 08:38 AM:

In light of Abi's opening remarks I was amused to come across a troglodyte I know of proclaiming that "Men are the ones who take nature's bounty and make civilization with it. Women can't do that." Sure enough, when he gets down to listing basic needs, clothing isn't among them.

#498 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 09:09 AM:

C. Wingate, that article is...I can't really think of a single word to adequately describe it. For one thing, it's less than clear which bits were written by whom.

What really makes me giggle is that it seems very concerned with pointing out that a lone woman can't maintain civilization. Well, no, but neither can a lone man.

I think what's needed is a series of books on how to rebuild civilization. (This book purports to be that, but isn't; it's too heavy on the theoretical.)

#499 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 09:57 AM:

At this point, I'm wondering what excuses are left for those who want to whitesplain black and Latino distrust of the police?

#500 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 10:54 AM:

I have some Thoughts on Ferguson

But now I am for heiing myself to LonCon.

#501 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 11:07 AM:

And while I'm on right-wing jackasses, there's this: coal rolling.

#502 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Now here's an image for a writing exercise: buildings wrapped in silvery foil in a forest, their sides awash with golden light as fires consume the trees.

#503 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 11:30 AM:

(Would have worked better if the link had followed, drat - must get better at HTML)

Link to the silver foil-wrapped buildings here:

#504 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 12:29 PM:

Open-threaded Feeling Old? dept:

Mark Hamill, currently filming the new Star Wars movie, is now the same age as Alec Guinness was when A New Hope was filmed.

#505 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 12:41 PM:

Nancy #474:

It seems to me that there is a lot more visible discussion of police brutality and impunity and militarization now than when I was younger. My best guess is that this is largely due to cellphone video. Before that, it was mostly "the police say this guy resisted arrest, he says they kicked the crap out of him for mouthing off, who knows who's telling the truth." Now it's "the police say this guy resisted arrest, here's the video of the police kicking the crap out of him for mouthing off." That's a prerequisite for political action--the problem is *visible* to a much larger chunk of the population now.

However, there's another element to the problem. Along with being wrapped around the axle on racial issues as a society, we're similarly wrapped around the axle on the relationship between civilians and the police, and more broadly on the relationship between normal people and authority figures. There is a *lot* of tendency to defer to authorities in every area of life in the US, much more than you'd expect from our individualistic rhetoric as a nation. You can see that in the usual comments to police-beating cases with videos, where at least some fraction of people will justify pretty much anything done by the cops with "well, you shouldn't have mouthed off/resisted arrest/looked threatening." And you can see it from media sources quite often--think of the widespread anger from lots of media types to the story that ended McCrystal's career.

So long as a lot of people are going to back the guy with the uniform or badge or the authority figure in every conflict, it will be very hard to push back on police abuses or demand accountability. You can see the same dynamic in many other issues.

#506 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 12:42 PM:

Wyn @ 495

Barber's _Women's work_ is one of my favourite non-fiction books.... Sometime I would like to make/acquire one of the string skirts she discusses, because they sound like so much fun to wear.

I love Barber for the "popularizing" aspect (that you mentioned in the part I snipped), but one could wish that she were more plugged in to the existing state-of-the-research on both the historic and technological sides. There are more than a few face-palm moments where she excitedly "discovers" something that would be old-hat to folks with experience. (A random specific example: concluding only after practical experimentation that if a check weave has a regularly repeated thread-block count in on direction and a randomly varying count in the other direction, the randomly varying one is the weft.)

If you'd like I can provide you with an extensive bibliography of publications covering the northern European Bronze Age "string skirts" with production details. (That entire class of textile finds is something I decided to be exhaustive about tracking down at one point.) There are definitely publications that give you enough info and diagrams to create your own.

#507 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 12:50 PM:


You'd think arresting journalists would be a losing strategy, but I'm not sure it always is--especially if the journalists were otherwise going to report on worse stuff than arresting journalists. How did that work out for the people who preemptively arrested protesters and journalists before the RNC convention in St Paul a few years back? Weren't there some journalists arrested in some of the Occupy protests, too?

Also, I very strongly suspect that all the decision makers in Ferguson are running on several days of little sleep, lots of stress, and lots of caffeine and adrenaline. They're probably making really lousy decisions, and the cops on the street are probably making still worse decisions. (Especially if they're given lousy guidance from on high.) So it may be a stupid thing to do to arrest journalists (or maybe not--see above), but this may not be obvious right now to the people doing or ordering the arrests.

#508 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 01:09 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 499

I'm wondering what excuses are left for those who want to whitesplain black and Latino distrust of the police?

I will guess that the set of excuses will overlap conceptually (though differ in detail) with the set of excuses for those who want to "statesplain" classical liberal/rule-of-law distrust of the state. (This would fit current patterns.) That is, a mix of:
1) You people are stupid
2) Also, you just want to have power yourself and wouldn't use it any better
3) Also, someone who is in some sense vaguely on your side once did XYZ heinous thing
4) Also, you people are evil
4) I can't--it's illegal? Watch me. I'll just make something up, and people will fall all over themselves to make up excuses for me once I make it clear that if you don't, I can make your life miserable.

#509 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 01:17 PM:


I liked most of your post[1]. I have this uninformed suspicion that a big part of the problem in Ferguson and in a lot of other places is that they're trained and equipped for some kind of paramilitary anti-terrorism response, which is all wrong for dealing with angry protesting citizens. I don't know how representative any of the pictures I've seen from the news are of the situation, but they look *awful*--exactly like an occupying army terrorizing the locals.

And this whole dynamic, like I said above, is a common pattern. What I don't know is how representative it is--most interactions with the police don't end up with anyone getting shot, most police shootings don't trigger protests, most protests go off peacefully, and in all those cases, I probably never even hear about the whole thing.

#510 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 01:22 PM:

Lost footnote:

I think the bit at the end about Bundy's supporters was a cheap shot. There is not some rule that says that if you ever protest any injustice[1], you must protest all injustices, or even all injustices of the same kind. Nor is there any obvious way to even poll what Bundy's supporters think about the standoff in Ferguson.

[1] From what little I know of Bundy's case, he didn't really suffer any injustice, but he and his supporters seem to think he did.

#511 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 01:30 PM:

Lenora Rose:

Sorry, I have no idea why I keep misspelling your name.

Lenora Rose, Lee, John, etc.:

Yes, I'm extremely cynical that any positive change will happen from this. This seems to fit a pattern that happens every so often, and I don't think we generally get an improvement as a result.

The morality of the looting and rioting has no connection at all with the morality of the police shooting. (Nor do any of us here know exactly whether the shooting was justified or not--the problem is that there are good reasons to doubt that the police investigation into the shooting will be willing to say the shooting was not justified, even if it clearly was not.) But it does fit this dismal pattern, and I don't think it will end well for the people living in Ferguson.

#512 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 01:34 PM:

#505 ::: albatross

I agree, but I also believe that overton windows can be moved.

Folks, do you think it would be fair to say that a lot of the police want the respect due to soldiers without taking the risks?

#513 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 01:52 PM:

Nancy #512 - if you even have to ask that sort of question, then your police 'service' is in a bad way, internally and externally with respect to the public it is supposed to serve.

As far as I understand it, policing in the USA is a somewhat high risk job;
but having searched online I found this:
which put number of deaths at 111 in 2013, which is much higher than in the UK even allowing for population, and that doesn't count the number injured in work, which certainly in the UK is perhaps higher than people would like.

And thanks to modern medicine and body armour the risks are lower. And yet how many soldiers are actually killed outside the front line of a warzone?

In the good old days not so long ago, police were automatically accorded a certain level of respect simply for the job they were in, at least here in the UK.

#514 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 01:54 PM:

A fair percentage of police officers are former military - I've seen figures as high as 20% or more. For someone discharged from the military in the past few years during the recession, a police job can be quite attractive.

#515 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 02:12 PM:

If you'd like I can provide you with an extensive bibliography of publications covering the northern European Bronze Age "string skirts" with production details.

:raises hand like Hermione:

#516 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 02:17 PM:

This site says "In 2011, according to data I collected, police officers in the United States shot 1,146 people, killing 607" and goes on to report that 95% are ruled justifiable.

#517 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 02:57 PM:


The problem is, that statistic by itself doesn't tell us what fraction of police shootings really are justified. For all I know, maybe 95% really are justified, though I have some pretty profound doubts about that, for many of the reasons described in the blog post you linked to. I mean, there are clearly times the police need to shoot someone--like if the person is shooting at them. A lot of other times, the shooting looks very suspicious (like an unarmed victim getting shot in the back), but really, the only way to figure out for sure what happened is to do a real, independent investigation.

To put the numbers in some context, there were about 12,600 murders that year, and about 8,600 gun murders that year. So the police shootings (607 according to your linked article) were a significant fraction of the total gun murders. But again, we don't know what fraction of the police shootings should have been counted as murder, which is the information we need.

My impression is that the number of police shootings is partly a function of what our population looks like (lots of people with guns, quite a bit of violent crime), but also of the way we do policing in the US. But I don't really know enough to be entitled to an opinion about that.

I think the problem is actually bigger than police shootings, though. Shootings are spectacular and horrible and galvanizing, but they're also very rare. What's much more common is police harassment, stopping someone and hassling them a bit, perhaps even beating them up for insufficient deference. But while cellphone video has made this much more visible to middle-class white people like me who seldom have any interaction with the police at all, it doesn't tell us how common those things are.

I keep thinking that the biggest problem here is one of oversight. Media and angry citizens can only do so much to provide meaningful oversight of the police, and the official oversight mechanisms don't look to be particularly effective or reliable.

#518 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 03:04 PM:

C. Wingate @501

How long before the first coal-roller is charged with negligent homicide, I wonder? I've seen some videos that show "coal rollers" deliberately literally engulfing other moving vehicles (usually Priuses or bicyclists) in opaque smoke. That's some seriously dangerous behavior.

#519 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Well, here in the UK, the introduction of managerialism as a panacea for trust and related issues in the police (Such as racism, sexism etc) isn't that great. It's helped get some more statistics on the racial disaparities of those stopped and searched; on the other hand the police in, IIRC Glasgow, admitted making up some of their stops and searches because the managers, sorry, senior officers demanded they meet the targets, which in turn were put in by politicians trying to control things.
But even with the meddling, something like a third of those searched were subsequently arrested, which compares favourably to numbers I've seen quoted in the USA, like 1 or 5%. Here in the UK there is a place for proper stop and search, i.e. targeted at known previous criminals and those acting suspiciously, as a way of reducing criminal activity. But when your arrest rate on the back of searches is only a few percent, it looks more like they are designed as harrassment by people who equate black with criminal.

On another site someone has pointed out that in many parts of the USA blacks were beaten up on a regular basis by the police for no reason at all. Has this decreased and instead someone is shot and killed every now and then instead? Or is it just that police brutality is glossed over at every opportunity and only the really bad stuff gets noticed?

#520 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 04:44 PM:


I think the majority of police deaths on the job are from cars. Police work in most of the US involves a lot of driving, and often involves pulling people over and then standing on the side of a busy highway writing someone a ticket.

#521 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 06:31 PM:

Albatross - car accidents of some sort:
"Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms. The number of firearms deaths fell 33 percent in 2013 and was the lowest since 1887."

As the article I linked to asks though, why has the number of people shot by police remained so high, when the police themselves are doing okay? Part of that might be that there is a constant level of police work which brings a constant level of interactions between the police and people who they might want to shoot/ who want to shoot officers.
As you point out though, the oversight mechanisms appear to be broken in all too many famous cases, for all the reasons so far given in this and many other websites.

#522 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 06:33 PM:

This has been a sad bad aggravating week, so time for something ludicrous. Perfect dry delivery. Don't be drinking or eating anything.


This was done by the same former 13 year old who did the flash-animation "Animutation" cartoon featuring PeeWee Herman and a fractured interpretation of Japanese pop-song lyrics. ("It's Princess Leia, the Yodel of life; there's a hobo in my room.")

#523 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Lee @480:

While I wasn't really happy with the tone of the message, I did not get "the blame for the deterioration in the area was being placed squarely on the 'opportunistic looting'" out of it. I got "...and in the end, the opportunistic looting will screw the area even worse than it was, while encouraging the police to be even more <disemvowel>sshlsh<disemvowel> next time". And, cynically, I wondered how much of that looting was in some way encouraged by the police, precisely for that outcome?

Guthrie @519:
or Hispanic (think Arizona) or .... It's about keeping the "wrong" parts of society "in their place".

Some corner of my mind is wondering how long before that kind of thing starts being openly directed at women. Yes, I am becoming that cynical about the direction the U.S. is headed.

#524 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 10:26 PM:

I should perhaps also say that I got the impression that the looting was not, shall we say, an organic part of the whole thing; thus my cynical reaction wondering about the police's involvement.

#525 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 10:41 PM:

So the US military provides equipment to the police for free. Representative Hank Johnson is introducing a bill to stop that. As someone who has long been unhappy about the increasing militarization of the police (particularly in regards to no-knock raids and asset forfeiture), I say that's a good start.

#526 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 11:07 PM:

Heard part of a news story on NPR this evening; with the change in police authority in Ferguson, the atmosphere (according to a reporter on the ground) was very different. No riot police; no tear gas; no confrontation. Police, where you saw them at all, were not confrontational; they were walking through the crowd, chatting. I'll be interested to hear tomorrow whether there was any real trouble tonight (unlike the last four nights).

Looks like if the police go looking for trouble, they find it....

#527 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 11:42 PM:

Heard a news report that someone needed medical attention in the crowd today, and a couple of police cruisers went to help (a big change from two days ago when the police specifically warned media members they wouldn't be answering 911 calls). The crowd closed in around the police cars, the cops inside opened their doors, and leaned out with their hands over their heads, which has been the sign the protesters have been using. The crowd let them through, and presumably the sick or injured person got to the hospital.

Who'da thunk it? Treat the protesters with understanding, and they're likely to reciprocate. Tear gas them in their own front yards? Hmm, ever heard of Stand Your Ground?

Meanwhile the police chief who'd been attacking with riot gear, tear gas, beanbag guns, and rubber bullets says that Ferguson is a "powder keg" and that blaming the violence on the police is an insult. Somehow I don't think that's how the state highway troopers see it. News coverage tonight looks more like a giant block party (with lots and lots of honking) than a violent protest. And far from a curfew, the state troopers are saying that if the protesters want to protest around the clock, that's fine with them.

#528 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 05:26 AM:

Geekosaur #524 - th elooting that occured during the rioting in London and elsewhere a couple of years ago was certainly opportunistic. Quite a lot of those convicted had no previous convictions for anything at all, but when they noticed shops broken open succumbed to the temptation.

Also I thought that sort of thing was alreayd being directed at women who want to get abortions or suchlike? From the outside it looks like you've got the usual loud minority problem of people who want to control women.

#529 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 07:50 AM:

One of the more disturbing images from Ferguson: Not graphic, but very telling.

#530 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 12:10 PM:

Posted on Facebook yesterday by Neil Gaiman...

"Watched Deep Breath, the first new Doctor Who Episode tonight. Peter Capaldi is glorious as the 12th, not-cuddly Doctor. An utter delight."

#531 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 12:35 PM:

Terry, thank you for your posts.

#532 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 01:27 PM:

AKICIML: Any recommendations on alarm clocks that wake you gradually? My old (regular) alarm clock died several months ago. I've been using the alarm on my iPhone, and don't like that shutting it off leaves it off. That is, I have to remember to arm it every day -- and I forgot yesterday. Not catastrophic this morning, but I'd like a new alarm clock and as long as I'm getting one, thought I'd see about one that wakes me more gently.

Something that only makes a low-pitched sound, gradually getting louder, isn't what I want. That will probably wake my husband before it wakes me, and he doesn't need to get up until after I do. I know that a clock radio will always wake him up, and only sometimes wake me.

I see some alarm clocks that turn a light on low, increase the brightness gradually, and then start playing a sound. I think the light would wake me enough that the sound would wake me up. I also see at least one iPhone app that notes how much you're moving, uses that to judge where you are in your sleep cycle, and will wake you a bit early (before the alarm time set) in order to wake you when you're in a light sleep phase.

The iPhone app I saw is Sleep Cycle. The main vendor of light-increasing alarm clocks seems to be Philips, with 4 models.

#534 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 02:31 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 533: I only recently discovered Rosemary Kirstein's wonderful series. I learned of it reading Jo Walton's "What Makes This Book So Great". I've already read the first two, and am catching up on my book groups before diving into the next one.

#535 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 02:42 PM:

janetl @532: Any recommendations on alarm clocks that wake you gradually?

I've tried the light-based gradual alarm clock, and I didn't like it. I'm a night person, so I'm perfectly capable of ignoring ambient light and keep sleeping (even though it still measurably stresses me out). My main problem is that it provides frankly indoor light, whereas I think I would need something that would simulate outdoor light, like a lighting panel that covers the windows or something. But I know people who have them and like them.

I've actually finally found a solution I'm happy with. My current (self-setting, yay!) clock-radio has a receiver that's actually strong enough to pull in the local classical music public radio station.

I tune the volume depending how urgently I want it to wake me. Also, I have it set for a few minutes before my nominal wake-up time. If I need/want to, I can sleep on through it, or drift in and out until I feel like getting up.

It'll go for an hour and then shut itself off. It also has a button to shut off the radio without turning off the alarm, in addition to the traditional "snooze" button.

Altogether, it has vastly improved my experience of waking up in the morning. That I've developed a crush on the morning DJ doesn't hurt. :-)

I also have a clock-radio that will play a CD, so one could in principle pre-record sound to fit one's desired characteristics, including volume variation, whatever that might be. If you can identify a sound that will reliably wake you, but not disturb your husband, this might be a solution. I think they also now make alarm clocks that take input form iPods and suchlike, too.

I'll be interested to hear what you come up with.

#536 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Coffee Häagen Dazs, anyone?

#537 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 03:39 PM:

Carrie S. @ 515 (and Wyn @ 495 again)

I've sent myself a reminder to post the Bronze Age string skirt info on my blog. I'll put a link to it here when it's live, but if you just want to bookmark and keep an eye peeled, it's

#538 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 05:25 PM:

re 532/535: We use a CD player clock with a disk of Arbeau, generally queued up on "Belle Qui". And one of the dangers of using the classical station: one Sunday when we were still in the apartment, the clock radio clicked on, and it started to play "The Stars and Stripes Forever".

#539 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 05:58 PM:

I have a no solution for the slowly increasing light intensity, but I did once have what seems to be called a plug-in timer, which I plugged a light into, and that helped me get up. If you wanted to be aggressive you could get an LED gooseneck clip-on lamp and point it at your side of the bed. (My wife has one of those and it seems to be fairly heavy on the blue side of the spectrum. As discussed sometime earlier on Making Light, that is the "keep you awake/get you up" set of wavelengths. I think it is this one.)

#540 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 08:15 PM:

Serge Broom @530, much as I hate to contradict Neil Gaiman (who is a very nice and gracious gentleman).... aren't we on Doctor #14? Original Doctor + 12 Regenerations = 13 Doctors... and we're on the first Doctor of the Regeneration Reboot. Have I miscounted?

#541 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 08:31 PM:

janetl: We use Sleep Cycle in this house and I like it. It has a huge range of "alarm" tones it can use, of varying aggressiveness, and when it triggers it starts very quiet and crescendoes. You can what the front of it (I think it needs a double-tap) to engage a snooze if you think you need it to bug you again.

Also it makes lovely graphs and time sequences to track your sleep, which comfort me (I'm a nerd, I take comfort in datasets). Also you can make custom special circumstance tag - it suggests "worked out" and "stressful day"; I added "took diphenydramine", for example - and it will sort that night's sleep accordingly, so you can see whether, on average, you got better or worse sleep when a given condition pertained.

My quibbles: It can only put one tag on a given sleep session, and it handles naps awkwardly (it expects one sleep session per day). Also, if you wake and get up in the night (bathroom, for example, or in my case to get the kid back to sleep), you need to pick up your phone and take it with you to be certain it knew you woke up. It's pretty good at spotting toss-and-turn poor sleep, but get-up register as "asleep" to it because the bed is still, and if I set the phone before reading myself to sleep, I put the phone face up on my chest until I'm nodding off (because lying still and reading can look to it like you fell asleep before you did).

#542 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 09:11 PM:

Cassy B (540): Capaldi is officially the Twelfth Doctor, although John Hurt messes up the count. Eccleston was Nine, Tennant was Ten, and Smith was Eleven. (Hurt would presumably be 8a. Or do I mean 8b?)

#543 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 09:21 PM:

People appear to be referring to Hurt as the War Doctor.

#544 ::: Wyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 10:37 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @506, 537: that sounds good! Myself, I always saw that story about the counts as her both laughing at herself, and explaining why studio time is so fruitful when studying how to do things, compared to theory. The more you do things, the more you realize *why* they are done certain ways. Architectural trim, for instance, not only looks pretty, but often gives a method to either hide a gap or join pieces elegantly. Detailing something to be "plain" can be a lot more work.

janetl @532: I have had two good gradual alarm clocks. I have the basic Philips conical wake-up light, which is easy to use yet still fairly customizable. I'm a night person and with it, mornings suck considerably less than with a sudden shrill alarm, and somewhat less than with a gradual sound alarm. I still do not like getting up in the morning, but I am less painfully asleep when it's time to get up. Reasons I got this model, aside from reviews, were it being the lowest-priced reputable and available-in-Canada option, and the reports that you can change the moderately-standard lightbulb when it burns out.

I also had a rather awesome alarm clock from Oregon Scientific which they don't seem to make anymore. On top of a gradual alarm (with multiple sounds to pick from), its schtick was that it could set 2 different alarms each day of the week plus more per day, or spontaneous ones, or turn them ALL off. (This was before most people had smartphones with these functions.) Plus customizable snooze features, including it getting shorter and shorter, or turning off snooze entirely.

#545 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 11:42 PM:

Cassy B @540, Mary Aileen @ 542, etc:

Steven Moffatt seems to have claimed in the lastChristmas special that the "I didn't really quite regenerate" regeneration at the end of Series 4 (With the Doctor-Donna and all the weird side effects) was in fact the a full regeneration* and therefore between the War Doctor and that event, Matt Smith was actually the 13th regeneration**, making Capaldi 14.

But everyone CALLS Matt Smith 11 and Hurt the War Doctor (Or something else) so by verbal convention, Capaldi is 12.

* That Russell T. Davies, who was in charge at the time and wrote the story, says otherwise, may or may not be a relevant point. I'm inclined to side with Davies, myself.

** If you missed this bit of dialogue, that could be because the Christmas Special was also an incoherent mess that rather ruined the excellence of the 50th anniversary just preceding it.

#546 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 11:47 PM:

janetl: My husband uses Sleep Cycle and seems to like it, but it does need to be set every day (Although, being on his phone, with which he fidgets often, that seems easier to remember than it does as a separate clock radio. He tends to leave the phone on the pillow if he won't be using it in the evening.)

He ALSO has an ordinary clock radio set to a talk radio station, which will switch on at his official alarm time (IE, after sleep cycle should have gone off once or twice.) And he still groans and whimpers out of bed of a morning.

So do I, but my alarm is toddler shaped.

#547 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2014, 01:28 AM:

Janetl: I use Timely Alarm Clock, an app for my Android phone. It has a "Smart Rise" feature, where it starts making noise, softly, up to a half hour before the alarm time, giving your body a chance to gradually come up to close-to-awakeness before the alarm goes off for reals.

I accidentally turned on that setting once, and a half hour before I wanted to get up, I awoke, going "where is that music coming from?" Not the intended effect, but your mileage may vary.

Unfortunately, Timely Alarm Clock appears to be Android-only, but this article on Lifehacker about alarm clock apps on phones says that Timify is similar to an app called Rise, but I have no idea how good it is. Lifehacker also recommends iPhone apps called "Wake" and "ZenAwake".

#548 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2014, 01:50 AM:

Meanwhile, open-threadiness: glorious googly-eye high heels and nail art. Though perhaps the nails' basecoat colour ought to be... oh, you know.

#549 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2014, 06:18 AM:

Has "Willy Wonka is The Doctor!" made the rounds here yet? That was Reddit, here's a flashier graphical version.

#550 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2014, 10:28 PM:

A thing which may be of some interest here: “I am almoost beshytten”: A 16th Century English to Latin Textbook. An early 16th century English-to-Latin phrasebook, digitized by the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. Not a joke, and amazing.

#551 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2014, 10:59 PM:

janetl: I have one of the Phillips light-increasing alarm clocks, and like it quite well. I find it particularly useful in the winter when my workday wake up time is well before sunrise. My husband has requested that I use it on weekends as well, since he says I wake up in a better mood when I use it.

The model I have starts increasing light 30 minutes before the set alarm, although this may be adjustable. There are six alarm sounds to choose from -- I prefer the one that's a combo of nature sounds and new agey flute music. (I'm too likely to keep sleeping through the nature sounds by themselves.) There may also be a way to use the radio as the alarm tone, but I never use that option (I get annoyed by all stations but classical that early in the day, and am likely to sleep through the classical station). The music starts quietly, and increases in volume.

The snooze functionality is odd. You tap on the edge of the light panel, but I'm still not sure what constitutes "edge" and sometimes miss.

There are two programmable alarms, so I keep one set for the workday time, and use the other for weekends and various irregularities.

There is also a sleep timer setting, which I like if I want to make sure I don't stay up all night reading. This setting will start the light at full brightness and gradually dim. At about one-third to one-quarter brightness, I can no longer read a paper book, but can still see well enough to put the book away without dropping or losing it.

#552 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2014, 11:55 PM:

Singing Wren, Jacque, Elliott Mason, Wyn, Buddha Buck, Lenora Rose -- Thank you for all the information on alarm clocks & apps!

#553 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 08:02 AM:

Julie L, 538: those googly fingers are terrifying. I am disturbed. It's a brilliant idea.

#554 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 09:01 AM:

Ate my first real (large, boiled hard outsides, NYC area) in years. Mmmmmm.

I should arrange to bring a fresh batch back to Portland.

#555 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 09:47 AM:

Stefan Jones @554, object missing. Perhaps it was a bagel you ate...? (Only food I can think of with a boiled-hard outside, other than an egg, and I'm sure you can get eggs in Portland...)

#556 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 10:12 AM:

I used the Sleep Cycle app on my iPhone last night. It seemed to wake me up at a suitable time, but as it's the weekend and I had it set a bit later than usual, it's not surprising that I was already waking up a bit. The app also integrates with Philips Hue programmable LED light bulbs, so that could be quite fun (and expensive) to play with.

#557 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 10:26 AM:

Hmm. The Hue lightbulbs are not just very expensive, they are only 600 lumens. That's less than a typical 60W incandescent. I'll hold off until they are bright enough for reading.

#558 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 11:17 AM:

I find I often remark to myself internally, "C'mon, sleep cycle, why are you waking me up NOW, I've been lying here down thinking about getting up for a little while!" Which is precisely why it buzzed me up then, of course. :-)

#559 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 03:22 PM:

Cassy B. @ 555 ...
Stefan Jones @554, object missing. Perhaps it was a bagel you ate...? (Only food I can think of with a boiled-hard outside, other than an egg, and I'm sure you can get eggs in Portland...)

Cassy B - perhaps it was the little known and nearly extinct Greater Nova Yerech tortoise which, as everybody knows, must be boiled to toughen the soft shell, which then provides the classic 'crunch' to go with the delectably soft insides ...

#560 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 05:31 PM:

Looking over the Hugo voting PDF, I notice that Sarah Webb won "Best Fan Artist" on the first round of balloting. I.e.: she had more first-place votes than all four other nominees put together! Is this unprecedented?

#561 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 06:45 PM:

David Goldfarb @560, I think I can explain why; off all the nominees, only two were in the Hugo Packet. And of the two, she was (in my opinion) the better artist.


#562 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 07:36 PM:

I have seen the Hugo awards list, and I can collapse in relief!

#564 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 09:21 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 560

Looking over the Hugo voting PDF, I notice that Sarah Webb won "Best Fan Artist" on the first round of balloting. I.e.: she had more first-place votes than all four other nominees put together! Is this unprecedented? (Sorry to quote the entire thing!)

Well, in the "working notes" section on my Hugo voting spreadsheet, after her name I have, "Whoa! Why isn't she pro?"

Cassy B. @ 561

Are you sure? My Hugo voting packet had art from three of the the Fan Artist nominees, but examples for the other two nominees were quite easy to find on-line.

#565 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 09:42 PM:

xeger @559: the classic 'crunch' to go with the delectably soft insides...


#566 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 10:47 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 563 ...


#567 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2014, 11:06 PM:

I'm just pleased that the winners for all the major professional Hugo categories were the people I voted in first place. I didn't vote for Samatar for the Campbell Award, because I liked Gladstone's world-building better. But that was a tough category to vote it; ALL the nominees were very good. (And I didn't vote for Best Movie (I know, I know, "Dramatic Presentation Long Form") because I haven't seen Gravity.) I was seriously pleased to see that "Time" won best graphic story.

#568 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 02:31 AM:

I did vote for Samatar for first place, so I'm pleased to see her win.

The Best Novel award followed my preferences extremely closely: my first choice won, my second choice took second, and so on all the way down to last. Unusually good taste among the voters. :-)

None of my first choices in the shorter categories won, but I didn't really think "Wakulla Springs" was going to take it, and I'm not unhappy with any of the winners. Darn good year for, I must say!

#569 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 02:31 AM:

I did vote for Samatar for first place, so I'm pleased to see her win.

The Best Novel award followed my preferences extremely closely: my first choice won, my second choice took second, and so on all the way down to last. Unusually good taste among the voters. :-)

None of my first choices in the shorter categories won, but I didn't really think "Wakulla Springs" was going to take it, and I'm not unhappy with any of the winners. Darn good year for, I must say!

#570 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 02:32 AM:

Grr. I didn't do ANYTHING that would have caused a double post there. Honest.

#571 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 08:03 AM:

Heather Rose Jones@564, Cassy B@561

The "Fan Artist" category was one of the categories listed as having new material in a June 10 entry in the "News" sidebar on the Loncon3 home page.

#572 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 08:58 AM:

Michael I @571, ah. Well, I relied on their emails. I had no reason to check the Loncon website, since it would only tease me with what I wasn't going to be there to experience...

#573 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 09:32 AM:

I forgot to mention that last week saw the publication by Tor of "Black Ice", the 2nd fantasy novel by Susan Krinard, aka my wife.

#574 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 11:21 AM:


You may be interested to know that if one buys Black Ice they "may like" Mist.

At least according to the little list B&N prints out along with its receipts.

#575 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Michael I @ 574... Good suggestion they're making there since "Mist" is Part One. :-)

#576 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 12:03 PM:

Carol Witt @ 426: books are much denser than the average of objects moved; this won when I was logisticizing the NESFA Press table at Glasgow, but can bite during a normal move. I remember Mark Olson talking about how hard it was to persuade some container-moving company(*) to tell him how much weight their containers could take; we half-filled two containers based on my samples of what book boxes weighed. (They had a \huge/ collection -- not MITSFS or Ackerman level, but bigger than I've ever witnessed in a private collection.)
   * I'm blanking on the name but I see them all over Boston -- sometimes for moving, sometimes just cheap added storage.

Terry @ 430: I understand the difference between a crude tanker and an oiler (or whatever jargon navies use now). However, that $70/ton was in small lots, and a fuel carrier is a capital expense, with smaller crew needs than a fighting ship; how high are the continuing expenses and amortization? Are new refuelers F35-class supertoys rather than workhorses?

Sandy B @ 437: Solar thermal may not \need/ as many generations as PV; it's more molar/physical engineering than electronic, so it's probably better understood and less subject to new discoveries.

Fragano @ 470: that's somewhat overstating Ferguson. The town was originally mostly white (due to flight from the racial shift in St. Louis); the power structure hasn't been caught up to the population, but this doesn't seem to have been as deliberate as in Boston (which still has to beg the state legislature to allow things most cities decide on, because <crude explanation>WASP legislators passed laws when they saw Irish and Italian immigrants starting to be significant in the city</>. ISTM that suppressed peoples don't automatically know how to compete in an existing power structure; even if they have support networks in an immediate neighborhood, that doesn't translate to the larger scale (and compromising?) needed to get a proper share of power. (cf an MLK line about not expecting someone to be competitive in a race when their chains have just been struck off; cf also the first vaguely-free Egyptian election, in which two left-by-local-standards candidates finished 3rd and 4th, leaving the finals to a reactionary and a non-sharer.)

PNH's latest particle complements albatross@509 and BDurbin@525: due to equipment turnover (gotta keep the arms factories running) and the Global War on Terrorism, municipal police departments have sagans of military-class materiel, which too many of them feel they have to use (e.g., to make up for not having the training that Terry describes).

Steve C @ 514: sometimes the %age is much higher; e.g., almost all of the Boston police force in the early 1920's, after then-governor Coolidge fired strikers en masse. The effect of this on turnover (mostly age-induced) were still apparent when I moved to Boston in 1971.

David Goldfarb @ 560: unprecedented in most categories, IIRC. However, Dramatic Presentation has had several cases (all three Rings movies despite the last one being opposite the first Pirates, Who Framed Roger Rabbit). The cynic in me says this is because most DP is so weak that an occasional good piece stands out much more. (cf also 1977, the last time No Award won anywhere; A New Hope came out before most ballots were cast, so I figure most voters saw what could be and dissed a typical set of nominees.)

I live in Brighton (NW Boston-proper) and will be watching for plans of a mini-GoL; not sure I can make it since we're getting into chorus-rehearsal season and my this-summer bucket list still has items on it. (And, as the above pileup shows, I don't check in nearly often enough.)

#577 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 01:17 PM:

CHip @576: the military equipment situation in the police forces is even a bit worse than "they feel they have to use it" -- it's often given/sold to them with the stipulation that it has to be used within the first year, at least according to an NPR report I heard in the last couple of days. No citation directly available from me, but it should be googleable.

#578 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 01:33 PM:

Re: Hugo Awards -- I often feel that my tastes are out-of-line with the zeitgeist, but I had some interesting feedback on that topic. Out of the 16 categories I voted in (didn't vote in short dramatic), my #1 or #2 pick won in 12 of them. Of the 4 fiction-by-length categories, my top 3 picks were the top 3 finishers. So maybe not so out-of-line after all. (Yes, I'm a numbers geek, so I look at these things.)

#579 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 03:23 PM:

Solar thermal @576: I worked for rFbyne and I have a little information. The goal price-per-watt for the mirrors [not including the boiler, steam turbine, generator, software, etc.] was higher than the current average price-per-watt for utility-scale PV, everything inside the fence included.

If someone put $20 billion dollars behind a Germany-style push ("We're going to buy the first, most expensive, few gigawatts of power. Go build it." ) economies of scale might be able to let solar thermal compete. But they might have to buy more power, and they might have to spend more than $20 billion.

There have been a lot of new discoveries in solar. I don't know how many of them are applicable to general manufacturing, but peak solar efficiencies have gone up almost uniformly by 3 percentage points since the 2011 MIT Open Courseware course. (So technology X went from 14% to 17%, technology Y went from 21% to 24%, etc.)

It's a tough roadrunner to catch.

#580 ::: zanzjan ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 06:07 PM:

Delurking from the middle of Worldcon Dead Dog party, having just bid Abi farewell, to post a probably stupid question that has been haunting my sleep-deprived brain for much of the con:

Is there a term for the number (presumably both unknowable and a constant moving target) that represents, at any given moment, the highest quantity of any one distinct item in the universe? Ie, the number above which nothing real can be described?

#581 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Two Hugo-ceremony-adjacent comments:

* is it just me, or has nobody posted a photo of what this year's Hugo bases look like? I spent over fifteen minutes clicking around the Hugo official site and Google it another eight ways, and nada.

* was that Patrick giving the Mornington play from King Rat?

#582 ::: zanzjan ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 07:02 PM:

Second question is a yes. As for the first, I thought I'd seen a @loncon3 tweet w/ a base pic earlier in the weekend, but I could be wrong.

#583 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 08:15 PM:

Somebody tweeted, hang on, here:

#584 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 08:43 PM:

Huh, so that's a Gherkin reference and.... lunar soil? Esque?

#585 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 10:06 PM:

Zanjan: I think we should call it Zanjan's Number.

#586 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2014, 10:28 PM:

zanzjan -- to a great extent, the size of the number depends on what you mean by "item". For each unique item, there is indeed only one of it: so the term you actually asked for is "one". For each type of item, there may be more members in the set, depending on how the set is defined. There was a concept floating around for a while that there is, in fact, only one electron. It just travels in time (which led to the concept that there might be only one soul, and it's reincarnated randomly in time, with a very faulty memory wipe between each incarnation...).

#587 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 09:46 AM:

Fun with Latin:

Bellum civilem invenivi cum mea soror Aurien me venenaverat.

I am fairly sure I used the correct tenses (the one was listed as "action which was completed before another completed action"), less so that I got the right forms for them. And clearly "bellum" is in the accusative, but is the adjective supposed to be as well?

#588 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 10:04 AM:

Word of the week: Bárðarbunga

What it actually is, an Icelandic volcano that has been very restless in the last few days. It might erupt but it might not.

For the geekily inclined, here's a map of the quakes in the last 48 hours:

and coverage from the main Icelandic news agency in English (they have more coverage in Icelandic but have also helpfully translated the key news into English)

There have been some major eruptions from the volcanic system that is shaking things up right now but the current activity will hopefully just die down without ever breaking through to the surface or at the very least through the ice cap

#589 ::: zanzjan ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 02:35 PM:

Tom @586: huh. That's an intriguing thought, that requires more thinking upon. (-:

If everyone could send don't-erupt vibes towards Iceland, it'd be much appreciated, as I'm flying back from Worldcon through there this weekend...

#590 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 03:18 PM:

The Eyjafjallajökuls eruption that stopped all the flight was a complete perfect storm of conditions, combining unusual weather patterns with very fine ash and lack of experience in dealing with ash clouds.

Even back in 2011 there was an eruption in the Grímsvötn subglacial volcano that was much more powerful than the Eyjafjallajökuls one but it lasted for a shorter time and the weather and ash was different so it caused much less disruption.

I wouldn't worry too much about flights. The main worry is local atm, glacial outburst floods (jökulhlaup) are a big and unpredictable danger. They've just announced evacuation of the highlands north of the glacier as a just in case measure. It's a big area with very little infrastructure so speedy evacuations would be very difficult.

As an example of a jökulhlaup, back in 1996 there was an eruption in Grímsvötn that eventually resulted in a 3-5m high water wave coming down the glacial river and at peak flow had something like 45.000m3/s flow (normal summer flow in that river is 2-400m3/s for comparison)

If the rumbling in the volcano now goes off the flood would probably go north but into a river that should be able to mostly handle the water. There is a very powerful waterfall in that river (it was used in the beginning of Prometheus if any of you saw that movie) and just thinking of a serious flood going down that waterfall is kind of mindboggling. youtube clip of the waterfall not in flood

#591 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 03:27 PM:

Sica @590, Thank you for the additional detail and context. Not to mention the video. Impressive waterfall...

#592 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 04:47 PM:

Carrie S.@587: Yes, an adjective will have the same case as the noun it modifies.

A very good effort, but neither verb looks quite right to me. You're using invenio for the first, yes? The first person singular perfect form, I'm fairly sure, is inveni rather than invenivi. The second is part of a cum-clause of time, so should be in the imperfect subjunctive rather than the pluperfect indicative: venenaret.

#593 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 05:06 PM:

I wonder how long it's going to be before they can use a big honkin' laser to punch a hole in the side of the cinder cone to get the volcano to erupt where they want it to.

#594 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 05:49 PM:

Jacque @593: Martin Woodhouse's novel Moon Hill starts with the protagonists in a cave on the side of a volcano with a truck full of explosive intended to do that with more conventional means. Unfortunately, they're being fired at by snipers, and the cooling system on the truck has just been taken out of action by a stray bullet.

No, really, that's where it begins -- the first chapter, so it's not really a spoiler. As with much of Woodhouse's writings, most of the novel is taken up with getting them into this situation in a logical manner, as an extended flashback.

zanzjan @589 -- and have you run across 'pataphysics, for which I prefer the definition that it's the study of individual cases rather than generalities? (It's an offshoot of dadaism, and not very many people take it seriously. I find it a useful mental exercise, at times.) There is definitely a philosophical question of whether categories exist innately or are only a matter of our perception. But that's probably a discussion for a very different venue than this!

#595 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 06:15 PM:

David Goldfarb: I picked invenio because it seemed to have the connotation of sudden discovery in the English phrase "The first I knew". not actually sure why I used that particular conjugation, because it seems blindingly obvious now that it should indeed be invenī (though of course Sulien would not have written the macron).

I clearly do not know enough about Latin syntax to be messing around with dependent clauses. :)

OK: Bellum civilem inveni cum mea soror Aurien me venenaret.

For some reason I have the entirely inappropriate urge to put that on a sampler.

#596 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 06:19 PM:

I doubt any kind of explosion or laser would be a good idea around volcanoes. The particular one rumbling right now is under a roughly 500m thick ice sheet, melting our way through that would be sure to trigger a flood anyway. There's a lot of magma on the move in that volcanic system atm but it might just stop and settle in the crust without ever breaking through.

They've just announced a more thorough evacuation north of the glacier. This is NOT because anything has changed, it's more because there were around 2-300 tourists in the area and if it were to erupt/flood there wouldn't be time to get at all those people and do proper evacuation. It would take the water 9 hours-ish to hit closer to the coast so the area north of route 1 is still open (including the waterfall I linked earlier)

Evacuation zone map and news

#597 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Tom Whitmore @594: There is definitely a philosophical question of whether categories exist innately or are only a matter of our perception. But that's probably a discussion for a very different venue than this!

I dunno: perception or reality? Making Light. Open Thread; what could be a more perfect venue?

#598 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 06:40 PM:

HLN: first day of school. Local woman reports: "My Epidemiology class is AWESOME!" Local woman adds that she is glad she decided to do an Epidemiology MPH rather than one of the other 6 no doubt equally worthy but possibly less fun choices.

#599 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 06:49 PM:

Carrie S. #595: You know way more than Google Translate, for sure. This can't be right:
I found my sister with me venenaret Aurien civil war.

#600 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 07:49 PM:

Sica @ 590

I'm glad the video had people in it for scale; my eyes had trouble believing the waterfall was that big! I've seen taller waterfalls, but the sheer volume of water (and sound) was very impressive.

#601 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 07:57 PM:

Dave Harmon: It's the first sentence of The King's Name, "The first I knew of the civil war was when my sister Aurien poisoned me."

In theory, the entire manuscript was written in "Vincan", i.e. Latin, and has been translated into Yalnic/English. I just got a bee in my bonnet to see what the "original" looked like.

#602 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 08:54 PM:

Carrie S. @ 498 -

I bought the e-book you mentioned - theoretical it may be, but I've found it fascinating so far.

And I'd just as soon as keep civilization around with all of its flaws.:)

#603 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 10:07 PM:

To preface this Open Thready link, I am going to say that a) the chance of this patient actually being infected is rather low, and b) if said patient IS infected, all proper precautions are being implemented before symptoms appear, which means secondary infection isn't going to happen.

That being said, I'm due to have a baby at this hospital in the next week or two, so I really don't want to hear about a possible Ebola patient being tested for exposure to the virus at the same hospital. Give a pregnant lady a mental break, huh?

#604 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 10:15 PM:

Carrie S.: I think if I'd been doing it I would have gone for a more literal rendering of the first clause, perhaps Primus bellum civilem cognovi.

#605 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 10:31 PM:

B. Durbin: the only way of contracting it is by direct and intimate contact with infected fluids (not vaporized or airborne).

#606 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 10:36 PM:

Carrie S.: I've been sharing this with my Harvard-trained Classics professor father in law and he said he couldn't call to mind any time a native speaker of Latin wrote a sentence conveying the sentiment in that exact kind of blunt way. I told him what I recall of that novel (that the sentence is written by an Anglo-Saxon-esque alternate world person in that world's Latin... and now he's working through how an Anglo-Saxon might choose to phrase it (by way of Tolkienish modern-English-with-Anglo-Saxon-flavor).

I love my life.

And this thread.

#607 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 11:05 PM:

Elliott, when he lets you know, I'm all ears. I'd also be interested to know how a native Latin speaker might have phrased it.

#608 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 11:16 PM:

Carrie S: a native Latin speaker would phrase it far more specifically ("when I sickened from the drink my sister gave me"), he thinks. The verb you're using for "to poison" is, in his opinion, well formed, but he hasn't seen it used like that in actual fluent texts. Sulien isn't a native speaker of Latin, though, and he thinks your sentence is more plausible for her because of that.

He has gone off into discussions of learning Anglo-Saxon (a current project of his - he's intimidating and awesomely multilingual) and he will probably never actually produce a sentence specimen for you, as his squee lies elsewhere.

#609 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 11:18 PM:

IntimidatingLY, not intimidating, because he is most emphatically never that. :-)

#610 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2014, 11:46 PM:

Jacque @597: It's just -- well, a big can of worms. A very small number of people care passionately each way, and most people never even think of the possibility. Better discussed in person, with appropriate beverages (cue the Philosopher's Drinking Song, Sam).

#611 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 03:45 AM:

Jacque@593 - The big honkin' laser can also be used to open cans of that fermented shark stuff, or perhaps the fermented shark stuff can dissolve the lava all by itself...

(That's mostly just motivated by sharks&lasers and things to do in Iceland when you're Patrick, but I've been trying pickling for the first time in decades, and of the three jars, two appear to be successfully turning into pickles and sauerkraut, while the other appears to be trying to turn into garlic-flavored evil.)

#612 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 04:01 AM:

garlic-flavored evil

Maybe it wants to be durian when it grows up?

#613 ::: Andrew Woode ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 07:10 AM:

Re the Latin poisoning:
presumably Vincan is not-quite-Latin (the Celtic vernaculars seem to be not-quite-Welsh and -Irish), so we have some leeway for variations. That said, in our world it would be 'bellum civile' (not 'civilem'). I was wondering whether a Latin writer would have tried an absolute construction for greater effect: "a sorore Auriena venenata primum scivi bellum civile commotum esse"", literally something like "By sister Aurien having-been-poisoned first I-knew civil war to have been moved" (This is probably wrong in detail in all sorts of ways, and I have made an arbitrary decision as to how to Latinize the name).
The speaker is female which will matter in some translations.

(I was wearing the Glagolitic T-shirt at the Loncon GoL).

#614 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 08:37 AM:

That said, in our world it would be 'bellum civile' (not 'civilem').

I was going to say "Are you sure", and then realized that bellum is a neuter noun.

At least I got the case right! Ah, Latin. I continue to harbor the delusion that I will learn it.

Primus bellum civilem inveni cum mea soror Aurien me venenaret.
first war-neu.sing.acc civil-neu.sing.acc discover-1.ind.imp.sing when poss-1.fem.sing sister.sing.nom Aurien 1st.sing.acc poison-3.subj.imp.sing

Not the best glossing ever, either, I'm sure.

#615 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 09:10 AM:

(trying not to think 'Romanes eunt domus')

#616 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 10:38 AM:

B. Durbin @603: Good luck with your impending baby! (And I concur, the risk is low, but moms-to-be could use a mental break from worry.) My step-grandson is now five months old, starting to eat pureed food-like substances, and beginning to roll (not quite making it every time, and seems to do best with Babtsya (Grandma) rather than anyone else).

#617 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 11:16 AM:

Jacque @ 597 re: Tom @ 594 re: Categories - perception or reality?

I would be happy to argue most vociferously on the side of "yes". (Not "both in all cases", mind you. Just "both".)

#618 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 11:25 AM:

Heather Rose Jones: A spectrum, methinks.

One of the weirder experiences I've had are the occassions when I'm on the verge of waking up, but for some reason, I've gotten confused about my location. It's not until I get my mental map of my (correct) bedroom loaded fully, and my body oriented correctly therein to my mind's eye, that I am finally able to open my eyes and close that last gap to full consciousness.

Which makes it really freakin' obvious how much of getting through my day goes on entirely inside my head.

#619 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 11:49 AM:

Not sure where to put this, so putting it on Open Thread: does anyone know The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, and if so what is it like? The Hugo statistics suggest that in a more peaceful year it would have been nominated, so I am wondering if I should check it out.

(The other work that might have been nominated, given conceivable patterns of events, was A Stranger in Olondria!)

#620 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 01:02 PM:

Jacque @618: When my mental positioning doesn't match my physical positioning, waking up feels like my perception is being lowered and rotated into position.

And relatedly, I occasionally notice that I am no longer aware of the room around me and think, "Aha, I am almost asleep." Sometimes I even manage to do this without waking back up.

#621 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 03:47 PM:

shadowsong: Ah, yes, the onset of sleep! For me, my thought stream starts going non-linear and highly associational. First time I noticed the phenomenon, I was thinking about a coworker as being 72 pt Helvetical Bold. I woke up laughing, because he so totally was.

And then there was the time I wanted to come back from wherever my thoughts had carried me off to, and had a heck of a time finding my body.

#622 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 03:57 PM:

And skills. I can't do it in the world until I can do it in my head, first. Especially with computers. It's like on some level, I'm running an emulation of what the computer is doing (though with less detail). This is how I know (accurately or not—separate question) whether or not it's working. How weird is that?

This implies that at some level of development, the brain could conceivably replace the computer. Modulo I/O issues, of course. (But then of course this brings to mind those folks who can operate the phone system by whistling the right tones.)

#623 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 04:03 PM:

Bill Stewart @ #611: garlic-flavored evil

Were you aiming for kimchi? You may not have missed by much.

#624 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Andrew Woods@613: Thanks for the correction on civile. I should have caught that.

#625 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 05:28 PM:

Andrew M @619: I haven't read it, but everyone I know is telling me to read he older Zoo City, so if a copy of it came across my path I would be pleased to try it.

#626 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 07:41 PM:

HLN: Just got back from my father's 80th birthday.

One of those awkward for all "Check X out of the rehab home, reservations at the diner down the street" affairs, but it beats the alternative, and a good crowd showed up.

#627 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 08:30 PM:

Every so often I will either wake up before my brain has reassociated with the outside world (usually this means I can't hear anything, but once or twice I've experienced sleep paralysis) or still be awake enough to notice on the way into sleep when my hearing goes away. On the other hand, I've also had cases where I was dreaming and yet aware of sounds around me. (The weirdest cases were when my ex-doctor was trying me on max dose Seroquel. I intend to never take that stuff again. Or see that doctor.)

#628 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 08:37 PM:

Glad to hear it, Stefan. Cherish those moments.

#630 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 10:33 PM:

"Sunil Dutta, a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University" -- Homeland security has professors??

Had we better all be taking this class?

Don't mind me, I'll just stay home.

#631 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 10:42 PM:

#629, C. Wingate:

I will grant that the police have a dangerous job and must deal with the potential for violence in ways most people don't have to.


Holy crap, that editorial hit just about every victim-blaming note I've ever heard.

#632 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2014, 11:38 PM:

In regards to that editorial, it's from much the same mindset that gives us "If you're innocent, you have nothing to fear."

#633 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 12:02 AM:

And the editorial presupposes that anyone who's hurt by a cop was "insufficiently deferential" -- without any definition of what's sufficient. A moving target that one can't count on hitting.

#634 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 12:08 AM:

On a cheerier note, the unwritten rules of adjective order.

I submit that extending this study to other languages might be instructive. One of the first things I was taught in French class was that while English speakers say, "the red ball," French speakers say, "the ball red". But how does that integrate with other adjectives?

#635 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 02:47 AM:

Janra, it's useful because it hits every note. It's a coherent statement of that point of view.

Lee: Most to least modifying. It keeps us from having to go back and reformulate our understanding of the description while the sentence is progress.

If you're an expert, you can do stunts with it, like putting a heavy-hitting transformative adjective at the end of the sequence. You can also bend a sequence in the middle, but I can't think of a good example just now.

#636 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 05:30 AM:

I was made aware of adjectival order when my brother's girlfriend was studying to teach English as a Foreign/Second Language. I seem to recall the example in the text book had an Italian red sports car and a red Italian sports car.

#637 ::: Andrew Woode ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 06:54 AM:

#634, 636

Even Tolkien (as a 7-year-old) had problems with adjective order in a story about a dragon:
'My mother said nothing about the dragon, but pointed out that one could not say "a green great dragon", but had to say "a great green dragon". I wondered why, and still do. The fact that I remember this is possibly significant, as I do not think I ever tried to write a story again for many years, and was taken up with language.'
(Quoted in Humphrey Carpenter's Biography, p 30-31 of the edition I have).

#638 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 07:10 AM:

Janra #631: Oh, yeah, every note, with a refrain of "we don't really know what happened in Ferguson". Notice the subtitle, and the emphasis in this earlier sentence:

I can’t even count how many times I withstood curses, screaming tantrums, aggressive and menacing encroachments on my safety zone, and outright challenges to my authority.
As if "challenges to his authority", are "of course" the very worst thing he has to deal with. Whoever did layout on the article is in on it too: A bit later, see how their display quote starts just after the real meat of the piece:
... here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.

Yup, that's the cult of compliance on display.

#639 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 07:34 AM:

Lee #634: Interesting... it's probably apposite that I spotted a problem with one of her first examples: "varnished blistered wood" would not be equivalent to the original "blistered varnished wood", as the blisters move from the varnish (which is realistic) to the wood (which isn't). In her later terms, I think those adjectives are cumulative (and, indeed, operators) rather than correlative.

#641 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 09:07 AM:

Public service announcement:

Until you have read a wide selection of recently published YA fantasy aloud, you have no idea how much good work SOME editors do. Other editors, not so much.

The current selection I'm reading (for Learning Ally) has had the following in just the first few chapters:

"many people found him oft-putting" (they meant "off-putting"; there was no frequent golf involved)

comma faults

frequent subject/verb disagreement

ladies waiting for an outdoor event to begin, standing in the rain holding parasols

an economic system in which all coins are gold (even the ones you're gambling for in a cheap tavern/using to buy food from street vendors) and the kingdom's wealth is based on its opal mines, yet opals are so common they are actually used as cobblestones

And everyone is always eating stew. Of course. (Except in jail, where you get soup, stale bread and moldy cheese. Hey, some people pay good money for moldy cheese! Maybe you should diversify from your opal-mining industry.)

Thank you to all the editors who have kept me from getting kicked repeatedly out of my favorite stories, including but not limited to our gracious hosts!

#642 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 09:12 AM:

On a more substantial note: Shweta Narayan on category structure and oppression.

Or, how it can be that an albatross is more like a robin than a robin is like an albatross, and what that has to do with protagonists who aren't straight cis white American males.

#643 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 09:36 AM:

As far as "not knowing what you don't know", I've told the "Clouds have edges!" story here before. (I am nearsighted in my bad eye AND my good eye , and never realized it until I got glasses at 21 or so.) It just now occurs to me that I had a vague rationalization for why my perception of clouds didn't match the way paintings showed clouds. ("everyone paints them that way. Probably something to do with the brush edge.") But I never, that I can think of, noticed that my perception of clouds didn't match the way PHOTOGRAPHS showed clouds.

#644 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 09:57 AM:

Not All Robins discussion: My first thought was statistical. If you measure a specific sort of "able" (for instance, blindness) almost all people fit in that box. "Straight" is somewhere in the 90-97% range. "Cisgender" covers a large percentage of people; a quick google search for transgender percentage gave me one number of 700,000 [per 330 million, or about 0.2%] and one number of "2% to 5%" . I don't have a good guess myself. So 'their exceptions will normally fall outside this prototype in only one or two ways' because most [visibly] disabled people are straight and cis.

However, when it comes to "white", "male" and "Christian" the statistical theory breaks down fast. I'm sure the statistical theory looks much better if you only count "characters in movies" or "members of Congress" or "Fortune 500 CEOs".

#645 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Sandy B. @643:

I got my first pair of glasses when I was in sixth grade -- an alert school librarian noticed I was bringing the books and their check-out cards up to my face to read them.

My mother had not noticed, and apparently I was very good at concealing my lack of vision, so she was very surprised when I commented on the Greyhound sign above the bus station. She had no idea that I didn't know it was there, since we went downtown a couple of times a month.

About 40 years later I had a similar experience courtesy of presbyopia. I could always see the trees with my glasses, but now they have leaves!

#646 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 10:59 AM:

Open-threadiness - I've got a four-hour-plus train journey home ahead of me, and I am already tired, cranky, headachy and just generally achy. I've just had two paracetamol (tylenol), and I have got a bottle of water - any other ideas on how to make it just that bit more bearable?

#647 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 11:34 AM:

check your posture and stretch?

#648 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Lee@634: It's even more fun in French, since you've got a few adjectives that do go before the noun, so your example could expand to "the big ball red". But French does have a fixed order of adjective types, most likely codified by the Académie Française (not that I can remember what that order is--it's been a long time since elementary school).

#650 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 12:10 PM:

Sandy B. @647, good idea - thanks

#651 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 02:17 PM:

"What Universal Human Experience are you missing Without Realizing It?"

Really recognizing faces. I sort of can, for people I know fairly well, only it's not really, because if something about their appearance changes (new hair cut, or different clothes and different context) I may find it difficult to recognize them any more. (It's formally called "prosopagnosia".) Sometimes I confuse people who have radically different features.

It took me well into my 40s to realize that this was not how others experience recognizing people.

#652 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Clifton: It was only very recently that I worked out the difference between Billy Preston and Leon Russell. And then only because a special I saw put them basically side-by-side.

#653 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 04:09 PM:

Important background on the Ferguson situation:

The city basically wiped out the black town/suburb just west of Ferguson for an airport expansion that never happened. Wikipedia also has a pretty good account of how Kinloch got created as a black "town" and then all but erased. Looking at the thing on Google Maps and Street View is positively surreal. It's not hard to work out that those driven out of Kinloch moved east into Ferguson, which in turn set off the white flight.

#654 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 04:18 PM:

Clifton (651)/Jacque (652): When I first learned* that prosopagnosia was a Thing, I realized that I have a touch of it. I have a hard time remembering faces, which can be a real hardship in a public service job. Also, I tend to conflate people, especially when they have a similar feature; it took me years to realize that there are two women with long brown hair and whiny voices who come into the library where I work.

*here on ML

#655 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 05:41 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #640: Re: Universal Human Experiences (and its leading link, Generalizing from One Example):

I was an undiagnosed spectrumite for 42 years, so I had a lot of things where "everybody else's" experience simply didn't match mine, and where the "normal" methods for learning things just didn't work with me, especially social learning. (And then there was the hearing impairment that wasn't diagnosed until I was 9....) It wasn't until I learned about the spectrum that I really started to understand how I fit into humanity-in-general.

#656 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 06:47 PM:

Lila #642: Interesting and solid article. It seems to me that the dynamics she describes for categories are essentially what you'd expect directly from a neural network, rather than the more "mechanistic" models of the mind where such biases would be badly explained by prior associations or suchlike..

#657 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Clifton, #651: Oliver Sacks had an article in The New Yorker about prosopagnosia back in 2010, which is when I recognized it, although (don't tell my mom) when I was 8, I nearly followed a strange woman out of Kleinhan's because she slightly resembled Mom. And I am deeply thankful for badges at cons, because otherwise I might not be able to recognize people (at first, anyway).

Mary Aileen, #654: There are two store clerks who've been working in the same store for 9 or so years. One of them dyes his hair. I still confuse one for the other.

#658 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 08:36 PM:

D. Potter (657): It's not so much that I confuse one person with another (although I do that, too), it's more that I don't realize that there are actually two different people. It gets confusing.

#659 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:04 AM:

Lila@641: That's awful. What's even worse is that opals would make terrible cobblestones — unlike diamonds or sapphires, which are very durable, opals are glass with funky microstructure. (This is one of the reasons why much opal jewelry is a thin layer of opal with a clear protective front, and sometimes a back as well.)

#660 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:11 AM:

For your delectation: the YMCA sonnet.

#661 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:12 AM:

#641 Lila

A few days ago I read a paperback in which a character "wretched." Ahem. Perhaps the charcter retching was feeling wretched, however, the character was not "wretching."

#662 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 03:22 AM:

...Although, it does occur to me: is it possible that the opal being used as cobblestone is the detritus from the mines, rather than being the precious stone? When you're mining opal, you dig out a lot of simple natural glass (called "potch", if I recall correctly) in order to get a little bit with the play of color that is valued. If so, then that part of the book isn't so bad. Although I still think you probably don't want to pave your streets with glass.

#663 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 09:18 AM:

Mary Aileen, #658: Actually, that's why I was confused; I think it took seeing both of them in the store on the same trip.

#664 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 09:57 AM:

David Goldfarb @ #662, if it were an isolated incident I might consider that explanation; as it is, it's of a piece with the rest of the book: worldbuilding, characterization and diction are all equally sloppy. Also the BIG REVEAL appears to have been telegraphed VERY BROADLY in about Chapter 3. We shall see. (And yes, it's pretty notorious that opals are very fragile; for example, I knew it. And indeed, in THIS VERY BOOK it's a big plot point that a legendary queen dropped a famous opal on the floor and it broke in half!)

#665 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 10:02 AM:

I have a piece of broken-opal jewelry; the (large oval) opal broke in the making of the pendant, and the jeweler patched it together with gold leaf and a little fine gold wire. (I know that sounds odd, but the jeweler had already tied a very tight border around it with gold wire, so the pieces were held firmly together; the gold-leaf-and-wire is just to keep the two halves from shifting and fill the crack.)

It's a very pretty piece; the irregular gold stripe up the middle really adds to it.

#666 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 10:14 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 661... Was the character kvetching?

#667 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 11:21 AM:

And I just noticed "threw" instead of "through" in an Ace paperback. And if you read the Kim Harrison series, be aware that at least the first printing od the first book, Dead Witch Walking, seems to have had gotten no copyediting, a copyeditor who flunked out of English classes no later than middle school, and/or malicious/incompetent production people post-copyediting who injected grammatical and spelling errors both systematically ("superceded" instead of "superseded") and individually.

#668 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 11:21 AM:

Lila @641: You're welcome. I can't mention specific examples, but we do that kind of thing all the time. I assume that if I wrote fiction, other editors would do the same for me.

Opal cobblestones aren't good worldbuilding. Opal's formed by dissolved silicates redepositing in cavities (which is why there are so many opal fossils). Cobblestones are water-worn rocks, so the original cavities, and the opals formed in them, would have to be improbably large.

Wearing giant potch opals into cobblestones would be even more problematic. You might be able to form some if the motion of the water was gentle and the rocks were consistently surrounded by sand, but otherwise they'd get broken.

The other way to look at the problem: how big is the largest naturally worn/rounded piece of obsidian I've ever seen? Not that big. Nowhere near that big.

The other side of the question is figuring out what they might have had in mind. In this case, I'd wonder whether they didn't mean flint cobbles, which have been used in walls and pavements for half of forever, can be translucent, and sometimes show interesting colors.

#669 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 11:22 AM:

@633: ISTM that deference is earned, not demandable -- especially for non-Peelian police (cf link in #463)

Lila @ 641: with due deference to the skills of our hosts and their colleagues: how can you tell how much of a good book comes from editing? Making Book speaks of copy-editors being given a wide range of instructions, but writers also have varying degrees of competence. Would some editors have decided that your example was not worth fixing? (Some parts have been fixable; e.g., were opal cobblestones a plot point?) Also, were travelers eating stew, or only people in place? The Campus Survival Cookbook taught me that it can be very effective at home; Diana Wynne Jones noted how implausible it was for travelers.
      And mixing in #661: I've seen many examples of using the wrong one out of a set of what-used-to-be-called-homonyms. I could blame the rise of learning to read by see-say over phonics, but I don't know enough for that opinion to be worth anything.

#670 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 11:34 AM:

Lila, Paula, Chip: The longer I work in publishing, the less inclined I am to fix blame for errors unless I have access to the manuscript in all its states. Heroes and villains can crop up anywhere.

On the other hand, telegraphing the big reveal in Chapter 3 is almost certainly the author's fault. There are rare circumstances in which it might be the editor's fault, and one rare circumstance in which it might be the Managing Editor's fault; but the author is the way to bet.

#671 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 11:41 AM:

CHip @ 669... were travelers eating stew, or only people in place?

Travelers eat only people in place?

#672 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 11:44 AM:

Cassy B. @ #665, so it's a sort of opal kintsukuroi?

TNH, re flint cobbles, no, they specifically said something like "the more common opals from the mines were mixed in with the cobblestones so that the street glittered". Not even worn river rocks with flecks or veins of opal, which probably wouldn't have kicked me out of the story.

CHip, well, I would say that any competent copyeditor would have fixed at least the subject-verb disagreements and "oft-putting". As for the stew, it seems to be the default meal for everyone of all social stations (except, as noted, prisoners); which is at least boring if not implausible. I don't know that a good editor could turn this into a good book, but it could certainly be made less jarring.

No doubt I've been spoiled by writers like Brust and Bujold who actually stop to think about issues such as economy, food, clothing, social status, etc. But then, the best *is* the standard!

#673 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 12:15 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 541: I've been using Sleep Cycle on my iPhone for about five days now, and really liking it. I haven't had a "jolted awake" morning yet, which is splendid, and I really like the charts and general geekery.

What's amusing is that it doesn't address my original desire for a new alarm clock — something that I don't need to "arm" every night, because I'm afraid I'll forget. The action of putting the phone on the mattress next to my pillow may be enough of a muscle memory reminder.

#674 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 12:18 PM:

Lila @672, yes, Loren, the artist, even makes a reference to "kintsugi" (which I assume is a cognate; I don't speak Japanese) on his website referring to my pendant. THIS is the piece; he still has it displayed on his website. (He does lovely "marlinspike" jewelry.

#675 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 12:20 PM:

Janet1 @673, you have to put your phone next to your pillow? Well, that's an ap I could never use; I have hot-and-cold running cats next to my pillow (and on my legs, and poking at my head, and curled up by my side) all night...

Just as well I like my clock-radio.

#676 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Glass can be very useful in paving materials: it's just not cheap enough to use regularly. But it's very durable!

#677 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 12:49 PM:

Cassy B. @ 675: The Sleep Cycle app uses the phone's accelerometer to measure movement, and uses that to judge where you are in your sleep cycle. Definitely won't work with a cat stomping across it!

#678 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:07 PM:

So, getting major problems reading ML on my iPad: using the main page or Making Lighter, threads seem to have multiple copies overlapping each other, some offset and wrapped by half a page horizontally.

In other news, the reason why I'm using my iPad is I'm upgrading my Ubuntu box. Nervous-making, but the last upgrade went ok...

#679 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:16 PM:

In defence of stew: If you're carrying dried meat and/or vegetables and hard biscuit, then boiling it all in a pot is not an implausible way of cooking it. On the other hand if I ever write a medieval fantasy story they would probably eat porridge. For every meal.

#680 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:23 PM:

Neil W @679: My only memory of my first D&D campaign was of being offered a choice of bread and cheese, or wolf stew, to eat at the inn.

#681 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Sandy B (643): I knew I had read other stories here about suddenly being able to see clearly. They're in this thread.

#682 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 03:03 PM:

So, it appears I fucked up massively when I wrote a little article for the Pigeon Post. What I was asking for was probably kinda dumb in the first place, but what I wrote had an interpretation I didn't think of, that pissed off quite a number of people, including Our Hosts.

I meant to say "hey, experienced scooter users, show the newbies how it's done." It came across as "you disabled people, be good and show the TABs how to act." That isn't a sentiment I would ever write (or think), but we all know what intentions are worth, and so I've been apologizing in venue after venue. Not having a public venue of my own, and knowing there are mobility-challenged people who read this, I apologize to you too. My words were ill-considered to the point of stupidity, and I apologize for the hurt and annoyance they caused.

#683 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 03:14 PM:

More on Ferguson: Some news teams hired a special-ops team to protect them in Ferguson. The linked article includes some great quotes from the team, including "In our time inside the Ferguson area, we came into ancillary contact with numerous demonstrators and protestors who did not seem to have any commitment to violence or chaos, but only wanted to peacefully have their opinion heard or report on the matters at hand. It seems a few bad actors are being treated as the whole."

This is nothing new. Kurt and Gladys Engel Lang reported on something very similar around the demonstrations when MacArthur returned to Chicago in 1951. Television coverage made it look like there were huge demonstrations: in actual fact, the demonstrations were quite small. See the chapter "The Unique Perspective of Television: MacArthur Day" in Politics and Television Re-Viewed, Sage 1984. It's a fascinating comparison of what 31 observers noticed in person with what other observers noticed in the television coverage. The Langs also wrote the first paper on how the coverage of East Coast election results affected West Coast elections (and that's in the same book) -- they're pretty amazing sociologists.

#684 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 03:59 PM:

Tom Whitmore #683: I'd strongly suspect there are also provocateurs in play.

#685 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:07 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @682: Sympathies. It's impossible to realise, in advance, on all occasions, how something you've written in all innocence could have a different interpretation.

#686 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:43 PM:

Tom Whitmore: My initial interpretation of your summary, given events so far, was that the news team hired the special ops team to defend them from assault by the police. Which doesn't seem that unreasonable, frankly.

#687 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:45 PM:

One of the things I've noticed about L.E. Modesitt's various fantasy series is that he's concerned about the food people eat. I usually find myself craving something after a dip into one of those stories (whether it be olives or "egg bread" (French toast) or something spicy... but never something cactus-based. I think he must have had a bad experience there.)

#688 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Jacque @ 618 - I had a seriously disoriented awakening several years back, shortly after returning from the Pennsic War. I woke up in my own bed, in my own bedroom, in a house I've lived in for quite a few years, and failed to recognize it as a. my bedroom, and b. part of a permanent structure. I was sitting up and yelling "Who the Hell's tent am I in?", much to the alarm of my cats, before anything started to look familiar.

I should perhaps note that waking up in a strange tent, while it may be a regular part of some people's Pennsic experience, is not common for me. I shared a tent with a friend the first time I went; she had a tent, but no car and I had a car, but no tent, so not a strange tent but not my own. The first year I camped in my current tent, the Little Bastard, it suffered a structural failure the evening I arrived, as I was putting it up. I had the tools and material on hand to repair it, but not enough time before dark. Friends managed to make room in their tent for my cot that night. And I knew where I was when I woke up.

The Little Bastard tent looks like the bastard offspring of a Viking A-frame and a Quonset hut, and has 10'x 12' footprint. A nice roomy tent for one, and easy enough if a bit tedious to erect. Leaks a bit, but tents do that.

#689 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 08:46 PM:

Dave H., #684: Indeed, that appears to be the consensus on the comments to that article -- that the Democrats are busing in rioters from out of state because the locals aren't violent enough for them. What a cesspool of smug ignorance.

#690 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 04:53 AM:

#683 ::: Tom Whitmore

I've been playing with the idea of parasites in the social network.

The first version of the idea was that troll (as a monster) isn't as good a metaphor as leeches or somesuch-- trolls parasitize off real conversation, and if they were called leeches, it might have been harder for them to be proud of it.

More recently, I've been thinking about how when a philosophy or a religion gets some prestige, there's a high risk of attracting people who aren't interested in the more challenging ideas, but who do want the status.

People who show up at peaceful protests to add some violence (I'm thinking especially of some flavors of anarchist, I'm not sure that the worse police and the looters are in the same category) might also count as parasites.

#691 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 08:12 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #690: Consider that the original troll under the bridge was based on a classic form of highway robbery -- which could bleed seamlessly into "legitimate" fee collection, if the robbers made a deal with the local lord or other honcho.

Seems to me that once you get into analogy, the difference between parasite and predator is largely relative scale -- a predator to one person is likely to be a parasite to the society, and sometimes vice versa.

#692 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 09:19 AM:

TNH @Sweet clarity/8 via Mary Aileen @681: [Scraps] found out about the toaster's existence by hearing it pop up. After that he could find it and use it because he knew it was there.

Reminds me of my first encounter with bear bread. My buddy Pete and I were hiking somewhere in coastal California. "Look, bear bread!" he says. I look. "?" I said. "It's a kind of mushroom," he says. I look for the sort of mushrooms I see around here in lawns after a rain. "??" I say, again coming up dry. So he walks over to a tree, and points out the little shelfy-looking thing jutting out from its trunk.

I blink, and he grins when he sees me see now that these things are freakin' everywhere. It was like they just magically popped into existence.

#693 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 09:24 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 690: More recently, I've been thinking about how when a philosophy or a religion gets some prestige, there's a high risk of attracting people who aren't interested in the more challenging ideas, but who do want the status.

As Kris Kristofferson says, you've been reading my mail.

#694 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 09:32 AM:

#691 ::: Dave Harmon

I didn't know that the original trolls were highway robbers, though I've seen troll bridges as a fannish joke, sometimes referring to admission charges.

Still, monsters and even robbers can be viewed as kind of cool, but parasites just aren't.

As a sidetrack, do you know of any sf which does for parasites what Watership Down for rabbits. I've wondered what sort of mythology sentient parasites would have.

#695 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 09:55 AM:

Jacque #692: Thank you for linking Teresa's message there, I'd never seen it, and especially:

My own equivalent of this was taking years and years to figure out that other people could hear quiet conversations that weren't in their direct line of sight. All I knew was that everybody else seemed to know more details about what was going on than I did.

Yup, that was me getting my hearing impairment diagnosed at age 9. Probably when Teresa was in grade school, they weren't giving hearing tests. When I was in school, they were... except (as I found out later) my school nurse was an alcoholic. I didn't get diagnosed until I visited a private school¹, the day they were doing the tests. (Yes, suspicious coincidence, but I wasn't tracking the adults well enough to guess what might have been happening behind the scenes.)

And I'm also thinking about progressive glasses... I've recently discovered that now I need to take my glasses off to read a book. :-(

¹ Fiedel School, out in (IIRC) Glen Cove. Pretty good early on, but went rapidly downhill my last couple of years. They lasted another year after my (middle-school) graduation before closing.

#696 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:00 AM:

And also, from her #5:

The point is that I have a lifetime's behavioral habits, affecting everything I do, which are based on being able to see my entire field and range of vision. I never knew until all this happened that I use my eyes to think and remember as well as see.

#697 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:08 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 694: Do cockroaches count? It's not his best book, but it's awful good.

#698 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #694: Something is tickling at my mind there, but I think mostly that would be a mind alien enough to preclude reader empathy, which tends to squelch authorial attempts.

Offhand: There's the recent Feed but I don't know if those parasites have a culture. There's also the Vang books by Christopher Rowley (at least two: The Military Form and The Battlemaster, but they're the baddies, and they're portrayed as instinct-bound.

#699 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 11:20 AM:

There are also parasitic hive mind creatures in the Ukiah Oregon books but we learn about them via a mutant parasite who has an individual personality, neatly sidestepping the reader empathy problem.

They're also the baddies, and don't have culture so much as instinct to expand and enough intelligence to learn and use their host's tech and hide until they've taken over enough of their target's planet.

#700 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 12:29 PM:

HLN: Local woman at increased risk of stroke after reading this gem in her Health Policy & Management textbook: "Each country generally gets the type of health services system most of its people want; each country generally gets the kind of health services system it deserves."

Textbook goes on to say that Blue Cross/Blue Shield were founded as nonprofit health insurance companies. Negelcts to mention that both later became for-profit companies, and that the parent org that administers BCBS in just five states made a ONE BILLION dollar profit in 2013.

Five states. One year. One billion dollars in health insurance premiums that didn't buy a single band-aid, glucose test strip, or minute of a doctor's time.

"Most of its people"? Somehow I suspect that the stockholders that split that billion had more influence (each) on health care policy than I did. Just a guess. I can maybe let that one slide. But to suggest that those who died last year in the US because of lack of insurance (estimated in the tens of thousands) *deserved* it--that is beneath contempt.

#701 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 12:41 PM:

Risk of spoiling: Gur Tvey Jvgu Nyy Gur Tvsgf has, sort of, parasite intelligence.

#702 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 04:20 PM:

I wonder if the Market Baksket Employees revolting about Board of Directors' removal of the head of a formerly $4.6 billion a year private corporation supermarket chain situation has been resolved yet. It directly affects me--shopping in other localities because all three of the supermarkets in town are Market Baskets -- 90% of us customers are boycotting and have been for weeks.

And all of us made our -own- decisions about this.

The revolt is historic -- the works are not unionized,and the revolt is at every level--district managemers, store managers, store clerks, truck drivers, warehouse workers, and of customers all united objecting to corporatist greed....

#703 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 04:42 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@694 - Some SF works involving intelligent parasites and/or symbionts - Mira Grant's Parasite (recent Hugo nominee), Wesley Chu's The Lives of Tao (recent Campbell nominee), Hal Clement's Needle (many years ago.) Not sure how much mythology you're looking for, and they're mostly told from the hosts' perspectives. (And possibly Ancillary Justice? The except wasn't enough for me to really be sure.)

#704 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 05:15 PM:

C. Wingate @ 629 et al:

I've been thinking about this issue for a while. If there was one thing I could say to said cop (or any of his kind who think along similar lines), it would be this:

About 1 person in 20 suffers from ADHD. The people you stop are more likely than average to be sufferers[1]; probably 1 in every 10 people you stop is a sufferer. Most of these suffer from a comorbid condition, Oppositional Defiant Disorder[2]. This condition leads to the sufferer often being completely unable to resist the impulse to refuse to comply with instructions, particularly if (a) they feel the instructions are unreasonable, (b) they are tired or (c) they have been having a bad day so far. This is just one of many mental health problems that can lead to such behaviour. So please, next time somebody does not follow your instructions, consider the possibility that they may have a mental health problem that renders them unable to do so.

[1] ADHD sufferers are more likely to drive inconsiderately or be involved in a traffic accident, usually tend to the lower end of the income spectrum so frequently live in high crime areas, and often have impulsive behaviour patterns that may attract the attention of police (whether because the patterns are criminal themselves or merely because they may well be the kind of behaviour that can often be considered "antisocial").

[2] Some clinicians are apparently of the opinion that ODD does not occur in adults, but it seems pretty clear that the available research does not support this conclusion. The DSM-IV definition is apparently written with the assumption that the subject is a child, but does not rule out the possibility of adult sufferers. Also note that ODD's occurrence in ADHD sufferers is so frequent that leading ADHD researcher Russell Barkley considers ODD to be a symptom of ADHD, rather than simply a comorbid condition as its DSM-IV definition suggests. His arguments for why this should be the case are convincing, and the conclusion that perhaps *all* ADHD sufferers have this problem to some degree or another is inevitable.

#705 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 05:18 PM:

Thanks to the magical power of the intertubes we have seen the Doctor return. It has been fascinating to see Peter Capaldi not effing and blinding every thirty seconds. Indeed, the vulnerable, humane Doctor played by Capaldi is very much not Malcolm Tucker.

#706 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Jules #704: There's also people on the autistic spectrum (heavily overlapping with ADHD, but similar effects regardless), not to mention people who are hearing impaired and may not have heard the cop's instructions. Also people who for whatever reason (say, physical handicaps) aren't moving fast enough for the cop's taste, and anyone who doesn't look subservient enough.

Sad to say, the cop in question would probably dismiss ODD people as natural enemies of society, and the others as "collateral damage".

#707 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 06:08 PM:

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#708 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 09:39 PM:

So my daughter, who is eleven, is here tonight, and we just watched this: Superman Meets My Little Pony. It's pretty funny. There a a lot more of them. So here's a question: She just saw Guardians of the Galaxyand loved it. Is she ready for Captain America: The First Avenger?

#709 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 09:57 PM:

Two questions for the Encyclopedia Fluorosphericana:

1) Is the sentiment of, "You have to separate the artist from their work," (i.e. someone who has expressed vile social/political notions, or who has done something heinous) ever applied to an artist who is not a white male? I can think of a few possibilities, but my Google-fu is not strong enough to tease out an answer. Conversely, are there examples of a non-white or female artist being thoroughly shunned under such circumstances?

2) What would you put in the sentence, "Goggles and gears and ______, oh my!" to maintain both the alliteration and the steampunk theme? (Yes, this is for a possible new shirt.)

#710 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:05 PM:

Wrt parasite intelligence:

In a couple of Jack Chalker's Well World books, one set of baddies, the Dreel IIRC, were a virus that was intelligent insofar as it had infected a suitable host. I do not recall any more culture than a determination to infect every suitable host they could find; one suspects they hijacked the intelligence of their hosts in some way rather than being intelligent of themselves.

The Aultridia of Banks's Matter were descended from parasites, but by the time of the book had become free-living.

J Homes.

#711 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:32 PM:

Fragano Ledgister@705: I probably won't see the new doctor for a bit—I'm horribly behind in the series—but I still manage to picture Capaldi as his character in Local Hero despite everything he's played in the 30-odd years since then. It should make for an interesting cognitive dissonance when I catch up.

HLN: Local family returns from wonderful trip visiting friends in the UK, during which they frequently got within four miles of the Worldcon site without ever intersecting with the site or any con attendees. Family reports some wistful feelings on reading the Gathering of Light threads, but considers that great friends, food, and sightseeing made the trip entirely worth it. Senior family members now working on remembering how to drive on the other side of the road again.

#712 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:34 PM:

Lee, question 2: It should be "Goggles and gasbags and gears, oh my!" to maintain the cadence of Lions and tigers and bears. Second noun is two syllables, third is one. And the original wasn't strongly alliterative, so this one doesn't have to be either. Still, I like gasbags.

Leni Reifenstahl, and Triumph of the Will, for a woman getting the benefit of "separate the artist from the work." There are probably other examples, but the overwhelming maleness of the Accepted Artist Canon makes them harder to find.

On parasite intelligences: how about Dax, from ST:TNG? And there are a fair number of commensal intelligent races, which is how I'd classify the positive character in Needle -- most of them have some sort of healing function for the person they inhabit.

#713 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:42 PM:

Lee @ 709: I can think of two examples off the top of my head, one heinous and one not: Marion Zimmer Bradley and Samuel L. Delany. We don't even want to get into the world of popular music.

(Tom beat me to my first thought, which I think is the canonical example.)

#714 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:48 PM:

Lee @709: How about "gadgets"?

#715 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 10:48 PM:

Lee, #709--Gaslight?

#716 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 11:08 PM:

Goggles and Airships and Gears, Oh My!

(I can't justify why "goggles and airships" feels better to me than "airships and goggles". But it does.)

#717 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 11:19 PM:

Lee; Airships is my favourite, so far (Because gasbag adn gaslight give me a different image from the literal meanings - the former being a windy sort of person, either way, and the latter being psychological horror).

Another possibility is top hats. I was thinking corsets, at first, but among the steampunkers I know, top hats are embraced by both genders, and corsets and bustles, um, mostly not.

(I just miswrote steampunk as 'spampunk'. Now I'm wondering what that would look like. I'm pretty sure it would send me offers to expand pieces of anatomy I don't even have in the first place, but it might do it with style...)

#718 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 11:55 PM:

just thought this might be appreciated

#719 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2014, 11:59 PM:

and speaking of World War 1, isn't it, like, the 100th anniversary of its beginning? That kind of should have gotten more attention in the media than it did.

#720 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:02 AM:

Can I just say here that I am properly embarrassed about putting an L into Samuel R. Delany?

#721 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:37 AM:

In my head, it is, "Goggles and sprockets and gears, oh my!" and I cannot make it into anything else.

One of my students had a serious run-in with law enforcement last year. His father was there trying to explain that he wasn't drunk or high or malevolent, he'd just not followed directions to stay close to home and gone to look at cars. He's a big goofy dog of a guy, low IQ, not a mean bone in his body, just wants to say hi and go sniff at what interests him. And it's not like it always shows.

#722 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:54 AM:

Erik Nelson @719. Thank you. Shared.

#723 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 01:04 AM:

Lee @709, Reifenstahl’s been mentioned, and Marion Zimmer Bradley is an obvious recent example. I’ve also heard people say that they read Ayn Rand for the quality of her writing and ignore the politics.

As far as “thoroughly shunned” goes, I can’t offhand think of any popular artist/writer/creator ever having been thoroughly shunned for any reason. If they’re well-enough known that most people will have heard of them, they’ve probably got a core of die-hard fans who’ll stick with them no matter what. And most readers/moviegoers/music fans/whatever don’t pay much attention to that kind of thing.

#724 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 01:36 AM:

Erik Nelson @719 Cats who served:

A benefit of following a bunch of historians on Twitter is that they know how to mine sources.
Multitudes of felines from the Australian War Memorial
Multitudes of felines from the Trove AU newspaper archive

#725 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 01:51 AM:

Errolwi: both those links are broken!

#726 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 02:53 AM:

Sorry, they are quite long, so might have got munged somewhere along the way.
Twitter short links

#727 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 07:35 AM:

J Homes #710: I don't remember the Dreel (it's been a while), but in Chalker's Quintara Marathon trilogy, one of the races of "gods" was an infectious colony organism.

One point is that if an author wants their parasite to be sympathetic, they tend to upgrade it to a symbiote, giving some obvious advantage -- there's an example in Varley's The Ophiuchi Hotline.

#728 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 10:43 AM:

I like "Goggles* and sprockets and gears" best of the suggestions so far. And I agree with Lenora Rose about 'gaslight' and 'gasbag'. 'Gaslamps' might work.

*which I am consistently misreading as 'Googles'

#729 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 11:30 AM:

one The weakness of 'sprockets', which does sound great, is that--I could be wrong about this, so tell me if I'm out to lunch--they're the same thing as gears.

My pick would be 'gadgets'.

#730 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 11:39 AM:

I'm with John A. Arkansawyer that sprockets and gears are too much the same thing. I'd go for either "gadgets" or "gaslamps" in the middle position.

#731 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:44 PM:

Gadgets! 'Gadgets' is good.

#732 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 01:12 PM:

*sneaking in very briefly*

Googles and gadgets and gears, oh my!

should be back in a few days - the TL:DR version includes (fixed, now, and even better) computer issues, a week of severe fibro flare, and trying to catch up from that. Am finally doing well today, and appreciating that fact.

#733 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 03:45 PM:

As a lapsed Whovian who made a return visit to the fold on Saturday, I'm going to say "That was a surprisingly blatant bunch of fourth-wall-breaking statements to the audience. Also Schroedingers [spoiler]."

#735 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 04:27 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @705: You'd almost think that Peter Capaldi was, you know, an actor, capable of playing different roles.

I'm reminded of a fan video I saw one time which mashed up the end of "Last of the Time Lords" and the beginning of Life on Mars...that completely didn't work for me, because this fellow standing up in 1972 was clearly not the same person as the one shot in 2007; they had completely different body language.

(For those who might not know: Sam Tyler, the protagonist of Life on Mars, and the Master, a villain on Doctor Who, were both played by John Simm.)

#736 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 05:51 PM:

David Goldfarb #735: Indeed, one might almost think that. Capaldi brought real depth to his portrayal of the Doctor.

Still, one couldn't help seeing Malcolm Tucker in the menace that he brought out at some moments.

#737 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 06:10 PM:

I've actually never seen The Thick of It, so it was easy for me to not think of Malcolm Tucker.

#738 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 06:23 PM:

I have also not seen The Thick of It - my previous Capaldi experience was his role in that one Torchwood series, which I thought was the best bit of the whole thing. He frightened me at the beginning, which I liked a lot (or I was frightened for him, maybe, is a better way of putting it).

More, please!

#739 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 08:11 PM:

I binge-watched The Thick of It after seeing In the Loop last summer, so Capaldi is Malcolm Tucker in my mind, alas. His Doctor, nevertheless, was very well done.

Also, I am persuaded that there's no such thing as too much Strax.

#740 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 08:34 PM:

Dax is a symbiont (they even call it that). Curzon lived longer than he would have had he not been joined, and Jadzia would have lived for a very long time had she not been killed.

Also, the Trill symbionts blended their personalities with the host personality, so there was no real harm to the host (except perhaps a loss of some amount of independence).

If you want an intelligent parasite, try the Goa'uld from Stargate SG-1. They were evil, and subsumed the host personality completely. Note that they're the same species as the Tok'ra, who were more symbiotic. Both conferred long life, though the Goa'uld also used the sarcophagus to live indefinitely.

For a symbiote that simply lived in company with the human host, try the critter from "Pard," a story by F Paul Wilson, later expanded into a book called Healer (which book I didn't know about when I started writing this and am going to look for).

I think the definition of 'parasite' (the part where its living is detrimental to the host) is very much in the way of one being anything other than evil, if it's intelligent. Either that or tortured like urban-fantasy vampires, and ho effin' hum to that.

#741 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 10:00 PM:

And of course, there are the Yeerks. Which dates me somewhat.

#742 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 10:00 PM:

And of course, there are the Yeerks. Which dates me somewhat.

#743 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 10:17 PM:

I believe I am supposed to say, "BOSTON I AM IN YOU", except I'm actually just outside of it. Crossing the border was ridiculously easy and quick; on the other hand, getting to the border took hours. We got in late last night and have been exhausted today. The cat didn't kill us in our sleep, so either she's still plotting her revenge for the trauma of the journey, or she's grateful to have something familiar around (likely both).

The living situation seems unlikely to work out for very long, which is disappointing but not particularly surprising.

I shall write to Rikibeth and think about a Gathering of Light when I'm feeling less drained.

#744 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 11:54 PM:

TNH @ 670: That's the way I'd bet also (on early reveal); my question is whether it reflects bad editing, as I read from Lila's original. How much time can an editor get to fix higher-level problems, before some publishers will say "It has to ship now!"? (This is hardly limited to publishing; after 20 years as a software engineer I got very tired of that sentence.)

Lila @ 672: What happens when the copy-editor drowns in errors? (cf #670 -- we don't know how bad the manuscript was before copy-editing.) Or if they're too rushed? Teresa's essay makes clear that this was a very hard job >20 years ago; I doubt it's gotten better.

Neil W @ 679: IIRC, DWJ's argument was that such boiling takes too much time on a journey; I also suspect that vegetables would be too bulky.

Dave Harmon @ 684: My immediate reaction to the white authorities using modern code for "outside agitators" was unprintable; however, I recall a report (not a direct quote) that most of the arrested were from elsewhere. I'd love to see properly-vetted numbers; they could provide ammunition to remove some of those authorities.

B. Durbin @ 689: Modesitt has spoken about trying hard to make economic backgrounds workable; in some cases (e.g., the Soprano Sorcerer set) it's foregrounded into the plot. I hadn't noticed him being detailed about food, and will have to watch for this.

Erik Nelson @ 719: The onset of WWI has been getting a lot of play on the BBC's website. I can understand U.S. media making less of a play; they may still not realize how global it was (e.g., the BBC story about the request for commemoration from descendants of locals who helped the British fight the Germans in Africa). We'll see whether there's more attention as the centenary of the U.S.'s entering the war approaches.

wrt parasites:
      I recall a ]parasite[ that makes its host intelligent in Star Surgeon (Nourse) -- but they were not on-screen long enough to talk about any mythology they had.
      IIRC, the symbionts in Brain Plague (Slonczewski) have varying explanations of their hosts -- but these are manufactured symbionts, so they may not qualify. (I wonder whether S read "Microcosmic God"? There are interesting parallels.)

#745 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 12:13 AM:

trying to poke loose a possibly-stuck comment

#746 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 07:06 AM:

Not to mention "Three to conquer" by EFR.

#747 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 09:13 AM:

CHip #744: The thing is, both the police and the FBI have a long history of infiltrating peaceful protests with folks who can be relied on to throw a rock or somesuch at the right moment, giving authorities an excuse to attack. (The Occupy folks had training in tactics specifically to defend against that.)

#748 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 01:05 PM:

Neil W @679: I ever write a medieval fantasy story they would probably eat porridge. For every meal.

One suspects that this is why they call it a "meal." :-)

#749 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 02:04 PM:

What I had in mind for sapient parasites and their mythology was that people tend to be sympathetic to predators-- not in a way that keeps us from killing competing predators and dramatic looking predators, but still, we tend to think they're cool.

We could be viewed as parasites on meat animals, but we don't see ourselves that way because parasites are yucky.

Imagine sentient parasites. They are *not* symbionts, or are only minorly symbiotic compared to the damage they cause.

They would no doubt have no regrets about what they need to do to live. They would admire the courage and cleverness it takes to survive and thrive in spite of the host species' innate and/or developed defenses.

What would the sapient's mythology be like?

#750 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 02:44 PM:

CHip @744 I'm not sure I recall correctly at all, but I seem to think I've seen the comment "Why not have an omelette?" attached to a criticism of stew (that probably wasn't DWJ). To which my reply is "Are you carrying eggs or chickens on your route march/ hard ride? Or are you stopping every night at a farm for fresh produce? (In which case why not eat whatever they're having?)"

All food in pseudo-medieval fantasyland is too heavy or bulky* to carry enough for more than a few days. Combine that with the regular equipment of group of adventurers and they ought to have a mule train following them at all times. (At which point add in a couple of wagons and a chef and do about ten miles a day.)

If you're Racing Against Time to Defeat the Forces of Evil then stew is stupid; you're chewing jerky and biscuits in the saddle**. But a regular pace across long distances you stop for the night and rest/feed your horses, gather firewood, repair equipment, perhaps seek out locals. While that's going on, why not boil that jerky and biscuit in a pot with some gathered stuff? And then when someone asks what it is you answer "Stew".

* Unless you have lembas bread
** Also riding your horses to death but we'll gloss over that

#751 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 03:01 PM:

Three responses to comments delayed by travel:

Stefan Jones@328,626: My sympathies for the bad parts, and good wishes for the good moments.

CHip@424: I was a few steps removed from the Italian pronunciation work, but my impression is that fluent native speakers had no trouble "hearing" the missing word in telephone conversations.

Serge@734: Thank you very much for that. There were some wonderful comments in there.

#752 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 03:06 PM:

Traditionally, in old Western radio shows, they ate beans, bacon, and some sort of johnny or griddle cake. And coffee boiled to death in a pot over the fire (I can hear my coffee connoisseur husband cringing from here.) Dry beans are fairly light as foodstuffs go, though they need to be reconstituted by soaking and/or boiling. Bacon is preserved meat; a chunk adds flavor (and salt) to your beans. Add cornmeal or wheat flour made into a dough with water, and a pan greased with some bacon fat, and you've got something resembling a meal with (relatively) lightweight and packable ingredients, one pot, one pan, and one coffeepot. And all the water's been boiled, so you don't have to worry about cholera.

Now, whether those old shows from the '30s and '40s were accurate or not, I couldn't say. And a cold camp would be miserable, because you wouldn't have much of anything you could munch on raw, unless you made extra ahead of time.

#753 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 04:01 PM:


My father is supposed to be on a limited fluids, low-low-low sodium diet. He knows, dieticians know, but the low-skill servers in the rehab/nursing home cafeteria let him eat . . . bacon. And who knows what else; another visitor mentioned him praising the ice cream. So he's back in the hospital, drowning in his own juices.

Really just worrying about my sisters and mother at this point. #CaretakerBurnout

#754 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 04:10 PM:

Stefan Jones @753:

Witnessing. I'm sorry. As the Dutch would say, sterkte: strength.

#755 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 04:30 PM:

In lighter news, I'm happy to report that "Greek Diners" are alive and well in the NY tri-state area, and continuing the tradition of gigantic menus and wretched excess. ("Soup OR salad?")

I have pictures, somewhere, of me regarding a "cup" of matzoh ball soup with a half of a dumpling that whose uncut size would, without exaggeration, be that of a hardball. I will post them, along with photos of some of the menu pages. (One section, devoted to fried foods, is titled "Basket Cases.")

#756 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Do the New York Greek diners have the Very Dangerous Pastry Displays that the Chicago area Greek diners do?

You can gain five pounds just walking past them....

#757 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 04:49 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #749: Well the thing is, if they bring their own hosts (likely non-sentient) and stick to them, then they're just a composite creature, and experienced cosmopolitans know better than to pry. (See also Niven!Puppeteer breeding habits.)

The classic RAH "Puppet-Masters" scenario is very much a horror-movie plot (and yes, literally), with massive implausibilities glossed over. How you yourself handle the issues involved will tell you what sort of culture the parasites might have.

Start with the issues of attaching to (and controlling!) a being from a different biological matrix. The vast majority of Earthly parasites have at least one obligate host, and their other hosts tend to be limited at least to one clade such as "birds" or "mammals". There's a fairly simple reason for this, which is that most Earthly multicellular life has defenses against other lifeforms moving in -- heck, even bare metal triggers an immune reaction!

It's still possible that all life has a common chemical basis, but I wouldn't bet on it -- and the variety of Earthly life (including the extinct ones) makes it clear that even if so, you're still dealing with a huge possibility space for body plans and biochemistry.

Then, you have the idea of an intelligent species whose ecological niche is parasitizing other intelligent species -- generically. Just how many different intelligent species lived on their planet, that they developed abilities to go up to an unknown species (from another world, remember), analyze and master its biochemistry and neurology (or other signaling system), then take up residence and control it, optionally well enough to pass among the native society? Oh yeah, and why did the parasite itself need to become intelligent, when it was already free-riding on an intelligent being?

OK, suppose it's a bioweapon (as with the Vang). But that just pushes the plausibility gap from evolution to technology. It's hard to imagine a creature that could control, say, any vertebrate, and get it to move coherently, let alone pass in its own society (which RAH's puppet-masters could, but the Vang couldn't). But when possessing an intelligent species -- where does it fit? Also, our brains are large and complex, and don't have straightforward control points. How is it attaching?

#758 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 06:18 PM:

@756: Yes. Often a cylindrical case with rotating shelves.

Dangerous. Very dangerous.

#759 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 07:05 PM:

757 and 749:
There was a story I forget title and author of. It was in an anthology of shorts called "Aliens Among Us."( Don't know the editor or publisher either but the cover was blue. It had a painting of an extraterrestrial arriving at a filling station and the attendant being befuddled because he'd never seen a vehicle like that. Painting style reminiscent of Kelly Freas in his humorous modes, but it wasn't him.)

So in this story, a coroner is called in to investigate a death in a coal mine. It turns out there is this creature that can glom onto the spinal cord of a person and zombify him, and it did that to the coal miners. It tries to zombify the coroner, but he deliberately damages his body to un-usefulness first.

#760 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 07:24 PM:

Erik Nelson @759: Here's a list of the contents of that anthology (edited by Dann and Dozois in 2000) if that'll help you identify the story. (Thank you, Locus and -- I needed both to find it.)

#761 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Dave 757: I think Heinlein may* have ignored the biological details partly because he didn't know them (or realize how very different a species from another world would likely be), but I think* mainly because he wasn't too concerned with the literal details of his McCarthyist allegory.

*These words are there to mark the fact that I am speculating. I know nothing about Heinlein's thought process; I only know how that book reads to me.

#762 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 07:38 PM:

Lee, thanks for the YMCA sonnet.

#763 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 07:51 PM:

Avram at #723: I’ve also heard people say that they read Ayn Rand for the quality of her writing and ignore the politics.

But, but, but! *croggle*

Okay, maybe We the Living. It had actual plot and drama. But by the time she got to Atlas Shrugged, her writing was all politics and no quality. She thought an expository lump was a good thing—the bigger the better. She had weird ideas about how romantic attraction works. There was only one railroad bridge across the Mississippi River. These are just the flaws that come to mind 40 years after reading it.

Seconding or thirding the mention of MZB. When I can find where my copy of Heritage of Hastur went walkies, I'll try to see how it holds up, and whether Dyan Ardais is a sympathetic character or just a villain with a complex back-story.

#764 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 08:01 PM:

A Twitter post reminds me that Voyager passed by Neptune 25 years ago.

I remember watching the late-night news footage in a hotel just outside of Pittsburgh.

Earlier in the evening, I tossed a leftover baked potato (from dinner at Sizzler) to a ground hog I saw gadding about on the hotel lawn.

Memory is weird.

#765 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 08:02 PM:

Re parasite subthread (though non-sentient, so far as I am aware): my junior dog was just diagnosed with a particular kind of trematode fluke (some species or other of Alaria) that is only very rarely seen in domestic dogs.

It has, at simplest, a two-host life cycle but sometimes much more: its eggs hatch in water and glom onto a primary host (usually a snail or frog) and grow to wigglers that live in their muscle tissue. After that, the primary host is consumed by what becomes a later host. If it's a fox, mink, or other suitable carnivoran (including in this case apparently my dog), they, um, mature sexually and breed. With details that are really gross and entirely What Parasites Do. Google it if you like. They end up in the final host's digestive tract merrily making eggs that may, someday, end up in a watercourse to restart the Circle of Life.

Where this gets both interesting and pertinent to the thread here, however, is "transport hosts". If the primary host is eaten by something (birds usually, though sometimes snakes or, well, anything that'll eat a snail or a frog, though host immune systems are pretty good at telling them to get lost in the rarer cases) that is not suitable to be a successful final host, it lives in the gut and basically hangs out until the transport host gets eaten by ANOTHER transport host, or by something that can successfully be a final host.

Its overall success, even in its very favorite species and the most favorable environments, is low enough to surprise me. In areas where it is endemic and considered "common", about 20% of the minks/foxes sampled are infected. So it's a weird generalist, very tolerant of "unsuitable" hosts, but also relatively easy for hosts to divest themselves of without relying on the interventions of modern medicine (which my dog is, currently, getting, to hopefully eradicate his incredibly rare and somewhat inexplicable case).

#766 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 08:22 PM:

Tom Whitmore at 760; it's that anthology indeed. Presumably the story named "The Autopsy"
Thanks for researching that.

#767 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 08:30 PM:

#757 ::: Dave Harmon

You seem to be assuming a horror story where these parasites are infesting humans.

I was thinking of a Poul Anderson or CJ Cherryh story where these are really interesting but revolting aliens, and people have to figure out how to deal with them.

You do open up the possibility of parasites who've figured out enough science to be able to modify themselves to move into alien (to them) hosts.

#768 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 08:46 PM:

Xopher @ 761: McCarthyist allegory

I've always thought it was an allegory about communism, but your phrasing raises a question: Could Heinlein have also had McCarthy and the red scare on his mind? We know that he deliberately obscured his socialist past specifically--he said this--to not fall victim to McCarthyism. I'm sure he was thinking of communism, but could this be like Orwell and 1984, squinting both ways?

#769 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 08:55 PM:

CHip: There isn't really a good word that's in between gourmet and gourmand (the latter being someone who enjoys all food, but with an edge of gluttony.) There should be a word for a person who enjoys food done well, whether it is simple or complex, but without that overtone of gluttony. I'm thinking of my father in this instance; he always noticed when food was done well and would have reminiscences of good meals along the way. Modesitt reminds me of that a little bit—not that he's always searching out good food, but that food is something he notices, good or bad.

#770 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 09:04 PM:

Thanks entirely to recent activity in this thread, I sprang for a thrift-store Modesitt today (Princeps). I'll let you know if I regret it. I've not read anything else by them.

#771 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 09:19 PM:

John 768: Hmm. Not sure quite what you mean. What I was positing was that the parasites represented the Communist threat, and that that justified the extreme measures (like complete loss of privacy, represented by Project Sunshine) that McCarthy and his henchmen wanted to implement. And he folded the queers in there too, as I've mentioned here before.

At the end, just in case someone didn't get it, he says that of course the PMs took over instantly in the Soviet Union, because they were already used to mind control.

So by 'McCarthyist allegory', I didn't mean an allegory denouncing McCarthyism, but one supporting and justifying it.

#772 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 09:47 PM:

Xopher @ 771: Oh, yes, it's definitely an anti-communist allegory. But since we know Heinlein felt personally threatened by the Red Scare, I'm wondering whether it also allegorized that. After all, Orwell aimed 1984 at both the US and the SU.* And now you've surfaces another thought for me by pointing out the homophobia:

Was this one of those cases (I don't think this is always the case) where the homophobia covers homosexual activity in the past? It wasn't till I Will Fear No Evil that we got same-sex positivity from Heinlein, right as Gay Liberation and Stonewall were happening. In that novel, we got male-preferring bisexuals and a Heinlein stand-in who implied he'd same-sex'd.

Was he covering his socialist past and a hypothetical same-sex past?

Or--and this is a really weird thought, which means it can't be ruled out when dealing with Heinlein--could it be that he was monophobic and that he didn't get people who didn't go both ways?

Damned if I know, or know how to figure it out. Let's get Heinlein scholars on this, right away!

*Unlike Animal House, wherein he had John Belushi strike a blow for bassists everywhere, smashing that damn folkie guitar while yelling, "Four strings good, six strings bad!".

#773 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Dyan Ardais originally was abusive/a sadistic chickenhawk. Over time the author's descriptions of the character evolved and turned him heroic and misunderstood or something.

One of her books--I don't think it was The Sword of Aldones, but it might have been--she rewrote into a different book decades later, and I think did some rewriting of Dyan Ardais in it. (That was as opposed to one of the other books which she revised making it half again larger, adding an additional major character, and changing the male parent of the protagonist!)

Regarding Heinlein, he came from a Navy family. Homosexuality was a cashiering with a dishonorable discharge offense in the military, until relatively recently (Don't Ask, Don't Tell which got instituted after Heinlein was dead, was a sidestepping of the issue. Someone whose homosexuality came to the attention of the Authorities, was still subject to being cashiered. With same gender marriage legal in various states, and the Supreme Court by a thin vote acceding to it, the military acceded to accepting it, too and ordered the chaplain corps to comply [for clerics of religions allowing it].

#774 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 10:29 PM:

Neil @750:

True enough, but limited on-the-road supplies and cooking equipment doesn’t explain the fantasy novel travelers stopping at inns and being offered only stew and bread. That’s where you’’d expect to get things like omelettes, roast vegetables, and baked fish. Bread implies an oven, and while it might be a shared village oven, there's at least the possibility of putting things other than bread in there.

#775 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 10:32 PM:

Paula: And yet my dad, who was in the Navy during WWII, said that he and the men he knew had no problem with gays as long as they didn't hit on the straights. He never thought it was a big deal.

#776 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Stefan Jones, #764:

A Twitter post reminds me that Voyager passed by Neptune 25 years ago.

One of the great experiences of my life was flying out to Pasadena to cover the Neptune encounter for a very peculiar news service.

For the full story, see Phone Call from a Turquoise Giant.

It was a great summer.

#777 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 10:55 PM:

Paula @ 773: One of the things most problematic about the chaplain's corps is that they are, in theory, supposed to tend to the spiritual needs of all their soldiers as the soldiers themselves understand them. In practice, a large portion of the chaplain's corps sees its mission as proselytizing for one very specific, very fundamentalist type of Christianity.

(I don't doubt that you knew this already, but some folks here may not.)

Hearing chaplains from my very liberal (in the religious, not necessarily the political sense) religion talk about their struggles in the system fills me with a whole set of Mick's emotions.

What we know, or think we do--he and Virginia made it hard to be sure--about Heinlein's early life is that he apparently had no trouble sharing a woman and a bed with another man. This appears to be the story of how he met and first slept with the first of his three wives. He also spent time on the fringes of bohemia, and was quite willing to evade the rules he didn't believe in.

Does that mean he was gay? No.

Did he experiment with same-sex? Who knows? It seems likely. But that is speculation.

#778 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 10:56 PM:

Reading my great-granduncle's Civil War journal, there are references to roasting pork in a baker's oven, so I would expect any village with an oven to be capable of providing roast meat.

#779 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 10:58 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 776: Is there any sense in which you are not one of the coolest mofos in the known universe? I say this with not a little bit of envy. I should have grown up to be you.

#780 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 11:07 PM:

#769 ::: B. Durbin


#781 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 12:08 AM:

B. Durbin @ 769 and Carol Kimball @ 780: A good suggestion, it might be too 'gourmet' an implication, though?

To me gourmand doesn't automatically confer a gluttonous overtone, though.

#782 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 12:21 AM:

Folk singer Jean Redpath, RIP.

#783 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:28 AM:

#775 Cally
#777 John

When I was stationed in Colorado Springs, I heard some stories which indicated that tolerance or intolerance of homosexuality was completely arbitrary and capricious and depended on the unit and base commander's individual level of concern/interest in enforcing the official regulations.

Someone like retired-as-Lt-General Boykin, I expect would have not been tolerant and would have mustered anyone suspected of it, out. Others cared about such factors as achievements, level of interest in a career in the military, ability to get along with other people, ability to inspire others, leadership ability, technical skills levels, etc.m and as long as the person was not being disruptive/disorderly/etc. (and I am referring to that generally), their sex lives were their own business.

But it was completely arbitrary if the base commander and unit went homosexual persecuting or not.

As for Heinlein, as long as it were m/f sexual relations, fornication even in multiple involvements situations generally got ignored unless someone were looking for an excuse to get rid of someone. Note that the astronaut extramarital affairs stuff went on until it became a public disgrace/criminal situation.


Regarding the evangelizers (note that Boykin succored them...) they also support misogyny. generally.

#784 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:50 AM:

Allan Beatty @763, I know, I know! But honest, I have heard/read people say this!

I’ve never been able to get through a Rand novel; her prose reads to me like someone smashing pots and pans together. But I’ve nothing against expository lumps, if they’re entertaining. Neal Stephenson writes some of the best exposition in the biz. And Moby Dick is pretty much all exposition, and it’s great.

#785 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 07:52 AM:

Cally @ #775, a friend of my parents', who was also in the Navy during WWII, was strolling on the deck of his ship late at night and saw a group of men throw another man overboard--one whom "everyone knew" was gay. He didn't say anything, allegedly because he was afraid if he did he'd be next, and the next day the victim turned up missing and was presumed to have fallen overboard in the night. I make no claims as to the veracity of this story, which I heard third-hand; both the person I heard it from and the person who supposedly told it to them are long dead.

Vicki @#774, yes, in my specific example all the meals are being eaten at home or in taverns. No camp cooking.

#786 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 08:13 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #761: Certainly -- Heinlein was famous for hard-SF with the work shown, but that didn't mean he had to do that for every book. (And it can be hard to keep a metaphor neat when you're fitting it around science. As you note, biology was less advanced back then, but I'm pretty sure they knew already about parasites and obligate hosts.) But doing that in the particular book left him with a movie-plot threat for that book.

Elliott Mason #765: Yeah, that's part of the reason I was bristling at an intelligent parasite -- parasitism is a biological specialty, with heavy adaptation to the hosts, and a huge r factor due to the lifestyle. Intelligence is a very different biological specialty. On Earth, the smarter critters lean hard toward the K side of things, because of the investment in brains (another problem for a sentient parasite, q.v. "where do they fit?") and need for education. Yeah, octopi are a sort-of-exception, but remember that they're the most intelligent invertebrates we know of. (And predators rather than parasites.)

Nancy Lebovitz #767: Well, as I said above, if they brought their own obligate hosts with them, they're just a composite lifeform, and we have no brief to complain, any more than we'd be impressed by some autotroph species offended by our omnivorous diet, or an egg-laying species horrified by our internal gestation.

The thing is, infecting us is what puts the horror into the movie plot, in pursuit of which the mechanics get glossed over. I don't think I've ever seen such a story where the aliens had to learn how to infest us. Certainly not in RAH!Puppet-Masters -- IIRC those were immediately controlling the scientists who pulled them off a spaceship.

Contrast the Giger Aliens, who have a much more realistic scenario for a parasite/predator/bioweapon: Forget about control, just dig into a disposable host to mature. They presumably still have to deal with the host's immune systems, but they're doing so as a decimeter-scale animal, not a microorganism, and they don't have to keep the host going for long, much less communicate through it.

And for yet another perspective: Consider the big Earthly examples that get used as a model for mind-controlling parasites: Some Cordyceps have meaningful control, but at most one behavior (get yourself eaten), and they're species-specific. Toxoplasma gondii have an influence that's meaningful only in their "proper" intermediate hosts (rodents).¹ They can infect a lot more species, but in those their behavioral influence becomes "accidental", much less useful to the parasites. Which doesn't mean they're not remarkably successful parasites, but that comes from being able to infect (and asexually reproduce in) "almost anything", rather than from the behavioral manipulation.

B. Durbin #769: I've occasionally heard people invoke "gourmand" with a edge of gluttony implied, but AFAIK that's not native to the word. I suspect it's a bit of gourmand/gourmet sniping, not necessarily from the gourmet side; some decades, gourmet fashion goes over to scanty "tasting plate" styles. Those do annoy gourmands who were expecting a solid meal!

¹ Personally, I'd like to know how they might affect the behavior of cats. But it's not clear that Tg actually makes it into their brains, given it's busy mating in their guts.

#787 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Dave Harmon @786, I don't think I've ever seen such a story where the aliens had to learn how to infest us. ROT-13 for very minor spoiler: Qba'g Zven Tenag'f gncrjbezf va "Cnenfvgr" qb guvf? Unf gb yrnea gb jnyx, gb gnyx, rgp, va n cebprff gung gnxrf jrrxf be zbaguf?...?

#788 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 10:50 AM:

I think people are disgusted at parasites in general, even if the parasites don't infect us.

The point about parasites generally being r-breeders seems more relevant. I'd have to whomp something up about very large long-lived hosts, and possibly the intelligent parasites having once been free-living earlier in their history, and then moving into the hosts.

As for The Puppet Masters, I feel as though the puppet masters were somewhat their own monsters, and have a bit more going for them (as fiction) than being an anti-communist symbol, but if I reread the book, I'll see how they look to me now.

Any thoughts about what a reasonable response to a puppet master invasion would be?

As I recall, aside from any rights issues relating to a requirement of public nudity, Heinlein didn't address the little matter of cold weather.

I wonder how the story would have looked if the puppet masters had the habit of taking reasonable care of their hosts.

As for Atlas Shrugged, I've known a person or two who disagreed with the politics but enjoyed it for the story (not the prose).

Offhand, it's the only example I can think of for a drab dystopia-- no sexual weirdness (Handmaid's Tale), no outrageous surveillance, no pervasive nasty tech used by the bad guys. It's mostly poverty and bad laws.

#789 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 11:14 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 747: From what I've read, the narratives/facts of official provocateurs and "outside agitators" have nothing in common. I suppose they could both be considered part of the authoritarian story-twisting toolkit.

Elliott Mason @ 770: be warned that Modesitt varies a lot. I wouldn't have recommended Princeps as it is #5 in a series (or possibly #2 in a 2nd trilogy?); IMO he runs some of his universes into the ground, despite a professed policy (in a Locus interview) of writing no more than three books with the same characters. I found Of Tangible Ghosts fascinating and have liked most of his recent science fiction; I thought The Magic of Recluce (first written, very late chronologically) did nobody-has-all-the-answers very well.

Paula @ 773: The Sword of Aldones (1962) was rewritten into Sharra's Exile (1981). IIRC, Dyan Ardais in tSoA was a simple villain whose sex preferences weren't discussed; those came up in The Heritage of Hastur (1975), in which he was also sufficiently repentant to make his victim his heir. Repentance doesn't make him a good man -- but it does add depth to the history, which MZB did in several later works after writing basic adventure stories for the first decade or so. (See, e.g., the changing treatment of the "Amazon"s.) It also adds to the tangle of arguments around her personal life....

Cally @ 775: there's a lot of room between what people on the line think and what high command thinks they think. (e.g., "Damage to unit cohesiveness" was a common excuse for barring gays, as if the chance of one man making a pass at another was more damaging than, e.g., endemic bullying.) What goes with that (cf Paula@783) is how much command actually knows; the vestiges of a class system in US military command (e.g., the number of people trained as officers without serving on the line) probably doesn't help communication.

#790 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 11:29 AM:

Dave 786: ...or an egg-laying species horrified by our internal gestation.

Working on one of those. "Feeding your young on your bodily secretions? Yuck! Why can't you regurgitate into their mouths like us more advanced species?"

Hmm. Maybe the breastfeeding-ophobes really are dinosaurs...

#791 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 11:49 AM:

P J Evans@778: Reading my great-granduncle's Civil War journal, there are references to roasting pork in a baker's oven, so I would expect any village with an oven to be capable of providing roast meat.

Someone once gave me a description of their family's Easters in Egypt. (Rough arithmetic says this would have been about 50 years ago.) The routine included each family preparing a lamb for cooking before church and leaving the lambs in their pans at the baker, then picking up the cooked lambs on the way home.

#792 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 11:52 AM:

Dave Harmon@786: egg-laying species horrified by our internal gestation.

I'm reminded of Ursula Vernon's Digger and disparaging comments about placental mammals.

#793 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 12:25 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @788: As for Atlas Shrugged, I've known a person or two who disagreed with the politics but enjoyed it for the story (not the prose).

I think I tried the book and promptly ran aground but there are a couple of movies floating around Netflix (Parts 1 & 2; 3 never got made, far as I know), and I found the first one to be a tolerable evening's fun.

Xopher @790: "lactophobes"? Hey! That's me! :-)

#794 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 12:43 PM:

@No means force Particle: I was walking home from work last week. Saw a Mom, Dad, and Kid down the street on bicycles. As I approach, about a block away, Kid starts pitching the most screamingest fit I've witnessed in quite a while, so much so that, as I'm coming parallel to them, resident of the closest house comes out, phone in hand, and asks, "Is everything all right here?" Yes, yes, all fine, Dad says.

As I continue past, screaming fit continues, with low-voiced persuasions on the part of Dad. As I cross intersection, I work out that Dad is trying to teach Kid how to ride a bike, and kid is emphatic: "No, I don't want to do this!" That Dad is setting up to do this on a busy street, near as I can tell, lends credence to Kid's opinion.

Dad relents to the extent of suggesting a park a half-block away. (Kid's nervous system is now wound up to eleven; park's not gonna help, I thinks to myself. And why the hell didn't Dad start with the park?) Kid continues screaming, now bellowing "I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!" "Negotiations" continue. Finally, family gives in and heads back home. "Go, kid!" I think to myself.

#795 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Shouldn't 'lactophobes' be 'galactophobes'?

#796 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 12:53 PM:

The particle on forensic facial reconstructions reminds me of Heather Dewey-Hagborg's Stranger Visions.

#797 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:00 PM:

Cally @752 re: cowboys and beans

As I always understood the cowboys-and-beans phenomenon, the context was a cattle drive and you'd have a horse-drawn chuckwagon as portable kitchen. First thing in the morning (after breakfast) the chuckwagon would set out at a brisk pace for that evening's campsite. The cowboys would follow at a leisurely cattle-going-to-market pace. By the time they got to the campsite, the cook would have had half a day to get dinner ready. So the dynamics are a little different from what you'd get when your cook and supplies are part of the party and traveling at the same pace.

More generally (i.e., not in response to Cally), one of the biggest things that pseudo-medieval fantasy forgets about travel food is that medieval travelers were not moving through an empty landscape. There were plenty of local residents from whom one could obtain regular food.

#798 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:26 PM:

Fragano Ledgister: Shouldn't 'lactophobes' be 'galactophobes'?

"Afraid of galaxies?"

#799 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Nancy, Peter Watts take on The Thing seems relevant here, though not quite parasitism, in that our reaction to it is to see it that way.

And working forward from that I guess that another example would be nanobots forming collective intelligence organisms - The Borg, replicators etc. that can subsume you into them.

#800 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:50 PM:

Jacque -
Our galaxy is the Milky Way. Same root.

#801 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:50 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 797...

Cowboys and beans?
Cue in "Blazing Saddles".
(C'mon, someone had to say it.)

#802 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Heather Rose Jones@797: one of the biggest things that pseudo-medieval fantasy forgets about travel food is that medieval travelers were not moving through an empty landscape. There were plenty of local residents from whom one could obtain regular food.

Depending on where and when, there might even have been guide books like the Codex Calixtinus giving advice on where to eat.

#803 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:59 PM:

"...half the buildings in Who London are built on ancient crashed spaceships so presumably most of their neighbours are aliens anyway..."

- Neil W about why Victorian Londoners accept Madame Vastra

#804 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 03:59 PM:

#797 Heather Rose Jones - I was thinking the same thing re. medieval travellers. Pictures and period descriptions indicate that pilgrims travelling to a shrine even a couple of hundred miles away on foot, would often have only a shoulder bag of stuff, maybe a spare shirt, a water bottle and not much else. They would stay at hostels or beg food or alms from people.
Even those travelling to the Holy land would have little more than a chest of goods and money, a few spare clothes and what they wore.

Of course if you were rich you'd have carts and followers and servants and an inn to yourself (Although people would have to share beds), but the pseudo-medieval ideal is often badly wrong.
Also people don't seem to realise how much carts were used in general to travel long distances or carry things. You might change cart, and yes it was more expensive than water travel, but people, especially rich ones, were quite happy to pay for things to be carted a hundred miles or more across country.

#805 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 04:09 PM:

#794, Jacque:

I see "the kid will learn that if they scream loud enough / throw a tantrum they'll always get their way, parents need to be more firm" and variants regularly enough. (Often in combination with "the 70s were better" and "kids these days"/"parents these days" type of statements.) Giving in to a kid's every demand and forcing a kid against their will are both unhealthy extremes.

The poor kid you saw is probably going to associate bikes with fear for a long time.

#806 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 05:27 PM:

janra, #805: I see a large and significant difference between, "No, I'm not going to buy you the toy," and "I'm going to make you have a cosmetic procedure that you don't want, or force you to do something 'fun' that scares you." Context is important, and frequently forgotten.

#807 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Viki @774, Lila @785, Guthrie @804 The pseudo-medieval fantasy travellers often seem to be staying at eighteenth century coaching inns, which confuses everything. Such a place should offer a full menu (of an appropriate early modern sort).

It shouldn't be stew every day, but if you turn up late, unexpectedly*, it's not unreasonable for the food that's available to be the stuff in the stewpot and the left over bread. Although porridge or pottage (or bacon and beans) would be more actual medieval.

Serge @803 - and you fixed my spelling! Yay!

* On a dark and stormy night

#808 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 06:56 PM:

#806, Lee: That's way too much nuance for most facebook shares. (Where I usually see such sentiments.)

Which is to say, I completely agree with you.

#809 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 08:13 PM:

Wow, John A Arkansawyer, #779, that's some mighty powerful egoboo you're handing out!

Lest it go to my head, allow me to point out that people who actually fly the spacecraft are cooler. I bask in the reflected glow from the Voyager project.

I would like to have had a part in operating, or designing, or building spacecraft.* But my life did not unfold that way.

In pursuit of cool experiences, I have tried to figure out where the levers are, and create opportunities where I can. ("Study physics" turned out to be a good start.**) I've also benefited a bit from luck, and enormously from the kindness and generosity of others.

Sharing is important. I can try to bring what I've learned to audiences, or show people Fermilab when they're visiting Chicago, or explain stuff online.

Thanks for the kind words.


*Contrary to a boast I once made (for humorous effect) to a room full of SETI scientists, the swarms of neutrinos I have helped create would not be counted by most people as "launching payloads into interstellar space."

**So did "Should I spend the money to attend this conference on Rocket Belts?"

#810 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 09:24 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 770: I also second that Modesitt has a wide range of readability; he's been at this for a couple of decades now, with a tremendous output, and some of his early stuff is quite raw. I tend to prefer his science fiction to his fantasy (though his later fantasy is higher quality); because of your interest in vocal music, you might like Archform: Beauty, which has a side story of a vocal teacher in an era with a pop form that is the natural progression of autotune, to the point where vocal excellence is a dying art form.

#811 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 11:29 PM:

Cassy B. #787: Having not read Parasite, I'll take your word for it. I'd consider that a point in the author's favor. (ISTR from discussions that these are another designed form, made by humans? If so, more points.)

Nancy Lebovitz #788: A reasonable response to a puppet-master invasion would depend on their weaknesses. If they can just take people over undetectably, odds are they win. (See also The Thing.) If they need weeks or months to learn how to walk and talk, the scenario is similar to a cult that's kidnapping recruits; that is, a police problem. If they can be scanned for, we'd leverage the existing protocols for security checkpoints, and so on. For RAH's scenario, note that skintight and revealing clothing is already a lot more common now than it was when he was writing -- and so is surrendering bags at checkpoints.

Another question is what actually happens to the host -- mind destroyed, traumatized, or recoverable?

#812 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 12:01 AM:

Carol Kimball @800: Well, I'll be. Never made that connection before. Huh! Learn some'in new...!

janra @805: The poor kid you saw is probably going to associate bikes with fear for a long time.

With fear, with being forced to do things against their will....

Yeah, I can speculate wildly on that family dynamic. Any way you slice it, not a happy business.

#813 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 12:23 AM:


Yup. I was gobsmacked to make the connection: galaxy, galactic, lactic, lactate, lactose, all milk.

Milk! Milk for the morning cake!!!

...trundles off to dig out my book for a little Sendak interlude.

Followed by Milne's "The King's Breakfast" which features a cooperative Alderney giving milk for his porringer.

And Ted Sturgeon wrote a poem rhyming " or..." with "porringer". He copied it out for me, and I have no idea where it is now. It's in my head, and that's enough.

#814 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 07:42 AM:

With reference to the galaxy/lactose connection, there is a sugar called galactose. Lactose is a combination of one glucose and one galactose.

I find the earlier comment about 7 knitters being necessary to keep up with one spinner interesting. I am currently using a 6-ply wool, so there was a lot of spinning to make the wool.

#815 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 07:56 AM:

Lady Kay @ 814: I'm on my third run through Ursula Goodenough's The Spiritual Depths of Nature*. This time, galactose caught my eye and, ever since, I've been trying to make it funny.

*A wonderful book, by the way.

#816 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 08:29 AM:

I couldn't find an original copy of The Puppet Masters--they're all improved by editing*, except maybe Podkayne, aren't they?--when this thread made me want a little Heinlein.

However, I'd like to point out a couple of things from memory.**

Svefg, gur fyhtf qvqa'g whfg ynaq ba Rnegu naq tb gb gbja. Gurl'q orra erpbaabvgrevat sbe praghevrf. Gurl'q gnxra crbcyr, vapyhqvat n jubyr pbybal ba Irahf, sbe rkcrevzragngvba. Gurl'q unq nzcyr gvzr gb nqwhfg gurve ovbybtl fb gurl pbhyq cerl ba crbcyr, naq fghql bhe phygher fb gurl pbhyq znxr n tbbq cyna. Gurl nyfb unq npprff gb gur ubfg'f zvaq naq pbhyq pbrepr vgf pbbcrengvba.

Frpbaq, gur pbyq jrngure vffhr jnf qrnyg jvgu va cnffvat ol abgvat gur qvssvphygvrf juvpu jvagre jbhyq oevat. (Gur fyhtf znqr n tbbq cyna, abg n terng bar.)

Somewhere in my reading through the threads Teresa linked, I saw the notion that to be a trufan was to be able to explain exactly what is wrong with Heinlein's writing.

If there's another reaction against Heinlein and his writing (this time as much against one faction of his fans as against him), I myself would like to see it not go overboard.

It's time to get him right and move on.

*One wonders what might have been had Heinlein had a male editor*** for the juveniles.

**I hope I get them right. What I picked up was The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and I couldn't find something in it I'd quoted elsewhere. In other news, I've gotten old.

***Neither the main entry or the Heinlein juveniles entry, neither Red Planet nor The Star Beast, and not even Starship Troopers names Alice Dalgliesh. However, the Starship Troopers entry does name the editor who bought it. (I feel cheap doing this, but I won't name him here.) If anyone wants to correct this omission, tell us how it goes.

#817 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 08:47 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #816: Wait, I thought they were taken off n fuvc sbhaq sebmra ba Gvgna? Also from memory, which may well be flaky at this remove.

#818 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 09:23 AM:

BTW, Girl Genius just pulled an awesome time-travel bait-and-switch on the viewers. This in the middle of another time-related plot that's turning dark, with a third on the mantlepiece. The mini-arc starts August 13, 2014.

#819 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 09:44 AM:

For your consideration: Male Novelist Jokes

#820 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 09:46 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 817: Not quite. It was frrvat gur vafvqrf bs gur pncgherq Gvgnavna fuvc, juvpu vapyhqrq cnenfvgvmrq uhznaf va fhfcraqrq navzngvba, gung ergenhzngvmrq Nyyhdhrer*, jub unq orra va n fvzvyne gnax. Jura gurl qryirq vagb ure cnfg, gung tnir hf gur sngr bs gur Juvgznavgr** pbybal ba Irahf, juvpu va ghea tnir gur xrl gb qrsrngvat gur fyhtf. I think I have that right.

*What was her other name? The one used throughout the novel? I really am getting old.

**What a nice touch! They should exist. Like Dr. Manhattan, perhaps I'll create some.

#821 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 10:55 AM:

Among our many random encounters in London, this bit of open threadiness:

Mouse melons

Adorable grape-sized watermelon/cucumber things. Suitable for a dollhouse, and tasty with Pimm's. How did I not know that these existed?

#822 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 11:12 AM:

Jacque #798: Carol Kimball explained it perfectly.

#823 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 11:17 AM:

Carol Kimball #813: It's like wondering if the ancient Greeks and Romans thought the universe was made of wood (hyle/materia). The states of wood being earth, air, fire, and water does seem very, ahem, mystical.

#824 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 11:24 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #816 (also everyone else commenting on The Puppet Masters):

I took two things from my reading of the book forty years ago (dammit, I read the book in 1974!) one was the repeated use of the phrase 'harem guards' for eunuchs, I found that both quaint and annoying, the other was the description of the president as 'the prisoner of Congress'. That I found useful. So useful that I've used it in American Government exams.

#825 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 11:41 AM:

#823 ::: Fragano Ledgister
It's like wondering if the ancient Greeks and Romans thought the universe was made of wood (hyle/materia). The states of wood being earth, air, fire, and water does seem very, ahem, mystical.


I do love this site.

Will some poetry* be forthcoming on the states of wood? Ford's "Entropy" could headline the collection.

*looking at you, Fragano**, hint hint hint

**and everybody else

#826 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 12:08 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @816 & Dave Harmon @817: Lrf, gurl pnzr gb Rnegu sebz Irahf, ohg V qba'g erpnyy gur Irahfvna
pbybal orvat "rkcrevzragrq ba", cre fr. Vg jnf n "Irahfvna srire" gung ghearq bhg gb or gur zrnaf bs qrsrngvat gurz, naq nyfb gur ernfba bar bs gur cebgntbavfgf unq fheivirq gung vainfvba. Qba'g erpnyy nalguvat nobhg n fuvc ba Gvgna, ovg vg'f orra ntrf. V qb erzrzore gung gurl pbhyq cnenfvgvmr qbtf naq pngf, fb V guvax gur jubyr "pbzcngvoyr ovbybtl" guvat jnf whfg tybffrq bire.

I need to go reread that again.

However, the Starship Troopers entry does name the editor who bought it. (I feel cheap doing this, but I won't name him here.)

Por qua?

Sandy B. @819: Hm. Maybe I'm reading the wrong novels by males....

#827 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 12:17 PM:

V qb erzrzore gung gurl pbhyq cnenfvgvmr qbtf naq pngf, fb V guvax gur jubyr "pbzcngvoyr ovbybtl" guvat jnf whfg tybffrq bire.

Once you've got one placental mammal, you're probably good for all of them. There's no mention of them taking over, say, birds (flying zombification slug!) or lizards or fish...

#828 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 12:43 PM:

Jacque @ 826: Por qua?

Because I'm tit for tatting. It seems to me that omitting Alice Dalgliesh's name, who was an accomplished editor and writer of children's books is a deliberate snub. So I'm skipping this guy.

Which is petty of me.

About The Puppet Masters:

Gur cebgntbavfgf jrer ba gurve jnl gb Gvgna gb jvcr bhg gur fyhtf ng gur raq bs gur abiry. Nyy gur npgvba gnxrf cynpr ba Rnegu, jvgu n synfuonpx gb Irahf. Gur fyhtf unq pncgherq gur ragver Juvgznavgr pbybal gurer naq hfrq gurz nf ubfgf. Nyyhdhrer--Znel! Gung jnf gur cfrhqbalz fur fghpx jvgu!--Znel unq frra ure zbgure cnenfvgvmrq* naq orra jbhaqrq ol gur punatr va ure, ohg rfpncrq orvat cnenfvgvmrq urefrys hagvy fur jnf byqre. Jurgure fur jnaqrerq bss naq tbg fvpx ng gung gvzr be jurgure gur fyhtf nyy qvrq sebz gur vasrpgvba vf hapyrne. Abj gung lbh oevat vg hc, gur ynggre vf yvxryvre. V unqa'g pbafvqrerq gung.

V nffhzr gurl jrer orvat rkcrevzragrq ba, ohg vg'f nyfb cbffvoyr gur fyhtf jrer hfvat Irahf nf n fgntvat onfr naq snvyrq. V unqa'g pbafvqrerq gung, rvgure.

*Zbhagrq vf gur jbeq Urvayrva hfrq, ersreevat ng yrnfg bapr gb n ubefr jvgu n evqre, ohg V rkcrpg ur vagraqrq gur frkhny vzcyvpngvba nf jryy. Erpnyy gung gur ubfgf jrer fbeg bs unccl juvyr cnenfvgvmrq. Ahzo, ohg unccl, be ng yrnfg fngvfsvrq.

#829 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 12:52 PM:

Yeah, definitely gotta go read that again.

tit for tat

Gotcha. I'm a little slow this morning.

#830 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 01:57 PM:

Happy birthday, Fragano!

#831 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 02:08 PM:

So last night it was Heinlein.

Today for lunch, I walked and chatted with a Jewish friend on my way to a halal grocery store--great chicken shwarma sandwiches--to read Beyond God the Father over lunch.

O America!

I was struck immediately by how like Mary Daly I am in certain ways. She is so free with her capital letters, which is a Good Thing. Her language is incredibly playful.

Then in drops the turd of transphobia.

And I remain delighted by her writing, just as I remained delighted by Heinlein's writing last night. Someday, I plan to be the sort of trufan who can compare the wrongs of Heinlein and Daly.

I have only two further comments to make on her at this time:

She is incredibly good at crediting phrases from telephone and personal conversations.

And would it have hurt her to use the phrase "process theology" once? It's not in the index, so I guess it's not in the book. But is it ever strung all through what she's saying!

#832 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 818 ...
BTW, Girl Genius just pulled an awesome time-travel bait-and-switch on the viewers. This in the middle of another time-related plot that's turning dark, with a third on the mantlepiece. The mini-arc starts August 13, 2014.

Thanks Dave... I hope I'll have forgotten that by the time I get around to catching up again ... :P

#833 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 05:43 PM:

John A Arkansawyer, I like to read a lot of older novels, anywhere from seventy to a couple of hundred years old (while there are occasional "novels" older than that, they're scarce on the ground for casual reading.) Sometimes there's just a nasty bit right in the middle that throws you right out of the world (I'm thinking Agatha Christie and the racism that is part of the time, ever so casually dropped in.)

I still enjoy those novels, but those moments certainly throw me out for a while.

#834 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 06:46 PM:

Open threadiness.

Why can nobody make a decent BLT these days?

Twice now I go, not to some fast food TA, but to boutique cafes that advertise their pride in really good simple food, and twice, BLT's that are somewhere between dreck and incompetent. Limp, greasy bacon, and too much of it, wilted greens, tomato meh, both refrigerated, hence chilling the bacon and solidifying its fat, on a wrong bread product, one of them burned both sides, the other not toasted at all, and again straight out of the chiller.

What's so hard? You use ONE layer of crisp rindless bacon cut in thin rashers, which you get crisp by brief searing in a HOT pan, (not a fairly cool one where you leave it until it's burned around the edges, because it'll still be limp). You use a roll or a bap, white, wholemeal or granary as preferred by the customer, and a handful of shredded salad greens and tomato, all fresh, but at room temperature. The roll is cut and placed cut side down on a hotplate just long enough to colour it and heat it through, while simultaneously the bacon is fried crisp (this also releases fat) and dried on kitchen paper. The roll is removed from the hotplate, briefly spread with less than a dessertspoon of mayo (unless the customer prefers not), and the sandwich rapidly assembled, seasoned, and sent to the table while it's still hot.

It's not rocket science, but it's pretty easy to stuff up, and they stuffed it up comprehensively.

And in the last instance, charged $15.00 for it. I didn't eat it, and I'd have sent it back and refused to pay, but Sally didn't want to make a fuss.

Kitchens these days...

#835 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 06:56 PM:

B. Durbin @ 833 re: older novels with nasty bits

Tell me about it! Although, in some ways, the much older novels are less jarring because the expectations are lower. I've just finished reading the 1744 novel-like-object "The Travels and Adventures of Mademoiselle de Richelieu" which came to my attention in the course of my Lesbian Historic Motif Project blog series. I had my expectations all calibrated for translating the protagonists (2 women who travel around Europe in male clothing, flirting madly with all the girls, vocally disdaining men and marriage, but regularly expressing love and desire for each other along with physical affection, all the while maintaining "we are just very good friends" even though we have pledged to live together 'til death parts us') as "OMG we are so gay we might as well dye our hair in rainbows!" So the very coy avoidance of an out-and-out identification of the women as lesbians didn't bother me. But then I'd come across an episode of not merely casual but jovial anti-semitism, or of revulsion for the very concept of male homosexuality, and that would throw me sideways. (There were various other bits of casual bigotry, and a delicate balance between the protagonists' dismissal of traditional gender roles and the occasional whiff of internalized misogyny, but those were the ones that stuck in memory.)

(By the way, if anyone is curious about the novel, I've blogged my read-through here.)

#836 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 07:42 PM:

Xopher #830: Thanks! Io Volturnalia!

#837 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 08:41 PM:

Dave Luckett@ 834: in the US, at least, it is nearly impossible for a restaurant to legally serve anything at room temperature. Everything must be kept at health-department-approved safe handling temperatures (for raw produce, refrigerated - and yes, I know refrigeration shortens shelf life and ruins flavor for tomatoes) until just before serving.

This drove the sushi chef at a place I worked NUTS. He went to great lengths to get his sushi rice the right temperature etc, and then he was forced by regulation to put the cut rolls in a fridge, which by his lights made them trash.

#838 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 09:48 PM:

apropos the exchange most recent of which is at #751 about some languages having less space between the words.

My high school once brought in a speaker from the African National Congress. He kept talking about what I heard as "the ayency" and I thought he was saying "the agency" so I was confused.

#839 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 10:15 PM:

Elliott Mason # 837:

Sushi contains raw fish, no? Or usually?

I can see why that has to be refrigerated if it is not to be eaten immediately. But lettuce and tomato?

That's crazy.

#840 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 10:27 PM:

Dave: according to my informant, sushi containing properly cut and prepared fish and wrapped in the proper warmish rice is safe to eat after several hours unrefrigerated. But Chicago's health code feels unrefrigerated raw produce is an unacceptable health risk.

#841 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 10:59 PM:

HLN: Local man just saw the steam-powered car which was, more than a century ago, the first automobile to ever come to man's locality.

#842 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 04:39 AM:

Chris @841:

I know those steam-powered cars were slow, but you'd have thought it'd have got out of the locality again by now.

#843 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 07:29 AM:

James @#842:

You can't get the wood, you know.

</Goon Show>

#844 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 11:26 AM:

dotless ı @ 791: that's a long-established multiple-use case; I've read similar (and for everyday oven needs, not just feast days) in medieval England. Continuing the custom this late isn't surprising, given how uncommon our conveniences are in the worldwide picture; for comparison, there's a Scottish settlement, now preserved, where (from the on-site description) people were living under the same roof as farm animals until ca. 1964.

Heather Rose Jones @ 797: that's for large-scale operations that could afford (and capitalize) a cook; beans-and-coffee-around-the-fire is a trope for smaller groups, so much so that Eric Bogle used it in a song about his childhood.

John A. Arkansawyer @ 816: they're all improved by editing*, except maybe Podkayne, aren't they? Works through at least Stranger in a Strange Land were certainly subject to editing; do we have documentation of what any other work was like when it was submitted?

Dave Luckett @ 834: maybe because the owners are concentrating on making the job as easy as possible ("Unwrap packets H, Q, and X onto bread; serve") because they pay/treat the workforce so poorly that anyone with a scrap of brains/initiative gets out as soon as possible? Around Aussiecon 4, U.S. comments about served-food prices were met with "That's because the tip is included, because we pay the servers a living wage!" -- but that doesn't cover the staff that prepares the food. Does Oz treat them better than the U.S. (where staff at even good restaurants tend to be underpaid and overworked)?
      We've just had a demonstration (Demoulases' Market Basket foofaraw) that management-by-greed isn't as effective as good sense -- but I wonder how this will be taught in business-school cases.

#845 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 11:38 AM:

poking at a Dread Pirate ISE....

#846 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 11:47 AM:

@ various: I can understand boards of health being nervous about pre-made sushi; AFAIK, stores/foodstands queue stock (i.e., what's most reachable is oldest), but they don't have procedures for getting rid of stock after some small number of hours (as opposed to "junk it all when the outlet closes for the day"). Given U.S. management tactics, I wouldn't trust retailers to put in such procedures and train the staff to make the procedures work. Not that I disagree that refrigerated sushi is a glutinous abomination; I just wouldn't trust the alternative, even if it had a time stamp that I could evaluate correctly: e.g., "Is this time real or VA-standard?", "Just how many hours is this type of fish safe at room temperature, when I don't even know how long ago it was caught?", etc.

#847 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 12:03 PM:

CHip @ 844: A fair point.

What we do have are variant versions of Red Planet, about a wash, and The Puppet Masters, considerably improved. I get why he wanted to write a "tough" book--offhand, only Orphans of the Sky is similar in tone and attitude--but it conflicts with the emotional movement. Sam changes a lot more than I'm willing to believe in the revised version.

There's honest emotion in that book, not unlike the family drama in the one I finally re-read last week, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, which, like Wagner, is better than it sounds.

I've come to believe that's true of all late Heinlein. Maybe it's the fans that ruin them.

#848 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 12:24 PM:

Lee @709: What would you put in the sentence, "Goggles and gears and ______, oh my!" to maintain both the alliteration and the steampunk theme?

A few days late on this conversation, but I filled in the blank with 'gyros' ("Goggles and gear and gyros").

But "Goggles and gyros and gears" might be a better match with "Lions and tigers and bears".

#849 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 12:38 PM:

Rob Rusick (848): The problem with 'gyros' in that context is the existence of the food item by that name. The food is my first reference for the term, I had to stop and reconceptualize to get your intended meaning of 'gyros'.

#850 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Mary Aileen@849: The problem with 'gyros' in that context is the existence of the food item by that name.

Some grillpunk to go with your steampunk?

#851 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 02:07 PM:

I may be wrong, but I thought "gyros" (JI-rohs, soft G) are instruments and "gyros" (GEE-rohs, hard G) are food.

#852 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 02:20 PM:

Lori, you're right, but as with 'forte' ("FOR-tay," loud) and 'forte' ("FORT," strength) enough people mispronounce the one as the other that it might still be confusing.

#853 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 02:38 PM:

Lori Coulson (851): Maybe, maybe not*, but in written form--as on a t-shirt--it's a moot point, since they're spelled exactly the same.

*I initially learned to pronounce the food 'year-os', but everyone here says 'jy-roes'. I have never heard the word pronounced with a hard 'g', for either meaning.

#854 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 02:43 PM:

Mary Aileen @843, here in Chicago the sliced lamb sandwich is usually pronounced "YEER-rows" with an initial tight back-of-the-throat like an unvoiced hard "g". If that makes any sense. It's a sort of harder, more stressed Y sound.

I'm not explaining this very well...

#855 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Cassy B. (854): You're explaining it better than I did. In other words, that's what I meant and didn't manage to say.

#856 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 02:56 PM:

Lori Coulson @851:

I've always heard gyros-the-food as "yee-rohs" or even "hee-rohs".

It's the same "gyre", though, at any rate - the word refers to the spit that the meat turns on in the authentic version. (I recently learned from a Greek colleague that in Greece the customary meat for gyros is pork, rather than lamb.)

#857 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 03:59 PM:

The stores where I see ready-to-eat sushi are making it for sale the same day, I think. (It's not restaurant-grade sushi, but I wouldn't expect better.) It's in a refrigerated open case, like the ones used for cheese.

#858 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 04:00 PM:

The stores where I see ready-to-eat sushi are making it for sale the same day, I think. (It's not restaurant-grade sushi, but I wouldn't expect better.) It's in a refrigerated open case, like the ones used for cheese.

The dreaded Internal Server Error...

#859 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 05:30 PM:

Now I want sushi. Only a few more days until I can have some!

#860 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 07:20 PM:

B. Durbin @859

To each their own. It is purely and only a personal reaction that the thought of eating raw fish makes me nauseous.

#861 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 08:08 PM:

#804 guthrie

Benjamin of Tudela around a thousand years ago, stayed at co-religionists' houses in his travels.

#862 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 08:23 PM:

Dave Luckett @860 It is purely and only a personal reaction that the thought of eating raw fish makes me nauseous.

I still remember a radio ad from more than 20 years ago. It was for a restaurant chain called The Black-Eyed Pea, located in the south and midwest US, with a menu leaning toward classic Americana like meatloaf and chicken fried steak. In the ad, a man with an accent I'd call Good Ol' Boy said he'd rather go to the Black-Eyed Pea than some other fancy restaurant because "raw fish ain't fit for nothin' but bait."

#863 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 09:16 PM:

The Particle on "all dogs go to heaven" is an absolute hoot. Thanks, Teresa.

#864 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 09:31 PM:

In fact, the fish on sushi isn't necessarily raw. Some kinds have to be cooked (eel, for example).
I understand that sashimi is always uncooked, though. (Some kinds of sushi don't include fish: the rice is the main ingredient, and the rest is relish/topping.)

#865 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 10:26 PM:

The "All Dogs Go to Heaven" Particle is a hoot, yes, but I regret to inform you that it's also a hoax. It was put together using a make-your-own church sign website. It's still a marvelous pictorial short story.

#866 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 10:29 PM:

The dreaded Server Error strikes again.

#867 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 10:38 PM:

Cally, Teresa's mouseover text (almost described it as the "voiceover") describes it as "Yes it's a folkloric document. It's still funny." So yeah, she counts on this audience to know.

#868 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 11:29 PM:

CHip #844:

I see that the Australian average wage for a kitchenhand/kitchen attendant is close to the legal minimum at $A17.35 per hour for standard hours. Overtime is paid at time-and-a-half, unless the management wants to be prosecuted, but shift and working-on-public-holiday loadings in the industry have been pretty much abolished.

Casuals are paid a 20% loading, but accrue no paid leave.

#869 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 02:24 AM:

Good lord, Dave, your country actually believes in paying people something approaching a living wage? The US federal minimum wage is less than half yours: $US 7.25, about $A 7.80.

#870 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 02:27 AM:

I am not sure that todays XKCD is all that special, but I am sure we would all appreciate the sentiment.

#871 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 06:20 AM:

I may have this wrong, but rumour says that when Wal-Mart were negotiating to set up here, they casually remarked to our Federal Government that the labour laws would have to be amended to allow them to hire on contract only, and ignore what we call "award" rates of pay and conditions. Oh, and the unions would be locked out, of course.

The response appears to have nonplussed them. Still no Wal-marts in Australia.

#872 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 08:37 AM:

Another good thing about Australia. They're adding up.

#873 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 08:24 PM:

I know this is kind of a long shot, even for an open thread, but I wondered if any Fluorospherians have recent experience of the security at Sea-Tac airport? The TSA in Boston requires travelers to pick up their carry-on bags and put them into the scanners with their own hands. I can use my knee to help get a suitcase onto the table, or sometimes a stranger will help me when the guards' backs are turned. I still can't get a 15-20 lb suitcase over the little ledge right before the machine itself without doing further injury to my hands or elbows. I thought it was just one bad TSA agent that threatened me when I asked for help and said I wouldn't be allowed to fly if I didn't do it myself, but it's happened consistently at Logan. (BWI doesn't object when somebody else in line pushes the bag over the ledge, and some agents at IAD actually help.)

I'm flying out of Sea-Tac soon (going to Boston, as it happens.) I'd prefer to avoid the extra charge and long wait for checking a bag, but that may be TSA's price of getting over that 1" ledge in such an awkward position. Does anybody know?

#874 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 08:24 PM:

I know this is kind of a long shot, even for an open thread, but I wondered if any Fluorospherians have recent experience of the security at Sea-Tac airport? The TSA in Boston requires travelers to pick up their carry-on bags and put them into the scanners with their own hands. I can use my knee to help get a suitcase onto the table, or sometimes a stranger will help me when the guards' backs are turned. I still can't get a 15-20 lb suitcase over the little ledge right before the machine itself without doing further injury to my hands or elbows. I thought it was just one bad TSA agent that threatened me when I asked for help and said I wouldn't be allowed to fly if I didn't do it myself, but it's happened consistently at Logan. (BWI doesn't object when somebody else in line pushes the bag over the ledge, and some agents at IAD actually help.)

I'm flying out of Sea-Tac soon (going to Boston, as it happens.) I'd prefer to avoid the extra charge and long wait for checking a bag, but that may be TSA's price of getting over that 1" ledge in such an awkward position. Does anybody know?

#875 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 08:36 PM:

Adrian @ 874 ...
I'm flying out of Sea-Tac soon (going to Boston, as it happens.) I'd prefer to avoid the extra charge and long wait for checking a bag, but that may be TSA's price of getting over that 1" ledge in such an awkward position. Does anybody know?

It's not about Sea-Tac specifically, but you might see if the airline can provide you with assistance (re: ADA).

#876 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 08:36 PM:

I fly out of SeaTac regularly, but I haven't had difficulty with lifting my bags -- so I don't know if this is a problem or not. Sounds like an ADA lawsuit waiting to happen, to me -- "reasonable accomodation" being the operative phrase to bring up.

#877 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 08:50 PM:

Let us not become complacent. The Abbott government is replete with a bunch of crazed loons, and it is now (as we say) very much on the nose - but it has another two years to run, and Labor is showing no particular sign of getting its act together. It lost the last election on the obvious fact that it was at daggers drawn with itself. Obvious to everyone except Labor, that is.

Recently, the mad monk has gratuitously commented on the possibility that Scotland may go its own way ("Treason," he cried) and prefigured getting involved in Iraq again. This and reaping a rich harvest of what we thought was private information, from reading everyone's emails.

There were rumblings from the back bench about the last, but really, there should have been a full-blown party room revolt. We'll see.

#878 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 08:51 PM:

Hi Adrian; unfortunately I can't tell you specifically for Sea-Tac.

My experience of the Portland airport, on several flights in recent years, is that they had genuinely nice TSA and security people who were trying to be as pleasant and helpful as possible.* Unfortunately while I've flown via Sea-Tac I haven't gone through security there, so I can't tell you if my Portland experience generalizes to elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

* That seems to be the Oregon way of doing things for the most part. Why, it's as if they believe that people should be nice to each other, and that government is there for the benefit of the people! If that goes on, who knows where it might end up?

#879 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 09:47 PM:

Xeger (#875): unfortunately, I haven't had much luck getting formal help from airlines for hand/arm problems. Their "special services for accessibility" would be very useful if I had trouble walking or seeing. Having set up their business model so passengers can pay $25 for airline workers to carry a suitcase, I sort of understand the reluctance of airline workers to carry anything for free. (But it really is annoying when I need it moved less than 2".)

#880 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 01:40 AM:

Adrian: My recollection, from ~ 3 months ago at Seatac, is that there's a table, but no ledge leading into the machine. Everything pretty much slides/glides into the conveyer. My family's bags ended up as almost a train, getting pushed from the end into the machine. If there is a ledge, it's between the sort of wing table and the 8' table leading into the machine.

Perhaps carry a non metallic sling or hand brace to get through security?

#881 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 08:25 AM:

Dave Bell #870, re: XKCD #1414: And why would we want to write Ulysses, again? ;-) But yeah, constant practice with text. He doesn't mention the effect of autocorrect, but jokes aside, autocorrect not only shows you the right spelling of words while you're typing them, it gives mini-quizzes: "is this the proper word?" (scored by the person you're texting ;-) ).

(I think I'll take that thought over to his forums...)

#882 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 09:54 AM:

It could be worse.

They could be sexting so as to write Finnegans Wake

That looks to be one hell of an etext to proofread.

#883 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 10:23 AM:

Open threadiness: would anyone else be interested in a spoiler thread for John Scalzi's Lock In? I just finished it and am bursting with things to say about it. But I could just rot-13 if it won't mean condemning a dozen other people to rot-13 and everyone else to read past all the gibberish.

#884 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 10:30 AM:

To begin with, this review rightly highlights some of the book's many excellent traits, but 1. lrf gurer vf n jurrypunve va gur obbx, naq vg'f bar bs gur orfg ovgf; naq 2. vg znxrf na hajneenagrq nffhzcgvba nobhg gur cebgntbavfg.

#885 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 11:14 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 881:

autocorrect not only shows you the right spelling of words while you're typing them, it gives mini-quizzes: "is this the proper word?" (scored by the person you're texting ;-) ).

I see the smiley and like your joke, but in practice, it seems to be lowering my accuracy.

#886 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 11:30 AM:

Lila, your thread is open. Want me to delete comment #884?

#887 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Yes, thanks!

#888 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 01:18 PM:

Okay, I just need to boggle in public for a minute.

One of the local real estate agents has a mini-billboard kind of sign up spelling out the community name as follows (emphasis mine):



Considering that less than two years ago, hundreds of homes in Long Beach were substantially damaged or destroyed, 'everlasting' strikes me as an unfortunate choice of words. Completely tone-deaf, to say the least.

#889 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Thank you, Eric (#880). That's very good to know.

#890 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 02:05 PM:

It has just been reported, on the UK_Filk mailing list, that Joe Bethancourt has died.

#891 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 02:36 PM:

Dave Bell @890

I'm sad to hear it. He was a talented musician, and I always enjoyed his work.

#892 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 03:09 PM:

I hear that B Durbin has given birth to a little boy.

#893 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 03:10 PM:

I hear that B Durbin has given birth to a little boy.

#894 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 03:14 PM:

Only one. No twins.

#895 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 03:27 PM:

Congratulations on the new addition to the Durbin household!

#896 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 03:36 PM:

Yay B Durbin and the newest Durbinling!

#897 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 03:59 PM:

Congratulations to B and to the other Durbins!

#898 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 04:16 PM:

Hooray for B Durbin and progeny!

#899 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 06:13 PM:

Serge Broom #893: Yay, congratulations to B Durbin!

#900 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 06:51 PM:

Wonderful! Congratulations to B Durbin!

#901 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 07:48 PM:

Hoorah for B Durbin and family :)

#902 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 10:27 PM:

B Durbin: Yay!

#903 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Wild overreaction department: Dorchester County (Maryland) teacher hauled off for psych evaluation, school searched for weapons because he wrote a couple of novels under a pen name, one of which includes a school shooting.

#904 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 10:52 PM:

Set centuries in the future. Haven't those administrators ever heard of fiction?

#905 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 11:08 PM:

Has any school shooter before written a published novel about it? I don't think so. There's a spurious correlation happening here.

An example of "write what you know" gone wrong....

#906 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Congratulations, B Durbin!

#907 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 08:34 AM:

C. Wingate #903: Hmm. Looking for the book described (The Insurrectionist), I found This, which appears to match the description. However, there's also this one, which doesn't match the keywords, but the description sounds like it would be much more frightening to authorities. I'm wondering if somebody conflated the two books....

In any case, this at best a "thoughtcrime" case, if not a witch trial. And I don't think it's irrelevant that it happened to a black guy.

#908 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 10:36 AM:

I like how both new stories refer to his pen name as an "alias".

I guess I can scratch "teaching" off the list of things I might ever want to do at any time in the future, since I've made blog posts and written fiction under several "aliases". Too bad. I like teaching.

#909 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 10:43 AM:

Congratulations and best wishes to B Durbin and family.

#910 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 04:36 PM:

A day gone past, my woes were distant grief,
The morn that came hath driven home the blade.
My happiness is stolen by this thief.
My unmanning tears by this change are made.
And still remembered past is in my heart,
If only as a mem'ry to recall.
The day now gone is still of me a part,
A ghost to steer me past the dreaded fall.
I do not know why now she had to go.
And so I still remember yesterday.
The loss still closes in with steps so slow
But yestereve is still so bright and gay.
The past, it cannot go while I hold true
The memory of what I meant to you.

#911 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 05:17 PM:

Anyone know an Android app for Twitter that allows one to Mute lists?

I have a couple of friends in the UK who like to livetweet (opinions of episodes of, and occasionally outright spoilers for) Doctor Who. Since this is five hours before it's broadcast in the US, I need a solution. I almost unfollowed one of them for suggesting I just not look at Twitter on Saturday afternoon, and there are too many to Mute them individually (though actually only two of them livetweeted this week).

The native apps would allow me to put everyone EXCEPT the UK Whovians in a list and read only people on that list, but building that list would take for effin' ever.

Obviously this is not going to ruin my life either way, but now that the new season has started it's in my mind again.

#912 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 06:13 PM:

Dave Bell, that's beautiful in a sad wistful way.

#913 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 06:17 PM:

Dave Bell: I didn't realize what you were doing until I read line 9. Very nice.

#914 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Dave Bell @910, I see what you did there. Well done, sir, well done. <applause>

#915 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 10:00 PM:

HLN: Local woman apparently encounters a new type of wood, lurking for years in her own home. "It was remarkable," she reports, upon cutting a piece scavanged from a shelf that had been taken down years ago. "I presumed it was just your bog-standard pine, which comprises, like, 90% of the wood used around here. The cut ends even look like regular old pine." She reports that it had a strong, sweet, tangy, distinctly fruity smell, which she'd never encountered before. Woman further compares the smell to the old "Juicy Fruit" brand of chewing gum. "Remarkable," she said, how things like that can still surprise you." She offers no speculation on what kind of wood it actually is.

#916 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 10:40 PM:

Looks my father has a week or so left . . . deliberately, thanks to the thank-goodness-it-is-allowed hospice care option. It turns out friends of my parents are hospices nurses / facilitators, which will make the in-home arrangements more personal. Everyone is accepting and at peace with it all.

I just need to rehearse final phone calls. Argh.

Also hoping various relatives get a chance to visit. It is hard for already stressed caregivers to look up far-flung relations.

#917 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 10:56 PM:

Stefan Jones, condolences.

#918 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 11:01 PM:

Stefan Jones #916: My sympathies and condolences.

#919 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 11:21 PM:

Best wishes, Stefan Jones. Remember to take care of yourself in all this.

#920 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2014, 11:55 PM:

Thanks all!

#919, dang, I feel horribly guilty about having the *chance* -- thanks to being 2,800 miles away -- to take care of myself. I gave my sisters a long break from care giving and arranging when I was out there last week, but it still feels insufficient.

#921 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 12:17 AM:

Thanks to folk for their good wishes. The new Durbinling is Padreic, and he was nine pounds seven ounces, which you must note is still smaller than my first. I will post a pic once I actually have some up on Flickr, as a number of folk don't have FB.

#922 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 12:22 AM:

#921: Congratulations! May you have a chance to get some sleep.

#923 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 12:50 AM:

Congratulations to Bernadette, condolences to Stefan, and while I'm about it, best wishes for recovery to Velma.

#924 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 04:01 AM:

And I see I was cross-working with the gnomes on some old threads. Thank you, gnomes, for all your efforts, and please feel free to remove my spam-notification posts like you just removed the spam posts!

#925 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 07:50 AM:

Stefan, strength to you and your family. My mom spent her last days in hospice care; we too were grateful for the option.

#926 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 10:40 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer, #831: "Beyond God the Father" is the only one of Daly's books I kept. After that one, she made the capitalization utterly tiresome, could have shrunk each book by at least half without hurting it, and to the transphobia added technophobia, misandry and a form of essentialist-smelling mysticism that I couldn't quite make sense out of.
But the one I kept, that really helped me straighten a few things out, when I got it.

#927 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 12:29 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @886, thank you for the spoiler thread; I'm trying to start a book club type discussion on Lock In over on Compuserve (yes, it's still staggering along) and I'm really trying to avoid spoilers in case we do pick the book... <smile>

#928 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 12:30 PM:

Oh-no-second -- should I have written "another forum"? Please feel free to edit out forum name; I don't know your policy on that sort of thing.... <sheepish>

#929 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 03:08 PM:

Dave Luckett @ 868: So one would expect the employees could be trusted to do a decent job. Possibly the issue is capital centralization -- cooking everything in one place instead of having stoves in multiple shops -- although I wouldn't expect that to apply to a place charging $15 for a sandwich, even at Australian prices. (Centralizing kitchens isn't necessarily chaotic-mean; national chain Whole Foods preps much of the takeaway food for its greater-Boston grocery stores in one unattractive-to-consumers building, which lets them also centralize waste reduction.) Or the owners just don't think enough people will care enough to make a fuss.
      @871: I wonder whether Walmart have tried that stunt elsewhere? Canada doesn't count -- it's too close to the US to manage radically different labor standards -- but I wouldn't expect that approach to work even in post-Thatcher UK, let alone in mainland Europe. Sounds to me like a bigger mistake than the Kroger executive who tried to tell the Texas agriculture commissioner about size standards for buying watermelons....

C. Wingate @ 903 ff: They took him in for a "medical evaluation"?!? I may not be being fair, but I'm once again happy to have left Maryland.

#930 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 04:08 PM:

@929 CHip

@871: I wonder whether Walmart have tried that stunt elsewhere? Canada doesn't count -- it's too close to the US to manage radically different labor standards -- but I wouldn't expect that approach to work even in post-Thatcher UK, let alone in mainland Europe.

I'm not sure what you mean? Canada has had laws on the books for a long time that companies are not allowed to close just because employees have unionised - which is not to say Walmart hasn't tried it. They recently lost the case that the UCFW brought against them for doing so.

Don't assume that Canada's labour laws are exactly the same as the USA's. They're mostly not.

#931 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Condolences and strength to Stefan and family, as wanted and needed.

#932 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 05:29 PM:

I spoke with my father. He sounded rather reticent to talk, but one thing I suggested sparked some enthusiasm.

Apparently the last favor I'll be doing for him is the delivery of a two pound box of See's candy. (The non-sugar-free variety, because when you're in hospice, who cares?) With instructions not to share, unless he really wants to.

#933 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 06:07 PM:

Strength and peace to you, your father, and your family, Stefan.

#934 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 07:52 PM:

Congratulations to B. Durbin. Best of luck to Stefan and his family.

#935 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 08:05 PM:

Stefan Jones @832: That reminds me of when I went to visit Peggy Kennedy while she was in hospice with cancer. She wanted a double tall caramel latte. We brought it to her....

#936 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 11:36 PM:

Congratulations to B. Durbin and welcome-to-the-world to Padreic (And I hope I matched spelling correctly!)

Strength to Stefan Jones and family.

#937 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 11:48 PM:

And now for the hyper-local news:

Area woman is once again gravid. "The official due date is March 19th, but we all know how due dates work." Area woman is mostly relieved that the due date is sufficiently prior to late April/ any of May, which is already as full of birthdays and celebrations as it is possible for one month to be.*

Area child does not yet appear to grasp the concept of a new sibling, but no doubt will by March.

*I am quite surrounded by Tauruses. Brother, mother, husband, *and* at least 4 of my closest friends. Plus it's the month of my wedding anniversary.

#938 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2014, 11:59 PM:

Mazel tov, Lenora Rose! My mom is a retired nurse-midwife, and I gathered when she was working that plus or minus as much as three weeks from the "due date" is pretty normal.

#939 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 02:14 AM:

Stefan: It sounds like you're handing things very well. May it continue, but do feel free to come here and talk about things if it doesn't.

Lenora Rose: Congratulations! I hope the pregnancy goes well.

Cassy B: There is no rule, explicit or implicit, about not naming other fora here. Some people don't, if they don't want cross-linking, but it's always interesting (for me, at least) to see where else in the internet people are doing stuff.

#940 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 04:05 AM:

Everyone seems to be home from the Worldcon.

And today is the 75th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland.

For a while I could forget some things about today's wprld, but I can't say I was lost in the convention as I was in the conventions of a couple of decades ago.

Lili Marlene is still waiting at some barracks gate. Some things never change. And it seems there will always be Downfall parodies.

Where have all the flowers gone?

#941 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 08:45 AM:

Abi @939, thanks; some forums seem to think mentioning another forum will magically make their people abandon them. Me, I think the more the merrier, but I didn't want to step on any toes... <smile>

(So if anyone wants to wander over to the Science Fiction & Fantasy forum of Compuserve, they'd be quite welcome. It's a quiet place, these days, but I'm trying to get a book discussion going in the "Reading Group" section. Of Locked In, I hope...)

#942 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 10:48 AM:

Angiportus @ 926: One common theme I keep hearing about Mary Daly from many who find her valuable: "When did she go off off the rails?" Yet another compare and contrast with her and Heinlein.

I think I might have just invented a new field of study!

#943 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Hyper-local news. Long-distance friendship between child and Abi's child is working quite well. 6am here/12pm there is a perfect time for comparing drawings, it seems.

#944 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 12:14 PM:

re 942: Somewhere before footnote 47 of chapter 10 of Gyn/Ecology, which contains quotations from animals. In quotation marks. She also published an edition of Beyond God the Father in which she criticized, blow by blow, her own patriarchialism-tainted writing of the time.

#945 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 01:23 PM:

Lenora Rose 937: Congratulations on your gravidity! (Will the movie about it star Sandra Bullock?) Bright blessings for a safe, easy, and satisfactorily completed pregnancy, an it be your own will.

C. 944: And the Wickidary, where she used the term 'final solution' to discuss what to do with scientists (like my dad) who experiment on animals. She was a very smart and well-read person, and would have known how those words are tainted; I think she meant them just as I took them, that she thought "vivisectionists" should be rounded up, sent to camps, and murdered.

She also seemed, by then, to believe that pronouncing something "Totally Other" than something to which it seems rather similar is sufficient. No discussion of the differences in substance, feeling, or meaning. Just "It is Totally Other than that."

I very seldom throw away books, so I kept that one for decades. But it's not in the stack I'm giving away; it actually went in the recycling bin. I didn't want anyone else to read it.

#946 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 03:30 PM:

C. Wingate @ 944: contains quotations from animals

Which then promptly showed up in John Varley's Steel Beach.

In quotation marks

I'm not sure about that part but, I think I've got my topic: Mary Daly and the New Heinleins.

Sorry to dwell on this, but the juxtaposition gives me the giggles. I'm thinking out the fanfic.

#947 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 03:44 PM:

Stefan Jones@932: Feeling that we were finally allowed to say "who cares" about things like that is one of the real positives I remember from having a loved one in hospice care. There was a lot of tension and anxiety that went away along with that.

B. Durbin@921: Congratulations!

Lenora Rose@937: And likewise, congratulations!

David Goldfarb@938: plus or minus as much as three weeks from the "due date" is pretty normal.

That may be true in terms of the accuracy of the calculation, but my memory is that a lot of medical care getting...edgy at the "plus two weeks" mark, which doesn't seem to mix wonderfully with a fuzzy number.

John A Arkansawyer@946: Mary Daly and the New Heinleins

Isn't that a band?

#948 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 03:53 PM:

@Dotless #947: Yes; one of the stressors-on-top-of-stressors for my mother was dealing with my father's horribly limited diet.

#949 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 07:48 PM:

John A Arkansawyer@946: I can absolutely guarantee the quotation marks. The reference is on page 414 of the hardbound edition, and the text is on page 466. There are quotations, in quotation marks, from a dog and four cats, with places and dates for each.

Could you explain exactly how this shows up in Varley's book?

Xopher@945: I have a copy of the Wickidary too, which lives with Gyn/Ecology on the Six Foot Shelf of Woo-Woo, along with similar references on heresy and crackpottery. I don't know that I would throw either away, but I wouldn't pass them on to just anyone either.

#950 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 09:38 PM:

Does anybody knwo what's going on with Panix today? Access has been spotty and dog slow. Are they under attack or something?

#951 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 11:16 PM:

C. Wingate @ 949: Oh, I totally believe you about the quotation marks.

What I'm not sure about is whether they show up in Steel Beach when the jnyxvat qrrc terra rpbflfgrz fubjf hc gb artbgvngr ba orunys bs gur qvabfnhef.

(That's an interesting and relevant rot13 mapping!)

dotless ı @ 946: If it isn't, it should be.

#952 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2014, 11:30 PM:

Thanks, all. Xopher, I could only wish to look like Sandra Bullock (Actually, I'd probably want to look like her with a bit more weight, though as Hollywood goes, she's doing well. Then again, even her with more weight would be way less heavy than me as I really am.)

dotless i @ 947: David Goldfarb@938: plus or minus as much as three weeks from the "due date" is pretty normal.

That may be true in terms of the accuracy of the calculation, but my memory is that a lot of medical care getting...edgy at the "plus two weeks" mark, which doesn't seem to mix wonderfully with a fuzzy number.

Dotless i is right: minus three weeks is far enough to be considered normal (and past preemie risks for complications), but at about a week past due they start checking for possible signs the child is in danger, and at plus two weeks they're virtually always ready to induce or declare caesarean time. (I was eight days overdue with JoJo, so I'd started into that rigamarole, but wasn't at the danger point).

OTOH, the stats for how many people give birth *on* the due date is about 3%.

#953 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 07:51 AM:

Speaking of Bullock, who else remembers that she was in "Bionic Showdown"?

#954 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 07:56 AM:

Lenora Rose, it was amusing how startled my doctor was when I said that if we were going to induce, we would schedule the procedure at a time when it was convenient for ME, not at a time that would ensure that he (not one of his 5 partners) was on duty. As it turned out, we didn't have to induce, and proceedings started at oh-dark-thirty, as they often do.

#955 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 09:34 AM:

Lenora Rose, I was punning on the title of her Hugo-winning movie.

#956 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 11:02 AM:

Xopher: Gravidity is different from Gravity. One is a strenuous, otherworldly ordeal in which a woman finds herself unexpectedly brooding on life and death while learning anew how to control her body in strange and unprecedented circumstances, and the other is a movie with Sandra Bullock.

HLN: local woman enrolled in Health Policy and Management class keeps having to remind herself that, in this context, FFS stands for "fee for service" and not for that other thing that people say when they open their hospital bill.

#957 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 11:51 AM:

Cheryl @ 930: I'm well aware that Canada has better legal support for workers than the US. The differences would not be uniform -- service industries haven't the same crawl-or-we'll-open-a-plant-in-the-fourth-world leverage, and the threat of opening retail just across the border has less leverage (given even modest border controls, let alone the distance from the border to major Canadian markets) than it does for stores in southern New Hampshire (40-50 minutes from Boston). However, I've gotten the impression that Canada isn't as favorable to working people as Europe. Has Walmart opened in Canada? What is Canada's minimum wage?

Arkansawyer @ 942: Spotting the shark jump has been a public pastime for decades now. OTOH, comparing specific cases is specialized enough that it could be a fine academic pursuit instead of a public sport.

dotless ı @ 947: Isn't that a band? (& Arkansawyer @ 951): Yes, Dave.

Lila @ 956: snort. (Fortunately, no liquids present.)

#958 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 12:11 PM:

Canada does indeed have Wal-Mart (and Target, though the Target launch didn't go well because Target neglected to realize that what Canadians wanted out of Target was not, in fact, a Zellers with less selection and higher prices but The Stuff Americans Get From Target). Wal-Mart has done very well in Canada, particularly - in my experience, anyway - in more rural areas where the drive to town can be several hours but there's enough of a population buying clothing and furniture to support a department store.

Minimum wage varies from province to province. Our tip-earners make a significantly better guaranteed hourly wage than yours do, as I understand it - can't comment about nation-wide wages and whatnot but tip-earners have a minimum of $8.90/hour and non-tip-earners have a minimum of $10.35 in my neck of the woods (Quebec). A 2L carton of milk costs $3.65* (a bit more for the fancy brand), for comparison purposes. Granted, I live in a fairly urban area near a lot of dairy farms. I suspect milk would cost more in the North.

*File this under "things I wish I didn't have to know off the top of my head".

#959 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 01:23 PM:

@957 CHip
Cheryl @ 930: I'm well aware that Canada has better legal support for workers than the US
However, I've gotten the impression that Canada isn't as favorable to working people as Europe. Has Walmart opened in Canada? What is Canada's minimum wage?

Your original statement was "Canada doesn't count -- it's too close to the US to manage radically different labor standards"; since, depending on province, our labour standards can vary quite a bit, it didn't seem you were working with current information. Thank you for expanding.

No, Canada isn't as favourable to working people as Europe. That doesn't mean it's functionally identical to the US.

Minimum wage varies by province; the lowest is $10.

Yes, as Em @958 has said, Walmart is here. Various people are either happy or unhappy about it. I don't much like it myself, but they didn't ask my opinion before they came. Quebec/Canada did not, AFAIK, change any laws specifically for Walmart to come. If Walmart asked, I didn't hear about it. They are subject to the same regulations as are all Quebec employers, as governed by the Commission des normes du travail.

#960 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 02:00 PM:

Lila @956: and the other is a movie with Sandra Bullock.

Oh, thank you so much for that! I needed a good laugh!

#961 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 10:31 PM:

Lila 956: I grin in your general direction.

#962 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2014, 10:44 PM:

Lila @ 956: Snrrk!

#963 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 01:20 AM:

I took some pictures in Shrewsbury Abbey when we were there, and tweeted some of them. Shrewsbury Abbey just joined Twitter today, and retweeted two of MY pictures!

I am, as they say in those parts, right chuffed.

#964 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 08:27 AM:

I had a realization (as I was thinking of a solution with spouse: he wanted duct tape, I wanted ribbon). Ribbon is the duct tape of the pre-industrial world.

#965 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 10:36 AM:

Wal-mart tried the shut-down-on-unionization thing in Canada. It took a while, but the courts ruled it illegal and required them to compensate the workers (brief article on the case that should give enough info for further searches). That may be part of the reason why they don't want to move into Australia under the current labour law.

#966 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 11:35 AM:

@965 E. Liddell

Thanks for the link. That's the case I mentioned back in #930.

#967 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 12:14 PM:

Scalzi writes: "Over on the right-wing SF/F frothosphere, it's apparently become the fashion to assert a particular conservative writer sells more than me" "and apparently this is important for REASONS, and proof of liberal bias in the universe blah blah blah oh jesus why this again."

First: "frothosphere"—! It may be uncharitable of me, but I'm going to be giggling about this for days....

And second: I will grant that it's been a while since I've studied logic, but if it was evidence of anything, wouldn't a conservative writer selling more be evidence of a conservative bias...?

Yo no comprendo....

#968 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 12:24 PM:

I think the idea is that conservative writers sell more (proof of their intrinsic merit) but nevertheless don't get awards, etc. (proof of bias).

#969 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Ah! Yes, that makes sense. Um, "sense."

#970 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 01:43 PM:

To everyone talking about a Boston Gathering of Light: I'd be interested if it can be scheduled around Thanksgiving or Christmas. If it can be held at or near the Prudential Center, that's even better. I'm typically in Boston the week before the two mentioned holidays, and stay with family in a building adjoining the Prudential Center. My host takes out the car once in a blue moon (to the point where I think Zip Car or Enterprise Car Share might be an economically viable option), so I'm dependent on walking or public transit, hence my preference of venue.

Re: the farm implements as weapons subthread. How, in a group of SF readers and pros, did no one think of the Kzin Lesson?

#971 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 02:34 PM:

Xopher Halftongue@963: Shrewsbury Abbey just joined Twitter today

Saue thee Friend and thy Muſick: doſt thou follow thy Muſes?

No ſir, I follow the Church.

Art thou a Churchman?

No ſuch matter ſir, I do follow the Church: For, they do tweet from the Church, and I read all of their Tweets.

(Orthography thanks to Teresa's recent post.)

#972 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Here, have this Internet.

#973 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 03:33 PM:

In science news, they've discovered that genes for caffeine evolved twice in plants. Coffee is different from tea and cacao.

#974 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 04:26 PM:

dotless ı 971: I agree with P J. You win.

I goofed, btw. Should be "dead chuffed."

#975 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 05:02 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @974: Absolutely it's "dead chuffed" - particularly in Manchester!

#976 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 05:12 PM:

I knew something was wrong with 'right chuffed', but couldn't put my finger on it.

#977 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 05:33 PM:

“Reet chuffed” is perfectly cromulent usage too, although possibly not as far south as Shrewsbury.

#978 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 06:32 PM:

XKCD's doing something special again - scroll to zoom (so far, I have discovered the universe).

#979 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 06:49 PM:

Ah, that XKCD is working now. When last I looked at it, you could zoom in a bit...and then it all just went blank.

#980 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 07:03 PM:

David: You have to give it a sec to load the next iteration.

#981 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 07:12 PM:

I gave it plenty of time, believe me. I wasn't doing it wrong, it was the page not working.

#982 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 07:17 PM:

I am always willing to plan hanging-out with groups in Boston. (Actual availability may vary.)

Open question: Is anyone here watching the current round of "feminism is destroying videogames" (ref And comparing it to the current fandom round of "liberals are destroying science fiction"? I see a strong connection but I don't feel like I'm clueful enough to talk about it.

#983 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 07:36 PM:

David Goldfarb #979: I got the same as you before, but now it doesn't react at all to the scrolling.

#984 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 07:58 PM:

Cheryl @ 978: This morning my son said he went down 5 levels reaching different things (including the planet Saturn) before it faded into white.

#985 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 08:09 PM:

This morning, and also just now, I could scroll unlimitedly into the xkcd. Sometimes you have to scroll a ways into blank space before more detail appears.

In some areas (but not others) it's a bit of a choose-your-own-path story, with a couple of "next" panels available to zoom into. (Zoom towards an area with both black and white pixels, where possible.)

There's a thread about launching a model rocket, a thread about somebody using a computer, some _Godel Escher Bach_ references, some _Powers of Ten_ references, a lot of stars and planets. And a lot of panels promoting the new xkcd book, obviously.

#986 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 08:42 PM:

Well I lost count of just how many levels I zoomed in, but it was a lot more than 5; I think it might have been 12. Now I'm looking at a mixture of tiles containing the "Book Launch" earth, Saturn, the sun, the crescent moon, black space, and a whole lot of the word "MU". (I also went through a rose or some sort of flower along the way, and did some zooming in at the intersection points for 4 tiles; I'm not sure if that affects "where" you get to.)

Zooming in 16 levels further, I'm back to a mixture of black/starry space, the little flower thing, Saturn, and "Book Launch", and MU never reappeared after that one level.

I have a feeling this works something like the Mandelbrot fractal, where the exact coordinates on the spot you're zooming into determine what it displays as at the current magnification.

#987 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 08:46 PM:

It's been a crappy couple of weeks, but here's some Muppet Love that went a long way toward cheering me up. I thought I'd share.

#988 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 09:15 PM:

It hasn't worked for me either; even giving it a fair amount of time to load mostly results in blankness, and since I can't tell what's load-time and what's intentional and what's potential glitch... there have been several xkcds I can't enjoy due to dimensional mismatches. I'm okay with that for the most part.

#989 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 09:24 PM:

Re way upthread, universal human experiences which are not so: did you know that for some people, body language is a native tongue? I didn't, not until well into adulthood. It took me quite a long time to understand that body language was even real, and not a handwave invention of people who wanted to claim they could read minds.

Once I realised that body language existed as a reasonably consistent form of communication, I began learning to speak it. I am now reasonably good at speaking Body*, but only when I deliberately try to, and my reading remains very dodgy. I can analyse other people's body language after the fact, but doing it in real-time is hard.

*I have been complimented several times on my use of body language when portraying characters. I suspect that if you had to learn to speak body language consciously, it's easier to lie with it.

#990 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 09:34 PM:

xkcd: I suspect the response you get may be somewhat browser dependent.

I managed to take it down to about five levels, I think. Seemed to bottom out at that point. Insufficiently motivated to explore further.

#991 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 10:46 PM:

#970 Inquisitive Raven @ #970 and Andrew Plotkin @ #982:

I haven't forgotten about a Boston gathering! I haven't been paying attention here as we've been looking for a new place, organizing for school, and trying to deal with insurance (oy).

We met with success today on the first part, which is why I came to post now. We'll get the keys on the 10th and move in all of the stuff that's here by the 14th. I'm moving from Newtonville to Hull, at least for the off-season, after which we hope to have settled other issues and have more choices. Ocean!!!

As for organizing a gathering (perhaps merely the first), perhaps that should wait until the next Open Thread, since we're probably nearing the end of this one.

#992 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 11:58 PM:

As promised, picture and picture.

#993 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 12:41 AM:

B. Durbin:

Awwww. So deceptively peaceful....

#994 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 01:09 AM:

#992: A real cutie!

#995 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 03:13 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @982

There are certainly similarities in the thinking patterns lurking in the two issues, things such as the logical fallacies being used. How much there is in common between the "sad puppies" and the misogynist weirdos in gaming, I am not at all sure.

Sales and awards measure different things, and it shouldn't be any surprise the results are different. Authors change too. The Hunt for Red October is of its time, deserves the plaudits and sales, and doesn't seem big-hammer political. A recent book, such as Dead or Alive, loads the conservative thinking in with an eighteen-wheeler dump truck.

Which would be more likely to win an award?

As for Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, I can't see that as being party-political. There's a small-c conservative fear of change in the whole mess, but compare something such as GTAV with Tomb Raider. Lara Croft, through the history of the games, has been a rather sexist character — I do nor believe the story about her anatomy being the consequence of a typing error — but she has become a character with a story you can affect in the game. The GTA series, on the other hand, is almost inevitably focused on male characters. Well, they're violent criminals, and they're going to do bad things. But I have never seen anything that suggests they have any doubt about harming a woman.

What I am seeing signs of in that whole sorry affair is that developers have started to realise that they have been making a mistake, and things have to change.

I don't think we're going to see a Thelma and Louise (and I am a bit wary of the whole genre of violent-women films as a model for games) but look at GTAIV: there's a women character in the garage, the secretary, who has a rather cliched role, flirting a little with the player-character. But you could have a scenario where you have to take her to the bank with a large amount of cash, a bodyguard job.

The game players don't have to stop being psychopathic thugs. The conservative writers don't have to stop being conservative. But if you want to be seen as special you have to do something that stands out from the crowd. Just breaking off from you sexual fantasy for five pages of mansplaining why a woman really enjoys being a slave just isn't good enough any more.

#996 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 05:35 AM:

Congratulations to B Durbin!

Dave Bell #910:
Oh very well done! It took a while, but that moment I realised what you were doing was a silly grin one.

It's a fortnight and a day to what is shaping up to be one of, if not the weirdest general election in this country. A month ago, National (currently major party in power), was looking to cruise back in with a good chance of getting enough votes to govern alone in a proportional representation system.

Since then, a book using hacked material has alleged a dirty tricks campaign running out of the Prime Minister's Office & the Minister of Justice (Justice!) has resigned over allegations of misuse of power.

And through all this, the approval ratings for the National Party are largely unchanged. It's deeply weird & disturbing and if you put it all in a work of fiction, you'd be laughed at.

But there's more: Meanwhile the newly formed Internet Party (backed by Kim Dotcom) has allied with Mana (indigenous rights & socialism). And due to the vagaries of MMP proportional system, the National Party is telling their voters to vote for another party in one of their key electorates. It's all very disturbing.

#997 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 05:53 AM:

Re: xkcd 1416
It is related to the book launch.

Link to zoomable images. Also it appears that on some browsers, the infinite zoom doesn't work.

#998 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 08:06 AM:

In keeping with the particle about silk chiffon, Michael's Fabrics sells bundles of wool and shirting for a quite reasonable price.

B. Durbin @ 992 ...


#999 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 08:30 AM:

Woohoo! WordNerds: If you live in the US and can watch free Hulu Streaming, Stephen Fry's wonderful multipart documentary "Planet Word" is there again:

Expires October 1st.

#1000 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 09:24 AM:

In audio only, there are also seven episodes of Fry's English Delight available on BBC Radio 4. Apparently a random selection of one episode each of seven 3-4 episode series. May not be available outside the UK, I forget.

#1001 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 12:37 PM:


Andrew Plotkin @982: Re. Open question. I'd managed to miss this. Ugg.

Re: XKCD: I've been down several levels (0, 15 or more) and all I get is "Book Launch", ringed planets, a rocket and the odd rose-like thing. None of the proper additional pictures as shown in the link by Soon Lee @997. How do you reach those?

#1002 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 01:09 PM:

You may know about the websites that are minimally informative directories of businesses. They might have a link to a website. They use something like Google to point to the quoted street address And they're plastered with adverts.

Minimum cost and minimum information...

Of course, there must be copyright-traps, and maybe errors.

I think I may have found one.

In Scunthorpe, an English town some ISPs object to you naming (I hear "Lightwater" has the same problem), there is a business named "Chattels Auctioneers".

I can see some web-crawler truncating the technical term "goods and chattels auctioneers", but the outfit does have a website.

So what? Google cannot find the website. Even though a Google search gives you a link to the non-existent site.

The location exists. Two years ago it looked to be a suntan salon. Get the vertical view from Google Earth, and it looks to be a tiny building. There was a new supermarket built a few years ago, and all the space at the rear is the car park.

I can't decide if it is wholly bogus, or something just very out of date.

Do I bother trying the telephone number? Nope, not in the phone book.

I'm checking another directory site, and I know the previous entry on their list was real, four years ago, but not any more. Why should this one be any better?

Oh, and the computer-generated route? "Take the M180 to England".

#1003 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 02:01 PM:

dcb @1001:

Try starting your dive from a slightly different spot, and/or moving around a bit rather than just zooming straight in on one spot. It sounds like you're in a cycle (each image has a small set of black-pixel and white-pixel images that it points to).

I thought what everyone else is calling a 'flower' was an atom.

#1004 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 03:13 PM:

lorax: Indeed, I figured it was a carbon atom, what with having 6 electrons and all.

#1005 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 03:33 PM:

duckbunny @989: Bodies have language?

(Ok, kidding, but just barely. When it comes to reading body language I can only do it if it's the equivalent of 124-point capital letters...)

#1006 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 04:19 PM:

B. 992: I believe the kids say "totes adorbs" in this kind of situation.

#1007 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:08 PM:

duckbunny, roy:

I think there's a kind of easy-to-make error that relates to the common failure modes of stereotypes. You know something about the average human (in your society and social circle--it's not so clear how much your experiences in middle-class America teach you about what people in Amazon hunter-gatherer tribes are like). And so it's easy to fuzz that into a default assumption about all humans.

And yet, humans vary on a huge number of attributes. It's a little like if you had a D&D type character, but you rolled like 3d6 on a thousand attributes. A few of those attributes are going to be serious outliers, in almost anyone you meet.

Even though the average is 7 for all those attributes, every person you meet is likely to have a few 3s and a few 18s. Even though a common intuition is that since the average is 7 for everything, it's weird to have a cluster of 3s or 18s, really, that's the thing you should expect to see.

So, on average, people have all kinds of attributes--on average, we are (say) relligious, superstitious, musical, political, sexually interested in members of the opposite sex, somewhat risk averse, not too far-sighted, scared of snakes, etc. And yet, any individual you pick out of the crowd will probably be a serious outlier on a few of those things--this man will be relatively uninterested in sex, that woman will find it utterly puzzling why anyone would spend perfecly good time listening to music or dancing, etc. And that's the thing you should *expect* to see.

To get along in society, we often don't show all our weirdnesses. Partly, that's a strategy to avoid bullying or other social unpleasantness--often evolved during middle school and perhaps not really even appropriate anymore. ((Though there are some kinds of weirdness that can get you beaten up or shunned even in adult society.) Partly, though, it's just that living in a society, working in a job, etc., requires you to implement a certain "default person" interface. Exactly what that interface includes is a function of the society or job or whatever, and obviously can be better or worse for various kinds of outliers.

But that leads to the situation where, from a distance, most people seem like they're pretty much average, or at least average for their subculture. As you get to know anyone, you start seeing those places where they rolled 3s or 18s, and all the consequences of those rolls.

#1008 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:14 PM:


Interesting. I'm going to be thinking through this (possibly inadvertently, a good thing).

#1009 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:18 PM:

lorax @1003: I think it might be a browser thing. In Firefox, wherever I start from, endless space images. In IE, almost immediately to a patchwork quilt of figures floating above clouds, flocks of birds, pictures of the book, person unpacking "rocket parts", clouds. Then if I scroll on that, a deeper set of images, and so on.

#1010 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:21 PM:

Albatross @1007 - there is a piece of writing (by Spider Robinson, I think) in which aliens look at life on earth and take a median of various attributes, and wind up sending in a spy designed to look average. Said spy is tripedal and is about four feet tall.

Something like that, anyway, it's been a long time since I read it!

(Apropos of nothing, why is "sonnet" not iambic?)

#1011 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:26 PM:

albatross: I agree with that, but I think I'm talking about something slightly different. I did not notice that I was missing out on an entire stream of human communication. I didn't notice that that mode of communication was taking place at all, because the instinctive learning most people do as children had, for whatever reason, not kicked in for me. I wasn't deriving meaning from posture and movement, so I didn't believe that anyone was. It was like being told that if I unfocused my eyes just right, I'd see people's auras. It wasn't there, and it didn't make sense for it to be there.
And then I started creating characters who didn't move like me, and consciously paying attention to how I moved when I was portraying them, and suddenly this whole dimension of human behaviour clicked into focus.

I still don't understand the claim that you can tell "fake" smiles from "real" smiles by the presence or absence of movement around the eyes. Fake seems to mean deliberate, and real seems to mean spontaneous, but... doesn't everyone learn how to crinkle their eyes to produce an expression of warmth when they need one? Aren't most expressions made in public deliberate?

#1012 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:27 PM:

albatross: I agree with that, but I think I'm talking about something slightly different. I did not notice that I was missing out on an entire stream of human communication. I didn't notice that that mode of communication was taking place at all, because the instinctive learning most people do as children had, for whatever reason, not kicked in for me. I wasn't deriving meaning from posture and movement, so I didn't believe that anyone was. It was like being told that if I unfocused my eyes just right, I'd see people's auras. It wasn't there, and it didn't make sense for it to be there.
And then I started creating characters who didn't move like me, and consciously paying attention to how I moved when I was portraying them, and suddenly this whole dimension of human behaviour clicked into focus.

I still don't understand the claim that you can tell "fake" smiles from "real" smiles by the presence or absence of movement around the eyes. Fake seems to mean deliberate, and real seems to mean spontaneous, but... doesn't everyone learn how to crinkle their eyes to produce an expression of warmth when they need one? Aren't most expressions made in public deliberate?

#1013 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Apologies for the duplicate post. The dreaded Internal Server Error struck.

#1014 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:35 PM:

albatross @1007, excellent post and excellent points, but one minor nitpick from a D&Der who's been playing since 1977... the median number on a 3d6* roll (unmodified) is not 7, it's 10-1/2 (10 and 11 are equally likely). 7 is the median number for a 2d6 roll. </pedant>

*(d6 means a regular six sided die; 2d6 is 2 regular dice; 3d6 is 3 regular dice. Unmodified means no rolling-four-dice-and-discarding-the worst-one nonsense.)

#1015 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 06:55 PM:

albatross, #1007: I've heard something similar to this concept expressed as, "the absence of any kind of outlandish coincidence is much more outlandish than any coincidence could possibly be." I think it's one of those places where statistics gives an answer that looks paradoxical at first glance but really isn't.

#1016 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 07:48 PM:

albatross: OK, Cassie covered the whoops, but I will make one point on the dice: 3d6 has an average of 10.5, but that's between the pips... so there are two average rolls, 10 and 11. Those two rolls account for 25% of the total, and the next two (9 and 12) for most of another 25%. (And sometimes the differences there matter.) This turns out to be typical, in that the "average" can be surprisingly wide -- and even within that width, people can vary significantly.

I wouldn't say we've got a thousand stats though, because there's a hierarchy of stats and skills, with skill costs to consider as well... and not all those skills are available to everyone. Aside from various special talents that don't really act like a full "stat", there are issues of opportunity in life:

For example, my strong impression is that computer programmers and, say, auto mechanics, show basically the same special "type" of intelligence -- which one (if either) you get, will depend mostly on which kind of machines they got to play with while growing up. (Of course, there can also be other spoilers, like dexterity issues (favors the computer) or dyslexia (favors the mechanic, I think). If neither, they'll naturally apply their abilities to whatever