Back to previous post: On sale today: Hawk, the 14th novel in Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos sequence

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Velma Bowen, RIP

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

October 11, 2014

Open thread 201
Posted by Teresa at 12:33 PM * 1011 comments

One Hundred Spanish Proverbs

A fool who knows Latin is never a real fool.
A good man’s pedigree is little hunted up.
A hundred years hence we shall all be bald.
A rich man is either a scoundrel or the heir of a scoundrel.
Always be patient with the rich and powerful.
An absent saint gets no candles.
An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.
As the abbot sings, the sacristan responds.
Beauty and chastity are always quarreling.
Better visit hell in your lifetime than after you’re dead.
Between brothers, two witnesses and a notary.
Between two Saturdays happen many marvels.
Buy from desperate people, and sell to newlyweds.
Cheat me with the price, but not with the goods I buy.
Communism is a cow of many: well milked and badly fed.
Do not rejoice at my grief, for when mine is told, yours will be new.
Don’t refuse a wing to the one who gave you the chicken.
Even a sugar mother-in-law tastes bitter.
Every cask smells of the wine it contains.
Every man for himself and God for us all.
Everything in its season, and turnips in Advent.
Fate sends almonds to toothless people.
From a fallen tree, all make kindling.
God is a good worker, but He loves to be helped.
Halfway is twelve miles when you have fourteen miles to go.
He that has no children brings them up well.
He who denies all confesses all.
He who goes with wolves learns to howl.
He who inherits a hill must climb it.
He who is a Basque, a good Christian, and has two mules, needs nothing more.
He who was first an acolyte, and afterwards an abbot or curate, knows what the boys do behind the altar.
Hell is full of the ungrateful.
How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.
I know they are all honest men, but my cloak is nowhere to be found.
I’ve fried my sausage in better pans than these.
If a person is away, his right is away.
If fools went not to market, bad wares would not be sold.
If I die, I forgive you. If I live, we shall see.
If the sky falls, hold up your hands.
If three people say you are an ass, put on a bridle.
If you can’t bite, don’t show your teeth.
If you cannot be chaste, be cautious.
If you have nothing better to do, go to bed with your own wife.
If you want to sleep well, buy the bed of a bankrupt.
If you would be pope, you must think of nothing else.
If your enemy is up to his waist in water, give him your hand; if the water reaches his shoulders, stand on his head.
If your wife tells you to throw yourself off a cliff, pray to God that it is a low one.
In large rivers one finds big fish, but one may also be drowned.
In the absence of honest men, they made my father mayor.
It is good to have friends, even in hell.
It is no fun to guard a house with two doors.
It’s better to arrive on time than to be invited.
Laws, like the spider’s web, catch the fly and let the hawk go free.
Let fools and wind pass.
Losers are always in the wrong.
Love can do much, money can do everything.
Love is like war: you begin when you like and leave off when you can.
Lovers always think that other people are blind.
Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.
Never beg from one who was a beggar.
Never let a poor man advise you on investments.
Not everyone who wears spurs owns a horse.
Of what you see, believe very little; of what you are told, nothing.
Old age is cruel for whores and magicians.
One can’t ring the bells and walk in the procession.
One drink is just right; two is too many; three are too few.
Only God helps the badly dressed.
Pay me back what you owe me; we’ll talk later about what I owe you.
Since I wronged you, I have never liked you.
Take what you want, God said to man, and pay for it.
Talking about bulls is altogether different from being in the arena.
Tell a lie and find the truth.
The absent are always at fault.
The advice of foxes is dangerous for chickens.
The best cook drops a whole tomato.
The best word still has to be spoken.
The cat always leaves her mark upon her friend.
The empty purse boasts that she is made of leather.
The first drink with water, the second without water, the third like water.
The foolish sayings of a rich man pass for wise ones.
The judge’s son goes into the courtroom without fear.
The king goes as far as he may, not as far as he could.
The more you flatter a fool, the more seriously he plays his game.
The patient who names a doctor his heir makes a big mistake.
The treason pleases, but the traitors are odious.
The turd is proud that the river will carry it.
The wolf loses his teeth but not his inclinations.
There is a great art in selling the wind.
There were already twenty in the family, so my grandmother had a baby.
Three Spaniards, four opinions.
Time and I against any two.
To drunken mothers-in-law give full jugs.
What a fool does in the end, the wise do in the beginning.
What cures the liver harms the spleen.
What have you to hide from someone who shows you his arse?
What is much desired is not believed when it comes.
When you are talking about marriage, think about your mother.
Where the river is deepest it makes the least noise.
Who gossips with you will gossip about you.
You can’t have more bedbugs than a blanketful.

(Raw material found here; edited by TNH)

Comments on Open thread 201:
#1 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 03:36 PM:

These are very entertaining, but the source... ick. Four ads for essay mills. I'd trust it about as far as I can punt a walrus.*

*With my foot, not on a boat.

#2 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 03:44 PM:

"Time and I against any two." I like it.

#3 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 04:34 PM:

Interesting list, but I got distracted by the fact that the ones starting with 'The' are alphabetized in the t's. Argh!

(Sorry, knee-jerk librarian reaction.)

#4 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 05:28 PM:

"The absent are always at fault."
At my last company, the joke was to blame any problems with the software on whichever developer quit most recently. Didn't matter if they'd never touched that area of the product, and we all knew perfectly well that a person sitting in the room had written it. (It wasn't done in ill will, and everyone knew it was a jest.)

#5 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 05:33 PM:

Q. Pheevr @ #1

This moose has always been fond of the Ngaio Marsh version:

"I would trust him about as far as I could throw a grand piano by its stool."


"A concert grand, I might add."

#6 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 07:50 PM:

Sexual hazing leads to cancellation of school football season.

Summary: When several freshman football players in a NJ high school came forward to report being sexually assaulted by older teammates under the guise of "hazing", the superintendent of schools cancelled the entire football season.

Good news: For once, this sort of thing is being taken absolutely seriously by the authorities.

Bad news: The reaction of many of the parents of other students is... typical. Victim-bashing, minimizing of what happened ("somebody's butt was grabbed"), whining that shutting down the season isn't FAIR! The students filing the charges, and their families, are not being identified because there is reason to believe they might be attacked.

Good news: The announcement of a vigil in support of the victims and the school board's action has gotten a strong positive response, with over 500 people pledging to show up.

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 08:15 PM:

I understand that several of the students involved as hazers were arrested and charged yesterday. I'm really glad the school is taking it seriously, and really sorry that there are parents who don't get it.

#8 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 09:24 PM:

No se ganó Zamora
en una hora.

#9 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 11:34 PM:

Lazy person's reference back to OT 200.

If deemed to be an appropriate question by the mods, I'm curious if anybody here has opinions about the Colorado gubernatorial race? I haven't paid any attention lately, just planning to vote a straight ticket, but I'm hearing rumors that that may not be a good idea?

#10 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2014, 11:40 PM:

I'm suspicious of these Spanish proverbs. (I hope I'm not merely revealing my duncehood.) I have an M.A. in Spanish literature and worked for five years in the Hispanic section of a university library, and I've never encountered a single one of these.

#11 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 12:04 AM:

You might check Daily Kos - they're covering the Colorado races.

#12 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 08:00 AM:

HLN: Local area man wakes up early Sunday to strange dog noises. Thankfully did not have to negotiate taking-over of oncall cover, for emergency vet trip, as Local Area Dog seems to have recovered.

In case Local Area Dog decides to repeat the scare, unilateral shifting of oncall cover to secondary oncall has been agreed with secondary oncall.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 11:24 AM:

If the sun went out only a Galician would have the blessed patience to relight it.

#14 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 11:46 AM:

Hyper-local news: area man sits in aeron chair at desk to work (because Sunday is a workday, like any other). Area catten (a monster with the mind of a kitten in a nearly adult cat's body) discovers she can haul herself up onto aeron seat's armrest by her front claws. Cute? Well, not when said catten enjoys dining on the soft flesh on the inside of area man's forearm.

Mammalian dominance fight for ownership of desk ensues, with arched back, paw-waving, bared fangs. (No hissing or bushed-up tail, thank goodness.)

Rinse, spin, repeat every half hour until area man despairs of ever getting any work done.

Note: Going to bed with a book is no solution. Area catten has discovered how to burrow under the duvet in search of bed mice to attack.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 11:58 AM:

We hit the wall, and then the world goes down
into the dark and nothing good returns
for all we’ve done; what once was gold is brown

as winter comes, like Satan into town,
all minds are numb; just as the river churns
we hit the wall, and then the world goes down.

A sad destruction, but no one will frown
believing that we get what the thief earns
for all we’ve done; what once was gold is brown.

Now skies are darker than a priestly gown
for what one makes the other overturns
we hit the wall, and then the world goes down.

So no one stands for hope or for renown
but gets instead just what the jackass earns
for all we’ve done; what once was gold is brown.

This is the truth: where hero becomes clown
you have to flee before the city burns.
We hit the wall, and then the world goes down
for all we’ve done; what once was gold is brown.

#16 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Charles Stross @14: I have found that sometimes mammalian dominance may be established for some time by scruffing the feline, seizing it firmly, and holding it like an infant. Then, slowly tilt the little monster so it is almost upside down.

The loss of dignity resulting from this typically requires a least an hour to recover from.

Needless to say, long sleeves of a durable nature and quite possibly gloves as well are in order.

#17 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 12:56 PM:

Brenda Kalt @ #10: Ruth Stout quoted "Take what you want," says God; "take it, and pay for it" in one of her books as a Spanish proverb. So that one at least has been alleged for a long time. (I believe it was in "If You Would be Happy", copyright 1962.)

#18 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 12:56 PM:

Fidelio: I favour grabbing said feline by the scruff of her neck and giving her lots of extremely firm strokes, much as a mother cat holds down and washes her kittens.

Menhit, alas, doesn't seem to mind being held like an infant, or upside-down.

#19 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 01:25 PM:

Fragano (13/15): Check your posting name; your spam flag seems to be stuck.

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 01:44 PM:

I just noticed, Mary Aileen.

#21 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 03:00 PM:

re prevThread.996: In one respect the supremes' decision is better this way: when they don't have to rely on a specific law it's much harder to get it overturned.

#22 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Apparently in that town football is more important than anything. Sounds familiar.

I saw a couple of seniors from the school addressing the board (or some such body) and saying they weren't going to get a chance to leave high school as champions, due to something they had no knowledge of. One of them actually choked up at the thought of this monumental loss.

Well, not entirely unsympathetic here, but it has a legitimate pedagogical value. People pay the price for the behavior of others ALL the time. More importantly, it drives home the seriousness of these things. Yeah, a bunch of freshmen being sexually assaulted IS more important than your football games, even your football career. Good lesson for them to learn.

What bothers me about this is that so far everyone's acting like it just started this year. It clearly didn't (a sophomore's mom has reported that they did it to HIM last year) and the whooping signal sure makes it sound like a long-time tradition at that school. So the boys charged with it were probably subjected to it themselves, and probably so were freshmen for years or even decades.

#23 ::: Sue Burke ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 03:58 PM:

I live in Spain and I've heard some of these proverbs, even in everyday conversation. I also have two books of refrains -- refrains are big here -- so I might be able to find them all.

I like "A cat with gloves catches no mice." It means that if you put on airs, you'll fail at your purpose.

#24 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 04:07 PM:

Oh, these are marvelous. I particularly liked "An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest."

#25 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 04:41 PM:

Charlie Stross @ #14: Our cat Bill the Cat doesn't bother with getting under the covers. He just goes directly for the toes through all the covers, usually starting at about 3 am. This gets him evicted for the night, but it is not conducive to unbroken rest. There's no hope that he'll unlearn this; his former ADC thought it was cute and encouraged it.

#26 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Apparently a requirement for both governmental and university financial aid for mature students is being either an orphan or being on good enough terms with your parents that you can ask them to hand over their tax forms. You must also have parents who don't mind handing over personal financial information.

What the what. (I may have just drafted a "... what? Please advise. I can't hit "next" on the application!" e-mail to the financial aid office.)

There ARE ways to render myself an orphan, I suppose, but I'd really rather not. The fact that I quite like my folks and am opposed to murdering people aside, it seems a bit extreme for five hundred dollars of potential bursary.

#27 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 05:31 PM:

Cadbury Moose @ 5:

Oh, I *love* that! (Which of her books is that in? I've got all the mysteries on a shelf about 4' from where I'm sitting, and might indulge in a reread once I finish my Deverry reread...)

#28 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 06:02 PM:

#25 Theophylact does that stand for "aide-de-chat"?

#29 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 06:09 PM:

"He who has no children raises them well." Oooh, burnnn!

#30 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 06:28 PM:

Em, #26: Are you still living with your parents? If not, then their income shouldn't even enter into this.

#31 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 06:42 PM:

Nope. I haven't lived with them since 2003. I specified this on the form. I'm looking forward to a response to my "here's the situation, please advise me on what to do here" e-mail. Sadly it's Thanksgiving, so that won't be for a couple of days. If it comes to it, I'll swing by the office on Wednesday while wearing grownup drag. ("For Hallowe'en this year, I'm going as a Responsible Adult! Behold, my shoes are difficult to run in and my lips are not their usual colour!")

#32 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Jacque @9:
Bob Beauprez would like to seize the national parks and sell them off, believes IUDs cause abortions, thinks the 47% who don't pay federal taxes are freeloading Democratic-voting bums (made this speech even before Romney, in 2010), is a global warming denier, was a fervent supporter of the Bush Imperium: an all-around reprehensible Republican. I don't care for some of Gov. Hickenlooper's positions, on fracking in particular - however I cannot think of a single reason to vote for Beauprez. I'm a yellow-dog Democrat, that means even if the Republicans ran a yellow dog, I'd still (probably) vote for the Democrat..

#33 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 07:42 PM:

Em, good luck with the 'grownup drag' dressing, that was funny.. I've been faking it for decades now ;-)

That brought another Beauprez quirk to mind. He likes dressing up in military uniforms, a sort of 'veteran drag', despite being a draft-dodger. I would not have gone into the Army if I could have avoided it, so can't offer much criticism on that score: but parading around in uniforms after draft-dodging is not the act of an honest man.

#34 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 09:00 PM:

DougK @32: I grew up in a yellow-dog-Democrat family, and I recall the dog in question being the Democrat. (My father used to say he only voted for a Republican once in his life: "That was for Mr. Eisenhower, and I've regretted it ever since because of Nixon.")

#35 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 09:07 PM:

Doug, #32: The traditional definition of "yellow-dog Democrat" is one who would vote for the Democratic candidate even if they ran a yellow dog. I have to admit that I like the implication of your version (i.e. that a canine candidate is superior to any human the Republicans could field) rather better.

#36 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 09:38 PM:

Em #31: If you haven't lived with them, and they aren't paying more than 50% of your living expenses, it should be possible to declare yourself an "independent student," no matter what your age is or your relationship with your parents. It's been a while since I reviewed this procedure, but you might ask someone in Financial Aid for the paperwork.

Frequently, the problem is that the financial aid forms are "one size fits all," for the basic applications, and you have to ask to find out what extra paperwork might be necessary--or helpful. Frankly, if you are over 21 and haven't lived with your parents until 2003, the issue shouldn't even come up--but I'm not surprised that it has.

#37 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 09:42 PM:

Q. Pheevr @ #1: I'd trust it about as far as I can punt a walrus.*

*With my foot, not on a boat.

I think I'd like to punt a walrus in a boat. We could bring along a picnic lunch.

#38 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 09:55 PM:

Sarah @37, oysters, perhaps?

#39 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 10:05 PM:

Xopher@200.976: Slightly late, but in case this adds anything to what was said already: Buckwheat in our house is usually in the form of:

1) Whole groats (kasha), toasted in a pan and cooked in water with a little salt (often in the rice cooker, for breakfast). Often mixed with scrambled eggs in the morning.

2) Soba. (Our local Korean and Japanese markets carry fresh soba, which are very nice and cook almost instantly.)

3) Crepes. I'm not sure these are the proportions we use, but they're close:

1 1/4 c. buckwheat flour
3 eggs
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. milk
1 1/4 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt

4) Blini. These are rich (especially if you cook them in butter, which works very well) and more of a treat, especially with smoked salmon. Our current go-to recipe is:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. whole milk
1 egg
2 tbsp. melted butter

Mix dry ingredients. Whisk together wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Cook either in tiny 1 tbsp pancakes (which is what we do) or larger 1/4 cup sizes. Either way, they freeze well.

#40 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 11:18 PM:

Sarah @ #37 – That would undoubtedly be much more agreeable to the walrus. You have a just and generous mind.

#41 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 01:00 AM:

Just heard (on SMOFs) that Harlan Ellison has had a stroke. He's partially paralyzed, but doing well other than that. Follow back the comments on
Harlan's website for more details than:
- Sunday, October 12 2014 14:40:3 FROM SUSAN
I will make this brief. A couple of days ago Harlan had a stroke. He's
in the hospital. His right side is paralyzed.
He's comfortable--as possible. We will keep you up-to-date with his progress.
With all kindness --Susan"

Several here will remember Harlan from Iguanacon or earlier. I wish him the best of outcomes from this.

#42 ::: Cadbury Moose spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 06:44 AM:

Glinda @ #27

Death at the Dolphin I believe.

Marco in an interview with Alleyn IIRC.

(If I can pry my nose out of Ancillary Sword when I get home tonight I'll check.)

#43 ::: Cadbury Moose does not spot spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 06:47 AM:

Initial post hung, and this moose cut'n'pasted the message text into a new attempt but forgot to change nym.

Grovels to their lownesses.

#44 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 02:36 PM:

Doug K @32: As I say, I haven't been paying a lot of attention, but my starting assumption was that I could safely scratch any R's off my list.

And, yeah. Beauprez, I had him pegged as bad news a long time ago. What prompted the question is that a neighbor mentioned that Hick's record is worrying enough that the local lefty newspaper (the one with all the marijuana ads) was so disgruntled with him that they're endorsing the Green candidate.

Tom Whitmore @41: Ouch. Not a huge surprise, though. I recall he formally retired a couple of years ago, quoting ill health as the reason.

#45 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 04:24 PM:

Jacque, I'm not sure that a stroke is ever not a surprise. Perhaps not a huge one, but it's like getting hit by a truck, except the truck is your own brain. More likely to happen to older people than younger (and we just won't think about the Scary Stroke Migraine, will we) but it's not like there are long-term warning signs the way there are for some chronic and escalating conditions.

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 05:14 PM:

Or as my grandmother described one of hers (a very small one), like being hit by lightning. That one hit while she was playing Scrabble with my brother.

#47 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 11:51 PM:

'I'm easily amused' department:
While typing up another journal entry from 1864, I find the phrase 'bug out' in it, used in the same sense that it's used today.

Oct the 17th/64 [snipped] Hood and to Corps to have Gone to the blue Mountains of North Carilina While stewart and his Corps is reported to be Coming back by the same Way they Went up and if he is and Comes here to Rough station the 41st Wil Not be Able to scare him our With A bold front this time as We Did at Marietta but Wil have to bug out for Atlanta to slocum to save our selves

#48 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 06:22 AM:

P.J. Evans #47 - so does that mean the phrase has continued in use in the same way since then, or did someone rediscover it or what?

#49 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 06:53 AM:

P J Evans #46: Hmm. Had she ever actually been hit by lightning? ;-)

#50 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Is there a recognition symbol for fellow fluorosphereans? I was at a private gathering this weekend where I'm sure at one other fluorospherean was at, and I don't think we spoke a word to each other; we certainly didn't identify each other as from here.

I expect the same thing to happen next year, and I want to be prepared.

#51 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 11:35 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Local man finds himself tuckerized for the 2nd *and* the 3rd time of his life, both times in Jack Campbell's space opera "Imperfect Sword". This time though, local man didn't wind up with a bullet in his head. Local man's character is still breathing. So far.

#52 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 12:06 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 200::953: I think I've just had evidence of a cat holding it in for 60 hours. (Note also discussion a few OT's back about cats being water-conservative, such that they don't need to urinate nearly as often as humans.)

Another cat story: ours has just recently conceived an unnatural affection for a bag of onions -- something about the way the netting and skins crackle, maybe? Makes another door we have to secure -- and I mean secure, as this one is strong enough to pull open the magnetic catch closing the main door to the compartment holding his box. (He hates the cat flap.)

Cheryl @ 200::966: Congratulations on the new job; may you find that having one, even temporarily, makes you more plausible to other employers. I've been through 4 passes of unemployment -- never as nervewracking, but at least once I was panicked into a bad decision; having a job lets you \think/ about offers.

Tom W. @ 200::986: our male carries anything he likes to play with from room to room; we sometimes find felt mouse, bell ball, plastic spring, ... on the bed in the morning. He's not an outdoor cat, but you should hear his let-me-at-them noises when birds land on the shed-roof outside the kitchen window; is being a feral for the first 6 weeks enough to set a hunting instinct?

Xopher @ 22: From my own school experiences, I doubt these students' claim to having had no knowledge of current hazing; they may be confusing knowledge and participation.

#53 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 12:08 PM:

and a question for Abi: how's the bike parking where you are? It seems that it's a major problem in Copenhagen; I remember cities in the Netherlands being as dense as Copenhagen, although the story says some Dutch cities are exemplary.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 12:39 PM:

Heck if I know, but I'd be willing to bet that it was a phrase that people used in speech rather than in writing.

Not that I know of - I think that what she got was a flash of whited-out vision, before things went dim or dark. (I suspect most of hers were microstrokes in the vision area. Her vision was off-and-on for the last several years of her very long life.)

#55 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 02:16 PM:

Cool beans on the Tuckerization, Serge! I've always wanted to have that happen to me. I should enter auctions on it or something.

CHip @53:

Most Dutch cities have extensive bike-parking facilities, particularly near train stations. For example, Amsterdam Centraal has multiple racks, a three-story high-rise bike park, a large section of dock behind it dedicated to the purpose, and a disused ferry repurposed into bike parking. And there are guarded bike parks, too, for those who want to pay for it.

But still the bikes would pile up to unmanageable proportions if there weren't squads of people going around with trucks, removing bikes that are not parked in the racks or in designated bike-parking areas.

And even bike racks and parking structures are cleared out annually: a notice goes on all bikes saying "if your bike is still here in two weeks we're taking it away". At the same time breakaway things like really weak zip ties are fastened through the back wheels. Then, two weeks later, they come with an angle grinder and cut the ring locks off all the bikes that haven't been moved.

Outside of the city is a vast facility holding the bikes that have been picked up. You can go there, apparently, and claim yours (though, having driven by it, I can only imagine how hard it is to find any particular needle in that haystack.) I know that rental bike companies go by every week or so for those of theirs that have been badly parked by customers. It's also a minor tourist attraction.

I suspect that a lot of people, on finding their bikes gone, don't presume they've been taken to the impound lot. Amsterdam is, after all, a major nexus of bike theft. So if they don't find it nearby (people do move badly-parked loose bikes if they need access to something the bikes are blocking), they usually reckon it's stolen and go buy another one. (Sometimes in the knowledge that the one they're buying may very well have been stolen. It's the cycle of life.)

Basically, there's a reason most people who cycle and park in central Amsterdam don't have very expensive bikes. Leaving aside the desire not to be attractive to thieves, you always know that what you don't spend on repair in a given year, you'll probably spend on replacement.

#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 03:41 PM:

Serge #51: I am envious. That is a very cool thing to happen.

#57 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 04:33 PM:

abi @ 55... Fragano @ 56... Thanks. It is a neat thing to have happen to you, especially when it's a complete surprise.

#58 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 05:09 PM:

67 years ago today, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier.

#59 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Buddha Buck @50: some have tried to popularize badge stickers with a light bulb icon. I could make some plastic ones with pin backs if there was enough interest (I'd ask reimbursement for postage).

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 05:26 PM:

Shouldn't there be an earth-shattering ka-BOOM with that?

#61 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 06:02 PM:

Over on NPR's website, they've got an article/interview with Cary Elwes about his book on making the Princess Bride. The comments had me rolling, so I thought I'd share the geek joy. I particularly liked the pile-ons that resulted in scene-sized chunks of dialog.

#62 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 06:40 PM:

#61: I'll second the recommendation.

I never understood the attraction of the book, The Princess Bride.

The movie, though, is one for the ages. A perfect storm of wonderfulness. (Stardust contender for the good natured fantasy movie title.)

#63 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 08:04 PM:

Dinosaur/British Politician slashfic

#64 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 03:11 AM:

P.J. Evans #47: might be worth submitting that to the Oxford English Disctionary: might be the earliest attested usage!

#65 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 03:22 AM:

Heard in Spain:
"In Spain, even the atheists are Catholic."

(Possibly something originally said by the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno; mostly an ironic comment on the pervasiveness of Catholicisms in Spanish culture.)

#66 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 07:15 AM:

Stefan Jones #62 - and I never really understood the appeal of the film or book. Sure, I enjoyed the film when I watched it, but maybe you have to see it as a teenager or something; it's not something I go around quoting or watch again and again or anything.

#67 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 09:05 AM:

James Harvey @64, my copy of the OED(best birthday present ever!) has the earliest cite for "bug out" listed as 1953 --

bug, v.3 slang (chiefly U.S.).


[Origin uncertain; perh. connected with bug v.1 or bug v.2]

intr. To get out; to leave quickly; to ‘scram’.

   1953 in Partridge Dict. Slang Suppl. (1961) 1304/2 If one were to ‘swan’ southward with the purpose of moving on from the enemy, the act would be called ‘bugging out’.    1959 J. Christopher Scent of White Poppies vii. 114 There was no sign of movement.‥ ‘Give it five minutes. If there's nothing showing by then, either he's bugged out or he's asleep.’    1969 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 21 Oct. 1/7 He also said that Canada is not ‘bugging out’ of NATO.

#68 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 10:24 AM:

P J Evans #47, James Harvey #64, Cassy B. #67:

Yep, the OED folks would be psyched to gain almost a century on the citation....

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 12:08 PM:

I suspect it was a phrase that people used in speech, and it's just luck that it was written down. (I wonder if it was a regional usage? The writer was a farm kid from central Illinois, just east of Decatur.)

#70 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 02:14 PM:

On "bug out" -- I don't think that letter would count as a "publication" for the purposes of etymology in the OED, however -- IIRC, they cite published usages. And this wasn't published until fairly recently.

#71 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 02:38 PM:

Typed transcription, done in the 1930s, of a journal. It was, at one time, in the oral history collection at North Texas, although it's not in their catalog now.

#72 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 03:22 PM:

guthrie @ 66

I don't think it's appeal is based on youth. At least, it's not for me. I like it because it plays with all manner of fantasy and story telling tropes. Plus it hits the comedic/goofy and serious/dramatic notes dead on every time. I like the book because of the ironic humor. I love the movie because it's so un-ironic.

While I don't watch the movie annually, I do like to re-watch it on a regular basis. It's held up well over the years. Although the critics who use the Bechdel Test yardstick will wail and gnash their teeth because Buttercup is the Macguffin. True love (romantic, fraternal, and filial) is the raison d'etre for the whole work. I adore the fact that it's a romantic story for guys -- you know, with all the sports and fighting and stuff.

#73 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 04:19 PM:

One can learn a lot from a Google Ngram plot, taking proper care to avoid its pitfalls. One can hunt 19th-century works for occurrences of it. Might it be possible to find examples comparable to, or even earlier than, the one cited by P. J. Evans in #47?

In a few minutes of looking, I don't find "bug out" in the "skedaddled" sense. In the "eyes bulging outward" sense, it may be found in works by Mark Twain, George Ade, and James Whitcomb Riley.

(Actually, "skedaddled" itself seems to show up abruptly in the 1860s.)

An occurrence of yet another usage appears in a note from Llewellyn Jewitt, writing in Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, Etc., Second Series, Volume Ninth, April 21, 1860, page 314.

"bug" (2nd S. ix. 261.) —In Derbyshire this word is very common, and means proud, to make much of. "He will be bug with it," means he will be proud of it, will think highly of it. In Derbyshire phraseology, "Hey is a bit bug out," or, " Ow (she) nedna be so bug," are very common forms of expression. Llewellyn Jewitt.

#74 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 05:43 PM:

Cassy B @ #38: I'm down in the Outer Banks for a few days, and I had oysters on the half shell for breakfast. (Peter Singer(!) thinks they're practically vegan.

#75 ::: Jeff Prucher ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 05:48 PM:

I'm quite sure that the OED would love your citation, if you would be willing to send it to them. Rather lengthy instructions for submitting cites can be found here.

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 06:00 PM:

It doesn't appear to meet the standards for inclusion, never having been formally published, but I sent them the full entry in the journal.

#77 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 08:39 PM:

Here's a little SF in real life: Aviation Week says Lockheed Martin says they'll have a proof-of-concept prototype fusion reactor in about five years and if all goes well a working reactor in ten years.

Working fusion reactors have been "twenty years away" for my entire life. Now it's down to ten. Maybe it'll even happen....

#78 ::: emilly ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 08:42 PM:

a note from a hard-core lurker:

I had 10 minutes to prepare for a group of writing-minded (mostly) year 9s in the library yesterday, so I gathered
a) a copy of this is just to say
b) a number of parodies & pastiches from this fine website
c) paper and pens

and asked them to write some apology poems. My personal favourite (from a student who normally doesn't actually participate!) was

This is just to say
I cannot write this poem
For I have never done
To confess to

Thanks for the examples, Making Light!

#79 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 09:34 PM:

P J Evans, #76: Whether the OED takes it or not, I'm quite sure that World Wide Words will be interested.

#80 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Some bits are a little off, but it's a nice flight of fancy.

#81 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 01:28 AM:

Tropical Storm Ana is now headed for Hawaii, along a fairly similar track to Iselle's, and might be a hurricane by the time it gets here. Or not, or it might diverge and wander off in some other direction. We did a lot of the preparations earlier this year, though this time we are also getting set to board up the windows if it gets too close.

The main thing I want to point out here is that we have been all the way THROUGH THE ALPHABET in named storms in the Eastern Pacific, and are back to A.

#82 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 01:55 AM:

Clifton, #81: Oy. That sounds like 2005 in the Gulf, when we went into Greek letters and the season didn't officially end until sometime in November.

#83 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 02:29 AM:

Yesterday I was at a climate change presentation, where we heard about some of the latest on methane releases along the Siberian Arctic shelf. It's massive, over millions of square miles, and ongoing as the Arctic warms and the shallow seabed there thaws. One of the leading scientists, a Russian woman whose name I can't quite remember, estimates there could be in the range of 500-5000 billion tons of ocean floor methane in that region, and if even 1% of the smaller estimate is released, it would double the effect of all the CO2 currently added to the atmosphere.

In short, this is phenomenally bad, and of course has me thinking dark thoughts about how a massive sea floor methane clathrate release along these lines is the beginning of Barnes' Mother of Storms scenario. Unfortunately we're not going to have any uplifted hyper-intelligent cyborg asteroid travelling deus ex machina by next year to pull our nuts out of the fire.

If all of it were to be released... nobody's talking about that, but I expect we could see something on the order of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, maybe even worse. All icecaps melting, temperate forests in Antartica, oceans rising by hundreds of feet, that kind of thing.

#84 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 03:17 AM:

The oceans rising hundreds of feet is one thing....

What gives me nightmares is the possibility of all the reproductive cycles getting thrown out of whack and the food web collapsing for the forseeable future (at least, forseeable for anyone we know).

#85 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Open threadiness:

Oooh, I've just seen the announcement of the Strange Horizons Bookclub, and might actually try to read the monthly book.

In other news, they are doing their annual donation drive - I quite like SH and others might like to contribute also

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 01:55 PM:

HLN: Area woman was out yesterday and discovered halfway across street that one stopped car was a Google camera car (it was hidden by a van in the nearer lane). Gaudy paint job, and the panoramic camera head is about a ten-inch sphere with many lenses.

#87 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 02:00 PM:

PJ Evans @86, if one were to google-streetview the address of my husband's place of work, one would see a small group of people (all with faces discretely blurred) in front of the building. It's my husband and his coworkers on their way to lunch. (Even with blurred faces, anyone who has ever met my husband would recognize the beard and Aloha shirt.)

The group spotted the car driving slowly past, and realized just too late to pose that they were being immortalized for history...

#88 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 02:26 PM:

The next step is finding out how long it takes for the pictures to go up.

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 02:27 PM:

The next step is finding out how long it takes for the pictures to go up.

Dreaded Server Error!

#90 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 03:19 PM:

PJ Evans @88, according to my husband, far longer than he expected; at least six months. Maybe longer.

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 03:20 PM:

Somebody was at the First Saturday Arts Market handing out flyers to the artists there. This is the actual text of what they said:

"Calling all ART'S AND CRAFTER'S
The Art's and Craft's market is growing. Are you into making thing for gifts and someone always say's you can make money making this? Will it is true. You can make money selling your Art's and Craft's.
This meeting is so we all can get together and discussed what is needed and a date for the event. I am planning for in October of this year.
The meeting is free at the Oak forest Library."

(Presumably there was a date and time on it that didn't show on the photo I saw.)

I am amused because of the similarity to a vanity-publishing pitch. The fact that they were at an arts event handing out flyers to artists who are already selling their work is just icing on the cake. Also... it's a little late at this point to be scheduling an event in October! At least, if you want anyone to come to it.

#92 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 03:37 PM:

Lee: I'm presuming your transcription is accurate and, if so, the syntax also bears an unhappy resemblance to a lot of spam.

#93 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 03:55 PM:

They actually drove that street earlier this year. What they need are new aerials - the ones they're using are at least four years old, from before the busway reaching it.

#94 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 03:59 PM:

PJ Evans @ 93, I assume that the lag time is similar. They still have to look for and blur anything (like people sunbathing nude on their rooftop) that might be objectionable, and they have to put all the location tags in.

#95 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 04:03 PM:

In #88 P J Evans writes:

The next step is finding out how long it takes for the pictures to go up.

About eight months, in my experience.

I appear in Google Street View at several different locations.

I was quick enough to get pictures of the Google car as I was being cartographed.

#96 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 05:18 PM:

I wasn't actually seeing spam in #95. Autofill prevailed, then I failed to read my own name in Preview. I apologize.

#97 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 06:27 PM:

A while back, I found some cite decades earlier on a word for the OED, and sent it in as best I could. Alas, all I remember now is that I found some cite and sent it in. I suspect at the time I didn't imagine I could ever forget it, yadda yadda.

#98 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 06:56 PM:

Bill Higgins @95 (et al. above) In eight or so months, if you know where to look, there will be a fading red hat over a blur standing on a street corner waiting for a bus. Apparently Google Street View cars have been busy this month. (The spherical many-windowed turret is a dead giveaway, even before the paint job.)

#99 ::: outlier delurking ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 08:21 PM:

P J Evans @ 88: The camera car caught me parking in the middle of July this year, and by late September it was updated. (Didn't blur my face - maybe profiles don't trip the automatic process?), but part of my car's roof is quite demurely pixellated.

#100 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 08:50 PM:

I was amused, one time, by seeing a streetview image where they'd blurred the face on a museum banner advertising an exhibit. If it's an automagic process, it's not quite tuned.

#101 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 08:52 PM:

In my case, grey t-shirt, blue jeans, and a folded-up orange shopping bag. (I was collecting mail, and I knew there was a package.)

#102 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 10:06 PM:

I saw one recently, too. Don't remember what I was wearing. 'Tis the season, I suppose!

#103 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 10:16 PM:

Maybe this is better for the DFD threads, but I tend not to visit those. And maybe there are more intimate circles of acquaintances I should bother with this -- but A) most of those would have a guess who I'm talking abut and B) the existence of the DFD threads alone suggests there are some here who may have practical advice.

For the third, or maybe fourth, time, I've been basically on the front line of talking down depression and/or suicide for a particular friend of mine.* THIS WEEK. And the conversations between haven't exactly been sparkles of life.

Tonight she was on the brink for real.

I got a reprieve at the last moment, in a way, as someone else went to physically be with her until either her girlfriend or husband come home. But last October, the day after a conversation LESS close to the actual deed than this one, she ended up in the hospital for her depression, and I half expect her to be sent there by her doctor tomorrow.

I know her contacting anyone at all and not just going ahead is a good sign that a part of her wants help. But trust me, I am NOT exaggerating that she might have been a few unanswered messages from death. She had multiple means ready to hand.

What I want to know is, does anyone have any advice what and how to say things in these conversations? Anything more to help keep her from that brink? Any way to make it emotionally less hard on me?

Is it possible to get training without actually wanting to volunteer for a general suicide hotline?

(This is not the only suicidal and/or depressed friend I have, and not the first or only situation I've ended up involved as support for a crisis, so the training would be more generally applicable. Though she's the personally closest and the one who's come closest to actual suicide. As far as I know. Still, I know I would not be suited to doing this on a volunteer basis in spite of how it seems I end up there for confidantes.)

Private answers appreciated if nobody wants to drag the thread down: e-mail can work via lenorarose at that gmail place, or, for moderators and those who can see it, at the e-mail hidden in my name info minus the "-nospam" portion.


* Mostly via texting and facebook chat, because she generally does not want to see people until/unless forced to - and often I basically couldn't leave my son to go in person regardless - and she hates talking over phones. NOBODY will ever tell me texting is frivolous or mindless without getting a very interesting reaction - on a good day, laughing in their face. This is not a good day.

#104 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 11:40 PM:

Lee #91: I was at a high end crafts fair in North Carolina where someone was doing the same thing -- handing out similar fliers (poor design, but better spelling, grammar, and punctuation) to folks already selling their stuff. Most of them not from the area. The photographer I was with was sure it was some kind of scam, but couldn't figure out how it was supposed to work.

#105 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 12:01 AM:

In Lev Grossman's Magicians series,the Brakebills school is in a place that is half a season off from the rest of the world. I wonder if he got that idea from seeing a discontinuity in the Google Street View or Satellite View photocollage.

#106 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 01:30 AM:

Lenora Rose, I know nothing relevant but you have my sympathy and admiration. Also, good point about texting.

#107 ::: ZS ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 01:44 AM:

Lenora Rose @103: ISTM that your biggest job is to get your friend in touch with someone who already has that training. Even suicide hotlines are meant to tide someone over until they can get real help, not to substitute for the real help.

Most of what I have for you is from Captain Awkward: for instance-- read the comments for some chat- and email-based hotlines.

Also worth checking out for someone in your position; pick and choose what's applicable to you:

Not from Captain Awkward: the best thing anyone ever did for me, when I was at a point where I didn't believe there was any such thing as help, was call and make me an appointment with the counselor at my university (geography forbade actually picking me up and driving me to it). Not unilaterally; the person did discuss it with me first. But once the appointment existed, I went. Doing all the research to find what's available and what insurance does or doesn't cover, and making the darn appointment, are a huge barrier for a depressed person, and those you don't need training to do for a friend.

#108 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 08:04 AM:

Lenora Rose @103: The phrase that keeps jumping out at me is this: "someone else went to physically be with her until either her girlfriend or husband come home".

She's got people around her and they don't add up to a support system. She's being maintained. What ZS @ 107 says is right, especially since she's been hospitalized recently for depression.

So her doctor or her therapist may put her back in the hospital. (That sounds likely, no matter what you do.) Mentally prepare yourself for that. Sometimes this is how it goes.

#109 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 08:50 AM:

PJ Evans @ #100:

Apparently, it happens a lot to statues:

#110 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 09:31 AM:

Lenora Rose: Best of everything to you & your friend.

Back to the original list, because I'm behind: what is "The best cook drops a whole tomato" supposed to mean?

#111 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 11:47 AM:

HLN: Area man arrives in office to find new computer on desk. Is now caught up to year 2013.

#112 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 11:53 AM:

Thanks for advice, both here and those who sent privately.

Update on friend: She's at the crisis centre this morning after speaking with her doctor.

I am FINE with her being in the hospital again. I've been sure this whole week that was where this was heading, and mostly a question of how soon.

She - and many depressed people IME - can be VERY GOOD at hiding the symptoms from all but a select few when she wants. I've had reason to compare her deep down texts to her public face in short order more than once.

If anything, the last time she was in the hospital, she got more visible support from friends and partners, because she was no longer able to hide how serious it was. So in that way it's a plus.

She, of course, was fretting over what this might do to her job and money (Yes, even when the health care itself is not a matter of money, the work time is.) Which doesn't exactly help.

#113 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 12:20 PM:

Tracie @104: It MAY be a scam, if so, this is how it works. The mark is asked if they'd like to buy tables (or space for their set-up) at the "craft show." The grifter takes the money, and vanishes.

I suspect that if a phone number is given on the flyer, the number goes to an el-cheapo cellphone which the grifter disposes of when necessary.

Another angle is getting credit-card info from the mark, but as that leaves more of a trail, maybe not.

#114 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 01:33 PM:

following on from Lori, 113: The other thing is that it could be a direct AW ripoff: the craft show exists, the room's been rented and all that (may not be paid for, of course).

It's just that the only promotion is done to vendors (who pay the grifter money), not customers (who don't). So you, and the rest of the suckers, play to Rose(*). You can't even get on the organizer's case, because the show *did* go off - but "for it to be a success, you have to market it to your customers, so they can enjoy the variety we've made available for them; and everyone else's customers get to see you. It's Networking!"

Note: sufficient cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice. The person could just be trying to set up a new craft show, goes to where she knows she can find crafters to advertise it, and is just as clueless about what else is needed for a "craft show". Same thing happens as above, but no malicious intent. *Usually*, in this case, they don't charge enough for the tables to make any grift; it's just "well, that didn't work. I wonder how <other location> does it?"

(*) A theatre story I have has one actress telling another, opening night: "we're playing to Rose."
"Rose, dear. ROWS of empty SEATS!"

#115 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 05:37 PM:

Lenora Rose: No answers here, but I'm relieved to hear your friend has got some help now, and agree with you that's a good outcome.

Your difficulties with her public and private face sound an awful lot like the situation we've had with our hanai daughter; we try to keep an eye on how she's doing, we ask her how she is, she's closer to us than she used to be, but she still hides it; even in the last couple years there have been two times where we heard just how depressed she was only after she'd attempted to overdose on something and failed.

Depression goes with a lot of shame.

#116 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 07:05 PM:

Hyper-local news: area man realizes it's his 50th birthday, can no longer kid himself that he's still a teen-ager.

#117 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 07:14 PM:

Congratulations, Charlie!

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 07:22 PM:

Felicitous natal anniversary, Charlie.

#119 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 07:34 PM:

Not a teenager, but still far from old.
May you have a great year!

#120 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 07:51 PM:

Jamaica is just getting around to debating the issue of marital rape. That is to say, making forcing a wife to have sex with her husband a crime. Some people have trouble with this rather simple concept.

#121 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 08:17 PM:

It's not a lot easier in the US, Fragano -- my state just expunged the last vestiges of the "marital exception" in 2013.

#122 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 08:39 PM:

HelenS #121: I was struck by the puerility of the argument. Particularly as the senator in question is someone I would have thought should have known better.

#123 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 09:55 PM:

Happy bday, Charlie!

And contrariwise to what you say, I've got a few years up on you, and I still feel like I'm a teenager most days.

#124 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 12:51 AM:

HLN: Area man in library discovers that while the SF/fantasy novels and single-author collections are in Fiction on the main floor, anthologies are shelved under Non-Fiction, on the third. "That's somewhere north of ridiculous," he said, "and slightly south of crazy."

"It's the Dewey Decimal System," commented a librarian. "All anthologies go in the Literature section."

#125 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 01:15 AM:

HB Charlie, you youngster!

#126 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 06:27 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 124... That sounds more like the HeweyDeweyLouie system to me.

#127 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 07:54 AM:

David Goldfarb @124

Technically, all books including fiction can go in the Dewey Decimal System, except most libraries choose to pull things out because it makes more sense that way. The way Dewey handles fiction is...unhelpful in a public library setting.

My library shelves anthologies of fiction in fiction. It used to put graphic novels in non-fiction, but those now have their own shelf space. It also gave biographies their own section (shelved by the subjects' last names). These are all pretty common classification hacks.

The one remaining oddity at my library is that plays are still filed in non-fiction.

Anyway, the next time a librarian tells you that, you can say that Dewey has numbers for regular fiction too; if they file anthologies in non-fiction, that was a decision made by their library. (Changing it would require a hell of a lot of work that might not fit in the budget, however.)

#128 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 07:59 AM:

Good gracious, Dewey Decimal used to have Religious Fiction filed in the religion section, not literature. I'm glad that's changed. All those "Amish" romances in 244?!

#129 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 09:47 AM:

Naomi Parkhust (128): I am reminded that the name for such a massive reclassification of a topic (moving Religious Fiction from religion to literature) is one of my favorite pieces of library jargon: 'phoenix schedule'.

#130 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 11:55 AM:

AKICIML, household chemistry edition: I am trying to figure out what actual things are happening in a modeling dough I have made with my kid (and therefore what adjusting various proportions might do).

It is, by volume, 1 part cornstarch, 2 parts baking soda, 2.5 parts water. Mix until dissolved. Heat low while stirring until it coheres into a dough. Let cool. Knead. Now it is modeling dough.

It's an oobleck variant, clearly (cornstarch/water polymer), though the proportions are such that it is Newtonian and not non-Newtonian. Does the huge amount of baking soda (NaHCO₃) cause a very basic environment that moderates the polymerization? Is it just an unrelated, cheap, easily available powder to eke it out and separate the starch from the water? Something else?

Inquiring parental minds want to know.

#131 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 11:56 AM:

Query time!
This is from The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler:

But I mixed a tall cold one this time and sat in an easy chair with my shirt open and pecked at a magazine, reading a crazy story about a guy that had two lives and two psychiatrists, one was human and one was some kind of insect in a hive. The guy kept going from one to the other and the whole 'thing was as crazy as a crumpet, but funny in an off-beat sort of way.
Is he referencing a recognizable story? The book was published in 1953.

#132 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 01:36 PM:

Kip: I definitely know that story - both psychiatrists are trying to cure him of the crazy delusion that he is dreaming and has another life which is his real life - but I can't remember author or title. It might be by Alfred Bester or William Tenn; it's definitely a Tenn kind of story, but it's not in my Immodest Proposals anthology. It's not the (vaguely similar) Damon Knight story of the accountant who dreams of being a pirate and vice versa.

#133 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 01:42 PM:

HLN: Local man is relieved to see this morning that Hurricane Ana is currently passing about 200 miles dead south of his home, and is unlikely to get much nearer unless she makes an abrupt 90-degree right turn. Looking further on the bright side, we now have everything we need to board up our windows for the next hurricane which may head our way.

#134 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 03:32 PM:

Clifton, thanks! I'm glad to hear it's real. I'm hoping now someone will pipe up with exact info. That reminds me, in his essay, "The Simple Art of Murder," Chandler singled out a handful of mystery novels, none of which I have managed to stumble across, for praise.

Inquest, by Percival Wilde (he describes it as a regional mystery, and calls it "clever")

Verdict of Twelve, by Raymond Postgate ("an ironic study" … "able")

The Dagger of the Mind, by Kenneth Fearing ("savage" … "intellectual doubletalk" … "soon to be a first series Star Trek episode…") (I made one of those up)

Mr. Bowling Buys a Newspaper, by Donald Henderson ("tragi-comic idealization of the muderer")

Lazarus No. 7, by Richard Sale ("gay & intriguing Hollywoodian gambol")

I remember Richard Sale from one or more anthologies of hard-boiled pulp stories. The other guys, I only know from Chandler's say-so. I suppose I could search the books online.

#135 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 03:54 PM:

The phrase "dagger of the mind" is from Macbeth II.1. I expect you knew that. (Maybe not the act-scene reference; I looked that up on

#136 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 04:09 PM:

Kip W #131: Clearly not a match, but the infamous L. Ron Hubbard had a novel with a similar conceit, Slaves of Sleep. The protagonist gets cursed by an ifrit with "eternal wakefullness" -- when he goes to sleep, he finds himself awake in the ifrit's own world.

#137 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Kip W @ #131:

It stuck as a bit Frederic Brown-ish, but I can't peg the story (I was probably thinking of Come and Go Mad crossed with What Mad Universe, but it's not quite the same plot as either.) Mostly I was just tickled by this glimpse of Philip Marlowe, Science Fiction Fan.

#138 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 05:01 PM:

I have What Mad Universe, and still haven't read it, but I'm favorably disposed toward Brown. Maybe when I finish the novels I'm reading now, and get ahead of the curve on homework and housework and workwork.

Sarah, yes, I was pleasantly surprised by that as well. About the only other reference I halfway recall to SF in the Chandler books was somewhat dismissive. I gather he probably wouldn't have picked up a science fiction magazine, but there were science-fiction stories in the slick magazines, and for all I knew, he could have been talking about Heinlein or Vonnegut. Could be a case where he dislikes anything clearly labeled as science fiction, but if he started reading it in a respectable mag, he could get into it.

He wrote two fantasy stories that I know of, but there was a tradition of that in England, where he went to school.

#139 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 06:23 PM:

The more I think about that story, the more I think based on tone that it was either William Tenn or Bob Sheckley, and I think it was a Tenn. There's something about the structure and rhythm of the story that matches with a couple of his other stories, particularly 'Brooklyn Project' (a classic) and 'It Ends with a Flicker'.

It's possible it's a story called "Will You Walk A Little Faster?" (a Lewis Carroll allusion, of course.) That appeared in the collection Wooden Star which we had when I was a kid, so I would have read it, and it was apparently first published in Marvel Tales magazine in 1951, so Chandler could have read it in the right time-frame to put it in The Long Goodbye. I can't find a synopsis or review of that title anywhere, though. If anybody has the second volume of his collected works from NESFA, it should be in there.

#140 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 06:25 PM:

Victoria @ 72:

While I don't watch the movie annually, I do like to re-watch it on a regular basis. It's held up well over the years. Although the critics who use the Bechdel Test yardstick will wail and gnash their teeth because Buttercup is the Macguffin. True love (romantic, fraternal, and filial) is the raison d'etre for the whole work. I adore the fact that it's a romantic story for guys -- you know, with all the sports and fighting and stuff.

You know, there is a fascinating and profitiable conversation to be had about whether it's ideal to separate romantic stories into "for girls" and "for guys" in the first place, thereby supporting and insidiously enforcing the popular distinction between those masculine things that guys are allowed to like and those feminine things that guys are forbidden to like.

It might also be interesting to talk about this constant tendency to throw female characters' agency under the bus in order to write a story that men can relate to, and whether it might have been possible to celebrate male friendships in a movie that *also* celebrated female agency.

But it's very hard to want to engage in such a conversation when the person who started it has already rhetorically disqualified feminist critique as *overreaction* ("wail and gnash their teeth").

I mean, if you want a textbook example of preemptively ridiculing a line of argument without honestly engaging it, there you go.

There are ways to talk about art which you enjoy, while acknowledging that it's got its problematic aspects, while also treating respectfully those of your peers who find that art too problematic for them to enjoy.

This isn't one of them.

#141 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 06:38 PM:

The two psychiatrists story is "A Wild Surmise" by Kuttner and Moore.

#142 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 08:19 PM:

While I do love the novel The Princess Bride (and tolerate the existence of the movie), it’s certainly worth pointing out that the sexual politics therein fall pretty firmly into the Men Do Things, Women Inspire Men camp. Buttercup is the most obvious case, inspiring pretty much all of the action in the main branch of the plot; but there’s also Valerie, Miracle Max’s wife, who shames Max into helping the protagonists; and Ms Roginski, the fictional-Goldman’s grade-school teacher, who guided him through the world of adventure fiction. Even the series of events that leads to fictional-Goldman writing his “good parts version” starts off with him flirting with a starlet in Hollywood while talking to his wife on the phone.

#143 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 08:58 PM:

On Twitter, Patrick just tweeted:

Velma Bowen, RIP. Ave atque vale. PS: Fuck cancer.

Well, damn.

Yes, fuck cancer.

#144 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 09:03 PM:

Agreed: fuck cancer.

#145 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 09:11 PM:

Sideways, with a cholla segment.


#146 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 10:29 PM:

Oh no.

#147 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 10:59 PM:

143: Damn.

#148 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2014, 11:02 PM:

Death, death, and death to cancer.

Peace, peace, and perfect peace to Velma.

#149 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 12:37 AM:

Very sad about Velma.

Kip W: I'm very fond of Fredric Brown's work, and recommend him with the caveat that he's very much a B-writer: almost nothing he wrote was earth-shattering. He was a very good storyteller with nice plots and an amazing sense of humor. Watch for his uses of dreams, both in SF and mystery -- he gets dreams better than just about any other writer.

I should have recognized that Kuttner and Moore story, but I didn't. They say memory's the second thing to go....
I find the movie of The Princess Bride far better than the novel. The novel is too arch for me: Goldman is continually saying "See how clever I am? See? See?" with the movement back and forth between the framing story and the real story. In the film, that's kept to a minimum. The story gets to take center stage.

#150 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 12:39 AM:

I am sorry for your loss.

#151 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 01:57 AM:

RIP Velma. You're gone way too soon. Damn!

#152 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 06:17 AM:

She died at about 3:30 PM (PDT) yesterday. Soren was with her. Elise Matthesen got to spend some time with her just before.

We got the news, via a text from Elise, in the middle of the post-VP instructors-and-staff dinner.

Driving back to NYC today, with Steven Brust (in his car). Still can't even.

#153 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 06:52 AM:

Just woke to the news. Not unexpected, but still in shock.

#154 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 07:25 AM:

With a UK General Election looming, I may have done something silly.

I have joined a political party.

No, there's no maybe about it. It is silly. I have joined the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. You get a certificate of looniness and a colourful rosette. While I have no plans to stand in the election, they are happy to get volunteers.

The party conference sounds like it might be fun, too. Not like other parties.

Anyway, I figure there are worse ways to spend a tenner, though I am reluctant to recommend voting for them in the General Election. They're light relief, when all is said and done, though they seem to have more success in local government elections.

#155 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 08:23 AM:

Just read the news about Velma... I still can't think or say anything about it without descending into a long string of every Anglo-Saxonism I can think of.

Crazy(Which aren't many. There are a lot of repeats)Soph

PS my deepest condolences to her family, partner Soren, and all the people whose lives were touched by hers. I treasure the moments I got with her.

#156 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 08:25 AM:

Stefan Jones #143, Patrick Nielsen Hayden #152: RIP, my condolences for all our loss.

#157 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 08:41 AM:

Dave Bell@154: I read Screaming Lord Sutch's autobiography two decades ago. An interesting, troubled man. A good pal of mine was a member of the fragment of the SDP that didn't merge with the Liberals; he was abashed when the Loonies beat the SDP, and killed them as a remotely serious party, at the Bootle by-election.

#158 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 09:53 AM:

I have to say something about Velma, but I'm not up to the task. God damn, it's just not fair. Thinking of Soren now.

#159 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Hm. How legit is a site with a PDF of the Kuttner/Moore story? Are those still in copyright? If not, perhaps a mod will disable this link:

(And if someone can point me toward a book I might purchase, I'd do that too, because Kuttner and Moore.)

re: The Princess Bride, I saw the movie first, and found the narrative intrusions a bit overdone. Then I read the book and thought the same thing, but I still enjoyed both, and found bits to criticize in both (too much Billy Crystal, which isn't something I usually say).

If I had to choose between them, I'd take the movie, just because of the great, quotable lines and scenes. "Marriage…"

#160 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 11:57 AM:

"Two Handed Engine" by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, where I found the psychiatrist story, is copyright 2004 by the estate. The SF Book Club had an edition back then.

#161 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 11:59 AM:

And cancer got two of my best friends too, so, I join in the general fuck it.

#162 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 12:12 PM:

Sympathies to Soren and to all who knew Velma.

Will you Walk a Little Faster is about nyvraf jub jnag gur Rnegu nf erny rfgngr, vagnpg rpbybtvpnyyl ohg jvgubhg gur crfxl uhznaf ba vg. Gurl jba'g npghnyyl jvcr bhg uhznaf gurzfryirf, gung jbhyq or ntnvafg gur ehyrf, ohg gurl pbafvqre gung uhznaf ner (nf n fcrpvrf) obhaq gb jvcr gurzfryirf bhg va n juvyr naljnl fb gurl znxr vg xabja gung gurl jvyy cebivqr rkgerzryl rssvpvrag jrncbaf, juvpu jvyy xvyy crbcyr jvgubhg qnzntvat gur cynarg/rpbybtl, vs nalbar nfxf sbe gurz.

It's available in the anthology Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Treasury. This was originally available in two volumes as The Future in Question and Space Mail: it's split into two halves, one being a collection of stories where the title is a question, the other being stories written in epistolary style.* It's also where I met Flowers for Algernon, Who Goes There, The Trap and many others.

*I bought it in Blackwell's bookstore in Oxford when we visited for my brother's graduation in the early 1980s. A hardback of nearly 800 pages original price as I recall £20 (totally out of my price range at that time), reduced to £3.65 due to the cover being torn. It kept me occupied for quite a few hours.

#164 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 12:56 PM:

Damn. Fuck cancer.

#165 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 01:14 PM:

RIP Velma.

Too many gone too soon.

#166 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Kip W @ #138:
I have What Mad Universe, and still haven't read it, but I'm favorably disposed toward Brown.

I actually prefer Brown's mystery stories (which occasionally have SF sidebars) -- they're interesting, quirky, and (to my mind) portray relationships with a fair degree of subtlety.

#167 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 01:58 PM:

Dave @154: you're not the only one -- last week I joined the Scottish Green Party. (Which is not part of the UK Greens, although they're siblings within a broader umbrella group; specific policy differences include a commitment to Scottish independence which, obviously, isn't something the English Greens are terribly interested in.)

This sort of arose in the wake of the EU elections in summer -- the ballot was such a stinker that I was about to spoil it or make a protest vote, but instead decided to actually read the green platform, and discovered to my astonishment that they'd mutated over the past decade or so into the sort of center-left party that I thought had vanished from our politics. They're running neck-and-neck with UKIP for the aspiring-party-of-protest niche in Scotland, and with some actual MSPs there's the chance to do some good.

Unlike the Monster Raving Loonies I'm deadly serious about this.

#168 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 01:59 PM:

Apropos cancer:

What everyone else said.

#169 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 05:11 PM:

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis, requiescant in pace. Amen.

Just got the news about Velma...Fuck cancer.

My condolences, to all of us, but most especially her dear ones.

#170 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 07:34 PM:

Dave Bell #154: If you stand for election on the MRLP ticket, you will have to change your name to something appropriately silly. Might I suggest 'David William Donald Cameron'?

#171 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:48 AM:

Indeed: fuck cancer!

And condolences to Soren, to Velma's family, and to all the other people who were close to her.

#172 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:55 AM:

Well, that's interesting. I don't believe I've ever been Blood Libeled before.

Complete spoilers for this week's episode of a TV show (not an SFF one) below:

Guvf fuvgurnq Tniva Uneevf, jub vf n jevgre sbe PFV (naq unf znal bgure perqvgf), nccneragyl qrpvqrq gung gurfr qnlf ur pbhyqa'g trg njnl jvgu gur Oybbq Yvory ntnvafg Wrjf (lbh xabj, gubfr qnzarq FWJf jvyy trg ba uvf pnfr), fb ur qrpvqrq gb qverpg vg ntnvafg Jvppnaf vafgrnq. Vg'f yvxr Yvggyr Fve Uhtu, rkprcg vafgrnq bs "gur Wrj'f qnhtugre," vg'f n Jvppna zbz jub xvyyf gur xvq gb qb rivy zntvp jvgu uvf oybbq.

Rneyl ba va gur rcvfbqr, Ehffryy (trarenyyl pbafvqrerq n ovg bs n gerr-uhttre ol gur erfg) fnlf fbzr ernfbanoyl erfcrpgshy guvatf, gubhtu gur bgure punenpgre fpbssf ng uvz. Ubqtrf' jrrxyl grqvbhf nffubyrel tbrf jnl bire gur gbc va guvf rcvfbqr, naq punenpgref jub ner hfhnyyl abg nffubyrf tb shyy-ober* rkcbfrq snpvny erpghz guvf jrrx: Fgbxrf naq Fnaqref, va cnegvphyne.

Gur yvggyr ovgf gurl trg jebat rneyl ba ner gur hfhny xvaq bs guvat lbh trg sebz jevgreyl vtabenapr: lbh qba'g qb n fcryy gb onavfu fbzrbar sebz n pbira; lbh whfg gryy gurz abg gb pbzr onpx (va irel sbezny pbiraf n Jevg bs Onavfuzrag znl or vffhrq, ohg vg'f n qbphzrag, abg n fcryy, naq V'ir arire frra bar be jevggra bar). Njxjneq jura vg zrrgf ng gurve ubhfr, n ubyr va guvf jrrx'f cybg.

Ohg gura vg gheaf bhg gung n zbgure jubfr fba vf qlvat bs pnapre xvyyrq n sbbgonyy cynlre gb trg n fznyy nzbhag bs uvf oybbq sbe n urnyvat fcryy. "JUNG?!?!" V rkpynvzrq. Fur fnlf gur Obbx bs Funqbjf fnlf gur "fnpevsvprq bar" zhfg qvr sbe gur fcryy gb jbex.

Jryy, V unira'g frra rirel ObF va gur jbeyq, ohg V'z cerggl pbasvqrag gurer nera'g nal jvgu uhzna fnpevsvpr fcryyf va gurz, abg nzbat Jvppnaf. Gb dhbgr Fgneunjx, "Ab Jvgpurf gbqnl cenpgvpr nal sbez bs uhzna fnpevsvpr. Nalbar jub qbrf vf abg n Jvgpu ohg n cflpubcngu."

Fb nppbeqvat gb Tniva Shpxvat Rng-Fuvg-naq-Qvr Uneevf, Jvppnaf xvyy puvyqera (jryy, grrantref va guvf pnfr), gnxr gurve oybbq, naq hfr vg va gurve anfgl eryvtvbhf evghnyf. V guvax ur zhfg unir zvfgnxra Gur Cebgbpbyf bs gur Ryqref bs Mvba sbe n Obbx bs Funqbjf, orpnhfr gung fher fbhaqf yvxr gur Oybbq Yvory gb zr.


#173 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:20 AM:

On a lighter note, I love the fact that "WHAT?" Rot13s into "JUNG?"

#174 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:32 AM:

Charlie Stross@167: I like the (England and Wales) Greens and might well vote for them in next year's General Election, but I'll do so with a sort of sinking feeling that one or two more General Elections down the line they'll have scraped together enough MPs to prop up one of the Big Parties in a Westminster coalition and be absolutely crucified by their members, and most of the public, for it.

On a different note: Abi put Clive James's Japanese Maple in Parhelia last month; here he is reading it.

#175 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:39 AM:

I suspect this comic strip would be appreciated by this group of people. (I know that's pretty vague, but if I tried to describe it, it would maybe not do as much for you. No trigger warnings that I'm aware of.)

#176 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:53 AM:

In re #12:
HLN: local area dog repeats last week's breathing scare. Local area man is currently preparing to take local area dog to the vet.

#177 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 06:42 AM:

And a status update on #176:

Local Area Dog is currently staying at Local Vet, until such a time as a reason for the weirdness has been found. At that point, further decisions may have to be taken. Until then, Local Area Man hopes it was just a weird weirdness that is now All Gone.

#178 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 07:39 AM:

Xopher @ #172, I would say "WTF??" but apparently that particular target is regarded as safe. Instead I say, to hell with people whose imagination is so cramped they resort to that kind of shit aimed at anyone at all.

Em @#175, not only is that awesome, it just happens that someone I know really, really needs to see it TODAY. Thank you.

Ingvar M, best wishes to Local Dog and family.

#179 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 08:57 AM:

Xopher @172: Feorag followed the blood libel down the rabbit hole of history, and the earliest group she could identify at whom it was directed were ... early Christians!

Incidentally, could you let me know the name of that episode so I can keep a weather eye open for it? Here in the UK that sort of material might actually be illegal to show on broadcast/cable TV -- mention hate speech laws and blood libel and the broadcast regulator will get very cold feet.

#180 ::: Kristen Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:16 AM:

This is the current contact information for Soren.

Mailing address:

Soren deSelby-Bowen
c/o Tom and Sally Weber
7041 14th Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98117

Whatever people might want to send/give is fine. However, if people would like to make a donation in Velma's name, here are two that Scraps feels Velma would be happy about people donating to:

The Cancer Patient Assistance Fund at Swedish Hospital Cancer Institute (direct link to donation page)
Select "Cancer Patient Assistance Fund"
If people want, at the bottom of the page is a place to indicate if a person wants their donation as a tribute (in memory of/ in honor of)

The Washington Healthcare Access Alliance
On the main page under "About" click "Need and Formation" and on the bottom of that page click the orange "Make a Donation" button.

#181 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:21 AM:

Me @ #177:

X-Rays reveals Local Area Dog has a mass (suspected tumour) in his liver. We decided for option A (laproscopic surgery), hoping to stave option B (the final rest) off for a while more.

Charlie Stross @ #179:

Cross-correlating various public info, "Obbx bs Funqbjf" looks like a perfect match (time-wise, director/writer-wise and episode description-wise).

#182 ::: Kristen Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:31 AM:

I'm discombobulated. The above information for Soren should have been prefaced with "This is the current contact information for Soren."

[I've added it. —Abi]

#183 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:55 AM:

Charliet Stross @167

Well, I'll go and take another look at the Greens then. But then I'm not so much centre-left as old fashioned Liberal. Which doesn't mean I have any more truck for where the LibDems have gone in the last five years, but may mean that it's a different set of things about what they have done that pisses me off. My impression of the Greens has always been that they have a nasty authoritarian streak which can't wait to meddle in people's lives with a belief that Ends Justify Means. They certainly haven't historically had an ideology committed to the promotion of human freedom (be it freedom from oppression or poverty): that's not what They're For. They may have have changed: their commitment to localism may help them in this regard. I'll read up.

Steve with a book @174 has it tellingly accurately: all of these protest vote recipients are going to get massive backlash when they get to coalition and have to cut deals that temper their idealism. I genuinely think that the LibDems didn't have much option in 2010: There have been some illiberal other mistakes of their own making (tuition fees...), but I think they've played a crappy hand about as well as they could.

#184 ::: DataPacRat ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:10 PM:

Do slush piles still exist?

I'm newly curious about the publishing process, but most of what I've read on it dates from pre-internet days, in which editors in smoke-filled rooms are faced with mountains of physically-mailed unsolicited manuscripts of generally terrible quality. If I might ask, how close does that image come to reality anymore?

#185 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:15 PM:

James Harvey@183

Well, the English Greens must be less impressive than the Scottish Greens then: just gone and read their 2014 mini manifesto, and it isn't really a grown-up political document.

a) even on the environment doesn't seem to hang together - no to Nuclear, no to cleaner fracked gas, nothing on dirty coal stations. So presumably some windmills and insulation is going to bridge the gap?

b) doesn't address the issues beyond the environment that I'm interested in at all convincingly. The public ownership pieces I can buy into, but beyond that it's basically a giant shopping list of (entirely laudable) things to spend money on with absolutely no idea how any of it will be paid for in a country that, even with a high growth rate and spending austerity is spending £170BN more than it takes each year and has a £1.3TN national debt.

#186 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:17 PM:

James Harvey @183... ...would like to point out that, to the best of his knowledge, Charliet Stross is in fact Charlie Stross unless there has been some unexpected change in gender identification.

#187 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:36 PM:

abi @ 55: a high-rise bike park?!? The mind boggles -- at least until it realizes that the remote dingy cages it remembers were in 1980-1990(*); bicycle commuters in the states may have somewhat more support now. The bit about cheap, possibly pre-stolen bikes is fascinating; sounds like Amsterdam is entropizing toward the all-free-bikes scenario from Callenbach's Ecotopia. (The bikes-rentable-like-luggage-carts scenario now playing in several US cities is not a substitute.)
       (*) (In December 1990 my job moved to the high flank of a ski hill 10 miles out of town.)

Serge @ 62: Everyone's MMV; to me, most of the best parts of the movie came straight from the book. I remember someone at a taping going ooh-you-like-that-too when I was rereading the book between takes, as a refresher for the announced movie; I also know a household that was created by a full-length reading during Boston's 1978 snowfail.
      OTOH, Tom has a point; the movie could be regarded as the Good Parts Version of the book....

followup on Kip W @ 131: I recognized the description at least partly because I've read that Kuttner and Moore worked so well together that one could sit down at a typewriter the other had walked away from and pick up the story without a hitch; I thought "That must be where 'Wild Surmise' comes from!", but I have no proof and the explanation seems a little pat.
      on where Chandler would have run across the story: IIRC, Rocket to the Morgue borrows not just its cast but also the social setting (a circle of writers of popular genres) from life. Would writers have at least skimmed each other's work, out of curiosity/sociability/...?

#188 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Mycroft, #114: I love "playing to Rose" and will be adopting it into my own vocabulary. One of our friends was playing to Rose at a media-con in Biloxi over the weekend. He described it as "there are tens of people here".

Nicole, #140: Furthermore, the Bechdel test is (1) not the only measure of the quality of a movie, and (2) more useful in the aggregate than the individual case. If a dozen movies come out every week on average, that's 600-odd movies over the course of a given year. If you then note that only 10% of them pass the Bechdel test, and that 90% of those were marketed as "chick-flicks", that says something significant about both our society as a whole, and the movie-making industry which is a reflection of it. (Numbers pulled out of my ass for this example, but it wouldn't be hard to find real ones.)

Tom, #149: One of the reasons I've never seen The Princess Bride all the way thru is that I find the framing story both twee and unnecessary, and it kicks me out of the mood to watch. Has anybody ever done a "Phantom Edit" version which has just the story in it?

Framing stories are funny things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. There's at least one book that got a full-star downgrade from me on the review because of a weak and completely unnecessary framing story. Conversely, The Interior Life could be described as a fairly-standard quest tale which is vastly improved by the addition of a framing story.

Xopher, #172: Oh FFS. As I recall, this would not be the first episode of CSI to do something like that to a marginalized group. One wonders about the mindset of the producers(s).

Em, #175: Wow. Just... wow.

#189 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:59 PM:


The amount of stupid in that story is - very, very large. Maybe a metric shitload.

#190 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:17 PM:

Lee (188): When I reread The Interior Life, I sometimes skip the quest portions altogether and just read the framing story (including Sue's interactions with the fantasy characters).

#191 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:19 PM:

@172: My first response was "I think you[the writer] mean Satanists,and you're wrong about them as well... wait. I don't know what you mean and neither do you."

In other news, has anyone else been having trouble with Ya*** mail? I have like sixteen years (and 10,000+ emails) of cruft in my account, so maybe the problem is me.

#192 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 01:23 PM:

Em @175: Yes.

#193 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:15 PM:

Lee @188, Mary Aileen @190: For me, what makes that book so great is the interaction between the framing story and the fantasy story.

#194 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:34 PM:

I'm really annoyed, because I can come up with about one point in the Princess Bride [the movie] where it would make a meaningful difference if Buttercup was replaced by the Maltese Falcon. And I really like the Princess Bride. Please tell me I'm missing one.

#195 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:15 PM:

dcb (193): The interaction between the two, yes. Neither would be as strong without the other. But of the two, I find that I prefer the frame.

#196 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:37 PM:

Sandy B.: Which point do you see? That would help me answer.

(I get the discomfort adn likign simultaneously. Of Disney's early princess films (Pre-90s), the one I like best is Sleeping Beauty, which is the story of Prince Philip, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, and a beautiful statue.

It doesn't mean it isn't problematic, it just means you like a thing with a problematic aspect. If we could only like things that lacked that, we'd get to like very few things.)

#197 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:26 PM:

Em 175: Yep. Just what I needed today, actually.

Lila 178: I would say "WTF??" but apparently that particular target is regarded as safe. Instead I say, to hell with people whose imagination is so cramped they resort to that kind of shit aimed at anyone at all.

Yep. And I agree.

Charlie 179: Feorag followed the blood libel down the rabbit hole of history, and the earliest group she could identify at whom it was directed were ... early Christians!

I guess that shouldn't surprise me. They accused early Christians of all manner of things.

Incidentally, could you let me know the name of that episode so I can keep a weather eye open for it?

The episode is called "Gur Obbx bs Funqbjf." No guarantee it will have the same title in the UK, of course, but probably it will.

Here in the UK that sort of material might actually be illegal to show on broadcast/cable TV -- mention hate speech laws and blood libel and the broadcast regulator will get very cold feet.

Yeah, our First Amendment has exceptions, but hate speech is not one of them. Hence eps like this, the Westboro Baptist Church (who are banned from Canada), and so on.

Ingvar 181: Yes, that's the one. I hope your dog will be OK.

Lee 188: Oh FFS. As I recall, this would not be the first episode of PFV to do something like that to a marginalized group.

I believe you're correct, though I can't call an example to mind. Their treatment of the BDSM community seemed reasonably friendly to me, IIRC (and Ynql Urngure became a fan favorite, unless I'm only speaking for myself), but I'm only marginally involved with that community and can't say for sure.

P J 189: Isn't it? Kind of stunned me.

Sandy 191: My first response was "I think you[the writer] mean Satanists,and you're wrong about them as well... wait. I don't know what you mean and neither do you."

Yeah, if they'd just called them "jvgpurf" it would be possible. But no, they use the word 'Jvppna' throughout. It's an intentional attack by someone who did research and then lied, in my opinion.

estelendur 192: Thank you! I went back and looked because you said this.

Sandy 194: Thought I'd toss off half a dozen, but you're right. There isn't a lot. I assume you mean when she pushes the Dread Pirate Roberts down the hill? I think she also clocks the ROUS as it's chewing on Westley, but I'm not completely sure.

It's not that she doesn't do anything (though she isn't exactly a woman of action); it's that nothing she does works. She jumps off the kidnappers' boat, but they reel her in; she demands pledges of Westley's safety, and gets them, but the Asshole Prince is lying; she tries to refuse to marry the AP but he just drags her in anyway.

#198 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:27 PM:

re 188: My recollection is that in the movie the framing story simply goes away relatively early and doesn't reappear until right at the end.

re 194: Maybe I'm missing something, but until Melito-falco-philia is recognized in law, Buttercup at least has to be a human to make the plot premise work.

#199 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 05:45 PM:

C., I've seen it rather recently, and the frame story pops up at intervals throughout. Remember "murdered by pirates is good"?

And I think you're joking, but in case you're not, the point is that Buttercup is an object acted upon by the other characters, and very seldom an actor in her own right.

#200 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 07:16 PM:

Em, thanks very much for that.

Anyone else who didn't click through because of the vague description, let me just say it has good artwork and says something important about the power of storytelling.

#201 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 09:34 PM:

Thanks to Xopher for saving me the trouble of watching that episode of CSI.

That show has really gone downhill. I used to like the "team of nerds doing forensics," but the whole "Oh, look, yet another serial killer obsessed with the current chief of the department" deal is getting tired.

In fact, I'm tired of serial killers, in pretty much every kind of show, especially ones given to muttering "We're not so different, you and I" to the protagonist.

#202 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 10:15 PM:

re 199: Perhaps I am misremembering then.

What I'm saying is that even as much as she is mostly a plot token, that depends upon "mawwage" and "twoo wuff". Even if she is mostly not able to act upon them, her desires are an important force in the plot.

#203 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 10:20 PM:


There's a trigger for rainy-season funk that no amount of brilliant sun-spectrum light can help:

Damp socks

Coffee. Coffee and chocolate. That might help.

#204 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 10:40 PM:

C. Wingate @ 198 and 202: "She does not get eaten by the shrieking eels at this time" and "What kind of a book is this??" are kind of to me key moments that MAKE the story - but if one isn't keen on the framing device, they're interruptions right in the heart of the story.

(Someone did a great youtube video alternating the frame scenes from the Princess Bride with flashes of season one of Game of Thrones... Scary how much that worked.)

Xopher @ 197 - She never fights the ROUS. I can think of a couple where she tries to have agency: jumping off the ship, pushing Westley down the hill, agreeing to go with Humperdinck if Westley is allowed to leave, the dream about being booed and her subsequent demands of Humperdinck, the moment she catches on to his tricks, and her attempt of suicide after the Mawwige. Of which, as you say, the majority are ineffective, though I'm not sure plans that fail remove agency. The one I think has the most impact on the plot is giving herself up to Humperdinck - true that Westley still gets captured and eventually killed (mostly), but it has an impact on where she ends up and how.

#205 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:23 PM:

Huh. I always saw Princess Bride as *mainly* Buttercup's story. Partly being primed by the title, partly one young woman identifying with another.

Westley waves swords around a fair amount, but as far as I'm concerned, *he's* the one who doesn't do anything. He has no character development arc. Stuff happens, but it's just stuff.

To me, the story is about Buttercup learning to see people as people instead of as categories (generic villains in sizes large, medium, and small turn out to incude some heroes; the "muscle" is clever and kind; etc) and learning to have faith. Her actions don't drive the physical plot, but her *point of view* is where the development is.

I guess I'm a very strange person.

#206 ::: D. Eppstein ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 11:54 PM:

Every time I come back to this thread and see the "One Hundred Spanish" at the top, I'm reminded of Lorca's De Profundis. (One Hundred Years of Solitude would make sense, too, but for some reason that's not what comes to mind first.)

#207 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 01:51 AM:

The comments about both Google Street View and the OED reminded me of this:

Boston-area fan Morris Keesan walks for exercise, and to keep it interesting, is currently walking the length of every street in Arlington, Mass., in alphabetical order. Along the way, he is sending corrections/updates to Google Maps.

#208 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 06:32 AM:

especially ones given to muttering "We're not so different, you and I" to the protagonist.

Unless they're going to get a response along the lines of "No, I really think the thematic parallels here are tendentious at best."

#209 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 09:24 AM:

HLN, Local Area Dog is out of surgery and (so far) doing well.

#210 ::: Another Quiet One ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 10:08 AM:

Stefan Jones @203

Also recommended: warm, dry socks.

#211 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Ingvar, I'm glad to hear it!

#212 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 11:15 AM:

Stefan Jones@203: Somewhere we have a set of photos (taken over the course of several weeks of hiking across Spain, during which the weather got progressively wetter and colder) detailing the lengths we went to to achieve those most critical things, dry socks. At the start there are socks attached to the backs of hiking packs in the sunshine. Then on jury-rigged clotheslines indoors. Then crammed onto flat spaces near radiators. Then directly on radiators. Then, finally, from Galicia in late fall, a few where we overdid it and nearly burned through a couple of pairs. We might have saved one of those pairs as a souvenir of the trip: you do what you have to do, for dry socks.

#213 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 12:53 PM:

I am looking for miniature/single serving bottles of port wine in the US. All over Europe, sure, but I want them here.

We've got a number of housebound people in my congregation at the moment, and it would be nice if I, the person who preps the communion kits, didn't have to worry about spillage or contamination. Or my people trying to save communion wine in unsealed bottles that then spill in the boxes, etc.

Thoughts, oh wise ones?

#214 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 02:01 PM:

Stephen Jones @203, dotless ı @212, as it happens, I'm reading the most recent Seanan McGuire "October Daye" book right now. And I just came to the line (it's stripped of context, so it's not a spoiler): "I love being the person who decides whether or not we let the potential for dry socks lead us to our certain doom."

Dry socks are important.

#215 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 02:23 PM:

Cassy B @ 214... That sounds like your typical McGuire observation.

#216 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 03:01 PM:

Sisuile, #213: Have you got a big-box / discount liquor store in your area, something like Frugal McDougal's or Specs? If you do, that's where I'd suggest looking first -- they often have sizes that regular liquor stores don't stock, and "airplane bottle" is likely to be one.

#217 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 03:13 PM:

I know that BevMo (one of those big-box liquor stores) has airplane-size bottles, but I don't know if they have port in that size. Red wine, generally, yes. (I buy brandy in that size for W.H. Harrison pound cake.)

#218 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 03:41 PM:

Sisule @213 -- not miniatures, but box wine, perhaps? There are ports available in 2L boxes, which transport generally much more safely than bottles, don't have the same contamination problem, and might be generally more useful. Dan Murphy's has some on their "fortified wines" page == store name without apostrophe /fortified-wines will take you directly there.

#219 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 05:05 PM:

I got a question for the SF publishing insiders. I may be hopelessly behind the times, but what has happened to Baen Ebooks?

I still have my account there. With the recent report of Harlan Ellison's stroke, I thought I'd go over there and find something from Ellison. I had bought a few Ellisons some years ago from them. But all the Ellisons are gone. Both from "my ebooks" and "not my ebooks".

Apparently they were from, which was recently bought by Open Roads books. Open Roads exists, and has the Ellison oeuvre, but they seem to have vanished from Baen except for a few sample chapters. I then looked at their "free library", which is much reduced from several years ago. Have they just collapsed since Jim died? Has the fandom made-up "war" over their authors such as Ringo and Kratman hurt them? Did their contract with not pass over to the new owners? Are they following Amazon's example of "you don't own that"?

#220 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 05:27 PM:

Vicki at 207:
When he is finished doing that, is he going to walk through a town that begins with B?

#221 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Jon @219: Baen Ebooks' FAQ says that when the rights to a book revert to the author, they have to remove that book from their site, and that you can try contacting their Technical Support for books you've purchased that you can't find.

(I found this at .)

#222 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 06:18 PM:

Jon Baker @219, this sort of thing is why I was distressed to discover than when I bought my copy of Hawk from Kobo they did not give me an actual, accessible epub file that I can store on my computer.

I don't want to pirate books, upload them, sell them, or any of that sort of thing. (I want writers to be paid so they keep writing books I like.) I just want to know that when I've bought a book, it's not going to mysteriously vanish....


#223 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 07:00 PM:

Erik @220:

I don’t know, but Belmont is next to Arlington. As is Cambridge, if he's still not bored--or tired--after Belmont. (I’ve been assuming that Morris chose Arlington for this because that’s where he lives.)

#224 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 07:46 PM:

@223: And then Dracut and Everett. (I am assuming he is staying within Middlesex County.)

#225 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 07:57 PM:

This writer has an opinion on Buttercup too

#226 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 10:13 PM:

#210, 212, 214: I only tolerate wet socks when I know I'm about to go out into the cold and damp again. No sense changing when there's a dog walk coming up!

Socks and travel . . . heh! Last summer (2013) I tagged along with my sister's family on a 2 week trip around Italy. I brought a fair amount of underwear and socks, but it was HOT that summer, and I ended up changing out of sweaty socks on most afternoons and ran short. I hand-washed and dried socks on windowsills, lamp shades, and etcetera. Many times this was in rather fancy 4* hotels my sister had gotten advance deals on. I can picture the staff rolling their eyes.

One trick for starting laundry on its way to dryness: Lay it flat on a towel and roll up the towel. Wring and/or press.

#227 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2014, 10:52 PM:

Erik Nelson @ #225, I laughed until I cried at the part where she started listing things she hates.

#228 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 02:37 AM:

Lila: It's a measure of how long ago that movie was made that, when I looked up a clip to confirm my interpretation of "ROUS", I shut it off about half-way through. "Buttercup! For the love of Ghu, pick up a stick and hit it!!" When she finally did pick one up, I'm not sure what the hell she was doing with it.

#229 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:38 AM:

#219 Jon
Forever's an uncertain term, infinities have bounds
And Aleph Null and Aleph One have diff'rent fields of rule
The book downloaded yesterday today gone's off the Web
You can't recover what's been lost your rights are at an eb.

A purchase that you thought secure
To cherish and to read
The right to access lit'ry work your questing mind to feed
The magic key to DRM unlocking's broke or scourged
If even still the server's there your content has been purged.

#230 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 06:48 AM:

Me @ #209:

HLN, Local Area Dog passed away during the night. Local Area man is not the happiest person on Earth right now.

#231 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 06:52 AM:

Ingvar @230, condolences.

#232 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 08:21 AM:

Condolences, Ingvar.

#233 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 08:43 AM:

Ingvar M @230, <hugs> if welcome. I'm so sorry.

#234 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 10:59 AM:

Ingvar, I'm so sorry.

#235 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 11:14 AM:

Ingvar, count me in. I'm so sorry.

#236 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 11:36 AM:

I'm sorry for your loss, Ingvar.

#237 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 12:01 PM:

Ingvar M: :-( Too much of that going around right now.

AKICIML, UNIX Division: I encountered a weirdness with sed last night which has me completely stumped. I'm processing a text file (basically, the stdout from the ls command). The file's not all that huge: two-three thousand lines, <180 characters per line. But, on my Mac, using Terminal, when I run it through:

sed -e 's#^\(.*/\)\(.*\)#\2\1\2#'

to copy the filename to the front of the line for sorting purposes, it hangs at about line 44. If I take out that second splat, it'll run to completion. (Which is useless, because the second term is then only the first letter of the filename.)

When I copy the text file over to my Panix shell acount and perform the same operation, it works just fine.

Any clues?

#238 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Ingvar, please accept my condolences as well. :-(

#239 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 01:05 PM:

Ingvar M @230: Condolences. It's never easy. Zen hug if that's acceptable: {{{{hug}}}}. Hope you can remember the happy times.

#240 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 01:09 PM:

Jacque @ 237: My first thought is that you're using two different shells on the two different machines, and they're interpreting those characters differently.

I avoid cshell like the plague. I bet one of your machines is using it.

#241 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 01:22 PM:

Jacque: that's weird, but as I've never done Mac/BSD, just Unix/Linux/SysV, I can't help. You might try + (one or more) where you have * (zero or more), though - assuming, of course, there *is* something guaranteed after the / .

I wonder, however, if some other solution to your problem is what you want. `sort -t/ -k1` may give you what you want (sort on everything between the first / and the second or EOL) without munging the line (and then having to remove it later). But that's assuming you are using ls and sort, and don't actually want that \2\1\2 format later.

If offline is a good idea, permission granted to abi to pass on my address to Jacque.

#242 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:13 PM:

Jacque, John @ 237, 240:

I would suspect different seds before different shells being the problem. I'm almost certain Mac is using a BSD-derived sed, but they may be using an older version than Panix (which uses NetBSD). Certainly it forked a long time ago.

Have you looked at line 44 to see if there's anything strange about that line, specifically?

#243 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:13 PM:

Jacque @ 237: So what does line 44 (that would be girl 22, right?) look like? Names with spaces or punctuation? Could it be that line or one next to it that's causing the problem?

Mycroft W @ 241: I tend to write Perl one-liners, and sometimes actual little scripts, to do these things. I used sed a lot pre-Perl, and awk a little, but these days, I'm likelier to use bc.

#244 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:25 PM:

Ingvar M #230: My condolences!

#245 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:27 PM:

John A Arkansawyer & Buddha Buck: Just remembered one filename that I discovered that has a weird character in it. So I ran a test on my Mac with those lines removed. Worked just fine. So somehow that weird character was causing the process to drop off the planet. And for whatever reason, the *NIX on Panix is happily impervious to that issue.

Different seds—yeah, that would make sense, given that my Mac is '09-vintage. (Interestingly, a text file process successfully on Panix comes back with a different weird character in that location. As far as Finder is concerned, that char is just an innocent little "x".)

Mycroft W: Non-issue now, but I am readily emailable via the address at the bottom of the web page linked to my name.

#246 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:29 PM:

John: Sorry; crossed in the post: "bc", Gracie? Whassat?

#247 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:29 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 242: D'oh! Yes, that's what the man pages say, at least on OS X and RedHat Linux. The Linux sed is an FSF creation, while the OS X sed goes back.

(My use of sed goes way, way back. Further back would be nice.)

But this works fine on my machine:

ls -d | sed -e 's#^\(.*/\)\(.*\)#\2\1\2#'

It gives me the base filename on the front of the fully-qualified filename. (I'd want a space, me.)

#248 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:31 PM:

Jacque @ 246: Oh, bc is a little command-line calculator program. I'm used to it and so I use it a lot when I need to be sure my arithmetic is right. (That didn't use to be a problem.)

#249 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:42 PM:

Buddha Buck is right @242; OSX's implementation of sed and other coreutils are less functional than Linux's. You can install the GNU versions by following the directions here.

#250 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:46 PM:

John: Oh, trust me, there's a space. Well, tab. The copying the filename to the front of the line is only one of many permutations perpetrated. (Copying the date/time-stamp to YYMMDD-HHMMSS format, sucking the page number out of the directory name, &c &c &c.)

I can well and truly disappear into my belly-button playing with stuff like this. Basically, I'm tidying up an old directory of work files for an art project, identifying the duplicate files, and copying the whole business into a New! Improved! directory with Proper Organization. Hours of geeky fun.

#251 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 03:48 PM:

Jacque @237 et seq,

Would it be by any chance that line 44 contains fewer slashes than are needed to match your expression? The combination of multiple splats and a line that does not match can drive some regexp interpreters into a frenzy of desperately trying every possible way of assigning characters to the splats in a futile attempt to find a match. Others notice the problem early, and give up.

The reason that interpreters like that still persist is that there are some (extended) regexps that only they can handle; the better behaved ones are flummoxed.

J Homes.

#252 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 04:08 PM:

J Homes: No, it's a near-certainty that the Martian character is the culprit; it first appears on line 45 of the source text.

Lines that have no slashes are dealt with by running a second sed aimed at them specifically:


#253 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 04:49 PM:

Patrick, with regard to the Ben Bradlee Sidelight, isn't it possible he was mocking something other than sissihood? How long did it take the Times to stop sending John Rockwell to rock shows?

#254 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 06:21 PM:

John & lorax:

I mentioned different versions of BSD sed because OS X is running a descendent of 4.3 BSD, and Panix is runing NetBSD. Linux, and GNU sed, never enter the picture. For that matter, neither does AT&T sed, which I'm not sure anyone is doing development with.

I don't use bc myself; I use dc for my random command-line calculator needs.

#255 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 06:50 PM:

Jacque @ 237:
It looks to me like this Mac OS X sed bug is the same as your bug:
(The URL pretty much summarizes the issue.)

#256 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 07:22 PM:

Clifton: Yeah, that sounds like the issue. Of course, the other issue is trying to "knock this off quickly" an hour after I shoulda been in bed. :-)

#257 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 08:09 PM:

Someone in the Christian community acknowledges the American Folk Religion currently masquerading as Christianity in much of the country. It's just a passing reference in an article that's mostly about something else, but it caught my eye.

#258 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 08:35 PM:

I just read through the Kluwe rant. It is indeed spectacular, profane and funny, if not hilarious. But I'd like to push back on one thing

"#Gamergate [began when] an angry neckbeard posted demonstrably false allegations about his ex-girlfriend, claiming she slept with video game site reviewers for better scores for her games."

I read through the entire Zoe Post last night, and this description of Eron Gjoni strikes me as incredibly unfair. At this point, Quinn and Gjoni's relationship has become about as important as Gavrilo Princip's ideology, but I have a thing about hating to see people misrepresented.

Gjoni spends very little time talking about why Quinn was sleeping with the people he says she was sleeping with. His actual focus is on how she allegedly lied to him, manipulated him with impossible standards and played bizarre mind games. If he had posted a shorter version in the dysfunctional families thread here, he would have probably gotten a lot of sympathy.

When Gjoni brings up Quinn (again, allegedly) sleeping with a man who later hired her, he writes "yes, that means she was having sex with Josh Boggs right before he hired her. No, that doesn’t mean anyone’s going to risk their game’s success on an unqualified narrative designer for side benefits. Zoe is in fact a pretty solid narrative designer." His original discussion of Grayson (the Kotaku reviewer whom most of the discussion has centered on), does not mention Grayson's reviews of Quinn's games at all and Gjoni later adds an update to say "if there was any conflict of interest between Zoe and Nathan regarding coverage of Depression Quest prior to April, I have no evidence to imply that it was sexual in nature." Obviously, I haven't read everything that Gjoni has written everywhere on the internet, but here he is specifically disclaiming that Quinn's alleged infidelities were for career reasons.

Moreover, Gjoni is certainly angry and has a neckbeard (or did in the images I can find), but he doesn't claim to be anti-feminist: He mentions Quinn's politics as something he found attractive, says that he played and enjoyed her games before knowing her, and here disclaims being an MRA. That isn't what I think of as "neckbeard".

Of course, Gjoni could be an absolutely amazing liar. (And he is claiming Quinn is a pretty good liar, so someone in this story is.) But the level of detail and the documentation he provides makes me think that he is who he portrays himself to be.

None of which justifies the harassment, death threats and horribleness of GamerGate. But, after a month of seeing references to an angry misogyinst jilted neckbeard, I was very surprised to track down what he actually wrote and find something so different.

#259 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 10:09 PM:

Regarding journalism, I am so, so proud of the CBC today. What a fantastic job of reporting, calmly and rationally, something that is fundamentally a very scary and emotional thing. I don't know if there's a Canadian journalism award, but if there is, I really hope Peter Mansbridge wins it.

#260 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 11:38 PM:

Em, #259: The contrast between the CBC report and the CNN one is disturbing. The first detail mentioned about the gunman on CNN is that he "had converted to Islam" -- which is nowhere in the CBC account, so I wonder whether there's any truth to it at all, or if it's just made up out of whole cloth to support the right-wing narrative.

#261 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 12:00 AM:

Lee: He's described as "Radicalized' in the reports I've heard, which translates to "Converted to extremist radical Islam*". So it's there in the CBC reports, too, just not as prominent.

I'll see what tomorrow's reports on same sound like.

* that could be converted from another branch of Islam, not just from outside.

#262 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 04:07 AM:

We're a bit out of sync, here in Europe, with events in North America, but the BBC has given the criminal's name, and I reckon it's consistent with a French-Canadian converting to Islam. The name components are mixed. But that's just guesswork.

The Earl of Yarborough converted to Islam when he married, a long time ago now, and the criminal's name also seems vaguely consistent with a marriage, so I am doubt you can read very much into it beyond the mixture.

It's just wide open at the moment. Though it is reported that the Police knew of him, his passport had been revoked, and he had a criminal record. Which means there will be people wondering whether they missed anything. And perhaps with more reason than in some other incidents.

#263 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 10:15 AM:

On Klewe's excellent rant (sidebar link): I note his comment that "We're winning the culture war". As Teresa, Patrick and others here have noted (IIRC, in a disturbingly similar context) this applies just as much to SF/F.

#264 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 10:45 AM:

The Earl of Yarborough converted to Islam? I'd have thought the chance of that was 1 in 1820.

#265 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 10:46 AM:

From a student paper: For America to be ruled in monarchy there would be a huge problem with losing conis and receiving the truth.

I can make neither head nor tail of this.

#266 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 10:53 AM:

re 259 et seq.: Meanwhile WTOP (DC news station) pushed the Ottawa attack into the sidebar in favor of yet another "someone climbed the White House fence" story. Is this the fashionable idiocy of the moment?

#267 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 12:09 PM:

Local news takes priority.

#268 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 12:32 PM:

Ingvar @ 230: I am so sorry for your loss. May your memories of your dog be a comfort to you.

#269 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Fraganao@265: Losing coins, perhaps? i.e. they would have to change the currency. Just what truth they would receive is a puzzle, though.

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 01:15 PM:

David H., #263: And with much the same caveat -- that, while the concepts of both SF and gaming have gone mainstream, the terms themselves are still firmly in the ghetto. As Klewe himself points out, the popular stereotype of a "gamer" remains "a white male in his teens or twenties, living with his parents, unemployed or working a McJob if out of school, with no social skills or social life outside of gaming". For SF, add in "who likes to wear SF-related costuming for inappropriate occasions". The stuff mainstream folks read isn't "science fiction", and the folks who play things like fantasy football aren't "gamers", no matter how many similarities there are. Because that's DIFFERENT.

#271 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 01:45 PM:

Ingvar M@230: I'm sorry for your loss.

Stefan Jones@226: I hand-washed and dried socks on windowsills, lamp shades, and etcetera. Many times this was in rather fancy 4* hotels my sister had gotten advance deals on. I can picture the staff rolling their eyes.

Been in similar places, done similar things. There are some grand hotels in historic buildings along the Camino de Santiago, and it's not at all uncommon for pilgrims with a little extra cash or a good internet deal to stay in one of those places in the middle or at the end of the pilgrimage. (At least one of those historic buildings started out as a pilgrim hostel/hospital/hospice in the late 15th Century, making this somewhat fitting.) This means that you treking in with the dust of the road on your boots, go through your evening washing and improvised clothes-hanging routine in a luxurious room, have a very nice dinner, and hike out again the next morning heading for a bunk bed in a pilgrim hostel. I suspect the staff are used to it.

One trick for starting laundry on its way to dryness: Lay it flat on a towel and roll up the towel. Wring and/or press.

Also, if you know you're going to be doing this a lot, it helps to pack a quick-drying microfiber towel and an easily hangable clothesline. Very little packing space and weight in exchange for a lot of drying flexibility. Yes, I've thought a lot about drying socks.

#272 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 02:20 PM:

Andrew M @269 (to Fragano) -- "problem with ... receiving the truth" under monarchy is that the author perceives there would be no freedom of the press under a monarchy (not necessarily a true belief) -- s/he believes that it would be difficult to find out what's really going on. And I suspect that s/he believes there would be more income inequality under a monarchy (again, not necessarily true) -- so earning money would be difficult for all but a very few people. The author seems to be conflating monarchy (a system of governance, or people-power) with concentration of wealth (a function of the economic system, mostly) and knowledge-power (not generally studied). They do all run together, but they can be considered separately.

#273 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 04:45 PM:

Tom, #272: Not only that, but sie also seems not to realize that both of those things are currently happening right now, right here in America. It's very difficult to find out what's actually going on because of media capture, and it's difficult for anyone not in the top 20% of the economic pyramid to earn money because it's all being siphoned out of the economy to further enrich the 1%.

#274 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 07:57 PM:

Fragano, my guess is that your student has heard (certainly not read) the words confidence or maybe conscience.

#275 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 10:28 PM:

Lee #270: A good point. Thus the need for this gamer and his publishers to back his message by flexing his social status as an athlete. (In this light, the photo & caption about Vikings vs. Packers at Assassin's Creed was a masterful bit of work.)

#276 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 11:36 PM:

Random bit from a friend of mine who took a CPR class lately:

EMT teaching CPR: This is how to check the airway to see if the steak is still in there.
My friend: Steak?
EMT: It's always steak.

#277 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 12:02 PM:

Hyper-local news: area man admitted to hospital early this morning as scheduled, discharged from hospital mid-afternoon. Area man is now in possession of four small holes in his abdomen, both the ovaries he went in with, one fallopian tube, and a blessed absence of cyst. He described the experience as "efficient, and mercifully short - I thought I might be in for days and have to be opened up like a ceasearian" and the now-removed cyst as "2000ml, and no, that is not a typo. I knew it was big, but two litres is impressive. I'm not really sure where I was keeping it all."
Area man intends to spend the next several days on the sofa and in bed, doing very little, and has been promised Chinese takeaway for supper.

#278 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 12:29 PM:

Thanks for all the suggestions. I am still at a loss. I've been able, most of the time, to work out what a student was trying to tell me. This time I've drawn a double blank.

#279 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 01:18 PM:

Gonna drop this here:
The last of the monsters with iron teeth.

Found somewhere on Twitter a few days ago. Quite interesting.

#280 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 01:49 PM:

DavidS @258:

I'd be a little less harsh on Gjoni if he hadn't posted it on 4chan, to be honest. Internet shitstorms are kind of their thing. If he didn't know, or acknowledge the possibility, that it was going to take fire, he's not the man I gather he is.

I do, however, loathe the term "neckbeard" with the fire of at least twenty suns. I've had friends with neckbeards who aren't mysogynist jerks or social losers; they just don't shave their necks. I'm much in favor of calling assholes assholes and leaving the fuzzy-necked non-assholes out of the picture.

duckbunny @277:

2 liters? Gracious! Get well soon! (Also, I'm so glad you got access to the appropriate medical resources. I know that was a concern before.)

#281 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 02:28 PM:

abi, #280: I'm less charitable than you are. Posting any kind of complaint about a woman on 4chan, which is known to be a cesspit of violent misogyny, is -- in the most literal sense -- asking for the Internet Dogs of War to be sent howling for her blood. DavidS has fallen for the "plausible deniability" defense.

(Also? I thought it had been documented that he posted naked pictures of her.)

#282 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 06:07 PM:

duckbunny: You have earned rather more than a bit of rest and some Chinese takeaway with that one. Wow. Glad it sounds like it went well.

Lee; I don't remember that bit, and there's enough vileness I'm actually hesitant to pile more on.

#283 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 06:28 PM:

duckbunny (277): Swift healing!

#284 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 07:05 PM:

cajunfj40 #279: I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I do agree that our culture is massively overcontrolling its children.

But on the other... that "culture of childhood" can also be downright vicious! Not to mention the exclusion, or worse, abuse, of the "different" ones.... Playing at culture is one thing, but there also need to be grownups watching to make sure the kids don't veer off into unpleasant territory (perhaps prompted by some young sociopath).

#285 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 08:08 PM:

Technically, Gjoni isn’t even a neckbeard, just a regular fully-bearded person. The term “neckbeard” properly applies when a beard exists entirely, or primarily, on the neck. It was a style popular in the 19th century; Richard Wagner sported a neckbeard, as did Henry David Thoreau and Horace Greeley. It could even be found in antiquity— check out this bust of Emperor Nero.

#286 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 08:12 PM:

And there's a school shooter here in WA, a freshman who (according to some reports, still rumor-level to me) shot up the school because a girl wouldn't date him.

I wonder how much the culture of entitlement, and of over-protection, contributes to that sort of mindset. And how much is just the population getting large enough so we have rare events becoming more frequent. There have been a lot of newspaper stories recently about how what we fear isn't what's likely to harm us (one of the top five fears is still "public speaking", which remains bizarre to me as a fear to rank with identity theft, terrorist action, or plague). I think this may be related to that kind of fear as well. No answers, just questions.

#287 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 09:04 PM: talks about why Baen has changed their policies.

#288 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 09:18 PM:

Avram @285: That Wagner neckbeard post, while being absolutely correct about its main point, is amusingly tone-deaf about the activities of people who might nowadays be so characterized. Aside from the various usage problems pointed out in the comments, my first question was "wow, were people really still a/s/l'ing on AIM in 2007?!"

#289 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 09:56 PM:

First, this is the creepiest video I have seen this year. Funny in a Twilight Zone kind of way, as good as the one with Urkel.

Okay, that was the comic relief. And now...

Tom @ 286: And there's also a report he was just last week elected Freshman Homecoming King.

#290 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 10:17 PM:

David Harmon #284: I found it interesting because I had never heard much about any sort of kid's culture like that. I remember only bits and pieces of when I was young, but I do remember being able to ride/walk all over in the little woods near the house in the suburbs, and later in the city only the few blocks nearby. I do see kids getting to walk to school alone/in groups at about 5th or 6th grade, but before that it's with parents. I always lived too far away: carpool or bus.

I agree that kids need safe places and trusted adults to go to at need, but they also need more "just go outside!" and adults are too afraid to let them. Me included. Even though the crime rate is demonstrably lower than when I was a kid. Not an easy situation to figure out.

#291 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 10:49 PM:

cajunfj40 @ 290: My son is too young as yet to allow out to play alone, but my impression is that at least some of the fear parents have about letting their kids just go out and play is best described as social fear - the worry other parents or peers will judge you, call you abusive, etc. Especially in the suburbs.

It might also be partly a change in where kids are growing up, a greater number in urban places. Even right now with a not-quite-three-year-old in a not entirely nice area of town, I'm more worried about *traffic* should he escape than I am of any other ill befalling him. (Next most worrisome would be the river but he rarely goes down there). We live right in the vicinity of a number of busy streets, some of them between us and his favourite destinations. When I grew up, we lived near enough to a large highway that we're pretty sure that's how we lost a cat, but that highway was off to the side of the neighbourhood, and I could bike to my farthest friends' place, or, less often, to the nearer school and playground the other way without hitting anything but a residential street. I knew how to cross streets and look for cars but there were also fewer cars to look for.

#292 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2014, 11:37 PM:

@290 and @291. There is also the fact that there are no other children out to play with. Homework, organized sports, and more distant friends also play a role in emptying the streets of fun young companions for children.

#293 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:33 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer @289: Too much like Julie Brown's classic song "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" for my taste. n.b.: the YouTube version is not as good as the original single -- worse produced and bowdlerized to remove the menstruation reference, so I'm not linking to it -- go find the original.

Tasteless to mention it in this circumstance, I suppose, but somebody's going to make the reference.

#294 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 03:40 AM:

I don't know who here reads Kevin Drum, formerly of CalPundit, Political Animal and now Mother Jones, but he had some rather devastating news about his health today. He could use some good wishes, not necessarily in his blog's comments, but just in general.

#295 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 09:44 AM:

That really sucks about Kevin Drum. Aside from Calpundit, back in the early days, I remember him and I working over someone's query in Access in comments. Alas, A Blog maybe? I'm not sure.

It's a big internet. I don't know the man at all, and yet I feel I do. I admire his attitude.

And now a different, entirely selfish, question:

I think I came up with a meme. In the event that it actually takes off, I bought the .com domain name and registered the Twitter account. I've only done that once before, and did it ever fail!

Those of you following me on Twitter have probably seen what I'm talking about. In any event, if it does take off, is there a guide for squeezing the money out while having fun?

#296 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 10:11 AM:

Lady Kay@ #292: There is also the fact that there are no other children out to play with.

Lately I've been thinking about the greater freedom allowed to children in the past as being the result of a consensus that children can play outdoors, resulting in safety in numbers. Anyone trying to swipe one of the neighbourhood kids is going to have trouble if they're all hanging out together -- and probably have at least one large family dog following them around.

#297 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 10:55 AM:

Lady Kay: I'm lucky and there's a park not infrequented by kids right near my house (It backs right onto a couple of apartment blocks with a parental population, which helps). But point taken; I see fewer kids than you might expect some days. And not many outside it (On side streets and the like). Some of it is being a neighbourhood not quite decided on what it is or what demographic it's about (other than urban) but some is also just... kids don't go out and play. Except in the park.

#298 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 10:59 AM:

Sarah #296: At least some of the change is the result of wilful manipulation: Both our leaders and our mass media have been stoking public anxiety, and trading off it, for decades. "The Latest Danger To Your Kids" is a reliable draw whether you're pushing a news show or a power grab, and an easy way to distract voters or consumers from whatever you've done to them lately.

#299 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 11:44 AM:

Ta-Nehisi Coates had some insightful things to say about Ebola and politics on Twitter this morning.

#300 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:43 PM:

I have really mixed feelings about the issue of children running around unsupervised.

I was a free-range kid, and it had a lot of value for me. Most of my outside-running-around time was solo, but some was with other kids, and I enjoyed it a great deal.

I was also a lonely misfit, and easy prey for a child molester who had horses and let a lonely, misfit 12-year-old pet and groom them.

Also, one of the things packs of children can get up to is victimizing other children.

My own kids were somewhat more closely supervised than I was, and I think it was mostly OK. They still had a lot of unstructured "kid time" when adults were not far away and easily accessed, but out of sight/earshot. (They're in their 20s and 30s now).

I'm glad I'm no longer raising kids. It was hard then; it's harder now.

#301 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:51 PM:

David Harmon @298

While it isn't an obvious reason for the slow change, which we see in the UK too, the Rotherham case reveals sustained, organised, sexual abuse in that South Yorkshire town, against a background of what was at least official indifference, and may be something much darker.

We have had a rising level of awareness, both charity-backed efforts and politicians crying out "Think of the children!", and a big failure of the systems we would expect to deal with cases.

The more political campaigners have also been pushing "stranger danger" for a long time. The charities have recognised that this risks missing so much.

The Rotherham story is, so far, about children in care being lured, and maybe forced, into prostitution. It seems from the reports to mostly in that uncertain age between physical puberty and the legal age of consent. And it seems to have been a high-value market for the pimps to exploit, which to me is scary.

Plenty of money suggests a larger number of customers than one might expect, even if the victims are old enough to pass as of lawful age. It also suggests, as so much other organised crime does, a chance of being able to corrupt the police.

I find myself wondering if some of the paedophile scare is enhanced by the suspicion, in urban areas, that something is happening. It's not just something out of the mouths of politicians.

There are complications with the Rotherham story. The organised pimps were outsiders, from an immigrant group, but that's something that has precedents, such as the Messina Brothers.

I sometimes wonder if those in power want us to be scared, and whether there can be anything with the fear factor of the Cold War.

#302 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 12:54 PM:

The rule in my family was that you were supposed to stay within earshot.

Our running-around-outside time was on the big lawn between our house and the neighbors' house - it was the biggest single piece of grass that was visible to all seven houses in the cul-de-sac; the bigger ones were in back yards. Our mothers could see us while we played stuff like red light-green light and freeze tag. Hide-and-seek was generally run off our front porch or our garage door (we had the corner house, with the biggest porch, and the lawns were large and open).

My mother kept an eye on us when we were in our back yard, through the window at the end of the kitchen (it had a louvered-aluminum sunscreen: she could see us but we couldn't see her). Other backyards, the other mothers had their own ways.

#303 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:18 PM:

Lila, #300: Both of your negative points are well-taken. I ranged all over our neighborhood on my bike, normally by myself, sometimes on my way to or from a friend's house. There was one slightly scary incident when I encountered a couple of the class bullies, who cornered me and trash-talked me for a few minutes but then let me go; that wasn't enough to change my habits, but it did make me more wary of being in that particular block and I changed a couple of my standard bike routes. And yes, a predator with horses would have found me an easy target; fortunately, there were no options for that in my very suburban area.

#304 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:28 PM:

Jacque @237: an important point to note is that while Apple uses GNU utils for a lot of their UNIX userland, in many cases they use out-of-date versions that they have forked and iteratively patched but which lag the current release by some years. This is because Apple are institutionally allergic to the GPL v3.0 license, and stuck on the latest release under GPL v2.0.

For consistency you might find it useful to run your sed command under perl instead, using s2p or psed -- perl at least should be reasonably consistent between linux and OSX (because the licence doesn't prevent Apple from updating it; they lag a little, but Yosemite is on perl 5.18.2), and I can confirm that Yosemite speaks psed.

#305 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:49 PM:

Lee, I was never ganged up on per se, but my next-door neighbors (brothers) pulled a pocketknife on me and started making menacing comments about eyes. I derailed them with, "Cool knife! Where'd you get it?" and listening to them brag.

They were nasty. Animal abusers. Fortunately they didn't live next to us for long.

#306 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Dave Bell #301: Glancing at WP re the Rotherham case, that looks like a bigger failure, one which overwhelms the question of kids' independence: The government, and possibly the rule of law, failed before a major attack, in this case by the Pakistani gangs. (Note that that sort of infection/group can also be "home-grown", as with some of the US cults -- but either way, they don't get to 4 figures worth of victims without suborning at least one level of local government.) That wasn't "a problem with the kids", it was a major problem with society.

#308 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 05:26 PM:

Nancy, #307: The article asks the very reasonable question of why, if these songs were so popular a couple of generations ago, were they not an incitement to real-life deadly violence in schools? And one answer that immediately presents itself is that those kids didn't hear their parents, or talking heads on the TV, discussing "Second Amendment solutions" to social and political problems. IOW, violent songs fall into the same slot as violent cartoons, obviously removed from the real world... unless they're being reinforced by the words and behavior of adults in the kids' lives.

#309 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 06:31 PM:


I'll admit, your comment has the flavor, to me, of someone blaming the latest school shooting on rap music, violent video games, or whatever other thing they dislike.

#310 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 06:55 PM:

I think you might possibly be missing what she's saying, which is that there are more adults, authority figures in the lives of children, talking about using violence to achieve their ends, and the children around them are picking it up as a legitimate method of handling disagreements.

#311 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 07:37 PM:

Holy Hanna, duckbunny! Dude, that's a HUMUNGOUS tumor! Heal well and quickly.

#312 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 08:08 PM:

I don't know why a very small proportion of students are more inclined to deadly violence than they used to be, if that's true.

The relationship between violent images and violent behavior isn't simple.

When I was a kid, I took those songs as being about anger rather than actual violence. I have no idea whether any of the students who sung them were inspired to detailed visualization.

#313 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 08:32 PM:

HLN: Area sleeper has dream of going online, visiting favorite blog, and finding a new post titled simply "There!" As usual, sleeper wakes up before finding what decisive action or conclusion the post was about.

#314 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 09:43 PM:

Lee #308: I'm inclined to think similarly, especially when eliminationist rhetoric is in play.

That said... I still suspect a lot of it is larger population combined with broader visibility (that is, we're hearing about most of the incidents for a large national population, not just the local ones), aggravated by more powerful weapons being available.

But that firepower aggravation is important -- glancing at the Wikipedia article on school shootings, most of the 19th-century examples struck me as "typical" murders and/or suicides that just happened to involve a schoolteacher, principal, and/or student. Most were single victims. But when it gets much easier to kill not just one person, but lots of them...?

#315 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 11:07 PM:

albatross, #309: I will admit that it sounds, to me, as if your reading comprehension needs some work.

More bluntly: I trust kids, generally speaking, to be able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Of recent years, however, I've been observing more and more adults who appear to have lost that ability -- and they are real-world parts of their children's environment.

Here's a real-life example for you: a little neighbor boy playing with my friend's daughter in her front yard, both of them about 5 years old. Boy does something that causes my friend to admonish him. Boy (this is a 5-year-old boy, remember) says, "You can't tell me what to do! I'll have my daddy come over here and beat you up!"

You tell me he didn't learn that at home, and not from any cartoon or video game, either.

#316 ::: Serge Broom sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 12:29 AM:

Abi @ 280... My wife sometimes complains about my neckbeard. I do try to shave it every couple of weeks though.

#317 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 02:39 AM:

@256 &prev: ::headdesk::


It appears that the "utf-8-encoded-char" that's choking sed was supplied by Safari.

The file in question was a .webloc file for a jpg. Safari supplies a <title> that becomes the .webloc's filename. The <title> includes the pixel dimensions of the image. So far, so good, and very handy under most circumstances. But it seems that the "x" in "NxN" is in Martian.

Whyee? (It is rare, IME, to run across such rank stupidity in Mac.)


#318 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 03:26 AM:

Are adults using the language of violence more? I'm not sure, but I do get an image of a change in the US media. The problematic local adults, like the father of that 5-year-old boy, aren't going to vanish in a puff of magic smoke. There's a behaviour chain back through the generations. But the language of violence has moved from a fictional setting, overtly not-quite-real whether its Clint Eastwood or Bugs Bunny, into the serious political discourse.

I'm picking Clint Eastwood there because of the way his career spans the range. Start with a very traditional, sanitised, TV Western. Then you get A Fistful of Dollars, and it's still obviously fiction. It still has a mythic element. The Dirty Harry movies have something of the same tradition in them, but shifted into a quasi-real contemporary world. Dirty Harry itself has strong echoes of the tradition of the Western, and a key element is the torture question, but there is a shift as that movie series progresses.

Now it's not Harry Callahan choosing violence, in a carefully contrived plot which whittles away the choices as it progresses. (How many people does he kill in that movie? Not so many.) Today, it's the serious and sober politicians choosing violence, even torture.

Dirty Harry sets up the question, but it doesn't resort to the simple answer of the happy ending. It's not a bomb, but the timer has already reached zero when a desperate Harry Callahan makes his choice.

You want another comparison? Compare that hostage, a woman buried alive and left to die, with what happens in Kill Bill 2. Live action has fallen into the unreality of the Tom & Jerry cartoon: the Bride survives the equivalent of the cartoon road-roller, pops back into a 3D shape, and asks for a drink of water.

The way violence is used has changed. It might be half-hidden, but the USA isn't just infested with the rhetoric, it is a country that is at war, which means violence is the default answer.

#319 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 07:45 AM:

Jacque #317: Are they using the &times; entity? It occurs to me that it's long past time when sed should be UTF-aware anyway.

Dave Bell #318: You can also compare Dirty Harry with the movies of, say, Jean-Claude Van Damme, or Schwarzenegger.

#320 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 10:02 AM:

Serge (316): I think your nym got stuck again.

#322 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 11:41 AM:

The two-psychiatrists short story is in Sheckley's "Can You Feel Anything When I Do This?"

#323 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 11:54 AM:

David, Jacque: I don't want to sound all evangelical or anything, but one major point in favour of doing it in psed rather than sed is that psed uses Perl regular expressions, which are UTF-aware and can cope with whacky character classes. Also, Perl regexps have a magic special sauce flag that allows you to write them with white space and comments, making them vastly easier for human beings to read and debug. (Less convenient on the command line, but you can always stick them in a script and invoke it with psed -f [scriptname] <inputfile

#324 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 11:54 AM:

Sarah's been pretty much free-range, by intention. We gave her a certain territory that she could roam in, and as she got older, it got bigger. She just doesn't seem as inclined to go out as much any more. She's twelve, she plays sports, and she has homework. We've tried to avoid regimenting her life (like her friend Lulu, who's always too busy and has more or less dropped completely off the radar of possibilities), but she still has soccer after school so much of the time that she had to ask what bus to ride home the day they didn't have practice.

Once in a while she still rides her bike around the two-block area, but she doesn't go out and find kids to play with, even though we chose this neighborhood as target-rich. Some have moved away. Some, she just didn't bond with.

The guys from her old orphanage in China were really impressed that she went out and played soccer. Their daughters just wanted to stay in and watch TV all the time. (She also tried more different foods than their kids.) But somehow, attrition of friends has made the outdoors less appealing to her.

#325 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 12:03 PM:

I think 12 to 14 years old is about when kids used to stop playing outside so much. At least, that's about when we did.

#326 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 01:11 PM:

Jacque@317: "(It is rare, IME, to run across such rank stupidity in Mac.)"

It is common, on the other hand, for Apple to say "It's the future now, [...] is everywhere, get used to it." Be that UTF-8 or wifi or whatever.

(No, they're not always right, not even always aspirationally right. But UTF-8, yeah, pretty much is.)

#327 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 03:00 PM:

This is off-topic, but it is an open thread...

I'd really like to kick Ross Douthat's smarmy, privileged butt. (This, upon reading his column in the NYT this morning.) He's a poor historian and a really wretched theologian.

Thank you. I needed to say that.

#328 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 04:00 PM:

He doesn't seem to have much support from the readers. (One reader proposed that the pope issue a doctrinal statement that the pope is not infallible on doctrine.)

#329 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 05:28 PM:


Just got past an extreme bout of "hlepiness" from a couple of friends. I was lamenting the lack of circle skirt PATTERNS available in plus size. Not instructions, which give me even more opportunities for fuck-ups, not straight-skirt or sorta a-line, or trumpet skirts. Not 4 sizes too small but maybe I can futz with it. Just a PATTERN. Already drafted by any of the pattern companies out there - just like they offer in their non-plus sizes. Both my roommate and a sewing friend online kept arguing with me, culminating in "WELL YOU'LL NEVER FIND ONE SO JUST GIVE UP!" and I'm like, well, that's why I'm pissed. I'm allowed to vent, just like you're allowed to vent that you can't give anyone money for pants that fit you in both the hip and the waist simultaneously and we all vent that there's no such thing as a bra in our size under $75.

Not looking for solutions, just looking for sympathy.

#330 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 05:33 PM:

nerdycellist (329): My sympathy, both for the pattern-lack and the hlepiness of friends.

#331 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 05:51 PM:

Having drawn patterns to get what I want, instead of what's available - sympathy. Maybe a pattern design text? I'm very partial to Mabel D Erwin. She shows you how to take a pattern and not only make it fit, but also make changes to it.

#332 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 09:10 PM:

Nerdycellist #329: Simplicity 3847 goes up to size 22. My experience with patterns is that, regardless of the measurements on the size charts, they run large compared to off the rack clothing. In my case, 4 to 5 (!) sizes large. YMMV. Good luck.

#333 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 09:26 PM:

Unfortunately, according to the measurements on the package, a pattern size 22 corresponds much more closely to a current 16W in ready to wear. At any rate, the largest waist measurement is about 6" short of my own.

I'm currently not interested in anything more complicated than back when I took sewing in jr. hi. I don't have the spoons to do alterations or learn how to draft patterns, or work with large sheets of butcher paper, protractors, and chalk on a string.

There are, ironically enough, some great patterns from Simplicity for attractive, flattering dresses that go up to (and beyond) my size but I think the sewing techniques required are beyond my current skill level. I thought a circle skirt would be a nice thing to get back into the swing of working with a pattern and give me something I could wear to work when I was done. It looks like I'll be doing aprons and throw pillow cases instead. OK, maybe the medieval kirtle pattern I got for xmas last year.

#334 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 09:46 PM:

Butterick B5757 looks like if it isn't a circle skirt, adding one or two more gores using the existing pattern might work - it's one of their 'fast and easy' designs. Otherwise, yeah, you get to do the marker on a string bit. (I use soap. It's good for using those little wedge-shaped pieces. It will disappear faster than you think.)

#335 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 10:45 PM:

That is indeed frustrating, nerdycellist. I've had to adjust patterns (in my case, down from small adult to child, and not entirely successful) and it's a PITA. If I could have found an actual pattern, the final result would have been a bit less scruffy (which worked okay for the costume, but I would have liked it to be perfect.)

#336 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2014, 11:07 PM:

Re kids playing outside, see "How to do nothing with nobody all alone by yourself" and "Where did you go?-out What did you do? -nothing"
by Robert Paul Smith, the first being about children's games and such, and the second being an essay/memoir

On the topic of parents being permissive he says something like "I don't like that. I don't want the first grownup who says 'Hey! Don't do that!' to be a cop"

But he sees today's (1950s) suburban childhoods to be tamer than his own.

#337 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 12:13 AM:

Arg. Just saw one of those "things you have to explain to non-Michiganders" articles (it was worse than that, actually, but I'll explain later).

Has anyone here who lived in Michigan ever hear a native call the Lower Peninsula the "LP"? I never did, the entire time I lived there, and never have heard or seen such a reference since. The Upper Peninsula is called the UP, but the "logical" counterpart term is never used, not in my experience.

In addition to many other FAILs, the article keeps referring to visitors to Michigan as "out-of-towners." Since when is Michigan a town? Does the writer also think Africa is a country?

#338 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 01:20 AM:

Xopher, #337: Nope, not me either. And WRT your final sentence, quite possibly.

#339 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 01:29 AM:

Jacque @317, yeah, just looking at it in my browser’s title bar, I can see that it’s a real multiplication symbol (×) instead of an x. Someone decided to go the extra mile for typographical correctness.

#340 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 05:07 AM:

Lizzy L @327:

PJ Evans is right. It's totally worth reading the comments on that article.

nerdycellist @329:

Sympathy. Lots of it.

I'm aware that my own level of sewing is sufficiently high that I sometimes forget what it is not to know things and underestimate difficulties.

Given that, I do agree with the suggestion to pick a gored elastic-waist skirt pattern and either add more gores or widen the existing ones until the waist measurement will go over your hips easily. If you pay attention to grain direction when you're cutting things out, you can get an appealing fall of fabric from a project made up of mostly straight seams. Leave the elastic casing at the waistband open on the inside and you can adjust the snugness of the elastic as you figure out what's comfortable. I've been known to wear a skirt for a whole day with a discreet safety pin adjusting the elastic before sewing it down for good.

(And you should totally give yourself permission to have visible hem stitching, too, or find some trim you like and use it to hide the line of sewing at the bottom.)

#341 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 05:49 AM:

On the subject of kids and freedom: as I'm sure many people in this community know, we've tended toward the "liberty" side of the child-rearing force. (As in, I'm actually quoted in Free Range Kids on the topic of life in the Netherlands.) My kids grew up with annually increasing "boundaries" wherein they could wander unaccompanied: first our block, then our quadrant of the village, then the whole village, then the village and the nearby nature reserve. This is much easier with mobile phones and applications like "Find My Friends", which allow me to call them or come to them if I need them or they need me.

Here in the Netherlands, the expectation is that when you finish primary school, you will have to go further afield for secondary school. In our case, the village has no secondary schools, so the kids cycle in flocks to one of the two nearby cities. And the schools expect them to be capable of more than just ant-trail cycling; there are field trip days that start with the kids arriving at the local train station or the theatre in the center of the city. So the slow increase in boundary levels has been pitched at preparing them for the idea that at twelve, the boundaries have to include the next city over. They have to be ready for the traffic, the interactions, the logistics, and the responsibility.

We've been working on it. The ten year old (who skipped a grade, so will be going to middle school next autumn) came into Amsterdam on the bus to have lunch with me several times this summer. The then-twelve year old has done shopping expeditions into the nearby city on his own and with his sister. These things inspire vertigo in me, but not too much fear. That's probably denial speaking.

(Mind you, because my kids feel that they don't fit into their peer community, they haven't taken much advantage of all this freedom; they prefer to stay at home and socialize online. In which they are, to a certain extent, mirroring their parents.)

One thing I often think on: how much of the excellent and comprehensive Dutch sex education is driven by the fact that kids here have vehicles and freedom to roam from the age of about twelve?

#342 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 08:46 AM:

abi #341: One thing I often think on: how much of the excellent and comprehensive Dutch sex education is driven by the fact that kids here have vehicles and freedom to roam from the age of about twelve?

I don't think that's a "driving" matter, so much as coming from a common source: Kids are expected to have more freedom, and the responsibility for themselves implied by that freedom.

The US attacks on sex education fit squarely into a long-standing pattern of desperately grasping for control over young people (and women as well). Remember, we have national-level politicians seriously arguing that if teenagers have sex, they deserve to die of cancer (or other diseases).

#343 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 10:56 AM:

Andrew Plotkin@326: It is common, on the other hand, for Apple to say "It's the future now, [...] is everywhere, get used to it." Be that UTF-8 or wifi or whatever.

It's a little irksome, though, when they do that and don't make sure the tools they ship are up to the task. (Mind you, when it comes to Unicode this is hardly an Apple-specific failing.)

#344 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 11:44 AM:

DavidS @ 258: is it surprising, after the amount of heat generated in Quinn's direction, that Gjoni's original text is exaggerated in people's minds and/or reports? The net is reminding me more and more of Asimov's covert rant (in the form of an idiot in the Foundation Trilogy who looks only at what current writers say) about people who don't look at primary sources. (My mother taught high-school history 1947-1967, so I learned The Word on using primary sources even though I was a science nerd by age 5.)

Lee @ 270: Half of me says that what the mainstream is reading is a pretty thin form of SF; the other half thinks of the human lead in The Silver Eggheads being tricked into reading classics by heated plot summaries even as he says ~"Don't give me any of that mainstream stuff!"

Tom W @ 286: maybe fear of public speaking shows a rare sense of balance? Statistically, people generally poll as fearing some high-attention events way out of proportion to those events' likelihood compared to more common dangers (e.g., death in a car accident, dangers to children from family members rather than strangers).

Lila @ 300 etc: AFAICT, some children will victimize other children absent massive 24/7 supervision; cf current examples such as the New Jersey hazing noted here, or She Kills Monsters (which 20-somethings tell me is accurate). Being myself childless and far from childhood, I can't even guess how much of this is individuals made vicious by their parents and how much is long-inherited culture -- and if the latter, whether it can be worked out over generations (vaguely like The Gate to Women's Country).

Dave Harmon @ 342: that was exactly my reaction; both are tools of empowerment -- which IMO much of the US is leery about because empowered kids can grow up to be citizens instead of subjects.

Wet socks are pain -- when they're the worst thing you can think about. I'm still remembering travel-camping through the wettest summer in Norway's history; when we finally got to Oslo and sun, we rented a camping space, hung up everything (think about trying to sleep in a wet tent going moldy), and stayed in a dormitory for three days while the gear dried out.

The thread on Webb was fascinating, particularly in documenting how long poorly-made choices-of-evil have been happening. I especially noted "In return, [during and after World War II] the government allowed the mob to battle the radical union organizers threatening to shut the ports with impunity." (From context, "with impunity" attaches to the Mob.) Gives a whole new slant to On The Waterfront, in both the blowback shown and the subtext, which (I read as Kazan's claim that he was right to name names to HUAC, for which he was ~ostracized by the creative part of Hollywood.

#345 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2014, 03:48 PM:

nerdycellist @329: Have you looked at Folkwear's skirt patterns? (

They go up to 3X and have a lovely Victorian walking skirt (#209), as well as a couple of other simple skirts on their website.

I have only high school home-ec sewing skills, but I've made several things using their patterns (and I hand-sew) and found them easier to use than Simplicity.

#346 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 08:25 AM:

Urgent practical rhetorical ethics question:

How effective does a figure of speech have to be for its use of a slur to be ethically acceptable?

How dire the situation?

What if it posits binary division with a parallel balancing slur on the other side of the divide?

#347 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 08:50 AM:

I just made music! For some reason this webpage opens eight sample songs at once for me. If I pause about four videos I end up with a complex, but enjoyable, musical experience. ("Drone" does not play well with others IMO.)

And that is today's accidental toy.

#348 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 08:52 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @346, IMO slurs, even if balanced, do not make for effective rhetoric, with the possible exception of those used ironically.

#349 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 09:24 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer: Are you using one slur to point out the offensiveness of the other? That might be acceptable. ("If you get to call me a pinkskin, I get to call you a bughead.")

#350 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 10:43 AM:

OtterB @ 348: I'm convinced slurs can be effective. If I weren't, I wouldn't consider using one. I'm working on one for the one percent: Porko-Americans (or is it Porco-Americans?)

What I'm going at here is where the balance zone is between the effectiveness and the ethicality. (Ethicalness? Ethicicity?) I know that zone exists but I'm trying to define it more precisely.

Carrie S. @ 349: No, this is straight-up slurring.

#351 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 10:51 AM:

Are you talking fat-shaming? I'm uncomfortable with that (speaking of attempting to use shame).

Slurs for behavior, maybe. Slurs for physical appearance, uh uh.

#352 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 11:09 AM:

Carol Kimball @ 351: You raise an interesting question. Let me rephrase it to address my concern spot on the nose: Is "fat cat" an acceptable way to insult the wealthy and powerful?

"Fat" carries many connotations. I almost certainly will use the phrase "fat cat" when discussing plutocracy. I almost certainly wouldn't use the word "retarded" thus.

I suspect there isn't a general rule that cranks out correct answers to my question.

#353 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 11:51 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @352 I don't have a problem with "fat cat" as I think it's a pretty long used term.

My reaction to Porko-American depends on the reference. If it's tying to "pork-barrel politics" then I have no problem with it. If it's fat-shaming, then the problem is not that you're insulting the plutocracy, it's that you're implying that fat=greedy, corrupt, etc. Which makes us non-plutocrat fat people unhappy, and (a) makes your rhetoric ineffective for us and those who sympathize with us, and (b) reinforces the stereotype. Which is why I said that I don't think slurs are generally rhetorically effective.

#354 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 11:56 AM:


Children can also victimize one another, not because of bad parenting or bad society, but because for some (perhaps many) people, victimizing others is fun. Also, IMO, one reason middle schoolers can be so horrible is that they're still learning (from parents, teachers, and broader society) that their actions can really, genuinely hurt someone else, and that they're responsible for those actions.

In general, I don't think you need to posit an external cause for bullying. Bullying smaller people is probably the natural state, something people have to be taught *not* to do in much the same way we're taught not to eat with our fingers or crap on the lawn.

#355 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 11:57 AM:

Oh, that's very different. "Fat Cat" as in living high on the hog, like a Thomas Nast cartoon.

There's got to be a better, lower-level term for Plutocrat* (wild hare: someone who votes for Disney cartoons?) that doesn't schlep along weight issues.

I was prepared to willfully misunderstand Porko-Americans as someone out in the barnyard attempting a hybrid, to which I was going to say it was okay with me as long as it didn't annoy the gilt. But I decided not to.

*digression #2 - last night I read Mike Brown's How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. Recommended.

#356 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 11:59 AM:


ISTM that slurs are effective when they don't trigger much sympathy from the audience. Which slurs work is a function of the audience, and whom they sympathize with, and whether there's anyone in the audience who's likely to loudly take offense to your slurs.

#357 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 12:06 PM:


If adults are using the language of violence more, it's not having an obvious effect on crime rates--rates of violent crime are lower than they've been for decades.

#358 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 12:32 PM:

albatross @356
You're thinking of "effective rhetoric" as that which persuades the audience in front of the speaker, and in that respect, I fear you're correct.

I was thinking of it on a larger scale, as that which contributes to positive public discourse, perhaps adapting abi's moderator guidelines to ask whether it makes the audience smarter, wiser, or more joyful. I don't think slurs make anyone smarter or wiser, even if they're illuminating a valid point. More joyful ... I am not sure that the laughter thus generated counts as joy. I think joy requires a certain generosity of spirit that would be lacking.

And you kids get off my lawn, too.

#359 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Slurs--well-constructed slurs can be a work of art, especially in another language. My former classmate is a master of implying bestiality in Pushtun, part of why she's persona non grata in Pakistan, because she uses those talents on the military force called the ISI.

#360 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 01:26 PM:

Slurs--well-constructed slurs can be a work of art, especially in another language. My former classmate is a master of implying bestiality in Pushtun, part of why she's persona non grata in Pakistan, because she uses those talents on the military force called the ISI.

#361 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 01:49 PM:

Lady Kay @ 359.5 : In another context, I'm planning on deploying 'pigfucker' in a rather ornate context. I'm hoping to get LBJ-level results from it.

#362 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 01:52 PM:

Lady Kay @360 well-constructed slurs can be a work of art

Okay, I loosen my stance on slurs. The ones I object to are ones that demean a group outside the current discussion by using it as a negative comparison point. I agree that well-constructed slurs that hit only the intended target can be works of art, amusing and memorable at the same time. Heck, Shakespeare was a master. Chris Kluwe's gamergate rant is an example, with the exception of "neckbeard," which I know abi objected to.

#363 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 01:56 PM:

There exists a saying about "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable". If you substitute powerful for comfortable, you describe the life's work of this classmate.

#364 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 02:28 PM:

Lady Kay @ 363: I think there's something fundamentally different in the ethics of punching up versus those of punching down. I suspect that is a very unAmerican belief. That's how it goes.

#365 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 02:47 PM:


I guess I fundamentally disagree with the notion that the same actions or rhetorical tricks are okay when used in one direction, and not okay when used in another direction, which is what I get from the "punching up/punching down" distinction. As an example, consider all the really nasty, unfair crap that's thrown at Obama, or that was thrown at Clinton, by right-wing talk radio. That was unquestionably punching up--Rush Limbaugh is definitely less powerful than Obama or Clinton. That doesn't really make me think it's okay.

#366 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 03:05 PM:

albatross @ 365: I kind of agree with you.

I also kind of still agree with myself.

Some things aren't okay no matter what. You are certainly right about that. There's a limit on even what the powerless can ethically do to the powerful who oppress them.

I just think that limit is in a different place for different situations.

Have I posted this before?

Part of that is "which side are you on?". Of course I won't loan a hate group my printing press or fix their flat tire. (I still ought to pick them up when they're stuck in the desert.)

The other thing is about the relative power of (say) Clinton and Limbaugh. Clinton was president and a lot of rich people loved him and that's two good strong flavors of power. Limbaugh had a massive platform from which to speak and a lot of rich people loved him, and that's two more good strong flavors of power. They were both heavyweights; Clinton was just a bigger one.

After they grow to a certain point, all powerful people look a lot alike to me.

#367 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 03:23 PM:

AKICIML, cat edition: the kitten who turned up in our woodshed this spring, and is now nearly six months old (by vet estimation) and newly spayed, is about to graduate to outdoor access. Recommendations for treats I can use to teach her to come back home when I need her to? I had in mind something I can use to rattle in a jar or can, but other suggestions are very welcome. I am only accidentally a cat person.

(We live in a very rural area, with only one near neighbor; our other cat is indoor/outdoor, and the new kitten's contribution to vermin control is greatly anticipated. Because the cats will only be outside when we're home, and will have to come indoors when we leave, I really need to be able to recall her!)

#368 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 03:28 PM:

John: I got a "page not found" from your link.

I agree that power is multifaceted, and it can be hard to compare it. IMO, this makes applying the whole punching up/punching down distinction susceptible to a lot of interpretation and wiggle room. I don't really see this as a good thing.

ISTM that the powerful crapping on the powerless is worse in the sense that they're in a position to do a lot more damage and they're doing it while taking little personal risk, but that seems independent of whether the basic thing being done is okay.

#369 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 03:45 PM:

Open-threadiness: Radley Balko follows up on St Louis County government funding by fines.

Funding your government by fines and court costs is inherently corrupting. It warps your court system toward raising revenue (several quotes from Balko's previous story confirm this--judges and prosecutors saying they'd love to give someone some clemency, but they were under pressure to keep the revenue coming in). It makes the relationship of normal citizens with your police way more adversarial--my assumption isn't that I'm fine interacting with the police because I've done nothing wrong, it's that the police are looking for an excuse to write me a ticket. It also uses the mechanism of police and jails as a debt-collection tool, since failing to pay your fines means you get a warrant issued and get locked up[1]. My understanding is that fines are hard to discharge in bankruptcy, too. Some people get into a horrible feedback loop where they keep getting arrested for failing to pay their previous fines, which then runs up more fines and court fees and such.

My guess is that this is happening in a lot of places other than St Louis County, and that it's going to be very hard to get rid of. But we sure need to try.

[1] Though I gather it's possible to make some kinds of payment arrangements to avoid this, if you know how and talk to the right people.

#370 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 03:47 PM:

albatross, I think the punching up / punching down distinction is meaningful in situations where the less-powerful have to to shout to be heard at all. It's not then legitimate to cut off discussion because they're shouting, actually or metaphorically, even though it's true that it would be better if nobody shouted. OTOH, shouting by the powerful in the same situation is bullying and would be grounds for stopping a discussion.

#371 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 03:50 PM:

John A. A. @366: your "paste" button stuttered, and doubled the url in your link. Which is probably why it's not working for some. Deleting the second copy makes it work okay.

#372 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 03:56 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 371: Thanks! Here is a new and improved this. Contains half the data but all the information!

#373 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 04:00 PM:

I have fixed the link in comment 366.

I have strong feelings on this subject, but I'm also conscious that I could very easily hurt people I care about by expressing them.

I will say that I wasn't nearly as amused by Kluwe's rant as many people were, and not just because I do have a problem with terms like "neckbeard". But I am being a wet blanket.

#374 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 04:04 PM:

Another bit of inherently corrupting practice is civil forfeiture.

A long time ago, this was justified as something that would only be done to really serious criminals. This story and others I've read tell a very different story. It's a revenue source. Normal people are getting mangled by this system. It's hard to imagine anyone thinking this is a good policy, but somehow, it seems to persist--I imagine because some people are doing pretty well by it, and it mostly doesn't land on powerful or well-connected people.

#375 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 04:27 PM:


I agree with the basic argument there--demonizing people from "the other side" is wrong. (More to the point, it's very common to demonize people who, if they're *not* somehow judged as bad people, would weaken your side's arguments. And whole classes of people--that's where "Cadillac-driving welfare queens" came from, after all.)

I found his examples interesting. In the case of Trayvon Martin's shooting, it looked to me like Zimmerman was demonized in the press far more than Martin. (It's hard to be sure, because I'm sure I don't consume a representative sample of the news.) Demonizing Zimmerman was a way of strengthening a narrative that I think a lot of people wanted to push.

In the case of Michael Brown's shooting by Darren Wilson, I've seen more demonizing of Brown and less of Wilson, but certainly some of both. Mostly, I saw demonization of Brown after the footage of the convenience store robbery came out. I also have seen a *lot* of demonization of the local government there, without a whole lot of nuance.

My impression is that most people know the conclusions they're arguing toward, and when they find that those conclusions would be weakened by a given person being sympathetic, they discover that he's actually a demon who has no right to anything but abuse. He's a thug. He's racist. He's hateful. He's ugly. He's a loser[1].

[1] It's disturbing how often, if you pay attention, you will see an implicit justification for treating someone badly because they're a loser. What right does this fat, poor, unsuccessful, dumb person have for complaining about his mistreatment--doesn't he know shits like him have it coming?

#376 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 04:27 PM:


I agree with the basic argument there--demonizing people from "the other side" is wrong. (More to the point, it's very common to demonize people who, if they're *not* somehow judged as bad people, would weaken your side's arguments. And whole classes of people--that's where "Cadillac-driving welfare queens" came from, after all.)

I found his examples interesting. In the case of Trayvon Martin's shooting, it looked to me like Zimmerman was demonized in the press far more than Martin. (It's hard to be sure, because I'm sure I don't consume a representative sample of the news.) Demonizing Zimmerman was a way of strengthening a narrative that I think a lot of people wanted to push.

In the case of Michael Brown's shooting by Darren Wilson, I've seen more demonizing of Brown and less of Wilson, but certainly some of both. Mostly, I saw demonization of Brown after the footage of the convenience store robbery came out. I also have seen a *lot* of demonization of the local government there, without a whole lot of nuance.

My impression is that most people know the conclusions they're arguing toward, and when they find that those conclusions would be weakened by a given person being sympathetic, they discover that he's actually a demon who has no right to anything but abuse. He's a thug. He's racist. He's hateful. He's ugly. He's a loser[1].

[1] It's disturbing how often, if you pay attention, you will see an implicit justification for treating someone badly because they're a loser. What right does this fat, poor, unsuccessful, dumb person have for complaining about his mistreatment--doesn't he know shits like him have it coming?

#377 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 04:47 PM:

albatross, #365: Limbaugh also used the same level of nasty rhetoric on Sandra Fluke. Which of those two targets is better able to defend themselves? That's an important part of the "punching up/punching down" concept. I think you're cutting close to the edge of the false-equivalence fallacy here.

Re civil forfeiture, we are 100% in agreement. Whether or not it was a good idea as initially conceived I would have to go back and look up -- but as it's evolved, it is most certainly NOT.

And once again, the cure for an abuse of the poor turns out to be a more-equitable tax structure in which the rich pay their fair share, so that police departments don't need to rely on theft from citizens to make up their budgets.

#378 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 04:49 PM:

re 374: I think it's more a question of they don't have to care about the damage they are doing to people's lives in their dragnet, but nonetheless it's unconscionable.

re 369: This is a problem across the country and has been for a very long time. It's heavily enabled by state governmental structures in which the counties and municipalities go unsupervised in exchange for not getting any money.

#379 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 05:06 PM:

nerdycellist @ 329: It is so infuriating that sewing pattern sizes stop well before actual people sizes do. Particularly because if one wears plus sizes, one has fewer options in ready-to-wear (which is a whole nother rant), so one might want to sew in order to have better clothes to wear.

And I don't blame you on not wanting to draft your own pattern. I'm currently trying to figure out whether I can make a circle skirt using the legs of worn-out jeans, and it involves doing quite a lot of geometry to figure out, if I divide the skirt into panels equal to the number of jeans legs I have, what their dimensions would have to be and whether the jeans legs are big enough. I can't blame anyone for not wanting to do that much tinkering when you just want what should be a simple skirt.

#380 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 05:08 PM:

abi @373, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts, but if it would take more spoons than you wish to expend in order to tread carefully on the topic or to moderate the ensuing discussion, then of course don't do so.

#381 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 05:14 PM:

That's one reason why I recommended that particular book: it gives instructions - with clear drawings - for changing patterns to do things like add fullness (or take it out). It also has a section on how to tell what needs to be done from looking at how it fits. (I did a half-circle cape from her instructions, and it hung beautifully.)

#382 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 05:16 PM:


I'd say the rhetorical tactics used by Limbaugh against Flake were nasty, and would have been just as nasty if used up instead of down.

Limbaugh attacking Flake was also really despicable because of the massive difference in power--I get a megaphone to scream insults at you, nobody will hear your response.

Those seem like two entirely different things.

There are rhetorical tactics that are nasty, and you ought not to use them even when you're punching up. (Attacking Chris Christie for being fat or Sarah Palin for being a pretty airhead is not going to win lots of points from me, frex, even if the person doing the attacking is much less powerful in any way than their target.) They're wrong because they're wrong, not because of a power imbalance.

It's also nasty for powerful people to stomp on powerless people. That's not about the rhetorical tactics used, it's about the power imbalance. Limbaugh hammering on Flake for a few days on his show, even using decent tactics, would be kinda lousy. (Just not as lousy as combining it with nasty sexualized personal insults. I don't pay much attention to him these days, but as best I can tell, Limbaugh is really a pretty awful human being.)

Re Civil Forfeiture: No argument. Governments should fund themselves on taxes.

#383 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 05:36 PM:

A couple of links relating to recent topics:

applying tech to farming in Tasmania

wrt Webb (a Phosphene, not a thread as I said above): recycled Nazis used to spy for the U.S. -- unclear how new this is even as proof rather than assumption, but having it pop up the day after I read Webb's story was ... interesting.

albatross @ 354: I am unconvinced that bullying is a default state that kids need to be taught out of; my gut reactions is that it would be more common if this were true -- although I admit (as noted above) to having little direct knowledge of children. I don't know the state of research on when/how children learn enough empathy to internalize "don't do X to Y because you wouldn't like it if Y did X to you".

#384 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 06:12 PM:

albatross @ #369, the SPLC just won a case involving one of those debtor's-prison-style doubling-down-on-fines spirals.

#385 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 06:13 PM:

A major problem with using slurs is that you're guaranteed to insult a bunch of people you weren't aiming at.

I don't follow editorial cartoons-- is the trope of rich = fat still in common use? If so, that's remarkably unfair to fat people.

albatross, that's Fluke, not Flake.

#386 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 06:34 PM:

CHip #383: I am unconvinced that bullying is a default state that kids need to be taught out of

And yet, it's been happening for a very long time. You can see examples in mythology, f'rex the status of Hephaestos in Greek myth. I would say that there are a lot of approaches to society, and the world, that appear naturally among children. These can be variously reinforced or suppressed by adult leadership, but if there is no adult leadership,the results will be a mix of "luck of the draw" for the leaders among the kids, and constraints from the environment.

The environment has a lot to do with how society develops. In general, I think having not enough resources to go around makes things nastier, as does any external hazard that creates conflicts of interest. As societies get richer and more secure, they have more latitude to to collectively succor the weak, tolerate the different, and give aid to the destitute. (But they may not use it, if those in power can use that power to maintain "old ways" that maintain their own position.) That said, empathy is a human universal: there will always be some people in whom it dominates. But then, likewise for malice....

#387 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 06:49 PM:

albatross, #382: There are rhetorical tactics that are nasty, and you ought not to use them even when you're punching up.

Now that I'll agree with, and your examples, and I have called out people on my own side of the argument for doing such things.* But that's significantly different from what you said @365. Satire, for example, is one of the things usually covered under the "punching up/punching down" rubric, and it sounded as though you were saying that that's wrong too.

It's also nasty for powerful people to stomp on powerless people.

Which is exactly the point of "punching up/punching down". Stuff White People Like works because it's parodying the same kind of clueless "analysis" of mainstream white culture that we've seen done about various non-white cultures, by well-off and privileged white folks, far too often. It's punching up. People of Wal-Mart (not linking, TYVM) is nasty in large part because it's punching down.

* Sub-category: trying to promote e.g. fat acceptance by engaging in thin-bashing doesn't work either.

#388 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 07:04 PM:

CHip @383
Data-driven farming discussion on this Radio National (Australia) Future Tense show

BTW, the following two episodes are about 'Online Comments - a "wicked" problem'.

#389 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 10:32 PM:


>Attacking Chris Christie for being fat or Sarah Palin for being a pretty airhead

I find the word "airhead" to be a very legitimate reason to attack someone who tried to get a job where she had power over thousands or millions of people. There are probably 100 million adult Americans who would do a better job of governing than she would.

I do hate to go on about her, though; I feel like I could be getting angry about something relevant and important instead.

#390 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 10:49 PM:

Well, for targeting a well-crafted slur against over-rich, over-greedy people and no one else: work out from Draco-Americans?

#391 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2014, 11:42 PM:

Sandy @389:

The problem, though, isn't that Palin is pretty. We don't want ugly airheads running things either (which does happen, often with the sons of rich or powerful men). And if Palin were a smart woman with the same looks, some people would assume she was stupid, or use her looks as an easy attack if they disliked her policies. (There is *no* physical appearance that means a woman will not be criticized for her appearance.)

#392 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 04:43 AM:

I'll be honest. I see Palin from outside the USA, and I am maybe seeing her looks in a different way. "Hollywood", in the wider sense, is rather different from British entertainment. Her looks don't seem to cut her off from anything. Forget for a moment that she's famous. That face wouldn't look out of place on British TV.

There are all sorts of other reasons to pick somebody else, but her looks are pretty ordinary. If she were the girl next door...

I think I'd leave town...

#393 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 08:55 AM:


Yeah, I'm just saying that the rhetorical tricks that strike me as nasty when done down also strike me as nasty when done up. If someone unloaded on Palin for, say, getting birth control covered in the insurance she was provided as governor of Alaska in the way Fluke[1] was attacked, I'd think that was nasty.

One problem is that it's a useful (and widely used) strategy for powerful people and their defenders to try to rule all criticism out without having anyone consider the content of the criticism. So you have to actually apply some judgment, and that's hard to do when your side is fighting the other side. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin will be happy to have criticism silenced by whatever rhetorical means.

[1] Arghh!

#394 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 09:37 AM:

The thing is, physical violence is wrong, period. And yet there occasions when I would resort to it.

So what I'm looking for is guidance on rhetorical violence. I accept that it is wrong; no one has to convince me about that. I'm looking to understand when to resort to it anyway.

#395 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 09:59 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @394, I don't know that there are any good answers to that. My own best answer (and I admit that I've not thought this all the way through) is that it might be appropriate in some circumstances when pointing out hypocrisy, but I have a hard time thinking of any other valid uses. It shouldn't be used to "punch down", and I'm afraid that if it's used to "punch up" it'll generate more smoke than light and won't necessarily be effective.

#396 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 10:04 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @394, under what situations would you resort to physical violence even though you think it's wrong? In other words, when is it the lesser of two evils? I'm guessing, when you felt it necessary for the defense of yourself or another, and no lesser response (e.g. leaving) will do. Frustration on your part, contempt for the person you are engaging with, enjoyment of the process, etc., don't justify it. Really, really don't justify it. Also, you would keep in mind that physical violence may escalate and make the original difference, whatever it was, worse instead of better. In addition, if needed at all, the level of physical violence ought to be the minimum sufficient to the need.

I'd apply the same rules to rhetorical violence. Use with reluctance, in defense, and with an eye on resolving conflict rather than "winning." I think it's harder to make a case for necessary rhetorical violence than it is to make a case for necessary physical violence; the risks to the one attacked are different.

#397 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 10:19 AM:

Using rhetorical violence could be justified if someone is spreading misinformation that could be dangerous (i.e., "Hey, kids, let's drink some bleach!") or abusive, but if used in the context of a political argument, it just gives of the flavor of "someone is WRONG on the Internet".

#398 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 11:28 AM:

OtterB @ 396: "I think it's harder to make a case for necessary rhetorical violence than it is to make a case for necessary physical violence; the risks to the one attacked are different."

And when slurs are involved, there's spillover onto innocent bystanders, which, if as I claim, violence per se is always wrong, is always wronger.

But we live in a Marvelman world, not the MCU.

I think it's not harder to make just the case for rhetorical violence, but to make an argument of any sort around rhetorical violence that is as sound as one around physical violence.

(I'd personally parse some forms of interpersonal verbal abuse into the physical violence bucket, but I don't think I'd do that for impersonal use of that language, and this is a side issue anyway.

#399 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 11:48 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 398... we live in a Marvelman world

Make sure not to say 'Kimota' too loud.

#400 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 12:33 PM:

albatross #369: There are several local governments in the greater Atlanta area that are guilty of using traffic fines to fund themselves. There was a story in the Sunday paper recently about that. Doraville, near which I used to live, was a major culprit. Though Lila and Mary Aileen, I'm sure, will also recall the case of Pine Lake, which became notorious back in the 90s, and which still featured on the list.

When Gail and I were looking to buy a house, Pine Lake was one place we looked. We didn't buy there (the house we looked at was not bad, but its location wasn't the best).

#401 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 01:21 PM:

I'm re-reading the Baen reissues of James Schmitz's Hub stories, and for the most part they hold up amazingly well. However, "Legacy" has had a minor visit from the Suck Fairy; it uses a lot of outdated romance tropes and has a strongly-implied "forcible seduction" scene, not to mention a seriously out-of-character moment for his female protagonist to set that up. And his male protagonist is, bluntly, a pig by modern standards, even though he shows to advantage against every other man in the story. But this is the first story in 3 volumes which has made me twitch, and it's also one of his earlier works (most of the Telzey stories are from 5 to 10 years after this), and the non-romance parts of it are well up to his usual standard. So I'm inclined to let it slide and merely note that I'd want to talk with a teenage girl both before and after she read this particular tale.

#402 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Fragano: hadn't heard of Pine Lake, but Arcade, just up the road from me, has a longstanding reputation as a speed trap (investigated and cleared at least twice by the Georgia State Patrol). When I was a teenager I heard a lot of cautionary tales about Dacula.

#403 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 03:11 PM:

AKICIML: I just acquired a leather-bound copy of the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary published in 1946. The leather is crumbling around the edges causing the zipper(?!) to separate from the cover.

Does anyone know if it would be safe to glue some very light leather to the edge of the endpapers and stitch the zipper back to that?

#404 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 03:34 PM:

On unfair rhetorical tactics: I read Kenneth Morgan's biography of Michael Foot the other year. Foot had a pretty distinguished political and literary career up until 1980 when he took over the leadership of the Labour Party from Jim Callaghan, who had been defeated by Mrs Thatcher. Callaghan's government had had an extremely grim final six months but as a person he was pretty well-regarded. 'Avuncular' was often the word used. "Uncle Jim", "Sunny Jim". Callaghan's elderly replacement wasn't your uncle, he was the Communist granddad you never had, escaping from time to time from his old-people's home to shake his stick at his fractious party.

But, yeah, Morgan's biography pointed out that Foot was actually a year younger than Callaghan. Few know or remember this; the image enforced in large part by the political cartoons of the time has stuck. Foot is eternally a scatterbrained old man in most people's minds. The young Labour tearaway of the post-WWII years is forgotten.

#405 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2014, 06:49 PM:

re 404: I have to think that part of the reason is that Foot looked as though he were a decade older. The pictures leading the two Wikipedia bios were only taken four years apart, with a three year difference in age.

#406 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 02:07 AM:

I was in Corpus Christi this last weekend playing bridge. It turns out that along the waterfront, Corpus Christi has a scale model of the solar system. The scale is 1:10,000,000,000; so the sun was a ball about 5 and a half inches in diameter, and the distance to Pluto was a bit over a third of a mile. I walked it at a leisurely pace in about ten minutes.

No calculators, now: anyone care to guess where, at that scale, you'd put your ball representing Alpha Centauri?

#407 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 03:21 AM:

160,000 miles, I think. It's quite possible I've lost track of units or powers of 10.

#408 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 07:05 AM:

Showing my work...

If I recall correctly (and I will look it up with a calculator later), a light second is 300,000 km, and a year is about pi*10^6 seconds, so a light year is about 3pi*10^11 km (or, given the level of precision here, about 10^12 km). So Alpha Centauri, about 4.5 ly away, is about 4.5*10^12km. At the given scale, I can knock off 10^10, so it's about 450 km.

(I checked as I said I was, but it would be spoiling to say exactly where my error was).

#409 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 10:18 AM:

We're connected to the internet and we're not going to use it. Challenge accepted!

A year is pi *10^7 seconds. I half-remembered that so I checked.

8760 hours in a year, 3600 seconds in an hour. So that's about pi thousand * 10 thousand, pi times 10 million.

I thought Alpha Centauri was about 3 light years away, so I'm not going to use a presumably-more-accurate number from anywhere else in this thread.

3x10^8 m/s * pi x 10^7 s/y = 9 x 10^15 m/y . Times 3 y. So 27 x 10^15 m/ 10^10 = 27x10^5 m= 27000 km . Which is pretty close to geostationary orbit, I think. You can't walk there, but at least you can put it overhead and it'll pretty much stay there!

#410 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 10:34 AM:

I don't know if Postmodern Jukebox has been making the rounds among the fluorosphere (thanks, spelling reference!) but I've been listening to some of their stuff. The lead vocal sounds a little flat to me sometimes. They have different lead singers and at least two of them do it. Is it a deliberate historical choice? Am I wrong? Or are they a little flat?

Cover of "Burn"

Cover of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"

#411 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 10:49 AM:

I was actually more curious about where people would place Alpha C. based just on gut feel.

Anyway, no correct answer yet:

Ohqqun Ohpx tbg gur yratgu bs n lrne jebat ol na beqre bs zntavghqr.

Fnaql O. znqr na bccbfvgr reebe: fur(?) unq yvtug tbvat gra gvzrf gbb snfg. (Naq qvqa'g erzrzore gur qvfgnapr gb Nycun Pragnhev, vg'f snegure.)

The real way to do this using the Internet, of course, is to Google "distance to Alpha Centauri" to get a figure in light years, and then Google "[x] light years in miles" (or "kilometers" if you swing that way) and then subtract 10 from the exponent.

#412 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 11:03 AM:

Sandy, #410: The vocals on "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" don't sound flat to me; being unfamiliar with the other piece, I wouldn't be able to judge. They have dropped the performance pitch by at least half an octave, and it's not as acoustically bright as the original; could that be what you're noticing?

#413 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 11:13 AM:

A Cent is...4 ly away? A quick Google says 4.37. A light year is 5.88 trillion miles or 9.46 trillion kilometers. Times 4 2/5 that's 25.9 tm/41.6 tk. Divided by the scale of 1:10 billion, it's 2590 miles/4160 km.

I believe you were walking much faster than the speed of light, David. :)

#414 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 11:25 AM:

Or go to Wolfram Alpha:*+10^-10

#415 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 11:26 AM:

Okay, here goes, without looking at anyone's answers:

Alpha Centauri is a bit more than a parsec away, less than 1.5, split the difference and call it 1.25. A parsec is 2 * 10^5 AU, more or less (20265, but the guess for the distance is considerably less precise than that). An AU is 1.5 * 10^8 km.

So Alpha Centauri is 2.5 * 10^5 AU away, or 2.5 * 1.5 * 10^13 km, or about 4 * 10^13 km. Scale is 1 in 10^10, so that's 4000 km. (Sanity check; Pluto is about 40 AU from the Sun, so 40 * 1.5 * 10^8 = 6 * 10^9 km, which on this scale would then be 0.6 km away, which matches your guess of "about a third of a mile".)

#416 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 11:28 AM:

And here I had assumed that "no calculators" implied "no googling" as well, or I'd have done better than a guess at the distance.

#417 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Were I to take an iron gun,
And fire it off towards the sun;
I grant ‘twould reach its mark at last,
But not till many years had passed.

But should that bullet change its force,
And to the planets take its course,
‘Twould never reach the nearest star,
Because it is so very far.

(Lewis Carroll)

(I realise that this poem is not strictly accurate.)

#418 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 12:26 PM:

Andrew M @417

A quick google yields an average bullet speed of 1,700 miles per hour. (I don't know what an "iron gun" is, specifically, so I'll go with the generic answer.) Another quick google gives the distance to the sun as 92,960,000 miles. So, to two decimal places, it would take about 54682.35 hours for a bullet to reach the sun (ignoring the gravity fields of the earth, the sun, and any other intervening bodies), which is about 2278.43 days, or 6.24 years. I suppose that counts as "many years".... But assuming I didn't drop any decimal points (never a safe assumption, I'm afraid) it would only take about 1719 years for that bullet to reach Alpha Centauri (ignoring gravitational influences).

#419 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 01:21 PM:

We had Postmodern Jukebox play for a dance at Worldcon in San Antonio. They're really amazing (nice people, and Scott Bradlee is an incredible perfectionist about the music).

#420 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 01:28 PM:

Yeah, but if you're going to shoot the sun (with a gun, not a sextant) you've got to lead the sucker.

I know that's where I'd REALLY get it wrong.

#421 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 01:38 PM:

Cassy B @418:

So, to two decimal places, it would take about 54682.35 hours for a bullet to reach the sun (ignoring the gravity fields of the earth, the sun, and any other intervening bodies), which is about 2278.43 days, or 6.24 years. I suppose that counts as "many years".... But assuming I didn't drop any decimal points (never a safe assumption, I'm afraid) it would only take about 1719 years for that bullet to reach Alpha Centauri (ignoring gravitational influences).

You've slipped up somewhere. Alpha Centauri is considerably more than 300 times farther away from the Earth than the Sun is. (More like 200,000 times farther.) So however long it takes to get to the Sun from Earth, at the same velocity it would take more than 200,000 times longer to get to Alpha Centauri.

#422 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 01:44 PM:

Lorax @421, <sheepish> yes, I figured it from 24.6 billion miles, not 24.6 trillion miles. What's a factor of 1000 between friends...? <wry grin> So 1,719,000 years....

#423 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 02:21 PM:

Sandy B. @410: sounds on pitch to me, but one thing they're not afraid of is dissonance. It's gone mostly out of fashion in modern pop, but older styles liked it just fine, especially the many flavors of jazz that they mostly aim at.

#424 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 02:39 PM:

Carol Kimball @420: But wouldn't both the lead and the sucker melt from the sun's heat?

On a slightly more serious note, if you're starting from a stationary position relative to the sun(i.e., not in orbit around the sun), I think it wouldn't matter what direction you fired the bullet, it would probably always end up in the sun. If you start from the surface of the Earth, the bullet will always return to Earth. If you start in the same orbit as the Earth, but not near the Earth, my limited intuitions about orbital mechanics says that the bullet still won't have enough delta-V to reach the sun, but I could be wrong.

Looked at another way, says that an object in a 300 AU orbit (10x Neptune's orbit) will go around the sun once every 5,000 years, while traveling at the pokey pace of 1.7 km/sec, roughly the speed of a 120mm kinetic energy penetrator (an 18 inch long tungsten rod fired from a tank main gun, the fastest conventional military projectile I could find

In other words, the velocity of a bullet is low enough compared to objects in the solar system that your starting position/velocity matter much more than your aim. It's not that much better than throwing a baseball!

#425 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 02:43 PM:

Elliott, #423: One modern-pop group that's not afraid of dissonance is R.E.M. -- it's part of their signature sound.

#426 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 02:50 PM:

#424 ::: Jeremy Leader

Ah, yes, gravity capture. Let's face it, with my lack of upper body strength (I throw like a girl) I'd be lucky to get a baseball out of ground effect.

Yes, I know it's different.

How about "Get a baseball higher than the Spruce Goose?"

#427 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Tim Cook has made me happy today.

Happy Thursday

#428 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 03:55 PM:

Stolen from unknown source:

Gamers: "We want games to be considered Art!"

Public: "Fine, they're considered art. Now, as any piece of art is open to, let's turn a critical eye to this art and examine it's impact and depiction of issues of our society and what they are reflections of."
Gamers: "Hang on...wait, I don't like the implications of this. I want games to be considered Art, but I also want them to be immune from any serious critical social analysis like art is normally subject to."
Public: "As we can see here, the depiction of women..."

Gamers: "Shut up! Shut the fuck up, I'll fucking kill you!"

#429 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 04:00 PM:

James @427:

And tomorrow it will be 24 years precisely since you came out to me.

I am still touched and grateful that you did so.

#430 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 04:03 PM:

James, #427: I love the way he ends that piece.
We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.

Sandy, #428: *snerk* Too true!

#431 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 04:31 PM:

A couple of correct answers, yes. From Corpus Christi, if you want to put it in a city, you'd want Port Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; or if a geographical feature will do, then Baker Lake in northern Canada (which feeds into the northwest corner of Hudson Bay).

#432 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 05:51 PM:

James @427: thanks for posting the link. I'd heard he'd come out, but I hadn't seen the piece. It's a really good bit of writing, and I recommend others read it.

#433 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Video which is actually art: Design Choices in Journey.

The important stuff is in the first half hour or so-- creating a video game which leads to catharsis.

#434 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 06:50 PM:


The Sciencenter in my town (Ithaca, NY) has a similar planet-walk dedicated to Carl Sagan. It is at twice the scale of the one in Corpus Christi (1:5x10^9, not 1:10^10). It has 12 stations, each with a roughly 10" "solar radius" hole with a scale model of the planet in question embedded in acrylic filling the hole. The Sun is in the center of downtown Ithaca, and Pluto is at the location of the Sciencenter itself, about a mile's walk away.

The 12th station is for Alpha Centauri, and it's located at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, Hawaii.

#435 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 08:40 PM:

Buddha Buck: Nice!

#436 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:30 AM:


Blimey. 24 years. Blimey. I amazed you have the date by the way! :)

#437 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 09:08 AM:

Another wonderful Making Light moment: I have just found your link to "Women Having a Terrible Time in Western Art History". Oh how I laughed.

#438 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 09:41 AM:

James Harvey @ 437... My favorite is of the women just sitting there in a forest and one says "Worst Orgy Ever".

#439 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 10:07 AM:

So I've gotten hypnotized by this song since buying the record and am now wondering whether anyone knows if this story exists about some given Constantine. The keywords would be Constantine, Satan, and cross of light. This is from one of the most intense records about war I've heard.

#440 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 12:14 PM:

Try searching for the conversion of the emperor Constantine.

#441 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 12:35 PM:

P J Evans @ 440: Ah, yes! I see what you mean. That was easier than I thought.

I was more than a little startled by the amount of what looks like hate literature that comes up with my suggested keywords, so I was sidling up to this carefully.

#442 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 12:56 PM:

David Goldfarb: Port of Spain?

#443 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Well. Last Friday, it being both a comp day and my 50th birthday, the FF and I drove up to my parents' house for a lovely dinner, and cake.

I've been this old for a week, and I've noticed that I'm mixing up which cats go in which of my cat stories -- sure, switching Cinder for Salem, both of them long-haired black cats, is a reasonable error -- but now I have this urge to go out on the lawn and shake my cane. I don't even have a cane.

What next?

#444 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 01:48 PM:

Ginger (443): I turned 50 last year. What next? Uhhhhhhh--I don't remember.

#445 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 02:05 PM:

Ginger @ 443... Wait until you realize you're only months from turning 60.

#446 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 02:26 PM:

Happy belated birthday, Ginger! I turn 59 on November 5th.

#447 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 02:50 PM:

Ginger -- you still have a few years to go before being a curmudgeon will come naturally. Enjoy them (and then enjoy your curmudgeonhood!).

#448 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 03:23 PM:

John A., #439: Interesting. With the new Constantine movie coming out, someone should point the filk community at that song.

Mary Aileen, #444: Well, you know the memory is the second thing to go...

#449 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 03:41 PM:

443 and after
You kids get off my lawn! (Approaching 64. Will y'all still need me?)

#450 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 03:46 PM:

Head's Up:

Virgin Galactic's Space Ship Two went down over the Mojave Desert. No info on the fate of the two pilots yet.

#451 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 03:59 PM:

Update: One dead in Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo test crash --BBC News

#452 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 04:30 PM:

I understand one of them parachuted, but is seriously injured.

#453 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 05:43 PM:

So our house is ready to receive itinerant costumed treat-seeking juveniles.

It's also snowing, because this is Chicago and OF COURSE it is. We'll get to see which parents are longtime residents (who know that the street costume has to go over the coat or otherwise provide warmth and windproofness), and who didn't expect this.

I anticipate we'll get probably half or less the number of requesting parties (each containing, last year, 1-8 young sophonts plus their accompanying chaperones). Sigh.

I've hung my teal pumpkin sign, and have two bowls available: one with nonfood goodie bags, and the other an ordinary assortment of sample-size candy.

We also have three carved Festive Gourds on the stoop, and discovered an additional use for some battery-operated "tea light candle" replacements we acquired months ago for a separate purpose: they are reasonably sleet-proof, even with gusty wind. Also they don't care if we carved the face with combustion-air movement in mind.

Porch light on, cut-paper bats and pumpkin on the door, lit gourds on the steps, a teal pumpkin "We have non-food treats and candy!" sign at the foot of the steps. I'm wearing all black, except for my secondhand bowling shirt with embroidered rock-style flaaaaaaames around the bases of the sleeves and the collar-points. That's about as welcoming and festive as I can make it. :->

(I cheerfully congratulated this morning's FedEx lady on her "awesome costume," which she didn't seem to know how to take.)

#454 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Trick-or-treating started over an hour ago, in my suburban Chicago town. Apparently people find 30-mph sustained winds and 40dgF temperatures, with snow flurries, offputting.

I've not had one single trick-or-treater so far.

#455 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 06:25 PM:

Chicago has no official hours; last year we had a couple just after 4 and then a busy period from 5-6:30, with individuals (and teens) still trickling past as late as 8.

This year? 5:30 and nothing yet.

#456 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 06:30 PM:

First customers! Three kids, all reasonably costumed. Two took candy. One took a toy baggie. :->

#457 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 06:31 PM:

None here yet (6:30 pm, mid-50s and gloomy, expected low in the mid-30s). We have a lot of small children in the neighborhood this year, but the population turns over a lot and trick-or-treating varies wildly from year to year.

#458 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 06:45 PM:

Elliott Mason, my town is 4:00 to 7:00. Halfway through the Official Trick-Or-Treat Period. Nobody.

I'm gonna have Reeses Peanut Butter Cups for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.....

(Just as I was about to post this, I had four trick-or-treaters show up. They each got a HANDFUL of candy....)

#459 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 06:48 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @442: Yes, Port of Spain. Blame my failing memory.

#460 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 07:02 PM:

I got one group of 7-8 kids around 6:00* and another pair of kids just now. This is my first Halloween in this neighborhood, so I don't know what's normal. My old neighborhood, trick or treating usually trailed off around 8:30.

*Shortly after I got home from work. I saw several other groups in the neighborhood when I was driving home, but I guess either they didn't get this far or they were going the other way.

#461 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 07:19 PM:

AKICIML Bibliotropic Ireland edition:
Along with the Book of Kells and the Library, are there other, perhaps obscure, bookish and SFFnal sites in Dublin? I'll be reading up about it on the plane, but tourist guidebooks aren't looking for the 'ohhhh, shiny!' that fans might want.

#462 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 07:35 PM:

Elliott: I think that "teal pumpkin" link doesn't go where you intended (though it's an interesting read.) I've never heard of a teal pumpkin; from context, it sounds like an agreed-on sign that you have non-food treats?

We never seem to get trick-or-treaters at our door or on our block, though there are kids in our neighborhood. We've kind of given up after too many years when we ended up with a bowl full of candy to binge on.

Our son is going to be at a friend's Halloween party and sleepover tonight, so my wife and I have plans to go out for a grown-up date at a nice restaurant. (Unfortunately we both have been sleeping badly for most of this past week and both had another badly interrupted night last night for no particular reason, so we'll probably be non-Halloween type zombies and ready to fall into bed as soon as dinner is over.)

#463 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:00 PM:

ARGH! Teal pumpkin link mis-pasted, indeed. This should be it instead.

Tested; yes, that one.

#464 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:03 PM:

Nobody here yet at 6 PM local time; lots of groups wandering around downtown Ballard, though. The library had trick-or-treat candies at the reference desk, and I asked them whether they'd thought about giving out books instead. The two reference librarians Really Liked the idea (one said she'd thought about it) and I said I'd bring it up again in early October next year if I was still in town (we talk about moving, but it's not likely to happen that soon). Maybe I can get Nancy Pearl on board with publicizing it....

And to be appropriate, they should be really trashy quick-read stuff.

#465 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:16 PM:

HLN: Official trick-or-treating time has expired. Local woman saw exactly five groups of kids, with a total head-count of 12.

Local women has far too much candy left over.

#466 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:17 PM:

I've had five groups so far, totalling 17 kids, quite a few of whom chose "goody bag" over candy.

#467 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:33 PM:

On a walk to our library late afternoon, I was shocked to see that the main hall had a couple dozen people in hazmat suits milling around. As I warily approached, thinking Uncle Jim thoughts, I saw that they had tails. And ears. They were giant Dalmatian puppies (not very many spots and those not very big, guess they didn't want to look like Holsteins) handing out treats to the kiddies, who were being strollered-in en masse. I stood down my panicked readiness to save the children.

#468 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:38 PM:

Now it's after 8:30 here and I haven't had any more trick or treaters since my first report an hour and a half ago (#460). I'm not turning off the porch light quite yet, though.

Guess I'll have lots of candy left over; last night I was panicked that three bags might not be enough.

#469 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 08:54 PM:

Trick-or-treating's done with here. Not as many as I'd expected (or prepared for). In hindsight, I could have given out more than one apiece, but yeah, had no idea how many to expect.

#470 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 09:11 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #451: I note that their lead quote is a negative one from "Dr David Whitehouse", described by them as a "space scientist". They don't mention that he's probably better known as a climate-change denialist. And the one article I turned up by him on space matters was also pretty negative, focusing on what he describes as a reality show aiming to send people on a one-way trip to Mars.

This pilot is not the first person to die in a space program, and certainly won't be the last. But they took the risk in pursuit of something bigger than their individual lives. There's two clauses in "ad astra, per aspera". Yes there are difficulties, but we can get through them.

#471 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 09:13 PM:

Lots of kids, prevalence of Marvel superheroes.

I was in Center City for part of the time-- lot of people trick or treating, but the costumes (in both places) seemed less elaborate than I'm used to, and it's not as though I usually see very elaborate costumes in my neighborhood.

#472 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 09:21 PM:

We ended up getting maybe 10 groups of three to six kids, driven in carloads (and one trailerload, eek) by parents. Kind of assembly-line mass-production trick or treating, and I didn't recognize any of the kids or any of the parents. Whatever. Turned off the outside lights around 8:30 when the little ones petered out; I don't care for handing out candy to kids bigger than I am.

Most of the costumes were off-the-shelf Party City type things. Not much fun.

#473 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 10:02 PM:

We've had maybe 6-8 groups starting at 6:45, with anywhere from 2 to 6 kids in each; that's not as many as last year, but more than we've had some years. The weather here is perfect for trick-or-treating, clear and mid-60s; we don't do Halloween decorations, but we've had the front windows open all day, and I've got my iPod boombox running the Trick-or-Treat playlist out one of them. It's been all young ones this year, nobody older than (at a guess) 10 or so, and most of them in fairly generic discount-store costumes. No superheroes, but a lot of princesses of various types.

I didn't costume this year, but I'm wearing one of my Halloween-themed T-shirts and black-cat earrings. It's nearly 9:00 and the houses across the street have turned out their porch lights, so I probably will too shortly. We'll have some leftovers, but we never buy anything to give out that we won't finish off. :-)

#474 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 10:15 PM:

We had about 25-30 kids show up, some shepherded by parents. When it's clear, I set up my telescope and offer them a look at something (tonight was the first-quarter moon, the best time to observe it) and I got several oohs and ahh from kids and adulte.

#475 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Steve C., what a great idea!

#476 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 11:29 PM:

David Harmon @ 470: He makes that point, though backhandedly, when he says that astronauts and pilots sign up for these risks, then wonders how many tourists are having second thoughts.

Nothing he says sounds factually offensive, yet I see what you're saying about the negative point of view. If he's a climate-change denialist, I won't strain to give him benefit of any more doubt.

#477 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 11:32 PM:

HLN: We went into the local town to trick-or-treat with the kiddos. Businesses (and the library) before dinner, a neighborhood afterward. There are a couple of nieghborhoods that generally get swarmed with kids, as all the kids who live in the boonies come in to go from house to house where it doesn't require a car. We haven't had a trick-or-treater at the house in the 7 years we've lived here.

The kids had awesome homemade costumes, one was a minion, one Danny Dragonbreath, and one C3P0. I was disappointed that Danny wasn't recognized, but that might be because we've been monopolizing the library's copy of the series for a while.

#478 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2014, 11:54 PM:

Kathryn @461: Nothing specifically SFnal, but when we were in Dublin in '09, we made Geek Pilgrimage to Broom Bridge. My SO is an astrophysicist, and something something quaternions something (the physics is beyond me, but I took pictures of the SO with the plaque). We intended to get out to Dunsink Observatory, but didn't make it quite that far.

We did hire a car and make further pilgrimage to the Leviathan Telescope; Birr Castle also has a lovely small museum of other astronomy tools from eras when they were also art objects. And the visitor's center at Clonmacnoise has some good stuff about its heyday as a center of learning.

#479 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 12:40 AM:

In Hoboken the kids mostly trick-or-treat the businesses on Washington Street (the main drag, as we say). I was at the vet this afternoon with my 19-year-old cat Shadow for a check-up, and saw hordes of kids coming through, mostly young, with parents in attendance. It's a good thing I wasn't playing the Elsa drinking game, because I saw four in less than an hour. Also several turtles, two cute skeletons (a boy and his younger sister, whom he was carefully watching out for), a couple of zombies, and one devastatingly cute Carmen Miranda. Among many others. I don't usually see many kids because they don't trick or treat apartment buildings around here. They do businesses in the afternoon, then Hoboken's Ragamuffin Parade, and otherwise it's all parties.

#480 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 05:13 AM:

Buddha Buck @434 and previous,

We have a proposal for something like this to be done here in Wellington (New Zealand). The Wellington Astronomical Society, of which I am the Webmaster, has been asked to get involved, mainly as a provider of expertise. Under consideration.

We do not expect to see it built for a year or so yet.

J Homes

#481 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 05:31 AM:

The practice of trick-or-treating has really taken off here (New Zealand) in recent years, though it's not so much "trick or treat?", but more "can we have some candy?" It's mostly good natured though not everyone deigns to participate.

Some of the more considerate will decorate e.g. their letterboxes with Halloween themed items (balloons, spiderwebs, pumpkins) to advertise their availability for trick-or-treating.

It's quite dissonant, the whole idea of celebrating Halloween as we head for the longest day of the year. (Mind you, there is also the whole Christmas in the middle of summer thing too)

#482 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 08:39 AM:

My sister and I are staying in my parents' house -- which I should start thinking of as my mother's house, I suppose -- and getting ready for my father's long-delayed memorial service today. Inadvertantly doing the Day of the Dead thing on Dias De Las Meurtas, which coincidence I really like.

We're in the sticks, with the closest neighbors over a quarter mile away on unlit country road, and most of them retirees, so I suspect we'd be rather surprised and freaked by Trick or Treaters.

Lilith & I went to a Chipolte last night, after getting program books photocopied. The late dinner crowd featured a lot of older teens and twenty-somethings in costumes. Nothing terribly imaginative or custom-made, but it was still neat to see "kids" having fun.

#483 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 09:07 AM:

Yeah, I totally spelled that wrong. Jet lag, yadda-yadda.

Nice piece on Dia de los Muertos, for those who haven't seen the fine cartoon:

#484 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 11:27 AM:

Zelda @478
Thanks! Looks like geekotourism at its finest- I agree about the art-component of the telescopes, astrolabes and orreries+ of those days.

#485 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 12:05 PM:

We had a low turnout again this year; I'm starting to think that we don't have enough kids to sustain things, although in years past we've also had groups of immigrants (from other neighborhoods). It was rather chilly and not as pleasant as usual (last year was suboptimal too).

#486 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 12:44 PM:

I spent from 5:30-8 sitting on our front steps, handing out one piece of candy to each trick-or-treater. That's how I know that there were almost 600 kiddos, because we'd counted up alleged bag contents earlier, and I closed down when I ran out.

We're Halloween Central for the whole east side--well-lit, grid of small blocks. After 6-7 Halloweens here, we've all got it down to a science. (If we were mean towards our neighbors, we wouldn't warn the newbies of what was about to descend upon them, but we seem to be a fairly nice crowd.)

Lots of decorations in the neighborhood; we wrap orange lights round the porch railing, and there's a giant lit spiderweb over the porch window. Several mid-size and smaller pumpkins on the steps.

I was very mildly channeling Scott Lynch's Sabetha, black feathered mask, gloves, and got into a lovely howling catfight with a teenaged black Catwoman.

#487 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 01:03 PM:

It was Lloyd parkrun's 4th Anniversary party today. We always have a Halloween theme and as usual I was dressed as a witch. This is the first year I've run on the day; I ditched the skirt I usually wear for black full length running tights, but we're having unusually warm weather here and the academic gown I use as part of the costume was rather hot for running in. The hat had to be held on as well. It was all lots of fun: Lloyd parkrun 4th Anniversary

#488 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 02:19 PM:

David Goldfarb #459:

Rum, ah callin' fo' rum!
She was made from Caroni cane,
She de bes' lady in Port o' Spain,
Sans humanité!

#489 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 06:36 PM:

Someone here will surely know: Where, if any where, does they hyphen go in 'bug-fuck crazy'? Do I have that correct? Or is it just two words? Or three? And who will help me grind the grain?

#490 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 06:39 PM:

John 489: I think that's correct, and so is 'bugfuck crazy'. But 'go bug fuck', with no hyphen.

Attributive uses get hyphenated or written as one word; predicative ones do not. In general.

#491 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 06:44 PM:

Kathryn @461: The Chester Beatty Library is always worth a look, and it's right in Dublin Castle, so very convenient if you're already in the city centre. (One thing I haven't managed to make it to is the Revenue Musuem, which is right next door - as the link says, off-beat.) The Little Museum of Dublin gets good reviews, but it's another thing I haven't made it to...

Books-wise, I love Chapters for its secondhand section. For food, the guide books will probably steer you well, but they might not have been updated to include Forest Avenue yet.

Feel free to ping me on Twitter with questions - happy to help!

#492 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 06:44 PM:

Kathryn @461: The Chester Beatty Library is always worth a look, and it's right in Dublin Castle, so very convenient if you're already in the city centre. (One thing I haven't managed to make it to is the Revenue Musuem, which is right next door - as the link says, off-beat.) The Little Museum of Dublin gets good reviews, but it's another thing I haven't made it to...

Books-wise, I love Chapters for its secondhand section. For food, the guide books will probably steer you well, but they might not have been updated to include Forest Avenue yet.

Feel free to ping me on Twitter with questions - happy to help!

#493 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 06:53 PM:

Argh: the oh-no-seconds are getting smaller every day. That double post is a PEBCAK, not a server hiccup.

#494 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 06:55 PM:

Argh: the oh-no-seconds are getting smaller every day. That double post was a PEBCAK, not a server hiccup.

#495 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 10:18 PM:

I had a slightly strange experience on Twitter this morning. This abusive troll had realized the c-word offended one of my tweeps, and started hammering it at him in every tweet.

Yeh, he was a gater.

He kept saying that it was his culture as an Aussie and that we should respect his culture. You [c-word]s. I commented

Wow, @[name of troll] managed to insult you and all Aussies at the same time.
Pretty sure it's not Aussie culture to keep hammering on a word after being told it's offensive.
Even though the C word is not quite the instant declaration of absolute woman-hating fuckery it is in the US.
I became a target at that point. He tweeted at me several times a minute for a while (I was convinced he was a bot for a while). At one point he tweeted me a picture of an Australian flag covered with repetitions of the c-word.

Then he accused me of saying the internet was American and that he had no right to his culture. I called him a lying sack of shit and blocked him.

So, here's my question (more of a reality check, really) for my friends in Oz, or who have lived there for a long time: uh...I'm right, right? While the c-word isn't as offensive there, it's not necessarily Aussie culture to say it as often as possible, especially after someone has told you they find it offensive? He's just a fucktroll, right?

#496 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 11:19 PM:

So there I was, walking along, and a woman stops her car next to me, rolls down her window, and asks me, "Am I going the right way?"

What was I supposed to say to that? The best I could come up with was, "That depends on where you want to go."

#497 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2014, 11:43 PM:

Perhaps she thought she was on a one-way street.

#498 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 12:10 AM:

I finally read Avram's particle about earlier female gamers. Mark Swanson a was a member of the MIT Strategic Games Societ, MIT student, and a member of NESFA whom I was dating in fall 1971. The "Paula" referred to in the article was probably me; I was active for a while in the Strategic Games Society, and played Dungeons and Dragons there at least one in the spring 1975 semester.

#499 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 12:46 AM:

When you are trying to boil down the stew in your biggest cookpot so it leaves a little more room - to add more ingredients - and you discover it has bubbled up into the half-on lid and filled up the groove in the lid, I think it's safe to say that you got the pot a little too full.

On the bright side, I can fairly say we are going to have a shit-load of ratatouille, and it's smelling really good. (It's more or less the Vegetarian Epicure recipe, roughly tripled.)

#500 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 01:36 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #495:

I don't speak for our Aussie brethren (though I know a few & visit there regularly) but whatever segment of Australia the c-word slinging Tweeter belongs to would be a tiny minority. It is most definitely not a word used in polite company. And most definitely not the cultural norm.

#501 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 08:52 AM:

I was driving in Denver once, and a woman in another car kindly let me know we weren't on a one-way street. Luckily, I could do something about it.

It's hard to give a real polite and grateful wave at the same time as you're frantically backing up and changing lanes. Many people don't know this interesting fact.

#502 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 10:34 AM:

Xopher@495: The C-word is used here in the UK as a general purpose insult for both men and women. Calling a man that is isn't usually a comment on his masculinity or lack thereof. On the shop floor of the factory where I work it gets tossed about as part of everyday casual banter.

#503 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 10:42 AM:

A few months ago, a Vietnamese takeaway opened near where I work. They use bicycles for deliveries, and on the sides of the rear panniers in which they transport the food is the slogan: 'You Ling, We Bling'. I swear, I had been seeing these for weeks before I thought to wonder what this meant and the penny dropped. If they think this is amusing it's not my place to tell them otherwise, but wow!

#504 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 10:53 AM:

Rob @503: I don't get it.

#505 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 10:57 AM:

Lenore@504: You Ring, We Bring.

#506 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 11:00 AM:

@Lenore Jean Jones #504: They're playing on the supposed East Asian confusion of the l/r sounds.

#507 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 11:02 AM:

To UrsulaV, when you next happen to read here: Thank you!

I just deployed your "Permission to create Bad Art" certificate to my 12 year old son, as he has been struggling with an overambitious art project for his English class. It got a big smile out of him, particularly as he's a big Dragonbreath fan, and I think he got the point.

#508 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 01:41 PM:

Rob 502: Yep, I know that part; it's what I meant by "the C word is not quite the instant declaration of absolute woman-hating fuckery it is in the US."

But if you knew you were talking to an American, and used the word, and the American said "please don't use that word, I find it terribly offensive because of the way it's used here in the US," would you then say "Well, but I'm in the UK, you [c-word], and it's part of my culture, so I'll use it all I want! [c-word] [c-word] [c-word]! See! Nyah nyah nyah"?

Don't think so.

#509 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 01:49 PM:

#258 ::: DavidS

Thanks for the link and clue to look into the post which triggered gamergate. As far as I can tell, it's nothing like what gamergate turned into. Not noticeably misogynistic, and not especially much about journalistic ethics, though I admit my attention was fading towards the end.

It's accusing Zoe Quinn of being a rather common sort of emotional abuser, and (unless I missed something), not connecting the emotional abuse with her being a woman.

It underlined that emotional abuse includes cognitive abuse (who are you going to believe, me or your own lying mind?), a point which I don't think gets made often enough.

#510 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 02:00 PM:

Xopher@508: No, having been told a term is offensive to those in another country, I don't then use it when talking with people from that country because I try not to be a dick. Though it seems to be a fairly neutral term most everywhere else, I know not to use the term 'oriental' when talking with Americans, f'rinstance.

#511 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 03:00 PM:

Nancy 509: He posted it to 4chan. He knew, or should have known, that posting a denunciation of a woman on 4chan would trigger a misogynist shitstorm.

In fact I don't see how anyone could know enough about 4chan to post there without knowing that denouncing a woman there is calling for vigilante action that could get her raped or killed. 4channers are the scum of the internet.

(Yeah, I know they sometimes do their vigilante action against bad guys, and no, I haven't read the scumbag's post about her, but people I trust have, and they say that even if everything he says about her is true, he's still an asshole for posting it to 4chan.)

#512 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Rob: oh, duh.

Though in my experience of Japanese, at least, the R is more like a D than an L. Though I have to admit I once misheard a sushi chef as offering laser clams, and didn't think anything of it for quite a while. I'm kind of deaf, though.

#514 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 06:15 PM:

Laser Clams vs Sharknado, the next Syfy movie.

#515 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 06:18 PM:

Hmm, I've already been treating spoons the way that article suggests forks work.

#516 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 07:28 PM:

Trying to shake loose an Internal Server Error post.

#517 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2014, 07:29 PM:

And that didn't work, so re-posting.

Xopher, #511: I don't see how anyone could know enough about 4chan to post there without knowing that denouncing a woman there is calling for vigilante action that could get her raped or killed.

This. It doesn't matter how innocuous-sounding the original post was. He posted it on 4chan, and that tells me that the result he got was exactly the one he wanted. The whole "well, what he actually posted wasn't anything like what it blew up into" argument is the sound of people buying plausible deniability.

#518 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 12:00 AM:

HLN: Local man follows yesterday's colossal ratatouille production by making an only slightly smaller batch of a Chilean bean and squash stew, Porotos Granados. Local man estimates family now has at least 3 evenings worth of ratatouille and at least 2 worth of Porotos Granados for future weeknight dinners.

(As to why, Abby's been having problems with night-time acid reflux, and we decided to try out the ideas expressed in a recent N.Y. Times article, suggesting that it's often caused by eating too late in the evening, too close to bedtime. With both of us working, getting home exhausted and wanting early bed, the only way we're going to manage that is to plan meals ahead, and make most of our weeknight dinners on the weekend.)

#519 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 12:05 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @497: As it happens, she was; although not the wrong direction on it.

#520 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 12:05 AM:

Xopher @ 511, Lee @ 517: I agree; the scenario has strong shades of "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"

#521 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 05:27 AM:

Productivity through self-loyalty

I haven't tried this, but it sounds reasonable.

#522 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 09:23 AM:

Clifton @518:

That recipe sounds delicious, thank you for sharing it.

Do you have a slow cooker? We've been eating early as well (our reason is a toddler who must eat by 6:30 to avoid extreme crankiness), and especially now with colder weather, being able to prep everything the night before and just throw it in the cooker and turn it on in the morning to burble away all day has been an approach that works well for us. (And it allows more variety than the "make a giant pot of X and eat it all week" approach, if that's important to you.)

#523 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 11:20 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @506: They're playing on the supposed East Asian confusion of the l/r sounds.

I have it on good authority that this confusion exist in at least Japanese. I mind the visit at my pet sushi bar when the Japanes-American sushi chef was needling the Japanese sushi chef for asking for a "Splite" to drink. (What the Japanese sushi chef actually asked for a "Sp[Japanese phoneme]ite," but it was easy enough to parse the other way.) The Japanese sushi chef was either valiantly ignoring the other one, or simply didn't hear the "joke."

#524 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 11:45 AM:

Jacque #523: I did a spit-take on 'pet sushi' just now. I have been having a busy morning which may explain why I had visions of raw Fido and Fwuffy.

#525 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 12:49 PM:

lorax @ 522: You're welcome, it is indeed delicious! I usually modify it by adding some frozen peas as well as the corn and green beans, and I double or triple the sweet paprika so you can taste it. I stumbled across it earlier this year looking for something different to do with butternut squash, and it quickly became a family favorite.

We do have a slow-cooker, which we haven't used much in a long time, but are planning to haul out in pursuit of earlier dinners. Prepping all the ingredients the night before does sound like the key to making it work.

#526 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 01:13 PM:

I wonder where my wind-up sushi is? My family delights in giving me strange Christmas presents, and one year my niece Nikki gave me wind-up sushi. Plastic replicas of several sorts on wheels. When wound up they run a short distance, make a random change of direction, dart off again. We took them to a Japanese restaurant at the earliest opportunity, and set them to running around on the table as soon as our orders were taken. Our waitress stared, laughed, then grabbed a couple to show to the sushi chefs. We played with them till our food started coming, amusing ourselves, the staff, and other customers.

#527 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 01:45 PM:

Jacque #523:

My Japanese instructor in college explained it in that the English "l" phoneme is made by putting the tip of the tongue against the middle of the roof of the mouth, and the English "r" phoneme is made by putting the tip of the tongue against the front of the roof of the mouth (right behind the teeth), and the Japanese phoneme closest to those two is made by putting the tip of the tongue between those two positions, getting an intermediate sound.
Since people are trained on how to hear phonemes with their initial languages, native Japanese speakers naturally map both the 'l' and 'r' phonemes onto their singular intermediate phoneme, while native American English speakers naturally map the Japanese phoneme onto one or the other of 'l' or 'r'.

Which is odd, when combined with information from another friend who is working on his PhD in Linguistics (I think... I'll have to verify what his actual status is). His field is Asian languages, specializing in Chinese. He told me that the Japanese phoneme in question is a dental flap, essentially the same phoneme as the middle consonant of the English word "butter", which isn't 't', and tends to get transcribed as 'd'.

Wikipedia says the beverage in question is スプライト in Japanese, transliterated as "supuraito".

Personally, I tend to hear the Japanese ラ as "ra" with a short roll to the r, and can easily believe it's a flap, not a "proper" r or l sound.

#528 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 02:03 PM:

BuddhaBuck #527

And the French R is really a voiced uvular fricative, which is why it can be so hard to learn for non-native speakers, since it's not made in a similar way to English Rs. I remember a long time spent in high school French class with no meaningful instruction as to how to produce the sound. Just "no, that's not it. Listen. Try again."

R is weird. It's been a loooong time since I took phonetics and phonology as an undergraduate, but I remember that much.

#529 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 02:55 PM:

The first thing I thought of when I read "R is weird" was Jenna Marony's "Rural Juror" song from 30 Rock.

#530 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 03:05 PM:

The Chinese sound that's in that class of weird has been mapped to j and to r (as in 人 ren/jin), and it's kind of a buzzy sound headed toward 'zh'. Hard to learn, but not forgotten once you do get it.

#531 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 03:10 PM:

Anne Sheller @526: wind-up sushi

Zanmai doesn't have quite the whimsy to it that it did back before Maki-san moved on, but Back In The Day, one could rely upon finding wind-ups scattered around the sushi bar. (Sitting at the tables, I think you had to bring your own.)

Anne Sheller @526: Japanese phoneme closest to those two is made by putting the tip of the tongue between those two positions, getting an intermediate sound.

Yes, that squares well with my informal observation. There's a reason for the confusion! A logical one, even.

It wasn't until I was puzzling over this and tried various things out that I realized how similar the English l and r are in, um, anatomy.

tends to get transcribed as 'd'

Yes, this correlates with my experience, as well.

My StFnal conlang has a lot of phonemes that aren't present in English, this one among them. (I'm still puzzled about where they came from, since I didn't put them there!)


::grin:: Reminds me of a dinner gathering at OryCon (I think), wherein Somtow Sucharitkul suggested we go for burgers to that famous Japanese restaurant "Maka-Donurudu".

Naomi Parkhurst @528: "no, that's not it. Listen.

Which, of course, is no help at all. What one has to do is watch, plus inquire as to the mechanics. But this, of course, would be your point.

I am minded of trying to learn to pronounce the name of a Japanese exchange student in my high school class: "Kaodu." That last vowel—she did eventually sign off on my pronunciation based on how I placed my tongue with her coaching. But damned if I could hear the difference. The flip side was that she pretty much immediately gave up on my mother's name, Evelyn.

Then there was my Russian teacher, who swore up, down, and sideways that I couldn't hear the difference between the English "t" and the Russian "t", even though she agreed with me that I was performing the latter correctly.

#532 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 03:29 PM:

A former coworker who is running for county tax assessor in the next county is apparently doing well in this election. His only real opposition is the Libertarian candidate.

When told this, I had a moment of "bwbwbwha—?"

Libertarian tax assessor?

#533 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 03:44 PM:

buddha Buck, #527: I just tried pronouncing "lock" and "rock", paying attention to the position of my tongue on each, and then some other words with "r" and "l" in them. For me at least, the "l" phoneme is made with the tip of my tongue right up against the back of my teeth -- sometimes against the bottom edge of my front teeth. But the "r" phoneme doesn't involve my tongue touching the roof of my mouth at all; it seems to be made by curling the outer edges of my tongue upward.

#534 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 04:10 PM:

Lee (533): Same here.

My father, who grew up speaking German and Chinese (although he's forgotten all of the Chinese), sticks his tongue out beyond his front teeth when pronouncing an L.

#535 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 04:30 PM:

There's a supernova in M61.

#536 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 04:39 PM:

Jacque @ 532: Anarchist Tim Wong once ran for Register of Deeds in Dane County, Wisconsin, on the slogan "Abolish Private Property" and promising not to register any more deeds.

(Or maybe the slogan was "Property Is Theft". It's been a few decades.)

#537 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 04:46 PM:

I have been reading obits for Tom Magliozzi for the past few minutes and thinking that the world is, today, a slightly sadder place.

#538 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Kind of the end of an era. Car Talk was the soundtrack to innumerable car trips up through my early twenties.

#539 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 05:52 PM:

Mo'ne Davis throws like a girl.

Brilliant subversion of the trope. Somebody at Chevrolet is doing some good thinking.

#540 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 06:16 PM:

Lee @539

And predictably, the comments go down into a toxic stew.

#541 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 07:28 PM:

Random thoughts triggered by the Japanese l/r issue.

1. Years ago I saw a broadcast (probably PBS) of a Japanese chorus performing Carmina Burana. They were very solemn, very focused, very musical, but they did open with what sounded to my ear as the following two lines:

O Fortuna!
Verut Runa!
I felt guilty for laughing, but I really couldn't help it.

2. I speculated some years ago (after explaining to Murakami-san that in addition to my friend (and her and my coworker) Laura, I really did know someone named Rolla*) that the ideal team to send to Japan to create as much confusion as possible would be Rolla, Laura, Rory, and Lola.

3. I can still make a flap r, but I can no longer make a trilled r (you know, vrrrrrrooom). What remains of my tongue simply can't occlude my airway sufficiently to cause that ballistic effect. Of course, it also means I can't flutter-tongue anymore, which would bother me more if I hadn't stopped trying to learn to play the flute years ago.

4. I absolutely cannot make the Czech ř sound (as in Dvořák†), which combines a ž ("zh") with a trilled r, not in sequence, but all at once. I did use to be able to, though it was never easy.

5. That mark over the c in 'háček' (and over the r and z above) is called (surprise) a háček. Some heartless fiends bereft of any soul or sense of poetry have been known to call it a caron, but it's properly called a háček. I think it's wonderfully recursive that you need a háček to spell 'háček'. It is NOT a "hot check," as one guy who produces those cool websites where you can look up &269; and such like had it. He appreciated my correction.

*Since deceased. She was fine with it, though, because she made it to 95, which was always her planned age-at-death. She had two distinctions (in addition to being a great lady in general terms) that I know of: she took part in the Grand Coven of British Witches that strove to keep Hitler from invading Britain; and when Geraldo Rivera, doing one of his "make fun of the weird people" shows, asked her if she was a Witch, and on getting an affirmative reply challenged her to turn him into a frog, she replied in her flawlessly upper-crust English accent, "I can't, young man, you're not a prince." Since few people have ever been less of a prince than Rivera, this got quite a laugh.

†Stress is on the FIRST syllable...that's a long mark, not a stress mark, over the a. Probably most of you knew that, but my dad got it wrong til the day he died.

#542 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 07:49 PM:

Paula, #498:

I thought Jon Peterson's long article "The First Female Gamers" was excellent.

I was particularly pleased to see a female player pictured, circa 1940, drawn by Inga Pratt (1906-1970) for her husband Fletcher's book on a naval wargame. Some years ago, I created her Wikipedia article, so any mention of her pleases me.

Inga was a respected fashion artist and book illustrator. The Pratts were connected to all sorts of science fiction writers, and to the literary world beyond SF. When wargames, parties, or Hydra Club meetings occurred, often the Pratt residence was where they occurred.

#543 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 08:06 PM:

Xopher @541: My friend Larry Verre once had a problem identifying a note left for him by an Asian friend.

It was addressed to Rally Velly.

#544 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 08:38 PM:

Xopher @541: In San Francisco, there is an old post office downtown with a newer building complex attached. It is called Rincon Center. I can't say that without cringing. New York thing.

"...bereft of any soul or sense of poetry" the character viewer and HTML may be (and of course I'm glad to know that a caron is actually called a háček; given the languages it appears in, it makes more sense; "caron" seems to want to be preceded by "Leslie"), but it is a term one needs to know, even if the wrong language. (Also, I had fun digging around in the HTML entities section.)

#545 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 09:24 PM:

D Potter... the Leslie Caron Building sounds like a place i'd love to visit, with dance in my step.

#546 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 10:54 PM:

I am reminded that for everyone I know, the ^, little pointy-up arrow, is called a hat. I have produced spreadsheets to calculate, among other things, qhat. I miss doing that kind of math, the kind with lots of letters in and people talking about hats.

#547 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 11:16 PM:

#280 ::: abi

It seems that Gjoni didn't publish the Zoe post on 4chan. He posted it on Something Awful and on Penny Arcade, and later (when it had been removed from them) on a wordpress blog.

He had mixed feelings when it was picked up by 4chan, and I think he started putting more emphasis on ethics in gaming journalism rather than on emotional abuse at some point after the original post.

I'm not sure that Gjoni's moral status is the most important thing in this situation.

#548 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 12:17 AM:

Something Awful and Penny Arcade are one cut above 4chan. Maybe two. Not three.

#549 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 01:25 AM:

Jacque @531: I took a couple of Japanese courses, many years ago, and they taught me 'Maku-Donarudo'. The final 'do' in particular is important, because in Japanese you can't have 'du' as a syllable — it comes out 'zu'.

#550 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 09:25 AM:

Buddha Buck@527

the same phoneme as the middle consonant of the English word "butter", which isn't 't', and tends to get transcribed as 'd'.

Perhaps in your dialect, but not in mine... ;)

#551 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 09:39 AM:


Libertarian tax assessor sounds like the easiest job ever.

#552 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Xopher Halftongue@541: From the FAQ entry for "caron" vs. "háček" at

Q: Why is the hacek accent called "caron" in Unicode?
A: Nobody knows.

followed by some limited history.

(While writing this I did a search for "caron" in this thread, leading me to Fragano Ledgister's note @488, which made me wonder what "háčeki cane" is, and what you get from fermenting it.)

#553 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 11:15 AM:

Happy Birthday, Paul A!

#554 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 11:32 AM:

Told to me today:

Q: If LeGuin wrote a book about food allergies, what would be the title?

A: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelets

#555 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 12:38 PM:

Dotless ı #552: I've been to Caroni, but I've never been to Háčeki. It would have to be the most SFnal part of Trinidad (which would make it suitable for a wonderful story by either Toby Buckell or Nalo Hopkinson, if either is reading this). I've certainly drunk Caroni rum on more than one occasion, though whether she de bes lady in Port o' Spain is a matter of opinion. I will note that, for the convenience of habitual drunkards I presume, there's a bar right across from the Royal Gaol.

#556 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 06:40 PM:

Question for the Encyclopedia Fluorosphericana:

Many years ago, I used to go over to a friend's house to play Tetris. The backing music as we played was not the standard "Korobushka" theme, nor any of the tinny things that come up when I search for "Tetris theme" on YouTube. ISTR that it was one of the game options, and I think it was the third one. But it was a lovely meditative, NewAgey-sounding thing, and I wouldn't mind having an mp3 of it. Does anyone else have the slightest idea what I'm talking about, and if so where I could look for it?

#557 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 09:28 PM:

Classic Nintendo Tetris had three soundtrack options. One was Korobushka, one was frenetic and fast, and the third one.

#558 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 09:44 PM:

Elliott, #557: I searched "Tetris theme" on YouTube, and indeed there were 3 options. All of them were tinny, and none of them were the one I remember. I'm wondering if it was specific to a particular release of the game. The only friend from that group with whom I'm still in contact says she remembers that music too, but doesn't have any specific information about the game.

#559 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 10:04 PM:

David Goldfarb @549: 'Maku-Donarudo'

Given that my exchange with Somtow is now nearly 30 years ago, more reconstructed than remembered, and not since encountered in the wild, I bow to your version.

albatross @551: Libertarian tax assessor sounds like the easiest job ever.

Yeah, well, until the bills come due.

#560 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 01:28 AM:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
“My name is @zymandias, King of Kings;
Actually, it’s about ethics in video game journalism”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

#561 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 07:53 AM:

thomas @560: <snork!>

#562 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 08:56 AM:

It's not about women, it's about states' rights!

#563 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 09:13 AM:

Lee@558: There were two different Tetris cartridges for the original Nintendo--the authorized grey cartridge and the unauthorized black cartridge made by Tengen (which was the version also found from time to time on equally unauthorized multi-game cartridges). They had different music, for a total of 7-8 different Tetris themes.

There were also a number of PC versions, which might have had any kind of music, or none at all. If it's one of those, you're probably going to have to find the specific game again.

#564 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 11:35 AM:

Now that the election is over, and the Republicans will have control over the next session of Congress, does anyone want to start a betting pool as to when/whether they will REALLY repeal the Affordable Care Act?

(Note: I don't think they'll do this. They're just as much captives of the insurance industry as the Democrats. But it will be fascinating to watch the Tea Party's reaction if Congress abandons the neverending repeal.)

#565 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 11:38 AM:

E. Liddell, #563: Interesting! So I searched on YouTube for "Tetris music Tengren", and that brought up some things I hadn't heard before, but they were still all tinny. The thing I really remember about that music is that it wasn't. My friend says they were definitely using Super Nintendo, not a PC version.

#566 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 11:58 AM:

So, Teresa's comment in the Particle prompts the question: what does really good incluing look like in film?

#567 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 11:59 AM:

Meanwhile: everyone, please pray for Colorado. The results on the governor's race is still too close to call. :-(

#568 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 12:46 PM:

"what does really good incluing look like in film?"

Artful background and prop design.

The entirety of the Star Wars setting is implicit in the scuffed, worn starships on Tattooine -- all makeshift repairs and replaced parts -- as contrasted with the crisp Imperial hardware.

#569 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 03:53 PM:

Lee@565: The Super Nintendo's a completely different console from the original Nintendo (its successor, to be exact). I never played any of the Tetris variants available for it, but Wikipedia suggests that three were released for the non-Japanese market: Tetris 2, Tetris Attack, and a compilation cartridge containing the original authorized Tetris plus Dr. Mario (I don't know if they enhanced the sound for that one or not).

None of those was as popular as the versions for the older console, so you'll probably have to specify "Super Nintendo" or "SNES" to get recordings of the compilation cartridge, if there are any out there.

#570 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 04:53 PM:

Outside Hawaii, the election results seem pretty depressing, in a "What are they thinking?" vein.

I noticed this tweeted summary at
"So voters want a higher minimum wage, legal pot, abortion access and GOP representation. Ok then."

#571 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 05:16 PM:

@507 Awesome! Hope he finds it useful!

#572 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 06:55 PM:

The only really contested statewide office in Illinois was the Governorship. The Republican won, probably because the only really good thing you could say for the Democratic incumbant was that he wasn't corrupt. On the other hand, the Republican in question is for contraceptives being mandated in employer-provided insurance, hasn't had anything bad to say about gay marriage that I've heard of, and apparently is pro-choice. The fact that nobody is 100% sure about his position on abortion almost certainly means he's not against all abortions, anyway; there's no downside for a Republican politician to come out against abortion. So he seems to be that rara avis, a moderate Republican.

On the same ballot there were two State Constitution questions: one which prevents making it harder for minorities of all sorts to vote, and one which lets crime victims know about criminal hearings. Both passed.

There were also three non-binding questions, all of which passed: should the minimum wage be raised, should all insurance which includes prescription drugs be required to include contraception coverage, and should there be a 3% tax on all income over a million dollars to be used for education. All of these passed as well.

And the challenger for the US Senate seat lost, which means I can have ice cream again. He would have been a terrible senator, but his company makes amazing ice cream.

#573 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 07:16 PM:

Em, #569: Given that I've searched on "Tetris theme" and "Tetris theme Super Nintendo" and "Tetris theme Tengen" without success, I am willing to concede that the music I remember is just not out there. Eh bien, you can't win every time.

Clifton, #570: The line I've heard which seems most descriptive is, "How does a Congress with a 10% approval rating get 90% re-election?"

To which the answer is almost certainly "Citizens United".

#574 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 08:42 PM:

Lee @573: There's a second answer: gerrymandering (though the two answers certainly aren't mutually exclusive!). A couple years ago, Sam Wang had a couple of posts attempting to quantify the impact, and pretty clearly demolishing the "both sides are equally guilty of it" argument.

#575 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 09:18 PM:

Lori Coulson @564, while the Republicans do have simple majorities in both houses of Congress, they don’t have a two-thirds super-majority in either house, so they won’t be able to override Obama’s veto. I expect them to continue the faux-repeal shenanigans; it seems to keep their base excited.

#576 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 10:08 PM:

The question is how many of the nominal Democrats will go along with them.

#577 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 02:15 AM:

Apropos of nothing, I have just confirmed (by viewing a youtube clip) that the Flatiron Building is pronounced "flat iron" not "fla-tee-ron".

I always thought that was the case but having only seen it in print and not ever having heard it said out loud before, there was always doubt. No longer.

#578 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 04:13 AM:

So one day last week my computer decided that all round shapes will be just barely ovals from side to side. Because reasons. It also made everything look bigger.

I'm not asking anybody here to fix my stupid monitor, or software, or whatever. But I need to know which sooper sekrit keyword I have to use to get Windows Vista Help to spit out directions to wherever I am supposed to click in order to tell my system that the ratio it's using to display stuff for me is wrong. So far everything I ask returns the usual "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With!" bumf.

#579 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 08:53 AM:

Jenny Islander@578: Display (or screen) resolution. If that fails, try "Aspect ratio", "dpi", "ppi". Or just right-click a bare spot on your desktop and look for either "Screen resolution" or "Settings" in the popup menu--I don't have a copy of Vista handy to check which it uses.

It does sound like your video card's been set to a resolution that doesn't match your monitor's aspect ratio, for what it's worth.

#580 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 09:00 AM:

On the subject of the Everything you need to know about Glasgow particle, I present this Google Streetview

#581 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 10:49 AM:

Soon Lee @ 577... If you ever watch the movie "Bell, Book and Candle", pay attention to the scene where James Stewart tosses his hat off the top of a building. If I'm not mistaken, that building is the Flatiron.

#582 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 12:41 PM:

Back in the Loncon 3 thread Dave Bell mentioned (and I commented on) the display of 888,000 ceramic poppies around the Tower of London, representing Britain's military deaths in WWI. British Quakers have their own comment: a map showing a hypothetical path of white poppies representing all the other dead of WWI, stretching from the Tower along both banks and out to Buckingham Palace. More commentary (and some caveats) here.

#583 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 01:26 PM:

All--So searching on the provided terms in Help didn't work. Gosh, color me surprised. (Not you guys, Windarrrgh.) However, right clicking on the desktop and choosing Graphics Properties--Display Settings--Screen Resolution, then selecting different resolutions until the circles looked like circles again, solved the issue.

#584 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 01:28 PM: -- copying is sacred. This is a real (or at least legally recognized) religion.

If you want more about Shakespeare and economics, I recommend Shylock: A Legend and Its Legacy.

#585 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 01:50 PM:

So the new Star Wars movie will be called THE FORCE AWAKENS.

I really, really want the next one to be called SITH HAPPENS.

#586 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Steve C... The Force awakens? What was it doing in the previous six movies? Sleeping? That being said, with JJ Abrams at the helm, I too expect that sith will happen.

#587 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 03:23 PM:

They should have called it "The Sith Hits the Fan".

Maybe they were afraid of scaring us off.

#588 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 03:52 PM:

Two quibbles with "What Shakespeare taught me about Marxism":


If you interrogate Shakespeare through his texts, and ask, what is different between the past and now, the implicit answer is “ideas”. Human beings value each other more; love is more important than family duty; human values like truth, science and justice are worth dying for far more than race or nation.

If you had asked Shakespeare what "race" or "nation" meant, his answer would have been, at best, quite different than what we mean by those terms today. Both are far more modern conceptions than "truth" or "justice" or "love." Race, in particular, really took on its modern form in synchrony with the spread of colonialism that kicked off in the 18th and 19th centuries.


For Marx the “modes of production” concept led to a strict historical sequence: various pre-capitalist forms of society, where the rich get rich through legally authorised violence; then capitalism, where the rich get rich through technical innovation and the market; then you get communism, where the whole of humanity gets richer, morally and economically because there is abundance instead of scarcity.

First of all, a "strict historical sequence" based on technological innovation is so far from what Marx wrote that you might as well be talking about another person altogether. Most wrongly, however, is the idea that "abundance" is what will magically bring about communist utopia. It's quite the opposite: capitalism needs scarcity, and has in the past and will continue to destroy abundance--either through the manufacture of new needs or through literally destroying value--as a form of self preservation. As surely as Depression-era orange growers let mountains of oranges rot in order to not undercut the market while pickers starved, banks let houses rot away to preserve real estate prices while thousands go homeless. Abundance will not save us: we first need the social power to protect abundance against capital.

#589 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 04:50 PM:

Locus #645... Page 63... Is that...? Yes, it *is* a photo of abi and her kids.

#590 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 09:43 PM:

Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson drew a fine little comic for use on a poster for a French comic convention:

#591 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2014, 03:02 PM:

A thought related to the earlier rhetoric conversation (362-ish and following):

Since I read A Report on Damage Done By One Individual Under Several Names last night, I have been thinking a lot about nuking and bullying. About people who have said they were scared into silence by RH/BS, and occasions where people who use nuking tactics have said explicitly their goal is to silence (people they view as) racists, not to change minds -- if somebody shuts up and doesn't say (something the nuker considers) a racist thing because they're scared of being yelled at, then they consider that a win for justice. And thinking about abi's discomfort with Chris Kluwe's GG rant, and how I didn't understand it at first because I felt like the rant was righteous anger, but now I'm rethinking my reaction.

And feeling like I should've known better in the first place, because I've had run-ins with people bullying under cover of social justice before, and decided after a long dark period that I would leave a conversation where I was being verbally abused, no matter how righteous the anger of the other person. It felt very scary to draw that boundary, because I could hear everyone in my head saying "tone argument" and "white women's tears." And mostly I've maintained that boundary by just getting and staying the hell out of communities where nuking is a common practice, running like hell when I see certain usernames appear, not by actually asserting that boundary to specific people in words.

But my initial reaction to Kluwe's rant shows that I'm still comfortable with verbal abuse aimed at people who I think "deserve" it, and the RH/BS affair reminds me that I shouldn't be, because some people thought RH/BS's targets "deserved" it too.

#592 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2014, 03:38 PM:

ISTM that modern internet technology has made it easy to whip up huge lynchmobs, direct them at some target, and really wreck your opponents. And there are some people who *really* enjoy wrecking their opponents--spamming them with credible-sounding death threats, smearing them in public in some way that involves a hundred voices shouting them down, doxxing them, swatting them, etc. In the world we're building, those people have become a lot more powerful and prominent.

One of the main things that makes those lynchmobs so effective and devastating is that lots of decent people who are broadly on the same side as the attacker claims to be, accept the rhetoric that says that in some disputes, the target has no rights and there are no limits to how nasty you can be. That's how you get thousands of non-sociopaths to kind-of go along (well, yeah, maybe that's a bit over the top, but those bastards have it coming; maybe not everything those guys are saying about her is true, but where there's smoke, there's probably a bit of fire too).

I've seen rhetoric that supports this sort of thing here, I think. When you're sure your cause is just and your enemies are nasty, it's possible for even pretty decent people to justify all kinds of awful things. Decent people stay quiet when "their side" is saying or doing outrageous things, because hey, the other side is worse.

#593 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2014, 04:12 PM:

As I read through here, I am reminded of a family conversation that happened before my faher was born.

My grandfather, at the breakfast table: Those idiots [in our state government]! I could do better than that.

My grandmother, at the breakfast table: Prove it.

So he did.

Now, he was operating from a position of heavy-duty white male privilege. (We are not just white, we are "fishbelly white.") He was a graduate of Brown, he had married into an old and respected family, and his job brought him into contact with the social and political elite.

This probably got him elected the first time.

He was also massively intelligent, scrupulously honest, with a sharp tongue and a wicked sense of humor.

That probably got him elected all the other times.

So... you don't always have to settle for trying to get your candidate elected. Think about it.

#594 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2014, 04:24 PM:

Caroline @591:

Yes, that's the sort of thing I didn't want to get into upthread, not having the spoons for it. Partly because I caught an earlier wave of the RH thing, but mostly because I have pit-of-the-stomach reactions to it. But I'm also conscious that I come across as judgmental and kinda tiresome when I get onto the topic with people who aren't in the mood to hear it.

albatross @592:

I wonder if we could leave "lynch" off the word "mob"? Although internet mobbing is hideously unpleasant and horrible, it's a different kind of hideously unpleasant and horrible than racially motivated murder.

#595 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2014, 05:31 PM:

Caroline at 591, I spent much of yesterday evening reading the Report. For those who are interested, it's one of Teresa's particles, and I strongly recommend checking it out.

It was a real gut-check for me. I found myself most disturbed by the ease with which RH/BS/Winterfox was able to gather a community of followers to defend, encourage, and copycat her meanness, and how rarely she and her followers were challenged. And I realized, as you did, that I am sometimes too comfortable with verbal abuse aimed at someone whose position (usually on a political issue) I completely disagree with. I am ashamed.

In conversation this morning, a friend of mine pointed out that the internet makes it easy to disregard the fact that other people are real: that they have bones, skin, feelings, families, that they can be hurt, and that their pain is exactly, exactly the same as your pain and my pain. Among other reasons, that is why we need, and are so grateful for, our moderators.

#596 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2014, 06:17 PM:

Serge @589:

In costume, even. My high school bud takes great photos.

#597 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2014, 08:48 PM:

abi @ 596... By the way, home come your kids seem to be taller from one years-apart sighting to the next? Is this what people of Earth refer to as 'growing up'?

#598 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 02:07 AM:

Off-topic (which is okay, because this is an Open Thread) -- ran into Skwid this evening at Orycon, and had a very pleasant conversation while Karen was bonding with her VP buddies. While he's not posting much and occasionally falls behind, he still checks in here. Just thought folks might like an update.

#599 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 05:52 AM:

Serge @597

It happens to a lot of kids. I think it's something in the water.

#600 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 06:46 AM:

Wait until you reach the one-month-to-the-next phase, in which you get exchanges like this:

"Mom, I need some new pants. These are too short."
"I just bought you pants!"
[walks out in hallway] "Yeah..."
[looks, facepalms, sighs] "Right, I guess we're going to Target tonight."

Also the following exchange:
"J, did you remember to put the rest of the meatloaf away?"
"No, I ate it."
[wonders what she is going to have to cook for dinner now]

#601 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 09:46 AM:

Yep, BTDT on both of those.

#602 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 09:57 AM:

C. Wingate, one of those things is not necessarily related to growth spurts. My youngest is temporarily at home before reapplying to grad school, and she keeps eating the leftovers I was planning to have for dinner.

They've all stopped growing, though. All taller than me, of course.

#604 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 10:40 AM:

Been there, done that.

#606 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 11:50 AM:

C. Wingate:
Oh yes, we're racing with abandon into those years. Our working theory is that he has two hollow legs. (The second one is for dessert, which is why there is always room for dessert even after he is stuffed with dinner.)

#607 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 12:30 PM:

600/601 etc
My mother remembered when my brother hit that stage. She swore he had to have hollow legs.... (He was one of the shortest guys in the class, going into it, and finished up about 5ft 8. It was a major growth phase for him.)

#608 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 12:47 PM:

So, school choir senior year: one fellow joins as a junior for the first time. He has been one of the shrimpier kids up to now, though his older brother is a huge hulk. So now he needs a cassock.

Choir director: OK, John, how tall are you?
John: Six feet.
[Sounds of incredulity from the assembly] Really, how tall are you?
John: Six feet.

John is then made to stand up next to Ashton, one of the tallest guys. He is barely shorter. Someone had a growth spurt over the summer.

#609 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 12:48 PM:

The pulldown quote from MITSFS particle is incorrect; the Star Chamber is the officers, not the entire membership.

Dave Harmon @ 386: Instances are different from prevalence. I don't claim that all children are saints; I doubted that they were all natural bullies.

Halloween: I helped a friend who passes out >1000 full-size candy bars each year. Trickles until 5:30, then building to a torrent (with one surprising lull) until running out at 7:15. (This in Boston, a few miles from downtown.)

Zelda @ 478: Neat! I'll have to remember that, although I'm unlikely to ever get to Ireland. A more recent momentous artifact: did you know that the antenna that brought us Armstrong setting foot on the Moon an easy drive (less than an hour) from Canberra? Now replaced by a larger unit, but the building has some good displays and just remembering what it showed us brought chills (and regrets -- we thought how much Mike (Ford) would have loved to have seen it, and realized we were there on the 4th anniversary of his death).

seconding answers to Fragano @ 506: See Tampopo, aka "the Japanese-noodle Western". Everyone in the main cast says "ramen" at least once; some of these sound as if a Western transcriber would write "lamen" if going by immediate hearing rather than context. And as usual the rest of you provided a fascinating array of related info. And I particularly agree on the uselessness of telling someone "just listen" -- that person shouldn't be teaching that language -- as I know how hard it is to get a chorus to get phonetic 'y' (as in French "une") correct without explaining how it's hybridized.

Xopher @ 541: a brilliant putdown from Rolla.

#610 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 12:57 PM:

This is worth a signal boost. Read down, and you'll see that Dave Sim is putting his graphic novel 'Judenhaas' into the public domain:


#611 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Caroline @591: I've been reading through that as well. Some of the posts have given me some useful vocabulary with which I can now describe some of my own past experiences.

And yes, it's made me really think how important it is not to allow hurt or anger or disgust to lead to using hateful language, however "deserving" of such the target appears to be.

#612 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 02:09 PM:

HLN: Local woman finishes new blouse except for the buttons, discovers she doesn't have the right buttons. Much Argh!-ing ensues. "The predominant colors are bright navy and red," she explains. "I have red buttons that could work, but I really wanted to use blue, and none of my blue buttons are the right shade. Except for one set that I don't have enough of. Argh."

#613 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 03:38 PM:

CHip @609
I second the recommendation of a visit to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

One other dish - the first you come by as you enter the station - is Deep Space Station 46 (DSS46). This 26-metre antenna was originally located at the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station between 1967 and 1981. It was moved to CDSCC as part of a consolidation of tracking station sites in Canberra.
DSS46 is most famous for being the antenna which received and relayed to the world the first historic TV images of astronaut Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon in July 1969.
Having tracked hundreds of missions - both manned and robotic - DSS46 was retired from service in November 2009 and now remains at CDSCC as celebrated and recognised historic monument.

#614 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 04:00 PM:

C. Wingate, #608: Reminds me of going to my 10-year high-school reunion. There was this one guy there who I'd had a crush on in junior high, continued to think was cute in high school, and hadn't seen since. He was short, at least 3 or 4 inches shorter than me. Only now... I was looking up at him; not much up, but he was at least 5'8" to my 5'4".

Me: "You grew!" (Yeah, Captain Obvious, so what else is new?)

Him: "Yeah, the summer between high school and college I grew 8 inches. I'd buy pants, wear them for a few days, throw them in the wash, and when they came out they'd be too short."

That's gotta be rough, and not just from the POV of needing new clothes every few days. One's height is a significant part of the self-image.

#615 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 04:30 PM:

abi @ 594

I'm... not sure. Once upon a time, I would have agreed with you that internet harassment is different from a lynch mob. But the more that goes on, and especially the more women are directly, viscerally attacked for being publically outspoken in traditionally male space, the more I think that this, too, is an effort to frighten an entire community into silence by making them afraid for their lives to speak up. It arguably hasn't yet gone to the next step, of outright murder, but when I add in recent killing sprees singling out women, I really am not at all sure that the two situations are not becoming increasingly similar. I agree that the term shouldn't be used lightly and that it too often is, but I am also glad that my daughter is too young to know what is going on in certain parts of the Internet right now and I hope it will stop before she is old enough to internalize that fear.

#616 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 05:39 PM:

KayTei @615:

I think that there is a material difference between the terrible physical tortures of physcial lynching and the horrible mental and emotional torment of having the internet land on your head. Even though they share characteristics: the secrecy of the perpetrators, the desire to keep potentially "uppity" people "in their place".

It's always so tempting to draw these analogies, but every stretch we make to them is a small step toward leaching the terms of their use. And we still need them in their original forms. It's a valuable thing to be able talk about the ways that African Americans specifically are hemmed in by the threat of murder. If I were to put the word "lynch" to use anywhere in the current internet, it would be in the places that black people are being shot.

It's hard to say this without being accused of minimizing the harm that RH and GamerGate are doing to people right now on the internet. I do not minimize it. But I also think that we must be allowed to describe more than one horrible thing in parallel, without the implicit measuring-up between them. The language is big and full of words, and more can readily be added to it. I'd rather we did that than end up with too few terms, overstretched and drained of their clarity and power.

(And yes, I'm glad my daughter hasn't seen much of what's out there on the internet. My son has, and we've had some talks to clarify and ground his experiences. I may hope this stuff goes away, but I fear that it will only do so to give way to something else horrid.)

#617 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 07:01 PM:

On the loom of deadlines,
the warp compresses available time,
the woof gnaws away at doubts,
the weft threads its way from thought to idea,
and the weaving patterns reveal themselves
when they're damned well ready to.

#618 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 07:38 PM:

I've been helping with a Living History Arts project which (fair disclosure*) is wonderfully good: Fluorospherians in the San Francisco Bay Area may wish to check it out next weekend.

It's 1915 in Paris, and Dr. Marie Curie goes on stage to describe her own style of extreme research, her history, and goals for the future. She's asking you for help: she wants to do a mobile startup bringing X-ray machines to the Front-- this could save lives!

You're not hearing about MC: I've seen rocket scientists and fourth graders alike believe they're hearing from her. They wanted to leap up and warn her about those odd burns she's been getting. I want to warn her-- it gives you a very SFnal experience of being back in time, but unable to change it.

She's inspiring to everyone, and her story resonates especially well with geeky and passionate techies and scientists (and STEAM-to-be kids). The scholar/performer Susan Frontczak was an engineer at HP. Susan has spent years building her Marie Curie- it is a stunning type of art.

We're using the IndieGoGo Campaign as a test method of selling tickets--we'd like to reach our goal, the show goes on regardless. One can also buy tix the traditional newfangled way.

If you know of an income-limited child/family/person who might be inspired by this show, let me know and we can apply an edu discount.

* my sister is the producer

#619 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 08:31 PM:

I just heard today that one of my oldest friends here in Hawai'i has a major brain tumor in the left temporal lobe. First anybody knew of it was Monday when she had a major seizure while out walking with a friend. They can't do surgery yet because she's also having some kind of breathing problem they're still trying to figure out.

I was going to go see her this afternoon, but she's not feeling up to more visitors right now; I'll be talking to her on the phone later.

I'm sick to my heart of this.

#620 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 08:51 PM:

Clifton, I'm so sorry.

#621 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 10:30 PM:

Clifton, best wishes for your friend. Cancer sucks.

#622 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 02:27 AM:

Waiting at the luggage claim conveyor belt for my bag to show up, I saw something very strange: A suitcase to which a very large, crudely carved wooden spoon had been taped.

I'm talking a 3' long, 2" thick handle, with a maybe 10" long and 8" wide bowl.

It passed by me twice. Before the third pass, someone claimed the bag and I didn't get to see who and chase after them for an explanation.

#623 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 05:33 AM:

Caroline @591: RH/BS

Could somebody please unpack this acronym for me? I'm too tired to figure out how to look it up, and it keeps coming out as "Robert Heinlein/Bull S--t" for me, which I'm pretty sure isn't right.

#624 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 05:46 AM:

abi & KayTei: Perhaps a strained construction, but my brain leaps from "lynch mob" to "sync mob," as the internet parallel.

#625 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 06:50 AM:

Jacque @ #623

RH/BS is the attack blogger/author "Requires Hate"/Benjanun Sriduangkaew . as far as this moose can make out.

See the recent Particle "damage done by one person".

#626 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 08:05 AM:

Pirate monks. Not just fictional.

#627 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 08:32 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #622

Perhaps it was a way for the owner to identify their bag? "It's the one with the wooden spoon taped to it" would be a pretty effective descriptor.

#628 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 10:02 AM:

I just tried a post and had a server error. I'll try again in a minute.

#629 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 10:03 AM:

I suspect that this will be of little use to 90% of Making Light folks, but if you like to cook and can speak or read Portugese have I got a recommendation for you!

I stumbled across a YouTube channel where a cook makes dishes from feature films. They're professionally shot and edited, the cook is charming, and the results look sensational. None of the links to the recipes work, but after poking around I managed to find the one for Sweeney Todd's Meat Pies. (I thought of hunting for the pastry one from The Grand Budapest Hotel, but damn, does she look happy when she finally tries the meat pie...). Her eyes don't normally look this raccoony, but I think her makeup person was overly impressed with Mr. Depp's makeup in the film. Recommend viewing, and I can't even speak the language!

(Oh, and Grand Budapest fans? FoxSearchlight has you covered.)

#630 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 11:06 AM:

Bruce D., #629: Google Translate does a decent job. I ran the Sweeney Todd recipe thru it and came up with this (slightly edited to remove infelicities, and with my best guess from context at untranslated words):

1 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
150g cold butter
4-5 tablespoons ice water

400g rump (cut into very small cubes)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 small carrot, diced
2 stalks of chopped celery
1 can of peeled tomatoes
335ml dark beer (1 long neck)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg yolk

In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the butter and with your fingers blend slowly until the mixture is crumbly. Incorporate water gradually until the dough binds to itself. It is important to add water slowly so that the dough is the right consistency. Chill in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle some flour over the meat cubes. In a very hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil, brown the meat for 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and minced garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add beer, Worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid become thick as well.

Roll out dough on a floured surface. Fit the crust into the muffin tins, make holes with a fork on the bottom, and fill with meat. Use the leftover dough to make the shape of the caps of the patty. Cap all of them, and close the sides; cook on high heat for 30 minutes. After 10 minutes, brush the patties with egg yolk and let bake until well browned.

It doesn't give a specific temperature for baking the assembled pies, but my partner (who does more cooking than I do) suggests starting at 375° and adjusting if necessary.

#631 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 02:31 PM:


Fair enough. As a nitpick, though, I've always understood lynching to be something that could happen to whites as well as blacks. If the mob is convinced you're guilty, they may string you up without the formality of a trial. This sort of mob justice was used as a way to terrorize blacks in some times and places, but its application is broader than that.

#632 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 02:36 PM:

Stefan Jones @622

Would the spoon have fitted inside the suitcase? It sounds like possibly not.

So, someone had to get their "stirrer of the year" award home from the convention somehow.

J Homes.

#633 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 02:44 PM:

J Homes @ 632: "stirrer of the year"? Is that anything like this great business idea tweeted by Jason Isbell?

My band just invented the "shitstarter" campaign. It's easy. You donate money, we make fun of other bands.

#634 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 03:39 PM:

Nancy #626 - I thought the link would be about the Knights Hospitaller, who from some angles can be seen as pirates, and they were monks anyway.

#635 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 05:01 PM:

albatross @631:

Although this is true, the systematic use of lynching that is most vividly in living memory was directed at American blacks. The imagery of lynching is still used in racially loaded ways (cf the various images of Obama in a noose that float around the extreme wingnutosphere).

I would contend that although it may once have been more racially neutral, as a literal description of physical murder, it is now strongly linked to the American black experience.

#636 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 06:20 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 633

There is a certain resemblance. However, the award is usually bestowed on a member of the organisation concerned, in recognition of the recipient's impact on said organisation.

And yes, I have belonged to groups where the "trophy" was indeed a large wooden spoon.

J Homes.

#637 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 06:47 PM:

albatross, #631: I've heard of lynchings of, say, cattle rustlers in the Wild West, and probably some of them were white. But the difference, as I perceive it, is that those were beyond the frontier, in places where rule of law did not reach and the law was whatever the mob (or the guy with the biggest guns) said it was. The same cannot be said for lynchings of blacks in the American South; those had, among other rationalizations, the specific purpose of terrorism. Your argument, bluntly, is an example of false equivalence.

#638 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 06:55 PM:

Yes. (The one example I can think of that might possibly count the other way is Joseph Smith, in Illinois. But I'd bet that the men who did it felt like their dominance over their wives and daughters was threatened by his religion.)

#639 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 07:54 PM:

I am PISSED AS HELL at Comcast right now. I just went to pay my bill online, and ignored all the "Now you can store your credit card number for easier payment!" hype (because Comcast is not a site where I want to do that, TYVM) -- and when I was done, it popped up a cheery little message saying, "Your card ending in NNNN has now been stored online!"

I immediately removed it -- but WHAT THE HELL? Was there an opt-out checkbox that I missed? I normally notice that kind of shit, because I look for it. Did it just do that, automagically, because I didn't have any credit cards on file, and am I going to have to deal with this EVERY MONTH from now on? I absolutely do NOT want any of my credit-card information hanging out on Comcast's servers, now or ever. (There are sites where I will do that. Comcast is not any of them.) And I am not a happy camper that my information was EVER on their servers, no matter how briefly, because things that have been stored can be recovered.

What the HELL, Comcast?

#640 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 08:43 PM:

I just want to make a quick note here about tactics and RHB. I am seeing here and elsewhere a tendency to focus on the tactics that RHB used, with the hope that if we can police the tactics people use, we can prevent the abuse. I think this is mistaken.

A quick evaluation of tactics and tone can be a useful heuristic. But it absolutely cannot replace a careful evaluation of behavior within its context. People March on Washington all the fucking time, sometimes for good reasons , sometimes for bad reasons, sometimes for truly incomprehensible reasons. The march itself is neither a virtue nor a vice. It is tool. RHB used a whole bunch of tools that have useful purposes to do terrible things.

Part of what I suspect I'm seeing is our vast cultural discomfort with anger. We really don't deal well with it. When men get angry, we think of them as powerful, but scary. Male anger is equated with violence. When women get angry, we find them shrill and ineffectual, and discount their opinions. There's a complex dynamic about who gets to be angry when at whom for why, and it's fractally dysfunctional. A lot of people are focusing on how angry RHB was. Which makes sense. But the problem here isn't the anger, exactly. That she appears to have become addicted to it, and that she used it as a tool to hurt people, that's a serious issue. But we should not discard anger as a legitimate emotion, or a reasonable tool, just because RHB used it as a weapon.

If we truly wish to protect our community from another abuse like this, we have to understand that the tactics are not the abuse. If we simply rule out certain tactics, we haven't made any progress. As RHB's history shows, abusers will simply choose new tactics. Abusers are actually really good at adapting their tactics to their environments. It's their superpower.

(Anybody who wishes to see a longer me on the topic can check my LJ post Tactics Require Hate.

This, regrettably, is the shorter me.)

#641 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 09:00 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II@629: Muito obrigado! I think we're going to have a lot of fun poking around there (and it's good practice for me).

#642 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 09:13 PM:

I'm glad I didn't hear about the RH/BS problems before the Hugo voting; I was already having enough trouble separating the literary merits of the Annoying Sad Puppy slate's works (or whatever they were calling themselves) from their personalities, and adding Benjanun Sriduangkaew to the mix really wouldn't have helped.

(As it was, I rated Sriduangkaew's low partly because it didn't work for me and partly because she was running against some really strong works, and because it's hard for short stories to compete well against novels. By contrast, I thought two of the Annoying Sad Puppies were lousy writers, and one was a fun lightweight read that I later finished, even though I didn't think it was really Hugo-class work.)

#643 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2014, 09:58 PM:

Data points:

* Big Wooden Spoon was definitely too large to fit in the luggage to which it was taped. It was mounted diagonally.

* I doubt the "unique visual ID" theory, although that would certainly be a side-benefit. A colorful T-shirt or such tied to a handle would be a lot easier to manage.

* Trophy? Perhaps. The thing wasn't very photogenic, though.

* You could easily bash in a head with Big Wooden Spoon.

#644 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 12:47 AM:

Lee @639, there’s a reason Comcast is called the worst company in America.

#645 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 09:56 AM:


I didn't make any argument at all, I just pointed out that this is a word that is used in a wider context than just hanging blacks to terrorize other blacks.

#646 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 10:42 AM:


I read your linked post. I think I see your point, but I also disagree. Some tactics are destructive not only in terms of collateral damage--they make it very hard to reach worthwhile goals.

Whipping up an internet mob (or a physical mob) to rain down abuse on someone is an example of a tactic that is really destructive. It's not just that it does a lot of collateral damage, it's that it scorches the earth.

Angry mobs don't care much about justice--they aren't going to bother to get the facts of the case straight, and normally, they're sustained by reading one or two sources of information provided by the folks whipping up the mob. They also don't care much about proportion--instead, you can get some kind of competitive nastiness, where the more-or-less decent members of the mob will at least tacitly support really awful things like doxxing or swatting or making death threats to the family of someone who has offended them.

In environments where that kind of mob is common, lots of people don't want to get involved in the discussion at all. The potential cost is too high. And decent people who agree with the stated goals of the mob but think its behavior is over the top tend to be intimidated into silence, because mobs by their nature can turn on anyone. "Winning" using these tactics makes further discussion on these topics impossible.

More broadly, I'm interested in learning about the world and understanding other peoples' experiences and pushing for a more just and decent world. I believe that many tactics are inconsistent with those goals.

When I see someone trying to intimidate the other side of an issue into silence, I don't see a neutral tactic that can be applied by good or bad people. I see a tactic whose effect is to make the kind of discussion I care about impossible--winning today's battle in a way that makes the bigger war harder to win.

So when I see people get called nasty names, smeared, threatened, fired, doxxed, etc., I don't see the people doing that as being on my side, not even if they claim the same goals I have and the people they're doing those nasty things to are my enemies, too.

#647 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 12:00 PM:

It's worth remembering--especially here, where it's not a derail--that right-wing political lynchings were not limited to blacks:

On that same Armistice Day in 1919, an American Legion parade in Centralia, Washington, the heart of lumber country and long running labor strife, broke ranks on a pre-arranged signal and attacked the local hall of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

Wobblies in the hall opened fire in self defense as the Legionaries tried to charge up the stairs. Four Legionaries were killed in the attack and several others were wounded inside the hall in a confusing melee before most of the union men were disarmed. Wesley Everest, himself a veteran and in uniform, escaped although wounded and was chased down to the river where he shot two or more of his pursuers before being overwhelmed.

That night a mob of Legionaries, with the complicity of authorities, seized the wounded Everest from his jail cell, dragged him behind an automobile, castrated him, and hung him from a railroad bridge. Several IWW members including those captured in the hall and others tracked down by posses in a massive man hunt were put on trial. Eight Wobblies were convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to long prison terms. No Legionnaires were charged in the initial assault.

#648 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 12:51 PM:

Albatross @ 646:

I don't see where we disagree. The costs of an internet mobbing are huge. The destruction wreaked is enormous, both to individuals and the community as a whole. This is part of what I mean when we say we can't divorce the tactics and the goals. If the tactics do not promote our goals, then they are bad tactics. My goal is almost always to support and defend vibrant communities and diverse voices. One of the things that I think I see a danger of happening, though, is picking out a certain number of tactics and saying, "There, if we just don't do those things, our community will be saved." And I do not believe that this is the case. I think that just making judgments about tactics will, in fact, screw us over, make us into the tone police and narrow the discourse.

The problem is complicated with a lot of moving parts. I think that Klewe's profane post was proportionate, within the environment of #gg, in part because of how profane they have been. It did stray a little, perhaps, but it's positioned in a very different environment from, say RHB's bailiwick.

Being aware of your environment is absolutely key. You don't swear in front of my mother, it upsets her and makes it difficult to communicate because she's concentrating on the vocabulary. There are things you don't do on the internet because we know from experience that this causes certain types of reactions.

Mobbing is an interesting one, to me. Part of the problem with mobbing is that sometimes it is, but sometimes, it's just the asynchronous way in which we experience the internets. Here I am, reading along, and I see something that I particular agree or disagree with. I get het up, and I post. I'm sufficiently het up that I don't check to see if anyone else has made my point that burns so brightly that I must set it to phosphors right this very instant. Too many people do that, it totally looks like a mobbing, but I don't think it really is -- except to the target. This is a serious problem.

Which is not to say that mobbing doesn't happen. People getting upset, grabbing other people and pointing them at their target, everybody contributing to making that person's life a misery? Yep, that happens, too. It can be difficult to tell the difference from a distance. At this time, we haven't developed enough tools and social signals to help people avoid the latter by doing the former.

I don't mean to imply I have a lot of answers, here. But I am asking that people try to think in somewhat multi-layered ways about this problem. Focusing on just goals or tactics will, in my opinion, lead us into error.

#649 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 04:17 PM:

"Have you a message for home?"
"Yes, please. Tell my Da that I died doing my duty and that I didn't mind it. I just didn't mean to die so young."

From Mary Robinette Kowal's novel-in-progress "Ghost Talkers", in which mediums are used to help fight the Great War.

#650 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 05:02 PM:

Lydy Nickerson @640: Just read this and your LJ post. Seems to me that if we used the "Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?" test and never posted/said anything that didn't pass at least two of those it would be a start. Unfortunately when considering what other people have written, it's usually relatively simple to tell whether or not it's kind but often much harder to answer the other two questions. However, I would suggest that if it's -not- kind, well, it's already failed on at least one of the questions so I'd be wary about assuming it's passed both the other tests.

Agree with your @648 about unintentional mobbing. In a well-moderated and generally polite forum, the mods tend to notice and say something, and polite regular commentators might apologise. Without a background of generally polite behaviour and good moderation, that's less likely to occur.

#652 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 05:51 PM:

Congratulations to Brother Guy!

#653 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 06:34 PM:

Whoo-hoo, Brother Guy! (Have you practiced saying "bill-yuns and bill-yuns"? <grin, duck, and run> )

#654 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 06:47 PM:

The Carl Sagan Medal was announced back in July, but I guess, since the annual Division of Planetary Sciences meeting is this week in Tucson, the medal will actually be handed out. In Detroit, it's a hometown-boy-makes-good story.

Meanwhile, Brother Guy's new book with Father Paul Mueller, S. J., Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? ...and Other Questions from the Astronomers' In-box at the Vatican Observatory is on the street. The publisher's puffery:

...they explore a variety of questions at the crossroads of faith and reason: How do you reconcile the The Big Bang with Genesis? Was the Star of Bethlehem just a pious religious story or an actual description of astronomical events? What really went down between Galileo and the Catholic Church – and why do the effects of that confrontation still reverberate to this day? Will the Universe come to an end?
Each chapter takes the form of an imagined dialogue between Guy and Paul that starts with the kind of question Vatican astronomers get asked frequently, then moves on to consider science, history, philosophy, and theology.

#655 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2014, 11:21 PM:

Congratulations, Brother Guy!

#656 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 01:25 AM:

And we're excited that he's going to share his acceptance speech with us at Sasquan next August. It should be a lot of fun to hear!

#657 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 01:57 AM:

The Big Spoon has traveled many places.

Some say it was carved in New Guinea, circulating through the highland communities for decades or centuries before hitching a ride out on the pack of one of Leahy's porters. This is nonsense, easily debunked: the Big Spoon can clearly be seen in a painting by Cornelis Pietersz Bega, the 17th century Dutch artist.

It is certain the Big Spoon likes to travel. Many accounts describe it attached somehow to the exterior of luggage—be it a tinker's pack or a soldier's kit—like a remora on a shark. We have assembled dozens of sightings, across centuries: Paris in 1838, Rio in '64, Jakarta in 1932. It surely has a voracious appetite for travel (among other things). This explains the origin of the now tarnished Multiple Spoon Theory; however, the alleged 1956 New York/Bangkok simultaneous sighting has been decisively debunked and with no other candidates emerging, MST advocates such as “Doctor” Morton appear increasingly desperate.

The multitude of sightings do beg the question, though: if the Big Spoon is so easy to spot, why were they not warned? Why did they not flee?

Not much is known about how the Big Spoon navigates its environment. While some parasites share the Big Spoon's lack of limbs and perceptive organs, these other parasites are not peripatetic or serial feeders, but remain on a single host. For the Big Spoon, this is decisively not the case. Some theorize that, much as it enlists the legs of its victims to move, it borrows the eyes of those around it to “see,' and by some mechanism of camouflage remains imperceptible to all others. This theory has its lay parallel in the superstitious aversion to looking at the Big Spoon common among traditional cultures.

Yet there is no evidence that the Big Spoon selectively targets those who notice it. To the contrary, accounts by the few survivors report being all but unaware of the Big Spoon's presence on their belongings. Even among those who claim they knew of it, none report associating their fatigue, anemia, or hair loss with its presence. It is therefore likely that the opposite is the case: it is an inability to perceive the Spoon's presence that is the warning sign. Those who spot the spoon are likely, in that moment, safe: they may flee, attempt to destroy the Spoon (not recommended: see Moscow 1922) or other evasive action. A conscious awareness of the Big Spoon might even be an adaptive response to its centuries of predation, a way of avoiding its terrible grasp.

That is the theory.

#658 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 02:00 AM:

Aw, congratulations, Brother Guy!

#659 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 02:36 AM:

Congratulations, Brother Guy!

#660 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 02:41 AM:

While it may not be so convenient for readers outside the UK, the BBC has just started re-broadcasting Cosmos, and it is on iPlayer

#661 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 03:08 AM:

Congratulations to Brother Guy!

heresiarch @657: I love it!

#662 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 10:20 AM:

Congratulations to Brother Guy!

#663 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Open threadiness found today: From the creative madness of the internet, a discussion thread transplanting characters from the Silmarillion into a college setting.

#664 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 01:38 PM:

Also, more congratulations to Brother Guy!

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey@654: Yes, it was also mentioned in an open thread here at the time the award was announced.

heresiarch@657: Very nice. My own first thought on the puzzle was, "Wouldn't the dish have been more circumspect?"

#665 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 02:16 PM:

Any thoughts on Interstellar? It packed a real emotional punch for me. It's not perfect, but the things that worked in it worked really, really well.

#666 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 03:01 PM:

Re: Brother Guy -- an interesting interview with him was on National Public Radio's "Here And Now" show this afternoon.

#667 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 04:31 PM:

Edgar Lloyd Hampton

I am the voice of the uplands ringing from hill to hill,
Calling you back to action; hearken, and do my will.
Put up your spear and saber, smother the torch and brand,
Lay down your weapons of warfare; come back, for peace is at hand.
Back to your shuttered workshop, turning again to toil;
Lift up the horn of plenty out of the teeming soil.
Shoulder the pick and shovel, kindle again the hearth,
Scatter the wheat and barley over the wasted earth.

For the cannon is hushed in the lowland, the order has been withdrawn,
And the sound of disbanding armies echoes from dark to dawn.
Up from the reeking byways come the sons and daughters of men,
Beating their swords and shrapnel back into plows again.
Over the waste of the valley the sound of an anvil rings,
And up from the fields of carnage a blood-red poppy springs.
And the shepherd is out on the hillside, calling again to his sheep;
And the song of the busy sickle awakens the earth from sleep.

#668 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 10:05 PM:

I can't help but notice there's no Rememberance Day post, yet. Here's last year's.

#669 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 10:42 PM:

Obama calls for Net Neutrality.

Interesting fight to pick just now... if he loses, we get what the big ISPs were already trying to push through, if he wins (and he appointed the FCC chairman) we, and especially his natural base, win big.

#670 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 11:07 PM:

And there are reports that Obama has clinched a climate action deal with the Chinese.

Tim Carmody, on Twitter just now: I’m telling you, Obama turned to his people after Election Day and said: “All right. What can we do WITHOUT Congress?”

#671 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 02:04 AM:

The latest XKCD titled '???' at seems to be another 'Time' style slow-animated story.

It seems to be updating roughly every 5 minutes, and so far it seems to be about a space probe making a rendezvous with an asteroid. One panel had a caption appear reading "Beginning pre-delivery burn"; I missed seeing some panels while washing dishes, but when I came back the asteroid had come into view and the space probe has been moving closer to it. (Wild thought: is it a possible planet killer, and a story of a mission to deflect it? Or is that too obvious?)

#672 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 02:16 AM:

Clifton, I think it is a real time comicification of this.

#673 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 02:17 AM:

(Thanks, dcb and dotless ı!)

#674 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 02:27 AM:

"We are go for separation"; space probe: "Yessss!" The folks at the XKCD forums have it - it's a near-live cartoon of the Rosetta comet landing project.

#675 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 04:21 AM:

dotless ı @663

It is a long time since I read the Silmarillion, and they put it in such an alien world for me.

#676 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 09:01 AM:

Re: XKCD "Landing" -- someone's put together a viewer with all panes (so far; no reason to think they'll stop) so folks late to the thread can see the whole thing:

(Don't ignore the "status report" box in the lower right corner. <grin>)

Really hope it makes it (t-minus two hours now); it'd be sad for Randall to have to draw a crash. (Now I'm wondering how much of this he pre-drew, and how much he's drawing live....)

#677 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 09:02 AM:

Re: XKCD "Landing" -- someone's put together a viewer with all panes (so far; no reason to think they'll stop) so folks late to the thread can see the whole thing:

(Don't ignore the "status report" box in the lower right corner. <grin>)

Really hope it makes it (t-minus two hours now); it'd be sad for Randall to have to draw a crash. (Now I'm wondering how much of this he pre-drew, and how much he's drawing live....)

#678 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 09:13 AM:

Cassy B #677: Unfortunately, that site's is-it-dead slow, I assume they don't have enough bandwidth to handle the interest.

#679 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 10:27 AM:

David Harmon @678, at least it'll be there as an archive so we can come back and see the whole thing later (presumably after it's stopped being slashdotted).

#680 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 11:13 AM:

She's down and talking to us! What a feat.

#681 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 01:05 PM:

I spent more time with Mary Daly at lunch today, and I'm even more struck by how Heinleinian a writer she is. They both have that authoritative voice, they both retcon massively and often not to the better, and they both went off the rails at some point and never got back on. Between that and a deep insight into To Sail Beyond the Sunset as self-criticism, I feel pretty good.

When I have the spoons, I'll write that story about them. If I do it well enough, I'll manage to piss off both people's biggest fans immensely. And I know it'll make at least me laugh.

#682 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Re: XKCD "Landing" - I've been flicking onto this on and off during today. Enjoyed what I've seen, bit irritated knowing how much I've missed - oh well, I'm sure I'll get to see it at the site indicated above sometime.

Jenny Islander @667: I liked that.

#683 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 03:06 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @647:

Sorry for the slow reply. Reasons.

Your example is noted, but I was talking about living memory. Emmett Till was murdered in 1955, which is also the year my mother turned ten. We are living among people who remember that time. Whatever the historical nature of lynching, the lived experience of our (American) society is that it, and the memory of it, are tools for the repression of actual black people around us. Right now. Today. Tonight, in their nightmares.

I am reminded of a quote by Clive James back in 1980, discussing a dance group carelessly using Nazi uniforms:

The Nazis are a joke all right, but they are not yet a joke to make lightly. They are history’s joke on the human race, and will remain so until the last of their victims has gone beyond the reach of being hurt further by a casual insult. It insults not just millions of dead, but a lot of people still living, to employ these images of horror without caring what they really mean.

Obviously, no one here is talking about lynching as a joke; that's not why I'm bringing this up. My point is that this is a serious and powerful thing in the experience of living people we really do not want to further hurt.

#684 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 04:10 PM:

abi @ 683: Oh, I agree. But I don't want to forget Leo Frank, either:

Leo Max Frank (April 17, 1884 – August 17, 1915) was a Jewish-American factory superintendent whose murder conviction and extrajudicial hanging in 1915 by a lynch mob planned and led by prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia, drew attention to questions of antisemitism in the United States...

The names of Frank's murderers were well-known locally but were not made public until January 2000, when Stephen Goldfarb, an Atlanta librarian and former history professor, published the Phagan-Kean list on his website. The Washington Post noted that the list includes several prominent citizens — a former governor, the son of a senator, a Methodist minister, a state legislator, and a former state Superior Court judge — their names matching those on Marietta's street signs, office buildings, shopping centers, and law offices today.

Those names are rubbed into living memory every day. They are a crime against humanity. Their descendants thrive off the wealth that enabled them to get away with murder.

This must not be forgotten, either.

#685 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 04:21 PM:



Have you clicked through to the last link in my post there? Can you give me an equivalent link or story for someone who is not black? Are there non-black Americans who are sitting at home right now wondering if people who were alive last month are in their graves now because of lynching?

Yes, we should not forget the other injustices that have occurred. But we should also not get so distracted by the need to carefully enumerate them that we ignore what's going on right now, and will likely be going on next year and the year after it too.

It feels to me like you're desperately trying to bury or obscure that under a mass of historical injustices.


#686 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 04:33 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @684, there are plaques and memorials to Leo Frank. And books and movies. There was even a Broadway musical. I don’t think Leo Frank’s in imminent danger of being forgotten.

#687 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 04:57 PM:

abi @ 685: Yes. I have a close friend who had a close friend who was beaten to death in a gay bashing, right off the Castro, in San Francisco, only a few weeks ago. I walk past that corner every time I'm in San Fran. That's not quite a lynching, but he's still dead.

And in recent history, the United States and Nazi Germany found common ground:

About 10,000 Witnesses were imprisoned, including 2000 sent to concentration camps, where they were identified by purple triangles; as many as 1200 died, including 250 who were executed...

The American Civil Liberties Union reported that by the end of 1940, "more than 1,500 Witnesses in the United States had been victimized in 335 separate attacks." Such attacks included beatings, being tarred and feathered, hanged, shot, maimed, and even castrated, as well as other acts of violence.

We forget so easily. I know a guy who puts up daily alternative Arkansas history notes on Facebook. At least every month, there's an account of Witnesses having been persecuted.

I don't mean to be difficult, and I agree it shouldn't be used in the original usage you questioned, but being lynched is no more uniquely black than the Holocaust was uniquely Jewish.

Yes, those are apples and oranges, as the Jews were the primary target of the Holocaust from the start, whereas lynching blacks only became a thing after slavery was ended. And the Holocaust was (like slavery) carried out under color of law, while lynching is as extralegal as it gets--perhaps doubly so, as ranking officers of the law almost always are complicit.

But the victims all end up in the same place--literally, in Germany; figuratively, in the US.

And now I am feeling very sad. This is a terrible thing to talk about. I agree with your original point about when it's not an appropriate usage. Maybe I should leave it there.

Which I wrote, except for the first paragraph, before seeing your reply. My original comment was meant as a passing note, spurred by Armistice Day. And when I posted on Facebook that I don't celebrate Veterans Day for reasons that have nothing to do with not liking veterans, a friend suggested I might keep that to myself. It took me a moment to find a reply both true and kind.

We forget how deeply violence is ingrained in American society, how inherent it is to who we are. And it's not just interpersonal violence. It's violence under color of law and extralegal violence protected by law enforcement. Abbie Hoffman was once asked if he expected violence at a demonstration. He replied, "This is America. I always expect violence." So do I. So do I.

A considerable amount of my local time is spent telling those I'm closest to that race--specifically, anti-black racism--is the single most important issue for us to address. I think I am slowly erasing some of my ontological whiteness by doing so, since they look at me funny when I do it. So here, where I don't get funny looks for saying such things, I say more.

I don't mind being looked at funny when I'm among friends. And if I've farted, please excuse me.

#688 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 05:14 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @687:

I think there's an interesting and complex (though deeply grim) question about whether gay-bashing is a form of lynching. I would point out that the word itself is not generally applied to the act.

I'm not sure what you mean by "ontological whiteness", but I can say that this thread has not convinced me that you've lost any of it. Although I have never been tactless enough to get onto the topic of lynching with any of my American friends of color, when I have seen conversations within the community, I've never seen the kind of energy put into counterexamples that I have from you here in this thread.

You can continue to believe what you will—I cannot stop you! But the patterns I have seen, both in terms of racist imagery and social behavior, cause me to perceive the vocabulary and experience of lynching as uniquely integral to the experience of African Americans in the recent past and the present day.

On the fact that it's not a word to use about internet discussions, though, we are in agreement.

#689 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 05:20 PM:

Lynching was a critically important piece of a system whose specific and overt purpose was to keep Southern black people (and anyone who might consider intervening to help Southern black people) permanently and continuously terrorized.

It was occasionally also used to punish and terrorize other kinds of people. But to recast what happened in the South as just a special case of "mob justice" is pretty peculiar, and suggests an attempt to divert attention from certain historical particulars. It looks from here like the kind of rhetorical move where when one person says "Look, the Church covered up decades of reports of clerical sex abuse" and someone else says "Yes, secret abuse of power is terrible. WE MUSTN'T FORGET this other thing that the British Empire did in Burma in 1923!" It's a derail.

I really do strongly suggest that anyone who wants to discuss the particulars of the black experience under Jim Crow, and what it cost to escape from it, read Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns. It's the answer to the endless "What's so special about the experience of American blacks, bad things happen to all kinds of people" yarglebargle we hear everywhere in modern America. It will tell you what's so special about the experience of American blacks.

It's also an absolutely cracking "good read." You will stop wanting to read anything else, and you will keep reading until there's no book left. There's a reason it won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

#690 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 06:05 PM:

abi @ 688: I would not dream of directing such examples at a black person in that context. That would be obscene. I don't even like pulling them out in the presence of black people.

I am immersed most of my free time in oodles of well-meaning, culturally-incompetent white liberals. I wouldn't pull those examples out for them, either, as it would just encourage them.

Here's an example: I was leading a workshop on The New Jim Crow. A woman I dearly love said to me at one point, "But John, weren't they breaking the law?" She was not unsympathetic to the struggles portrayed, but the fraught history of the struggle for control of black bodies was not something she could quite take in. She is a wonderful person who just doesn't get that.

Here, good people like you push back differently. And maybe I'm wrong, so I appreciate it.

But I don't think of them as counter-examples. I think of them as expansions. The political essence of America is violence, snapping turtles all the way down. I won't evade that.

Lynching was indeed special to the black experience. But political violence of powerful against weak? That's business as usual. Don't let its banality mislead you.

Oh, ontological whiteness. I get that from the black liberation theologian James Cone. (An Arkansawyer, I might add!) His breakthrough work is A Black Theology of Liberation. Note that Black preceeds Theology and not Liberation. It is a theology for all people, but the special demand it makes on white Americans is to give up ontological whiteness. Not skin, but privilege.

He preceded the idea of white privilege and, in my opinion, laid part of its philosophical foundations, whether the folks who've advanced that idea knew it or not at the time.

Patrick @ 689: "read Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns"

It's sitting within my reach. I just reached up and touched it to make sure I wasn't wrong about that. (No dust jacket.) The black American experience is incredibly different from that of everyone else. I've gotten in trouble by saying it seems to me that all other ethnic groups are allowed to be at least white-lite over time, but blacks are never, ever allowed to "rise".

#691 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 06:24 PM:

John, I'm in bed and about to go to sleep, but one question before I do.

I don't even like pulling them out in the presence of black people.

How sure are you about the demographics of the people who read Making Light?

#692 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 06:25 PM:

I swear I didn't see this till after that last post. I would have greatly preferred not to have this fucking grace note to add about political violence. But it dropped right in my lap and my week will be dominated by reaction to this:

Unitarian Universalist church in my hometown has windows shot out and threatening letter left. His hometown. My folks part of the country is a little ways east on my dad's side and west on my mom's side of the state. I am so angry right now I could...but I won't.

A small black Baptist church was burned down just outside Little Rock not that long ago. I'm keeping this in proportion by thinking of that. And I'm still angry, angry as hell. Motherfuckers. With inherent worth and dignity to be respected. Dammit.

I don't fucking want to. Dammit. This is a hell of a way to get ready for choir practice.

#693 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 06:27 PM:

I think of overt community approval as what distinguishes lynching from other sorts of murder based on hatred, and possibly also that it's not a matter of law, but the government approves of it.

I don't know whether I'm missing something important in this.

#694 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 06:29 PM:

abi @ 691: "How sure are you about the demographics of the people who read Making Light?"

Sure enough that I was uncomfortable saying it. I didn't like saying it. I'd rather not have to.

Thank you for your patience with me in talking about difficult things on which we disagreem and your willingness to assume my intentions are right. That is a good, small thing I can hold to my heart right now.

#695 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 07:28 PM:

John A Arkansawyer, you say you are immersed in "oodles of well-meaning, culturally-incompetent white liberals", which sounds like you're distinguishing yourself from them. That phrase crystallized the vibe I'd gotten from your posts about lynching and other similar issues. You sound like you believe you are not one of those "well-meaning, culturally-incompetent white liberals", and you're going to prove to them (i.e. us here on Making Light) that you're not like them (the WMCIWLs). It's not clear to me whether you think ML folks are generally WMCIWLs, or not.

I'm still trying to figure out what "culturally-incompetent" means. Initially, I assumed it applied to me (because I'm light-skinned, fairly liberal, not especially well-traveled, and not as well-read as many here on Making Light). But then I started to wonder what "cultural competence" means. I doubt you're arguing that these people are incompetent at their own culture, right? Are people "incompetent" if they're insufficiently familiar with some other particular culture? Or is there some broad swathe of other cultures one should learn about in order to become "competent"? Does everyone need to be familiar with the same set of cultures? Culture, like history, is an immense space. I think talking broadly about "competence" is problematic, unless you want to specifically start defending why the things you know about (specific cultures, specific historical incidents) makes you more "competent" than people who happen to know other specific things.

#696 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2014, 09:56 PM:

Jeremy Leader @ 695: The person who first introduced me to the idea of cultural competence was a local hero, Judge and Reverend Wendell Griffin. You'll find this in one of his articles:

Cultural competence involves four principal components: cultural self-awareness (awareness of one's own cultural worldview); attitudes concerning cultural differences; knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews; and skill (ability to achieve effective results in cross-cultural situations and encounters).

People for whom cultural competency is a professional necessity probably do need to know a lot. For most folks? I don't think it means learn about every culture. It does mean learn a little about culture differences and cultures you frequently interact with.

It's very much an approach we like here, or so it seems to me. I think the folks here on Making Light are quite culturally competent. That's a somewhat subjective judgement, and as you point out, one which is sometimes problematic.

I'm sorry I brought up the folks I'm around. That was cheap of me to do to them. I drive them crazy, too.

And if I'm trying to convince anyone, it's me.

#697 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 07:12 AM:

John A Arkansawyer #696: The problem is that "competence" is itself a seriously loaded word -- probably in most cultures, but definitely in America with its mythos and morality of "success".¹ Telling yourself "I'm competent", is assuring yourself that you're not going to fail humiliatingly like all those other folks. The psychological defense against that embarrassment is a big chunk of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Of course, that's not actually how it works, because everybody muffs it sometimes... and the folks who get the most done in the long term are the ones who can accept their failures and recover more-or-less gracefully to try again, or try something else.

¹ Calvinism runs deep in American culture, with its "predestined elect" revealed by worldly success.

#698 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 07:59 AM:

Seconding Patrick Nielsen Hayden's recommendation @ 689 of Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns. It is a cracking good read. It's the only nonfiction book that's pulled me into "just one more chapter" long after I should have been asleep. I think I'd read it about 6 months before Ta-Nehisi Coates did. I chortled at the string of tweets he sent exclaiming over how good it was, and urging everyone to read it immediately.

#699 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 08:06 AM:

Well, it was pellet gun holes, not bullet holes, and the congregational leadership thinks it might have been unrelated to the threatening note, and if their hair isn't on fire about it, I should go soak my own head.

David Harmon @ 697: That's a very interesting thought about competence in this context. I'm going to think about that. Thanks!

janetl @ 698: Coates is where I picked up on it, too.

#700 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 08:07 AM:

in re me @ 698: Um. I said I should go soak my own head, not them.

#701 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 08:29 AM:


You didn't have to pull those examples out. You chose to. We all choose to comment here; pretending otherwise is a way of not owning your words. Not here, thanks.

You clearly have a lot of book learning on these topics, and you use a lot of specialized vocabulary. But this thread makes it look like that's all skin-deep. You're coming across as someone who, when he's in the right company, is deeply interested in the degree to which the whole thing was really about state's rights.

There are two problems with this.

First off, it's a really awful derail from the topic I needed to discuss, which was about how the term "lynch mob" is better not used carelessly, particularly in the context of an already racially tinged conversation. It's making it difficult for me to be confident that the community as a whole have actually heard and accepted the moderatorial message, which is that we are not using the term "lynch mob" to describe online mobs, kthxbye. From where I'm sitting, it feels like about 90% nitpick and pushback, and only 10% "yeah, OK, sure."

And secondly, as I was trying to gently hint, you've much mistaken your audience if you think this is the place to let your hair down and air potentially problematic/upsetting opinions on race in the United States. I know we don't have a lot of readers of color, but that's actually something I'd rather not make even worse. The effect of your contributions to this conversation, which is basically a dilution or denial of the lived experience of African Americans with regard to lynching, is the opposite of welcoming. And even among our overall readership, the quantity of people who recognize your tells as one of the Safe People, and thus take the things you've said here as not representative of your broader views, is quite low. (In terms of recognizing tells, I'm not among them.)

Now, I totally get what it's like to be expressing second-order emotions and have them mistaken for first-order ones. About every two years, my mother accuses me of being anti-American because I do discuss what's wrong with the US. And then I have to explain that yes, I am inextricably and ineradicably American, and there's a lot about the country that I love. This is probably a lot like that, but without the one-to-one relationship that makes the explanation possible (and should make it unnecessary, but that's a whole 'nother story.)

Bluntly, you're digging yourself into a very deep hole here. Please stop.

#702 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 09:38 AM:

abi @ 701: First, let me agree with you:

We are not using the term "lynch mob" to describe online mobs, kthxbye

Absolutely we should not do that. It's wrong in so many ways and right in none.

I sincerely apologize to anyone who has found my remarks disturbing or unwelcoming. I own that.

And it was entirely about state's rights--specifically, the right to buy and sell human beings as chattel. We squashed that "right" and it's a pity we didn't do a more thorough job.

Now that that's out of the way:

What I feel I must explain to people right now is that the sort of violence which America has traditionally unleashed against those who can be easily marked and discriminated against is potentially in play against the sort of people who never dreamed such trouble could come looking for them and that their white skin and economic privilege will not reliably protect them.

Thus my examples of mob violence directed against people with whom they can more easily identify.

In the future, starting right now, I will reserve the word "lynch" and its derivatives in the manner you suggest when I'm here, and I'll give strong consideration to doing it elsewhere.

I do take your point about dilution but also think there is a difference in kind between relating two types of homicidal mob violence committed by more or less the same people--I strongly doubt the mob that killed Leo Frank didn't include those who had lynched or would lynch black people--and relating homicidal mob violence to online "mobbing".

And to dig my hole as deep as it can get and then quit, the fact is that I am, in some senses, as American as you can get, but that in other ways, I can be fairly described as anti-American. It all depends on which America we're talking about. The one of my dreams I love. The one of my current reality scares the shit out of me and frightens me for my daughter's future.

And yes, now I'll stop digging.

P.S. I urge you or any moderator to disemvowel or remove anything I've said which needs it.

#703 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 09:39 AM:

Open thready complete change of topic. This article from the Sunday Washington Post made me happy. Group at Johns Hopkins working on designing better protective garments for health care workers treating Ebola patients includes doctors, engineers, medical device makers - and a wedding dress designer from Baltimore whose experience also includes theatrical costuming with requirements like "This girl has 23 seconds under the stage to change a whole outfit, including a wig and boots that lace up the back.”

#704 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 09:59 AM:

OtterB @703, thank you for posting that; it made me happy, too.

#705 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 10:13 AM:

Dave Bell@675: It's alien to my experience, and yet I think I recognized all the types—possibly from having seen too many American college movies, and possibly just because I found the descriptions catchy enough.

#706 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 10:33 AM:

Sorry, one more open-thready link: musical conversation (which I couldn't help imagining being done by Beaker). More good, older examples in the comments, including Sid Caesar & Nanette Fabray.

OtterB@703: Many thanks for that.

#707 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 01:28 PM:

So in a blatantly transparent attempt to lighten the tone here, I give you baby pictures.

#708 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 01:33 PM:

B Durbin @707, Awwwwwwwwwwwww...........

#709 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 01:35 PM:

Fans of Dublin Dr. Pepper who were upset when the bottling plant was told they couldn't make it any more will be interested to hear that Dublin Black Cherry is probably as close an approach to it as they can legally make. It's not exact -- I don't like Dr. Pepper, and I can drink this -- but it's at least a reasonable approximation.

#710 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 02:19 PM:

B. Durbin @707
Echoing Cassy B, Awwwwwwwwww...

#711 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 02:43 PM:

B Durbin @707:

Echoing everyone else's awwww's. He looks a lot like his sister did at that age (I remember meeting her at a GoL.)

I love the one with the pumpkins.

#712 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 02:54 PM:

Sainsbury's ad

In and of itself, a lovely little piece of film. But using the 1914 Christmas truce for advertising makes me want to scream and possibly hit something. (Also, there's a great deal of Dulce et decorum in the whole thing, I think.)

They did not, at least, blatantly use "Christmas in the Trenches" for the music.

#713 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 03:22 PM:

abi @ 711... We met B Durbin's pouty little one during July 2010's Gathering.

#714 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 04:06 PM:

That one had me doing a double-take!. The cuteness level is extremely high.

#715 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 04:26 PM:

John A Arkansawyer, the thing you think you must convey and think you have been struggling to convey is exactly the opposite of what you actually conveyed. Data point there.

In other news, one of my cooworkers stopped a student from eating a forkful of wasabi at Fancy Lunch*. The student had been brave about eating a variety of sashimi when he had really only wanted smoked salmon but you know, you can't always get what you want. I ate about thirty dollars of sushi and pointed out that I have peanut butter and jelly most eating-out weeks so I've saved up the money.

The student with the wasabi had a dab, said, "This is actually pretty good. Oh my god my mouth is on fire."

*we eat out once a week, usually cheap places to moderate places. Because the students have been interested, we've allowed them to budget for a single big restaurant trip this month-- there are only three weeks to choose from, so it's easier. My group went out for sushi.

#716 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Good news about something terrible that happened. It's not a pleasant memory but I bet it made some sad people happy.

#717 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 06:35 PM:

Not that long ago, a good friend of mine here in town was robbed in a home invasion; four guys, one of whom stuck a shotgun in her face. Thank goodness neither the dogs nor her son were there and all they got was some precious stuff, some sentimentally priceless.

Well, they were sentenced today. The guy with the gun will serve most or all of his thirty years. The lookout guy got ten and the other two got twenty. They'll each serve about a fourth of that, assuming relatively good behavior.

This is what my friend had to say about the three guys who didn't stick the shotgun in their face:

I sincerely hope the others, all of whom were first offenders, take this opportunity to turn their lives around.

I wish their sentences weren't so long. I sincerely wish I thought they were going to get some sort of rehabilitation or job skills in prison. Too bad we can't ship people like them off to Norway, where it's done right. Even worse that we, as a society, are so focused on punishment that we can't see making sure they don't re-offend, and make sure that they are able to become contributing members of society.

I wish I had that sort of inner grace. I admire her so much!

#718 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 07:26 PM:

A little late, but photos of underground WW1 cities. Miles of tunnels, with carvings and paintings done by the soldiers who lived in them.

#719 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 09:41 PM:

Back when I ran an ISP, LavaNet, we used to have a little talk we would give the whole staff at this time of year, about the Spirit of the Holidays. I can't remember if it first originated from our sales manager, my good friend Kit, or our excellent Technical Support manager Yuka, who eventually replaced me as President of the company, but several people eventually shaped it so they should all get credit for it.

Anyway, the gist of it was something like this:

Right now we are heading into the Holiday Season, first Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. That means Holiday Spirit - the people you're talking to will be anxious, stressed out, and irritable. Everybody's having shorter days and darker nights. Many of them are facing dealing with family members they'd rather not see and talk to. Lots are worried about money, or finding the right presents to show they're good providers. Some are being reminded of anniversaries of horrible family events on holidays past. People will be eating too much, and drinking too much, and feeling guilty and defensive about it.

Almost everybody is going to be extra prickly right now and for the next couple months. Some of them are going to be horrible to you on the phone, even if they're normally nice people. Probably some of you are feeling that way too, if you take a close look. Please keep this in mind and remember to be extra patient with the people you talk to, consciously try to stay calm, and make allowances for people who seem to be extra difficult. Take a deep breath from time to time, take breaks when you need to.

We'll get through it.


Maybe we can keep this in mind in how we treat each other here, too.

#720 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2014, 10:52 PM:

HLN: Mini accidental Gathering of Light happened at Windycon pre-convention banquet, where local woman encountered both Ursula V and Bill Higgins--Beam Jockey. (Local woman squee'd (is that how one spells it?) all over Ursula V, whom she had not previously met.)

Local woman anticipates a good con, despite sudden attack of asthmatic bronchitis.

#721 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 12:45 AM:

Um...hi. ***waves*** Sorry I've been gone a while--I fell quite a ways down the combined rabbit holes of AO3 and ff(d)n, reading new things and rereading previous favorites. And I decided to go to Burning Man this year, in preparation for which a couple of friends-of-friends suggested that, as a solo newbie without ties to any existing camp or organization, I might want to consider volunteering in order to have at least something to anchor me. In a wonderfully roundabout way, I wound up volunteering for a couple of prototype builds/teardowns for the Black Rock Observatory, had an amazing time, got rather a lot of face time in a brief video filmed by a videographer visiting from Reno on my first build day (the fingers holding the pencil at the beginning belong to me, as do the short red hair and sweat-drenched blue t-shirt and jeans seen several times thereafter--I must have looked like I knew what was going on. Hah.), survived a glancing blow on the head from a dropped c-clamp and a not-so-glancing blow from one of the dome panels during teardown (in the actual build and teardown at Burning Man, hard hats were strongly encouraged, possibly as a direct result ;) ) and met some truly wonderful people. :)

And then I went to Burning Man. And it was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced, even though I saw maybe 1/100 of what I wanted to see, and I'm already figuring out how to do it better next year. If I ever manage to get my blog entry about it wrangled into shape, I'll definitely share the link here for any who might have an interest.

Other than that, I celebrated TWO YEARS at my job on October 1; I'm still living in the same place (and still working out small-space living and small-fridge/no-freezer-to-speak-of cooking and storage of healthy foodstuffs, but I guess everyone needs a hobby); the cats are all still with me and still doing well; and...well, that's it in a nutshell.

Having caught up on this OT and before diving back into the DFD threads:

Velma. Oh, hell. My condolences to Soren and all Velma's family and friends.

Condolences also to Ingvar M.

Xopher, your footnote about your friend Rolla reminded me of a brief episode in one of the Harry Potter fanfics I revisted, during which a tale was told of a group of witches who attempted a weather-working to ensure good landing conditions for D-Day. Lacking a full coven, the results were...unfortunate. That there was in fact a coven working to safeguard Britain makes me wonder if the fic author knew that. :)

heresiarch, I applaud your tale of the Big Wooden Spoon!

I've missed this place. ***toddles off to catch up on other posts***

#722 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 01:19 AM:

Good to hear from you, Syd.

#723 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 02:01 AM:

Syd! Glad to have you back!

And it was a Grand Coven, that is, a drawing-together of many covens into a single working. IIUC the individual covens took it home and kept doing it until the war was over.

And weather-workings are notoriously tricky. Remember the Glory Road micro-saying, "Men and Weather"? Weather is intrinsically resistant to manipulation. Add to that the fact that any system that complex is going to react unpredictably to pressure, and you see why weather-workings are risky at best and foolhardy at worst.

I personally think they're...I guess "impious" would be the word. For people who worship nature? Yeah.

#724 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 03:37 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @723: And weather-workings are notoriously tricky.

They are? I usually just ask nicely.

Bringing up a full-on storm, yeah. That's something I've never managed, I will concede.

#725 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 06:45 AM:

So Amazon and Hachette have done a deal.

I hope the authors can live with it.

The UK media tend to be referring to Hachette as a "French publisher", and this may be because the Hachette UK website is currently down for some sort of maintenance, including planned redesign. The Wikipedia entry is very US-centric, and short, once you get past the outline history of the French company's ownership.

Are journalists today lost without access to a web page for information?

#726 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 07:52 AM:

Holiday stress: my family's well into birthday season. One gift I got deserves a mention: My sis got me a subscription to, which sends me monthly (?) collections (4 assorted packets) of artsy snacks. The first box, at least, was interesting and provided some entertainment.

My own gifts to my sister were well-received, and I'm now picking out books from my own shelves for one of my nephews -- the tricky part is picking stuff suitable for a Really Smart 10-Year-old.

F'rex, I was considering The Magic Goes Away and it's sequel, but looking through it I realized TMGA gets a bit sexier than I remembered (though the scene I found is still pretty perfunctory -- we're still talking Niven here).

I also got a few minutes on a big screen... There was a Film Festival here, where a local indie filmmaker did a documentary on my bookshop. Still need to track down availability, but the short already has an IMDB entry (wait, wha?). (Not to be confused with this article from a few years ago about a unrelated bookman in Canada, which I turned up while googling the above.)

#727 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 08:28 AM:

Saw Interstellar. Don't want to spoiler, but the end included a scene where I clutched my head and slumped in my seat saying "Oh, NO!" Any film that makes me think of "Wizard of Mars" starring John Carradine near the end has severe third act problems.

#728 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 10:07 AM:

Syd @721, great to hear from you. And even better to hear that you are not just surviving, but thriving. Sounds like a great time at Burning Man.

#729 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 10:21 AM:

Syd @721: Great to hear from you. Big congrats on the two year job anniversary. Sounds (and looks from the video) like you had some great experiences at Burning Man and in helping building the Black Rock Observatory. And fantastic to hear that the cats are doing okay as well.

#730 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 12:21 PM:

Good to hear from you, Syd!

#731 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 12:33 PM:

Syd! I was just thinking about you this morning! Congratulations on your two-year anniversary and all the good things happening your way.

#732 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 01:43 PM:

@Diatryma no. 715: Ha ha! Reminds me of my trip to Hong Kong. I was on a tight budget, so I went to the hotel restaurant that offered big bowls of noodle soup with greens in it and little plates of dumplings on the side for cheap. The dumplings came with mustard. I had never eaten anything but French's or Dijon. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

A hand came into the narrowed field of vision of my streaming eyes holding a bottle of ice cold Coke. I'd wondered why the waiter was hovering. Apparently this happened a lot...

#733 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 02:05 PM:

Syd #721: Welcome back!

#734 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 02:12 PM:

Good to hear how things are going, Syd! Don't be a stranger, okay?

#735 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 02:34 PM:

Jacque @724: I have seen weather-workings go spectacularly wrong --

For example, the group at PSG who tried to divert an oncoming storm by constructing a wedge-shaped shield between the camp and the thunderstorm...

The winds swept in around the shield, local terrain intensified them, and played merry hell among the tents.

Any of the locals could have told them that a bubble-shield works better in our area, but they would not listen to those who tried to advise them.

#736 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 02:47 PM:

B. Durbin@707: More awwwwww... and special appreciation for the pumpkin display.

Syd@721: Welcome back, and thanks for the excellent report!

Carrie S.@712: Yes, that was really disturbing.

David Harmon@726: The problem for us with, as with all "food just shows up" things, has been that it's perfectly possible for us to get behind, and there's something just awkward about a stack of little boxes telling you, "You're not eating enough snacks!" That's probably not a problem for everyone.

#737 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 03:03 PM:

David Harmon @726: For your nephew, since you're thinking about Niven, my 12 year old son really enjoyed The Flight of the Horse collection earlier this year; as I recall it never gets more than mildly risqué. (It has one of the Warlock stories in it, too.)

#738 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 03:19 PM:

My friend had the initial brain surgery to remove the tumor yesterday afternoon. I'm waiting to hear the news update from her family about how it went, as are many of her friends; I'm hoping the surgery at least went well.

A lot now depends on the type of tumor the biopsy finds it to be, and what kind of treatment plan she and her husband settle on; the likely prognosis ranges from bad (if it's an anaplastic astrocytoma) to very very bad (if it's a glioblastoma.) We'll all be hoping that it's something unexpected, other than one of those, and that she beats the odds as long as possible and desirable.

#739 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 03:55 PM:

Clifton@738: Thinking good thoughts for your friend, and for you.

#740 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 04:10 PM:

Always good to hear from you, Syd. Doubly good, given how much you're enjoying things!

#741 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Clifton@738: May all go as well as possible for your friend.

#742 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 05:22 PM:

Jacque 724: The ones I've seen were mostly "don't rain on my vacation" ones. The weather-wedge that one year at RoS was at least harmless...but completely ineffective.

Lori 735: Hmm, I don't suppose those were a bunch of people from Massachusetts?

#743 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Syd: Congratulations on how well your life is going! I feel positively envious of your stint at Burning Man; I've been wanting to go do that for years, but have never yet arranged my life to allow it.

#744 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 06:27 PM:

Initial news is that the operation yesterday went well, and my friend woke up from the anesthetic very recognizably herself; currently she's sleeping a lot as she recovers from the operation, as expected. We won't know much more for a few days. So far so good.

#745 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 06:54 PM:

Thanks for the update, Syd!

* * *
Anyone know any winning lottery numbers they're not using? Asking for me.

#746 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 07:03 PM:

Clifton #737: That was one of my first thoughts, but it turned out (consulting with my BiL) they already have it in the house.

#747 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 07:12 PM:

Addendum to me at #736: On consideration, I'm bumping The Magic pair, because I don't have enough time to check it thoroughly, and it's been too long since I read it. I've got the Draco Tavern and Zenna Henderson's The People (it's about time to pass that on...), and I'm tossing in David Palmer's Emergence, which seems targeted to about the right level.

#748 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 07:37 PM:

Welcome back, Syd.

#749 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 08:07 PM:

Syd, glad to hear you're doing so well, the BRO sounds like a very cool project!

#750 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2014, 09:50 PM:

When I was visiting family last week my sister & BIL made "no knead bread." Incredibly tasty stuff, and very easy to make.

I just measured out the ingredients for my first batch. It will be the first thing I use my salvaged Dutch Oven for.

#752 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 12:00 AM:

Lori Coulson #735

Sometimes people trying to persuade the weather just annoy it. My sister told me of an Ontario Wiccan gathering where the result of attempted weather work was a micro burst (teeny tornado) that took out the water pump for the campground with surgical precision.

#753 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 01:14 AM:

Hi, Syd!

Lori Coulson @735: The deal I have with the local weather ghods is that they'll do their best to give me what I ask for if I'm specific. In return, if they can't match my wishes, I enjoy whatever I get. (And, really, the only weather I don't enjoy is really really hot, when I have to be outside.*)

It's eery how often I get dry pavement to cycle to or from work on, just when I need it.

And apparently word got passed along when I went to Vancouver some years ago. They did very nicely by me, too. Up to and including the pleasantly chilly drizzle that last day, while we were waiting out on the dock for the water taxi.

#754 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 01:22 AM:

I don't think my dad does it on purpose, but he is a golf-dependant rain god. It will reliably rain every Tuesday evening just southeast of Montreal throughout his amateur golf league's season, except on the week he takes off every year, when the weather will be the most glorious golfing weather you can imagine.

I have suggested that we rent him out to drought-stricken countries for golfing holidays, but he seems to think I'm joking.

#755 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 03:00 AM:

Clifton, I'm so glad to hear that the surgery went well. I'm hoping so hard that what comes next is as good as possible.

#756 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Jacque @751: I clearly need to watch Taika Waiti's film "Boy".

#757 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 01:26 PM:

Xopher @742: Wisconsin.

Henry Troup @752: That does explain the local weather spirits reaction to the wedge!

Jacque @753: I'm with you -- I just ask, and always have an alternate plan if the weather isn't cooperative.

I think trying to MAKE the weather spirits do something is most likely to have unpleasant results. I've also found that bribes help.

#758 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 06:00 PM:

This strikes me as something you'll all enjoy - I'm not sure if it's poetry or prose (some tumblr hybrid!), but it's writing about exploring and humanity and robots that made me have a happy little weep. From swanjolras: gosh but like we spent hundreds of years looking up at the stars and wondering “is there anybody out there” and hoping and guessing and imagining...

#759 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Via Serge on Facebook, dinosaur sodomy.

#760 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 08:32 PM:

By the way, thanks to Mary Aileen, Cassie B, dotless ı, dcb, abi, and everyone who sent my friend V and me good wishes. (Even if you didn't write them down, that still counts.)

This got relayed through a couple people before it reached me, so the words may not be exact, but as relayed from V's brother: When V came out of anesthesia, her first words were "My personality didn't change!" which is so quintessentially her as to prove its own truth.

#761 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 09:02 PM:

That had me ROFLMAO!

#762 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2014, 11:53 PM:

Programming is getting to me!!! Tired and grumpy and defeated. I'll go to sleep, figure out how to remove another bug and fix it in the morning. It's eating those spoons that childcare is not eating.

Abi, I have told my daughter some about GG, with particular emphasis on when she needs to get a parent on the Internet.

#763 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Great on the job, Syd!

About that "pumpkin display"—what happened is that we ended up with an impressive number of pumpkins this year, due to finding a special which was "all the pumpkins you can carry for $20"... and a 6'4"clerk offered to be the "carry" person. Loaded him up with perhaps 100 pounds of pumpkins, six big ones, and called it good. (That tall one with the twisty stem? I'm saving that stem to attach to a fake pumpkin at some point in the future.) So six big pumpkins to carve, I can do it.

I timed it, actually; it takes me about 25 minutes to carve a pumpkin from initial entry through clean out and carving. (This is known as desperation carving, BTW. I had to learn to be fast because the local heat means you carve the night before or the day of lest you have rotten pumpkins, and having impatient kids is also a spur.) Did the pumpkin on the left... or 75% of it... and the tool broke. So the rest of it, and the one on the right, were done with a knife. Beautiful edges, that, but no way to do curves without spending more time than I'd like. And I called it good, because without a proper carving tool, it's too time-consuming.

So I put the lanterns on the bench, put the big one there... and stopped, and realized that I had to do that shot. With a baby who is not old enough to sit up yet. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to prop him safely. But it worked!

And someday I will have a real camera. I'll probably do a different fancier processing on that photo at some point, too...

#764 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 02:59 AM:

Lori Coulson @757: I've also found that bribes help.

Good heavens. How on earth would one go about bribing weather spirits?

Em @758: ::goosebumps::

#765 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 06:52 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 75... I blame Gardner Dozois for this.

#766 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 08:22 AM:

Patti Smith invited to play the Vatican. She likes to do Dylan covers. Maybe "Changing of the Guards"?

#767 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 08:28 AM:

AKICIML: there is a thing I think probably exists only I can't find it.

Is there a charitable organization that accepts grant applications for funding to add an elevator (and associated other minor mods necessary for full ADA compliance) to an antiquated, stairs-heavy elementary school building?

#768 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 10:20 AM:

Mary Aileen @759: Loved it! And the comments.

#769 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 10:43 AM:

Elliott, try searching for "community development block grant". Not charitable, but apt for the purpose.

Also looks like it might be useful. Searchable by geographic area, type of grant sought, type of organization, and purpose of grant.

#770 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 02:17 PM:

I have to admit that I was wondering the same thing as Jacque@764.

#771 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Jacque @764: Well, in general I offer ground corn and or tobacco, or a coin if that's all I have on me. When we were visiting Hawai'i, I offered flowers and we took Pele a bottle of gin.

I've had success asking Thor to hold off an oncoming thunderstorm for long enough for me to get home, with the promise of either a beer or mead when I reached the house.

When travelling I do try to find out what the local spirits favor so I can pay my respects when I get there.

#772 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 10:19 PM:

I'm fascinated by the ranges of opinions and experiences with weather magic/prayer.

I think my experience is closest to Jacque's: I ask for alterations very very rarely but usually get them. (Unexpectedly perfect weather for a couple outdoor weddings come to mind.) Part of my experience of it, as I recall - and it's always tricky recalling what goes on with magic involved - is becoming one with the weather itself, so it's no longer a matter of separate me wanting something.

... Now that I think about it, that part is a lot like our whole program of practice in Zen.

#773 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 01:27 AM:

Open Threadiness: In a previous Open Thread, there was some discussion of a possible Gathering of Light in Boston, and I said that I'd be interested if such a thing was scheduled for around Thanksgiving or Christmas. I now have dates for Thanksgiving travel. I'll be coming up on Saturday the twenty-second, and leaving Friday the twenty-eighth.

I have a lunch date on the twenty-fifth, and Thanksgiving dinner is actually planned for Wednesday night, and I'll be riding Amtrak, so my travel days are pretty much shot, but the rest of the week is available.

If there a Gathering of Light, and it's not at the Prudential Center, I'll need directions to get there from the Pru by mass (or is that Mass?) transit.

#774 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 08:02 AM:

Inquisitive Raven @ 773

I would be interested in a GoL in Boston.

#775 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 08:41 AM:

So our furnace is broken and has been since Thursday. We have space heaters, we have a new furnace coming sometime this week, we have lots of blankets and I have an under-the-covers cat... but when he was working on the furnace, the landlord turned it on and SMOKE EVERYWHERE SO MUCH SMOKE. Bad smoke, not tasty bacon smoke, either. It stuck around for quite a while-- the official furnace guy came in and exclaimed and I had to explain that this was better than it had been before we opened the door and ran the fans.

It's been three days. The house still smells. What, besides opening all the windows in turn (I figure I'll open my room first because no one needs to be in there and I can seal it from the rest of the house), can be done for this?

Also, the ten degrees between fifty and sixty make a huge difference in my ability to function as a human being. I spent much of Saturday miserable and unable to think of anything but my misery-- I could change my posture in the car and have up to thirty seconds of strong-willed cheer, but I'd curl back into myself soon enough. Sunday, I came home and it was a nice warm sixty, so exciting.

#776 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 09:20 AM:

Diatryma @ 775: Oh, you want to get the insurance company and serious mitigation involved. We had a furnace spew soot, and we didn't do that. We had the ducts professionally cleaned, I washed some curtains, and thought that was it. Over a year later later, I washed a little spot off of a wall and discovered that the walls were completely covered by a very, very thin grey film. Gave me the jim-jams about the rest of my stuff (not to mention my lungs). I wished I'd gotten professionals in right away.

#777 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 10:19 AM:

Because Making Light is the first place I thought of where somebody actually might speak Q'anjob'al Maya:

Maggie Koerth-Baker just tweeted "Do you, or anyone you know, speak Q'anjob'al Maya? If so, please contact me. You could help a Guatemalan child get asylum."

(She can be e-mailed at, according to her website.)

#778 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 11:22 AM:

Caroline #777: The place to check is the Latin American studies program at the University of Pittsburgh. I believe they have considerable expertise in indigenous languages of Latin America.

#779 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 11:40 AM:

Interesting -- besides poet, Carl Sandburg played another role as a collector and publisher of traditional lyrics -- two songs of his that I have known close to all my life, are "Tell Old Bill" and "John B. Sails". Discovered here in the course of researching background for the tunes on my latest playlist.

#780 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 12:51 PM:

The Modesto Kid, #779:

Another little-known facet of the man: I learned, when googling for information about a silent film, that Carl Sandburg reviewed movies in the 1920s.

#781 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 03:31 PM:

OT, 2nd try: I should probably post this at the F&SF forum instead, but here are some two-headed titles:
The Brave Little Sauropods -- Disch and Silverberg
Unwillingly to Sarnath -- Ashwell and Lovecraft
Glory for Algernon -- Heinlein and Keyes (this is the story of Charles Oscar Gordon)

#782 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 03:57 PM:

iamnothing@781: At first reading I mentally mispunctuated them (especially the first and third):

The Brave Little Sauropods: Disch and Silverberg
Unwillingly to Sarnath, Ashwell and Lovecraft
Glory for Algernon, Heinlein and Keyes

#783 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 07:18 PM:

Thanks, Fragano; have passed along that suggestion.

#784 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Inquisitive Raven @ #773:

I am interested, though I may not be able to make it depending upon health* and transportation considerations.

* I fell and hit my head in September and am still recovering.^ I don't recommend doing this as a way to learn about the joys of US medical insurance.#

^ I have improved quite a bit, and my non-head injuries have healed. I'm grateful that all were relatively mild.

# Or for any reason, really.

#785 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2014, 07:09 AM:

Carol Witt @784: Still recovering since September? Sounds pretty awful. My sympathies.

On a lighter notes, the Doubleclicks have uploaded a new video — Cats at Parties. My husband and I had a lot of fun taking pictures with our cats in order to contribute one. A few were even in focus!

#786 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2014, 09:47 AM:

janetl, great song, great video. Only thing lacking is one of these cats. (Best viewed in chronological order, bottom to top.)

#787 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2014, 11:45 AM:

AKICIML, tech support division: I have an iPhone 4 I use as an iPod (no sim, no data plan, WiFi only). As of about a week ago, the podcasts app has not succeeded in downloading any episodes of anything I subscribe to. They just hang there in limbo, asking me to retry. I can listen streaming, but (a) I do podcasts so I have stuff I can use when I'm offline, and (b) if I do that it doesn't successfully mark them played for some reason, so it still keeps trying to download them.

Anybody have any insight on what might have broken it? Besides "new model is out, let's encourage everyone with hardware too old to run ios8 to upgrade."

#788 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Elliot Mason @787

Just something general, which we maybe all should remember. When did you last re-boot your internet black box?

They're fairly powerful computers in their own right, these days, with all sorts of stuff going on. But don't assume the code is perfect. They can have the problems, memory leaks and such, that any computer can have.

Don't switch the thing off every day. That can look like the effect of an unreliable line, and cost you sync speed.

I'm being deliberately non-specific so far. My own connection uses ADSL and a reboot, maybe after a couple of weeks, can make a difference.

It can also give your connection a new IP address, if your black box is down for an hour or two.

#789 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2014, 06:09 PM:

Re: Gathering of Light

So, I found out yesterday that my aunt has arranged for a lunch at MIT followed by a tour of the Jet Propulsion Lab. I didn't know MIT had a Jet Propulsion Lab.

Anyway, my availability: Sunday. Monday evening, Tuesday afternoon and evening, say after 1400 hours, Wednesday before 1600, Thursday. When are other interested parties available?

@Carol Witt, I hope your health continues to improve. How hard is it for you to get to the Prudential Center or Copley Square?

#790 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2014, 07:32 PM:

re: Gathering of Light

Sunday is probably the best day for me. Monday evening I've promised to give a friend and her cat a ride to the vet. Tuesday evening I'm probably not available until 1800 at the earliest. Wednesday is going to be all about cooking, and Thursday is already claimed by family.

Anyone else?

#791 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 01:00 PM:

Today's Kevin and Kell hit my knitting funnybone.

#792 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Lila @ 786: Those are remarkable cats! The Doubleclicks did say that other pets could be substituted for cats, but I didn't see any hippos. They may not be common household pets?

#793 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 06:41 PM:

janetl @ #785: Thanks. It was September 30, which I will always remember because my medical insurance started on October 1 (all praise to those at my school's health centre for how they handled it).

Inquisitive Raven @ #789: Thank you as well!

Getting to/from Boston is mostly a question of whether or not there's a car available to get to public transportation. The local bus doesn't run on Sundays or past 8 p.m. during the week, and the nearest T stop is about four miles away.

I could meet Sunday if my husband is here with the car or if I feel up to walking. I could go Monday evening with the car. I have class until 1600 on Tuesday and might be able to stop by even if I'm relying on transit (Prudential/Copley are convenient), and I'm available on Wednesday at the moment. My husband is talking about doing something Thanksgivingish, and another family member will be in the general area for a couple of weeks starting on Wednesday and may want to visit at some point.

#794 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 07:23 PM:

I know there is at least one Buffaloan who reads here; I hope you're not in the serious snow zone!

#795 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 07:43 PM:

Gathering of the Light:
the few days before Thanksgiving are doable for me. That day into the weekend I am out of town.

#796 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 10:12 PM:

Carol Witt, I've got a car, and don't need much persuading to give people rides. Email me (this name at gmail dot com) for phone number etc.!

#797 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 10:27 PM:

JanetL @ 792 -

Are you familiar with the tumblr exposing the scandal of these terrible cats? Perhaps the doubleclicks should have used some of those sticky, frankly ugly, kitties.

#798 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2014, 11:44 PM:

I express general interest in Boston gatherings. I am generally available. (Won't try to add to the calendar details, but I'll keep an eye on plans on this thread.)

#799 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 06:53 AM:

Cally, we've had under 10 inches here at my house, but work has been closed, and various bits of the area have it much, much worse.

#800 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 07:05 AM:

Rikibeth @ #796: Email sent, with thanks and appropriate warnings about distance!

#801 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 02:39 PM:


Cally, I think the word is "Buffaloon."

#802 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 03:21 PM:

In re my podcasts-not-downloading ACKIML tech support request: I have done a temporary (?) workaround by calling up my desktop iTunes for the first time in over six months, updating my "played" notifications, and syncing repeatedly after downloading the latest eps in question to the desktop version.

It seems to have cleared the issue. It may recur, of course, in which case more then.

#803 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 03:29 PM:

Actually, Bill, it's Buffalonian.

#804 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Assistance requested. One of my nieces went to work in Kenya where she fell in love with a Kenyan. They are now married and have a baby. They have a home and jobs in Kenya. They want to come visit at Christmas and we would all like to meet him as well as see the baby - my great-nephew for the first time. He has been refused a visa because the officials 'are not satisfied that a visit to the UK is commensurate with your social or economic circumstances. Therefore I am not satisfied that you are a genuine family visitor or that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your proposed visit….'

It's ridiculous. They have jobs in Kenya. Their life is there. Why would he want to move here to where neither of them would have a job? If anyone feels they can sign this petition I would appreciate it: Petition

#805 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 06:44 PM:

dcb @804

I feel for them. I am in a similar family situation, but I get a boat load of privilege by being a white american, so the visa issue never comes up for me. Looking at the UK immigration requirements through makes me feel distinctly unwelcome, as if I'm just jumping at the chance to get in the benefits queue.

I wonder if the baby has been registered through the office of foreign birth? The little one is a UK citizen by descent, so the visa issues shouldn't apply to him. I'm not sure that that would clarify the issues for the father though.

The other thing to consider would be if it would be possible to travel to another EU country, go through immigration there, and then legally travel to the UK without leaving the EU and without dealing with UK immigration. I know that the land border of Ireland/N. Ireland is totally open, but I don't know if EU-EU flights would have to deal with immigration for non EU passports.

#806 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 07:26 PM:

Ursula Le Guin at The National Book Awards -- a short and amazing speech. Watch it.

#807 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 08:05 PM:

Re: Boston Gathering of Light

So, assuming Rikibeth and Carol Witt can get together, is Sunday acceptable to other Boston area Fluorospherians? What time would be best, and what sorts of venues are preferred? I'm really more familiar with what's available at the Prudential Center than at Copley Place.

#808 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 08:37 PM:

Sunday is great for me, and would you be willing to take the T to the Chinatown stop? Dim sum at China Pearl is terrific and more fun the more people one has.

#809 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 09:09 PM:

Sunday isn't good for me, but at this point the only one of Inquisitive Raven's times I could commit to is Tuesday evening. Having said that, if it is going to be Sunday, I fully agree with Rikibeth's suggestion of dim sum at China Pearl.

#810 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 10:20 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 806: That's on hell of a speech! In part:

"We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable—so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. I have had a long career and a good one, in good company. Now here at the end of it, I really don't want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds, but the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It's named freedom."

#811 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 10:27 PM:

janetl: I see PNH referred to the New Yorker writing about it; I think Ursula's delivery is a large part of its power, so I really recommend listening!

#812 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 10:28 PM:

I could take the T to Chinatown. My mom is prone to having me meet with the family trust manager for dim sum, possibly even at China Pearl although this year we're apparently meeting at a restaurant owned by the bank the trust is with.

#813 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 10:37 PM:

The New Yorker article about the awards excerpted more of her speech.

#814 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2014, 12:41 AM:

Here's a transcription of her speech.

#815 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2014, 10:44 AM:

Jacque @ 764: absent knowledge of the specific preferences of a mysterious-but-personalized force, offerings physical (goods) and emotional (effort/devotion/worship?) are the usual bribes. An example of your best work, whatever that is, would combine the two; my wife, for instance, would probably offer the first slice of her almond-free(*) linzertorte, made with jam from the raspberries we maintain and confine in the back yard. This might be less effective for forces sufficiently inhuman that they don't like sweets -- although I wonder how much the sacrificing of meat in the "cradle of civilization" owed to sweets being so rare that they weren't always findable for sacrifice.

(*) She found out the hard way that she is allergic to almonds and stone fruits, but has no trouble with other fruits or nuts.

dotless ı @ 782: reviving Jack Danns, are we?

re the video: Hawking and Le Guin: separated at birth?

#816 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2014, 01:19 PM:

Me@809: Scratch my half-hearted objection; even Tuesday is unlikely for me at this point. All the conflicts are things I'm looking forward to, but I'll be sorry not to meet/meet up with everyone.

#817 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2014, 02:25 PM:

China Pearl on Sunday (the 23rd, right?) works for me. Any time after 11 am or so.

#818 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2014, 07:18 PM:

It turns out my best friend may be visiting this weekend - a last-minute thing where she lucked into some unexpected time off. If she does, I'll see if she's willing to come along, but she is a serious introvert, so I may not be able to make it after all.

I might be able to tempt her with dim sum. I hope so.

#819 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2014, 08:16 PM:

Best friend was suitably attracted by the lure of red bean buns.

Therefore, I declare that the Boston Gathering of Light, to celebrate the three-month anniversary of Carol Witt's arrival in the Boston area, will take place at China Pearl, in Boston's Chinatown, convening at 11:30AM on Sunday, November 23rd.

Please note that it's a very popular time, so we may wind up waiting for a while; DON'T skip breakfast! Also, China Pearl's main dining room is up a flight of stairs. I have no idea whether they have any accessibility arrangements.

Please email me, this name at gmail dot com, if you plan to attend, so I have an idea of how many people we're waiting to assemble. I'll also provide my cell number so you can text me if you're running late or something.

Hope to see you there!

#820 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2014, 11:19 PM:

Rikibeth,, eat some shrimp dumplings for me!

China Pearl happens to be the Dim Sum Palace of my Youth... and shrimp dumplings were one of the very, very few ways I would eat protein before the age of 4 or so.

#821 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2014, 12:37 PM:

Since bringing 2 kittens into the house, we have bought a cat tree (highly recommended), many toys, and some scratching post variants. I gotta say that the Cat Ball is making me smile the most today.

#822 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2014, 12:39 PM:

Oops, put in the link to the product, instead of the link to the kitten using it

#823 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2014, 12:41 PM:

BTW, the ginger kitten is Miles, and the elegant grey fellow who walked past is Ivan.

#824 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Birdman was splendid. Nothing like I expected; likely the most interesting movie I've seen this year.

#825 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2014, 10:22 PM:

Dinosaur slashfic twitterbots

#826 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2014, 10:46 PM:

Interstellar was a movie that I liked better than it deserved. The science was terrible, the engineering was bad, the handwavium wasn't consistent and the zingy plot points were, I thought, fairly obvious.

Anyone else got an opinion?

#827 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 12:58 AM:

janetl @ 823: Great names!

#828 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 01:49 AM:

Last week's episode of "The Simpsons" had a character reading dinosaur porn!

If that is the name for it . . . a romance novel featuring a dinosaur on the cover, in the role of the manly stud.

#829 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 02:06 AM:

Sandy B. @826: Yup. I kept thinking it wanted to be 2001 when it grew up, but the special effects were too good. Story, too, 'far as that goes.

Only one of the many ouchers: Vs gur jngre'f gung funyybj, jul gur uryy vfa'g gur jnir oernxvat??

My companion reported a review saying "Nothing like it before!!" to which I could only say, "Reviewer hasn't seen much SF, have they?"

#830 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 02:11 AM:

@829: I had to struggle to remember the Big Threat, then I winced. The whole ntevphygheny snvyher thing was a big "huh, wha—?"

#831 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 02:14 AM:

@830: But I have to say, the depiction of micro-gravity has come a long way.

#832 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 07:46 AM:

As well as Gur pebcf snvyrq ng gur Fcrrq bs Aneengvir. "Abj! Jryy, znlor va frira lrnef. Be gra. Be guvegl."

Naq gur oyvtug unq n purpxyvfg, be fbzrguvat.

And, and, and. A friend told me "Every time you try to apply real science in Star Wars, god kills a kitten" and it kinda felt like that.

#833 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 09:34 AM:

Is this the same movie that caused some astrophysics research papers and the best image of a black hole ever generated, by throwing physics equations at their graphics rendering computer and letting it run for an absurd number of cycles?

If so, shame they were so *inconsistent* about scientific accuracy. Because that sounded awesome.

#834 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 09:47 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 824: Birdman was splendid. Nothing like I expected; likely the most interesting movie I've seen this year.

I thought the trailer was incredibly misleading, and the movie was very good.

#835 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 09:57 AM:

janra@833: Apparently so.

And then ... "Oh no, the nitrogen!"

#836 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 03:29 PM:

eric @805: Thank you for the sympathy. Not sure the EU-then-over would work, unfortunately. It's so frustrating.

#837 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 05:10 PM:

Science writer Timothy Ferris had this to say about the complaints about the science in Interstellar:

Notwithstanding many print articles and internet posts to the contrary (such as the one below) there are, so far as I can tell, no scientific errors in the film "Interstellar."

The film is built on general relativity, which is established science, plus M/SUSY theory, which remains highly theoretical and might well be proved wrong some day but is perfectly respectable theoretical physics--the result of decades of work by hundreds of capable scientists.

Much of the jeering consists of declaring that the science in the film goes beyond what is currently well established. Similar claims can be made, and were, about relativity and quantum physics when they first appeared on the scene. That doesn't mean that M theory and supersymmetry (SUSY) will certainly turn out to be right; nobody yet knows that. But nobody knows that they're wrong, either.

I've seen pretty much every sci-fi film released over the past fifty years. None conveyed as much cutting-edge science as accurately as "Interstellar" does. See it or not, as you prefer. But don't avoid it because you're heard that the science is "wrong." It's not.

#838 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 05:45 PM:

Too bad that Ferris missed that science isn't just astrophysics and cosmology. If they get the big stuff right, and the rest of the science is off by a little (or a lot), it's still going to be noticed.

#839 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 05:45 PM:

Steve C - I'd rather take the opinion of actual scientists; those I know (not famous ones or anything) aren't that impressed, although they admit it at least tried.

#840 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 07:06 PM:

Last time I caramelized onions in my slow cooker, it took three days. While the last day was a bad idea (they wound up soft and moist but dead black and kind of burnt-tasting), I have just caramelized an admittedly smaller batch in less than 24 hours.

I cut them yesterday evening, then turned them on High for the first few hours. I turned them down when I went to bed. They're now fully caramelized, a nice brown color, and still moist as anything. Thank you, Dr. Maillard!

#841 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 07:08 PM:

Jacque #831:

At least one of effects techniques was very low tech (youtube link).

#842 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 09:33 PM:

Xopher Halftongue@840: Caramelizing onions in the slow cooker is one of the well-established optimizations in our Thanksgiving routine, along with roasting and reducing the base for the giblet gravy a day or two in advance. (Doing the latter means making the gravy from a different roast, although it works well just roasting the giblets from the same bird we're going to roast on the day. It means that the gravy itself can be made while the bird is roasting, rather than being done in those crammed minutes after the bird comes out of the oven.)

#843 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2014, 09:40 PM:

dotless ı 842: It's entirely possible I got the idea from you. I know I didn't think of it on my own.

#844 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 12:40 AM:

janetl #756:

It's deeply nostalgic (but not sentimental), set in 1980s New Zealand, in an isolated coastal settlement, so I'm not sure how well it plays to non-NZ audiences though it's picked up a few awards.

I love "Boy".

#845 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 03:37 AM:

janra @833: Is this the same movie that caused some astrophysics research papers and the best image of a black hole ever generated

"That's the man, officer!" The black hole was very cool. And also plausible.

Yeah, the science and tech fails, fortunately, stressed my Suspenders of Disbelief, but not fatally. I was mostly able to elide them by squinting hard and moving on.

Gur grffrenpg jnf cerggl arng, gbb. gur ivfhny frrzrq yvxr vg zvtug unir orra vafcverq ol ovfzhgu pelfgnyf.

Sandy B. @835: "Oh no, the nitrogen!"

There are so many things wrong with that, it's hard to know where to start.

P J Evans @838: Too bad that Ferris missed that science isn't just astrophysics and cosmology.

Yeah, that.

Soon Lee @844: WRT 'boy': I'm not sure how well it plays to non-NZ audiences

Well, it worked just fine for this Norteamericano. Difficult to watch, in some respects, but very relatable.

#846 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 02:41 PM:

Jacque @845 re: the movie Boy
I'm glad to hear that, as I'd wondered about effectiveness outside NZ too.

#847 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 04:21 PM:

Errolwi: Speaking as someone from the US, and not of the relevant population, I think you could place "Boy" in some of the poorer portions of the US, and have to adjust the story hardly at all.

It read to me as being about universal human questions of identity and trust. Cf, in particular, Alan Parker's "Angela's Ashes,"* as only one example that has a very similar flavor (though lacking the twinkle).

*Starting in Brooklyn, and then moving to Ireland.

#848 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 08:32 PM:

I was just talking with an author (I'm not going to be specific about who they are or what they write) who has a stalker on amazon-- the combination of negative reviews and saying that good reviews aren't useful is enough to cut into this author's income.

Are there any sources of advice for this sort of situation? Support groups?

The author hasn't engaged with the stalker, but sometimes the author's friends have, and this has led to further attacks.

#849 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Jacque @847
That's how I hoped it 'translated'.
I had 'bonus' nostalgia, being aware of the slang used etc (the characters were a little younger than I was at the time). I'm fortunate to have never experienced the level of material poverty shown.

#850 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 09:38 PM:

HLN: Hyper-local screening of Doctor Who (total viewing capacity: two eyes) finally reaches the end of (new) season 7. Local audience finds marathon momentum halted, caught between being too far back to risk entering the spoiler thread, and too far ahead for the next episodes to show up on Netflix. Streaming retailers Amazon and/or iTunes may see microscopic uptick in revenues.

#851 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2014, 11:01 PM:

I have subscribed to The New Yorker magazine forever, and generally have a high regard for their articles. I believe they've goofed in the current issue with The Programmer's Price. It's about a firm that is acting as the agent for developers—a different model than the usual recruiter. I suppose I could be tripping over the writer's effort to put the story in terms that the non-technical reader can understand, but...oh, my.

The supposed technical expert in the firm doesn't sound very expert. And how is he doing "code reviews"? The employers of his developer clients cheerfully turned over source code? The developers took source code from their employers to hand over as work samples? Neither of those sounds plausible.

The fawning attitude about superstars also gets my hackles up. Teams deliver working systems.

#852 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 08:58 AM:

Lisa Goldstein has sold a new novel!

"Great news -- I've sold a novel to Skyhorse/Night Shade Books, called Weighing Shadows. It's a time-travel novel, something I've always wanted to write (...) This is also possibly my first explicitly feminist novel. Feminism, these days, seems to be a dirty word, attacked from all sides (see the comment section for just about any post that even vaguely suggests women are equal to men..."

Go HERE for further details.

#853 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 09:07 AM:

There are unquestionably superstars when it comes to coding. At one point I was working on the Unreal engine (Unreal tournament 2004 version) and I was ... struggling. I said something out loud about "I'm trying to understand in a week what twenty guys did in five years" and one of the other coders told me that actually [name] did pretty much all of the programming himself. (May have been Tim Sweeney.) The two main guys from iD games ,John Carmack and John Romero, those guys are superstars. [typo of the day: superstarts.]

I heard the phrase, in a discussion of Hollywood, "getting between the talent and the money."

That's what these guys are doing. I have no idea if their guys have that kind of impressive talent or not. But even if the programmers are as good as they say, and the company is worth what it charges, there are already thirty piece-of-sludge knockoffs throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks.

#854 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 10:27 AM:

janetl #851, #853 Sandy B.: The thing is, it is possible to do an "honest" talent agency, where the agency earns their fees by picking out the best talents. The catch is, picking out talent (especially in a "foreign" field) is itself a talent and skill. As they say, "First-class people hire other first-class people. Second class people hire second and third rank people, and so on."

So, to really pick out the best programmers, the recruiting agents themselves need to be fairly special people. If they don't have first-class recruiters, then you get a second-rate or worse agency, where it does come down to "getting between the talent and the money". That's not a great business model for programming agencies, because there's no norm for agency hiring, nor a prospect of one -- way too easy to hire people off the Net, or through various connections.

#855 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Sandy B.@853: There are superstar programmers, in the sense of producing amazing self-contained code, not all of whom can work well with a team, or make code that can be maintained by someone else, or make code that works well with a system they didn't design. They mention some of these issues, but if the agency is focusing on freelancers that's going to affect their idea of what makes a superstar. The agency does sound like it's doing some useful things for the freelancers working with it, negotiating pay and scope of work for them (the latter being particularly challenging with nontechnical companies).

It's pretty alien to my experience in the field. I've worked with extremely effective programmers, but my tenure at software companies has been ridiculously long by industry standards (I've been lucky enough to land at places that kept me interested for a long time), and I've done very little of the sort of freelancing featured in that piece.

#856 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 12:01 PM:

HLN, apologizing if this isn't the place for it:
Local writer has SF story headlining a web site for the rest of November. See this.

#857 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 01:02 PM:

Brenda @856 - I'm hardly the arbritrator of The Right Place, but I am very glad you posted so that I could read it. I enjoyed it very much!

#858 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 01:15 PM:

Brenda, #856: That's well-written. Are you going to continue exploring the theme? The story stands fine on its own, but it could also easily be the opening chapter of a novel -- or a prologue, if you want to skip the worst of the aftermath and focus on the new shape of civilization.

#859 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 10:47 PM:

For those needing light relief: A question is posted on reddit, I'm guessing by whatever the good version of a troll is (an ent?)

"My friend told me he heard that you can't have a garden in New Zealand. That it is illegal to have it. I'm not sure if this is true. I googled about it, but got no founds. Could you guys please tell me? And please no hate I know this question might be insulting to some of you."

Hilarity ensues.

#860 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2014, 11:26 PM:

Brenda #856.

Applause. Interesting how it seems both like and very unlike Niven's Inconstant Moon

#861 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 12:34 AM:

thomas @859 -- it's bizarre how long they keep it going!

#862 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 02:25 AM:

I just want to say that I am really disheartened by the Ferguson grand jury results, even though it was much what I had expected.

#863 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 03:26 AM:

thomas @859 Great! Nearly as good as the drop bears!

#864 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 10:43 AM:

Xopher Halftongue@843: It's possible, although I don't think I've mentioned it here, and, regrettably, I don't think we've yet met in person (despite one or two near misses).

Preparations continue:

☑ The onions are cooked.
☑ The turkey is brining.
☑ The cranberries jelled.
☑ The toddler is whining.*

☐ The stuffing needs mixing,
☐ the brussels sprouts toasting.
☐ The pies need collecting.
☐ The giblets need roasting.

Tomorrow we'll roast, and then gather and eat,
and be hopefully done with the rain, snow, and sleet.

* About wanting to examine the raw turkey more closely.

#865 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 10:50 AM:

Em, Lee, Thomas, and anybody else--thanks!

#866 ::: emilly ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 05:46 PM:

dotless ı - excellent work, i do appreciate a poem that involves tickyboxes!

#867 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 07:16 PM:

Still musing about that New Yorker 'The Programmer's Price' piece; my ex- sent me a link to that, along with a note saying "I wonder if these guys would recruit you?" I found it an interesting read, and the more so as I'm again trying to help hire someone at my current job, occasionally interviewing applicants and giving mini-programming tests.

In my experience, the "10x" skill ratio is very real, and I think I probably see at least two tiers of 10x skill/capability in the field, meaning a range of 100x variability in productivity or close to it. If the "agency" is able to really identify who fits in which category - that's the first challenge - then I think they might be earning their money. Looking at it from the flip side, if I were still doing contract work, and if they were able to find me jobs paying 2 - 4 times the most I was ever able to charge and clients who are happy with that - that's the other challenge - I would be more than happy to give them 15% or more.

First, based on the results of giving job applicants some very simple programming questions over a period of several years, I've come to the conclusion that the programmer of "average" skill - i.e. competently skilled, at the mean level - is probably nearly 10x as capable or productive a problem-solver as the "average" programmer - meaning the median or mode. What I mean by that is, I have seen a high fraction of applicants struggle for half an hour to solve a problem which I've calibrated as taking a few minutes for a smart and competent coworker, and still get it wrong or give up at the end - and these people apparently are or have recently been employed as programmers, judging by their resumes. (Going by the things one finds on The Daily WTF, which I used to browse regularly, they're not alone.)

I'm not talking research problems or Google-type brain teasers here, or exotic programming languages, I'm talking fairly simple problems designed to be typical of those that can come up day after day in the real world. My instructions explicitly begin "In your preferred language, briefly sketch out the code..." to try to filter out language preferences or difficulties, and I tell people that pseudo-code is perfectly acceptable.

Here's one example. You tell me if this seems unreasonably difficult to you:
1. Va lbhe cersreerq ynathntr, oevrsyl fxrgpu bhg gur pbqr sbe n shapgvba juvpu ergheaf jurgure gjb erpgnatyrf nf qrsvarq orybj vagrefrpg:
fgehpg erpg {
vag gbc, obggbz, yrsg, evtug;

My rubric for this is that any correct working example they get onto paper or onto a whiteboard (ignoring minor syntax errors) is acceptable, though there are a couple of tiers of progressively better and clearer answers, depending on how clear an insight they get into the problem and whether they see how to refine their first answer.

Nonetheless, you'd expect a half-competent programmer to be able to come up with some reasonable answer for this in a reasonable period of time, right? Right? I've seen people who seemed on paper to have years of experience fumble around for a painful half hour with category errors like comparing the "top" coordinate of one rectangle with the "left" of another, or be unable to decide whether to use 'and' or 'or' to combine the horizontal and vertical conditions. (One candidate proposed to invent a new 'and/or' operator.)

So I suspect just plain competent, fast, and able to work with a team (I agree with janetl about the importance of that) probably gets you almost immediately to 10x the productivity of the "industry average programmer". Then if you are talented and get to where you can flow code out quickly and reliably, and you consciously work at it and build up your skills - know your languages, know your data structures, know a bunch of design paradigms - I do believe you can get to the point where you are at least 10x above that.

One personal story: I have been in the position of coming in to a job as a contract programmer, hearing about this one guy on staff who was so brilliant and wrote such amazingly fast (but hard to follow!) code that it was pushing the limits of their machine, and discovering on looking at his code that ... it wasn't all that great. In this particular case, involving simulation code on a low-level platform, it was only hard to follow because it was uncommented, its performance was linear on the number of simulation nodes created because it was using multiple linear lists of timers, and it wasn't going to cut it for the new protocol I was hired to emulate. I wrote a new set of timer code using a parent-threaded balanced AVL tree to manage the nodes and keep them sorted by next-to-expire, which gave typical O(1) and worst-case O(log N) performance, meaning that it could easily handle events for 100 to 1000 times as many nodes as the old solution in the same time. Besides the main deliverable, I left that timer library packaged as a C library module along with a set of test documents and another neat generalized C library to manage collections of items using a pluggable set of data structures - and I was also very careful not to bad-mouth the other guy's work, as it was perfectly decent for what it was. (Then I got laid off because the parent company had bad quarterly revenues and told them to lay off all contract workers. No problem.)

If you can do that kind of thing consistently across a variety of systems and situations and problems, as some people can, and if you know what kinds of things you know and what you don't, and what you're crappy at - speaking for myself, for example, I really am no good at relational databases and SQL database apps - then I think you can make a solid claim to be actually 10x more productive than the average good programmer. And that's still not at the John Carmack superstar level.

#868 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 08:28 PM:

Open thread sadness: Stu Shiffman, prolific and excellent fan artist, died this afternoon in Seattle, two years and change after his severe stroke. More information as I get it.

#869 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 09:29 PM:

Clifton #867: The thing is, there's been a long period where computer programming was the "hot" profession -- in heavy demand, disproportionately well-paid, and "fashionable" as well.

That led a lot of people to get into it who really didn't have the underlying talents, much less the skill that comes from being a "natural" programmer who does it for fun. And for the first generation or so of that, a lot of the people hiring them didn't have sufficient comupter literacy themselves to even have an idea of what makes a good programmer.

And on the flip side, a lot of the early programmer who did have the talent, didn't have the education -- they "learned on the job", and developed the usual faults of an autodidact. (Mostly gaps in their knowledge, but especially in theory, which turns out to make a big difference when you're also picking your own algorithms and such.)

#870 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 09:34 PM:

Tom W @ 868: Damn. I remember Stu from the 70's -- a gentleman in the rough world of fandom, possessed of a wonderfully weird imagination.

#871 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 10:01 PM:

Dammit. Stu was the host of Fanoclasts when I was invited to join. He was a fun person (even if he did pull that dirty trick with the egg kichel).

I remember him telling the story of how his landlord had said to him "Why don't you get rid of some of these books?" (He referred to the entire largest wall of Stu's living room, which was covered floor to ceiling with mass-market paperbacks, IIRC—there were more books in the bedroom.) Stu replied, "They're my friends."

He was an excellent person who was (aside from the egg kichel incident) kind to me in my young-fan dorkiness.

#872 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 10:33 PM:

Clifton, I recognize that puzzle as the 2-D version of a problem whose 1-D version was central to an app I worked on long ago. My initial version was twice as long as it needed to be. The key insight is that it's easier to identify the cases that don't qualify (even though they are around the periphery) and then negate that condition.

Yes, I would expect any competent programmer to produce a version that is correct, even if not elegant. There's no special domain knowledge or advanced math required. (Unlike the time a marketing person asked me why I was calculating the logarithms of probabilities. I didn't even try to explain.)

#873 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 10:59 PM:

Allan: Bingo, you clearly have the essential insight.

#874 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2014, 11:56 PM:

I don't know that I would have done a good job with that one even when I was in school (computer science), but I recall getting the same exercise in two different language classes (same teacher), and having it come out differently in each one. That was interesting to me.
(Sometimes I could see how to solve the problem immediately, and other times it was hard to find the handle that would make it work. You're probably lucky I didn't end up in programming.)

#875 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 12:52 AM:

Clifton @867; I'm not a programmer (and don't wish to be), but I do like a good logic puzzle. My preferred language here is "English with a smattering of Cartesian math". Would the beginning of the right answer include something along the lines of Vs ng yrnfg bar k-nkvf yvzvg bs erpgnatyr N vf ba bar bs be orgjrra gur k-nkvf yvzvgf bs erpgnatyr O NAQ ng yrnfg bar l-nkvf yvzvg bs erpgnatyr N vf ba bar bs be orgjrra gur l-nkvf yvzvgf bs erpgnatyr O, gura gur erpgnatyrf funer fbzr fcnpr.

V qvq vavgvnyyl bireybbx gur "ng yrnfg bar" cneg - V'q nffhzrq gung bar erpgnatyr pbhyqa'g or shyyl jvguva gur bgure.

Folks who knew Stu: I'm sorry for your loss.

#876 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Those look good to me.

#877 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 01:42 AM:

Em: That's on the right path, but incomplete. One of the important points to think about, in mathematical terms, is that as the question is symmetrical with respect to rectangles A and B, whatever test applies to A with respect to B should also apply to B with respect to A. In concrete terms, if you follow the approach you're started on, you also have to check whether at least one of B's limits is entirely between A's bounds in each direction (because B could be entirely contained within A.) That makes it a long complicated expression, but if you were to actually write all of the conditions out, you might start seeing ways it could be regrouped and simplified.

#878 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 01:52 AM:

There's also the possibility that they share one segment and there's another edge with one point in common (like two boxes stacked with one end of each in the same plane). 'Edge case' seems to fit that in a very literal way.

#879 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 07:09 AM:

For the purposes of this question, does intersecting rectangles mean that the borders of the rectangles intersect? Or can one rectangle hold the other as a subset with disjoint borders?

#880 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 09:22 AM:

Happy Thanksgiving, for all the Americans and ex-pats!

Family gathering later this afternoon, I'm bringing bread that will mostly go to keeping the visiting horde (OK, my sisters' family) fed over succeeding days.

#881 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 12:11 PM:

Clifton @867: Hmmm.

The obvious-naive approach vgrengrf bire rirel cbvag va bar erpgnatyr naq purpxf gb frr vs vg'f vafvqr gur bgure bar. This will work, but has crap running time.

However, I'm pretty sure there are only two possible cases to handle:

1. Ng yrnfg bar pbeare bs Erpgnatyr N vf vafvqr Erpgnatyr O, naq/be ivpr-irefn. V guvax jr bayl arrq gb purpx gur gjb yrsg pbearef naq gur gbc evtug bs rnpu erpgnatyr (rvgure gur ragver rqtr bireyncf, be gur eryngvbafuvc vf erpvcebpny naq N'f obggbz-evtug vafvqr O zrnaf O'f gbc-yrsg vafvqr N).

2. N gnyy, guva erpgnatyr bireyncf n fubeg, sng erpgnatyr va n pebff-yvxr funcr. Gung zrnaf nyy K sbe Erpgnatyr O ner orgjrra Znk(K) naq Zva(K) sbe Erpgnatyr N naq nyy L sbe Erpgnatyr N ner orgjrra Znk(L) naq Zva(L) sbe O, be ivpr-irefn.

That's eight checks with four comparisons each, running in O(1), unless I've screwed something up.

(Also sorry for the loss of the folks who knew Stu.)

#882 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 01:04 PM:

It's neat that this little question is attracting so much attention! I've realized there's an unstated assumption about coordinate directions, but for the purposes of the puzzle assume that X increases to the right, and Y increases towards the top; it will work fine with other assumptions if you just reverse the sign of the relevant comparisons.

I'm tempted to give what I consider the canonical solution here, but even in ROT-13 it would be too easy to read. Instead I'll just note it contains just 4 comparisons and can be written as a single-line expression, but I think its clarity is greater in an if-else form. Allan will recognize its essential point.

This isn't a trick question, in that when I thought of the problem originally I had no answer in mind; I was just looking for a simple question of the type which comes up naturally in coding and which would demonstrate clear thinking about problem-solving. The "natural solution" emerges either through direct insight, or through arithmetic and logical simplification of a much more complex expression.

BTW, I'd prefer if people don't share this on other sites and media, just as I don't post it on Facebook. It would be much less useful in testing somebody who's read the solution to it, though it would not be disastrous if it got around. I have a couple more I use, one which tests a clear understanding of pointers and references and where getting the ideal answer requires one to think carefully about preconditions and loop invariants and such, and one which primarily tests the ability to clearly write out logic which deals with fiddly special cases. This is a nice entry point, though.

#883 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 01:47 PM:

Here's my answer-- I haven't decoded any of the rot13 material.

Qrsvar gur qvzrafvbaf sbe bar bs gur erpgnatyrf nf n ubevmbagny enatr naq n iregvpny enatr. Frr jurgure gur ubevmbagny pbzcbarag bs gur frpbaq erpgnatyr snyyf jvguva gur enatr bs gur svefg, naq jurgure n iregvpny pbzcbarag bs gur frpbaq erpgnatyr snyyf jvguva gur iregvpny pbzcbarag bs gur svefg.

#884 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 02:51 PM:

Today, my father would have been ninety-five. It is an amazing reflection on the pace of change in the past century that at the end of his life he was watching satellite television while in his youth he herded mules which were exported from Jamaica to Colombia to haul cargoes into and across the sierras (they were being made obsolete at the time by the truck).

#885 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 02:57 PM:

Happy Thanksgiving!

I *think* I'm done with chopping vegetables and mixing things. Just need to fold in the no-knead bread, then dump things in the oven through the afternoon.

#886 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Much less close to home: P. D. James has died at 94. A good run.

#887 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2014, 07:24 PM:

Nancy broke the 2-D case down into two 1-D cases. It's still possible to get the 1-D cases wrong or to make them twice as complex as they need to be.

Vg'f rnfvre gb qrsvar erpgnatyrf gung qb *abg* bireync: erpgnatyr N vf ragveryl gb gur yrsg bs O be ragveryl nobir be ragveryl gb gur evtug be ragveryl orybj.

(Don't rot-13 your HTML markup tags.)

#888 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2014, 11:16 AM:

Jay Smooth on the topic of riots. I admire his video commentary a lot.

#889 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2014, 11:41 PM:

Em @758: oh my goodness that made me tear up. Thank you.

Sandy B. @826: I liked Interstellar a lot, because it made me cry about five times (and I don’t cry at movies). This also means I’ll probably never watch it again, but hey.

Brenda Kalt @856: I would quite like to know what happens afterward. :)

Clifton @867: Here’s a go at it (without looking very far down the thread):

Vs yrsgbar zvahf evtuggjb vf ba gur bgure fvqr bs mreb sebz evtugbar zvahf yrsggjb, naq gbcbar zvahf obggbzgjb vf ba gur bgure fvqr bs mreb sebz obggbzbar zvahf gbcgjb, gur erpgnatyrf vagrefrpg.

I think this is more complex than it needs to be, and is not your four-comparison expression, but if you have a “jung fvta vf guvf, cbfvgvir be artngvir” test it might be doable in a line. :P (sbhe fhogenpgvbaf vafvqr sbhe grfgf, gjb pbzcnevfbaf, naq na naq)

Also, I am continually astonished that I am apparently better at programming than a substantial number of people with programming jobs.

#890 ::: Antonia T Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2014, 03:45 PM:

The Spontoon Islands website has set up a memorial page for Stu Shiffman, containing his work for the setting over the years. There are many of his drawings and also written work.

#891 ::: Antonia T Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2014, 03:45 PM:

The Spontoon Islands website has set up a memorial page for Stu Shiffman, containing his work for the setting over the years. There are many of his drawings and also written work.

#892 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2014, 07:09 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger @890: I've forwarded that to Stu's widow, Andi Shechter. Thanks!

#893 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2014, 11:00 PM:

That New Yorker article made me wonder if we'd ever see freelance programmers who didn't fit current stereotypes using pseudonyms to hide their sex, race, etc.

#894 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 09:55 AM:

I am going in for outpatient surgery on Tuesday, and would appreciate GoodThoughts and positive energy. It's not a Huge Scary Thing -- removal of a large but benign cyst from my right breast -- but any time you're talking about surgery, there's a risk factor. I expect to be offline for at least 2 days, but will have my partner post an all-clear once I'm home again.

#895 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Lee @894: Good thoughts started now, in case I get distracted before Tuesday. Here's hoping for a successful op and rapid, uneventful recovery.

#896 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 10:41 AM:

Lee @894, good thoughts headed your way.

#897 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 11:21 AM:

Lee: May all go smoothly.

#898 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 12:30 PM:

Lee @894: Will do so now.

#899 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 01:48 PM:

Lee: aiming good energy your way, and sending a packet of Heals to be opened post-surgery

#900 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 02:01 PM:

My best wishes, Lee.

#901 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 02:36 PM:

Hopes for quiet and uneventful times, Lee!

#902 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 03:20 PM:

Best wishes, Lee!

#903 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 06:32 PM:

PNH: there appears to be a spurious " at the end of your URL for the "Wanderer" Particle. Correct, please?

#904 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 06:55 PM:

Lee, I'm so glad you're finally going to be done with that! Best wishes for a quick and uneventful recovery!

#905 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Good medical/recovery mojo to Lee!

#906 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2014, 09:52 PM:

Good luck, Lee.

This next week is also when one of my bridge partners, Sheila, is going for open heart surgery. She's the one who got me my current job, which I suppose proves some of those things they say about networking. Presumably her doctors have weighed the risks of surgery on someone her age against the benefits, but I can't help being a bit worried.

#907 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 08:48 AM:

Best wishes to all of those with impending surgery, and their family and friends. May the surgery itself bring no unpleasant surprises, and the recovery be uneventful and accomplished with a minimum of grumpiness and discomfort.

(My mother's in on the 10th--corrective surgery for a serious hernia. The surgeon has operated on members of the family before, so we know she's good at what she does, but as Lee@894 says, there's always some risk. I'm trying hard not to worry.)

#908 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 09:09 AM:

Best wishes to all those facing surgery, and to their families and friends.

#909 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 11:17 AM:

Lee, best of luck!

#910 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 12:04 PM:

GoodThoughts to you, Lee, with hope for an extremely uneventful procedure and quick recovery.

#911 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 12:59 PM:

Good luck to all those facing surgery. Wishing for uneventful operations and speedy recoveries.

#912 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 01:52 PM:

Add to the list of those facing surgery in the near future Gail, who will be having an operation on her hand in three weeks' time.

#913 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 02:02 PM:

Clifton @ 867: I wonder whether you had an exceptionally bad run; I've never seen that level of incompetence in anyone who was allowed to code, even when I excavated over a decade of mistakes by mathematicians who learned enough coding to do MCAD. Or were you interviewing for an entry-level position with insufficient requirements? I can't see anyone getting a BSCS, or even the night-school-certificate equivalent I got, at that level of cluelessness, and I've seen very few positions advertised that don't require such.

Em @ 875: "ng yrnfg bar" is why "or" in coding is different from "or" in common spoken English; the coding version is inclusive rather than exclusive.

Clifton @ 883: OTOH, I had gotten only down to 8 comparisons; your statement that 4 was enough sprung loose a faster form, but I distrust it because it assumes the members were assigned consistently (r.t., va rnpu fgehpg (gbc > obggbz && evtug > yrsg) ) ) -- which, per the above, I would never assume with any of the code I had to enhance, let alone fix. Does yours work if the assignments are inconsistent?

Fragano @ 884: That is quite a spread of experience; I wonder whether there's anything comparable for grandparents or great-grandparents in countries that developed some decades earlier. There might be Aussies involved with camel-driving who were still around when their first TV satellite went up (1985, right around Aussiecon 2, which is why I remember it -- the thought of all those video shops on the Cairns airport road withering once they had competition...).

Lee: best wishes for an easy surgery and a quick recovery.

AKICIML: I am shamefully blanking on the name of the actor probably best known to white USians for his incredibly deep-voiced, Caribbean-accented discussion of the "limons" in Sprite 40+ years ago; I know he died relatively recently but all my attempts are finding other people in Wikipedia. Who was this? I'm hoping to invoke his shade to exhort my (bass) section to sound better on a piece of Trinidadian-derived holiday music.

#914 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 02:13 PM:

CHip @913, I don't remember his name but I'm pretty sure he was in the Doctor Doolittle movie that starred Rex Harrison.

#915 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 02:34 PM:

He was the voodoo bad guy in the Bond movie with the voodoo bad guy ... (googles) Live and Let Die. (checks IMDB)

Geoffrey Holder:

#916 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 02:43 PM:

Chip @913: Are you thinking of Geoffrey Holder? Until looking him up, I hadn't known he was also a dancer and choreographer, as well as Bond villain Baron Samedi, and Tony-winning director of "The Wiz". But IMDB and Wikipedia both say he promoted 7-Up, not Sprite, which might explain why you weren't able to find him.

#917 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Publication day! "parkrun: much more than just a run in the park" by Debra Bourne, foreword by nine-times Comrades Marathon winner Bruce Fordyce. Published TODAY by Chequered Flag Publishing. ISBN 9780956946072

My copies arrived on Friday so I took one along to Lloyd parkrun on Saturday and someone took this photo of me.

More info. on the Wraparound cover

Unfortunately the big river in the USA is only offering the e-book. It IS however widely available via the parkrun Wiggle store worldwide - just stick "Wiggle parkrun" into your search engine of choice and scroll down - and parkrun gets more of the proceeds from them.

#918 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 03:12 PM:

The lovely and talented Mr. Holder was also the butler Punjab in the Carol Burnett 1980s Annie movie, which was weirdly surreal when I watched it recently with my daughter.

That movie not only dressed a black man as a Sikh, it gave him lines that are right off "Confucius Say..." bad fortune cookies. Full of WTF by modern standards.

#919 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Out in Oregon, fellow Fluorospherian Kate Yule is another having surgery today. Another reason for prayer.

#920 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 03:17 PM:

Lee@894: I had a similar operation quite a while ago now (removing a fibroadenoma), and it was not a big deal. The most memorable thing about it was that the people in the operating room either forgot or didn't care that I wasn't sedated (I'd asked for local only) and gossiped about everyone they knew. I was in possession of ALL the dirt on that hospital by the time I was out of there. My mother always said surgeons were the biggest gossips around (she was an anesthesiologist) and I guess she was right. Best of luck!

#921 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 04:32 PM:

So the rectangles's my thought:

Nybat rnpu bs gur gjb nkrf bs gur erpgnatyrf, gurer ner sbhe eryrinag ybpngvbaf. Ba gur iregvpny nkvf, gurer ner gur gbc naq obggbz urvtugf bs rnpu erpgnatyr; ba gur ubevmbagny nkvf, gurer ner gur evtug naq yrsg obhaqf bs rnpu erpgnatyr. Rnpu pnfr vf unaqyrq gur fnzr jnl; obgu pnfrf zhfg or gehr.

Ba gur iregvpny nkvf, fbeg gur sbhe zrnfherzragf. Hayrff gur bayl cbffvoyr fbegvatf ner erpgnatyr.n.ybjre, erpgnatyr.n.uvture, erpgnatyr.o.ybjre, erpgnatyr.o.uvture, jurer (n,o) = (1,2) be (2,1), gurer vf bireync orgjrra gur urvtugf bs gur gjb erpgnatyrf. Gur rdhvinyrag vf gehr ba gur ubevmbagny nkvf.

Ng guvf cbvag, V'q nfx ubj bsgra gur ebhgvar jnf tbvat gb or eha. V'q bcgvzvmr vg sbe qvssrerag guvatf--rssvpvrapl irefhf znvagnvanovyvgl, zbfgyl--qrcraqvat.

Vs bar erpgnatyr zhfg or pbagnvarq vafvqr gur bgure, gura lbh jnag gur fbegvat erpgnatyr.n.ybjre, erpgnatyr.o.ybjre, erpgnatyr.o.uvture, erpgnatyr.n.uvture, jurer (n,o) = (1,2) be (2,1). Gung unf gb or gehr sbe obgu iregvpny naq ubevmbagny nkrf.

Guvf trarenyvmrf gb a-qvzrafvbaf. V guvax. V'z cerggl fher. V guvax.

#922 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 04:38 PM:


Best wishes/prayers as appropriate for everyone's surgeries.

#923 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 05:38 PM:

My father ploughed with horses in the 1930s in England. They were still the standard for rural life at that time. His father's career included replacing steam engines with electric motors for the weaving industry in Yorkshire. My father once told me how, when he was in ARP, he was visiting an air defence control room when the Luftwaffe released air-launched cruise missiles over the North Sea, aimed at Sheffield.

We both saw the Thor IRBMs on the pads, ready to fire, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the last full year of his life he watched the anniversary broadcast of Queen Elizabeth's coronation, and the 2012 Olympics.

#924 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 06:52 PM:

CHip #913: Ooh, good point about making sure the coordinates in each rectangle are consistently ordered. IIUC, the 4-comparison answer assumes they are; I note that ordering the coordinates would be another 4 comparisons.

#925 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 08:11 PM:

I *think* lbh'q bayl arrq gur gjb rkgerzr iregvprf bs rnpu erpgnatyr - gubfr jbhyq tvir lbh nyy gur vasbezngvba lbh arrq gb qrsvar rnpu bar (gbc evtug/obggbz yrsg iregvprf be gbc yrsg/obggbz evtug iregvprf).

#926 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 08:39 PM:

Lee @894,
Sending positive thoughts and wishes for a quick recovery and restful ambiance.

#927 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 09:06 PM:

P J Evans #925: Right, two vertices make four coordinates. The question CHip #913 raises is which two corners are you getting, and in which order? Though in fact, looking back at Clifton #867, I note he did in fact specify that we get values labeled "top, bottom, left, right", which is exactly what we want for this problem. (The extent in each axis.)

#928 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 09:15 PM:

Good thoughts for all undergoing surgery.

emilly@866: Thanks. It didn't start out as verse, but the rhythm took over.

Continuing without the meter: Thanksgiving was comparatively low key, but successful. Everyone seemed happy, at least; the kitchen has almost recovered; and the leftovers are almost completely gone. I hope that others' celebrations went as well as possible in their particular circumstances.

Clifton@867: I keep being surprised in interviews (and sometimes disappointed) at how helpful that sort of simply-stated programming problem can be.

dcb@917: Congratulations!

#929 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2014, 11:51 PM:

Good thoughts for all having surgery, as wanted etc.

#930 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 01:25 AM:

Good thoughts for all undergoing surgery.

Significantly less good thoughts for the next hard drive that gives me unrecoverable media errors. I will give that drive to my 5yr old and let him use my torx screwdrivers.

#931 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 05:16 AM:

dotless ı @928: Thank you! A year in the making, including interviewing more than 150 people, reading through more than 100 stories sent in plus lots of parkrun newsletters and run reports. Reaching 75,000 words and wondering if I'd ever get to 100,000. Reaching 108,000 words and worrying about whittling it down again...

It's really, really good to have it sitting on my bookshelf next to Richard Askwith's "Feet in the Clouds", Roger Bannister's "The First Four Minutes" and John Bryant's "The London Marathon".

#932 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 06:19 AM:

dcb #917: Congratulations!

And best wishes for all those dealing with surgery and other health crises.

#933 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 11:02 AM:

It's fun for adults too. The platters make nice ornaments....

#934 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 12:39 PM:

David Harmon @932: Thank you!

#935 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 02:59 PM:

In other news, the DNA test results on Richard III are in, and they've been reported in Nature Communications (no paywall!).

#936 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 03:00 PM:

In other news, the DNA test results on Richard III are in, and they've been reported in Nature Communications (no paywall!).

#937 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 03:01 PM:

That was Dread Server Error, not to be confused with Dread Pirate Roberts.

#938 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 05:03 PM:

Best wishes (belated) to all those getting surgery, or with other health problems. And congratulations to dcb!

#939 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 05:27 PM:

Jacque@845, I am highly impressed by your "Suspenders of Disbelief" :-)

#940 ::: Stephen Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 05:56 PM:

Here's something happy making:

A while ago (and maybe even here) I read a nasty news story about a family who had buried their child - who was biologically male but had chosen to live as female - as a male, with male clothing and hair. Not respectful. Put me in mind of a gay friend's funeral where his boyfriend got not even a mention in the speeches.

So this is classier. *Much* classier:

Please gnomes - be kind to my hyperlink.

#941 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 06:12 PM:

Dave Bell @ 923: I'm not surprised at horse-plowing in the 1930's after visiting a preserved home (somewhere near the aforementioned Bonawe iron works) where people lived in the same building as their animals until 1964(?) -- but another connection to our circle is interesting; assuming that ancient practices endured only in remote locations is all too easy.

PJ Evans @ 933: a friend tried to use ex-platters to scare off animals, but the platters weren't bright enough (even after sanding for security reasons) and/or loud enough.

Thank you to everyone who pointed to Geoffrey Holder; that's definitely who I was looking for. I guess I mixed up the lymon with the uncola-nut.

#942 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 07:23 PM:

People are arranging for a memorial, so she can be remembered as she was.

#943 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 09:24 PM:

Update: Out of surgery, have spent several hours sleeping at home, can't type straight.

dcb, congratulations on ascending to the ranks of our Published Authors!

#944 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 10:45 PM:

Welcome back Lee! I hope you heal up quickly.

#945 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 12:45 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @173 writes:

>On a lighter note, I love the fact that "WHAT?" Rot13s into "JUNG?"

My favourite:

IRK ---> VEX

I don't think there are any other words whose meaning is preserved under rot13.
Proof of God's plan for the English language, surely?

#946 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 12:51 AM:

News of the weird, headline at SFGate:
About 100 brains missing from University of Texas

First thought: How could they tell?
Second thought: Zombie apocalypse!

#947 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 05:13 AM:

Lee @943: Glad to know youré out of surgery and home. Here's hoping for an uneventful recovery from this point.

Clifton, Lee: Thank you! First review has been posted at Amazon: Five stars. "If you love parkrun you will love this book - if you don't love parkrun, read this book, that will teach you to love parkrun, then you will love this book. It's a great read, lots of insights and interest - really well put together.

parkrun has many stories, more than anyone could cram into one book, but Debra Bourne makes a fine start."

(Don't worry, I'm not going to post every review - but this is my very first!

#948 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 07:26 AM:

@945: The word "thug" in rot-13 resolves to "guht" which might be useful in some weird way someday. Mixed palindromes, maybe.

#949 ::: Cassy B. Flags Down the Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 09:18 AM:

I think D. Potter has a message stuck in this thread; it's in the list, but not displayed. It probably should be (will be?) immediately before this one.

#950 ::: Cassy B. Calls Off the Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 09:20 AM:

And as soon as I posted that message, it showed up. Ah, well.

#951 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 10:24 AM:

Cassy B. (949/950): Probably another instance of the Dread Server Error. Posting another comment shook the previous one loose.

#952 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 10:33 AM:

Feeling much better this morning, with no significant pain from the surgery site. If it doesn't get any worse, I won't need the pain pills the doctor prescribed for me.

I just put my shop and my partner's shop up on Scalzi's Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide. There's a lot of really nice stuff over there! I may end up buying a few things myself. :-)

#953 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 11:46 AM:

Lee @952, very glad to hear all is going well.

I put a few things on my wish list from the Scalzi book threads Monday and Tuesday; haven't checked out today's yet.

(And I saw dcb's book over there too. Congrats on the book and on the nice review.)

#954 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 01:56 PM:

Lee @952: Glad to hear recovery is progressing nicely. Good luck with responses from Scalzi's site. I must browse there some more myself.

OtterB @953: Thank you!

#955 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 06:15 PM:

Xhopher 173, Steve Taylor 945, words that are ROT-13 of other words: my exhaustive search of a wordlist yields:
(Since all single-letters are listed as "words" trivial one-letter matches omitted.)

12 2-letter pairings
ab no
ah nu
ah nu
an na
ar ne
ba on
be or
bu oh
bu oh
en ra
er re
fu sh
ha un
he ur
la yn

60 3-letter pairings
aba non
abe nor
abo nob
aha nun
aho nub
ana nan
ana nan
ana nan
ana nan
ann naa
ann naa
ant nag
arc nep
arc nep
arn nea
aro neb
avo nib
ban ona
ban ona
ban ona
ban ona
bar one
beg ort
bel ory
bel ory
ben ora
ben ora
ber ore
bes orf
bin ova
bin ova
bor obe
bub oho
cha pun
che pur
cho pub
cub pho
erg ret
err ree
err ree
ers ref
fra sen
fub sho
fun sha
fur she
fur she
gel try
gen tra
gra ten
grr tee
gul thy
gun tha
gur the
han una
hen ura
her ure
hin uva
ing vat
ing vat
irk vex

51 4-letter pairings
abba noon
anan nana
anan nana
anil navy
arba neon
avar nine
balk onyx
bana onan
bare oner
bare oner
bean orna
birl ovey
chab puno
chal puny
chat pung
chee purr
crag pent
crax penk
crea pern
crex perk
cuba phon
cuvy phil
envy rail
erne rear
fant snag
faro sneb
flap sync
funt shag
gent trag
genu trah
gers tref
ghan tuna
ghat tung
ghee turr
glee tyrr
gnar tane
gnat tang
gnat tang
grat teng
guna than
gunj thaw
gurl they
gurr thee
hern urea
iraq vend
iraq vend
ivan vina
ivin viva
june whar
june whar
jura when

10 5 -letter pairings
brava oenin
cheer purre
clerk pyrex
clerk pyrex
creel perry
dhoon qubba
erava renin
freen serra
freir serve
fubby shool

3 6-letter pairings
becuna orphan
cheery purrel
greeny terral

2 7-letter pairings
abjurer nowhere
chechen purpura

#956 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 06:47 PM:

Erik Nelson (955): You missed 'green terra'.

Somewhere around here is an earlier discussion of ROT13 pairs.

#957 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 06:53 PM:

Mary Aileen at 956:
My source was a wordlist that someone typed in from an old dictionary and posted to the internet. (the person who posted it probably felt that using an old dictionary got around copyright restrictions) This is an exhaustive search of that list. Being an antique dictionary, it might be missing things the modern reader would consider to be words, and vice versa.

I did this a few years ago as an exercise in programming in Python.

#958 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 07:07 PM:

Erik Nelson (957): That's a good reason. I always remember the 'green/terra' pair because the two words are related, although not an exact match in meaning like 'irk/vex'.

Looks like this is the earlier discussion I was thinking of.

#959 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 07:40 PM:

It's also lacking in proper nouns, which means that pairs like "Anna - naan" are missing.

#960 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 07:54 PM:

Lee: Best of luck!

#961 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 07:59 PM:

P J Evans @ #946
Or Dr. Frankenstein is taking no chances this time.

#962 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 08:14 PM:

Alas, the explanation is prosaic: they disposed of about 60 of them, some years back, because they (or their containers) were in such poor shape that they weren't useful.

#963 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 08:54 PM:

Erik Nelson #955: And you could have done a bit of dupe-checking....

Also, reading too fast:

#959 ::: Tom Whitmore It's also lacking in proper nouns, which means that pairs like "Anna - naan" are missing.

#961 ::: Sarah Or Dr. Frankenstein is taking no chances this time.

#962 ::: P J Evans Alas, the explanation is prosaic: they disposed of about 60 of them, some years back, because they (or their containers) were in such poor shape that they weren't useful.

<blink> Oh, wait, context.

#964 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2014, 10:12 PM:

So it seems that Sheila and her doctors have decided not to go ahead with the open heart surgery after all. I feel rather relieved. (Her son, my boss, feels rather more relieved.)

#965 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2014, 01:59 AM:

Erik Nelson @957

I remember, in the early-Nineties, such a dictionary/wordlist that got distributed on shareware CD-ROMs.

The choice of words had the sort of feel you describe, obscure and antique.

The spelling was abombinable.

#966 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2014, 07:37 AM:

An explanation of chan culture and gamergate. I don't know whether it's true, but it's at least interesting and plausible.

#967 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2014, 04:36 PM:

Nancy, that seems plausible. I used to do the "argue both sides" / everything is a debate of no consequence" thing. Both online and in real life. But I was in college, spending time with a bunch of (conservative) debate club guys, so it seemed like it was all in a bubble of of inconsequence. This was long ago, before I discovered Making Light, which itself was over 10 years ago.

Making Light helped make me better. So did maturation.

#968 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2014, 07:21 PM:

Attention Austin Fluorospherians! A friend of ours in Austin is planning to host a private viewing party for the final Hobbit movie by reserving one of the viewing rooms at the Alamo Drafthouse. It's coming down to the wire, and she's still short a few people of making her expenses for the event. The showing will be at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, Dec. 17. Cost is $20/person, and can be sent via PayPal to lb AT bylillian DOT com. Please be sure to include the name(s) the reservation is for, so she can put you on the guest list.

#969 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2014, 08:42 PM:

Back in August Brad and I attended the Worldcon from Idaho through a telepresence robot. We now have an essay on what it was like, with both the geeky details and thoughts on the future. A few notes:

* What makes the Beam different? Sound quality was key- it has great audio tech with noise cancellation and two modes - 360 microphone mode and a narrower front cone "party mode." The 360 let us walk and talk with people next to us, the party mode let us be in crowded situations that would otherwise be unintelligible.

* Was I there in London? Yes. The sense of em-presentment was fairly solid, very unlike skype or videocalls. That said, I did leave the party at 2am, go for an afternoon swim, then come back. The verb tenses for simultaneous time zones- those we don't have yet.

* Several attendees expressed hope that they'll finally get to visit cons in North America - or anywhere else-- because they currently cannot travel more than a short distance. With a competitive landscape and room for big price drops these hopes could be realized in a few years.

* Conventions negotiating with conference centers now should see if cheaper dedicated wifi is possible in 2017+ contracts, along with regular attendee uses. The Beam we inhabited uses two wifi radios: buying two wifi passes cost $125/day, so $500 for our time there. (To move around requires at least 150kb- the device stops if it gets grainy = you can't see enough for you & the computer to recognize obstacles)

* Fandom will be developing norms on how remotely-presenced people attend cons, and I can see serious talks coming up. We weren't allowed into the video room or to JRRM's reading. We were Ramez Naam's guest for the Hugo Loser's party, but we were only allowed in after the room voted on it [would a group of SF writers vote "no" to let a robot in?]

* The Beam has good security (Edward Snowden used it to attend TED), but a fear that our feed could be hijacked was mentioned. Beam's technical gravitas plus that Brad is on the board of the EFF helped with that in our specific case.

* We visited the art show [without any questions {re: the video room}], but it wasn't a great experience-- at today's resolution it was like looking at thumbnails.

* Even to read badges we had to zoom in, and the act of zooming is obvious (unless we had our hall costume (our HAL costume) on. This will change, though- these devices will eventually have 4k cameras and 360 views. That said, everything a robot might be able to do in the future, our devices today already can do- it only seemed new because we were in a 5-foot robot form-factor. Eyeglasses and label buttons today have continuous recording capabilities, as do our phones.

* As B notes, he bought a membership, our local London friend who brought the Beam was there for free as our mobility helper, and I was often on the Beam too. If we'd been asked to buy a second membership we would have, but it wasn't asked. Were we two people attending? What will attendance mean? Will people"just" using it for convenience or budget be considered differently from people using one by necessity?

#970 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 08:48 AM:

Today is the 7th anniversary of Abi's debut as a moderator of Light.
Today is the 7th anniversary of Abi's debut as a moderator of Light.
Today is the 7th anniversary of Abi's debut as a moderator of Light.

#971 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 09:37 AM:

Hey, Cassy B, you know that story you told me? "Be bold, be bold, but not TOO bold?"

Ursula Vernon has written a tale winding from that one.

(also quite possibly of interest to other Fluorospherians, hence the open nature of my letter)

#972 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 09:59 AM:

Elliott, #971: I've already bought it, and it's fabulous. Note that it's written under her pen name of T. Kingfisher.

#973 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 10:29 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @969

Thanks for that write up on your blog: I did actually bump into you both at WorldCon, so it's fascinating to see how the experience felt from your side.

#974 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 10:47 AM:

I've just seen Lee@6 (I know, I'm slow), and am absolutely astounded on reading it by some of the apologies for the bahaviour, which are quite extraordinary.

Given the sexual nature of some of the assault, this "hazing" would, I think, meet the ICC and FBI definitions of rape. It wouldn't be classified as such in the UK, but as "Sexual Assault by Penetration" - which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (the same as rape), so the difference is moot. The age of the victims and the gang nature of the violence would be considered aggravating in the UK for sentencing purposes too.

How CAN people think this is inconsequential??

#975 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 10:52 AM:

Serge @970:

It's awesome. If only I didn't also have the flu. (But I'll be rid of the flu long before Making Light is rid of me.)

#976 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 10:58 AM:

May the flu flee Abi fast.

#977 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 11:07 AM:

The Fluorosphere flourishes despite flu-felled Abi. Fair wishes for full, fleet recovery fill the field*.

*the field is also full of better sheep

#978 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 11:57 AM:

Elliott Mason @971, COOL!

<off to Smashwords....>

#979 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 12:07 PM:

On another Open Thread some time ago there was a discussion about depiction of religion and religious characters in speculative fiction. I'm currently playing the new Dragon Age game (so, so good; thoroughly worth the money) and religion is very central to the story. I can't say too much without spoiling it, but one character in particular finds a lot of strength in her faith and is primarily motivated by a desire to work within the framework of Andrastianism (the dominant in-universe religion among humans) to do good. She recognizes the flaws in her church -- at one point, she remarks that Character B is Andrastian and virtuous, but would never set foot in a chantry; this breaks her heart, because she believes that the chantry should be the place the virtuous feel most at peace-- and wants to make them better. I suspect the person who was looking for such representation would very much appreciate this character. I certainly do.

#980 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 04:29 PM:

Flu: fly, fool!

Congratulations on seven years of enabling us to be wiser, kinder, and more knowledgeable, Abi.

#981 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 04:42 PM:

Abi: congratulations on seven years as a moderator here. And sympathies re. the flu, which I hope departs from you soon.

#982 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 09:53 PM:

Kathryn @ 969: This was fascinating -- even if my first connection(*) was the scene in "We Also Walk Dogs", in which a woman holopresents at a party she's been planning forever while actually being at her injured son's bedside (to keep him under her thumb). Typical Heinlein -- be clever with a good idea, instead of thinking how well it would work with real people.

Other reactions:
* I'm not sure this unit put more burden on the event, but I don't see how it would be less under the constraints you describe (e.g., less situational awareness, which I can see being difficult when a space is full enough that people depend on cues to know how to move safely). What resources did your unit not consume compared to a live fan?
* How \did/ you ]raise your hand[ to ask a question? That thing doesn't look like it has anti-gravity....

(*) (aside from "Brad's still around? Don't I remember when he was remoting to CCA from Waterloo >30 years ago? Or am I confusing that person with the .humor assembler?)

#983 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2014, 09:55 PM:

prodding the db....

#984 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 12:33 AM:

My cousin's wife publishes a foodie / locavore newletter in western Massachusetts. A recent issue has an article on knife sharpening, featuring knives made by my father:

#985 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 06:07 AM:

Some libraries to marvel at:

Fabulous Libraries

#986 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 07:56 AM:

CHip @ #982 re resources: food and bathrooms come to mind.

#987 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 04:35 PM:

Rob #985 - I'm surprised there's an abandoned Walmart. A library is a good use for it.

The pictures though make me wonder whether the designer of the Yale one got the idea from the BRitish library or vice versa, or whether it's just a simple obvious outgrowth of the old fashioned library design seen in other ones.

#988 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 04:49 PM:

Rob Hansen @985: Nice libraries!

guthrie @987: I had that thought (looks like that section of the British Library) as well.

#989 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 09:56 PM:

Chip 982/ Leila 986 - on the other hand, the robot was on wheels, so it had to use the elevator. I was paying attention to it because Access was asked in advance if the robot could use the lifts, which we were restricting as much as possible to people with mobility issues. We decided the robot could use the lifts, but asked that its users out of courtesy allow those with access needs who were bodily present to go first.

It didn't seem to cause any problems, but it did occur to me to wonder what the effect on the lifts would have been if there were a lot of robots. I think lifts and wifi are two resources that would need thinking about if robot use increased.

#990 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 10:05 PM:

From outside, the Beinecke Library looks like a dimpled cube. If you're inside on a sunny day, the above-ground reading room is very pretty: the walls are marble, and those dimpled areas are thin enough to be translucent. (The effect is visible in the photos Rob linked to, but not at all obvious if you don't know to look for it.)

When I was at Yale, if you were actually using the rare materials, you'd be sitting in a glass-walled reading room, below ground level, with a view of a Noguchi sculpture garden. You'd have a pencil to take notes; pens were forbidden. (This was pre-laptop; the word processor I used to write the eventual paper was on the college mainframe.)

#991 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 10:48 PM:

I have a particular fondness for the Beinecke library. (I'm pretty sure that the British Library postdates it.) I always thought the translucent stone "windows" were neat; but more importantly, I remember the first time I requested a fairly old book there and had it brought to me. I've long ago forgotten what book (my memory is that it wasn't of great interest) but the thrill remains.

I'm also fond of Yale's Sterling library, partly because the first time I saw it they still had card catalogs arranged like pews to complement the rest of the cathedral-like architecture.

#992 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2014, 11:49 PM:

Vicki @990: all of those things are still true, I believe; I have a friend who works in the Beinecke. The main difference is that now laptops are permitted.

It is absolutely beautiful, inside and out.

#993 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 12:23 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #969:

That's fascinating. I've been hoping that some actually useful form of telepresence will appear during my professional career -- now I live in New Zealand it's unusual for any of the major statistics conferences to be within 10,000km of me.

#994 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 01:02 AM:

Just made sausages fried with pears, inspired by the recipe in The Lies of Locke Lamora. Very good.

The world really needs a Camorran cookbook. Perhaps even more than a Valabar's cookbook, since that would require too much effort for a home cook.

#995 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 01:10 AM:

Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori @989 - Sounds like there's an obvious need for Dalek cosplaying by these robots.

OTOH, I'm reminded of the elevators at Millennium Philcon, which had trouble handling their rated "10 people or 8 fans" weight capacity; most of the robots probably don't weigh much or need too much floor space, as long as they can maneuver into what's available.

#996 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 01:30 AM:

Goodness! This open thread has gone on an awfully long time.

* * *

I saw and enjoyed Interstellar. The biggest science flub* was pretty darn big, but much of it was pretty smart and consistent SF.

* Unovgnoyr cynargf nebhaq n oynpx ubyr? Ernyyl, gung'f orlbaq gur cnyr. Gurer'f nyfb n arhgeba fgne va gur arvtuobeubbq.

#997 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 02:19 PM:

Stefan Jones, #996:

I did wonder what those planets were using for sunshine.

I note, without having read it, the existence of The Science of Interstellar, an e-book penned by Prof. Kip Thorne. He's the gravity maven who assisted the Nolan brothers with the science in their screenplay.

A sticker-like circle on the cover proclaims "SPOILER ALERT: This e-book explains the fantastic climax and ending of Interstellar." Are these mysteries worth ten bucks to you?

This might be compared to Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, in the sense that it'll give you the Technical Guy's version of what's going on, which is not necessarily the same as the Director's version, but does offer some enlightenment.

Now that I've seen the movie, it would be nice to find some spoileriffic venues where intelligent discussion of it is going on. Clues, anyone?

#998 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 02:57 PM:

Stefan Jones #996:

My breaking point was jvgu Zvyyre, gur jngre jbeyq. Vs gur gvzr qvyngvba jnf fb frirer, ubj pbzr gur fvtany sebz gur fhesnpr jnf fgvyy abezny? Jbhyqa'g or n uhtr Qbccyre rssrpg ba gur fvtany, VVEP, gur cbfvgvir zrffntr sebz gur fvtany jnf vzcbegnag va gurz qrpvqvat gb znxr cynargsnyy.

With so many conscious decisions made for dramatic reasons that are contrary to our understanding of physics, why even bother putting so much effort to getting some of those elements right? I think that's what aggravates me most: we know it's wrong, but we're doing it anyway. Because, reasons!

#999 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 03:37 PM:

Soon Lee @#998

Yes, that was a piece of the plot that grated here, too. I couldn't see any way they could mistake that effect.

(This moose is cinema-d out right now: Interstellar last week, followed by 2001 and Aliens this week.The (Birmingham UK) Giant Screen is having a final fling before they close it down. Dammit!)

#1000 ::: Cadbury Moose is grand! ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 03:39 PM:

And an Australian beast with the previous post too.

#1001 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 04:38 PM:

Vicki @990: It's pencils only in all the British Library Reading Rooms, not just the rare books. No pens, no highlighters. Laptops are permitted, but scanning or photography of pages is prohibited. And both photocopying and printing papers from journals are very expensive.

#1002 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Interstellar discussion is part of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, episode 489
I was going to say "I assume there is also discussion in their forums", but they appear to have just returned, with a significant loss of data.

#1003 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 05:20 PM:

dcb wrote (@ #1001 (Which may still clean a big, big carpet but this moose reckons it will cost considerably more than half a crown (even if the new crown does have a value of 5 GBP). Ahem. Sorry, I'm wittering.)

The National Archive at Kew also permits pencils only (without erasers), no separate erasers, sharp objects (knives, scissors or pencil sharpeners) or loose-leaf notepads - any notebooks must be spiral-bound or similar (and will be inspected for loose pages before you leave). They do permit laptops and cameras though (and provide copy stands, book blocks, and page weights (cloth tubes filled with lead shot) for the latter. They have photocopiers but these are not cheap to use.

(Next time I think I'll take the laptop and use that to drive the camera - it's bad enough having to stand on tiptoe to see through the viewfinder without having a bad eye (recently repaired detached retina) to contend with.)

#1004 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 05:48 PM:

I've been making math-y quilts! Fibonacci #1 is a wall hanging. Fibonacci #2 is a pillow cover.

#1005 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 06:57 PM:

People here may already know, given fannish networks, but for those who haven't heard yet, there was a chlorine gas attack on Furfest in Chicago. Chicago Police say it seems to be clearly intentional. The hotel had to be evacuated, and 19 people were hospitalized, though thank god no deaths so far; the concentration may not have been high enough to do serious damage. But chlorine is nasty stuff and IIRC can have long-term effects.

Cynical prediction: this will not be treated as the serious domestic terrorist attack that it is - unless it turns out that the perpetrator is Muslim, in which case it will suddenly be a critically important terror event.

#1006 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 07:59 PM:

For those who want more details on the chlorine attack at FurFest, here's the Chicago Tribune story.

#1007 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 08:01 PM:

Trying to shake loose a DSE. Chicago Tribune did a story, to which I linked. An interesting question: does it count as a hate crime if the people are just prejudiced against furries?

#1008 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 09:03 PM:

#998, 999: Yes, that was sloppy.

#1009 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Tom 1007: An interesting question: does it count as a hate crime if the people are just prejudiced against furries?

Yes, of course it does. Why wouldn't it?

(I'm answering whether it really IS a hate crime, not whether it qualifies under a hate-crimes law, which I don't know. The laws I know about have specific protected categories, and I doubt furries are one of them; but I know nothing about Illinois' hate-crimes statutes or lack of same.)

#1010 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Open Thread 202

#1011 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 08:18 AM:

@1007: Of course it's a hate crime (Xopher's point about "maybe not in the legal sense" noted).

And to mods: that event deserves its own thread. Time to turn the rock over and see what crawls out from under it.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.