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December 7, 2014

Open thread 202
Posted by Teresa at 09:34 PM * 965 comments

Xandy Peters, a young industrial designer, invented a striking new stitch pattern she named Fox Paws. She put it up on Ravelry. A woman in Tottori, Japan knitted a beautiful version of it in yarns from a small factory in Ödeshög, Östergötlands whose F2F shop is open maybe two days a week.

The pattern has been knitted by people in West Yorkshire, Overijssel, Moscow, Lancashire, County Clare, NYC, Richmond, Tacoma, and Pittsburgh. Along the way it’s been translated into Polish, annotated in Cyrillic, charted by a construction manager in Queensland, and reworked as socks, a beanie, and a cardigan. Sixty-odd German-speaking knitters formed a support group about it. My guess is that pattern will be around as long as humans keep knitting.

So thank you, internet. Twenty years ago, that couldn’t have happened. While we’re at it, thank you for for propagating Twitter, cellphone videos, non-mainstream porn, Wikipedia pages about still-happening events, blog posts about absolutely anything, a zillion galleries on DeviantArt, and the many-to-many voice.

It’s easy to get dispirited. Flamewars we have with us always, and they’re always a downer. But the important fact to remember is that the same internet that can’t tell whether you’re a dog can eventually figure out that Theodore Beale and Requires Hate are monsters. They don’t own the net. Online culture has never been made in their image. They’re just a couple of the bugs you’re sure to get in a lively and diverse ecology. Screw them. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Comments on Open thread 202:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 09:42 PM:


Cool how this new pattern has caught on so quickly, and widely.

May good new ideas do the same.

#3 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:01 PM:

For the Stephen Fry fans in the house.

Also: breadcrumbs back to OT 201.

#4 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:03 PM:

First knitting pattern I've seen in a long time that made me want to learn to knit.

#6 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:19 PM:

Xopher, I bought a copy of that pattern, 'Petal Cowl' (which is similar), and 'Double Mustard' (a double-sided cable pattern), and 'Fox Paws' is daunting, even to me. I knit socks, I've knit a seamless Aran pullover, I've done lace with beads ... and that pattern is daunting. (Use larger needles than you think you need.)

The Yarn Harlot knit a scarf in it - that's where I first saw it.

#7 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:30 PM:

The internet has given one of my best friends, and has allowed me to get back in touch with another friend.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:32 PM:

Patrick --

I love that one! It's a fractal mandelbroccoli hat, and it's knitted, which is much harder than crocheting a shape like that.

I also love this hat of hers, though it's less immediately spectacular. That leaf-shaped motif has been around forever -- it's a staple of lace knitting. But making a tube out of four enormous repeats of the motif, and omitting the normal increases around the tips of the leaves so the tube tapers to become a hat? Not standard at all. She may not be the very first person to do that -- I wouldn't know -- but it's a striking design.

Frankie Brown -- I hope that link works -- is another remarkable designer. Have a look. She's got the same kind of knack for structure that Elizabeth Zimmerman had.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:35 PM:

Soon Lee --

I'll listen to Brother Guy explain anything. What's he talking about in that interview?

#10 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Another excellent textile thing which probably wouldn't exist without the internet: custom silk damask.

#11 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:47 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden #9:

It was a 21 minute conversation that was relatively wide-ranging including Brother Guy's path to his current position, how/why the Vatican has an observatory (Galileo got mentioned too), Religion versus Science (it's not "versus", but "alongside"), and his book "Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?" The clarity of his sentences was just lovely & I can finally put a voice to a name.

(You can stream or download (OGG/MP3) the interview from the page I linked)

#12 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 10:58 PM:

This morning at church, we sang the Unitarian Universalist version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

I had first encountered O Come as this recording, with which I instantly fell in love - it is my favorite Christmas hymn/carol melody-wise.

With the addition of these lyrics, it may be my favorite religious song of any kind. It no longer assumes a theology I do not myself assert; instead, it encapsulates everything I love about the idea of Christmas: love, light, hope.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:03 PM:

This article has me wondering: How commercial / corporate is Japan's animation industry?

Hayao Miyazaki: Anime Suffers Because the Industry is Full of "Otaku"

#14 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:08 PM:

I showed Fox Paws around Knitter's Breakfast and oh the exclamations. I have a friend who knits like the wind and has lots of bus time plus frustrating discussion groups, and she's the only person I can imagine doing an afghan. So I have begun hinting about a Lisa Frank Fox Paws State Fair afghan.

Me? I'm entering embroidery.

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:23 PM:

Stephan, quick weird question: when you go to that page, do you get shown ads for books by Vox Day and John C. Wright?

#16 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:27 PM:

@Teresa: Went back and paid attention to the ads this time, and yes, I do!

Only familiar with Vox Day from the obnoxiousness of a month or so ago; is Wright of similar ilk?

#17 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:33 PM:

Other stuff I've seen happen, some of it right here:

*Somebody tries to make money by stealing other people's stuff and putting it in their magazine, Internet notices, it's viral in about 12 hours, thief is shut down within a week.

*Life is so much easier in the SCA now than in the old days. SCAdians have translated and webbed heretofore untranslated documents few people even knew existed. It is now possible to page through painstakingly scanned illuminated books to study how it was done, courtesy of numerous museums. As soon as a medieval garment is unearthed, somebody posts a photo. Hey, know that table sauce that nobody has made for the kitchen in at least 400 years? Want to know what making it according to the ancient recipe is like, and how it tastes? There's an article. The world is at our fingertips.

*No matter what weird spectrum-y thing I'm into, somebody out there is into it too.

*No matter how alone I feel in my opinions, there is a blog out there for people who share them.

#18 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:36 PM:

I got an ad for two books from Castalia House, one of them by Vox Day.

#19 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:46 PM:

Feel an urge to write The Drow on the Shelf.

#20 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:59 PM:

Stefan@13: AIUI, fairly so on both counts.

Especially "commercial." Nobody merchandises like the Japanese. Last month one of the major chains of convenience stores ("konbini"; and they live up to the name, offering a wide array of food and drink, household goods, and even services like bill payment and shipping of goods via courier) had a nikuman, a bun stuffed with in this case ma po tofu, in the look of Kyubei from Madoka Magica.

And don't get me started on the pachinko and slot machines with anime characters. Trust me, any licensing that can be thought of, has been.

(Have been living in Japan since January. I come home in 2 weeks.)

#21 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2014, 11:59 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 15: When I go to the page Stefan linked to at #13, I see an ad for two books from the same publisher. One was by VD, and the other by Chris Kennedy.

#22 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 12:12 AM:

Oops, should have refreshed before I answered a question...that was already answered.

Open thready: I saw the movie Rosewater this weekend, and recommend it.
I also had kangaroo stew this weekend, and recommend it, too (through a combination of Australian neighbors, and Pittsburgh's amazing food stores in the Strip District.)

#23 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 12:40 AM:

Brother Guy was also on C-SPAN 2's Book TV tonight, talking about his 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.

This link gets you the talk's Book TV page. Within days, we may expect a streaming version of the talk to materialize at this URL. Consolmagno buffs should check it within a few days.

Also, Book TV typically reruns such talks once or twice on subsequent weekends. That link will indicate the time of reruns, once they are scheduled.

To me, as the sort of person who watches C-SPAN from time to time, this means Guy has hit the big time. (Even though it's not exactly the Ed Sullivan show.)

#24 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 07:01 AM:

Stefan Jones @16 writes:

> Only familiar with Vox Day from the obnoxiousness of a month or so ago; is Wright of similar ilk?

I finally got around to reading my copy of "Songs of the Dying Earth" (Jack Vance tribute anthology) and quite liked the John C. Wright story - enough that I went and dug up his website and had a read.

Sadness :(

Yes, he is of the same ilk as Vox Day, though I think he may have a milder case of whatever it is.

#25 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 08:23 AM:

Re: knitting. Two suitable-for-non-experts bang for your buck (not too hard to do, procedurally; look AMAZING when done) patterns I recommend are:

  • Lizard Ridge involves turning your work in mid-row (short rows), which can be an intimidating prospect for a new knitter but after the first few is liberating and very easy to actually knit. And it produces amazing results, especially in a long-repeat gradient yarn that changes color slowly along its length. As written, uses up short balls of leftover yarn quite efficently and beautifully. Can be done with rows of garter in between to outline. Modifiable for a blanket, sweater-body, whatever.
  • Bubbles does that entire amazing pattern with just pairs of increases and decreases. Very forgiving. Easily knit in a yarn that hides mistakes. Even when screwed up semi-regularly still looks awesome when you're done (if not necessarily as Perfectly Exactly Symmetrical).
#26 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 08:51 AM:

Stefan Jones@13, et al: Re what Miyazaki-sama said, a few observations: 1) He's right. 2) He's said it before (and he was right then, too). 3) Jo Walton said much the same thing wrt SF, and AFAIK was the one coined the term "Third Artist Syndrome" for it.

The thing is, if you can avoid the tendency to navel-gaze, there are interesting conversations to have about the tropes, of anime or of SF. And in the right hands even the uncritical "we do this because that's the way the thing is done" approach that Walton and Miyazaki-sama are criticizing can still get you a high-quality and enjoyable story.

#27 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Local fan was invited by other local fan to come watch the premiere of "The Librarians", in which Noah Wyle channels Matt Smith, and during which the other local fan's two teenage sons walked out when an ad about menopause incited their mom and the other two ladies present to sing songs about hot flashes.

#28 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:18 AM:

#26 ::: JBWoodford
Stefan Jones@13, et al: Re what Miyazaki-sama said, a few observations: 1) He's right. 2) He's said it before (and he was right then, too) ... And in the right hands even the uncritical "we do this because that's the way the thing is done" approach that Walton and Miyazaki-sama are criticizing can still get you a high-quality and enjoyable story.

Miyazaki-sensei is correct, as usual, and also an unhappy old man. As you might expect, real life is complex, and moreso in Japan.

Commercial anime is very otaku focused, and every production is funded by a "production commitee" composed of music companies, manga/light novel publishers, broadcasters, merchandiers, and often convenience-store chains, local tourism boards, the occasional auto maker, etc. It's not always clear who is benefiting and how - some anime are meant to fund book sales, most theme music is meant to fuel CD sales (they still do those), its not clear if the local tourism boards are paying for the anime or if they are being paid, or if they just underwrite the travel and lodging expenses of the animators who would use the same location anyway, etc.

On the other hand, a huge number of shows are produced annually - 2013 had roughly 150 shows, most of which were at least 12 episodes of 24 minutes length. That's roughly 480 ninety minute movies. Roughly 465 "American Films" were released in the same year. (Both rough estimates via Wikipedia). Not bad for a country who's audience size is 2.4x smaller than the U.S.

Because so much is produced, there are incredible opportunities for writers and directors to tell interesting, compelling stories, and to scratch very personal itches. There is also the opportunity for whole genres to flower that couldn't exist elsewhere, like iyashikei anime. I don't think the argument that most anime is commercial in any way invalidates its content. It's the content that can invalidate the story!

This is to say that relentless pandering to the id vortex is present. Anyone would be right to criticize that. There's a lot of wasted potential. Miyazaki himself is not a completely un-problematic individual, what with being a human being and all.

#29 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:44 AM:

Jenny @ 17: oh, yes, the SCA resources available online are tremendous. I started playing just as the web was really ramping up, and the internet made just finding groups and events so much easier.

While I learned to spin wool in the SCA, I learned to knit on the internet. (Because I needed to do *something* with all that yarn I was producing.) This year I'm knitting probably half my holiday presents with patterns from Ravelry.

#30 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:52 AM:

kimiko #28: it's one thing for anime to be focused toward otaku, targeted to their interests and such.

I believe Miyazaki's point can be summarized as the commonplace obervation that for an artist to depict people properly, they need to actually observe quite a lot of them.

That applies both to depicting them physically (q.v. Hawkeye Project et al), and portraying them psychologically (offhand, the "Manpain" article -- or, from a while back, the "Fond Memories of Vagina" smackdown). And yeah, both of those are from Western lit because that's what I'm more familiar with -- just as Miyazaki discusses his own industry and culture.

#31 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:54 AM:

Third Artist Syndrome

I just got back from a google rabbithole on that one. Jo Walton wrote about this in her livejournal seven years ago. Link:

Four years ago, after following some links from Making Light :) , Heather Rose Jones popped up in the comments to cite her article (which I have not read) "The Third Artist", MZBFM #30, Winter 1996.

Anyway, credit to Jo Walton and HRJ for making this neat idea discussable. HRJ, if you are on here today, could you reprint that article online?

#32 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:55 AM:

Third Artist Syndrome

I just got back from a google rabbithole on that one. Jo Walton wrote about this in her livejournal seven years ago. Link:

Four years ago, after following some links from Making Light :) , Heather Rose Jones popped up in the comments to cite her article (which I have not read) "The Third Artist", MZBFM #30, Winter 1996.

Anyway, credit to Jo Walton and HRJ for making this neat idea discussable. HRJ, if you are on here today, could you reprint that article online?

#33 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:08 AM:

Editing fail, trying again:

kimiko #28: it's one thing for anime to be focused toward otaku, targeted to their interests and such. That doesn't mean the target audience is going to be good at creating anime.

I believe Miyazaki's point can be summarized as the commonplace obervation that for an artist to depict people properly, they need to actually observe quite a lot of them.

That applies both to depicting them physically (q.v. The Hawkeye Initiative et al), and portraying them psychologically (offhand, the "Manpain" article -- or, from a while back, the "Fond Memories of Vagina" smackdown). And yeah, both of those are from Western lit because that's what I'm more familiar with -- just as Miyazaki discusses his own industry and culture.

And seeing a mention of the "Third Artist Syndrome" below me, I do think that's relevant.

#34 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:11 AM:

#30, David Harmon,
Once again, I am stunned to realize that I've responded to something different than what other people see. A little frustrated too. I try so hard to stay on topic.

Yes, you are right on the substance and reality of what he's talking about. I'm not sure what I was responding to, except that I've read a lot of his carping* over the years, and it all overlaps in my head.

I do think his criticisms have hit their mark, by the way. I can point to a handful of shows and studios that are indirectly tackling the problem of good physical and psychological depiction. Kyoani's depiction of physical movement and using it suggest internal mental states is quite keen. (Best example, Hyouka, contemporary example Amagi Brilliant Park) Trigger did something unusual in When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace, episode 7, when Hatoko chews out the main character in one long, uncut take, for being so unreasonably verbally clever as to be unintelligible and alienating.

Also, apologies for the double posts.

*he's a genius, and I love his work, but he's complained about every major aspect of the industry possible

#35 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:16 AM:

David Harmon@30 quoth:

I believe Miyazaki's point can be summarized as the commonplace obervation that for an artist to depict people properly, they need to actually observe quite a lot of them.

Not just people; Studio Ghibli has done some incredible work by looking at all sorts of models from nature and elsewhere. IIRC, the scene in Spirited Away when Haku is choking was modeled on a dog getting pilled.

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:19 AM:

kimiko #34: *he's a genius, and I love his work, but he's complained about every major aspect of the industry possible

Sounds like he has high standards. ;-)

#37 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:29 AM:

There's a lovely bit in the extra on Spirited Away where Miyazaki is talking to his animators about a scene in which Chihiro feeds a sick dragon medicine, and he says something like "the way you'd give one to a big dog." and not an animator around the table has ever seen a large dog get pilled. Not one *has* a dog that would require that maintenance. They end up having to do a field trip to a veterinarian.

So as soon as I read the article I knew this was the sort of real life experience he meant they were lacking.

This is a different question from the (Also interesting and disturbing) trend of the role of commercial interests Stefan asked about. This is the person in the career for driven love of it, but perhaps to the exclusion of going and checking out real life.

I am guilty of some third artist effects, myself, when writing, so I'm not pointing fingers or crying shame. I try to do some real research, and being in the SCA helps for some aspects even as it very much fails for others - the titular anachronisms) but I'm often a lazy researcher until I absolutely have no choice but to plunge in. And sometimes *then* I'm frustrated by what's available.

#38 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:32 AM:

kimiko@34, and above:

Yeah, there was a certain element of cane-shaking there. I don't know how much of this is translation effect, but now that you mention it (and I gestured vaguely in this direction in my first post) the most important thing in any drama has to be the story, not the technique(s) used to tell it. AISI, the stories that Miyazaki wanted to tell are those that were best told/shown with the detailed techniques that he's championed. But they're not the only type of stories worth telling, and if a good story can be told with less investment, well, more power to the tellers.

What I take away from his comments is that ideally, you let the story drive what you have to do to tell it, and not start by excluding things that might demand more intensive work to tell well. That may be me projecting my own thoughts on what he's saying, though.

#39 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:40 AM:

Rob Hansen @201/985: Fabulous Libraries

Reading Vinge's Rainbows End,* I encountered for the first time the Geisel Library.

* Strangely frustrating work; I finally gave up two-thirds of the way through. Finding a bookmark, I had apparently previously given up a third of the way through.

#40 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 01:10 PM:

HLN: Local man is one of today's* lucky 10,000, in the caffeine category, learning about Vietnamese "butter roast" coffee: coffee that's very slowly roasted after being coated in oil (traditionally clarified butter) and a tiny amount of sugar.**

Background: for a while we've been drinking a Vietnamese coffee blend that's extremely sweet and chocolatey, while not tasting like any flavored coffee I've ever had (almost all of which I've disliked). I finally got around to asking the vendor if there were any non-coffee ingredients, so I could tell people with food restrictions, and got the answer, "Not enough to require labeling under US laws, but..." Apparently the distinctive flavor is a combination of the choice of coffee varieties and the long, slow roast in a turning drum. The oil helps keep the roasting even, and the sugar helps the oil crystallize on the beans instead of making everything oily. The oil in the coffee we're drinking is probably not from butter, since other things are more shelf-stable, but small roasters in Vietnam apparently swear by Norwegian butter for their butter roasts.

And that's about as much as I know about the process. I haven't found much more online, beyond occasional "hey, they do this weird thing to their coffee in Vietnam" one-liners, and one or two brief writeups on vendor sites.

* Actually, about two weeks ago today, but I apparently didn't write about it then despite otherwise going around telling everyone about it.

** Ok, maybe that doesn't count as something "everyone knows", but it was still a happy discovery.

#41 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 01:54 PM:

dotless ı@40, a while back I went looking for robusta coffees online, and (other than Sweet Maria's, which sells raw beans but not roasted) found that they're basically only available on The Big River (sigh, bought some anyway, along with some excelsa and liberica, two other species of coffee.) There's a bit of it produced in Africa, but most of it's from Vietnam, which also prompted me to look at the labels of the Vietnamese coffees in the local Asian groceries.

One of the varieties said "oil-roasted, suitable for vegans", which was kind of a surprise, because I thought coffee was always dry-roasted, and one said it had butter and coffee flavors in addition to the arabica and robusta coffees and being a fairly dark roast. I wonder how much the butter/oil/sugar is contributing directly to the flavors and how much it's changing the way the coffee beans roast?

Most of the robustas seem to be from the Đà Lạt Highlands in South Vietnam. One was really tasty, and a few were more typical blends (with bad copy-writing that only mentioned the robusta.) The excelsa was interesting, very caffeinated, kind of thin and bitter and easy to over-extract - it's not grown much because it's a fairly uncooperative tree. Liberica and excelsa may be different species or just different cultivars of the same species, depending on whose taxonomy you believe, and the traditional "Java" coffee was a liberica that was grown there because it was resistant to some local coffee diseases, but I liked it a lot better - it added some nice muddiness when mixed with Ethiopian.

#42 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 02:48 PM:

dotless ı@40: Aha! I think you might have just explained the mystery of why my favourite coffee tastes that way. I can’t find confirmation that that’s how it’s roasted but “sweet and chocolatey” fits the bill. UK fluorospherians can get their hands on Vietnamese coffee here (I have no link to that site other than as a repeat customer).

#43 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 03:06 PM:

I don't know if this applies to movies, but my first thought about Myazaki's complaint was that not everything has to be about people. Renoir was a brilliant people painter, but Monet got by perfectly well by being fascinated with light and color instead.

Any recommendations for the best otaku-oriented anime?

#44 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 03:07 PM:

Bill Stewart@41: If you're looking for other sources of robusta beans, a couple of the options here are pure robusta.

In terms of the effect on the flavor, the vendor said that the primary effect of the technique was from the slower, wetter roast, and the oil facilitates that (as does wetting the beans before roasting, if I understood correctly). Historically the technique might have also disguised unripe berries in the mix, since it gives them all a uniform caramelized coating, but in that case it sounded like they would have used more oil/butter; but I'm much more in the realm of inference and guesswork there.

#45 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz: I don't know if this is what you mean but I thought of it when you said "otaku-oriented". I have no idea if Miyazaki-san would approve of it or not.

Outbreak Company (available for legal free streaming in the US on CrunchyRoll and possibly elsewhere) is a fascinating, though dense, view for me. To give a sort of back-of-the-novel description of the setup (not spoilers, because it's all in the first ep, I think ... but I'll rot13 just in case), n cbegny gb Nabgure Jbeyq bcraf hc va n Wncnarfr angvbany sberfg. Gur jbeyq vg tbrf gb vf fvtavsvpnagyl Q&Q-yvxr naq unf zntvp. Vg vf ehyrq ol ryirf. Gurer ner nyfb qjneirf, cneg-navzny crbcyr, rgp. Gur Wncnarfr tbireazrag xrrcf vg nyy IREL frperg, ohg qrpvqrf gur orfg jnl gb frrx pbageby bire gurve qvcybzngvp eryngvbafuvc vf gb gel gb trg gur bgurejbeyq crbcyr ubbxrq ba Wncnarfr phygher naq abezf. Fb gurl uver n znffvir bgnxh jub unf rkunhfgvir xabjyrqtr bs nyy nfcrpgf bs znatn naq navzr snaqbz naq znxr uvz gurve yvir-bire-gurer-shyy-gvzr nzonfffnqbe. Ur unf gb eha pynffrf grnpuvat Wncnarfr ynathntr naq phygher gb crbcyr angvir gb gur bgure jbeyq.

So not only are there extended in-jokes about the kind of people who spend Too Much Time obsessed with various anime or manga, as well as extended dissections of prevalent tropes and why their fans enjoy them, it -- I think consciously -- walks some really uncomfortable edges about colonialism and empire, and the relationship between "showing someone something cool" and "eradicating your culture to replace it with my own".

Ethical issues are raised, like is it ok to extirpate a custom if I think the custom is icky? If I think the custom oppresses a population? If I think the one I'm replacing it with is just more awesome? And so on.

I think the creators must be putting in the dense, uncomfortable sociology on purpose, because it's not just a few random touches here and there, it's structural and seems to be even lampshaded a few times when the main character himself NOTICES it and debates the issues in his internal narration.

The main character is definitely the kind of person of limited life experience Miyazaki-san was complaining about in the particular linked rant.

#46 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 03:19 PM:

"Butter-roasted coffee Sounds Interesting. If I went wandering around Lowell I wonder if I might find some (Lowell has a large population which immigrated over the past 45 or so years from Cambodia and Vietnam).

#17 Jenny

The good news is that there is information out on the net. The bad news includes:
a) There is lots of noise
b) The signal to noise ratio is horrible
c) There are lots of spammers, scammers, commercial exploiters and clods, clueless wonders, malicious louts, inept/incompetent sorts, intensely earnest sort with limited senses of humor or senses of boundaries, jokers...
d) The filtering methodologies have vast areas of lack of effectiveness or utlitily
e) Did I mention there is lots of noise?
f) Sarcastic, satirical, ironic, insouciant, slanted, etc., tones and perspectives abound and rare it is that something which is hyperbole etc. actually has the disclaimer information which allowed readers an explicit guide to what is and is not "real" and what is satire/sarcasm/snark/exaggeration/or even understatement and softening the actual for consumption by casual websurfers.

The credibility factors/coefficients and guides are lacking, particularly since people's worlddviews can be so noncongruent.

#47 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 03:40 PM:

#28 kimiko: Wow, I didn't know iyashikei as a particular genre and now I have a word for That Thing I Like Where Media Isn't Stressful. (TV Tropes lists a bunch of shows I've enjoyed.) Thanks for that!

#48 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 04:14 PM:

Speaking of drinks: My weekly billiards session with a friend was unexpectedly evened out (usually I'm rather better than him) when bartender served me a 12-ounce glass of Brooklyn Brewery's Chocolate Stout.

Despite being assured by the bartender that "yes, that's the right glass"¹, I discovered upon investigation that this beer features 10% ABV. I'd already figured out it was strong, but I think that's the highest ABV I've encountered outside of homebrew. (Yummy, though.)

It reminded me that way back when, I knew a fellow, aptly nicknamed Bacchus, who used wine yeast to get his beer up to 13%. (Stanley Genthner, may his spirit revel with the Goddess.) I've still got a bottle of his blueberry mead in my fridge that has followed me through two moves. The crowds I've been handing out with haven't been the sort to bring it out and discover whether it's aged or spoiled.

¹ The bar in question usually sizes the glasses according to alcohol content.

#49 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 04:20 PM:

TChem, you are welcome! It always makes me happy to be helfpul.

My two favorite iyashikei series are KamiChu and Natsume's Book of Friends. For those of you reading along at home, KamiChu is about a middle school girl who wakes up one morning to discover that she's a (local) god, probably of middle schoolers. The plot is not about how it happened - it's never explained. It's not really about the heroic-scale challenges she faces - there's only a few episodes about those. It's about her, how she deals with her new reality (and the weird things she can now see) and how she deals with her friends, family, and growing up. It's readily available in the form of used DVDs, but there's no (legal) streaming options.

Natsume's Book of Friends* is freely available, legally, from (And for purchase on little plastic disks.) Summary: gentle spirited, orphan, teenage boy can see spirits, local gods, demons, and dead people. He's understandably considered to be pretty weird, and now he's moved to a new town, desperate to fit in. And to not be eaten by things. One of the things he comes across is in the form of a "lucky kitty", who is adorable, and protests that "I'm not a cat, I'm a noble being!". (Cat owners represent!) Of course, he's given the voice of an adorably cranky old man, and of course he decides to appoint himself to be Natsume's body guard.

I understand that there are a great many cat owners on ML. I think they'd probably enjoy that one.

*Natsume Yujin-cho

#50 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 04:26 PM:

#45,Elliott Mason, and Nancy Lebovitz
Elliott, I could not think of a better example of an otaku show than that. I mean, I can think of show that are just as otaku-y, but are horrible, but I doubt that's what Nancy was looking for.

You might find the book "Otaku: Japan's Database Animals" interesting. I'll quote from Brian Ruh's review on Anime News Network:
the emphasis is on the kinds of reactions the characters are designed to draw out in the viewer rather than anything having to do with what's going on in the plot. New characters are generated through a process of drawing from certain traits that have proven to be popular in the past and then recombining those traits into different combinations. In essence, there is a common database (which is just an organized collection of information) of character designs, traits, plot points, and so on, from which to draw in order to try to create new products.

#51 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 04:38 PM:

kimiko: Would Gingitsune be considered iyashikei? It has some things in common with KamiChu (as you describe it).

It's on CrunchyRoll (most of what I've seen is on CrunchyRoll, since that's how I watch anime in the main). I started watching it because it gets into the "difference between buddhism and shinto" thing, which fascinates me, added to a high school slice-of-life and what I think of as The Buffy Tension, where a character has to balance their "I have access to the supernatural and duties with them" plots versus all the things that go into societally-constructed "normal life".

#52 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 05:11 PM:

HLN: Area Man has just, after many trials, submitted for a postdoctoral fellowship. Area Man doesn't have his PhD yet, but in order to do a postdoc, he needs to have money to do a postdoc. Hence, postdoctoral fellowship application.

Here's hoping the National Institutes of Health, particularly the National Eye Institute, thinks it's worth funding.

#53 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 05:17 PM:

David @48: One of my favourite local breweries, Unibroue, has a couple of beers that strong*. They also have really gorgeous label art, generally having to do with local folklore (as in La Maudite, featuring a ghost canoe paddled by the souls of damned voyageurs) or scenes from local history - the Chambly fort features prominently. I can highly recommend any of their beers to beer-drinkers!

*Edit - I was wrong, only nine percent.

#54 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 05:41 PM:

#51, Elliott Mason,
I'm pretty sure it would be. At least, it's how I experience it. It's really one of my favorite shows, I just wish it had more episodes. (Also, arrogant guy who is totally freaked out by the supernatural cracks me up every time.)

I file it under "shrine anime" as a kind of micro-genre inside of iyashikei.

I also watched Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha, another "shrine anime" which is mostly charming, with the exception of the main character's brother. Synopsis: Inari, a young girl, is granted one wish by a goddess, and the consequences of her wish are _not good_. In an effort to fix the problem, the goddess grants her additional powers, with unforeseen consequences of the "wacky comedy + earnest drama" variety. The story is actually about the friendship between Inari and the goddess, and how Inar grows up.

Anyway, the story is flawed due to her older brother being a jerk to the goddess. Perhaps he is more sympathetic in the manga. On the other hand, it still is a charming story, with queer characters represented sympathetically and without much comment. Ditto for character body types that actually resemble real people.

#55 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 05:42 PM:

#52, Benjamin Wolfe,
Congratulations, and may your efforts be successful.

#56 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 07:05 PM:

kimiko @32

Thanks for jumping in on the roots of "The Third Artist". As I noted in my comment on Jo's blog, I certainly won't claim that nobody else ever articulated the idea before me (or independently of me) but given that she traced the phrase through Dorothy Heydt's usage, it almost certainly came originally from my article.

I don't have it on-line currently, but I could certainly put it up. (Might have to re-type it from the magazine. I'll have to see if I have an e-copy.) I'll come back and post when I've done so.

#57 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 07:06 PM:

Em: Unibroue beers are quite awesome. I liked La Maudite too, but I've particularly enjoyed Fin du Monde ("End of the world!") If you like those, you might also like Brewery Ommegang's Belgian-style ales from New York State, such as their Abbey Ale or Three Philosophers, which have a similar kick to them. Definitely best shared with several friends.

#58 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 08:38 PM:

What I did today:

Coworker Goodies

Not shown: German's Chocolate Cake for the shipping department.

All from mixes, but scheduling it all in an afternoon felt like an accomplishment.

#59 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 09:44 PM:


I have used the Third Artist parable/fable/metaphor at Alpha without ever finding someone who knew it or being able to remember where I picked it up. It is magnificently useful. Now I know and can credit you! Yay!

(Okay, I don't have definitive proof. I can't find a cover image for MZBFM 30. But I do have a bunch of back issues and it's likely that's one of them.)

#60 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 09:48 PM:

A plea for knowledge: does anyone know of a site which can do one-off printed plates? I think either CafePress or Lulu does them, but only prints in the center of the plate, not out to near the edge.

Any wisdom gratefully received.

ps - thanks to Nancy for the link to the custom silk damask. Not only beautiful, but it reminded me that I needed custom plates :)

#61 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 09:52 PM:

Well, the union came through and I have a guaranteed paycheck through at least 12/15/15. The structure of the deal is: The Department has until April to decide if the "hybrid" (outsourced + us) model is working. If it isn't and they feel they don't need us, The Company must find a union position in the same grade for the four of us through next December. Should those jobs come to an end in December, we will be laid off and the three most senior (of which I am one) will receive enhanced severance packages.

Based on the way they've been running things around here, my guess is that come April they will claim they want to move to a mostly-outsourced model, while turning around and offering three of us non-Union jobs. If I thought for a moment that the decision to outsource/how much to outsource/process development, etc was being done by the managers and supervisors who know what we do, I'd certainly consider taking a non-union position. Unfortunately, the people making the decisions are blissfully unaware of what we've been doing for the last 9 years and thus far have developed processes that take just as much work from us but will be less secure and accurate and are making sure all non-union employees have laptops and phones and are expected to be on-call at all times. I can't imagine working at-will in such a mismanaged department. I also have my suspicions that if they offer us at-will jobs, they will shit-can us before the 4th quarter anyway and avoid having to pay any severance at all.

At any rate, the four of us are the only ones in the division who have guaranteed jobs through next year, so I'm choosing to look at this as a positive.

#62 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 09:53 PM:

I have an interactive fiction question. ("Mr. Plotkin to the white courtesy phone...")

I was recently looking for info on Hypercard variants for the iPad. During the process I ran into much excitement that someone had made the Visual Novel program Ren'Py run on the iPad. I had always had the idea that Visual Novel software was like Choose Your Own Adventure games with screens so you could convince the NPC's to disrobe, but the comments indicated there was more to it than that. Is there a good overview I can look at?

#63 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:05 PM:

Kimiko #49: yes, Kamichu was one of the ones I'd seen and enjoyed! It's such a sweet little creation. Although they're not really part of the same genre, it hits me in the same place as low-stakes BBC costume dramas. Just the thing for a dreary winter day.

#64 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:10 PM:

I've been thinking about my year-end charity donations today.

The context is that I've been trying to each year kick up the percentage of my income that I donate to worthy charities, trying to work up to the 10% (tithing) range. Along with that, I'm trying to make sure that the groups I give it to are doing the most possible with it, and getting the most results, so I've been reviewing the groups I give to on Charity Navigator.

Americares came out one of the best in terms of money spent on the program; a stunning 98.2% of donations go to the program, less than $0.01 per dollar goes to fundraising.
With the Hawaii Foodbank, another of my favorite charities - people have to eat! - 95% of donations go to the program.
IHS, which works on homelessness in Hawaii, spends 88% of donations on their programs (they're relatively small, so more overhead.)

However, I was a little disappointed by Oxfam America, in that less than 80% of money raised goes towards their programs. (That's not uncommon, but I'd hoped for better.)
Doctors Without Borders does better at 87% but still quite into the 90+% range that I'm looking for.

So a question for the Fluorosphere - does anybody know a charity focusing on development for the extremely poor world-wide, similar to what Oxfam does, which has a very high rating both in terms of results and in terms of spending the money on the program itself rather than fundraising or administration? Also, does anybody know of a charity which is actually accomplishing anything on the climate change problem? If someone can help me with the name of a really good charity for either of these, the reward is that I will give those charities money.

I'll probably continue to give Oxfam some, but I'd like to go for the maximum results per dollar.

#65 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:13 PM:

I've been looking through and wow, do I have a different idea of "moment of stillness/healing" than some of those anime.

Haibane Renmei is in there. I agree it's ... cathartic, and emotionally transformational, but it's also going some intensely intimate, involved places, such that i've been stuck two eps from the end for over eight months now, unable to go make myself finish it.

(I've been in a "can't take media that's too heavy/dark" place for a while)

The makers of the page also think Mushi-shi is soothing and tranquil.

Mushi-shi contains some of the most intensely visceral body-horror and some of the most existential abstract horror I've ever SEEN in any visual medium from any country in the world. (It's also really, really good. If you like old-school Twilight Zone or the rebooted Outer Limits from the 90s, this is great for you).

I think I need a different list of iyashikei anime to be using as potential recommendations for me. :->

#66 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:43 PM:


It's not quite fighting poverty directly a la Oxfam, but I have a lot of respect for Partners in Health.

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 10:53 PM:

I've donated to Shelterbox, which is pretty good (overall: 89.9). Their CEO is definitely not in the overpaid category.

#68 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:20 PM:

Clifton at 64, have you checked out Heifer International?

#69 ::: Xandy Peters ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:22 PM:

Thanks for the Fox Paws shout out. I am 100% with you about the internet allowing amazing things to happen. It is an incredible thing to see something take off and be adapted bu a community of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

I much prefer the creation of instructions that go to a community of people who are enthusiastically making objects with meaning and sentiment over factory production.

Also @David Harmon - brooklyn's chocolate stout is my favorite because it is not too sweet or chocolatey. It is perfectly balanced in flavor. My mother got some for me as a birthday gift, it is a little hard to find bottled.

#70 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:23 PM:

I have an ethical question.

I work for a small charity, and just finished working on a prospecting list. One of the prospects is a company called Tvrqv Cevzr YYP (ROT-13 because I don't want them Googling and finding me talking about them). No, I'm not kidding. It's a for-real company; I've checked it out.

The ethical question: Do I tell my boss not to bother soliciting them for donations? Pretty sure if they named themselves that, they're signaling to Those Who Know that they're not about charity or social good...even less than most companies.

#71 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:23 PM:

It turns out I did have an e-copy of The Third Artist, which made life much simpler. I was going to put it up on my LJ and then archive it on my website later, but LJ is being funky at the moment, so it's at my site here. (And that way I can save it for my Random Thursday Blog item on my journal.)

I can't tell you all how tickled I am that this particular column has Become A Thing (even if people don't necessarily associate it with me).

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:31 PM:

Not being a potential target, I googled it, and found very little. They own a residential building in Hoboken (I hope not one you live in) and have business licenses in NJ (from 2012) and Wisconsin (from last spring).

#73 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 11:34 PM:

Xopher @70: let the boss know what the reference is, and allow him/her to decide whether to solicit for a donation. That's the most respectful way to approach it, IMO -- particularly if you like the boss. Or just send the wikipedia entry....

#74 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 12:53 AM:

Heather Rose Jones #71:

Thanks for the 'reprint'. I vaguely recall someone in comics some years ago expressing a similar sentiment about how the old comics artists studied the human form whereas some of the younger generation used drawings of humans instead of actual humans as their models, and this would eventually lead to comic artists learning to draw people from drawings of drawings, and artists like Rob Liefeld may have been mentioned in those discussions.

#75 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 02:18 AM:

JB Woodford @ 66: Thanks! Partners in Health looks very much like the kind of thing I've been looking for.

Lizzy @ 68: I did, as it was one of the ones I had been thinking about adding, and was surprised to see it wasn't nearly as highly rated as I would have expected. It gets only 2 stars out of 4, roughly a quarter of their income goes to fundraising, and less than 70% goes to their actual program. I like the idea, but it sounds like they could do better on the execution.

#76 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 04:07 AM:

Elliot Mason@ 25: Your pictures of the Lizard Ridge pattern reminded me that I've been looking for a yarn with similar long color runs, but in a medium-weight worsted acrylic . . . "worsted" because I have problems with single-ply and roving yarns, and acrylic because of allergies. So far, all the possible yarns I've been able to locate have been wool, or wool blends, and I don't want to risk them. Does anyone have any suggestions?

#77 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 05:42 AM:

GiveWell evaluates charities for effectiveness, which I think is a better measure than % spent on a goal.

#78 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 05:50 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ #70 writes:

> Pretty sure if they named themselves that, they're signaling to Those Who Know that they're not about charity or social good...even less than most companies.

I wouldn't automatically conclude that - I'd only think that they were sf/f geeks and therefore probably wonderful people. I wouldn't worry about a company called "Evil Overlord Inc." either.

#79 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 08:12 AM:

Mary Frances: in US terms, 'worsted' means a particular thickness of the final yarn. You can have a worsted that's one loose twisted-roving ply or fifteen tiny shiny thread cabled together.

Knit Picks has a long-repeat cotton, but I don't remember the name. Chroma's wool/nylon, so not that. Go to Knit Picks and look around, maybe? I know Lion Brand also has a long-repeat with some wool but mostly nylon that won't be helpful to you.

#80 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 08:23 AM:

Clifton@75: I first encountered them after the earthquake in Haiti, and have continued to donate to them afterwards in large part because a lot of the people who decide where the money goes are from Haiti. They seem to have a very good handle on what folks really need--better, I think, than someone in a First World country who may lack the experience of living in a Third World country.

#81 ::: Susana S. P. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 09:25 AM:

Mary Frances@#76: I don't know of any US yarns (being in Portugal), but, if you're up to ordering from Turkey, this is a plied thin-ish dk weight. It holds up alright for a soft acrylic. There's also Marble DK (which is actually worsted weight, a UK yarn, in which the colors are marled, but it knits up beautifully.

Or, you could sign up for Ravelry and ask there. Helpful bunch in the forums, who, much like fandom, contain all knowledge.

#82 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Clifton #64: One of the few organizations I still contribute to is Union of Concerned Scientists.

I see that Amnesty International and Southern Poverty Law Center get high ratings for accountability, but not so much on finance. I'm not sure that 90%-to-program is a practical standard for national- or international-scale groups, but I have to admit that 20% for fundraising seems excessive.

#83 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 10:27 AM:

Clifton@57: Agreed on Fin du Monde. That's one of my favorites.

Clifton@64: I have an intense dislike of Charity Navigator and of the percentage-to-programs metric. In addition to measuring the wrong thing (since it says nothing about the effectiveness of that spending), I've seen too many idealistic people burn out working for nonprofits that were focused on low overhead numbers. People can always be asked to work longer and longer hours, for lower pay, when they're told that they're doing good, and people can keep doing that for a while; but most people can't do it forever, and once they burn out, that's it. The problem is that this is almost sustainable: idealistic people are, with proper cultivation and an appropriate harvest rate, a renewable resource. I just really hate seeing it be a harvest. (It's also a terrible use of resources, since when you burn people out you lose whatever knowledge and expertise they've gained.)

I have a lot more sympathy for GiveWell's approach. There's always a problem comparing very different kinds of charity activity, but they're clear about what they compare and how they compare it, and about the limits of their approach. The problem with being data driven is that they wind up focusing on the charities for which they have the best data, "because that's where the light is"*; but they're honest about that, as well. Looking at their review of Partners in Health, for example (which I do think very highly of, and donate to, for a number of reasons), they basically say "They doing good work—and the kind of work they do requires less new data to justify it because they're providing proven health care where it's needed—but we've hit the limit on the data we can get from them, so we're not going to focus on them or do further analysis."

* And old joke with wide applicability, especially for data-driven analyses:
It's nighttime. B is looking around under a street light.
A: What are you looking for?
B: I dropped my keys.
A: Did you drop them near here?
B: Probably not; I think I probably dropped them a block or two away.
A: Then why are you looking here?
B: The light is much better here.

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 10:56 AM:

Chroma. It's a roving type yarn, but has a fingering weight version.

#85 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 11:02 AM:

Amending: currently Knitpicks doesn't have any multi-colored yarns that aren't wool or wool-blend. They did have a cotton multi, at one point.
Lion has 'Ice Cream', which is acrylic sport-weight.

#86 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 11:25 AM:

As far as I can tell, the only gradients Knit Picks has right now are Chroma (wool/nylon, also a singles, so right out on both counts) and the various "tonals" (various fibers, all including wool).

Mary Frances, I think your best bet might be to ask around at some indie dyers. Most of them work in wool but they might have an idea of where you could look.

#87 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Open threadiness. Don't know if anyone has seen this, but it made me laugh. Would be interested to see the reactions to it of the parents on ML:

The Daddy Complex - CFTD method

To quote:

I know many people want to stay current with the latest parenting trends—attachment parenting, minimalist parenting, Tiger Mother parenting, et al. Well, I’ve stumbled upon a new technique that will guarantee your child grows up to be an exemplary student and citizen. It’s called CTFD, which stands for “Calm The Fuck Down.” And that’s not a message to give your kids. It’s for you.

Using CTFD assures you that — whichever way you choose to parent — your child will be fine (as long as you don’t abuse them, of course). To see it in action, here are some sample parenting scenarios and how CTFD can be employed:

- Worried your friend’s child has mastered the alphabet quicker than your child? Calm the fuck down.
- Scared you’re not imparting the wisdom your child will need to survive in school and beyond? Calm the fuck down.
- Concerned that you’re not the type of parent you thought you’d be? Calm the fuck down.
- Upset that your child doesn’t show interest in certain areas of learning? Calm the fuck down.
- Stressed that your child exhibits behavior in public you find embarrassing? Calm the fuck down.

Yes, using the CTFD method, you’ll find the pressure lifted and realize your child loves you no matter what, even if they’ve yet to master the alphabet. You’ll also learn that whether or not you’re the best parent in the world, as long as you love your child, they’ll think you are and that’s what matters. Plus, CTFD makes you immune to those that prey upon the fears of new parents, like pseudoscientists and parenting authors.

To use CTFD, just follow these simple steps:

- Calm the fuck down.
- There is no second step.
So, ignore all those other parenting trends and stick to CTFD. You’ll be glad you did and so will your kid.

#88 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 11:42 AM:

Clifton @ 57: Ommegang's Three Philosophers brew has the distinction of being the only beer (thus far) to be agreed upon by myself and my mother. We have entirely different likes in brews; I prefer the lambics and she prefers the non-lambics, but this one got a "not bad" from both of us. We even finished the bottle.

Benjamin Wolfe @42: Best wishes from the non-extramural side.

#89 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 11:54 AM:

James Harvey @ 87: I think no more advice needs to be given except in exceptional cases.

#90 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 12:59 PM:

No matter what we say, we do not feel
the pain of others right inside each heart,
instead we wait the turning of the wheel

for one more challenge, for the last appeal
which was presaged right at the very start.
No matter what we say, we do not feel

our hopes and urges have been brought to heel
and the last hero laid upon a cart,
instead we wait the turning of the wheel

to see the message, and to take our meal
in comfort. All who come here will depart
no matter what we say; we do not feel

we will start forward, and then we will reel
back down in sign that we have lacked the art;
instead we wait the turning of the wheel

for what is good, the last hard spring of steel;
yet still the while some fool will strain to fart.
no matter what we say we do not feel
instead we wait the turning of the wheel.

#91 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 01:31 PM:

dotless ı @83: Very good points, and I definitely agree with some of them. I will definitely look into Givewell.

I think I may have commented here before about the same process and problem you describe. The term for it I picked up somewhere, maybe from the old Coevolution Quarterly, was "stripmining idealism" which seems very apropos.

Perhaps I should have made it clearer that the biggest point which concerns me is when a high fraction of a charity's income is going to fundraising and (effectively) advertising. If I respond to an appeal, I'd like the bulk of my money to be used for the goal appealed to, not to send me and others more pleas for money. There obviously has to be some substantial allowance for fundraising, except in the rare cases where the cost of the fundraising is covered by some separate source, but once it gets up to the range of 25% or more I feel that's excessive.

Administration costs are different, not just because of the issues you raise, but because I'd expect certain kinds of activities (e.g. sending doctors into war-torn and impoverished countries world-wide) to take a whole lot more administration and organization than other kinds (e.g. distributing packaged food in your own region.)

Anyway, I've been wishing for some way to get a better understanding of groups' effectiveness and results, not just their financials, so I'll look at Givewell and will be continuing to look more.

(BTW, I think your joke originally comes from a Sufi story about Nasreddin, which I've often thought on. There's more depth in that story the more you look for it.)

#92 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 01:49 PM:

I've wondered for some time if there are charities who do allocated giving. What I mean is, if they give you the option to give to the administration/sales aspect vs. the supplies/expertise aspect.

#93 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 01:50 PM:

kimiko @ 55 and Ginger @88: Thank you! Here's hoping...

#94 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 01:52 PM:

P.S. My best wishes to you too, Benjamin, and sorry I didn't respond earlier; it can be an uncomfortable feeling to get "missed" in the middle of a busy thread.

#95 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @52, good luck. Would you be doing a postdoc at NIH itself, or would they be funding you somewhere else?

#96 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 02:16 PM:

Clifton@91: If you find other good resources, I'd be interested. Comparing charities is a hard problem. And I understand what you're saying about fundraising vs. operations; I'm never sure how to evaluate that. (I have seen organizations in that "cut overhead" mode go too far the other way and resist putting resources into building up their funding base. I doubt that's a problem with the really well-known organizations.)

Thanks for the Nasreddin pointer on that story; I'd be interested to see how far back it goes. I found one writeup here which mentions the connection but doesn't include a Nasreddin version prior to the first cite they found in 1924.

kimiko@92: The closest I can think of is charities which let you focus your donation on particular areas of work vs. their general funding. Money being fungible, though, I'd be surprised if that generally affects the amount of money that goes in one direction or another; and if it does, then I'd be concerned that it just makes the whole operation more inefficient. (For example—and this also relates to the "%age to overhead" question—a big problem with relief work is that the funding is so variable. How much is an organization going to be penalized for operating and budgeting for the long term, as opposed to getting the money out the door as fast as possible?)

#97 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 03:31 PM:

The whole "percentage to program" approach leads to people lying. Like the Red Cross.

#98 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 04:36 PM:

How I Defeated The Tolkien Estate

No one who gets a postgraduate degree in Hobbit Studies ever imagines they’ll be sued by the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. I certainly didn’t expect to wind up in court against Christopher Tolkien and his lawyers, like Frodo Baggins facing down the Nazgûl on Weathertop. Little did I know I was heading into a legal and scholarly Midgewater when I wrote and published The Lord of the Rings: A New English Translation.
#99 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 04:36 PM:

James Harvey @ 87: My father used to say that if you carefully educate your children to avoid the mistakes you've made all you have really accomplished is to insure that they will make different mistakes. Perhaps a corollary?

#100 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Well, it's done. I sent my boss an email, telling him about Tvrqv Cevzr, with due caution that the founders may have just been SF geeks who named it that as an in-joke, never expecting that anyone would recognize the reference.

I didn't try to make a recommendation, just told him about the reference.

Thanks to Tom and Steve for feedback.

Benjamin! Best wishes and bright blessings if welcome!

#101 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 05:03 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @52; Good luck with the application.

Clifton @64: On of the charities we suggested for our Good Gifts wedding list* was the World Land Trust. Not quite climate change, but saving rainforests, which is helpful.

*We had already amalgamated our possessions when we sold two flats and bought our house together. We had two toasters, two kettles and even two fridge-freezers. We really, really didn't need stuff for "setting up house" so we made up a list of charitable gift suggestions, from bags of seed through chickens, goats and donkeys to camels, from the Good Gifts catalogue/website, plus nominated four charities (or if someone had a charity that was special to them, then that was fine too). We really enjoyed getting the notifications about the gifts. As an added bonus, several people from our parents' generation said that it was a great idea and they would do the same thing for their forthcoming major wedding anniversaries.

#102 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 05:32 PM:

My better half worked for Oxfam International in a (post-Soviet) country leadership position, and it was a horrible experience.

Gross incompetence from HR that was supposed to be helping us manage an international relocation. Headquarters trying to put through programming that was destined to fail in the country. Relations with HQ got so bad that even after an agreement had been reached to part ways, I had to remind HR (rather forcefully) that the better half's passport and our children's passports were *not* *Oxfam's* *property* and must be given to us immediately if we required it. The whole experience cost us several tens of thousands of euros out of pocket.

So Oxfam is quite thoroughly stricken from my personal list of acceptable charities.

#103 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 07:27 PM:

Clifton @94 - Thanks!

OtterB @95 - This would be for an external award to go do a postdoc at MIT.

#104 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 08:13 PM:

Best of luck, Benjamin Wolfe! From what I know of your work, I'd definitely give you the award; I hope the NIH sees it the same way.

I just interviewed today for a postdoc position that I'd really like to get (doing computational modeling at the EPA). Luckily, in this case, the funding comes with the postdoc (through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education); I wouldn't have to bring my own funding. (However, Congress still has to pass a budget, or I think the entire hiring process will be on hold.)

#105 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 08:30 PM:

dotless ı #83: I've seen too many idealistic people burn out working for nonprofits that were focused on low overhead numbers. People can always be asked to work longer and longer hours, for lower pay, when they're told that they're doing good, and people can keep doing that for a while; but most people can't do it forever, and once they burn out, that's it. The problem is that this is almost sustainable: idealistic people are, with proper cultivation and an appropriate harvest rate, a renewable resource. I just really hate seeing it be a harvest. (It's also a terrible use of resources, since when you burn people out you lose whatever knowledge and expertise they've gained.)

The same pattern and issues apply to "crowdsourced"; projects as well. (Note that crowdsourced projects are commonly Open-Source, but not all Open-Source projects are crowdsourced.) Stuff like game wikis and forum projects count here too; I've seen a couple of people working on game-related projects burn themselves out. While I've done a lot of work on such wikis (whatever game I'm playing at the time), I'm careful not to go beyond "what I'm willing to contribute".

It even applies to certain "normal" jobs -- for example, working at a used bookstore, I'm doing work that, in a "real company", would probably be worth rather more than what he's paying per hour.¹ More importantly, the job is Sisyphean -- there's always more work to be done than there are people available to do it, and that does take an emotional toll. Even if my boss had the money to pay me full-time, I couldn't handle it full-time, physically or mentally.

¹ Hyperlexia and hyperfocus/autistic stamina are pretty darn useful working the shelves in a bookstore.

#106 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 09:11 PM:

An interesting website! After a minimal search, I wrote to the blogger:

I note that Wikipedia's article on Nasreddin links to this compilation from 1884, which does not seem to include the tale. Given the tale's appeal (and Nasreddin's status as a "quote magnet" for such stories), that may indicate a point when the tale had not yet reached the (Turkish) compiler. By the same token, it is entirely possible that the story entered the corpus by translation from one of the American publications, at or after 1924.

#107 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 09:24 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 79: Thanks! I should have been more specific--I'll check out Knit Picks.

Susana S.P. @ 81: I've used the Marble DK, actually, and you are right, it's a nice yarn. Hadn't thought of it for this pattern, for some reason. And that yarn from Turkey is gorgeous! I don't normally order from outside the U.S., but I'll have to ask my local knit shop if they have a source.

Carrie S. @ 86: Yeah, I'd about come to a similar conclusion, but I figured it never hurts to ask . . .

Thanks, everyone. You've all shed some light on my options!

#108 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 09:35 PM:

Re: Third world charities. I support Give Directly an organization whose principle is "poor people in the third world (primarily Kenya) know what they need, they just don't have money. So let's give them money." They are extremely transparent, highly rated by Give Well and have very low overhead, and they have a lot of studies to back up the claim that their recipients generally use the money for long term improvements to their health or living conditions.

They were also the subject of an episode of This American Life, if you'd like to learn about them that way.

#109 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2014, 09:51 PM:

@Mary Frances,PJ Evans already mentioned Lion Brand Ice Cream, but Lion Brand also has a worsted weight self-striping acrylic: Landscape. It's rather brighter than the sport weight Ice Cream which runs to pastels.

In addition, although the transitions are far from gradual, Lily Sugar 'n Cream has a self-striping cotton yarn.

#110 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 12:19 AM:

Completely off-topic, but somewhat seasonal, have video of Cameron Carter playing 'Sleigh Ride' on an organ. It's amazing.

#111 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 03:49 AM:

I see to recall hearing somewhere that originally wool versus worsted, depended on whether "grease" was left in the fibre before it was spun, or if it were washed majorly to remove the lanolin before spinning.I forget which is which, but there remains the term "spun in the grease."

#112 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 04:53 AM:

Inquisitive Raven @ 109: LB Landscapes is a pretty yarn--unfortunately, it looks like a single-ply roving, which I have a problem with (I really want a multi-plied yarn of some sort, which I wasn't clear about, sorry), but it's certainly worth checking out, and I will. Thanks! And I didn't know that Sugar N' Cream came in a self-striping cotton . . . again, worth checking out.

The Lion Brand Ice Cream is a bit fine for this project, but it's one of my candidates--thank you, too, P.J. Evans. Has anyone every used Cascade Pinwheel for anything? I'd have to special order that one, and I don't like to do that without having actual touch-experience of the yarn . . .

#113 ::: Susana S. P. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 06:10 AM:

James Harvey@87
I have a niggling suspicion that my wholehearted approval of CTFD is a function of not having followed it on the first go-round (which will be the only one). But really my problem is: it doesn't tell you how you get your child to CTFD!

Mary Frances@107

What are you making?

Open thread link, because the Internet is wonderful, and I'm sappy: Cmdr. Chris Hadfield, reassuring a five-year-old worried about Voyager

#114 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 07:27 AM:

Paula Lieberman @111

Speaking as a hand spinner who's read at least some about historical spinning:

Worsted yarn starts with wool that's been combed to make the fibers as parallel as possible. As it's spun, that orientation is maintained, and as much air as possible is smoothed out while spinning. The resulting yarn is dense and smooth and more hard-wearing.

Woolen yarn starts with wool that's been carded (brushed) but then rolled up into a rolag (kind of a tube) with the fibers at a right angle to the long axis. When this rolag is spun, the fibers are jumbled in the yarn and the air is not smoothed out. The goal is a lofty poofy yarn - it tends to be warmer than worsted because there's more places to trap warm air. In the strictest definition of worsted, the tips of the hairs all point in one direction,mobile the cut ends naturally point in the other direction.

I think that whether the wool has been washed or not is a separate question - though I think it might be harder to comb wool that's still in the grease - though spritzing washed wool with water and a little oil is useful to deal with static in the combing process. I think I might have only heard of people carding wool that's still in the grease.

But it's not the "grease" (and sheep sweat and other things) that defines the difference between the two styles.

#115 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 10:02 AM:

I greatly enjoy Boulet's comics, but because of circumstances I need to use an iPad to look at them. Unfortunately, Safari for iPad doesn't support the type of "float-overs" the site uses. Does anyone know of an iPad browser that does?

#116 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 10:37 AM:

Susana S.P. @ 113: It's a baby blanket based on a variant of an old entrelac pattern. (I'm not a creative enough knitter to invent my own patterns, but I can play games with other people's.) Basically, I didn't like the way the yarn specified in the pattern was working up--a DK roving--so I went looking for something slightly heavier and multi-ply. My problems hit when I couldn't find anything acrylic, and it's got to be acrylic because the severe allergies in the family taught me a long time ago not to knit in wool for infants, just in case. (A cotton blend is also an option, but one I haven't tried yet; cotton and I don't always get along . . . )

Anyway. I have found something to substitute for the current project, but the color runs are a little short and not that attractive, so when Elliot Mason posted the picture of that gorgeous Lizard Ridge pattern I went Aha! And figured I'd ask for advice.

#117 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 11:04 AM:

So, a decade plus after the actions, the Senate is releasing a censored report on CIA atrocities after 9/11. Based on what the news media has been saying and not me downloading and looking at the report, but having been aware for years and years of reporting from NPR/PRI and other sources which until Colin Powell's Republican appartchik son started mucking around with Public Radio and TV when installed by the 2001-2008 fascists

(the time for me being impartial in the situation is long past. the same sorts of things which sent Robert can;t-think-of-his-last-name-sorry from a Republican to disavow what the party once of Lincoln had turned into and sever his association with it with extreme prejudice, effected me defining that Party and its actions as Evil/Corrupt/Immoral/Unethical/Homicidal/self-serving/nation-destroying)

painted an ugly, evil, repulsive, morally and spiritually worse than bankrupt landscape.

But -anyway-

1. The rats are all scurrying around claiming variously
a) "releasing this makes the USA a target! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!"
b) "It was necessary and worthwhile
c) "These were bad guys and the vile deserve no quarter!"
d) "We were acting under orders and no blame should come down on us!"
e) "I didn't know about that, my subordinates never told me or lied to me!"

2, Ahem, they're spinning faster than a modern hard drive.
a) Covering up gross negligence, malice, torture, etc. to the US public, did NOT block this crap from being known outside the USA. Particularly, the people who were subjected to the atrocities or who overheard or who associated with people who were abused, or were their families, friends, friends of friends, read accounts distributed from the point of view of the abused... this content is NOT news to them The level of hypocrisy and arrogance of those who claim that release of a -censored- report, is more damaging to the USA than a decade plus of ISIL and Al Qaeda etc.recruiting people based on their relating of the abuses from the accounts of the abused, is without limits. And furthermore, the US Government's refusal to acknowledge it was perpetrating atrocities and protecting the perpetrators, has shown the USA a supreme hypocrite for more than a decade and supporter of monsters and their values and actions.

b) As Jim Macdonald and others have said here for years, the abuse and torture did not work. Henry Kolm, who during WWII in a secret program in Boston was the person who interviewed Nazi scientists smuggled to the USA and recommended what government labs to send them to, condemned the US Government torture and abuses. His thoughts on the matter are on record on his website and in an NPR/PRI interview with him, where he said that one gets more information sitting down and treating people with respect, than from [massively counterproductive] abuse. Kolm's family got out of Europe at nearly the last possible moment for Jewish families in the 20th century. His relatives who didn't get out, did not survive. He had a lot more reason to hate than the CIA and contractors who were committing torture did--but he did not act abusively.

c) Bill of Rights, "cruel and unusual punishment" among other clauses....

d) What do they not understand about "illegal orders"? On the other hand, the torture/slavery party had the courts in their pockets, and InJustices sit on the Supreme Court and various other federal benches. There are also particularly a few female judges who have about as much ruth and concern for the sentiments in the preamble to the US Constitution as an Elizabeth Bathory ("the Blood Countess") types would (Priscilla someone being one of two extreme examples).

e) This is Implausible Deniability, the chain of command being jiggered to pin the blame on lower level fall guys/scapegoats is as reprehensible as reprehensible gets. The occupant of the White House in 2001-2008 explicitly stated in public official interviews that he didn't even read newspapers or watch TV news, instead he read/watched what members of his staff screened first and told him to read/watch!

He was the President of the United States of America. Keeping his fingers stuck in his ears and a blindfold over his face to preclude official awareness of anything that his minions didn't forward to him, is willful, negligent, deliberate ignorance. It was "his watch" and his responsibility exercise oversight, instead of ostentatiously going out of his way to avoid knowledge, responsibility, and moral leadership to comply with the basic values and law of the USA. But this is the [perjorative deleted] rumored to have said, "The Constitution? It's just a piece of paper [who care about that]"?!

#118 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 11:19 AM:

Acrylic does have its advantages, and it doesn't feel bad to knit. (I like it because I can throw it in the wash.)

I have a lot of yarn places bookmarked, but most of them are doing wool or blends.

#119 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 01:07 PM:

P J Evans @ 118:Yeah, I'm with you on the washability of good acrylics. Just FYI, in case you've never tried it, the James G. Brett Marble that Susana S.P. mentions above is a wonderful, sturdy, and very soft acrylic that I've used a lot--it comes in both DK and Chunky, and some unusual color runs. I like it because it is not only machine-washable, but it stands up to being tossed in the dryer fairly well, too--and that's a real plus for baby garments!

#120 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 01:24 PM:

I want to run this idea past the commentariat.

People's view of what is real and possible, is shaped by their parents, right? So people who had really authoritarian parents are going to look to authorities for guidance and/or rebel against the notion of authority,* believe in punishing and shaming people who don't live up to the rules, and be distrustful of outsiders?

Is that about the size of it? Does that explain the continuing presence of "conservative" types in every time and culture (that I am aware of**)?

The young conservative men I used to know seemed to fit this pattern, to various degrees. One was relentlessly shamed by his female family members for his speech impediment, which of course made it worse, and led to adult misogyny. Another was helped greatly in a speech impediment by a female therapist, had an exceptionally competent mother, and now has a deep respect for women. (He's also the only one to get married...) Unfortunately he grew up with shame surrounding a family member's abilities and with shame surrounding our culture's ideas about poor white people. So he's well set up to tune in to a particular type of conservative trope. (E.g. loves the British Empire, thinks British colonial stuff is awesome, while completely overlooking how it worked.) They all, in fact, kinda like the Empire, in the Star Wars movies.

Anyway, I'm not trying to overgeneralize, but I feel like I'm finally starting to connect the dots between garden variety misogyny, themes in classic and hard SF (the aliens are coming to contaminate us and the government is helpless to stop them!), the dysfunctional families threads, and so on. It looks like it makes a pattern, like a constellation of symptoms and ideologies, but I can't quite see how it all falls together.

*i.e. cops and soldiers are great, but I fear the government is going to take my stuff?
**I am aware of all internet traditions, you see...

#121 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 01:47 PM:

Thank God we live in a democratic country, not one of those terrible third-world hell-holes where the intelligence services are so powerful they can get away with anything and nobody dares call them on it.

#122 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 02:06 PM:

albatross, #121: The biggest problem we have is the number of people who are saying exactly that, but not ironically. The ones who are continuing, in the teeth of the Senate report, to defend both the practices and the practitioners. The ones who honestly don't see any problem with what we've been doing, because it's US doing it.

#123 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 02:16 PM:

kimiko #120: The basics of that link into the Red Family/Blue Family thing, but that's only part of the story.

Another aspect is that much of America, and especially the folks who hold power, has been afraid of our children for a long time, and that comes out in authoritarianism and overcontrolling behavior. The best explanation for the fear that I've heard is that the emphasis on PROGRESS produces an unfortunate implication: For a long time, each "next generation" was expected to outdo their parents, and become competition instead of waiting for "their turn". This has recently been aggravated by several developments: The countercultural movement in the 50s-70s (itself a backlash against an attempt to roll back social changes after WWII), the computer explosion (where even well-to-do, successful parents often don't understand what their kids do for a living), and now, America is running out of undeveloped resources (both its own and "available for the taking").

(It turns out that eternal progress/growth thing wasn't completely driven by technology -- a lot of it was having a continent's worth of resources to tap, plus whatever weaker countries we could bully.)

#124 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 02:21 PM:

kimiko @120: I had a similar sort of moment of pattern-seeing recently.

I think there is a strand in fandom that is deeply scarred by coming-of-age (and coming into fannish belonging) in what I'm going to call an age of fannish scarcity: when there was darned little on TV more SFnally serious than "My Favorite Martian," and the books were ghettoized and scorned, etc etc.

Even after Star Wars came out and earthquaked the movie business (which aftershocks are still settling), fans were slans: scorned, persecuted, misunderstood, and scrabbling in the dust for shreds to pull together into a community, a collection of Awesome Things to share with each other.

I'm seeing some counterpunch-before-you're-hit reflexes, and other behavior patterns, that remind me somewhat of the ways that my coming-of-age-in-the-Depression grandparents acted about money. There are certain hoarding/armoring patterns, and exclusionary reflexes, that seem to rhyme with some of what's going on in fandom lately.

And people my age or younger, who grew up reading **our grandparents'** collection of Analogs, who were taught that sf is like any other book and we should read what we like, who came of age on the internet and found an international polymorphous friendgroup who were all deeply into whatever it was we were into ... we are not growing up in a world of sfnal scarcity. SF, whether good, bad, or indifferent, is ubiquitous.

To me, the rare and precious thing now is the fannish mindset: the people interested in engaging with their fandom (whether that field of information is physics, knitting, Marvel comics, novels, or any combination) deeply and playfully, who want to get wrist-deep and squidge it around and sculpt it into new shapes.

But some of the established personalities in the fannish landscape are still obsessed with manning battlements and Balkanizing. :-/ And some of them have implicit biases against traditionally-marginalized groups that mean when youngsters of those groups show up and try to "change" "their" fandom (while also being visibly Other), it feels like an attack.

#125 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 02:44 PM:

More on kimiko #120: The "conservative" pattern, of inherited obligations and trying to maintain static power relations, is actually the norm for most of human history. It's the recent developments, notably the exploitation of the New World, that opened the door for the idea that "everything can change".

#126 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 02:51 PM:

#124, Elliott Mason,

I am frustratingly short on time to fully respond to everything you said, (and David Harmon too!), but you hit on something really important.
I can't name the community, or we will get mobbed, but there is a vocal community of people who like to play certain kinds of games on dedicated devices hooked to monitors, who are very unhappy that their favorite genres are being critiqued. Setting aside their behavior and rhetoric, I had a flash of insight where I realized that they had come to a kind of loss of innocence moment, where they cannot un-know what they know now: their favorite genres have lots of tropes that are hostile to people who are or used to be minorities. They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good an evil, and unsurprisingly, they are blaming the woman. I have some compassion for their plight, since I too went through adolescence.

The other thing I realized after reading your post was that they too were suffering from a notion of scarcity and threat. In the past, the "authorities", both blue flavored and red flavored have spent time demonizing some of their games, and society does not consider their pastime respectable. This is in the process of changing, but is not wholly past. If some of them only see a world of victims and punishers, and that they can only occupy one role or the other, I suppose they see that vocal criticism would logically lead to their censure.

Meanwhile, people who did not grow up inside that bubble don't understand why they would lash out, since clearly they are not under threat.

#127 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 04:16 PM:

Elliott, #124: I think that's a very good point. It doesn't explain everything -- some of the would-be gatekeepers are significantly younger than I am, and I think my fannish generation was the last one to grow up in the era of scarcity -- but it does explain a lot.

kimiko, #126: I would just like to express my deep admiration for your skill in describing That Group in a roundabout fashion. Especially the next-to-last sentence in your first paragraph.

#128 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 05:10 PM:

albatross 121: Well, the disclosure is the only thing that distinguishes our attitude to our intelligence service from East Germany's attitude toward the Stasi. It IS significant that we disclosed it...and the people who opposed the disclosure want us to be more like East Germany, or the Soviet Union.

I'm sick to death of those people. American Exceptionalism must die.

I'm deeply disappointed, again, in the Obama Administration for not rooting these criminals out of our government. I still think Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney should be doing LWOP in a Super-Max. And CIA and NSA are criminal organizations, full stop, until their act is cleaned up by an outside agency.

#129 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 05:34 PM:

#120 kimiko
Interesting. (That is, I am processing what your wrote, and have no substantiative commentary at the moment.)

#124 Elliott
Yeah, that. SF/F isn't quite ubiquitous--there are people who are cluesless about even Star Trek and Star Wars, despite decades of tenure of those franchises--but it is very close to it. And the situation isn't even splintered--there are entirely parallel structures with their own conventions in e.g. the romance genre (Authors after Dark, the Lori Foster Readers and Authors Get Together (RAGT) where readers pay half of what authors pay for attendance, the authors additioally contribute "baskets" which get raffled off with the proceeds donated to a charity, the baskets can contain any of cookies and cake, books, gift certificates, a Kindle, other stuff. I presume there are gatherings which have foci on Christian/inspirational writing including SF/F, where the reading paradigm is very different than someone reading non-allegorically. That is, the Christian/inspirational SF/F often has the allegory so blatant having a 12" X 12" Cluebat beam applied to one's skull is more subtle.

One example is comparing a series by Kathy Tyers which included Fusion Fire in the original Bantam edition, to the Bethany Press [Christian publisher] edition. The focus was a lot different, and the original action-adventure focus got subordinated to the extremely heavy-handed added religious thematic content and exposition. There were issues with the original books regarding credibility (leading families had an Heir and a Spare, and once the heir had married and reproduced, the Spare was not only expendable, but required to be expended. And then there was the "anyone who is in anyways cognizant of flight dynamics of aircraft and/or spacecraft, would be forgiven for wanted to beat the author over the head with the applicable volues of Janes and several years of collected boxed issues of Aviation Week and Space Technology" back in the days when the magazine was the leading publication in the industry). The revised books, have every flaw of the originals plus the imposition of heavy-handed sludge dogma/allegory as the new main focus.

#126 kimiko

I think several worldview blue event horizons boundary layers are involved, which are de facto filters.

Years ago I had an article in NYRSF mentioning that viewed from perspective of late in the 20th century various of Heinlein's works were genderist etc. Viewed from the perspective of the Navy male-only culture he'd grown up in and matriculated in (Annapolis went coed in fall 1975 with great prejudice on the part of Congress regarding prior treatment of women in the military and social change) he was a complete revolutionary and a lightyears advanced visionary.

The story was the title The Day after the Revolution is I think Ursula K. LeGuin's most underrated and unjustly overlooked story--it tells the story of Odo (I think that was her name) who envisioned a brave new world with egalitarianism--but it was not one she was fully able to adapt to. She was the architect, but she was an alien, in the new world she had envisioned and worked to create.

Anyway, I wouldn't regard the situation of as one of "scarcity," but rather of post-post-post-modernism. When Picasso and others ushered in distorted or non-representational art as the standard, those who had worked in photorealistic paradigms as fine arts, got shoved off to the commercial world and deprecated as sell-out "illustrators." The triumph of photography brought quick, accurate, low cost, fast photorealism to the masses, and the virtuosity involved to paint/draw photorealistics, got deprecated and artistically relegated to the sideline.

If I wanted to be really vicious, I would push the situation of traditional Japanese mothers-in-law, who generation after generation as young brides to young husbands, has been treated as personal appliance slaves as their mothers-in-law. The mothers-in-law regarded it as their just due right, earned by their long and miserable servitude as daughters-in-law, to have perks as mother-in-laws, which their mothers-in-law had had --yes, it was "generational abuse" perpetuated and perpetrated down the centuries. Then came the defeat of Imperial Japan and occupation by the USA and occupiers pushing culure changes. The paradigm of subjugation of young women to be personal servants to their mothers-in-law, belonged to a different set of social values than the occupying country had....

Anyway, the expectation of how one was going to be treated as an Elder in the Field or prospective Elder in the Field, based on the longstanding social mores of the 1950s annd into the 1960s and 1970s, have had a number of blue event horizon discontinuities--which not everyone has gotten either across, fully across, or wants to cross, in the case of the recidivists who are not actual chronologcial Elders. "Pushback" is part of it, the bully assholes who were running the USA in especially 2001-2008 and their promotion of recidivism and incivility, is another and major piece of it I think.

#130 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 05:41 PM:

Regarding Lee's point @127, about a younger generation that exhibits defensive reflexes more appropriate to the experiences of an older generation, that makes sense to me. For example, my parents were children of the Great Depression, and as a result of their experiences had strong views about money and possessions. While I've rejected some of their views, there are others that are deeply embedded in my personality. For example, I find repairing things (clothing, household gadgets, etc.) very satisfying, even though rationally there are often much more efficient uses of my time. I believe that's a value I absorbed from my parents.

Because so much of our values come from our parents and our mentors, we don't have to suffer scarcity ourselves in order to react to it.

#131 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 05:48 PM:

#128 Xopher

Note that the release of selected parts of the report are coming in the last few days of the Congressional session where there is a Democratic majority in the Senate. NFW would/could it be released in the 2015 Congress (animadversions and imprecations about the majaroity constituency not included here. Saying I have nothing polite to say is an understatement).

I fear that "justice" will not /amy not ever come, or won;t happened for years . The investigation was completely blocked until 2008 was over, and until there was a Democratic majority in the Senate with a Democratic President (even though he's not even as progressive/liberal as a Nixon Republican) to start an investigation. And the report did not get done I would expect until the rules change to filibuster-resistance.

What I -want- to say is massively intemperate.

#132 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 08:43 PM:

Yay for the internet. It's also how I can manage to get some traction for things like my most recent rant on issues relate to the culture of torture in the US.

I've always thought it more good than bad, and (while I may be absent now and again, for periods long or short) the community here is one of my bastions of good/comfort.

#133 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 08:50 PM:

One of my LonCon Highlights was being privileged to have Abi and Brother Guy let me cook for them, and Brother Guy was kind enough to bring Ctein with him (he also made certain to ask if he could).

The conversation was sparkling.

#134 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 09:12 PM:

kimiko #126: I realized that they had come to a kind of loss of innocence moment, where they cannot un-know what they know now: their favorite genres have lots of tropes that are hostile to people who are or used to be minorities. They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good an evil, and unsurprisingly, they are blaming the woman.

Ooh, that is subtle. Cynical too, but who could blame you? :-~

I have some compassion for their plight, since I too went through adolescence.

Ouch. :-)

Lee #127: I think my fannish generation was the last one to grow up in the era of scarcity

My first thought was "the Millennials, and the generation after, might beg to differ with you." Then I realized you were talking about scarcity of SF. ;-) But then again, the Millenials and post-Millennials are coming out to face an upcoming new time of scarcity in the world at large (and especially in America), and a different sort of scarcity even within the field. They're going to be dealing with the fallout from the American implosion that's currently in progress, and they have every right to ask us "what did you do about this?"

All the advances of medicine, if you can afford them. All the knowledge in the world online, but education and job prospects getting increasingly dismal. People have always been starving in the shadow of the skyscrapers, but the ills of poverty are moving upward to envelop the former middle class. Many of us older folks are secure for the moment, but I think collectively, our society is on the brink of disaster. The Millennials are seeing the beginnings of it, and those after them (like my nieces and nephews) will be facing the storm.

And within SF -- right now, it's easier than ever to get your work out, but making a living at it is harder. And I can't even guess what will happen to publishing and SF as the real-world conditions go to hell.

#135 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 09:16 PM:

Thanks, Terry.

* * *

I imagine the screenwriters of 24 reading the torture report, slapping their foreheads, and muttering "Why didn't we think of that?"

#136 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 09:19 PM:

Serge, #27: My kid brother Benjamin Hayden, his wife Laura, and both of his sons Milo and Isaac did set-dressing/props/art-department work on _The Librarians_. Which, on evidence of its first two episodes, is a fun romp indeed.

#137 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 09:33 PM:

I'm not watching _The Librarians_, but in my head it's turned into the mysterious TV show about librarians in Kelly Link's 'Magic for Beginners', where there are entire episodes taking place inside a card catalog in the dark with subtitles, episodes where all the actors are invisible, the main character Fox is played by a different actor/actress in every show.... That's the show that might get me watching TV again.

#138 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 10:15 PM:

I know, in my head, that the Librarian universe came first. That said, my heart is convinced that Eliot got recruited to work at Warehouse 14. I expect that particular fanfic will be showing up soon. I hope so.

#139 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2014, 11:25 PM:

The first ep of The Librarians was indeed fun -- but I wish they'd researched their gobbledygook a bit more. I'd have to watch again to be sure, but the handwaving around the synesthetic perceptions didn't seem to make much sense (a meteor shower relating to Halley's comet showing up once a year? No, I'm afraid not.). It's neither integral to the plot nor really a spoiler to mention it, so I'm willing to say something in clear rather than rotting it.

I'm just much happier when the throwaways make sense. But it is nice to see Christian Bale again! The show would have a lot of echoes of Buffy (and Angel) even without him, which is a compliment in my book. But the detail level -- I'm waiting to see if that gets better.

#140 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 12:50 AM:

re beer: The most potent (commercial) brew I've ever had was Felinfoel's "Hercules Ale" (not seen in these parts in the lifetime of several dogs). It was smooth as silk, rounded as anything, came in bottles containing an Imperial pint and clocked in at 14 percent.

The first bottle goes down so well that one might forget and start a second... which is when the effect kicks in.

re the Heifer Project: Clifton spake truer than was obvious I like the idea, but it sounds like they could do better on the execution. One of the things they fail to do well is the animals. They don't provide animals local to the region/well adapted to the local biome, but rather European varieties, which are often very ill-suited to the local lifestyle, and/or damaging to the local ecology.

They have moved to my, Won't Donate list (though my wife does donate bees).

Elliot: re yarn: Mary Frances: in US terms, 'worsted' means a particular thickness of the final yarn. You can have a worsted that's one loose twisted-roving ply or fifteen tiny shiny thread cabled together.

It's also (if one is weaving, or spinning) a method of making yarn, in which the twist is added as the yarn is drafted forward, leading to a more dense (and if the fiber is shiny, glossy) yarn, which is (as a rule) harder wearing. It's true that commercial yarns are a very strange form of woolen for manufacture (often being very complicated singles, but I digress), being made by air pressure.

Most spinners will indicate both wieght and methods (though few engage in pure worsted spinning, unless they are doing work for a weaving project; rather having a process which is more worsed than not: Silk is one one of the few fibers which is usually spun pure worsted because anything else tends to leave the hands: Bamboo is even worse).

Mary Frances: Can you work with alpaca? I can be convinced (twice the weight of fiber) to spin on comission. I can try my hand at dying, or work with commericial roving (I am pretty good at making striping yarns).

kimiko: I can't name the community, or we will get mobbed Sort of. I inhabit other communuties (of a culture which is more directly opposed to the GGers of whom I think you speak) and they are brittle. When pressed to defend their position with facts, or moral arguments, they fail. Yes, they are many but their strength is that of the many against one, and when they find themselves the many against many they see it as the one against many and quit the field. It is why I believe (which is a stronger sentiment than hope) they will, when all is said and done, lose. I don't trust in the inevitability of their defeat, and so I carry the fight to them when I see the opportunity, but I do believe the narrowminded reactionism they represent is, ultimately, doomed.

#141 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Xopher: 'm deeply disappointed, again, in the Obama Administration for not rooting these criminals out of our government. I still think Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney should be doing LWOP in a Super-Max. And CIA and NSA are criminal organizations, full stop, until their act is cleaned up by an outside agency.

Forgive me (please) for my disagreement with the second sentence. I think Super-Max to be a form of torture. I would have no prison worse than what we call medium security. Lock them up, but give them books and visitors. Let the lack of any but family be the condemnation which eats at their souls.

Some of that is knowing too much the temptations of torture and the darkness of my psyche, and some is that I would not wish greater evil on them than I would wish for myself. The CIA and NSA are corrupted, and evils of that administration are much too blame (though the formative structures of the former, and the [ungodly] secretive nature of the latter are also formative). I wish I knew how to keep the utility of both, without losing their experience, but I fear that isn't possible. Which is problematic. I suspect that most of the world's intelligence services need to be destroyed (root and branch) if we are to recover from the poison they have sown.

#142 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 01:22 AM:

Terry @ 140:
Ah, that's an interesting bit about the Heifer Project which I hadn't heard. I'm not terribly surprised; it's one of the many chronic forms the Western superiority complex can take.

I've heard about one form of that when I lived in Tonga. The Western development agencies from Australia, the US, Europe, etc. would keep bringing in European breeds of pigs to try to replace or "improve" the local Polynesian breed. With fair skin. In the tropics. Yes, pigs can get sunburned too, and they don't thrive when they're chronically suffering from sunburn if not skin cancers. (Perhaps that's the White Pig's Burden?)

#143 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 01:24 AM:

Xandy @ 69: BTW, even if nobody yet shouted out how cool it was to have you drop in here and comment, I'm sure they were thinking it. Because it's really cool. :-) Knitting topics are popular here, as you might gather, and of course SF&F, but really just anything people find cool/

#144 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 04:31 AM:

Carrie V.: I don't suppose you frequent any of the local spin-ins/knit-ins? I occasionally go to the one that Shuttles has on first Mondays, but it's been a few months since I last went. Life has been hectic of late.

The spinning wheel is in storage but could come out at *any* time.

Jacque: Apropos of very little, I find I am mending my computer accessory cases with the needlework technique you showed me a goodly long time ago. If you like, there can be pictures.

Thought you might enjoy hearing that your example is keeping my USB thumbdrives safe. :D

#145 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 04:59 AM:

@Terry Karney no. 140: Darn. Somebody keeps putting old copies of Heifer's magazine in the free box at the library, and I pick them up whenever I find them. An article I read made it seem like some other people had decided that American pigs were so totally awesome that Haiti should replace all of its little black pigs with the big pink ones, and so of course they starved, and it was Heifer who had jumped in as soon as the politics allowed to bring a related Caribbean breed back.

Another issue ran an article on charitable giving vs. doing market research in order to make useful tools with no frills and sell them in markets that don't want to pay extra for aesthetics.

Puffery? :(

#146 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 08:56 AM:

Patrick @ 136 and others... So, science-fiction has ties to "The Librarians" behind the camera? Cool. I wonder how long it'll be before some of the field's writers show up in front of the camera like they used to in "Leverage" since both were based in Portland, Oregon. (Ever caught that sight of SFWA's former veep Mary Robinette Kowal?)

Yes, it's a loony show, with science facts even more bogus than an episode of "Doctor Who", but... It's *fun*.

By the way, did anybody else notice that the Librarians's guardian beat the crap out of Wolverine in 2000's "X-men"?

#147 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:08 AM:

Terry Karney @140:

You (or your wife) may not be aware that "donating bees" is a polite fiction on the part of Heifer. What you're actually doing is donating the equivalent amount of money to fund beehives, not donating money that will actually be used to buy a beehive.

They don't exactly advertise this, but in the fine print when you go to make a donation it says "Gifts made to Heifer represent a gift to the entire mission. To help the greatest number of families move toward self-reliance, Heifer does not use its limited resources to track individual animals from donation to distribution. We use your gift where it can do the most good by combining it with the gifts of others to help transform entire communities and to raise awareness about the issues of world hunger and poverty through education. "

I don't actually mind that - tracking would take a lot of resources, after all - but the degree to which they pretend you are actually funding an actual individual sheep irks me enough that I've stopped donating to them, especially since I have vegan friends who were donating for "trees" who were very upset when they learned it was all just one big pot of money. Their actual model may have problems - I haven't done the research to know - but they're pretending it's something it's not.

#148 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 11:51 AM:

Terry Karney @140: I have worked with alpaca, but I don't think it would work for this pattern. Might depend on the weight . . . I'll have to think about it. But you can make striping yarns? That's amazing. Is there a specific technique for that?

Any chance you could post some pictures of your work, somewhere, one day? I'd just love to see it--or the work of anyone else who spins, on this thread. That's a craft I've never had any interest in doing myself, but it fascinates me.

#149 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 12:20 PM:

lorax@147: Do you know how that compares with, say, Bees for Development, which is focused just on beekeeping? I like how they describe their work, but since they don't have a US presence US donations aren't obviously tax-deductable and thus there's less information about them in the usual US-focused clearinghouses.

Looking at that latter point, though, pointed me at another variation on the question of how much you can direct the use of your donations: Bees for Development's site now points US donors to a charity I hadn't heard of before, American Fund for Charities, which seems to exist to fund international charities that aren't tax-deductable in the US. They take (apparently tax-deductable) donations and make grants to charities on their approved list. When you donate you can "suggest" a charity, but you can't require that the money go to that charity, presumably to avoid it being a simple money-laundering exercise. And, of course, they retain some of the money for their own operating expenses.

#150 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 03:18 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @144: If you like, there can be pictures.

Of course I like!

#151 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 03:21 PM:

Mary Frances: The technique for making a yarn stripe is to have runs of color. If they repeat, then the stripes repeat.

The trick is to have all the plies of the final yarn match in color. There are several ways to do it. With commercial roving I just split the entire mass from end to end. The other way is to have X number of colors, and swap them in. It helps to divide them up into consistent masses. It's not a regular as manufactured yarns, so there is some dithering when your spinning is a little less than perfect.

Here you can see and example I spun. In the middle right you can see a bit where yellow and blue intermingled in the plying.

#152 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 03:34 PM:

dotless ı @149, I've never heard of Bees for Development, so I can't comment on them. Sorry. If bees are all they do, though, I'd expect that (after accounting for the usual administrative fraction) the donations actually do go to bees.

#153 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 03:55 PM:

Terry 141: I accept your amendment as friendly. I didn't know how extreme Super-Maxes were, though given the prison-industrial complex in this country, I shouldn't have been surprised.

I'm afraid I agree that the intelligence agencies can't be reformed. We need to form new ones, with no one who worked in the old ones (except whistleblowers, maybe?) allowed to work in the new.

#154 ::: dreampod ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 04:07 PM:


Not sure precisely what kind of charity you want but my personal selfless charity of choice (I also selfishly donate for Cystic Fibrosis research) is Childhaven ( who are a group that run several homes for destitute children and elderly in India and the Himalaya's based on Gandhian ideals. What is most important to me about their work is how they aren't using this as an opportunity to push their religious beliefs (the reason I loathe most Christian charities because they taint their good by being about proselytizing rather than helping people) and raise the children in their native culture.

#155 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 04:21 PM:

From a student essay: "In conclusion, I came up with a solution by fully gravitating what makes a political question."

Paging Hal Clement.

#156 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 04:34 PM:

Terry Karney @151: Oh, wow, that's gorgeous--I flipped through the pictures of yarn and my mouth fell a little more open with each one. It looks like magic. But then, spinning does seem magical to me--maybe one reason I find it so fascinating.

#157 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 05:41 PM:

#139 :: Tom Whitmore

Annual meteor showers are the result of the Earth crossing a comet's orbit.

#141 ::: Terry Karney

"I suspect that most of the world's intelligence services need to be destroyed (root and branch) if we are to recover from the poison they have sown."

I'm trying to imagine how it would be possible to destroy all the intelligence services. Maybe if it becomes technologically impossible to keep secrets?

#158 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Well, I'm tired of being angry all the time. But events in the world leave me little choice but anger or despair. I suppose I could resign from the world, but that's a special case of despair, rather than a real alternative.

Resigning from the internet and media wouldn't be enough. Today the fire marshall called our* parish office to say that lit candles at the Christmas Eve service were not allowed. Funny, they've been allowed in that church for 150 years. Someone apparently called to complain, saying she wanted to go to our service but wanted to be safe. When asked if he was calling all the Catholic churches in town with the same message, he said "no one's complaining about St. Francis'."

Well, that could change. SO easily.†

When I left, online research had suggested that we might just have to assert that we're doing it for religious reasons and he has to back off. We'll see what happens.

But this is just bullying. I don't believe for a moment that the complainer went to Christmas Eve service at our church and felt unsafe. It's harassment and selective enforcement, and I'm furious about it. They think they can push our Rector around because he's new and young and gentle (as opposed to the scary guy before him). They're wrong; he's not going to back down on this.

You know, I went to that service before I started singing in the choir there. It was also before I went on anti-depressants, and I was alone. All my friends were out of town and I couldn't afford to visit my blood family (and at the time visiting them was not a happy prospect). The familiarity of the Christmas Carols was comforting, and the spread of the candlelight during "Silent Night" lifted my spirits, and I went home feeling better. The previous year I'd watched bad movies, eaten excessively, and drunk a whole bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau by myself.

So that service means a lot to me, and I will fight to keep it how it is (or how the Rector and the rest of the parish decide to change it), using any tactics necessary.

Oh, and I'm going to suggest to the Rector that the parish e-newsletter say "Note: There will be many lit candles at this service. If that makes you feel unsafe, this service may not be for you."

*Yes, I'm pagan. But I'm also a pledging member of an Episcopal congregation.
†The point isn't to make the Catholic churches stop having candles; it's that the Catholic churches in Hoboken have lots of power and would not stand for it. But if we have to have people go around to every Catholic church in Hoboken, see their candles, and complain to the fire department...I'll help organize it.

#159 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 06:23 PM:

Speaking of meteor showers, we have a good one peaking Saturday night/Sunday morning.


#160 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 07:40 PM:

I am very happy that there is an open thread with a large concentration on knitting (and Ravelry).

I thank you so much for the description of Woolen vs. Worsted.

Now I want to ask for more information on the topic of roving.

#161 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 08:43 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz: The problem is that the various intel services, starting with the British before WW1 have manufactured enemies. They have caused no less harm than they have prevented.

The problem is that intel is a skill, and cleaning house at MI-5, or the CIA, or the FSB won't help, because then they will be tyros, and the other services will lead them by the nose.

So it doesn't happen and we get bullshit. It's not the torture (though that's a big problem), it's the institutional mindset. Oddly one of the worst things to happen in recent history was the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev had three services competing to give him info. They were effectively, backstopping each other.

Yeltsin had one; headed by Putin.

On the other hand, Cheney created his own, and discounted anyone who didn't agree with him.

So the problem is variously intractable.

#162 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 08:44 PM:

Lady Kay: Ask away.

#163 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 09:07 PM:

Re "The Librarians" -- I'm surprised that the show didn't bring up that Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are different stories and (if you want a consistent legendarium) different swords. That's the kind of knowledge which the writers seem to want to showcase.

Anyhow. Way fun. It aspires to be the goofy offspring of "Warehouse 13" and "Middleman", and if it only gets 80% of the way there it will still be worth watching.

PNH@136: "My kid brother Benjamin Hayden, his wife Laura, and both of his sons Milo and Isaac did set-dressing/props/art-department work on _The Librarians_."


We all freeze-frame TV shows whenever a bookcase is visible, to see what's on the characters' shelves, right?

#164 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 09:20 PM:


So is roving uncarded wool? Carded or combed wool?

Why do some yarns have fluffy stuff on top of them? I run the yarn through my fingers and I get this circles of fluff around the yarn. Do others experience that with some yarns? When that happens, I usually knit it in as soon as possible. The only other option would be to cut the circle off.

#165 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 09:33 PM:

Roving is strips of machine-carded batt (process video). If you comb the wool, what you get is called top instead of roving.

If you card the wool on hand cards (mechanically identical to dog slicker brushes -- process video), the small organized rolls you make are called rolags.

But mostly if you're buying fiber online you get roving or top. There are of course hybrid techniques that lead to stuff being called roving top or similar, which is just confusing.

#166 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Elliott Mason@165 Is there a name for the fluff that comes off yarn while you are knitting?

So a yarn will have the word "roving" if it is made from roving (machine carded batt)?

#167 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:03 PM:

A great line spotted on another forum:

First poster: "I slept like a baby last night...

Second Poster: No, I slept like a baby. Woke up at 3AM and 5AM screaming.

#168 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:05 PM:

Zarf@163: We could also bring up that Excalibur had a magic scabbard that (according to Malory) was worth even more than the sword. Little-known Arthurian fact.

I do think that conflating the Sword in the Stone with Excalibur makes all kinds of narrative sense.

#169 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:17 PM:

Lady Kay: That would be lint. :->

Commercial yarn doesn't use any of this terminology, it has its own suite of stuff. The information I shared is really only relevant for handspun or small-producer yarn.

Usually commercial yarn will never tell you if it was worsted-spun or woolen-spun, you have to feel the finished yarn and think about whether it's good for the use you want to put it to.

#170 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:22 PM:

The technical, and the practical:

When a spinner is looking for fiber, we tend to say we need some roving, which (as Elliot explained) isn't completely accurate.

Fiber can be spun from any number of prepping methods (even, "from the lock", just as it was shorn from the animal. There are people who spin angora rabbit straight off the animal, but I digress).

The act of "carding" makes a somewhat chaotic mass, which traps more air.

Using combs (which are somewhat frightening to look at, wool-combs play a part in the martyrology of several saints) gets a more orderly arrangement of fiber, which makes a denser ply. That is top.

Top can be further organised by pulling it through a small washer (called a diz) which leads to sliver (pronounced sly-ver). That is the most organised form of wool. It's what one uses to spin, "true worsted".

Top and sliver have more fiber loss in the prep (this only applies to wools, things like linen, cotton, milk, corn, nettle, and silk have different procedures and terms).

Carding can be done with hand cards, drum carders or commercial carding machines (which make the long strands referred to, somewhat generically as roving). Commercial fiber will say is it is Roving (i.e. a carded sort of prep), top, or sliver.

The fluff you are having come off is more common with softer commercial yarns. It's a function of how they are made. A lot of them are made by having jets of air blow a vortex, into which very loose fiber is introduced. It makes for a very lofty yarn, but the twist can be somewhat soft, which means not all the fiber is really locked in. Some of the shorter ones will come out.

This can also happen with loftier yarns which are handspun. A spinner may decide to make the yarn with a lot less compressio, esp. if it's going to be used as weft on a weaving project, so that it will be more responsive to "fulling" (which is the process of felting the strands of the cloth. Peacoats are fulled, so as to be 1: warmer, and 2: absorb more water.

As a rule sliver is used to spin yarns to be used as warp, since lifting them, passing shuttles, and beating the weave tight creates a lot of strain, and worsted yarns, spun from sliver, are the hardest wearing.

Interestingly, tweeds are made from woolen spun warp and weft.

One of the more interesting prep-process is that used for wool from Icelandic sheep (called lopi which is made up of both undercoat [þel], and guardhairs [tog])

It's possible to buy plötulopi which is sold in a "cheese". This is carded, but unspun, in a very thin strip. It can either be spun, or (as it quite common in Iceland) used to knit directly, in lieu of spun yarn.

I could go on for days. I have about 16 lbs of unspun fiber right now, as well as two projects on the wheel, and a pair of projects on spindles.

If you really want to get into the technical aspects, we can start talking about spin direction, cabled yarns, balance (vs. energy) in yarns, etc..

#171 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Back when The Internet was New, or maybe slightly earlier, my father was given a quiz which included finding the name of Excalibur's scabbard. We actually found indications that it had more than one name. Haven't researched it lately, and I've forgotten the name, but it was an interesting (and difficult) project back then.

The Internet has made all sorts of things easier to research.

I did like the non-obvious Fisher King setup at the end of The Librarians. Non-healing wounds are such a pain! And I will watch the next episode when it's available. I gather it's a short season that's been produced.

#172 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:30 PM:

Commercial yarns for the home knitter are almost always fairly loose, and rarely worsted. Twist (which is what makes it less loose) Requires energy, and energy costs money.

Spinning worsted takes more energy than spinning woolen. With the ability to make really long fibers of acrylic it's a lot cheaper to make softer yarns.

A lot of the better acrylics are also made with a lot more plies (and even cables) than a hand spinner is willing (or even able) to make. I've taken some apart to discover they were 5x3 cables (that is they were five strands of 3 ply yarns* spun together to make the final yarn).

Cables made for better stitch definition when working patterns into yarn, esp. cables.

The product of spinning is yarn. Some yarns are very fine. I'm spinning some silk right now and it's between 80-90 wraps per inch (i.e. if I wrap them around a stick, it would take between 80-90 turns to be 1" wide). If I have the patience to three ply it It will be about the weight of button-hole twist thread. If I'm really patient I'll spin up 6 strands and make some embroidery floss. It's a lovely shade of soft plum.

#173 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 10:38 PM:

While I'm not myself into spinning, I long ago heard online from one person who spun fur off her Newfoundland (dog). Apparently, she knitted a sweater from it, and said the dog seemed to recognize it as "his".

#174 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2014, 11:13 PM:

Dog is pretty spinnable, cat not so much. People do it, but it's not very grabby, so the yarns are unstable (and hard to make).

Polwarth and Targhee are probably my favorite wools. Alpaca is nice (but a trifle cranky when blended with silk, lovely drape but finicky to draft into the wheel) Lopi is fun (but very bulky).

I've got some mill-spun cashmere singles I use to ply, and all sorts of different varieties of wool.

I also have some quivut (about 1.3 oz).

Silk I've never done on wheel, only spindles.

Camel hair I've tried on spindles, but not had much luck with (the staple is fairly short), and I've yet to put it on the wheel.

#175 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 12:30 AM:

Lady Kay, I refer to the circles you mention as 'yarn donuts'. The proper thing to do with them, if you are me, is to keep hold of them until you are done with the yarn entirely, then put them in a decorative container with the other yarn donuts. My tree sweater this year-- which is not Done in the way it will be come May*-- resulted in more than a dozen of various sizes and colors, including one that was an entire skein of blue's worth.

Yarn donuts make me happy.

Now to resist learning to spin for another month or two.

*I wanted a big blanket. I picked a big tree. I knit through most of October and ended up with something too wide and not long enough, so I turned it sideways. I'd like it to be at least square, which means another three or four feet of 266ish stitches each. At least it's bulky yarn. Also, tree.**.

**Because Iowa City. We do that.

#176 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 12:35 AM:

If you don't want to spin it yourself, V.I.P. Fibers will turn your collected dog fur into yarn.

* * *

John Rogers, the co-creator and pilot-writer of The Librarians, is a major league geek. Comic book author (The Blue Beetle), co-wrote the D&D 4th edition Manual of the Planes.

* * *
I've been donating to Heifer International for years, but the "Here's a catalog! Buy gifts for needy people!" hype and conceit is increasingly grating. I've been getting emails almost daily, and two "catalogs" a week. I may look elsewhere next year.

#177 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 01:01 AM:

The Web/Internet is an amplifier & a connector. This is a good thing (but not an unalloyed good). With it, there is so much I can access that I couldn't before (certainly not as easily). It's allowed me to connect to others with shared interests like never before.

The whole world is accessible on your screen. But it also means that at any given time someone is wrong on the internet, and ugliness can impinge on your web experience at any time. It's a trade-off I happily accept despite episodes of outrage (and outrage fatigue).

Tim Berners-Lee calling for net access to be a human right is an indication of how important it has become to our lives.

#178 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 01:25 AM:

Xopher @158: Whaaat!?!?!? Seriously?

I would involve the rest of the Clergy Coalition, and ask the Catholic priests to make calls on our behalf as well. And write to the Reporter, and also the Mayor. That is outrageous.

#179 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 05:25 AM:

A drop spindle elicited a "huh wha?" response out of P C Hodgell and a screech from Tamora Pierce.

The times I've visited the Amercian Museum of Textile HIstory, I have not seen even one rop spindle-scads of spinning wells, and a spinning enery , and more modern equipment, exhibits that include ancient Egyptian weaving, but not even one drop spindle. Apparently colonial New England, all the spinning was done with wheels, and not drop spindles.

#180 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 08:15 AM:

cat not so much. People do it, but it's not very grabby, so the yarns are unstable (and hard to make

The fiber that comes off my cat is also very "kempy", insofar as cats have kemps. It would need a lot of processing to get most of the guard hairs out, and the staple of the underfur is quite short, though it has a lovely silky/alpaca-y texture. It might work better if I started with fluffier cats, though, as both of mine are shorthairs.

#181 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 09:07 AM:

Paula Lieberman: In Colonial New England, spinning was already an industrialized process for commercial output, so I wouldn't be surprised if drop spindles had fallen out of use for any but the most rural, sheep-raising families.

New England was covered in water mills for sawing our straight lovely trees into lumber for the English shipping industry, it was not a pre-technological idyll.

#182 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 09:38 AM:

'Tis the middle of finals, and what do I find:

'This essay is constructed to expunge upon each of these five philosophers' political thoughts, and detail why they have made such an impact especially in contemporary society and government.' It's going to take some time to expunge that one from my mind.

#183 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 10:20 AM:

#179 myself

That should have been drop spindle not rop sindle.

#184 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 11:29 AM:

Fragano @ 182 -

ExpungeBob Scarypants.

#185 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 11:36 AM:

Elliott Mason@165&169 Terry Karney@170,172&174 and Diatryma@175

Thank you so much for explaining. I watched those two videos last night (and a few others that came up as related on YouTube).

About plying. How is it done? How many plies can you put together? Is it easier to make a three-ply and then ply three of those together than to ply 9 together? I know that there are two spinning directions (S and Z) and that plying must be done in the opposite direction of the spinning of the singles. If you make another level of plying, which direction does it have to be in?

Thanks so much for being willing to answer questions.

#186 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 11:43 AM:

My use of drop spindle has as much to do with my lifestyle as it's utility.

I do a lot of spinning on the subway. Drop spindles are great for making use of interstitial time.

But (save for the finest of spinning, e.g. for orenberg, or shetland, lace) a wheel is a lot faster. When one thinks of sheer amount of yardage required to make one bolt of cloth, it's no surprise that Colonial New England was pretty much wheels all the way.

The distributed work of weaving (that which the defense of led to Luddism) was usually a family business. Combed wool was bought (because combing is hard work, and takes skill), and thwe wife and daughters would spin it. The husband would run the loom.

If you look at the requirements for making sailcloth you can see just how much skilled labor was required to make a cloth, in general (and that's without the work required to full and trim cloth made of wool).

The very best kind of sailcloth is made from long flax, as this fibre possesses flexibility, lightness and strength combined. The number of threads per inch of warp varies from 14 double threads to 48 double threads, and from 12 to 36 shots per inch of weft, while the usual widths are 18, 24, 30 and 36 in. Cotton canvas has for its limits about 26 to 54 threads of warp per inch, and 15 to 46 shots per inch; the warp yarn for cottons may be 2, 3 or several ply...

The canvas for the Admiralty is 24 in. wide, and the pieces, termed bolts, should be as nearly as practicable 40 yds. of legal measure in length...

Anything which sped the process was a boon to the person who was having to do it all themselves.

One of the things we have as a result of that is the presence of teasel in the Americas. It's one of the tools of the fuller. A rake of teasel was made to lift the nap (i.e. tease it up), so that it could be trimmed more flush to the weave.

#187 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 11:55 AM:

Lady Kay:

Plying can be as many singles as one can manage (the tool most commonly used to manage the singles as one plies is termed a lazy kate). Most lazy kates for home use will hold three bobbins/spindles (plying from spindles is cranky, I either use a nostepinne to make a ball(or have someone hold the spindle) so I can transfer to a bobbin.

If you don't reverse the twist direction you aren't actually plying, you are making a more complex single. So one can't make a 9-ply the way you describe, because the adding of two more three-ply yarns to the extant three-ply would become an "energised" yarn, and need to be plied against something else to balance it.

Traditional sweaters, like Guernsey and Jersey, are made from 5-ply yarns (often not completely "scutched" [i.e. rinsed of lanolin and suint], so they are less absorbtive of water. They don't have quite the stitch definition of a cabled yarn, but they hold more air, and so are warmer.

All plying is done opposite to the direction of the last action taken with the yarn. If you spun it Z, you will ply it S. If you intend to cable it you need to "overspin" the intial ply, so the yarn has "energy", to be balanced out in the final operation, so that cabled yarns are either Z/S/Z, or S/Z/S.

The first few times one makes a cable the tendency is to be less then completely even in the overspinning, and have a yarn that wants to kink a little.

And now I have to rush to make it to work on time.

#188 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 12:32 PM:

#181 Elliott

I think that colonial New England was much more into cattle than sheep. Woburn, Massachusetts, site of two of the original top 10 EPA worst industrial pollution sites in the USA, got that distinction from a tanning/tannery industry which had gone back to colonial times, there was toxic waste there starting with the English settlement of the locality and the siting of tanneries. The last vestige of livestock-related industries in the place is now shutting down or has recently shut down, with the closing of the Jell-O plant (it converted animal bones and hooves into gelatin and the gelatin into Jell-O. Located just west of I-93 south of Montvale Avenue, one could tell the flavor of Jell-O being made by the smell, if the smell of rotten meat were not predominating instead, before the EPA cracked down years ago. The plant clsoure is because the raw materials have to be hauled in from elsewhere, and cheap gelatin from e.g. China, is available.

One of the contributing causes to unhappiness in the colonies in what today is the USA, was restrictions on textile production--there were stiff penalities in force for development of cottage industry woolen production as oipposed to the colonies being markets for UK wool and clothing textiles. The focus here appeared to be on linen production locally--I remember exhibits in my childhood at Old Sturbridge Villageshowing the process of turning flax into linen, but I don;t remember having seen any drop spindles there.

The industrial revolution hit not all that long after US independence. all the waterways of New England got put to use for mechanical power production--the Charles in Waltham had the first sigificant indsutrial revolution factory in the USA , and thre's a museum there (which I have not been to...) celebrating that, and which sponsors steampunk stuff. The next sites the industrial revolution spread to were the incorporation of Lowell and Lawrence, along the Merrimac(k) River, as mill cities. Amoskeag in New Hampshire, later renamed to Manchester, was built into the largest industry complex in the world in terms of employment.

#189 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 12:54 PM:

Adding to the general spinning and yarn info thread...

Another difference between worsted and woolen is that, because the fibers in worsted are strongly parallel, they have different optics than a woolen thread. (Not nearly as strong as the optics with, for example, thrown silk versus spun silk.) There is a very small peculiar corner of Iron Age weaving that involved using worsted threads of different spin directions (S and Z) as if they were different thread colors when weaving check patterns. This is only really possible with worsted and not woolen. I have a long-term project to weave a square Iron Age cloak with spin-directional checks ... which means I also have to spin all the thread for it myself to get the necessary matched S and Z singles. It really gives you a sense for the labor involved!

#190 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 01:54 PM:

I just saw the most interesting thing. A fossilized example of "you are copying my business model/name" dispute. The really interesting part was that the plaintiff spammed the accused with a half dozen baseless complaints, each barbed with slight inaccuracies or inconsistencies from the truth, and one well founded complaint. (An actual use of registered trademark.) It reminded me of a burr. (Or a briarpatch!) The unwary accused might easily trigger a whole round of pointless counterclaims by disputing any of the baseless complaints, meanwhile leaving themselves open to admitting the one actionable mistake.

Clever work, and I wouldn't have recognized it, were it not for having read countless fandom arguments.

Also, I want to say thank you to everyone who responded to my speculations about parenting, conservatism, and the Gate which dare not speak it's name. You've given me a lot to think about. (And compliments, too, which is an unexpected joy.)

Terry Karney, 140,
I respect your willingness and success with engaging with them. I exert caution with naming them, because the superset that they belong to are characterized by a willingness to do tedious, repetitive, tasks for long periods of time, (e.g. level grinding) so long as there is a reward. Summoning such folk here might just lead to a bunch of extra work for our moderators, and this is a group who definition-ally love to spend their free time fighting imaginary enemies. (Quickly checks mirror for presence of log in eye. Results indeterminate.)

#191 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 02:49 PM:

Xopher @158: You might want to ask your Rector to contact the Catholic Bishop of the diocese in your area, and ask him what he would do in response to the fire department. I think your Rector (even though he's not Catholic) would get ecumenical support from the Church in this case.

Best possible outcome? The Bishop may charitably discourage the fire department from this potential public relations disaster.

If THAT doesn't take care of the overzealous fire inspector, contact your local TV stations and tell them about candles, indeed!

#192 ::: Susana S. P. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 02:54 PM:

Heather Rose Jones@189
There is a very small peculiar corner of Iron Age weaving that involved using worsted threads of different spin directions (S and Z) as if they were different thread colors when weaving check patterns.

Oh. This is mentioned in Hild, by Nicola Griffith (which is incredibly good, by the way, and I've been meaning to look it up since, not being able to picture what the effect would be. I did look, but my search-fu must have been down. Can you point me to an example, or a better search term than "spin-pattern" (I think that's what Hild calls it)?

I am entranced by all the spinning info (and pictures) on this thread.

#193 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 04:09 PM:

Xopher #158:

Somewhere in this comment is an apposite response about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness...

#194 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 05:07 PM:

The fire marshall backed off. We suspect his fellow fireguys said "what, are you crazy?"

#195 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 05:23 PM:

Am glad sense is prevailing. We need more of that.

#196 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 06:16 PM:

Susana @ 192

You can see a display and description of my project so far on my blog here.

Amusingly enough, I finally got around to posting that because Nicola had tweeted something about never actually having seen what the spin-patterned weaving looked like.

#197 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 09:36 PM:

AKICIML: In the UK in the 1970s, was it customary to address a trained midwife working with the National Health as Nurse? Miss? Some other way?

#198 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 09:57 PM:

Following up on this comment I posted a while back: This time when I went to pay my bill, I was keeping a sharp eye out for an opt-out box that I might have missed last time. And yes indeed, there was one -- way down at the bottom of the page, in pale-grey-and-pale-green text, very low-contrast against the white background. Never mind that something like "having your credit card number stored in our servers" should NEVER, EVER be done as an opt-out, the positioning and lack of contrast strike me as being a particularly sleazy way of tricking people into missing that opt-out box, as I did last time. It's Comcastic!

#199 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 10:20 PM:

So, I went out with a friend to try and get a look at the Geminid meteor shower, but it was a wash. :-( We did stay out there for about an hour, but I only saw one possible streak, and he didn't see anything.

Of course, many factors were against us: cold, city lights (we were in a park, but the light pollution was very visible, well up from the horizon), astronomical ignorance (basically the only constellation I could recognize was Orion, one of maybe four that I can ever recognize), though I gather that actually was in the approximate direction we needed to be looking), and dubious vision (I do need to get new glasses, but also, this was always why I can't spot too many constellations), not to mention impatience and "not big on late nights". And cold, did I mention cold? ;-)

This is not a massive surprise -- every year or two I try to watch one or another meteor shower, but I've never had great results. But, bleah anyway.

#200 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2014, 10:46 PM:

David Harmon @199: Sorry to hear that. I've been in the remote north woods for the Perseids several times in my life--one of my better memories, hours spent lying on a wooden dock in the middle of a remote lake, looking up into a light-streaked night sky . . . any chance to see a meteor shower is to be seized with both hands, I say.

#201 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 12:00 AM:

No chance of meteor-watching here, because we're still overcast from the big storm that came to California (amusingly hash tagged "Hellastorm" by quite a few people—"hella" is not slang that I ever picked up on, but it's apparently endemic to Northern California.) Quite a bit of ambient glow from the nearby city of a half-million. But it only takes half an hour or so to get to some decent dark, and less than two hours to about the best dark you'll get without going to true wilderness. (Such as just east of Klamath Falls... that's a *nice* spot on the Dark Map.)

#202 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 12:02 AM:

Hmm. I offer the gnomes satsuma mandarins from my mother's tree. I must have said something odd.

#203 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 01:10 AM:

Spin Off Magazine does a fair bit of talking about how ply works and either they or (I'll have to check tomorrow, when I get home from work) Twist had a piece on how using different lays of yarn in weaving affects the way it sets.

#204 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 03:47 AM:

HLN: whyyyy are people still making fanart of alphamale!thorin playing badtouch with drawnasachild!bilbo whyyyyyyy

Area woman forgets that browser filters don't actually work all that well.

#205 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 09:50 AM:

I just had a really extraordinary tangerine-- it had a strong tangerine flavor, but it also had a definite flavor of honey without being unusually sweet.

I can go back to the place I bought it, but I doubt they keep track of that sort of detail-- it's a fruit and vegetable stand in the Italian market, a place to get good enough food at better than average prices, not a gourmet shop.

The tangerines have a code of 4449, and that's one of the common tangerines.

Anyone know what it might be? Anyone interested in seeds if I find some?

#206 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 09:53 AM:

Terry: Am I wrong in thinking that modern crepe weave also uses twist in some way?

#207 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 11:49 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz: Citrus fruits don't grow true from seed, sadly; you'd have to get a scion from the tree your tangerine came from.

#208 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 11:54 AM:

David @199:

As is usual for meteor showers in my experience, the Chicago area was, if not fogged in, at least hazed in. I remember a meteor storm that was predicted to be really spectacular some years back when it was so foggy I literally couldn't see across the street. Or even see the street itself.

I've almost never had good luck with viewing conditions when it comes to meteors, but really, fog (or haze) AGAIN? Seriously?

#209 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 08:56 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz: Because the internet is awesome, I have several places that tell me a #4449 PLU is a mandarin of the cultivar "Sunburst."

#210 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 09:12 PM:

Thanks, but that's a pretty common tangerine.

I've eaten several tangerines from the same batch (one of them with the same label), and none of them tasted of honey.

I've got the peel left from the honey-flavored tangerine (mixed with the peel from an ordinary tangerine, but I don't think that matters) if cloning is a possibility (probably not).

#211 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Cloning is a possibility, but only old-fashioned vegetative cloning, which can't be done from the peel, just by grafting a piece of living wood to some appropriate rootstock. It is, in fact, how the tree your tangerine came from was produced. Which doesn't help you at all, of course. I highly recommend McPhee's book "Oranges" for a fascinating description of how citrus fruits are produced and reproduced.

#212 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 09:49 PM:

*sigh* I should probably just remember it fondly as a unique experience.

We now have evidence that honey-flavored tangerines are possible, and eventually there may be people who can do targeted genetic manipulation.

#213 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2014, 11:17 PM:

Elliot: re crêpe/crape, yes it's a trick of having high twist yarns in the weave. the soft varieties are done by playing with both twist direction, and the twist. Silk (which hasn't been cleaned) is set up with the one of the plies S and one Z. When the "gum" is removed one of the ends up relaxed (with no apparent twist) and the other one crimps.

When made with wool the effect is managed by how the relative twist in one ply relates to the other in the yarns on the loom.

Since I've not yet fallen victim to the siren song of owning a loom, I don't have more clarity that that.

#214 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 01:07 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz: there is a variety of tangerine called the Honey Tangerine -- perhaps that is what you're looking for? It's likely that there are variations in flavor within that variety, with some having a more pronounced honey taste. The difference could also come from a very slight fermentation of the tangerine, or the fruit actually having been ripened longer on the tree -- in which case, you'd have a lot better chance of getting that flavor again if you got your own tree, just by letting them ripen more than is appropriate for packaging for stores. Local farmers markets may also have tree-ripened fruit -- check with the vendor.

#215 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 04:51 PM:

AKICIML, Giftmas Edition: We gave my daughter a (huge, probably handmade, bought-at-thriftstore) dollhouse. She wants to customize it in ways that our house is customized, so her dollhouse kid can hang up his backpack and so on.

Does something like a dollhouse-scale Command adhesive hook (strong but removable) exist? The smallest ones I can find are more than half the height of the dollhouse people. :->

#216 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 05:09 PM:


How important is it that it be stick-on?

Why not a tiny eyescrew from the hardware store? Use two pair of pliers to open it into a little hook.

Use a brad to tap a starter hole and screw it in.

#217 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 08:11 PM:

The British Medical Journal publishes a groundbreaking study on why there are never any good magazines in doctors' waiting rooms.

#218 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 08:52 PM:

Jeph Jacques has apparently been reading Charlie Stross novels.

#219 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 09:16 PM:

Lila @ 202::986 -- I didn't think of toilets (dim of me), but ISTM that the hall should have enough for when it's full of people, so lack of consumption wouldn't matter. (IME, supplies are trivial. OTOH, with a lot of robot attendees the facilities might not need cleaning as often; that's a labor cost, which is more significant.) I did think about food -- but I've never known a European convention to be allowed to have free food set out as in US con suites; add enough robots, and consuming less food becomes a negative as the food-stand contractor cuts back on amenities/deals/....

David Harmon @ 48: Sam Adams has been doing ultra-high-alcohol beers for over a decade now; I think their latest (sampled at a public-media fundraiser last year) was around 25% ABV. That might be called a gimmick; however, I suspect the late lamented Thomas Hardy's Dorset Ale ran over 10%. (I've poked through a few links with no hard data; somebody else may have better web-fu.)
      Serving 10% ABV in a 12-oz glass does seem a bit excessive....

Clifton @ 64: we've been sending money to FINCA International; the descriptions of microfinancing they do look good to us, but I see that CN hasn't rated them.

Fragano @ 90: I'm not sure I agree with the bleakness, but I don't think I've seen a better example of using the repetitions to bind the ]verses[ together instead of marking them off. Nicely done!

Elliott Mason @ 181: the Colonial period in New England covers over 150 years. Are you sure that the people who \founded/ Plymouth and Boston used wheels for everything? They certainly weren't industrial in general in the beginning, but I don't know whether home wheels were so common by then that colonists would have had them.

Terry Karney @ 186: Have you been to The Cloisters? The garden has not-very-well-identified sections, one of which is I concluded was plants-related-to-fiber-working by the presence of fuller's teazel. (I hadn't heard of it but remembered what a fuller was from colonial-history class.) The garden also has a highly-modified pear tree; I forget the term they used, but if it were meat on a serving tray I'd say it had been spatchcocked.

Xopher @ various: ISTM that the marshall's complaint was especially bogus because Advent candles are usually out where people can see them, instead of against things they can ignite. (Standard candles might be on an altar cloth -- I remember lighting such before I left the church -- but that doesn't put the flame anywhere near the cloth.) Having set my hair on fire on a table candle, I can understand why restaurants generally use fakes now -- but this case sounds like the rare case of an inspector with time on his hands.

David Goldfarb @ 199: all of the reports I've seen said the shower was supposed to peak on 13-14 December.

#220 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 09:32 PM:

I'm done with baking, and maybe cooking*, for the year. Today I made:

2 trays red velvet brownies, with dried cherries thrown in.

2 trays brownies marbled with chocolate-mint peanut butter.

2 trays mocha hazelnut fudge. (The condensed milk variety, which purists call a ganache.)

3 dozen assorted dessert muffins.

* As opposed to microwaving things I froze.

#221 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 10:03 PM:

The spinning/weaving subthread (heh) is fascinating (as was the OT on the subject while I was down the rabbit hole at AO3), and it's definitely making me appreciate my store-bought clothes (despite the challenges of proper fit, length of wear, etc.).

Lila @ 217, someone has a twisted sense of humor (humour?) or too much time on his hands or possibly both...but it's nice to know anyone even noticed the phenomenon. :)

Chip @ 219, might the "spatchcocked" pear tree have been espaliered?

#222 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 10:59 PM:

CHip: Yes, at settlement at Plymouth (and before), New England was industrial. It wasn't steam-powered yet, but it was widely water-powered, and very few people had the luxury of using less productive methods. They started with enough capital, for the most part, that they didn't have to bootstrap themselves up to it.

Records of cargoes on the Mayflower are limited (and do not apparently contain wheels, though they include cheese-making supplies, but no milch animals like goats or cattle). In the 1500s and early 1600s, Dutch paintings of women spinning are almost universally using wheels. They were commonplace (except among extremely rural sheep-raising families, where women span as they walked with the flocks).

It is widely believed that the US has a pastoral, untechnological past, but we were settled late enough in human history that we were, as a European-descended culture, already quite technologically sophisticated.

#223 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 11:01 PM:

CHip @219:

I wouldn't be surprised if the British colonies had few drop spinners even in the early settlements. Wheels had been around since the 12th century, although it took a while for them to catch on. By the 16th century, flyer wheels were well-documented as in use, and by the beginning of the 17th century (about when England started colonizing the Americas) treadle wheels were starting to be introduced.

It wouldn't surprise me if the early colonists (or those who would make cloth) brought wheels with them, not spindles.

#224 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2014, 11:04 PM:

Lila, #217: My hairdresser tells me that the reason she doesn't have my preferred brain candy is that the inexpensive subscription service that supplies her magazines doesn't offer it. She does have (what I consider to be) inferior but marginally acceptable versions of the same style of brain candy.

#225 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 04:49 AM:

An interesting web site: Live reporting of wind-generated electricity in the UK

What intrigues is that Monday morning, people at work, 8% of total demand is enough to feed 29% of UK homes. That's based on the annual average, so it doesn't reflect the normal variations through the day. But it suggests that only 28% of electricity has domestic uses.

We nay not have much margin for things to go wrong this winter, and I know some things are being done, but we don't hear much about industry trying to use less electricity, There are other reasons to replace hot-filament lighting: for one thing it reduces the labour cost of replacements. We don't hear so much about it.

There's a personal benefit from all this, but the way the corporate world treats us, are they doing their share? Is there anything similar for the USA? I doubt it's practical for the whole country, you don't have a real national grid.

#226 ::: Susana S. P. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 06:06 AM:

Heather Rose Jones@196

Wow, did I ask the right person! Thank you, I really couldn't envision anything at all. I can see both horizontal and vertical striping, if I squint. It's fascinating stuff (and so is the rest of your blog, which I have saved for a time with more time).

Elliott Mason@215

If you find a hook in the size you want (or make one), you can cut up the backing of Command-type hooks and use that to stick it on. Leave a tiny bit unstuck and hanging from the bottom, though, so you can remove easily (learned that one from experience, and, concomitantly, how to patch up small areas of missing paint).

#227 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 08:48 AM:

Elliott Mason, if at some point you wish a road trip, the Iowa State Fair has some pretty awesome dollhouses. Incredible attention to detail, from the labels in the kitchen to the scattered cat litter to (I was told) a facsimile newspaper. There are probably such things closer to you, either Art Institute or Museum of Science and Industry or whatever fairs might have such art divisions, but I know Iowa has it.

For the hook, is the kiddo of an age that you can explain 'looking useful' vs 'being useful'? A doll-sized hook won't be easy to hang a backpack on unless you're a doll, and maybe not even then. Beyond that, painting a screw-in hook white would probably do a lot to make it look right.

#228 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 09:12 AM:

Dave Bell #225: Some industries are working on cutting their own costs, but AFAICT they consider it a law of nature that industrial energy use is whatever they happen to need. Cutting their share as compared to consumer use, or even reducing their various subsidies and freebies, is simply not in the political vocabulary. This is even more blatant with respect to water use.

#229 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 10:52 AM:

wrt @217: The former local laundromat (closed two years ago; the current local laundromat is further away) usually carried the local free rags, which was OK if one did washing midweek, but they were shreds and fragments by the weekend. The occasional magazine would float in, but it was usually (using the BMJ term to be kind) gossipy. Or Cosmopolitan.

At some point, I looked at my magazine recycling stack (New Yorkers and Harper's, with outliers) and hefted a few bagsworth down the next time I did the clothes; the owner promised to put them in the racks.

With the exception of the really old New Yorkers, they tended to disappear.

Different clientele and all that. I try to take my own reading material to physician waiting rooms due to that interesting morning when I was stuck on a gurney with nothing except a copy of Martha Stewart Living.

#230 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 11:33 AM:

#210 Nancy

Even though the grafts might come from what was the same original tree or vine (The original Concord Grape was still alive early in the 20th century, but it died sometime between then and now (I call the Concord Historical Society to ask if it were still in existence)) the trees and vines and fruit resulting, are not necessarily exactly the same. And then there are environmental conditions effects:

There are antique bonsai (several hundreds years old) in Boston's Arnoold Arbortetum, gifts to the public which were originally cultured a very long time ago in Japan.

Botanists wanted to know what species one of them actually was before contemporary gene tracing tech was around--the tree predated modern taxonomy in the name that came with it when it came to the USA. The tree had been potbound, for, well, centuries, and the and leaves had adapted completely to being in a bonsai pot.

The botanists took one or more cuttings and allowed unconstrained growth (that ism not in bonsai pot). The resulting growth patterns and bradch and leaf patterns, allowed them to identify the tree's actual species--which could not be determined because what the bonsai tree looked like, was so very different inn leaf than what the plant grown without a contraining pot looked like.

Anyway, the size, shape, color, sweetness, etc. of fruit is very much dependent not only on species and variety and individual tree, but also on weather, soil, rainfall and rainfall timing,often on factors like day length, altitude, etc.

#231 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 01:34 PM:

Lila 2217: there are never any good magazines in doctors' waiting rooms.

My dentist's office came up with The Perfect solution to this problem: coffee table books. Interesting and pleasant to look at, requiring no dedicated attention, nor train of thought (which is to say, being interupted in the middle of an interesting article isn't an issue).

Also: somewhat too big and heavy to casually slip into a purse or a pocket.

The other side of their solution: you barely have time to sit down and pick up a book before they call you in.

#232 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 01:41 PM:

Large coffee table books do definitely partake of the "gas station bathroom keys attached to a hubcap" solution. :->

#233 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 02:09 PM:

The tangerine I'm currently eating has the honey flavor, but not as strongly.

#214 ::: Tom Whitmore

Honest, I can tell the difference between the taste of honey and the taste of alcohol.

And I'm pretty sure a tangerine can be called Honey Tangerine without having a distinct honey taste.

At this point, I think the best available solution is to explore recipes that combine honey and tangerines.

The good news is that it wasn't a delightful taste I couldn't name.


I'm trying to find an essay I saw online in 90s (possibly again in the early 2000s) about samovars. It was a wonderful history and cultural explanation, and it had a bit that stayed with me.

It talked about capitalist tea-- tea companies sweeping up powder from the floor and adding it to tea bags, and communist tea-- not bothering to take the twigs out. I've wondered ever since if there's a way to describe the constraints and organizational structure which lead to caring enough about the right things so that people produce good products.

Anyway, it also had a history of samovars, electric samovars, samovars on trains, and probably recipes for making tea with a samovar.

These days, there's so much more about samovars online that I can't find it, assuming it's still available. Anyone remember it?

Meanwhile, a friend and I have found some interesting links about samovars.

#235 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 06:07 PM:

How heavy is the doll's backpack? I seem to recall gluing sewing hooks (i.e. the hook half of a hook-and-eye fastener) to a popsicle stick to make a coatrack for my dollhouse.

#236 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 06:16 PM:

Ooooh (he says, wriggling his fingertips together like Mr Burns), I LIKE the idea of a row of little hooks glued to a popsicle stick.

#237 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 06:18 PM:

And I can indipendently verify that the hooks used in bras are, um, quite strong.

#238 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Lila at 217, I think there may be staff triage going on also. When I was in the hospital recently, the CNA taking me to my room asked if he could get me anything else. I said yes, I'd like some science magazines. "Anything from Popular Science to Nature." He brought a couple of acceptable titles and apologized for not finding more. About an hour later, the CNA assigned to that ward came in, looked at my magazines, and said "Oh you don't want those!" and was back before I could say oh yes I do! with a pile of gossip stuff and some gracious homes titles. She probably chucked my sciency stuff right in the trash. And this is the *only* hospital in a town where the main business is a science university and its hangers on.

#239 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 10:19 PM:

Older, #238: OMG. At that point I would have been yelling at the top of my lungs for the resident, the nurse, ANYBODY to come in there and STOP HER. IME, "making a scene" is the only weapon you have against people who think they can read your mind and make your decisions for you.

#240 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2014, 11:44 PM:

Years ago I went to a dentist who had in his waiting room a "clay tablet" that said Babylonian Digest.

#241 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2014, 12:44 AM:

I've seen 'Architectural Digest' in dentists' waiting rooms. And 'Sports Illustrated' (but not the swimsuit issue, IIRC).

#242 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2014, 01:50 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #233: My sister's family has an old Russian samovar passed down from my stepmother. A few years ago, my BiL's family saw it, translated the inscriptions on it and went hunting online... while I don't remember the details, they did trace it back to the town and maker, and furthermore to a particular generation of the family running the factory.

Rainflame #240: <chortle>

#244 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2014, 04:38 PM:

In the spirit of the season: Holiday pun

#245 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2014, 05:48 PM:

older @ #238, how absolutely infuriating!

#246 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 12:35 AM:

Happy Hannukah to one and all.

#247 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 12:57 AM:

I think it was on Making Light that I first learned about the strange New Zealand tides (they progress clockwise around the country), so people might be interest in this.

There's a beautiful animated gif at Calculated Images that shows the tidal flow around the world. It's amazing how different it is from the lies-to-children version I was taught at school, which had two high tides progressing east-to-west around the world, following the moon.

#248 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 02:37 AM:


hocus enim pocus meum:
audio pareidolia.
cantus planus mondegreen:
babel-17 logorrhea.

life skirting the edge of meaning,
lost in a wine-dark sea of metaphor;
snippets of conversation misheard
in the wheezing pumps of machinery.

#249 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 03:08 AM:

In re the "I'm actually shocked" Particle concerning Naughty Feelings and specialized Mormon garments, it's also a minor character detail in The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin.

#250 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 03:57 AM:

Soon Lee @ #234 writes:

> Australians offer to accompany commuters wearing
> religious garb who might be fearful of Islam-
> phobic backlash following hostage incident in
> Sydney cafe.

And another bit of light to go with that: on my train line in Melbourne some twerp started hassling a woman in a chadour. He was shouted down by the surrounding passengers, the cops plucked him off the train a few stations later, and an approving story made it to the newspapers.

So not all is bad with the world.

(Note to other Melbournites: good thing it was on the Upfield line, not the Frankston line, eh?)

#251 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 08:28 AM:

thomas #247: I note that Madagascar also seems to have clockwise tides.

#252 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 09:00 AM:

thomas @247: Wow -- I did not know that epi-Manhattan's tides are BACKWARDS to the rest of the US eastern seaboard.

*goes back to stare, mesmerized*

#253 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 10:29 AM:

Re the opening thesis of this thread: The Atlantic recently had a pretty good article on the "Gospel of Jesus Wife" and how it flamed out and died.* What they only hint at is that this was all played out on the internet, mostly through the blogs of various paleographers; not only that, but the forgery itself seems to have depended on the availability of key texts in on-line editions, but that same availability enabled detection of the copying.

Various of the bloggers wrote summaries of the whole affair, but particularly germane is this observation:

Get high resolution images on the internet and let some crowd-sourcing do the critical work. In this episode the scholarly blogs on the subject come out pretty well, while the Harvard folk are looking a little gullible. The blogs sorted in a month what Harvard couldn't. We all know when bloggers get their teeth into something they can be tenacious and feed off each other. Surely there will now be scholarly articles on this mess, in NTS and hopefully in HTR, but I doubt they'll offer more than the blogs have already done.

*TL;DR version: first, it was determined that every part of the text except the key phrase could be traced to a particular edition of the Gospel of Thomas. Second, another fragment in the same hand was revealed which was quickly determined to have been copied from a particular modern edition of a Coptic version of the Gospel of John. The latter also had a fault which showed that it had been writ recently on an old fragment.

#254 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 11:41 AM:

C. Wingate #253: Two more points, both from the same Atlantic article: Even at the original talk, the scholars present (and examining photographs) were pretty dubious. And even before the talk, the person presenting it had set off a media blitz which IMHO was inexcusible.

If I were working in the field, I'd be writing her name on a salt-shaker....

#255 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Terry Karney @246: Thank you.

#256 ::: Stephen Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 01:54 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ #248 writes:

> Hocus-pocus...

I don't know what I'm enjoying there, but I'm enjoying it :)

#257 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 04:39 PM:

re 254: My impression was that at first there was a fair amount of rather tentative acceptance and perhaps a greater degree of skepticism to outright doubt. It's a little hard to tell in retrospect how much of each there was because the initial pushback was more from the "what does it mean?" people. Karen King is from the Jesus Seminar/"Gnosticism tells us a lot about early Christianity" camp, and almost immediately the people in the other camp came out to deny that this text was really that earth-shattering (see for instance this NBC story). It took some time for the paleography momentum to build up.

It was interesting to see how the MSM dealt with the hype bubble deflation. By the time the C14 results came in, here was plenty of cause (if one read around the blogs) to believe that the thing was a fake, especially since one might expect a forger to work with an ancient fragment to begin with. (The C14 dates were also decidedly out of step with the original antiquity claims, although that didn't figure in the end.) Laurie Goldstein at the NYT, however, didn't concede until the Pau Codex forgery was made plain. As the Religion-Reporter-of-Record her participation in this is really beneath any kind of standard, though I don't know that she was in on the hype bubble the way the people at the Smithsonian were.

#258 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 04:50 PM:

WorldCon Havana.


#259 ::: Thomas Lumley ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 05:08 PM:

David Harmon #251: And Iceland, though it's harder to see on that projection.

#260 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 06:21 PM:

Reading the last two comments together made me think 'WorldCon in Iceland? Well, why not?'.

#261 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 07:40 PM:

Thanks, Earl at # 248. I might enjoy it even more if I had more Latin.

#262 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 08:29 PM:

C. Wingate #257: My impression was that at first there was a fair amount of rather tentative acceptance and perhaps a greater degree of skepticism to outright doubt.

And that would be about par for the course, given a radical new claim. But the media release, before even giving the talk, that's bad. The way the press blows things up and then doesn't want to back down, that's exactly why scientists frown on early releases to the media (especially unreviewed or unconfirmed work). While I don't have experience with Biblical-era scholars, I'd hope they would have much the same attitude.

#263 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 09:12 PM:

Signs I have perhaps stopped worrying so much about what people think in academic settings - I just got back from an English Lit exam in which I wrote the words "Up yours, Swifty!" while pondering what Lady Montagu's process might have been.

#264 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 09:16 PM:

Allan Beatty: You actually don't need much Latin or Greek. All you need is Google and/or Wikipedia. Key words and phrases:

hocus pocus -- a conventional phrase for bafflegab and misdirection. In the "World vs. Grandmaster Arkady Naiditsch" game going on at, the World team managed a "hocus pocus variation" to induce the GM to err.
"hoc est enim corpus meum" -- "this is my body", a phrase used in the Christian Mass. One very plausible derivation for "hocus pocus" is from this.
pareidolia -- the human brain's tendency to see patterns, especially faces, where they aren't actually present. (Frex, the "Face on Mars", or Jesus in a tortilla.)
cantus planus -- plainchant, a kind of medieval song
Mondegreen -- the mishearing of song lyrics

Apologies if I'm overexplaining.

#265 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 10:13 PM:

I'll add that last I looked, Mondegreens had several websites devoted to their collection¹, which might be good for an hour or few's amusement. They're related to "eggcorns", the similar respelling of spoken words.

And yes, Earl Cooley III #248: very cool.

¹ I've seen at least one printed book of them, titled "Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy".

#266 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 10:27 PM:

David Harmon @265: The band I'm in is named Lady Mondegreen. Which sometimes makes us challenging to google for.

#267 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2014, 10:44 PM:

#264 etc. etymology of "hocus pocus"

I suspect a similar derivation for "fiddle-dee-dee"

#268 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 12:06 AM:

C Wingate @252: Sounds like they need a Biblical Philologist. Might come in handy for several threads in this comment line.

#269 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 01:05 AM:

Elliot: A dear fried teased me about being engaged to eight women, for reason you well understand.


#270 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 03:33 AM:

@David Harmon no. 254: I thought I read in the Atlantic article that King was interested in the fragment, not because she thought it was factual or formerly held to be so, but because the motivations of whoever wrote it (if it really was ancient) could throw more light on the way Christianity shook itself out in the early centuries. That seems to have been ignored in the popular press in favor of "Sex! And Jesus!!!! With sex!!!!!"

Speaking as a (member of one among many groups called) Christian, I can think of one reason why this gospel, if it had been written at that date and not faked a few years ago, would have been suppressed even by people who judged it to be true: John 18:36, with all that that implies. "My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest..." And fight for his heirs, and fight over which of his heirs were the real heirs, and so on and so on and no thank you. Really, if Jesus had married and had children, and you or I or President Obama or some guy running a hot chickpea stand in Mumbai were his closest living descendant--it should not matter at all. And the best way to make it not matter would have been to make it didn't happen.

#271 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 08:02 AM:

Jenny Islander #270: Well, yes. Even for the mass media, I'd say it's pretty politically-active sex. And as C.Wingate alludes to, the politics extend to inside the university walls. Consider too all the various fictional and "damn right it's fictional whatever the author says" versions of "the True Heir of the Messiah shall be the Next Messiah". (Which is, of course, a blatant attempt to impose worldly-power rules upon God, and a direct contradiction of Jesus' own warning on the topic.)

#272 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 05:12 PM:

I just wanted to pull this out and admire it. I can't explain why it tickles me so, except that it exemplifies Humpty Dumpty's precept applied to grammar instead of individual words:

"And the best way to make it not matter would have been to make it didn't happen."

So, all you folks with more linguistic knowledge than my meager store, what's the name of that tense?

(and just to be clear, I don't know if it was a typo or intentional, nor do I really care, and I am in no way trying to mock Jenny Islander's interesting comment)

#273 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 05:45 PM:

"Make it didn't happen" is an intentionally childish phrase that Larry Niven used a bunch of times in his essay "The Theory and Practice of Time Travel". My guess is that, deliberately or not, Jenny Islander was taking it from there.

Essentially it's treating "it didn't happen" as a noun phrase, and then also using "make [a noun]" in a somewhat non-standard way. Standard grammar would be along the lines of "make it not have happened".

#274 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 05:53 PM:

Jeremy Leader #272: I'm not sure that's actually a tense; my intuition is that it's an implicitly quoted fragment used as a stock phrase.

I might be able to identify it more precisely in a few days, as I just scored a discard from the bookstore: Figures of Speech: 60 ways to turn a phrase, by Arthur Quinn. This slim paperback appears to be a catalogue of grammatical mutations, offering such formidable terminology as "synaloepha" (omission of a vowel in a contraction), "antisthecons" (substitutions in spelling), and "praecisio" (silence as a statement).

#275 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 10:28 PM:

Jeremy, #272: For a lot of people over on the DFD threads, the name of that tense is "gaslight".

#276 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2014, 11:10 PM:

Anybody else seen the last Hobbit movie yet? Could I put in a request for a spoiler thread?

#277 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 12:25 AM:

I was quoting Spider Robinson (from memory, so grain of salt, etc.). I had no idea he was quoting Niven. He was talking about the surreal act of erasing evidence of something and knowledge of that evidence so thoroughly that anybody who still remembers anything about it is prompted to doubt their own minds.

#279 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 01:04 AM:

I'm pretty sure the phrase "make it didn't happen" well predates Niven's usage. My own memory of when I first heard it is really vague, but it feels earlier than that.

#280 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 01:23 AM:

Soon Lee #278: So did I, especially when I got to the shark.

#281 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 01:33 AM:

Tom Whitmore #279. From Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore, 1953

Children know about such things. They close their eyes and pray, "Please, God, make it didn't happen." Often they open their eyes to find it happened anyway, but this does not shake their faith that many times the prayer is granted. Adults smile, but can any of them be sure the memories they cherish were the same yesterday? Do they know that a past cannot be expunged? Children know it can.
#282 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 09:58 AM:

I think I've just came up with a nice meme-based explanation of agnosticism, comments or criticism welcome:

The usual mistake is to think that "agnostic" just means "undecided" (which gets them mobbed by "well-meaning" people trying to convert them). But properly, an agnostic is someone who's saying "you keep using that word, "God". I do not think it means what you think it does."

#283 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 10:22 AM:

agnosticism: I am not an agnostic, so I can't comment on what people mean when they describe themselves that way.

I will say that the usage of "agnostic" vs. "atheist" seems to track emotional content quite closely. Some people who described themselves as atheists to me, were very specifically angry at a specific God who had failed them. (Capitalization intentional: there was no question which deity they were not believing in very very hard. I blame their parents and the evil done by clergy in their church growing up due to context, but I have no hard proof.)

Those who described themselves as agnostic really didn't mind attending theistic worship services, or even belonging to theologically liberal congregations, provided, and I quote; "they don't sacrifice babies, do they? No? Okay, I can belong."

#284 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 11:04 AM:

Lee @276 (ithink): I would be interested in a Hobbit thread, potentially, although the wisdom of my engaging in dicussion on the topic is debatable; I spent the entire credits with tears streaming down my cheeks because this Middle Earth was home and now it is over and I will never come back to Peter Jackson's Middle earth in a new film. Aha. Yes. I was not really expecting to react so strongly. So I would maybe not be able to discuss the movie. :)

#285 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 12:08 PM:

David Harmon @282, kimiko @283: I identify as an agnostic, sometimes as a militant one. Basically, God falls into the same place as the axiom of parallels. It's not provable from the other axioms, and there are perfectly good approaches to the world that assume any of several Gods or gods (or none at all). In other words, the existence of such is not an assumption I feel comfortable making. And picking a single one is right out. Any religion with a gospel is based on hearsay (with the possible exception of Crowley's Thelema, which requires that people experiment to find out what actually works for them) -- but then, so is a great deal of science.

I do not choose to believe. I expect I'll find out soon enough, even if it's a negative form of finding out.

#286 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 02:18 PM:

For what it's worth, I'm an atheist. I'm not angry at any particular god. I just didn't ever believe in one; my folks (one religious, one not) decided to let my sister and me make our own choices. She did at one point believe in a deity (I'm not sure she does at the moment, it's not something we discuss) but I never did, unless you count Santa Claus. I had evidence that supported his existence, though. I'd SEEN him! And the cookies were gone! And the presents were, if not exactly what I asked for - the telescope never materialized - along the same lines.

What does make me very angry is that people ascribe to a benevolent being behaviors which I see as abhorrent and continue to view that being as benevolent and worthy of worship, or when religious institutions do abhorrent things (either on the physical level, like inciting mass murder* or psychologically like convincing people they're born evil and need to be saved, and hey, $instutition is just the thing to save them, what a coincidence) or systematically mistreat people. There are religious institutions which hold a great deal of political and cultural power and have used that power to do great harm. That all makes me angry, but it's the actions of humans which are unethical here.

If I'm wrong and there is a god or gods - and I certainly could be, and if they'd like me to worship them they're welcome to show up and tell me so themselves, but I don't think I am - then honestly, I don't see that it would matter. I do my best to be kind, courteous, and generally improve the world. I'm not always successful, but I think the world's worth the effort of continuing to try. My theistic friends are wonderful; I don't think they'd be an iota less kind, less funny, less compassionate if they didn't think there was a deity**. There have been some folks on the planet who've said that "without God, we'd all be murderous, raping savages". I'm glad those people are religious, but I suspect they're a huge minority.

*those are really, really fringe institutions. Thank goodness. They're still religious instutions.
**Using the singular here. They're all various flavours and intensities of monotheist.

#287 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 03:07 PM:

I just wanted to say I was being entirely too glib in my previous post. I'm sorry, I'll try to do better next time.

#288 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 04:35 PM:

Em #286: My strong impression is that most religious people use their religion to justify whatever moral principles or behavior they developed while growing up (which may not be those their parents etc. intended for them ;) ). If that's just not working, some will switch religions, to one that better matches their moral set.

But... there's also a deep pattern in human psychology, which might be called the "basic tribal" pattern:

Obey the leaders and the tribal laws. Your tribemates are the people who matter, and fellow tribemates always come before outsiders. Outsiders are potential enemies, and neither their opinions or their lives matter as much as the tribe.
It's striking how many groups (religious and otherwise) have those rules either overtly, or as an undercurrent to whatever other principles they may profess. It's also the easiest and most common ruleset to instill through indoctrination, and nearly any time you see mass murder¹ or other atrocities, that pattern is almost always in play.

¹ The obvious exception is individuals running amok, such as the recent trend of "school shooters". Running amok is an old pattern in itself, but my impression is that it normally represents people who've been broken by misfortune, abuse, or especially ostracism (that is, being rejected by their tribe).

#289 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 04:44 PM:

I think of nyself as a religious agnostic, by which I mean that I choose to observe (with critical interpretion) a particular religion because it speaks to me, but I don't think the truth is knowable. I respect others' choices and love to listen to their practices (whether religious or not), and how they help them to cope with life and ideally to work to make the world a better place.

#290 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 06:14 PM:

And...hmmph, it sounds like my memetic summation is not cutting the mustard.... :-~

#291 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 07:12 PM:

David Harmon @ 288:
I thought it insightful.

#292 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 08:31 PM:

I can only speak to my brand of theistic agnosticism: I believe in a deity (the details are hard to explicate, and it sort of takes being with someone who is also theistic, and sympathetic: Br. Guy, Abi, my spouse; though I can also talk about with the other partner in our marriage, who is an atheist).

I both believe in a god, and don't know that such a being exists. The actual existence is immaterial, as the belief is sort of the meat of the matter. I know that I can't prove it, either way. I am completely comfortable with this.

The shape of my belief is informed by my upbringing. I am a Roman Catholic (I am also quakerish, and comfortable in Judaism. Were it not for my innate belief in things like Easter (and in a different way, Christmas [though this year's retail season has managed to disrupt my sense of its rhythm, but I digress] I might have converted, again, I digress.

But, at root, I know there is no way to *know* there is a god. If there is no god, that's fine. If there is, well I've done the best I can. If that's not good enough, that's the way the way it goes.

But I have some real problems with a lot of theists. The chaplain who was with the 525 when we went to Iraq... no, he didn't sacrifice babies. He'd decry the constant sacrifice of the Catholic mass (and deny transubstantiation). And he was a bloodthirsty son of a bitch who exhorted us to kill, and seemed to regret that being a chaplain meant he didn't have a weapon.

I refused to do more than be silent when he led an invocation.

My personal Theology is that of Hillel and Jesus, "Be good to one another". If that's not enough... then my errors are in good company.

#293 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 08:40 PM:

Why don't I put this in the right thread?

Here is Warren Zevon singing a prayer I agree with.

The intro is great too.

Don't Let Us Get Sick

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

The sky was on fire
When I walked to the mill
To take up the slack in the line
I thought of my friends
And the troubles they've had
To keep me from thinking of mine

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

The moon has a face
And it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in Time
I'm lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

I miss him.

#294 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 08:42 PM:

I wonder what it says about me that seeing December 7 on a dateline (as with the start of this OT) and it has a greater emotional effect than seeing Sept 11.

#295 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 09:00 PM:

Terry Karney #294: Perhaps that you've still got some military bones?

#296 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 09:10 PM:

Random thoughts.

I'm done with work for the year. I actually was supposed to leave at noon, but there was stuff to do. I hope that counts for something.

* * *

I find myself wanting to see The Hobbit mostly to see what outrages will be added to the story. Do I pay extra to see the outrages in high frame rate 3D?

* * *

How much practice should I put in on my new ukulele before I force others to listen to a performance?

* * *

My favorite movie of the year, Grand Budapest Hotel, is probably one that should not win Best Movie or even be in the running. I'm baffled as to what should win. Nebraska? Boyhood? Birdman?

#297 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 09:10 PM:

Random thoughts.

I'm done with work for the year. I actually was supposed to leave at noon, but there was stuff to do. I hope that counts for something.

* * *

I find myself wanting to see The Hobbit mostly to see what outrages will be added to the story. Do I pay extra to see the outrages in high frame rate 3D?

* * *

How much practice should I put in on my new ukulele before I force others to listen to a performance?

* * *

My favorite movie of the year, Grand Budapest Hotel, is probably one that should not win Best Movie or even be in the running. I'm baffled as to what should win. Nebraska? Boyhood? Birdman?

#298 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 10:11 PM:

Dave Harmon: I don't think that's it. Part of it is age (I've got 3 times as many years with a date that will live in infamy).

Part of it probably that I think one was actually more of a threat to the nation than the other.

Part of it is that I think (warts and all) the response to one was much more rational than the response to the other.

And some of it is less tangible: I think the effect on the nation/world of the response to the second has been worse/more shameful.

#299 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 10:13 PM:

Stefan: How much practice should I put in on my new ukulele before I force others to listen to a performance?

As someone who is probably too reluctant to share my musical efforts... sooner than you think you don't suck.

#300 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2014, 11:28 PM:

Apropos Stephan Jones 297 ukulele:
see Amanda Palmer's song, "Ukulele Anthem"

#301 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 12:14 AM:

#300: Ukulele Anthem:

That was hilarious!

#302 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 12:18 AM:

thomas @281: I hadn't read Bring the Jubilee, so I didn't recognize the phrase: Niven was very clearly referencing Moore.

#303 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 04:09 AM:

Avram's phosphene 'the categories were made for man' is excellent, but I think it misses a trick.

For people who haven't read it, the post argues that evolutionary relatedness isn't the only way to categorise species. If someone wants to include whales with 'fish', you can't say they are Just Wrong based on phylogenetics if they have a separate rationale for their classification.

It's an excellent point, and I've had low-key battles with Wikipedia over the definition of 'jasmine': just Jasminum species, or plants (such as star jasmine and Carolina jasmine) that are grouped together based on clear similarities in leaves and flowers.

The point that I think Scott Alexander misses is that 'fish' in the modern colloquial sense aren't a clade, either. Herring or trout are more closely related to whales than to sharks and rays. In fact, herring or trout are more closely related to giraffes than to sharks and rays.

#304 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 07:39 AM:

Terry Karney #298: Fair enough, sounds like you've continued to think about it.

And, a minor bit of etymylogical fun: I wondered about the origin for "cut the mustard". Of course, in our age of miracles, to wonder is to seek, and so I hit the search bar.¹

The most credible answer I saw (with citations from the 17th century) came from Stack Exchange, and indicated an amusing situation: Both the verb and noun of the phrase represent slang that has largely been outdated and lost, so that amateur etymologists tend to sprout false etymologies based on much more modern usage. Summary of SE's response: "cutting" was slang for "exhibiting", as in "cutting a fine figure", while "mustard" indicated a high standard.

¹ There really ought to be a few cartoons lurking in The Search Bar. Perhaps if a rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk in....

#305 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 03:45 PM:

Professorial suffering-- in particular, the bit where he can't make sense out of the students' writing, takes a break, and realizes that it actually doesn't make sense.

#306 ::: Susana S. P. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 04:04 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 296

[The Hobbit] Do I pay extra to see the outrages in high frame rate 3D?

The difference should work out to less than a penny per outrage, so there's that. OTOH, there will be less of the continual irritation of watching the for-3D camera moves and angles in 2D, so it depends on the flavor of hate-watching you're after...
I was after "cheap", so I had the second, and after just one more scene that was as right as the unexpected party, not really the outrage, but you can't always get what you want.

My favorite movie of the year, Grand Budapest Hotel, is probably one that should not win Best Movie

That's my favorite, too. And it won't, but why "shouldn't"? (I ask not having seen Boyhood, which will probably trump it for me, or Birdman yet.)

#307 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 05:16 PM:

I watched "The Battle of Five Armies" at the 2D bargain matinee. It turned out to be fairly low on outrages; the grudge-match battles went on far too long and were kind of ludicrous, but as a Peter Jackson movie goes it was relatively free of things continuously falling.

The White Council's attack on Dol Goldur was handled early on and fairly briefly.

The one good innovation was Lake Town and its inhabitants, and there was lots of that. Bard and the Master's toady got lots of screen time.

* * *
#306: Grand Budapest was a fine enjoyable trifle, one I enjoyed enough that I bought the Blu-Ray, but not a movie for the ages. And the competition, oh my . . .

Birdman is an amazing drama. Well "shot," with a innovation or gimmick I'll leave it up to others to discover. Excellent acting, good story.

Boyhood could have a subtitle, "Parenthood," because it is as much about a mother and father and stepfathers. And the filmed-over-seven-years thing . . . that could have been a gimmick, but it is made to work. Chutzpah and dedication that pays off.

#308 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 08:07 PM:

I didn't see citations to the 17th century, but merely references to the usage of the component parts.

The explanations relating to railroads, and the cutting of mustard plants, seemed a bit more plausible. In part because the usual usage I see is in the negative. Not, "he really cut the mustard" (i.e. did it up brown), but "he couldn't cut the mustard, i.e. was unable to hack it/failed to meet a known standard.

#309 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 08:30 PM:

Terry Karney #308: OK, the full phrase itself is only cited to 1897, but as already familiar, and given the component parts (and the 1672 cite applies to the "mustard" part), the phrase becomes a fairly natural usage.

#310 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 09:43 PM:

I just started watching Ascension. ::sigh:: I'm afraid their starting premise caused my suspenders of disbelief to just snap right off and smack me in the chin. In secret? Seriously?? In 1963?

#311 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Dave: I saw all that. Yeah, the parts can be read that way, but the whole doesn't feel that way to me.

Given the early date for the parts, and the much later date for the whole, married to the locality, the argument for a continuity of meaning isn't persuasive in the ways that the argument for it relating to plants is. I can see the possibility that a remnant meaning of both colored the interpretation, but (as a linguist/linquiphile) I am not convinced of that interpretation.

Were it such a natural usage I would expect to see a direct continuity (and citations in England/Eastern US. I grant there are usages which reflect that interpretation aspect of things, but (as reading the weekly newsletter of Michael Quinlon (editor of the OED) has pointed out more than once, newspapers are amazing repositories of archaic, even to the point of antiquarian, usage.

#312 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 07:13 AM:

@310: ...oh! Okay, I wasn't expecting that.

#313 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 10:56 AM:

O.K, I have once again proven the telephone will never die. This is because all Internet search systems are secretly run by drunken bonobos with agendas, so I'm going to have to start calling around again to find the answer to a simple question. The short version: I need several short pieces of a metal strut made by several manufacturers for some woodworking clamps. (Powerstrut/Superstrut/Unistrut/Flexstrut if you're curious.) It's used mainly for cable and HVAC support runs in buildings, and I occasionally wonder if Bob Howard's old job description included crawling around the stuff to make sure that the cable/fibre/fiber runs in The Laundry have the proper sigils enscribed to keep the data in and the multidimensional horrors out, but I digress.

Since you can only buy the stuff at stores in 10’ lengths and cut them down, I figured I'd do my bit for the environment and to avoid waste and look for an architectural salvage company that had a few pieces from a building that had been torn down. Since there are a number of such firms in the Seattle area with search pages that should be easy, right?


Nobody had any listed. I send e-mails: one outfit says it's never listed online but they walked out to the yard and they don't see any. All agree it's an interesting idea but deeper into the structure of a building than their remit goes, and they don't know anyone who salvages the stuff. So, I'll be on the phones on Monday to see what I can find that way.

#314 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 11:47 AM:

So, my iPhone thinks "Kimchee" should be spelled "Lunches". In other news, I don't actually need "spy sauce", but now I'm wondering what it would be like. (Those who know don't tell... :-) )

#315 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Jacque@312: I *was* expecting it, and I appreciate that they got it out of the way early.

I have seen two parts of the three, and it's not blowing me away so far. I mean, it's a watchable soap opera. But I'm not rooting for anybody.

#316 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 12:40 PM:

Not going to see any movie made by Peter Jackson this year.

Going to see Into The Woods, which is my all time fave modern musical (though Sweeney Todd is a close second.)

Hyperlocal news: after 2 1/2 days in CCU this past week, now 4 days post angiogram, the good news is, my CAD is IMPROVED from when it was first looked at, in 2006. Less blockage. The bad news is, I have a bunch of odd symptoms which mimic cardiac obstruction. But we'll figure that out, and meanwhile, my heart is better. Yay! And I want to give a shout out to the nurses, techs, doctors, everybody at Kaiser San Francisco. What an amazing bunch of professional, compassionate, caring, well-trained people. May they all find diamonds in their Christmas stocking this year.

#317 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 01:25 PM:

LizzyL @316, congratulations on heart-health.

And when you see Into the Woods do post a review here. I *love* the play, and am worried about what Disney may have done to it...

#318 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 02:03 PM:

Bruce @ #313,

Do you mean the actual cable trays/ladders, the support brackets, or the lengths of "allthread" rod used to hang it from the (real) ceiling or support it above the floor?

In any event, it's likely to be treated as scrap steel and smelted when a building is stripped out for refurbishment.

#319 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 02:04 PM:

Lizzy @316: Karen and I had decided to make INTO THE WOODS our Christmas-Day movie this year as well. We went to the Robert Downey SHERLOCK HOLMES in Victorian garb, but we probably won't dress up for this one. Agreeing completely on just how good the musical is, and slightly apprehensive about how it's been played with (and more apprehensive about the director). But -- new Sondheim songs!

#320 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 02:22 PM:

Cadbury Moose: I want to do this, so I think I need the actual struts rather than the rod, trays, or brackets.

#321 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 03:00 PM:

David Harmon #314: Spy sauce would obviously James Bond your food to the plate.

#322 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 03:16 PM:

"Into the Woods" sounds like a good outing w/ my sister's family when I visit this week.

#323 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 03:51 PM:

So, in work news...

In late September my department was gathered together and given the news that all Union positions would be ending on 1/1/15, the work to be outsourced. Knowing the type of work we do, and the complete lack of procedure the other groups that we service adhere to, I predicted that in reality, the Union jobs would disappear and then extremely similar At-Will positions would pop up, because they don't really want to lose anyone, but they are totally into union busting.

Within a month, we had lost two Union positions. One had already been looking for a job and fortuitously got his offer three days after the announcement. The other one moved up to "Subject Matter Expert" position vacated by an At-will employee who saw the writing on the wall and transferred to a slightly less dysfunctional department.

During all this time, the Union fought with the Company and managed to negotiate a deal: we would be retained in the department through April, and should the company decide to move on with outsourcing, they would be required to find us other work at the same pay-grade through December 2015, at which point they could lay us off and give us nice, fat "enhanced" severance packages.

Last week, the most eminently employable Union person gave her two-weeks. When I came back from vacation on Wednesday, my manager informed me I would be taking over her job duties. Noises were made about someone taking over some of my stuff, but we all know that's a load of horseshit, as they've been talking about that for YEARS. On the plus side, I would be working for my old manager again, who is very like me in working and analytical style. Needless to say, our department has been on a hiring freeze since the announcement, and we have a rotating supply of temps, who leave as soon as they get better jobs. There are three Union members left, one of whom is expected to retire this year.

This morning I see they have posted two new jobs - for Subject Matter Experts - that have remarkably familiar job descriptions to our previous jobs. With the exception of "must belong to Local 174". So, do I win cash money for my prediction?

I really wish they had waited until April to pull this shit, because I'm going to have to work a shit-ton of OT to take care of my new and old job duties. I would be less trepidatious about applying for this BS position if I thought they were acting in good faith. I'm completely paranoid that they'll interview the last two of us and fire us two months later so as to avoid severance. I do feel my managers have everyone's best interest at heart, but I don't trust the actual decision-makers (Director and VP) as far as I can punt them. OTOH, if they really just wanted to Union bust and are still interested in keeping the department up and running, SME looks much better on a resume for when I next look for job than the terrible job title I have now. Maybe if they let me keep my seniority and give me lots more cash. (they won't with the cash.)

Ugh. I hate looking for a job.

#324 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 05:50 PM:

Bruce @ #320

Ah, those are the cable tray supports (as we use them in the UK), hung from the ceiling (or raised above the floor) on lengths of allthread (so you can level the run) after which the trays are laid on top of it and bolted down. (Then they add a raised floor/suspended ceiling and you're mostly done.)

The problem is that it all gets scrapped when buildings are refitted, plus it may well have damaged edges if you did manage to salvage any of it.

It's a very neat alternative use of the stuff, though.

#325 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 06:22 PM:

Bruce: might this auction on eBay be useful to you? Looks like the right length, but I don't know if it's the right thickness.

#326 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 06:48 PM:

Tom: it's the shipping that kills you. A 10' length is $20.71 at Home Depot, and if I buy it there they'll cut it for me, which means it's cheaper to go local. I was just trying to be ecologically responsible.

#327 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Lizzy L: May the medical news continue good.

Scott @303: I knew that about "fish" being paraphyletic, but hadn't really connected it to "'whale' means "a big fish." (It doesn't help that there the other really big fish include sharks, and the clade that includes whales and sharks is Vertebrata.)

#328 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 07:06 PM:

I had been going to suggest that "whale" means "mammal without legs," but after a brief discussion with Andy about whether seals' flippers count, I think whale means "a mammal that lives entirely in the water." Yes, that means all the dolphins get to count as whales; I can accept that.

#329 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 08:14 PM:

I'm doing Into The Woods on Christmas Day as well, along with my friend (who's familialy non-religious). Chinese for dinner, too.

Also seeing Big Hero 6 with him the day before, because they're turning over all the movies on Christmas Day, and I wanted to see at least one of several movies that were going away.

Just got back from what's becoming another yearly tradition -- helping Mom & her friends with this year's PACEM gig, a "soup kitchen" (actually meatloaf, salad, and trimmings) whose cooking labor rotates among all the many churches (and Mom's temple) in the area.

#330 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 08:47 PM:

I knew Big Hero 6 was a fantasy rather than SF in the scene where a college student had a copy of the bound McMaster-Carr catalog on his counter. Not in any timeline in this world or a reachable parallel timeline, and I speak as someone who managed to score all 26 volumes of the Thomas Register for a friend who was studying Industrial Design (for $2.00--heaviest deal I've ever had to carry). I swear they print it from Unobtanium masters.

#331 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 09:00 PM:

Lizzy L @316, hope your recovery and improvement continue.

I might go see The Hobbit, Part N this week, but I'm really holding out for Jackson's 6-movie 24-hour version of Farmer Giles of Ham. (Or Leaf by Niggle, if he gets that done first - ":Part 1: A Very Long Journey".

#332 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 09:09 PM:

So last week I had my very first annual employee review conference EVER. Due to assorted circumstances, I simply haven't had one in the 30 years I've been a paid worker. So of course the anticipation felt like a bad dream about finals week. I planned, I rehearsed, I prepared, I had a stomachache. I like this job, it fits me, and I need it very badly.

Whew. All green!

So now my boss--I'm a remote worker--says he's coming to town in a month or two.

Hello stomachache, again.

#333 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 10:37 PM:

I was wondering if the companies that install it would have short or scrap pieces that would do, and would be willing to sell them.

#334 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 10:49 PM:

You know how listening to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant has become something of a Thanksgiving Thing? I would love to see doing a reading of the Hyperbole and a Half The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas become a Christmas tradition. My household is doing my part. Won't you join us?

#335 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 10:59 PM:

And that post caused me to hear the relevant lines from Alice's Restaurant:

And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? They may think it's an Organization!

And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day . . . walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? Friends, they may think it's a MOVEMENT, and that's what it is: THE ALICE'S RESTAURANT ANTI-MASSACREE MOVEMENT! . . . and all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar."

#336 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2014, 11:37 PM:

Bruce @326 -- yes, but the shipping's the same on up to 10 pieces. Yeah, it does add up to more than the $20 just to get two, so it's not actually cost-effective -- but you don't have to get a car involved, as they'll deliver to your door....

So, doesn't work, but I thought I'd point it out anyway.

#337 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 01:16 AM:

So, as a result of heavy marketing (including a TV special) the "Elf on the Shelf" is now a "Christmas tradition."

You put this little felt doll on a shelf to keep an eye on the kids and report their behavior to Santa.

I'd like to combine this tradition with a British one.

Everyone in the family gets their own special Elf on the Shelf. And on Christmas day, over a family meal, everyone grasps their elf firmly by the feet and extends his head to a family member . . . AND THEY RIP THE LITTLE SNITCH IN HALF, snapper-style, revealing a selection of candy and novelties.

#338 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 01:48 AM:

I really like that, Stefan. It's a great marketing idea as well, because that means you have to buy new ones every year!

But will they contain paper crowns, or just little microphones?

#339 ::: Nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 09:31 AM:

Saw the Hobbit,my first 3D experience. It worked well mostly. Disconcerting 2-3 times with objects popping up in the bottom right corner which first appear as a shadow for a split second. Indeed, the first time it was a bit of castle wall and I had time to think, "Jebus, pop-up ads here too...oh." But overall, I was impressed.

As for the content... It feels just like a fan-fiction version of Tolkien's work.

#340 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 12:04 PM:

#334 ::: janetl

Thanks. I needed to read something that funny.

#341 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 12:11 PM:

Vicki @ 328: I've never before heard anyone suggest that dolphins don't count as whales.

#342 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 12:38 PM:

Vicki@328: "I think whale means 'a mammal that lives entirely in the water.'"

As you could have guessed, the whale family took to the ocean at a particular point in biological history. That is, some ancestral whales were land animals and then some later ones were otterly amphibious. (Har har.) All those earlier forms are extinct; if some had survived, our common sense of "whale" might be broader.

Last year I was walking through NatHist in New York, and one of their whale dioramas was a thing that looked like a warthog. (Pakicetus, I think.) "But look at the ear-bones!" the biologists cry. "Totally a whale!"

#343 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 01:50 PM:

Nom, whales. This is not an edible nom, just the scrutching-around-like-a-dog-in-stink blanket-wrapping happy-brain comfort-food nom. I'm not actually sure why my brain decided that was the appropriate thing (well, now I am) but anyway, whales.

I mean, I'm a sea lion person myself, but that might be lack of exposure.

A question for bakers and Benjamine Wolfe in particular: so I have a big bin of vanilla sugar. The bin itself is from Target and is meant to hold cat food. It's not particularly good at holding the sugar in if shaken upside-down, which is kind of what I want to do a lot... because the way things settle, the top layer of the vanilla sugar is all the vanilla beans. Is there a better way to store and/or shake this so I don't lose quite so much sugar trying to invert it? Or should I just get good at picking out the beans and putting them back in when I'm done?

#344 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 02:02 PM:

Diatryma: Put the beans in a net/tulle bag?

#345 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 03:18 PM:

A big screw-top jar? Or a clamp-lid jar? Some of the food-storage containers would probably do. As for the beans - cheesecloth might work, too.
(I have a three-liter jug intended for cold liquids. It's polyethylene, so it doesn't work so well for instant tea - the tea sticks to the sides and the lid and the pour-spout. Sugar would probably have the same problem. PET seems to do better for this kind of use.)

#346 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 03:31 PM:

On the subject of folk taxonomy, may I recommend Naming Nature? It's difficult to describe, but the value of intuitive taxonomies make up a significant portion of the book. (She spends considerable time on the specific example of fish, arguing that scientists who say "No, you're wrong, this and that are not actually fish, and what you call "fish" are not a proper taxonomic grouping" just end up alienating the public who says "What do you mean, they're all swimmy things with fins, why should I listen to you". As a parent of a toddler who is now developing his own taxonomy with the limited vocabulary he has available (large birds are all "owls", lions and tigers are all "roar" though lion cubs are "cat", and so on), I found it fascinating.

Vicki @328, what about manatees? Cetaceans all being "whales" I can accept, but manatees are more seal-like than whale-like to me and I have more trouble including them.

#347 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Diatryma @343 -- I don't do anything fancy at all with my vanilla sugar. In fact, it's just a normal glass jar, less than 8oz., with some lengths of vanilla pod and sugar. The jar gets shaken whenever I use the sugar, at which time I replace what I've used, and replace the vanilla pods "every so often". There are occasional sugar clumps, but they're not a problem. Using a smaller container means that the sugar gets infused more intensely with the vanilla. I only use about a tablespoon or so in any given recipe. Vanilla extract, which I still use, gives a more intense flavoring.

#348 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 04:47 PM:

Diatryma at 343: My preferred storage solution is a 4qt square Cambro container (they're professional kitchen storage containers, available in sizes from 2qt through 20qt+). Locking lid, fully invertible, and holds about 5lbs of sugar.

#349 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 04:59 PM:

I know about the biology, but I'm wondering whether there are other, extinct mammals that would fit that category "mammal that lives entirely in water" but weren't whales as either biologists or ordinary English speakers use the word.

Whales/dolphins is one of those things where there are taxonomic distinctions within the group that don't match the English-language distinctions.

#350 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 06:12 PM:

Vicki #349.

The sirenians (dugongs, manatees, Steller's sea cow) are extant (or recently extinct) mammals that live entirely in the water

The desmostylians (sort of 'sea sloths') are extinct mammals where there is some controversy about whether they were really aquatic or amphibious.

This does make me wonder, though. Further study of the fossils of desmostylians might determine conclusively whether some of them were completely aquatic. Since, apparently, neither of us had ever heard of desmostylians before today, could this research really change what 'whale' means?

I'd be more inclined to say that 'whale' refers to a particular set of animals, perhaps with some fuzzy boundaries, and all that would change is whether there was a simple English characterisation of the set.

#351 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 06:26 PM:

Here's a seasonal question: why did Victorian clerks like Bob Cratchit sit on immensely tall stools before immensely tall desks?

Someone suggested it might be because clerks used to stand at their desks, but some desks I have seen are too tall to stand at.

So, what's the deal?

#352 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 07:39 PM:

#350 ::: thomas

(...) a particular set of animals, perhaps with some fuzzy boundaries

They're mammals! Of course they've got the odd whisker!

#353 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 08:30 PM:

Quick note for no particular reason. :-)

For a 3-D movie the previews are also 3-D.

(I liked "Battle of the Five Armies" and the 3-D itself was kind of fun, although I'm not entirely sure how much it really added.)

#354 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 10:37 PM:

Just saw Hobbit III: 50 Shades of Brown and Gray in 3D HFR IMAX TYVM. I'm glad to have seen it, if only because I was curious how Jackson would wrap everything up, but I didn't feel very invested in any of it. It wasn't that I knew what was going to happen, I think; it was, as someone else said, that it seemed like the characters knew what was going to happen. I might have gotten the most enjoyment from silliest, most fanfic-like elements, like gur Qhar pebffbire, be Yrtbynf evqvat naq pyvzovat ba rirelguvat va fvtug, which isn't my usual pattern.

Or maybe I'm just tired. I did get a lot more enjoyment from Big Hero 6 the other day.

#355 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 11:17 PM:

Thanks for the sugar storage tips! I will look up the Cambro containers, though I think I've already gotten up to their largest size... because every time I make the vanilla pound cake, I throw a dozen beans in. Plus it takes a ton of sugar. I figure it's better to keep a huge bin so I don't have to constantly fill it with plain sugar.

Today's experiment: snickerdoodle pound cake. This might end really badly, but I bet someone will eat it.

#356 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2014, 11:20 PM:

#354: The Hobbit films are gorgeously produced, but Big Hero 6 was arguably a far more genuine and entertaining film.

#357 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 01:14 AM:

I had outpatient surgery a few weeks ago to remove a large cyst from my right breast. Per the biopsy it was benign, but the pathology report noted a VERY SMALL malignant patch that the biopsy missed.

I have already spoken with my doctor's office about getting a referral to an oncologist; the doctor who performed the removal is a plastic surgeon and said I needed to see a specialist about this unexpected development.

Given the type of cancer (papillary carcinoma in situ) and the fact that it was small and completely encysted, the odds are very good that it was enclosed and we got it all the first time. Nonetheless, GoodThoughts would be welcomed.

#358 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 02:12 AM:

GoodThoughts from both me and Katie, Lee.

#359 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 02:20 AM:

Lee: Additional Good Thoughts.

#360 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 02:28 AM:

I have just been listening to the first two episodes of Good Omens, which is playing this week on BBC Radio 4 and the Internet.

I think it's very well done so far. They've managed to get a lot of the exposition into dialogue, and downplayed the original's snark about mobile phones and other items of period technology. The bits about people thinking Aziraphale is gay have likewise been muted, avoiding a potential visit from the Suck Fairy.

So far, my only problem with it is that when Aziraphale exposits, he sounds a lot like the Hitchhiker's Guide.

#361 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 02:47 AM:

@lorax no. 346: Ah, toddler taxonomy! At that age my son decided that anything with sharp teeth, big pincers, knobs/spines, or a general scary appearance went Rar. Box crabs, spawning salmon, bears, you get the picture. Rar!

So he brought me a toy zebra and asked me if it went Rar. I tried to imitate a zebra bark, with pathetic results, and he wandered off frowning. Then he came back and asked me again if it went Rar. I tried the zebra bark again, with similar sad results, and he told me very firmly that zebras go Rar.

He also insisted vehemently that the gray whale skeleton in the wildlife refuge visitor center was not the skeleton of a whale at all. It was in fact a wagadagohn (= water dragon).

#362 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 05:08 AM:

Lee @357, good thoughts headed your way.

#363 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 07:34 AM:

Lee @357, additional GoodThoughts.

#364 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 09:48 AM:


#365 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 10:18 AM:

Good thoughts from here, too, Lee!

#366 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 10:22 AM:

goodthoughts to Lee, both here and on facebuk

#367 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 12:03 PM:

Lee, good thoughts and energy to you! Hope it's as predicted and they got all of it.

#368 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 01:35 PM:

Argh. This crashed when I tried to post it yesterday. It may recapitulate things that have been posted since then, but I'm too lazy to rewrite it and spent too much time on it to just not post it.

For some reason I thought that the category which included both whales and dolphins was sufficiently wide that it also included pinnipeds, but apparently "cetacean" is a pretty compact grouping, and pinnipeds are more distant relatives.

I would like to say that scientists have determined that the most whales and seals have in common is that they both have balls, but in addition to both being members of the "Scrotifera" clade, they are also both members of the next level down "Fereuungulata". That clade doesn't have any interesting morphological traits, just molecular phylogenetics.

And then of course there are the sea cows - the most they have in common with whales and pinnipeds is that they're all placental.

#369 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 01:51 PM:

Lee @357: Good Thoughts from me, too.

#370 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 02:16 PM:

I've been reading "Moby Dick" off and on, on my micro-tablet (old smartphone with canceled 3G contract) on the train or anywhere else I have a few minutes to entertain myself. I recently finished the chapter where Melville discusses the taxonomy of whales, whom he considers a kind of fish. He divides them up using printers' size terms: the folio whales, the quarto whales, and the octavo whales (mostly dolphins). I think he included manatees in the octavo whales, but he definitely didn't spend much time on them. Also, as I recall he treated blue whales as more or less mythical, which I found interesting.

#371 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 02:20 PM:

Good thoughts going your way, Lee.

#372 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 02:51 PM:

GoodThoughts directed to Lee!

#373 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 03:01 PM:

Lee (357): Best wishes for good outcomes! It does sound about as good as "malignant" allows. Here's hoping that all goes smoothly from here.

#374 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 03:21 PM:

Good thoughts from here, too, Lee. (We have the outcome you don't want with one of our cats: aggressive lymphoma, poor prognosis over the next few weeks. Things are okay now, but not for long. And we do have a good kitty oncologist, who's helped us before, so we'll keep the kitty happy as long as we can.)

#375 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 03:51 PM:

Good Thoughts to Lee, and also to Tom Whitmore's cat.

I had a ductal carcinoma in situ removed a few years ago, and, like Lee's, it was thought to be non-malignant before the surgery. In my case they were sure they had it all and I didn't need any further treatment, except a medication to reduce the chance of recurrence. I hope yours will be as simple, Lee.

Tom, I hope your cat will have as long a comfortable life as possible with you, and that your decisions will be straightforward.

#376 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 03:52 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 374 <hugs> if welcome. That's hard.

#377 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Lee @357:

Keeping you in my thougths — obviously, it's worrying despite all the ways that it's probably OK. Please keep us posted on how things go.

#378 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 12:14 AM:

Lee, prayers and a candle tonight. Tom, may your kitty be comfortable.

Jeremy at 370, when I was in grade school (yes, we are talking over 60 years ago) I was taught that blue whales were extinct.

#379 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 01:11 AM:

Spreading the signal here (I hope it's welcome):

Fantasy and SF author Katharine Kerr, now 70, needs money to help care for her husband Howard who has advanced Alzheimer's.

More of the story here: Help author Katharine Kerr care for her husband Howard

If anybody here can help out, I'm sure it would be welcome. They're both incredibly lovely people, and Kit has written some amazing books. (Polar City Blues remains a favorite.)

#380 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 01:39 AM:

One more note on taxonomy and fish: it is widely reported by apparently reliable people that both beavers and capybara were approved for consumption by Catholics during Lent. I haven't seen a reference to any formal edict on the issue, but the impression seems to be that they were classified as fish for the purposes of the dietary rules.

Less formally, I am reliably informed that one of my great-aunts felt the same way about duck.

#381 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 08:19 AM:

I thought "Beatrice" came from the same root as "Beatific." It actually means "Traveller" [Viator ->Viatrix]. This pleases me and I'm not sure why.

#382 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 08:33 AM:

Also, a combination Christmas card and PSA. Everyone loves open fires and everyone loves shiny, bright christmas trees. I found a video that combined them .

Merry happy everything!

#383 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 10:28 AM:

AKICIML: I recall a Jane Austen character having a pot of chocolate with her breakfast — I think it was Anne Elloit in Persuasion. My question: At that time, in that society, would it have been cocoa, or drinking chocolate?

#384 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 10:30 AM:

And for all your flying Christmas tree needs, may I present this video?

Merry Happy.

#385 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 12:57 PM:

#383 janetl: FRA "...having pot and chocolate with her breakfast..." Jane Austen was much more progressive than I would have thought!

#386 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 01:49 PM:


A question for the assembled - has anyone seen a realistic assessment of the risk of identity theft from junk mail? We always have a pile of it that my wife wants to shred, but I seriously wonder how big a risk it would it be to toss it in the recycle bin unshredded.

The searches I've found don't supply numbers - like how many Americans have had their identity stolen from junk mail (admittedly difficult to quantify) or how many people are going through recycle bins looking for this. I suspect this is one of those things that are blown out of proportion, and that identity theft is much more likely from targeting stores and big corporations.

#387 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 01:59 PM:

General junk mail shouldn't be a problem, but anything from a bank or involving credit cards (or subscriptions) I'd shred, on general principles.

#388 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 02:05 PM:

Each time I've talked to my mother in the past few months, she's given signs of disconnection from public reality. Nothing hugely major each time but enough to alarm me. I'm wondering if these episodes are signs that she's heading for the exit lane (she'll be 85 in three month's time).

She's four thousand miles away and there's not much I can do about it, but I worry.

#389 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 03:04 PM:

I find myself wondering whether. with Global Warming, White Christmas will take on new meaning. Most versions don't bother with the opening about the palm trees.

But it's December the 24th...

#390 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 03:23 PM:

A Christmas lament from the Doubleclicks for anyone who's been an older sibling: Youtube link

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Wednesday and Thursday to all!

#391 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Steve C., #386: There was an article about that recently in AARP Magazine. The risk does exist, but apparently identity thieves are more likely to steal mail directly from your mailbox.

That said, we routinely shred anything that has our name and address on it, junk mail or not -- especially if it's offers of credit cards, insurance, etc. Junk mail addressed to "Occupant" or "To Our Friends At", however, goes into recycling, as do the bits from the other junk mail that don't have any identifying information on them. We consider this to be a "what's the worst that could happen?" thing. If we shred the stuff and we're wrong about needing to, the worst that happens is we've wasted a little time and effort. If we don't shred it and we're wrong about the need for doing so, the potential costs could be catastrophic. And the bags from the shredder also go into recycling; we're not that paranoid.

#392 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 03:45 PM:

@Dave Bell no. 389: Here's a list of plants that just plain didn't die when they were supposed to: Dandelion, red clover, white clover, butterbur(?), yarrow, daisy, gillyflower.

Here's a list of what we've seen pushing up new leaves so far: Dandelions, red clover, white clover, foxglove, some little green thing I don't know what it was.

Here's a list of what is producing new blooms: Dandelion, gillyflower.

Also there are robins and white-crowned sparrows singing their territorial songs by our house. At 58 degrees North.

We've had green winters before; the local cycle has alternated between green winters and extra cold winters for as long as weather records have been kept. But fresh greenery other than tussock grass? Robins singing? This is new.

#393 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 04:17 PM:

Oh hai spider apparently just living on the rock pile outside our door, never having gone into hibernation.

#394 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 04:18 PM:

Oh hai spider apparently just living on the rock pile outside our door, never having gone into hibernation.

#395 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 04:59 PM:

Steve C. @386: It may not be common but it happened to a friend of mine in the USA. AND it happened to me in the UK ...

Or at least an attempt. I'm pretty sure it was from the unshredded junk mail because the combination of salutation, first name and surname used is one which I only get on junk mail.

They tried to take out payday loans in that name and another name variant. I only found out when the payday loan company wrote to me to say they had previously had to decline my request for a loan but please try again as my circumstances might have changed. I telephoned them quite irate to say that I'd never made such a request and wanted them to stop spamming me - and they put me through to their fraud department.

Took several telephone calls and signing up with a credit check agency to get it sorted out.

#396 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 05:00 PM:

Lee @ 391 -

Yeah, that's pretty much how my wife handles it. If there's no name on it, it's pitched to recycle, otherwise it's shredded and recycled. Guess I need to contact the Direct Marketing Assn again and see if I can get the flood reduced.

#397 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 05:07 PM:

DCB @ 395 - Thanks - I guess you just never know.

The whole thing reminded me of friend of mine with a somewhat juvenile sense of humor. He'd make up fake names for drawings in shopping malls, and then he'd track the mail that came to DeClaude Phamily Pette or Hugh Mungus Koch.

#398 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 05:14 PM:

My brother did that once, with 'Who's Who in American High School Students' (Abercrombie N Goode, son of Upton O Goode).

#399 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 05:50 PM:

Lizzy L @316: Belated congrats on the healthier heart.

Lee @ @357: sending Good Thoughts your way. Note: such detection is why they send the whole lump for histopathology after lumpectomy. And indeed, if it was totally encapsulated etc. that's good.

Tom Whitmore @374: sympathies for your kitty and good wishes for a comfortable remainder-of-life..

#401 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 09:21 PM:

The Disney Winnie-the-Pooh had a character named Mr. Gopher who wasn't in the book. The Hobbit movies had a lot of Mr. Gophers.

#402 ::: Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 10:03 PM:

Somebody has illustrated the Wikipedia article about filksinging with a 2006 photo from WisCon of PNH and Emma Bull.

#403 ::: Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 10:04 PM:

Somebody has illustrated the Wikipedia article about filksinging with a 2006 photo from WisCon of PNH and Emma Bull.

#404 ::: Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2014, 10:04 PM:

Somebody has illustrated the Wikipedia article about filksinging with a 2006 photo from WisCon of PNH and Emma Bull.

#405 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 12:58 AM:

Lee @357 - Good thoughts coming your way.

Fragano @ 388 - Likewise for your mother.

#406 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 10:46 AM:

re pots of chocolate: I don't recall when Dutch Proccess (ie. treated with akali to make it more suspensable/soluble) was invented. Prior to that cocoa was made much the way the Aztecs did it, by muddling a paste into liquid (which for europeans was milk).

A pot of chocolate was used as a morning beverage/pick me up (alongside tea and coffee) in Britain for quite some time, tapering off (for both chocolate and coffee) about the beginning of the 19th century.

#407 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 12:53 PM:

ISS has a wonderful view of Earth.

#408 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 04:45 PM:

Steve C. @397: You're welcome. It was not fun and quite a bit of worry initially, particularly until I had the confirmation that no other credit checks had been made on those two name variants or any other name with our address attached. So yes, we're shedding anything with printed name and address on it nowadays.

#409 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 04:49 PM:

The Doctor Who Christmas Special is rather good, and there are a couple of clues right at the very end, before the credits roll. Moffat is up to something. (I mention them only so you know to stay alert.)

It's a good Doctor Who episode, not just a Christmas episode: an almost standard location, with claustrophobic tension rather than the usual spectacle. No giant spaceships threatening London.

I am not sure that it doesn't show signs of Moffat recycling some old ideas, but it all fits together well.

#410 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 05:58 PM:

I haven't seen it yet, of course. Praying that there will be no godsdamned weeping angels in this one.

#411 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 10:19 PM:

I'm just back from seeing Into The Woods on the big screen!

And yep, they made it work, and work well. A couple of things shifted between stage and screen¹, but generally it fit together. They managed the multistranded story well visually, several of the songs were knock-your-socks-off good, and they did well at balancing the camp with the heartwarmth. The Woods themselves, as you might hope, were nearly a character in their own right... or perhaps two characters, the Day Woods and the Night Woods.

¹ Abgnoyl, V jnfa'g jvyq nobhg gur jnl gurl nygrerq gur "svany fubjqbja" -- Wnpx ybfg n zbeny yrffba gurer, va rkpunatr sbe n jvreq svtug fprar.

#412 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 10:32 PM:

Dave Bell #409:

Saw it this morning. It's a good one: the story hangs together well & it's a satisfying Christmas episode in many ways.

#413 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 10:43 PM:

I won't get to see the Christmas special for a bit, since I have a houseguest. But hey, she made cinnamon rolls, so that's nice.

#414 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 11:14 PM:

I set my DVR to record the Doctor Who Christmas Special twice . . . just in case. I'll watch it when I get back to Oregon. New Year's Day, hopefully.

Did watch the wonderfully silly Downton Abbey Xmas spoof. My mother, sister, and niece are fans of the show, as am I. My other sister and brother-in-law had no idea what was going on or why it was funny.

#415 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2014, 11:34 PM:

Rats, I missed the Downton Abbey spoof. When was that on?

I liked the DW Christmas special. I saw where it was going to go early on, but I liked it anyway.

I also liked how they slipped Gur Tvsg bs gur Zntv in there.

#416 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 12:08 AM:

If it's the spoof I'm thinking of, it's online and involves George Clooney, or rather, George Ocean Gravity, Marquis of Hollywood.

#417 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 12:26 AM:

Waaww! With a side of Jeremy Piven!

#418 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 09:11 AM:

I have an AKICIML question that is of great urgency to me in understanding a song. It moves me and makes me cry. I want to know I understand it correctly before I might love it too much. So:

What would be the range of meanings, from narrow to broad, of "children of Abraham"? Is it members of Abrahamic religions generally? Is it more often specific to one? Which one?

My Google-fu is only middling today, and my best guess is that it's most often used referring to all three. If that's the most common usage, then I think I've got the song. If not, I must keep on.

#419 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 09:11 AM:

I have an AKICIML question that is of great urgency to me in understanding a song. It moves me and makes me cry. I want to know I understand it correctly before I might love it too much. So:

What would be the range of meanings, from narrow to broad, of "children of Abraham"? Is it members of Abrahamic religions generally? Is it more often specific to one? Which one?

My Google-fu is only middling today, and my best guess is that it's most often used referring to all three. If that's the most common usage, then I think I've got the song. If not, I must keep on.

#420 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 09:23 AM:

#419 John

One narrow definition is "the children of Abraham = Jews." Another might be Jews + Muslims/Arabs, the latter via Ishmaeltthe former via Isaac.

There's a quote attributed to the ancient alchemist Maria Hebraica/Maria the Jewess which translates something like "If you're not of the race of Abraham [that is, if not Jewish] don' bother trying to find/make a Philospher's Stone"

#421 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 10:03 AM:

John @ 419

(Delurking for the first time in a long, long time and then scurrying away)

Galatians 3:7, 8

7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.'

Seems to cover a lot of ground.

#422 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 10:31 AM:

Thanks, folks! I've seen that passage translated as both "sons of Abraham" and "children of Abraham".

#423 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 10:32 AM:

Thanks, folks! I've seen that passage translated as both "sons of Abraham" and "children of Abraham".

#424 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 03:06 PM:

Today's amusement, looking at the monthly flyer from Costco: Hot Pockets in the 'value pack' of 17.
First response: they're packaging them for Dragaerans?

#425 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2014, 04:54 PM:

We decided to have a Jewish-style Christmas -- got Chinese takeout and watched the extended DVD of The Desolation of Smaug -- which doesn't seem to have many extra scenes in it.

In other news, Facebook fucks it up again. This is one of the reasons why I very rarely post anything personal on Facebook; you never know what they'll decide to do with it, whether appropriate or not.

#426 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 10:34 AM:

*takes deep breath*

Maybe someone reading the conversation is going to be convinced.

Maybe someone reading the conversation is going to be convinced.

Maybe someone reading the conversation is going to be convinced.

... I was just told by some determinedly stupid person on erqqvg that women's stories of their own harassment at SF conventions were "unbelievable" but some vague 'outside factors' for them to say these things were much more likely.

And then that I was getting emotional.

Everything that has happened was predictable and yet I played my part. Including getting mad.

#427 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 12:38 PM:

Sandy @426, ugh - that's like they were ticking off a bingo card. And as for getting emotional, some things are worth being emotional about, and emotion hardly invalidates an argument.

#428 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 01:10 PM:

Sandy, #426: Two points:
1) That place is a pit to begin with. It's 4chan for people who want to imagine that they're better than the people who hang out on 4chan.

2) The "getting emotional" troll tactic is one end of a Weeble argument. If you get emotional, then you're being irrational and your comments can be ignored. If you don't get emotional, then obviously it doesn't mean that much to you and your comments can be ignored. Push one side down, and the other one pops up.

#430 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 07:51 PM:

Anne Sheller #405: Thanks.

I spoke to my mother yesterday, and became even more alarmed. She said something that made me wonder about her long-term memory.

My impression about aging has been that, for older people, short-term memory has a tendency to fade while long-term memory remains fairly crisp. But mum's long-term memory, for which she apologised, is the problem. A little while back, she couldn't remember how much older she was than me. Yesterday, she asked me if I was still working (i.e., if I'd retired yet). When I said that I was, she asked me how old I was. To say that I was alarmed, a word that I realise that I'm using with great frequency, is to understate the case.

AKICIML, so I am wondering what the collective expertise of the Fluorosphere is in these matters, both in terms of experience dealing with what appears to be growing memory loss and any clinical knowledge that can help me understand what I can do from an ocean away.

#431 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #430: The first thing that comes to mind is to mobilize anything you've got locally to her -- friends or family that are actually down there with her will have a much better sense of the danger level and the available options.

#432 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 10:55 PM:

So every year I include two ridiculous things on my Amazon wishlist - one as an impulse purchase in the event a heretofore unknown rich relative dies and leaves me a chunk of cash I have to spend right away (last year was a cello, this year, a high-tech toilet/bidet system) and one random not unaffordable item of dubious practicality. For my birthday in 2012 I was gifted the 5 lb. canister of malt powder, which we did consume within the year. This year, I received the kilogram brick of Callebaut (non-dutch process) cocoa. It smells divine.

Unfortunately most of the chocolate desserts I've been making skew more towards melting high quality chocolate and less toward cocoa powders. Does anyone have any good recipes that make the most of cocoa powder?

#433 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 11:17 PM:

#430: David's advice sounds spot on. Find friends and relations to visit. Find out how to get her an interview with a neurologist. But first a GP, in case there's some other health reason for all this.

#434 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 11:44 PM:

Fragano, I don't think there's anything I can add to what David and Stefan have said. It does sound like a couple of the items you cited are really more a short term memory problem though - she isn't sure when "now' is, so unsure whether you've retired or how old you are. She's apparently still communicating clearly and taking in information for at least some period, so there are work-arounds for memory deficits that may help her.

#435 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2014, 11:58 PM:

Nerdycellist: I'm quite fond of Xopher's Black Hole Brownies of Death.

Two notes on them:
1. You can substitute one full cup of regular flour for the combination of 3/4 cup rice flour to 1/4 cup corn starch. The recipe as written does have the advantage of being gluten-free.

2. The batter will probably be very thick, and need to be scraped out of the bowl with a spatula and then spread by hand. This is normal.

#436 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 12:07 AM:

Xopher tried a variation this year which about half of his focus group liked (including me): substituting nuts for the chocolate chips. I found this cut the incresible richness down to where I could eat more than a square inch of brownie without falling into a coma. YMMV.

#437 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 12:09 AM:

Xopher tried a variation this year which about half of his focus group liked (including me): substituting nuts for the chocolate chips. I found this cut the incresible richness down to where I could eat more than a square inch of brownie without falling into a coma. YMMV.

#438 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 12:10 AM:

Darn it! Sorry.

#439 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 12:12 AM:

@nerdycellist no. 432: I make the fudgiest dark chocolate brownies imaginable by tweaking the recipe on the Baker's box, like so:

Place rack in center of oven, with a pizza stone on it if you have one. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas mark 4. Line a 9"x13" (3-quart) rectangular glass baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang on all sides, smooth it well, and butter the parts that cover the bottom and sides of the dish, using unsalted butter. (I think a 20cmx30cm baking tray will work for this recipe, but I have never tried it.)

Place 4 oz. (1/2 250 gm. pack) unsalted sweet cream butter in lg. saucepan. Melt on low heat. Add 4 tbsp. (60 ml.) mild-flavored oil, such as canola. Stir in 3/4 cup (80 gm.) cocoa powder. As soon as the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Stir in 2 cups granulated sugar, or a little less. Add 3 large eggs--the biggest you can find, and the freshest you can get--and 1 tsp. (5 ml.) vanilla, mint, or almond extract and beat until thoroughly blended and bubbly. Add 1/4 cup (30 gm.) whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup (95 gm.) all-purpose or bread flour and stir well. (I think that adding some whole wheat flour deepens the taste of the chocolate.)

Turn into the prepared baking dish, spread evenly, and bake 15 min. Check the pan. If the edges of the brownies are dry but not black and have slightly pulled away from the pan in places, and if the top has cracked at least once, take the pan from the oven. Otherwise, keep cooking and check frequently until just done. Take the pan out of the oven and cool it completely on a rack. Then carefully lift out the brownies by the foil tabs. Carefully flip over the mass of brownies and foil on a clean, dry surface and peel away the foil. Cut the brownies into 24 bars or squares. Keep covered at room temperature.

Variations: Add 1 cup chopped nuts of choice. Or cover the buttered foil with crushed crisp salty pretzels. Or dollop the batter in the pan with jam of choice, about 2 tbsp. total, "cut" through the jam and batter with a knife to create stripes, smooth again with a spatula, then bake. Or top the batter with evenly distributed fresh raspberries from a heritage cultivar that is tiny and very sweet--not those big bland supermarket berries--and let them bake down to sweet purple masses on top of the brownies.

#440 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 12:17 AM:

Just saw the recipe for the Black Hole Brownies of Death. Guh.



I would love them but my family is nowhere near as chocoholic as I am!

Oh, the tamer recipe I posted: You can also cover the buttered part of the foil with sweetened flaked coconut before pouring in the batter. All variations go great with ice cream.

#441 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 12:38 AM:

Fragano: I don't like to say it, but if your mother has been very sharp mentally up to this point, it is possible she's had a minor stroke. The initial onset of my mother's memory problems was quite sudden like that. If so she likely isn't able to tell, because she will have lost the ability to compare to her previous mental state.

If it's not that, there is still clearly something going on with her condition that should be checked out immediately. Somebody needs to be on the scene to see her and get her to a competent doctor for evaluation; there's not much can be done remotely.

#442 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 01:52 AM:

Fragano, my wife the neuropsych grad student says that important questions to ask are: how long has this been happening, does it fluctuate (possibly with the time of day), does she have any health issues (urinary tract infections and even simple dehydration can cause cognitive issues in older people, as can sleep apnea)? Your best bet is to get her to a neurologist or gerontologist; some GPs will either miss subtle cognitive symptoms or just diagnose everything as "dementia". For what it's worth, as others have noted, the symptoms you describe sound like she's not fully oriented to time, which has more to do with short term than long term memory. You have my sympathy dealing with this long distance!

#443 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 01:57 AM:

Oh, another question: has she had a fall recently, where she might have hit her head? (Until my wife got into her studies, I hadn't realized just how many different bad things can happen to the brain!)

#444 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 02:14 AM:

For those of you in places where you sensibly weigh ingredients instead of measuring them by volume (and I always do this for this recipe now), here are approximate weights for the quantities in the BHBoD recipe:

2 Sticks Butter 230g
3 Cups Sugar 633g
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract ~10 mL

1.5 Cups Hershey's Cocoa (try other brands at your own risk) 192g

3/4 Cup Rice Flour (finest grind you can find) 150g
1/4 Cup Cornstarch 46g
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder 2.5 mL
1/4 Teaspoon Salt 1.2 mL

You should look up egg sizes for your country here. The US Jumbo size is at least 71g.

The chocolate chips are about 284 grams. If you substitute nuts, use about the same weight (of chopped walnuts) or to your taste.

If you use regular flour instead of the rice flour and cornstarch...not sure what to tell you. I'd recommend using pastry flour. I only have bread flour in the house, and I'm not sure that would give you an accurate weight, even if I had the energy to go weigh it right now.

One other thing: these days I bake them for 20 minutes, then take them out and tilt the pan back and forth. If the middle flows at all, I put them back in; if not, I don't.

#445 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 11:19 AM:

Clifton @379:

I first read Polar City Blues and Snare when I won autographed copies that Ms. Kerr had donated to an acution in support of fen who needed help keeping their accessible home. She is to be seen pitching in all over many of fandom's similar efforts to improve and support its community. It is Meet and Right that fandom should rally around her when she could use a lift.

HLN: Area Woman Combats Primal Fear of Cold, Dark by Baking to Excess. With saffron bread, woman is simultaneously returning to family roots in Cornwall, and leaping into the modern age with first experience in metric baking.

#446 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Drooling over Xopher's black hole brownies, however my roommate is allergic to corn. We have potato starch and tapioca starch on hand - I wonder if I could sub those? I think I'd rather not sub the flour back. I suspect the fine rice/corn starch is what sets these apart from other brownies. I appreciate the admonition about Hershey's cocoa, but I'm trying to use up the Callebaut (or at least make a dent in it) so I'm going to have to risk it.

I may also try Jenny Islander's Baker's mod. The Baker's One Bowl were my go-to until quite recently. I really like the idea of crushed salty things in them.

I'm going to be very popular at work for the next couple of months.

#447 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Lee @428: Your point 2: Oh! People have been playing me on that one for years. Suggestions to disable it?

#448 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 04:21 PM:

nerdycellist 446: I definitely think the melt-in-your-mouthiness of the brownies is due to the rice flour/cornstarch substitution. The brownies didn't have that quality when I made them with all-purpose flour.

I can't remember what tapioca tastes like. I suspect it would be a better fit than potato starch, but I've never tried either. Maybe arrowroot? I don't know.

#449 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 05:29 PM:

Zelda #445: I, too, have been making saffron bread -- both a butter-and-mixed-fruit version for Christmas, and a version with olive oil and fennel seed to have at a colleague's seafood lunch by the sea.

My usual fruit bread recipe starts with pouring boiling water over fruit, spices, and any fats, and leaving it to cool to yeastable temperatures. That seemed to work for saffron, so I started off the savoury version the same way.

It's impressive how well the scent and colour of saffron persists in the final product -- the same weight of cinnamon, for example, would be completely lost.

#450 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 05:33 PM:

nerdycellist@446: If it's just the cornstarch which is a problem, you could try it entirely with rice flour, perhaps? Or with mostly rice flour and a small amount of cake flour (low-gluten flour.)

#451 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 05:39 PM:

nerdycellist, #446: I would definitely go with tapioca starch over potato starch for a dessert recipe -- but realistically, all you can do is experiment at this point. Remember that variation is not necessarily a bad thing.

dcb, #447: No suggestions, sadly, except perhaps to call them on it when you notice it happening. Maybe Captain Awkward would have something about this? But being aware of it at least reduces your vulnerability to it -- you can tag someone as "this person likes to put me into a no-win situation, and should therefore not be trusted". And then, if at all possible, you just don't engage with them about anything, period.

#452 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Fragano, I have nothing new to add but would like to emphasize that both urinary tract infections and vitamin B12 deficiency can cause sudden and reversible declines in mental function among elderly people. This is particularly striking and common with UTIs in older women.

I hope someone physically closer to her can get her checked out quickly. Best of luck.

#453 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 08:17 PM:

dcb @ 447:

Jen Dziura has some fine things to say about the gendered part of this dynamic here. Tagline: Women’s Emotions are “Emotions,” Men’s Emotions are “How People Talk.” I guess, to combat the "If you don't get emotional, then obviously it doesn't mean that much to you," the emotion I go for is Stern, with a side of my-jaw-is-clenched-because-I-am-an-adult-controlling-my-anger. "Angry" is more socially acceptable than "upset."

thomas @ 449:

Fennel seed! I am intrigued. Will you share your specific recipe? I started out decades ago with my version of my mother's version of my Great Aunt Gert's version of saffron buns, which are cookies that have a lot to do with a 1957 middle-scool home economics course. (I speculate that the use of tinned milk, rather than fresh, is a lingering scar of WWII on the cultural landscape.) So I always have some saffron around the house this time of year. Then I read about Marissa Lingen's lussekatter, and those have become an important tradition for me too.

#454 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2014, 10:56 PM:

In the category of fun, but strange, I recommend an anime series that ran a couple of years back about members of an all-girls high school participating in the traditional female art of tank battles while attending school on giant converted aircraft carriers: Girls und Panzer.

No, I am NOT making this up.

i dearly wish I could have seen the pitch sessions for this one, as it's the oddest combination of cute little girls and loud armored vehicles that go boom. The recruiting film for the tank club in the first episode (accompanied by the sound of a 16mm projector grinding away) is particularly choice, harping on both how fighting in tanks will make you more womanly AND attract guys hot for your form. You'd swear that it was done by The Usual Gang of Idiots, edited by Martha Stewart.

#456 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 02:55 AM:

Zelda #453

To the extent that there is a recipe I've put it here with my other recipes.

All the recipes are a bit in the 'until it be enow' style, and while I've tried to give quantities for this one I wasn't taking notes at the time.

#457 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 11:25 AM:

Lee @451: "this person likes to put me into a no-win situation, and should therefore not be trusted". Oh definitely. But this was a work situation so unfortunately not engaging with her wasn't an option.

Zelda @453: Yes, I've had to cope with that dynamic as well. The other person is aggressively telling you that you're being emotional, because you're visibly upset. Their visible/audible anger and aggression is, of course (!), perfectly rational and unemotional behaviour. I'm really fed up with the fact that, as you point out, "Angry" is more socially acceptable than "upset."

I've been on two AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) courses to try to improve my ability to be assertive when faced with someone being aggressive. Still not very good at it.

#458 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 03:08 PM:

nerdycellist @ 432

You can turn powdered cocoa into bar chocolate by adding three tablespoons of cocoa powder to one tablespoon of melted butter or other liquid fat.

Hot cocoa from scratch:
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup water
8 oz milk

combine the first four ingredients in a small sauce pan until boiling, stirring constantly. Slowly add the milk and heat to desired temperature stirring occasionally.

I have a chocolate pastry cream recipe that uses powdered cocoa. I also make a BBQ sauce with powdered cocoa I like to call Aztec BBQ. (it's kinda like a mole crossed with standard tomato based BBQ sauce.)

Let me know if any of these sound interesting.

#459 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 03:09 PM:

I have a simple trick when dealing with angry people, which might or might not be helpful: I just turn my face off. Like, turn attention to how the skin of my cheeks and around my eyes feels, and imagine it being inert gray clay. Likewise, turn my voice into a monotone. It also helps distract me from my emotional reaction until later. At the very least, it makes me look "calm."

#460 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 03:15 PM:

Fragano at #430, seconding here what others have said re your mother's condition, especially the bits about infections causing unexpected cognitive issues. Best wishes for good care for her and a swift resolution!!

#461 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 03:36 PM:

Jacque @459: Good trick. Not sure I can do it, but I'll try to remember it.

Fragano @430: Agree re. the possible temporary effects of infection on cognition - happened to someone in my family. Also agree that your mother needs checking properly. Sympathies; it must be difficult for you, particularly at a distance.

#462 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 04:03 PM:

Tom: yes, but they don't seem to have the deranged shorts, like the Fish Dance.

#463 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 04:04 PM:

Ah, the joys of explaining sewing supplies to the uninitiated. These two conversations happened last week, with two different* casts of characters:

[I put a bobbin winder on my wish list, brother gives me one.]
Niece (who doesn't sew): What's a bobbin winder?
Brother (who doesn't sew either): It...winds bobbins.

[I give my friend K a fancy seam ripper, which she loves.]
K's step-daughter's fiance (who doesn't sew): What a seam ripper for?
Step-daughter (who doesn't sew either): ...Ripping seams.

*I was the only common element. And yes, I did give the real answer.

#464 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 04:48 PM:

Mary Aileen @463:

I dunno. Those seem to be reasonable explanations to me. At least, as a start. But I do tend to go for smart-ass answers myself.

Of course, different people have different expectations. For instance, I expected a different bobbin winder. Both wind bobbins, and the seam ripper rips seams.

#465 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Buddha Buck (464): Both of those answers fall into the category that I call True But Misleading. Or in this case, ...Not Helpful.

And there seem to be at least three different kinds of bobbin winders. I wasn't familiar with that one.

#466 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 06:39 PM:

@463-5: Tautological what—? :-)

#467 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 06:43 PM:

Jacque, #459: Also, dropping into what Suzette Haden Elgin calls Computer Mode is often helpful when dealing with angry people. In Computer Mode, you're going for "just the facts, ma'am" -- don't make statements of opinion, don't be a smartass, only say say generalities and platitudes, and in a neutral tone of voice. Statements along the lines of, "Yes, that's very annoying," which can be interpreted as sympathy are okay too. The goal is not to give the angry person any hooks to escalate with.

Mary Aileen, #463: The bobbin winder is interesting! My mother used to use the sewing machine itself to wind her bobbins; I never got a close enough look at the process to describe what it entailed, but it was evidently a feature of the machine.

My description of the bobbin winder for someone who doesn't sew would be, "Winding bobbins by hand is a pain in the butt. The bobbin winder is a machine that does it for you a lot faster and with fewer swear words." And the seam ripper would be "A specialized tool that makes it much easier and faster to un-sew a seam without damaging the fabric."

Tangentially related: am I the only person who calls the little claw thingie an un-stapler?

#468 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Thanks for the suggestions. My older son will be seeing my mother this week. I'll be able to judge the quality of care she's receiving and discuss what to do with my brothers after hearing from him.

#469 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 07:02 PM:

Lee (467): Most (if not all) sewing machines have bobbin winders, but my machine is finicky about which ones it will wind. Hand-winding bobbins is not recommended, not to mention incredibly tedious. My neice didn't know what a bobbin was, (neither did my brother, I don't think), so I had to start with that.

My seam ripper explanation was something like, "If you make a mistake when sewing, the seam ripper makes it much easier to take the stitches out and start over."

I call the little claw thingie a 'staple remover'. 'Un-stapler' is a good one; I'll have to remember that.

#470 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 08:49 PM:

Sewing machines still wind bobbins. But I think some people like to do a bunch of bobbins at a time, or maybe sergers use big bobbins or lots of them, so an external bobbin winder is useful for them.

#471 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 11:29 PM:

I have an old Singer sewing machine. The style of bobbins I use in it is still made but they're very slightly narrower than they used to be, so they're fine for sewing but they stick during winding. I usually wind bobbins on my other machine (it has tension issues I haven't had a chance to sort out, so I rarely use it for sewing), but a bobbin winder sounds like a good idea.

#472 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2014, 11:59 PM:

Hilary Hertzoff (471): That's the main problem with winding bobbins on my old Singer. That and one set of metal bobbins has a center hole that is too small to fit over the spindle on the winder.

#473 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 01:14 AM:

Fragano, my good wishes if welcome for the best possible outcome for you and your mother.

Lee 467: That exercise program calls for me to bob up and down until I'm completely winded. It's a real bobbin' winder!

#474 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 01:31 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff @471
Mary Aileen @472

Bobbin Sizes

There's a table of measurements here. The long and thin sort are for the old shuttle technology. Many modern machines use the Class 15 technology with the bobbin axis horizontal and using a case. Others use the Class 66 with a vertical axis and no case. Singer make other types, and there are photographs here.

Guessing here, from a mention on this page you may have a machine using Class 66 bobbins, since there's a caution about the centre hole size.

This can all seem rather bewildering.

#475 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 03:33 AM:

Fragano, my best wishes to you and your mother.

#476 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 03:36 AM:

PJ Evans @ 470... "...maybe sergers use big bobbins.."

Well, we're bob-bob-bobbin' along.

#477 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 09:23 AM:

I believe I've gotten an explication I'm satisfied with for that song. The clue was the reminder about Galatians.

If you're curious, here's the lyric and here's the song.

The song is beautiful and now I'm satisfied it's good.

(ObSF: I read this as a kid and I figure he did too)

#478 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 10:47 AM:

"You seem to be getting emotional. I will step away now." was what they said. Which, upon consideration, sounds a lot like "I'm not winning this fight, so I'm going to try to make it look good when I flounce."

#479 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 10:47 AM:

Ah! Sometimes YouTube *is* your friend! Here's the Girls und Panzer orientation film.

And here's why you don't want to lose your tank battles: the Anglerfish Dance, AKA "Now I can never be married!"

#480 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 12:10 PM:

The training video is also in the second half of the first episode, with the 16mm projector sound, Bruce -- so it's there on Crunchyroll, just a bit harder to find.

#481 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 01:13 PM:

PJ Evans @470

Sergers use as many as five threads on one seam, sometimes wrapping around the exposed edge of a seam. They use such huge amounts of thread that winding thread from the reel onto a small bobbin just isn't worth doing. Bobbin-tech is over a century old, but so is overlocking. A five-thread overlocked seam can use 20 times the seam length in thread.

Strictly, a serger is an overlock machine which has a built-in trimmer for the seam edge, cutting the fabric a precise distance from the seam line. So you have to get it right first time.

#482 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 02:34 PM:

I don't have an overlock/serger machine, although I know people who do. I've never seen the bobbins, but I know they use cones of thread.

#483 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 02:37 PM:

Dave Bell (474): Thanks, that last page in particular is very helpful. Now if only she was in the US....

#484 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 02:49 PM:

P J Evans @482: Sergers (at least the kind I've seen) don't use bobbins at all; they feed directly off those cones. It's kind of as if your regular sewing machine were to just take two spools of thread, one for top and one for bottom. (Source: being the ex- of an avowed serger fan.)

#485 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Sandy, #478: Aha! That's when you get to turn the no-win paradigm around on them. "I guess it must not be very important to you, if you're not even willing to argue for it. So we'll do it my way."

#486 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 07:00 PM:

You can overclock a sewing machine? Oh wait—overlock. Never mind.

#487 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 07:14 PM:

I do rather want an overlocker. And an embroiderybot. Such fun I could have with an embroiderybot.

#488 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 07:24 PM:

In Celtic legend, the god of the underworld has white hounds with red ears (and sometimes tail). Would you envision those ears as:

bright red, like a fire engine or a tomato;
animal red, like a fox or Irish Setter;
or something else?

I've always pictured a bright red, but now I'm not so sure.

(This is related to the sewing thread. I've auto-Chutneyed again.)

#489 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 07:25 PM:

Me (488): sewing thread

I didn't do that on purpose, honest.

#490 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 07:32 PM:

ISTR the "red" hounds' ears were liver-colored.

Also, the minimum number of threads I've ever seen on a serger is three: one doing the standard needle up-and-down, and two that run in figure-8s that interlock over the raw edge, one on the top, one on the bottom.

#491 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 07:38 PM:

Carol Kimball (490): A friend on LJ found a couple of quotations that indicate a bright, shining red for the ears, to go along with the bright, shining white body. So I think I'm going to go with red-red rather than fox-red.

#492 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 07:53 PM:

Re underworld hounds:
When you first asked I pictured fox-red, but I think before, possibly when reading the Mabinogion, I may have pictured them as bright red. So either way works for me.

#493 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 08:17 PM:

#488 ::: Mary Aileen

I'd have gone with something brighter than animal red, but short of the primary color.

#494 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 08:34 PM:

#488: I haven't heard that description until now, but before you asked "bright red or fox-red" the color that popped into my mind was a dark-red, somewhere between a tomato-red and a brick-red. Similar to the selected-link color on the "particles page", or what another site describes as "Japanese Carmine".

#495 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 09:13 PM:

There are two kinds of bobbin winders I know of that aren't for sewing machine bobbins.

One is for the kind of bobbins used for bobbin lace,

(Bobbin is one of those words that stops looking real very quickly, isn't it?)

The other kind is for the bobbins used in boat shuttles, for weaving fabric on looms. These are also sometimes used by spinners for winding yarn onto storage bobbins. Actually, now that I think of it, make that two kinds of bobbin winders for weaving bobbins: hand cranked and, to bring us round full circle, the electrical kind, attached to--wait for it--a sewing machine motor.

Speaking of sewing machines.

#496 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 10:14 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz (493)/Buddha Buck (494): Part of the problem is that I'm limited by the actual fur fabric that I have access to. I just double-checked my stash, and the only reds are a primary and a rather brownish fox. Of the two, the primary red is probably better the better choice.

Thanks to everyone for all of the input.

#497 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2014, 11:09 PM:

An old friend of mine died of breast cancer today. Sometimes I really hate this time of year.

#498 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 12:14 AM:

Condolences, Lee. That's really rough.

#499 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 12:48 AM:

To add to the bobbin winder confusion, one can store embroidery floss on cardboard or plastic bobbins. Of course, there's a bobbin winder for it.

#500 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 01:14 AM:

AIUI, the red ears on Celtic supernatural white animals was the red of blood vessels when light shines through a white creative's ear. Wouldn't be very long-furred - what about a red microsuede?

#501 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 01:14 AM:

AIUI, the red ears on Celtic supernatural white animals was the red of blood vessels when light shines through a white creative's ear. Wouldn't be very long-furred - what about a red microsuede?

#502 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 01:15 AM:

AIUI, the red ears on Celtic supernatural white animals was the red of blood vessels when light shines through a white creative's ear. Wouldn't be very long-furred - what about a red microsuede?

#503 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 01:15 AM:

AIUI, the red ears on Celtic supernatural white animals was the red of blood vessels when light shines through a white creative's ear. Wouldn't be very long-furred - what about a red microsuede?

#504 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 03:14 AM:

Mary Aileen - My first thought would be "Clifford the Big Red Dog ... Of Death", but that's not very hlepful.
I'd expect that a "red" animal would be fox-colored, or maybe reddish-brown cow colored. Lots of Irish and Scottish mythology refers to various fairies, leprechauns, etc. wearing red, which I'd always thought of as primary-color Disney-cartoon red, but there are some exceptions, like the border-mythology redcaps, whose red came from dried blood of their victims.

#505 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 03:17 AM:

Fragano, best wishes for your mom's health.

There was a period in my grandmother's later years when she suddenly started having memory and attention problems, and it turned out to be heart related. They adjusted her meds, blood flow improved, and her mental functioning was back to normal for a couple more years.

#506 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 08:16 AM:

Lee @497 <hugs> if welcome.

#507 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 10:03 AM:

Naomi Parkhurst @ 495 & Inquisitive Raven @ 499

And then there are yarn bobbins for knitting or crochet color work. I was thinking of these but my initial search turned up more.

#508 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 10:21 AM:

Interesting musical footnote, broadcast rights division: Crunchyroll has swapped out the (very lovely) version of "Katyusha" from GuP sung by the cast (in episode 8?) probably because of licensing issues--that's why the first video releases of "WKRP in Cincinnati" had totally different songs dubbed in, as did "Heavy Metal." The worst example I ever heard of was a British film with a key scene in a pub whose jukebox was playing a Beatles tune: for some reason they couldn't redub the scene so it was unavailable on video until Michael Jackson bought the rights to the Beatles back catalog. (That also lead to the Nike ad featuring "Revolution" which is when I quit buying their shoes, but I digress.)

#509 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 10:46 AM:

Supernatural's video releases (and streaming, especially, via NetFlix) all have radically different underlying music. In the original show, most music is diagetic (played on the radio of the Impala, for example), and ties in thematically and lyrically with the ongoing action, but licensing for re-broadcast has apparently been challenging.

#510 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Rikibeth (500-3): I'd heard that about the blood vessels shining through white ears. Microsuede is a good suggestion, but not what I'm going for in this case.

Bill Stewart (504): "Clifford the Big Red Dog ... Of Death"

::snerk:: Not very helpful, maybe, but I like it! And Clifford is pretty much the color I had always pictured for these hounds. Until it occurred to me that

I'd expect that a "red" animal would be fox-colored, or maybe reddish-brown cow colored

and got all confused again.
On further thought, "glistening"* red might be fresh blood.

On still further thought, what I really need may be the red of bright fall leaves in the sunlight. Maple-leaf red, for example. Unfortunately, I don't have fur that color.

*the Mabinogian quote that my friend found

#511 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 01:18 PM:

me (510): I don't have fur that color.

I do have a dark-ish, glistening red that would be a great color for this. However, it's a long-ish, wavy texture. Poodle of Annwn, anyone?

#512 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 01:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @511 <snork> Um, is it practical to cut or shave the poodle-fur down to a more reasonable length?

#513 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 03:15 PM:

Re Avram's link about the Uber economy:

I think the writer's basic point is right (Uber works because there are a lot of unemployed and underemployed people standing around who'd like more work if they could get it). But it's important to note two other things:

a. Those people were mostly standing around wishing they could get more work before. It's not like US society was some ideal of egalitarianism until a week before Uber started up.

b. Uber and similar services are almost certainly making things better, by making it practical for some of those underemployed people and other resources (cars, extra rooms) to be employed.

I think it's a feature of a lot of the US right now (and for quite a while, actually) that there are *lots* of people who are underemployed, who wish they could find a way to work an extra 10 hours a week in a flexible way, or wish they could find some way to make an extra $100 a week, or whatever.

There's this whole world of basically decent jobs which maybe don't pay as much as you'd like or maybe don't give you the job security or benefits you wish they did, but they're decent jobs and if you and maybe your partner both work in one, you can afford some kind of a decent living.

And then there's this huge pool of people, usually young, often quite smart and capable, who can't manage to get into any of those--maybe they dropped out of college, or had some trouble with the law, or didn't quite get the right credentials, or have been out of the workforce for a couple years, or whatever. And those people are often working crappy jobs and living in their parents' basements, or working crappy jobs and rooming with three other guys to make ends meet, or if they're lucky working some job that has at least the potential to eventually turn into a real job.

That pool of people represents a godawful waste of wealth, like some kind of giant monster shoveling hundred dollar bills into a fire someplace. Clever tricks for getting more of the people in that pool a way to make more money, and especially ways to make a path for the more able and motivated of them to get themselves a better life overall, are like rescuing an occasional shovelful of $100 bills from the monster. The social problem isn't the Ubers and airbnbs of the world, it's the underemployment and financial instability that they're contributing a tiny bit to helping solve.

#514 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 03:22 PM:

Cassy B. (512): Not really. Shaving down fur is a lot of work and the fluff gets *everywhere*. (Even more so than usual, that is.) It's only worth it if there is absolutely no substitute, unlike this time.

I am, however, now contemplating making a Poodle of Annwn, too. Because I didn't have enough sewing projects.

#515 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 04:01 PM:

albatross, #513: The social problem isn't the Ubers and airbnbs of the world, it's the underemployment and financial instability that they're contributing a tiny bit to helping solve.

No, the social problem is having the Ubers and Airbnbs and such being presented as if they were a genuine solution rather than just an exploitative stopgap.

#516 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 04:53 PM:

@Lee and Albatross #513 and #515:

Speaking as a reasonably intelligent underemployed individual who'd really like to not have to beg people for tuition money so she can study part time and maybe become slightly more employable: I'll take a stopgap measure to put pressure on the wound while I wait to be stitched up anyday. On the one side, I have people - people close to me, whom I love and respect and who love me - saying that I am struggling because I'm not working hard enough, not trying hard enough - and on the other there are people who say the measures I take to earn more money (anything. I babysit, I tutor, I clean things! I can't get a second job as a cashier or whatnot because I have some university education and they consider me overqualified and likely to leave as soon as I get a better offer, so contracted piecework is what I can have) are beneath me and I should just wait until one of the Good Jobs looks past my lack of completed degree and hires me over the three hundred other applicants, half of whom look better on paper and are thus more likely to get as far as the interview.

Sometimes those people are the same people, and that's even more baffling.

I know that's not how you mean it, Lee. But an option - even an exploitative, less than ideal option - is an option, and I'm perilously low on those. I sometimes feel very much as though people think my choices are between "success!" and "just getting by", and my choices are actually "just getting by" and "not getting by at all", and it's something that makes me so tired.

#517 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 05:08 PM:

Albatross @513: I think it's a feature of a lot of the US right now (and for quite a while, actually) that there are *lots* of people who are underemployed

It’s not a feature, it’s a bug.

Actually, I suppose that depends on how you look at it. From down here (unemployed, no savings, in the wage-earning classes) it looks pretty terrible. From up there (rich, living off profits and capital) it’s probably pretty sweet. Capitalists prosper best when labor is cheap.

Which is the heart of the matter — the current state of things isn’t something that just happened, like the weather; it’s something that was deliberately done, a long-term project. (Hell, even the weather nowadays isn’t entirely something that just happened.) Decades of union-busting, outsourcing, pension-fund-raiding, capital-gains-rewarding, and capital-concentrating have deliberately created the present situation. Companies like Uber aren’t an attempt to mitigate a bad situation; they’re an attempt to reap the benefits of a deliberately damaged labor market.

#518 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 06:26 PM:

Bruce @ #508


Entirely too weird for this moose.


#519 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 06:47 PM:

By the way, it's 2015 where I am. Happy New Year, dear people.

#520 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 06:50 PM:

10 minutes to go for this moose, Happy New Year abi!

#521 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 07:01 PM:

...and may 2015 be altogether better for everyone than 2014 was.

<FX: Opens a bottle of Bah Humbug to toast the New Year with.>


#522 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 07:08 PM:

Em, #516: I'm sorry that what I said came across that way. I was responding to this bit from the original article:

In Mumbai, the man who delivers a bottle of rum to my doorstep can learn the ins and outs of the booze business from spending his days in a liquor store. If he scrapes together enough capital, he may one day be able to open his own shop and hire his own delivery boys.

His counterpart in San Francisco has no such access. The person who cleans your home in SoMa has little interaction with the mysterious forces behind the app that sends him or her to your door. The Uber driver who wants an audience with management can’t go to Uber headquarters; he or she must visit a separate "driver center."

coupled with albatross' describing the fact that we have so many unemployed / underemployed people in the US as a FEATURE. Yes, I suppose it is -- for the 1%.

Yes, by all means, if you can find something that helps you make ends meet, go for it. But the idea that having an entire huge class of people like you (which is the only thing that makes something like Uber even remotely feasible), who can be sucked into a position like that which offers you no way out, is a good thing for any time-frame beyond the most short-term while we work on GENUINE solutions... that's just fractally wrong.

#523 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 08:19 PM:

Each turning of the year brings new hope, and new fears. The dark nights of winter, and the cold, are long moments of sadness for those of us in the north, but we know that, as the days grow longer, they grow warmer and the light brings with it both hope and relief from the weight of the dark.

But time has its own weight. Only yesterday, it seems, I was a lad. I had no responsibilities, I had no troubles, the future stretched infinitely before me. Yet that yesterday was decades ago, and this coming year, my older son will turn thirty and be more than half my age for the first time. When I go to the county gym to use the pool, I tick the senior citizen column without feeling too odd about it because at my age I qualify for it, even though I make jokes about being un viejo castellano nombrado "Citizen".

I can't be the person they call the 'old guy' (David Hartnell still calls me a young whippersnapper after all) even though there's more grey than black and brown in my hair, and no one questions when I get the senior citizen discount at the supermarket. Yet, TNH and I are more or less the same age and when we were born the population of the planet was only half of what it is now (I do not claim responsibility for doubling it -- I blame David Hartnell).

The old order changeth, yielding place to new, and my back acheth which is not a big deal.

#524 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Happy New Year, dear abi and friend Moose! And Happy New Year for all those who it hasn't reached yet. May the new year bring you all much good and joy!

Still over 8 hours to go here in Hawaii, but the house is cleaned up (per Asian tradition), there is fresh bread baked, hot lentil soup on the stove, our son is making peppermint bark, and friends are expected later. (Also, we have some Valium to give the dog so she freaks out less when the fireworks start.)

#525 ::: Clifton was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 08:26 PM:

... almost certainly for mentioning a certain prescription trademark. Silly me.

#526 ::: Clifton was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 08:28 PM:

... almost certainly for mentioning a certain prescription trademark. Silly me. ...

and then experienced the infamous Internal Server Error. Le sigh.

#527 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 08:58 PM:

Lee #497: Hugs & condolences.

#528 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 09:58 PM:

For those of you who would like to usher in the New Year with "folk music and farce, show tunes and satire, odds and ends, madness and escape", The Midnight Special 6 hour New Years special is about to enter its second hour. You can listen to it here:

It'll go until 2 am Chicago time.

#529 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2014, 11:15 PM:

Checking in from Charlottesville's First Night, 45 minutes and counting.

#530 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 12:40 AM:

Past midnight here in Eastern Standard Time. Coming up soon in Central. Went out and blew the year in. Happy New Year!

#531 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:05 AM:

Happy New Year to Central time!

#532 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:17 AM:

I spent this evening (and in fact about a quarter of the past week) playing Don't Starve. My last two games, I decided to be a nomad until I found exactly the right place-- or at least to be a nomad. And Abi, you were right when you said it changes how you play.

Don't Starve is a game where you're alone (ish) on an island with various resources. You can build things, forage, fight monsters, and if you're in the dark, bad things hit you and kill you. You have to manage hunger, health, and sanity to stay alive. Every week or so, hounds appear and attack. The attacks escalate and eventually your fortifications, farms, traps, and weapons won't be enough. So you work to move to another world. And nothing is explained. The exploration and experimentation is the point.

At least, that's the idea. Mostly I wander around for a while trying to find flint for tools, gold for advanced crafting, beefalo (oh the adorable beefalo) for fertilizer and eventually wool and, for me, soothing beefalo snores. Sometimes I live a day. Sometimes I live forty (beating the friends-group record by nine days). But lately, I have been wandering, taking the roads when they're there, walking the coastline, considering burning down entire forests because my character has a lighter and it would get rid of the spiders, wouldn't it....

Nomadic play makes it easier by far to find food, but harder to handle fights. I just want to keep looking for things. Where are the beefalo? Where are the spiders? Where's the Pig King, or the weird talismans? Why is the ground swirly purple, and why is TENTACLE OW DEAD.

Anyway, that's how I rang in the new year.

#533 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:19 AM:

Cally @528:

We're streaming it here. (We can get it over the airwaves here, but the quality is a little better online.) Happy New Year!

#534 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 04:44 AM:

Hey, can anybody recommend a search engine that is not Google? My interests include, but are not limited to: public domain books (not just the ones at Google Books or the Amazon reprints, thanks anyway, Google, that was a dirty trick); tons of obscure scientific facts, mostly biological; free online teaching aids for the primary grades; medieval history and amateur study of same; recipes for everything. I very rarely shop online and I do not recognize or care about current celebrities. Image search would be a plus.

Oh, and if there is an engine out there that still recognizes Boolean searches, I would be very very happy.

#535 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 04:49 AM:

I flew back home last evening.

I got to see three home New Year's Eve firework displays (those mortar things available in Washington I suspect) in Idaho & Montana from the top!

#536 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 05:51 AM:

Cadbury Moose: Welll...almost. That's the cast singing the song...but the person who made the video has added in a bunch of shots from tank battles by the Pravda school from later in the show, which doesn't help the song. My best comparison would be that the creator of this video did with film clips what Moulin Rogue did with song lyrics.

And that concert clip was wonderful--thank you!

#537 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 10:53 AM:

Jenny Islander #534: I use DuckDuckGo mostly.

Diatryma #532 Heh. My first thought was "sounds like Minecraft early game¹ stretched out". Glancing at their Wiki, I see they do acknowledge influence from Minecraft, but seem to have developed it into a rather different game. Food spoilage is gonna make a big difference: In Minecraft itself, food doesn't spoil, so once you set up some basic farms, you can stockpile it arbitrarily. And DS seems to have a lot more boojums wandering around wanting a piece of the player.

In other news, Gamergate made Tom Tomorrow's yearly roundup.

#538 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 10:55 AM:

Internal Server Error: <kick>

#539 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 11:02 AM:

My 5yo daughter is chanting "Air resistance, air resistance!" over and over while doing some PBSKids browser-based game or other.

This is sort of a win while being simultaneously really annoying ... probably it would be less annoying if I were more awake. (Note: I have no excuse for being non-awake, I got numerically-ordinary amounts of sleep and she didn't wake me up at 2AM or anything)

#540 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 11:02 AM:

My 5yo daughter is chanting "Air resistance, air resistance!" over and over while doing some PBSKids browser-based game or other.

This is sort of a win while being simultaneously really annoying ... probably it would be less annoying if I were more awake. (Note: I have no excuse for being non-awake, I got numerically-ordinary amounts of sleep and she didn't wake me up at 2AM or anything)

#541 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 12:35 PM:

My step-father died yesterday. Sudden onset pneumonia and sepsis, and he was 88 and had been struggling with Parkinsons for years. We managed to drive up and be there with my mother when he died.

Lee @497: sympathies.

May 2015 be a better year, for all of us individually and collectively.

#542 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 12:41 PM:

dcb (541): I'm sorry for your loss.

#543 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 12:43 PM:

albatross: The social problem isn't the Ubers and airbnbs of the world, it's the underemployment and financial instability that they're contributing a tiny bit to helping solve.

I don't think they are really helping to solve it. They are (it seems to me) an exploitative band-aid on a sucking chest wound.

They have, in effect, shifted a huge liability, to the "contractor". In exchange for a minimal (relative to profit/cash flow) investment they put the means of production; belonging to the worker, at risk. Unless the driver ammends his insurance to cover using the vehicle for hire (and pays for all the needed certifications) an accident puts that driver at absolute risk.

Once the passenger files a claim, and it turns out the car was being used as a taxi, the insurance is void. No repairs (and so no vehicle for everyday needs), and personal liability for the accident costs (as well as potential legal liability for driving uninsured).

If that happens it's no skin off Uber's nose. They just get another person to buy into the idea that it's just sweeping up some of the free money to had renting out their car.

The fundamental problem is that Uber isn't relieving that problem. It's perpetuating (and perhaps expanding) it, by making it easier to stave off the sorts of solutions we need (more unions, secure employment, a living wage, overtime, medical coverage, etc.).

At best it's a bridge to a solution, at worst, it's going to make the correction a lot worse, by making the pool of the disaffected larger; and worse off, when the rupture comes.

#544 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 12:59 PM:

Dcb... my condolences.

#545 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:11 PM:

Speaking of Uber:

#546 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:39 PM:

dcb: I'm so sorry. Condolence.

#547 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:50 PM:

Open thready: Please Adhere To Our Style Guide.

May 2015 be better than 2014 was.

#548 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:52 PM:

dcb: Sorry for your loss.

#549 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 01:56 PM:

dcb, #541: My condolences. It's a well-known statistical phenomenon that deaths -- even natural deaths -- spike during late December and early January, but that doesn't make it any easier to be one of those affected.

May 2015 be a better year for everyone.

#550 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 02:50 PM:

When my father died of a sudden inhalation pneumonia, it was more a relief than anything else. There's a reason pneumonia is called "the old man's friend."

May this be a good turning point for you, dcb.

#551 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 03:14 PM:

dcb, my condolences to you and your family.

#552 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 03:59 PM:

Thank you, all, for your condolences.

#553 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 04:51 PM:

dcb, my condolences.

My maternal grandfather passed a few days ago; this wasn't unexpected (he'd had a bad fall in early September and been in rehabilitation since; more recently, he'd had a large stroke a few days before he passed and the family knew it wasn't a question of recovery but when he'd pass). I'm really glad that my Amazing Girlfriend and I were visiting my family when he passed; I'd been dreading waking up to an email or other message that he'd passed, and at least we were all together when the news came in. He'd had a bad last few months; from everything I heard, he wasn't himself and didn't like that he'd lost his independence. My mother got to have one last lucid conversation with him a few days before his stroke and that's a good thing. I hadn't spoken with him except the last time I saw him in May 2013, and I'm ok with that. Hearing about his decline at a distance has been hard, but I'll remember him the way he was the last time - glad to see his adult grandchildren, and telling stories to my Amazing Girlfriend and I about my parents' courtship in their college days. I'll miss him.

We're ok: I think it really helped that the whole family had plans for the Christmas to New Years window, but I'm very glad to have been in Boston rather than out in Berkeley. We'll have a memorial for him, I'm told, come summer on the island off the Michigan coast that he spent half the year on every year and where my grandmother's ashes were scattered when she passed 25 years ago.

#554 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 05:45 PM:

@dcb: Sorry to hear about your loss. I'm glad you were able to help out your mom.

#555 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 06:13 PM:

dcb #541: My condolences.

#556 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 06:18 PM:

Sandy B. @547: The "Style Guide" link made me laugh out loud. (Literally, not just an internet LOL.)

#557 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 07:54 PM:

dcb #541: Sympathies and condolences. I'm glad you were able to be with him for the end.

#558 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 08:46 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe (553): Condolences to you and your family. I'm glad you were able to be there.

#559 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 09:31 PM:

Grumble. Never lend old staple-format books. A few years ago I loaned someone my copy of "My Computer likes me when I speak in BASIC" to someone just before I went into the hospital. While I was in the hospital the company laid everyone off so I couldn't reach him, and now that I need my copy it looks like it's become a Rare Thing.

#560 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 10:33 PM:

dcb @ 541, condolences.

#561 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2015, 11:00 PM:

dcb and Benjamin Wolfe, condolences. It's hard to lose someone even when it's expected.

#562 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 01:08 AM:

dcb 541: I'm so sorry for your loss. Good wishes for healing, if welcome.

Benjamin 553: Condolences to you and your family. Similar good wishes to you.

#563 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 06:29 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #553: And my condolences for you too.

#564 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 08:43 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @553: My condolences. Glad that you were all together.

#565 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 09:22 AM:

I hear that today is the birthday of Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

#566 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 11:30 AM:

Question here because the relevant thread is (unsurprisingly) inactive: when/how in Luke 2 did various words suggested "census" (e.g., Latin "describetur") become "tax" in King James? A state translation seems an unlikely place for teabagger sentiment; did "tax" have multiple meanings 400 years ago? (I see that later versions have reverted; my Holman Study Bible (NT (c) 1946, based on the 1880's revision of King James with subsquent centuries of discovery and scholarship) says "enrolled".

#567 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 12:30 PM:

CHip @566:

In Greek the verb (transliterated, as unicode is not my friend) is apographo, and the noun is apographe. My Hellenistic Greek is even more limited than the rest of my ancient Greek, so I have no sense of the general use of that word from my own experience. But Liddell & Scott define the verb as "to write off, copy, to enter in a list," and give a technical law term meaning of "to give in a list of property alleged to belong to the state, but held by a private person." The noun is "a writing off, a register, list of lands or property," with an additional technical meaning of "a register of persons liable to taxation."

IOW, why else *would* the government of Rome want a count of people living under their rule? They weren't building public schools or determining districts for proportional representation. They weren't collecting demographic data to have a conversation about racial justice. They built roads to suit the purposes of their armies, not the purposes of the populace at large. Without knowing anything more specific, I'm not finding the slide from "register" to "tax" terribly implausible. Others with more definitive knowledge either about Hellenistic Greek or about Roman administrative practices may yet prove me wrong.

#568 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Terry Karney @ 406: hence The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, the alternate title of Wrede and Stevermer's Sorcery and Cecilia

Arkansawyer @ 477: Interesting. Given the 2nd ]stanza[, I would read this as opposite to Galatians; the song seems to set "Children of Abraham" (Jews) separately from "Children of Paul" (Christians), where Galatians says those who believe (in Jehovah) are all CofA. (Another exclusive referent, similarly dark: Eric Bogle's "Soldier, Soldier" (2nd refrain)

I read Penny's piece on nerd privilege (currently TNH's top Particle) right up to the line "Men, particularly nerdy men, are socialised to blame women - usually their peers and/or the women they find sexually desirable for the trauma and shame they experienced growing up." (I'm guessing it's missing an em-dash after "desirable".) I'm curious how this strikes the Fluorosphere; ISTM that Penny is not just generalizing but mistaking a minority for the majority. (I realize that I'm enough of a nerd not to "get" many social subtleties, and I live in a relatively ]liberal[ part of the U.S., but this seems a bit sweeping to have missed.) Certainly there are badly behaved nerds -- and not just in Silicon Valley (I remember the Open ]Groping[ movement of a few years ago) -- but I doubt they are a majority; are they so dominant as to set an overall tone, instead of being this generation's embarassments (unchastised or otherwise)?


#569 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 01:19 PM:

CHip @ 566

A state translation seems an unlikely place for teabagger sentiment;

Possibly worth noting, in addition to Zelda's good points, is that the rendition as "taxed" goes back to Tyndale - and 1530 is not so long after the Deutscher Bauernkrieg, and Tyndale is NOT likely to be interested in making the government look good.

#570 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 01:35 PM:

So I tried DuckDuckGo, and I like it. It doesn't return quite as rich a field of results as Google in some instances, but there is a lot less noise in the signal. I was already keeping a text file of frequently visited sites, so not having the "Hey, you type this a lot" prompt isn't a hardship.

#571 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 01:43 PM:

CHip @558: People who are interested in blaming see blame everywhere. Some set of people do the blaming she's seeing, others don't. I was raised by two nerd parents (they met in a math PhD program at Berkeley where she was fleeing from becoming a debutante) -- for some reason, I didn't really get the blaming meme deeply ingrained. So, yeah, I'd agree that she's oversimplifying -- but nerds tend to notice that sort of oversimplifying, don't we.

Most of her points are still interesting and useful.

#572 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 02:18 PM:

Regarding Ms. Penny's article, I've seen the point made elseweb that the shy nerd men who are most distressed by the "nerds are gross misogynist creeps" meme - of which I have seen a great deal - are those who are neurodivergent in some way and not very good at social skills. And neurodivergence is an axis of oppression, which Ms. Penny seems to miss.

#573 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 05:19 PM:

CHip #568: Remember on the one hand that not every piece of socialization "takes" for everyone, and on the other that being an underdog or outcaste doesn't mean "they didn't get the message", rather it makes folks more vulnerable to internalizing socialization even if its self-hating. Many of us have made progress in unwinding the strands of that knot, but most folks (especially males) don't get much help with that. (And of course, Dunning-Kruger effect runs rampant.) And the recent brouhahas demonstrated that plenty of make geeks are still happy to blame women for their ills.

estelendur #572: She sees it fine. I'd say she's calling out abuse of the "neurodiversity card", which is no pass for sexism. Unfortunately, being a minority, even an oppressed minority, does not automatically put you on the same side as other minorities. (See also: blacks and feminism.)

#574 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 05:23 PM:

CHip, #568: Of course she's generalizing to some extent; that's what statements using the word "socialized" are about. I can say that women in our culture are socialized to be more concerned about their appearance than about their health, and that certainly doesn't mean that ALL women think that way, or even that the vast majority of women do so, but that there are a lot of women who do. Social conditioning always takes better on some people than on others.

However, I think that while you believe the author of that article is overgeneralizing, you are undergeneralizing, and that this is a (minor and relatively subtle) example of men not believing what women say about their own experience. The nerdy men who believe/behave as she describes may not be the vast majority, but they're not a tiny minority either; based on what I see and hear, I'd set the percentage as somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of male nerds in general, with the specific percentage dependent on context.

Think about some of the recent kerfluffles in the video-gaming community; that wasn't a tiny minority of male gamers! Think about the whole "Sad Puppies" business with the 2014 Hugos; that wasn't a tiny minority of fen, even though it was a smaller percentage than the GGers are of gamers. White Male Nerd Entitlement is definitely a thing, and it's a thing that women are going to encounter a lot more of than you are.

Furthermore, they don't have to be overwhelmingly dominant in order to set an overall tone, because of Geek Social Fallacies #1 and #2. When they get to do and say what they want with relatively little in the way of pushback from male geeks who don't believe/behave like that, the toxicity spreads far beyond their immediate area.

estelendur, #572: I agree that neurovariance is an axis of oppression. However, I have also seen quite a bit of evidence that there are a lot of genuine predators in nerd circles who have learned how to use this as a shield. The entire "Oh, he's just clueless / socially awkward, you should cut him a break!" thing (which, BTW, one almost never hears deployed in defense of a woman even though nerd-dom has a fair number of women with similar issues) has a kernel of truth at the core, but it's been misused so much that most of it is now nothing but a fog of obfuscation.

I have friends who are neurovariant and/or socially awkward, and one thing I notice about them is that they don't want to step on toes and make people mad at them. If given a clue, they will STOP whatever the behavior is that's causing the problem -- even if they don't quite understand why it does. These guys who have it explained to them over and over again, and keep on doing it? They're gaming the system.

#575 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 05:40 PM:

CHip @568: I apologize if this is out of place, but I'm still kind of feeling my way around this stuff, but does your question boil down to "not all nerds"?

#576 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 06:36 PM:

I read Penny's piece on nerd privilege (currently TNH's top Particle) right up to the line "Men, particularly nerdy men, are socialised to blame women - usually their peers and/or the women they find sexually desirable for the trauma and shame they experienced growing up." (I'm guessing it's missing an em-dash after "desirable".) I'm curious how this strikes the Fluorosphere; ISTM that Penny is not just generalizing but mistaking a minority for the majority. (I realize that I'm enough of a nerd not to "get" many social subtleties, and I live in a relatively ]liberal[ part of the U.S., but this seems a bit sweeping to have missed.) Certainly there are badly behaved nerds -- and not just in Silicon Valley (I remember the Open ]Groping[ movement of a few years ago) -- but I doubt they are a majority; are they so dominant as to set an overall tone, instead of being this generation's embarassments (unchastised or otherwise)?

I'll point out that she is not talking, in that sentence, about nerd culture in isolation. The clause, "particularly nerdy men" is setting them out as a sub-group of "men", in the greater culture. And, in that greater culture men are told to blame women for their failings, and in particular nerdy men are tagetted, which is a large part of why the phrase, "Nice Guys ™" came to be coined.

So that sentence is saying that Nerd Culture wasn't created in a vaccuum, and the larger environment in which it exists increases the toxicity.

Regarding Ms. Penny's article, I've seen the point made elseweb that the shy nerd men who are most distressed by the "nerds are gross misogynist creeps" meme - of which I have seen a great deal - are those who are neurodivergent in some way and not very good at social skills. And neurodivergence is an axis of oppression, which Ms. Penny seems to miss.

No. That line of apologetic is flawed on several levels. 1: Neurodivergence is no excuse. 2: Yes, those who are atypical are discrimated against, that doesn't mean they need to be given slack for being abusive. 3: It also has a backhanded effect of grouping those who are merely shy/inexperienced/have a different set of cultural tools with those who are neurodivergent; as if the source of being socially inept was always some inherent (and uncorrectable) trait.

#577 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 06:53 PM:

@Terry Karney no. 576: Indeed. That excuse has been around for so long it has a name in some corners of the Web: "Assburger's Syndrome."

#578 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2015, 08:58 PM:

First off, condolences to Lee, dcb, and Benjamin Wolfe. And best wishes for Fragano and his mother. Holding you all in the light.

After that it seems hard to shout "Happy New Year!", but I do wish everyone a happier 2015, however 2014 went.

Our festivities this year wound up being a close approximation of our usual, but with the big change that we were hosting almost everything from Thanksgiving through New Years Day, with the rest being local. We're still tired, but not travel tired, and enjoying that novel feeling.

#579 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 12:07 AM:

Jenny: Having spent a large amount of time in the past five years interacting directly with The Manosphere, I am so fucking famliar with the Assburger defense.

It's used in fandom, in gaming circles, in (of all places) defenses of jocks.

In short, it gets used to cover any (and all: catcalling isn't hostile, it's just clueless... right) rudely aggressive "flirting" on the part of men.

Among other things it denies women agency. They don't know when something is hostile, and so need to cut men slack; assume that the guying being grabby/offensive, refusing to take hints, accept refusals, hear no, is really just in need of a woman to sit down and show him how to be better at hitting on women.


Nope. These guys don't seem to have any problem with social cues, non-verbal communication when they are dealing with... men.

Are there some who are suffering from actual lack of clues? Yes. Does that mean they get to be used as shields for all the rest?

No. It's not fair to women, and it's even less fair to those people who are clueless (ever notice how the defense of the clueless doesn't extend to women?

It's not, "they don't understand how men are acting", it's, "she refuses to see how well intentioned they are".


I've probably spent a little too much time dealing with this. I have developed a decided lack of tolerance, even when I'm willing to accept that people are raising the issue in good faith.

#580 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 12:28 AM:

Terry, #579: Well said. A rebuttal that I've become fairly fond of is Not My Job. It's not my job to dress sexy and wear makeup and smile pretty so that J. Random Dudeonthestreet thinks I look fuckable. It's not my job to explain civilized behavior to dudes who are being creepy, especially if I don't know them.* It's not my job to read a guy's mind and figure out whether or not he's Schroedinger's Rapist. It's not my job to be Mommy to grown men who should have learned this shit by the time they were out of elementary school.

Does that make me an AngryManhatingFeministBitch? Only if you're the kind of guy who assumes that those things ARE my job, because so not putting up with that shit any more.

* With someone I know reasonably well, I may decide to have the How Not To Be That Guy discussion; I've done it a few times. But only if I honestly believe that he's genuinely clueless, and even then it's MY decision to make. Nobody else gets to tell me that I'm supposed to do it, or that I'm wrong for refusing.

#581 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 01:06 AM:

So the CIA admitted on Twitter the other day that half or more of the UFO sightings in the 50s and 60s were really them flying U2s around. UPI article.

Back when Obama had just gotten elected, before he got around to do much with policy (or failing to do things he should have), I thought he should have had fun with his science-fiction-fan image and announced something about UFOs. Doesn't matter if it was admitting that yes, we had aliens in Roswell, or flat-out denying it, or something equally silly, because when you're the President you can do that and you deserve a bit of slack in return for all the serious stuff you should be doing. But now the secret's out...

#582 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 02:19 AM:

@Lee no. 580: I became familiar with that one while I was a nursing mother. It's Not My Job to submit to your weird mental issues about breastfeeding. If you want to tell me with quivering voice that allowing my baby to eat and drink in public, just like you, is an act of sexual exhibitionism, or that the inevitable moment when the baby rips the nursing cover off and waves it around while humming loudly with a full mouth or pops right off my nipple in order to grin at you will Scar You For Life, or that public lactation is Just!!! Like!!!!!! public excretion, or that I must be trying to make a political statement, it's Not My Job to argue with you over my baby's head. I'm busy doing My Actual Job. Go away.

Actually I have been very lucky not to have those conversations in meatspace. Online, though...ohhhhhh boy. Yes, there are reality-challenged persons who cannot tell the difference between breastmilk and feces. And of course, babies enjoying breasts are involved in some sick sexual thing, because breasts are for titillation and advertising, because women are for men.

#583 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 07:39 AM:

Oh look! It's a skellitum!

#584 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 10:33 AM:

#579 ::: Terry Karney

You're misrepresenting the argument. What I've been seeing is a moderate number of men and one lesbian who get the idea from feminism that *any* indication of sexual interest in a woman is abusive, or at least so potentially abusive that the only decent thing is to make no advances.

They may be on the asberger's spectrum, but they mostly seem to have anxiety plus vulnerability to strongly phrased moral demands. The Catholic version seems to be scrupulosity.

#585 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 10:49 AM:

Correcting the url

#586 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 01:27 PM:

Nancy, #584: We're not even talking about that argument. What we're discussing are the actual predators who use its existence as a shield.

Tangent: Somebody needs to point Scott Aaronson at Scalzi's "Straight White Male: The Easiest Setting There Is" post, because he's making the usual mistake about the word "privilege" (and I've seen people here make it as well) -- namely, that having it means you have it better than anyone else, all the time, world without end, amen. No. What it means is that, all other things being equal, you have it better than someone in the same position who does not have the privileged attribute. The same person can be privileged in one situation and not in another; this is called "intersectionality".

Aaronson is going on and on about how miserable he was in school because he was a nerd. Does he really not recognize that being a nerdy girl in school exposes you to the same kind of shit, only with a cherry of sexism on top?

But that's not what Terry is talking about. He's discussing the predators who USE the people you're talking about to hide behind, and the other people who allow them to get away with it.

#587 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 01:45 PM:

I am thinking that I should not have said anything at all rather than saying it badly.

Nancy Lebovitz has the right of it; I am trying to point to people who are legitimately good and harmless, and nonetheless actively harmed by, well, exactly this conversation we are having, because they know they're not so great at social skills and they hear a lot that being bad at social skills is no excuse for being a creep, and so they believe that everyone who observes them thinks they are being a creep, and.... on and on. There is harm being done by telling people who honestly do not need to be told that they don't deserve sex to under no circumstances act like they deserve sex.

I was alluding to this post someone made: "Privilege doesn’t mean you don’t suffer, which, I know, totally blows." except that a lot of shy nerdy men are suffering because… they lack privilege… on at least one axis

I'm not asking for shy nerdy neurodiverse men to be given a pass if they are being awful. I'm asking that maybe, if someone says they are suffering, if someone says that they would rather never experience desire ever again than try to obey the mysterious* guidelines for interacting with women without being bad, we consider that maybe they are suffering. And consider that sometimes the people who hear a message the loudest are exactly the ones who don't need to hear it.

I don't even know if I should be posting this, because the kind of thing I am saying here is likely to be taken as "we should ignore $oppressedclass's suffering in order to tend to $oppressorclass's suffering!" and, gods, that's not what I want to say at all. We should give these different types of suffering proportionate attention, and currently the pain of shy nerdy men is getting almost no discussion by non-MRAs. It would be wrong to divert the conversation in a space specifically meant for discussing the pain of women to this topic, but I was hoping there might be a place here, which is not devoted to any particular topic and where the norms of discussion are usually pleasantly open and well-meaning.

* I am a mostly-straight mostly-woman and as far as I can tell there are a few straightforward rules for indicating desire for me without making me uncomfortable but there's also a lot of handwavey vagueness that is absolutely vital and that I couldn't verbalize. So, mysterious unguessable rules.

#589 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 04:49 PM:

It's worth remembering that women can be socially awkward, too. A lot of these narratives forget that, and assume that we somehow have All The Clues; somehow the only thing that's missing is whether we're sharing them. But neurodiversity as an axis of oppression is also a thing when an Aspie girl is subect to unwanted attention and doesn't know how to acceptably signal that it needs to stop.

It's complicated and messy all round, and it's made worse by the deliberate manipulation of compassion by genuine predators.

(My handy link for uncertain nerd guys is Doctor Nerdlove. It's a great place to send people rather than trying to figure out how I can clue them in directly, which can be difficult and messy on all sides.)

#590 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 06:13 PM:

I'm remembering back to the '80s when the conversation about domestic abuse really started. If one was a guy who had been beaten by his wife, it was really hard to get heard.

#591 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 09:08 PM:

Lee @586, while Scalzi’s “Easiest Setting” essay is useful, it’s not an all-purpose multi-tool, and it doesn’t address Aaronson’s comment. Aaronson wrote that he wished (in his youth) he’d been born a woman (or a gay man, or asexual), because he had internalized the belief that hetero male sexual desire was toxic. How are you going to convince him that he’d have been better off under the very same condition that he sincerely wished for?

#592 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 09:13 PM:

Also, Lee @574, the “whole ‘Sad Puppies’ business with the 2014 Hugos” was fewer than 200 people. (1,595 Best Novel nomination ballots, 11.5% of them nominating Correia’s Warbound, is 183 people.) Not even 2% of the Loncon membership, much less Fandom in general.

#593 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2015, 10:30 PM:

The New Years is starting out with a bang here in LA: we just had another earthquake (small - 4-plus, epicenter about 7 miles north of Castaic, near the northwest end of the reservoir). I felt it mostly as a little vertigo and the lamp swaying.

#594 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 02:02 AM:

Lee @522 I do know that's not how you meant it! My apologies - I think I may have had my post-lots-of-time-with-well-meaning-people rantypants on. They're not very flattering pants, even if they are cathartic. They also get less comfortable as days go by, all tight and riddled with unravelling metaphors.

I'm also a bit melancholy. I said something the other day that made me laugh, and that I immediately wanted to share with a particular friend; but she's been dead three and a half years now, so I couldn't. I suspect some of you would appreciate it, though, so if you don't mind, I'll share it here.

I was discussing Tennyson's "Ulysses" with someone the other day; they were reading it for a class and had a sheet of comprehension questions that had been assigned on it. They're not someone who has a lot of experience reading poetry, and they tend to forget that poetry is largely just made out of sentences, so they were getting frustrated. When they got to the question that asked what Ulysses wanted, they turned to me with a lost look on their face.

"He wants what most people with competent adult children want, (friend). He wants to retire and go on a cruise."

#595 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 06:28 AM:

Em @594:


#596 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 10:59 AM:

estelunder: There is a lot to unpack:

I am trying to point to people who are legitimately good and harmless, and nonetheless actively harmed by, well, exactly this conversation we are having,

I'm sorry. I don't know how to have any other converstation because, there is no way to know; at first glance, who is good and harmless.

I'm not asking for shy nerdy neurodiverse men to be given a pass if they are being awful. I'm asking that maybe, if someone says they are suffering, if someone says that they would rather never experience desire ever again than try to obey the mysterious* guidelines for interacting with women without being bad, we consider that maybe they are suffering.

I don't see anyone denying Aaronson's suffering. But that's 1: not all he's done, and 2: most decidely not what his defenders are doing.

He said he was suffering, and then said his suffering was caused by a system which failed to make women accomodate his deisres and needs. He is upset that he didn't get what he wanted. There is a lot of rhetorical persiflage wrapped up in it, but he basically says, "If only women would sleep with me, I'd be happy". No, he doesn't state it that baldy, but, "if I lived where forced marriages were the norm, I'd be happy" elides why there is "force" in the expression.

We should give these different types of suffering proportionate attention, and currently the pain of shy nerdy men is getting almost no discussion by non-MRAs.

I disagree. This isn't the first time 'round this block for this sort of thing. That MRAs have made it such an issue is, in itself, telling. But what is the proportionate attention? I was nerdy, and geekish, and sort of nebbishy in high school. Somehow I didn't get this overwhelming, "you can't ever approach a woman, because a man wanting sex is evil". I didn't get rejected much because I failed to make advances often. This is (I think) how it works for most people. They wait until they have signs of interest. Sometimes they are wrong.

But... a lot of people (men more than women) take all sort of neutral things as signs of interest, and go all in when there isn't anything there. And there are LOTS of places talking about it (Capt. Awkward comes to mind). The number of places I recall seeing which gave (and still give) advice is huge. And lots of that advice is directed at shy men.

Again, why is it the womens job to make life easier for the men? That's the root issue. Aaronson wants society to be changed so he has an easier life. What makes him special? Why should he (and those like him) be privileged?

#597 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 11:03 AM:

: I can't be misrepresenting that arguement, as I was talking about Laurie Penny's argument, and the, "they're on the spectrum" response, not someone else's elliptical use of it to beat up on the evils of feminism.

But (as you brought it up) please be so kind as to show me where these people are who say, "*any* indication of sexual interest in a woman is abusive, or at least so potentially abusive that the only decent thing is to make no advances."

Seriously, citation needed. Because I hear of these people all the time, and strangely I never hear from them.

I certainly didn't say it.

As to the complaint about Aaronson... He's wrong. So is the guy all pissed at feminism for Aaronson being wrong.

But I'll address that argument.

And that guy is the sort of person I'm talking about. He's using Aaronson's complaint, and then taking it as a stick to beat feminism with. Look at his opening: In my heart, there is a little counter that reads “XXX days without a ten-thousand word rant about feministm.” And I had just broken three digits when they had to go after Scott Aaronson.

That doesn't exactly give me the idea he's arguing in good faith.* He expressed an open hostility to whatever it is he thinks feminism is, and then appealed to my sympathies for someone I only know of through his ire about his mistreatment at the hands of the group to which he is hostile.

Aaronson's argument fails because he doesn't get the term of art which is privilege. Since he doesn't feel privileged, he refuses to accept that he might be better off for being a white male

He suffered abuse for being a nerd. We are suppposed to sympathise. He's so sensitive (reads, "I Blame The Patriarchy, and everything), but he doesn't like what he reads. All those reports of microaggressions... those reports of lived lives... he discounts. He's "not like that" so why are all those feminists going on about it.

He's enlightened. On board for 97 percent of feminism (as an aside that phrase makes me less than sanguine about his complaint. I'm curious as to what he thinks 100 percent of feminism is, and then I'm curious as to which parts of that agenda he's not on board with), but he's all unhappy because his personal life isn't what it ought to be.

To be fair, I've read the entire rant elsewhere. I think the parent rant it more useful in it's entirety, for what the secondary author glossed: In a different social context—for example, that of my great-grandparents in the shtetl—I would have gotten married at an early age and been completely fine.

Completely fine. So, why is it that he's married at an early age? Is there some aspect of his, "nerdiness" which wouldn't have developed? Or is it that there were arranged marriages, and so he'd have gotten the female companionship he is complaining society (by way of women not being property of their fathers) has denied him?

Where is the woman in all this? Adjunct to his "needs".

Back to the piece you cited... the one that says feminism hates nerds. Really, he does.

, a lot of the time, focused way more on nerd-baiting than actual feminism, and that much the same people who called us “gross” and “fat” and “loser” in high school are calling us “gross” and “misogynist” and “entitled” now, and for much the same reasons.

As I said, he doesn't seem to be arguing in good faith.

His take on the reaction to a bunch of guys who are assholes being called on their assholishness by being caricatured is to say that the caricature is an indictment of all men. He's missing the point of the capital letters and the trademark in the Nice Guy™ logo. I can't tell you how many entitled dudebros in trilbies I've seen being overnice to women... until they get rejected.

Enough to know that the reactions to that aren't over the top. Enough to know the blowback the people who aren't assholes get is understandable. Because the guy who wrote the column you cited, is big part of the problem. He's making it all about the men. Those poor dudes who "just wanted a cup of coffee and a conversation", shouldn't be tarred with the brush of the last fifty guys who wanted more than that. Nope, everyone man gets a clean slate, and all the ladies need to cut them some slack.

There is so much more wrong with the piece you quote (back-handed victim blaming of abused people, married to self-valorisation of nerds, all in one sentence), that I don't know where to begin.

I'm sorry this is so long, but it's all stuff I've seen before, time and again (and you cited a huge piece as your support, which I read). It's not women's job to trust in mens inner decency. It's not. It's mens job to make the world such that women can. Becuase what these guys are asking for is trust.

Ok. Fine. But there are a lot of women who have had their trust violated. If "men" as a class are to be given that trust again, they have to earn it.

And doesn't get that. The cognitive dissonance here is painful:

The reason that my better nature thinks that it’s irrelevant whether or not Penny’s experience growing up was better or worse than Aaronson’s: when someone tells you that something you are doing is making their life miserable, you don’t lecture them about how your life is worse, even if it’s true. You STOP DOING IT.

So... women say there are a lot of guys being assholes, and making their lives worse. His response... stop being mean to them. It hurts their feelings. How was Penny mean to Aaronson... she told him he was wrong.

When it comes to women talking about how the obnoxious men whom they have to deal with... not all men .

When it's about how horrid women are to men...

I’ve been saying for years that getting exposed to feminist shaming was part of what made my adolescence miserable. Every time I say this, I get a stream of grateful emails thanking me for saying something so true to their experience.

Confirmation bias much?

Once we get to the "here is why I oppose nasty feminists" part of the screed it's full of fallacies of composition. Every feminist represents all feminists; even after he's said women who generalise to a group of men (based on personal experience) need to accept that "all people are individuals". He's not willing to extend that argument to himself, re feminism (and he has made the compositional fallacy of attributing all the backlash against "m'lady-men" to feminists. Convenient that, anyone who disagrees with his position is ad hominemed into the camp of over the top radicals).

So all in all, I think I did adddress that (albiet with more concision) in my first response.

*His use of Socratic dialogues with unnamed strawmen; much later in the piece, doesn't convince me I was mistaken. Nor that he's (at best) palming a card about the frequency of is anti-feminist ranting, since his piece from Dec 13 chose to use a popular anti-feminism argument as it's launching point

#598 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 11:27 AM:

Terry, I'd add to that, that his 'feminist reading' is named as Andrea Dworkin, who isn't exactly a leading light in the field.

#599 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 04:38 PM:

Terry Kerney @596: I don't see anyone denying Aaronson's suffering.

Meet Amanda Marcotte.

No, he doesn't state it that baldy, but, "if I lived where forced marriages were the norm, I'd be happy" elides why there is "force" in the expression.

Where does that quote come from? I searched through Aaronson’s original post and comment thread, Laurie Penny’s “On Nerd Entitlement” article, the Scott Alexander blog post that Nancy linked to, and Aaronson’s follow-up blog post for the phrase “forced marriage” and didn’t find it in any of them. I even tried googling for “scott aaronson” “forced marriage”, but that didn’t turn up anything useful either.

In what I’ve read, Aaronson doesn’t ask for women to accommodate his needs and desires — he’s clearly says he was ashamed of his needs and desires. What he wished for at the time was an escape from desire. Did you miss the part where he said he tried to get himself chemically castrated?

#600 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 06:58 PM:

I suspect Aaronson is confused about his actual problem. He thinks it's all about sex, when it's more likely to be all about social ineptitude.

#601 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 08:01 PM:

Avram, #599: I believe the "forced marriages" thing is a reference to his comment about "if I lived in a shtetl". I understand -- although I may be wrong and am willing to be corrected -- that arranged marriages are still a thing in some Israeli shtetls. And arranged marriages depend entirely on the parents as to how much pressure/force is applied to the woman... and the man as well, although few people think about that.

I have no doubt that Scott Aaronson is in a lot of pain. But I also think that he's lashing out in the wrong direction, and on the basis of his phrasing I think that it's a direction strongly influenced by the MRA wolfpack.

Not to mention... he's not in high school any more. "It Gets Better" isn't something that only happens to GLBT folks, y'know.

#602 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 08:29 PM:

Avram: when he says "In a different social context — for example, that of my great-grandparents in the shtetl—I would have gotten married at an early age and been completely fine" isn't he talking about a specific social context where the woman got no say as to whether and almost no say as to whom she was married?

If she has no real opportunity to not get married to him, how is that difference from "forced marriage"? He reads like he's saying, "I'd have been better off if some random woman had been forced to marry me or face overwhelming social opprobrium?" Well, maybe, but would she? Indeed, he might also be worse off if he was stuck with a woman who was a terrible fit for him. Sex isn't the only thing in a relationship, or it shouldn't be.

#603 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 09:11 PM:

Lee @601, I was not aware that there were, currently, any Israeli shtetls. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I associate the shtetl with the Eastern European Diaspora, and Yiddish culture.

Anyway, Aaronson explicitly says that what he imagines the shtetl would have done for him is provide him with a “ritualized system of courtship.” You don’t have to guess about this — he comes right out and says it. The fact that he uses the word “courtship” implies that he (rightly or wrongly) believes the woman to have had some say in the matter.

I agree that Aaronson is lashing out in the wrong direction, at least in part because he’s picked up some crappy Manosphere memes. I don’t know how much pain he’s in now; he mentions that he eventually got some confidence, overcame his shyness, dated, and got married. But he retains sympathy for his old teenaged self, and for other teens out there who might be in the same situation. Is that unusual?

Terry Karney @596, I don’t wanna get all aware of Internet traditions on you, but the way you stuck quotes around that paraphrase, specifically in the context of analyzing the phrasing, made it look like a literal quotation. Could you not do that again?

#604 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 10:11 PM:

Mini-rant inspired by something seen elseNet...

Proposed: that we just ditch that phrase "not for the easily offended" when talking about popular entertainment, and replace it with "not for people who don't enjoy reading about/watching raging assholes". Because that puts the onus where it belongs, on the thing being discussed, not on the audience with a gloss of shaming on top.


#605 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 10:53 PM:

Avram: "If I lived in a shtetl" is where the forced marriage comes from. The word people prefer to use is, "arranged", but the question becomes who arranges it, and for whom is it arranged. The Stories of Tevye the Dairyman (more than just those used for Fiddler on the Roof) address how that life (including the marriages) was changing, two hundred years ago; one of which, topical to this subject, was the resistance to marriages of choice, was a notable element (and the way in which that came to be the rule).

re Marcotte: I don't see her denying his suffering, merely mocking/lambasting/attacking, his description of it, and the nature of its effects. She's saying that his suffering is based on things which were in his control.

Which is different, she's saying she doesn't really care if he suffered, because she thinks his takeaway is despicable.

Did you miss the part where he said he tried to get himself chemically castrated?

No, I didn't miss him saying that. I just see in in the context of his coming to that place because he was failing in his other desires. I also see him blaming others (i.e. "feminists") for his coming to that state of mind. In the rest of the context he says that "if only women had been nicer to me (e.g. given him more attention) he'd have been fine. But they didn't, and see what they drove him too.

But had be been in a shtetl and been married (and the implication that the woman has little agency is hard to avoid, when he's arguing for a counterfactual to his state in the here and now, where he didn't get the attention from women he wanted) he'd have been, "completely fine".

So yeah, I read it as him accepting a forced marriage, in lieu of abstinence.

So no, I'm not all that sympathetic to him. He's declaring himself oppressed because other people didn't like him. That's not oppression.

Anyway, Aaronson explicitly says that what he imagines the shtetl would have done for him is provide him with a “ritualized system of courtship.” You don’t have to guess about this — he comes right out and says it. The fact that he uses the word “courtship” implies that he (rightly or wrongly) believes the woman to have had some say in the matter.

Because? Arranged marriages weren't about courtship. They were about setting people up, and getting them married for the ends of the families. The ritual of courtship was the parents talking the yenta to see what the best match they could get was, and her negotiating with the men who wanted wives. Love was something which came after the wedding (or not).

I think the use of ritualised is the telling thing. One performs a ritual, and the outcome is understood to come to pass.

All I have to go on (I don't know him) is what he writes. What he writes makes me think he is upset that he is a nice guy, and that wasn't good enough, and he's blaming women for not paying the right sort of attention to him.

And his argument... that (male) teen angst is no important that women need to change feminism to correct for it (which is the reading I got from it, others commentary as yet unread. When it became a topic I went and read it first) is utter crap. Yeah, being a teen is hard. Being a nerdy teen is hard. Figuring out what the opposite sex is interested in is hard.

It's not the job of the other person to bend over backwards to teach someone how to hit on them.

#606 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2015, 11:04 PM:

It's not that I think there aren't people who are paralysed from anxieties. It's not that I think we can't do anything to help them, but it's not on the people who aren't interested in them to fix it.

The cause is (IMO) that we, as a culture, allow, even encourage people who aren't clueless to be predatious. Women (being the primary victims) of this carry a pretty heavy burden as it is. They can't fix it, because the not-so-clueless will exploit it.

Telling them it's their fault the clueless suffer, because they are upset about assholes is wrong.

The fix is cultural. We have to refuse to accept that women's wishes are seen as negotiable.

We have to stop saying, "well if only she..." about pretty much everything. It sucks to be clueless (I was). It's crappy to think the people whom you are interested in don't like you.

But it's not their fault. It's not on them to make you over. There is a lot of advice out there; but it's not anyone's job to spoon feed it to people. The number of (mostly) men, who will, when exposed to that advice, begin to declaim that it's untenable is huge (and vocal).There was a Popehat thread I was involved in about how any reference to "guys don't do that" (which is the sort of advice you'd think the clueless would love to get) is met with hostility.

Right at the beginning it got hostile. Then a guy named Pollack, (I think, I know I made a mistake with it, which I think was spelling as the fish) shows up. He defined non-consent in ways that made it plain 1: there really wasn't anything he'd accept as unambiguous, and 2: it was always going to be opt-out on the part of the woman. Consent was assumed, non-consent had to be forced.

Against that background it's not possible for someone to be expansive in dealing with others. The risks are too great.

That's what needs to change.

#607 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 01:38 AM:

Hey, anybody else going to GAFilk this coming weekend? We've had small Gatherings of Light there before.

#608 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 08:37 AM:

Open thready: I just now found out who Janie Jones was in the Clash song.

I think I will never need to know this.

#609 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 08:38 AM:

Terry Karney @ 597

please be so kind as to show me where these people are who say, "*any* indication of sexual interest in a woman is abusive, or at least so potentially abusive that the only decent thing is to make no advances.

You've never seen sexual harassment (which can get you fired and piled on by the entire internet) defined as "unwelcome...verbal conduct that has the ... effect of creating an offensive work environment"?

If you are me, who still cannot usually figure out how to join a conversation that's ongoing, and has an extremely hard time reading people's reactions, it's not generally possible to tell whether something will be welcome without doing it.

That's where the whole "ritualized" comes in; it's not a "do this, and it will get you what you want every time" that's key; it's "do this, and it will not be offensive even if it's unwelcome (and might get you what you want some of the time)."

#610 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 08:58 AM:

Sexual comments (especially personally-directed ones) are almost never appropriate in a work environment in the first place, so I don't see how that definition impacts social interactions between people who know each other well.

(and people who don't know each other well should not be attempting sexual advances, for the most part, especially if they're worried about misreading signals)

#611 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:01 AM:

Although one weirding-the-world thing about the current positive consent movement (Yes Means Yes, etc), is that it completely pulls the rug out from under EVERYTHING I ever knew about how to do the first eight steps of the dance of ending up in bed with someone.

I didn't realize until I was reading news stories about the new laws just how strongly I was socialized to NEVER, EVER explicitly state how I felt about detailed aspects of courtship and even making out with someone -- I was trained, societally and apparently subconsciously, that "asking" outright was embarrassingly naive, and that attempting to "tell" outright was either offensive or a sign that I was so socially inept I couldn't do it "the romantic/sexy way".

Kids These Days growing up in a positive consent model (those of them that will be, as opposed to those their parents are keeping wrapped in cottonwool or the ones watching old media and getting old messages) are going to be such total alien beings to me in terms of how they negotiate sex and sexual relationships.

Happier aliens, most likely.

#612 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:05 AM:

No, Sam@609. But I have seen the complete statement:

"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute "hostile environment" sexual harassment when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment."

I found it on a federal web site.

#613 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:43 AM:

Lee @ #607, alas, no. I will be in Atlanta Saturday, but I'm going to a concert my sister's choir (Just Voices) is giving at the High Museum.

#614 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Lila (613): When I was a kid in Atlanta, I thought that the name of the High Museum was referencing high art. Turns out it's named for someone.

#615 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Lila@613 - Come say hi! I'll be singing in your sister's choir. :-)

#616 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 10:57 AM:

The first step to understanding the world is to listen to people who have different experiences from you. That doesn't mean you are obliged to agree with the conclusions they draw from those experiences, or that you're obliged to make it better for them, or anything else. But you have to listen to understand.

Scott Aaronson is relating his very hard, painful experiences growing up. Whatever ultimate conclusions you may come to about the right way for people to behave, or the best way to raise kids w.r.t. no-means-no, his experience are every bit as meaningful and valid as those of, say, a woman who went through an engineering program and had to bite her tongue about the locker-room atmosphere in some of her classes, or found herself dressing in very conservative, shape-hiding ways to get the guys in her classes to look her in the eye during conversations.

My sense is that it is common to prefer to rule some peoples' experiences out of bounds on the grounds of whose team they're playing for. This isn't any more right to do to his experiences (or to the experiences of the writer of Star Slate Codex, say) than to the experiences of a woman complaining about sexism in the workplace.

#617 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 11:18 AM:

Aaronson's experience is valid. His proposed solution, which appears to boil down to "Girls should be nicer to me" is...less so.

Frankly, all the rest of us nerdy types had to learn how to Do Social Interaction* on our own; I fail to see why he's a special snowflake who should get a pass.

*: Some of us with the handicap of being female and therefore expected to just magically know all this stuff already. But I'm not bitter.

#618 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 11:27 AM:

Elliott Mason @611. As a raiser of said youth, they are getting all sorts of messages modified by religious and (particularly) ethnic and socioeconomic confounders. The "old media--I'm thinking movies" messages are still there, and hardly even old.

I suspect that consent will be discussed in large batches (this, this and this are good, that, that and especially that are totally off limits, the other and the other other need to be discussed at the time) perhaps AFTER some off-limits have been stepped-on. This is definitely a work in progress for the youth of today.

I still find myself teaching my daughter mostly the gatekeeper role "say NO clearly to what you don't want", with some a tinge of "ask for what you want, the other person may not know what you are thinking" and some "ask if the other person is happy with what you want to happen". Actually, including most general teaching I do with her, that last one is the most important. "Ask before you turn the music up", etc.

#619 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 11:32 AM:

Some of the current teen dramas (Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, etc) have some rather horrifically portrayed-as-romantic nonconsent situations in them.

#620 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 12:12 PM:

609/612: This is an illustration of an extremely common pattern -- the guy who looks at a statement like the one Pfusand quotes, apparently elides major parts of it in his head to get to the version SamChevre describes, and then starts in about, "What, am I not even allowed to TALK to a woman now because it's sexual harassment?"

If you honestly can't tell the difference between a sexual comment and one that isn't, or if you can't imagine how to make small talk with a woman without making sexual comments... the problem isn't with the women.*

* If in doubt, one good rule of thumb is "don't make comments about her appearance or clothing". There are a zillion other things in the world to talk about.

#621 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 12:39 PM:

cyllan @#615: I'd love to meet you! I look a lot like Liz, except with glasses, shorter hair and a big cyst on my forehead.

#622 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 12:43 PM:

#617 Carrie

Not only handicap of being female and therefore expected to just magically know all this stuff already but if one is female and terminally socially "a moron" (to quote an old friend's comment to me on Friday), it is massively held against one. (The friends who said "moron" was not holding it against me, I hasten to add. The friend does not take my social lack of grace as a personal affront, the friend knows my social graces are disgraceful, and accepts the situation as-is. )

#612 Pfusand

As oppsed to "reasonably interfering with an individual's work performance" ??!!

#610 & #611 Elliott

I distinctly remember being told, "'No' means 'Yes'" ...

#605 Terry

My sister had a college classmate whose sister went from a total social mess (Lindsay-Lohan-like-behavior) to arranged-marriage ultra-Orthodox wifehood fulfillment. Apparently she was one of those people who need "structure" via external extreme definition of culture-specifies-everything, for self-actualization/fulfillment/harmony/happiness. But, -she- chose going that route, and having an arranged marriage, and complying to that lifestyle, after failing in secular self-determined-by-her-apparently-dysfunctional-internal-self-controls, lifestyle.

In Lois McMaster Bujold's Nexus universe, the character Bothari is depraved. His internal governor, what little there is of it, is mostly dysfunctional. What working non-destructively function it has, he gloms onto Cordelia Naismith to be his compass and himself to be her faithful "dog" -- recognizing his own depravity, he glommed onto her, to provide the rules and regimen, for him to exist from day to day.

I'm reading backwards in the forum, so I haven't gotten to the link referred to about Aaronson. The circumstantial evidence, though, indicates to me that as with Bothari, he wants some exernal agency defining how to life and having the responsibility for defining rules and defining his behavior based on other people's

#623 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 01:19 PM:

I accept that Aaronson had a hard time as a teenager, and I don't want to minimise that or the effect it had on him. I do have a problem with the fact that he seems to think that his teenage problems negates the fact of his (simultaneous) male privilege.

What I got very strongly from Aaronson's piece was that he blamed feminism for his ills, rather than blaming the societal (patriarchal) pressures which were acting both on him as a nerdy teenager and on the girls he failed to interact with and which have led to the need for feminism. He didn't consider, for example that in a society in which women were not objectified, they would have less need to be wary of sexual predators, which would make it easier for them to distinguish, and possibly even choose to assist, the inept.

One small datapoint regarding the strength of society's pressure on women. When I was in my late teens/early 20s, my mother told me that I had been wrong to politely reject an offer of help from a random stranger but rather to carry my heavy suitcase myself (something I was capable of doing and proud of being capable of doing, at 5ft 2 inches and maybe 105 pounds). Why was I wrong? Because my refusal could have damaged his ego. That is, I was supposed to put the ego and sense of self worth of any random man ahead of my own sense of self worth, my desire to see myself as physically competent. I wasn't supposed to want to be physically competent - and even if I did, that was unimportant when weighed against the fragile egos of men, which must come first. My mother told me this, tried to inculcate this into me (she failed). She also says that she's never seen any sexism in the workplace - but that it was "just common sense" not to employ a woman of childbearing age who might need maternity leave. She saw nothing wrong with all of this, because society had taught her that this was how things were and how things ought to be.

#624 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 01:24 PM:

Now reading

To whatever extent there is misogyny.... Oh, wow, what an ass, he can't get out of his own bigotries and preconceptions and "anything which did not happen to me is nor real!" mindset!!

.But I suspect the thought that being a nerdy male might not make me “privileged”—that it might even have put me into one of society’s least privileged classes—is completely alien to your way of seeing things.

A. S. S. H. O. L. E.

I graduated from MIT, one of the nerd capitals of the planet, and am from a family full of MIT, Rensselaer, CalTech, etc., graduates by blood and family connection.
So I scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that my fears were as silly as I hoped they were. But I didn’t find any....

It looks like the asshole never even tried to ask anyone for help. Talk about narcissism and self-absorption.... Apparently he never stumbled across e.g. Our Bodies, Our Selves or sources other than Andrea Dworkin. (Andrea Dworkin? Proportionality is not gorf-Aaronson's strong point, nor apparently is literature searching.... or rather, objective literature searching. It;s as if something looking for Chistrian philosophy went looking at e.g. the Army of God and its ilk as references....)

This is not, in any way, shape, or form, to suggest that I yearn for an era when women could be purchased as property.


The fellow to me looks clearly deluded.

This, to my mind, “defiance” of feminism is the main reason why I was able to enjoy a few years of a normal, active dating life, which then led to meeting the woman who I married.

Gah!!! The Clueless Wonder, got a CLUE when he stopped being so utterly >i>neurotic!!! What, he was some asshole relative of Portnoy or something??!

I’ve seen not a shred of statistical evidence—that women are being kept out of science by the privileged, entitled culture of shy male nerds, which is worse than the culture of male doctors or male filmmakers or the males of any other profession. I believe you guys call this sort of thing “blaming the victim.”

What an a.s.s! What kind of discrimination did HE face in college? Did he have to memorie the location of every men's bathroom on the main campus building complex, which the women at MIT had to do about women's restrooms, because every THIRD floor in the Cecil and Ida Green Building had a women's restroom, the chemistry building's sole women's room was in the basement, the math building's sole women's room was on the second floor, and of the three connected aero and astro buildings with lecture halls, two of the buildings had floors without women's restrooms, and the third, had none whatsoever!


As for the "fear of being a rapist" stuff, when people get drunk or tired or are otherwise in situations where their internal behavior governors go partially or fully offline (gang/pack/mob behavior is another example), they can/sometimes do behave in ways they would never behave alone/when sober/when the governors are online and working. The example with dogs are all those devoted gentle family pets, which out running in a dogpack, with take down and tear apart not only deer, but humans.

A really tacky example I can think of, was the fellow who to try to earn positive attention points from his all-male residence floor mates, voluntarily had them or maybe himself, stick a broomhandle up his ass, and also on a bet kicked open the door to my dormroom wearing a skimask and nothing else... and yes, he was a shy nerdy fellow....

#625 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 01:53 PM:

Paula, #622: A particularly nasty piece of doggerel from Reader's Digest, back in the late 60s or early 70s:

When a diplomat says "yes", he means "maybe".
When a diplomat says "maybe", he means "no".
When a diplomat says "no", he's no diplomat.

When a lady says "no", she means "maybe".
When a lady says "maybe", she means "yes".
When a lady says "yes", she's no lady.

THAT kind of "joke" is what convinces a lot of men that "no" means "try harder", and it also means that (since we really can't read minds, no matter how much we're expected to) women can't tell which guys will accept a polite no, which ones will back off if given a hard shove, and which ones will decide to just take what they want anyhow.

#626 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 02:28 PM:

#625 Lee
The 1960s and still around in a lot of places (I loathed the movie Saturday Night Fever which idolized a culture with such values)had the social attitude of being an overtly willing sex partner outside of Marriage, makes one a whore (with the exception of the male beig in Love rather than in Lust with one, it's his attitude that determines whoredom or beloved "partner"). All those rape fantasy novels where the woman has to be forced into sex with the male romantic lead (1970s Kathleen Woodwiss novels, for example) because Good Girls Don't Voluntarily Have Sex and Have to Be Persuaded by Alpha Male Who Is the Destined Mate, to awaken sexually and be initiated, had that trope. Otherwise, it was a social guilt trip, women must not be willingig/ must less initiating, lest they be stigmatized as Whores/unclean/abomination.

The nastier overwheening message/trope is "How dare you object to MY deigning to bestow MY attentions upon you. I chose -you- to bestow my attention upon, how dare you reject my magnificent selt!" Yeah, narcissicism, bigtime, is in play. The feelings of the propositioned, don;t mmuch matter to such propositioners, the person propositioned has something of the status of Object.

(It's theoretically gender-independent, but the power imbalances in society mean that it's generally males hittig on females. Though, wealthy/powerful/media personality women have been know to have "boytoys" half their age as companions--which shows it IS a power and influence etc. thing, generally. )

#627 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Paula Lieberman@624
I don't know if I'm piling on or contradicting or nit-picking here, but you quote Scott Aronson.

I’ve seen not a shred of statistical evidence—that women are being kept out of science by the privileged, entitled culture of shy male nerds, which is worse than the culture of male doctors or male filmmakers or the males of any other profession. I believe you guys call this sort of thing “blaming the victim.”

The shy male nerds are no more the gatekeepers of science than they are of any other place. Socially successful/comfortable people make the trends in science, get the lab space, promote the papers, conferences, and get their research into the "right" journals. Nerds can survive/thrive in that environment with careful choice of mentors and imitating the behavior of the successful, but it is not a "home" for them, male or female.

#628 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 03:33 PM:

Lady Key @627, I suppose that, in any group, the one who’s taken charge is the least likely to be the shyest. On the other hand, the shyest are also the least likely to stand up to the ones in charge and demand change when change is needed.

When I think of men keeping women out of STEM careers, I think of Larry Summers. He’s male, and he might be a nerd, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him called shy.

There are all sorts of True Scotsman issues in this argument. Are the feminists who weaponize shame the True Feminists? How about Andrea Dworkin, is she a True Feminist? Are the shy nerds who harass women the True Shy Nerds? Are the scientific degrees in fields where women outnumber men the True Scientific Degrees? Everyone’s upset about other people interrogating their categories from the wrong exemplar.

#629 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 03:39 PM:

SamChevre: please be so kind as to show me where these people are who say, "*any* indication of sexual interest in a woman is abusive, or at least so potentially abusive that the only decent thing is to make no advances.

You've never seen sexual harassment (which can get you fired and piled on by the entire internet) defined as "unwelcome...verbal conduct that has the ... effect of creating an offensive work environment"?

There are a couple of points of disagreement with the two parts of the construction.

1: "offensive work environment" is a term of art; from caselaw.
2: Even in outside that framework more than one comment/action would be required to "create an environment" so it's a far cry from "any expression".

albatross: The first step to understanding the world is to listen to people who have different experiences from you. That doesn't mean you are obliged to agree with the conclusions they draw from those experiences, or that you're obliged to make it better for them, or anything else. But you have to listen to understand.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say. The conversation (here and elsewhere) is based on having listened to his statements. Some agree, some don't. But (having read his statements), I came to an opinion. I disagree with the solution proposed.

#630 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 04:13 PM:

Paula, #626: Shakespeare famously wrote, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." That was from a time when the virgin/whore dichotomy was even stronger, and for a woman to so much as hint that she might be physically interested in a man was enough to risk her reputation for life. One can see how the aphorism works, if you look at it from the woman's POV; here she is, putting her entire future on the line for him, and he turns her away? To be pissed as hell is not necessarily a disproportionate response.

Somehow or other, over the centuries between Shakespeare and now, we've gotten this turned around. Now it's "Hell hath no fury like a man scorned" -- Not All Men, of course, but that's one of the marker traits for the Phony Niceguy. The one who's a perfect gentleman right up to the point where a woman turns down his request for sex, and then suddenly she's a bitch and a whore and he trash-talks her to all their acquaintances.

Perhaps it's not so odd that I hear echoes of that attitude in Aaronson's "nasty feminists caused all my problems" post.

#631 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 06:33 PM:

Avram @628.
There is more than a bit of "how can I define another as shy and nerdy?" I can define myself, but not really another.

Nerdy might come closer to a definition: someone whose level of interest in and desire to discuss/explore a topic exceeds the polite level of interest. I.e. someone who feels frustrated that he/she can't discuss a topic to their own satisfaction without driving others away. Someone who needs to seek out very specialized subgroups to converse about their obsession.

PS. I want to generalize this to acting on their obsession--for example, figure skating at all remotely possible opportunities to the point where the person is driving away people who aren't as interested in figure skating--not just discussing.

Shy, however, is not as easy to define for another person. For me, I would say "feeling social inhibition such that I can't make social moves that are needed". But I can't tell (from the outside) whether the other person knows what social move is needed, and is prevented from making that move by social inhibition rather than by something else.

I would also say that shyness is situation-dependent and very fluid. One's level of shyness is not a fixed part of the personality. It is quite common to feel that one was shy, painfully shy (at some time in some situation), without understanding that others could not tell that from your behaviors (at that time in that situation).

#632 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 06:54 PM:

Terry Karney, I have two questions about your comment 605:

  1. Did you seriously just try to goysplain the Tevye stories to me?
  2. Could you point out the place where Aaronson says “if only women had been nicer to me” in those exact words?

#633 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 07:12 PM:

#599 Avram
What others said later--he is projecting blame for his teenage social misery on feminism, and not

on the embedded culture with all its embedded unvoiced inequities. The focus on "males can be rapists

and don't embrace this trope" nonetheless does not carry much weight in e.g. the environments where

football and male basketball players get privileging up to and including freedom from investigating

much less prosecution for all sorts of offensive behavior and assault, up to and including rape.

#627 Lady Kay, #628 Avram

Larry Summers was quite possibly in some of the same classes I was in. But when there is an 8:1 ratio, the women don't identify all the men, but the men tend to know who each and every woman is....

As for who get published, etc., the equation there has a number of different variables. I got to be a session chair and organizer at an engineering conference (NAECON) by telling people on a project I was managing, "This is going to get published [unlike so much else that got done at Space Division and did not get published...]" and then doing the research to find a conference to five the six paper session/presentations at. I had coworkers when I was in private industry, who got patents because someone among the managers, other engineers, etc., reviewed the project and said "there is patentable content on this, and the company gives bonuses to ;people who get patents." In STEM academia, the line has long been "publish or perish" --those who do not publish, do not get academic appointments and do not get on tenure-track and do not get tenure. The pressure is to write papers/publisher, regardless of level out outgoingness and social eptitude. Grad students'thesis advisors usually cowrite papers with their grad students and train them in paper production. There;s a reason for all the "Erdley numbers" in math and the pride of people regarding their Erdley numbers, which are metrics of distance from Erdley as regards coauthorship of papers.

Oh,#624, myself--I forgot to add that the door hit me in the face, which -really- ticked me off.

#594 Em


# 587 estelendur

Perhaps those ed. sessions need some "Ten signs you might be a creeper" content, to deal with those who need the clue-by-twelve bashing them over the had, either because they are in denial that their behavior is abominable, or because they are doing the Marxist-self-criticism thing taken to the extreme when they are not the transgressors. Also, the boundary layer between thinking something and carrying out the action [e.g., there are people who wonder what it would be like to kill someone, and they there are the sociopathic who do so deliberately with preplanning to satisfy their curiosity.].

#581 Bill
I remember Jimmy Carter making a campaign promise that he was going to tell the truth to the US public about UFOs if he got into office. He never followed through.

#553 Benjamin, #541 dcb, #497 Lee

May 2015 as it moves forward bring easing of the emotional pain of your losses.

#513 albatross

If it's a "basically decent job" then it should pay middle-class (if there even is auch a thing anymore...) wages and benefits and have indemified healthy working conditions.

"That pool of people represents a godawful waste of wealth" -- uh, no, it represents "godawful" economic inequity and imbalance and wealth and income hoarding by the one percenters, who se "spreading the wealth" consists of deals such as put money in likes of the pockets of George Herbert Walker Bush's sons. Note that Neil Bush was a big player in the savings and loan wealth redistribution to the already ultrarich debacle, when his Daddy was President, and that his appointed President brother, was the beneficiary of not-exactly-a-Ponzi-scheme-but-close involving eminent domaining of land which a small businessman had been one of the owners of, for the benefit of the Texas Rangers baseball franchise and its ownership, one of whom was a certain Bush who was not putting any of -his- capital or monies at risk, it was all OPM -- Other People's Money, and a set of deals apparetly set up with the goal of diversion of money to his pocket, at the expense of Texas taxpayers and the business owners who lost their land to political scoundrels' machinations...

#458 Victoria
Pedantry--that's cocoa with fat or oil substitues for chocolate, "chocolate" as opposed to "chocolate flavored" had cocoa butter and cocoa powder in it.

#634 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 07:42 PM:

Avram, #632: This is a meta-comment. You have used the formulation of "can you show me where X said Y in so many words" multiple times in this discussion. While it is true that many things which are known troll tropes can also be used in good faith, the repetition is starting to ping some alarm bells nonetheless.

#635 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 07:44 PM:

Paula Lieberman @633: Correcting to be polite: Erdős, not Erdley.

#636 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 07:56 PM:

SamChevre @609, you’ve already been called on it, but let’s make it official: That quote mangling was really fucking dishonest. I mean, at least it was an actual quote, and you stuck the ellipses in there so we’d know you ellipted some stuff, but come on, that’s pretty low.

#637 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 08:37 PM:

Avram @ 636

I sharply disagree. I left out a lot of OR statements, but I do not consider "...b...and...3..." to be in any way an unreasonable edit of "a OR b OR c OR ... and 1 OR 2 OR 3...", when the request is "show me where b and 3 is forbidden".

And now for something completely different. Here's an article about an inflatable heat shield that NASA is testing. In the third picture down, looking like he's peering under a mushroom, is someone my wife has known since he was a child in the same homeschool group. (My wife knows more interesting people...)

#638 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:07 PM:

SamChevre, you did *not* leave out "some words"; you left out *these* words: "*sexual* advances, requests for *sexual* favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a *sexual* nature" and those are the words that make sense of the words you did not leave out, and they are the words that lead to "an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment."

That really was dishonest argument.

Even Dan Savage, the really free-wheeling sex columnist, cautions readers against conducting their sex life in public or at work.

#639 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:09 PM:

#635 David

Thank you for the correction, yup, Erdős... sigh.

#640 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2015, 09:44 PM:

Older @ 638, pfusand @ 612

OK, I need to check something. I edited my statement from my employer's policy and I do not think it has the words in bold.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute "hostile environment" sexual harassment when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

If it does, I will note this tomorrow, and would agree that the edit was unreasonable.

#641 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 12:37 AM:

Mary Aileen 614: Dry cleaning is named after someone, too. So is schrapnel.

#642 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 08:22 AM:

Lee @ 634: I suppose that makes this a meta-meta comment. The number of "multiple times" you refer to is "two": once in #599 in some detail and again in much less detail in #632. I'm not sure that's enough for to discern any pattern, except that Avram is picky about language used in paraphrases which are placed inside quotes and are indistinguishable from actual quotations. That's the situation that brings about both requests. It seems a reasonable thing to ask in a discussion that is, in part, about language.

#643 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 08:36 AM:

I took a personality test once for a class so the professor could sort us into groups that would work better than randomly or cliquishly. It didn't entirely work, but that was not primarily the fault of the system. The categories were Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, and Beaver: the leader who leads, the jokey playful second-in-command of sorts, the emotional check-in person, and Give Me My List And Leave Me Alone.

I came out zero percent, seven, ninety-three, and a hundred. The accompanying graphs were hilarious. Of course, I also ended up taking charge of the group (that was the project where I realized that the first person to speak in the first group meeting is forevermore the leader and no one else is talking, dammit, I guess I'll do it) but the test had a section on what you were forced to do by circumstance, generally-- a way to see if you were a lion who kept getting golden retriever roles and learned them pretty decently.

Anyway, I declared myself to be a beaver the size of a dog. It's not the most impressive patronus, but I think capybaras are pretty much above it all anyway.

#644 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Can I make a couple of observations here? OK, one observation, and one strong suggestion.

(Can we stop you? they cry. Nope.)

The first observation is that this entire conversation, both here and elsewhere, is really two conversations:

1. Aaronson's actual lived experiences: what he felt, what he wished for, what other guys in similar circumstances feel and wish for, and

2. What we should do about it (if anything), and how, and what the costs and consequences of various forms of remedial action are.

It's rather like a listserv. New people come in every so often with new (to them) experiences and ideas. But a long-term community will have seen many of those experiences and ideas before, and have a rough idea how the conversation will go. So there's a certain amount of skipping ahead, and a certain amount of pre-emption of the impulse to rush down dead ends. From one side, that's learning from history and suggesting how not to repeat the first-order mistakes*, but from the other, it feels like shutting down the conversation and not listening to the original experiences.

Both conversations are valid. Both conversations need to be had. It's important that Aaronson is listened to with kindness and compassion, just as it's important that Penny is. But it's also important that his pain and upset aren't allowed to trump discussions of whether his ideas for solving the problem are the right ones, or who should be doing the emotional work in the situation.

I think the best thing to do is to be clear, with yourself and others, which conversation you are having, and to be aware that the other conversation is also going on. It's amazing how far a "I completely sympathize with Aaronson, but..." will go, or "The solutions are obviously going to be complicated, but..."

My second observation is that I'm having a heck of a time figuring out who said what sometimes. Can I suggest a few orthographical conventions to make things easier?

  • If you're using just a few words from a literal quote, either put them in double quotes or italicize them (use the <i>/</i> or <em>/</em> tags†).
  • When quoting an entire paragraph, for instance in a response to a comment, either italicize it (with the <i>/</i> or <em>/</em> tags†) or blockquote it (<blockquote>/</blockquote>). Remember that our blogging software automatically closes blockquotes after one paragraph; use a new one for each new quoted paragraph.
  • If what you are saying is an interpretation, restatement, or statement of what a specific quote really means, do not use quotes or italics. I know it's tempting to, and it is a common usage, but in this conversation, it's becoming confusing. Instead make it clear that this is not something they actually stated, and mark the interpretation out some other way (bold, perhaps: <b>/</b> or <strong>/</strong>†)
  • Preview! Preview! OK!

* Santayana playing chess with Dunning and Kruger, rather like Death playing chess in a Swedish film.
† Yes, I know that emphasis and italics, bold and strong, are not quite the same thing, but either will do in this context.

#645 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 09:28 AM:

When looking for something else I ran into a manga involving a theoretically picaresque series of adventures of a young man in Japan. I took a look at the most recent online translation, and the lead has now fallen in with Japanese Randroids.

My reaction is somewhere between the Seattle "No, but thank you Very Much!" and the Southern "Well, bless his heart!" Don't think I'll be exploring more of that one...

#646 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 09:32 AM:

Interesting hyperlocal (but not to me) news: apparently there's a mumps outbreak happening in the National Hockey League.

#647 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 09:47 AM:

Comic-book writer Marv Wolfman recently posted on facebook that he'd gone for an appointment with a medical doctor whose family name is Doom. Really.

#648 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 10:15 AM:

abi @ 644 Can we stop you? they cry. Nope.

abi is the Juggernaut?

#649 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 11:22 AM:

Serge @648

Sitting on the Iron Throne has been known to do that to people.

#650 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 11:37 AM:

abi, #644: You make a very good point here. I don't think anyone here is denying Aaronson's pain -- that's clearly a thing that happened. What a number of people are disagreeing with is his (fairly explicit) suggestion that it's the responsibility of women in general, and feminists in particular, to fix that pain. Because that argument is SSDD, and we're tired of it and also tired of explaining over and over again why it's fallacious. (And the making-us-explain itself is often a derailing tactic.)

#651 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 12:00 PM:

Open Threadiness: The particle on Kirby Delauter (elected official who does not want local journalist to use his name) doesn't surprise me: Frederick is in very red Maryland, full of military and ex-military who tend to be authoritarian and Republican, but also full of farmers who are nearly as authoritarian, etc. It's quite a contrast to the rest of Maryland which tends to be deep blue.

With respect to nerdy men, boys needing to negotiate dating, and the responsibilities of women thereof: as a lesbian feminist raised by feminists, I never understood why men claim women have the power to make their lives miserable (my interpretation of comments throughout the years), but don't allow women the agency to say no and mean it. It's one of the reasons I raised my son to understand that "no means no" is just one half of the issue; he'd better also understand that "yes means yes" before he tries to proceed. I've also explained predatory behavior to him. Sadly for him, he had a predatory girlfriend that took advantage of his illness and depression, but it was a very useful thing in retrospect, as I could point to that and say "Don't be like that to someone else". (The vast majority of his girlfriends have been smart, hard-working, ambitious, lovely young women. She was not. There was a later, less dangerous version of her that he quickly realized was not the best choice he could make.)

It is not the responsibility of women to make themselves available to the nerdy, shy guys. Some of us are nerdy, shy, women with social disabilities. With time, patience, and friends, we generally overcome our disabilities and find someone to bond with, at least once in a while. The others of us are lesbians, who look for other nerdy, shy, intellectual lesbians, and get lucky too.

And coincidentally, in three days it will be 5 years since my ex-partner informed me that she was Done, and left. I'm celebrating her departure, because my FF is so much better for me, and we all agree that we're grateful that she dumped me. Can you believe it? Five years already.

Anyway, back to feminism. Andrea Dworkin may be problematic for some, because of her extremism, but I read her works and I think she had some valid points. She also had a lot of anger, which she wasn't allowed to have, and that made her angrier. I think the frustration of being treated like a woman in the 1970s, with all of the sexism and condescension and outright obstructionism around her, combined with her anger, exploded in polemic that won her if not respect then at least attention. As far as she was concerned, yes, all men were rapists -- and this, I think, would have benefited from the Schroedinger's Rapist essay, because what I understood her to mean was that women cannot tell until a man acts whether he is or is not a rapist. An angry woman assumes that all men are dangerous, and she had her reasons for being angry. Instead of denying her contributions to feminism, I'll accept her anger as part of her contribution, and point out that things have indeed changed since her books were published, but things still need to change. The angry people push changes along, and the other people have a challenge to meet. In our discussion on sexual harassment, versus indication of sexual interest, I find it interesting that some folks feel all communications are forbidden as harassment. From what I remember about meta-communications, all interactions include verbal and non-verbal modes, so it's not just the words we say to each other, it's also how we say them. In terms of workplace rules, it's expanded to mean the environment that is created by repeated interactions -- not just a "hello, how are you" but the things you say each time you cross paths with someone. Harassment isn't indicating that you find someone attractive; it's doing so despite signals that the other person is not interested in this communication from you, or is actively trying to avoid getting this from you, and you persist. Every interaction is a verbal and non-verbal dance. When your intended partner isn't willing, or isn't matching your moves, then it is time to disengage. People with social disabilities generally, in my opinion, do not create issues in this kind of interaction because they don't move in the same patterns as a harasser does. Maybe it's because I'm very attuned to non-verbal language, being both hard of hearing and a veterinarian, but I don't have any problems understanding a person who is tone-deaf, socially-awkward, or disabled in some way. I can differentiate them from the predators very quickly, and I treat them gently, unlike the predators.

#652 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Elliot Mason #646: Ouch! I got the mumps back in 1966; I still remember how bad it was. My father informed me that it was my fault, for having petted a dog in Green Park.

#653 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 12:22 PM:

Ginger @ 651: Thank you for saying kind words about Andrea Dworkin. She had her flaws, like all of us, and still remains relevant. It's worth dropping in this account from someone who had a very testy relation to Dworkin. And appreciated her, despite it all.

"She also had a lot of anger, which she wasn't allowed to have, and that made her angrier."

That's the sort of anger that kills you.

#654 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 12:23 PM:

abi @644: Preview! Preview! OK!


I see what you did there.

#655 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 12:50 PM:

And now Kirby Delauter's made the Washington Post, with predictable comments.

Kirby Delauter may well replace the Streisand Effect.

#656 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 01:16 PM:

Jacque @ 654: Geez, Jacque, tell us what you think! And don't water it down!

And on a note totally unrelated to anything we might ever be discussing here...

#657 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 03:44 PM:

Paraphrasing the arguments of someone with whom you have intense disagreements is *hard* to do well, and often leads to strawmanning their argument even without intending to do so. Especially when you're also jumping ahead to the argument you expect to see follow what the person said first.

#658 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 03:57 PM:

Ginger 651:

This makes me think about discussions I've had or read about various authors with problematic or weird or flat evil ideas. I suspect most people not writing in maximum no-giving-offense mode will have some ugly or even really nasty ideas in their writing. (Often it's not visible right then if they're in the current cultural mainstream, but the poison is easy to see in stuff written 50 years ago.). And most people who anyone bothers to read will also have some valuable things to say, and even their problematic stuff can kind of be understood in a non-crazy context.

The difference is in the reader, I think. If the writer hits your buttons just wrong, or alternatively if you'r interested enough in his insights to give him a very generous reading, you may feel like he has a lot of good things to say even when he's saying stuff that is deeply nasty in other places.

I haven't read anything by Andrea Dworkin, so I don't know if that is true for her writings. But one place I can see myself doing this is in reading Ayn Rand--someone whose books an essays I enjoyed and profited from, and yet who has all kinds of ideas I think are 180 degrees out of synch with reality and morality.

#659 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 06:10 PM:

Older @ 638 et al

I got that edit wrong: The conduct does have to be "of a sexual or suggestive nature" to count as sexual harassment (although not to count as harassment generally).

I really appreciate abi @ 644; the disconnect between the two points of view seems to be a major problem.

#660 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 10:35 PM:

The KIRBY DELAUTER particle reminds me of the story about Moses. Kirby Delauter supposes erroneously.

On a matter wholly unrelated to anything discussed here so far: on this date in 2009, John, Lenore, and I stopped at Delfino's after choir practice. I believe John was walking with a cane at that point, but at any rate walking was becoming difficult.

I can't remember why I needed to leave early, but I did. There'd been an ice storm the night before, but by then everyone had salted in front of their buildings. It turned out that no one had taken that responsibility for the vacant lot on 5th Street, and I nearly lost my footing.

The thought of John slipping that way filled me with horror, so I called them on my cell to tell them not to go by 5th Street (we all lived in the same building).

Without missing a beat, John said "And having been warned by Christopher in a phone call, they returned home by a different road."

#661 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 10:53 PM:

re 655: Hugely outdone by the Frederick News Post, which published an editorial using Delauter's name thirty-two times, including three in the title and one formed as an acrostic by the first letter of each paragraph.

#662 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 11:04 PM:

Also, Sounds of Sodomy is the name of my next band.

#663 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2015, 11:59 PM:

Kirby Delauter is trending on Twitter.

In New Zealand.

Ahead of a story in which a plane crashes in a lake and there are no injuries because the thirteen people on board were the pilot and 6 tandem skydiving pairs.

#664 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 12:53 AM:

Now I have an earworm of "Kirby... Kirby Delauter!" TTTO the "Davy Crockett" theme. Unfortunately, I don't remember the rest of the lyrics (or the melody beyond the first line), but if someone else wants to take a stab at it, feel free.

#665 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 12:54 AM:

Internal Server Error. *kick*

#666 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 01:05 AM:

Elliott@646 : "Well, yes, that's been going on for months," I say, and am suddenly reminded that for reasons incomprehensible to me, there are people in the world who don't list their religion as "hockey fan"*. :p

It's a bit fascinating to watch, actually, if somewhat cringeworthy (mumps, I hear, can be especially unpleasant for men). Because hockey's a contact sport, teams are very cagey about what's actually wrong with their players, believing that if they say "wrist", the wrists will become a target, or whatever, which has lead to everything from a cracked rib to a bruised elbow to a concussion to, apparently, the mumps, being described as "an upper-body injury". The result of this is that you have players looking like poor Sid Crosby going "nope, no mumps here, just a bit of swelling." I bet it's more interesting if one is an epidemiologist, too; you can actually watch the spread as various teams play each other. The origin point was in Anaheim; Crosby plays for Pittsburgh.

*The Canadian census actually has me down as a devotee of my local team, which seems reasonable - we have rituals, venerated figures, ceremonies, an inexplicable "those other people have it wrong, especially people who like the Leafs, but MY team is right!" idea, we have sacred places, hymns, we have a large group of people experiencing exhilaration together. Sounds like a religion to me!

#667 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 01:20 AM:

Xopher @660, I remember that. That was funny! 'Tis the season, right? I must listen again to that recording of you, John, and Steve singing the three kings trio from Mendelssohn's Christus.

#668 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 04:28 AM:

Re plane ditching in NZ.
Local avgeeks point out photos of recovery of another light aircraft from basically the same place in 1981!

#669 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 07:24 AM:

An important note from the Times:

Correction: January 6, 2015 An obituary on Saturday about the poet Miller Williams misidentified the singer who once told him over drinks that he had a “beer-drinking soul.” He was Hank Williams Sr., not Hank Williams Jr.

That's about as big a deal as it gets.

#670 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 07:48 AM:

A just ghastly Islamist attack on a satirical magazine in Paris:

Charlie Hebdo shooting

100,000 years of human barbarism and superstition vs 300 years of the Enlightenment. Sometimes the little patch of sunlight seems very small to me.

#671 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 08:00 AM:

Xopher #662: I have always wondered what on earth they got up to in Gommorah. What would, ahem, gommorahy be?

#672 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 08:00 AM:

Xopher #662: I have always wondered what on earth they got up to in Gommorah. What would, ahem, gommorahy be?

#673 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 08:19 AM:

Does anyone use a stylus with their iPhone? I'm not interested in using one for drawing or writing. I want to use it with heavy gloves while waiting for the bus. I'll be using it to select and scroll.

#674 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 08:21 AM:

Fragano (671): Karaoke.

#675 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 09:03 AM:

janetl: don't know if they ever shipped anywhere else, but during a bad winter in Europe a couple of years ago IKEA sold kits with a sewing needle and conductive thread so you could put a stitch in at the end of your glove's index finger and keep using your iPhone/iPad/iWhatever. A capacitive screen means that some part of the body needs to touch the stylus--if your screen uses a different technology then just a stylus should be O.K.

#676 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 09:14 AM:

Bruce @ #675

Wrong side of the pond, but Aldi had "touchscreen gloves" on sale when this moose went shopping yesterday. They presumably have a suitable conductive/capacitative layer in the fingertip area.

#677 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 09:23 AM:

I have touchscreen gloves. They are not very warm. If I wanted to use my phone with really warm gloves, I'd probably cut the right fingertip off of a pair of warm gloves and use those, maybe even with touchscreen gloves on underneath.

#678 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 10:14 AM:

janetl, #673: I use a stylus regularly, and am very fond of it. I also found, but I don't recall where, a retractable ball-point pen that has a stylus tip; this is even more useful because it's easier to grip than one of the small dedicated ones.

I've seen a lot of "cellphone gloves" that have a conductive patch on the index finger, but I would be hesitant about those because my biggest problem with cellphone typing is fat-finger syndrome. A stylus tip is smaller than my fingertip, and thus easier to be precise with.

#679 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 10:17 AM:

Lorax @677, mitten-gloves are rather effective. Gloves with the fingertips missing, and a mitton "cap" over the fingers.

Something like THESE from the Great South American River.

My husband used them as a photographer on the sidelines of really cold football games, and he says they work great; you can expose just one fingertip...

#680 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Mr. Harvey @670: You may not have meant it that way, but Islam has not been around for 100,000 years. And "enlightened" Europe had a mess of bomb-throwings and assassinations around the turn of the previous century, one of which started an ugly war with reverberations unto the present day.

Je suis Charlie. I also study the past.

#681 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 11:44 AM:

Having just pointed out spam on this decade-old thread, and then gone on to (re-?)enjoy the thread, I have to wonder:

  1. Is there a good word for the pleasure of discovering a fun old thread thanks to a misfortune? "Serendipity" seems too general.
  2. Has anyone hooked up a "random Making Light post in history" widget that doesn't rely on spammers getting through the defenses? (I'm thinking a bit of Jacque's open thread navigation guide, or Wikipedia's "random article" link.)
  3. Am I just forgetting the last three times someone asked this same question, since it's hardly a new phenomenon?

#682 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 11:58 AM:

I wonder if abi might be interested in hearing that Straczinsky is working on a big-screen reboot of Babylon 5?

#683 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 12:23 PM:

D. Potter@680:

"You may not have meant it that way, but Islam has not been around for 100,000 years."

Good thing that I didn't say Islam then

"And "enlightened" Europe had a mess of bomb-throwings and assassinations around the turn of the previous century, one of which started an ugly war with reverberations unto the present day."

Good thing I didn't say Europe then.

Perhaps you could try reading what I actually wrote rather than jerking your knee so hard?

#684 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 12:33 PM:

Two open thread links here, both from the Atlantic:

The NYPD Officers Who See Racial Bias in the NYPD
: Lots of minority officers report harassment when in civvies, or being given blatantly racist instructions

The Tragedy of the American Military: On the many kinds of disfunction surrounding the US military, with particular emphasis on mission, procurement, and relationships with the civilian world

#685 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 12:38 PM:

How a report gets altered when they realise the
'thug' they reported on was actually an off-duty cop:

The New York Daily News

Funny that.

#686 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 12:43 PM:

D. Potter, #680: Nitpicking your nitpick, "human barbarism and superstition" long predates Islam, or indeed any other contemporary faith.

#687 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 12:53 PM:


""human barbarism and superstition" long predates Islam, or indeed any other contemporary faith."

Thank you. Quite. 100,000 years was chosen as a (conservative) estimate of the entire existence of modern humanity on the planet.

The purpose of my post was to mourn the role of hatred and idiocy in general, not to debate the role of religion in human misery, or Islam in particular. After today's events I'm in no mood to debate the latter, and certainly not with people desperate to misconstrue every word.

Sorry: not feeling very positive this evening.

#688 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 01:39 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @656: Er...wha—?

#689 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 02:05 PM:

re stylus: I use a bamboo gen 1 (with the rubber tip), which is meant idevices. The only problem is the tips wear out. The carbon fiber on the most current generation works for shit with a screen protector.

I will point out re the shooting in France, we don't know who did it. They were attacked last year by fascists.

So, while I am unhappy that they were attacked, I'm not going to jump to conclusions about the ideologies of the people who did it.

#690 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 02:17 PM:

Serge Broom @682: I wonder if abi might be interested in hearing that Straczinsky is working on a big-screen reboot of Babylon 5?

IANabi, but I certainly am! You got a cite? I have a batch of friends who would like to know about this....

#691 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 02:43 PM:


#692 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 02:52 PM:

Mr. Harvey @683 (and Lee @686): We are more or less in agreement that human beings have been barbaric and superstitious since the beginning, and that they more or less wallow and glory in said barbarism and superstitiousness, and that what we call "the Enlightenment" is a comparatively recent thing (yesterday at lunch in geological time). It was the unfortunate parallel construction of the first and third sentences (and that "the Enlightenment" began in France around 300 years ago and made its way throughout Europe) that sparked the thought train.

As an occasional surrealist, I am deeply grieved (my French is no longer good enough to read Charlie Hebdo); as someone who sometimes does satire, I think that opposing satire with violence proves the satirists correct.

(I have seen some of the "provoking" material here.)

#693 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 03:13 PM:

Jacque @ 690... Here is a link:

#694 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Serge & Elliott: My friend evinces enthusiastic interest. :-) (He's the one that originally hipped me to B5 back in '92.)

#695 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 03:26 PM:

I'd love to see a big-screen version of B5.

Though it's a pity that so many of the original actors are gone now:

Michael O'Hare
Andreas Katsulas
Jeff Conaway

And a special mention for the actor who portrayed Zathras - Tim Choate

#696 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 03:30 PM:

And can you imagine it with a real budget?

#697 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 04:19 PM:

Jacque @ 688: "water it down" == "dilute! dilute!"

A small joke. Very small.

#698 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 04:53 PM:

Which is itself, for those who don't know, a reference to the marvellously weird texts printed on the labels of Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap:

Welcome to today's Lucky 10,000, btw; Dr. Bronner's tiny print was my household's go-to "I'm bored and constipated" backup bathroom reading for when the magazine you brought in with you proved inadequate.

#699 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 05:50 PM:

Terry Karney, you haven’t responded to my questions in comment #632. The second question is the one of serious concern. Possibly you haven’t seen it, so I am drawing it to your attention.

Since Lee has taken issue with my phrasing of it, I will rephrase, at greater length, and making explicit the relevant issues:

  1. I am a moderator here.
  2. In comment #603, I pointed out something you had done, and told you not to do it again.
  3. You seem to have promptly done it again. You did it in a comment replaying to my #603, written less than two hours later, so you don’t have the excuse that you didn’t see me telling you not to do it. You did it in a comment addressed to me, so you clearly intended that I see you doing it.
So when I request evidence that Aaronson used that exact phrasing, it’s not about Aaronson, it’s about you. I am requesting evidence that will show I am mistaken, so that I do not have to discipline you.

I’ll give you a heads-up by email directing you to this comment.

#700 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 06:23 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @697: Oh. Right. "Water it down." I cannot brain today.

#701 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Thank you to everyone who responded with info on my iPhone stylus question. I do have wool-lined leather gloves with conductive pads on the thumb an index finger, and they are perfectly splendid in rather cold weather. Unfortunately, I now know that they do not keep my hands warm when it's 12 ° F. I need to go to heavy-duty mittens, hence the plan to try a stylus.

That plan might be pointless. After I posted the question, I had my phone shut down, apparently due to excessive cold — it started working again as soon as I got inside. What's funny is that the error message it displayed was:

iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.

#702 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Mary Aileen #674: It certainly is evil enough.

#703 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 08:21 AM:

Zelda @ 567: fascinating. I'm also no expert on ancient Rome, but I can see that even in a peasant economy there would have been things worth taking (e.g., grain, wine, oil, and leather for the legions you mention) and possibilities of trading for such with anyone's seized production.

SamChevre @ 569: Also fascinating; I can see Tyndale deciding that if he were going to commit a capital crime he might as well speak plainly (at least) about it.

#704 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 08:43 AM:


I really like the Boxwave styluses, which have rhis weird nylon mesh tip that slides pretty nicely along the iPad screen. They seem to last awhile, but I had to order them online and they cost a little more than the ones you find in Best Buy.

#705 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 12:29 PM:

janetl @701: Temperature&mdash:iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.

I wonder if it's using the difference between external and internal temp as a proxy for processor temp...?

#706 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 01:21 PM:

SamChevre: Thanks. Apologies for delayed response, been busy (I'm not really used to being busy anymore).

#707 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 01:57 PM:

Dolla Tree has $1 pens with capacitive stylus ends. I would like more precise, but inexpensive, styluses usable on e.g. Windows 8 laptoprs and tablets that are touchscreen devices and need the conductive touch...

The Pythagoreans were around long before the Enlightenment (and got in trouble with religious zealots who were not thrilled at people who questioned the existence of gods and everthing else... and some of the Pythagoreans were female researchers, too!

#708 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 09:23 PM:

This sounds like someone folks here might be acquainted with: Jonathan Eberhart. Did I guess right? I'm betting I did.

#709 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 10:06 PM:

Advice on how to track a couple of short stories and a publication, please. For years I've been trying to find "The Further Adventures of Baron Munchausen: The Gulf War" by Ian McDonald, which appeared in the July '96 Interzone and apparently nowhere else.

The second short story is "At the Bran Foundry," which depending on the source was either George Alec Effinger or a Robin Scott Wilson.

The third is a publication called The Chicago Fantasy Newsletter (I think), where the final issue featured an article on doing reference for stories by Manly Wade Wellman. I paid the publisher for a copy at a Worldcon years ago but he seems to have lost my address.

I'm told Bran Foundary is in and out of print: I'd like to know if it's currently in print so I can buy it. Interlibrary Loan seems to be rendered powerless when you mention Interzone, let alone The Chicago Fantasy Newsletter. Any suggestions where I might get a lead on these?

#710 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 10:29 PM:

Five minutes of flailing gave me "At the Bran Foundry" in New Dimensions 3, ed. Robert Silverberg, which there are a couple of used copies available for fairly low prices at nyvoevf and cbjryyf .

It is also allegedly in a collection called "Irrational Numbers", all Effinger stories, available from the above and Great South American River.

It has been said that every complicated problem has an answer that is simple, obvious, and wrong; this may be that answer.

#711 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 11:21 PM:

For finding individual stories, the various Contento indexes published by LOCUS are invaluable. For books, the index at Fantastic Fiction is invaluable.

The overpriced copy of Chicago Fantasy Newsletter on eBay has Rob Garcia's name attached to it: if you email him, you may be able to find what you're looking for.

Interzone can be gotten at various libraries through interlibrary loan (ILL). If you can't find another way, I may be able to get something through my UC Berkeley library card. If you're having trouble locating the issue, it's issue 109. There's a copy on eBay from a UK seller, currently. It may be cheaper to buy than to get through ILL.

#712 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2015, 11:30 PM:

Oh, and I can probably find you the Effinger in one of its two forms this weekend, when I can get to my storage locker. Might have the Interzone but it's unlikely; and I don't have the fanzine. What issue do you want? I can check with some local fanzine collectors, or you can call Andy Hooper.

#713 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 12:10 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #709:

It appears that the July 96 issue is Interzone #109?

#714 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 09:50 AM:

Open Thready: possible finding of orichalcum in shipwreck off Sicily. I initially found this from a much less balanced and rigorous article claiming we knew what orichalcum was and this was obviously it.


#715 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 10:39 AM:

Sandy B: well, that establishes the author and gives some possible sources. Thank you!

Tom: if you've got the Effinger I'd prefer to get it from you. On the fanzine, all I know was that an ad ran for it in Algol/Starship--I don't have an issue number. I'll try to touch base with Andy, and if he doesn't have it I'll try to reach Rob Garcia. Good to hear that ILL has the Interzone, since the last time I tried the librarian involved drew a total blank.

Soon Lee: thanks for the link! This may be the best way to go.

#716 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 11:28 AM:

Jacque @ 583: Wonderful picture! I wonder whether Bujold had seen anything like it when she invented the skellytum?

#717 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 11:29 AM:

And now Rod Taylor is gone. I'll still catch The Time Machine on TCM when it pops up. One of my favorites from my youth.

#718 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 11:43 AM:

Along the road to sainthood: Archbishop Oscar Romero is now considered a martyr.

As I hazily recall, officially declaring someone a martyr is somewhat tricky. It's not just that he was killed-- it must be shown that he was killed because of his faith. And there may be several reasons why the Catholic Church has taken a long time to arrive at this announcement.

#719 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 11:51 AM:

Should probably add that #718 came from a tip by Abi on Twitter. I thought it worth posting here.

Kenneth Woodward discusses the politics of Romero's cause for sainthood in his 1996 book Making Saints-- a book I first heard of when Patrick recommended it, long ago.

#720 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 04:35 PM:

SAndy B. #714 - I too found that article from a dodgy source, on facebook someone liked it.

Now the interesting thing to me is that if it i really is a 600BC ship wreck, then how come they had a zinc and copper and lead alloy? As far as I was aware, the creation of Brass is more a 1st century BC thing, and it was taken up by the ROmans especially because they liked bright shiny gold-ish things.
There's also an archaeology paper showing that in Palestine there are two settlements, one made by the Romans, the other Jewish, and oddly enough, the Roman one has a much much higher % of brass objects found in it.

So re. the aurichalcum, how often was brass produced accidentally in the intervening 500 years, or just by accident?
This is getting into quite complex archaeometallurgy stuff, I'd have to do some proper digging to be able to say much more.

#721 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 06:41 PM:

CHip @716: Wonderful picture! I wonder whether Bujold had seen anything like it when she invented the skellytum?

It would be fun to ask her, wouldn't it?

My downstairs neighbor has an old, fat jade plant that could play the role, too, though as I recall they're supposed to be reddish. I visualize it with a kind of bloodgood maple color.

#722 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 07:31 PM:

@Guthrie no. 720: I've seen a photo of a tin-can-telephone set that was devised, using gourds and very thin resonating membranes, more than a thousand years ago, by a South American culture that fragmented later on. As far as the archaeologists could determine, it was probably used as a kind of intercom for the ruling class, who appear to have lived in apartments shielded from the presence of hoi polloi. Or maybe certain persons were considered to leak magic, or something, and so they had to be separated. The point is that it worked. This could have led to a thousand or more years of ever-elaborated sound conduction systems, perhaps leading to discovery of other uses for very thin membranes, carefully shaped sound-gatherers, or finely spun cordage; but it didn't, because those cities fell. Somebody else rediscovered the principle of the tin can telephone and now it's a cheap children's toy.

I think the history of orichalcum was much the same sort of thing.

#723 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 10:21 PM:

There's been a humane and interesting addition to the Aaronson discussion by Arthur Chu. It's IMO well worth reading even if you were frustrated with some of how the subthread went here.

Pullquotes/samples for tl;dr:
None of the pain Scott talks about came from things that happened to him. They came from things that happened inside his head.
He doesn’t talk about anyone targeting or harassing him personally — indeed, how could he be targeted by books written by second-wave feminists when he was a toddler? — but of feeling targeted, of having an accusatory voice inside his mind tormenting him with a pervasive sense of inadequacy, uncleanness, wrongness. It doesn’t seem like anyone in his life was particularly giving him a hard time, but that he was giving himself a hard time and picking up on any critical or negative messages directed at men in general as a way to amplify his negative thoughts.
Depression, at its core, doesn’t really make sense, but it’s really great at hijacking the rest of your brain to make itself make sense, and when the depressed person in question is highly intelligent, you end up with an immaculately logical tower of reasoning for why their depression is wholly rational and inevitable.
To be blunt, Scott’s story is about Scott himself spending a lot of time by himself hating himself. When he eventually stops hating himself and, as an older, more mature nerd, asks women out, no women mace him, slap him or ritually humiliate him — instead he ends up with a girlfriend who ends up becoming a wife. So far, so typical.

[His commenter] Amy’s story is about being harassed and groped by men in the tech world and, eventually,being raped by a shy, nerdy guy she thought she trusted. So far, so also typical.

What’s the biggest difference between Scott’s and Amy’s stories? Scott’s story is about things that happened inside his brain. Amy’s story is about actual things that were done to her by other people against her will, without her control.

And Scott, and his commenters, are treating the two as worthy of equivalent degrees of scrutiny.

#724 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2015, 11:14 PM:

I'm pretty sure Scott explicitly pointed out that he wasn't trying to compare his pain or experience with that of a woman being raped early in his comment thread. It's been awhile since I read the article and the beginning of the (long) comment thread, but I recall that much. (On the other hand, it's not clear to me how you'd even begin to compare the horror of being raped by a friend vs the horror of spending a decade of your youth suffering from a debilitating and awful mental illness. Both are so awful in different ways that it's hard to even know where to start.)

#725 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2015, 02:56 AM:


Gnomes: I may have put the wrong name on a previous post, which I can't remember where it is, so agh. It did have the correct address, which you see above.

Anyway, AKICML: Does anybody know about a webcomic featuring a weird little community in the Ozarks that does things like bury chicken guts in holes in their yards on one day every year, and stay indoors during storms because of the thing that walks out there, and there's a bad-tempered billy goat that is apparently immortal?

#726 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2015, 04:25 AM:

Jenny Islander @725:

Found, fixed.

#727 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2015, 08:10 AM:

Problem: cars don't stop for pedestrians in busy crosswalk, despite flashing lights and signs.

Solution: have pedestrians wave orange flags.

This mystifies me. The police have previously set up stings at this crosswalk and made multiple arrests. But now I guess it's the pedestrians' problem.

Disclosure: one of these 2 crosswalks is at one of my favorite restaurants, where my middle daughter has worked for many years. I haven't had the chance to use the flags yet, but I've had multiple opportunities to nearly get hit.

#728 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2015, 10:33 AM:

Lila @ 727: When she got to "It involves two large orange flags," I looked for the Onion TV logo. I knew in my mind it wasn't, but the heart wants what the heart wants. It was a good restaurant, by the way, and I will be back in town Valentine's Day weekend.

#729 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Albatross: I'm pretty sure Scott explicitly pointed out that he wasn't trying to compare his pain or experience with that of a woman being raped early in his comment thread.

He did explicitly point that out--and then proceeded to do it anyway. Which is part of the whole problem I have with his comments, though I can't speak for anyone else.

#730 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2015, 05:27 PM:

I imagine there are other Kobo ereader users here, so I thought I'd share my experience.

I was reading a novel on my Kobo device, and when I got to the end of a chapter, and "turned the page", instead of finding myself at the beginning of the next chapter, I was at the first page of a previous chapter. I navigated to the table of contents, and saw that the chapters were listed strangely. I could read the book by using the table of contents to get from one chapter to the next—until I couldn't get the last chapter of a mystery to open. To my relief, I found that I could read the same book just fine on my iPad, in the Kobo app.

I contacted Kobo support, and they suggested that I log out of the Kobo device, then log in again. This is a bit of a nuisance, since you have to re-enter a few things (language, log into Wifi,...), and it deletes all your books from the device, then re-downloads them, which takes awhile. But it fixed it!

I thought others might want know that if they encounter this, it isn't necessarily the book, and there's a workaround and a fix.

In other news, I just read Charlaine Harris' five Lily Bard (Shakespeare) mysteries in 6 days. Trigger warning applies.

#731 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 01:27 AM:

Lila #727: The pedestrian flag thing really works -- that is, it makes cars more likely to stop for pedestrians (based on field trials). My guess is that they make it harder for drivers to pretend they haven't seen you. One reason the idea hasn't spread is that the flags get stolen quite quickly.

Of coure, police involvement would help however the crossing is set up (at least, if your local police are the sort whose presence doesn't tend to make things worse).

#732 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 02:54 AM:

After viewing the video, I did find myself wondering how well it works at night. Or is this one of those towns that rolls up the sidewalks at sunset?

It would cost more, but how difficult would it be to put reflective edgings on the flags?

#733 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 06:20 AM:

This seems worth a signal boost for those in the US:

Cheapest Local Prescriptions

#734 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 08:49 AM:

Inquisitive Raven @ 732: Athens very much does not roll up the sidewalks at night. I've had some very hairy adventures walking up and down a steep, icy street at late-thirty, when a rolled-up sidewalk would have been preferable.

In fact, I'm going to a largish private afternoon party there, for which crowd I've suggested Orange Flags outside to the host.

#735 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Jenny Islander #722 - that sounds really cool. I'd try to replicate it except there aren't many gourds and membranes to be found in wet and stormy central Scotland.
A sort of related example is Hero's steam engine, nice idea, but several technologies simply weren't mature enough to make it useful, but if it had been passed down and along and so on, maybe we would have had steam engines sooner.

One of the interesting things as well, solved by experimental archaeology, re. gold items in south america, is the layers of fine gold on objects. Some people were suggesting all sorts of outrageous technical solutions that people a thousand years ago in South America didn't have, but it turns out that simple washing with acidic plant juices then polishing it does the job nicely, a form of surface enrichment.

#736 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 04:18 PM:

Whilst it's open thread - my sister in law is wanting to improve her writing and get more exposure. I'm critting and pointing her at various resources, and she sent me a link to a list of competitions. I know I'm a bit out of touch, but is it now normal for short story competitions to ask for an entry fee?

It seems a violation of Yog's law to me, and I can't see that it would serve any writer-related purpose.

(Consideration of it allowed me to find one of Scalzi's blog posts that I missed reading last year:

#737 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 06:18 PM:

guthrie @736: I'll shill for the hosts here, and suggest that she consider something like Viable Paradise, a workshop designed to take writers beyond wanting to publish into being published. It's one week; it's intense; and it's amazing.

I speak not as someone who's gone, but as someone who's watched its effects on more than one writer.

This is less an expenditure than an investment. Your SIL will know whether it's a worthwhile investment. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it; if it does, I think it's going to transform her writing. That is, if she gets in. And if she doesn't -- that's useful feedback, too.

#738 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 08:47 PM:

The Boskone 52 main program schedule has been posted. Who's going? Or rather, who wants to attend a Gathering of Light there? Or am I asking too early? My schedule, at least, looks non-busy except for the Xenolinguistics group discussion Saturday at 4:00 pm (1600), which I suggested.

#739 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 09:30 PM:

I'll be at Boskone. Interested in a Gathering of Light, but not entirely sure of my schedule yet.

#740 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2015, 11:51 PM:

Speaking of Gatherings of Light, is there any interest in such at Arisia this coming weekend? Sometime Saturday would be preferable for us.

#741 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 01:35 AM:

Tried to leave this at Avram's latest phosphene, but failed. Sigh.

Turing and Sherlock make
Benedict Cumberbatch
Oscar material
Long may he shine!
Smaug’s burning countenance
Won’t be the reason
He wins it this time.

#742 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 03:25 AM:

Lila #727:

This time last year we were in Vietnam where crossing the road works rather differently even at a pedestrian crossing (youtube link). You pretty much ignore all your normal survival instincts & step into oncoming traffic and (this is important) just keep walking at a slow & steady pace. Just keep walking at a slow, and steady pace and don't stop till you get to the other side.

The idea is that the oncoming traffic will see you and adjust their speed & direction to flow around you. So long as you keep moving at a slow & steady pace you are a predictable object that oncoming traffic can avoid hitting. It works best with bikes & cars (if a big bus or truck is heading your way, you might want to wait until it has passed before you begin crossing.

Our local guide also suggested we also wave our hands as we cross the road (haven't been able to locate a video). Stretch out your arm in front, palm down, and wave it gently up & down bending somewhere between wrist & forearm & keep waving until you get to the other side. This makes you more visible to traffic & marks you as a foreigner (in the hope that oncoming traffic will be more wary of you).

#743 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 06:47 AM:

re 740: I might be interested.

#744 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 08:49 AM:

Yesterday (I think, maybe Saturday night US time) a Fox News reporter made a horribly inaccurate claim about the city of Birmingham, in England.

The BBC reports the story here.

A great many comments have been made on #foxnewsfacts.

And it appears that Fox News have opened a special Twitter account to correct the false stories tagged as #foxnewsfacts, although @FoxNewsPress may be a parody account, and certainly has issued corrections which are themselves incorrect.

I think one or two other regulars have already heard of this...

#745 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 09:12 AM:


I've just (belatedly) seen Interstellar in glorious 70mm IMAX. I wanted to make some comments that no one will want to read because they're so late, but am also leery of SPOILERS. Is there any accepted place or way of doing this, or should I just ROT13 the whole lot?

#746 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Tom Whitmore @741: I managed to get it in. Duly credited, of course.

#747 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 01:45 PM:

guthrie @736:

I don't know much about the world of short story competitions, but I would suggest that your friend have a quick look at Absolute Write's Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Checks for whoever is running a competition that they're considering entering.

(Disclosure: I'm a mod on AW, but not in that room. I do Grammar & Syntax.)

#748 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 02:22 PM:

Dave Bell @744: Maryam Snape (seriously?), who started the petition, said: "The fact of the matter is the American people saw this story and they are still going to believe it is the truth until he puts it right."

Well, yes. Some Americans will believe it. The rest of us will just do what we usually do: point at Fox News and laugh.

James Harvey: May I suggest the rot-13 route with one modification? Just rot your whole comment, even the non spoilery parts, and post it with the header Interstellar. That way, readers can deal with it in one gulp.

#749 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Is there appetite for a spoileriffic Interstellar discussion thread?

#750 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 03:26 PM:

I am so much enamored of this video Sports Go Sports that I can't resist sharing it there.

#751 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 06:06 PM:

Light was made at GAFilk! Fragano and his lovely wife Gail were there, and we got to spend some time chatting. Lila, we missed you.

janetl, #730: I had wondered if there were any other Lily Bard mysteries. Thank you for confirming that I have them all. Yeah, some serious trigger warnings there, especially on the first one.

Jacque, #748: The problem is that once it's been said on Faux News, there are a significant number of people who will believe in it absolutely, no matter how many others point and laugh. See, we've just been brainwashed by the Evul Librul Media, and anything we say or do simply bounces off. The Fox ourobouros is probably the single most successful propaganda tactic in history, because it CANNOT be broken from the outside. Which wouldn't be a problem except that then those people vote based on what they hear on Faux News.

#752 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 06:08 PM:

Abi #747 - thanls for the link.

Tom, being British, and penniless is a bit of a problem for your suggestion, but thanks all the same.

#753 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 06:41 PM:

740/743 I'll be at Arisia also.

#754 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 08:00 PM:

I'll be at Arisia too.

#755 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 10:59 PM:

I'm going to Capricon (epi-Chicago, Feb 12-15), in case anyone else is. Likely I shall also be on panels.

Probably only there Fri/Sat, and only in the evenings, because childcare.

#756 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 11:26 PM:

This is just to say

I have read
the tumblr
of plum poem

and which
you have probably
been linked to

Forgive me
they were apropos
so sweet
and so ML

#757 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 11:44 PM:

Tom Whitmore @741: Very nice!

#758 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2015, 11:59 PM:

HLN: Well, I guess I can't call my Amazing Girlfriend my Amazing Girlfriend anymore: she's my Amazing Fiancée now.

#759 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 12:10 AM:


#760 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 12:42 AM:

TYVM, Jacque @746. I hope folks enjoy it there.

Incidentally, that use of "pyromainiacally" goes back to a double-dactyl James Langdell and I created for APA-L:

Higgledy Piggledy
Good old Saint Nicholas
Came down the chimney
That cold winter's night

Inside the children, quite
Set up the Yule log
And called for a light.

Cumberbatch works better, I think.

#761 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 12:43 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe: Congratulations! I remember I once successfully trolled Kip Williams on a similar occasion....

#762 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 07:23 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe@758


#763 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 08:17 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @758: Congratulations!

#764 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 08:27 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe@758: Congratulations!

#765 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 09:37 AM:

abi's "Ship Your Enemies Glitter" parhelia reminds me of the start of Bruce Schneier's piece "The Security Mindset":

Uncle Milton Industries has been selling ant farms to children since 1956. Some years ago, I remember opening one up with a friend. There were no actual ants included in the box. Instead, there was a card that you filled in with your address, and the company would mail you some ants. My friend expressed surprise that you could get ants sent to you in the mail.
I replied: "What's really interesting is that these people will send a tube of live ants to anyone you tell them to."

#766 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 09:48 AM:

*glances nervously round the room* Hallo again.

I'm sorry for disappearing like that. I did manage to keep going on the Book of Face for a while, but I'm hardly there either these days. I've been having some pretty major mental health issues, and, while I know some extremely supportive and helpful people online (and this is one of the best places to find such people), there are also constant reminders in the same places that the world sucks in ways I can't always handle. You know how it is. Someone links something about someone wanting to shoot Muslims or whatever, and, while they've linked it because they think it's terrible, it's still a reminder that that sort of thing exists and right now you don't even know where to start dealing with it, because it's all you can do to go out and take the tram one stop up to the pharmacist's.

I'm a little better now. I've written a metric shedload of Girl Genius fanfic (nearly all centring around Ardsley Wooster, with whom I identify *so much*, because I'm quite certain he's got a serious anxiety problem too), and that got my head straight enough to start on an original steampunk novel. Some of you, which is to say those I've been able to find, may have noticed that Mr Wooster has added you on Twitter. Yes, that would, in fact, be me. I haven't forgotten you, even though I've been out of touch.

My physical health isn't so good either, but that's nothing serious, just annoying. Anyway, I'm back, and I shall do my best to remain; if I go missing again, feel free to poke me on Twitter, OK? Thanks. :-)

#767 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 10:00 AM:

Welcome back, Mongoose. I was recently thinking with pleasure of your "Today we have shaming of food" verse from a couple of years ago, and I realized that I hadn't seen your posts in a while.

I never know exactly how to say, "It's good to hear that things aren't as bad now as I didn't realize they were", but it is.

#768 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 10:12 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe (758): Congratulations to you and to Fabulous Fiancee!

#769 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 10:13 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe (758): Congratulations to you and to Amazing Fiancee!

#770 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 10:14 AM:

Sorry for the double post; I thought I had caught the first one in time to make the correction.

#771 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 10:48 AM:

dotless ı: thank you!

#772 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 10:50 AM:

Mongoose @766. What maturity level is your fanfic?

CNN pulled a bait-and-switch from the point of view of my friend. She was asked to appear to discuss lone wolf terror attacks, somehow the hostess decided to talk Twitter hacking. Somewhere, somehow, somebody decided to change the topic and forgot to change the guest expert list!

#773 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 11:13 AM:

Elliott Mason @755, I'll be at Capricon, too.

#774 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 11:16 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @758, congratulations to you and to the Amazing Fiancée!

#775 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 11:30 AM:

Lady Kay: oh, almost all suitable for anyone. There are just one or two stories I've marked as "teen and up" to be on the safe side, but I probably label more strictly than most, and the label is more for concepts that are likely to go over the heads of younger children than any of the kind of thing that is normally marked "mature". I'm an asexual who hates gore. Enough said.

Anyone interested can find the whole lot here (listed in reverse order of writing, which is, for the most part, also reverse chronological order, though there are a few exceptions). There's a mixture. Some of the stories are funny, some are serious, one or two are outright gloomy, and one of them escaped into the Discworld for a while and spawned a crossover that I thoroughly enjoyed writing.

#776 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 11:49 AM:

Mongoose, may I link to that poem in other fora, pretty please? It's AWESOME.

#777 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Jenny Islander @776: my goodness, thank you! Yes, of course you may; I'd be honoured.

#778 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 06:23 PM:

Lee #751: It was good to see you and Russ at GAFilk!

#779 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Mongoose!! It is good to see you back among the living.

#780 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Mongoose!! It is good to see you back among the living.

#781 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Mongoose!! It is good to see you back among the living.

#782 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 06:31 PM:

#765, whose name I can't get to type properly here--the glitter link did not work. I later was cruising Metafilter and found that it sounds like a very destructive, vicious thing to do--it seems a child died somewhere from inhalation of glitter--didn't take time to verify that one, but I find the idea of practical jokes as revenge rather repulsive and likely to get out of hand.
If I ever do anything with glitter, it will be in the form of resin casting, as I did once some eons past, with the troublesome substance suitably immobilized. Perhaps it should be considered a hazardous material...

#783 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 06:37 PM:

Apologies for the posting in triplicate. I seem to have been stung by the bureacracy bug.

#784 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 07:03 PM:

Fragano #783, rather than the bureaucracy bug, I assumed you were just giving three cheers for Mongoose's return (in which I concur).

Angiportus #782, to type something like dotless ı's name, I usually just copy and paste it. I once transcribed an entire Thai streetsign into a search engine by copying and pasting individual Thai letters from Wikipedia's page on the Thai alphabet (GeoGuesser is a terrible drug!)

#785 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 07:44 PM:

WB, Mongoose! Glad to see you here.

#786 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Benjamin, #758: Congratulations!

#787 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 08:37 PM:

Congrats, Benjamin!

#788 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 08:46 PM:

More on the pedestrian flags:

These ladies did a photoshoot in the crossing, wearing bikinis made of orange hazard flags (marginally SFW?).

#789 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 09:43 PM:

Well, f**k.

The product I worked on -- testing, documenting, training, tech-supporting -- for 17 years, right up to last month, has been back-burnered. Emergency fixes only. Remaining staff -- my long-term coworkers -- reassigned. Maybe I'll be working with some of them. Maybe we'll all be replaced with anonymous work-unit contractors.

I am so tired of this crap.

Lucky lottery numbers appreciated.

**You see?

#790 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2015, 10:53 PM:

Stefan Jones@789 - A couple of technologies I worked on (and consulted about, and helped people sell, etc.) for 10-15 years have gone from cutting-edge researchy stuff to antique dealing. (In the most recent case, frame relay and ATM, but a variety of other things as well, like land-line phones, and their related support systems.)

#791 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 12:03 AM:

So I had one of those Twitter things happen. Somebody tweeted that he doesn't trust people who don't eat bacon, and that he wants to cut them open to see if they have robots inside.

It's a joke, see? Haha! Haha. Ha. Ha?

Not funny if you happen to be a person who doesn't eat bacon and has heard this alleged "humor" in various forms for 30 years. Instead of just quietly unFollowing him, I told him why I didn't think that was funny. Pointed out that that means he also automatically distrusts Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Seventh-Day Adventists. Not to mention talking about killing them (at a particularly bad time, in my opinion, to be talking about killing Jews and Muslims).

Well, that was a mistake. Of course I got the "you have no sense of humor," and the "what I said didn't imply anything of the kind," and suchlike bullshit, and called an SJW, "Batman," and all like that (since "SJW" is in my Twitter name, he kind of had to go further to really insult me).

I had thought better of this person. I really thought he might consider that something he didn't intend to be offensive really was. I was obviously naïve.

And of course a couple of his friends piled on, and my Block button got a workout. Him I just unFollowed on Twitter and Facebook, and added to my mental list of assholes.

If it's wrong not to think it's funny to joke about cutting me open to see what's inside because you don't agree with my dietary choices, I don't want to be right.

Benjamin 758: Megagigateracongratulations!!!!

(Reminds me that I had to sadly tell my nephew he's no longer my favorite 11-year-old. He was consoled by his new status as my favorite 12-year-old.)

Mongoose 766: Lots of "wow, do I know that feeling" but more "I'm so glad you're back!"

#792 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 12:30 AM:

Xopher, I don't think that's a funny joke, either. (I don't eat much bacon - maybe three slices a month - but I know that many people don't for all kinds of reasons. And there are some things it doesn't belong in, IMO, like the glaze on donuts.)

#793 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 01:41 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe #758: Yay!

(because I've been reading too much Locke Lamora, this makes me think of children Potential Wolfe-Fianceé and Hypothetical Fianceé-Wolfe)

#794 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 01:45 AM:

One or two of you may have seen this on Twitter, but I like it, so I'm going to repeat it here. It's summer in NZ: yardwork season.

Some say this place will end in fire
Some say wisteria
From what I've hacked off the exterior
I favor those who say wisteria
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of plants
To say that for destruction, fire
Is pretty much our only chance

#795 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 02:52 AM:

Finally got around to reading The Goblin Emperor and I am bowled over. Please tell me this book is eligible for the Hugo in 2015.

#796 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 04:14 AM:

Angiportus @782:

Kajillions of kids all over the world have used glitter since forever. It's pervasive in any context that includes both children and crafting. That is the first and only case I have ever heard of where a child has had that happen to him.

The reason that the parhelion is funny is that once glitter gets loose in your environment, it's hard to get rid of. It gets into carpets; it sticks to things. When worn as makeup, it causes random articles to sparkle for days on end.

In other words, the intent is to be amusingly annoying, not deadly.

#797 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 06:03 AM:

Thanks, everyone! It's nice to be back, too.

Xopher @791: great Scott. I saw, as you know, your response on Twitter, but didn't go to look at what was originally said. It's startling, to say the least, to wake up and find that there are people in the world who think you ought to be cut open to find out why you don't like something they happen to like. (Yes, I am a vegetarian; but even before that, I always hated bacon with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I can't even stand the smell.)

Stefan Jones @789: much sympathy, and also applause for outstandingly elegant use of asterisks.

#798 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 07:32 AM:

thomas @794, <applause!>

#799 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 08:18 AM:

Angiportus@782: I have similar feelings about practical jokes—I only contemplate them when I know that the recipient will be amused, which is almost never—but I found the idea of the service funny for the reason abi gives: I've never managed to do anything with glitter—including, apparently, talking to someone else with glitter makeup—without finding glitter on me or my things for days, weeks, or months afterward. If you actually managed to isolate it in resin and got it on nothing else I'd be very impressed.

My apologies if the nym is causing difficulties. The copy-and-paste workaround is one option (installing a Turkish keyboard layout for one character is probably overkill—not that I haven't done that myself, but it's my nym), but I'm also not offended if the dotless ı gets a dot, especially when the alternative is cumbersome.

#800 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 08:51 AM:

For a while, my sister and I wrote letters to each other. When she was woefully overdue, I posted a question on Facebook: glitter, sequins, or both? She said both.

The second she opened her mailbox, she knew what I had done. Two packets of sequins, a full tube of rainbow glitter, all tucked into the letter in the envelope so there was no way to get the letter without pouring out the glitter. And, though there wasn't the glitterbomb effect I had intended where she pulled out the letter and UNICORN RAINBOWS, it was because the envelope had torn in the mail. So every single bill she got for months had glitter on it from the mailbox.

I do think that weaponized glitter could be really bad-- a glitter gun, for example, or anything where it's intentionally airborne. Health problems are something to think about. I don't think they're prohibitive, though, particularly if the glitter is used as directed-- subject to gravity and not thrown into anyone's open eyes.

Oh, man. Show choir flashbacks. All the glitter.

#801 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 09:38 AM:

Diatryma @800 Show choir flashbacks. All the glitter.

Heh. Yeah. My barbershop chorus (a member of Sweet Adelines) switched our show costumes a year or so ago from one with teal glitter to one with red sequins. The sequin tops are hot, and there's a tendency for sequins on the arm to hook themselves onto sequins on the side when you're gesturing in performance, but at least there's no longer glitter everywhere. (Which I'm still finding on things that shared closet space with the teal top.)

To REALLY date myself, I could mention that one used to be able to do this kind of thing with the confetti-like contents of the bins that caught the hole punches in an old IBM punch card machine. Not quite as clingy as glitter, but at one time readily available.

#802 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 09:48 AM:

When Martin and I got married, my gentleman of hono[u]r* decorated the car we drove away from the reception in. The Coke cans tied to the back bumper were easily dealt with of (a sgian-dubh is a useful thing, and the foot of the goh's sleeping bag was a logical disposal site). The silver confetti strewn liberally inside the vehicle was another matter.

It got into the air conditioning, you see. It was years before bits of it stopped flying out of the vents at random intervals. As I agreed with my mother, "at least it's the reminder of a happy day."

* who can identify himself if he so chooses

#803 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 10:38 AM:

OtterB@801: The chad I remember wasn't quite as decorative (were colored cards a thing? I only remember manila) but it did get everywhere. The chad from cards tended to be pretty sharp, though; the paper tape bits were smaller and thinner.

abi@802: Oh dear. Yes, I can so easily see that happening. Also, there are so many little ridges and textures inside a car for bits to get hooked on.

I'm not sure of the name, but there definitely is a category of things here: little decorative particles that you keep finding pieces of for ages after.* The shiny ones stand out, so a single particle of glitter will occasionally catch the light and make you wonder "how did that get there?" In college I remember 1" rubber balls being popular in my circle. You wouldn't think they'd be small enough to fit in the category, but there was always one more ball to be found under a bed or behind a book long after you were sure everything was cleaned up. And some of them left glitter behind.

* ← See, there's another one.

#804 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 10:49 AM:

dotless ı @803: they don't have to be decorative. Cat hair falls into the same cat-egory. I had a little ginger cat called Klinsmann who had very fine, soft, dense fur and moulted about three times as much of it as any other cat I've ever had. It used to turn up everywhere: in the wardrobe (the cats are not allowed in my bedroom, so that was puzzling), in other people's cars, in the office where I was working at the time. Everywhere I went, little ginger cat hairs were liable to turn up without warning.

In one way, this was rather sweet, but in another way it was a complete pain, as one of my sisters is highly allergic to cats, and despite my best efforts to de-Klinsmann myself before visiting her, I was never completely successful.

#805 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 11:20 AM:

dotless ı @803: I remember three colors of cards; I'm sure there are others.

Plain manilla cards were most common, but I recall green cards being used for JCL -- the header you put on your deck to tell the computer what you wanted it to do with your deck. I also remember pink/red cards, but I don't remember what those were supposed to signify.

#806 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 11:21 AM:

On vinyl records.

#807 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 11:23 AM:

dotless ı @ #803

Coloured chad: yes indeed, a wide variety of colours were available for both punch cards and paper tape. The coloured cards were usually to make it obvious which part of a card deck was the in-stream data that would be replaced before the next run. I recall seeing pink, yellow, blue and green as well as the standard buff (off-white) that we used for data. There were also cards with the top edge a different colour (again, red, yellow or blue) on a white card, plus various preprinted cards with logos, layouts, etc.

The major problems with card chad were the sharp edges and corners, plus the unglazed finish that caused them to stick firmly to wet surfaces - very nasty if you got a piece in your eye.

Paper tape chad was less unfriendly, being circular and also much thinner. It also tended to be waterproof so didn't tend to stick to things.

#808 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 11:25 AM:

We had orange cards at work - they were aperture cards, but same size and punched for sorter at the end opposite the aperture. I think they only stopped using them in the last five years.

#809 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 11:41 AM:

Somewhere, this moose has an EGTRAN "* ENDJOB" card from the old English Electric KDF9 computer that ran "Egdon Fortran" (naturally shortened to "EGTRAN" and leading to spoofs such as BACONTRAN, etc.). I seem to remember it's quite a stylish card with a multicoloured design on it.

#810 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 11:53 AM:

Cadbury Moose @809: tangentially, that reminds me that I once read about a university professor who named all the computers in his lab after characters from Blake's 7. Including, of course, Server-LAN.

#811 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 11:53 AM:

No confetti inside the car or outside, when we got married. We knew how to entertain our guests though: we all sat down to watch "Forbidden Planet".

#812 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 12:07 PM:

Mongoose @ #810


(A good friend once moved to as organization where all the Apple Macs were named after signs of the zodiac. She was unimpressed and they were progressively renamed after famous scientists as each osystem was upgraded. (This moose still has a 7100/66AV named Feynman hidden away somewhere, from when the entire department was upgraded en bloc and the old hardware disposed of.)

#813 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 12:10 PM:

Mongoose, #804: Our Spot has fur like that. She looks like a shorthair, but her short hair is apparently mostly a Persian's undercoat! She sheds more than all of our other cats put together, and everything has Spot fur on it.

#814 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 12:26 PM:

My husband, who works in computer networking at a state university, was at the library there once noting down a bunch of IP addresses to do diagnostic things at. He ran out of scrap paper. A nearby librarian pointed to a bin of scrap he could take what he wanted out of.

It was still-remaining piles of typed index cards that were once the university library card catalog.

It always amuses the heck out of him to take a new card out of his stash (because of course he grabbed a bunch, and goes back to refill at need) and realizes he's taking notes on a hyperlink -- a card whose entire purpose is to say, "This keyword string you're trying to find: go look under this main header."

#815 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 06:08 PM:

I think the news is already circulating in fandom, but the guy just arrested for the canal murders in Phoenix has a fandom connection. I'm not sure if I should post his fandom handle here, but he's a Dr. Who and steampunk fan and a cosplayer, and I think -- if I'm connecting the dots right -- he's also lived in NYC and Seattle. His real world name is Bryan Patrick Miller.

I didn't know him -- beyond running into him in fandom here and there twenty or so years ago -- but I could easily have been Angela Brasso, who was killed (gruesomely) VERY close to my house in Phoenix when I was seventeen. I rode my bike on the bike path where she was killed on most evenings, including the evening she died.

#816 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 07:08 PM:

Thomas at #794 gives a well-stated reminder not to plant wisteria.

#817 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 07:24 PM:

In re the excellent wisteria poem and Allan Beatty's response @816:

There are a great variety of botanicals (varying by climate, of course) known to experienced gardeners as members of the set, "Plant these in the lawn of someone you dislike."

#818 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 08:13 PM:

Wisteria is not one of the contenders in my yard or on my house. Virginia creeper, trumpet creeper, English ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, wild grape and greenbriar are among the jungle denizens that I take a machete to on occasion. Poison ivy pops up far too frequently too; it's the only one I spray herbicide on. Bindweed and sweet pea put in occasional appearances, and there's at least one patch of nightshade. There's something running over the ground in the large part of my yard which doesn't get enough sun for grass to thrive; it might be periwinkle. Might be some creeping Charlie in there too.

#819 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Wisteria is perfectly manageable on a pergola the size of a small house.

Kudzu, on the other hand.... It's a good thing that it is killed back to the ground in the winter here.

#820 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2015, 09:59 PM:

No wisteria here, but my particular bete noirs are heliconia, and runner forms of bamboo. Heliconia does look nice when it flowers, and is not too dense, but it will tunnel out of a pen and take over everything in sight. And then there is some kind of vine which I don't know the proper name for; people here call it maile pilau or "stinking maile" - maile is a beautiful, prized, fragrant, and hard to find vine. This is none of those.

#821 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 04:54 AM:

I feel it is important to remind all here that we have begun the election season, here in the UK, with a general election due in May 2015.

This means that anything any British politician says must be considered in the light of a desperate effort to get support in an election. We have our Prime Minister in the USA today, bitching about Facebook. Apparently he doesn't like the possibility he can be heckled on social media, though I doubt he writes his own tweets and may never actually look at the responses.

Meanwhile, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party continues, and they really do seem to read the responses on their Twitter account. They are currently accepting proposals for their 2015 Manicfesto. And I don't think they have a bias against American ideas, so long as they suit British politics and are amusing.

Besides, if you actually want to join the party, consider the advantages of greeting a campaigning MP at your front door while wearing an official Official MRLP rosette.

They're not what they were. A few of their early policies, such as voting at Age-18, did get adopted, and became law, but that was a long time ago. They came very close to beating the Lib-Dems, an alleged Party of Government, in the last by-election. And politics is sometimes drearily serious.

#822 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 05:33 AM:

Dave Bell @821: why do we have to wait till May? If they had any common human decency, they would stand not upon the order of their going.

Not that I can see anyone much better who's likely to be able to replace the current shower of unutterable cads, but I'll take a tiny improvement over none at all.

#823 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 05:36 AM:

Polygonum baldschuanicum is something else that will take over the entire area if not ruthlessly controlled. (A friend had some escape and it's probably going to need glyphosate to get rid of it.)

This moose had no problem with a (standard) Wisteria, apart from the frost killing it one year, after which it was replaced by Amelancia (nicknamed "the mushroom cloud" from its appearance when all too briefly flowering). Unfortunately the local wood pigeons ripped the hell out of it as soon as the berries appeared and appear to have finally killed it off.

My problem is a Magnolia that was supposedly a "shrub" but is now about 18" (45cm) diameter at the base and encroaching on the local airspace.
It will probably have to come out this year because I don't think I can sensibly cut it back.

#824 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 09:28 AM:

Mongoose @822

One of the things they did, pretty early on, was change to a fixed-term system. There's still a possibility of an early election. but the politicians expect to get the full five years. Which is a swings and roundabout thing. There was an upper limit, but the prime Minster was free to pick the date.

This did tend to delay the full-blown election campaigning. Opposition parties wanted to keep their powder dry.

The horrible thought, after seeing what the Labour Party just did, is that kicking out the Tories isn't going to make any difference. And I am not sure that we have all that good an idea how to run a coalition government.

I grew up in the tumultuous 1970s. which had high inflation and minority governments and frequent elections. The 1960s were pretty changeable too. And then we got two long periods of single-party government, starting in 1979, a change in 1997, and then 2010...

I don't want the politicians to think that they can easily get re-elected. Locally we have had some good, rather traditional, MPs who worked hard for their constituencies. We've also had more than enough of the modern-style crooks and incompetents.

I want the next MP I vote for to be nervous about what might happen if he doesn't do a good job.

#825 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 09:50 AM:

Dave Bell @824: that would make me about the same age as you, I think. The point I was trying to make was that they ought to understand how much damage they've done to ordinary human beings, and then do the decent thing and resign. Not that I expect them to do so; of course they always want to hang onto power as long as possible.

But I am just so incredibly angry with the current bunch that if I start going into the reasons why, then, chronic low blood pressure or not, I'm going to blow an arterial valve. I'm intelligent, dammit. I want to be allowed to work. But when IDS has said out loud that he thinks a high level of unemployment is good for the economy (as if "the economy" were some unpleasant god which demanded that people's livelihoods, and sometimes their lives, should be sacrificed to it), without so much as a blush of shame - and then he still blames those people who actually are unemployed for not having jobs - then I feel like going out and kicking something.

IDS' well-fed rump would be a good place to start that, but I suspect I shall have to join a very long queue.

#826 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Re the Aaronson discussion: I was thinking today of a parallel that makes sense to me.

Imagine reading an article by a middle-aged woman who is now quite successful. She's healthy, has a good career, is happily married, has kids--things have broadly worked out for her. And imagine she writes a long article describing her awful struggles with her eating disorder as a teenager and young adult--how she was under psychiatric care, how she was obsessed with how grotesquely obese she was even as her friends and parents and doctor all told her she was on the thin end of a healthy weight. And imagine she had a lot of discussion partly blaming American media's obsessions with weight loss and fat shaming and photoshopping already-thin models to be even thinner, perhaps in the context of saying she's 97% on board with US media culture.

I feel like that's a pretty good parallel for Scott Aaronson's discussion. He's describing somethng he went through that was clearly a terrible mental illness, which was in some ways exacerbated by what he grew up with w.r.t. feminism, in much the same way someone with an eating disorder has their terrible mental illness exacerbated by those photoshopped models in womens' magazines.

It sometimes is convenient for people who want to make a point about unrealistic portrayals of women in media or fat shaming or whatever to use this kind of case to justify their views. And in the same way, it is currently convenient for people who want to make a point about some aspects of feminism that are unreasonable or upsetting to use Aaronson's story in their arguments.

#827 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Polling: a few people have mentioned they'll be at Arisia, but we don't have a time picked for a (presumably small, at this point) Gathering of Light. Before the con actually begins, are there any time or place preferences? As I mentioned, we're most available on Saturday. People whose names I've noticed so far:

dotless ı
C. Wingate
Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori
Erik Nelson

#828 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 12:26 PM:

What I find fascinating about your parallel, albatross, is how it neatly cuts out the exact part of Aaronsen's article that's actually problematic. One might almost think that's on purpose.

Does your hypothetical woman talk about how much easier her life would have been if she'd lived in a time when food was scarce so she'd have been encouraged to eat whatever was available? Does she discuss how she knows it's wrong of her to want chefs to just provide her with food, but she can't help thinking about how that would have helped her? Does she mention that she was made to feel like a monster, by some mysterious outside force, whenever she was hungry?

Plus, last time I checked, food was actually necessary for survival. Sex, no matter what the 14-year-olds of the world might think, is not.

The problem with Aaronsen's article isn't that he had/has crippling social anxiety. That sucks, and I'm glad he got over it to whatever extent that he has. The problem is that he blames other people for it.

#829 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 12:29 PM:

Cabury Moose, #823: I am frankly amazed that anyone would have the temerity to sell magnolia as a "shrub". They are HUGE trees, very messy (they drop giant leaves all year round, and when one of those leaves hits you on the head, believe me you notice) and only pretty during the brief flowering season. OTOH, perhaps "magnolia" is another one of those words that means something different between here and there, like "robin".

albatross, #826: The difference between your hypothetical example and Aaronson is that she is describing cultural influences which actually exist and which do have a very real impact on a lot of people's lives. Aaronson is largely having an argument with a straw-feminism that exists almost exclusively in his own thinking (exacerbated by his choice of resource material -- seriously, Andrea Dworkin?). This is not a good choice of illustration to call "a parallel".

#830 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 01:40 PM:

Teresa, here is a recipe for Indian-style popcorn although I think Leonard changed the version you tasted and used cardamom instead of cumin.

#831 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 02:21 PM:

albatross, here's what about your parallel doesn't make sense to me:

Feminism benefits women.

Fat-shaming doesn't benefit anyone.

#832 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 02:34 PM:

HLN: Local residents are awestruck by the appearance of a bright yellow object in the sky, and that the sky itself has turned some mysterious shade of blue. Local astronomers have speculated that this object is actually a "star" which for some strange reason has wandered close to our planet. Further observation is warranted.

#833 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 02:35 PM:

The coming attraction for the tv series "The Expanse" can be seen HERE. It's based on the novels by James SA Corey, aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

#834 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 03:13 PM:

AKiCiML, detailed pharmaceuticals division:

So I've been prescribed a routine 10-day course of antibiotics (this one). They didn't taste all that nice, but pills seldom do, so I thought nothing of it.

And then I started getting killer, horrendous heartburn. Like, "anything I eat including water burns all the way down on damaged tissue."

And then I noticed I could do things that would make it better, but it always came back right after I took my antibiotic. Every 6 hours.

In an attempt to do a differential diagnosis, since I noticed that I have been chewing up a piece of bread, embedding the capsule in the mushed food, and swallowing it (so the capsule never touches my mucous membranes, just the stomach and points south). It's definitely getting better.

Is it possible I could be allergic to something in the capsule/coating? That seems weirdly random. There are detailed ingredients listings on this page for the precise pills I'm taking, but when I read it I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at. I specifically only care about the composition of the CAPSULE, not the drugs and active/inactive ingredients INSIDE it, and I've not read one of these factsheets before so it's kind of confusing.

Have any of you had this happen? How might I determine if the pill capsules are at fault (so I know to go straight to embed-in-bread with future pills that have the problem thing in them)?

In general I don't seem to have food allergies. I've never reacted to any artificial colorings, sweeteners, etc, in my food, though pepperoni and capsicum "bell" peppers both give me a brief wash of instant heartburn when I eat them.

#835 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Elliott: Esophagitis is listed in the Adverse Reactions section of that page you cite.

In your place, I'd have a word with my doctor. That doesn't sound like something I'd like to ignore or even try to work around.

#836 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 04:45 PM:

There's a Wisteria plant a couple miles from my house. It was transplanted from a 1-gallon can in 1894. It now covers almost an acre (including several houses) and its weight exceeds 250 tons. There's an annual Wistaria Festival (the alternate spelling is traditional) when the homeowners open their homes to allow public viewing. It hasn't taken over the world yet, nor even the whole town; it's only destroyed one house in the past 100 years. So don't buy in to the wysteria hysteria!

#837 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 05:07 PM:

Jacque @835: I think some of my habitual, "Well, my leg hasn't fallen off, probably not bad enough to bother an actual doctor about!" ingrained reflexes have been leading me to, um, tough out things I shouldn't.

When I was in her office addressing the various things (including what I'm on antibiotics for), I attempted to describe the back pain I've been having and she gave me several wide-eyed mildly-horrified looks that I would subtitle, "Oh, hooooooney, why did you put up with that so long?"

Investigating how I communicate with her in ways that aren't "make an appointment and be there", because I'm really not that good at this Having A GP Thing.

#838 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 06:15 PM:

An item to add to the "things I'm not sure I want to know" category.

#839 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 07:25 PM:

There are small magnolias - they're usually deciduous. They're certainly not M. grandiflora!

#840 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 07:37 PM:

Jacque, #838: *snerk* "inexpensive to produce" indeed!

#841 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 08:16 PM:

Lee, P J Evans, Moose: magnolias

There are dwarf cultivars, such as Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem'. They aren't very dwarf, but they are slow growing, eg 20 years to 20ft height.

#842 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 08:19 PM:

PJEvans@808 - Aperture cards - oh, my! (For those who don't know this particular antique technology, they're a punch card with a cutout for a piece of microfilm, which lets you do things like sort the cards based on the columns of punch-card code so you can find the microfilm you want.)

The one time I worked with them was around 1990, or maybe late 80s. At the time, they were in a category of technologies that should be ridiculously obsolete hacks except that nothing else capable of replacing them was available yet. Disk drives and tapes didn't have enough capacity to store the microfilm data at high enough resolution at a reasonable price, and the few 200dpi display screens on the market were way expensive. But you couldn't fit the complete paper blueprints for a 747 inside the airplane itself, much less take off with them, so microfilm was what they had to use. We had a card-reader-image-scanner thing that tied into an IBM CICS database (evil mainframe stuff.) Very amusing technology.

My company had won the project because we were the low bidder, which in those days only happened if either (a) the only other bidders were even more expensive than we were, or (b) the people who bid on the project had no clue what they were stepping into (unfortunately, it was the latter case, and the agency we were building it for had no clue either), the contract was underspecified and undermanaged so there'd been total scope creep, with the only things actually nailed down being the due date, number of cards per hour it had to process (more than we could handle) and the number of fields in the database (customer had decided they needed to add more, in a pre-relational database where that was hard, so at least we had some hook to negotiate slack on the schedule that we were badly missing.) I'd gotten borrowed from another department to consult, and unusually it was the kind of project where if I succeeded I'd get credit but if I failed I wouldn't get blame because everybody knew it was already doomed, which was a nice change from usual, and fortunately I was able to find some parts of it that let us bring in people who actually knew mainframes well enough to fix the mess. It was still ugly and hokey, but a lot faster, and they were able to stop tinkering with computers and get down to digitizing pictures of airplane parts for a couple more years.

#843 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 08:29 PM:

Thought of that, but they're still not as common as the species. (I worked at a nursery for most of a year. We sold 'Little Gem'. I've never seen one less than about 8 feet tall.)

#844 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 08:36 PM:

We had microfiche readers (we had some outside databases on microfiche) and reader-printers. They were useful if you need to see a map right then, or if you were too far from engineering to get a blueline. (They'd print and send them through the company mail - but that took a while. The location I was at was a few hundred yards away, so we could walk over and get prints made if we really needed them. Note: you don't want a stack of a few hundred fresh bluelines sitting in your cubicle.) We had something like 30K maps on aperture cards. Now they've all been scanned to very nice image files - you can zoom in close enough to count the threads in the linen - and the working files are, AFAIK, converted from CAD to GIS.

#845 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 10:53 PM:

At work the man in the cubicle next to me remembered aperture cards from a previous job.

#846 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 11:00 PM:

My brain is now crossbreeding "aperture cards" and "Aperture Laboratories"... that's a scary thought!

#847 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 11:13 PM:

The card reader is a lie...

#848 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 11:29 PM:

In The Cult, editorship rotates among all the members of the APA.*

When it was his turn, if memory serves, Dick Smith once published a Cult mailing on microfiche.

I seem to recall that this was not popular with the other members.

* Amateur Press Association, "a kind of social media conducted via snail mail, made up of dead-tree artifacts...."

#849 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2015, 11:39 PM:

Hamster cheeks are bigger than you can imagine.

#850 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 12:25 AM:

My brain immediately expanded that as a Haldane quote: "Hamster cheeks are not only bigger than you imagine, they are bigger than you *can* imagine."

#851 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 04:18 AM:

eric: And we all recognize the voice of the narrator, right?

#852 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 05:39 AM:


You could always try looking through the punch holes, and seeing whether it matches up with what's on the other side....

#853 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 06:10 AM:

Wasn't January 12 the birthday of Bill Higgins?

#854 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 11:44 AM:

Elliott Mason @834:

Allergy alert! Tetracycline does the same thing to me, and because I didn't recognize that indigestion = allergy, I didn't call the doctor until the pills began, ah, returning the way they came.

You need something different from what was prescribed, and my doctor just put "don't prescribe anything ending in -cycline" on my chart.

#855 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 11:52 AM:

Ehh, at this point I have three pills left, I'll finish the course. But I have notified my doc.

#856 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 12:12 PM:

Xopher @791: I was sufficiently curious about one of your Twitter trolls to dig a little further. "Oldwen Jones" is a hate account aimed at the Guardian journalist Owen Jones, using his name to try to discredit him. It's a pretty sloppy attempt, since it's very easy to find the real Owen Jones on Twitter.

Dave Bell @821: I may or may not have just joined the Monster Raving Loony Party. This may or may not be partly your fault for drawing my attention to the fact that it still exists. *grin*

#857 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 01:04 PM:

Shipping glitter:

The owner of the "Ship Your Enemies Glitter" site vastly underestimated the interest in his product, and the website is for sale. Not before spawning a host of imitators/competitors, though, so those who really want to spread this evil can still do so.

#858 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 01:10 PM:

Serge, #853:

No, that was last year.

#859 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 01:28 PM:

Wise guy, eh?

#860 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 02:10 PM:

Mongoose @856

I suspect Lord Smallpiece of Flint had some involvement in the affair.

#861 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 02:12 PM:

Dave Bell @ 860: oh, he did. Definitely. Wouldn't shut up until I joined.

#862 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 02:44 PM:

abi, 796 et al: I don't know how true the story of the child killed by glitter inhalation is. I do know that the stuff I used in 1970 was rather coarse-grained compared to some of what's out now. I don't recall what containment problems I had then, but those who read the dysfunctional family threads will understand that back then, glitter was the least of my problems. If I ever resin-cast with glitter again, I will do it outside--carefully.

#863 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 04:40 PM:

This may belong in the Folksongs Are Your Friends thread, but I'm putting it here.

#864 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2015, 07:44 PM:

Tracie@863: Very cute article, although I have to quibble with one of them: Penelopeia did not immediately accept as Odysseus the man who strung the bow. The two of them had other secret recognition signals as well, and Odysseus was just fine with her not accepting him until he had proven himself by that means.

#865 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 12:03 AM:

OtterB @ 801: I am similarly dated, but was of a more evil disposition; I once accumulated a bag of punchouts from oiled paper tape. The punchouts from any paper tape are light enough to stick, even when oiled -- but these were black because otherwise the tape would have been translucent, which apparently somebody decided was a Bad Thing.

No, I never used them; it was just comforting to me to realize that I could....

#866 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 12:26 AM:

One of our two backyard feral kitties has not been sighted since we got back from GAFilk. Usually we see her at the food bowl several times a day. GoodThoughts for her return would be welcome.

(Yes, we know this is a risk with outside cats. That's why ours don't go outside.)

#867 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 12:27 AM:

Internal Server Error. *kick*

#868 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 06:09 AM:

Chip @ #865

Black (or other opaque) paper tape was required for some optical (photoelectric) tape readers, either high speed or where the tape would be looped and run continuously for process control, etc. where wear of the sprocket holes would be a problem. Computer readers (I'm thinking the IBM 2671 here) were designed to take the standard white/buff tape since it was the cheapest and used for data entry. Another use of coloured tapes was to distinguish program tapes from input data tapes. The reason for oiled tape was to lubricate the cutters on the tape punch (and probably reduce dust at the same time).

#869 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 09:18 AM:

Contact Network: Do any of you own (or know anyone who does) a Cuisinart food processor, of the generation DLC-7?

I bought a rack of 5 slicer/grater blades (the kind that you need the vertical stem adapter to put on it, that cut at the top of the bowl) at the thrift store because the price was amazing, but it turns out that mine is an 8, not a 7, and they don't quite fit.

Que sera, sera -- it was a minimal amount of money and I don't mind losing it. However, to someone with the right model of machine, this is nearly $150 (new value) of cutting blades in decent shape, so I'd like to pass them on.

For the price of postage I will mail them to the first person claiming them; please send address to me at, via the username "2ells2tees".

The blades are 2, 4, M, FG, and F, if that matters.
Item photos:

#870 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 10:24 AM:

re 827/Arisia: I have encountered Lenore. Timewise at the moment I am open-ended.

#871 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 11:30 AM:

GIL ARISIA: I am placing a piece of paper, appropriately labelled, on the kiosk by the art show where we may coordinate times on site.

#872 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 02:56 PM:

Elliott Mason: after our food processor caught fire and we had to throw it out a window we got a DLC-7 for free on Craigslist, unfortunately the bowl and lid turned out to be cracked in such a way we have never used it. I'll let someone else have a shot at the blades, but if nobody takes you up on it let me know at myfirstname.mylastname at gmail and I'll get them from you.

#873 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 03:14 PM:

Re my last: My bounty has been dibs'ed.

#874 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 06:10 PM:

Well, GiL has not seemed to coalesce, but we have managed Encountering of Light in the Hallways and Bars, at any rate.

#875 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 06:41 PM:

A general thank you to Making Light. I just read Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence and it was because of good words around here I put them on my to-read list. Loved them. I was a little disappointed going into Two Serpents Rise because I'd grown attached to the original characters, but Caleb won me over. I did a happy dance at the crossover characters in Full Fathom Five though.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly who the two women depicted on the cover are. And I want a map!

#876 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 08:32 PM:

re the discussion of mythological dog ear colors, starting with my #488:

I just found a new red fur fabric ("Christmas Red"); it's slightly darker than the primary red that I already had, and it's perfect. Thanks again to everyone who engaged with my question.

#877 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2015, 10:05 PM:

C. Wingate@874: Indeed, thanks for making the attempt. It was good to put a face to your name, at least.

#878 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 08:07 AM:

All right. I really wasn't going to ask here, this place being full of real live professional writers and editors, whereas I'm just desperately writing in order to try to hang on to what remains of my sanity and maybe make enough money to replace my broken boiler. But nobody's biting on Twitter, and not even the Jägers will bite. [Note for the bewildered: there is a forum for Girl Genius fans in which we all basically roleplay Jägers, vhich means ve all go round typink like dis. Iz very silly.]

So. Is there anyone out there who would like to beta-read a steampunk spy novel set in Venice?

More information: the central character, Dr Charles Grosvenor, is pretty much designed to be an object lesson in how to be a good spy without being James Bond. It's no secret that he was inspired by Girl Genius' ingenious (and frequently badly stressed out) Ardsley Wooster, and his physical appearance is a homage to that inspiration; but he has, as all decent characters inspired by someone else do, grown in his own direction, while still keeping the central problematic concept of "good man in morally ambiguous job". Dr Grosvenor is in Venice, ostensibly as a translator, but really to discover the secret of the "Shield of Venice", a massive force-field type of device based in the lagoon.

We have also, for your delight and delectation: one young Italian nobleman of the traditionally fiery and passionate persuasion (but he's a good egg, even though he does a few silly things); one very cool-headed young noblewoman who escapes to the last place anyone would expect in order to avoid being forced into a marriage she does not want; two tough, coarse, clever, butt-kicking city guards (both female - you know the "Those Two Guys" trope on TVTropes? These are Those Two Girls); an exiled Russian princess; a dangerously urbane secret policeman; a brilliant scientist and her socially inept (verging on sociopathic) daughter; and various guards, secret agents, administrative staff, gondoliers, clergy, and the Doge himself. We never really see the Doge, but his influence permeates the novel. Yes, there's still a Doge. No, he's no longer elected. It's now a hereditary title.

If you fancy jumping into a virtual gondola for some action, intrigue, and even a little bit of romance, please. Let me know. I've nearly finished the first draft of this thing, and I've already got two totally different sequels taking shape in my head. :-)

#879 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 09:00 AM:

HLN: Local resident has submitted first story for professional publication. Anxiety ensues, mixed with euphoria and disbelief.

#880 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 09:11 AM:

lorax #857: Sounds like he was tried to make a joke, and got surprised when people took him seriously.

The flip side of "nobody knows you're a dog" is that it's not actually obvious that the storefront you put up is pasted onto a cardboard box... and your marketplace is basically the world.

Of course, that can also let you grow a business out of your proverbial basement... sometimes by accident. If he'd been ready to back up his joke, he could likely have made a few bucks riding his minifad. (At least until the Post Office caught up with him! IIRC they frown on mailing envelopes full of loose material, for all sorts of reasons.)

#881 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 10:29 AM:

It sounds interesting. (I know 'writing to get it out of my head' - which sets it even more firmly in place, in some ways.)

#882 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 10:53 AM:


I am hardly a professional in any sense of the word, but I've done beta-readings in the past. You can email me at my name (at) darklings (dot) org if you wish.

#883 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 10:58 AM:

cyllan @882: thank you so much!

#884 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 12:11 PM:

Washington Post business columnist Barry Ritholtz has this snide guideline for commenters on his blog.

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

#885 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 02:44 PM:

The London Taxicab sidelight reads more like a New Yorker article than a NYTimes Magazine article -- really well done (and shared with Karen, a journalist by training).

Mongoose, she's also interested in your novel -- Viable Paradise grad, lived in Italy for a year, steampunk enthusiast, professional web-content writer and more. If you contact me (thoshmore at the mail service run by G**gle) I can forward her address to you.

#886 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 02:57 PM:

In re Teresa's Bill of Particular White people and the Second Amendment, I offer this for your consideration.

Talk about your grave injustices! I mean, when Bob Marley shot the sheriff, he not only went to jail, he had to listen to Eric Clapton sing about it..

#887 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 03:04 PM:

AKICIML (Physics):

OK, the weather outside is frightful. When I was out before, it was right around freezing, so some bits of pavement were icy, and others were not.

On my walk home from church, I noticed that all the (I think) bricks were icy, but the shale flagstones and concrete sidewalks were not. Often right next to each other. It was about 35F (2C).

Now it's possible that NONE of the people with bricks salted and ALL of the others did. But that seems unlikely.

I'm not sure all the things I was walking (carefully!) on were actually bricks. Some were, but others might have been different stone than the shale, cut into brick-like blocks. All were icy, which the shale and concrete were not.

So my question is: could this be due to differences in the specific heat of the different paving materials? Or some other property of theirs? (There wasn't much difference in surface texture between brick and concrete, though the shale was smoother.)

#888 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Mongoose, that sounds fascinating, but I'm unwilling to commit to anything while my brain is on hiatus (three small children, one in school on an IEP, on an infant, and the middle one desiring lots of attention. I'm managing to just keep everything together...)

#889 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 03:14 PM:

Tom Whitmore @885: thank you - I will take you up on that even though cyllan has already kindly offered, since I think it will be really helpful to have the advice of more than one person. It is often good to have several perspectives.

B. Durbin @888: thank you, too, but don't worry, because I know exactly what "brain on hiatus" is like. Parts of mine are still not functioning properly.

#890 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 04:05 PM:

Random comment: I have created a new term.

disemboxing (dis-em-box-ing): the act of opening a box by tearing it to pieces.

Thank you, my eldest, I really didn't need to be confronted with MY Christmas present being subjected to disemboxing first thing in the morning.

#891 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 04:42 PM:

Xopher (887): I don't know the reason, but I've observed that phenomenom also. This morning, my front steps (brick) were quite slushy, the concrete sidewalk and stoop had only a few slushy spots, and the asphalt driveway and street were just wet.

#892 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 05:06 PM:

Lost two people this week. My wife's uncle (pancreatic cancer, was sick for a month before diagnosed, and about three weeks after.)

And some of you may know Eric Scott (aka EPS) of San Francisco fandom. He's had heart trouble for a while, and died suddenly this week.

#893 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 05:18 PM:

Bill Stewart @892: condolences on your loss.

#894 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 06:10 PM:

Xopher @887: is color a likely factor? The black of the asphalt and shale would absorb heat faster, leading to quicker drying. Also, brick is a better insulator than many materials (it's got lots of air trapped in it) so it probably doesn't warm as quickly. I think, that is, without checking.

#895 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 06:13 PM:

Well, there wasn't a lot of sunshine. It was raining (and freezing-raining) all through the morning and afternoon.

#896 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 06:49 PM:

How about conductivity? If the ground beneath is warmer, more conductive materials would warm up from below.

#897 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 07:31 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #887 There's a whole bunch of factors that can come into play there:
1) As others have noted, color matters, even when it's not direct sun. And it's not just visible color, as some materials are pale in visible frequencies but dark in infra-red.
2) Heat capacity can affect the heat absorbed during the day, and hold it longer at night. However, this can work in reverse if the ground is warmer than the air/sky -- basically, it holds onto the cold. Something with low heat capacity, will be better at conducting heat, and vice versa. (Cooking example: Aluminum has much lower heat capacity than iron/steel.)
3) Surface texture can affect whether ice will form or stick on a surface, and conversely, how quickly ice melts off it.
4) In some areas, there's also the possibility of underground heating systems for paths etc.

#898 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 09:32 PM:

B. Durbin,
One of my formative early childhood memories is the Christmas morning when I woke up early, went down to the living room, and decided to open all of my presents right away, not considering that my father's name is the same as mine and that not everything which said "Clifton" would be for me.

The disappointment I very rapidly felt - amplified once my parents were up and saw the results, and amplified again once I saw everybody else happily opening their presents, with nothing left for me - is still a useful reminder of the costs of impulsiveness.

I hope your child also learns something lastingly useful from this experience.

#899 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 10:53 PM:

My impression [a little west of you] was that it's been below freezing for around a week, so the ground was nice and cold, and the above-zero-C rain was hitting and freezing.

This implies that the brick has either a higher heat capacity [takes more total heat to change its temperature] or higher heat conductivity [so more of the cold brick below is heating up the "only freezing" brick above] compared to the asphalt.

[At this point I realized I had just literally cracked my knuckles as I looked over at the heat transfer textbook. Excessive geek machismo may ensue. ]

I am pretty sure it is possible for material A to have both a higher heat capacity and higher heat conductivity than material B, but that might just be "material A is much denser, so it's higher volumetric heat capacity." Electrical insulators are almost always thermal insulators, and electrical conductivity can be a several order of magnitude difference... let's go to the book.

Thermal conductivity is in Watts/meter-kelvin, so mass doesn't even enter into it and lead will kick the ass of Styrofoam in both heat capacity and heat conductivity. I expected that to be harder. (The reason for the weird units is that thermal conduction goes up with area and down with thickness, so you are multiplying conductivity by m^2/m to get conduction.)

For asphalt, conductivity is about 0.062 W/m-K and specific heat is 920 J/kg-K . There are a number of types of brick listed but most have thermal conductivity around 1 W/m-K and specific heat around 960 J/kg-K.

So what we are probably seeing is the much higher conductivity of the brick compared to asphalt.

#900 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2015, 11:56 PM:

It seems I had a seriously over-simplistic view of heat conductivity. A 16-fold difference between brick and asphalt, with similar capacities? Yikes!

#901 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 01:40 AM:

Or: why snakes like to lie on pavement at night?

#902 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 04:48 AM:

@901: the middle of the bike-path, where you can't see them until the last second—Oy!

#903 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 09:28 AM:

I was kind of amazed at how low the heat conduction for asphalt was. In other news, I may have just invented the phrase "nerd-flexing." [In case it's only obvious to me, my entire last post was nerd-flexing. Like mansplaining, but more so!]

#904 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 10:22 AM:

In my case, it was seeing them in the middle of CA-49, on Friday evenings in summer, when we were going up to the mountains for the weekend. There was a rattlesnake one time, as big around as my wrist....

#905 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 12:20 PM:

re Arisia, as said earlier we couldn't manage much of a Gathering though I ran into Debra and dotless ı each and separately, and I had some conversation with Lenore.

Part of the reason may well be because I exhausted my powers of Making Things Happen When Convenient multiple times over the weekend, for this was The Time I Got to Boston By Missing My Flight. I was originally scheduled for a mid-morning jetBlue flight out of BWI, but last minute dealings meant that I got to the airport but a few minutes too late to board (the sticking point being that I had to check a bag: I have two de riguer carry-on items besides any suitcase). The people at the counter were able to fit me onto the 5:50 flight, and gave me a boarding pass, though they were not able to take my bag (see issue above).

After telling the parties involved about my change in plans it did occur to me that I didn't need to sit at the airport for seven hours, so I went back home. This had the benefit of allowing me to have a nice lunch with my wife and to collect all the things that I had forgotten, chief of which was my cell phone. Well, when I got home, the flight was still on the ground, though it should have been in the air an hour later. We returned from lunch and checked again, and it was at this point it was cancelled outright. Hmmm, I said, and resolved to return to the jetBlue counter when it reopened instead of simply in time to catch my flight. Everything from this point went perfectly, except for the grumbling people who had to check their bags because the overhead bin was full.

My powers were somewhat refreshed at the point when I had to collect everyone for dinner Saturday, but that was it for the weekend. I returned to BWI to discover that I only had a vague idea of where my car was, and then on the way home I discovered that I really needed gas and cash, when my best route home would bypass both until nearly at the end. So I plotted a route to a branch of my bank, only to discover in circling around to the ATM that it had been replaced by a brick wall. So I did a U turn back to the gas station, discovering there that their credit card stuff was croggled and that (a) they could only take cash, and (b) they couldn't cash in my gas points, for the same reason. Fortunately they did have an ATM independent of all of this.

#906 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 12:48 PM:

Ah, heat transfer textbook. Otherwise known as "find heat distribution for one point, integrate in three dimensions, next question"

Of course I took it at 0800 Tuesday morning, and would get there after experiencing heat transfer (motorcycle, January, Calgary, 2 to -9C, that sort of thing). So I may not remember all that much.

As opposed to my Communications grad course, which was "find error rate, build integral in however many dimensions, manipulate until the difficult bit is the normal curve from either -inf to inf or 0 to inf, replace with 1 or .5 as required, finish integration, next question"

#907 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 12:48 PM:

Ah, heat transfer textbook. Otherwise known as "find heat distribution for one point, integrate in three dimensions, next question"

Of course I took it at 0800 Tuesday morning, and would get there after experiencing heat transfer (motorcycle, January, Calgary, 2 to -9C, that sort of thing). So I may not remember all that much.

As opposed to my Communications grad course, which was "find error rate, build integral in however many dimensions, manipulate until the difficult bit is the normal curve from either -inf to inf or 0 to inf, replace with 1 or .5 as required, finish integration, next question"

#908 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 12:49 PM:

Ack, firefox and "don't bother to go to the next page." Sorry for the N-post.

#909 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 01:05 PM:

C Wingate @ 905... Sorry to hear about your flight woes and their Arisian aftereffects,

#910 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 01:24 PM:

HLN: local herpestid has been having an Impossible Stairs day.

I wondered whether to put this on the Dysfunctional Families threads, but decided against it. This may be a useful metaphor for fellow anxiety sufferers in general, and I don't suppose you're all on those threads. I have an intermittently recurring dream: the details vary, but the gist is always the same. I am trying to navigate what looks, at first sight, like an ordinary staircase, but once I am part of the way up I run into some Escheresque twist that makes the staircase non-navigable, which means I have to retrace my steps to try to find another way up. Meanwhile, other people are walking past me without a care in the world, because, for them, there is nothing wrong with the staircase. It took me several recurrences of this dream to realise that it is, in fact, a perfect illustration of what happens when you have anxiety.

Anyway... so, today, the stairs were impossible. And I'd like to thank the kindly bear who cracked bicycle puns on Twitter (he's here, and he knows who he is), which helped me over one of the nastier gaps.

#911 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 02:42 PM:

Sandy 899: Wonderful nerd-flexing! But what about concrete? The sidewalks here aren't asphalt, in general.

#912 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 03:24 PM:

Looks like concrete has thermal conductivity, density and specific heat that are pretty close to the numbers for brick. (they list eight sets of numbers for brick, and it could fit right into that list.)

So, now that I've put something in bold on Making Light, I appear to be wrong.

Maybe the brick is porous, so the water is exposed to a much greater surface area of brick and is therefore more efficiently frozen?

#913 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 03:41 PM:

A lot of times, brick paving has sand under it, so it will drain better. I don't think it's as porous as concrete, though, so I don't understand what's going on either.

#914 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Ice dissolves faster in water than in air under similar circumstances (you've probably all noticed that if you drink all the water out of your glass in a restaurant, the ice stays around longer than in the glass of the person who hasn't drunk the water). So I'd think faster drainage would make the melting less efficient.

#915 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2015, 11:22 PM:

Because some happiness is just meant to be shared all over the world:

I got to spend an hour today having an epic cuddle with my brand-new, teeny-tiny, absolutely perfect baby nephew*. He smelled like Fresh Human, as they do, and gave me a giant smile**. I love him already.

*Of the "his father is my brother in every sense of the word except the shared parentage sense" variety.
**I am aware that five-day-old infants do not smile intentionally. I don't care. We had a Moment.

#916 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 01:50 AM:

AKICIML: I am trying to find a show about Marco Polo. Here's what I remember about it:

1. It IS NOT a drama. Strictly documentary.

2. It is not about personal experience of countries along the way. The focus is on Polo's experiences.

3. It is OLDER THAN In the Footsteps of Marco Polo.

4. It aired either on PBS or on the History Channel, but it IS NOT an episode of Biography and may not have been a PBS production either.

5. It probably had more than one episode.

6. One scene features the narrator, who ISTR is English and well known, standing next to a weirdly colored river and explaining that people didn't believe Polo when he described it in his book. Another explained that people in a particular Chinese city still eat raw pork on special occasions, just as described by Polo. In fact, the theme of the whole thing was that it's still possible to use Polo's book as a guide along the ancient routes.

#917 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 02:43 AM:

Open threadedness of the poetic kind...

Could hands refuse more stubbornly to tick
Than those upon my wall that grin at me
Refusing to speed up - Come on, I'm sick.

I want to drink my medicated tea,
Then go to bed. Is that so much to ask?
To sleep, without this choking agony?

You'll say that others have a harder task,
And suffer more. Sure, it's just cold and cough,
But if the treatment's there with which to mask

The symptoms, that comparison seems off.
But now, though poetry demands refrain
It's past eleven, which is late enough

To safely take some medicine again.
You must have known this poem was just a schtick
To kill some time till science numbed the pain.

#918 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 04:17 AM:

Hands too remote to soothe might ease the sick
When time’s distortion stretches pain too long
A simple word, a verse, a ‘like’ can do the trick

A keyboard is a narrow portal for the song
That links the carer to the cared; from ‘we’ to ‘thee’
But in these straitened times one can’t do wrong

By witnessing concern and sympathy.
We cannot soothe thy brow, nor would we dare
If space should vanish, such intimacy

But when the ease of science for thy care
Must wait at time’s cruel pleasure for release
A friend, a joke, a verse, these we can share

It isn’t much, but as a touch can oft bring peace
Replies from friends, witness that you belong
Perhaps may help you breathe with greater ease

#919 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 08:08 AM:

That's some powerful versification.

I'm sniffling.

#920 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 10:06 AM:

Well done! Both form and sentiment much appreciated, thomas!

#921 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 11:59 AM:

AKICIML, Cocoa Division: does "Dutch" == "alkalized"?

#922 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 12:07 PM:

AKICIML, Cocoa Division: Does "Dutch" == "alkalized"? If I use the Hershey's labeled,"natural unsweetened," am I getting the non-Dutch, non-alkalized stuff (which is what I want)? (The labeling on their boxes is not blindingly clear.)

#923 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 12:13 PM:

Jacque@922: Yes, Dutch process is alkalized, and Hershey's "Natural" cocoa is billed here as "non-alkalized", as opposed to their "Dutch" cocoa, or their "Special Dark", which is a blend of the two. (That's their "food service" section, but I'm assuming the labels are more or less consistent with the consumer products.)

#924 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Interesting post by Radley Balko about civil forfeiture and Holder's acting to limit it somewhat.

Radley raised an interesting point in the article: once a law (or a revenue source) has been around for awhile, it's very hard to get rid of. There are police departments that would probably have to lay off some officers if they stopped getting civil forfeiture money (think Collinsville, IL), or where cutting off the civil forfeiture money will lead to other hard budget cuts. Which means that there is now active opposition to getting rid of it, and an incentive to find some kind of workaround to any attempt to stop the abuse of civil forfeiture laws.

I suspect this is a very broad pattern. Anything that becomes a revenue source or a source of prestige and power within an organization has the same basic property, I think--it becomes almost impossible to get rid of, no matter how bad an idea it turns out to be. My hypothetical grandchildren will be going through TSA checkpoints, never mind that the TSA isn't really doing much good.

#925 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 03:29 PM:

dotless ı: Thanks!!

#926 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 03:30 PM:

From the Atlantic CityLab section: biking while black or how no black person apparently ever owned their own bicycle in Ft. Lauderdale

#927 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2015, 08:39 PM:

I just bought an elderly copy of The Children of Llyr by Evangeline Walton, almost entirely because it has "Nielsen Hayden" written in the front. The impressive Large Naked Fellow on the back may have played a role also; I couldn't possibly comment.

No idea if anyone is still interested in the Scott Aaronson topic; one thing I noticed is that it was only two hundred and fifty comments later that he happened to mention that, oh, by the way, he'd gone away to college at fifteen. Somehow I think that's a tiny bit more relevant to the case than he made out.

#928 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 12:25 AM:

albatross, #924: What that immediately makes me think of is the NYC "slowdown" -- which has resulted in no appreciable rise in the crime rate, but a considerable drop in the number of police harassment and brutality incidenta. I can easily see this working in the same way.

C. Wingate, #926: Disgusting, and sadly predictable -- especially the bit about the Facebook page.

#930 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 02:35 PM:

I just saw this bit. Apparently the number of people having trouble paying their medical bills, delaying needed treatments, etc. has gone down since Obamacare was implemented. Something something correlation something causation, but it looks like it's working from here.

#931 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 04:03 PM:

The thing I hadn't expected, that still chokes me up when I get a new iteration of it, is the flood of trans folks who can now get most of their transition COVERED by insurance (instead of having to fundraise for $6k-$22k), and therefore can just go do it.

#932 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 05:19 PM:

Jacque #929: A powerful damning of the educational system, indeed. (And a lovely showing of how mathematics really works!)

But contra his early comments, it's not just mathematics that's lately been reduced to "the transmission of information", the problem reaches across the board, even into the humanities.

#933 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 06:06 PM:

Sandy, #930: I'm one of those people. And it may have saved my life.

#934 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 06:10 PM:

Jacque @929, David Harmon @932: While reading that essay, all I could think about was how easy it is to replace "mathematics" with "history" in it. I certainly had the love of history taken out of me by that kind of rote teaching, and it took me decades to get a little of it back.

#935 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 07:59 PM:

Interesting media news:

Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" trilogy to be adapted for TV by J. Michael Straczynski:

One of the things that most disappointed me about the trilogy -- the fact that the same people hang about for the whole trilogy, thanks to a rather too good to be true life extension treatment -- will probably work in the series favor. I think it is easier to having a cast of characters changing with time in a book than in a TV show.

#936 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2015, 08:38 PM:

I think it is easier to having a cast of characters changing with time in a book than in a TV show.

Also, book characters aren't actors with contracts.

#937 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2015, 12:01 PM:

Re: 935/936

I've been following the Outlander fandom on Facebook, and now that the books are becoming a TV series, I have been having laughing fits over the teen and twenty-somethings angst-ing over the characters aging from 20+ to 40+ next season.

Some seem to think that the actors will have to be replaced with someone...older, even though those currently playing the roles are in their mid-thirties. I've given up trying to tell these young'uns that the facial changes are not as extreme as they believe. But, oy -- do these folk not look at their fellow beings?

(As for the author of the series, Diana Gabaldon, I swear she has a portrait locked up in her attic...)

#938 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 03:43 PM:

Oh, crumbs:

On Twitter, Patrick reports that Teresa is in the hospital for tests and observation.

#939 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 04:14 PM:

I hope what whatever it is is resolved without harm to Teresa or to Patrick.

#940 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 04:17 PM:

Also, see Teresa's twitter thread.

#941 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 05:35 PM:

Severe shortness of breath over the previous 48 hours; a cluster of other symptoms. We went in to see her (our) doctor this morning, for the second time in 8 days, and he urged us to go directly to NYU Hospital for these tests. Once here, they decided they want her at least overnight.

It's a good hospital. They're paying attention and explaining stuff.

(Posted from my phone; apologies for terseness.)

#942 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 06:20 PM:

Thanks for the update, Patrick.

Terseness sounds entirely appropriate for the occasion.

Take care of yourself, too!

#943 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 07:42 PM:

Here's best wishes for *NH.

#944 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 07:49 PM:

Adding concern and best wishes for Teresa.

#945 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 07:54 PM:

I hope that TNH is doing better.

#946 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 08:21 PM:

Nth'ing the concern and best wishes for the Nielsen Haydens.

#947 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 08:36 PM:

The Harry Potter series did a good job with characters growing up as fast as their actors.

#948 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 09:31 PM:

Wikipedia declares that it's all about ethics in game journalism.

(I may know the guy who broke this story. It's not a completely uncommon name, though, and there's nothing on the blog which tells me one way or the other whether it's the same Mark Bernstein I know.)

#949 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 10:03 PM:

Prayers and good thoughts for Teresa and for Patrick also.

#950 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 10:22 PM:

@947 Erik Nelson, Hermione/Emma Watson (of all actors in that series) had the most trouble looking her age in HP3 and HP4. Then the character's age caught up with her visual age. They did their best, but there is a disconnect right then--especially in HP3.

#951 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2015, 11:39 PM:

Lee at 948
is there anything that doesn't touch on gender or sexuality broadly construed?

#952 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 12:25 AM:

Sending best thoughts, P and T.

#953 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 12:25 AM:

Good thoughts for Teresa and you, Patrick.

#954 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 12:38 AM:

Oh gosh. All my good wishes for both of you, Patrick and Teresa.

#955 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 02:00 AM:

Oh, dear! Sending even more good wishes to Teresa.

#956 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 02:09 AM:

Teresa, get better quickly! Patrick, don't forget to take care of yourself as well!

#957 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 03:27 AM:

Sending good thoughts and prayers for T & P

#958 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 07:36 AM:

Strength and tranquility, and more with the good doctors.

#959 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 11:14 AM:

On the subject of London taxi-drivers and "the knowledge", the BBC's iPlayer has a documentary, nearly 20 years old, on this.

Modern Times—Streetwise

I expect there are the usual problems over non-British IP addresses.

#960 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 11:38 AM:

Erik, #951: I think that's the point. It's a way to kick these uppity bitches off permanently, but with plausible deniability.

#961 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 01:37 PM:

Oh, crud. I'm glad the hospital is good and they're explaining things, but really, I hope Teresa's sprung soon, feeling better. Love to both of you. And good healing vibes.

#962 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 03:19 PM:

This evening, I tried to take advantage of the FTP Server provided by my router. I asked a discreet friend to trying getting something, and there were a few problems. And, after about a quarter hour, I started getting log-in attempts from all over the world.

After a little over half an hour, I shut down the FTP server.

I suspect there are not-nice people scanning for new FTP servers all the time. Here in the UK, our free-speech loving Prime Minister is talking about forbidding encryption because it can be used for bad things.

How many of these not-nice people are working for governments? Rather too many, I think.

#963 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 03:38 PM:

Prayers for T.

#964 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 03:38 PM:

New open thread!

#965 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 11:21 PM:

Good wishes for successful healing for Teresa and Patrick.

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