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January 24, 2015

Open thread 203
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:03 PM * 993 comments

So every now and then someone asks me for a link to something nice, or expresses so much stress in their life that I want to send them one. Usually, what I do is to Google “baby $animal” (where $animal varies depending on my mood), switch to image search, copy the link and clean up all the referrer crap, and send it on. It almost never fails to improve things.

But at the moment, my go-to link is not an image search; it’s a video of someone scratching capybaras until they bliss out. “Scratch me like one of your capybaras,” I found myself murmuring once. Don’t judge me.

What are your go-to links for the bad times?

Comments on Open thread 203:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 03:40 PM:


My aunt found this photo in Italy. Taken in the thirties or fourties, on a roof in Greenwich Village.

My grandmother is in the middle; the rest are great aunts or great cousins (if that is a thing):

#2 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 04:12 PM:

What I'll do is go to YouTube and watch movie scenes where someone saves the day. Like this one where Peter Parker stops a runaway train.

#3 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Let's see if my iPad can be taught to remember me on ML (not that the built in keyboard will help with my typing problems).

I've always wanted to cuddle. capybara.

I'm sorry I missed the Gathering of Light at Arisia. Quartermastering it ate my weekend, pretty much from Tues. before the con to the time of the dead dog.

#5 ::: Affenschmidt ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 04:41 PM:

Stefan Jones #1, if they're your grandmother's first cousins, then they're your first cousins twice removed (that is, two generations away from your generation).

#6 ::: Affenschmidt ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 04:43 PM:

Janetl #4: I haven't been fed. Ever.

Which reminds me, I should get to work on dinner. Tomato soup and grilled cheese has been proposed, and I approve.

#7 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 04:51 PM:

Abi: my computer is too old and slow to do videos, but this seems like a very good place to express my deep appreciation for the photo of the meerkat group hug you posted on Twitter the other day. It helped. Thank you. :-)

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 04:53 PM:

Oh, man, the sweet potato thing. Yes. That's one of the classics of the internet.

I'm coming round to capybara as a thing. I Parheliated a Tumblr called Animals Sitting on Capybaras because they have such noble faces as they carry their various animals around. But this blissed-out rolling over makes me want to be a capybara.

I may have to adjust my userpic on social media.

#9 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 04:59 PM:

Ooh, good topic. I'm currently on hold with eBay with a particularly vexing issue and was actually looking for something to distract me and bring my blood pressure down a bit while I waited.

I came here. :-)

(I also go read schmoopy fanfic when I'm feeling down, or watch cartoons online.)

#10 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 05:14 PM:

When I need to cheer up a grumpypants kid, the Chicken Island Song works about 70% of the time, especially if her dad and I are doing it in call-and-response. It's very silly, cleverly written, and as a vocal performance I'm kind of in awe of the guy. Lots of range, lots of timbre changes, and all of it while doing the silly voice for the character in question.

#11 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 05:16 PM:

I imagine most of the folks here have read about the Dogs in Elk, but in case some haven't, you really, really should.

Dogs in Elk

#12 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 05:27 PM:

I am a big fan of the Calming Manatee, myself. The Where the Hell is Matt videos, especially the 2012 one*, also never fail to make me happy.

*though I like the 2010 music best.

#13 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 05:36 PM:

I go to Cute Overload every day. I also like to search for stuff I heard on Thistle & Shamrock on Youtube until I find a playlist and let it run in my headphones while I am doing boring paperwork.

Oh, and there is a small but slowly expanding list of fanfic I read when I just can't even over at my rudimentary LJ.

#14 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 05:58 PM:

#4: I'm going to see if Kira goes for a sweet potato. It would be cheap, compared to some of the dog chews I've seen, and it would be almost certainly free of whatever horrible fatal crap that those Chinese manufacturers put in dog treat a few years back.

#15 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 06:20 PM:

CuteOverload is one of my go-to sites (particularly when my Amazing Fiancé needs cute). Random YouTube trawling is also good. To that end, I recommend Rotate Your Owl , which is her Writing Jam, among other things.

Rotate your owl for Science, indeed.

#16 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 06:50 PM:

I'm another Cute Overload fan. Also, Daily Otter.

#17 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 08:15 PM:

ZooBorns is my main source for Cute

#18 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Along with Dogs in Elk, This one:
Beet Pulp Safety Warning

is a good one too.

#19 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 08:37 PM:

Paula (18): Thanks. I hadn't seen that one before.

(I thought it was going to be the one about an animal eating something red and looking like it was bleeding to death. I'm pretty sure that was also a squirrel. Anyone know that one? I don't have enough useful details to find it again.)

My favorite version of Dogs in Elk is the one with vegetable illustrations.

#20 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 08:41 PM:

I made a compilation of all the cute animal subreddits that seems relevant to this thread.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Haven't seen any capybaras in person but I have seen pet coatimundis. People keep them as pets in Belize, where they are called 'quashes'.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 08:44 PM:

Where crossing rivers can be made to count
against the value of all we hold dear
in spite of all that’s known, at the frontier
where hope and learning are held paramount
no one would wait on those who’d dare remount
for the long journey of the pioneer
made by the awkward, and the most sincere,
who have their truths to keep and to recount.
No voyage matters, this at last we learn,
except to those who never need the map,
the ones excepted from each changing trend;
those are the masters who will always yearn
to hear our answer yet not give a rap,
since all must come out equal in the end.

#23 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 09:40 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 21: There is are reasons why you don't see pet capybaras. Good, sound reasons.

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 10:38 PM:

Weird Al meets Buzzword Bingo.

Particularly brilliant because he's style-parodying Crosby, Stills and Nash.

#25 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 11:09 PM:

If looking at strikingly beautiful things is your jam, I recommend Bored Panda. Things from there show up in metafilter, slate, etc, about a week and a half later. It's a great source for posts full of staggeringly aesthetic images. Though of course now that I go to link it the last ten or fifteen posts are full of some darker stuff (historical perspectives and interestingly important stuff) instead of all gorgeous fluff.

But it's worth it for these shots of what the new Canadian passport looks like under black light. Wow.

#26 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 11:27 PM:

Teddy Bear the prcupine likes mini-pumpkins.

#27 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 11:45 PM:

After reading the sweet potato story for the first time I thought of the absolute classic Dogs in Elk. Cally Soukup of course had already posted it by that time, though I knew it not because I had stopped reading to go and find the link.

However when Google led me at first to the Chaos Manor link, I thought perhaps... well, let's just say I kept looking. And though the original link at some prehistoric Salon chat forum is long gone, with only part of it remaining even in the Internet Archive, I did find a version lovingly illustrated with carved pumpkins and lots of tomato sauce.

And then I continued reading and saw Cally's link. But the pumpkins are really something special, so what the hey.

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2015, 11:57 PM:

#5: My mother's family is very complex. My grandmother married her brother-in-law after my grandfather died young. So . . . "great aunt" might . . . oh, I really need my mom to diagram how the Fugazzis and De Paolis fit together.

#29 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 12:52 AM:

I agree with Em, Where the Hell is Matt? is a wonderful set of videos.

Elliott got me to thinking about The Duck Song (and watch the sequels, too) which I found by way of The Elephant Song. And of course, who could forget Simon's Cat?

Heck, sometimes when I've got to distract the kids, all I need to do is go to YouTube and pull up something good, usually involving cats or the Muppets.

#30 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 12:58 AM:

Lee@24: Al has a story about how he ran into Graham Nash the year before "Mandatory Fun" came out, and Nash asked, "so, when are you going to make fun of me?" (A common request, it seems.) So Al called up the not-yet-released "Mission Statement" for him.

#31 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 01:27 AM:

@Paula Helm Murray no. 18: THANK YOU. I have had a day of nonstop low-level crap and this is JUST what I needed. This is my new Dogs in Elk.

#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 01:51 AM:

Related Dogs in Elk, "Squirrels and Beet Pulp"

Having done a lot of work with beet pulp (we had a lot of horses), and later Maia, and her sister, and mother, getting to know her (she's big in the clicker training world) I should ask if they've ever met the squirrel (probably still alive, as they can reach 20-25, in the wild).

#33 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 03:16 AM:

It has been my privilege to witness (on more than one occasion, even!) dramatic readings of Sweet Potato. One in an open filk circle where a spectator became a supporting cast member by supplying the facial expressions for the dog. "I was badly brought up." Excellent abs workout.

I don't evn have cats, and I still think Breaking Cat News is hilarious. The link is to the first comic; I recommend regular application of the "next" button.

#34 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 03:45 AM:

Maybe not appropriate to all situations, but I can't watch/listen to the HUG song without feeling better.

Also, I am a devotee of positive self-esteem shark. There's nothing cuter than an apex predator that understands its role in life.

#35 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 04:05 AM:

Terry Karney at #3 writes:

> I've always wanted to cuddle. capybara.

That's a perfectly normal urge. I suggest watching capybaras take showers, at:

Actually I suggest watching pretty much every episode of The Cute Show.

#36 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 04:44 AM:

I was recently introduced to I think I want a wombat.

And to I think I want a musk ox calf.

Of course, our cat might not like her new companions. Nor might our hens. Nor might our neighbours, once the wombat starts burrowing, and the calves grow up.

#37 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 07:49 AM:

For intellectual cheering up, there's this video of damn near every country on earth getting richer and living longer. (Hans Rosling, 200 countries, 200 years, in 4 minutes.)

Or there's big kitties playing with pumpkins.

I suspect I got both those videos here, originally.

And I just discovered that there are like six years' worth of cat-and-pumpkin videos. BRB.

#38 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 07:57 AM:

The above-linked "I has a sweet potato" is a guaranteed pick-me-up. Just saying "dogs in elk" in the same way I would say "pigs in space" cheers me up.

Mostly, watching (and occasionally re-watching) episodes of Table Top make me happy, because people having fun (well, mostly, at least) is encouraging.

#39 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 08:23 AM:

Update on TNH: She was discharged yesterday afternoon, condition partly improved. Yay for home.

Basically, we're looking at a problem that's probably a hard-to-diagnose interaction between cardiac and GI systems, resulting in intermittent but severe fluid retention and shortness of breath. Not that we didn't already have enough doctors, but there are further specialists in our immediate future.

As usual, olding sucks, except compared to the alternatives.

#40 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 09:19 AM:

My best wishes to Teresa.

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 09:30 AM:

#39: Thanks for the update!

#42 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 09:43 AM:

Thanks for the update, Patrick. Glad to hear that she's improved enough to go home.

#43 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 09:51 AM:

Thanks for the update; glad to here Teresa is home, hope she continues to improve.

#44 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 10:04 AM:

In re Sandy B @37 and her big-cats-with-pumpkins, related cute is big-cats-with-Christmas-trees. In both cases, they're posted by far more than one account, so if you want more, google for some.

Big-cat rescue/shelter/display sites have found a fertile ground in accepting donations of strongly holiday-related perishables right after last date of relevant sale, for use as enrichment objects.

#45 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 10:30 AM:

After reading weather news:

I hope the New Englanders amongst the crowd here can stay home and safe.

#46 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 10:56 AM:

Patrick, thank you for the update, and best wishes to Teresa.

#47 ::: Naomi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 11:03 AM:

The Licorice Allsorts saga. His findings.

#48 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 11:06 AM:

Patrick, #39: Best wishes for a firm and fixable diagnosis soon!

#49 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 11:15 AM:

Yay for Teresa getting sprung from the hospital! I hope whatever-it-was doesn't recur, or that they at least figure out a treatment.

#50 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 11:17 AM:

I see most of my usual cute-animal sites have shown up already, but here's Cukiság. I have no idea what they're saying (I think that's Hungarian), but the pictures range from "aww" to "holy cow!".

Also from my bookmarks, Holy Cuteness.

#51 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 12:16 PM:

Patrick at 39: home is better than not-home. Yay. Hugs to you both.

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 12:38 PM:

Home is always better than the doctor-shop in my, admittedly, biased opinion. Glad to see that TNH has been sprung.

#53 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 12:56 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #52: It's a sad truth that a hospital is "no place for a sick person" -- between institutional conditions and the infection hazard, that's the last place someone with shaky health wants to hang out. (But that's where the medical infrastructure is....)

#54 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 01:21 PM:

Thanks for the update, Patrick, and here's to Teresa's continued recovery with a solid diagnosis and treatment method soon to follow.

#55 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 02:19 PM:

A friend who was between jobs and very depressed used to watch this.

#56 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 03:20 PM:

TNH&PNH: Sorry about the local spike in entropy. I hope it becomes manageable quickly!

I have some more "when everything sucks" links for you all:
Chris Hadfield sings "Space Oddity", in space.
Belayed dancers waltz orthagonally.
Foxes discover a trampoline.
Baby capuchin sings to you.
There was a second lizard?!
The Owl and the Pussycat. (Check out the rest of the channel for more.)
The best 35 seconds on the internet. It just gets better every time you watch it. (No cats were harmed in the making of this video.)
Baby bear and baby wolf get up to mischief in the zoo gift shop after hours. (More videos in the rest of the channel.)
Red pandas are adorable jerks.
Multitracked cover of Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek".
Imogen Heap performing "Just for Now" live.
Gorgeous ad releases millions of superballs down a San Francisco street.
The most pathetic baby panda ever.
The chillout song. "Hey. It's okay. You'll be fine, just breathe."
Another ZeFrank, "Invocation for Beginnings".
Musings on trust, set to a slow contact pas de deux.
True facts about marsupials. (You'll probably realize quickly that this is a non-standard definition of "true".)

I guess what I'm saying is you should watch Ze Frank.

#57 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 03:33 PM:

My go-to-need-a-laugh remains So Your Cat Has Ass Breath.

#58 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 03:48 PM:

From the "You Probably Know, but I write because I care" department:

"Blizzard Warning for NYC, 1PM Mon-12AM Wed morning: 20-30" of snow + wind gusts to 65mph."

Panic buying of Corn Nog, Wadded Beef, and Creamed Eels in Three, Two, ONE . . .

#59 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 03:50 PM:

Glad to hear Teresa's home!

Another guaranteed laugh for me is this home-brew commentary on Olympic sailing.

#60 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 04:02 PM:

I am glad for this thread because this morning at about 2:30 a.m. (don't ask) a friend managed to remind me of an international award winning commercial for a Japanese whiskey which is the most depressing ad I've ever seen that doesn't involve bleeding, and I've been trying to shake it off ever since. So this helps.

#61 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 04:19 PM:

Shadowsong @ 56

"Kiwi" is NOT bittersweet, it should in fact have a TW

#62 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 04:28 PM:

Glad to hear Teresa's home. Best wishes with the specialists.

This New Englander has a sensible boss who isn't crazy enough to try to open the shop in a blizzard, storm preparedness measures informed by Uncle Jim's sage advice, and an off-street parking space, something of a luxury in Dorchester. Catch ME going out in the forecasted weather! Hope everyone else is similarly situated.

#63 ::: Diane Lacey ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 04:34 PM:

I'm happy to hear that Teresa is home again. Sending good thoughts for continued improvement.

#64 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 05:17 PM:

Here's another one I enjoy: Dancers Among Us

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 05:27 PM:

I see nobody has put up Popcorn Kittens yet...

#66 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 05:32 PM:

Bizarre weather contrast dept.:

It is 53 F, blue skies and sunny outside of Portland.

#67 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 05:33 PM:

Glad to read of better news for Teresa, and am sending best wishes.

I like Calming Manatee too Em #12, but my normal tactic when something riles me up is to disengage & do something completely different until I calm down. So I'd take time away from the keyboard if I'm het up over something online.

Other times, I get a buzz out of seeing some of the neat, cool things people do & put online that I'd never think of myself, as a counter to some of the awful stuff that is also online. Two recent discoveries (though they've been online a while) are:
- A Sketch Towards a Taxonomy of Meta-Desserts
- Shakespeare in the Bush, ("What you get when African tribal elders interpret Shakespeare for you ").

#68 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Glad Teresa's home--must make you both feel better. Shortness of breath is an awful, scary feeling--not one I wish on a friend. Hope they sort this out and get her back in fighting trim shortly.

#69 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 05:59 PM:

Bjorn @61: Crap, you're right. I should have rewatched it to double check before posting.

Abi and the gnomes, would it be possible for you to remove the entire kiwi line, or add a trigger warning in front of it?

#70 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 07:27 PM:

And a particular video that just came up: An overturned tortoise is a classic image of helplessness... unless it gets a little help from a friend.

#71 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 08:02 PM:

Maybe a revival of one of the storm prep posts is called for?

Asking for a friend . . . all the folks back there!

#72 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 08:43 PM:

My unicorn chaser file includes several mentioned already (sweet potato, Dogs in Elk, Where the Hell is Matt), and many more. Perennial favorites include this lorikeet in a bucket with a ping-pong ball, this cat that hates the printer, the very best cover song in the history of the world, and Maru.

#73 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 08:59 PM:

I was tickled that somebody actually illustrated my weasel help page. And then, of course, there's Ozzie.

And speaking of scritching capybaras, Rabbit is desperate for someone (i.e., one of the boys) to scritch her. But we have enough guinea pigs, thankyouverymuch. (If you get my drift.)

#74 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 10:13 PM:

@Andrew Wells no. 36: According to an article in our local paper years ago, a biologist doing some research on (IIRC) Nunivak Island had a terrifying close encounter with a bull muskox. Over the brow of a hill it came, thundering and trailing hair, bony brow lowered. There was no escape. The scientist stood frozen, awaiting his fate.

A few yards away, the bull put some drift into his hindquarters, skidded to a stop just out of goring range of the scientist's tender vittles...and presented the backs of his ears for scritches.

#75 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 10:18 PM:

@shadowsong no. 69: Yeah. That's the one that had the entire blog-o-verse reverberating with tearful cries of (rot13) "VG'F N ZNGGERFF NG GUR RAQ N ZNGGERFF GURER'F TBG GB OR N ZNGGERFF GURER!"

#76 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2015, 10:19 PM:

#75: Six or seven down in the comments is, "Cybg gjvfg: gur fbhaq ng gur raq vf n cnenpuhgr bcravat."

#77 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 12:02 AM:

Stefan Jones@71, the less serious storm prep map, from Twitter @MaggieJordanACN.

Really glad to hear Teresa's back home, and that she was able to get home before the storm hit.

#78 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 12:18 AM:

The Kitten Bowl is coming! in case you're not watching that football thing next week.

Also, Modern Farmer is probably gone (one more quarterly issue on the way, website still there, but full-time editorial staff is gone.) A great source for pictures of goats (which are apparently the new cats on the internet, according to several people.) It's partly intended for people who want to raise chickens in their back yards, partly for people who occasionally want to hear about trends in small-scale farming, and partly for people who don't actually plan to have livestock in their apartments but still enjoy reading articles about What's the best goat for you?

#79 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 12:38 AM:

My best wishes for Teresa's continued recovery.

In these videos Kili the Senegal parrot plays dead on command, a wild raven asks for a helping hand, and a whale shark, ditto.

#80 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 12:46 AM:

Tonight's cooking adventure: Eggs Sardou. It's a Louisiana Creole variant on Eggs Benedict, with spinach, artichoke bottom, poached eggs, hollandaise.

My wife and I first encountered it on our honeymoon, and I've made it a few times over the years with varying success. (I'd never had artichokes growing up; we were neither Italian nor Californian nor New Yorkers, so they were alien thistles or else canned things, but she introduced me to her family recipe for them.)

It turns out you can get frozen artichoke bottoms in the local Persian grocery, which aren't quite as good as starting with a fresh artichoke, but are close enough and far easier and better than canned, and having acquired a stick blender for Christmas I've been experimenting with hollandaise (reasonably successful) and aioli (failed badly :-) And I'd gotten a big bag of spinach at the store, so it was time to make this. As with many dishes that have lots of ingredients, all needing to be hot at the same time, the last minute of throwing all the parts together was a bit hectic, but it worked pretty well.

A few years ago, this dish inspired my contribution to one of the local SF folks' Alien Food party. You can get canned artichoke bottoms, which are big enough to hold the yolk of a fried egg, and sturdy enough to stay up on a tripod of toothpicks, couple of tobasco sauce eyes, looking slightly like War of the World Martians; I forget what the landscape under them was, probably Cheetos or canned nopales or something dubious-looking.

#81 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 01:06 AM:

Jenny Islander @74, now I really want a musk ox. Althoughi might need a sedative, too.

Wandering off topic, we were told in Svalbard of the arctic fox researcher and the barnacle goose researcher who were living next door to each other. The former's research subject kept upsetting the latter's research subject.

#82 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 04:23 AM:

shadowsong @69:

I've removed the link.

#83 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 07:22 AM:

re 28: My grandmother was her own sister-in-law, and my grandfather was also her brother-in-law. We have however managed to avoid other such knots on the family net.

#84 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 07:24 AM:

There is always Patrick the Wombat, the wildlife preserve version of Marty McFly's Uncle "Jailbird" Joey. They've tried to release him into the wild three times, but he's having none of that.

#85 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 07:52 AM:

Has anyone posted the unstackable cups gif yet?

#86 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 09:36 AM:

Best wishes to Teresa!

Stefan Jones @ #45, Rikibeth @ #62: The town in which we're staying sent out an emergency warning call last night. We're already stocked up and making sure we have important items ready to go in case of evacuation.

We're already experiencing some flurries.

#87 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 10:27 AM:

Andrew Wells @81 now I really want a musk ox

I am reminded of the Water Buffalo song from Veggie Tales. Youtube link here.

#88 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 10:28 AM:

I follow the Lazy Evaluation Ranch on tumblr- this post, featuring sheep, cat and red ochre, is a good one; they also have goats and peacocks. so there's plenty of chance for mayhem.

#89 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 10:43 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Local man and local woman celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary. Man suggested that tonight they should watch "Fantastic Voyage" or "Forbidden Planet". Woman suggests "The Andromeda Strain" because man has come down with a cold.

#90 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 11:46 AM:

Congratulations Serge & Susan. Next year, apparently, will be your pearl anniversary. You'll have to watch Bizet's Les Pêcheurs des Perles (or the sfnal equivalent).

#91 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 12:46 PM:

To the good folks in the NE - stay safe, that looks like a helluva storm.

#92 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 01:11 PM:

OtterB @87: Water Buffalo song

I had to laugh at that ep of Doctor Who that takes place Out West. Traditional desert ranch house, traditional rickety gate down at the end of the drive, with the bar overhead holding—wait for it—water buffalo horns. *snerk!* I strongly suspect the scriptwriter wrote "buffalo" horns, and the props dept (not being USAn) failed to translate that as "bison."

#93 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 01:25 PM:

Oh. My. I hadn't seen the capybaras or the sweet potatoes. My dog spent a fair bit of yesterday afternoon begging for butternut squash rinds, and chowing down on the bits I gave him.

I have done a snark. I am proud of my snark, but really, really unhappy about the need to do it on several axes.

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 03:01 PM:

Phiala @93:

I am proud of my snark, but really, really unhappy about the need to do it on several axes.

Sympathy. But sometimes the snark just takes too many words to fit onto a single axe.

(I'll get my coat.)

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 04:12 PM:

I'm so glad I had a paper towel next to the keyboard.

#96 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 04:37 PM:

Phiala #93: The smiting of such fools is indeed an unpleasant chore, but you did it with grace and wit. My best wishes for your treatment and outcome.

#97 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 05:25 PM:

Fragano @ 90... Excellent suggestion, and I can put it in practice on September 28, which is the 30th anniversary of when Sue and I moved in together before officially tying the knot on today's date.

#98 ::: Lin Daninel ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 05:29 PM:

Surfacing again to say
Glad Teresa is home.
Phiala: wonderful snark; not good that it was needed

Foxes and Trampolines!! Yes, that!

Other gotos:
Simon's Cat
And Ballooooooons! Timelapse webcams from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Friday, October 10, Lobo Internet GOPRO webcam, at 19 seconds, is ME! I'm in the gray-blue wine pitcher on the far right side, following the fire engine, with a shark above.

#99 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Shadowsong @62 & Honoured Thread Gardener Idumea Arbacoochee @ 82
Thank you both. Much appreciated.

#100 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 05:54 PM:

David Harmon at #96, and probably others:

I spent the past year in all the horrible treatments possible, and no longer have any detectable cancer. But I'm young and otherwise healthy, and we're being very aggressive about making as sure as possible I have no cancer at all. Thus a few more sessions of mop-up chemo. I am otherwise as healthy as a person with a metastatic cancer diagnosis can possibly be.

Hooray for medical science!

#101 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 05:57 PM:

Today, watching Jensen Ackles clown around between takes lip-synching melodramatically to Eye of the Tiger gives me life.

#102 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 06:05 PM:

Today I was put back on the pills for the anxiety, which I have been trying very hard to manage without, but eventually I gave in and admitted that, yes, really, I do need them at the moment. This was a downer. So I went and wrote some incredibly silly fanfic to cheer myself up.

Writing is good therapy. The only problem with it is that I can't do it absolutely all the time. :-)

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 06:13 PM:

@101: Now that's a variant of air-guitar I haven't seen before....

#104 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Jacque: more impressively, Jim Carrey did it on an Inside the Actor's Studio appearance -- he started out sitting down and STOOD UP while playing his own leg like a guitar.

Man's made entirely of rubber, not just the face.

The entire episode is interesting; the interviewer is very good at getting more manic, improv-oriented performers to actually engage with their process (though Robin Williams ended up derailing him, in the end).

#106 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 07:27 PM:

Well, I got to compress worry and relief into one session. Worked some long hours over the weekend, so hadn't seen ML for several days. Hope diagnosis and effective treatment for Teresa are imminently forthcoming.

I will have to spend lots of time on the links in this thread when I'm next at the library. Can't do videos over my dial-up connection at home.

#107 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 08:36 PM:

shadowsong@ #56, that lizard one is amazing. I hereby dub the kitten's signature move the "NOPEflail". It is the same thing I do when a creeper shows up in Minecraft.

#108 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Em @ #12

The Matt videos are wonderful, as is the music (which is frequently listened to on the way to work - iPod FTW!)

Moose have a very soft spot for the xkcd and ML "Boomdeyada" videos, too.

#110 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 11:03 PM:

Mongoose @103-- I have been downloading, printing out and putting all your stories (except those marked Teen and Up) into a folder for my child. You have been keeping me busy lately. And I think I really like "The Stranger" of the most recent ones.

#111 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 11:13 PM:

Coyote nabbed in Stuyvusant Town:

What a handsome beastie. I was across the street from one who looked a bit like her last month. He looked miffed that I got in the way of his walk to a wetlands area on my side of the road. He didn't bolt when he saw me, but ambled away quickly enough that I couldn't get a decent picture.

#112 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2015, 11:41 PM:

Idumea the Gardener @82:

Thank you for the edit, apologies for the necessity.

#113 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 12:50 AM:

I know this isn't a proper haiku, but here's something from 9-year-old Jenny Islander:

Fox by the roadside
Looks up from her bug-hunt, laughs,
And chases the bus!

It really happened. These days half of the kids on board would have had their phones out, but back then, all I could do was make a poem.

#114 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 05:21 AM:

Not a link, but sometimes when I am sad I remind myself about the time Nic Cage had to cover up his Ghost Rider tattoo so he could play Ghost Rider.

#115 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 05:48 AM:

Lady Kay @110: thank you! It's good to know that there are people who enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

#116 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 08:45 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @109: That final video is an amazing meditation on innovation and skill.

#117 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 08:43 PM:

Stefan @ 111: Just miffed? I suppose that's just as well with something the size of a coyote. I occasionally came home after the garbage had gone out for pickup, to find it topped by a raccoon with a serious how-dare-you-interrupt-my-dinner expression. But raccoons are expectable in suburbs; a coyote in Manhattan is remarkable.

#118 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 08:50 PM:

A book that probably isn't going to get the 2015 Hugo for nonfiction but is nonetheless entertaining: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. By Cary Elwes with a credited ghost writer. Rather gushy for my taste, but lots of fun bits.

#119 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 10:00 PM:

#117: The local coyotes are really shy. I'd be really surprised if one confronted me.

It was really odd seeing this particular one in full daylight. The road we were across from each other on has quite a bit of car traffic, but very little of the pedestrian variety. I think he was used to crossing unseen from the field he had just crossed to the pocket-wetlands area on my side.

I wish I had a real camera with me. He had a very nice winter coat, with a dark tail.

The boldest one I encountered stood on the other side of a road and looked at Kira and me. Side facing me, head turned to look. Ready to scamper into his creek-side tangle-brush I suspect.

#120 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2015, 10:27 PM:

CHip #117: My general impression is that raccoons are rather more aggressive than coyotes, at least in one-on-one situations. I think it was someone here who commented that raccoons have a bear's attitude, despite being smaller than humans.

#121 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 02:32 AM:

AKICIML: If I had a clay chiminea and/or a metal charcoal brazier going outdoors, and I let the fires in them burn down and scraped the entire contents into some ash buckets and left the ash buckets outdoors, could I then bring the completely empty chiminea and/or the brazier indoors and let it or them radiate heat? Or would they still generate hazardous gases?

#122 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 05:03 AM:

David Harmon @ #120:

The literal translation of the Swedish for "raccoon" is 'wash bear' (as in "a bear that washes things", not as in "a bear you wash things with").

Make of that what you want (but I think it is to the superficially ursine look of the raccoon).

#123 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 06:25 AM:

Jenny @ #121

The toxic gas (carbon monoxide) is purely a combustion product, so if you've dumped all the coals and ashes it's perfectly safe to bring the hardware inside. (As long as it's cooled down enough to avoid being a different kind of hazard, of course.)

#125 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 09:47 AM:

I finished Andy Weir's "The Martian" on the bus to work.
Suspenseful to the very end.
I hope the movie will do justice to this story about intelligence's triumph.

#126 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 09:48 AM:

Have you seen the Chris Bliss Diss video? (Warning: may ruin your enjoyment of the Chris Bliss juggling video. But it's pretty good.)

#127 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 10:02 AM:

Sandy B: That link goes to the TEDx Helsinki juggling video. I think you meant to link Chris Bliss Diss instead?

#128 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 10:39 AM:

John #124 : I enjoyed that! Thank you for linking it. But surely it's about Mary Jane Watson, not Peter Parker? :p

#129 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 11:00 AM:

re 121: Once combustion is over the CO risk is gone too. The real problems are (a) you really need to empty the grates/whatever before you get that far to have any heat left, so you have to be able to stash the still-hot coals somewhere, and (b) the amount of heat retained, and its radiation, are problematic. There's a type of tile stove which works by burning fuel very fast and then radiating it over a long period, but these things are really massive and immobile.

#130 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 11:37 AM:

Jenny Islander @121, it almost sounds like what you should do is put heavy bricks into your charcoal fire, then, once they're nice and hot, brush them off and take them inside. The problem, of course, is finding a way to carry hot bricks safely, and place them safely inside where they won't burn you -- or your pets -- or your floor.

I'm assuming you're trying to add additional heat to your house, rather than simply safely storing your charcoal grill inside. If that's your goal, then ignore me...

#131 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 11:41 AM:

Raccoons are scary when they get big. There was one time when one parked itself in a tree just outside the campus theater, and we all decided to take the other exit when it was seen to be awake and hissing at us...

#132 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 01:22 PM:

Gah! I checked that it went to a link I had gone to. Yes, I meant the video you linked to @127, Elliot.

@121/129: I concur with this analysis. My first estimate for "a place to put them" and "a way to carry them" would be something like a metal colander, placed on the back of the stove. Assuming you aren't using very many bricks.

Apparently there are different types of bricks and the main difference is density. And, of course, whether you have a pile of bricks off to the side of your house left by the previous owner, as I do.

#133 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 01:59 PM:

I like the Chris Bliss Dis video-- the skill level is astonishing. However, the original Chris Bliss video works emotionally for me in a way that the Dis video doesn't.

This time around, I saw how rough a lot of Chris Bliss's movements were, but i have no idea to what extent he was at the limit of his skill, or was choosing a staccato style and inefficient posture (not to mention mouthing the words) because it works better as a performance.

#134 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 02:16 PM:

Real modern steampunk: solar-powered smokeless steam engines

Less tech-y version: use a solar plant of whatever ilk to generate steam. Fireless steam engines are a known technology: they carry superheated water/steam in a thermos tank and run back to the source for a fill-up whenever the pressure runs low.

#135 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 03:30 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden@39: Best wishes to Teresa. I hope that the impending specialists are helpful, and that they don't find her too interesting.

Ingvar M@122: In German too, according to this flowchart of German animal names (which I think must have been linked here before).

Nancy Lebovitz@133: Having just seen both videos for the first time, I agree. I think that the "simple" 3-ball juggling let me focus more on the overall performance than on the technical difficulty.

Thanks to everyone for all the links. At the moment I want to be following them all, but schedule and snow clearing mean that I'm instead just bookmarking the whole thread for later.

#136 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 04:06 PM:

I first read this little motorcyclist vs. squirrel story several years ago on a motorcycling site.

Warning: may cause uncontrolled giggling. Especially if you ride a motorcycle.

#137 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 04:55 PM:

I had an idea which I want to share. I don't know where to put it- it's lovely theoretical backstory but I don't know how you'd get it into a story or an RPG.

I recently discovered the Sirius Mystery. The claim is that upon contact with Europeans, the Dogon tribe already knew that Sirius was a double star. [More common theories are that the Dogon tribe was told this by Europeans; they did not know of a planet beyond Jupiter with rings, for instance.] And the "I'm not saying it was aliens, but..." people seized upon this to say it was aliens.

I thought "Well, what would it take for a relatively low-tech tribe, or a fallen empire, to find that out? A good telescope?" The parabola doesn't require much pre-existing math. Clear glass is difficult and, like clay, would leave evidence for centuries. Ground glass lenses would be even more difficult. Then I thought about parabolic reflectors. One large mirror to focus, one small one to reflect the image over to the eye. And I realized probably the best material - easy to work, low melting point, metallurgically simple, very reflective - was gold. A golden bowl, if you will.

And if the observatory got sacked, you KNOW the looters would destroy the telescope and take the gold. So there'd be no archaeological evidence of its existence.

I don't think the Dogon looked at the sky through high-powered golden telescopes. But they could have, as far as I know, and I love that.

#138 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 04:57 PM:

Cassy B @136: oh my! You were right; it did indeed cause uncontrolled giggling.

#139 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 05:05 PM:

Em @ 2^7: I think you're right! I wish I'd titled my link that way now.

#140 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 05:13 PM:

Yikes! I hope Teresa is doing better!


This kind of thing always makes me think of all the technology and genius that must have been lost through history. Stuff like the Antikythera mechanism gives a hint of this--one instance of what was probably some really impressive technology, built a couple thousand years ago and more advanced in some ways than anything we know about for another thousand plus years.

*Most* human genius has been lost. Most of the amazing stories and beautiful art and subtle philosophical reasoning and clever bits of technology didn't get saved. The project ended and everyone knew nobody would ever want to do such a thing again. The genius innovator died and his wastrel nephew inherited a bunch of boring meaningless tomes and weird mechanical gadgets that he sold off for wine and whore money. The waterwheel worked perfectly for years, but the designer just couldn't manage to explain to his son (who was also his apprentice) exactly what was so clever about it, and when it stopped working in *his* son's time, nobody knew how to fix it. The software that ran the control system was a genuine work of genius, but when the new systems came out it was obsolete, and the new programmer who was supposed to maintain it never did understand it anyway.

#141 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 06:57 PM:

Sandy B #137: The worse problem is the knowledge needed to complete the telescope (e.g., bearings) and use it effectively. Wikipedia says Sirius B was discovered in the 19th century with an 18.5" refractor. At that point you're already looking at a fair-sized infrastructure of technology to be able to make such a thing, not to mention why they would do so. The "tribal scientists" theory ends up not much more plausible than "the Sirians came over and told them", which IIRC is what your book was pitching. (I read it back in college if not earlier.)

#142 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 07:42 PM:

Do any of the DC-area Fluorospherians belong to the Folklore Society of Greater Washington? I'm going to be at their mini-fest in Takoma Park on Feb 7 and it sounded like the sort of thing I might pass some of you at without realizing it.

#143 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 07:48 PM:

ObSF: The Sirius Mystery contributes part of the plot of The California Voodoo Game, the third Dream Park novel by Niven & Barnes.

#144 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 09:38 PM:

In post #703 of Open Thread #200, I wrote that my cat had gone missing on September 19th. I am extremely pleased and stunned to report that she is now home!

Apparently someone two blocks north of us noticed her hanging around their place for the past few weeks; they've been feeding her occasionally, thinking that she was a stray (her collar was gone). They took her in during the blizzard yesterday and decided to adopt her, so took her to the vet today, who discovered her identification chip. That service called to let us know, and we picked her up before they closed this evening.

She's in great condition; looking at her, you'd never know that she had been outdoors for over four months.

As soon as she finished eating, she took up her rightful place on my lap and demanded that I make up for all of the lost skritches NOW. I'm okay with that.

#145 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Carol @ 144: how wonderful! I'm so glad. In honour of your intrepid moggie, I offer you Breaking Cat News's Christmas Special.

#146 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 11:04 PM:

Carol Witt @144, how wonderful! Give her a few extra scritches from me. And thank heaven for kindly strangers who take in strays.

#147 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2015, 11:52 PM:

Em@145: That's exactly what I thought of.

#148 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 12:44 AM:

Carol Witt -- Huzzah! for returned cat. Our friend Hank had a similar event with his (very old) cat, who also returned months later. It's amazingly wonderful when it happens.

#149 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 02:27 AM:

Carol Witt - Yayy! I had a cat who was gone for three weeks once; he was skittish, and it started raining when he got out which startled him even more, but fortunately he was willing to wear a collar, so somebody saw him and recognized him from the poster. He was half a block away, hanging out by an apartment building similar to mine. Lost some weight, got worms and maybe some liver problems, but otherwise fine.

A previous time he'd gotten out, at a previous place, the landlord had left the door open when doing some work, and he ran outside and around the house (a couple of days after I'd moved in.) I locked the other cat in the bathroom, left the doors open, and went looking for him. Saw him down the block, ran after him, he ran across the street and down the canyon, and I tried running down the canyon (in shoes that weren't made for it :-), couldn't catch him. Got back home, terribly depressed. Cat walked out of the bedroom saying "Yeah, what?". The next morning I saw a very similar cat walking across my back porch, presumably the one I had *actually* chased down the canyon :-)

#150 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 02:40 AM:

Raccoons are smart; not only have I seen them break into garbage cans with tied down lids, my wife once saw a couple of them one night at the sculpture park at the local university museum who were out criticizing the art. (I suspect if you're not careful they'll pick the locks on your house, turn on your computer, and start ordering bags of dogfood on Amazon ("Note: Just deliver them to the back porch."))

Every couple of years I see them near my home, usually groups of young ones that aren't quite big enough to leave their mom. One night I heard a bunch of scratching from one of the trees near my door when I got home, and looked up expecting to see a couple of squirrels; instead there was a possum up the tree, and a couple feet below him was a young raccoon, plus a couple of other raccoons were farther down the sidewalk. Raccoons took off, and my guess was that if I hadn't arrived when I did, there'd have been leftover possum bits on the sidewalk in the morning.

#151 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 08:14 AM:

Charles Townes, inventor of the maser and laser has died.

#152 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 12:11 PM:

My HOA has finally figured out that if they have the garbage company leave the lids on the dumpsters closed, we don't have to (a) spend the nights all spring listening to the babies yelling, "Mom! Get me out! MOM! Mom, heeeeelllllppp!! MOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!" or (b) (in my case) go out at oh-dark-thirty with a climby-thing to help them out.

Unfortunately, we seem to have a significant number of residents who can't figure out how to open the dumpster lids to put the trash in, so leave their full trash bags on top of the dumpster. Which, of course, makes it much harder for everyone else to throw their trash away....

#153 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 12:56 PM:

My sister was given a gift pack, a mug with a packet of hot cocoa mix inside it. The local raccoons got the cocoa packet out of the mug and proceeded to try washing the contents.

She was so glad they never figured out pull-tabs and can openers.

#154 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 01:34 PM:

There was a "spaceship Ark" story some time back in which the creators had removed the primates, on the theory of getting rid of humanity's tainted legacy, or some such.

But they'd left raccoons on board...

#155 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 01:55 PM:

Stephen Boyett's The Architect of Sleep is about sentient raccoons inheriting the earth (and a sleeping human wakes up in their world) -- is that what you're thinking of, B. Durbin?

#156 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 02:11 PM:

(That's the name of that novel - I remember reading it, but kept losing the name.)

#157 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 02:20 PM:

Sandy B #137 - oh yes, the Sirius Mystery, or rather, the mystery of how an otherwise intelligent person can come to some conclusions that rather fail Occam's razor.

Temple is an interesting fellow, and I think he somewhat redeemed himself with one of his later books, that points out that all these lumps of rock crystal in museums around the world, usually found in the middle east in strata from 2 or 3 or 4,000 years ago, are actually magnifying lenses. His book is "The crystal sun", it's worth a read and has lots of photos to help convince you. It even seems possible that they had telescopes, but they were special and rare; it is hard work to make a lense and somewhat skilled.

His Foundation is also funding the translation and publication of modern scholarly editions of various important texts of alchemy, the first one, appropriately enough, being the Physika et Mystika of pseudo-Democritus.

#158 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 02:42 PM:

P J Evans @153: I used to have a cat called Chomsky. In most respects, he was embarrassingly misnamed, because he was really not very bright (his brother was Minsky, whom I have probably mentioned here before, and I always used to joke that Minsky got both the brains); but when it came to anything involving food, Chomsky had a certain single-minded directness which often compensated for his lack of brains. And it didn't matter what sort of food it was, either.

This explains why Chomsky once jumped onto the kitchen table, ripped open a packet of cantuccini biscuits I had been given for Christmas, took out two of them, and ate them. Except for the almonds, which he left in the middle of the carpet. It turned out he didn't like almonds - who knew?

#159 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 02:47 PM:

Albatross@140: That resembles entirely too much of my life.

#160 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Cats - who can predict their likes?

#161 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 03:42 PM:

I found this Fibonacci poem by Brian Bilston on Twitter the other day and thought you guys might like it.

The image is better because it eliminates the possibility of word wrap, but here's the text for anyone who needs it:

Word Crunching

a poem
on a page
but then each line grew
by the word sum of the previous two
until I started to worry at all these words coming with such frequency
because, as you can see, it can be easy to run out of space when a poem gets all Fibonacci sequency.

#162 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 04:23 PM:

I suspect that if coyotes had thumbs, human civilization could not have developed, and I'm guessing that coyotes wouldn't have the patience to develop their own civilization.

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 04:27 PM:

R.I.P. Suzette Haden Elgin.

Not unexpected, but sad nonetheless.

#164 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 05:37 PM:

#162: Coyotes specifically? They're pretty much North American.

Now imagining alternate histories where Columbus "discovers" . . .

[ ] Coyote civilization, with tales of fur-less trolls who once invaded over a land bridge from the northwest. AND NOW THEY'RE BACK!
[ ] Coyote / human civilization.

#165 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 06:01 PM:

Lee @163: The world has lost a treasure -- there's no one quite like Suzette was.

#166 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 06:17 PM:

shadowsong @161: that is delightful. Thank you for sharing!

#167 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 06:50 PM:

#164 ::: Stefan Jones

Yes, I was thinking coyotes specifically, because they have such a reputation for intelligence and determination.

Nominees for other continents?

#168 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 07:35 PM:

Rod McKuen has died. The 60s are finally gone.

#169 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 10:23 PM:

Linkwalking: An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media touches on many issues that have been discussed around here.

#170 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 10:31 PM:

Brian Billston is groovy. I retwote him.

#171 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 06:22 AM:


It may be a literary tradition, but I would nominate Foxes as a possibility.

Cunning as a fox, and the idea of the Coyote as the Trickster... There's a lot of overlap.

#172 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 08:11 AM:

I had a squee and a sinking realization about DC's The Flash TV show.

The squee isn't a spoiler, methinks -- no plot impact. It has to do with nonwhite, nonstraight representation on TV. I'll rot13 it anyhow for those who are sensitive: Gur pncgnva bs gur cbyvpr fgngvba jurer gur cebgntbavfg jbexf vf fheanzrq Fvatu. Va na rc V jngpurq ynfg avtug, gur znva punenpgre pbcf ner qbvat gur "tb gnyx gb gur pncgnva ba yhapu orpnhfr jr'er haunccl" fpugvpx -- naq gur pncgnva fnlf, "Zl oblsevraq unf qrpvqrq jr'er rngvat URNYGUL ng ubzr, fb abj V pna bayl trg sbbq V YVXR jura V'z urer ..." Whfg n guebjnjnl yvar jvgu ab cybg vzcyvpngvbaf. Vg vf PBZCYRGRYL VAPVQRAGNY gung ur vf tnl. Naq abajuvgr. RRRRRRR!

The other thing, which doesn't make me particularly happy, is possibly spoilerific by tendency and mentions one specific plot incident from Episode 6 (season 1): Gur jevgvat fgnss, sbe nyy gurve novyvgl gb jevgr terng qvnybthr naq pbzcyvpngrq punenpgref (jub unir nepf vafgrnq bs orvat pneqobneq fgnaqrrf cergraqvat gb or crbcyr), frrz gb ivrj nal bs gur grpuabonooyr, fpvrapr, naq "cbjref fghss" nf na havzcbegnag rkphfr sbe gur "erny zrng" bs gur fubj. Vg srryf yvxr gurl qrpvqr nurnq bs gvzr, "Gurfr ner bhe guerr cbjref orngf, yrg'f jevgr gb gung naq tb ba jvgu gur cnegf bs gur fubj jr pner nobhg," rira jura gur fcrpvsvp cbjref orngf gurl pubfr znxr ab frafr be jbhyq znxr n ORGGRE FGBEL vs fbzrbar npghnyyl gubhtug bs gurz.

Va Rcvfbqr 6, gur onq thl vf culfvpnyyl uneq gb gur gbhpu. Chapuvat uvz oernxf Oneel'f unaq. Gur fpvrapr areqf jbex bhg gung vs Oneel ehaf ng bire 800zcu, naq uvgf gur onq thl jvgu uvf svfg sebz WHFG gur evtug natyr, vg jvyy jbex; nalguvat fyvtugyl bss naq Oneel jvyy "funggre rirel obar va (uvf) obql." Qrfcvgr gur snpg gung snfg-ivoengvat nggnpxf unir uvfgbevpnyyl jbexrq orggre sbe gur Synfu, gurl qb n genvavat zbagntr naq n ohvyqhc naq gnyx nobhg fcrpvsvp guvatf (ur arrqf n "5.3zv ehaavat fgneg va n fgenvtug yvar" gb trg tbvat gung snfg) ... Gur jevgref pyrneyl qrpvqrq rneyl ba nobhg n yvfg bs Cbjref Penc jr'er tbvat gb qb guvf rc, naq vafregrq vg phg-naq-cnfgr fglyr.

So if they would hire a writer who really likes the part of the job I think their staff is weak on, it would be very close to my ideal. There are major characters who are non-white but not tokens. Non-straight people exist in the world, and are shown to exist, and have lines that aren't motivated by their non-straightness being a plot point.

And yet. Sigh.

#173 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 08:27 AM:

Elliot #172:

I admit I do not watch the show, so I don't know the details of the characters involved. So I have a follow-up question (rot-13 to keep it spoiler-free): Fvatu vf n irel genqvgvbany Fvxu anzr. Qbrf gur pncgnva'f fubj fvtaf bs orvat n Fvxu (gheona, snpvny unve, znvayl), be qvq gurl whfg cybc gur anzr ba na npgbe bs Vaqvna qrfprag?

#174 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 08:31 AM:

Buddha Buck @173: Gur npgbe va dhrfgvba vf bs Neno naq Serapu-Pnanqvna qrfprag, ohg vs lbh fdhvag ur'f cynhfvoyl curabglcvpnyyl Abegu-Vaqvna-vfu. Vg'f ceboyrzngvp, ohg fgvyy orggre guna Fgne Gerx'f erpbeq pnfgvat Nfvnaf ...

#175 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Nancy @167, ravens are circumpolar, smart, and can already make simple tools. Make them a bit more social so they can learn from each other and have more reason to communicate, boost their lifespan a bit, and North American and European civilizations might look very different. (Crows are smart, too, but there's not a single species as widespread as Common Ravens, which is why I picked ravens.)

#176 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 09:15 AM:

Thanks, all, and to Em @ #145 for the link. Connie isn't completely glued to me any longer, but she does tend to stay where she can keep an eye on me.

I think the neighbours who have been watching out for her are as excited as we are.

#177 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 11:28 AM:

Circling back to the original topic, one of my lasting pleasures is what Tolkien called sub-creation. I love to construct alternate worlds and set them ticking along on paper. My latest project is to take the pre-colonization Marquesas, which are the island group most distant from a continent in any direction, raise the submerged range beneath them 1500 meters, and let the resulting land mass tick along undisturbed for, oh, 9 million years or so. What might the resulting ecosystem look like? (Answer: Full of flightless birds--but they're all large, because of the gigantic creepy crawlies hunting all over the landscape, and wary, because of the killer parrots.) It took me about a year to do the first of these, mumblety years ago, but since I got online, it's become so much easier!

#178 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 11:37 AM:

For those of you who spend time in hotels and want to use your own wifi: the FCC is on your side. Blocking wifi is prohibited, and can lead to a serious fine. Those of us with portable hot spots on our phones are quite happy about this.

#179 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 01:12 PM:

Hey look!

After various emails threatening ADA violations, a call from my oncologist, a fax from my oncologist, and far more aggravation than should have been necessary, my oncologist actually TALKED TO A REAL PERSON, and suddenly I'm no longer a prospective juror.


#180 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 01:34 PM:

In PNH's NYRB==Alien Critic link, Charles Baxter writes:

"Joshi is territorial: while I grant him his right to his opinions, he does not grant me a right to mine."

Yeah, I've noticed that, too. Joshi is becoming Derleth, and either doesn't realize it or doesn't care.

#181 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 01:44 PM:

#172: What Elliot describes is another example of something I've noticed about TV of late.

We've got a generation of screenwriters (and show runners and what-not) for whom written SF, comics, and games aren't at best a ghetto to be mocked, but something they grew up with, as an inspiration and a way of cutting one's teeth. These offer a rich and inclusive source of ideas and dramatic possibility.

Very SF-ish ideas are finding their way into even mainstream shows. Elementary had two episodes featuring gadgets that would qualify it as SF twenty years ago. Person of Interest, which seemed at first like "The Equalizer" with a gimmick, is turning into dark spook SF.

And just as the new generation of writers isn't afraid that working nanotechnology or A.I. will baffle their audiences, they're increasingly confident about including non-white, non-straight characters . . . not as tokens or the point of a Very Special Episode, but as . . . characters.

And the generation of screenwriters who learn from *them* will be even less chicken.

#182 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 01:49 PM:

Stefan Jones @181: I was showing my 6yo daughter some photographs of Michelle Obama in various outfits (the context leading to these actions is both too boring and too complicated to explain), and suddenly had a stop-and-inhale moment.

My kid will grow up just assuming that the President of the US can be black. Because of course he can, he was -- and his pretty wife was black too (and pretty. And wore great clothes, by my kid's lights).

It kind of made me want to cry for happy. And hope that we get another non-white (dare I hope for non-cis-het-male?) very-high officeholder sometime in the next ten years to drive home the assumption.

#183 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 02:10 PM:

#182: Yes. Synergy.

It wasn't that long ago . . . well, I'm old, so maybe it just seems that way . . . that Star Trek: The Next Generation produced the most squeamish, toe-dip in the waters of suggesting that maybe a non-traditional relationship might not maybe be a bad thing; that episode where Riker falls for a genderless alien (the ones who put their seed in a "fibrous husk"). How chickenshit that seems now.

Babylon 5 really wanted to just show that Ivonova and (mind blanking . . . female telepath character) were involved and really, what's your problem if they were? but JMS reportedly had to dial things back due to syndicate pressure.

And yes: Black president, and if a woman ran for POTUS no one outside of Rush Limbaugh's fan club would tolerate the awful crap and slurs I remember flying around when Shirley Chisolm and Dukakis were running.

Progress. Slow, but progress.

#184 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 02:13 PM:

Tom, #178: This is excellent news for anyone who goes to cons!

Phiala, #179: Yay for someone figuring it out!

#185 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Elliott @ 182:

This is related to something that is making me terribly sad right now.

You see, my family is white, and when I was a kid in the 70's we used to have all the Bill Cosby albums on, a lot. And my Dad would quote large sections that he had committed to memory, and there was this black face on the album covers on the coffee table. Nobody lectured me about it; just, there he was. So the message I got was that black people are smart and funny, and that my Daddy, whom I worshipped, wanted to emulate a black man. Far superior to the messages about race that I got in school-- those tended to include the phrase "just as good," which in retrospect makes me rather queasy.

And now... crap. I know, feet of clay, men in positions of power will be men in positions of power, and all that. But still, very painful.

#186 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 02:23 PM:

#185: I feel the same way.

Cosby's album about his childhood -- tonsillectomy, the Chicken Heart, go-karts -- was frequently played in our house when I was a kid.

A positive presence, s'far as anyone could tell.

Now . . . ick. Ugh.

#187 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Stefan @183: Talia Winters. I'm in the middle of a (slowwww) rewatch of B5 at the moment, introducing my Star Trek-loving roommate to it*, and she completely missed the Ivanova/Talia subtext and couldn't understand why I was sighing and sniffling my way through those scenes. I have a strict no-spoilers policy, so when we got to that one line ("I think I... loved... Talia") there was this giant "oooooooh, NOW I get it" from my left.

*"The first ten episodes or so were really cheesy, Em. I had my doubts. Thank goodness you told me to stick it out."

#188 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 02:44 PM:

Zelda & Stefan:
Same here, same here. I played my son Cosby's old "Karate" stand-up routine the other day, which I remember from when I was a kid. ("There are ten *thousand* different schools of Karate. In Greenwich Village.") It's still funny today - but I felt like I should have given out a long disclaimer first.

And I have to disagree with Zelda: Cosby's apparent crimes go far beyond feet of clay, and putting it on "men in positions of power" is a cop-out. Many men have a sleazy streak, and perhaps most men can be insensitive to relative power and privilege, but there can't be many who respond to power and wealth by systematically drugging and raping women for decades.

(One thing I wonder is just how his lawyers and PR people have been justifying their role to themselves - they would surely know just how many women have been trying to raise accusations and how long, as they're the ones who would have been involved in shutting them all up and threatening any media who might have reported on it.)

#189 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Another unicorn chaser: watch a TV weatherman handling an on-air screwup in the backdrops behind him with aplomb and a completely unflappable Improv Face.

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 03:22 PM:

I keep remembering his routine from back then, about pregnancy. It's a lot less funny now.

#191 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 03:42 PM:

[Pokes his head in after a long absence]

This video never fails to make me laugh.

Best wishes for Teresa. I'm glad she's home.

#192 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 03:59 PM:

Clifton @ 188: there can't be many who respond to power and wealth by systematically drugging and raping women for decades

That we know of.

Alright, not that many that bothered with the drugs; most would rely on the women feeling too vulnerable to say anything, or being disbelieved or blamed if they did. (What was she doing in that hotel room/car/stairwell?) And the 'soft no' can allow the man in a position of power to tell *himself* that what he did wasn't rape. (The drugs maybe mean a little less self-deception and denial. I don't much care.) It doesn't even have to get as far as the PR people making threats (and the PR people weren't there; why wouldn't they genuinely believe the woman was just another extortionist?)-- self-rejection and a little scoffing can do most of the job.

Granted, I am feeling very cynical right now. And we are talking about *unreported* crimes, so neither you nor I can ever get good data to say what we mean by "many" or "not many." I think we can agree on "too damn many."

#193 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 04:56 PM:

Zelda, #192: I agree that it probably happened (and still happens) far more often than we realize; like many other sexual crimes, it is frequently unreported and often disbelieved if/when it is reported.

I classify alcohol among the group of "commonly used rape drugs" because there is a growing body of evidence that it is in fact the drug of choice for many serial acquaintance-rapists.

One potentially good thing that's coming out of the "Kids These Days don't understand that online = public" culture is that many of these acquaintance rapists can't seem to resist taking photos and video of the acts in progress, as witness this story. And sometimes that evidence is what convicts them. Men of Cosby's generation rarely did that*, because they didn't record their lives on social media.

* Exception: there have always been sociopathic serial rapists, usually also serial murderers, who took photos to keep as trophies. But I'm talking about the kind of guy who just thinks of what he's doing as "getting laid".

#195 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 06:03 PM:

Zelda #185, et seq.: August J. Pollak had a lengthy discussion of his own feelings about it: "Bill Cosby: An Obituary.

#196 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 07:04 PM:

Open-threadiness: Hamsters of Doriath (Silmarillion fanart)

#197 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Phiala @179, glad you're excused but what a ridiculous runaround. Good thoughts headed your way.

#198 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 11:01 PM:

This blog post describes something interesting in the world. I wondered how many of the accelerant twitter accounts he was discussing were sockpuppets, and how many were just people who loved to get some good old fashioned righteous joy from smiting the evildoers, without all that much concern about facts or details.

#199 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2015, 11:45 PM:

albatross, #199: What I took away from that article is, "this guy has discovered that not all trolls are RWAs." Bluntly, I am not as willing as he is to attribute good intentions to the people he's describing as "accelerants". If your online profile shows a repeated pattern of, as he puts it, bouncing from one controversy to another raising the conflict level -- that's a troll pattern. So is the "let's you and him fight" nature of the interventions he describes. And on the Internet, if you do a perfect imitation of a troll, then you are one.

#200 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 05:01 AM:

Lee, @200: What I took from it was "this guy has discovered the existence of trolls". But maybe my sense that real true trolls, are in the troll game for the trolling, is an idiosyncratic or old-fashioned one.

#201 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 08:34 AM:

Is their goal trolling, or is that just the way they behvae while trying to do some other thing (show the flag on their beliefs, try to smite the evildoers online, etc.)

#202 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 09:04 AM:

Hyper-local news: The "kittens" are now 10 pounds, and unaware that they don't both fit on the top of the cat tree. We picked Miles because he was orange, and had the loudest purr we'd ever heard. It was only later that we realized that the orange smudge around his nose was devastatingly cute. The brothers don't look much alike, but they're exactly the same size, and have the same color eyes.

They are 6 months old. Toll so far: 1 snow globe, 1 set of blinds, 1 set of shoe laces, and the ability to fasten the hood on a winter coat.

#203 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 10:08 AM:

Lee @199: RWA?

#204 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 02:05 PM:

David Goldfarb #203: Probably Right Wing {Activist,A**hole}.

#205 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 02:07 PM:

janetl #202: Hey, they're both sitting up there, aren't they? Not too crowded for cuddlesome kitties. :-)

#206 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 04:34 PM:

David Harmon @ 205: Later in the day, they demonstrated how roomy one of the cat beds is.

#207 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 04:34 PM:

Open-threadiness: Is anyone else watching the TV remake of "12 Monkeys"? So far I'm really pleased with it, particularly gur jnl gurl'er syrfuvat bhg gur shgher jbeyq naq gur crbcyr jub yvir gurer. V ybir gung gurl unir qvssrerag zbgvingvbaf - lbh'ir tbg gur barf gelvat gb fheivir, lbh'ir tbg gur barf whfg qbvat gurve wbof, lbh'ir tbg gur nccneragyl-rzcngulyrff yrnqre jub vf abg rzcngurgvp orpnhfr fur pna'g nssbeq gb or.

I'm really looking forward to the next episode.

#208 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 05:14 PM:

'Carl Djerassi, a Stanford chemist who was a key contributor to the invention of the birth control pill, which forever changed the lives of modern women, died Friday of complications of cancer at his home in San Francisco. He was 91.'

#209 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 08:07 PM:

How To Tell If You Are In A High Fantasy Novel

Methinks this list is way too short.

#210 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 09:36 PM:

I'm reminded of Margaret Ball's Lost in Translation-- the viewpoint character isn't terribly observant, so when she's kidnapped to a high fantasy world when she's on her way to Paris, it takes a while for her to figure out what happened. When she sees an anomaly, she just assumes people do things differently in France.

The book also has a villain I'm exceedingly fond of. He invents a way to use military force that people from his dimension generally have too much sense to use. This brings him into contact with much more dangerous people than he's accustomed to, and he has trouble figuring out that they'll remember what he promised them two months ago. He's an academic, and he's sad that he can't publish the clever thing he figured out.

The book also has very nice world-building. Magic flows through the ground and comes out in the plants unless you kill too many plants, in which case it comes out as monsters. Not being able to clear ground affects everything.

#211 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2015, 11:49 PM:

Had some fun today, helping mentor some teams practicing for the "Team America Rocketry Challenge." Two school teams, one 4-H.

Flickr Set

The goal is to launch an egg to 850' and recover it unbroken with a total flight time of 49 seconds.

"Mostly not needed to mentor" would be a better description. One of the young ladies whose team made it to the national competition in Virginia last year is still a senior, and the school teams' faculty leader is an insanely dedicated teacher who spent a chunk of her weekend stomping around a foggy field dispensing altimeter modules and making sure the kids recorded results. We dispensed some suggestions on fixing a stability problem, and a better method of packing parachutes, and that was about it.

Best thing of all of this: None of the young people were bumbling around with their attention on a tablet.

#212 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 12:56 AM:

There's a new chapter up of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. What's more, Eliezer Yudkowsky says that he's finished the first draft of the final arc -- it's novel length, albeit a shortish novel -- and will be posting chapters 104-120 starting February 15 and ending March 14.

#213 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 01:02 AM:

re 209: whereas How To Tell If You Are In A Soft Science Fiction Novel basically nails it.

#214 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 01:09 AM:

HLN Local man is getting ready for Boskone. It looks like the trip will be more expensive than planned, due to the plane fare and possible lack of a roommate (requests have been posted in the appropriate places). Also, the official restaurant guide isn't encouraging.

#215 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 01:57 AM:

albatross, #201: Irrelevant. See my last sentence @199.

#216 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 02:27 AM:

Em@207: I watched two episodes of "Twelve Monkeys" and decided that I wasn't interested enough to continue. The setup has some nice ideas, but the characters aren't doing anything for me. (Jones, in the future, is the best so far.)

Part of the problem is context: I feel like I've already seen this setup and most of the tropes, back in the Terminator TV show. ("The Sarah Connor Chronicles".) This is not to say I avoid all retreads -- I enjoyed the heck out of "The Librarians", which is "Warehouse 13" all over again, and *that* was "The Lost Room". But I'm not into this one.

When the whole season is out, I'll look back at reviews and decide if I should change my mind.

#217 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 04:53 AM:

Saw The Imitation Game this evening (well, last night, now). Exceedingly well done. Heartbreaking. Yet another demonstration that no good deed goes unpunished....

#218 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 04:58 AM:

Some amusing juxtapositions:


Ther magazine layout at the bottom has to be deliberate.

#220 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 09:31 AM:

A 3 year old gets hold of a gun and wounds both parents with a single shot:

Pistol packin' toddler

At the time of writing NRAers have yet to descend on the comments so there are some quite entertaining ones there, including:

"You laugh, but in the last five years, more Americans have been killed by toddlers than by terrorists."

and, from someone with a forensic turn of mind:

"His buttock, her shoulder. Was she giving head in front of the toddler?"

Indeed. I see a future L&O:SVU episode.

#221 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Rob Hansen @ 220: My favorite comment so far is probably the top one as of when I looked there: "If only there was a good toddler with a gun to stop this bad toddler with the gun." That is the sort of perceptive analysis which we need like we need a hole in the...

Oh, wait. Never mind.

As to whether there were naughty acts being performed in front of a toddler, it's clear to me the answer is: "No. The armed toddler, blinded by Oedipal rage and breast milk withdrawal, stormed into the sexually-charged motel room and shot both 'engaged' parents with a single bullet. The NRA plans to give him their John Connally/Lee Oswald Lifetime/Deathtime Achievement award for Best Performance in a Farce by A Child. No charges have been filed. Re-enactments on the odd half-hour."

That said, the details of the story make me sympathetic toward the parents. Two toddlers, eight months pregnant, living in a motel room. These are not people I would mock on those grounds and I feel a little bad mocking them as I have.

But not enough not to do it.

Even in a motel room--even one where very poor people live, where there might be vice and violence enough around you to make having a gun in the room seem reasonable--you are supposed to keep weapons out of kids' hands.

But man! Some of those commenters are scumbags. Even as commenters go, they're scumbags.

#222 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 10:25 AM:

Random interjection:

Feorag and I are in New York this week. And we'll be holing up for drinks with friends (and anyone who wants to turn up -- including you) on the evening of Monday February 2nd (i.e. tomorrow). The venue is Pine Box Rock Shop at 12 Grattan Street, Brooklyn, from 5:30pm onwards. Really close to the Morgan Ave L stop (opposite side of the block), good beer and spirits, can feed vegans and vegetarians.

#223 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 12:38 PM:

HLN: Winter Party Today Endangered by Excess of Winter.

Area residents who had been planning to celebrate Imbolc, the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox, have had to reconsider their plans, due to a massive snowstorm making travel risky. Area woman, who had been set to act as hostess, is distressed that her advance preparations may be for naught. It is unknown at this time whether the party will have any guests.

Local spaniel, in 10 inches of snow, remarked: *spronk* *spronk* *spronk* Whee this is fun! spronk* *spronk* *spronk* This is exhausting let's go inside.

This HLN has been brought to you by the perfect and past perfect tenses.

#224 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 01:10 PM:

From "How to Tell If You Are in a High Fantasy Novel": You live in a region with no major exports, no centralized government, no banking system, a mysteriously maintained network of roads, and little to no job training for anyone who is not a farmer. That is the only thing I thought was wrong about Fern's society in The Sharing Knife.

#225 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 01:12 PM:

My dogs are, respectively, distressed and unfazed by the depth of snow in our yard.

The nervous one does NOT LIKE the fact that (before I shovelled) he had to stand with his junk already in snow to pee. The calmer one enjoys making face-prints by shoving his nose straight into a drift, sniffing avidly, and pulling his head neatly back out to do it again somewhere else.

#226 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 02:31 PM:

OT: Why Every Movie Looks Sort Of Orange and Blue. Look for the bit where a racist assumption wanders through.

#227 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 02:34 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer #219: Quis?

#228 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 02:46 PM:

Dave Harmon: I assume you mean: "Most skin tones fall somewhere between pale peach and dark, dark brown, leaving them squarely in the orange segment of any color wheel" ... that doesn't seem a racist assumption. The line immediately before it might read that way to you, but ONLY if you ignore the immediate follow-up or disagree on where brown falls.

I have met people so pale they're practically blue from the visible veins, pale-skinned sunburns are decidedly pink, which is red-based, some shades of dark brown do tip away from orange as a base, and jaundice is truly yellow, but I imagine those all fall into the categories covered by use of the word 'most'.

#229 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 02:47 PM:

David Harmon @226: They're missing that orange and teal have been officially Trendy Color Palette Basics for about five years (and the 'risky but awesome' choice since about 2002) now, as declared by the color mafia and Pantone-obsessed fashion consultants.

#230 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 03:32 PM:

iamnothing@214: I'm afraid the hotel is a local minimum for affordable food options, and the layout of the area can make it seem even more isolated than it is, especially if the weather is unkind. If the weather is reasonable then Chinatown is a good out-of-hotel option. In that hotel we always tend to visit Starbucks more than we plan to, just because most of the other options are unappealing. The M.J. O'Connors pub food isn't bad, but the wait at meal times can be off-putting. During Arisia (in the same hotel) there were a couple of food trucks behind the hotel during the daytime, providing the tastiest and lowest-cost options. I don't know if they're planning to make an appearance for Boskone.

We're not going to be full-time at Boskone, but may make it there Saturday, at least during the day. (Then again, I think it was last year that I hoped to drop in on a Boskone Gathering of Light and got put off by a blizzard. These things happen around here.)

#231 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Little did the rebels know, but their Y-wing was locked in the targeting scanner of the Empire's dreaded new weapon, the DeathCatStar.

#232 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 03:42 PM:

David Harmon @226: They're not Mets fans?

#233 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 03:51 PM:

HLN: Inspired by a picture that was going around Facebook recently, local woman makes a plush rainbow butterfly unicorn kitten.

Conversation with a friend during the design phase:
"Would a heart-shaped nose be too over-the-top?"
"Have you seen that picture?!"
"Good point."

#234 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 04:35 PM:

Elliott Mason @229, I first read about the orange-and-teal thing about five years ago, and professionals were talking about it even earlier. Note that the movie cited (in the first article) as the worst example of the trend is Transformers 2, from 2007. If fashion consultants have fixated upon those colors in the last five years, they’re more likely to be be following Hollywood’s trend than setting it.

David Harmon @226, here’s some experimental verification that, yes, across all races, the hue component of most people’s skin tone is some variation on orange. If you had some other “racist assumption” in mind, you might want to clarify.

#235 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @233: that is adorable!

#236 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 05:44 PM:

Allan Beatty @ 224: Fawn's society in The Sharing Knife was modeled after the Mississippi region, prior to the use of paddle steamers. Fawn is a rural farmer, and when the series starts, her horizons are pretty limited. There's a large town in book 1, but then book 2 moves to the northern wilderness. In book 3, they pass by a couple of larger cities while heading down river. In book 4, we finally see the larger "farmer" cities, and we get a much better picture of the economics, in this passage quoted by Brad DeLong:

“Look closely at this.” Arkady, mystified, accepted it. “If you found this somewhere, not knowing what it was, how would you judge the metalwork?”

“Well... the raised image of the crayfish is actually quite fine. And the lettering, of course, so tiny, but clear to read”—Arkady squinted—“Silver Shoals City Mint, One Cray. And making things perfectly round is harder than it looks, I suppose.”

“Aye. Yet when we all visited the mint at Silver Shoals, back when we were coming downriver on the Fetch, we saw the machine that stamps these out a hundred at a time. One of these disks is a little work of art. Tens of thousands of ’em... become farmer magic.”

Arkady raised his brows; Dag plowed on. “They’re counters, memories of trade and labor that a man can put in his pocket and carry across a continent. They make things move. With my groundsense, I can summon my horse from a mile away. With enough of these, the folks at Silver Shoals can summon a forty-mule tea caravan from eight hundred miles away…”

So here we see a city mint, manufacturing, and inter-city trade. Elsewhere in the book, we see official rules for marriage licenses (with the implication that the system is semi-standardized across the region) and several apprenticeship programs. And on a more personal scale, Fawn is constantly aware of the sheer human labor required to maintain farms, create clothing, and outfit the Lakewalker patrols.

It's true that we don't see any sort of inter-city government, there's no sign of warfare (excepting the malices), and it's not clear who maintains who maintains the Trace, a long-haul wagon road. It's unclear how much of this is justifiable, given historical parallels in the real world. But overall, economics is a major theme of The Sharing Knife.

I've always felt that this series is underappreciated among Bujold's works. There's a lot of stuff going on, but it's a bit more subtle than Paladin of Souls, one of my other favorites.

#237 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 06:00 PM:

Mongoose (235): Thank you! It was fun to design and make.

#238 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 06:25 PM:

dotless ı @230: I hope you can make it. I remember Saturday last year. I think they said there weren't going to be food trucks for Boskone. Fortunately, the con suite has always been adequate for lunch, leaving breakfast and dinner. I haven't figured out how to get to Chinatown -- I don't know Boston. I did make a reservation online for M.J. O'Connors once. I may try that again.

#239 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 07:00 PM:

Allan Beatty @ #224, Eric K @236:

This topic reminds me of my conviction that civilization is more robust than a lot of apocalyptic scenarios posit -- but then my definition of civilization is something like "a critical mass of humans agreeing that record-keeping is useful, and that trade with the people over the next hill is more convenient than having to constantly fight them."

#240 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 08:27 PM:

Lenora Rose #228, Avram #234: That was the point I was thinging about, but on second look I might have gone off half-cocked there.

#241 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 08:59 PM:

@Sarah no. 239: Indeed. I suspect that if we ever endure TEOTWAWKI, the biggest danger to life and limb will be the people who immediately fort up in expectation of hordes of bandits/zombies/Others and shoot everybody who comes near because they have to be bandit/zombie/Other scouts. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be picking ourselves up out of the dirt and learning how to scale back and gear down. Let them starve to death in their redoubts or shoot each other over the last roll of toilet paper. We'll have schools and hospitals to reopen.

It's long gone, but in advance of Y2K, somebody posted a massive article with scads of links about how to survive TEOTWAWKI. Such things were as common as mushrooms after rain, but this one opened with (paraphrase): "Your first priority, after getting your shelter-in-place checklist rolling, will be your neighbors. You should have at least one skill that you can trade with your neighbors, and they should have at least one skill that they can trade with you. Consider bicycle repair, clothing construction and repair, manual typewriter maintenance and usage, double-entry bookkeeping, babysitting, or Red Cross certification in first aid for all ages. Get to know your immediate neighbors, all of them, well in advance of any emergency. People need other people, and civilization is founded on communities. Mad Max is just a movie."

It was the first time I had ever seen this advice. It's become my litmus test for telling the extremely but humanely prudent from the people for whom TEOTWAWKI is a vindication fantasy. If you expect to handpick your neighbors, or not to need any, you're just playing with guns.

#242 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Re the original topic: If you like the old fairy tales and myths, with the original macabre touches, check out The Hidden by Neil Christopher, illustrated by Mike Austin. This book is based on accounts by living elders, and faithful transcriptions of conversations with deceased elders, from the Far North of North America. Most of the accounts are Inuit. It's a look into a world that is bigger and wilder than I ever knew. I'll open the book at three random locations.

Amautaliit (pl.; sing. amutalik): Roughly, "the Baby Carrier Ladies." Wander off inland, and one of these horrible ogresses may snatch you up, stuff you into the baby-carrier hood of her gigantic parka, and leave you there to marinate in a pile of rotting seaweed infested with huge lice. If you manage to escape, which is rare, you will never be quite right in the head. So don't wander off! (This is the dust jacket illustration, and like all of Austin's illustrations, it's both realistic and freaky as heck.)

Iqallijuq, AKA Aningaapajukkaaq: Creator of the Arctic char, this being has the head of one of his fishes. He chops driftwood by the riverside. Each piece that goes flying away from his ax turns into a fish. (Some say that Arctic char are so darn slippery because Iqallijuq rubs his semen all over them. That bit wasn't illustrated.)

Nanurluk (pl. nanurluit): Sea-polar-bears the size of icebergs. If you see one, paddle like hell. It eats whatever it can get into its gigantic maw, and even a harpoon won't faze it.

#243 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 09:21 PM:

Jenny, #241: Indeed. Many years ago, in a different online community, there was a conversation about Creating A Fannish Commune, and everyone started listing the skills they could contribute. Eventually someone else put into words what I'd been feeling: "I got a rock." AFAICT, I had nothing of real value to contribute to such a community that someone else wouldn't have been able to do far better, with the inevitable result that I'd have been doing the scutwork all the time as my share.

Now, that was assuming a present-day situation. If you postulate TEOTWAWKI, my situation becomes even worse, because those few things I can do which might be considered valuable all rely heavily on access to... well, the equivalent of the fabric store. Or the place that sells axes.

But at that, I would still be better off in that latter scenario than a lot of my friends, because my life and health do not depend on medication that wouldn't be available after TEOTWAWKI.

#244 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 10:31 PM:

iamnothing@238: Thanks. My awesome spouse just reminded me of the other good food options: takeout and delivery. If M. J. O'Connor's is too crowded they will still do take-out (we've done this in previous years at Arisia); and there are a lot of online services like DiningIn that will deliver food from restaurants to you at the hotel (which we've also done once or twice).

#245 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 10:54 PM:

Lee @243:

I can weave poorly, but I can teach it and I can get better with practice. I can spin poorly, but I can teach it and I can get better with practice. I can learn most skills, and teach them to others. Everyone in a TEOTWAWKI situation is going to need apprentices, so if you don't know a skill now, you will learn, you will become skilled.

But, yeah... I'm not going to Mars because I can't pack enough meds for the trip.

#246 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 10:55 PM:

Haven't been here for a while. Glad to hear Teresa's enough better to go home, and I'm thinking all kinds of good thoughts for a more complete recovery.

#247 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2015, 11:10 PM:

My issue with the Sharing Knife books was that Fawn was... pretty useless, particularly in book three. She was great in book one, great in book four, pretty good in book two, and then there's book three and it's terrible. I love me some romance, but the young, powerless woman being removed from her context by a physically, magically, and politically more powerful man is something I overdosed on with Asaro.

Maybe if the challenges they faced had been farmer challenges, rather than Lakewalker ones, Fawn would have been able to act more often and with more effect. But there's only so much you can do when you bring an inexplicably pregnant woman to a malice fight.

On doomsday scenarios: one friend has said that her plan is to be charming enough that other people do the immediate survival work for her, then she'll costume the postapocalypse. My plan for zombie apocalypse, besides considering getting to my family's accidental fortress, is to stay put, help people, and loot JoAnn Fabrics because you know what we'll need? Blankets. And in five years, there's going to be a family desperate for a Frozen birthday party and I'll be the only source of pale blue tulle in town.

I mean, I can also do childwrangling and water treatment if you don't mind me complaining about the latter. But given that I know better than everyone else how to do things and will you stop doing it wrong, maybe I need the insurance.

#248 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 03:32 AM:

Mary Aileen @233: I want to hug it!

Apocalypse: I would be useless. I know nothing and have no skills. But I do react well in emergencies, so I might at least make it through to post-apocalypse alive.

#249 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 04:46 AM:

One thing that the thing about orange-and-blue movie article and comments seems to miss is the difference between human colour perception and machines, whether film-based or not. Our colour vision is moderated by out brain, which is why we don't see the rather strong orange cast of the historical domestic electric light.

It also means that the lighting in our houses, which is changing from that tungsten-filament orange, affects the colours seen on a TV screen, while the general darkness of a cinema is pretty neutral.

In the pictures with that article, the still from "The Imitation Game" looks like what you might get from a combination of film and mixed lighting. It looks like something in a shadowed room, with daylight through the window and some electric light in the room. So you have more-or-less realistic skin tones with the bluish light through the window. If your eyes were seeing if for real you might not even notice the colour difference.

It can still be a design choice, but it has roots in reality.

Some of the other shots look rather contrived. An orange man against a cloudless blue sky? Do you know how bright a blue sky is? That needs fill lighting or the difference is awkwardly large, and the colour mix suggests that the fill light was actual light sources, coloured, rather than reflectors. It's more likely done with grading, but it's a distortion. Getting that blue for the sky needs maybe a couple of stops underexposure, but the figure doesn't look underexposed.

Three-strip Technicolor, The Wizard of Oz, was tightly controlled by the Technicolor company, and I have a feeling that Natalie Kalmus would not have approved of the colour choices of these modern movies.

#250 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 07:10 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 219: It's a "no good deed goes unpunished" story about an eighth-grader, a state representative, a new state motto for Vermont, and a horde of amazingly stupid yet mean-spirited internet commenters.

Unlike most such stories, this one is so ridiculous that it doesn't sting.


#251 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 09:33 AM:

Loosely apropos to visual discussion, I was out last night to see 2001 with my family, and we were all impressed by how well the visuals have hld up over time.

#252 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 11:20 AM:

"Let all that belong to great men remember th' old wives' tradition, to be like the lions i' th' Tower on Candlemas Day, to mourn if the sun shine for fear of the pitiful remainder of winter to come." —John Webster, The White Devil,

And how the lions became groundhogs, we may never know.

#253 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 11:50 AM:

B. Durbin, #252: That article includes a reference to an April Fool's joke involving the lions in 1698. This struck me as odd, because I didn't think that the April Fool custom went back that far -- but this source lists a written reference in 1708, so I guess it does. So that's what I've learned today!

#254 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 01:18 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer #250: Some people just don't have much of a clue, or a life. Of course, the threat of mass immigration from the Roman Empire is just the sort of sfnal premise that I hope one of the writers here will take on. I'd love to read that story.

#255 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 01:35 PM:

On the visual perception and film subthread:

I recently had 2001 come up in an entirely unexpected context - I’m TAing again this semester, and the professor I’m teaching for opened the first lecture a couple weeks ago with the first 10 minutes or so of 2001. It was even (relatively) topical - a chunk of that first lecture was talking about hominid evolution, and the opening of 2001 is an eminently watchable illustration of how the screenwriters thought hominids might behave. Certainly a way to hold 650 students’ attention on the first day of term. I should probably rewatch the film - I don’t think I’ve seen it in about 15 years.

#256 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 01:48 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #254: Heh. There are a few people around who know various versions of Latin, but I do wonder how intelligible a native speaker would be to, say, a Catholic priest trained in Church Latin.

#257 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 02:05 PM:

David Harmon: I had a friend taking "vulgar" Latin in college, and "Winnie, widdie, wickie" became a bit of a joke in our crew.

#258 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 02:05 PM:

B. Durbin #252: I note that article does cite a version of the saying that doesn't involve animals (or shadows), instead it's specifically about whether the day is sunny.

#259 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 06:51 PM:

I am loving all the Marvel Universe stuff. They leave enough breadcrumbs for the observant to pick things up. I’m a good nerd, but not a comics reader, so I did pick up on the Dottie/Red Room connection – just a few hours later than the comics readers would have.

And if I can drift from spoilers to observations, last week’s Agent Carter episode hit me right in the feels. I’m trying to pinpoint why – and I think it’s her shitty interim boss, and Stark being an asshole, and Jarvis lying to her. When she got back to her apartment I’m pretty sure she had been crying – not like This Are Important Dramatic Scene And Woman Cries Because Emotions!! But just a couple of tears like you get when you’re frustrated and everything sucks. Her confrontation with Stark (and later Jarvis) about his betrayal and the hurt on both of their faces afterwards was well acted. Yes, there was an explanation from Stark, but the writing somehow enabled the scene not to end with Stark being right, but everyone being human. It’s so little, but so many other TV shows and Films are more about the ManPain, and would make that scene about how the betrayal hurt Stark as much as it did Carter, but this one validates her feelings. There was a similar sub-plot in the sci-fi show Defiance, where the Patriarch and supposed Hero is actually wrong and his daughter is right – and the script had him apologize to her with no excuses. I thought I was going to fall over from shock. Isn’t it neat how much film and TV have lowered my expectations that some really simple, subtle things can make all the difference.

#260 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 06:52 PM:

nerdycellist@259: Wrong thread.

#261 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 06:52 PM:

Argh! Wrong thread. Ah well. It wasn't too spoilery.

#262 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 06:58 PM:

Sure, Fawn sees things like that after her adventures take her several hundred miles and months away from home. It's her local village and its neighbors that are missing the economics. They are as innocent as the hobbits in the Shire—for the same reason, it occurs to me now: they have Rangers protecting them from external dangers. Given this explanation, I withdraw my objection.

#263 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 08:46 PM:

Nerdycellist, you are going to repost that in the Marvel thread, aren't you?

#264 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 10:05 PM:

nerdycellist@259: Isn’t it neat how much film and TV have lowered my expectations that some really simple, subtle things can make all the difference.

I know it was a mispost, but picking up on this more general point, we were just watching and enjoying The Paradise (based on a Zola novel I've never read but will now happily accept translation recommendations for) and appreciating the complexity of the characters: cartoon villains become interesting and believable people. Agent Carter has been similar (also having excellent period costumes), which made us notice how low our expectations are for TV. "This is great! It isn't completely simple-minded!"

#265 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2015, 11:18 PM:

Yes, TNH, that's where it belonged. That's what I get for attempting to post clandestinely at work.

#266 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 09:00 AM:

From the interview with Liza Groen Trombi that Patrick sidelighted:

"A proper catalog [of the 30,000-piece collection at Locus] would be the first step towards a private library. I would love to do it."

My question, which I also posed over at Clarkesworld: Is this the sort of project that could be a capstone project for a student or team of students in a library degree program? Or even an information science degree program?

I see that San Jose State and Berkeley both have programs that could be relevant.

#268 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 12:13 PM:

So I read a lot of fanfic.

I tend to stay away from "Harry Potter, Slytherin Student" stories because they are generally "Harry Potter and the Only Nice People in a School Full of Monsters" with a side order of "Harry Potter and the Actor I Want to Bang" and a topping of "Harry Potter and His Ever-Growing List of Superpowers" sauced with "Harry Potter and the Author's Fascination with Badly Researched or Physically Impossible Sexual Kinks." Meanwhile the plot wanders off into the bushes and goes to sleep.

This one is different.

It only took a brief, unremarkable encounter for eleven-year-old Harry Potter to decide he didn't like eleven-year-old Draco Malfoy. It might take just one more brief, unremarkable encounter for him to change his mind. But--and this is the huge difference between this series and most Slytherin!Harry fics--the resulting plot plays out with, as far as I can tell, everybody firmly in character. Not only that, but the author deftly copies Rowling's technique of making the narrative only as reliable as the comprehension of a child of Harry's age. I give you the Green-Eyed Snake series by Tathrin.

#269 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:09 PM:

re food trucks and Boskone: I wouldn't expect them. Getting them to Arisia is a bit of logistical ledgerdemain: the con has to negotiate with them, and the hotel. It's not a case of the trucks finding out about an underserved market.

(things one learns as the Arisia quartermaster)

#270 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:12 PM:

Yesterday, I went to the doctor. Later that evening, I sang this (based on an anthem we sang in church a few weeks back:

I got no cancer growin' on-a my tongue, ain't-a that good news!
I got no cancer growin' on-a my tongue, ain't-a that good news!
I'm a-gonna lay down this world—but not as soon as I feared!
Maybe gonna live right into my eighties, ain't-a that good news!
(My visits are now six months apart. That means I only have to have three more days like yesterday and I officially count as cured.

#271 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:28 PM:

Xopher: Frabjous day.

#272 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:33 PM:

Glad to hear, Xopher!

#273 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Xopher @270: w00t!

#274 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:43 PM:

Xopher: This is truly a glorious thing.

#275 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:50 PM:

Xopher: hallelujah!

#276 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Open Thready request: for my field epidemiology class, our group project is to design and administer a survey, analyze the responses, formulate and test a hypothesis, and do a poster presentation, as if this were Actual Research. Unlike Actual Research, it will not be published, and only classmates & faculty will see it.

So our survey is about gender and online harassment. And I was thinking, for the poster, that it would be cool to have screencaps of actual online threats/harassment--but only with identifiers removed or blurred, and only with the consent of the person being threatened/harassed.

Has anyone here who's been the recipient of such unpleasantness got a screen grab they wouldn't mind my using? With appropriate credit to whatever identifier you choose?

#277 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 05:11 PM:

Xopher - Woohoo!!!

#278 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Yay, Xopher!

#279 ::: Devin Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 06:58 PM:

Open threadiness: if any crowd will appreciate this story of Medium's odd bug, involving the Polish language, the history of communism, and strange decisions by Microsoft, it's this one.

#280 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 07:12 PM:

Thanks for that link, Devon. It was fascinating.

#281 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 07:13 PM:

Devin, sorry.

#282 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 07:56 PM:

Doug @ #266: As a student in a LIS program (on the other side of the country) with a Capstone requirement, and who has also done a lot of cataloguing for work, I'm pretty sure that would work as one for multiple students.

Re: Boskone. I haven't decided if I want to go. I haven't attended an SF con for the sake of a con rather than as a place to be with a bunch of friends who are attending. Perhaps I'll try the free Friday part and see how it goes, assuming I have time.

#283 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 08:03 PM:

All right! Good news from Xopher. Giving thanks, right now.

#284 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 08:06 PM:

Xopher, that's wonderful!

#285 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 08:19 PM:

Wonderful news, Xopher! Glad to hear it.

Devin, what a fascinating article! Shared elseweb.

#286 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 09:58 PM:

Xopher @ 270: Wonderful!

Lila @ 276: A lightning rod for such abuse posted one week's worth of the awful tweets she receives. Would sharing them publicly like that constitutes the consent you'd require?

#287 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 10:03 PM:

Xopher Halftongue@270: Wonderful news!

Devin Singer@279: Thank you so much for that pointer. I love that sort of thing.

#288 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 10:18 PM:

Xopher - Congrats on the continuing good news! (and now I am singing that in my head, so thanks, I guess.)

I feel like I should post this in the Marvel Continuity thread just for symmetry... but I'll refrain.

On the further adventures of my job:

In September, they announced they were going to offshore the XX "Clerk" jobs (which were coincidentally the Union jobs) in January 2015.

In November the Union reached a reasonable settlement with the Company to retain us through the end of 2015.

In December, a co-worker left and I took over her duties without anyone taking over mine.

This afternoon, I accepted a promotion to Subject Matter Expert in my department. I will be making more money (even after figuring in what I'd be losing in the Union) and was able to negotiate for an extra week of vacation. In the likely event that the Company decides to pull further boneheaded moves, I will have a job title that reflects my abilities and an easier time of finding another job.

Plus, my state and federal tax refunds came in just in time for rent. So, all in all a good day.

#289 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2015, 10:37 PM:

nerdycellist @ 288: Oh, I am glad to hear that.

#290 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 12:53 AM:

Xopher, #270: Now I'm going to have an earworm for the next 2 days -- but it's in a good cause, so I don't mind. :-)

Devin, #279: That's fascinating!

#291 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 08:04 AM:

Xopher: Glory to thy ordinary cell replication!

#292 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 09:26 AM:

When I need something to cheer me up I go to one of the kitten cams on Livestream and watch kittens playing. Kittens can cure much that annoys me or makes me sad.

#293 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 09:38 AM:

Music video about a coyote riding the light rail system. This was based on an actual incident:

The scenes the coyote and train pass through are very familiar!

#294 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 10:29 AM:

Congratulations, Xopher! May your good health long continue!

#295 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 11:13 AM:

janetl @#296, no, I don't really feel that Sarkeesian's post entitles me to use it for my own purposes. Though it is extremely powerful. (In fact, maybe too much of a good thing for my purposes, as the folks in my research population are much lower profile and less likely to be targets to such a vicious extent.)

#296 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 11:33 AM:

Xopher, Hallelujah!!

#297 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 12:56 PM:

I just had a thought, and decided to follow up on it: Does the European Union employ Irish-language interpreters? It turns out that they do, occasionally, employ freelancers to interpret Irish Gaelic.

On the other hand, the EU has staff interpreters, and also employs freelancers, to interpret Maltese, all of whose speakers are fluent in English. I am fascinated by the way that the politics of language and nationalism intersect.

#298 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 01:30 PM:

Fragrano@297: Many years ago at a con an otherwise thoughtful Swedish fan opined to me that those who spoke the language were more authentically Welsh than those who didn't. As a Welsh person who, like the majority of my countrymen, doesn't speak Welsh this did not go down well with me.

#299 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Thanks again everyone! From your keyboards to the gods' screens, or something like that.

#300 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 05:09 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 297, it doesn't surprise me at all that the UN has interpreters for Gaelic and Maltese. I can think of at least two good reasons for this:

  1. There's a difference between "fluent in English" and things like "enjoys using English", "can understand mumbled English in noisy rooms", and "sounds like a well-read, native adult when speaking extemporaneously about politics." Plenty of people are socially or professionally fluent without ever feeling at home.
  2. In a multi-lingual environment, whoever is forced to operate in their weaker language is at a social disadvantage. It's often an unavoidable social disadvantage, of course, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant for anybody. So you oftentimes see fairly sophisticated etiquette around negotiating language use and sharing the burden as politely as possible.

For everyone's amusement, I present this Tumblr thread on the etiquette of "Bonjour hi" in Montreal, with several variations on the basic theme. Worth noting: "Bonjour hi" is a query about your preferred language, and responding "Bonjour hi" may annoy your interlocutor.

I've also found if I walk around Montreal with a French SF novel in my hand, far more people will begin conversations with full-speed native French. This is a mixed blessing, especially when they ask me my opinion about the book—I can't access the necessary vocabulary quickly enough to have a real conversation. So do I force my conversational partner to put up with slow, halting French? Or do I switch to English, and put them at a disadvantage?

And this is why, I imagine, that the UN keeps interpreters available for even minor national languages where nearly all speakers are more-or-less fluent in a larger language. It's an inclusive gesture, and it simplifies many otherwise tricky questions of courtesy.

#301 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 05:35 PM:

"The most dramatic incarnation of this is the codeswitching politeness battle, in which the anglophone insists on speaking French while the francophone insists on speaking English, although this is pretty rare and eventually one side generally capitulates."

Oh, that's perfect. My mother often has this; her French is fine, it's just French with the accent of someone who grew up in the UK and never quite got the hang of some of the phonemes, and people swap to English for her all the time. It drives her nuts. "I need to practice or I'll forget!" she says.

#302 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 05:56 PM:

Re: Star Trek Reboot

I like them. They are in an alternate universe, so the timeline ISN'T going to match TOS.

Given the above, I like that in the first film we get to see the Academy. I enjoyed watching the cadets meld into the Enterprise team.

For those decrying the second excursion, Into Darkness, I submit my theory on that film: It's not supposed to be Wrath of Khan -- it's a remake/revisioning of Space Seed with riffs on Wrath, only the war-crazy Admiral finds the Botany Bay first...

And I wonder if I'm the only one bothered by the fact that all they did at the end of Into Darkness was put Khan in cold storage.

#303 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Oh bother, wrong thread...

#304 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 06:59 PM:

Dangit, my Google Fu is failing me: There was a Sidelight (I think) maybe a coupla years ago, of the memo about the whole PTB effort starting about thirty years ago to cut the ground out from under the American education system. Any clues?

#305 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 07:41 PM:

Rob Hansen #298: That would make 3/4 of the Welsh people not really Welsh, not to mention over 90 percent of the Irish not really Irish.

#306 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 07:56 PM:

Eric K # 300: Not the UN, the EU.

The UN interprets into English, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic I believe.

The EU, on the other hand, has a commitment to use the official languages of all its members. Some members have languages spoken only within their borders, obviously, others are speakers of multinational languages (as is the case with German, Greek, and English, the last-mentioned being official in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands).

It happens that Maltese is a language with few speakers, and that Malta's population has English as a strong second language (cf., Finland with Swedish, Lebanon with French). However, Maltese is a language of everyday use and is Malta's actual language of rule. The interpreter of whom I enquired happened to be the one who trained the Maltese-language interpreters at the EU. (This should clue in Pendrift as to whom I asked!)

Irish really isn't, and every so often I encounter a lament for the steady decline of the language and the failure of state policy (and universal education in Irish) to inculcate it as a heart language in the general population. When Irish is used by an Irish-speaker at the EU it is done to make a point of some kind, or on some ceremonial occasion.

#307 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2015, 11:51 PM:

Sequel to "We Live Underground, We Speak With Our Hands"

#308 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 01:44 AM:

Rob Hansen #298:

It ended up getting nowhere, but I had a Village in a story, on a mostly Polynesian-culture island, where everybody spoke Welsh. There was never a geologically plausible reason for the Italianate architecture, but every year, at the end of the tourist season, the village choir would go down to the Wicker Tourist event and sing a song about strangely coloured goats.

#309 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 06:51 AM:

A question for the commentariat, because my google-fu has failed me.

Two people with a common pair of grandparents are called cousins.

Two people descended from (for instance) the same grandfather, but by different wives of that grandfather, are generally called half cousins. (I believe that in estate law and certain other domains they're still considered simply "cousins", but nevertheless.)

My question, however, is about two people who have the same (let's say) grandfather, and who are descended from different wives of that grandfather...different wives who were full sisters to one another, sharing exactly the same parents.

What is the proper name of those two people's relationship? Cousin? Double half cousin? Note that these two people have exactly the same set of common great-grandparents that they would have if they were both descended from the same grandfather and grandmother.

I'm curious simply because I recently got an email from a woman who shares some common ancestry with me, asking what I know about some people who are distant relatives of mine and (probably) closer relatives of hers. Our common ancestry is that her great-great-great grandfather Jasper Newton White (1848-1909) is also my great-great grandfather. Normally this would make us third cousins once removed (the "once removed" part being an expression of the fact that she's one more generation down from Jasper than I am), but the complication is the fact that she's descended from Jasper's first wife Susan Parker (1853-1879) while I'm descended from Jasper's second wife Rutha Parker (1863-1890). But! Susan and Rutha Parker were (you saw this coming) sisters, both of them daughters of William Henderson Parker (1824-1898) and Sarah Patrick (1831-1867).

I realized that I actually have no idea what the technical term for how we're related would be. Does anyone?

#310 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 07:40 AM:

Em @ 301: There's an even more extreme version of the politeness battle, where (for example) the anglophone not only insists on speaking French, but also rephrases the francophone's English into French before responding. Or vice versa. Done very briefly and politely, this says, "No, really, I'm totally OK with speaking your language." But if this is continued for any length of time, it can be quite incredibly rude, carrying such subtexts as, "Yes, it's nice that you can speak my language, but by doing so, you're excluding people from the conversation, so stop showing off."

As an aside, one of the things I enjoyed about A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent is that it handles the minor details of multilingualism well. Lady Trent has no particular talent for languages, and yet she often needs to speak them. And so she struggles, and she appreciates it when people speak clearly, and she practices whenever she can. Little stuff, but it all feels convincing.

Fragano Ledgister @ 306: Thank you for the UN->EU correction.

Isn't Irish still the community language for 15 thousand people or so in core of the Gaeltacht? I mean, that's not a lot, and they probably don't visit Brussels in great numbers. But combine it with Irish's official status, and I can see why they keep a few interpreters available. To me, doing so says, "We really are a multilingual society, and you may absolutely speak your strongest language if you wish (assuming that it's official in your own country)."

#311 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 09:50 AM:

A great story about historical contingency, technological change, and assumptions:

#312 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden@309: My imperfect understanding is that either

  1. the closest relationship wins, even if there are interesting connections elsewhere in the family tree; or
  2. you name all relationships separately.
So it's either just "third cousins once removed", or "third cousins once removed, descending from the Whites, and fourth cousins once removed, descending from the Parkers". But there are multiple schools of thought on naming, and for all I know one of them might have a precise term.

Crossing the streams with the language subthread, I've had some fun conversations (in English) with a Brazilian when trying to explain the "nth cousin m times removed" terminology. It wasn't that she couldn't understand the details, it was that the whole idea of describing cousins with tree indices didn't match any scheme she knew from Portuguese; but she kept trying (and failing) to understand it better by looking for a way to translate it

#313 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 10:51 AM:

Under those circumstances, I'd go with 'cousins'. Anyone who wants a closer description can be handed a descendancy and told to work it out for themselves, because 'cousin' is the English-language catch-all for this kind of thing.
(The Romans might possibly have had a word for it. Or the Russians, pre-revolution. English has a fairly simple set of kinship terms.)

#314 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 10:54 AM:

Erik Nelson @307, I think you posted the wrong link.

#315 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 11:57 AM:

Carol @282 Thank you for confirming my intuition! Next step would be up to them, of course, but nice to see that a win-win is conceivable.

#316 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 01:03 PM:

PNH @309: There are probably people who have named that particular relationship, but it's rare enough that the name didn't stick. So when you're writing things up, you can pick a new name for it, and see if that one sticks. For simple usage, PJ Evans is close enough for most purposes; but I understand your wanting to find the right term. If you did find a term that had been used for it, however, there are probably about a dozen people who would understand it.

It falls into the category of "mixed relationship", I think.

#317 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 01:10 PM:

P J Evans (313): In this particular instance, I would probably say 'distant cousin'. To me, unadjectived 'cousins' means either first cousins or a mixed group. And if no one in the group is closer than, say, a second cousin, I'd probably still describe them as 'distant cousins'.

If you want to be precise, I think dotless ı is correct.

But usage varies.

#318 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 01:16 PM:

P J Evans @313: The Romans might possibly have had a word for it. Or the Russians, pre-revolution.

Whenever I hear discussions like this, I think of Thorby in Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy, talking to the anthropologist (who I suspect might be a Tuckerization of Margaret Mead) about the familial terminology in the Free Traders.

#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 01:17 PM:

Cassy B. @314: Did you read the product reviews?

#320 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Eric K #310: That is indeed the case. I'll have to check, but I don't think they employ interpreters for Occitan, which doesn't have official status as a national language (it does, as one of the languages of the Comunitat of Catalonia, but that is not at the moment an independent country much less a member of the EU on its own account), and which has more speakers than Irish.

#321 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 02:18 PM:

Don't start me on relationships. My on-line tree goes out into cousins of in-laws, and it's to where I'm finding people who are tenth or eleventh cousins but are more closely related by marriage. (My niece-by-marriage, who is a 10th cousin, give or take a 'remove', of both my brother and his wife, is a good example.)

English relationship terms, AIUI, are using the 'Eskimo' system, which is one of the less-precise systems. Other languages are more precise in some ways, and less precise in others.

#322 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 02:19 PM:

Jacque, 318: I had precisely the same thought! "I'll bet the Free Traders had a word for this."

#323 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Jacque @319, ah. The product reviews. *Now* I understand. (Obviously, I need to plug one of these cables into my brain, to enhance clarity of thought...)

#324 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 02:42 PM:

So I just came up with a category of sentence, and now I'm wondering if someone, somewhere has a name for the category.

The kind of sentence is one in which each successive word is longer than the last, like this:

I do hop into green wagons.

(I don't actually care if they increment by one; it just made it more of a challenge.)

This seemed like the kind of place to ask...

#325 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst @324:

I find "rhopalic" as the word for a sentence where each word is longer by one "unit" (letter or syllable) than the previous one. I don't know if there's a word for the weaker form or not; some sites suggest "snowball" as a synonym for rhopalic, and you may be able to co-opt that, if you want to emphasize that you don't insist on incrementing by exactly one letter per word.

#326 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 03:42 PM:

I don't know the term for it, but I my family tree includes the following situation: one woman married a man. Her brother married his sister. And then one child of one of those marriages married a child of the other marriage.

So what were the children of that marriage to one another? Apart from siblings?

#327 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Lorax @128 - thank you! I knew someone had to have named the idea. Much appreciated.

#328 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 03:57 PM:

abi @326:

I think the general rule is to use the closest relationship, so "siblings", but since you want to ignore that one...

Let's look at the middle generation (the children of the two interwed sibling couples). Let's call them Alice and Bob, for easy reference. Since Alice is Bob's mother's brother's daughter, Alice is Bob's 1st cousin. Since alice is also Bob's father's sister's daughter, Alice is Bob's 1st cousin (again), so Alice is Bob's 1st cousin, twice over.

The children of 1st cousins are 2nd cousins, so Alice and Bob's children are not only siblings, but also 2nd cousins, twice over.

I think I've heard the "twice over" terminology when people are cousins in multiple ways, but I can't find a reference for it.

To be more specific in this case, because of the genders involved, Alice and Bob are "cross-cousins", twice over. I don't know if the cross-cousin designation would carry on to their children.

#329 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 04:06 PM:

abi @326 : The snarky side of my brain came up with "royalty".

#330 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Cousins. ('Inbred' is the other word that comes to mind.)
I have some similar situations on my tree, although the worst I currently know of in my own ancestors is two people who were first cousins once removed (her father was a brother of his mother's father). We're missing information so that I can't say about the other place where it could actually be the same situation as yours. (Border counties. Arghh.)

#331 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 04:38 PM:

Tangential to the "cousins" discussion: apparently in Iceland, this is a serious problem. Don't want to date your cousin by accident? There's an app for that.

And for some reason my attempts to link in HTML aren't working, so here's the link in plaintext:

#332 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 04:43 PM:

Diatryma @247
>My issue with the Sharing Knife books was that Fawn was... pretty useless, particularly in book three. She was great in book one, great in book four, pretty good in book two, and then there's book three and it's terrible. I love me some romance, but the young, powerless woman being removed from her context by a physically, magically, and politically more powerful man is something I overdosed on with Asaro.

Fawn isn't highly capable physically -- but have you noticed that, mentally, she's the spark that gets things going? Dag doesn't know how to think outside the box; Fawn pulls him out of it and into wider, greener, worlds. They are partners, with different things to contribute.

#333 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 07:06 PM:

Regarding the geneology, I'd call Patrick and his correspondent "third and fourth cousins once removed". That is, they're third cousins through Grandpa Jasper, and fourth cousins through his wives. Abi's example are simply siblings, who happen to be the children of married first cousins. It's not just a "closer" relationship trumping another, it's that their "double-second-cousinhood" would be through all the same ancestors (their parents) as their siblinghood.

P J Evans #330, Lee #331: AIUI, in "open" large populations (like most of the modern U.S.), cousins marrying is not a significant problem, and in fact it's been commonplace through most of history. The problems show up when it happens repeatedly in a small, reproductively isolated population: Say, Iceland before modern transportation, or royal/noble families who are forbidden to marry commoners, or much of Appalachia before they got modernized in the 1940s.

#334 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 07:12 PM:

"Pedigree collapse" is the term to use if you want to sound scientific instead of evoking various regional and class-based stereotypes.

#335 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 07:14 PM:

Lee @331: There's an app for that.

See also progeny of sperm donors.

#336 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 07:18 PM:

In reasonably unconstrained gene pools, a second-cousin marriage is no more genetically risky than a stranger marriage, assuming (a) there are four grandparents who are all separate people, and (b) their family line doesn't have a strongly negative recessive trait that "runs in" it.

I like to say to my genealogical clients that if I can successfully get back four solid generations, the chance that I will find either a cousin marriage or bigamy approaches certainty -- just to prepare them.

#337 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 07:32 PM:

My parents were, in fact, second cousins. Cross cousins, as well. There are other cousin marriages, farther back, but ... I have a family tree with three sides: his, hers, and theirs.
Or, all of my relatives seem to be cousins (the tree is cross-linked in multiple places from other marriages).

#338 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 08:24 PM:

abi @ 326: The Aristocrats!

#339 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Re 314 reply to my 307:
a better link would be

which is the REVIEWS of the Very Expensive Audio Cables, which is akin to something that was posted here a while back, namely:

#340 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 08:56 PM:

David H., #333: ObSF: This is probably part of the reasoning behind the Manticoran law which states that the sovereign must marry a commoner. Thus providing a steady influx of unrelated genes at each generation.

#341 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 08:58 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk, that's why I like the first and fourth books. Fawn gets to do things there. But the third... what does Fawn actually accomplish? I remember she is aghast at flounder and at one point steals a sheep. Being a living inspiration is much better than being a dead one, but I want Fawn to have more effect on the world.

#342 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 09:25 PM:

re language: When we were in Paris we had the interesting situation of three people with oddly syncretic french.

I have good pronunciation, decent comprehension, so-so grammar, and moderate fearlessness.

Jon has better vocabulary; and grammar, but an almost incomprehensible accent.

Merav has skills somewhat between mine and Jon's, but gained her accent in Canada.

No matter what the combination, the French would tend to steer the conversation to me; at ridiculous speeds. The conversation about how to reprogram the router at our flat was... interesting.

#343 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 09:27 PM:

I just had a BFA on the last alt text in "some vestiges of the former world" where I took clerical procedures to be religious rituals.

#344 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2015, 11:22 PM:

Anybody have recommendations on folding bikes? I always mean to rent one when I travel but it's too much hassle (even considering that I will be going to an English-speaking country this time. My son the doctor works for the NHS now!). Considerations are that I am short and heavy and I will be flying with it.

#345 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 03:33 AM:

My family uses the term "double first-cousins" to describe the relationship of the offspring of a pair of brothers who married a pair of sisters, each couple having some number of kids. (They were a couple generations back, and I think I only met one of them other than my grandfather.) My dad had two great-grandparents who had similar last names (Northrup and Northrop), who turned out to be 4th cousins (I forget which spelling the ancestor used), and my parents are 8th cousins.

My brother did some online genealogy research at - crowdsourced information has a sufficiently different quality of error-checking than, say, the Mormon databases, so we're not sure the site's claim that we're descended from Thor and Odin is entirely correct...

#346 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 08:12 AM:

Open Threadiness/Modstuff: I'd like to draw Abi's attention to Jim's Poison-Response thread, which she temporarily closed most of a year ago.

I was hoping to add this link on Do's and Don'ts of Gasoline Poisoning. (Found by way of today's XKCD.)

#347 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 08:43 AM:

More OT: What Causes Girls to Enter Puberty Early"?

Obesity and estrogen mimics get their mention, but the really interesting thing to me is, the authors are apparently claiming that psychological influences (family stress, unstable environment, lack of a father at home) have been confirmed as at least a statistical factor. And the issues they cite are all well within a plausible category of "born into a chancy environment, so try for early reproduction".

And wouldn't it be interesting if that last bit (father-absence) wasn't psychologically mediated? But I don't think we understand human pheromones or development well enough yet to tell the difference.

#348 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 08:53 AM:

In re spearpoints, this single page (contains figleafed nudity) of the webcomic Questionable Content is simply a nonsequitur or perfectly ordinary to someone who hasn't read the entire preceding storyline.

But to those of us who know that the redhead in question is a trans woman -- with all the "if I date this guy will he murder me?" pent-up trauma that involves -- it is a gushing moment of wet-eyed relief.

Or maybe that's just me.

I do know I'm not the only person who's been reading this storyline half-tensed, repeatedly chanting "oh please don't screw this up oh please don't screw this up please Jeph don't turn out to be an asshole, suck fairy STAY AWAY" under my breath.

#349 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 09:18 AM:

And linkwalking from the geneology discussion: I'm amazed that I had not heard of last year's Film based on Heinlein's "All You Zombies": Predestination.

#350 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 09:48 AM:

Another complicated genetic example.

From First Lensman:

Norma the secretary was a smart girl, and observant. In her position, she had to be. Her eyes followed the man out, then scanned the Lensman from toe to crown.

"I've never seen anything like it, Mr. Samms," she remarked then. "Except for the difference in coloring, and a sort of . . . well, stoopiness . . . he could be your identical twin. You two must have had a common ancestor-or several-not too far back, didn't you?"

"We certainly did. Quadruple second cousins, you might call it. We have known of each other for years, but this is the first time we have met."

"Quadruple second cousins? What does that mean? How come?"

"Well, say that once upon a time there were two men named Albert and Chester . . ."

"What? Not two Irishmen named Pat and Mike? You're slipping, boss." The girl smiled roguishly. During rush hours she was always the fast, cool, efficient secretary, but in moments of ease such persiflage as this was the usual thing in the First Lensman's private office. "Not at all up to your usual form."

"Merely because I am speaking now as a genealogist, not as a raconteur. But to continue, we will say that Chester and Albert had four children apiece, two boys and two girls, two pairs of identical twins, each. And when they grew up -half way up, that is . . . "

"Don't fell me that we are going to suppose that all those identical twins married each other?"

"Exactly. Why not?"

"Well, it would be stretching the laws of probability all out of shape. But go ahead- I can see what's coming, I think."

"Each of those couples had one, and only one, child. We will call those children Jim Samms and Sally Olmstead; John Olmstead and Irene Samms."

The girl's levity disappeared. "James Alexander Samms and Sarah Olmstead Samms. Your parents. I didn't see what was coming, after all. This George Olmstead; then, is your . ."

"Whatever it is, yes. I can't name it, either-maybe you had better call Genealogy some day and find out. But it's no wonder we look alike. And there are three of us, not two--George has an identical twin brother."

#351 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 12:57 PM:

Irish is, since 2004, one of the official working languages of the EU: however there is a ... derogation, must be, I'm used to talking about an maolú , in effect which restricts the categories of documents required to be translated. At this stage it's the Irish government which is slow to seek lifting of the derogation. Translation continues however but I think the interpreters are not called on very often: however I have seen statistics for several years up to 2012 and mostly the amount of Irish spoken in Parliament has exceeded the amount of Maltese and sometimes the amount of Latvian or Estonian.

I often wonder how audio interpreters deal with translating German sentences (often verb-participle last) into Irish (which in common with other Celtic languages generally has VSO order).

#352 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 02:23 PM:

Thank you all for the informative responses. In particular, dotless ı in #312 and David Harmon in #333 made pretty much the same suggestion, which makes sense to me. As David put it:

I'd call Patrick and his correspondent "third and fourth cousins once removed". That is, they're third cousins through Grandpa Jasper, and fourth cousins through his wives.
Elliott Mason's #336 reminds me that the issue of cousin marriage has been discussed before on Making Light. But, Elliott, I didn't know (or had, in my senescence, forgotten) that you do genealogical research! Is this a professional gig, sideline hobby, or in between?

#353 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 02:36 PM:

Sea otter at 21 minutes 29 seconds. Sea otter pup at 23 minutes 19 seconds.

(Probably only available in the UK, sadly).

#354 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 02:56 PM:

PNH @352: Something in between. I'm open to it becoming more remunerative, but as of right now I've had three paying customers and another five for barter.

#355 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 04:39 PM:

Dave Bell #350: I gather Smith was having some fun with the idea of identical twins running in families. It looks to me like genetically, the Olmstead kids and the Samms kids are each effectively siblings, so genetically the third generation looks like two pairs of siblings marrying each other. Also, the laws of probability don't come into it, or not the way that secretary thinks. Especially not if the families lived "next door" to each other! :-) It may be relevant that IIRC the Arisians had been manipulating and breeding human lineages (notably the Kinnisons) for centuries....

I'm not sure about identical twins specifically, but multiple births in general certainly do. My sister was warned that having had natural twins, both she and my other sister had much higher odds of another pair of twins.

#356 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 04:55 PM:

Otter B @87, belated thanks for that.

Carol Witt @144, again belatedly, I am delighted to hear this.

#357 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 05:07 PM:

I've also heard the term "double first cousins" for this relationship:

Alice and Betty are sisters.
Carl and David are brothers.

Alice marries Carl and has a child, Eve.
Betty marries David and has a child, Frank.

Eve and Frank are now double-first-cousins, and are genetically as close as siblings, I think.

My father has two double-first cousins. I only met them at my grandfather's funeral; they were the only members of my immediate family I've met who shared my interest in math. (One is a mathematician, the other is an electrical engineer.)

#358 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 05:37 PM:

There are going to be genetic differences between those not-really-sibling cousins.

I have one family with two sets of twins in two consecutive generations. I can't say that they're identical, but they are same-sex. That's the line that my first-cousin-once-removed ancestors are on. I am somewhat surprised that they didn't have twins themselves.

#359 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 06:13 PM:

Teresa's particle about items from the former world remind me of some books I need to sell, or give away:

A WWII vintage navy training manual for ship's electricians. Looks like an ARC.

A catalog / technical manual for wooden pipelines. A few years after finding this I saw the ruins of an actual wooden pipeline, near a dam in Sullivan county.

An engineer's pocket reference, perhaps of between the wars vintage.

Memory hazy: A Freshman level college English textbook, WWII vintage, with a U of O cover. It has newspaper clippings about battles in the Pacific inside.

#360 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 06:14 PM:

One set of my great-grandparents were in a group of three siblings from one family who married three siblings from a another family.

#361 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 06:20 PM:

albatross @357:

Eve and Frank are now double-first-cousins, and are genetically as close as siblings, I think.

I'm pretty sure they're not quite that close; rather, they're genetically as close as an uncle-niece pair. (I could be mistaken, since I'm working this out in my head on the fly.)

I've also dabbled a bit in genealogy, and while there's nothing so exciting in recent generations of my family, one of my great-grandfathers did have some double first cousins (a pair of Renick brothers married Brown sisters), and a few generations further back on the same line, my fourth-great grandfather Clifton married his uncle's granddaughter (apparently, this worked out so well that after she died, he married her sister). I haven't yet figured out whether there's a connection between Clifton's mother and his paternal grandmother, both of whom were Thompsons.

#362 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 06:29 PM:

One of my grandfather's brothers married one of my grandmother's sisters.

I expect this, and other overlaps, is/was fairly common in small, isolated communities. If there are only about twenty families in your village, and the next village is a day's travel, you don't have a lot of choice of mates.

#363 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 06:52 PM:

David Harmon at #355 mentioned that the probabilities are higher if the families live next door to each other. I should point out a well-known counterexample, where one cousin had been almost everywhere from Zanzibar to Barclay Square, while the other had only seen the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights.

#364 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 08:26 PM:

A friend of mine who had identicals recently tells me that fraternal twins run in families, but identical twins do not.

#365 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 08:36 PM:

David Harmon, #349:

In my capacity as an occasional Heinlein expert,* allow me to point out that there was an earlier effort to make a film of "All You Zombies,"** rather faithful to the story, but apparently on a very tight budget. The sets look homemade.

That said, everyone seems to be saying that Predestination is terrific. Trailer here.

It's only "last year's" release in the very strict, goofy, Hollywood-awards-eligibility sense. I missed its short run at art-house theater in Chicago this past month, and will probably need to seek it out in some online venue. It's seven bucks to rent on Itunes.

* But even more in my capacity as someone who was idly fooling around with Youtube's search engine.

** Not actually a zombie story. Heinlein's best short story, I think.

#366 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 09:38 PM:

P J Evans #358: There are going to be genetic differences between those not-really-sibling cousins.

How so, since each is drawing their chromosomes from identical pools? Siblings don't have a consistent genetic similarity anyway, they have a binomial/Bell-like distribution. Mutation aside, I think the children of matched twins would provably have the same distribution.

I'll tell you what does stretch credibility: The two sets of grandparents are not just siblings, but twins to each other, even before their kids got married. Has this shiny spacefaring future no occasion for family gatherings? I find it implausible that Mr. Samms reached adulthood and high office before he so much as met George.

#367 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 09:47 PM:

David, I don't think they are going to be any more similar than if they were non-identical siblings. They're finding that identical twins are really mostly highly-similar, because even in utero they're not getting identical experiences.

(Personally, I wouldn't think it was an advisable marriage, because of the high degree of consanguineity. I'm sure it wouldn't have passed muster in previous centuries!)

#368 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2015, 11:12 PM:

P J Evans #367: David, I don't think they are going to be any more similar than if they were non-identical siblings.

If you're talking about the kids of the twins, that's what I'm saying -- despite being formally cousins, they will be exactly as similar as normal siblings. Regarding the twins themselves, certainly there will be developmental differences, and so? Even after psychological differentiation, the similarities produced by of identical genomes are still fairly spectacular. (There are reasons people used to get superstitious about identical twins....)

#369 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 12:03 AM:

Don't identical twins have different fingerprints? There's one reason that fingerprints will still be useful when DNA testing becomes cheap and fast.

Jenny Islander: Thank you for the HP fanfic link. I think it's a much sadder world there...

#370 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 12:29 AM:

Dave Bell @ 350: I'd forgotten that specific passage (I only read FL once, >40 years ago) but it's not surprising given the Arisians' massive intervention in Terran (and other) breeding and the hints that they could tweak people's minds (or even nudge them from the outside) much more subtly than the hammer blow of Lens-based mental domination. Makes one wonder just how much of a mess the Lenschildren would make without the Arisians' gigayears of experience to temper the kids' impetuousness.

Followup on Dave Harmon @ 366: First Lensman was written in 1950, when the meme of the nuclear family was very strong; he may have assumed that father/mother/children sets would go their own ways, connecting to neighbors and coworkers rather than kin. Mine certainly did: I grew up in DC, with aunts/uncles in LA, Tucson (met these just once each), Texas, and midstate NY. AFAICR I first met the first cousin closest to my age when I was 48, at my mother's memorial.
      Consider (from the same period) Gladiator-at-Law, in which the lead doesn't think of turning to family; contrasting with my parents' splits, both sets of grandparents got help through crises from relatives. (Note that much of GaL takes place in a Levittown; Pohl and Kornbluth would both have seen the fragmentation that caused.)

Xopher: Belated congratulations! But are you still Halftongue rather than 49.97%tongue?

#371 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 12:37 AM:

I probably got lost in the various generations of children, but yeah, something close to that was what I was thinking.

#372 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 12:40 AM:

David Harmon#368.

They'll be as similar on average as siblings, but they will share shorter segments of DNA identical-by-descent, and their overall allele sharing will have different (I think smaller) variation around its average value.

With sequence or dense SNP data you could probably distinguish them from siblings

#373 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 01:39 AM:

Mary Aileen, #362: Hence, among other things, the Icelandic app mentioned upthread.

ObSF: I've encountered several post-apocalyptic stories in which one or another relatively small and isolated group was very happy to have their women entertain the men of the protagonist's traveling company, specifically for the influx of new genes.

#374 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 07:31 AM:

thomas #372: They'll be as similar on average as siblings, but they will share shorter segments of DNA identical-by-descent, and their overall allele sharing will have different (I think smaller) variation around its average value.

I can see where the first part would be from chromosomal crossovers and rearrangements (plus mutation), and that would of course change the full sequence. Indeed, chromosomal rearrangement makes a significant number of humans into genetic chimerae anyhow, but that's usually assigned to developmental variation.

But how does the allele sharing get modified, let alone narrowed? If anything, I'd think the chromosomal acrobatics would widen the variation.

#375 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 09:53 AM:

(Some Bujold spoilers below, mostly related to who winds up in love with whom. I've tried to obscure as many of the surprising pairings as possible without being ambiguous.)

Diatryma @ 341: In a lot of ways, I think Berry has a much more active role in book 3 than Fawn, although I do enjoy the interactions between Fawn and the flatboat crew.

In general, Lois McMaster Bujold seems to write a lot of romances between people of similar age and experience (Cordelia/Aral, Iselle/(spoiler), Ivan/Tej, and many other background relationships, including Alys/(spoiler), Gregor/(spoiler), most of the Koudelkas' relationships, Nicole/Thorne, etc.). She also wrote two where the female partner is older and more experienced (Berry/(spoiler), Taura/Roic). Miles and his wife are a trickier case; they're matched in age and bitter experience, but Miles has more worldly power.

But there are three or four of Bujold's romances where the woman is significantly younger or less experienced than her partner: Fawn/Dag, Silver/(spoiler), Betriz/(spoiler) and Taura in the very beginning. Taura is perhaps a special case, thanks to her physical prowess and her lack of time. But the romances with Silver and Betriz have always struck me as even more extreme than Fawn/Dag, even if Betriz has a much smaller age gap than Fawn.

#376 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 09:54 AM:

(Some Bujold spoilers below, mostly related to who winds up in love with whom. I've tried to obscure as many of the surprising pairings as possible without being ambiguous.)

Diatryma @ 341: In a lot of ways, I think Berry has a much more active role in book 3 than Fawn, although I do enjoy the interactions between Fawn and the flatboat crew.

In general, Lois McMaster Bujold seems to write a lot of romances between people of similar age and experience (Cordelia/Aral, Iselle/(spoiler), Ivan/Tej, and many other background relationships, including Alys/(spoiler), Gregor/(spoiler), most of the Koudelkas' relationships, Nicole/Thorne, etc.). She also wrote two where the female partner is older and more experienced (Berry/(spoiler), Taura/Roic). Miles and his wife are a trickier case; they're matched in age and bitter experience, but Miles has more worldly power.

But there are three or four of Bujold's romances where the woman is significantly younger or less experienced than her partner: Fawn/Dag, Silver/(spoiler), Betriz/(spoiler) and Taura in the very beginning. Taura is perhaps a special case, thanks to her physical prowess and her lack of time. But the romances with Silver and Betriz have always struck me as even more extreme than Fawn/Dag, even if Betriz has a much smaller age gap than Fawn.

#377 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 10:31 AM:

Betriz bugged me a little because so little-- in fact almost none-- of that romance is onstage, but that also means that Betriz simply isn't onstage-- she's clearly doing things and helping, or at least there's some deniability in there. The book isn't about their relationship. Fawn... okay, so the third book pissed me off enough that I am not forgiving much of anything, plus it's kind of a systemic thing, not with Bujold's relationships but with fictional relationships in general (yeah, Asaro broke me.)

I do like the unbreakable walnut.

#378 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 11:12 AM:

In re the double first cousins thing, I think I've mentioned here before that in my mother's family there was a situation where 2 brothers married 2 sisters; the man in one couple and the woman in the other couple died; and the widow and widower then married each other. There were children from all 3 marriages.

#379 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 11:46 AM:

Carrie S. @364 said: A friend of mine who had identicals recently tells me that fraternal twins run in families, but identical twins do not.

It's more complicated than that, because there are multiple ways of getting twins, and some of them inherit. Some of the heritable ones can be passed through the father's side and some can't.

Fraternals happen when (a) multiple eggs are ovulated simultaneously and in the system at once, and (b) get fertilized and implant, and (c) more than one of them survives to gestate to term, instead of self-terminating for any of the reasons blastocysts do, or being absorbed into a sibling's body (chimerism).

Tendency to ovulate more than one egg at once is heritable and runs in family lines, though it only ends up in a given pregnancy because of the provider of the eggs (so usually the mother). A boy can pass the tendency to his daughters, though.

Many modern fraternals are due to IVF, with doctors imserting two or three embryos in the hope that at least one will stick (and sometimes more than one does). That one's not heritable, of course.

Identicals happen when a single fertilized entity splits, at some point in its development, into multiple entities. If it happens very early you get identicals. If it happens somewhat later, after the body has a "handedness," you get mirror twins. Later leads to more and more complicated cases.

Now, why does a single entity calve off into two? Sometimes it's completely random (and those aren't heritable, usually). Sometimes, though, genes in a family can make it more likely an embryo will twin itself, and THAT is heritable, even through the parent who provided sperm to the embryo in question.

#380 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 01:04 PM:

My never-to-be-seen SF includes jumping-off orgies for colonists: the last stop has a major sexual orgy involving as many people as possible, to maximize the genetic variety of the next generation. The residents of the jumping-off station prefer theirs maximized, too. (Hence the reputation of spacers for having sex at every opportunity....)

#381 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 01:16 PM:

I have double cousins, on my mother's side (brother and sister marrying sister and brother). Also several other times where brothers married sisters (in at least one, three brothers marrying three sisters). It's not unusual, but some families have done it often enough that you need a computer to keep track of the kinships. (Example: the Mendenhalls and the Newlins, in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.)

I don't know how to describe the relationships involved when (several times great) grandmother married the oldest brother of a daughter-in-law. Five children by her first husband, remarried at 32, and had seven more children. (D-I-L was the next-to-youngest child in her family.)

#382 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 03:42 PM:

Eric K #376: Er, it's Nicol/Thorne.

#383 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 06:00 PM:

So I saw Jupiter Ascending and it was like Dune and Star Wars got drunk and had a love child and the baby was left on the doorstep of a lovely couple that was really into Traveller and Shadowrun and that baby grew up to be a movie and I mean this in the best possible way.

#384 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 08:20 PM:

Stefan Jones #383: OK, I'll note that as "positive review". :-)

#385 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2015, 08:42 PM:

@David: I've pretty much forgotten the plot three hours after leaving the theater, but it was great fun.

Oh. The mitochondial DNA of that love baby might have come from The Instrumentality of Mankind setting. Or that might be a Recurrence.

I like the fact that closest thing good guys out in the galaxy are fgne pbcf bs n fbeg, punetrq jvgu xrrcvat gur fjnttrevat cbjreshy snzvyvrf va purpx.

Nygubhtu gur Nrtvf unira'g sbhaq n jnl gb fgbccvat gur crevbqvp znff zheqref gung xrrc gur rpbabzl bs gur tnynkl ehaavat, fb gurer'f gung.

No way it will happen, outside of a graphic novel or novelization, but I'd love to see a sequel where that gets sorted out.

#386 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 12:32 AM:

Asia Society has an article with a headline about "National Geographic Lensman Gets Up Close and Personal with Asia's Endangered Animals".
(Not any of the Kinnison cousins, just a photographer's slideshow of charismatic megafauna.)

#387 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 01:25 AM:

David Harmon #374

I think these children would come closer to 50% allele sharing than siblings would, because of the shorter segments of DNA -- just the law of large numbers in action.

#388 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 04:53 AM:

There is a vague idea that my paternal grandparents were related to each other, although we haven't found out any details. However, my grandfather was one of thirteen children born to his father, by three different wives, so there is plenty of scope for connections.

#389 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 04:54 AM:

There is a vague idea that my paternal grandparents were related to each other, although we haven't found out any details. However, my grandfather was one of thirteen children born to his father, by three different wives, so there is plenty of scope for connections.

#390 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 04:55 AM:

Sorry for the accidental double post - please feel free to delete one of them, if that is possible.

#391 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 06:19 AM:

Not a headline you see every day: Lost typeface printing blocks found in river Thames.

#392 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 06:39 AM:

Bill Stewart #386: I had thought that one of 2001's hibernating astronauts had the name Kimball, but neither IMDB nor Wikipedia is backing me up here. I was amused to learn that all the apes are credited roles (some names look familiar), and that Floyd's daughter was played by Kubrick's daughter.

WRT Floyd's daughter, I was struck viewing it that the daughter was not a modern "commercial-perfect kid" in appearance or behavior: A bit chubby, and sulky (with a hint of potential brattiness), showing kid-style unhappiness about Daddy not being home enough. In a modern movie, I think that scene would have been horribly "airbrushed".

Also, we did discuss the hair and clothing styles on the way out of the theater. Ada Palmer discussed how realistic medieval hair and clothing styles often send the wrong message to modern viewers. I don't think she mentioned the opposite problem of trying to indicate futuristic styles... I present for your consideration the thought of 1930s viewers' reactions to 1970's styles, or 1950s viewers response to the hair and clothing of the '80s and '90s. I suspect that it is not possible to project hair and clothing styles more than about 10 years or so into the future (and even for that you'd need some luck).

#393 ::: Stav ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 06:40 AM:

Long time reader, first time (I think?) commenter here.

All this genealogical discussion has inspired me to share some stories about my late great-grandmother. Biologically, she was the sister of my great-grandmother. Apparently she was quite the wild young woman in the 1920s, so when her older sister died and left an infant daughter she was married to her sister's husband. I speculate this was as much to get her out of trouble and into a respectable status as to provide a mother to the baby who would become my grandmother. She raised my grandmother as her daughter, and never had children of her own. I don't know whether this due to being in a possibly loveless marriage, or due to the abortion she is rumored to have had in her wilder days, which was presumably illegal and unsafe.

She learned to drive at age 50 (!), after my great-grandfather died, and proceeded to travel the world independently until her late eighties. She was well-to-do and generous in her gifts, but for herself she would always go to the cheapest markets, in public transport when she could no longer drive, to save as much as she could for my father's inheritance, who is her only grandchild. She lived to be 93, despite being a heavy smoker, and until the last year of her life she volunteered at the local nursing home, socializing and playing cards with residents a decade or two her junior.

#394 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 07:23 AM:

Cadbury Moose @391:

Thank you for the link! I can't believe they found some of the Doves type after all this time.

(As a bookbinder, I'm kind of a fan of Cobden-Sanderson, and it always seemed one of the great losses of the artistic world that he dumped it into the Thames. What kind of despair he must have been in to do something like that? This news feels like...a kind of redemption, maybe.)

#395 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 07:26 AM:

Also, Stav @393:

Welcome! Your great-grandmother sounds like an amazing woman.

#396 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 09:41 AM:

Morning-afterthoughts on Jupiter Ascending:

The movie begins showing us Jupiter's morning routine, getting dragged out of bed by her mom and aunt to start a day with the family house cleaning business.

Nsgre n pbhcyr bs ubhef bs nznmvat nqiragher nzbat gur fgnef naq zrrgvat ure inzcver-pncvgnyvfg (nyzbfg yvgrenyyl) trargvp eryngvirf, fur'f onpx jvgu ure pybfr-xavg ohg obbevfu vzzvter snzvyl. Bayl qvssreraprf: Fur'f hc orsber ure nhag naq zbz, pbssrr nyernql znqr, naq fur unf n oblsevraq. (BX, ur'f n jbys-uloevq fgne fbyqvre jvgu jvatf ohg fgvyy.) Naq gur snzvyl cerfragf ure jvgu n avpr gryrfpbcr, yvxr gur bar ure yngr sngure unq; gurl qba'g erzrzore ure urycvat erfphr gurz sebz jvatrq qvabfnhe fbyqvref, fb vg vf n trfgher bs harnearq fhccbeg sbe ure vagrerfgf, ohg fgvyy . . .

Vg jbhyq or avpr vs fur naabhaprq fbzr punatrf. Tbvat bss gb pbzzhavgl pbyyrtr, wbvavat gur nezl, jungrire.

#397 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 11:34 AM:

I'm always a little interested in how movies dealing with multiple times show the present day-- mostly I think about Mr Holland's Opus with its completely unrecgonizable nineties, and Star Trek Whales. I like seeing what exaggerations, both how much and of what, the directors think are necessary to say THIS IS NOW SEE.

#398 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Lila #378:

I may have posted before about the case in my own family, where great-grandmother and sister married great-grandfather and brother. My grandmother and her double first cousin, while twelve years apart, were as close friends as could be; I did not call him "Cousin Chris", but "Great-Uncle Chris" (totally correct if you elide "step-uncle" to 'uncle" in the previous generation).

The extra marriage you mention didn't happen quite that way in my family; instead, when one of the brothers died, the widow married yet another brother.

Add to this the fact that the sisters' mother remarried--to the brothers' father. Those girls' mother was also their mother-in-law.

That family tree still drives everybody nuts 125 years later. All without doing anything illegal or genetically improper.

(As an aside, I've got to go on for a second about small-town newspapers' gossip sections. A century ago, these were the equivalent of the book of face and the noises of birds. Status updates every week. I got interested in trying to figure out how my grandmother and grandfather met--a story which my grandmother never got around to telling me. Still haven't done so, but have been greatly entertained.)

#399 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 12:36 PM:

An open-thready rant/question:

I'm getting frustrated with Goodreads. I signed up about two weeks ago, based on a recommendation from someone at a con. The person made it sound as though she was in a community there.

What I have found is that the opening page has all the same discussion topics, day after day. New posts come into those topics, but I've seen all the topics that interest me. I've found two groups, but they all have the same discussion topics every day. I can't find a place where anything is happening.

What are other people's experiences with Goodreads?

#400 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 12:37 PM:

I don't know how my parents met the second time (the first time was as children). I can guess, though, with my father's parents and one of my mother's aunts living less than ten miles apart, said aunt being first cousin to my father's mother.
('Family gatherings' is the usual term, I believe.)

#401 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 01:40 PM:

P J Evans #400:

In my grandparents' case, I can only conclude it had something to do with lawyer/politician grandfather being one-time president of growers' association for grandmother's family's principal crop. Otherwise, how do persons of two different denominations, twenty-three year gap in ages, one of whom lives in town and the other on a mountaintop six miles away, at the ending of the horse-and-buggy period, manage to socialize?

#402 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 01:55 PM:

My family seems really, really boring now.

#403 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 02:35 PM:

That will work.

My mother's stepmother met my mother's father through Boy Scouts - she was the secretary for the local council, and he was a leader (Eagle Scout and Silver Beaver).

#404 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 09:05 PM:

David Harmon @392: futuristic styles

I've been giggling a lot lately when I see people out jogging in their winter Spandex; canonically "future" attire; viewed, at least, from the '70s.

#405 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 10:04 PM:

Jacque #404: That's not actually a change in style, because Spandex showed up in 1962 and never left. Thermal spandex (or whatever it's properly called) is rather newer, but seems a natural development over time.

#406 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 10:08 PM:

My family had a remarriage like that - my great-great-grandfather's wife died after having two children. He married her sister; she also had two children and died. He died shortly thereafter at a fairly young age; family tradition holds, of heartbreak, although it's so long ago no one certainly knows the truth. The children were all raised by their grandparents, who luckily lived quite a long time.

#407 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2015, 10:10 PM:

My great-grandmother outlived six husbands. I like to think that, starting with the second, she brought each of them home and said "see that room at the end of the corridor? You must never, ever go in there."

#408 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 12:52 AM:

Per my earlier stated interest in Celtic music: I let Youtube play the mix for me, and often I get stuff I hadn't heard of that fills the bill nicely. But I gotta ask--Is the point of Celtic Woman to watch interchangeable pretty women with interchangeable voices sing very highly groomed Celtic-flavored music in an assortment of tight and shiny dresses? Because I forget what they were singing 30 seconds after the clip is over, but the dresses are occasionally memorable.

#409 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:48 AM:

Linkwalking off "women in videos" (and a Celticish name, for that matter), I see Meghan Trainor has a new video: "Lips are Moving". Her first video, "All About That Bass" struck me strongly as How To Do It Right, and the new one is Doing Right Again. What I mean by that is, these are videos I can recommend to my mother or my nieces without qualms. Among other points, Meghan gives a great demonstration of how to look drop-dead gorgeous without flashing bare/barely-covered skin.

#410 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 02:58 PM:

Open Threadiness:

This article discusses the issues surrounding the CIA spying on its overseers in Congress. But it remains a little too polite and respectable to draw the obvious conclusion: There is no meaningful oversight of US intelligence agencies.

The oversight committee members can be spied on, whistleblowers who report abuses to the oversight committees can go to jail, and committee members cannot reveal what they know for fear of the consequences. When intelligence officials get caught lying to the oversight committees, there are no consequences. All these things have happened.

Our intelligence agencies have become a power unto themselves. They may more or less follow the law or obey the president, they may try really hard to make the US safer and prevent terrorist attacks. They're probably often made up of basically well-intentioned people trying to do a hard job as well as possible. But if they should happen to decide not to follow the law, not to obey the president, should they decide to actively subvert democratic government or the safety and well-being of US citizens, there isn't really any mechanism in place to stop them, nor even to detect that fact.

Even without malign intent (and that's a big assumption when you have people with a lot of power and very little oversight), they will wreck important things, simply by being focused on doing their jobs and not so focused on the long-term consequences of how they do their jobs. (For example, the use of polio vaccination workers as a cover for the CIA guys who found Bin Laden may have horrible consequences in the long run. Subverting cryptographic standards almost certainly makes the world much worse off forever in order to make NSA/GCHQ's job a little easier today. The malware attacks on the Iranian nuclear program set some truly awful precedents, which we should have been very reluctant to see established.)

I have no idea how to fix this. Neither party has any interest in addressing it, probably because the intelligence agencies make really scary enemies. A few politicians seem willing to fight it, but they have very little ability to move things forward, and it's not clear to me what would happen if they did begin to get some traction.

We are not going to like how this turns out. If there's something we could be doing to stop it, I sure wish I knew what.

#411 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 03:01 PM:

albatross: Sometimes I think the only way we'd get a thorough shakedown of various large organizations (government, unelected agencies, corporations, etc.) would be if we were to get something like Connie Willis' fictional Pandemic (which, based on the numbers, seems to have killed off an eighth to a sixth of the worldwide population.)

#412 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 03:17 PM:

I've been looking at the weather for Boskone. The temperatures alone are forbidding. At least the snow is supposed to let up. I'll probably have to take an airport shuttle both ways instead of taking SL1 as I usually do.

#413 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Speaking of Boskone, is a Gathering of Light in the works? I have a commitment for Saturday lunch, but am otherwise available pretty much any time.

#414 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @413: It looks like it will be a very small gathering. There were a couple of maybes in the other thread IIRC. I have the Xenolinguistics discussion group at 4:00 - 5:00 pm Saturday, other items can be skipped if necessary. I'll need to eat at some point, if that's not included in the GoL.

#415 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 04:41 PM:

Likewise, Capricon is impending. I will be going for Friday night and some portion of post-lunch Saturday (ending whenever I pry myself out of the filk room and drive groggily home).

I have been recruited to a panel called "Ask a Trans Person," which is probably going to be the most basic 101-level questions and has the possibility of descending into horrifyingly problematic sludge, depending on who ends up in the audience (which is sort of why I volunteered; I enjoy re-railing after sludgers while making them look like fools).

I could certainly pre-arrange a Saturday dinner run/order of takeout with congenial folks if such folks were available.

#416 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 05:39 PM:

Those planning to come to Boskone need to at the very least start following Boston weather and travel reports daily. Boston has broken the record for snow in a month (5 feet); today the subway system was forced to shut down; and another foot of snow is due Thursday with the possibility of a nor'easter this weekend. Roads are awful. There is no place to put the snow we have now. Really, people, this is very bad.

#417 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 05:45 PM:

Just in: MBTA service also cancelled for tomorrow.

This is a Hail Mary. If it can't be cleaned up tomorrow, forget the rest of the week.

#418 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 05:54 PM:

Hey! Actual dinosaur sodomy erotica reviewed over on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: The Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay, Part Two, by Hunter Fox.

I would almost suspect the author of being a denizen here, except that the quoted excerpts have grammatical and punctuation errors.

#419 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:03 PM:

Boston update: Governor Baker just declared a state of emergency.

This is all breaking (in every sense) too fast now.

#420 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:09 PM:

Jon Meltzer: Thanks for the update. Unfortunately everything but the hotel is already paid for. Possibly, flights will be cancelled. I thought Fri. 13 was a bad date to have Boskone.

#421 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:11 PM:

I haven't been paying attention to the airport, but I can't imagine flights not being cancelled. Perhaps someone else can update here.

#422 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:41 PM:

Elliott Mason @415, you do NOT want to eat in a restaurant, any restaurant, on Saturday at Capricon. It'll be Valentines Day.

On the other hand, Boca de Beppo (sp?) is across the street and they do takeout.


#423 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Cassy B. @422: I figured I'd have GrubHub pay someone to bring me food in the lobby, then eat it in the consuite. :->

(welcome to the 21st century, where I can tappytap a screen to order and pay for food without having to talk to a human with my voice)

#424 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:49 PM:

Do any governments have control of their secret services?

#425 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 06:51 PM:

#424: You're not cleared for that. {Makes note in secret dossier.}

#426 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 07:46 PM:

Cassy B. @422: Buca di Beppo. (That's the kind of trivia I'm good at.)

#427 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 07:59 PM:

David H., #409: That's a great video! She's DOIN IT RITE in more ways than one -- both this and her previous song are excellent examples of "not taking this shit from you just because you're a man" lyrics. Her style is not something I'm normally drawn to, but I'm becoming a fan.

Related: Women shut down a creepy harasser in an amazing way.
Summary: Dude on the train, harassing a young woman for her phone #. She finally responds with a line from the chorus of "No Scrubs" by TLC. A second woman speaks up with the second line; yet another woman provides the third, and then they all sing ("loudly and off-key") the last line. And then they just laugh at the creep, who has been totally PWN3D. (Video of the song provided at the link.)

#428 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 08:20 PM:

I've been snowed into a convention (Arisia, what was it, 2004?) That was kind of fun. Being snowed *out* of one is not going to have the same bonus-vacation-day frisson.

#429 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 08:25 PM:

Apparently they're going to try dumping the snow in Boston Harbor. Or elsewhere offshore.

#430 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 09:24 PM:

If weather permits, we're planning to be at Boskone during the day on Saturday, but other than that we're not certain. (Saturday evening we definitely have a conflict.) Having been snowed away from the last Boskone GoL, I'd love to make this one, assuming there is one, but the weather is what it is. We're settling in for yet another snow day tomorrow, with the consequent schedule reshuffles.

Speaking of snow days, and just too much snow in general, our usual recourse is cooking of various sorts. In addition to turning many frozen bones into stock, high points have been recent trials of:

Both are seriously addictive.

Also, we have verified that it is better to light a candle and cook s'mores on it than to curse the snow.

#431 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 09:32 PM:

Yeah, I'm looking at the Boston snow situation and contemplating not going to Boskone after all. No decision yet, but there would definitely be several upsides to not going. (The downside being that I've been looking forward to it and already have my stuff for the art show packed, plus a lunch date scheduled with my niece.)

#432 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 10:18 PM:

David Goldfarb @426, Thank you. I remember it as "that noisy Italian restaurant with insanely large portions and really amazing garlic potatoes."

#433 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Just a couple of data points to add here: after my grandfather's death, my grandmother married his half-brother. It remains unclear to me whether this was an actual biological half-brother, or a sort of time-share/crowd-sourced half-brother, as Samoan concepts of "family" are much broader than the current American Nuclear Family.

Also, I saw Jupiter Ascending, and while it was by no means a good movie, it certainly was a gloriously batshit awesome movie. Passed Bechdel, no problem. Fabulous effects, pretty costumes, capital scenery chewing and just good honest silliness. Not sure about some of the subplots and random characters who must have some back-story lying about - not even sure about the main plot. Alls I know is they must have gone way over budget with all the Alexander McQueen gowns for Mila Kunis, because they could apparently only afford one shirt to be shared amongst the male cast (alas, Sean Bean was the designated be-shirted one but that was OK because they let him keep his delicious accent). Basically, if the idea of Channing Tatum beating the snot out of a sapient dinosaur-man whilst speeding about on anti-grav roller-blades sounds like a good time to you, I highly recommend this movie.

#434 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2015, 11:15 PM:


If one of the more advanced IT people who stop by here might be able to shed some light on the following, I'd be appreciative:

I occasionally do Google vanity searches on my name, and over the years have become pretty familiar with the links that usually appear on the first 10 pages or so of hits. I googled on my name, yesterday, and was surprised to see that about 5 or 6 pages into the results the usual links were interspersed by links to a wide variety of garbage websites. Those garbage links were never there before. Clicking directly on any of these sites shows no trace of my name.

However, when I look at Google's cached version of each site, they're much different than the live versions. The cached garbage pages consist of nonsense text strings that include "$myfirstname $mylastname $streetwhereIlive" embedded in the gibberish text content. If I search Google for $myfirstname $mylastname $streetwhereIlive it turns up hundreds and hundreds of these garbage sites that have my personal string embedded within the nonsense text on the cached versions.

I know I can ask Google to mark sites as spam and request removal of my name on a URL by URL basis; but there are far too many of them for this to be practical. Eventually I hope Google will refresh its caches and all the spam links for searches on my name will disappear.

My question is, can anyone make a good guess as to how the text string of my name and street found its way into all of those garbage sites? What did I do? There's no evidence of my email accounts being hijacked or hijacking of my small website. My Livejournal and GooglePlus pages haven't been comment spammed and I don't think either contains my street address.

I have found some discussion of malware that can infect Wordpress blogs and websites that use JOOMLA for the purpose of spamming Google's searchbots. But I'm not aware of having entered my street address into any of these sites. The only guess I can make as to what happened is that I've been vigorous over the last several months in browsing job boards and submitting my resume to a number of job ads. Maybe one of those job boards got hacked or sold me down the river? Could my name and street have been picked up through simple web browsing? Should I be worried about changing passwords?

My good news is that I've found a new job after searching for many soul-deadening months; so I won't need to hit all those job boards again for four or five months.

#435 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 12:11 AM:

"I saw Jupiter Ascending, and while it was by no means a good movie, it certainly was a gloriously batshit awesome movie."

Haha, yeah, that about nails it! Can I quote you on Twitter?

If George Lucas hadn't gotten all serious and self-important with the Joseph Campbell stuff, the prequels set in the declining days of the Republic might have looked like Jupiter Ascending's Commonwealth.

#436 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 12:21 AM:

RE complex families, my widowed grandmother* married her late husband's . . . recently widowered brother in law, or was it cousin? I keep forgetting.

I *think* my step-grandfather's late wife is on the right hand side of the photo linked to in the first post in this thread; my grandmother is in the middle.

#437 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 01:26 AM:

Elliott @ 415/423:

I'd spotted that on the schedule Friday and already planned to be there. I figure I can a) be a friendly face for you and Andrea, and b) continue my master plan of shutting up and listening.

What time do you have in mind for Saturday evening? If the small gods of traffic are with me, I may make it up there after work just before the Cheshire Moon concert...

#438 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 02:22 AM:


How does one properly scan a poetic "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"?

I started with a single accent beat.
But then I started thinking musically,
Like, if the sound was tied, where every ee
increases accent beats proportionately.

I also wondered, what, appropriately,
Would be the base for calculating eees.
No less than two or three, assuredly,
Unless increasing adds intensity...

But measuring mere length, objectively,
introduces variability,
And pairing it up correspondingly
with other rows caused inconsistency.

I also thought that alternatively,
The middle might be unaccentedly
contrasting, on a technicality,
not said undifferentiatedly.

Thanks in advance!

#439 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 07:13 AM:

The mailserver of, the normally ultra-reliable New York City ISP that Teresa and I have both used since 1992, is down and the fix may take "hours". If you urgently need to email me this morning, please use "". Teresa can be reached at "".

(I believe this affects Avram as well, but I don't know what alternate email addresses he has.)

#440 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 08:01 AM:

@429: Boston's mayor has said "we may have to dump the snow in the harbor". I have not heard of anyone seriously objecting to that, so I expect he'll do it.

The Silver Line bus from the airport is still running. Those moving luggage from the World Trade Center stop to the Boskone hotel may want to use sled runners, not wheels.

#441 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 08:33 AM:

I'm trying to trace down a story I thought I read here; Elizabeth Moon writing one of her series based on an "oh yeah?" response to some quote like "You can't have starships [or spaceships] and fox hunting [or horses] in the same book."

All the individual pieces show up very often in ML... and I've lost a very enjoyable half-hour looking at house-foxes, reading con stories, reading posts from the Esteemed Author herself, etc.

I don't have time for all this awesome; I have an 800-page book on steam turbines to read. How would you describe a self-set goal like that? "On purpose" and "Voluntarily" don't seem quite right.

#442 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 08:37 AM:

"Grass" by Sheri Tepper has both spaceships and foxhunting, if anyone was curious.

#443 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 08:43 AM:

...if you read "foxhunting" in an extremely broad sense, yes. :)

#444 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 09:07 AM:

They call them foxes, and ride things they call horses to things they call hounds! With horns! And red jackets!


#445 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 09:12 AM:

What's that quote about calling a tail a leg?

I have complex feelings about Tepper.

#446 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 09:53 AM:

I'm another panix user, but I wouldn't say they're ultra-reliable-- I've seen them go down now and then (maybe once every month or two), but it's been for much shorter periods.

#447 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 11:35 AM:

I have a question for the resident word-wonks.

There are two possible ways for me to drive to work. My usual route is shorter but has a couple of steep hills so I avoid it in snowy/icy conditions. The roads weren't too bad this morning after yesterday's storm, but I decided "don't take any chances, take Other Road."

My question is, is this zeugma? It doesn't quite fit my understanding of the definition, but it definitely seems related.

#448 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 11:40 AM:

This is making me giggle today: really badly chosen reprint covers for famous novels.

#449 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 12:16 PM:

Boston update: roads are clear; trains are still down with no estimate yet. More snow predicted for Thursday (up to 4") and possibly Sunday (up to 8").

Keep watching the skies, Boskonians.

#450 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 12:47 PM:

Mary Aileen@ 447, zeugma is when you link and render equivalent two nouns or concepts with a single verb*. My understanding of it is that a good example here would be "I didn't take That Road or any chances".

*and also a fantastic scrabble word!

#451 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 01:23 PM:

Em (450): Thanks. So my example is not quite zeugma because I repeated the verb?

#452 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 01:55 PM:

Popping in out of lurkdom to share a couple of links. First, this video, about cool possibilities for using plastic bags to create textiles. "Plarn", or plastic yarn, has been around for a long time, but this kind of takes it to a new level.

The woman in the video, Michelle Baggerman, is also involved in a number of other interesting projects, as you may find if you explore her site.

#453 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 02:52 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 435

You are more than welcome to quote me on Twitter. I may actually go see this movie again. I don't have a problem with respectable sci-fi movies per se, it's just that I'm just not in the mood for that kind of SRS BZNS this year.

#454 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 06:33 PM:

I've got membership, hotel room and Northeast Regional train tickets to and from Boskone. I'll be looking at the weather and whether Amtrak is running on Friday before I decide whether to go or stay put.

#455 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 10:09 PM:

KayTei #438: Eeek! ;-)

#456 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 11:11 PM:

Mary Aileen, #451: The canonical example of zeugma for me is a stanza from "Have Some Madeira, M'dear", to wit:

"She let go her glass with a shy little cry;
crash-tinkle it fell to the floor.
When he said, 'What in Heaven?', she made no reply,
up her mind, and a dash for the door."

#457 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2015, 11:55 PM:

David @ 455

Ask a serious question, get a seee!rious answer?

#458 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 02:48 AM:

I think I’ve finally mastered getting citrus flavor into my pound cake recipe (for those of you of a baking mind, that’d be this recipe for Vanilla Pound Cake); it’s actually a variant of Teresa’s method for making scurvy cure, applied to baking.

So, for any tasty citrus (I did it with yuzu this weekend; you could profitably do it with lemons, oranges, limes, kumquats - whatever you’ve got and like), do the following:

1. Take a portion of the sugar for the recipe (for mine, to make two cakes, I took a single cup of the 2.5 the recipe calls for) and zest your citrus directly into the sugar. Once it’s all zested, stir it in and let the sugar pull the oils from the zest (you’ll know it’s working when the sugar changes color on you).
2. Add your citrus sugar to the rest of the sugar, proceeding as normal with the recipe (but omitting the vanilla beans and extract if you’re using my recipe).

[In fact, steps 3-8 are optional, unless you’re doing my usual simple syrup soak for the cakes]

3. Juice your citrus (well, if you’re using kumquats or key limes or something, maybe not, but if possible, juice ‘em). Reserve the juice.
4. Remove the membranes from the juiced citrus pieces, chop the peels and reserve.
5. Make a heavy simple syrup (something along the lines of 2:1 sugar to water), bring to a boil and turn off the heat.
6. Add the zested peels, denuded of their membranes, to the syrup and let steep while your cakes bake.
7. Once the cakes are done and unmolded, remove the peels from the syrup, stir in your juice, and brush all over the cakes. If you’ve got appropriate citrus alcohol, a shot of that won’t go amiss in there too.
8. Let dry completely (either overnight at room temperature, or plunk ‘em back in the oven and let the residual heat do it for you).

End result? More citrus flavor in a cake than should probably be allowed. One of the two my Amazing Fiancé and I made went into lab on Monday (and was rapidly consumed by the Science Horde) and the other is in transit to its recipients.

#459 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 07:59 AM:

My latest obsessive idea for Energy Storage may actually be a Very Expensive Way To Make Sand From Gravel.

And I figured this out *after* I bought the $100 book on steam turbine operation. Oh well, it's not as expensive a hobby as [fill in your craft of choice.]

#460 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 10:51 AM:

My panix email account is working again, but I've got a gap from 11:27 Monday to 12:27 Tuesday. Does anyone know whether email from that period is lost, if it was sent later?

#461 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 11:51 AM:

Nancy: Mine's back, too. One duplicate message, that apparently somehow got caught in Panix's throat when it went down. (I.e., I'd already read, responded, and filed it before the crash.)

Does the gap show up in your inbox? Is it possible they were just caching incoming while they got the server issue sorted, and then delivered it when things were working again?

It's weird how "trying to see with only one eye" having my email down felt.

#462 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 11:58 AM:

Jacque, thanks-- yes, the gap shows up in my inbox.

#463 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Yet Another Boskone Weather Update: the storm predicted for Thursday looks like it's going to miss Boston. The latest prediction is 1" at most. Temps will be below 0F Friday night, though.

Saturday and Sunday - still the possibility of 8".

The trains are (sort of) running.

#464 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 12:33 PM:

Panix MOTD says " The last mailbox was restored around 6:45 AM. In addition, all the mail which was queued while mailboxes were unavailable has been delivered."

#465 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 12:50 PM:

I second nerdycellist's review of Jupiter Ascending (@433).

I will say this for the modern sci-fi-spectacle genre of movie: even when the script is crap, the visual designers do a *crackerjack* job of inclueing technological and cultural background through visual detail. JA leaps into a series of high-tech action scenes with about two lines of dialogue about how the tech behaves -- but all the action is clear anyway.

(I wouldn't say JA's script is crap, but it's nothing to write home about either. Bonus points for the protagonist having a family which is neither idealized, offscreen, nor dead.)

#466 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Sandy B #441- Normal? What is this interesting book on steam turbines?

#467 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Wow, I just got this when trying to post, first time ever seen on ML:
Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

#468 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 05:41 PM:

And yet post number 466 is what i tried to post, so things aren't too badly broken.

#469 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 06:08 PM:

Oooh, citrus cake. I had been hoping this variant might appear. I've had no luck whatsoever with the zest-into-sugar thing (I think I don't understand what zest is yet or how to use the microplane zester) but the rest seems sensible. Also delicious.

I have discovered that the taking-forever part of cakepainting is serious business. You really should allot an hour for that, at least. For values of you that are not Benjamin Wolfe, who knows this.

#470 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 06:14 PM:

guthrie (467): That's a known error. What happens is that the comment gets stuck while posting. A second post will often, but not always*, shake it loose. As you saw.

*It has something to do with exactly what stage it gets stuck at; I'm not clear on the details.

#471 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 06:25 PM:

On citrus fruit, zest is the colored part of the peel, where the fragrant oils are.

#472 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Annals of Peculiar State Financing:

If someone in Oregon wins P0werba11 tonight, and chooses the lump payout, and pays their state taxes by June, everyone in the state gets a tax refund:

I'm hoping this doesn't happen. The "Kicker" rebate is a stupid taxpayer-rights phenomena. We've got crumbling roads and bridges.

#473 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 06:32 PM:

Diatryma @469: Zesting is amazing fun if you have a microplane.

Wash the fruit if you think it's likely to have wax on it.

Grip it in non-dominant hand; apply pokey side of microplane to it. Using long smooth strokes (like peeling a potato, only towards you instead of away), remove the colored layer.

Turn the fruit, continuing to zest, until it's all pale (in corduroy-looking faint stripes, usually).

What collects on the top of the microplane zester is the zest. Tap it off as it makes a pile.

#474 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 06:32 PM:

Yeah, brushing a couple cups of simple syrup into a pound cake takes a fair bit of time. Adding too much at once risks cake collapse.

The zest is the very outer layer of the citrus fruit (a millimeter or so in thickness for the actual flavedo). The best way to get it off is to rest your microplane across a bowl and drag the fruit across it. You should just see little colored flecks, and no white bits. That's zest. If you're getting white and colored bits, you're doing it too hard.

#475 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 06:49 PM:

@Elliot: Most succinct description of zesting and zest I've seen.

What is a microplane? A very fine grater? Can I use the extra fine side of one of those boxy graters?

#476 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 07:09 PM:

Stefan Jones @475: They look like this. An amazing shot of close-up what the cutting bits look like.

You can also zest with a knife or an old fashioned box grater (on the side that looks like "someone punched nails through it and left pokey tiny holes"), but a microplane is The Right Tool.

Also works well on nutmeg or other hard spices.

#477 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 07:15 PM:

@Elliot: I'll keep an eye out at Goodwill for one of those; in the meantime, I do have a box grater.

#478 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 07:21 PM:

The knife method is the truly "Ha ha, I am an ALPHA CHEF" method with all the style points, as it's sort of like peeling an apple with a knife only more delicate.

#479 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 07:25 PM:

David Harmon@ #333: The problems show up when it happens repeatedly in a small, reproductively isolated population: Say, Iceland before modern transportation, or royal/noble families who are forbidden to marry commoners, or much of Appalachia before they got modernized in the 1940s.

Also, I wonder how many of the health problems associated with the latter were actually environmental (poverty, and iodine deficiency due to geographic location).

#480 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 07:33 PM:

How to Zest a Lemon YouTube tutorial.

I love living in the future!

#481 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Sarah #479: Well, the environmental problems tend to leave characteristic "marks" in terms of what they do to face and body. AIUI, the more visible effects of inbreeding are also fairly characteristic, and different enough from the effects of malnutrition, disease, etc. that experienced doctors can spot them by eye. (I've heard reference to FLK/"funny-looking kid" as a medical euphemism.) And of course, the outright genetic diseases can be pretty blatant, when recessives or other conditions line up.

#482 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 08:32 PM:

I have a very fine grater for nutmeg that I've also used for citrus (cleaning it is a pain - I found a bristle bating brush is good for that). I have a Microplane, also.

#483 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 10:13 PM:

Boskone update: I'm not going. I just cancelled my hotel and train reservations. The upside: I can stay home and sleep for two days. (I've been a-little-bit-sick since before Christmas. I'm tired.)

#484 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 10:29 PM:

Mary Aileen @483: I'm disappointed. I guess the GoL won't be happening. I can understand wanting to rest, though.

I need to find the site that enables one to make reservations for M.J. O'Connors, just in case it is crowded Saturday at 1800.

#485 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 11:14 PM:

me @484: I found opentable immediately, but I wasn't able to make a dinner reservation, either Fri or Sat.

#486 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 11:50 PM:

Elliott @ 478: The knife method is the truly "Ha ha, I am an ALPHA CHEF" method with all the style points

This sounds like one of those applications where having your knife wicked sharp is a safety thing. Trying this with a knife that takes any force at all sounds like an excellent way to lose some digits permanently. (And then all your pie crusts will have an area of only 3 times the square of their radii.)

#487 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 11:59 PM:

re Nancy at 424: The Soviet Union had control of it's intel services, because there were three agencies competing for things, which meant they were being cross-checked.

When the USSR fell, the coup attempt put the GRU (the military intel part of the troika) out of play. The internal security apparatus was also crippled, and so the 'pure' KGB was able to amalgamate the two, putting only one source of information into Yeltsin's ear.

The person doing the whispering... Putin.

#488 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2015, 11:59 PM:

Hm. I had hoped there was some magical thing I wasn't getting. Instead, we have only bad luck for why the limeade sugar extraction didn't work at all. Frustrating, as I'm unlikely to try something twice if the first time doesn't work without a reason.

I haven't had a cake collapse, but they do get a bit... soaked, I guess, if I don't take my time with the cakepainting. And that's always the part I rush because it's eleven at night and for the love of everything I just want to sleep.

#489 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 03:20 AM:

Elliott Mason @476: works well on nutmeg or other hard spices.

Also pine, polyurethane, and papier mache.

#490 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 07:41 AM:

I'll be at Boskone-- hoping to run into people there, even if there's no GoL.

#491 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 07:44 AM:

Jacque #489: Also pine, polyurethane, and papier mache.

Dave H.: </me winces at the thought of pine sap in his cheese grater>

#492 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 08:42 AM:

I'm looking suspiciously at the forecast for Saturday/Sunday

Even though I can stay another night if need be, I don't want to and I still have to think of my bunny sitter. My current plan is to look again at lunchtime and then make a decision.

On the plus side, canceling would mean being able to give back my vacation day on Friday and possibly sleeping in the rest of the weekend (unless the storm hits early enough that we close the library and I have to update the website from home).

#493 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 08:57 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @490: Will you be in the dealers room? If so, I'll look for you.

#494 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 09:10 AM:

Boskone Weather Update of Gor:

Possible flurries today.
Predicted -5F Friday night.
Predicted 8"-12" Saturday and Sunday.
The roads are clear. The trains are (sort of) running.

#495 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 09:11 AM:

(that's 8"-12" for the entire weekend, not each day)

#496 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 09:41 AM:

Terry Karney@487: But does the US not also have competing agencies?

Elliott Mason@448: I was puzzled by the Anne of Green Gables cover; the site is annoyed because the girl on the cover is a redhead, whereas Anne was a blonde; but the girl on the cover looks blonde to me. Do concepts of redheadedness differ between countries?

#497 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 10:22 AM:

Andrew M@496

The girl on the cover being blonde is the problem. Anne is a redhead.

#498 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 10:36 AM:

Diatryma @ 488

I'm not clear what the problem you are having is, but is it just that the zest and the sugar are completely separate? You run into that when making oleo saccharum for punch; the solutions are either to pound the zest and sugar together, or stir them approximately forever, or to use Jeffery Morgenthaler's awesomely helpful vacuum seal method--with grated zest, just sealing it in a bag with sugar overnight, breathing the air out, and waiting overnight works fine for me.

#499 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 10:47 AM:

Andrew @496: I can see how their text may be ambiguous. I was fairly certain (and Wikipedia confirms) that Anne was a redhead, not blonde.

I guess it all depends on if you think the cover model is supposed to be a "plucky redheaded farm girl" or an "alluring blonde co-ed". I think they believe Anne was the former, the model the latter.

#500 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 12:59 PM:

David Harmon @491: me winces at the thought of pine sap in his cheese grater

Oh, I dunno; pine sap might add a nice flavor note.</Euell Gibbons>

#501 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 01:11 PM:

Yes, I'm feeling stupid now. But while 'plucky' and 'alluring' should have given it away, I find 'farm girl' and 'co-ed' confusing; Anne was raised on a farm, but that's not all that 'farm girl' means to me, and she did attend a co-educational college.

#502 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 01:46 PM:

Andrew M. @496: Not really -- the CIA covers the international espionage beat, the FBI covers those operating within the US, and Ghod only knows what NSA is doing in addition to listening/watching our communications.

And then there's Homeland Security.

#503 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Lee Valley, whose catalogue has been frequently described as "tool pr0n" *, has had a microplane grater/zester holder for years (after one of the owners found that the other one kept stealing his woodworking rasp to zest oranges).

Added bonus: the rasp, when not in use, slides into the bottom of the holder, thus minimizing the zested knuckles situations getting it out of the drawer.

* The company famously started as "it's really frustrating trying to find *the right* woodworking tool, and when I do, it falls apart. I'm sure I'm not the only one; so why don't I put together a company that sells the stuff I *do* find?" Add to that the spouse, who had the same issues with gardening and cooking, and you have the Lee Valley Catalogue. You also get "stuff we like" sort of at random, like (although I think this is discontinued now) the best tea we've found for making at Calgary/Denver altitudes (as in you can get "strong, but not bitter" tea without using a pressure cooker); and sundial rings and necklaces, and...

#504 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 02:38 PM:


"Amazon Is Rebooting Sid & Marty Krofft's Sigmund And The Sea Monsters"

#505 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 03:06 PM:

Mycroft W @503: Another of the "collating things that are awesome because they work" projects is Cool Tools. They put out a paper edition in relatively limited print run every year (2014's).

The guy behind it used to work on the Whole Earth Catalog, and the seed of this project was when he was contemplating his then-teenaged spawn getting an apartment/going off to college. "I should make up a milk crate of some really useful tools to send them off with," he thought, and then quickly started exceeding a milk crate's volume, so he downscaled to "A crate of just the essentials and a book with where to find everything else."

It is a book entirely full of photos and discussion of The Right Tools (the RIGHT ones for the job, not just ones that will work. The ones that will save you hours of labor if you're doing something that applies), many of which you might not realize even exist until you come across them there.

#506 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 04:45 PM:

The zest thing was from Teresa's limeade and it just... didn't do anything. No extraction, no changing colors, nothing. From what people have said here, it sounds like there was a bit of zest-magic I simply didn't know.

#507 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 07:11 PM:

Andrew, #502: Not to mention that "co-ed" is seriously dated slang -- mixed-sex university environments used to be unusual enough to be noted, but these days they're the unmarked case, and the women who attend them are generally referred to as "students".

#508 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 08:45 PM:

Lee@507: Unless, of course, you're Rush Limbaugh, bound and determined to sink to new lows when talking about health insurance and birth control.

#509 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 09:19 PM:

Raven, #508: This statement does not invalidate my assertion in the slightest. :-)

#510 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 10:19 PM:

We just saw Jupiter Ascending, and I agree with the comments already posted. Huge, huge fun. I'm am glad for the reviews keeping my expectations low about plot and the like; I expect it helped that I went in with my disbelief already suspended, distracted, and blindfolded.

#511 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 11:26 PM:

(some people's disbelief really enjoys being tied to the ceiling blindfolded and told to take what it's given and like it)

(I'm only into consensual and ethical disbelief-suspension ...)

#512 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2015, 11:55 PM:

Hmm. I seem to have destroyed a tab halfway through posting. @466, The book is Steam Turbine Operation, Woodruff et al, and the idea is to store heat during low-demand times and release it to make more steam at high-demand times, because "turning the boiler off" creates expensive premature wear. The storage might involve kilotons of gravel and some tricky plumbing. But then you expose the gravel to moisture, pressure changes over three orders of magnitude, and temperature changes of hundreds of degrees. I'm pretty sure it's going to turn into ever-smaller bits, fast. Also the idea might fail because of other problems that cannot be solved by simply dumping in more gravel every three months.

#513 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 12:12 AM:

I hope Jupiter Ascending's story is continued in graphic novels or just plain novels. There's no way in hell there will be sequel, given the dismal box office and the pile-on to declare it a fiasco.

#514 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 05:40 AM:

I had a Making Light dream last night.

I dreamt that I invited Idumea Arbacoochee round. There was a knock on the door, but when I opened it, there was nothing outside, and I mean literally nothing. Just blackness. Idumea explained that it was all right, I just couldn't see her, and she came in. There was a very strange but not unpleasant feeling about the room, and I felt as though I were in a strong gale, but nothing in the room was moving.

So I asked her if she would like to sit down, which she did. I sat down on the sofa next to her, and she said it was all right and not to worry. She then gave me a hug (being hugged by an invisible gnome is a really strange experience), and said that if Captain DuPree came in, she could just make her disappear. [Note for those who don't know Girl Genius: Captain DuPree is an extreme sociopath. She's not so much a serial killer as a parallel killer - likes to get the body count as high as possible.]

On waking up, I realised that this was, in fact, a pretty graphic visual presentation of what the gnomes actually do, where Captain DuPree stands for all trolls, spammers and other creatures of darkness.

#515 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 08:02 AM:

Mongoose #514: Aww, and yeah.

(I imagine Captain DuPree wouldn't much like being disemvoweled, either.)

An aside on the description of her as "sociopathic" -- does a murderous bent still count as sociopathy when it's the norm for their society? DuPree isn't valued by her boss because she's a killer, but because she's so good at it, and her boss needs a lot of people killed.

This relates to one of Girl Genius's less original points, and something that's bothered me before: Like many such "adventure tales" (also sword-and-sorcery), it sets up a world where, at least for the main characters, there effectively is no law, and not much in the way of functioning society. This is perhaps realistic for following royal/papal affairs in the Renaissance. (As, IIRC, Ada Palmer put it, "these people are just terrible".). Possibly, it might suit a world that's mostly too dangerous to support civilization -- but it begs the question of who was protecting that village from the orcs before the adventurers came along, and why don't those folks have something to say about adventurers armed and equipped for mayhem, theft, and provoking monster that were safely immured well away from town?

But in sword-and-sorcery, or Girl Genius, this is played as a more general thing: Adventurers, sorcerers, sparks, etc. are free to terrorize farmers, blight the landscape, or turn their lovers into a carrot, not because they're already making the laws (that is, rulers fighting each other), but just because their intrinsic powers place them beyond any human law.

#516 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 08:55 AM:

Boskone Weather Update DuQuesne: - the blizzard is on. 8"-16" for Saturday through Sunday, 100% chance. -5F tonight plus added wind chill. -2F predicted for Sunday night.

I wouldn't expect the trains to be running (in particular the Red Line Braintree branch, which is still down). The roads are clear - now.

#517 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 09:00 AM:

David Harmon @ 515: yes, this bothers me too, and more so since I started getting fairly deeply into the head of the long-suffering Ardsley Wooster. The thing with him is that he's Lawful Good, but he's living in a chaotic world, and moreover he's often forced into a position where he has to go against his own nature, due partly to his job and partly to the machinations of those around him.

I write him with what would be described in modern language as PTSD; he functions, but he spends a lot more time fighting inside his own head in order to do that than anyone around him would guess.

#518 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 09:41 AM:

Third Artist Syndrome (mentioned in OT202) is something I've been using a lot lately. I don't know if that's because it's a useful idea I can apply to everything, or because Fifty Shades of Terrible is in theaters tomorrow. Anyway, I ran down a related quote that I'd seen but couldn't find:
"[T]here are three ‘I’s in every cycle. The ‘innovator,’ that’s the first ‘I.’ After the innovator comes the ‘imitator.’ And after the imitator in the cycle comes the idiot." (Warren Buffett, quoted from memory by someone else, on business. I guess that level of indirection makes me the idiot.)

#519 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 11:56 AM:


Somehow, using the term "coed" to describe a woman at college makes me expect the piece of writing to be a Penthouse Letters style bit of tall-tale porn. ("There I was delivering pizza to the girls' dorm, when two coeds answered the door in nothing but towels....")

#520 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 01:01 PM:

Mongoose #514: Now, I wonder if Idumea dreamt about you.

#521 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 01:51 PM:

Re: Boskone.

Between the weather and how awful transit has been, I'm staying home instead of trying it out. Maybe next year!

#522 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 07:04 PM:

I canceled my train and hotel room yesterday. Given that the forecast here has shifted this afternoon from 1-3" to a Winter Weather advisory and 3-7", I feel like this was the right choice. Instead I'll hunker down with a batch of DVDs that just came into the library and my knitting (or flashlights and my knitting, if it comes to that).

#523 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 07:36 PM:

It may be time to repeat a bit of advice I first read, IIRC, over at poor_skills: Besides the usual cold weather survival and comfort tactics, consider your bathroom. If your water is not heated in the same way as your room, and you lose room heat, fill your tub with scalding hot water just before bedtime and make up sleeping pallets for many people as possible in the bathroom. With the door shut, you should stay warm for some time.

#524 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 08:37 PM:

The only place I've seen the word "coed" at all recently is in crossword puzzles, where it keeps company with Lon Nol, Estes Kevauver, and Melville's Omoo and Typee.

#525 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 09:38 PM:

For anyone at Boskone - you probably know this already, but:

No subway or bus service during Sunday's expected blizzard. That includes the Silver Line to the airport.

The ice zombies are here.

#526 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 09:46 PM:

Gary Owens (Laugh-In, Roger Ramjet, etc) has died. Not, however, in beautiful downtown Burbank.

#527 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2015, 09:52 PM:

When MileHiCon got snowed in some years ago, Susan Crites took to referring to it as DonnerCon.

#528 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2015, 05:20 AM:

Whenever I read or hear "Co-Ed" I instantly hear Chico and Groucho.

#529 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2015, 09:45 AM:

Technically we could still make it to Boskone, but given the current weather report it would probably only be for an hour or two, so I think it's not going to happen this year. We're going to stay home, do more cooking, and think warm thoughts for everyone.

#530 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2015, 10:43 AM:

dotless ı @529, remind me to check the weather forecast very, very carefully before I go to a con in future.

#531 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2015, 05:32 PM:

I am missing all except for a small bite of Boskone. I did a Friday-only badge, because I anticipated dealing with snow on Saturday. But then I had to leave early on Friday too, because my roommate called to say that snow removed from the roof was blocking the air vent. So I skipped the party-hopping in the hotel rooms and one or two late panels. I will just have to make it up by doing something fun and fannish somewhere else.

#532 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2015, 10:25 PM:

Andrew M: There's also the not-inconsequential fact that Anne is a product of her times, that "time" being nebulously late 19th-early 20th century, while that cover model is... not. (You can backdate Anne's DOB through the placement of the Great War in one of the later books, but the author never intended a direct time correspondence and was basing the earlier stuff on both her own girlhood and the time period she was writing in.)

Microplanes are an interesting case of a tool for one skill set making their way into another skill set. They're originally a carpentry tool, manufactured by one principle company. That company discovered that a not insignificant portion of their customer base was buying the tools for use in the kitchen, so they did some minor handle redesign for the different use and entered the culinary market.

#533 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2015, 11:16 PM:

I found this on, following up a lead in the early pages of All Our Yesterdays by Harry Warner, Jr.:

It's about the amateur press associations of the 19th century. I live-tweeted a few times, but then another client came along at the same time as a paper, so I'm keeping my head down again.

Did I post here about some earlier gloss on a word ("fan," I think) that I sent to the OED? Never heard back, and I'd like to rattle their bars again.

#534 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2015, 11:18 PM:

Everybody was doing 'roses are red' verses today.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I ate the plums
You were saving for you.


Red roses bloom bright.
Blue violets shyly look round
While white winter waits.

#535 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 12:31 AM:

The lady who designed the beards and mustaches for The Grand Budapest Hotel is up for an Oscar. A fascinating little piece on NPR:

#536 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 01:36 AM:

I recently reread Anne of Green Gables and the first five sequels in order of publication*. A little ways in, I looked up when it's set, according to the backdating.

What fascinates me is not that it's a contemporary book that has become historical (see also Homecoming and Dicey's Song, Julie of the Wolves, and other good kids' books) but that it was always historical. It seems to be intentionally so, rather than being like a kids' book written today that leaves out cell phones and the internet. But that is based on trust of the author.

I'm glad I reread them, and in some cases read them. Now I don't have to for another ten years or so. Not sure what my knitting reading will be for the second half of the blanket which began as a tree hugger.

*I spent October knitting a tree hugger. My tree was rather big. Is rather big, though the tree hugger itself isn't as large as I wanted. So much reading that month. So much reading so I could knit.

#537 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 02:02 AM:

Diatryma @536 [*][*][*][*]...

So many questions!

What exactly is a tree-hugger that one would knit? I'm picturing those yellow ribbons from the Iran hostage crisis, only knitted, but I suspect that's not quite right.

Does the term "knitting reading" imply that you read while knitting? How do you hold the book? And how do you keep track of where you are in the knitting? Or do you only read when knitting very simple things that don't require counting stitches and use a single stitch that you could do blindfolded in your sleep?

When you say the Anne of Green Gables books are intentionally historical, do you mean that the author set them in a time earlier than the time of writing?

I suspect it's harder to write a kid's book set in the present than one set in the author's childhood, but one set in the present is more likely to engage current kids. I suspect there are a lot of "accidentally historical" books, where the author intends to set the book in the present, but overlooks various aspects of kid's reality today that differ from the author's experiences (such as the prevalence of cell phones, how the internet is used, portable vs. console gaming, how media are consumed, etc.)

#538 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 04:42 AM:

Happy Birthday, abi!
Happy Birthday, abi!
Happy birthday, abi!

#539 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 07:42 AM:

Thank you, Serge.

It started with breakfast in bed, a new soldering iron, Karen Memory, Ms Marvel, Atomic Robo, Strong Female Protagonist, and the promise of shiny tech to come. Later there will be sous-vide steak and chocolate cake.

I'm sure that being 45 won't all be as awesome as today, but it's a nice start.

#540 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 08:08 AM:

Happy birthday, Abi -- I am grateful for your presence in my life.

#541 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 08:59 AM:

Excellent, abi, especially the soldering iron!

#543 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 10:20 AM:

Happy Birthday Abi!

#544 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 11:50 AM:

Thank you, Sumana (and thank you for the kind mentions on your blog). Stefan, David, thanks for the good wishes. This is a great community, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

#545 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 11:52 AM:

Many more, abi!

#546 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Oh dear, a soldering iron. It immediately made me think of this:

#547 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 12:15 PM:

Happy birthday, abi!

#548 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 12:26 PM:

How a sane country handles a deadly threat.

Notice the differences in both the tone and the phrasings used by the Canadian police and media.

(I am one degree of separation from this. I know someone who lives in the area, and who might well have been in the target zone if the perps hadn't been stopped.)

#549 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 12:27 PM:

Internal Server Error. *kick*

#550 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 12:32 PM:

Happy birthday Abi! I hope you feel my gratitude for all you do to keep this a good place and community, and may you have a wonderful year to come.

#551 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Jeremy Leader,

A tree hugger is part of my city's community art project. Every year, the downtown district buys yarn and donates it to knitters and crocheters (no weaving that I've seen and tatting would be way hardcore) to decorate trees. We each pick a tree, singly or in teams, and then there's a day of everyone putting them up. The trees range from about seven inches around (so a narrow scarf) to seventy or so (yeah, that's a blanket). At the end of the winter, we get them back. Many are donated, but I'm planning to keep knitting mine until it's a huge blanket. The yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky (I think-- size 15 needles) and it really wears well. Take it off the tree, throw it in the washer and dryer, and it's fluffy and soft.

Mine is a random-striped blanket in 1*1 rib, so simple enough to do without paying attention. I do a lot of ribbing for that reason. I like ribbing.

I'm also one of the few people I know who can read and knit. I have a laptop, so I get ebooks from the library or Project Gutenberg and put it on a tray table. It's not good for thinky books or anything I expect to be great, so no Courtney MIlan, but it works. I can knit, read, hit the down arrow, knit, read, and just keep going for a few hours. I have friends who do TV or audiobooks, but I don't actually like that many things on the screen-- or I don't know of them-- and I used up most of the Disney I wanted to see last summer when I was marathoning the last of my State Fair embroidery*.

*A poem translated by Sofia Samatar, on pillowcases. The subtext is, "Why yes, such a nice pillow on such a nice bed. You don't get to lay your head upon it. Deal."

I do mean that LM Montgomery seems to have set Anne in a time before her own. I'm not a scholar of children's books or novels through history, but even Rilla of Ingleside was published a couple years after the events it describes.

#552 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Many happy returns Abi!

May your year be filled with happiness.

#553 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 07:18 PM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!

#554 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Happy birthday, Abi!

#555 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 08:48 PM:

Happy birthday, abi! Thank you very much for your moderating and presence (and moderating presence). :)

Diatryma @551, I am quite frankly jealous of that ability. I wonder, actually, if I could do it as well... and it would probably work for spinning too.

#556 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 10:05 PM:

Happy birthday to Abi, and adding to the thanks!

Also, at the tail end of the blizzard (I hope), good travel wishes to everyone departing Boskone. Be careful: there was a 20 car pileup on 128 this afternoon. The roads may be worse than they look. Also, Boston just announced that a bunch of two-way streets will be one-way until April, but it's not completely clear to me which ones. (Yes, that's as confusing as it sounds.)

Our day, as previously mentioned, was spent at home cooking: mushroom barley soup with a bit of short rib. Our bit of fannish activity was watching Lynch's Dune last night, inspired by having just seen Jupiter Rising. Jupiter Rising is much more coherent, but not handicapped by having a good book to compare it to.

#557 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 10:23 PM:

And, of course, in the ohnosecond, I realized that I meant to type Jupiter Ascending. (My wonderful spouse offers to take the blame for constantly saying the title as Jupiter Rising, but I'm the one who typed it.) And, while I'm writing, to the extent that the Wachowskis say that Jupiter Ascending was inspired by the Odyssey, I am not trying to set up that particular comparison of good books; although anyone who wants to start down that road should feel free.

#558 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2015, 11:21 PM:

#557: You and your husband aren't alone. I made the same mistake, several times.

Is it possible that the movie was once titled "Jupiter Rising?" Because I seem to recall an early trailer with that name.

#559 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 03:22 AM:

Thanks, Diatryma, that makes sense.

And belated happy birthday, Abi!

#560 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 08:05 AM:

What a lovely bouquet of birthday wishes! Thank you, PJ Evans, Fragano (that song is almost as old as I am, btw), Tom, Clifton, Moose, Michael, Melissa, estelendur, dotless ı, and Stefan!

I do appreciate the appreciation. It's appreciable, and it seems to appreciate over time. Also, irrelevantly, I like apricots.

#561 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Baker of Spammer-Cakes ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 08:18 AM:

I have now put a mod filter in place that should punt the majority of the spam we've been experiencing into the mod queue.

Unfortunately, I think there is at least one member of this community whose email address the algorithm traps. If that's you, don't panic. I'll be along as quickly as I can to release your comment from durance vile. (Note that this is a busy week for me, alas.)

It's a filter I'm going to keep in place for the minimum amount of time. Apologies for any inconvenience.

#562 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 09:21 AM:

AKICML: I seek a device to aid in repeated, accurate, low-attention counting to a specific number over and over.

For physical therapy I have to do a lot of "20 reps of this, and then again on the other side," and because of brain chemistry if I do not devote significant conscious attention to this task, I become inaccurate. Considering the activities are already eating my brain, I'm running into a "too few spoons to succeed" bind.

I've been counting in ASL to 10 on one hand and then on the other, but now the activities are becoming spoon-eating enough that even remembering what order the ASL numbers come in is distressing, so I'm wondering if I can outsource it to a device, hack, or -- less ideally -- an app.

When I was a kid I had an attendance-counter (small metal doohickey with a ring to go around one finger and a plunger that advanced numerical go-round discs), but I can't find it now many years later. What sort of store would sell me one?

Or what else can I do that would serve the purpose? Ideally it would ping or beep or something when I hit the set number, though I can make myself check it periodically too.

#563 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 09:27 AM:

re 562: I think what you're looking for is a tally counter. Probably every office supply store in your area sells them.

#564 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 09:30 AM:

C. Wingate @563: TALLY COUNTER! Thank you. Much becomes easier if you know a thing's name.

#565 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 09:41 AM:

There are also knitting counters for smartphones, moving poker chips or popsicle sticks from one container to another, if that fits in with what you're doing, and if you want to get too complex, an online metronome set to a good pace and a timer.

Tally counter's probably the way to go. My work got ours at a sports store. Aren't they fun to play with? They're just so tactile and the push is satisfying.

#566 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 10:17 AM:

Portland, Oregon is singing my song! Don't you just love an open appeal to the classics?

#567 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 11:49 AM:

Happy birthday, Abi!

#568 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 12:13 PM:

Well, abi, the singer insists that soldering is what a young girl wants. I think of that song as one the markers of my youth (in the West in the days that are forgotten).

#569 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Thank you, Idumea!

#570 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 12:26 PM:

I know I already recommended this site, but since then Cukiság has reached new heights of adorable with a set of flying dogs. (Google translate wasn't very helpful, but I'm guessing a trampoline is involved.)

The dogs' attitudes range from "which way is the bathroom?" and "the things I do for treats..." to "whee!" and "draw me like one of your French girls poodles". Not to mention the first one, with DREADS! to cower before.... :-)

#571 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 02:48 PM:

HLN: Area woman just dropped one of her two classes after a week of having panic attacks about it. Area woman is irritated because this will cost her tuition money anyway, but trying to focus on "this will not affect her GPA" and "in the grand scheme of things, four months is not a lot" and "this means you can take a just-for-fun class in your last semester since this will tack an extra semester on!"

#572 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 06:38 PM:

Elliott Mason @562: Or what else can I do that would serve the purpose?

Find or construct a song/poem with the appropriate number of syllables?

David: I dunno, the only one that seems to be having fun is the Pom. All the others look to me like variants of "Help...?"

#574 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 07:16 PM:

Diatryma at # 536: Thanks for the thought-inspiring suggestions about kid's books.

For one thing, it makes me feel my age, to realize that contemporary kid lit published after I grew up is now historical. (Although it doesn't make me feel as old as finding out that Laura Ingalls Wilder was still living when I was born.)

I am not familiar with any of the books you mentioned. But I have read a different novel by Cynthia Voight, A Solitary Blue, which Wikipedia classes as part of the same series for reasons not apparent to me. It did not occur to me to think of it as a historical setting, because my mind was busy classifying it in other ways. What with the boy's yearning for a closer connection to his mysteriously withdrawn mother, and trying to overcome her hostile family with their intimations of fading wealth, I thought of it as V. C. Andrews for boys.

#575 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 07:36 PM:

Jacque @572: I think that would eat even more spoons than trying to count verbally.

#576 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 07:50 PM:

Allan Beatty (574): The protagonist in A Solitary Blue is a somewhat major character in Dicey's Song et al. It covers some of the same ground, from a different point of view (as does Come a Stranger, which focuses on a different side character).

#577 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 10:00 PM:

Elliott: Counting spoons then, maybe? <g,d&r>

#578 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2015, 11:27 PM:

#562 ::: Elliott Mason

I don't know if this will be of any use to you, but if I focus on a fingertip, that fingertip is marked in my short term memory, which means I can count ten without using words, and two runs across my fingertips is doable.

#579 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 12:36 AM:

Yes, I've read some of the rest of the series-- Homecoming, Dicey's Song, A Solitary Blue, Sons from Afar (I think that's the title), and Seventeen Against the Dealer, which was awful because it was all Dicey not getting things. And I am Team Dicey all the way. I wouldn't have thought of any of them as VC Andrews for boys, but then, I read only two VC Andrews books.

(I used to get A Solitary Blue mixed up with The Summer of the Swans, which was dull and probably meant something except I read it as an adult and rolled my eyes a lot.)

Hatchet, the entire series, is another one I read for this tree hugger. What strikes me now is similar to what struck me then: where on earth does one find a watch's crystal?

And Julie of the Wolves includes draft-dodging and Alcoholics Anonymous.

#580 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 06:58 AM:

Diatryma #579: where on earth does one find a watch's crystal?

Most likely in a jewelry store. In case you or a later reader haven't figured it out, a "watch crystal" does not refer to the quartz in the timing circuit, but to the transparent covering that protects the watch's face.

#581 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 07:47 AM:


Also known as a "watch glass". I assume they are using it as a magnifying glass/lens to light a fire with? It won't work with all watches since some of them had fairly thick flat glass fitted.

Ideally you want an old pocket watch with a thick convex "crystal" for making fire. (Not to mention a sunny day!)

#582 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 07:59 AM:

Open thready: I just found out about a program to crop the margins off of PDF files to make them fit better on e-readers and the like.

They chose to name this PDF-cropping tool briss.

It also seems designed to break multi-column pages into multiple pages, which is probably what I'd use it more for.

#583 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 08:40 AM:

Ha! The glass on the watch face is what we all thought it was, but then we discovered that watches have crystals in them. Or something. We were in fifth grade or so. Our teacher then had us pack for a weekend and led a writing simulation where we crashed in the woods. Some of us had older siblings who had gone through the same thing, so they brought matches. Others of us had glasses and knew you could start a fire with them (in fiction only-- seriously, we were not aware of lenses beyond rote memorization), so we did that. Except, as our teacher pointed out, the first day was rainy.

The glasses thing was one of the Here Is The Right Answer rote-memory things of survival books.

#584 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 10:24 AM:

Diatryma @ #583

Not wishing to rain on their survival campfire efforts, but the glasses are only useful if they are for the correction of long sightedness, which mostly affects older people. Certainly this moose suffered badly from the opposite (myopia) until cataract surgery supplied distance vision (and cheap reading glasses for close-up work). A magnifying glass would be a much better tool for lighting fires (in sunny weather, and not in the middle of a dense forest) of course.

ObSF: as Scout Pilot Leeming quickly realised, a lens is useless for lighting fires at night. (The pepper-pot worked much better, of course.)

#585 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 10:55 AM:

Diatryma @583

We had a teacher who tried that stunt. When he asked me if I had any ideas I told him I would already be in coma. without my medication.

I'm not sure he believed me.

#586 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 10:59 AM:

Using a lens for fire-starting is fine if you happen to be carrying one anyway, and want a fire on a sunny day.

Normally, however, "wilderness preparedness" implies carrying a tool made for the purpose. In order of descending technology level, I can think of butane lighters, matches, flint&steel, or if you're really stuck, a fire bow.

#587 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 11:17 AM:

Happy birthday, abi!

#588 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 11:23 AM:

I have a high-tech flint and steel that lives in my purse. I have a feeling the teacher would consider that cheating. :)

#589 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 11:44 AM:

Diatryma, #579: where on earth does one find a watch's crystal?

Here and now, from a watch-parts supplier. In any older milieu in which watches exist, from a watchmaker. Or you find an old, broken watch with an intact crystal and disassemble it. Unless you're asking this for some reason unrelated to availability?

And I see David beat me to it @580.

#590 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 12:54 PM:

Carrie S. #588: Indeed, most butane lighters use flint and steel for lighting.

#591 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 01:17 PM:

David Harmon, yes, but mine is not a butane lighter. It's not a literal flint and steel because the sharp bit is metal and the sparky bit is...not, I don't remember what it's made of, but there's no accellerant involved. It's meant for lighting campfires, not candles or cigarettes.

#592 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 01:54 PM:

Cadbury Moose @584, yes, when I read Lord of the Flies and they started a fire with a near-sighted kid's glasses, that threw me right out of the book.

However, it might be possible, IF you have a source of water. Pool as much water as you can on the inside of the lens, and the meniscus MIGHT be high enough to give you a good enough lens for firestarting. I've never tried it; it's in the nature of a thought-experiment... (My lenses are largely for astigmatism, and I have to assume that the distortion that would introduce in the focal point would probably make them inefficient for firestarting even if filled with water.)

#593 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 04:28 PM:

I know about the glasses-for-firestarting thing, now, but it was presented as possible, so we all knew the right answer. I'll have to keep it in mind as my tinyfriends grow up. I never managed a fire with a magnifying glass, only scorched leaves, but I wasn't trying very hard.

#594 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 04:31 PM:

I wondered about that too when I read LOTF.

Beyond the wrong-shaped lenses, I think the diameter of the glasses would be barely sufficient to ignite a fire. I never had any luck as kid starting a fire with a small magnifying glass as a kid. Sure, you could make a burn mark and a little smoke, but that was about it.

#595 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 04:34 PM:

However, when I was 12, I got a 11" Fresnel lens from Edmund Scientific, and that bad boy could definitely set a fire.

#596 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 04:59 PM:

Tinder helps when you're starting a fire, but if you can't even light that you're SOL. There's high-tech tinder too, I've seen small blocks of magnesium (for when you really need that fire...) sold in the camping section of stores.

#597 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 05:04 PM:

Magnesium? Wow. I'd have some qualms about toting that around in a backpack. I've successfully started and kept fires going on snow and in a thunderstorm (admittedly with firewood that had been chopped down the year before and was no longer green) with standard matches-and-dryer-lint*. Magnesium seems like overkill.

*Girl Guides is awesomesauce.

#598 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 05:11 PM:

My understanding is that magnesium isn't dangerous unless it's finely divided (the package directions say to shave it with a knife and use that for "kindling").

#599 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 05:36 PM:

ISTR that traditional tinder (or one variety, at least) was made by boiling "bracket fungus" for a while, then drying it out. Of course, you need a fire and a sunny day to do that, so not helpful in the current case. (And how many Girl Guides carry a washing machine around so they have a supply of dryer lint, anyway? ITWSBT)

#600 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 06:08 PM:

I thought traditional tinder was either scraps of wood [bark etc] in tiny bits, or "punk" - fungus eats wood and leaves dust, sort of. Maybe starting with dry leaves if available.

Small magnifying glasses worked if you started with something that was 1) thin and 2) dark in color, is my recollection. By the way, the difference in light level between a clear and hazy day is invisible to the eye, but can be a 20%-30% difference in light coming directly from the sun vs. light coming from "nearby, but not something that a magnifying glass can focus to a point." Losing a quarter of your power can make starting a fire a LOT harder.

#601 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 06:13 PM:

I had a small magnifying glass when I was a child, and successfully started a few small fires with it on sunny days. It wasn't that I was particularly interested in the fires themselves; I just thought that being able to start a fire with nothing more than the sun's rays was incredibly cool. I'd use just a few bits of bark or dead leaves, and then let it burn itself out, which it would do very quickly.

#602 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 06:19 PM:

Tinder: steel wool.

#603 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 07:39 PM:

Cassy B. @592:

Examining my own glasses, I think the main problem astigmatism would present to the water method is that the cylindrical element means that you just can't get much water on there before it spills off the edge.

#604 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 07:46 PM:

Chris @603, excellent point. I doubt surface tension would be enough to hold enough water in place to form an adequate convex lens.

#605 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 10:28 PM:

David Harmon @598, Em @597: Magnesium is pretty hard to get started in bulk form because it conducts heat really well. From experience when younger, it is possible to saw off a corner of one of the mg fire starters, and use the shavings from the cut tog get the chunk going. A fingernail sized piece would burn most of the way through a picnic table top. It's not really a risk unless there are teenagers around willing to spend the time to separate the chunk and make a big enough pile of shavings to get it going.

#606 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 10:43 PM:

David @598 : You don't get dryer lint from washing machines! But if you did, well, Guides pride themselves on being prepared. I brought the dryer lint from home. In bulk. It was not a long camp. I was still pretty proud of the accomplishment of having a fire going hot enough that whichever half of me was facing it was dry, though. I was sixteen and tasked with having the fire going so that the Brownies could roast hot dogs over it when they got back from their hike*. so I spent a couple of hours pretending to be rotisserie chicken.

eric@605: Teenagers tend to be involved when I go camping. They're usually very responsible (see above, when I was the teenager in question!) and I'm glad to camp with 'em. Even with stable magnesium, I'd still rather go with the dryer lint. Better for the budget, I imagine!
*yes, in a thunderstorm, Canadian eight-year-olds are tough!

#607 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 10:56 PM:

FWIW, "Harbor Freight" sells nice blocks of magnesium with a lanyard. I don't recall if it comes with a knife for paring off slices.

I read somewhere about using drying lint kneaded with vaseline as a firestarter. I have a plastic container full of the stuff in my emergency bag, along with the magnesium block.

#608 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2015, 11:33 PM:

Abi... You too read "Ms Marvel"?

#609 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2015, 01:16 AM:

HLN: Area man in his mail today received a letter from his local blood bank with a membership card for a rare-blood-type donor program. "They tell me I have traits that are found in less than a tenth of a percent of the population," he said. "Gosh." Area man wishes the stupid ear infection he's had for the last month would clear up completely so that he could donate with a clear conscience.

#610 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2015, 07:20 AM:

Found on Twitter: Vladimir Putin going through customs in Budapest.

Customs officer: Name?
Putin: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
CO: Occupation?
Putin: No, just a short visit.

#611 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2015, 01:02 PM:

Elliott Mason@562: The lowest tech, and most mindless counting tracker that I'm aware of is a string of beads. That's the idea behind the Catholic rosary or the Buddhist mala. Put a bead on your string for each rep you need to track. If you like, you can use a different size or texture of bead every five or ten beads to give you an idea of your progress. Start by holding a bead at one end of the string, or on one side of the knot if you've tied it in a loop. With each rep, shift your grip to the next bead. When you reach the other end of the string (or get back to the knot in a loop), switch hands and start over. If you do it right, you can track your reps with one hand, and unlike the tally counter, you don't have to look at the bead string. If the number of reps is always a multiple of ten, then a ten bead loop can work quite well, and one decade rosary bracelets are readily available.

#612 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2015, 12:37 AM:

I enjoyed all 4 days of Boskone, talking with people* and especially the live performance of Midichlorian Rhapsody. Although I barely escaped the frozen Northeast Monday.

* although there were probably very few Bostonians there not on the con committee by Sunday.

#613 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2015, 09:46 AM:

Alas, Oliver Sacks has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In characteristic fashion, he's written about it, beautifully.

#614 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2015, 11:05 AM:

Lila beat me to it.


#615 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2015, 07:40 PM:

So, what happened on Castle last night? I don't watch it, but someone elseNet was waxing rhapsodic about how they brilliantly avoided a Nasty Sexist Trope and I'm curious. ROT-13 is probably a good idea here.

#616 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 07:34 AM:

Diversity without solidarity is dividing to be conquered.

#617 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 03:11 PM:

Lee @615

Nsgre lrnef bs qrprcgvba naq znavchyngvba ol gur onqqvr, Xngr Orpxrgg vf xvqanccrq/cynaarq gb or xvyyrq, va beqre gb pncgher ure uhfonaq Evpx Pnfgyr. Ure 'erfphref' ohefg vagb gur ebbz jurer fur unf orra uryq, gb svaq ure ubyqvat gur oybbql fpnycry gung, juvyr fgenccrq gb na bcrengvat gnoyr, fur hfrq gb xvyy ure vzzrqvngr pncgbe. Rfpncr sebz 'Qnzfry va Qvfgerff' gebcr. Obahf cbvagf sbe gur rneyvre 'Pbzr fnir zr Pnfgyr!' cyrnqvat orvat n pbafgehpgvba sebz inevbhf choyvp nccrnenaprf ol Xngr.

'Grimm' has also been doing well in this area of late (although it took a while to get there).

#618 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 03:12 PM:

Lee @615

Nsgre lrnef bs qrprcgvba naq znavchyngvba ol gur onqqvr, Xngr Orpxrgg vf xvqanccrq/cynaarq gb or xvyyrq, va beqre gb pncgher ure uhfonaq Evpx Pnfgyr. Ure 'erfphref' ohefg vagb gur ebbz jurer fur unf orra uryq, gb svaq ure ubyqvat gur oybbql fpnycry gung, juvyr fgenccrq gb na bcrengvat gnoyr, fur hfrq gb xvyy ure vzzrqvngr pncgbe. Rfpncr sebz 'Qnzfry va Qvfgerff' gebcr. Obahf cbvagf sbe gur rneyvre 'Pbzr fnir zr Pnfgyr!' cyrnqvat orvat n pbafgehpgvba sebz inevbhf choyvp nccrnenaprf ol Xngr.

'Grimm' has also been doing well in this area of late (although it took a while to get there).

#619 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 04:11 PM:

AKICML, copyright division.

I just found a manuscript written by my great-grandfather, who died in the 1890s. I don't think it's going to become a bestseller, but if it were, who would own its copyright? Would it be in copyright at all? After all, the author's been dead for more than 75 years; but it's never been published, so when would the copyright clock start? And he has a quite small number of direct descendents living -- I think it's just my brothers and the first cousin I found out about last year, though there may be others that I don't know about. I suppose I could "edit" it as a collaboration and start a clock around my own name, but that seems like cheating.

(The manuscript is on "Recent Events in Madagascar" and is unsigned, but all the evidence available points to it being by my great-grandfather -- handwriting, the provenance, the presence of the books referred to in the ms in his library which was sold in 1900 at auction, etc. This probably complicates the copyright question even more, however: there's no smoking gun attaching it to his estate directly, only the fact that it was with a bunch of stuff that was his passed on through my grandfather to my father.)

Any thoughts?

#620 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 04:35 PM:

Tom @619:

According to the US Copyright Office, it's unquestionably in the public domain.

Until 1978, common law copyright protections on unpublished, unregistered works was perpetual. Then, it became life+50, with a minimum of 25 years from 1978 (and some bonuses if the work was published by then), so until at least Dec 31, 2002. It would be longer than then, if the work was published by then, or if the life+50 hadn't expired by then -- if the author died after 1933.

You say this work has never been published, and the author died in the 1890's. That means it's been in the public domain since Jan 1, 2003.

#621 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 05:53 PM:

Errolwi, #617: Oh yes, very nice indeed, and one that Bones totally blew a chance to pull off some years back. Thanks!

#622 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 05:54 PM:

Thank you. I'm not surprised, just didn't have a good thought on how to start researching.

#623 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2015, 07:25 PM:

Squid can alter their genetic makeup to adapt to their surroundings. The RNA sample said something about "cthulhu fthagn".

#624 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 12:04 AM:

I just finished Laurie R. King's latest Mary Russell book, Dreaming Spies, and recommend it. It was lovely to step back into her world. I think it's a bit of a throwback to the earlier books—Russell and Holmes adventuring together. There are some truly splendid surprises.

#625 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 12:45 AM:

I just finished it as well, janetl, and had exactly the opposite reaction. I admit that I'm starting to dislike Mary, in large part because I never see any evidence that she likes anyone she interacts with, including her own husband. But what really bugged me about Dreaming Spies was that, as far as I could tell, fur naq Ubyzrf jrer pbzcyrgryl fhcresyhbhf. Abguvat gurl vairfgvtngr frrzf gb fvtavsvpnagyl punatr jung unccraf. Yngr va gur obbx Znel npghnyyl fnlf va fb znal jbeqf gung Unehxv unq ure bja vaqrcraqrag cyna ehaavat gur jubyr gvzr. V qvfyvxr obbxf va juvpu gur checbegrq cebgntbavfg qbrfa'g nssrpg nalguvat.

#626 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 01:57 AM:

Open threadery: I keep reading Teresa's Particle "Yoga Ftagn" as "Yoda Ftagn". This sort of thing:

For them the catacombs of Ptolemais and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries are. Climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles they do, yes, and down black cobwebbed steps they falter. Beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia those are, mmm, far beneath. Haunted wood and desolate mountain their shrines are. Linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands they do, yes. But the true epicure in the terrible esteems these not. He to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness the chief end and justification of existence is? That one esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England. It is there that the dark elements—strength, solitude, grotesqueness, ignorance—combine. Form the perfection of the hideous they do.
#627 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 04:14 AM:

abi @626: *applause*

My best friend I must tell. He a stunning impression of Yoda does, mmm. And Lovecraft he likes.

#628 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 08:24 AM:

Abi 626: Wow, and yikes! That got me googling¹, and unsurprisingly I found a bunch of stuff analyzing Yodish. A handful:
* Unknown author posted by YodaJeff.
* Language Log weighs in.
* Article by "Grammargirl", citing both of the above.

¹ Did you know there's also a language called Toda, with about a thousand speakers in southern India? "T" for typo :)

#629 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 09:41 AM:

Mycroft W @ 503: Thank you for the pointer to Lee Valley Tools. I glanced though it at the time, and didn't see anything I needed. Several days later, I was standing on the rug by the front door, having just finished lacing up my salt-encrusted boots, and realized I'd left something on the kitchen counter, across the expanse of clean hardwood floor. And I was running late for the bus. I just ordered the felt booties that you can slip over your messy boots for a quick run into the house.

#630 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 09:51 AM:

Carrie S. @ 625:
Lbhe cbvag nobhg gurz abg nppbzcyvfuvat zhpu crefbanyyl vf nofbyhgryl pbeerpg, ohg gung qvqa'g obgure zr. V ybirq vg jura avawnf fubjrq hc! Lbh'er dhvgr evtug gung Znel vf abg bar gb yvxr znal crbcyr, ohg V qb guvax fur irel zhpu yvxrf n fryrpg srj. Sbe rknzcyr, fur dhvgr yvxrq gur fpvragvfgf naq grnpuref gung gurl vaivgrq gb funer gurve gnoyr ba gur fuvc. V qba'g trg n frafr gung fur qbrfa'g yvxr Ubyzrf. Boivbhfyl, zvyrntr inevrf. V ernyyl rawblrq gur cvengrf obbx, naq n ybg bs Xvat'f snaf ungrq gung bar.

#631 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 12:14 PM:

Abi @ #626

Superb! Jedi masters and nameless horrors FTW.

#632 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 03:15 PM:

Stefan @ 535: meanwhile, the BBC reports that the beard designer's colleague was given three days off from the madness of getting the next Bond ready to start shooting, as she has two shots at the production-design Oscar (the other was for Into the Woods).

dotless @ 556: the streets are close ~south of the Boskone hotel(*), in an area where it seems there are too many two-way streets where two cars meeting have trouble when the streets are clear. My area has similar issues, AFAICT on a smaller scale but complicated by hills interrupting the streets. (The area was platted in 1925 -- when personal cars probably weren't common with that size lot -- but built in 1940, so most of the houses have driveways.)

(*) When the next-door BCEC was being planned, Southie ("South Boston", although it's east of most of the current city) was not happy with having such a large and trafficked neighbor so close. There were promises that it wouldn't be used for gate shows; those promises were broken, and we're all wondering what will happen when the area gets built up so parking for the auto show becomes scarce.

Elliott M @ 562: I count on my fingers in binary, which I learned to do at age 14; it doesn't require a separate device, but I don't know how long it would take to become automatic. I don't know ASL, so I can't guess which is more systematic.

John A A @ 566: "The law in its majesty...."

Allan B @ 574: I was similarly croggled when appearing in Arms and the Man in high school to find how much later Shaw had lived -- because Raina's mother mentioned being blown off when she asked for an autograph. Europe that long before World War I seemed so distant, even from 1971.
      The mention of Laura Ingalls Wilder reminds me that I just found out that an acquaintance (who shed that name (given by book-loving parents) for something less bulky) is related to Richard Shaver. Now there's a blast from the past....

#633 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Well, as of last year—150 years later—there were still children of Civil War veterans around. I mean, I'm unusual in my age bracket for having parents born before a polio vaccine*, so that's pretty amazing.

*It really bothers me when someone in my age bracket starts on the anti-vaxx train. I got to hear stories about my dad's toddler sister dying from measles (that "harmless childhood disease") or my parents coming back from summer break to notice classmates gone for good because they'd died. No sense of history (or science) to these folk.

Note that these are usually the folk pushing "natural health" and "you can cure cancer with [insert remedy here]." (That's a whole additional kettle of slow burn for me. Cancer treatment is not your philosophical football.)

#634 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 05:21 PM:

There comes a point in every college instructor's life when one wonders if the game is worth the candle. I suspect I have reached that point.

Here is the reason for that statement:

America says that they are separated from the church, but yet and still do people get incarcerated because they broke one of the Ten Commandments that pertain to American law. To clarify, is someone steals they will be arrested, and one of the commandments says do not steal. Although it is not specifically stated that they are being reprimanded for breaking one of the Ten commandments, but for breaking the law of the land. Inevitably it correlates, but they are entitled differently. An American cannot kill an American, but the American Government can kill Americans. The regime of this country is said to be illegitimate with flaws that can be fixed. Once America takes the stance to initiate reforms to abolish capital punishment, many will be relieved.

The same bright spark also wrote Because of some legislation’s that are currently active, many issues have been created, and confusion has been amongst the American people.

I wonder what led to that conclusion?

#635 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 07:34 PM:

#634 ::: Fragano Ledgister

I'm wondering how this person graduated from high school.

#636 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2015, 11:14 PM:

B. Durbin, #633: As long as they're talking about treating their own cancer with [quack treatment X], I'm okay with it. Their body, their decisions; I may not like it, but it's not my choice. But they are by ghod going to grant me the same courtesy to decide how I'm going to treat MY body, or they'll be getting an earful. And when it's their child... there are no words.

#637 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2015, 12:39 AM:

Major league science-nerd geeking out today:

I met the couples behind big model rocket companies of the 60s and 70s.

Really nice people.

#638 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2015, 01:22 AM:

Rooster very evil is. Very silly that was.

#639 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2015, 12:55 PM:

Lee @636: And when it's their child... there are no words.

Unless, of course, everything else (including standard, and experimental) has failed. At which point... well, I can tell just from my experience with my guinea pigs—it's a lower ganglion reflex: Do Something!

HLN, meanwhile: this reporter strongly suspects certain area residents of suffering from Snowpocalypse-envy. Starting Friday, local HOA began sending out Dire Warnings of Catastrophic Snow. Here we are, now, in the depths of this winter storm, with an accumulation of (reporter squints out the window) four inches? "Je suis not impressed," one resident is quoted as saying.

#640 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2015, 03:30 PM:

abi@626: Non-Euclidean grammar?

(If that's not too hyperbolic.)

#641 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2015, 06:51 PM:

Jacque, #639: In the context of the conversation, my comment was intended to carry the connotation of "as a first choice", not "after everything else has failed". My apologies for having been insufficiently explicit.

#642 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2015, 07:13 PM:

Speaking of parents not vaccinating their children (and not protecting the herd), the Followers of Christ church in Oregon now gets a lot of scrutiny from the authorities. It took awhile, but it was finally noticed just how many small graves there were in the church graveyard. Despite the separation of church and state, there is a line drawn about letting your children die to respect your belief in faith healing.

#644 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 08:48 AM:

Also from Consumerist: Family Claims Pizza Place Served Them A Literal Pot Pie.

From the account of events, I would say that their mushrooms had a toxic species mixed in with the usual button mushrooms, perhaps contaminating a bowlful during prep. Probably not psilocybin, because the reports would be more distinctive.

#645 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 09:15 AM:

David Harmon @643: now that I have to try. I actually think I may have some pomegranate molasses in the house somewhere. (It keeps.)

#646 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 10:31 AM:

That would be unusual - I would expect pizza places to use commercially-grown mushrooms. (I also expect mushroom growers to be very careful about their sources.)

#647 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 11:00 AM:

Canada's response to "American Sniper"? "Canadian Sniper", of course.
Warning: scenes of maple-syrup chugging are not for the faint of heart.

#648 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 01:02 PM:

P J Evans #646: That would be unusual - I would expect pizza places to use commercially-grown mushrooms. (I also expect mushroom growers to be very careful about their sources.)

And it is indeed unusual, but occasionally freak accidents happen. And note that this was a "local pizzeria" in LA. They might have been sourcing from a local supplier who slipped up... or they might well have offered "wild mushrooms" as a topping, which would drastically raise the odds of such incidents, no matter where they got them from.

#649 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 01:02 PM:

I am well-pleased to note that for all its many nominations, the only Oscar won by "American Sniper" was for Sound Editing. It's in the same class with "Zero Dark Thirty" -- ugly, lying propaganda that should never even have been nominated.

#650 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 01:32 PM:

I've only eaten wild mushrooms (that is, unidentified wild mushrooms) once. We waited a day or so to see if the guy who gave them to us reacted to the ones he ate. (They were delicious.)

#651 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 02:19 PM:

Yesterday it was 40°F on Long Island. This morning it was 20° and dropping. Tonight it's supposed to go down to 1°.

<plaintive> Can it be spring now? </plaintive>

#652 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 06:19 PM:

PJ Evans@650 - That was entirely the wrong way to do that. There are three things that can happen with different kinds of Bad Mushrooms
- Simple toxicity - the same day, usually non-fatal, just vomiting.
- Hallucinations, probably not the fun kind (which is not all bad, because most of the hallucinogenic ones aren't the third kind.)
- Liver and/or Kidney Toxicity, which you may not really notice for a day or two before it's too late, and by the end of the week you'll probably have had a liver transplant or be dead.

Waiting a day did tell you it wasn't one of the first two cases. The people who end up in the newspaper are usually immigrants who go mushroom hunting and see something that looks just like the really tasty ones they'd pick back in the old country, only they're one of the poisonous North American versions. You didn't wait long enough to know if your friend was the third case.

#653 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 06:33 PM:

They were big brown meadow-type mushrooms, and we waited *at least* one day. (This was back in the 70s. Mac did know what he was doing, but sometimes we weren't sure.)

#654 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 06:34 PM:

Fascinating London billboard project:


#655 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 07:00 PM:

Rob, #654: One of those billboards made me flinch. Can you guess which?

#656 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 07:42 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 651

Spring is _here_, it's just not evenly distributed.

#657 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 07:51 PM:

Lee #655: I know I winced at the one who said "London is miserable unless you're rich"... so they're moving to the effing United States!

#658 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2015, 08:31 PM:

While wandering around Citylab: The Crackdown on Little Free Libraries. Seems some local governments are taking offense to people sharing books with each other... but they aren't getting it all their own way.

#659 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 12:40 AM:

For those who might be interested, I have committed fanfic for The Goblin Emperor. It's short, just a little over 1,000 words.

David H., #657: You nailed it. He has no idea how much more money he'll need here to have the same quality of life that he gets there.

#660 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 07:28 AM:

The "emails of dread" link in the sidebar -- AMAZING. I could feel my blood pressure or perhaps my cortisol level rising for several of those subject lines.

#661 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 08:56 AM:

Lee @659, Very nice. You're quite right; he didn't have the age, maturity, or life experience to deal with that without help.

#662 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 11:45 AM:

Open thready request:

Not to go into tedious detail, but I'm having a really rough time right now, and my usual support network is unavailable for various reasons. Any spare encouragement you have lying around would be welcome. I'm willing to be prayed for, spellcast at, patted on the head in effigy, sent links to cute animal pictures, whatever.


#663 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 11:57 AM:

Sending good thoughts, Lila.

#664 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Lila @662, for what it's worth:

Live puppy cam

Hope it helps.

#665 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 12:26 PM:

Good thoughts sent your way, Lila.

#666 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 12:52 PM:

Lila: I've emailed you with an offer to mail you something that I know you're a fan of if you want it. I hope it helps.

#667 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 01:13 PM:

Lila, good thoughts headed your way and prayers offered on your behalf.

#668 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 01:55 PM:

Shit, Lila, I'm sorry. I should've tried harder to look you up when I was in town. You've got my email address. I don't have super strong ties to folks in Athens, but I have them, and you'd like me to activate them on your behalf, I'll try my best. You're in my thoughts.

#671 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 03:05 PM:

Lila @662:

All the sympathy, and a whole pile of prayers too. I'm sorry you're having a tough time.

#672 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 03:09 PM:

Good thoughts, Lila.

#673 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 03:26 PM:

Thanks, all. I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow, so if I can get through my CPR recertification first thing in the morning (CPR tends to be triggery for me for personal history reasons) I should get a second wind. I'll keep y'all posted.

#674 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 03:34 PM:

John @669/670:

I am shocked that my city (Ithaca, NY) is not represented on that bigotry map.

#675 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 03:49 PM:

All the best, Lila.

#676 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 03:55 PM:

I just recited the Kanzeon sutra for you 7 times, invoking Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva for you in her persona as Kanzeon, Goddess of Mercy.

I hope whatever you're going through turns around quickly. It seems like a lot of people I know are having a difficult time lately (and though I hate to admit it, I'm doing so-so at best myself.) My good wishes go out to all who are struggling right now.

#677 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 04:20 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 674: Knowing Ithaca's reputation, I'm quite sure you belong on the AFA Wall of Honor. Apply now!

#678 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 05:11 PM:

Sending what encouragement I can to Lila.

#679 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 05:25 PM:

Good thoughts and prayers coming your way, Lila.

I know we've been told several times, but it never sank into my head. How do I switch email addresses and still have my VAB pull up all my comments? My old address quit sending quite a while ago, and I finally gave up on using it last spring. More recently it neither sends nor receives. I'm still typing it in here to tie my comments together, but would like to go with the one that actually works. What do I need to do?

#680 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Anne Sheller (679): When you change email addresses, you wind up with two VAB's. To link them together, make two posts:

For the first one put your new address in the email box, and a link to your old VAB in the body of the comment.

For the second one put your old address in the email box, and a link to your new VAB in the body of the comment.

#681 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 06:35 PM:

For Lila, would you accept "Old video, still funny" ?

#682 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 07:07 PM:

For Lila and whoever else might need it, here's a baby coatimundi heartily enjoying some scritching.

#683 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 07:21 PM:

Clifton, Anne, Sarah, Sandy, Mongoose and Allan, thank you.

#684 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 08:48 PM:

I followed Teresa's particle Amaro gold-plated tiara and I thought it was a lovely thing, and was gobbsmacked that there is a market for tiaras, and wondered who was buying them, and what events they were wearing them to. And then I saw her mouse-over I don't know who it's meant for, or where they'd wear it, but it sure is something. It is, indeed. It's from the "Happy Collection", and that is one happy tiara.

#685 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 08:58 PM:

janetl @684: We could take up a collection to buy it for the Campbell Award winner.

#686 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 09:13 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 685: That makes me smile, but I suspect the whimsy of that award would be too weighted down by actual semiprecious stones and gold plating.

#687 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 09:59 PM:

The award is actually pretty serious -- the tiara is a whimsical way to treat it a bit less seriously. Some Campbell Award winners have gone on to great heights -- others, not so much.

#688 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 10:25 PM:

It has an interlaced six-pointed star on it.

I think it's kind of pretty, though some of the stones are a trifle massive for my tastes.

#690 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 11:12 PM:

Regarding Patricks latest sidebar on Chicago's "black site"... and now we see why Obama was never going to clean up our overseas torture operation. Argh.

#691 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2015, 11:54 PM:

I wonder if he knew about it - they apparently were doing a good job of hiding it from the public.

#692 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 12:03 AM:

Has anyone looked at the Sasquan Site Selection Page? Because I think it's built badly. It's structured so that I had to read it more than once to realise any of the out of country bids were actually bidding.

They've chosen list the bids by order of acceptance, which is fine, but they also broke them out by year, with some strangely arbitrary language (i.e. they included a day of the month for both categories, with an odd specificity: since the only requirement is 180 days prior to the first day of Sasquan).

Not only does it look bad (as if there was some flaw in the non-US bids), but it's confusing, (sort of like the infamous "Butterfly Ballot" in Palm Beach).

#693 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 12:15 AM:

On a lighter note I'm still up because I need to be awake to rotate the stack order of the tuna jerky in the dehydrator.

Which is one of those things which I have to do because the modern world has overtaken the past. Back the old days I could just set the oven to 140, crack the door and leave jerkies to dry overnight.

I could make yogurt by placing the innoculated milk in a closed oven.

But modern thermostats all seem to bottom out at 170F, and there is no longer a pilot light (which I understand,and [mostly] agree with) to keep the internal temp of the oven a convenient temperature.

So have to have two gadgets for what used to be a standard functionality of a present piece of equipment.

#694 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 12:16 AM:

Terry -- I'm passing that comment on to Sasquan's webmaster and the Site Selection folks. We appreciate people bringing up that sort of issue, and we've been able to make things look better fairly quickly. I'll let you know what happens on that here.

#695 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 12:29 AM:

Re: "Jupiter Ascending"

If you liked "The Fifth Element", you'll like "Jupiter Ascending": Visually spectacular, silly plot, bags of fun.

Me, I loved it.

#696 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 01:07 AM:

If you can get a heat-resistant light socket and cord, light bulbs can replace pilot lights.

#697 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 04:52 AM:

I have used the oven light + closed door to make a warm but not hot place. Not sure exactly what temperature it gets to in the long term, but when I checked it was well above 30C, maybe above 35C. I didn't want it *that* warm so I turned the oven light off at that point.

#698 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 07:08 AM:

P J Evans #691: From the public, maybe¹, but he was a state and national senator from the city. (For some reason I'd thought he'd been mayor, but apparently not.)

¹ Funny thing, it's kind of hard to hide that sort of abuse from the populace you're abusing. As in, "I don't care how many of officials claim the special squads don't exist, everyone on my block knows people they've taken away."

#699 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 08:10 AM:

HLN: Chicago is now set for its first mayoral runoff race in history.

If you're not from Chicago you may not realize what a jaw-dropping piece of WTFery this statement is.

In Chicago, Mayor and Alderman are nonpartisan positions, supposedly. This means nobody ever states a party or runs 'as' a party candidate, though of course everyone's views are generally known. There is no primary: all candidates who can get the petition signatures to run, run all at once in a single election in February/March (we had our yesterday).

If one candidate gets more than 50%-plus-one-vote, they win: that's easy.

However, if they don't, the top two candidates go on to a runoff in April. Usually there's a few aldermanic races this applies to, and only their wards (sub-city legislative districts) even have an election.

However, yesterday, the sitting mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, only got ~45% of the vote -- I went to bed and quit watching returns with about 1000 precincts yet to report, but the result appeared to be representative.

This means he's going to go to runoff with the second-placer, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a community organizer from the Hispanic and economically-disadvantaged side of Chicago. Rahm is widely viewed to be governing for the 1%, for downtown and screw the neighborhoods.

This election is as mind-blowing as the time Tom Bilandic, the anointed successor of jefe-for-life Dick Daley, lost his first election (he was appointed to finish Daley's term after a death in office) to insurgent Jane Byrne, whose main advantages were (a) realizing non-downtown areas existed and (b) campaigning heavily among non-white Chicagoans and poor whites.

But even Byrne won outright: no runoff.

We've never HAD a runoff for mayor, not once.

It's sort of offputting. You mean we ALL have to go back in April? Not just five wards?

And, in re the wards, about a third of them (we have 50), are going to go to runoff. This is also a surprisingly high number, as incumbents historically have a strong advantage unless there's a specific individual opponent who's running strongly against them.

I would suggest that it has something to do with how messed up our last ward-map redistricting was -- an awful lot of wards were moved across the city, redrawn to not include the house of the sitting alderman, or gerrymandered to a fare-thee-well. Neighborhoods used to acting in political solidarity are now split among five separate wards, with complexly wiggly boundaries among them mid-block. There are wards shaped like a dead earthworm thrown on the pavement. Side-by-side comparison of the 1960 and 2015 maps makes clear how out of line it's gotten.

I hope to hell one of the first things this new crop of councillors does is pass new redistricting rules strongly privilieging compact, governable districts, because this map is insane. And the sitting aldermen started trying to govern their NEW wards from the day it passed; in theory it took effect yesterday with the election, but in practice it's been a nightmare of emailing two DIFFERENT aldermen anytime something needed to be done and hoping at least one of them would pay attention.

#700 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 08:57 AM:

David Harmon @690, I seriously doubt Obama knew about it. I know the recent reports shocked Chicagoans.

#701 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 10:26 AM:

Cassy B. @ 700: I disagree. I'm certain Obama was in a position to know about it. The question is whether he wants to admit he learned about it from the NSA.

#702 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 11:24 AM:

My mother (and I) used a magnetic hook to keep the door open a little. We were doing this for yeasted foods (bread and waffles), where 30C was about as warm as we wanted.

#703 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 12:42 PM:

Lila: I have always been fond of the Quaker term "holding you in the Light". As Kathe once said, that way God can see you better.

#704 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 01:16 PM:

C. Wingate @689: When I first saw the Navy tiara, I thought it must be one of the elements that are assembled to form an officer's cap. Nope, it's a real thing in the real world.
I definitely did not see any such thing when I was in the Navy, but then I don't recall seeing any officer in any form of mess dress. Nor would I have expected to, being the lowliest of enlisted peasants.

#705 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 01:52 PM:

Lila @ 662: prayers coming up.

#706 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 05:02 PM:

"I seriously doubt Obama knew about it. I know the recent reports shocked Chicagoans."

Although from a distance, it looks like the local Chicago press may be largely ignoring it. As I write this, I can't find anything on the story on the Chicago Sun-Times website front page, and in their story that comes up in a Google search, they don't do anything besides mention the Guardian story, pull some quotes from it, talk to the police, duly quote the police's denial, and leave it at that. They don't seem to have made an effort to check it out further themselves. What I can find at the Tribune website isn't much different.

I'm not in Chicago, though. Is other local media coverage of the story getting more play, and I'm not seeing it? Do the local papers have particular reason to either doubt or downplay the Guardian story? It's very puzzling to me how little attention seems to be getting paid to the story in the mainstream local media I've seen.

#707 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 05:06 PM:

Mainstream local media in CHicago have almost no budget for original reporting. The Sun-Times currently employs only 68 reporters, and I use that term incredibly loosely, because it includes a lot of piecework folks and every single one of those workers is expected to do the work that would in the past have been shared by several departments: they have to find their own news, do all their own research, set up interviews, glean quotes, fact-check, take their own photos, EDIT their own photos, write and copyedit the story themselves.

Oh, and please to be turn in at least fifteen pieces a week -- all great! -- or you could be canned.

Yeah. There's a reason all the investigative stuff is now coming out of Pro Publica or the Grauniad.

#708 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 05:12 PM:

Microcomputer maker Lenovo has just screwed up bigtime. Lenovo preinstalls man-in-the-middle adware that hijacks HTTPS traffic on new PCs. (You think that headline sounds bad? It's worse. Read the article.) After, apparently, much flailing, Lenovo admits to Superfish screw-up, will release clean-up tool.

This caught my eye because I myself recently bought a new Lenovo system. Fortunately, The first thing I did with is was to install Ubuntu, but I do still have a Windows partition (which really needs updating, as I almost never use it, sigh).

#709 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 05:40 PM:

The correct link for that Lenovo article is Lenovo preinstalls man-in-the-middle adware that hijacks HTTPS traffic on new PCs. I think you forgot the " in your html on the first link, David Harmon.

#710 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Whoa! Secret subway stop:

I always figured there were places like that. Frex: I know someone who saw a special flatbed subway car that prowled about at night collecting sacks of tokens from the stations; I imagine there was a special platform where they were collected.

#711 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 08:27 PM:

When I posted the news about the Chicago black site elsewhere, a friend (once from Chicago) asked me if this was for real. My reply:

First, the snark: It's just a centralized version of the back rooms of Chicago's police stations.

Second, the serious: The Guardian is a serious, reputable newspaper.*

Third, the cynical: The Chicago Police Department has officially denied it, which brings Claud Cockburn to the microphone: "Never believe anything until it has been officially denied." Not as strong as Pilger's Law (which I have just met)--'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'--but strong enough.

*Funding for an American edition was dropped in favor of (I believe this is correct) the Air America radio network, which was and is a fucking shame.

And remember, this is a slimmed-down version the same press that exposed all the lies in the case against Iraq and kept us out of a self-destructive war. I'm sure they're doing the same bang-up job on this.

#712 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 09:01 PM:

A special site for the third degree? Where the filth could get as filthy as they liked without any, ahem, legal technicalities to restrain them? Isn't that, well, un-American?

#713 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Today I learned that our telecommunications system is horribly designed. A failure at a single point cut off landline, cell phone, and internet service to half the state of Arizona for several hours.

#714 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 12:00 AM:

Apparently that failure was a deliberate act of vandalism or sabotage.

#715 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 12:29 AM:

Steve C., #714:
1) Isn't that an illustration of the problem with putting all your eggs in one basket? Landline, cellphone, and internet ALL running thru the same cable?!

2) How long before some politician or pundit blames Obama?

#716 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 04:51 AM:

Open threadiness: yesterday I went to a talk on airships, because if you write steampunk and someone's giving a free talk on airships in your area, you go.

It was a pretty good talk, although there was less technical detail on how they were flown than I'd have liked. Naturally, there was quite a lot about the Hindenburg disaster, including the words of the reporter who was there on the scene. The reporter, obviously, was horrified; he thought he'd just come along to report the landing, and the disaster unfolded right in front of him.

And one of the things he said was "Oh, the humanity!"

That brought me up short. I didn't run across this phrase until maybe a couple of years ago, and I've never been entirely sure what it means, except that it always seems to be used sarcastically (and therefore I've never used it myself). I thought it was a recent coinage. I didn't expect to hear it being used in the late 1930s as part of a deeply emotional reaction to a horrible tragedy.

Does anyone here happen to know whether the Hindenburg disaster is the first recorded use of the phrase, or have any insights as to why it has suddenly become popular nearly eighty years later?

#717 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 07:19 AM:

Mongoose #716: "Oh, the humanity!" That brought me up short. I didn't run across this phrase until maybe a couple of years ago, and I've never been entirely sure what it means, except that it always seems to be used sarcastically

It gets used sarcastically now, largely because its original reference is nearly out of living memory. Per Wikipedia, the last survivor from the crew, the then-14-year-old cabin boy, died last year at 92. Anyone who could possibly have heard and understood the original incident, is now into or past their ninth decade. Anyone a little younger heard it from their parents or suchlike, and so on, and associates it with the past.

More, those who did experience it as a contemporary disaster probably didn't use the phrase in earnest, precisely because of that association. The phrase isn't the name of anything, or a verb, or even a slogan, so there wouldn't be occasion to use it for something mundane. And if the original "witness" generation found themselves facing a different disaster, they wouldn't copy someone else's expression of shock and horror, they'd be using their own words.

Then, too... in the decade afterward and since, we've gained a grim perspective on mass death and disaster. The Hindenberg was an extremely visible disaster, both locally and (for its time) via the media. But in fact, less than a hundred people were on the ship and less than forty died. And this was 1937, with the far greater horrors of World War II just around the corner.

#718 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 09:01 AM:

Mongoose @716, I know that phrase from old newsreel footage. I agree with David Harmon; it only ever referred to the Hindenburg disaster, until it got co-opted sarcastically for when someone complains about some trivial problem; it was (I think) originally used to put the problem in perspective. You didn't get the last donut? Oh, the humanity....

I do much the same thing with a bad Sarah Barnhardt impression; the back of the hand to the forehead, and an exaggerated "Quelle dommage!"

It didn't occur to me (being, as I am, an old fogey) that younger generations might not know the origin of the phrase "oh, the humanity" until you posted this.

#719 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 09:37 AM:

David Harmon @717 and Cassy B. @ 718: thank you!

I am, in fact, not so young, but I am British, and I've only ever seen the expression used on the Internet. I've never heard it in conversation over here, and therefore I assumed that, like most use of language on the Internet that I initially find puzzling, it must be American.

#720 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 09:40 AM:

It sometimes gets used in cartoons and internet memes, hyperbolically, which would be where any younger folks who know it are most likely to have run across it.

Sometimes it's an explicit Hindenburg pastiche (like the Huge Manatee: ), sometimes not.

#721 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 09:53 AM:

All Knowledge dept: Someone on the Book of Visage just put a Kaylee quote up, attributed to "Kaywinnit Lee Frye". I had not realized "Lee" was her middle name.

Is there a word for that southern-style combo name? Like Peggy Sue or Bob Lee?

#722 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 10:22 AM:

Cassy @718:

The line was also used by Les Nesman of WKRP during the very famous Thanksgiving Turkey promotion. That may be one point when the use of the phrase went from being a pure reminder of the Hindenburg disaster to a joke.

#723 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 10:43 AM:

"Oh the humanity" charted over time, in books. Spot-checking the search results, most of the early hits are, as expected, quotes of Herbert Morrison describing the Hindenburg. Starting in the mid-1990s (near the start of final climb in the curve) I start finding examples of what look like the current ironic usage.

The WKRP episode was in 1978, which pushes it back a bit. I'm sure it's an inspiration, but it feels different to me: the phrase is being used for comedy, but the character saying it means it entirely seriously.

#724 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 10:53 AM:

Fragano@712: I have a friend who used to watch those follow-the-police-with-a-cameraman shows. Every time I'd go over to his place, he'd have it up on the TV, and every time they'd be committing some act of police brutality or other. Knocking suspects around to get "consent" for searches, tasing people who'd retreated into closets or other spaces with only one exit, stuff like that. I'd point it out, and he'd say "That kind of thing NEVER happens unless you show up!" One day I came by and the show had a bunch of police following a guy who was walking away from them. They randomly struck him with batons, tried to run him over with a police cruiser, and finally shot him. The last minute or two of the segment was cops soberly claiming that Officer Gunsemdown had done the Right Thing. Haven't seen him watching any of that stuff since.

I think it's all because of "The Andy Griffith Show." Oh, sure, there's all that documentation showing that cops beat the crap out of anyone who doesn't lick boot, but look at that Barney Fife! Isn't he funny and harmless?

#725 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 11:03 AM:

dotless ı @723: my goodness! I didn't previously know about the Ngram Viewer. It's fascinating. Thank you!

#726 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 11:23 AM:

Happy Birthday to the Man in Black!

"I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

"Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black."

Johnny Cash--live like him!

San Quentin State Prison
24 February, 1969

#727 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 11:41 AM:

dotless ı @723:The Simpsons did direct Hindenburg references with it twice: in Lisa the Beauty Queen (aired 1992) a Duff Beer blimp crashes and burns, and the newscaster character does the full on impression, then straightens with "Well, anyway" and carries on as if nothing happened. Later, Bart does a flipbook for school about the Hindenburg. And then the show did two more abstract jokes with it (including "Oh, the Zumanity!" involving the Cirque du Soleil Vegas show).

So I'm betting the 1990 crest is from Simpsons contagion, and that the Simpsons writers are as likely as not to have gotten it from WKRP and other early-80s references.

#728 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 12:32 PM:

I'd always thought that part of the power of the phrase "Oh the humanity!" in its original appearance was that it was actually pure emotion, not sense. He was groping for a word, found humanity and stuck on it; and the emotional content of not having anything like a reasonable word resonated very clearly with the audience. It wasn't a standard phrase, but it was effective.

#730 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Carrie S. #729: Yee-haw!

#731 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 03:56 PM:

Sometime in the Seventies or the Eighties in the USA, I think, there was a brief Hindenburg clip, with accompanying radio narration by distraught WLS announcer Herbert Morrison, that was part of a frequently-played commercial. Maybe it was peddling an LP record of historic news events, or something like that.

Anyway, I think repetition planted Mr. Morrison's incongruous use of "humanity" in the minds of millions of TV viewers alive at the time.

Only with an audience familiar with the quote would it make sense to start joking about it.

By the way, I've always presumed Morrison was reaching for another word when, in the stress of the moment, he uttered "humanity." What word might that have been? Tragedy? Agony? Horror?

There's a theory that he was really saying "all the humanity!" and another that points out that he referred to a crowd as a "mass of humanity" earlier in the broadcast, so maybe "humanity" was just a favorite word.

The TV Tropes article on Oh The Humanity (WARNING: contains link to TV Tropes) chronicles many recent appearances of the phrase in popular entertainment.

#732 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 04:28 PM:

Bill Higgins @731, I've always figured he was trying to say something along the lines of, "oh, such a terrible number of human beings are dying in front of my eyes" but he was so overwrought (entirely understandably!) that all he could choke out was "oh, the humanity!"

The emotions in that radio clip are very, very raw and very hard to listen to. He spoke truth. (I heard once, but do not know if it was true, that he was later reprimanded for unprofessional conduct.)

#733 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 04:38 PM:

While I can't outdo Abi's tweet about the Great Llama Escape, I do have some experience with capturing them.

One friend had pet llamas, and a bunch of us were over at his place for a party and it was time to herd them into the barn. He said that the way to do it was for everybody to hold hands and then gradually surround the llama, who won't crash through a line of people like that. She had, umm, other opinions about the tactic. I was at the end of the line, holding on to the fence. Llamas have no qualms about running you over :-) I was rapidly on the ground watching llama feet flying overhead, and it was probably 5-10 more minutes before she was successfully herded.

#734 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2015, 04:40 PM:

There was 1975's disaster movie "The Hindenburg", in which we could hear the famous 'the humanity'.

#735 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 10:23 AM:

Sinfest nails it again: When I say "misogyny"....

#736 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 10:55 AM:

Any fans of optical illusions? XKCD has one up today. I've seen illusions like this before, but only in gray scale. This one uses RGB/CYMK color language.

The radio station I listen to in the mornings was broadcasting from an out-of-studio location. They were quizzing people on the color of the dress of the left hand image. The options were "gold & white" or "blue & brown."

After some back and forth between the left and right images, I decided it was blue and brown. The non-gray scale made it harder. It took me about three times as long as it usually does to decide.

#737 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 11:40 AM:

Victoria, #736: Wired has gone into some detail about this.

In the original picture, I see the dress as being light blue and dark tan. It's possible for me to interpret the picture as "this was taken in deep shade, and the dress is actually white and gold", but that's not what I see. I have no idea how anyone can interpret that picture, as presented, as dark blue and black -- which is apparently the color of the original.

#738 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 11:47 AM:

Victoria @736 and Lee @737, it's been fascinating me all day. I could only see it in white and gold this morning (and thought "how could this be blue and black to anyone?")
With the afternoon sun, I immediately see it as dark blue and black. And the image switches from one color combination to another when I move or squint or scroll. Our brains are weird.

#739 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 12:19 PM:

Leonard Nimoy has passed away.

#740 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 12:22 PM:


#741 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Several years ago, my spouse and I went to a swap fest and got about thirty old sf/f magazines from the past several decades. He's been reading and reviewing them (they're in this tag on his blog) and I was curious as to other people's interpretation of the Tom Cheney cartoon from the June 2000 F&SF.

#743 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 01:01 PM:

Lee @ 737

I wasn't aware of the Wired article. Thanks for the link.

I read the original photo/dress as light blue and brown. I've also done enough desk top publishing and color corrected photos to look to the background for clues as to what the true color is. I've also made enough clothing and painted enough walls to be aware that matt finishes visually darken a color where as gloss colors visually lighten that same color. The dress is obviously a shiny/glossy/high sheen fabric, so I assumed the camera's flash washed out the dress' perceived colors in the original photograph.

This is why I color match my sewing/crafting colors/fabrics/finishes/components in natural sunlight (preferably on a sunny day). Artificial light borks the perceived color a lot. Time of day a photo is taken also has a huge effect on perceived color when one only uses natural light.

#744 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 02:34 PM:

In case any of you don't follow The Mary Sue: Dressvergent, a dystopic YA novel for our time.

#745 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 02:54 PM:

Victoria @743:

I've often seen the "color match in natural sunlight" bit, but wouldn't it make more sense to color match under lights similar to the intended use? Wouldn't it make sense to use warm lighting to judge the color of an evening dress, which will be worn indoors at night, and not in sunlight?

#746 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 03:49 PM:

Re color matching and illumination, the "match under the lights you're going to use" principle is particularly important in contexts like theater, wherein the lighting can change dramatically from scene to scene. In our production of "To Kill a Mockingbird", the sheriff's uniform looked khaki (top) and khaki (bottom) in the "daylight" scene, but in the night scene it turned, rather startlingly, into pink (top) and blue (bottom). I think there may have been UV involved.

#747 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 05:49 PM:

Buddha Buck @745

Sunlight is considered to be "full spectrum" light. That is what the human eye developed to see as "the norm." The thought is if it matches in full spectrum, it will match in any spectrum sub-set (incandescent, fluorescent, LED, etc.). Florescent and most LED lights emit in the blue spectrum/range. Then there's the fact that red/yellow/blue light combines to make white and red/yellow/blue dye combines to make black. What I call perceived color is the result of two color systems playing off (or fighting) each other.

Plus, not all artificial light is created equal. That is to say, not all artificial lights emit the same colors. Lila at 746 has the best example I've heard of. Which is why I mentioned finishes earlier. I'd be willing to bet the shirt and pants material in that costume were treated with different chemicals during the dying process. That would account for them fluorescing at different wave lengths under UV light.

I love optical illusions because it plays with color perception. I actually think XKCD's dress example was more impressive than the actual photos because it was an effective demonstration of perceived color.

I've also never created anything for a stage. Most of my stuff goes to people for everyday use, so they see it in all lights.

#748 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 05:56 PM:

Re "Oh the humanity!" -- Herbert Morrison (the reporter), according to Wikipedia, was primarily a music announcer, and just happened to have been sent along that day. Apparently his voice is noticeably deeper in other recordings, and there's also been a suggestion in recent years that the recording is slightly sped up, accounting for part of the urgency in his voice (most of it, of course, was still due to the disaster unfolding as he watched.) also allows you to hear the boom of the explosion.

#749 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 06:36 PM:

Just a passing note. I found myself in a mental fix today where I really appreciated that ML's old blogroll is still available. Thanks to Patrick for not removing it. (I even remember Rabbit's Friends & Relations, but I think it was mostly integrated in.)

#748: Hearing explosions can sometimes serve a useful purpose. Thanks for the reminder (although most of the time I'd rather stick to just hearing an occasional pop).

#750 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 06:47 PM:

#741: The cartoon appears to me to be a statement about awareness of the context around a framed portal -- not sure what might have inspired the TSA horror in 2000.

#751 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 07:20 PM:

Back in the ’80s, I took some packaging design classes in college. The studio had a box with multiple lights and switches so you could stick a bunch of colors in there (Pantone swatches, usually) and see how they looked together under a variety of lighting conditions (sunlight, florescent, incandescent).

#752 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 09:17 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 687: My language was imprecise. I didn't mean to suggest that the Campbell Award wasn't a significant honor, just that crowning the winner with a tiara is whimsical.

#753 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2015, 09:37 PM:

"The miracle is this: the more we share the more we have."

#754 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 03:46 AM:

The things I'm trying to figure out about the dress are why it appears to have different colors without a change in background or lighting, and also why, if people are so vulnerable to that sort of illusion, why such illusions aren't fairly common.

#755 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 04:04 AM:

I've heard the full set of recordings of Morrison and the Hindenburg disaster. A local old-time radio show played them some years back. Speed-corrected, they last not quite an hour, 45 or 50 minutes or so.

They compared the sound of the (pre-explosion) Morrison to various recordings of him announcing dancing shows (such-and-such big band live from the whatever hotel sort of thing) and apparently the portable record-cutting machine they used ran a bit slow, so when played on a standard record player the disaster recordings come out fast. The recordings stop several times because Morrison is too emotional to go on; you can hear him talking to Charlie, his recording engineer, telling him to stop for a bit until he can speak again, or to stop while he goes outside to see better what's going on.

One thing that really surprised me was that American Airlines (I think; it might have been a different airline, but that's the one that comes to my brain) was sending a planeload of stewardesses to the air force base; it seems that all (or at least many) of the stewardesses of that airline at that time were trained nurses, and this was to help take care of the victims until they could be transported to hospitals. (This may not have been on the recording; it may have been in some of the contemporary newspaper coverage that the old time radio show host read subsequent to playing the recording.)

If I remember correctly, Morrison and Charlie had to abandon their record cutting machine, and literally smuggle the records (and they were records, not tapes or wire recordings; the shock wave of the explosion actually bounced the stylus of the record-cutter right out of the groove) out of the air force base so they could be broadcast the next day. NBC at the time (and for some years to come) refused to allow pre-recorded anything on their airwaves with very very few exceptions; Morrison and Charlie (whose last name I can ALMOST remember) were recording for a local Chicago station's show (WLS?), not a network show, so the broadcast standards were different, and that's why they were there at all.

Standard network practice at the time, strange as it may seem, was to re-create news stories with voice actors, or simply to interview witnesses. "The March of Time", for instance, was a news recap show sponsored by Time Magazine, and it featured voice actors re-enacting news stories.

The Hindenburg explosion was one of the very few exceptions NBC made; they did allow some excepts of the recording of the disaster to be broadcast.

The prohibition on pre-recorded radio segments or shows was finally broken years later by Bing Crosby on the Philco Radio show, when he pointed out that a) he was a Very Big Name and a busy performer, and wanted to do a bunch of shows and get them out of the way, not come in to the studio every week to do them live, and b) Philco made record players and did Philco really want to give the impression that their record players didn't reproduce sound accurately enough?

(All of the above is from memory; portions may be incorrect.)

#756 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 04:33 AM:

Nancy @754, part of it is the apparent change in lighting.

The only lighting cue we have is that one washed-out region at the right edge of the photo. Some people (correctly) pick up on that as a normally-lit area washed out because the camera is focusing on the dress, and figure the dress must therefore be strongly lit from the front by the flash, which must mean the dress’s colors are washed out and desaturated, and the real colors must be stronger and darker — blue and black.

Others read it as a brightly-lit area behind the dress, and figure that the dress must be backlit, and the side we see in shadow. Correcting for that makes the grayish lavender color into white, and the dirty brownish into gold.

I started out seeing it as white and gold, then sometimes as blue and black if I hid part of the image. There was a brief period in which I could make it flip back and forth in my head like a Necker cube. Then I got bored and made jokes instead.

#757 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 09:55 AM:

Avram #756: And that first one entitles me to tell you "get out of my head Avram!" :-) ...since I was already thinking about that by the time I clicked over.

#758 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 10:57 AM:

@741: I somewhat remember a kerfuffle over the proliferation of metal detectors in public buildings; perhaps this is a comment on how people were becoming too accustomed to walking through one in order to get somewhere.

#759 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 11:49 AM:

I seem to remember reading somewhere that one reason radio stations avoided pre-recorded things is that ASCAP was saying that if radio stations used pre-recorded music they wouldn't hire house bands.

ASCAP's unwillingness to work with the broadcasting of recorded music provided an opportunity for somebody to create BMI.

#760 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 12:26 PM:

I understand how colour constancy effects are responsible for the changing-colour dress; but can anyone explain why some people were seeing llamas and some people lamas?

#761 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 12:30 PM:

praisegod barebones (760): Because the animals look so wise that some people think they are the reincarnations of Tibetan monks?

#762 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 12:52 PM:

"But I will bet a silk pajama
There isn't any 3-L lllama."

#763 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 01:01 PM:

Hmph. the server error didn't want me to post Nash's footnote.

#764 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 01:03 PM:

*The author's attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.

#765 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 04:48 PM:

The famously irreverent webcomic Schizmatic saying goodby to Leonard Nimoy: "Thank you for visiting our planet, Mr. Nimoy. Our civilization is the better for it. "

#766 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 05:17 PM:

David Malki at Wondermark also continues to amuse me. Not only do the puzzles he's selling come with "an extra bonus piece" (and they look hard enough without that), but on Tumbler he tried to Google each of the 50 shades of gray.

#767 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Cally Soukup @#755 it seems that all (or at least many) of the stewardesses of that airline at that time were trained nurses

It would make sense for flight attendants to have first-aid training, at the very least, and in an era before paramedics, I believe
anyone with a life-saving certificate tended to quickly get recruited in a disaster.

#768 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 12:03 AM:

Dear Mods: Any chance for a formal Star Trek thread? Nimoy's passing has brought up a whole lot of stuff for me, and I don't have a good place to put it.

#769 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 12:04 AM:

P.S., I don't put it here, because it seems kind of thread-jacky.

#770 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 12:38 AM:

Sarah@767 - Early flight attendants often were nurses, because air travel was still scary, even if their medical activities usually didn't need to go beyond administering purely medicinal brandy to nervous passengers.

#771 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 01:44 AM:

I was just watching "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." Too tired to finish tonight.

Very pleased to see it labeled "A Leonard Nimoy Film."

It not only holds up, it remains a total hoot. Special effects still effective; still damn funny.

Its San Francisco is just slightly exotic looking. I never got around to visiting until after the '89 quake.

#772 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 03:36 AM:

Stefan Jones @771, one of the things I noticed, watching Star Trek 4 the other night and a few old episodes today, was how much tighter the timing and editing are in the movie.

For example, consider the “Do you guys like Italian?” scene in Star Trek 4. Note how the characters are talking over each other, rapid-fire, and how you need to focus your attention on both Shatner and Nimoy to really catch the byplay between them.

Compare this with the much more leisurely pace of the “mechanical rice-picker” scene from “City on the Edge of Forever.” Note how the actors look back and forth, directing the viewer’s attention, as if they can’t trust the viewer to keep up. And how the lines are punctuated by notes in the background music, like old Looney Tunes! (I was also thinking of the “Check? Right!” exchanges from “A Piece of the Action,” but couldn’t find those on YouTube.)

This might be a difference of budget and/or technology, but it might also be a change in how viewers had gotten used to faster-paced video between 1966 and 1986.

#773 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 05:35 AM:

Avram @772: My guess would be the latter; or, as a third possibility, directors feeling confident that viewers will pick up what's going on with including rather than explicit stage-setting.

I've noticed something similar watching some of the early episodes of Old 'Who' with my daughter.

#774 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 05:55 AM:

But also the former: remember that TOS dates from the old broadcast TV days—"In Living Color!" was still a Thing.

Which meant that your viewers might be watching on anything down to a little six-inch "portable" b&w with bad rabbit-ear reception. Notice how TOS's sets and costumes are painted in broad swaths of simple color: they had to be. Not only did it have to "read" on low-res (by today's standards) color, but in black and white as well. And even if you had color, it took no little skill to get a decent picture out of it.

And also remember that TV was still a new art-form: the networks had only been established in the early fifties, barely fifteen years before ST premiered. TV writing (and viewing), in many ways, was still in its infancy.

#775 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 06:54 AM:

Jacque #774: I grew up watching Star Trek (and Batman, and Sesame Street) in black-and-white! I'm pretty sure we didn't have a color TV until I was at least in high school (early 80s).

#776 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 08:45 AM:

Jacque @774; David Harmon @775, my husband's father was profoundly colorblind, so he saw no sense in buying a color TV set; much more expensive for what was to him a far worse picture. When my husband went to college, he and a bunch of his friends watched the annual TV broadcast of "The Wizard of Oz" in one of their dormrooms, as one did in those days before widespread VCRs. During the "we're here to welcome you to Munchkinland" song, he turned to his friends and said, in some confusion, "Wait a minute; isn't this movie in black-and-white?" Laughter ensued.

I kind of envy him; he remembers the wonder of bleak Kansas turning into bright Oz. For me, it's just a given; I was too young when I first saw it for me to remember now how it felt.

#777 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 08:50 AM:

Cassy B. @776: Whereas I had the WT-effing-FFFF moment, on my dad's cable subscription, of watching Wizard on TNT very early in that network's life, and some $ssh0le had COLORIZED KANSAS.

This was when colorizing black and white movies was all the rage (when Cary Grant's suit in North by Northwest changed color three times in the cropduster scene, for example). I only ever saw that version aired once; apparently they got snowed under by complaining calls that NOOO, you DON'T have to colorize EVERY b&w frame to get "kids" to watch "those old movies".

#778 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 09:07 AM:

Cassy B. #776 my husband's father was profoundly colorblind, so he saw no sense in buying a color TV set;

$lt;jawdrop> Um... my father was also colorblind (though not completely). My parents divorced when I was 5, but even so, I'm now wondering if Mom had internalized "B/W is OK", perhaps explaining why we were so late going to color....

#779 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 09:13 AM:

In my family's case, the TV at my mom's house was black-and-white until the mid-80s, simply because color TVs were so expensive, showed up rarely at thrifts, and we didn't watch a lot of TV where it mattered at all.

My grandparents (better off) had two TVs: a bigger b&w and a smaller color. We borrowed their color set for the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, because watching ski jumping in b&w makes it incredibly hard to figure out who's playing for what 'team'. :->

I think my mom finally bought a color set in 1986 or so; she got a new, much higher-paying job about that time and it makes sense to peg it to that.

#781 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 10:32 AM:

Cassy B (776): I also grew up with a black-and-white TV*, although my friends had color sets. My big "Wait--what!?" color moment was finding out that Sam the Eagle** was blue; I had always pictured him as yellow.

*for the same reason as Elliott's mom
**the Muppet

#782 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 10:39 AM:

B&W here, too - although the family of my BFF got color when we were in HS, we didn't get one until 1974 (!).

#783 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 10:49 AM:

The big joke I didn't get due to having only B&W sets in the house until the late 70s:

One of the jokey '60s Batman movies ends with a room full of diplomats arguing. They'd just been reconstituted from powder, as I recall.

I didn't know until college, mid '80s, that the diplomats' skins were a riot of strange colors.

#784 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 11:09 AM:

I think it would have been about 1972 when my family bought a black and white TV, which meant that I could stop answering the regular "Did you watch X?" question at school with "No, we don't have TV" and start answering it with "No, I'm not allowed to stay up to watch that." I can't recall when we switched to colour, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't until some time in the early 1980s, because I saw at least the first two series of Blake's 7 in black and white. I was quite startled, much later, to discover that one of Avon's outfits was red.

#785 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 11:11 AM:

I might add that we didn't have colour simply because we didn't need colour, or at least we were told we didn't; that changed when Dad started to get interested in the snooker!

#786 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 11:32 AM:

One of the few arguments ... heated discussions ... I had with my Awesome Wife was when we first moved in. My old TV [handed down from some relative or other] died and we were using another, much smaller leftover from a friend. I watch very little TV, she watches a lot. We were going TV shopping and I was complaining about price and she didn't want to deal with it.

I realized later that my gut answer for "What should a TV cost" was "Nothing." Because that was what I'd paid for my TV and the TV before that.

#787 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 12:43 PM:

I learned TOS on a tiny black-and-white in my boyfriend's apartment, and I never watched ST:TNG. I didn't catch the references to "redshirts" dying for some time.

#788 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 12:59 PM:

Mongoose @ #785

Ah yes, There was that famous Ted Lowe quote: "and for those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green.

#789 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 03:07 PM:

We got our first color TV in the late 1960s, Dad worked for DoD and his salary finally could support the luxury.

And I finally got to watch Disney's Wonderful World of Color IN COLOR. (I knew about the change from B&W to color in Wizard of Oz -- I really enjoyed seeing it for the first time that year.)

#790 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Classic Star Trek is rather startlingly colorful. Not only is nearly everyone dressed in bright colors, but the backgrounds are often awash in colored light, for no more reason that to make the scene colorful. (Note the purple background lighting in this scene, which has no Watsonian source.)

Which was deliberate, of course. Star Trek, though currently owned by CBS, was originally broadcast on NBC, which is owned by RCA, which wanted to sell color TV sets.

#791 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 06:56 PM:

Avram @ 790: I originally saw Star Trek broadcast when I was in elementary school, in black & white, and it didn't appeal to me. In high school, I saw it in color, and it drew me in. At the time, I remember thinking it looked much better in color.

#792 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 07:17 PM:

Avram @772: Further thought: My imprint experience to understand the why of the way TV was structured was when I had to watch one ep at a friends house. (That awful third-season abomination where Kirk loses his memory and becomes the local "Indian" sky-god Kurak.) My friend lived way out in the (what was at the time) country. The picture on the (black and white) TV was so snowy that one could just about tell that there were figures moving around on the screen. We could, nevertheless, follow the story just fine, mainly from the audio.

David Harmon @775: I grew up watching Star Trek (and Batman, and Sesame Street) in black-and-white!

I didn't actually break down and get color until my loyal and true 40-year old b&w finally gave up the ghost halfway through B5's run ('95-ish?). I'm glad I waited; there are still STTOS episodes I'm seeing in color for the first time. Brings back a freshness that I lost once I'd completely memorized all the eps back in the '70s.

David Harmon @778: perhaps explaining why we were so late going to color....

I resisted because, until well into the '70s, I'd never seen a color TV that could produce an adequate picture on rabbit ears, and I find a bad color image far more painful than good b&w, which was much easier to get. And by the time the tech was up to snuff, I couldn't afford to replace my TV without very strong motivation.

Elliott Mason @779: watching ski jumping in b&w makes it incredibly hard to figure out who's playing for what 'team'. :->

That was why my dad got one around '77; he was so tickled at how much easier it was to follow his football games.

Idumea @780: Here...

Thank you. I just glanced at it. Haven't read it yet; the first two lines made me burst into tears. That there's 31 comments already suggests that...there was a need.

Avram @790: Classic Star Trek is rather startlingly colorful. Not only is nearly everyone dressed in bright colors, but the backgrounds are often awash in colored light, for no more reason that to make the scene colorful. ... RCA, which wanted to sell color TV sets.

Note that the color scheme also has a large value range, as well. Interestingly, STTOS, when rendered in b&w, has a lovely, almost "noir" visual style, which permanently influenced my preferences. I've been enjoying Agent Carter, because their cinematography comes the closest to achieving that same tone that I've seen. (Though Babylon 5 sometimes made a close approach, especially in their cgi scenes.)

#793 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 07:59 PM:

RE Blurryness of old TV: That's why McLuhan rated television as a Hot medium. It was so low-res it required a degree of viewer engagement, filling in the cracks.

#794 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 08:01 PM:

I didn't have a color teevee in my home until 1987, and the first thing we watched on it was Star Trek: The Next Generation.

#795 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 08:05 PM:

I'm pretty sure I have watched black and white TV, though I can't remember where. Maybe Grandma's? Or one of Mom's old relatives? No idea.

These days, I'm more surprised when something goes wrong with the enormous plasma screen. Like trying to watch Fantasia 2000 and discovering it was just too blurry in the beginning. Or, on a friend's TV, watching recent shows that have a weird... thing going on. Like they're too much in focus, or too much of the picture is, and there's an effect almost like trying to look at the sides of a Magic Eye picture. Perhaps it's an artifact of mostly watching Dragon Age Inquisition.

#796 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 09:21 PM:

Another thing that made me realize how much TV's have changed was [pardon me if I'm retelling a story] seeing a little bit of the first season of Wonder Woman and a comparing the opening credits to Xena. Wonder Woman's credits are clearly legible on a screen that was maybe 11" on the diagonal.

#797 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2015, 10:52 PM:

I've been singing Joplin for two days now, thanks to you folks. Oh lord, won't you buy me a colour teevee.

I suspect I may veer a bit younger in that I do not remember a time before there was a colour television in my house, though part of that may be that my dad is a gadget-lover who had a job which let him afford to buy neato gadgets (I also don't remember a house without a computer in it, thanks Commodore 64!). My earliest memories are from about 1986. I did, however, have a six-inch black and white television which came with a camcorder, and when I was a teenager I used to sneak it into my room to watch ER (which was on after my bedtime). I found that, because I did know what the colours were meant to be, my brain filled them in and the picture wasn't black and white. It wasn't full colour, but it was... tinted, I guess.

#798 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 01:40 AM:

Diatryma @795: watching recent shows that have a weird... thing going on.

Weird fractally patchy-boxy colory things? Took me forever to work out that what's going on there is and artifact of the digital video data compression.* What's going on is that, for whatever reason, you've dropped into the middle of a sequence,** and the context from previous frames of those particular pixels is missing, so what you're seeing is just the "change these specific pixels, here, because everything else in the image is the same."

There's one scene in Stargate Universe that I like to watch independently of the rest of the ep. But it starts at one of those, so the first couple of frames are always all psychedeliced.

* I think. Somebody who actually knows should speak up if I'm wrong.

** There's probably a word for that, but I don't even know how to look it up.

Em @797: Oh lord, won't you buy me a colour teevee.

Though given the dialect, probably without the "u" in "color." ;-)

I suspect I may veer a bit younger ... (I also don't remember a house without a computer in it, thanks Commodore 64!).

Just a little, yeah. :-) First computer that made it into my parents house was probably ten years after I moved out.

because I did know what the colours were meant to be, my brain filled them in and the picture wasn't black and white.

Even though I didn't know what the colors were supposed to be, for the most part, I definitely colorized the picture in my brain. That's one of the reasons finally seeing TOS in color is so striking is that, not only were my colors often wrong, but the real ones were so much more vivid.

#799 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 01:42 AM:

Em@797 - Heh - I don't remember my parents' house without a sliderule in it, but they didn't get an actual electronic computer (other than the calculator I got when I headed off to college, and calculators for my other siblings, though it's possible that dad had an adding machine I've forgotten about) until about a year after the Macintosh came out. My wife bought laptops in the late 80s to do business with, but I didn't see the point in getting a computer of my own when a dumb terminal dialed up to work would get me Usenet.

We were also late adopters with TV - it didn't bother me that we got black&white later than any of the neighbors, but we also didn't get UHF until it'd been out for a few years, which meant that there were cartoons I couldn't watch except by visiting friends.

#800 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 08:41 AM:

Jacque, it's actually that the picture is too sharp in a way that doesn't look right. No one else notices it, so it's likely to be an artifact of not watching a lot of TV in general. Or too much of the picture is in focus.

#801 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 09:44 AM:

Diatryma @800, I have that problem sometimes with 3D movies; I'm pretty sure it's because the whole thing is sharp, including the background. My eyes start to water partway through the film, and if it's really egregious or if there's a lot of camera motion I get a headache...

#802 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 11:17 AM:

Avram@772: On the changes in typical pacing: in the early '90s the Animaniacs episode "King Yakko" basically redid Duck Soup in 20 minutes. I once showed the episode to someone who, I then discovered, had never seen the Marx Brothers film. I made the mistake of putting on the film immediately afterward. I still love watching the film, but wow did it drag on that time.

Cassy B.@801: My problem with some 3D movies is in the other direction: when they don't make everything sharp, and then my eyes try to focus in on something that the filmmakers didn't. In 2D my eyes are more willing to follow the filmmakers' intentions, apparently.

#803 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 11:25 AM:

dotless ı @802, it's possible that's my real problem, too. I've assumed it was too-much-is-in-focus but I've never tried to verify that.

#804 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 12:18 PM:

My family got their first color tv when I was 12 or so. I was the one who knew how to tune the color.

Crank the intensity up so high that people developed bright red and blue fringes. Lower the intensity (brightness?) till the fringes went away.

Adjust the hue so that people weren't green or purple.

And I can remember the first time I saw the Wizard of Oz in color. Suprise! The horse of a different color was a joke.

Any thoughts about the green spectacles from the book vs. the Emerald City actually being green?

#805 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 12:28 PM:

Diatryma @800: it's actually that the picture is too sharp

Huh, interesting. Not something I've noticed. But then, my astigmatism has gotten bad enough that I have to squint to get clear edges at all. (What? Glasses? Never!)

dotless ı @802: but wow did it drag on that time.

I remember really enjoying the old Outer Limits. I rented some of the DVDs a few years ago, and struggled through about three eps before I resorted to just watching the last fifteen minutes of each, which was entirely sufficient to get the complete story.

my eyes try to focus in on something that the filmmakers didn't.

My variant of that is that it takes my brain a bit to deal with the fact that things are at different stereoscopic depths are all at the same focal depth. ::woggle::

Cassy B. @803: I've assumed it was too-much-is-in-focus but I've never tried to verify that.

It can actually sometimes be a filmatic choice, apparently. I just recently watched the Director's Cut of Mask, and in the Features, Bogdanovich talks about filming the horseback riding scene in [some technique that gives the background the same focus as the subject], and how that was lost in post-processing. (How the hell would that even happen? Before digital?) When they remastered it for the DVD, they were able to get that back. (I personally couldn't tell the difference, even when they did a side-by-side.*)

* It really chaps my geekish pride to not be able to see that. I'm a geek. More than that, I'm hyper-visual. I should be able to see ALL THE THINGS.

#806 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 05:50 PM:

HLN: local woman's address was selected for the American Community Survey. It's done online now, with paper for those who don't do computers.
(They asked about computers, smartphones, and other devices.)

#807 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 08:28 PM:

The Original Series is one of those things that wasn't originally called that, like World War I, the acoustic guitar, conventional weapons, etc.

#808 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 09:34 PM:

Erik Nelson @807: the term I've heard used for that, which I like, is "retronym." A very useful term.

#809 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 09:35 PM:

Erik Nelson @807: As contrasted to "unleaded gasoline," which used to be the MARKED case and is now the default, but retains its particularized wording.

#810 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2015, 10:07 PM:

I distinctly recalled watching Star Trek in B/W as a child in Belgium, which got me wondering why it was B/W. We had been watching color TV in the States before we moved to Belgium. Wikipedia helpfully informs me that Belgian stations began broadcasting in color TV 1971. Broadcasts from France and the Netherlands were available in color earlier, but they used different standards, so color TVs that could show them both were expensive.

I recall preferring the Dutch channels to the French ones. The Dutch (Flemish or from the Netherlands) TV stations generally shows English language shows with subtitles. The French stations dubbed them into French. I learned to read some Dutch that way. Perhaps more language teaching systems show use sitcoms?

#811 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2015, 03:38 PM:

I'm not sure exactly when we got a color TV, but it was at least sometime after I went off to high school, and might even have been when I was in college. I sort of knew that things changed to colors in Oz, but what I saw was a very blurry passage as Dorothy exits the house. (it wasn't until something like twenty years ago that I realized that her pinafore wasn't a solid light blue.) I could just barely tell that the horse of a different color was a different color; I had no idea what those colors were. I more or less knew what the colors of things were, from advertizing and tie-in stuff, but I still couldn't tell you what was shot in color in the early '60s for the most part.

#812 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2015, 05:22 PM:

I don't remember when I first saw WoO in color (quite recently, I imagine; I still visualize it in b&w). I first saw it at all when I was, maybe five.* That was back when they ran it yearly as an Event.**

I was always puzzled by the disclaimer at the beginning: "Your television is operating properly." It wasn't until years later I worked out that that was directed at the owners of color TVs, who doubtless called the TV station in droves, complaining that the color had cut out when the movie started. :-)

* And a formative experience it was. For months after, I would demand that my mother braid my hair like Dorothy's. I was frustrated, though, because it never looked right; my mom didn't do the floofy wrap-back thing they did around Dorothy's face, but I didn't have the perception or the vocabulary to identify and articulate what was wrong.

** And they cut more and more out of it to make room for commercials, until by the '80s it was a three-hour event, with about one hour of truncated content! Thank Ghu for the advent of video rental. I still don't remember having seen the whole, unedited thing.

#813 ::: Pellegrina Stoat ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2015, 05:51 PM:

Long-time reader (since 2002!) shyly attempting to delurk for the second time, because I have just read an article about words that reminded me of Making Light:

#814 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2015, 06:57 PM:

Pellegrina Stoat #813: Nice find!

Please delurk more often.

#815 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2015, 07:00 PM:

Speaking of words, my current foray into the word mines has brought up this: "Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week and to deny the people to purchase different things of their choice." That's supposed to be a complete sentence.

I've spent the past few weeks inveighing against throwing words on the page higgledy-piggledy. I've urged revision until I am purple. But, it seems, my words fall on deaf ears.

#816 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2015, 07:09 PM:

Echoing Fragano here, Pellegrina Stoat!

#817 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2015, 07:27 PM:

I think it was here that I learned of the red bees of Red Hook so it seems fitting to pop in and note that four years later the story has a tragic punchline.

#818 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 03:19 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Local fan gets yearly review, with average rating, small raise, and nice bonus. Favorite comment by boss: "You do a lot of tasks that people don't want to."

#819 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 04:04 PM:

#818: Cool beans!

I wouldn't mind one of each of the same.

#820 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 04:34 PM:

AKICIML, Tech Support Division: Okay, so they upgraded me to Explorer 11 last week, and it seems to have, um, adjusted a bunch of stuff.

One of the irritating side effects is that, where I used to just click the time-stamp in the last comment in a thread, and then drag the URL out of the location bar, off into a folder, to keep track of where I was. Now, it seems to freeze on some random previous version of the shortcut. For example, if I try to save a shortcut for
it keeps putting it down as
I'm assuming there's a setting involved? But I can't figure out what it is, and it's very frustrating.

Anybody have any clue wtf is going on? This behavior is appearing both in IE11 & Chrome.

#821 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 04:49 PM:

Someone commented on the marvelous article that Pellegrina Stoat linked at 813 that twitting "green" people for not being able to tell "an oak from a beech, or a shrew from a mouse" was exclusionary.

I don't think so. Being "green" in the sense of abstractly thinking that "Nature" is a good thing and ought to be protected only goes so far. I think it is extremely important to know about the life on one's own doorstep, even if that doorstep is five floors down on a sidewalk. Take oaks and beeches now. Which one can the "green" person see from their bedroom window, in that urban park across the street? Knowing that can lead to knowing what animals depend on that tree for food or a place to raise babies, and which plants and fungi might be found growing on or around it, providing a source of pleasure and an anchor to the tangible world. Is that little gray animal in my kitchen a shrew, which should be taken to the park as quickly as possible so that it can get one of the umpteen meals of fresh animal flesh it must eat in a 24-hour period or die, or is it a mouse, which may require trap purchases and searches through cupboards for unusable packages and deposits of tiny black poo?

People who say they love nature need to learn the particulars of the natural world next door. Otherwise they're just throwing money at this viewing season's pretty landscapes and charismatic megafauna.

#822 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 06:14 PM:

I just realized that, even as a very nature-aware and fairly tree-keying-out person, I'm not sure I could quickly identify a beech.

I can tell it from most oaks (oaks are distinctive; so are maples), but off the top of my head I don't remember the salient characteristics of a beech.

Shock! Horror! Sudden urge to consult an online tree field guide!

(amusement at my own reflexive reactions)

#823 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 07:29 PM:

Jenny Islander @821, I'm with Elliott Mason @822. I could recognize most kinds of oaks and tell them from a maple, a birch, an aspen, a magnolia... but I don't know that I know what a beech looks like.

I agree that knowing your own local ecology is valuable, and I would place more weight on the opinion of someone knowledgeable in that way, but saying that you can't be a green person without it starts to feel like having to prove you're geek enough.

#824 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 09:15 PM:

I agree with the lack of need to be able to identify all the major trees in a local ecology to be considered a nature lover. That said, there are three salient features of beeches which interest me, and so I will share them:

1. A mature beech has a trunk that looks rather like an elephant's leg: gray, and smooth, except where it's wrinkly.
2. Because of that smoothness, beech trees in public places are the preferred target of those who carve words and pictures into trees. (I might have danced a happy dance the first time I came across a large beech without one letter carved in.)
3. While the leaves die in the fall, and turn a somewhat orangey brown (striking against the gray bark), they don't generally fall off until the new leaves grow in the spring.

#825 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 09:57 PM:

I often confused in the field between a beech and a birch. Looking at pictures now, I'm reminded that a beech has a "normal" tree trunk shape, but with the classic smooth bark, while a birch has that single straight cylindrical trunk.

My interest in field biology was rapidly crushed when I discovered that my "bad with names/faces" handicap also applies to species names, and their subtler distinguishing features. :-(

But speaking of species names, this 2D Goggles post and sites quoting it, are still, 25 days after the post, the only Google entries for a search on "fcuravfpvqnryvna". (ROT13'ed to avoid beaking the charm. And I'm leaving that typo on purpose. ;-) )

#826 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2015, 10:48 PM:

This is just to say...

I have eaten
the chocolate PBJ hamantaschen
that were on
the counter

and which
you undoubtedly
to gift away

I regret nothing
they were delicious
so sweet
and verboten

#827 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 02:48 AM:

I wouldn't say all of them, but I would say that a person who says they love nature and has no idea what to call the tree they've seen outside their window for years loves landscapes, good nature photography, and possibly one or two excellent narrators. Nature isn't just that big pretty thing out there. It's on your doorstep. It's in the cracks of your sidewalk. Knowing the species names may not be as important as knowing that this particular tree makes red-orange berries in the fall and around January some gray birds that only show up at this time of the year come and eat them. Or that when you can smell this plant, whatever it is, all danger of frost is past.

#828 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 07:25 AM:

Achievement Unlocked: My daughter helped me make brownies last night, and it was productive help. The kind with the melted chocolate. And no "chocolate and flour all over the universe" mess either.

I was surprised too.

And they're pretty decent brownies.

#829 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 08:46 AM:

Jenny Islander, I think that that puts too big a barrier on 'liking nature'. I have a friend who can identify plants and their uses when we go on walks, spot birds I can't (and patiently wait with me as I struggle to), and generally point out everything there is to know about Midwestern forests. I can't. My old house had several trees I didn't bother to identify-- the ones behind the garage, the ones behind the yard, two of the ones in the front yard, so maybe ten, not all of them huge. No clue. They were deciduous angiosperms that didn't have showy flowers.

But I still think I love nature. I could learn to identify trees and other plants, their uses, their ecological roles, and live in a city that had nothing but soon-to-be-dead ash and ornamental apples. There are probably people who do that, who know everything about tree identification but seldom do it, or don't like to be in the woods. If name-and-niche-knowing and care can be uncouples in one direction, why not the other?

Knowing about something is one way to love it. It's not a wrong way. It's not a best way. There isn't a wrong way or a best way. Like my all-knowing friend's three-year-old, there are many people who love nature but don't know the names yet, maybe ever. That's okay with me.

#830 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 10:34 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 828

I have a similiar recipe for brownies, but I don't keep solid baking chocolate on hand. (I'm not a chocoholic and my baking chocolates tend to bloom before I get to using it all up) I do, however, keep cocoa powder on hand. So I used the conversion (3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of oil makes 1 ounce of baking chocolate) to make do. (Now I want to try making your recipe with melted chocolate chips. Those I keep on hand. I haven't experimented with baking in a while.)

What it comes down to is 1/2 pound of butter to 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. Melt the butter, add the cocoa, mix until smooth and then proceed with the recipe you have. It always amazes me how cocoa powder acts a thickening agent. It's not unlike flour in that respect.

I also realized I haven't made "Little Chocolate Things with the Density of Plutonium" in a while. It starts with this brownie recipe, and then I do a layer cake treatment with chocolate truffle as the filling and chocolate ganache as the frosting. I cut them into 1.5 inch cubes because really that's all I can handle at once.

#831 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 01:16 PM:

The NY Public Library has a short but fun spelling quiz (though you have to give it an email address to get your score).

#832 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 01:44 PM:

Carrie, #831: Not if you keep count as you go along. :-) (10 out of 10)

#833 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 04:58 PM:

HLN: local herpestid is now identifying as trans, not simply as non-gendered (though, of course, they still are non-gendered).

"This is mainly a response to transphobia, and the feeling that if I can identify as trans, I really should, out of solidarity," they explained. "It did take a while to come round to it, even so, because I've never had any significant body dysphoria and I don't identify with either standard gender. But I've learnt that not all trans people do have dysphoria, and, as for non-gendered trans people, I have a friend who falls squarely into that category (though they did have dysphoria, and had some surgery to deal with it)."

Not long after the ambiguous mongoose arrived at this decision, a trans woman was threatened and harassed in her own home a few miles away on the other side of the city. The mongoose is deeply saddened, but feels more than ever that they have done the right thing.

#834 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 05:11 PM:

Mongoose @833:

I'm touched that you brought this here, that you trust this community enough to be open about this. We're the richer and wiser for your willingness to talk about it.*

If this is a thing of congratulations for you, then you certainly have mine.

* I certainly am. I was having the "if you're transgender or agender, it would make everyone's life easier if you were able to say it now so we can see a specialist before adolescence takes your body in the wrong direction" conversation with the kids today†. It's useful to be able to say that I have friends online who have a wide variety of gender identities. It makes them feel like I have resources if they need them.
† The answer was "no, but thank you for asking" from both of them. I've left the door open in case things change, of course.

#835 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 05:20 PM:

abi @ 834: thank you.

This community is a safe place, and you work very hard to help to keep it so. You do not know how much I appreciate that.

#836 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 05:37 PM:

abi #834: I was having the "if you're transgender or agender, it would make everyone's life easier if you were able to say it now so we can see a specialist before adolescence takes your body in the wrong direction" conversation with the kids today.

It occurs to me that this is a different sort of "living in the future" moment. And Abi, you're doing good work in helping to build that future.

#837 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 06:20 PM:

abi quoth: I was having the "if you're transgender or agender, it would make everyone's life easier if you were able to say it now so we can see a specialist before adolescence takes your body in the wrong direction" conversation with the kids today.

What a very good idea. We had the related discussion about preferences with child #1 at a certain age, and was thinking it's definitely time to have that discussion with the boy. It had not occurred to me to raise this one. (Mind you, I'm fairly sure he is quite happy with his gender, but it strikes me as a very good idea to leave that open and check; equally it should help him get the message that it's OK for others too.)

#838 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 06:23 PM:

An interesting thing I learned when I was taking German in the early 80s is that (and I may fudge some details, but just pretend you don't know better for a minute) East Berlin was on the SECAM system, and West Berlin was on the PAL system of television transmission. What this meant in practice was that East Berliners could watch TV from West Berlin, albeit in black and white, but with a clear picture and sound. My teacher said that they could watch Dallas and Falcon Crest, and their reaction was, "I want all this cool stuff!" And that, he says, was a big contributor to the pressure that eventually downed the wall.

Meanwhile, I actually came over here to talk about a book I used to lust after, The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Ellery Queen. I remembered it again yesterday at a used book store, where there was a book with the same title, which mentions the Queen volume as nonexistent, having been suppressed by the Doyle estate. There were copies, though, and those went for some unheard-of price in the 70s, like fifty bucks, and that was only if you could find one. The Mysterious Bookseller may have had one that I got to look at.

Anyway, that's why I was happy to find this today: It's the book, of course, available for online reading or download, in PDF or text or ebook format. If you like Holmes apocrypha by the very best authors available, go save yourself $50+ hard-earned 1970s dollars.

#839 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 06:53 PM:

abi #834: Also, my Mom's response to hearing about that: Love Has No Labels. As she warned me, "get out the tissues".

#840 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 06:56 PM:

BTW, I know I've previously mentioned here the Orthotonics, a wonderful 1980s avant-pop band.

I can't remember who else was a fan (Kip W perhaps? Tim Walters?) but I should let you all know that all three of their albums are now available for free download from WFMU's Free Music Archive, at

They strike me as the kind of music that many of the Fluorosphere might appreciate, between the literacy of the lyrics and the jazz-influenced complexity of the music itself - and now you can give it a listen, for free, with the blessings of the band and label! How can that not be a good thing?

#841 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 07:00 PM:

Harrison Ford has been "seriously injured" in a small plane crash.

#842 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 07:35 PM:

Re: 841 -- looks like the plane was a USAF Trainer, Ryan PT-22:

Ryan PT-22

Candle lit, and praying -- please let him be ok.

#843 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 08:28 PM:

Best wishes, Mongoose!

I am pretty sure Abi and Teresa and a bunch of ML regulars who appreciate structure and silhouette in clothes will like Lea Albaugh's talk "Clothes That Move: Why? and How?" (video, slides, and transcript available; in video, 31:40 to 32:23 (slide 54) not safe for work because of women's breasts). You may have also seen Albaugh's work at the Adafruit blog: "Clothes to Deploy for Uncomfortable Situations #WearableWednesday". Albaugh goes beyond smartwatches, goggles, and LEDs to consider, make, and discuss texture, weight, unpredictability, control, biomimetics, and other topics in textile-related art.

She recommends the book Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo - has anyone here read it? It's:

about the culture clash between NASA, who basically can’t build anything that hasn’t been rendered in isometric three times over, and the bra seamstresses at Playtex and Warner that they commissioned to make the Apollo spacesuits, which were the first soft space suits to be made.

#844 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 09:16 PM:

#841, #842: The article says now that Ford took some injuries, but has been stabilized. The hospital says he's in "fair to moderate condition", while his son describes him as "battered, but OK".

Sumana Harihareswara #843: Her "Age Gain Now Empathy System" reminds me of an episode from the old show Happy Days, wherein Fonz's grandmother shows up and schools him on basically the same points.

#845 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 09:19 PM:

Mongoose, I also want to add my own appreciation for your presence and what you've chosen to share here, and for your willingness to explore and express your sense of yourself as trans and as agender.

Local herpestid does much to enlighten the populace.

#846 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 10:10 PM:

Clifton, I don't think I know them, but now I'm clicking on the link. Thanks!

Mongoose, I wave hello at thee.

#847 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2015, 10:50 PM:

And thank you, Mongoose, from me as well.

#848 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 07:36 AM:

Hmph, yet another SSL vulnerability. This one's dubbed "FREAK". Article at Computerworld.

Descriptions, affected platforms, and browser test at . At first glance, it seems to hit Apple and Google platforms/browsers, plus Internet Exploder "just because".

#849 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 12:34 PM:

Back to the original topic; these two crack me up every time. toddler talking, with subtitles clueless surgeon

#850 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 04:08 PM:

I just got linked to some amusing snarking on old McCall's patterns.

#851 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 04:27 PM:

Anyone enjoying David Harmon's link may also like SamuraiKnitter's Vogue Knitting reviews, where she looks at each pattern in a given issue of the mag and ... is brutally honest about it. From the point of view of a knitter with little budget to blow $300 on the yarn for a sweater, and who might come in a chest measurement greater than 34". Good notes about how the weird ways the models are standing may be disguising problems with the sweaters.

#852 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 06:22 PM:

At this point, I think my decease may be near. A student wrote: Women, slaves, and the decedents of slaves have al been oppressed by white men.

#853 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 06:59 PM:

Fragano, if misery loves company, you may enjoy "favorite sentences" over at the Chronicle of Higher Education. The previous edition also starts with a spectacular example.

#854 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 07:00 PM:

Apropos Body Repair Tape, the local locker facility advertises "Self Storage". Perfect for Dracula, or the characters in _Primer_.

#855 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 07:12 PM:

Del Cotter #854: Don't laugh too hard, I've known people who lived in storage units. (Otherwise known as "homeless".)

#856 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 09:43 PM:

AKICIML question: Does anybody know anything about what the process might be like for trying to donate a couple collections to a research university or college library?

My mother had built up a very substantial library, which includes among other things a pretty big collection of post-war Japanese literature in English translation (particularly '50s-'70s - Kawabata, Mishima, etc.) and also an extensive collection of English language childrens' books from Japan and about Japan. There are some other categories too, but these seem the ones most likely to be of academic interest. I don't know offhand where to begin asking if these would be of interest, or how to track down who I would ask at what institution.

Mostly I'd just like to see them go where they might be used and useful, rather than dumping them at Powells or wherever for a pittance. A tax credit for the donation is not essential but would be nice (as I could split it with my brother and sister.)

#857 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2015, 11:52 PM:

Is the collection catalogued, Clifton? Can you afford to donate money for its upkeep? Unfortunately, uncatalogued and unsupported collections are not getting a whole lot of interest from universities these days.

That said, I know that UCBerkeley has a library devoted to Asian studies, and they might possibly be interested -- don't know any of the librarians, but you might check with them.

#858 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 12:05 AM:

I should have been clearer - they're not that large a collection, not a collection in the sense that it would occupy a section of the library, more like 5 or 10 boxes of selected books that some library might want to add to their general holdings. Or not. Like I said, I don't know much about this.

Actually I just thought of somebody I probably could and will ask, besides ML.

#859 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 01:36 AM:

"A very substantial library" to me probably has a different meaning than it does to others. I think mine is moderately substantial at closer to 200 boxes than 20. And that's the books -- the fanzines are another matter.

Still and all, a catalog makes a huge difference. Important information to have in a catalog: author, title, publisher, edition, illustrator, date, format (binding and the like), ISBN (if it's late enough to have one), approximate size, other interesting info. For a library, condition is useful info; if the book is complete, it's not as important as condition is to a collector.

#860 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 11:03 AM:

Totally random and last-minute, BUT...

For those of you eligible to Hugo-nominate, I have something I'd like see get into the Related Works category. My mother bought us tickets to something called a "live-action graphic novel" last week and we went not knowing what to expect. What we got was a hilarious pulp-inspired radio play, complete with live music, a foley artist, three actors doing all of the voices, and the panels (sans dialogue) projected on the screen.

Not only is it really well-done, it's part of a trilogy, and the last installment came out last year. There are also comic books (based on the plays rather than the other way around), the original audio dramas, and so on. The first installment has been turned into a set of free videos, accessible through the site, and gives a good sense of what it's like to go to the actual show.

Such a melange can only be categorized as "related." So I ask people to go to the site, check out the videos of the first one (they run 4-7 minutes each), and nominate if you will. I called it "The Intergalactic Nemesis project," with author "Jason Neuland and creative team," publisher ""

I had such a good time and it would crack me up if these folk got nominated for a Hugo, especially if they have never heard of it.

#861 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 11:23 AM:

Popping in for a quick AKICIML: why are there assassins named Isstvan/Istvaan/Ishtvan/etc sprinkled throughout fictions-I-have-read? Is it just that it's a name I personally don't encounter outside of fiction, or is there A Thing?

#862 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 11:47 AM:

B. Durbin @860: I am not on the Hugo Subcommittee for Sasquan, but I'd put that into Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) rather than Related Work. The comics might fall into Related, but as you describe it it's definitely a DP. And it's going to have a way to go to beat Ellen Klages' "The Scary Ham."

#863 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 12:15 PM:

Estelendur #861 István is the Hungarian equivalent of Stephen/Steven. It has a nicely exotic sound, and seems to be favoured by writers of Magyar extraction.

#864 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 04:52 PM:

Also eligible for a Related Work Hugo (as I read the latest rules about release/distribution): Particle Fever, which follows an assortment of people at the Large Hadron Collider in the years leading up to the discovery of the Higgs boson. Perhaps it tries a bit too hard to humanize some serious geeks, but I found it fascinating -- and unlike (e.g.) Apollo 13 or The Imitation Game, it is resolutely non-fiction.

#865 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 06:25 PM:

Free to good home -- anyone want a copy of Architectural Drawings of the Regency Period by Giles Worsley? Appears to be just what it says on the tin -- lots of images of period architectural drawings (both floor plans and elevations), with descriptions, plus an extensive introduction. I think this originally came from my partner's sister-in-law's library.

Anyone who's interested, drop me a note at fgneqernzre@zvaqfcevat.pbz. First inquiry gets the prize.

#866 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 10:08 PM:

Estelendur #861

I was also thinking about how, often, you'll name your kid something you think is a really nice, uncommon name, only to find out that every other kid born that year got named the same exact thing.

#867 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 10:21 PM:

The book I offered @865 has been claimed, and will be shipped via Media Mail tomorrow. That was fast!

#868 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2015, 11:33 PM:

I thought of Dramatic Presentation, but I'm considering the whole package—comics, audio dramas, live plays, and the video versions—as the thing under submission, so it makes it more of a Related Work IMO. Also, the chance of anyone getting to see the third installment—which is the only one to come out last year, and thus the only one eligible unless you consider the material as a whole—is pretty small. I'd like it to be nominated, and I would like it to have a chance to be reviewed as well.

#869 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 03:18 PM:

A quote about biking in Washington, DC, but apropos for International Women's Day. "You can judge the health of a community by how comfortable the women are in it."

#870 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 06:13 PM:

The following passage was written 106 years ago, and one word in it sticks out. The OED is no help, so as AKICIML, I appeal to the collective mind of the Fluorosphere for help:

England is a great country but the quality of greatness ebbs and flows. In days gone by she was foremost in treating humanity as her universal brother, but indications are not wanting in the heart of that great country that it is having its turn at change and decay in this respect and that many of her people are converts to the policy of the Southern States of the United States of America. Indications also point to the concurrent conversion of her sons, to whom she delegates the happiness or unhappiness of my countrymen. Having regard to this and to the regrettable chances of naval defeat, we have no inclination to become either German conscripts or American faggots.

Clearly, 'faggots' in the above passage does not mean either 'bundles of firewood' or 'male homosexual'. But what else did it mean in 1909?

#871 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 06:23 PM:

I *think* that it was a term for underclassmen at boarding schools, who ended up running errands and doing chores for older boys. Its relation to other meanings of the word, however, I don't know.

#872 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 06:27 PM:

Fragano, my best guess given the context is that it means underclassmen at English boarding schools, who as part of hazing rituals act as servants to the seniors. I don't know why the writer attributes this to the Southern states of the USA.

#873 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 06:50 PM:

The word for a junior boy in a boarding school is not "faggot", but "fag"; it comes from the colloquial verb "to fag", meaning "to work hard and/or consistently". Also, it wasn't part of a hazing ritual as such, but an ongoing system. A junior boy would become the fag of a senior boy, and usually remain that boy's fag for at least the school year.

This system was not always abusive, though of course it very often was. If you were lucky enough to fag for a decent person, you might get, for instance, help with your prep in return ("prep" refers to work done outside class, roughly equivalent to homework). You might also get protection against bullies.

All this, of course, doesn't help with the meaning of the word "faggot" in the context quoted by Fragano. Unfortunately.

#874 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 07:11 PM:

#873 ::: Mongoose

I think it does help with the meaning of the passage-- a faggot is some sort of low status person who's required to do a lot of work.

Anyone have access to the OED? It might have some useful history of the word.

#875 ::: affreca ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 07:19 PM:

From the online etymology dictionary "Other obsolete British senses of faggot were "man hired into military service merely to fill out the ranks at muster" (1700) and "vote manufactured for party purposes" (1817)." The first one parallels conscript, so that's my guess. Caveated with I have no idea how trustworthy the online etymology dictionary is.

#876 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 10:18 PM:

Hugo nominations are closing soon. I don't usually bother to nominate, but I feel I should do my bit to counterbalance the Sick Puppies. Anyone got good recs? Especially for shorter fiction. If you don't want to post here, email me: goldfarbdj at google's popular mail server.

#877 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2015, 11:25 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 876, I'd like to see suggestions, too. Currently, I have The Goblin Emperor nominated, but I'm open to recommendations and reminders of other works, short and long....

#878 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 01:07 AM:

David Goldfarb (and Cassy B) I haven't read many of the nominees, but I recommend in the strongest possible terms Kai Ashante Wilson's 'The Devil In America' and I hope that as many as possible of the voters would read and consider it. It's not easy and pleasant reading, but it's extremely powerful and moving; it left me in tears.

You can read it online and decide if it merits your vote, right here: 'The Devil In America'

Although I can't endorse them in such exceptional terms, I also enjoyed both the other nominees from the Tor site, which you could check out here: 'The Mothers of Voorhisville' by Mary Rickert, and “Sleep Walking Now and Then” by Richard Bowes.

#879 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 01:12 AM:

Sorry dear readers, I was mentally conflating two quite different things there - the ongoing Hugo nominations, and the Nebula nominee slate, which is what my comments about those stories as "nominees" refer to. Anyway, there is no doubt in my mind that 'The Devil In America' deserves a Hugo nomination at the least.

#880 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 01:44 AM:

I'm also struggling to complete my Hugo ballot. Besides some of the stories mentioned above, I'm nominating and recommend My Real Children by Jo Walton and Hawk by Steven Brust (novels); "Knotting Grass, Holding Ring" by Ken Liu (Long Hidden, novelette); "Neither Witch Nor Fairy" by Nghi Vo, "Ogres of East Africa" by Sofia Samatar, and "Marigolds" by L. S. Johnson (Long Hidden, short stories); What If? by Randall Munroe, What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton, and by James Nicoll (related works); James Nicoll and Abi Sutherland (fan writer); The Order of the Stick: Blood Runs In the Family by Rich Burlew, The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, Silver Surfer: New Dawn by Dan Slott and Michael Allred, Widdershins: Piece of Cake by Kate Ashwin, and Atomic Robo vol. 8: The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener (graphic story).

I'm still looking for novella and novelette recommendations. I'll use up all five slots, to help counter the Sad Puppy bad influence, but I'd feel better if I were drawing from a larger set of read works.

#881 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 03:16 AM:


I think you may have something here. The only other (current) meaning I know for faggot is for a type of meatball

#882 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 10:40 AM:

affreca @875 et al:

I checked my copy of the OED last night, and can confirm those meanings. No other likely ones were in there.

#883 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 11:53 AM:

Carrie S #871/Allen Beatty #872: Mongoose has given the meaning of 'fag' as a public school term. I'm familiar with it, though they didn't have them at the public school I went to (and I was a day boy, not a boarder).

Affreca #875: I think you have it. It makes sense, and certainly fits with the 'German conscripts' mentioned immediately before.

James Harvey #881: I hadn't thought of meatballs!

The passage is from a text published in the Gleaner of Kingston, Jamaica, on 14 April, 1909. It reproduces a speech (I presume, since it was submitted by the author) by a gentlemen named Solomon Alexander Gilbert Cox announcing the formation of the National Club of Jamaica (also known as the Jamaica National Club). Cox was a member of the Legislative Council, and, by all accounts I can find, a rather eccentric figure.

#884 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Fragano, affreca, et al, I wonder if the "faggot" as "man hired into military service merely to fill out the ranks at muster" is related to the "bundle of firewood" sense of the word, similar to cannon fodder?

It's really interesting how, as Fragano originally said @870, every other word in the sentence makes perfect modern sense. Language evolution by punctuated equilibrium.

#885 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2015, 02:00 PM:

Of Possible General Fannish Interest: Programming/panel signups for WisCon39 are now open, and will close March 22.

If you've attended in the past, or are considering attending in the future, please do make a login and at least tick "I'd like to attend this panel" for anything that excites you. Community crowdsourcing is the main way we decide which panels run and which are cut in any given year.

(disclaimer: I'm co-head of Programming)

#886 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Thanks, all! Sounds like it's just a name that I don't encounter elsewhere (knowing, in fact, very few people of Magyar extraction).

On a separate note, would it be possible for our fine hosts to insert some sort of "skip to content" link at the top of the main page, for the benefit of those using text-based browsers? Getting to the blog posts requires scrolling past not only the side links but also all the lovely quotes. Which is rather a long way.

#887 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2015, 04:00 PM:

estelendur @886:

On a separate note, would it be possible for our fine hosts to insert some sort of "skip to content" link at the top of the main page, for the benefit of those using text-based browsers? Getting to the blog posts requires scrolling past not only the side links but also all the lovely quotes. Which is rather a long way.

Is "Making Lighter" (linked from the front page, probably in the section you scroll past; at ) suitable for your needs?

#888 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2015, 11:10 PM:

@the_moviebob over on Twitter is trying to find the author of a pair of old scifi stories:

Okay, Twitter. I need your human-search-engine help: Pair of sci-fi pulp stories, likely pre-50s or older. Same author. One involved a group of women using high-science to disguise themselves as men and infiltrate government and business. Second was the same premise, but with black men disguised as white. The disguise-wearers were the VILLAINS in both stories. Mainly seeking the author's name.

Does that ring a bell for anyone here?

#889 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 01:04 PM:

lorax @887: Making Lighter is, indeed, suitable for my blog-post-reading needs, although because of the way links2 parses web pages it is at the bottom of the page due to being in the right sidebar. But then, that is what the End key is for. :)

#890 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 03:41 PM:

Shadowsong @888 -- If they're from the 30s, that would almost undoubtedly be David H. Keller MD (an unjustly forgotten pulp writer whose prose was generally bad but whose stories were thought-provoking and occasionally decades ahead of his time). He's the only person who would have been writing about that sort of thing, though mostly the characters wouldn't have been villains. 50s, it might have been Sam Merwin Jr., who is more justly forgotten.

#891 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Article summarizing Ferguson, MO's court system:

(Sorry, for some reason I couldn't get the URL to work as a link.)

This is the tip of the iceberg. The suburbs around St Louis have some really ugly black/white race relations, but the shooting of Brown and surrounding protests and media storm were mostly a random event. It could have happened in hundreds of cities. Ferguson isn't uniquely bad, it's just doing the stuff that towns in that area with revenue problems do, and doing the stuff that towns with bad black/white relations do. (It sounds like the local police and courts were especially keen to extract money from blacks; I'm not sure if this was just racism, or was some kind of rational recognition of blacks being easier to extract money from via the legal system. You'd think whites would be where the money was.)

*Lots* of local governments use their criminal justice systems for raising revenue. Speed traps and red light cameras are ubiquitous. No-trial seizures of cash and valuables based on some kind of claim of involvement in drugs or prostitution happen all over the US. Parking enforcement is routinely run for revenue everywhere. In many states, prisoners are charged for their time in jail. This is nationwide.

Local and sometimes state governments have become dependent on that revenue, and will have fiscal crises without them. From the linked article, Ferguson was getting something like 12% of its annual revenue from fines, and (from Balko's earlier reporting) it's not even especially dependent on fine revenue, compared to many surrounding towns.

Now, there is no way to justify any of this. If you were starting fresh, nobody would say "Hey, let's fund our local governments off of traffic fines and property seizures, and let the same local governments appoint the judges and hire the police and write the laws used to do it." It's obvious what a terrible idea this is. And yet, now that we've got it, it will be really hard to get rid of. Think about those numbers from Ferguson: what happens when 10% of your city's budget evaporates? You lay people off. You cut services. Maybe you get rid of some of the cops whose main job was to raise revenue, but that won't remotely be the only place you have to cut. (And Ferguson will be facing a lot worse cuts, because they've had lost tax revenue and lots of expenses from the riots and protests since Brown was shot, and will likely lose more tax revenue as people with any means leave the town in the coming couple years.)

I would love to see a serious nationwide push at ending this awful practice. But I don't see it. My guess is, the Justice Dept. will keep an eye on Ferguson for awhile, but won't be in any position to force all the other traffic-fine-funded towns in the area to knock it off. Besides, where's the political advantage in pushing to end this? It's not a nice partisan issue (local governments and red light camera companies and private prison companies across the nation and the political spectrum are involved in this stuff), and there are zero deep-pocketed donors who are interested in pushing for reforms. (In fact, the red light camera companies, private prison companies, towing companies, etc., are probably quite happy to fund your opponent if you're pushing for reforms to this stuff.)

#892 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 04:37 PM:

Albatross, there's another wrinkle in the revenue process -- our wonderful Republican governor is trying to put a end to the state income tax.* One of the things they've done is cut funding to cities, villages, townships etc. Which means those entities HAVE to replace that revenue, and there aren't a lot of ways for them to do so.

So those fines might be increasing in Ohio. I'm wondering if our most Republican House and Senate have really considered the unintended consequences.

*He wants to go to strictly sales tax, and he wants to tax damn near everything because that's the ONLY way there might be adequate revenue.

#893 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 04:48 PM:

Those courts in Ferguson (and probably the other cities around it) were letting white people walk without the heavy fines that blacks got. (The judge who was removed from Ferguson was known for fixing tickets for his friends.)

#894 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 05:10 PM:

#891 ::: albatross

From what I've heard, the Ferguson municipal government was overstaffed, so there might be some people who could be let go.

#896 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Thinking today about my mother on what would have been her 100th birthday. She had 98 remarkable years. Read her first science fiction, A Princess of Mars, at 7. Was reading her favorite author, Terry Pratchett, at 98. She had a good run. Ooook!

#897 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 10:33 PM:

A cheerup especially for Abi, by way of the XKCD forums: A QA analyst walks into a bar...

#898 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2015, 11:26 PM:

I have to admit that part of that is too obscure for me to get. But I enjoyed all of it!

#899 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 12:24 AM:

I'm a QA guy too. I've seen the original joke before and it was a hit in the office. I'd add Orders "" beers.

#900 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 09:35 AM:

Stefan Jones @899: I'm not, but I've built, modified, and tested databases.


#901 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 11:23 AM:

Terry Pratchett has died.

#902 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 11:50 AM:

@901: I'm getting really sick of this s---.

#904 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 12:39 PM:

We've instructed our white cat Sheba (being put down in an hour because of failed kidneys) to look for the nice man in the big hat when she gets there. He'll take good care of her.

#905 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 01:37 PM:

Someone elseNet has suggested creating the Terry Pratchett Award for Best Humorous Fantasy Novel. Is this something the people who administer the Hugos might be interested in doing?

Tom, my condolences on your loss.

#906 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Tom, condolences on the loss of Sheba. I know Pterry will take excellent care of her.

#907 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 01:57 PM:

I met Terry Pratchett once, at the Worldcon in Boston that Laurel, the Best Teacher I Ever Had, took me to. He signed my Death of Rats mousepad (now sadly long gone), and I told him that all of my friends would be envious. "Oh," he said. "You have friends! That's SO nice."

And it was nice. And at the time I did have friends. But I didn't always, and before I had friends, I had his books. And the first one I read was "Mort", which someone had left lying around, and I was a miserable eight years old, and here was this book about this kid who was a daydreamer and not good at any of the things he was supposed to be good at and that everyone else just understood intrinsically, who knew he would be picked last at the apprenticeship fair - he KNEW it, because he was always last - and waited, and waited, and waited, hours after everyone else had gone, because eventually someone would want him. Someone had to, right? And eventually someone did. And that person was Death.

You wouldn't think that would comfort a lonely eight-year-old quite so much, but it did.

#908 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 02:53 PM:


#909 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 03:37 PM:

I wonder, could we have a Terry Pratchett thread along the lines of the Leonard Nimoy thread, please?

#910 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 03:42 PM:

Shouldn't that be the Terry Pratchett Award for Best Humanist Fantasy Novel?

#911 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 04:41 PM:

Tom, my condolences on the loss of Sheba.

For Sir PTerry, I have this quote of his: "The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks."

#912 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Tom, my condolences. Andrew, I like that idea! And I suspect he's appreciate the near-pun and almost-joke in there.

#913 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 06:04 PM:

Re: Pratchett's death: I actually heard about it at the used-book store where I work (and just got back from), where my boss had heard it on the radio. I'd just had to tell a customer that no, we didn't have any of his books, because when we get them we put them on the shelves and they promptly fly off. The customer commented after the news, that they would under no circumstances say that it was suicide, because that would expose his family to prosecution (assisted suicide being illegal in Britain).

#914 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 06:29 PM:

Tom, condolences on the loss of Sheba.

#915 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2015, 07:23 PM:

I wasn't going to write about Sheba, but the confluence with Sir Terry made me say something. We've lost 3 cats this year, with Sheba -- one to lymphoma (Kaylee), one to an unexplained vanishment (Mr. Tippy hid himself in a room and even taking the walls and ceiling out didn't find him -- we have no idea what's happened, and yes we tried that) and now Sheba. I feel like I'm spending more time crying than doing work. Thank you all for the condolences.

#916 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 09:27 AM:

Tom Whitmore #915: More sympathies! Also: an unexplained vanishment (Mr. Tippy hid himself in a room and even taking the walls and ceiling out didn't find him -- we have no idea what's happened, and yes we tried that) could easily be a story by Pratchett... or Gaiman.

#917 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Last week, I got my yearly review, and this praise from my boss: "You do a lot of tasks that people don't want to." (Insert a pic of Superman holding the Daily Planet's giant globe, or of someone pumping out the contents of a portolet.)Today, the promised bonus showed up on my paycheck.

#918 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 10:43 AM:

Last week, I got my yearly review, and this praise from my boss: "You do a lot of tasks that people don't want to." (Insert a pic of Superman holding the Daily Planet's giant globe, or of someone pumping out the contents of a portolet.)Today, the promised bonus showed up on my paycheck.

#919 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 02:53 PM:

David Harmon: I don't expect that it was suicide because Pterry would, in grand wizarding fashion, have a nice little* bash before he went (and he'd already made arrangements to travel to where it *was* legal, anyway.)

I'm glad beyond the religious reasons that I know he didn't share, because dying naturally means that he never felt that his quality of life had deteriorated to the point where he felt it was better to end it.

*Actually little, but a few dear friends would have to be present.

#920 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 03:56 PM:

Tom Whitemore @ 915: Belated sympathies for the loss of your feline friends, and in particular for the loss of Mr. Tippy - it must be very distressing to never know or have even a plausible guess what happened.

#921 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Open threadiness: I've mentioned Star Tenor a few times, but never named him, because I didn't want anyone thinking I was name-dropping. I'm going to do so now, because I would like everyone to know that Charles Daniels is a wonderful human being.

The other night, I went to hear him sing the Evangelist (and the rest of the tenor parts) in a St Matthew Passion in York; it stretched my already tight budget, but I reckoned I needed it for mental health reasons. I hadn't seen him for about a year, though we've known each other since 2005. It was an excellent concert, and afterwards I went and found him for the usual chat. During the conversation, this happened:

Me: Oh, by the way, I'm identifying as trans now. That is to say, I'm still non-gendered, just trans non-gendered. Given the stuff that tends to happen to trans people, I felt that if I could, I should.

Charles [sounding totally unsurprised]: Ah, right!

Me: It's pretty much exactly the same as ordinary non-gendered, but... er...

Charles: With added solidarity?

Me: Yes! Exactly.

Charles: Good for you! Which reminds me, I saw a very moving programme the other night about children who were trans.

And that was it. No freaking out, no questioning, no sudden chill, not even any surprise. (Of course, it is quite possible that, being Charles, he'd seen it coming. There's very little about people he misses.) In one sense, I shouldn't really be praising him for his reaction, because it should be what always happens; but, since it doesn't, yay for him. I don't think I have ever met anyone in my life who is so unfailingly kind, supportive and accepting towards others.

He sings like an angel. I do sometimes wonder if there's an obvious reason for that. *grin*

#922 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 09:52 PM:

Making Light has brought me many joys.

I woke up this morning with Dave Luckett's "You say "one day more" and you mean what you say" running through my head. I've been enjoying that thread for five years--the liturgical year baby is 5 and two months, and I read it sitting in the hospital with him as a two-month-old.

And the thread on religion in fantastic fiction got me to read Bujold, and Heather Rose Jones--and I enjoyed both greatly.

#923 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2015, 10:39 PM:

Mongoose #921: I've said before that much of recent history can be explained much more easily if one believes in demonic possession. But... if demons can walk the earth, then so can angels.

#924 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 03:54 AM:

I don't know how much reporting it's getting further away from the location, but a category 5 cyclone completely flattened Vanuatu last night. There was also significant damage in the Solomon Islands, and likely will be in New Caledonia.

The usual charities will be providing support as soon as they can get there.

#925 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 06:49 AM:

Well, this is one way of making your name go down in history, I suppose:

shady dealing

#926 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 07:26 AM:

Rob Hansen #925: Oh, my. Looks like in those times, getting hit with a complaint could crack your skull.

#927 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 08:11 AM:

Sigh-- note the comment from someone who thought cuneiform was carved into rock.

#928 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 10:44 AM:

The local radio news station reported on it--without mentioning the name Vanuatu. It just talked about "the island" and "the archipelago" and "near New Zealand". the only proper name used besides "New Zealand was the very first word of the on-scene report, which said "Vila, the capital city was...". If you didn't know that Port Vila (not Vila) was the capital of Vanuatu you were out of luck, I guess. And if your ears didn't adjust to the background noise around the on-scene reporter's report for a second or two, you wouldn't even get that much. I'm guessing they cut down the full remote report (and that's how they lost the "Port") without adding the information in the studio intro.

I'm glad we have an actual news (not "news and talk and talk and talk and talk") radio station here, but sometimes I want to reach through the speaker and slap them around a little.

#929 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 11:47 AM:

Happy Pi Day, everyone! (Although I missed Pi Minute.)

#930 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 12:00 PM:

I'm waiting for the year 3,141. :)

#931 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 01:34 PM:

Being a European, I plan to make a cheesecake on July 22nd.

#932 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 01:41 PM:

Lee, you can still catch the PM Pi Minute. Which seems as if it would be just as appropriate, since the AM would stick a spurious 0 into the mix if you're using the 4-digit HHMM approach that military time does -- using that approach, there is no pi minute in the pi day, because they'd be using (YY)YYMMDDHHmm anyway.

#933 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 04:31 PM:

Rolling coverage of Cyclone Pam from the Auckland-based NZ Herald.

#934 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 06:12 PM:

It's now official: Sasquan will be having NASA astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren as a Special Guest, coming in by computer from the International Space Station (assuming everything works properly). I'm really excited about having someone in space virtually attending a Worldcon. It's the future!

#935 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 08:20 PM:

Tom Whitmore #934: Cool! Will he be getting a robotic avatar?

#936 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 08:37 PM:

Praisegod Barebones #931: That's baking by rule of thumb.

#937 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 08:37 PM:

David Harmon @935 -- We're talking with NASA about that, but it seems unlikely -- there are bandwidth issues.

#938 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 08:58 PM:

I've just finished a bit of yard maintenance around the power lines, with high winds from Pam expected. And it was time to put the sun umbrella away in the garage anyway.

#939 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 09:49 PM:

Tom Whitmore #937: Drat.

#940 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2015, 11:28 PM:

David Harmon @939: I know. We're still looking into it, as I say; if we can make it happen, even for a short time, that would be totally cool (and it is on our radar, so we're asking).

#941 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2015, 12:30 AM:

@935 &seq: OMfG. Put out a call; I'm sure the number of volunteers to be local driver would be a whole other order of bandwidth problem...!

#942 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2015, 10:21 AM:

A really fun little piece of microfiction is cheering me up today. Involves a crotchety old man who grows puppyplants.

#943 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2015, 02:28 PM:

I assume some people here other than me have read Chalker's Changewinds trilogy.

Would any of you refer to those books as "children's" or even "young adult"?

#944 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2015, 03:37 PM:

Carrie S. @943

I read one as a young adult in the early '80s (I was working my way through the SF section in alphabetical order, and would read something new to me if I couldn't find something that looked interesting).

No. No, I would not describe them as YA.

#945 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2015, 05:45 PM:

If anyone was planning on going to Chi-Fi (a new SF convention in Chicago) next weekend, you might want to know that Steve Jackson is not going to be there.

#946 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2015, 07:02 PM:

Cassy, #945: That sounds like very bad news indeed -- not so much for Steve as for the con. We've seen cons that were imploding have that sort of thing happen before. I wonder if they were expecting their pre-reg to pay for their guests?

#947 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2015, 07:14 PM:

Carrie S. #943: I have not read the Changewinds saga, but I have read the Well World (both sets) and the Quintara Marathon. And here on ML, I recall some sharp discussion of Chalker's apparent favorite themes. I would not consider anything by him to be YA, much less appropriate for children.

#948 ::: Thomas B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2015, 09:43 PM:

Lois McMaster Bujold just announced a new book.

It's going to be a long eleven months...

#949 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 02:05 AM:

Thomas @948 -- Linked page is erroring. What universe is the book in?

#950 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 02:12 AM:

Google cache says:
I am pleased to report that a new Cordelia Vorkosigan novel has been sold to Baen Books for publication, tentatively, in February of 2016.

The title is Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

It is not a war story. It is about grownups.

And that is probably all I ought to say right now in a venue read by the spoiler-sensitive. It is, after all, a long haul till next February.

2016 will also mark the 30th anniversary of my first publication by Baen, which ought to be good for a little PR fun.

Ta, L.

#951 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 07:54 AM:

I would like to build a kitchen gadget. I say build, because while they're still being made in Japan and points Southeast, they charge a fortune for them. Part of it involves a liquid container with a valve in the bottom. I realized if I could find the glass part of one of those hanging wine decanters with a spring valve in it I could change the valve to make it do what I want. The reason I want the glass part alone is that the stands are all Austrian iron designs with grape leaves welded on, and are ugly as sin.

This has resulted in my searching on the web for one for sale. The problem is that while whole units are out there, everyone now has them listed as Antique or Collectable, probably because nobody outside of Austria will buy the ones being made today (shall I repeat that they're ugly?). Can anyone suggest an affordable alternative, or alternate source?

#952 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 10:05 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @951, I don't have a clear idea what you need. Would something like THIS work?

#953 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 10:21 AM:

Today is the feast day for Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of travelers, gardens, and cats, and protector against rats and mental illness. Sounds like a good saint for fandom to know about.

#954 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 10:49 AM:

Cassie B: not quite. I need something with the valve at the bottom, like a separatory funnel with a wide mouth. Like this, but with a price.

#955 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 10:57 AM:

#942 ::: Elliott Mason

Tentative solution to the problem of too many puppies from the puppy plants.

What you need is a plant that uses an R reproductive strategy like a coconut palm. (I'm making this up as I go, so I could be wrong about the coconut palms. Please bear with me.)

Obviously, you don't want the puppies to hatch (?) at the top of the tree and fall to the ground, and the husk might not have enough padding for it to just drop and have things work out.

So, what we have is the tree producing a platform with side walls near the top of the tree for the puppies to hatch onto. The tree also produces milk.

As the newborns approach becoming able to manage away from the tree, a spiral staircase is growing around the tree, and eventually the top steps grow in so that the puppies can walk down.

In the interests of not making things too complicated, the tree produces both puppies and seeds that will produce more trees.

The puppies grow up to be dogs that guard the trees.

I'll let you know if I figure out what the dogs are guarding the trees from, but it does occur to me that the dogs hunt for the tree so that it has enough fertilizer to produce puppies.

#956 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 10:59 AM:

This is the closest I've found to a wide-end sep funnel. If it doesn't work, you might be able to find a lab glassblower who can alter a sep funnel for you.

What's this going to be used for?

#957 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 11:14 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @954:

Something like this funnel with stopcock I found on ebay?

I wonder if it would simply be cost-effective to get a separatory funnel and have a glass shop cut off and smooth the top.

#958 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 12:50 PM:

Elliott Mason@942: A few years ago, while visiting some friends in the UK, I read a book to their (then) roughly-3-year-old that mentioned various flowers. Between the difference in accents and my inexperience at the time in talking to toddlers we had a back-and-forth that went

several times before I understood what was going on.

Nancy Lebovitz@955: Obviously, you don't want the puppies to hatch (?) at the top of the tree and fall to the ground

This is the point at which I started picturing a Minecraft cat fountain (which I think I first saw linked by abi some time ago, but I could be misremembering).

#959 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 01:16 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @955: Obviously, you don't want the puppies to hatch (?) at the top of the tree and fall to the ground

Hey, if the wood ducks can do it...

#960 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 01:19 PM:

#958 ::: dotless ı

The hyperlocal cat was considerably distracted by the cat fountain video.

I'm aware that I rather missed the point of puppy plants, which is to have lots of puppies growing in your garden.

#961 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 04:31 PM:

What counts as a fortune? this is around $30 plus shipping.

#962 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 04:32 PM:

One ohnosecond later: Sorry about my failure to capitalize that link.

#963 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 04:50 PM:

Diatryma: I want to use it for an ice drip coffeemaker. Unfortunately the top is a bit too small, and I'm not sure who in the area works in borosilicate glass.

Budda Buck: that would be ideal, but it's down as used. I don't want used lab glassware in anything that's producing output that I'll be drinking.

#964 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 04:56 PM:

Sandy B: that's a good possibility, assuming I can get someone to cut the top wider and polish the edge.

#965 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 05:01 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II #963:

What about a combination: a separating funnel (with narrow inlet) combined with a regular funnel for filling it? Two pieces of standard lab glassware instead of one, an perhaps harder to support, but maybe it'll do the job.

#966 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 06:36 PM:

Bruce D., #963: Check with your local artist group(s). Anyone who does lampwork glass either uses borosilicate themselves, or will know who does.

(XthreadX) "Themselves" sounds right to me here because I'm referring to an indefinite person or persons.

#967 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 06:38 PM:

Cut the bottom off a wine bottle and fit the neck with a cork and glass (or plastic) tap? It might look crude but would probably be the cheapest solution.

#968 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 08:17 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II:

THIS is what my husband, a coffee geek serious enough to roast his own coffee, uses to make coffee; it's a cone filter coffee maker with a valve on the bottom. When it sits on the counter (or a plate, to be safe) the valve is closed; when rested on a mug (or, presumably, other container) the valve opens.

#969 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2015, 10:12 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #955: IIRC, the story gave the plant-puppies "tail-roots", and "Some of [the grown plant-dogs] had tail roots so long they could make it over the fence".

My first thought would be that they would properly grow by "cuttings": Cut the root a ways away from the body, then stake it deep into the earth, at which point the "dog" would settle there and mature into a tree.

But the story also described the farmer as "breeding" them, which suggests sexual reproduction. This makes me think that instead, when the root is cut or broken (perhaps from pulling hard enough), the plant-dog would "umm, deposit" seeds during whatever lifetime remains to it.

dotless ı #958: As per the thread, that (as a momentary misreading), was what inspired the story.

#970 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 01:01 AM:

I managed at last to get in touch with the local blood bank about what makes my blood interesting. The letter they sent me said I had traits that were shared with no more than one person in a thousand, but the reality turns out to be more plausible: more like one in five to six. So not rare, just uncommon.

As for exactly what is uncommon: it seems that I am c-.

The Rh blood type groups involve antigen proteins that are notated with C, D, and E. (They were the first ones discovered after the more familiar A and B, I guess.) Type D is the one that we notate as + or -: if you are O+ then you are A-B-D+.

Now, C and E have two variants, notated as C and c, E and e. There's one gene for each, and it's possible to have both but not neither. The relevant part of the chromosome codes for either C or c; if you have C on one chromosome and c on the other, you will be C+c+; if you have c on both, you'll be C-c+; if you have C on both, then C+c-. (E similarly.)

Among Caucasians, about 68% of people are C+c+, about 20% C+c-, leaving about 12% as C-c+. I fall into that middle group.

If I'm reading the materials correctly (at and Wikipedia), most people don't automatically make antibodies against C/c and E/e, unlike A and B. But if you're receiving blood frequently, you may start making antibodies against the ones you don't produce yourself. So then people who are themselves c- and who have to receive blood, will need blood like mine.

The upshot is that now they want my red blood cells whenever they can get them. Previously they had mostly contented themselves with platelets and plasma.

#971 ::: David Goldfarb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 01:02 AM:

There were only two links. Perhaps one of them being to Wikipedia did it?

#972 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 01:42 AM:

Buddha Buck: that would work, but I think it would be a bit shakey. I'm currently looking at some of the upper pot sections of vacuum brewers on eBay: they have the opening and glass coming down, aren't as expensive as some of the labware combinations, and would only need a stopcock.

Lee: if I go with a separation funnel I'll try that, but assuming I give the artisan a fair and reasonable payment using the top of a vacuum brewer would be a lot cheaper.

Cadbury Moose: I'd thought of that quite a bit, but the impressive scars on my index finger from the last time I used a bottle cutting rig have me reluctant to try it ever again. On the other hand, if my corpse ever needs identification there will be NO QUESTION when they try to check my fingerprints.

Cally Soukup: your husband is a man of taste and fine jugement, and that is a very good rig, but it's an immersion system, which is quite different than what I have in mind. I have been considering a plainer single pour filter over the collection vessel unless I get shot with luck and find a Chemex somewhere.

#973 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 02:00 AM:

Bruce: My local 'Paint your own pottery' place does some work with borosilicate glass, at least at the glass fusing level. They might be able to point you in the general direction of someone with a torch.

(otoh, I could name 2 locals here who'd be able to do it, and a few more who used to live nearby but have moved to warmer climates. There's a lot of glass blowers around here...)

#974 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 06:37 AM:

Mindlinking off Bruce's gadget and its coffee-equipment subthread:

The Keurig K-Cup's inventor says he feels bad that he made it: "It's like a cigarette for coffee"
, not to mention an environmental disaster. He's long since sold the company, doesn't own one of them, and is now working on Solar panels.

By way of my local indy coffeehouse. (Warning: Tome of Visage link.)

#975 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:16 AM:


I think it was somewhere here that I saw a link to a comic about a floating island full of happy story makers who send their cheerful stories off into the air by balloon, all except for one story maker.

Now I've seen someone asking for a link to the comic, and I can't for the life of me remember where it was. Does this ring a bell for anyone?

Thanks in advance.

#976 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:24 AM:

Further information on Chi-Fi; the SCA has pulled out (apparently they couldn't get confirmed times for their demonstrations, or confirmation on parking, or on badges) and I just heard that so has GeekGirlChicago; again, I'm told, for lack of communication.

#977 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:28 AM:

Naomi @975: I remember that comic clearly,too,and I think it was linked from ML.

Google is failing me.

#978 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:40 AM:

Naomi Parkhurst @975 I remember this too. It was something to do with the value of dark stories. Searching around on that found me this twitter pic which I don't think is what you're looking for but is related. Don't know original source.

#979 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:45 AM:


For home/office use, K-cups are an environmental disaster. For use in hotel rooms, they're actually an improvement over most of the other options.

#980 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 11:38 AM:

I remember it, and I seem to remember it was linked from a comment. Last fall, I think, but not sure.

#981 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 11:43 AM:

Yes, I did see the "people making balloons and the one dark armored gloomy one" cartoon. Almost certainly here.

I thought I sent it to someone on the Tome of Visage, but can't find it now.

#982 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 12:17 PM:

Naomi @ 935: eat shit and die 233, which title might explain why it wasn't printed in the New Yorker or something like it deserves.

#983 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 12:55 PM:

John A Arkansawyer thank you so much!

And thanks to everyone else too.

#984 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 01:17 PM:

The pleasure was mine! I love that comic and I enjoyed finding it and I plan not to forget where.

#985 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 02:02 PM:

David Harmon@969: Exactly; that's what reminded me of the conversation.

John A Arkansawyer@982: Thanks from me as well. I also went looking, but couldn't remember enough keywords to find the comic. It was good to re-read it.

#986 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Seconding the thanks - and saved the page to my computer.

#987 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Dittoing thanks for the reminder about that comic. I just posted about it on Facebook, so it'll reach a few more.

#988 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 03:51 PM:

... and while looking at the comments on his latest comic page, I discovered:

  1. Winston Rowntree (Subnormality) is a fan, which is a hell of an endorsement.
  2. There's a new Subnormality comic. Don't read it in situations where you aren't ready to start crying a little.

#989 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 03:54 PM:

OtterB #978, John A Arkansawyer #982: And I'm reminded to check out the VA Festival of the Book. Not doing today because I just got "crowned" at the dentist and am still recovering from that, and tomorrow I'll be mostly at work, but I do hope to get to at least a few of the events over the weekend. I know I've shown my boss the ESAD one¹, I just printed out the other one for him on card-stock.

¹ And the title had me thinking "well, it does involve water"; Thank you, Jim. ;-)

#990 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Clifton #988: Yeah. Also, that one should be posted in the dorm room of every CS and Engineering student in Creation (so to speak).

#991 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:26 PM:

Clifton @#988: Is there a higher-resolution version? That page is unreadably low-rez on both my iOS devices. Do I need a different browser, or a plugin, or something? The art looks neat, but maybe 16 or 32 bit (not quite 8-bit low-rez) and the text is just too pixelated. Frustrating, because it sounds like a powerful comic and I'd love to read it.

#992 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2015, 10:50 PM:

Huh, got a "Too many comments from you in a short period of time" error. Waiting a bit and reposting this.

Clifton @#988: Is there a higher-resolution version? That page is unreadably low-rez on both my iOS devices. Do I need a different browser, or a plugin, or something? The art looks neat, but maybe 16 or 32 bit (not quite 8-bit low-rez) and the text is just too pixelated. Frustrating, because it sounds like a powerful comic and I'd love to read it.

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