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May 15, 2015

Open thread 205
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:56 AM * 1018 comments

So we were watching “The Princess Bride” last night.

It falls down in a few places: when Westley threatens to hit Buttercup “because where I come from there are penalties when a woman lies”, the depiction of an albino character, the degree to which disfigurement is treated as worse than death. (That last could be merely because Humperdink is so vain, but I’d be more comfortable if that were better spelled out.)

But what struck me more than anything else was the Machine, the Life-Sucker.

Last weekend, we went to the windmill park near our house. My parents are visiting, and my father is a letterpress printer in his spare time*. As it happens, there is a linseed-processing windmill near us that was used to power a printing press just after World War 2, and the local letterpress enthusiasts had recreated the whole assemblage for the 70th anniversary of the liberation. Naturally, we had to visit.

Dutch windmills are impressive† pieces of heavy equipment. We live near what is sometimes described as the first industrialized area of the world, where the wind was harnessed to supply the massive power needed to saw wood, make paper, grind linseed oil, and process chocolate on a grand scale. Visiting the mills now, one is still overwhelmed by the force they produce, despite the variability of the power source and the relative inefficiency of the wooden mechanisms.

The Life-Sucker is a water mill, but there’s a lot of the same feel to it. And it makes me think that we’ve missed out on a potential genre, in our desire to play with the shiny brass of Victorian technoliogy. Where are the stories about the creaking, grinding power of wind and water mills, the impersonal forces of nature incompletely harnessed by early technologists working in the flameless dark? Why is there no love for them?

I think I want to read some millpunk.

* It’s ironic, but my bookbinding does not come from his printing. Apart from a certain passion for craftsmanship, that is.
† Thanks to Joris Meijer for supplying the link when I mused on this a little on Twitter.

Comments on Open thread 205:
#2 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:32 AM:

Can anybody advise this online author on the best way to scrape off a parasite called ""?

#3 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:22 AM:

My daughter was horrified by the life sucking machine, had nightmares for days afterwards, and will not watch the movie again. The scene wasn't even on my radar as something to worry about showing her.

Now the scene in "Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" where a woman in a empty apartment is attacked by a savage rottweiler which then turned into some kind of tentacle monster demon which started tearing the walls down - *that* she treated with bland indifference.

Which all makes sense in retrospect, because

a) The Mortal Instruments books were terrible dull rubbish and no better as a movie.


b) metaphysical terrors are far scarier than physical ones.

#4 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:33 AM:

I believe that Serge has expressed the theory that one of the things that people in Steampunk stories are interested in is Electricity. It is the New Technology of the day that will Bring Us To The Promised Land and/or Wreck Everything Forever.

By analogy, the hot new technology in Millpunk stories would be steam power.

#5 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:39 AM:

I'm pretty sure Fury Road is the best summer blockbuster I've seen in theaters (I'm 30, calibrate accordingly). In my judgement it handily surpasses its predecessors and I expect that in years to come it will be accepted as a member of the top tier of SF action movies, along with Aliens and Terminator and so on.

The feminism the MRAs were freaking out about is there, but it's pretty low key. Really it's a stark reminder of how poorly other big budget action movies handle women; here, escaped sex slaves have agency, and their actions matter. Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure every woman in the film does something significant at least once. Which, again, doesn't sound like much, but it really is when measured against the competition.

More, while it's a Mad Max movie, it's not actually a Mad Max movie. By which I mean it's not Max's story, it's the story of Furiosa and her charges, and Max's role is that of a valued ally, not the primary protagonist. Hell, he's not even the most interesting male character in the film

Anyway! It's gorgeous. The action is excellent. The details of the setting are gloriously deranged. The character stuff is surprisingly good. The War Boys are excellent mooks.

If you like action movies at all, make the effort to see it in theaters.

#6 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:53 AM:

I want millpunk, horsecollarpunk, ImperialRomePunk (legionpunk?), dieselpunk, rocketpunk and jetpunk. Every historical era has something to tell us, and we have something to say about every historical era. You can punk anything that was once a new technology that opened frontiers. Millpunk speaks to localism and renewable energy infrastructure; horsecollarpunk to land reclamation and remediation; RomePunk to our international system; dieselpunk to the breakdown of our industrial base and appropriate technologies for developing nations; rocket and jetpunk speak to the return of the spacerace -- Who is Elon Musk if not Harriman?

#7 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:56 AM:

MaxL @5:

I'm happily surprised - it being the fourth movie in the franchise and filmed after such a long gap didn't fill me with optimism. I guess I'll be seeing it now.

Just about my favorite movie fact ever: they were going to film in Australia again, but unexpected rains made the desert bloom, so they shifted filming to Namibia.

#8 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:01 AM:

The feminism the MRAs were freaking out about is there, but it's pretty low key.

you'd never know that from the piece NPR did on it.

#9 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:01 AM:

Neil W @ 4... "...Serge has expressed the theory that one of the things that people in Steampunk stories are interested in is Electricity..."

Or words to that effect.
I'm surprised - pleasantly so - that anybody remembers my "Steampunk and Hollywood"

#10 ::: Brad Hicks (@jbradhicks) ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:26 AM:

cleek @ #8... Interesting. I had no particular interest in Mad Max 4; I didn't even see Mad Max 3. But that review gives me the hint of a whiff of just a tiny bit of what I liked so much about World War Z; the interesting thing about the post-apocalypse, to me, isn't the fighting between scavengers over the remains, it's the people who are trying to rebuild.

That being said, my suspension of disbelief is choking on the idea of a post-apocalypse where gasoline is easier to get than water.

#11 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:30 AM:

The creepiest thing about the life-sucking machine, for me, was not the machine itself but Chris Guest's deadpan "disaffected scientist" delivery. Possibly because I can easily imagine Mengele et al acting the same way.

"And remember, this is for posterity, so be honest... how do you feel?"

#12 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:40 AM:

Open-threadiness, political edition:

Prior to the UK election, the Telegraph had a "tactical voting" tool that told you how to vote based on your location and which of Cameron/Milliband you wanted to keep out of No. 10.

Buzzfeed and Private Eye have analysed the tool's source code, and found that for the whole of Scotland, the tool was hard-coded to give an answer of "anyone but the SNP". Regardless of your politics.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:50 AM:

I'm heading out to Bend, OR in an hour or so.

Might see Fury Road tonight.

Tomorrow, launching rockets, including one with a spoonful of dog ashes and a wad of dog hair. Simulations put ejection altitude at 2,880' or so.

#14 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Dutch windmills play a prominent role in the Alfred Hitchcock World War II-era movie Foreign Correspondent. I saw it on TV a while back, and would happily see it again.

#15 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:36 AM:

The disfigurement/albino comments put me in mind of Jim C. Hines' series' on representation in fiction. He had an essay by an albino individual (Nalini Haynes) on how badly she had been treated - explicitly because albino is used as a shortcut for evil in fiction, virtually every time an albino character shows up. Part of Invisible.

This year's selection of essays (not yet released for purchase), plus a few essays that didn't make it for reasons of space, are all linked here.

It's a fascinating pair of essay collections, from a diversity of views. Figured anyone here who hadn't already heard of it would be potentially interested.

As a note, I find the commenting community on his LJ much more congenial than the commenting community on his actual blog.

#16 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:40 AM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 14... An excellent film.

#17 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:43 AM:

I thought some K. J. Parker gets close to Mill punk.
There's also surely room for some early industrial evolution stuff, before steampunk.

#18 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:47 AM:

Claire: Yes ... and yet once in a while there's some real gems in the blog commentary, so I keep checking both. And I'm starting to learn when to stop looking at the blog one to avoid running myself out of sporks.

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:51 AM:

MaxL, #5: One of the things the MRAs are screaming about is precisely that Max isn't the protagonist. Why, they cry, is the movie even called "Mad Max" if it's not about him? I suspect a suggestion that this is "Mad Max, the Next Generation" would not go over well.

The fact that a level of female presence and agency which you describe as "pretty low-key" provokes that kind of reaction shows just how badly women are normally treated in big-budget films.

Claire, #15: Yeah, that essay was an eye-opener for me. And I immediately had the unpleasant suspicion that one of the reasons behind the "evil albino" trope is that it's an easy way to mark someone as Other visually without risking people asking questions like, "why is your bad guy dark-skinned when all the other characters are white?"

#20 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:03 PM:

guthrie @17 - K J Parker is very much interested in the details of how things work, are built and are made. Also in at least one novel gunpowder is the ULTIMATE WEAPON, which according to my un-fully-worked out theory is similar to the trope of electricity being the future in Steampunk, and the way that nuclear secrets are often macguffins or the ultimate weapon in alternate 1930s/Dieselpunk.

(Meanwhile actual 1930s SF seemed to think that rays and gasses were the future of, well, everything)


#21 ::: Tzohoqiel ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Was watching Princess Bride the other night, the first time in many years for me, with a bunch of friends, including two who were among that day's lucky 10,000, and was pleasantly surprised by how well it aged. The writing's good. The places where it "falls down," as abi puts it, ruined it less for me than I had feared because the rest of it held up well, and also because I'm used to calibrating for 1987.

And yes, millpunk! Yes, please! There are some Hokusai prints that inspire (currently on show at Boston's MFA)--for example, this one.

What millpunk currently exists?

And...another reading list request. I enjoy reading French but don't know the Francophone speculative fiction scene *at all*, aside from a certain M. Verne. If I should happen to find myself in the vicinity of a French-language bookstore, what contemporary authors should I try?

#22 ::: Tzohoqiel ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:28 PM:

Dear gnomes,
Sorry for double-posting; I screwed up the second URL in the first post. I humbly offer cookies (store-bought, but offered with a good heart) and blueberry juice.
Love and contrition,

#23 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:29 PM:

I've wanted millpunk since seeing James Burke's original Connections series and getting the tie-in book as a birthday gift. So much potential there.

#24 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:34 PM:

Well, you know, S. Morgenstern was a man of his times.

#25 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:43 PM:

Worth [re]visiting David Macaulay's' Mill, too.

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:47 PM:

Millpunk = Stories about alternative technologies that involve either James Mill, or John Stuart Mill, or Harriet Taylor Mill as central characters. Must involve logic, political economy, liberty, and left-wing (I nearly wrote 'left-whing') Whig politics along with steampunk, windmills, watermills, and Thomas Carlyle as the villain.

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:50 PM:

Across the silences these words are true
that answer sorrow with a worthy smile
but will not pause to soften nor revile
your efforts, nor the feelings that are due
this passing day. What is it we review,
among the many sights that might beguile
each voyager who reaches this last mile,
is that the known provides us with a clue.
Some would be said to answer that the day
is not sufficient for all that we need;
but we must struggle onwards into night,
actors and viewers of the self-same play
not certain if our desperation’s greed,
but ever hopeful we can get things right.

#28 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:59 PM:

Fragano @ 26... What about Hayley Mills?

#29 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:05 PM:

Tzohoqiel @22:

I've unpublished the first post for you.

Nothing wrong with store-bought cookies. And blueberry juice is a rare treat. As a young gnome, I had access to essentially unlimited quantities of huckleberries in season, and that entire flavor family is dear to me.

#30 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:11 PM:

Or even Haley Mills on a windmill.

#31 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:20 PM:

Allan Beatty @30, was that the right link? Haley Mills on a windmill made me think of this.

#32 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Given that Westley was attached to the machine through suction cups, playing up the machine as a mill invites a variety of insucken and outsucken puns.

The film of The Princess Bride falls down more often than that for me. It’s generally a sort of sloppy mess, and certain scenes that were no doubt intended to be read dramatically come out as funny due to editorial or directorial ineptness. (I’m thinking specifically of the scene where Buttercup throws Westley into the ravine.) The novel, on the other hand, remains one of my favorites.

#33 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:45 PM:

The Mill and the Cross features some good interior windmill footage, but I can't fully recommend it, because the director evidently thought that being about a painting (a Bruegel) it should therefore contain as little movement or dialogue as possible.

#34 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:15 PM:

"I’m thinking specifically of the scene where Buttercup throws Westley into the ravine."

That wasn't supposed to be funny?

#35 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Here's your future!

My wife got a new car [or her company did, for her use] and it has a backup camera, stereoscopic front mounted cameras to detect when it's braking time (or when the car in front of you at the light has started moving) and when you're drifting out of your lane, and blind spot radar ($daredeviljoke) .

My FIRST reaction was "What is the car complaining about? Oh, fine."

My second reaction was "Holy shit, this is almost literally straight out of Snow Crash."

My third reaction was "... and this is pretty much one smartphone of hardware and two apps."

#36 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:32 PM:

@upthread: I'm not sure if legionpunk should more properly be roadpunk or aqueductpunk.

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Serge Broom # 28: Millspunk would be a different matter, and that would include Hayley Mills, C. Wright Mills, Charles Mills, The Mills of God, and so on.

Millerpunk is another alternative and this would involve Joe Miller, Judith Miller, Arthur Miller, the village miller &c.

#38 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Two years ago, all the Mills would have gone over my head. I've since taken a couple of Victorian Lit class.

Forget advancing the world or getting a good job. The real value of an education is that you get the jokes.

#39 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:09 PM:

Fragano @ 37... And Hayley's dad John Mills.

#40 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:23 PM:

It falls down in a few places (there's a lot of gratuitous stereotyping of the Irish in particular), but on the whole I would recommend Shirley as some pretty darn good millpunk.

#41 ::: Edd ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:24 PM:

I had a friend whose favorite book was Princess Bride. He kept one copy in his car and another in his bathroom, reading it over and over.

Steve #3: Our daughter was likewise freaked out at an early age by the movie. Kind of like me with Invaders from Mars (gah! those people getting sucked into sand pits - scarred me for life)

#42 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:26 PM:

@37, speaking of Judith Miller...

today she's discussing journalistic integrity with James O’Keefe.

irony is insufficient

#43 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:34 PM:

B Durbin @34, it’s not a comedic scene in the book. Or if it is, the comedy lies in the exaggeration of romantic clichés, not the clumsiness of the events depicted. The biggest differences are (1) In the film, Westley shouts out “As you wish” while bouncing down the ravine wall, while in the novel, he says it after coming to rest on the bottom; and (2) in the book, since it’s a book, we don’t see them bouncing and tumbling.

#44 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:35 PM:

Avram @32: now I'm just the opposite about Princess Bride. I found the novel way too much "see how clever I'm being with this framing sequence about the grandfather? Aren't I clever?"; and the movie gets rid of most of that, playing it with a much lighter hand. The entire film is full of things that are intentionally funny like the pushing him down the hill that work for me. And I need to watch it again.

#45 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:51 PM:

Em @38: *huge grin* May I quote you?

#46 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:17 PM:

Tom Whitmore @44, what makes you think the humor in that scene is intentional? That’s basically a pratfall, a form of humor I can’t recall any other examples of in the movie, and it runs contrary to the nature of the scene (a dramatic revelation) and undermines the image of the hero’s competence.

Though I suppose it may not have been a dramatic revelation for people who came to the movie not having read the book. It’s a lot easier to figure out that the mysterious Man In Black is Westley the Farm Boy when you can see them being played by the same actor.

#47 ::: PrivateIron ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:29 PM:

I would say some of Miyazaki's films resemble millpunk.

#48 ::: giltay ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:46 PM:

My coworkers and I recently decided that the next -punk genre of literature should be about ceramics: claypunk. Naturally, the first book would be called Bone China.

(Also, I thought the tumbling down a hill scene was deliberately funny, too.)

#49 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:14 PM:

On the HLN front, local fan is going back to school on Monday.

Part of this is that I've been "away" from my field for about 5 years, after company I was with bought another company and made my position what the Brits have quaintly called "surplus to requirements"

I found out that I had two things a'gin me: No degree (4 decades of experience don't count when the software that eats the resume submission apparently doesn't know about the "or equivalent experience" in the job posting), and that 40 years of experience.

Unfortunately, the people in HR are up to the task of addition, and looking at a presumed age to start career, and the amount of experience and jobs shown, leads up to a number higher than what they want to see. Or, after rejiggering the resume to not explicitly show that amount of time, and getting the interview, when The Olde Guy shows up at the appointment time it quickly becomes a matter of "this looks nice, we have other candidates to see, we will call back if we want a second interview"

And now I'm looking at the fact that I've been out of the IT/MIS/EDP world for too long. The last mini-interview I had I was declared as "overqualified" and "your skills are too rusty." From the same HR person, in the same interview.

So, now that early entrance into Social Security has given some income security (over that gained working part time nights stocking at Big Box Home Improvement Chain), I can go back to school.

I'll be starting off at a community college to get an AS in Info Systems, and hopefully transfer to a 4 year school after that.

I'll be full-time for the summer semester and full-time as well into the fall.

And am nervous as a cat with kittens

ObHumor: at the "new accepted student event" I was twice mistaken as an instructor and thrice for a parent Taking The Tour

#50 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:17 PM:

Claypunk could be about ancient Mesopotamian or Indus Valley type civilizations. In which case (following on from my what-is-the-future-in-this-period idea) the disrupting technology could be bronze.

#51 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:32 PM:

I watched the film as a preteen with a head full of cautionary tales of toxins and radiation poisoning, and for me there was a huge Fridge Horror element to the life-sucking machine.

Westley is resurrected, but nowhere is it said that the overall results are reversed, so he could drop dead again at any moment. That worried the hell out of me, and the otherwise lighthearted ending did nothing to reassure me, because no one in the film ever offered the requisite handwave to fix it.

#52 ::: Jordin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:34 PM:

I will just note that a more general category than millpunk would be millstf...

#53 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:39 PM:

Lee @19 said: One of the things the MRAs are screaming about is precisely that Max isn't the protagonist. Why, they cry, is the movie even called "Mad Max" if it's not about him?

See, that's what I don't get. The first movie (or second? The first one I saw) opens with a narration from an old man (who we later learn is a child character who shows up in the film) about how Max has accreted layers and layers of legend and myth upon himself in the course of the narrator's life.

I think there are quite fertile grounds for telling all KINDS of Mad Max stories, some of which are in-world legends and some of which purport to be 'what really happened' that INSPIRED legends.

#54 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:42 PM:

Craig R. @ 49

Good luck with school :)

#55 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:51 PM:


Tommy "Ray" Gun is a millcaptain, one of the elite guardians of the Polder. He patrols the walls of the world from the enemy known only as the Flood. Then one day central command sends a new secret weapon, a firey machine that will hold the line even when there is no wind. Will he be able to overcome his antipathy to the new technology? Can he combine the best of the courage and nerve of the old methods with the new to defend the civilians? How badly will he patronise steamcaptain Angela "Maneater" Tiger and her team of female engineers?

Find out in A Boon for the Mills.

#56 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:56 PM:

Back in very early days, the big technological innovation would have been the discovery of fire... and, maybe, the use of soft, fungus-ridden wood as tinder... fiction about that could be punkpunk.

(Meanwhile, if you are snacking on mill-based fiction, don't forget to floss.)

#57 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:23 PM:

I have a completely out-of-nowhere open threadly musing and some odd questions.

I was not feeling well recently, and I marathonned a TV series. I had an extremely strong emotional response to a character in that series, that manifested in a way that loosely resembled attraction to a real person. As fans, this is a thing we all know happens. People get crushes on characters. Sometimes they write fanfiction. Sometimes they just collect and reblog gifs. It's a fairly universal experience for sensitive souls of specific types... but I realized I'd never read a short story about it.

I have sort of half-written briefly about the phenomenon myself, usually as part of a review piece. The closest I've ever come to exploring it in story format was a blog entry about the video game Mass Effect where I mixed gameplay motivations with my character's emotional state as I described the relationship-based decisions in that game. But Bioware games encourage you to roleplay, and the entry wasn't really from my perspective. It wasn't about a human feeling a strong emotional connection to someone who doesn't exist, it was about how the game successfully engaged my imagination in the way it was designed to. It was from the perspective of Shepard, the person who the game had invited me to be, someone who DID exist in that same universe. Or rather, it was an exploration of the feelings they had deliberately evoked in me, filtered through the character they created for me to identify with.

I've read science fiction or fantasy stories with concepts that were sort of vaguely close: someone falls in love with a person they think is real who turns out to be a robot or an AI or an especially sophisticated NPC in a futuristic online game. I've also seen genre stories about the opposite, when someone starts to have feelings for a fictional or inanimate person or thing, only to later learn that there was a real person behind them. Or maybe it's a Pygmalion, and they make a thing, fall in love, and give it life... not necessarily in that order.

I feel like the default response to these feelings is creativity in the "fan" sphere: fan art, fan fiction, fan curation... without ever formally commenting on how fictional thing has triggered very real emotions. This particular character had left me with a physical pain in my chest, and at several times the show gave me something approaching a mild panic response of a type I have only ever had before when someone I cared about was in legitimate trouble. But when you know you're having these responses due to a fictional thing, it allows you to stand slightly outside them, and thus see them clearly while still feeling them strongly... something that is often impossible when a real human is involved. It's an interesting phenomenon to explore.

I finished the series and started to feel better, and some notes I had jotted down for a review had turned into half of a short story about the experience. I'm still trying to figure out if I have the other half of that story in me or not, and it's so WEIRD that I'm not sure how it should be shaped in the end.

Can anyone think of any short stories that cover that topic without the genre trappings of 'but what if they're actually real'? It's not that I won't write mine if I find it's been done, I'm just genuinely curious.

If stories about this kind of interaction with fiction ARE fairly new, what genre would it be and what kind of publications might be interested in it? If I go comedic, I was thinking McSweeney's or the Toast, but for a serious version I'm at a loss. It's inextricably fannish in theme but it doesn't really have any speculative elements. It shares qualities with certain varieties of literary fiction, in that it's an emotional exploration of an otherwise mundane experience... but like I said, while I think the experience is universal, it's also nerdy and weird.

#58 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:47 PM:

On claypunk, I seem to remember Terry Pratchett doing something with the Chinese terracotta army, and of course the golems.

I grew up near Wilmington, Delaware. One of the standard field trips for elementary school kids was to go to Hagley Mills, the ~1802 duPont gunpowder mills. They're water mills, with about five of them along the river, built with three heavy stone walls and a lightweight wooden wall facing the river for when the mill explodes, as occasionally happened, so that it doesn't set the whole row of them on fire (as happened once before they figured out that they should prevent it.) The museum there also has exhibits on flour milling and other colonial-period industry along the rivers, and examples of what rich people's houses were like back then, including furniture and clothing. A bit farther up the river is a much newer museum, with paintings by various generations of Wyeths who lived near there; one of the granddaughters was docenting the last time we visited. I grew up in burbs and more forested areas nearby, but the open rolling farm country out past there has an emotional resonance for me that I get reminded of when Abi's writing about polders.

#59 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 07:20 PM:

Bill Stewart #58:

The clay warriors was from "Interesting Times" & golems feature in "Feet of Clay" and show up in some books after that.

#60 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:08 PM:

There's also a whole other world of wind-powered technology genre out there, from Aubrey/Maturin and Hornblower all the way to Capt. Jack Sparrow.

#61 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:41 PM:

"Bring me that horizon..."

#62 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Quill @ 45: Of course!

#63 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:10 PM:

Steve Wright @56 said: Back in very early days, the big technological innovation would have been the discovery of fire

Personally, some time ago I realized that the invention of proper textile string (not just animal tendon or existing vines of fixed size; breaking some substance down and respinning it to add strength and theoretically-infinite length) must have been a complete game-changer. Nearly a singularity point.

Possibly our first, depending on whether it or control of fire were earlier.

#64 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:20 PM:

Lucky 10,000 moment: I just got to show two kids a video about how cranberries are harvested (flooding the fields). They clearly found this massively sensawunda-inducing.

#65 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:28 PM:

Can't open the RedHarpy particle without a Ravelry account. Is it worth setting one up, given my lack of knitting?

#66 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:29 PM:


You can kind of see what I'm driving at in that article. If you strip it down to its basics, what that article says is
A: Charlize Theron plays a badass
B: There's a tribe of old women who are effective killers
C: The escaped "wives" are actual people, not just attractive victory tokens.
D: The author of the Vagina Monologues is pleased with the strength of the women in the film

Women who survive on their own for decades in the post-apocalypse might get pretty good at killing? One woman in particular might be excellent at killing? Women can take active part in their own liberation?

This is all real basic stuff, and as far removed from radical feminism as it can be. It just highlights how...I dunno, anti-feminist most big budget movies are, and, yes, the incredible misogyny of the men who freak out about even this much feminism.

The movie doesn't do much (I would say it doesn't do anything) to emphasize that these are women being effective agents. They're just characters with agency, who do important things, who happen to be women. Which is feminist! But radical? Nah.

I mean, I guess it's fiery feminism in that there's gunfire and Molotovs and exploding cars and it's so cool.

#67 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:29 PM:

It's a little felted wool knitted top hat, with an integral swirling colorwork pattern around the sides, Bill Stewart @64.

#68 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:35 PM:

Is Fury Road comprehensible for someone who is completely unfamiliar with the earlier movies?

#69 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:59 PM:

I haven't seen it yet, but from what I remember the first three films all function independently of each other.

#70 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:39 PM:

#49 ::: Craig R
Not reading to the end here, just posting. First of all, damn, I'm sorry. I've been in a similar position. My current IT employer overlooked my lack because of experience and expediency. The client wanted a contractor and they wanted a butt in that seat. That was 4 years ago, now the postings say bachelors only. We will not talk about my endless degree debacle and my mutiple crazy IT certs.

My current corp does business in the UK, and they're based out of Brussels. They'd be a fool not to hire you. Email me at trishb at gmail if you would like more info.

#71 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:58 PM:

Leah Miller #57: I believe the general idea has shown up in comedy, but mostly as mocking the fan for "getting too involved" with the characters. A more sympathetic take might well be breaking new ground.

#72 ::: superexecs ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:35 AM:

Ooh, a new-ish open thread! Making Light, your friends at superexecs-dot-tumblr wish you to know how honored we were to make it to your sidebar. To celebrate, we wrote a brief fic of what might happen were Hollywood to contemplate a movie about the activities of this fine site. Sadly, we now wish for nothing more than a quirky indie film about moderators who solve crimes while contemplating the beauty of science and culture in modern times. It would be like the opposite of nihilism.

#73 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 03:44 AM:

#68 Chris

I saw the new Mad Max as someone who has only seen the original films once, a long time ago. A few of my friends have never seen them. The movie was totally comprehensible for them, with a few notes.

A lot of stuff in the movie has that sort of lived-in world thing that, seeing as it is a sequel, makes you wonder if all this stuff was explained in an earlier movie. Turns out for the most part, nope... the few things that are a reference to the old movies are pretty easy to suss out, and everything else is old-fashioned "this is how it is, draw your own conclusions about how it got that way" worldbuilding.

As long as you're prepared to do the standard science fiction in medias res inference drawing, you'll probably do fine.

#74 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 03:58 AM:

I know I am a Sasquan member. My name is in their membership list and I have the Paypal receipt.

I have discovered that I have no email from them stored on my mail systems, nothing about Hugo voting or anything else, the new site-selection voting page doesn't recognise my email address, and their Contact page appears broken.

It's possible that something got auto-deleted as Spam, but why would their emails get classed as spam? Since my email address, as used by Paypal and the specific one required for Paypal to work, is of the form ****@**** I am beginning to wonder if it might have been truncated in their records.

I am not going to claim to be blameless, I should have noticed the silence, but this, mixed with the delays in even making non-US payment possible, is starting to make Nolacon II look good.

#75 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 05:11 AM:

Dave Bell - I got my Hugo PIN and membership number from Sasquan on May 1, so if you haven't heard from them by now, something's gone wrong somewhere. (The email came from sasquan at sasquan dot org, and gives a contact for queries - hugoadmin at same place.)

#76 ::: andyl ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 05:53 AM:

Dave Bell.

I'm in the UK and I have had no problems with Hugo nominations or voting with Sasquan - it was all really smooth. So something has definitely been messed up in your case. Having just poked around - yes the Contact Us bit of the website is broken.

Not sure if the email addresses are outgoing only but it might be worth a go I suppose. Also maybe DMing the sasquan twitter account might get you a reply with a contact email address

I wish site-selection could all be online too (grumble, grumble).

#77 ::: andyl ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 05:54 AM:

Dave Bell.

I'm in the UK and I have had no problems with Hugo nominations or voting with Sasquan - it was all really smooth. So something has definitely been messed up in your case. Having just poked around - yes the Contact Us bit of the website is broken.

Not sure if the email addresses are outgoing only but it might be worth a go I suppose. Also maybe DMing the sasquan twitter account might get you a reply with a contact email address

I wish site-selection could all be online too (grumble, grumble).

#78 ::: andyl ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 05:56 AM:

Buggrit - ignore the double post, I got an error the first time I tried posting. I even rechecked to see if it had made it to the server before reposting.

#79 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 06:30 AM:

Sasquan responses: Hmm. I got a Registration Confirmation and the Site Selection announcement -- neither of which seems to have a registration number etc.

#80 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 06:33 AM:

I had to go to the Sasquan site and re-request my PIN (which you can do with name and e-mail). When it came (immediately) Gmail had put it in the spam folder because of the domain it came from (host415.hostmonster), and I had to go in and mark it not spam.

#81 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 07:20 AM:

Sasquan does seem to truncate things - for reasons best known to themselves, they have left the final "t" off my surname. (I am minded just to give a wrigh smile and move on, personally.)

#82 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 07:22 AM:

I have tried the PIN request, was able to confirm the specifics of name/email were recognised. but no sign of any email with the PIN yet. And the same name/email combo on the site-selection payment system was not recognised by the web page.

I am not impressed. Am I over-sensitive to wonder why I should bother?

It all still could be a spam filter behind the earlier missing emails, but what did they do to look like spam?

#83 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 07:31 AM:

I'm looking at the Hugo voting email now, and I can't see any problem with it, on the surface. The only thing I can think of is that some random string in it has fired off an alert somewhere. Maybe your voting PIN is the same as some Nigerian prince's bank account number, or something?

#84 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 07:56 AM:

Google was explicit that it had put the message in spam because of its source. I had no issues with other notices which were sourced from

#85 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 08:03 AM:

James #80: Argh, I wish sites in general would get their act together about making their return addresses match their site domain.

Where on the site did you file the request? The first couple of links I found didn't have anything relevant, and the next couple are hanging on load.

#86 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 08:48 AM:

Might be the Hugo PIN lookup page? Or have you already tried that one?

#87 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 09:48 AM:

Steve Wright #86: That looks right, and I hadn't found a link to it. Thanks!

#88 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 09:50 AM:

And they say that the E-mail will come from, so maybe they have got their act together there.

#89 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:19 AM:

Me 87,88 But the mail did in fact come from . Not only did this not pass the spam filter, it wouldn't have passed my wetware review of the spam bucket!

Thankfully, this time I had the prior notice from James #80....

#90 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:07 PM:

superexecs @72: Hey, you sold me at manic pixie dream scientists.

#91 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:09 PM:

About six hours with no sign of a response, and nothing in spam...

This does feel a bit slow, but with the time zone difference and the turning on of on-line payment for site-selection, I'm not so bothered. But it does feel like a part of a larger pattern of cock-ups.

#92 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:13 PM:

Not punkish, but contains some medieval history:

Osteoarchaeologist Alison Atkin made a research poster about the Black Death using stick figure cartoons. I love the snarky rats in panel 3.

#93 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:20 PM:

Em #38: Of course, that's the whole point. Education opens up whole new fields of jokes.

#95 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 01:21 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 63 wrote about spun thread as "a complete game-changer. ... Possibly our first, depending on whether it or control of fire were earlier."

Fire is over ten times older, showing up 500,00 years ago, and as under our control some 350,000 years ago, while [detected] textiles "only" show up some 20,000 years ago. (C.f. Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years - Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber)

#96 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 01:26 PM:

My Hugo PIN email came from on April 30.

#97 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 01:27 PM:

While it seems likely that control of fire would have come first, it also seems unlikely to me that we would find any traces of cord if it did exist 300,000 years or more ago. Organic matter decays except under extraordinary conditions.

#98 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 01:27 PM:

While it seems likely that control of fire would have come first, it also seems unlikely to me that we would find any traces of cord if it did exist 300,000 years or more ago. Organic matter decays except under extraordinary conditions.

#99 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 01:28 PM:

(Blame #98 on an Internal Server Error, and gnomes may feel free to delete it and this.)

#100 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 01:40 PM:

Clifton #97 - actually you don't need the cord itself, you just need the impression of it on something such as wet clay, that is sufficiently detailed and preserved well enough that you can say it was actual cord. So I suspect there may be evidence of thread/ cord from a lot longer than 20k years ago. Or it may have been trampled underfoot and broken a couple of thousand years ago.

But before spun thread they surely had cordage, i.e. rope.

I know that EWB is very out of date, but it took a while to find more recent references. Here's a 2009 article (paywaylled) saying they have evidence for 32,000 years ago:
Here's an article about Europe:
Which includes information on dressed Venus figurines from 25,000 years ago!

#101 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 02:05 PM:

Dave Bell @74: The way Paypal is set up, the only confirmation you get is from Paypal when you use that to pay for a Sasquan membership (and it says that on the page before your pay). On your other questions: is a really good place to get answers.

Steve Wrigh(t) @81: if you drop a note to, they're really good about getting information to the appropriate people to correct a typo. It's also possible to write directly to; I've been spoiled by info@ being really responsive, though, so I tend to send people through them.

#102 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 02:16 PM:

Tom Whitmore @101 - thanks! But, with a name like mine, I don't mind being a little distinctive for once. "Steve Wright" may not be "John Smith" common, but it's common enough.... I once worked with another Steve Wright, leading to many office emails along the lines of "Your last message has come to the wrong Steve Wright. I will forward it to the right Steve Wright, unless I am wrong and I am the right Steve Wright, in which case I'm forwarding it to the wrong Steve Wright, all right?"

Being Steve Wrigh for a bit may actually come as something of a relief.

#103 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 04:03 PM:

Just signed up for sasquan; confirmation email from "", it's mixed HTML email with the dreaded "!x-stuff-for-pete" fields, and my ancient copy of Eudora mutters:

"18 encoding errors were found. Message and/or attachments are probably corrupt."

which is nice to know.

Wait and see if I get a Hugo PIN anytime soon.

#104 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 04:05 PM:

TrishB p #70 -

Thank you very much for your kind offer.

Alas, I'm on the wrong side of The Pond (the Worcester I live in is in Massachusetts, Not in the West Midlands), and the only (human) language I speak is 'Murrican English.

One of the things I'm looking to accomplish with going back to school is to get the paper (vellum-like?) credentials to give me more ammunition to fight the Tyranny Of Agism! (::strike heroic pose:: [well, for a certain value off "heroic])

The paradox here is that, when I started taking my Social Security benefit, even at it's reduced rate (because I'm starting before the "proper" retirement age) it is giving me between 3x and 4x what I was able get from the work I was able to get since I was laid off. So now, in my "twilight years" (and no, I'm not going to *sparkle* - only David Bowie is credentialed to do that) I can actually afford to go back to school.

This is a path that, I hope, will allow me to be an example to my kids (from both marriages) that its never to late to keep going, and to try to make a change you want in your life.

As I mentioned up-thread, my current plan is to take the "2+12" route. That is, take the Associates in Science degree, and then matriculate into a 4-year college and take the Bachelor of Science degree with another 2 years.

One of the thoughts I've had percolating in my little tea-kettle is that I may load up on Education credits and maybe go back and teach, at the Community College level.

If the Community College system can survive, it can take the place of the advanced trade schools that, right now, are dominated by the for-profits such ITT, Premiere Education Group and the late, unlamented, American Career Institute.

These schools provide the more tightly-focused needs for students for whom the 4-year degree is not the best choice. There are students for whom, either because of temperament, talent or financial circumstances, an A.S.: rigorous classroom prep, along with internships and the work-study model can help prepare someone for a position in the workplace.

The community college model also allows someone who had chosen the "wrong" (for them) career path to retool after they had gotten a prior 4-year degree, only to find that what they had chosen was not going to work.

Because of the employment-based focus of many community colleges, the most effective instructor base are those who had actually worked in the fields they will be teaching in.

Part of this ties back to what, for me, is actually grounded in my faith: to give back to the community, and to serve those outside myself. (It could also be a residual of the over-responsibility learned from growing up in the household situation I had )

Oh, dear. This went on much longer than I had meant to.

Never Give Up! Never Surrender! [Oops. Wrong movie)

#105 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 04:10 PM:

I wonder what the chances of a refund from Paypal are, for non-delivery of goods and services. Oh, I'm a long way from that point, but I can't get Nolacon II out of my head.

#106 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 06:38 PM:

Craig R. # 104
That *should* read '"2+2" route' rather than "2+12."

I'm not looking for *that* enriched an educational experience

#107 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:06 PM:

Thanks to a friend, I now have Seriously Unnaturally-Colored Hair, and it makes me happy.

Bright purple. Well, darkish. On the bluer range of purple. When I look at a light fixture up through my bangs, there's a bright-purple-glowiness to the strands that looks like looking at plastic doll hair.

I have My Little Pony hair, and it tickles me inordinately. Especially since it's the color of Twilight Sparkle's mane (mostly), but the TEXTURE of Pinkie Pie's. :->

#108 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:10 PM:

Craig R--if you would email me, I would appreciate it--I'm in Springfield. I'm somewhat pre-occupied right now, but ffgrvaznaa@znffzhghny.pbz or Fnz.Fgrvaznaa@tznvy.pbz will reach me.

#109 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:46 PM:

Just finished watching Left Behind (Nicolas Cage, not Kirk Cameron) and, astonishment of astonishments, it wasn't terrible.* (The one Kirk Cameron I tried was terrible.)

Story started with the protagonists asking the classic questions, "So why would a benevolent god [give babies cancer/allow earthquakes to kill|displace thousands of people/&c] and didn't even bother to try to answer those questions, leaving me thinking, "Guys, you're not bolstering your case...."

Essentially read like the producers were sitting around, trying to come up with movies to make. "Hey!" one guy says, "We haven't done the classic disaster movie in a while." "Yeah, but that's old news. What new spin would we put on it." "Hey, I have an idea!"

But it was a serviceable action/adventure movie, with a not completely implausible (aside from that one issue) plot.

* Well, except the music soundtrack, which varied wildly from "Hey, that's kinda nice." to "Seriously, you couldn't find a good piano lounge player?" Basically, it felt like a hodgepodge of drop music.

#110 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:39 PM:

Steve W., #102: Oy. Watching a "who's on first" is funny. Being part of one... not so much.

Craig, #104: Best of luck in your new endeavors.

#111 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:42 PM:

Open-threadiness which is related to two spoiler-filled discussions but may, I think, be of general interest:

Marvel Unlimited is currently having a one-month-free-trial promotion - they do require a credit card number and'll charge you for next month if you forget to cancel, but use the code "ULTRON" at checkout. I'm poking around in there and, among other things, they have the Matt Fraction run to date on Hawkeye, which some folks had expressed interest in reading. They also seem to have the current run of Black Widow, which I've really been enjoying.

The interface on a computer is needlessly-clunky, but I'm quite pleased with the app on my ten-inch tablet screen. I was worried it would be too small, but it's mostly not and when it is*, the zoom function's very intuitive.

*Which would probably be helped if I actually _wore_ my glasses. Oops.

#112 ::: ctate ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:06 AM:

Tzohoquiel @ 21:

I enjoy reading French but don't know the Francophone speculative fiction scene *at all*, aside from a certain M. Verne. If I should happen to find myself in the vicinity of a French-language bookstore, what contemporary authors should I try?

I don't know what your level of proficiency is, but I'm told by native-French SF fans that the translations into French of the Hitch-Hikers series are utterly brilliant. The translator was an SF writer themselves, and chose the route of rewriting, when appropriate, Douglas-Adamsy jokes and wordplay that feel native-French rather than adhering to a literal translation. The caveat is that they are wildly idiomatic, so not suitable for the unskilled. Or, viewed another way, a lovely literary corpus to have on hand for aspirational purposes....

I'm also told, this time by a Swiss Francophone, that the translation into French of Lord Valentine's Castle was superb.

Mind you, all this is hearsay (I speak French hardly at all save for food terminology), but at least it's hearsay from native speakers with a direct interest and discriminating taste.

As far as authors writing natively in French, I'm afraid I can't be much help. Maybe figure out who translated Douglas Adams, and then seek out their own original work...?

#113 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:22 AM:

Cadbury Moose: My webmail application could not display the confirmation email from Sasquan at all - sent me to an error page - but Thunderbird displayed it OK. All the rest of the emails from them have been fine in both mail readers.

#114 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:38 AM:

Tzohoquiel @21 - I quite like Élisabeth Vonarburg. You might find the list of Prix Boréal winners a handy place to start? That said, that's specifically a Canadian Francophone SF prize, and there's always that "has this thing made it to other areas of the world" question I tend to have when I recommend locals.

(Someone I was talking to today who enjoyed eighties power ballads had never heard of Honeymoon Suite! Imagine!)

#115 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:56 AM:

Serge Broom @39:
Did you ever see the scene between John Mills and Ralph Richardson in the movie "The Wrong Box"? Where they're brothers who haven't spoken in many years and John Mills has, shall we say, an agenda? One of the funniest things I've ever seen.

#116 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:26 AM:

Craig R. (or anyone else in a similar situation): if you are fluent in either Perl or Python and are looking for work, drop me a line (firstname dot lastname at Google's email domain, or firstname at

#117 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:27 AM:

I picked up a couple of native french language SFF novels when I was in Quebec for a few days, by the simple method of looking at the copyright page and putting back anything with a translation date. I have: "A l'image du dragon" by Serge Brussolo; "Le Silence de la Cité" by Élisabeth Vonarburg; and "La trilogie de Wielstadt" by Pierre Pevel.

This question also prompted me to do a bit of googling around (using with the language set to french) and I found the Quebecois SF magazine Solaris. The first list of author names I saw on that site looked very francophone, so that could be a good jumping off point for finding french SF authors.

#118 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 05:03 AM:

That name took me years back. I do not read French but the translation of Brussolo's "Le Carnaval de fer" was one of the novels I learned what SF can be from. I haven't thought of him for ages (or seen him mentioned) - I need to see what is available in English from his books.

#119 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 06:14 AM:

@63 One theory is that the "killer app" for agriculture in South America was growing cotton to produce rope for nets for fishing.

#120 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 06:25 AM:

Of the French SF authors whose works I actually know, I find Michel Demuth died back in 2006, but Jean-Pierre Andrevon is still going strong. These two used to be names to conjure with in French SF, but my knowledge - like my French - is terribly rusty and out of date.

#121 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 07:16 AM:

Dave Bell @105: on my experience, your chances are very good. I've had to ask for a refund via PayPal twice, once because goods failed to arrive (the whole site turned out to be a scam, and was shut down following that investigation), and one for services not provided. In both cases I got my refund.


I'm not a film person. Not a film person at all, in fact. I overload rather easily (am neurotypical as far as I know, but extremely introverted), and the high information speed in a typical film or TV programme can get a bit much. I feel I can't pause and think and take it in properly. The programmes I do tend to enjoy have a more leisurely pace than average, and there's time to enjoy the scenery. Oh, and right now I'm struggling badly with anxiety, so everything is a lot worse.

Nonetheless, curiosity won, and therefore I'm going to see Mad Max: Fury Road this afternoon. I'm not 100% sure this is a sensible idea, but I have to know what all the fuss is about. At least I'll be bringing some... er, mad maths... to retreat into if I need it.

Wish me luck?

#122 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 09:55 AM:

Re: Dave Bell's missing registration: At last check, Paypal allows 180 days to file for an Item Not Received disputes, which I believe is what this would fall under. Do check this still applies; they've been updating their buyer and seller protection TOSes in advance of the breakup with eBay.

Do be careful how you word any request for a refund. Paypal only recently added coverage for digital ... stuff.

Also note that Paypal's customer service is rather sucky, and error prone. I sell on eBay for a living*, and have had some rather epic issues with Paypal in recent months specifically in regards to buyer and seller protections.

Read Paypal's buyer protection guidelines. If you know you are entitled to protection, be prepared to fight for that protection (magic words: "Please transfer me to your supervisor.") Be pleasantly surprised if everything goes smoothly.

(*Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. Paypal just doesn't train their people very well. I am reasonably convinced that eBay's upper management, by contrast, draws their inspiration from Kafka.)

#123 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:40 AM:

#104 ::: Craig R.
Craig, I'm not quite sure how I misread your post to place you in the UK, sorry about that. My current location is SW Ohio, but I went to school in the Berkshires, and have been to the city I remember as "Wustah." Unfortunately, my company doesn't seem to have any locations in Massachusetts, which seems odd.

Best of luck with with the search and with your ongoing quest for education.

#124 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:03 AM:

#104 ::: Craig R.

"The community college model also allows someone who had chosen the "wrong" (for them) career path to retool after they had gotten a prior 4-year degree, only to find that what they had chosen was not going to work."

This somewhat describes my situation. Although the degree that places me on the "wrong" career path is not a 4-year degree. I keep debating how I am going not only to learn the new field, but prove that I have. And I am prone to paralysis by analysis and somehow deeply afraid of spending money on myself.

#125 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 12:12 PM:

Dave Bell -- before initiating anything with Paypal, please try contacting the seller directly. It almost always saves time, and disputes can usually be resolved. I say this as someone who buys and sells on eBay a moderate amount -- and I also say it as someone who has seen Sasquan respond to people who talk to them directly. If that fails: by all means, go the Paypal dispute route. But try the least intervention first: asking directly "What's going on here?" to the people involved.

#126 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:01 PM:

Lady Kay #124 -

I (0bviously) don't know what your financial situation is, but one of the Godsends for those who do not have a prior Bachelor's or higher degree is the Pell Grant program. It can help a lot to offset the costs.

There are also other grants and scholarships aimed at the "non-traditionally aged student."

One of the basic things that all financial aid avenues look at is the Effective Family Contribution (EFC): this is the magic number that says what the family (or oneself) is supposed to be able to contribute. To find this number, you invoke the sorcerers at . this will lead you to the federal government site to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The application itself has no cost associated with it, and you don't have to actually have a particular school in mind when you fill out the application. You can update the application, online, if and when you decide you want to try for a school.

It's painless to fill out, the application can also, if you agree, to directly link to the IRS files to pull up income/effective income/etc from you tax return filed for the previous year (e.g: for the 2015/2016 academic year, numbers from your 2014 federal tax filing can be automatically filled in. If you didn't file in 2014 you can type in income figures yourself. It took about 20 minutes, total, for me to fill out separate FAFSA applications for myself and for the older sprog, who is on the edge on whether or not he wants to try school this year.

I understand the feeling of not wanting to spend monies for yourself, but sometimes you have to make that investment in yourself. There's an old saying, that I've seen in contexts as varied as the military, crisis management and counseling: "Do *something.* It might be the *wrong* thing, but at least it will be *something." And remember, sometimes the correct thing to do *is* to do nothing, but only if you have considered other courses of action and the consequences of all those actions. (says the guy who waited far to long tto take that first step)

Make the investment in yourself.

#127 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:05 PM:

I'm reminded of Always Coming Home, where everything to do with electricity is part of the Millers' Art. You call a Miller to wire your new house.

Claire 15: The disfigurement/albino comments put me in mind of Jim C. Hines' series' on representation in fiction. He had an essay by an albino individual (Nalini Haynes) on how badly she had been treated - explicitly because albino is used as a shortcut for evil in fiction, virtually every time an albino character shows up.

Much like the way effeminacy/homosexuality (treated as the same thing in Hollywood movies) was treated until the 60s, and to this day in trashy low-budget garbage.

#128 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 04:22 PM:

Lady Kay:

I got a bachelor's degree in religion back in the 1980s, thinking that I wanted to go into the ministry. That turned out not to be the case, and I spent the next decade & change raising kids and doing a lot of bits and pieces of things (freelance writing, tax prep, teaching tax class, grading standardized tests, etc.). I did a short stint in grad school studing comparative literature, but left before getting my degree, partly due to a painful neck injury.

I went back to school when I was 45 (community college) to become a physical therapist assistant. It was significantly different from the B.A. (harder in some ways) but at the end I not only had a new skillset but could prove it, both via the national licensing exam and via 3 clinical rotations before I graduated.

I'll be 54 next week, and I'm in the middle of getting a master's degree in Public Health, partly because the PTA job market is not great (esp. in a town that graduates 15-20 new and well-trained PTAs every year) and partly because I can see the day coming when lifting heavy patients will be too risky for me, and I need to be able to work well into my 70s if I'm ever going to afford to retire. It gets a little harder going back each time, but I'm making it, in spite of being in classes full of people the same age as my youngest child.

I second Craig R's comments about the FAFSA and also about investing in yourself.

#129 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 05:21 PM:

My problem isn't so much the BA, as the other degrees piled higher and deeper on top of it. So it is sort of the opposite problem: too much and too specific an education.

#130 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 05:29 PM:

I have seen the first episode* of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell on the BBC. It is competent and well acted; quirky and definitely wanting to lurk near the period-drama space; sometimes spooky and often amusing**. As yet I cannot give it my unqualified approval, but I shall endeavour to watch the next episode.

* Entitled, inevitably, The Friends of English Magic.

** My favourite joke being when Mr Segundus reveals that he was given the prophecy that two magicians would return magic to England, his companion declares that they are two magicians and John Segundus and Mr Honeyfoot sounds very well***.

*** I have compared it to the reference (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke, 2004) and in the novel that line does not echo the title****.

**** Indeed, that is both the great advantage and also the potential downfall of the TV show; that by sharpening the dialogue and streamlining the plot in order to fit into the schedule***** we might get a greater proportion of what is good and interesting about the story with less wandering and rambling, yet if all the rambling and wandering were removed, there would not be much left of the novel worth talking about. It is a dilemma that I will be curious to see resolved.

***** Although as it is a one hour show without adverts (I believe about 56 minutes of running time) over seven episodes, it is hardly a fast paced adaption.

#131 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 06:39 PM:

Disney's Silly Symphony, "The Old Mill"

#132 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 07:37 PM:

The Coen brothers Miller's Crossing.

#133 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 08:28 PM:

Wandering back to millpunk, does anyone know of a good non-fiction book about windmill technology? I'm thinking specifically Dutch windmill technology (hi Abi), and it's okay if it's in Dutch, because in that case I'll get two copies and Dad and I will work on it together as part of me learning Dutch. Though English is fine if that's what's available, and I could read it more quickly.

#134 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 08:56 PM:

Hmmm. It looks like I should have read the Low Tech Machines windmill article *first.* Let me rephrase the question a bit; does anyone know of such books other than the ones given as references in the article, or have particular favorites among the references?

#135 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:58 PM:

At Wilder Ranch Park in coastal CA, the farm-family's engineer son build a water-driven shop
with a couple medium-sized Penton wheels to drive belts, and later, an in-shop electrical generator driven by its own small Penton wheel. It's all been preserved.

#136 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:31 PM:

I gave (some) of my late dog's ashes an interesting dispersal method . . .

Me and the Dog Lofter rocket (A "Caliber ISP" by LOC/Precision):

Loading ashes (in a coffee filter) and a wad of Kira-fur into the rocket's parachute chamber:

Video of the launch (using an Aerotech RMS I218R-M):

Unfortunately I lose track shortly after lift-off. The club president also made a video of the launch; hopefully his turned out better.

The deployment was successful. There was no trace of fur or ashes in the rocket. Predicted altitude was 2900 feet, deployed altitude (on the way down) 2800 feet, but I'm calling it 2700' because it peaked over earlier than I expected. I really need to get with the 21st century and get an electronic altimeter!

The rest of the ashes, which fill a small tin (which a friend suggested looked like something Great Aunt Gertie would buy her Olde Fashioned hard candy in) will get distributed around Kira's old stomping grounds via spoon.

#137 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:47 AM:

Neil W @130

To some degree, we have an echo of a BBC adaption of a book by Dickens. I recall them from school as long, and a bit slow, and the BBC has made many adaptions of them which need a certain compression and re-pacing even though a long TV serial.

BBC DVD collection of adaptions, 1977-1999

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, as a book, has some of the same feel as Dickens. And those adaptions are old enough that some of the programme-making skills could have been forgotten. But there is reason to be hopeful.

Also, Wolf Hall

#138 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:14 AM:

Dave Bell @137 - I had some deja vu of watching Dickens adaptions while growing up although, of course, this is set before most of Dickens'* work, and, indeed, before Dickens himself was born**. From memory the BBC tended to show them in the autumn, and I am slightly puzzled as to why they did not schedule Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell similarily. It would seem to me exactly the kind of thing to put on when the nights start to draw in.

* As his novels tend to take place over a number of years they often begin in what was, to him, a historical period. In a couple of them the development of the railways occurs in the background. I seem to recall that he began by being hostile to railways, but later was reconciled (although his comparison of the British Railway Buffet to the fare of Coaching Inns or continental railway food was not complimentary to the first mentioned).

** We are, in fact, in a prime millpunk period although I suspect that the TV show will not divert from the book in that direction.

#139 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:04 AM:

I would like to read a cheerful story with a happy ending. Would someone point me to one?

#140 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:12 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @139, novel or shorter work?

#141 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:12 AM:

Stefan @136

What a fine sendoff. I've always been partial to LOC and to the redline motors; an excellent choice of motor and rocket to say goodbye to Kira.

#142 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:32 AM:

"Tomorrow Is Waiting" at Strange Horizons. It's in the archives, somewhere around 2011.

#143 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:02 AM:

William Kamkwamba might be considered a modern millpunk.

#144 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:12 AM:

OtterB @ 140: Shorter work, easily accessible to someone whose cupboard is bare of spoons.

Diatryma @ 142: Thank you. I'll be there when I can.

#145 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:41 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer:
Monkey King, Faerie Queen, by Zen Cho.

(Hat tip to Marissa Lingen, who linked to it recently in her LJ.)

#146 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:12 AM:

A question here: someone gave me a Nook Color to use as an e-reader. I am finding it slow and clunky to handle. I had to visit the local BN store to get it running. So far I have not managed to download a single book.

I really want an e-reader, so I will keep trying to use it. However, I have the feeling it is not going to work for me. It's heavy and the technology is 7 years old. Folks have suggested I look at the Kindle Paperwhite. I expect to be (mostly) borrowing e-books from the local library, though I may purchase one occasionally. If you have a Kindle Paperwhite, I would love to read comments about things like ease of use, battery life, readability, etc. If you have another e-reader you want to recommend, I'd love to read those comments also. Thank you.

#147 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:17 AM:

I really like my Paperwhite for reading fiction; nonfiction is not so great because going back to check things isn't easy. The battery life is pretty fantastic. It weighs less than a thick paperback, even with its protective case, so it doesn't make my wrists tired.

#148 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:20 AM:

All the language creation in this thread (millpunk, aquaduct punk) reminds me of a delightful new word I heard last week: shibbolized.

Among other things, "Shibboleth" is the name of a "federated identity solution", a web-based single sign in. Someone describing the system to me said that "once you sign in, once you've been shibbolized, you don't have to sign in on the other sites."

Shibbolized--to be recognized as a member of an accepted / permitted group. Instead of a bartender saying, "I need to see your ID", they could say, "I need to shibbolize you."

That would be wonderful.

#149 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:31 AM:

Doug @148: would you mind if I quoted you on this to the American Dialect Society?

#150 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:32 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 125 -- oh, yes, yes, sorry, I should have mentioned that. Please let the seller try to sort it out first, before filing a case. Filing a case hurts the seller, and if they have enough cases filed against them, they can lose their Paypal account.

Paypal isn't as evil about seller defects as eBay is, but you don't want to give a seller a black mark with either company if it's a legitimate problem AND they are willing to fix it.


I both buy and sell on eBay, and have since the late 90's. I've done it professionally, for a few years -- serious enough that it's now my full time job, with a fancy LLC after the business name and all that.

In that time, I have run into exactly two true scammers, and only one required resorting to eBay Buyer protection. The whole process took about a month for resolution, but it did get resolved. It would have been resolved faster, of course, if eBay hadn't had a system glitch where they took the money from the seller's account and never deposited in mine and I had to call them several times before someone recognized their was a system issue and it was fixed, but that's just par for the course with eBay and not actually a surprise.

(The other scammer showed his colors before I ever paid him anything, and I told him to go pound sand.)

I've had to fall back on SELLER protection any number of times, both under Paypal's umbrella (generally due to fraudulent credit card chargebacks) and eBay (usually due to feedback extortion, or what I've now heard called returns extortion, due to the, ah, flawed, design of eBay's new returns process.)

#151 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Jim Parish,

I am all about spreading the word of shibbolizing.

(Note: I cannot and do not make any claims about the company named Shibboleth and am not affiliated with them in any way, except to be grateful that they inadvertently led to the creation of such a great word.)

To quote the eminent philosopher Calvin, "verbing weirds language."

#152 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:09 PM:

Lizzy L @146, I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (a couple of years old; I think the current is the Tab 4 - which as I understand it is also now making new Nooks). I've been happy with it for reading. I have a Nook app (which I use most of the time for book purchases), a Kindle app for things that aren't available for the Nook, the Overdrive app because that's what my library uses for e-book loans, and the Aldiko free epub reader for things from Gutenberg, direct publisher purchases, etc. I find the 7 inch screen quite comfortable for reading; it's a little small for email/web stuff but usable in a pinch. Battery life is pretty good, especially if I turn off wifi, though I think it's slowly declining.

#153 ::: nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:35 PM:

EBook reader: I use & like a Nook color HD. I don't like its method of setting up a bookshelf for an author which is really clumsy. But the main library is fine & the reading experience is about the best.

I would've preferred Mobi but Amazon bought them & Amazon's ability to remotely edit your library is a deal breaker.

#154 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 01:55 PM:

Lizzy L @ 146

I have a Kindle Paperwhite (and a couple older kindles). It survives about 24+ hours of continuous reading - as long as Wifi is disabled(if I read 2-3 hours per day, it can go a week without charging). It's very light and very compact. Some people prefer covers which bulks it a bit; mine had been walking around without one for more than a year and it is still ok. YMMV of course.

Loaning from the library is very easy (well - ours is plugged into whatever system allows Kindle loans so it goes through my Amazon account so I checkout, it puts it into my Amazon queue and then all I need is wifi to get it on the kindle).

Now - I read mainly fiction on it - because with non-fiction I need to flip around but narrative non-fiction also works. Then it comes down to books formatting - some of the things are still hideously done.

PS: I also have a Kindle Fire - but it is for comics and some picture books - it is a tablet and that is not good for reading for long (in my opinion - it is a computer screen more or less):)

#155 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 02:47 PM:

Thank you for all your replies. OtterB at 152, I considered the Samsung Galaxy that Barnes & Noble is selling as an e-reader (for one thing, they will let me trade in the Nook and get $50 off the Galaxy's price) but I don't WANT all the bells and whistles that the Galaxy provides. I use my home computer for that. I specifically need an e-reader for reading on airplanes. I don't intend to do anything else with it. (I don't have a smartphone either. I tried one: hated it. Vision issues make it hard for me to use.)

#156 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Lizzy L,

And you can increase the font on these things when needed (so you are not stuck to the 7 points that the publisher chose for a book for example) :)

#157 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Stefan @ 136 et al: Fascinating to find two people here with interests in high-powered model rocketry. (I did a bit with Estes >45 years ago, so I never got above a C-class engine.) However, Flickr is 404'ing me on the links; are they really supposed to have an ellipsis in the middle?

HLN: the Prius finally reported 60mpg on a trip, and the solar panels finally yielded a rebate from the electric company. Now if the damned wrist (damaged while moving snow to make room to remove more snow) would just heal, this Bostonian might actually believe it's Spring....

#158 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 03:26 PM:


Hmmm. No, there shouldn't be ellipses. I wonder if a cut and paste went wrong (I copied that post from another I made at a rocketry board):

Loading hair and ashes:

Me and rocket:

Launch video:

#159 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 03:34 PM:

Lizzy L @155, and I thought I wanted all the bells and whistles, but have turned out to use it as an ereader far more than anything else.

#160 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 03:35 PM:

#137 Dave Bell: BBC DVD collection of adaptions, 1977-1999

My brain parsed this as: BVD collection of adaptaions, 1977-1999, which prompted visions of a catalog of men's undergarments and an historical explanation of those modifications: "The trending need for sagging pants prompted this change for a higher support brief that also provided an aesthetic view of the fabric just below the waistband."

#161 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 04:08 PM:

Mine is still getting an average of 46mpg (after 13 years), but I know it gets more than that at least part of them time. (One tank of gas each way, between LA and SF: that's 400 miles. I stop in the middle to refuel me and the car, as well as at the beginning each way.)

#162 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 04:25 PM:

It seems to me that some of what Harry Turtledove wrote could be considered aqueductpunk. I guess Agent of Byzantium is set about 1000 years too late, but for $REASONS in that world the Eastern Roman Empire still exists then and you get a bunch of alternate-history discovery stories for stuff that could almost-plausibly be discovered with the technology of the time.

#163 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:13 PM:

Kevin Callum @160: This post, and others like it, are a main reason I read ML at all. You made my day. :->

#164 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:32 PM:

Daniel Martin @ 162

Part of why I love Turtledove (most books anyway) is exactly this ability to tweak a small detail and then go ahead and write a novel that sounds as history if only that small details had been really flipped.

#165 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:21 PM:

LizzyL @ 146, I have a Kobo Aura HD, which I like; it's got the same "paperwhite" e-ink as the Kindle and Nook e-readers, and a backlight with a good range of brightness.

It doesn't render all fonts, which I find mildly annoying, but it does have a very large range of font sizes to choose from. (And you can force it into one of a dozen or so fonts, if you hate the one the publisher supplied.)

I like not being tied to Giant Corporations; that's just a personal choice on my part. Haven't tried borrowing books from the library, so I don't honestly know how well that works. It generally lasts me one to two weeks before I need to recharge (reading at least an hour or two a day), but I keep wifi turned off for the most part. It does have a (very limited) web browser (limited largely by the fact that e-ink refreshes considerably slower than lcds) and a small library of games, including chess and sudoku, in case you run out of book before you run out of airplane flight.

#166 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:58 PM:

I have one also - with the wifi not on. It's a pretty good readers, and I can adjust the text size and margins. (They do need a better way to find books in the reader's memory. The one they have clunks.)

#167 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:25 PM:

Lizzy L: I bought an e-ink Nook 4(?) years ago, which after a great deal of use and abuse is finally giving up the ghost. Last Thursday I replaced it with a Nook Glowlight, and so far I'm very pleased. I haven't run the battery down yet, but my old one lasted about a week between charges--this is FAR less than they advertise, but OTOH they assume that people only read 30 minutes a day. I did the math and it's roughly the same number of hours.

#168 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:57 PM:

I'm a little late to the Mad Max conversation, but I'm still squeeing about having seen it Saturday night. It was so good. I floated around the house for the rest of the night in a semi-euphoric state, kind of like after having eaten an exceedingly good meal, and not knowing what to do with how happy I was other than comment on it at random intervals.

And I thought it was a deeply feminist movie, in that the story proceeded from some core feminist principles, i.e. women and children are people, not property; and the patriarchy hurts men too. (The latter -- OMG such good moments of making me unexpectedly care about the antagonists. [rot13]"V unq n onol oebgure! Naq ur jnf cresrpg va rirel jnl!" Bu, nyy gur grnef. Rirelbar qrfreirq n orggre yvsr guna gung, evtug hc gb gur Jneybeq uvzfrys.[/rot13])

I thought its most radically feminist aspect was what MaxL mentions @66: The movie doesn't beat you over the head with the femaleness of the bad-ass characters. There's no "She's a bad-ass AND she's a woman! Gasp!" The movie just lets the women get on with being bad-asses, same as the men.

There also were no feminized slurs being thrown around, not even in the places that Hollywood's low bar trains us to expect. No men fighting with Furiosa called her a b---h. No one in the Citadel insulted each other by calling them womanly. Not a whiff of religiously supported misogyny qua misogyny could be whiffed--there was no "women are inferior" tenet to justify treatment of the Warlord's female resources; it was simply their cis-femaleness (ability to give birth, lactate, etc) that made them useful resources (and goodness knows it wasn't only the women whom the Warlord treated as property).

Which isn't to say their treatment as slaves was somehow better because of it. But the movie was better because of it. It didn't avail itself of lazy gender tropes. That was kind of amazing.

As far as being a worthy successor to the original Mad Max trilogy goes -- yes. Yes yes yes good Gods yes. Granted, I'm speaking as a 39-yr-old who never actually saw the original films, at least not all the way through, but sort of absorbed everything about them by cultural osmosis (mostly through the lens of Beyond the Thunderdome and Tina Turner's accompanying music video). But because of that, I came in knowing what to expect: stunt-laced car chases in the desert involving absurdly tricked-out vehicles, driven by characters displaying magnificently depicted grotesqueries and over-the-top rock-n-roll/punk regalia, all filmed in amazing scenic locations. I was not disappointed.

Also, I want to know more about the crows. Especially the ones on stilts. If that's what they were. I don't know.

p.s. If I get a double post, it's because of that 500 internal server error and I SWEAR I checked first before reposting!

#169 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:02 PM:

Nicole, #168: So the movie was an example of "grant your strong woman (or, in this case, women) and go on from there." That does sound like something that would be both excellent and deeply offensive to the entitled sexist male.

#170 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:03 PM:

Lizzy L @ 146,
My wife got the Kindle Voyager, the expensive super-light version of the Kindle Paperwhite for her birthday present - she had gone through a lot of reviews and agonizing before deciding on that one. The battery is supposed to be good for around 2 weeks reading. She is very happy with it*, finds the screen very readable, and is binging on some of the super-cheap Amazon "megapacks" of classic SF, from Andre Norton to "Doc" Smith.

I think the regular Kindle Paperwhite is similar in most respects but weight, and less than half the price.

[*] Last Friday night she ran into one major setback with it: it turns out if you are lying on your back on the couch holding the Voyager above your face to read, and you drop it, and then in a misfiring of reflexes you bat it corner-first into your mouth hard while trying to save it, its effect is pretty much the same as being punched in your mouth with brass knuckles. It took at least an hour with ice and pressure to stop her lip bleeding; we were thinking it might need stitches, but it finally quit just as we pulled into the ER parking lot. This can't strictly be considered a problem with the Kindle, though.

#171 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:58 PM:

The Hugo packet has been released.

It's only now occurred to me that I have no idea how to judge "best" editing, as I have no idea what specific editors received as compared to what was published. (It occurs to me that I've been judging editing in films also based on no real evidence--judging the result without seeing the raw materials. I cannot believe that Clint Eastwood's editors have as many ways to edit a conversation as Michael Bay's do.)

At any rate, this year it's easy to vote on the editor categories--No Slates, thanks very much--but for 2017 I'd be curious how people judge.

And a more open-thready topic: last Wednesday I read My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It's got a spare, economical prose style to it but I thought the story was fascinating and parts of it really moved me.

#172 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:20 PM:

johnofjack @171: There are a lot of different parts to editing. Choosing what to publish is one major one: and developing to its best potential is another. If there's an editor consistently bringing out work that you think is superlative, vote for him or her.

Part of this is historical evolution, of course: Best Magazine begat Best Editor when anthologies started producing really amazing stories; Best Editor began Long Form and Short Form when folks realized there was a real separation between the skills and folks didn't like lumping them together. (That's very condensed, and not intended as True History.) The Editor Hugos don't have the history of either short story or novel to look back on -- it's slightly easier to figure out what makes a good story than what makes a good editor. But they are both (at the high level of deciding which deserves the award) generally a matter of taste rather than of objective ability.

There is a certain level of basic competence which can usually be assumed.

#173 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:46 PM:

If you find your hands cramping from the weight when using an e-reader, I have found that a slightly bulky case helps immensely; while it actually adds a bit to the weight, it lowers the perceived density and makes it feel lighter. At least for me. Alas, the case I'm using isn't made any more, because I love it to death and would recommend it to everyone. (It zips up, which makes me much happier if I'm carrying it between house and car in the rain!)

As to which e-reader I have, it's a cheap old off-brand Nook, but it's good enough for my purposes.

#174 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:51 PM:

Friends and I saw Mad Max and beyond the usual reactions, we wondered when "Teardrop" came in. It's in the featured music lists! We thought we had good Teardropdar! When does this song show up?

#175 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:40 AM:

johnofjack, #171: I can't really offer any advice about Long Form Editor -- that's one I tend to skip for exactly that reason, and because I don't know who's editing whom -- but I do read a lot of short-story anthologies, and those put the editor's name right on the cover. Now, I pick anthologies (especially theme anthologies) based on "does this look interesting?", but when I'm done I generally have an overall feel for the anthology, and over time I do tend to notice that certain editors produce anthologies that I like very well on average, and others don't. So then I start paying attention to the editor's name as well as the theme of the anthology. Of course, Martin Greenberg was a very tough act to follow!

(One of my schticks, when reviewing an anthology, is the Waste of Ink Award. Some anthologies are pretty good overall but have one real clinker, and that gets noted. If an anthology has no Waste of Ink Award, that also gets noted.)

#176 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:26 AM:

I too just saw Mad Max, and I'm far more pleased with the movie than I expected. Which is to say: I expected to be pleased with explosions and turned off by grotesques, and instead I was completely engaged all the way through and sold on the world and the characters. (Oh, some of it doesn't hold up to second or third question levels. But it holds up just fine for the length of the movie.) If we get a spoiler thread, I will burble there; otherwise, I will just say that it hits some similar buttons for me that Jupiter Ascending did. Forthright statements about personal autonomy, and things dramatically exploding!

#177 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:21 AM:

LizzyL @ 146:

I had an iPod Touch, then an iPhone, and now an HTC phone. They all mostly got used as e-readers, plus Twitter, and GPS when travelling or navigating a new home city on the other side of the world. At the moment I use Kindle and Aldiko apps. I have to charge the phone every day or two, but that's fine.

It is one of these YMMV situations. Personally, I find the e-paper refresh thing intensely annoying. Other people obviously don't. When it comes to actual screens I find that the smallish size of a phone makes it easier to avoid specular reflections. If I wanted an inexpensive pure e-reader I'd probably try for a second-hand smartphone, perhaps with a new battery.

#178 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:31 AM:

A while back, someone (?CHip) posted about genetically engineered yeast that made morphine (though starting from something that had a lot of the hard parts filled in).

There's been quite a lot of progress very recently. The researchers can now do all the steps but one in yeast, and they know what enzymes do the remaining step in poppies.

#179 ::: KevinT ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:51 AM:

Tzohoqiel @ 21:

One of the greats of contemporary French SF is Pierre Bordage.
I would recommend first his Guerriers du Silence trilogy. This is Space Opera, with a lot of influences from Star Wars and Dune.
The Wang duology is very good as well. It's a near future where the whole European and Asian political landscape has been transformed almost beyond recognition. Concerned mainly about refugees and North/South East/West borders.
I haven't read but have heard a lof of good things about his Enjomineur series (fantasy set in revolutionary France).

Very nice as well: Mathieu Gaborit's Abyme duology (dark fantasy). It was adapted as a table-top RPG.


#180 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:13 AM:

Mad Max: went in with considerable trepidation, came out buzzing. I really enjoyed it. The usual "film overload" problem didn't arise because the plot is simple enough that it didn't need exposition at breakneck pace; I wondered if all the chases might cause it, but apparently my brain files those under "scenery" when the context is film. I had also been worried about the violence, but although the film is certainly violent, it's not gory. There's a crucial difference.

What made it for me was what always makes it: the characters. Show me good, well-drawn characters reacting believably to the situation they're in, and I'll show you what a happy mongoose looks like. I'd actually see that again, and I could probably count the films I'd say that about on the fingers of one hand.

There were a few problems, as there always are; the biggest was the overwhelming whiteness. Some darker faces would definitely not have gone amiss. Even so, I think it's very much a step in the right direction and would highly recommend it.

#181 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 06:17 AM:

johnofjack @171 - so far, my evaluation is, I'm afraid, largely based on negatives; if a story has multiple, visible problems, I'm inclined to think a good editor would have made some effort to fix those problems, so whoever left them in... isn't a good editor.

(This is largely, but not wholly, subjective - I'd expect a professionally edited story to have decent copy-editing, so things like typos and continuity errors should be caught.)

I guess you can also look at things like the selection of stories for anthologies - see if they fit the theme (if there is one) while exploring different aspects of it, that sort of thing.

How to approach the "long-form" editing award... without some notion of the raw material the editors started from... well, I will need to give plenty of thought to that.

#182 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:02 AM:

Every time I think or read something about Fury Road, I find another thing that utterly defies convention and expectation.

The fact that an action movie completely absent the Campbellian monomyth structure has gotten a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes is so heartening. The fact that they managed to tell a story that shows people recovering from a life of exploitation without glorifying it or using it for shock value is incredible. And everything about Max and Furiosa's interaction throughout the piece is just... refreshing and revolutionary.

But what got to me the most was that they managed to create one character that evoked this weird, complex feeling. I spent a huge chunk of the movie deeply invested this character, thinking "oh no please don't die or get maimed but also don't achieve any of your goals please don't achieve any of your goals."

The elevation of a stock minion character to what he becomes in the film is just... yeah. So much great stuff about toxic masculinity.

Screw it, I'm gonna do a big chunk of rot13'd spoilery discussion.

Yrg'f gnyx nobhg Ahk.

Jura jr zrrg Ahk, ur vf 100% va snibe bs gur flfgrzf bs guvf jbeyq, gur znlurz, gur qrfgehpgvir nqurerapr gb cngevnepuny fgehpgher naq tbnyf. Ur'f abg fubja nf n frafvgvir fbhy jub vf n ivpgvz gb gur flfgrzf ur vaunovgf... ur tybevrf va gurz rira nf gurl unfgra uvf qrngu. Ur vf nf crefbanyyl vairfgrq va guvf flfgrz nf nal bs gur bgure fpernzvat zvavbaf jub xvyy naq qvr sbe gur nagntbavfg, haguvaxvatyl gerngvat crbcyr nf bowrpgf... Ahk fcrpvsvpnyyl guvaxf bs Znk nf abguvat ohg n ont bs oybbq gb shry uvf uvfgbevp qrngu qevir ba gur Shel Ebnq.

Naq lrg, gur npgbe'f cresbeznapr tvirf guvf punenpgre na haqrepheerag bs flzcngurgvp wbl, yvxr n xvq gelvat bhg fxngrobneq gevpxf be cynlvat ivqrb tnzrf. Va nqqvgvba, gur jvirf hetr hf gb rzcnguvmr jvgu uvz rira nf ur frrxf gb erghea gurz gb n yvsr bs fynirel, npxabjyrqtvat gung uvf vtabenapr naq pbzcyvpvgl ner gur erfhyg bs gur fnzr flfgrz gung pbfgf gurz gurve bja ntrapl.

Uvf pbairefvba njnl sebz rivy pbzrf jura n pngnfgebcuvp crefbany snvyher oevatf ubzr gur vqrn gung ur unfa'g yvirq hc gb gur hanpuvrinoyr fgnaqneqf frg ol uvf fbpvrgl, naq gung ur arire jvyy. Rira gura, ur qbrfa'g unir gur gbbyf gb frr nal bgure bcgvba, fb ur whfg pheyf hc va n pbeare naq jnvgf gb qvr. Jura Pncnoyr qvfpbiref uvz gurer, ur vf fhcerzryl ihyarenoyr, ragveryl tvira bire gb uvf uheg naq qrfcnve. Fur nccebcevngrf gur gurzrf naq ynathntr bs uvf gbkvp aneengvir gb qryvire n zrffntr bs trahvar pbzcnffvba.

Gura vg'f whfg terng gb jngpu uvz tragyl oybbz va gur cerfrapr bs crbcyr jub npghnyyl pner nobhg uvz naq inyhr uvz sbe ernfbaf orlbaq uvf hgvyvgl nf qvfcbfnoyr pnaba sbqqre. Uvf erpxyrff raguhfvnfz naq tyrrshy qnevat ner fgvyy gurer, ohg abj gurl'er hfrq va freivpr bs n arjsbhaq pbzzhavgl gung frrf uvz nf n crefba engure guna n qvfcbfnoyr pbzzbqvgl.

#183 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:07 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 172, Lee @ 175, Steve Wright @ 181: Thanks.

It's not uncommon for me to read a book with typos, but since I discovered that authors can't always get them corrected I quit keeping track of them. That's a road I'd rather not start back down, so it's also useful to be reminded that I don't have to vote on Long Form Editor. :-)

#184 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:25 AM:

The Mad Max movies have links, but they're not a serial. The first is very different. Even with the way cars have changed, it's got a here-and-now feel. Max starts out at the top, things in his life turn bad, and he falls, big-time.

There's no real explanation for the changes in the world, just legends told by characters, and Max becomes one of those legends. But they're very much about redemption. He's not a good man, he's a killer, but he tries to make good choices.

There's a story-arc, more than just the car-stunts and the violence. And George Miller is a good story-teller. Like Max, he tries to make good choices in how he tells the tale.

And the Max we see is the Max that people have remembered. It was maybe made explicit, all those years back, in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

#185 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:38 AM:

Thanks to all those who made recommendations yesterday. I was learning a valuable life lesson in what happens when your insurance company changes your meds for you. Today, I have spoons.

As a token of my extreme: You're just messing with me, aren't you?

#187 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 08:20 AM:

6: Millpunk speaks to localism and renewable energy infrastructure

Or does it? I mean, it would _now_. But back in the day when windmills and watermills were cutting-edge, they definitely were not symbols of low-cost appropriate technology putting power and agency into the hands of the ordinary person. They were a major capital investment, there was only one of them around your area, and the miller was a powerful man in the region - and a major source of income for the local lord, who took his rakeoff of every sack of grain brought to be ground. And they periodically exploded, of course.

#188 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 08:23 AM:

My theory about steampunk (which is mine) is that it's a way of trying to recreate the awe and terror with which Victorians regarded the Industrial Revolution's products - you can't say to a modern audience "imagine if there was a steam-powered warship at sea!" and get that reaction, but if you turn it up to 11 and say "imagine a steam-powered Land Leviathan trampling entire cavalry brigades!" then you're getting there.

But millpunk wouldn't be the same, because mills (as I mention above) weren't a revolutionary technology - they reinforced the power and authority of the powerful, rather than undermining it. The punks in millpunk would be Luddites, not millwrights.

#189 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 08:26 AM:

Something that was really not clear to me in all my school-induced studies of American history, that I did not learn until reading some nonfiction as an adult after college, is that the settlement of the Americas was industrial.

The New England settlements were driven, in large part, by the need of the British Navy for tall, straight trees for masts. New England's forests were brought down to water mills and shipped across the water. The colonial American textile industry was never an idyllic homespun era except for very briefly around the time of the Revolution: it was intensive production in households by skilled guild workers, highly regimented and separated by task.

We have a national myth of the ubiquity of Plucky Self-Reliant Frontiersmen, but any actual examples of the species are brief and surrounded by a sea of intensive production. Even the "empty" lands the northern settlers came into were intensively cropped -- the crops just didn't look like European crops, monocultured into square tilled fields. They were intensely managed forests that gushed food not because of "divine Providence and bounty" (as the settlers naively assumed), but many generations of hard, skilled, knowledgeable work.

#190 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:21 AM:

Mongoose, #180: While I can't argue with your statement about the whiteness of the film, I will also note that the customary progression with these things is all-white-men to some-black-men to some-women. I'm not going to complain about women, just once, getting moved up from last place to second in that sequence.

#191 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:33 AM:

Just today I read a comment on Facebook by someone who dismissed wind power as a failed technology because he couldn't run his house on a back-yard windmill.

Oh, America! What are we going to do with you?

#192 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:46 AM:

#189: I recently bought the soundtrack CD for "The Fantastic Mr. Fox." The first track (well, except for 2-3 seconds of intro) is "The Ballad of Davey Crockett," which I believe was the title music to the old Disney TV show / movie.

It is an over-the-top ode to frontier-fetishism. Just cringeworthy by today's standards. I can picture a generation raised by glamorous guff like that growing up to believe the axe-and-a-gun-and-a-bible version of American settlement.

#193 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:21 AM:

I thought a lot of the point of steampunk is visible technology. A zeppelin is more immediately comprehensible than a jet. (Jets close to the ground still look like special effects to me.) You can see gears moving, which is not something you can say for electrons.

And some of it might be a chance to play with the Victorian era and the old west with a new set of cliches that haven't been used up yet.

On the other hand, I don't love steampunk. I don't especially mind it, but I don't go "goshwoyoboyoboy this is what I've been looking for!", so I might be missing something.

More generally, I've wondered why some eras inspire tremendous amounts of fiction, and others don't. Any theories?

I was expecting Russia after the end of the USSR to be a good place for fiction, but I haven't seen much. Maybe not in the US, or is it not at all?

#171 ::: johnofjack

I think another part of good editing is finding and cultivating good new authors.

#194 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:44 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 193: You just kicked a thought into my head: Is the rise of steampunk related to the depersonalization of current computing technology, the black boxes and drop-in applications that are replacing hand-crafted computing solutions, and for that matter, the rise of Information Technology and the corresponding fall of Computing Services?

(Why, yes, our department did undergo a name change recently! Why do you ask?)

#195 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:52 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 193: Probably most of the fiction is in Russian and hasn't been translated yet. Also, it apparently took writers a good 15 years to use up Russian communists as villains and switch to Russian gangsters (or am I thinking of movies here? Hard to say) and it may be that the cliché mines are not yet played out enough to do good fiction.

Also, those murals at the 191st St subway tunnel are beautiful, and I hope some agency figures some way of preserving them.

#196 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:00 AM:

The particle on the murals in the 191st Street subway tunnel remind me of Rochester's Broad Street Aqueduct/Viaduct/Bridge (link is to Image Search results). Originally an aqueduct to let the Erie Canal pass over the Genesee River, it was left high and dry when the canal was diverted to bypass downtown, and ended up becoming part of the Rochester subway for 40 or 50 years, along with much former canal beddage. When the subway was discontinued after WW2, much of the track bed became highway (and is mostly part of 490), but this stretch stayed empty and is a constantly changing gallery of graffiti. It's also a gateway to an underground world of squatters, so it's best not to go in too deep.

The subway curved and passed under the Rundel Library, right over the old Johnson Millrace, which still underlies the building surrealistically, sometimes pouring out through vents in the wall that empty into the river. Intrepid explorers have obligingly taken vertiginous movies from the rusting old catwalk and posted them to YouTube.

On a related topic, the old Main Street Bridge used to be lined with buildings. From the street side, you couldn't tell it was a bridge at all. The link (again, to Image Search results) shows a painting that hangs in the Memorial Art Gallery of the river with the backs of the buildings, as well as an aerial photo of how it fit in, and another painting that I didn't know existed until just now that shows another angle. Also, an enterprising artist has made a 3D visualization based on the first painting.

#197 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:01 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @193 - I have a couple of post-Soviet-set books; the only ones that occurred to me off the top of my head were Anatoly Kurkov's Death and the Penguin, and Sophia Cresswell's Sam Golod (I used to drink at the pub in Oxford where she did a reading from that one, so it sticks in my mind.) I'm sure there must be others, but they are slipping from my memory at the moment.

With regard to editing... I'm catching up on the Puppy offerings, now the Hugo packet is with me, and I'm actually quite cross just now, because I've just read a thing by one slate member, and - aside from it being a pretty slight story - it is loaded with elementary punctuation and grammar errors; it's the sort of thing MS Word's grammar checker would put a wiggly green line under. (And I am no fan of that grammar checker, let me tell you.)

Either the (purported) editors didn't notice these things, or they did and they just didn't care. And I think that says a lot about the contempt they have for everyone - including the writers they're supposed to be editing, and the readers they're supposed to be entertaining.

(Ahem. I shall save the rest of that rant for elsewhere, where nobody will have to read it, I think.)

#198 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:30 AM:

Stefan Jones @192: I can picture a generation raised by glamorous guff like that growing up to believe the axe-and-a-gun-and-a-bible version of American settlement.

My parents were devout subscribers of that mythos. (Dad born in '19, mom in '21.) My mom's favorite music was Sons of the Pioneers. My dad frequently talked in terms of "carving it out of the wilderness." There was, shall we say, a bit of a gulf between them and my 1970-inspired environmentalism.

#199 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:47 AM:

I was expecting Russia after the end of the USSR to be a good place for fiction, but I haven't seen much. Maybe not in the US, or is it not at all?

Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko novels are still selling well and they're very post-Soviet. Ken MacLeod is keen on post-Soviet areas. The Sergei Lukyanenko "Night Watch" trilogy. Bruce Sterling, and some William Gibson (Pattern Recognition).

#200 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:21 PM:

The pioneering bit in Time Enough for Love got on my nerves once I realized that shirt sleeve environments like that aren't going to exist on other planets.

I'd like to see a story where people play at pioneering, but the terraforming took work.

#201 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:44 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 193

I was expecting Russia after the end of the USSR to be a good place for fiction, but I haven't seen much. Maybe not in the US, or is it not at all?

Well - why would post-Soviet Russia be better than the last decade or so of Soviet one? Even before USSR went down, SF was allowed to say things that no other genre could - being a juvenile style for the most part (don't get me started on that) and requiring imagination, it was slipping quite a lot through the censors. And then the last couple of decades had not been as bad as the previous few in terms of censoring - not completely free but the cracks all over the place were bigger.

When USSR and the whole system collapsed, most of the countries in the region started catching up in the Western SFF and what never made it in before. The Russians kept writing (as did everyone else) - not much increase, not much change - except for a while when a lot of awful stuff was published just because it was anti-old regime (both SF and non SF books). But it is mostly same old, same old - the literature is there, it does not get translated much outside of a few popular authors.

Plus - the collapse of USSR brought the collapse of the whole system after all - you could have expected that all those behind the Iron Curtain counties would be good place for fiction. In a way some is there; very little get translated though (a lot less than from Russian)...

Steve Wright @ 197

Either the (purported) editors didn't notice these things, or they did and they just didn't care

*very sweetly* Depending on which story it is, chances are that the editor in question is on the ballot actually. Not that I advocate it but this kind of editor deserves to be all the way at the bottom of the pile...

#202 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 02:47 PM:

OK, we have a Mad Max spoiler thread. Have fun!

#203 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:09 PM:

Atomic Robo is now a web-based comic-book.

New story "Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire" began HERE this week.

#204 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:36 PM:

I was just out at the pond, watching 10 or so LBJs have a pool party, when two different hummingbirds came in hovered around for a bit, had a little drink, and then put their tail feathers in as a birdbath while still hovering. I've never seen that before. After they had gotten wet they flew up to a branch and preened like any other bird. Never seen this before, and two of them did it within a minute.

The hummers here are a little crazy. We go though 1/2 gallon of sugar water a day, about 10 lbs of sugar a week, out of one feeder. They will eat from the feeder while it's being held, and even perch on your fingers if that's where they need to be to get a drink.

#205 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:38 PM:

eric @204:

I was just out at the pond, watching 10 or so LBJs have a pool party

Um, can you possibly explain what an LBJ is in this context? I currently have a mental image of this pool party that is both extremely memorable and almost certainly very wrong indeed.

#206 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:53 PM:

205 (what an appropriate number!)

I think it escaped from the Hugo IV thread, where birds have been discussed: 'Little Brown Job'.

#207 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:55 PM:

P J Evans @206:

Thank you. That is a great relief to my mind.

#208 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:56 PM:

abi @205:

Little Brown Jobs. It's a birding term, more or less equivalent to "some sort of sparrowish thing". Over in the Hugo thread (should we move the birding discussion here?), Annie's mystery birds are classic LBJs.

#209 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:02 PM:

A pool party consisting of 10 or so Lyndon B Johnsons would indeed be something to see.

#210 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:38 PM:

#209 ::: cyllan

A pool party consisting of 10 or so Lyndon B Johnsons would indeed be something to see.

It might well include Linda Bird and Lady Bird...

#211 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:42 PM:

My mental image was all Lyndon B. As I said, both memorable and quite, quite wrong.

Clones should never go to pool parties together. Just...not.

#212 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:45 PM:


Well abi, depends on the clones. A pool party with the clones from Orphan Black will be a lot of fun. As long as noone gives one or more of them pencils that is.

#213 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:50 PM:

Sorry, wrong thread. Yes, it's a Little Brown Job/Bird, not a former president. And I'm really sorry for that imagery that it invoked. But also laughing. Because now it's stuck in my mind too.

#214 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:52 PM:

Steampunk as personal: also, fixable. It's like Kaylee coming out from under the hood in Firefly rather than working with waldos or something. If it's mechanical, then it's possible to fix-- whack it with a hammer, start up the boiler, weld something dammit. If it's electronic... you can't fix an iPad, can you? Steampunk can be built in a garage.

#215 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Who else here is going to Balticon? Should we plan some kind of ML meetup? Maybe dinner one evening? My schedule is pretty open, as far as I know at this point.

(repeating to try to shake loose an Internal Server Error)

#216 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:22 PM:

Another birding term: 'escapes': caged birds that get loose and go feral. Some even find mates and reproduce. The parrots of Brooklyn, for example.

#217 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Mary Aileen @215 I am not going to Balticon, but am in the DC area and might be able to make a run up for a Gathering of Light.

#218 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:39 PM:

@216 - Another example of "escapes," probably - There's been a population of little green parrots all over the New Orleans area for decades now. They roost in the palm trees up and down the main thoroughfares.

#219 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:42 PM:

Pasadena has flocks of escaped parrots.

#220 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 06:38 PM:

London has its parakeets, including out in the suburbs. I remember whole flocks of vivid green birds on the common in Staines.


Revelations in the night,
as fires cool to ashen-grey,
we see with an imperfect sight
with only love to light our way

As fires cool to ashen grey
beneath the turning stars we run,
with only love to light our way
before the dawning hour is done

Beneath the turning stars we run
the twisting path of history;
before the dawning hour is done
the day is rich in mystery

The twisting path of history
we see with an imperfect sight
the day is rich in mystery
and revelation's in the night.

(For context: Day and Night are realms of magic; my character is touched by Day and the recipient of the poem by Night; mystery is one of the Night-realm's core concepts and revelation belongs to Day; the rune of Revelation is tattooed on my wrist and the rune of Mystery is in the locket he gave me.
For further context: my character is taking the sacred hallucinogens at the coming game and can expect to experience a vision of a hitherto unknown but important moment in history.)

#221 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:00 PM:

There was a parakeet colony in a beach-side park in Glen Cove on Long Island. As I recall they had a big globular next up in a tree. I don't know how they stood the winters. Eventually they were cleared out.

#222 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:52 PM:

Mary Aileen@215, OtterB@217

I'm going to Balticon. A ML meetup sounds good to me.

#223 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:36 PM:

How does dinner Sunday evening sound for the Gathering of Light? We could meet in the hotel lobby around 6:00. Or would 6:30 be better?

If Sunday dinner doesn't work for everyone--alternate suggestions?

#224 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:39 PM:

What I've read of the slated items in the Hugo packet is just abysmal, improved only slightly by imagining a Greek chorus of Crow and Tom Servo.

#225 ::: emilly ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:52 PM:

Elliot Mason at 189 -

and almost exactly the same at the time of European colonisation of Australia, unsurprisingly. The combinations of trees and grasses didn't look like the kinds of cultivated area that the Europeans were used to; so, obvs, the indigenous people weren't cultivating it.

And also exactly the same - I did not learn this in history classes at school.

#226 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:24 PM:

My 79-year-old mother, who has suffered from horrible shingles (on her face, trigeminal nerve-a-go-go) for nearly a month, is now suddenly in surgery for an unrelated ailment.

Not even a little prepared for this. Freaking out now.

#227 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:25 PM:

Prayers or their secular equivalent, please, I'm not picky. Thank you.

#228 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:29 PM:


Good thoughts at your general direction. Hopefully it will be an easy surgery and a speedy recovery! Fingers and toes crossed for everything to be ok.

#229 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:33 PM:

My fingers are crossed, Patrick.

#230 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:39 PM:

I hope it'll be a quick and easy recovery, Patrick.

#231 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:41 PM:

Patrick, prayers being sent her way, and yours.

Mary Aileen @223 Dinner Sunday would be okay by me.

#232 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:43 PM:

Patrick, good wishes heading your mother's way.

#233 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:11 PM:

Patrick, best wishes to your mother, on both problems. (I had shingles several years ago, on a facial nerve, fortunately not extremely painful. Do. Not. Want.)

#234 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:22 PM:

Pulling for your mom, Patrick, and for you, in proportion, and for the doctors, to do what they have prepared and studied to do.

(My sympathy on the shingles, too. Horrid condition.)

#235 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:22 PM:

Secular good health to Patrick's mom. Hope for equanimity to Patrick.

#236 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:24 PM:

Wishing the best for Patrick and his mom, who's in hospital. Parents' health is one of the tough things about getting older.

#237 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:26 PM:


A local rescue group has listings for two handsome belgian shepherd mix dogs. Gorgeous red and black fellows.

The rescue group refused to provide any details by email. "Come to our rescue event! Bring a leash! Walking the dog will tell you all you need."

Did a search. Found two different people complaining about them.


#238 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:48 PM:

Patrick, she'll be in my prayers, and I'll light a candle for her.

#239 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:22 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden #226: Best wishes and sympathies.

Stefan Jones #237: Ow. On a related note, my local SPCA seems to have a habit of lowballing dogs' ages. Besides my own case (they told me she was 3-4 years old, she was getting arthritis within 2 years), a couple of Mom's friends have had similar situations.

#240 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:26 AM:

Pstrick, my best wishes for both you and your mother.

#241 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:27 AM:

Patrick, my best wishes for both you and your mother.

And an internal server error may have saved me from typoing your name (with an s as the first vowel), but I doubt it.

#242 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:35 AM:


So, given that the internet is entirely made of Words and Enthusiasm (h/t Erin McKean, there are certain things that Ought To Exist on it.

One such is a wide-ranging list of sets of rules for verbal games playable on car trips with kids. Like Botticelli, or Heads and Tails.

And yet I cannot find such a thing in Google. If it really does not exist I shall have to invent it, which means I get to learn how to moderate a wiki, I suppose. Am I just looking wrongly? Does anyone else know where to find one?

#243 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:44 AM:

Patrick, #227: GoodThoughts being sent.

Stefan, #237: That approach would send me running the other direction. It's so obviously a variation on old horse-coper (or used-car salesman) tactics that it just screams, "These dogs have a problem!"

#244 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:50 AM:

I've only ever met them by hearing the instructions.
(The most complicated one we played was
'I love my love with a [letter] because he/she is [word];
I hate my love because he/she is [word].
He/she took me to the sign of the [adjective noun] and we dined on [noun] and [noun].'
Every word you put in has to start with the appropriate letter. It requires vocabulary and imagination for some of them.)

#245 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:09 AM:

I just happened across an article that reads like it ought to be in the Onion, only it isn't.

It's a walkthrough of a house built by architect Walter Netsch for himself and his wife to live in. The becrogglement just builds with every time they describe some completely bonkers aspect of the house in complete deadpan seriousness.

A two segments to tempt you to click through:

There are two small sitting spaces reachable only by built-in ladders; the new owners said they believe those were created as perches from which to view the Netsches' collection of art hung on the home's 30-foot-tall east wall.
"It's not a layout that works for a family with kids,” Smithe said.
One thing is guaranteed: the sunken triangular bathtub stays, he said.
#247 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:19 AM:

Sending thoughts and good wishes your way, Patrick.

#248 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:35 AM:

PNH @226, I hope it all goes well.

#249 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:36 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 245: It was in Chicago that I learned my lesson at the Art Institute: Never mock a piece of modern art until you've encountered it in person.

The photos look wonderful to me. It's obviously not for everyone. My knees tell me it might not be for me. But I once lived in an apartment where the upper bedroom was accessed either through its own upstairs door or the ladder down into the kitchen by the bathroom door. Standing on the ladder to chat, sitting in the upstairs hole with my feet I loved that place!

#250 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:37 AM:

You and yours are in my thoughts, Patrick.

#251 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:39 AM:

I bet kids would love those, though.

#252 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 02:31 AM:

Patrick, my best wishes for both you and your mother.

#253 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:03 AM:

Kannon Sutra recited for your mother, Patrick, and good wishes going with it. Good luck with everything.

#254 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 05:28 AM:

Patrick @226 - prayers said. (My own mother is 82, and has been in a bad way more than once, so I know what these times are like. Wishing strength to you and her.)

#255 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:11 AM:

Patrick: Wishing you luck and tranquility.

#256 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:12 AM:

Mary Aileen@223

Sunday dinner sounds fine. No strong preference as far as time, either 6:00 or 6:30 sounds good.

#257 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:01 AM:

#249 ::: John A Arkansawyer

Richard Powers' art never looked like much to me on book covers, but was spectacular in person or in good prints.

Excellent analysis of Watership Down:
Overview of what's going on in the book
A detailed look at why the book is politically important

I read the essays unspoiled, and I recommend doing it that way, but have a little summary:

Gur obbx vf nobhg Xvatfuvc va gur Whatvna frafr-- naq guvf vf fbzrguvat juvpu vf jbrshyyl vtaberq va zbqrea phygher. Gur pbzzba nffhzcgvba vf gung crbcyr va punetr ner gubhtugyrffyl qbzvanag, ohg pbzcrgrag yrnqrefuvc vf obgu cbffvoyr naq rkgerzryl inyhnoyr. Jngrefuvc Qbja vf irel fcrpvsvpnyyl nobhg jung Unmry qbrf nf n pbzcrgrag yrnqre, naq ubj fhogyl ohg npphengryl vg'f fubja.

Gurer'f nyfb n qrfpevcgvba bs jung vg zrnaf gb yvir jryy jvgu nakvrgl qvfbeqre-- ol uhzna fgnaqneqf, nyy enoovgf unir nakvrgl qvfbeqre.

#258 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:04 AM:

Patrick: Good wishes to you and your mother. Don't forget to take care of yourself, too.

#259 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:08 AM:

Patrick, best wishes for your mother.

#260 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:21 AM:

@189 Someone much wiser than me -- and I wish I could remember who -- pointed out that by the time white folks got to the interior of North and South America, the civilizations that they met had already suffered an apocalypse-scale epidemic, like the one in The Stand.

One of the most enraging things I've ever heard at a convention... someone was speechifying about how colonizing Mars will be just like white folks colonizing the prairie. When I pointed out that people had lived here for thousands of years, I got a laugh and "no, no, it was empty!"

And then I had to stop talking because I was too angry to speak.

(Where I live, prairie doesn't just happen. You have to burn it every year or the trees take over. The local people had been maintaining this landscape with hard work and intelligence before "settlers" came and found all the magical pre-prepared farmland.)

#261 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:22 AM:


We had a car game that kept us busy for hours, sometimes, on the 10 hour drive to Missouri every summer. It's best with two or more kids, but a kid and an adult can play (with modern carseats, the adult should take the backwards side, as kids can't crane around any more)

It's also an alphabet game; the rules are that you have to spot a permanent sign of some sort that has a word beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. "X" can be in the middle of words (the exit sign is your friend!), but that's the only exception. Whoever makes it through Z first wins. (At or passing gas stations we spent a lot of time looking for displays of Quaker State motor oil!) We played one side of the street vs the other, which meant the kid on the left had to look backwards at billboards and the like. Overpasses are shared, but overhead signs with posts only on one side of the street get credited to that side.

I've heard of, but not played, a game where each side of the road counts cows, and if you pass a graveyard, all your cows die.

We had a good luck thing in our family where if you spotted a white horse, a red-headed girl, and a load of hay in an unspecified but fairly short period of time, it meant good luck, so if anyone spotted any of the three of them we'd all be looking out for the other two.

Not a car game, but a brilliant thing my grandmother did. She'd take a bag per kid, and decorate it with Christmas Seals and Easter seals (that part is optional [grin]), and put one small dollar-store-like car toy in it per hour of the trip, labeled with a number. That meant that when we were halfway down Illinois we weren't asking "are we there yet?" We were asking "Is it an hour yet?" And while most of the stupid little things were stupid, once in a while there'd be something that would actually keep us interested for a while....

#262 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:27 AM:

I forgot to add that the toys were individually wrapped with tissue paper inside the bag, so we couldn't just choose the good ones and ignore the sucky ones. It occurs to me that wrapping them with paper towel might be a good idea, because a little extra paper towel available in kidspace is rarely a bad idea....

#263 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:31 AM:

Patrick; you and your mother are in my thoughts. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

#264 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:44 AM:

Oh, Patrick. My mom has had both shingles and unexpected major surgery, and as bad as both of them were, at least not at once.

My hopes are for things better for both of you. Certainly that the tide will have turned in several more days.

#265 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 10:23 AM:

Patrick@226: Healing and strength to your mother and to you.

#266 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 10:25 AM:


Best wishes to both your mother and you.

#267 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 10:35 AM:

Patrick, Thinking good thoughts for your mother, and for you.

#268 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 11:00 AM:

Jeb Bush gets slammed for continuing to stand by the Iraq invasion". Hmm. Seems even the conservative media has decided to admit that was a mistake, but the actual candidates haven't accepted their marching orders.

(Of course, as others have pointed out, "If we knew then what we knew now" is a canard: We did know then, and ShrubCo went in anyway.

#269 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 11:08 AM:

Patrick, I hope the surgery went well and that your mother is recovering and as comfortable as it is possible for her to be. Sorry to hear about the shingles; it's nasty. Prayers: check.

#270 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 11:26 AM:

One great advantage of a workplace turned toxic is that it helps you discover new language uses.

As I was giving an honest answer to someone who asked me how I was doing today, I got asked, "Are you procrastinating?" I thought for a moment, as I was doing anything but, then said:

"No. I'm being procrastinated."

It's wonderful as a transitive verb, isn't it?

#271 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 11:38 AM:

One of the best in-car games is probably Yellow Car, explained here:

#272 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @200: I'd like to see a story where people play at pioneering, but the terraforming took work.

Interestingly, also Heinlein: Farmer in the Sky.

#273 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:32 PM:

eric @204: They will eat from the feeder while it's being held, and even perch on your fingers if that's where they need to be to get a drink.

My mother had a bright red bandana that she'd wear when we'd go camping. At least once a camping trip, she'd get buzzed by a hummer, "Need to be pollinated?" They always seemed puzzled by the absence of sippy-parts.

#274 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:47 PM:

Elliott Mason @242: Googling Botticelli car trip word game produces this list.

#275 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:55 PM:

Patrick, hoping your mum is doing well.

#276 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:00 PM:

Cally, we played that game as well, and I still play it on long road trips. My X exception (yes, I manfully resisted the temptation to make a portmanteau word of it) was always "Exit," though XING signs worked too.

In recent years, I codified the rule so that only EX- words count for X substitutes, and even more recently I toughened it up so that EX- words cannot be used as E words. This actually makes E a good deal more challenging, and I recommend it.

Typically, I start at the end and work backwards to A. When I was really addicted to the game, I would then work forwards again, and backwards again. Realizing I was hooked, I made myself turn away from it until I no longer parsed each and every sign and compulsively pressed onwards. I can play it a time or two on a given trip leg, and leave it alone the rest of the time.

A controversial part of my play is to allow moving signs, like trucks or autos that are moving advertisements. It's a slippery slope to allowing license plates, car models, and the boilerplate on commercial vehicles, but I limit it to advertising material. It doesn't much matter, because I am not competing with anybody but myself.

Also, I hate places that spell "quick" with a K. They are abominations unto the land.

#277 ::: Clifton, in the Open Thread, with an ISE ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:01 PM:

Feeding the dread Internal Server Error...

#278 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:01 PM:

I'm with Jacque.

#279 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:02 PM:

Sarah @ 260: A recent theory related to this subject is that the huge loss in population in the Americas might have caused the "Little Ice Age" (the cooling period in Europe from roughly 1550-1850) due to the huge scale of the collapse in farming and the reforestation of farmed areas causing a drop in atmospheric CO2.

#280 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:18 PM:

Kip W @ 276: "Also, I hate places that spell "quick" with a K. They are abominations unto the land. " I don't see why spelling it "quic" is any better.

#281 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:36 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @257: Interesting parallels between that set of essays on WATERSHIP DOWN and the way I read THE GOBLIN EMPEROR.

#282 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:41 PM:

Patrick: Yikes, that's no fun. You're in my prayers.

#283 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 01:53 PM:

David #268:

Does "what we know now" mean:

a. Iraq was no particular threat to the US? (Obvious in 2003)

b. Iraq's WMDs consisted of a few rusting chemical weapons shells from a decade earlier. (Knowable in 2003, but I don't know how many decision makers knew it.)

c. Iraq was going to require a decade long occupation during which we'd be trying to keep the lid on a bloody ethnic civil war, and which would end up with a very shaky, weak Iraqi government relying heavily on Iran for support. (Some people predicted this sort of outcome, but it was probably not widely known to be true. Nor can I really say how likely this was based on what you could see in 2003.)

My guess is that most politicians are answering based on (c). They pretty-well knew that Saddam wasn't a threat to the US[1], but they probably thought the whole invasion and occupation would go more smoothly, that we'd lose only a small number of soldiers and that most of the foreigners we'd kill would be conveniently off-camera and so not much of a political issue.

[1] I'd like to think our decision makers are smart enough to be skeptical of the claims of mobile biolabs and Nigerian yellowcake, but I think they're mostly not all that bright about technical stuff, so they may have believed it.

#284 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Tom Whitmore (281): I thought of The Goblin Emperor while reading those posts, as well.

#285 ::: John Fiala ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 02:48 PM:

First off, my prayers also go to Patrick with hopes of his Mom having a speedy recovery.

EM@245: I rather like what I see of that house, from how it's described and the pictures. It's nice to hear that two people who appreciate the home are going to keep it whole.

#286 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:12 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 223: Sunday dinner is possible (I am not on call this weekend, for once) and I'm close enough to Baltimore to make it reasonable for dinner. Please email me at tvatre qbg gnafrl ng tznvy qbg pbz for the time, place to meet, etc.

Patrick, best wishes for your mom's recovery and yours...shingles is not fun at all, much less having to deal with an unexpected surgery.

And the Alphabet Game! We played that, but I am sorry to say we allowed all kinds of signs, stickers, and yes, even license plates. We didn't have as many billboards to choose from in those days. Why, we even had to play uphill, in the snow, with both hands tied behind..pardon me, there's kids on the lawn again.

#287 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:31 PM:

albatross #283: All of those. (b) had been covered by inspections over the last few years, and (c) was what the people who actually knew something about the area were saying.

ShrubCo made a point of denigrating anyone who actually had expertise and wasn't willing to trade it in for "loyalty" (actually subservience, as in The Boss Is Always Right). And that was why we got into the clusterfuck, because one dry drunk wanted to show all the "eggheads" how he had a bigger dick than his daddy.

#288 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:35 PM:

I love many things about that house, but the story-plus drop-off protected by a few portable stanchions and a velvet rope gives me the heebie-jeebies. I say that as someone who enjoys playing around heights; wandering through a room at home shouldn't have similar risks to climbing an easy crag route!

#289 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:42 PM:

For the Balticon Gathering of Light, it looks like Sunday dinner works. Let's make it 6:30, in case Elise and/or Nancy Lebovitz want to join us. (They both have tables in the dealers' room, which closes at 6:00; I'm guessing that it takes at least a little time to pack up after that.)

So. Meet in the lobby of the Hunt Valley Inn, 6:30 on Sunday, and we'll go on from there. I'll be wearing my Fluorosphere button (bright yellow with a light bulb).

#290 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:42 PM:

Thinking of you mother, Patrick.

I don't know if anyone here watches "The Flash" at all, but in terms of last night's episode, the obvious joke is "Rqqvr'f va gur fcnpr-gvzr-pbagvahhz!"

But on that note, why qvq ur xvyy uvzfrys? Fheryl n orggre bcgvba jbhyq unir orra gb yrg Rboneq tb naq gura gbqqyr bss naq unir n infrpgbzl naq vairfg va n pbaqbz pbzcnal sbe rkgen frphevgl.

#291 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 04:37 PM:

#289 ::: Mary Aileen

Thanks for thinking of me. It does take a little time to shut down the business.

#292 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 05:43 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer: context.

#293 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 05:57 PM:

Patrick: prayers for you and your mother.

Is anyone here going to be at Nine Worlds in London in August?

#294 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:21 PM:

Mary Aileen@289

I'm fine with 6:30 on Sunday. Just in case it matters, however, the Balticon Dealer's Room webpage currently says that the Dealer's Room closes at 5 pm on Sunday.

#295 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:28 PM:

Michael I (294): Interesting. Either I misread it, or they changed it.

Let's stick with 6:30 anyway. I'd rather not change the details again unless there's a major problem.

#296 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:34 PM:

Thank you all for the sympathetic words. My mother is recovering, and my sister-in-law (younger brother's wife) is on her way to Tucson to help out. Breathing a bit more now.

#297 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Patrick, your mother and your family have my prayers.

#298 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:21 PM:

Glad to hear, Patrick.

#299 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:30 PM:

Best wishes to Patrick's mom; may she continue to recover, and from the shingles as well.

#300 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:31 PM:

Kip @276

Also, I hate places that spell "quick" with a K. They are abominations unto the land.

Abominations unto the land? Hardly! "K"s are almost as hard to find examples of as "Q"s. At least you can hope for a sign bragging about someone's product's quality!

The Rules Committee will take your "EX" rules under advisement. They are shaking their heads disapprovingly at the trucks, though....

#301 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:37 PM:

Worrying about a sick parent long-distance is no fun at all!

(And I'm going to get shingles vaccine next time I see the doctor.)

#302 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:39 PM:

@257 etc.: Interesting discussion. It reminded me quite a bit of _The Hallowed Hunt_ -- particularly the part about "King energy" and how it passes in succession, for reasons that are spoilery and/or obvious. Like _Watership Down_, _The Hallowed Hunt_ examines several kings and potential kings, starting with the prince announced to be dead in the very first sentence (a king who never was, but he was a lord and his lordship is examined), and continuing to examples that would be very spoilery indeed, but I am quite sure any reader will not have forgotten.

I think Siderea may harp a little hard on "a society that says that Kingship looks like The Threarah, not like Hazel", though -- seems to me both archetypes are alive and well, although not everyone agrees on which to prefer.

I am a bit puzzled by the decision to refer specifically to kings and kingship rather than to leaders and leadership more generically. The absence of thrones and scepters and other trappings of kings is not as odd if you're thinking of kings as just one particular type of leader, with the same ways of interacting with their people (except for Tabini-aiji, but this is going to be long enough already) but a shinier hat.

Other types of leaders, such as captains (of which SF has many to choose from, although one of the first to come to my mind was the non-SFnal Aubrey), have many of the same attributes and obligations, even though they are not kings.

Similarly, Admiral Naismith in _The Warrior's Apprentice_/_The Vor Game_, also not a king, also shown from the inside, some of the same principles seem to apply, including contrast with other examples, Oser, Metzov, and Cavilo. (And of course [spoiler], with whom he trades reproaches about deserting their respective peoples; both recognize the justice of the criticism.)

Of course you could say that a captain is the king of his ship and so captaincy is another form of kingship, but why is that better or more insightful than saying that kingship and captaincy are two branches from a common trunk? And then hadn't you ought to call the trunk something more generic to avoid confusion?

#303 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:40 PM:

Mary Aileen@289: "Meet in the lobby of the Hunt Valley Inn, 6:30 on Sunday..."

I'll be there (at Balticon), and I will be there (meeting for dinner) unless other plans kidnap me.

#304 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:41 PM:

PJ Evans @ 161: That's good for something that old (IIRC 2 models back). What kind of seasonal swing do you see in mileage? (I see at least 20%, but Boston is a lot more ... seasonal ... than the west coast.)

ajay @ 187: interesting point. I recall reading of a floor paved in millstones seized by someone enforcing a monopoly; it sounded realistic but I'm blanking on whether it was in fact or fiction.

#305 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 10:06 PM:

Andrew Plotkin (303): See you there!

#306 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 11:21 PM:

Another one here who kept thinking about The Goblin Emperor while reading those essays. That's at least 4 people making the same observation, which suggests that there's probably something to it.

Car games -- there's a license plate game my friends and I sometimes played on the way to cons. It works best in states with the pattern NNN LLL (3 numbers and 3 letters), and the idea is that the letters tell you what's in the trunk and the numbers tell you how many. So, for example, 288 NPC would be "288 non-player characters". Half the fun is coming up with creative things for the letters to indicate! We never kept score in any way -- it was a cooperative game.

#307 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 11:59 PM:

chris @302: because Siderea is playing with the Jungian archetypes, and the term Jung chose to use was King. Those Captains you speak of are using the archetype without the name of King (and Siderea talks about this at some length in the essays: if Adams had used the term King we wouldn't connect with it as well because of the connotations that go with it -- which means that using the term Captain brings a different set of secondary associations which don't map as cleanly onto what Jung was looking at).

We played with that kind of license plate, too, Lee: making words with Scrabble scoring out of the three letters in the plate, in order, with a double word score for having the first and last letters of the plate be the first and last letters of the word, and a triple word score if the middle letter was also exactly in the middle. There was Discussion about what counted as the middle in a word with an even number of letters: if the letter is doubled there, is it the middle letter? That was never fully resolved.

#308 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 01:36 AM:

I haven't been on in quite a while: big good wishes coming your way, Patrick, and for your mom an it be her own will.

#309 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:48 AM:

Another road game is to be the first to spot license plates which add up to 10, e.g. XYZ 253. Only the first one to call out a given plate gets it; keep a running score; double points for something special (bus or police car), negative points if you add it up wrong and call the wrong license plate.

#310 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 04:57 AM:

We played the alphabet game, but not with only the first letter of words - we could take any letter from any fixed sign. Our road trips were shorter though. If we tried the other way, we'd never win (we still didn't always win).

We had to stop during towns, but if you could read that tiny sign on a farmer's fence and get letters out of it, more power to you. As kids we did car halves, but as adults we still sometimes do it cooperatively.

#311 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 05:44 AM:

CHip @304 - I half-remember a similar story; something about a Bishop's courtyard being paved with querns confiscated from the peasantry... but the details are obstinately refusing to come clear in my mind.

#312 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:07 AM:

We did the license plate game by trying to make words out of the letters. Our rules were that you could add any vowels you wanted, but were downchecked for adding consonants. (Doubling a consonants was okay, so was making 'ck' out of either 'c' or 'k'.) We didn't keep score, just gave kudos for a good word. I still do this.

One long car trip, Georgia to New Jersey to Pennsylvania and back, my older brother (then a teenager) decided to keep track of which states we saw license plates from, with the goal of collecting all 50. We all helped look for new ones. He saw 48; the missing ones were Hawaii (makes sense!) and either Nebraska or Nevada (I forget which).

#313 ::: OtterB sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:26 AM:

We used to play the alphabet game. I remember watching for eXit signs, Quaker State motor oil, and "E-Z" anything.

We also played a Geography game. Each person names a place that begins with the last letter of the previous place name. The name you give cannot have been used previously. Some letters are obviously easier than others.

My husband and his friends used to play Ghost (add a letter to the string, which must be part of a word, but trying not to be the one to complete a word).

#314 ::: Mary Aileen does not see spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:46 AM:

OtterB, I think you forgot to change your nym back. :)

#315 ::: OtterB does not see spam either ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:56 AM:

You're right, Mary Aileen. Not sure how that popped up - don't think I've placed an actual spam report for a few days. Oh well.

Oh, and I look forward to meeting the Balticon contingent Sunday evening.

#316 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:32 AM:

Cally @261, sounds like Four-Legged Animals. You can only call animals on your side of the car, and if someone else calls them (we had a 16-hour car trip with four kids) you don't get them. I remember a livestock truck that we passed, then it passed us on a downhill, then we passed it again. It turned into "How fast can you count out loud?" I also remember someone (a friend of mine who had kids and took roadtrips) deciding that, yes, a graveyard kills your animals, but a church resurrects them.

Figuring out what someone's license plate would be if it were a vanity plate ("HEG, clearly they're a High Energy Guy") is good for minutes of entertainment.

#317 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Sandy B. (316): We did that variant before switching to the one I described above. It started when I was about 10 and decided that the LFT on our new plate meant we were Looking For Trouble. My mother liked that one, although really nothing could be farther from the truth. (We were an appallingly law-abiding bunch.)

OtterB (315): Looking forward to meeting you, too. I'll try to post a reminder here on Sunday morning.

#318 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:45 AM:

We've been known to play something that started out as a forum game: "50 eggs." [from Cool Hand Luke.] Pick a word and try to find 50 songs that have that word in the lyrics. If you can just rattle off ten as fast as you can speak it's too easy; "love", "fire", "baby", etc. If you can't rattle off three it's probably too hard: "parthogenesis." In the forum version, if the original suggester was challenged and couldn't come up with a song that hadn't been mentioned, they got pelted with fifty imaginary eggs; if they met the challenge, the challenger got egged.

#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 11:31 AM:

Elliott Mason @Hugos III/671: I can produce a long and entertaining rant about the squishiness of species and how species "work" as a piece of scientific technology (not all technology can be banged on a rock)

Did this ever get followed-up upon? If not: yes, please.

#320 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 12:13 PM:

Cally, it's true that K is a hard one (J and K together can be a long haul), but Q is the gold standard of difficult letters, provided one has the EX exception.

As to trucks, there are vehicles now that exist for no other purpose than to be a moving billboard, and the display signs on the sides of semis are sometimes the only signs I see for mile after mile of driving. Clearly, your disapproval does matter to me, even though I'm usually playing against nobody but the signs.

On some familiar routes, I know just where the Q is going to be, and if I start playing late, there can be some genuine suspense over whether I'll clear the R before I get to it. There's one trip I take where I suddenly find myself in the Valley of the Qs: Quaker Steak, La Quinta, Quizno's, and Quality Inn are all happily nestled together in a fairly short stretch. I sometimes wish I could pocket one of them for later.

#321 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 12:16 PM:

Patrick, I'm glad things are going well. I hadn't considered that you are being anxious at long distance here, which can be even more harrowing. I raise my water bottle to your mom: Health!

#322 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 12:31 PM:

Sandy, #318: That sounds like a variant of Encore!, which is a board-game but could fairly easily be adapted as a car game. Two teams, 1 referee; the referee provides a word, and the teams take turns singing lyrics that contain that word. Lyric sections must be at least 8 words long to count, and the last team to successfully come up with a lyric gets first turn on the next round.

For the advanced version, throw in categories -- things like "women's names starting with A-M" or "commercial jingles" or "food and drink". (Hint: "Disney songs" should not be used as a category because it will go on FOREVER.)

#323 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 01:43 PM:

Kip: there's a Dairy Queen that I wish I could put into my pocket for later, it's true. (Why oh why did a restaurant's movable letter sign stop advertising their pies a few blocks before it? Why??) Where I live there is a glut of Ws, but not a lot of Zs, either.

The Rules Committee hasn't decided about modern LED billboards yet. They're provisionally acceptable, but all arguments haven't yet been heard.

Trucks which are billboards, if they're parked by the side of the road being billboards, are ok. If they're in motion, or look like they expect to be moved any time in the next few days, not so much. That Quizno's delivery car, however tempting, is Right Out.

#324 ::: Semperfiona ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:01 PM:

We had several car games growing up that no one has mentioned yet. Most of them are variations on the same theme of memorization and alphabets: Each player has to recite the whole list of preceding items before adding theirs for the next letter. Sometimes we did the alphabet backward for variety.

"I built a zoo and in it I put a(n)..." Anteater, Baboon, Cheetah...

"I went on a vacation and in my luggage I took a(n)..." Anklet, Bookmark, Calendar...

"I went on a picnic etc..."

Other people in the car would try to veto items that are too far afield from the stated category ("No one takes Angle Iron in their luggage!") or are repeats of a previous entry by another name ("You can't have tapirs, we already put anteaters in the zoo!") and the original person would try to defend the choice.

The other family car game we played was called Zit. First person to spy a white horse would yell "ZIT!" Over the course of a trip we kept lackadaisical track of each person's zit total. This game is embellished with arguments over exactly how white the horse actually was, or whether it even existed if no one else saw it.

#325 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:19 PM:

Re: Car games.

Nobody's mentioned "slug-bug" yet; a rather violent car game from my childhood.

If you see a Volkswagon Beetle, you yell "Slug-Bug!" and thwak the sibling sitting next to you. Thwakking the driver is NOT ALLOWED. Neither is hitting hard enough to hurt, let alone bruise.... You have to be the first to say slug-bug or you don't get to slug anyone. Only one slug per Bug.

I gather that there's a modern update: "I see-us a Prius."

#326 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:52 PM:

Cassy B @325
My childhood VW Beetle game, you yelled "Beaver!" when you saw one. "Beaver Cleaver" was for a red one. And "Beaver Bus" and "Beaver Bus Cleaver" for VW vans and red VW vans. I believe punching the person next to you was involved.

*snort* for "I see-us a Prius." I hadn't heard that one.

#327 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:19 PM:

Em @290 Sadly The Flash finale does not reach the UK until next week (because, ironically, it travels very slowly, like by clipper ship or something I assume) so let me instead pose what I think is the most pressing question:

Why wasn't there an episode in which Barry had to be in two places at once, preferably dinner in two resturants across town from each other? My preference would be that the forensic lab is being outsourced and the eccentric investor insists on meeting this brilliant investigator*, and meanwhile he has a hot date with an investigative journalist who is far too close to finding out who The Flash is, but anything really.

The show can have that idea for free.

* "To the outside world I'm an ordinary forensic scientist," Barry declares at the start of most of the episodes. Seriously man, your day job would make you a regular on the Joe West show, and quite possibly co-lead in CSI: Central City.

#328 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:38 PM:

Cally, I can understand your rule. If I ever get to play the game with you, I'll certainly honor it, regardless of whether we're in my car or yours.

Cassy B, my daughter calls it "punch buggy," and used to play it on any car trip she was on with a peer. When I was in grade school, I used to be aware that a friend of mine played it, and seemed to call it "P punch" or perhaps "peewee punch." The color of the VW in question was always called. "P punch the green one!" or "Punch buggy yellow."

Neil W, I'm aware of the plot device being used by Fred Flintstone, though not at widely separated venues. I thought about it recently in a discussion of a bigamist with two families.

#329 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:44 PM:


V guvax gur vffhr vf gung Rboneq qbrfa'g qvfnccrne hagvy Rqqvr npghnyyl qbrf fbzrguvat gung znxrf Rboneq'f rkvfgrapr vzcbffvoyr. Rqqvr xvyyvat uvzfrys qbrf gung vzzrqvngryl, juvpu vf jung gurl arrq. Ur pna'g trg n infrpgbzl hagvy (ng yrnfg) gur arkg qnl naq gurer'f fgvyy npgvir fcrez sbe n juvyr nsgre n infrpgbzl. Cyhf infrpgbzvrf pna bsgra or erirefrq. Fb Rboneq jba'g qvfnccrne sbe dhvgr n juvyr, naq znl abg qvfnccrne ng nyy.

#330 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Kip W @328, yes, I seem to remember we usually (but not always) named the color, too. "Slug-bug! Blue!" Not because it was required, but because there were unlikely to be two blue VW bugs in sight at any one time, but there MIGHT be a blue one and a red one, too. So "Slug-bug red!" was still available....

#331 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:59 PM:

Michael I @329 - that reminded me of Jack Williamson's The Legion of Time, where (should I spoiler-protect a book that old? Oh, what the heck) gur jrncba bs ynfg erfbeg sbe qrnyvat jvgu Fbenvaln vaibyirf n cuvny pbagnvavat gur pher sbe n qvfrnfr fur nyzbfg qvrq bs ng gur ntr bs gra. Bar thl unf fgbyra guvf cuvny bhg bs ure crefbany gvzryvar, ohg fb ybat nf vg erznvaf haoebxra, gurer vf nyjnlf n punapr ur jvyy chg vg onpx... ohg, jura gurl unir ab pubvpr ohg gb xvyy ure, gurl fznfu gur cuvny, znxvat vg ergebnpgviryl vzcbffvoyr sbe ure rire gb unir yvirq cnfg gra lrnef byq, fb fur vafgnagyl snqrf njnl.

#332 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 05:14 PM:

Jacque @319: I'd love to but could you ping me about it like maybe Tuesday if I haven't done it by then? I'm right now amidst frantic packing-for-con and am likely to forget you asked. :->

#333 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 05:35 PM:

I discovered Punch Buggy in the company of people who all knew the game.

I still stand by my decision to punch the other kid back.

#334 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 07:51 PM:

I think the URL says most of what needs to be said, except to note that both of them show a sense of humor about it:

#335 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 07:51 PM:

My kids learned "Slug Bug" from their schoolmates; I think I've also heard them call it "Punch Buggy". They also play "Cruiser Bruiser" (for PT Cruisers). They generally call out the color, for both kinds of vehicles.

My older son created his own game, "Two Cube", which apparently doesn't involve punching anyone, but requires simultaneously sighting two roughly cubical vehicles (Honda Element, Nissan Qube, Scion xB, etc.). The vehicles don't have to match in any way, and he doesn't mention their colors.

Here in Southern California, keeping track of Priuses would get tiring. I used to point out Teslas to whoever was in the car with me, but don't do it any longer as even they've gotten more common around here.

#336 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 08:15 PM:

OtterB at #31, I may have had the wrong movie. IMDB was not loading for me when I wrote the comment, so I asked my BF the pop culture consultant. However the 1960s are a little before his time.

#337 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:49 PM:

Today was the 2.5hr bus trip to Ames for Special Olympics Bikes. I found myself, once I was awake, looking for letters... then, around B, deciding that that way lies madness and let's just not.

And then I couldn't stop.


Also, the cow/cemetery thing sounds very interesting and totally a where-I-grew-up thing rather than a where-I-live-now one. The two and a half hour drive goes from corn and soybeans to corn and cows, plus from interstates to two-lane roads.

#338 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:59 PM:

The Guides' play was tonight and, scenery disaster overcome, went off without a hitch! They did a super job and I'm really proud of them. Here's a photo of the Evil Fairy (which doesn't show anyone's face, so I'm okay to share it).

#339 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 11:54 PM:

Open threadiness: has anyone else here read Lloyd Alexander's second book My Five Tigers? I'm currently reading it aloud, and finding it a superlative book on why some people like cats, and what happens when a really good descriptive writer catches the cat bug. Originally published in 1956 in hardback; paperback from Dutton in 1973. It does not feel dated, at least up to halfway through. I'd love to see what another illustrator than Peggy Bacon would do with it; she's spare, and very much a 1950s print artist (think Wanda Gag, in her litho mode). Highly recommended for cat people; if it got reprinted, I'd buy at least 5 copies to share.

#340 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:41 AM:

Sandy, #333: I'd back you on that. Springing a "oh, this rule says I can hit you" game on someone without warning is [REDACTED] amazingly rude, at the very least.

The first time I ever had a partner "poached" from me at an SCA dance -- when I had no idea that such a variant even existed -- was Not Fun, and left me with a permanent distaste for the activity, such that I would not dance at all if it was going to be done.

#341 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:44 AM:

Hyperlocal news: my Amazing Fiancé and I walked at Commencement today. We'd filed and gotten our lollypops last week, but today was the parade-around-in-serious-regalia bit, and it was a good time. We're now, really and truly, Doctors.

#342 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 03:08 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @341: Congratulations! Welcome to the new Drs!

I do hope that either now or after you handed in your theses you took some time off, at least a week? I didn't (handed in my thesis on the Friday, started at new job on the Monday) and it retrospect that was a mistake).

#343 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 05:00 AM:

Elliott Mason @332: could you ping me about it like maybe Tuesday

Reminder sent to work email. :-)

#344 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 06:19 AM:

Tom Whitmore #339: That's tempting, especially given the writer. There's the old comment that "God gave us the cat so that we could pet a lion", which sounds much in the same vein.

But from 1956, I can bet there's at least one side to it that he didn't cover, namely the T. gondi issues.

#345 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 06:54 AM:

My daughter not only knows Slug Bug but also brought me the game Banana, where you call out yellow cars. Taxis and other commercial vehicles don't count.

I was so thrilled the first time I got to say Banana Slug Bug!

Since she's a playful kid, this led to Pumpkin for orange cars, Spoiled Banana for yellow convertibles with black tops, Blueberry whenever one of us felt like a car was a nice enough blue.

Having a kid who likes to travel is a real blast!

#346 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 07:48 AM:

Any plan for a Gathering of Light at Wiscon?

#347 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:33 AM:

Dr Wolf #341 - congrats - here, open up this virtual bottle of libation-of-choice

#348 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 09:11 AM:

I'll be at Wiscon. Come say hi at the Strange Horizons Tea Party.

#349 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:47 PM:

When I was young, we used to play "race car" from the back seat. You start at a pre-determined position for the trip (usually 10th place). Each passed car advances you one position. Each time passed puts you back one. If you reach #1, you win one race. When the trip is over, you see how many races you won and compare to the last time you did the same trip.

Collusion with the driver not recommended.

#350 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 01:02 PM:

Heh. When I was a kid riding in the back of the station wagon, my brother and I would play tanks-- the dotted lines were land mines and we were laying them down to blow up other cars.

#351 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 02:01 PM:

Hyperlocal Adventures in (semi)retirement.

This morning I got an email from AFLAC in response to my resume I posted on Monster. However, they weren't looking for a part-time developer in the Houston area. They wanted sales and account reps.

Regretfully, I had to turn them down. I sent this email.


Thanks for your interest in my resume, but several years ago, I auditioned to be the voice of the Duck, and I was turned down.

If I can’t have first prize, I don’t want second.


Steve Clayworth

#352 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 02:11 PM:

David Harmon @344 -- no, you're right -- the time cat didn't bring the info about Toxoplasma back to him. It's a very different style from his later books, actually -- and I really like it. Very conversational.

#353 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 02:26 PM:

Steve C #351

I get those e-mails from AFLAC at least twice a month.

You know you're at the bottom-end of headhunters' queues when you get an e-mail touting how your resume on Monster impressed them to no end, and that you would love it at this wonderful company, yada, yada, yada.

Then, about two-thirds into the body of the e-mail you see the position they are touting is..

Mail-room attendant.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

#354 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 03:22 PM:

Diatryma, that's pretty much what happened to me: the game became a compulsion, and I couldn't just look at signs without trying to move through the alphabet. For a couple of trips, I had to strive to let it be, and it was hard. When I looked at signs, I was keeping a mental tally of where I was, on a level somewhere below voluntary. When I finally got that mental voice to shut up, I was free.

I still play the game, but I can stop now. (The important thing is to remember to start soon enough that I'll get that one "Quality" sign in Pennsylvania, or not be caught short when I enter the Valley of the Qs.)

#355 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 341

Congratulations to you and your Amazing Fiancé! Welcome to the new Doctors!

#356 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:27 PM:

Diatryma @ 348: I shall try to get to the Strange Horizons Tea Party! So far, I've met Elliott Mason.

#357 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:52 PM:

At Balticon. I chatted with Elise in the dealers' room for a bit, and told her about the Gathering of Light. Unfortunately, she already has other plans for Sunday dinner.

I also ran into Michael I.* in the dealers' room. Plus a friend from Twitter. Busy place, that room.

*We ended up buying copies of the same book from Larry Smith.

#358 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 11:31 PM:

341: Congratulations Dr Wolfe, Dr Fiancé, and Happy Silly Hat Day.

#359 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 11:34 PM:

My daughter and I just watched, at her suggestion, My Neighbor Tortoro. It's pure magic.

Being a father has good days, and better days, and today was one of them.

#360 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 11:37 PM:

David Harmon #344: Or Christoper Smart's wonderful phrase "The cherub cat is a term of the angel tiger"

#361 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 12:49 AM:

Cassy B. #325: My sister and her family play a version of the slug-bug game (although they mostly just call 'em and don't seem to do a lot of slugging) that includes a variation. "Slug-bug!" is reserved for a genuine original VW Beetle (1938-2003); if they see the modern imitation Beetle (1997-2011), they instead call out "Ug-bug" where the "Ug" stands in for "ugly".

#362 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 01:47 AM:

#359: There are moments in Totoro that are . . . sublime. Uncanny, wondorous, magical.

I am waiting for the Blu-Ray of Spirited Away, which doesn't have anything as breathtakingly uncanny as the bus stop scene but is still a joy.

#363 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 02:58 AM:

Totoro is quite possibly the best children's movie ever. And the most violent thing that happens in it is that someone trips over a tree root.

#364 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:33 AM:

Yay Ireland.

Australia, we're directing concerned glances in your general direction from across the Tasman.

#365 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 07:54 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 362: There are moments in Totoro that are . . . sublime. Uncanny, wondorous, magical.

Yes, exactly. I am not a moviegoer, but I would watch a movie like that every day of my life.

Tom Whitmore @ 363 Totoro is quite possibly the best children's movie ever. And the most violent thing that happens in it is that someone trips over a tree root.

And kids argue, and fear for their mom's life. There's just exactly enough of that to be faithful to the life of kids without being dark. But I have to differ a bit with you: I think it might be the best movie ever, period, at least by some measures. I know there are others. But it's only appropriate that he made a movie called Spirited Away, because that's how I felt.

I saw two things in it that I love, though not so much as this: Rugrats and Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends. The creators of both those must have gone to school on this guy's studio's work. They're very different, of course, but the faces of the Rugrats--I especially saw Angelica in Setsuki--have so much of this in them, as does the depiction of kids' worlds.

And the sensibility of Foster's--the idea of a home like that, and the matter-of-factness of it. The pacing is quite different, of course, and there's slapstick--the first episode I saw had poor Wilt run nearly to death--but it's a fundamentally kind (if not always gentle) show. And whenever I've visualized Mr. Herriman, I see him holding an umbrella. Now I think I know why.

#366 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 10:47 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer @365: And I would say that the kids arguing, and fearing for their mother's life, are less violent than the tripping over a tree root. It's a very suspenseful film, because of those issues (and the lost child issue, and the question of what Growing Up actually looks like) -- but it's not violent.

I gave a copy to my brother when his twins were 4. It turns out to be a film that adults can watch almost as often as 4 year olds want to watch it.

#367 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:00 AM:

When I watch cartoons these days I'll occasionally see Miyazaki's influence. He really raised the bar.

It doesn't come anywhere near Studio Ghibli in terms of character design and overall quality, but I quite enjoyed "Over the Garden Wall." Scary at times, employing a sort of Colonial New England Uncanny. Definitely for older kids.

#368 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:35 AM:

One of the things I've liked about the Miyazaki films is the importance tied to a good work ethic. You see a lot of this in Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Spirited Away.

My DVD of Spirited Away got scratched, so I've ordered the Blu-Ray. It's scheduled to arrive on June 16.

#369 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 12:09 PM:

I need to rewatch Mononoke. I have the Blu-Ray. Just need to nerve myself up. Found it rather overwhelming.

#370 ::: Pellegrina Stoat ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 01:17 PM:

Since moving to the UK I have been introduced to "pub cricket". You get points by counting the number of legs implied by the pub name (e.g. The White Horse = 4 legs; The Duke of Wellington = 2 legs, etc.). When you encounter a pub with no legs (e.g. The Queen's Head), it's the next person's turn, and so on until the end of the journey. The friend who introduced me to the game likes to propose The Herd of Millipedes as the best possible pub to pass.

The game also lends itself to rules lawyering: Is it actually a pub? Do closed pubs count? What if the pub name doesn't specify numbers (e.g. The Fox and Hounds, The Coach and Horses)? If it's The X's Arms, do you get to count the legs in the heraldic device?

#371 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 03:26 PM:

Interesting possible double-post failure mode. I was commenting in the nomination-procedure thread and previewing heavily. When I finally posted I got:

Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

Too many comments have been submitted from you in a short period of time. Please try again in a short while.

Please correct the error in the form below, then press POST to post your comment.

But I checked in a fresh window, and the comment had in fact been posted. Maybe I clicked POST twice without realizing, or my browser stuttered, or there's a small bug in the backend. Anyway, interesting.

#372 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:02 PM:

thomas @364: Yay Ireland indeed. Next, hopefully, a bit more sanity in women's rights to abortion,

#373 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:23 PM:

I do not believe that rights should be subjected to popular vote. That being said, the Irish have definitely come down on the side of civilisation once more.

#374 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Open threadiness: a heads up for gamers.

I needed cheering up after the election and decided to treat myself to some dice games. I ordered them from Infinity Games UK; this was on the Sunday after the election. The following day I got an e-mail to say they'd been dispatched. Fine so far.

Things then go like this:

Wednesday I e-mail to enquire when to expect the games. They e-mail back to say the dispatch e-mail was sent in error and apologise. I reply, fine, we all make mistakes, please send them out now.

I wait a week. Nothing happens.

Following Wednesday I e-mail again enquiring about my order. No reply.

Thursday I gather all my spoons and try ringing them. I get a recorded message. It's a land line, and it's 3.25 pm. I therefore e-mail them again. Still nothing.

Friday By now I am getting really worried. I try ringing again (same landline, 2.05 pm) and get the recorded message again. I e-mail to explain that I really need to know what is happening with this order, and I don't want to have to seek a refund via PayPal because I want the games I ordered, but if I don't get them then I'll be left with no choice.

Less than ten minutes later, they e-mail back, apologising profusely, to tell me they'll send out the games first class immediately. They explain that I couldn't get through on the phone because it wasn't charged (????!!!).

Saturday (today) - games arrive, I'm a happy mongoose.


Now, reading between the lines here, there are an awful lot of products out of stock on that site, and I'm pretty sure it's a one-man business. I suspect that a) the business is doing badly, and b) as a result of this, the owner may be suffering from anxiety. The business has always had excellent reviews in the past, but I know very well from my own experience that anxiety can cause panic, avoidant behaviour, and outright self-sabotage.

So, maybe... if you're short of spoons, avoid; but if you've got plenty of spoons, consider seeking him out? Your call. I don't think I can deal with him again, because otherwise it's going to be the Anxiety Tango and I can't cope with any more of that. But I wouldn't like his business to fail, all the same.

#375 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 06:29 PM:

Open threadiness. On a plate comic on entitlement. Via Elizabeth Moon's newsgroup.

#376 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 06:43 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @373: I do not believe that rights should be subjected to popular vote. Pretty much what my husband said, and I agree. Apparently, however, in Ireland a referendum is required to make a change to the constitution, so...

#377 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 08:53 PM:

On car games: one we used that depends on traffic density and who you've got playing is to make words containing the three licence plate letters, in the given order (though not necessarily contiguous)

Shorter words beat longer ones, and contiguous letters win for words of the same length: eg, given UPD, 'unpod' would lose to 'updog'.

#378 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 08:57 AM:

Reminder: Balticon Gathering of Light tonight (Sunday), meeting at 6:30 in the lobby of the Hunt Valley Inn.

I'm having a lot of trouble with the hotel wifi, so I may not be able to check back for updates.

#379 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:10 AM:

Back in the jolly days before vanity plates, I recall that Mom would make use of the letter portions of plates as part of her quest for communication on the road. If a car had an LZ prefix, for instance, she might say "Come on, Lizzie, it's not gonna get any greener." If the other car was an LU-, she might say "What do you want me to do, Lulu? Bow you across?"

I've inherited this desire for communication (albeit imperfect communication, as the occupants of other cars don't hear me any more than they heard Mom), but had to tone it down. Some passengers develop unfounded ideas from it regarding my emotional state, when all I'm doing is keeping the lines open.

#380 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 11:20 AM:

OtterB @375: Just went and read than. Sums it up nicely.

#381 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 03:01 PM:

My kids are surprisingly calm and amazing travelers—as in, I started out by giving them toys and books to play with, but stopped bothering once they didn't pay attention to them. On the ten-hour trip to Grandma's house.

Mind you, they do have complaints from time to time, but for kids who are seven and five years old, being able to take a trip without constant issues is a blessing. I will note that I don't have electronic devices going, and now I have a justification... since the seven-year-old has developed carsickness since being moved to the back row so as to make room for the baby. So sorry, can't give you the iPad lest you throw up on it. (Hooray for Dramamine, I have to say. Expensive but worth it.)

We've done the "collect the states" license plate game. It depends on the time of year, but it's common to be able to get half the states and two Canadian provinces just traveling up the West Coast.

#382 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Re Gathering of Light tonight at Balticon: I have to bail. Sorry to miss it.

#383 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 04:26 PM:

OtterB (382): Sorry to hear that. Thanks for letting us know. Another time, perhaps.

#384 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 08:57 PM:

The Gathering of Light went well. We had eight people: me, Ginger and her partner, Michael I, Andrew Plotkin, Nancy Lebovitz, Dan Layman-Kennedy, and Jon Singer. Elise sent her regrets; she already had dinner plans for this evening by the time she heard about the GoL.

Conversation ranged from how to catch cats and horses, to how to feed sheep without getting mobbed, to Ukrainian politics, to social media, to proofreading and the importance of the serial comma, to the Hugos (and I'm probably missing a few things). A few puns were perpetrated. All in all, a very Fluorospherean evening.

#385 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:50 PM:

Restaurant recommendation for those in and near Berkeley: Nino's Pizzeria and Brazilian Restaurant, on MLK a block and a half north of University (half a block south of Hearst). Chicken croquettes with catupiry - yum!

#386 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:43 PM:

Re: Miyazaki: My Neighbour Totoro is one of my favourite films of all time, but I have a problem. I imprinted on the dubbed translation from the Fox video days.

While the Disney one is perfectly acceptable as dubs go (unlike the ones for Castle in the Sky and Porco Rosso - watch those with dubbing and subtitles on together and you'll see why I consider them subtitle-only), it rings "wrong" to the part of me seeking the comforting core of the film. A favourite song sung just out of tune.

I feel like I desperately need the out of print Fox DVD version, as I only have it on VHS, and have only minor access to a VCR. I suppose at some point I'll have to yield and go Disney, even though I will always, in a handful of scenes, be mouthing a different set of words.

(I have a much weaker version of the same issue with Nausicaa even with subtitles, because the fansub I had for years is not just different, it's objectively superior. But it doesn't cut to the heart the same way.)

#387 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 11:20 PM:

Lenora Rose: At least one public library near me has a VHS to DVD recorder; perhaps one near you does as well, so you can convert your Fox VHS copy? It won't be as high-def as a straight-to-DVD copy likely would be, but it would have the "right" words.

#388 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 11:43 PM:

B. Durbin @381: Hooray for Dramamine, I have to say. Expensive but worth it.

When I was little, ginger snaps were a traditional snack whenever we went to the drive-in movies. It was only years later that I deduced that this evolved from the practice of having them on hand as a paliative against car-sickness. (Which was, apparently, a Thing at some point. I don't remember it, so I don't know if it was me pre-memory, or my five-years-older brother.)

Oddly, with a very few, very particular exceptions, I don't have trouble with motion sickness. What does happen if (when flying, frex) turbulance occurs, is that my eyes roll up in my head and I become overpoweringly sleepy. Apparently my brain parses that kind of motion as "rocking." Which is not un-useful.

#389 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 11:57 PM:

Referencing back to the gender discussion in Hugos III (which seems to have died out): Becoming Chaz elaborates many of the points covered in that thread.

One thing that struck me: as we have more people crossing the gender spectrum physically, I predict we'll begin to get a much better grip on what falls where in the innate/acquired–biological/cultural space.

#390 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:55 AM:

P J Evans @ 385 : Good to know. My Amazing Fiance and I have walked past them for years, and always been a bit perplexed by them as a restaurant (they’re never remotely full).

Lenora Rose @ 386 : I’m very familiar with the problem of the Two Dubs of My Neighbor Totoro - my brother and I imprinted on the Fox dub at ages 7 and 4 respectively, and the Disney dub is just wrong. As I recall, tracking down the Fox dub on DVD is somewhere between difficult and impossible, since relatively few were made.

#391 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:59 AM:

I have now met Elliott Mason, Diatryma, and Xopher Half-Tongue in the Real World at Wiscon. I have also run into a few people that I knew from west coast cons, and met many fine people for the first time. I'm finding it a splendid con. Madison has changed dramatically since I was a student here in the 80s, and is well worth a visit.

I noticed Patrick's "This Happened" sidelight about John Scalzi's lovely book deal. My hearty congratulations to both Tor and Scalzi.
(It is thoroughly petty of me, but I'm a wee bit gleeful at the gnashing of teeth this probably produces among some individuals.)

#392 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 01:01 AM:

I have now met Elliott Mason, Diatryma, and Xopher Half-Tongue in the Real World at Wiscon. I have also run into a few people that I knew from west coast cons, and met many fine people for the first time. I'm finding it a splendid con. Madison has changed dramatically since I was a student here in the 80s, and is well worth a visit.

I noticed Patrick's "This Happened" sidelight about John Scalzi's lovely book deal. My hearty congratulations to both Tor and Scalzi.
(It is thoroughly petty of me, but I'm a wee bit gleeful at the gnashing of teeth this probably produces among some individuals.)

#393 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 01:06 AM:

I got the server error. I opened another tab, looked at the front page, and my name wasn't there. Navigated to the page, and my post wasn't there. Refreshed the 2nd tab -- wasn't there. Then I refreshed the tab where the error was displayed, and got the double post.
Should one wait 5 minutes or so, and only then refresh the page with the error? Or is the refresh actually doing the double post?

#394 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 01:25 AM:

Janet: It's my recent experience that it's the refresh itself that does the double post. But I could be wrong.

#395 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 06:19 AM:

I was tickled to see the "Things I won't work with" particles, as I've followed Derek Lowe's writing for years. If you haven't followed it, I urge you to do so (now that the gogogarden redirect has been fixed).

In the whole series, my favorite is still "do not be omitting the stirring" from 2011.

#396 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 08:57 AM:

janetl @ 381: (It is thoroughly petty of me, but I'm a wee bit gleeful at the gnashing of teeth this probably produces among some individuals.)

That's one of the first things I thought of when I saw that.

Given what some of us have endured because of those individuals' gaming of the rules, I don't feel the least bit guilty for that slice of schadenfreude pie to finish off the celebration.

(And very grateful I am to the people doing the Puppy reviews. It helps a lot when, after the first few paragraphs, I'm left asking, "Am I crazy? Am I crazy?")

#397 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:38 AM:

If you're lucky, Mario will be there - big middle-aged guy with a beard - my sister met him when she went to work at the precision-optics place, where he worked on the stuff for Galileo. (Which is still reporting back.)

#398 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:51 AM:

: Jacque : # 389

"...One thing that struck me: as we have more people crossing the gender spectrum physically, I predict we'll begin to get a much better grip on what falls where in the innate/acquired–biological/cultural space..."

If that sort of thing were to keep happening, I have this amusing image of all the JCW and VD "types" attempting to find a frame of reference for their contrary assumptions to argue from.

I imagine them all frantic, as they start scouring used bookstores for copies of Chip Delany's work, for a refresh in Remedial Reality.

#399 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 04:07 PM:

janetl (393): It's my understanding that the Server Error means that a comment got stuck in the gears somewhere and, depending on precisely where, the next comment from the same person might (or might not) shake it loose. Something to do with page rebuilds, IIRC.

#400 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 04:35 PM:

Some fine fine Internet^W industry commentary on the Scalzi deal from Cheryl Morgan: The Wages of Sin (reshared from Facebook)
Wiscon members will enjoy the highly accurate depiction of your recent con experience.

Coffee and cats warning: do not be drinking anything or have any easily startled creatures in your lap before reading.

#401 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Clifton @ 400: That picture of a bath is completely fabricated. Wiscon only had one hot tub of man tears.

#402 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 05:25 PM:

Lenora Rose, 386

First, regarding your preference for the Nausicaa fansub: there is a OCR program you can use to extract the subtitles from any fansub or DVD. It needs a little babysitting with edge cases, but if you can fill it in, it will fix it, and spit out a file with the correct text and timings. (I don't remember it's name, but google helped me last time.) It's then possible to sync it with a ripped DVD on playback in a free program called VLC.(Just point VLC at the right folder and it will display the subs in that folder! Fun!) I'm not sure what would be involved in re-authoring a new copy of the DVD with the new subtitles.

Secondly, let me suggest a technological solution to the problem of the Fox dub of Totoro. Record the audio track from the VHS tape to a computer. Once you have the audio track, there are a number of ways to extract the video from the DVD and splice in the audio you recorded. You can then burn a new DVD with the good quality video and the audio track you desire.

Yes, there are a lot of steps, and some technology details. There are forums with people who would love to help, or at least offer suggestions. If you are still interested, I will spell out the details in the following paragraph:

You'll need an RCA (male, stereo) cable to a mini plug (male, looks like a headphone plug). Hook the audio out from the VCR to one end, and attach the other end to the audio input on a laptop. Install the free, open source, audio program "Audacity" in order to record the audio track. (You may have to mess with the sound input control panel on your laptop. Ask for advice from people who are into pc computer gaming. The forums on Ars Technica are actually pretty helpful, though if you can find the right on Stack Exchange, it might work faster.) Once you have the audio track, then you will need to decode (rip) the DVD into it's component audio and video files. This is easy, with a program called DVD Shrink. (Try the doom9 forums for tips on DVD shrink. Handbrake will also work, but may make it very difficult to get back to a DVD if that's your final output format. Great for ipads, though.) Find the folder with the audio files for the DVD, and load them into Audacity as a second audio track, parallel to the first one. Zoom in carefully to the beginning of the audio tracks, and add or subtract as much silence as you need in order to make the Fox dub start at the same time as the Disney dub. When you think you have it right, save your work as a new file just to be sure, and go to the "export" menu and try to export the audio for the now fixed Fox dub to the same format (probably WAV, though you should check). Find the directory the Disney dub ended up in when the DVD was ripped, and replace it with the Fox dub. Reopen DVD shrink, and try hitting "re author" to make a new DVD file, called an iso. Once you have your iso, you can burn a new DVD with your combined old dub and new video.

I apologize for the wall of text, and for the suggestion that you might want to start such a specialized, detailed, and potentially lengthy process. I am nerdy about this area, but I recognize that this might not be your cup of tea. Certainly, it is not the best method. You might be better off asking friends if they have a DVD copy of the Fox dub, and see if they can make you one. It would certainly be simpler.

#403 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 05:32 PM:

Oh, I forgot to mention - this might be interesting to everyone. The playback program VLC, will synch subtitle files with anything it plays back. Moreover, it will play back DVDs, so you don't even need to rip a DVD in order to play it with different subs. (Possibly it will synch an alternative audio file too, but I've never tried.)

It is free and open source, which means the UI leave something to be desired. On the other hand, you can skip past unskippable menus, *glares at Disney*. It's the only thing I use to watch DVDs on my laptop.

#404 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:56 PM:

Belated: Baltimore fluoro-dinner was very nice. Although I was at the wrong end of the table for learning about sheep management.

Thanks all.

(Now I am home and my primary Mac has booted up with disk errors. Fie.)

#405 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 11:00 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 373: I believe rights should be gained by any means necessary.

The fetish of "no direct voting on rights" has killed at least two local non-discrimination ordinances, one in my old town Fayetteville, Arkansas, and another in Springfield, Missouri.

In both cases, local activists worked through the city council to get good ordinances passed. The other side then challenged them by referendum and won very narrow victories.

By pushing the ordinances through the councils rather than through the initiative process, the activists gave up the, well, initiative to the other side. The other side, not the activists, determined the timing of the public vote. They had the advantage of appealing to the tradition of direct democracy. And they had the advantage which accrues to "vote yes for no."

Those add up in a close race.

I understand the theory behind "no direct votes on rights" and have some sympathy for it. I also don't believe legislative bodies, courts, and executives should determine those questions. They are questions of simple right and wrong, of justice and decency, that transcend those bodies. They should never be in question. But they are in question. Pretending otherwise leads to defeat.

If there's going to be an election no matter what you do, I believe in winning it however you must.

(I'd also rather trust the worst twenty-two percent of the population than the worst twenty-two percent of the Supreme Court, but that's another story.)

#406 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 08:40 AM:

I am surprised, but find it convenient, that Making Light as a whole has not added more than 1000 comments since the last time I checked (Thursday morning, before leaving to attend WisCon).

More when I've caught up. :->

#407 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:51 AM:

There are reports on Twitter that Tanith Lee has passed on.

#408 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 10:13 AM:

Jon Meltzer... Yeah. I just found out thru Pat Cadigan's facebook page. Cancer, apparently. On Sunday.

#409 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 10:19 AM:


Re whether rights should be subject to vote.

It seems to me that this just pushes the question back from "should this be allowed?" to "is this a right?"

At least in a US context, everyone who makes a decision about what will and won't be done by the government and the law comes down to politics and elections. We can decide whether to recognize gay marriages in court (by permanent appointed politicians, and who gets to appoint them is a major issue in elections) or in the legislature (by elected politicians) or in a popular vote, but ultimately it all comes down to what the public will support.

Also, this looks a lot less like an issue of principle than an issue of tactics, to me. Gay marriage is more popular among elites than the broader population, so courts are more likely to allow gay marriage than legislatures, and legislatures are more likely than direct votes. But I'd expect it to work the opposite on, say, drug legalization / decriminalization.

#410 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 11:33 AM:

Andrew Plotkin (404): The sheep management bit was pre-dinner, when you were asleep(?) on the other side of the lobby. Ginger told a couple of anecdotes about dealing with sheep and rams.

I'm glad you could make it.

#411 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Can we talk about birds? I want to talk about birds.

This weekend I found myself on the bank of the Kansas River (aka the Kaw) which, incidentally, is higher than I've seen it in many years.

I'd just IDed a phoebe when I noticed a hawk sitting in a nearby walnut tree. It was just a few meters away, so I had a wonderful view of the hawk and the grackles who were harassing it.

The hawk was impervious to the little birds' efforts. I saw one bold grackle bounce off the hawk's head, without any effect. I knew something was up when the hawk stopped sitting on one foot and focused on a particular spot in the branches below it. It bobbed its head back and forth, the way birds do when they are calculating the precise distance to a target.

Then it leaped into the branches. I couldn't see what happened, but there were a lot of enraged bird noises and when the hawk reappeared, it had a bird in its claws. It flew to a new perch and began plucking its dinner.

Now, I'd be confident that what I saw was a red-tailed hawk except that 1) it was awfully small 2) it had bars on its dusky, decidedly non-red tail 3) it was eating a bird. Red-tails will eat birds, or so the internet insists, but it's not a behavior that I associate with them.

The hawk could have been a juvenile male, which would explain its size and its stripeyness. Red-tails do tend to hunt from perches. If it was a juvenile, then it gets full marks for hunting technique, with extra credit for being literally unflappable in the presence of angry grackles.

#412 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 02:30 PM:

It's possible it was a Cooper's hawk. They eat birds, and they spend a lot of time in trees.

#413 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 02:59 PM:

It could have been a juvenile Cooper's Hawk, I suppose. Adults tend to be gray rather than brown. At the time I was hoping to prove that it was a red-shouldered hawk.

#414 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 03:02 PM:

Just a short note before I go back to try to catch up from 4 days offline. There was no flooding in our immediate area, but our power was out for about 12 hours. We are fine, just completely worn out from ComicPalooza.

#415 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 03:21 PM:

Bird...I found a juvenile great tit in our side yard yesterday. Looked juuuuust short of being able to actually fly, so maybe it tried and failed. I watched it cheep back and forth with its parents, watched them swoop down and feed it, and wondered what to do.

Being unable to find the nest anywhere in range, I'm afraid I let the birds handle the situation. It was still in the side yard this morning, but I can't see it now. It could be under one of the clumps of cress, but its parents aren't about any more.

I don't know if a cat (or raptor*) got it, or if it flew off, or if it hippety-hopped somewhere more welcoming than our pavement-and-cress side yard.

I couldn't take it inside if I'd wanted to -- Martin's allergic to fur and feathers -- and I didn't know what constitutes a better refuge for a juvenile tit, so I didn't want to move it (the parents were finding it by sound; they would have found it again).

What does one do in those circumstances?

* I know we have raptors that take birds, because I saw it happen, right over the street I was cycling down, on my commute home last month. And I've seen more than one acrobatic chase that didn't lead to a kill.

#416 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 03:59 PM:

@abi A lot of birds go through a stage where they're partially flighted and being fed by their parents. As long as the parents are around and the fledgeling isn't hurt or in *immediate* danger (e.g. sitting in the road), it's best to leave it alone.

If you do have to pick one up, wear gloves (to keep your mammal germs off of it, and its poo off of you) and stick it in the nearest tree or shrub.

The Cornell Bird Lab has more advice: On orphaned birds.

#417 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 04:37 PM:

abi @415, I agree with Sarah - if it was sufficiently feathered that you could ID it, it's probably a fledgling and is safe to be out of the nest. If it wasn't in a road or actively being stalked by a predator, leaving it alone was the right thing to do.

#418 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 04:53 PM:

I've always found this to be a good guide (sent to me by wildlife biologist sister, who knows her apples. And baby birds): If you find a baby songbird out of the nest.

HLN: Local woman has just come from her midterm exam, during which she wrote a long, detailed, thoughtful essay responding to the argument in an article which, upon post-exam perusal of the course readings, was not actually the article the exam question was asking about.

Local woman is consoling herself that at least she spelled everything mostly right.

#419 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 04:54 PM:

No serious flooding where I was either (although plenty of water splashing around) and I don't think I even lost power. The storms made the trip back home from Dallas more interesting than it might have been, although nowhere near the equal of the time I encountered thundersleet.

I was in Dallas to compete in the district finals for the Grand National Teams, a bridge event, in flight B. (Second-to-lowest bracket, below Flight A and the Superflight.) My team reached the final round of the knockouts, but lost. The winners pretty much outplayed us start to finish, so I can't even say we were robbed.

#420 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 05:13 PM:

abi: In the case where the parents have gone missing, are there any local wild animal rescues you could contact for advice?

#421 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Elliott Mason @332: "...squishiness of species..." I'd love to but could you ping me about it like maybe Tuesday if I haven't done it by then?

It's Tuesday: ping! ping! ping!

#422 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 06:15 PM:

A friend I trust about wildlife told me last week that birds have about a day of adolescence where they look scruffy but can fly. It makes sense to me that the fledgeling stage, where the parents are still feeding the offspring, would be similarly short.

#423 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 06:27 PM:

Some nice shepherd-type dogs are turning up on Petfinder searches, but dang . . . some of them, I'd have to change their names. Which seems disrespectful, you know?

#424 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 06:52 PM:

WRT to the Texas rains - an estimated 162 billion gallons of water fell on Harris County last night. Really.

Fortunately, we were safe at home. I did stay up to 3AM watching news reports.

#425 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:03 PM:

B. Durbin, #381: Seconding your enthusiasm for Dramamine. I had horrible carsickness on long trips as a kid, and it was a blessing to both me and my parents. Somewhere along the line I outgrew that tendency, but I still have occasional issues with airsickness on a rough flight, so I keep some in my travel bag.

Jacque, #389: The YouTube video requires signing in to view due to adult content. But it's available from Amazon for $4.99.

SamChevre, #395: I've been known to describe "Things I Won't Work With" as "Steve, Don't Eat It!" for chemists.

Re rights and voting... Sadly, this is one of those "in theory, theory and practice are the same" situations. Theoretically, there are such things as absolute rights. In practice, rights are whatever you can convince enough people to believe they are; this is amply demonstrated by the number and variety of things which have or have not been considered "rights" in various times and places throughout history. And even when you can get people to agree that thus-and-so is an absolute right, there are not lacking situations where one must resolve the issue of "when absolute rights conflict, whose absolute right is more absolute?", and those situations tend to be resolved in a way that is monotonously predictable.

Rights are social constructs, and as such, it is inevitable (though unfortunate) that they will often have to be voted on. My own right to vote in such situations was itself once voted on.

Steve C., #424: That doesn't surprise me. We were under more-or-less continuous waves of thunderstorms for at least 6 hours straight, with levels varying from "rain" to "you could wash your hair in this" to "damn, who turned on the hose?"

#426 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:08 PM:

Em #418: LOL at the green section!

Steve C #424: Yikes. Pity they can't ship some of it to California....

#427 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 10:04 PM:

Sharing Tanith Lee's epitaph, posted on
19/9/1947 - 24/5/2015
"Though we come and go, and pass into the shadows, where we leave behind us stories told – on paper, on the wings of butterflies, on the wind, on the hearts of others – there we are remembered, there we work magic and great change – passing on the fire like a torch – forever and forever. Till the sky falls, and all things are flawless and need no words at all."
- Tanith Lee

I keep tearing up everytime I reread this.

#428 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 10:05 PM:

Regarding Patrick's sidebar on "* Are we living in an era of transformative technological change? Maybe not.":

I usually like Krugman, but here he's essentially saying "if this is so transformative, how come we aren't all rich yet?" Which is simply a non sequitur: There's been plenty of social change, occasionally rippling into politics. What there hasn't been is some magical reallocation of resources to the public. Yes, huge amounts of value are being created, but those are being harvested by an assortment of companies. Indeed, the economics of computer and software production favor big capital¹, and so the industry has concentrated its wealth into large companies, at the same time as global changes have also concentrated wealth among "them that has". That's why the economy is staggering.

¹ Free software isn't that much of an exception -- there are enough drawbacks to relying on it that most people do need or want commercial software as well. And its value fades into the background, so it doesn't show up as exonomic growth.

#429 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 10:52 PM:

David Harmon @ 425 -

I agree, I think the next 20 years, technologically speaking, will make the previous 20 look like it was standing still. This doesn't necessarily translate into economic utopia because that kind of thing can't really exist. I think we're going to see the the less developed countries advance at an astonishing rate because that's where the (now) cheap labor is and the where the young people are.

It will be an Asian and African century.

#430 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 01:13 AM:

I enjoyed this:

"No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism"

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation... ...Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is.

In the end, the lacklustre performance of Tomorrowland at the box office has nothing to do with whether optimism is alive or dead. It has to do with changing demographics among moviegoers who know how to spot an Ayn Rand bedtime story when they see one. There are whole generations of moviegoers for whom jetpacks don’t mean shit, whose first memories of NASA are the Challenger disaster. And you know what? Those same generations believe in driverless cars, solar energy, smart cities, AR contacts, and vat-grown meat. They saw the election of America’s first black president, and they witnessed a wave of violence against young black men. They don’t want the depiction of an “optimistic” future. They want a future where their concerns are taken seriously and humanely, with compassion and intelligence and validation. And that’s way harder than optimism.

#431 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 02:44 AM:

I just had another episode of Head Meets Brick Wall:

Comic Con Panel on Women in Early Comics has only men on it, and one of them opined that "girls get bored with comics easily."

#432 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 04:51 AM:

If you do have to pick one up, wear gloves (to keep your mammal germs off of it, and its poo off of you) and stick it in the nearest tree or shrub.

Once again, Making Light gives you child care advice you can use.

#433 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 07:57 AM:

Me #428: Come to think of it, an elaboration on the economic value of free software:

When value is genuinely available to all, it becomes invisible, especially to elites and pundits -- a "new normal" that's taken for granted instead of celebrated.

Never mind Krugman's talking watch -- how many checks have you written lately? When was the last time you needed to find a pay phone, and make sure you had enough change for it? Music, movies, publishing -- the big studios still dominate the production, but they've lost their oligopoly. If you want to put out your own record, movie, book, game, you can do it -- tougher than signing up with the big guys, but still, doable. And that free software itself may often lack the polish of commercial software, but it lets people run a modern office or organization on a shoestring.

#434 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:37 AM:

Open Thready: I have just discovered the existence of IDIC medallions. I'd like to have one of them. A casual google produced a decent EBay lineup, plus some polished but oddly-sketchy sites, so they're clearly around. (Tip for websites: Do not embed the search terms in your site copy. Uncanny valley much?)

I thought I'd check here to collect recs for decent sites where I could buy it.

#435 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:43 AM:

I think Krugman's column echoes a discussion that's been going on for a decade or two about why the massive improvements in technology we keep seeing in our lives don't show up as massive improvements in GDP.

One pattern I've seen a lot with these innovations is cutting out of middlemen. Laser printers and decent word processing software and PCs mean you don't really seem to need so many secretaries. (Though there's a lot that a good secretary does that has nothing to do with typing or dictation.) Accounting software doesn't eliminate the need for accountants at the high end, but it does let you get away with fewer bookkeepers. Middle management has famously been downsized away, probably partly from technological changes. Record and video stores are gone or going away, and the same looks to be happening to most bookstores. A lot of physical stores are being replaced, at least in part, by online shopping. And so on.

When you cut out the middleman, you eliminate his salary and all he'd been spending from economic statistics. This should be offset by the extra money available to the company, but I could imagine the multiplier effect from corporate spending being different (and lower) than from individual spending. But I really don't know if this can account for what's going on.

Another possibility is that better computer support has made it easier to move a lot of income off the books, in ways that make it harder to tax and incidentally, make it harder to measure in GDP.

It's an interestng question.

#436 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:46 AM:

ajay @432: this parent is falling about laughing.

Especially because TimeHop reminded me that yesterday several years ago (2009) I was retweeting from a Twitter game called #parentingtips someone started, including such gems of advice as:

@MsClara: By giving my children FOOD, I can grow bigger, stronger children than my competitors. Try feeding yours & marvel!


@FenlandGent: #parentingtip Prepare your kids for the inevitable by occasionally killing their pets
(ashamed of myself a little, but I lol'ed)

#437 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Stefan Jones @#423, when I was fostering I had a policy of changing the name of any dog who had been abused. I wanted to be able to call them without making them flinch.

Of course, all my pets seem to end up with a name, a nickname, and an epithet (e.g. Sarah, Sarah Bear, Big Moose), all of which they recognize and respond to. We also had cartoon voices for all of our dogs (4 at the time) and the Aussie mix recognized the voices and would look at whichever dog the humans were "speaking for".

David Harmon @ #428, I'm about as good with economics as I am with sports (not at all), but my reaction to that piece was "Productivity my ass. Why the hell should we all work harder to make a few rich assholes richer?" Plus the fact that a lot of time, money and effort has to go into maintaning the new tech, teaching people to use it, debugging, etc. etc.

#438 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:54 AM:

Lila, Stefan, in re Dog names and changing them: We renamed both our dogs, because I tested to see if they alerted to their "old" names, and they didn't.

If they didn't know the phonemes meant "ME!", I see no reason I can't pick a different set of phonemes I prefer, to train them that it means that. :->

Our dogs came named "Buttons" (as in and-Mindy) and "Dino". Sigh.

#439 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:06 AM:

albatross, #435: Don't forget that when you cut out all those middle managers, their salaries do not go back into the economy in any way; they go straight into the pockets of the people at the top of the company, and there they stay. There is effectively no compensatory spending at all by corporations.

Elliott, #436: I might find that second one funnier if I hadn't known someone whose father did exactly that. She grew up on a farm, and whenever she got especially fond of one of the barn cats or tried to make a bond with one of the kittens, he'd have it put down.

#440 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:08 AM:

@418 Oh, Bird and Moon is the absolute best.

#441 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:15 AM:

David Harmon @ 428
I usually like Krugman, but here he's essentially saying "if this is so transformative, how come we aren't all rich yet?" Which is simply a non sequitur: There's been plenty of social change...

I also usually like Krugman and was equally disappointed by the "Why hasn't change made us rich?" tone of the column. If we look back 20 years, I think the rapid progress of technology hasn't translated into money because the change mostly has been involved in putting people out of work as opposed to giving them work. A robot that replaces the manual labor of 50 people with 2 skilled tech-workers isn't going to magically make those 48 people rich.

On the "Transformative" aspects of change: the majority of us still get up in the morning, drive to work, do a job, drive home, have dinner, watch some TV, and go to bed. The transformative aspects of our technology can be seen as being mostly on the edges. Booking a trip is easier. Cars are safer. I have better medical care. Looking up information is faster. We haven't eliminated the need for cars; we still look up information; I still go to a hospital when I get sick. There's been a lot of social change, but I don't know how much of that is driven by technology shifts. (I'm aware that it can be argued that social change is strongly technology-supported; I'm just not completely swayed by those arguments yet.)

Don't get me wrong; I'm super happy living in the future. There are times when I freak out over the ability to have a casual real-time chat with my friend who lives in India using a tiny device that lives in my pocket. But for developed countries, I'm not sure we've seen a truly transformative thing happen yet. Developing countries probably have or will have in the next twenty years. Developed countries are going to -- sometime in the next twenty to fifty, but I don't think it's going to be the kind of change that makes us all rich. I think it's going to be the kind of change that puts us all out of work and makes us actually rethink how money and society really function.

Stefan Jones @ 430
I enjoyed this:

"No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism"...

Am I the only one who assumed that the only reason Disney made Tomorrowland was because they really wanted an excuse to revamp the Tomorrowland section of their theme parks? As long as the movie breaks even, I figured Disney doesn't care if the movie makes money because that's not why they made the movie. Making money is a bonus.

Now, I do wonder if Tomorrowland is wrestling with the issues discussed in the link. Are visitors to Disney skipping Tomorrowland? If they are, is it because Tomorrowland needs a refresh (it did when I was there) or because they aren't buying into a Shiny New Future? And if so, is this because they are, unlike Krugman, aware that the future is full of robots, unemployment lines, and climate change wrecking our homes?

#442 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:07 AM:

With regards to changing technology and the visible effects thereof, I admit I'm not much of an economist; I've got a decent grasp of the intro-to basic theory, but don't lay claim to more!

That said, in non-economic terms, I was having a discussion with someone a generation older than I am a while back, and when he was my age, The Future lay in new transportation methods: jetpacks, rockets, flying cars, etc. I came to the conclusion that what actually happened was that technology was used to reduce the need for any transportation method at all. Not eliminate it, granted, but there are a lot of things swiftly becoming redundant.

I work for a company in a different country, in the opposite corner of my continent, and I don't need motorized transportation to get to work; my workstation is in the same set of rooms as my residence, and I'm able-bodied and can therefore walk to it without any motorized assistance. I'm not familiar enough with motorized mobility aids to comment on how much they've improved with any actual authority, but things like the scooters I've seen at cons seem to be pretty handy, with limitations resulting chiefly from space considerations and the lack of ability to fly up staircases; I'm not sure how long they've been around, though.

Other friends who do occasionally work in physical offices telecommute on a regular basis. Business travel - with some exceptions*, actually travelling is unnecessary. You can have a meeting pretty well via telepresence; even the meeting "look" is possible, given the rooms dedicated to that purpose with a semi-elliptical conference table and a wall that's a screen.

Someone else mentioned online shopping; I no longer need to travel to go to a lot of shops. Instead, an efficient (and THERE is something we've improved on transport-wise) van travels the most efficient route to deliver goods to me and a lot of other people.

The end result for me is that when I do use transportation technology, it's generally for pleasure; to go visit people, or to engage in an activity (guiding, theatre, choir, to a museum).

The transportation technology we have made strides in has tended towards doing the same thing, better. The bus I ride into town uses biodiesel. I was looking at car purchases to replace my current rustbucket, and my dad made the very salient point that there are no truly bad cars being made with an eye to being sold where we are; the top end is still pretty much tops, but the bottom's been raised significantly. The cheapest car on the market, the Hyundai Accent, is a pretty good car.

Economically, with the caveat from the beginning - that kind of efficiency's not really all that great. You sell less fuel. You sell fewer cars, because they last longer. (I could be wrong, though.)

*Thinking of my dad, who is an aeronautical engineer who goes to the manufacturing plants periodically to actually hold and assess the quality of the parts being manufactured.

#443 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:14 AM:

Paraphrasing Warren Ellis:

"Where's my jetpack!?!?"

"I don't know. Let me check the little glass box in my pocket that has access to all the world's knowledge."

#444 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:31 AM:

albatross @435 a discussion that's been going on for a decade or two about why the massive improvements in technology we keep seeing in our lives don't show up as massive improvements in GDP. and
cyllan @441 If we look back 20 years, I think the rapid progress of technology hasn't translated into money because the change mostly has been involved in putting people out of work as opposed to giving them work.

From what I've read, the winners in financial benefit so far from technology improvement are small businesses and entrepeneurs in the developing world who now have cell phones to reach customers, check prices, etc., when it used to take years and many $bribes to get a landline installed.

It's playing out differently there than it is in more developed countries.

#445 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:51 AM:

When you cut out the middleman, you eliminate his salary and all he'd been spending from economic statistics. This should be offset by the extra money available to the company

That money is going to pay the CEOs. Which Krugman knows and is not saying, because it's so obvious to many of us.

#446 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 01:11 PM:

Open Threadiness: The History of Crayons.

#447 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 01:26 PM:

Problem #1: CEO pay isn't all that big a share of corporate revenue[1]. In general, CEOs get massively overpaid because they're in a good position to negotiate a big salary (and that's the sort of thing a CEO is going to be good at!), but this is a symptom, not the disease.

Problem #2: If the wealth benefits are flowing to CEOs, or to executives, or to the companies themselves, or to their stockholders, it still won't stay there. Some of what they get, they'll spend (which creates demand in the economy--that's what the spending multipliers in Keynesian economics are about), and some they'll invest or save (which makes capital available for other businesses).

If cutting those middle managers made the company more efficient, then the whole system should have more wealth in it at the end--the company either pays its other employees more (maybe mostly going to top management), or returns more for its shareholders, or cuts its prices, or expands its operations. And any of those should be reflected in more economic activity.

One possibility is that we're seeing a lot of economic activity that used to be paid for and now is free--like pirating music or spending your spare time surfing the web rather than going to the mall. But it seems kind-of hard to imagine that this explains most of the lack of better economic growth correlated with better technology.

[1] This is sort-of parallel to discussions about the deficit where people talk about the need to cut welfare or farm subsidies or foreign aid to balance the budget. The problem is, none of those things is a very big fraction of the budget, so cutting them has a pretty negligible impact on the budget.

#448 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 01:39 PM:

I just finished reading "Economics: The User's Guide" by Ha-Joon Chang. He mentions that all the hand-wringing about "the decline of manufacturing" (in the US, the UK, and somewhat in Europe) is based on "constant dollar" comparisons of the amount of economic activity in the manufacturing sector over time. If you instead look at "constant price" comparisons over time, it turns out that we're still manufacturing nearly as much as we ever did, we're just doing it a lot more cheaply.

One of the themes of the book is that choice of economic theory is a political choice; there is no one "objective" way of analyzing economic activity.

#449 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 02:13 PM:

Em @290, Michael I @329 - having seen the Flash finale the answer is obviously aneengvir onynapr. Jr unq n jrqqvat rneyvre va gur rcvfbqr, fb gurer zhfg or n qrngu.

Zber frevbhfyl, nygubhtu gur gvzr geniry vf fhecevfvatyl pburerag, guvf ovg qbrfa'g znxr frafr. Znlor Rqqvr pbhyq unir qrpvqrq gb ergerng vagb gur jvyqrearff naq orpbzr n urezvg, jvgu gur veba jvyy erdhverq gb znxr guvf n yvsr ybat ibj. Ur jnyxf bhg gur qbbe naq Erirefr Synfu fybjf naq snqrf yrnivat Oneel naq gur erfg bs gur grnz whfg xvaq bs chmmyrq. Phg gb Rqqvr va eborf ba n zbhagnva... fbzr bofpher zlfgvpny QP punenpgre gncf uvz ba gur fubhyqre... Snqr gb Oynpx...

Lbh xabj V jnf orvat fvyyl, ohg gung pbhyq unir jbexrq.

#450 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 02:16 PM:

I had a long response here for albatross, 447, and Jeremy Leader, 448, but I got distracted by the article "The Pitchforks Are Coming for Us" by Nick Hanauer. It's pretty cool.

Now that it takes very few people, and very little energy to make stuff to buy, it's not clear that it's worth very much. Meanwhile, stuff that can not be made more efficient is really expensive by comparison. It's cheap to buy a car built by robots. It's expensive to hire a plumber. It's really expensive to go to a University.

#451 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Craig R @431: What makes it worse is that Trina Robbins, one of the foremost historians of women in comics, was a guest of the convention. Trina is also a long-time fan (she was a staff cartoonist for Terry Carr's fmz Innuendo back in the 60s), and a fascinating speaker -- don't miss hearing her if you get a chance.

#452 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 02:45 PM:

People forget just how much can't be done by machines. (I used to read maps, and I also did QC. Not machine-replaceable.)

#453 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 02:50 PM:

Possibly - but when CEOs are getting 7 or 8-figure paychecks from companies that aren't making profits, it's a problem. And when the money is being spent on them, regardless of profitability, and they only stay a year or three, and leave with 8 or 9 figure checks ('golden parachutes'), that's a big problem. That money isn't going to people who are productive in any way that benefits the companies.

#454 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 04:48 PM:


I'd say it's a small problem--like the fleas on a dog, they're sucking up resources, but not a huge fraction of available resources. By contrast, the sometimes perverse incentives CEO compensation packages have can do real damage, because they can lead the CEO to run the company into the ground in order to max out his compensation. This is more like the fleas leading the dog to scratch and chew till he has an open infected wound. And more generally, I think the ability of top management to help themselves to a huge share of the pie is a symptom of a lot that's going wrong in our society.

But I don't think any of these things can explain the productivity paradox.

#455 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 05:29 PM:

ALbatross #454 - it seems there's a major issue with productivity in the UK actually falling, and nobody is quite sure why. I have a list of suggestions myself, but it seems rather complicated.
For starters, many UK companies are now competing on a global stage, and as we have seen with the USA, operations are shifted overseas as fast as management and owners can see a profit in it. And I am not convinced that there is anything like the needed amount of simple real investment in the UK (hint- buying expensive property is not the sort of investment I mean).
Another issue is the lack of money in the economy, as the government mandated austerity sucks the blood out of it.

#456 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 05:40 PM:

A note to Mary Aileen: I did not immediately realize that the Fibonacci pillow-quilt I bought at Balticon was yours. (Why I thought there would be *two* Mary Aileens at Balticon... never mind.)

Anyway, it's nice! I bought it as a gift for someone who is mathematically minded, and she thought it was great. So thank you.

#457 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Andrew Plotkin (456): You're welcome! I'm glad it went to a good home.

#458 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 07:05 PM:

Hmm. does this shake loose a lost post?

#459 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:00 PM:

Lenora Rose @ #458

Apparently not; it's either taking tea with the gnomes or has been impounded by the NSA.

#460 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:07 AM:

Open threadiness: FOAAS (Fuck Off As A Service): a modern, RESTful, scaleable solution to the common issue of telling people to fuck off.

#461 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Lenora Rose @458:

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the comment of my community that pingeth, saying, Publish me, my shepherd, my gnome, my goblin, my moderator: for my text is filled with interest, and my links with the charms of the net.

I have put off my pointy cap; how shall I put it on? I have washed my instruments of moderation; how shall I defile them?

My commenter's (view all by) was in my sight, and my heart was stirred by the words therein.

I rose up to read her comment; and my cup dripped with tea, and my saucer with fragrant Radch tea, upon the keys of the board.

I opened the back end for the comment; but it was not to be found, and was gone: my soul failed when I saw the moderation list: I sought it, but I could not find it; I searched for it, but it did not appear.

The wyverns that fly about the chrome and steel tower found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the sentient vines that sing upon the walls took away my coif from me.

I charge you, O members of the Fluorosphere, if ye find that comment, that ye quote it, for I am sick with curiosity.

Which is to say, no, it's not to be found.

#462 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 11:00 AM:

Idumea, you are a treasure.

#463 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 11:13 AM:

An international treasure, no less.

(As for the missing post: this moose blames the NSA.)

#464 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 12:00 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads @461: The Thread of Threads, which is Idumea's.


#465 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 12:04 PM:

albatross, #447: The problem with this is your #2, which continues to be a cornerstone of free-market argument even though it is demonstrably not happening, and has not been happening for at least a decade. That money is being siphoned off at the top and squirreled away; very little of it flows back into the economy at all, at any level.

In order to increase money circulation in an economy structured the way ours has come to be, you have to pump it in at the bottom, where people will actually DO something with it.

#466 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 12:50 PM:

#447 ::: albatross

Perhaps the problem isn't just the CEO-- there might be enough over-paid top administrators that it adds up.

#467 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 01:19 PM:

Or maybe the problem is the stockholders--not personally, as they're mostly fine folks, but as a class who live off other peoples' labor--who get the lion's share of the profits.

#468 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 01:50 PM:

Lee # 465 -

This is the point that most people who are anti-public assistance ("they're all lazy bums"), anti-ACA ("why should my tax dollars pay for someone else's health cAARE!") and anti-unemployment insurance ("they're all lazy bums, and using my tax dollars") miss when they use so-called "entitlement" programs as the cause for the poor economy.

If somebody doesn't have money they can't spend it into the economy.

If somebody doesn't have monies for groceries past the bare-bones minimum they don't spend it.
If they don't spend it there's no economic incentive for the grocery store of the supermarket variety to exist, never mind either hiring more workers or upping the wage.
If those workers don't have the money, they're not going to buy that car.
If they don't buy that car the service industry devoted to that car's purchase and upkeep (let's keep the pollution/resources of creating/maintaining/using the car separate for, OK?) is impacted (gas stations, service/repair shops, financing companies, yada, yada)

In a similar vein, the overwhelming majority of people who get unemployment compensation are not keeping that money out of the economy: they are going to buy the aforeto mentioned groceries, paying the rent or mortgage,the electric bill that is currently due or pay the rent. With the added fillip that, in reality, the salary or hourly wage the now-recipient of the UI check has also been paying the premiums, based on the fact the amount of salary offered has the employer factoring an unacknowledged holdback about paying the insurance premiums.

It's not a "tricle down economy," it's trickle-up

#469 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 01:52 PM:

Some of the biggest stockholders are mutual funds, indexed or managed, which are the cornerstone of 401K funds. Pensions (those that are left) also invest heavily in equities.

#470 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 02:24 PM:

Steve C @ 469: It used to be "widows and orphans". Now it's "retirees and their 401Ks".

I look on my 401k as a frenemy: It's money for me (good) which ought to be going into Social Security or something like it (which would be good, if it were, but it ain't, so it's bad) and which serves to make working people feel their interests the same as the interessts of those who profit by a system in which the money flows up and the crumbs trickle down (bad, real bad).

Someday I need to read that Karl Marx guy. I understand he's got something to say about this.

#471 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 02:33 PM:

The real issue about the stock market is so many companies being focused on stock PRICE.

If they were focused on being able to give regular, steady dividends to their long-term shareholders, that's a strategy that's known to build companies. But managing to the daily price quote (or even quarterly) is deeply destructive of company value.

#474 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 05:34 PM:

Is there an issue with a large group of workers saving and fewer (former) workers spending their savings?

Although the baby boomers in the US are heading into the classical retirement years, some of them are trying very hard to remain employed and saving. But others are forced into high levels of medical spending. I don't have a good picture of how the numbers play out.

#475 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 06:18 PM:

A Very Specific Kind Of Knowledge Is Contained In Making Light question:

When you quote something out of context to create the exact opposite meaning, is there a more specific phrase for that?

#476 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 06:42 PM:

I have a whole planter of strawberries coming along nicely in the backyard.

My husband has had one ripe berry off it. My daughter has had two.

My BEAGLE has also had two, not quite ripe when he plucked them. Clearly I need to put the planter further off the ground ...

#477 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 06:59 PM:

Sandy B @475, um, "Being An Asshole"? Sorry, I don't have a more specific term of art; perhaps someone else here does....

#478 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 07:33 PM:

Childhood worldbuilding in the 1890's: The Nelson Brothers' Archive.

#479 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 07:33 PM:

AKICML - I'm thinking of getting a Network Attached Storage disk to be accessible and shared with both my Mac and my wife's Windows machines. Can anybody recommend one and any pointers on setting it up. My usual Google-Fu didn't serve me too well.

#480 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 07:43 PM:

Economically, I tend to agree with the vast majority of people above me: If you want the money to circulate, give it to the people who will, out of necessity, spend it really fast.

In related news, I feel very Piketty-ish when I consider that the middle class used to have a typical wealth of around $100,000 (mostly houses) and now they start with around $30,000 of college debt just to break even. And starting salaries for college grads have not gone up , inflation-adjusted, since 1991. They've gone down.

#481 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 07:49 PM:

If you're annoyed with Marvel for slighting Black Widow (and female characters in general) in their licensed merchandise, you may be interested in this T-shirt.

(Disclosure: This seller is one of our friends, and we print the shirts for him.)

#482 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 08:54 PM:

For those of you who like the Plant Identification Game and don't mind Facebook, I have a public post there with pics of my latest mystery.

tl;dr: It's a plant with white star-shaped six-petalled flowers, each about half-dollar sized in old money, apparently sprouting just as flowers on a stem with no leaves at all (yet; probably some will come later in the season).

#483 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:03 PM:

More from Slate: Science Fiction Is For Slackers -- which actually is looking at SF layabouts... alas, it doesn't mention Heinlein's "Lazy Boy", which I would have considered a mandatory namecheck.

#484 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:12 PM:

And yet another (I may be behind the curve on this one): Google Map's attempt to crowdsource map updates seems to have backfired, badly. Aside from outright pranks (many racist), we have this:

Maps automatically uses forums and discussions to make inferences. Based on how people talk about certain places or how often a phrase and a place name show up together
which apparently had the system effectively learning racist racist from the public.

#485 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:13 PM:

Edit fail: "racist racist" should have been "racist cracks".

#486 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:48 PM:

Sorry for taking so long, but I didn't see this until this week, and had to crunch numbers. AFAICT, the mileage I'm getting is non-seasonal - it likes going out on highways, though; gets much better mileage then.

#487 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:09 PM:

HLN: Austin resident discovers that last year's freak weather that flooded the house wasn't so freakish as anticipated, and is now living with seventeen industrial fans, three giant dehumidifiers, and no lights for at least a week. "At least the cats don't mind much," she said grimly in the desert-like heat of her house, while the dog terror-drooled on her for sixteen hours straight. "Aside from the one who now refuses to come inside unless it's raining. Been doing a lot of that, lately, too. Rain, I mean. Lots of rain. And thunder."

She was later found staring grimly at the furniture shoved into the middle of the living room muttering about not having wanted to sleep in her own bed, anyway, the couch is just fine for a week, at least that's up a few inches if the waters rise again.

#488 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Trying again -- I meant to get this to the Open Thread but ended up on the wrong one...

I found this on File 770, and I'm definitely waiting for more from Kyra:

Kyra on May 28, 2015 at 6:04 pm said:

Turning and turning in the widening blog
The puppy cannot hear the puppeteer;
Things fall apart; the Hugos cannot hold;
Mere doggerel is loosed upon the fans,
The canine tide is loosed, and in Spokane
The ceremony of awards is drowned;
The fest lacks all conviction, while the trolls
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some aggravation is at hand;
Surely the Slated Hugos are at hand.
The Slated Hugos! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image of a nominee story
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert prose;
A text with turgid body and an end wholly bland,
A phrase blank and meaningless about guns,
Is moving its dull verbs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant reviewers’ words.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That sixteen nominees in fiction slots
Were read like nightmares in my shaking Kindle,
And what rough book, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Sasquan for its award?

#489 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 08:39 AM:

re 482: Looks to me like Ornithogalum umbellatum, AKA star of Bethlehem (along with every other species in the genus).

#490 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 08:43 AM:

Indeed, so it appears.

A horrible invasive, though somewhat pretty. Luckily, the area where it's growing is entirely hemmed in by concrete on all sides (and doesn't want to grow a lot of other things), so I think I'll leave it for now. It goes on the list of "flowers Beka is allowed to pick at will," which will please her.

#491 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:29 AM:

C. Wingate #489: Your link is borked, but we can look it up.

#492 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 11:03 AM:

Idumea @461: pure delight. :-)

#493 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 11:07 AM:

Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads @461: That was such a wonderful response I both feel badly for not trying to reply sooner* and that my lost post was relatively mundane, not any work of art.

kimiko @402, Benjamin Wolfe @ 390, Cally Soukup @ 387: Thanks for the info. It's unfortunate that a sraightforward answer like "find it used" should be so out of reach. Cally: I can certainly look into that; I'm not so much of a videophile that the lower quality would bother me, though Miyazaki's visuals might deserve better. Kimiko: The Nausicaa translation hasn't the emotional investment, so I'll probably let it be. I actually like your suggestion for Totoro, and my husband, who used to do fansubbing and video editing, has the chops and may have the tools. Alas, maybe somewhere after "please finish our taxes' and "please Please PLEASE finish reading that manuscript."

(there was a paragraph to someone else about something else, but it has escaped my mind as well as vanished wherever the comment vanished.)

* I've mostly been reading of the internet whilst a baby either nurses or naps on my lap, with my keyboard either out of range behind the nursing pillow (upstairs) or a wireless keyboard is balanced in a non-optimal place and I type one-handed (downstairs). My husband, more bothered by the slowness and increased typos than I actually am, has offered to take dictation....

#494 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 11:10 AM:

HLN: Local Man's car failed to start this morning. Local Garage reported that it will need as a minimum a new head gasket, and if anything more is required the total cost may be more than the car is worth. Further updates as the situation develops.

When questioned, Local Man was heard to wonder why Heisenberg Compensators haven't been invented yet.

#495 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 11:42 AM:

ajay @ 187: "But back in the day when windmills and watermills were cutting-edge, they definitely were not symbols of low-cost appropriate technology putting power and agency into the hands of the ordinary person. They were a major capital investment, there was only one of them around your area, and the miller was a powerful man in the region - and a major source of income for the local lord, who took his rakeoff of every sack of grain brought to be ground."

My impression is that mill technology straddles the transition between that mode of production and what came after: the concentration of production not locally but regionally and globally, and the shift from the miller serving the lord to the lord serving the miller, so to speak. This map of the Zaan district, from the link in the OP, shows the shift: a whole district of windmills, presumably grinding more grain and cutting more boards than just the local economy demanded. That concentration of production and wealth is what allowed the merchant class to free themselves of feudal obligations: first buying a degree of autonomy, then funding their campaigns to domesticate the aristocracy. No small investment though: you are right about that.

#496 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 11:47 AM:

An article in today's Washington Post about John Scalzi. It might be of some interest to folks here.

#497 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Last night, Turner Classic Movies showed "Doctor Who and the Daleks".
They described it as timey-whimey.

#498 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 12:39 PM:

If you haven't yet read Philip Sandifer's commentary on that film, Serge, I recommend it. And the rest of Tardis Eruditorum, of course, including some of the commenters.

#499 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 12:58 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 498... Thanks for the link. Fans usually don't speak of the movie in favorable terms, so this makes me look more forward to watching it off my DVR.

#500 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 01:18 PM:

Mr. Sandifer in general is very good at recontextualizing things that other people had strong negative emotional reactions to.

The entire Eruditorum project (available also in ebook format per-Doctor, revised and expanded but without the comments) is a chronological rewatch series with deep dives, and side-trips to deal with other things that came out at particular points in the history of Who, or things that shaped how Who became what it was (that might have been obvious to, say, fans watching it live off the air in 1969 but invisible to us today).

#501 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 03:36 PM:

sez sandy b. @475:

When you quote something out of context to create the exact opposite meaning, is there a more specific phrase for that?

Sure is! What you've described is one of the bog-standard go-to techniques used by Creationists in their never-ending war to make all the world as stoopid/ignorant/'holy' as they are, and that technique has been christened "quote-mining".

#502 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Open threadiness: Are there any lending libraries out there other than state/county run libraries, where I could check out electronic books for free or low cost?

I find myself unable to afford to buy ebooks at the moment. I am visually impaired and reading print books has become an almost impossible challenge. It certainly takes the fun out of reading when you develop a headache after a few pages ... ebooks, I can enlarge, play with the contrast, and equally importantly, squish the text into a skinny block that doesn't cause eye strain to scan.

I was recently excited to find out that Arizona does have a state-wide catalog of electronic books. I was very shortly thrown back into a funk when I discovered that the speculative fiction offerings in this library seem to number under two dozen titles, and all but two books are by Asimov, Bradbury, or Stephen King. Meaning, I've read all of them already.

I really miss being able to read. I read my share of fanfic, but it's not the same as curling up with a good novel ...

#503 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:22 PM:

Re: Count of books in the state's electronic lending library -- eh, looks like there's more there than I thought, but they're not categorized correctly and the search function is broken (it consistently turns up zero books even when I search for authors I know are in the catalog.) There still appears to be a rather sparse selection, however.

Better options?

#504 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Cygnet: Even in good systems, the availability and variety of ebooks is crappy. The Chicago Public Library system (of which I am a borrowing member) is really, really scanty on anything I'm interested in reading, and when I do find something I usually have a multiweek 'wait' for my 'copy' -- because the publishers have apparently decided that ebooks wear out after a few (I think 9?) borrowings, so the library needs to buy a new one when they "wear it out".

They track how many total copies (licenses) they have in the system, and that's how many can be checked out simultaneously. For many, many books this number is 1, even in a system as large as CPL.

Also, keeping track of this stuff is annoyingly difficult, so they outsource to a company. For most systems, this company is Overdrive, which has its own UI issues and the like.

#505 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:48 PM:

Cygnet @502,503: If you have a Kindle device (or I think if you run the Kindle app on your non-Kindle device) and have Amazon Prime, there's the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, which claims to have 800,000 titles available. I'm not sure if Amazon Prime meets your requirement of "low cost", although it includes an ever-changing list of other benefits, so it might be worth the cost to you.

For old out-of-copyright works, there's always Project Gutenberg. I think several of the e-book vendors also offer free books from project Gutenberg through their stores (I've been slowly working my way through such a free copy of "Moby Dick" from Amazon).

While googling around, I discovered that the Internet Archive claims to have over 8 million books, (including Project Gutenberg), but I haven't yet figured out how to navigate their interface. They mention a 500,000 volume "modern" collection for "users with print disabilities".

I'd recommend the Los Angeles City Library, but I think you have to be a California resident to get a card.

#506 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:55 PM:

Elliot @ 504 -- Ah. I wonder how many times a hardback can be read before it falls apart? More than nine, I bet. Wonder what they charge for a "license" and how the cost-per-reading breaks down?

Arizona's whole system has 396 fiction novels in it, based on a quick estimate (11 pages, 36 books per page) and very few are newer. There were a handful of YA paranormal novels that might have interested me, but they're the latest book in the series, and the older books in the series were not available.

Not many books were checked out, likely because the selection is so poor.

#507 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 07:10 PM:

Cygnet: You might try Open Library which skews old but not so badly as Project Gutenberg (that is, you can sometimes find books written in this century).

Re: Library restrictions on ebooks: It's not so bad as it once was (we can get Penguin ebooks at last) but it's still pretty mean. Simultaneous checkouts is always limited to one with books from the Big Five publishers; it's only HarperCollins that times out books at 23 checkouts. Publishers seem to believe that every library book checked out is a lost sale. I have been encouraging people who disapprove of this policy to contact the top-level publishers directly, as no one else seems to have any power over the decision.

#508 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 07:25 PM:

Jeremy @ 503 -- That is a good thought. I live out in the boonies and mail order a fair amount of stuff anyway for my business. I've been using a vendor on eBay for office and shipping supplies, but she's ticked me off three times consecutively and it's time to look for a new source. I'll have to see if Amazon has what I need.

$99 is a huge sum for me, but over a year period, that breaks down to close to the same cost as Netflix, which I do pay for. Amazon has a pretty good selection of free videos, so ... hmmm.

#509 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 08:59 PM:

Folks who want to read fairly recent SF for free online might want to check out the Free Speculative Fiction online directory. It features more short fiction than novels, and searching and browsing is somewhat limited, but you can discover a variety of work online from authors you've heard of and authors you haven't. (And it's neither a slushpile site or a bootleg site; the editor checks that linked stories have appropriate permissions for posting, and are either from SFWA-qualified venues or authors whose publication credits would qualify for SFWA.)

I'm not a frequent visitor, but the editor seems to update it fairly regularly; I see dozens of new titles added this past month.

#510 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 09:34 PM:

Cygnet, another source for electronic books for persons with print disabilities is Bookshare. Looks like there is a $25 setup fee and a $50/year charge, and you have to provide certification of your disability from a relevant professional. I took a quick look at their catalog for recent SFF that came to mind (for some reason) and they have The Goblin Emperor, Ancillary Sword, and Skin Game, but not The Three-Body Problem.

#511 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:37 PM:

Lenora Rose, 493,
I'm glad that was helpful! I had great concerns that I was suggesting a solution that most people wouldn't have the spoons to tackle. I'm pretty excited for you - I love Totoro!

I too have read and posted one handed on Making Light while holding sleeping infants. It has been a great comfort for me on many occasions that I have been pinned down or ill. I am very grateful to our hosts for providing this space, and to the community for making it sing.

#512 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 04:02 AM:

Lenora Rose: If you write me at [ pnyylfbhxhc ng lnubb qbg pbz ] I may be able to help you with something relevant to your interests.

#513 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 05:25 AM:

AKICIML, intert00bz edition: I'm having very weird connectivity issues: Things like Google and Netflix come through fairly quickly. Everything else is running at, like, minutes to connect. (Three minutes to load Preview of this comment.*) Provider is Comcast; two calls to User Support offer no wisdom.

(I finally installed the new modem they've been nagging me about, but behavior was the same before, with the old modem, and after.)

Mac OSX 10.6.8, problem manifests both in Safari and Chrome.

Whiskey, like, Tango Foxtrot—


* Guh. First attempt at Post timed out...this may be a duplicate....

#514 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 09:35 AM:

Jacque @503

I get this kind of behavior on my DSL a lot for some reason. I'm not sure how CenturyLink even manages to generate this symptom, and I've been working in tech for almost 40 years, and I'm usually good at troubleshooting. On bad days I suspect they have anti-net-neutrality tools in place that are misbehaving.

Try doing a cold reboot of everything from the wall out: power down (unplug if necessary) the modem, router (if separate) and pc. Wait at least 15 seconds, then power on the modem. Wait until it is all the way up, then power up the next item in the chain. Wait until it comes up, etc.

In my case, DNS seems to fade before regular connections start degrading (so sites I have in an open or recent tab are OK because the computer knows their IP address, but it can't translate addresses of new sites). You might see if adding as an alternate DNS server helps any. (That's the Google DNS site and tends to be fast and available).

If you know how to determine what DNS servers your system is using, try pinging them when things get bad -- it might give you more data for when you complain to your ISP.

Note: even if the DNS servers are pingable, it doesn't guarantee that the DNS processes are running correctly, but if a server is known to be down completely the other(s) may be overloaded.

#515 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 09:36 AM:

Arrgh. That should be Jacque @513, of course.

#516 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:11 AM:

For the New York City folk amongst us, a free event featuring one of the very best musicians I've seen lately, along with a band with one of the very best band names EVER: Brooklyn: Family Day: Martha Redbone Roots Project / Ebony Hillbillies

#517 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:38 AM:

#475 : Sandy B.

When you quote something out of context to create the exact opposite meaning, is there a more specific phrase for that?

Generic: misquote
Pejorative: quote mining
Specific: contextomy

#518 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 12:17 PM:

Sandy B. @ 475: I know you're looking for a more specific term, but the one I use is "lying".

#519 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 02:13 PM:

Cygnet (503) -- I used to have a friend who had relationships of various sorts with libraries all over the country. It seems that the things libraries are willing to do, and the group of people for whom they are willing to do them, varies widely from one library to another. My friend had a huge list of libraries and what services he could request from them.

It would be a lot of work for one person (and I can no longer ask him for his list), but maybe we could compile such a list here. I could, for instance, find out what, and for whom, my local library is willing to do. Oh, and the hours they are open. My friend was particularly delighted that he could call libraries that were open when his local library was shut down for the night.

#520 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 02:20 PM:

Re Cygnet, I just remembered another sort of information that would be useful. Our local library brought online a couple of years ago a new catalog system. They left the old one up to facilitate the changeover or something, but the result is that many patrons have refused to shift over. I for example use the old system almost exclusively. Each system has its virtues, and its failings, but I am not at all comfortable with the new catalog.

One of the results of this dual system is that some books and other items appear on one catalog and not on the other. They did say that they would stop entering new acquisitions on the old catalog, but that hasn't actually happened. It may be that they find that it's best to just keep both of them up and running.

It would be good to mention peculiarities like this for the benefit of new users.

#521 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 02:28 PM:

On the discussion of Krugman: is he expecting too obvious a transformation? cf the Bujold line "Does a fish think about water?" Expecting clear dramatic changes seems to me a human failing, like expecting clear causes; we try to make patterns even when we don't have nearly enough data, and don't notice all the less dramatic pieces even when there is a major change; e.g., Antietam turned on an event that nobody would have believed as a plot device, but winning even that battle (let alone the Civil War as a whole) took years of slogging before and after. And that overdramatizes how many things happen slowly enough that even in retrospect we can see only that year X+K was different from year X, without being able to point a focal event. As many of us read SF, we can point to amusing predictions come true (e.g., Clarke's suggestion that porn would be a major use of new comms tech). Em@442 mentions cars; there wasn't a single change that got us from the "Greatest Generation" 's upper-line cars that were clapped-out after 50-75,000 miles to cars that do 200,000 or more.
      Or could his point be that we're being narcotized by the chrome of changes, and not realizing that what should be happening isn't? The shift of incomes certainly wasn't a knife-edge; shifting it will probably take at least as long.

Idumea @ 461: Yes, awesome. But now I have to sing something from the Song of Solomon with that in my head. (That's what I get for not catching up during or right after a trip.)

PJ Evans @ 304: Interesting. Mine does better on highways than real city driving, but better on country driving than either of them; I haven't measured how much the seasonal swing varies by driving type, but I'd expect highway driving to be less affected as it wouldn't cycle the battery so much.

#522 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 05:08 PM:

Does anyone remember what a regular phone bill used to be, back when people paid for long distance?

I was trying to put together an argument about how we don't generally pay for [e.g.] stamps, printer paper, fax machines, long distance charges, newspapers, etc. and I realized I don't actually have any idea whether a $60/month smartphone bill wipes that out or not. I *think* we're saving money but I don't actually know.

#523 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Sandy B. @ 522, in 2004 my roommate and I paid about $30/month for landline phone service not including long distance. For long distance, we bought calling cards at Walmart -- IIRC they cost in the range of 8 cents a minute. I could look at my call logs and see what I'd be paying in long distance at those rates.

#524 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 07:05 PM:

Jacque and others, I'm percolating your explanation of why taxonomy is a squishy (fascinating) mess, but it seems to want to metastasize into an actual blogpost with footnotes.

The shortest version I can currently make is:

Taxonomy, as a science, involves trying to fit continuous groupings of animals into discrete boxes, each of which should have a unique name, and then working out the evolutionary relationships between those boxes.

The fun bit comes when new information makes us realize that we've misboxed critters badly, as explored somewhat in Tetrapod Zoology's writeup of the Brontosaurus name resurrection debacle. I recommend it highly, but if you are new to phylogenetic inside-baseball discussion you may need further context than is given there.

More later when I've worked out exactly how to say what I want to say.

#525 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 07:18 PM:

Going out to run errands this morning, I heard a kingbird swearing overhead, and looked up to see one, with a crow, harassing a Cooper's hawk that was passing by. (And Thursday when I went over to the mailbox place, another pigeon had been removed from the gene pool.)

#526 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 07:29 PM:

I recall our local service phone bill about 20 years ago was about $30/month, not including long distance. Now, in addition to our cell phones, we have VOIP (Ooma) for about $10/month which includes long distance.

We switched a few months back to Consumer Cellular, which has cut our wireless bill to less than half of what it used to be with AT&T.

#527 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 08:10 PM:

Sandy, #522: ISTR that in the 1980s my regular (local) phone bill was in the neighborhood of $20. I had a lot of out-of-town friends, so one of my discretionary budget items was $100/month for long-distance calls. I am now paying a little less than $150/month for an account that covers two smartphones, with 700 anytime minutes and 300 texts per month, and unlimited data usage. I think I'm saving money.

Elliott, #524: Thanks for that link! I recall hearing that "brontosaurus" was in use again, but hadn't gotten any details.

#528 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 08:11 PM:

My current landline bill is less than $30 a month for unlimited local calls. (We use prepaid cells for long distance.) It was about $22 a month 20 years ago.

I used to read old New Yorker magazines in my spare time when I worked at the Minneapolis Central Library. Ads were quite illuminating - a long distance call in the 1940's (or maybe it was the '50s) was *only* $1.25 for 3 minutes, as I recall. Since many people got less than $1/hour, it was a lot more for a long distance call than it is now. I can remember as a child that long distance was for emergencies, sick or dying or dead relatives mostly.

If you are really interested in prices long ago, look in magazines with lots of advertising.

#529 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 09:49 PM:

In hyperlocal news: we just called the cops because, automatic weapons fire (both small caliber/fast rate of fire and Very Large Caliber) and MASSIVE explosions. Explosions were strong enough to rattle our windows and were at least a mile away.

Many people are not aware there are homes here; we are tucked down into a little valley, at the end of a private road.

Could just be kids playing war games.

Our fears are much darker.

And ... just now ... heard another BOOM that I'm surprised didn't break windows, and a whole bunch of automatic weapons fire. The (single, Barney Fife type) sheriff they sent to respond just went up the road fifteen minutes ago to check it out.

Gonna go hunker down with the 'rents until we get an all clear from the authorities.

Gunfire, not unusual in the national forest. Machine guns and explosions, not so much.

#530 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 09:55 PM:

Cygnet @529

Holy shit. Good luck and stay safe!!

#531 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:30 PM:

It seems to have settled down for now. We're fine. Haven't heard from the cop, but he couldn't have missed that racket. It's times like these I wish I had a police scanner.

Ah, Arizona. Some days, this state doesn't deserve its reputation. More and more often, though, it does ... *sigh*

#532 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:40 PM:

Our concern is Right Wing Wackos testing weapons/bomb design out before they pull something. Arizona has a ... history ... of such behavior, and I'm afraid that there's a mosque that's a prime target for wackos right now.

(The mosque that's in the news? I used to have friends that went there, though they've since left the state specifically because they no longer felt safe. There's a lot of good people attending it, and they are really active in local charitable work.)

Don't think I'm going to sleep very good tonight, with or without further explosions.

#533 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:42 PM:

Thanks for checking back in; I was worried about you.

#534 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:45 PM:

Stay safe, Cygnet.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service reports that Texas got enough rain in May to cover THE ENTIRE STATE in eight inches of water. I can't even imagine.

#535 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:51 PM:

I looked in on the newspaper for the area where I lived, and they're hoping it will dry out enough to plant while the crop insurance will still cover it. (That's mostly for the cotton and the corn.) They can wait a little longer to plant milo, if they have to.

#536 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:01 PM:

Holy crap, Cygnet. Glad things seem to have settled down; hope they stay that way.

#537 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:06 PM:

Good Things: I finally got around to filling my slow cooker with sliced onions to caramelize hard overnight. When they're good and brown, I portion them into muffin tins and freeze, then unmold into a gallon zip bag so I have them to use in small portions to make quickie-food taste like long-cooked yumminess.

Today, because we were cleaning out the fridge and cooking some things that wouldn't be good in a couple more days, I also prepped six muffin cups with cooked-and-crumbled bacon (and its grease), so those six onion pucks will be BACON-and-onion pucks.

I anticipate amazing yumminess. Conveniently!

#538 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:09 PM:

We got snow here, two weeks ago. Even for the high country, that's extremely unusual. There's talk of another cold front and maybe more rain coming through next week. We are not complaining, but this is likely not good news for Texas and/or the midwest.

#539 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:45 PM:

Elliott Mason @524: it seems to want to metastasize into an actual blogpost with footnotes.

Okay. ::sits back with popcorn ready::

Elyse @514: Ah, so I'm not entirely paranoid in smelling bandwidth gatekeeping. How the hell does one address this?

Pinged DNS servers; seem to be working okay, though I'm not sure how to interpret the results.

And the hell of it is that I can't even research this effectively with response times being so long. ::scowl::

Good news: ML only took a minute to come up, this time. :-\

Cygnet: It's been an unusually wet spring along the Colorado Front Range. I, personally, love it, though we're all still a little shell-shocked from the floods of 9/11/2013. I've lost track of where we are in the El Niño cycle...?

#540 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:58 PM:

Forecast is for a weak to moderate El Nino. This probably means a wet summer.

Normally we don't get rain in May, even in El Nino years. We've had about 4" plus the 3" of very wet snow two weeks ago. It is incredibly green out there.

Very weird. We aren't complaining, but it is weird.

Good year for garlic, swiss chard, and cabbage. For tomatoes and peppers and squash, not so much. We've had to replace the tomato plants three times. Tomatoes do not like snow.

#541 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 12:28 AM:

Cygnet, #532: Yikes. I hope your fears are unfounded. (My partner suggests that another possibility is a meth-lab war, which isn't an improvement.)

Lila, #534: Worse, it wasn't evenly distributed. Large parts of western TX are still facing drought conditions, while much of eastern TX is having floods. We had a thunderstorm go overhead a few hours ago that sounded like Cygnet's bombs! And we lost power again, although only for a minute this time.

People who want to track where the flooding is in Houston can do so here -- turn on the cameras and look.

#542 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 12:48 AM:

Actually, according to the official US Drought Monitor map, only relatively small parts of central Texas have any drought conditions left -- a big change from conditions only a few weeks ago.

#543 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 01:06 AM:

Elliott Mason #524 ::puts on interested look::

Floods: Sympathy to all those affected.

Coincidentally, I'd just done a data visualisation blog post on thirty years of Melbourne water storage levels -- the year-to-year variation completely swamps the seasonal variation.

Elliott Mason #537 Good Things for a cold, wet holiday weekend at the start of the southern winter:

Rillettes turn out to be as easy as everyone says they are.

Marmalade Rye experiment works (50% bread flour, 50% rye, about 1 tbs bitter English marmalade per 10oz water). Next step is toasting it.

And Captain America/Banana Cultivar Monoculture fanfic is a thing.

#544 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 01:09 AM:

Lee@ 541 -- That is a definite possibility. Meth lab, or pot farm. Pot farm perhaps being more likely than meth lab. It's a bit difficult to get into that area for your average forest chemist. As far as the pot growers are concerned, the more remote a grow site is, the better.

#545 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 02:31 AM:

Ping Jacque...

David, #542: Ah, I stand corrected. My information was clearly a bit out of date! Still not sure we're out of the woods, though; so much of the water is running off that I don't know how much is actually going into water-table replenishment. What you need to end a drought over the long term is a series of slow, soaking rains, not torrential thunderstorms.

#546 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 10:55 AM:

I am just surfacing after getting home from the Caribbean Studies Association conference in New Orleans. A small quantity of light was made as I met Constance Ash of this parish and her spouse in propia persona for the first time at last.

#547 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 11:43 AM:

So after I went to bed, the sheriff came by and talked to my folks.

There's a doctor with several acres who lives above us. The deputy tracked the racket to his property. The doc apparently has a license for the automatic weapons, and he denied having anything to do with the explosions. The deputy then told us that he decided he did not have probable cause to investigate further -- and the deputy admitted he HEARD the last explosion.

This ... pisses me off.

The guns don't bother me. Everyone and their brother has guns in this state. Shooting guns on your own property is legal, as long as you have a safe back stop. (Shooting guns in the forest is also legal, as long as you are 1/4 mile from private property and shoot safely.)

The explosions ... not so much. There are very few legal explosives out there. Whatever he was blowing up was very sharp and very powerful. The cop had to have been deafened by it.

What pisses me off especially is ... well, this is a very diverse community, economically speaking. Across the street, we have a man who is living in a tent and an extremely run down 5th wheel on property he's owned for thirty years.

That neighbor is routinely and aggressively harassed by the cops whenever he goes into town for no other reason than the fact that he drives a beater truck and looks "homeless" -- and, I suspect, he's the wrong political party and has bumper stickers to prove it.

(When I heard the cops were harassing him, I checked to see if there was something I didn't know -- did he have a criminal history, sex offender registry, etc? Nada. And I've never seen any signs of drug use, including alcohol, from him. They're picking on him because he's poor, basically, and this is Arizona, where if you're poor it's considered a moral failing and a sign of criminal character and probable cause all on its own. BTDT myself, and his stories check out with things I've experienced to a lesser degree.)

Yet this doc can set off large explosions in ear-shot of the cop (cop was maybe a hundred yards away ... maybe) and the cop decides that there's "no probable cause" because the doctor just said it wasn't him.

Maybe the deputy also didn't want to push the point because the deputy was alone, and any backup was likely hours away. (For all he knew, there were other people with more machine guns on the property.) But knowing the local LEOs and the knowing Arizona, I rather suspect it was because the guy was wealthy and well connected enough to make a stink and perhaps cost the cop his job and career if he'd detained him while he did the sensible thing and waited for backup.


Another day in rural Arizona ...

#548 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 12:24 PM:

thomas, thank you for the fic rec. That was... interesting.

#549 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 12:58 PM:

thomas (543)/Lila (548): I've seen at least one other Captain America/bananas fanfic, as well. I don't seem to have the other one(s) bookmarked, though.

#550 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 01:13 PM:

Cygnet perhaps the doctor was shooting at tannerite targets, which not only go boom, but light up the night. Our sheriff, upon investigating some nighttime gunfire and explosions in our normally quiet neck of the woods, issued a statement that someone was shooting at tannerite. "Legal in our state*, but at 10pm, not exactly neighborly."

*and probably in yours

#551 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 02:07 PM:

Cygnet, and Tracie - as a Uk'ian, I wonder how Tannerite is even legal!
I note too that their website says:

"As with firearms, cannons, stereos, etc. Just because you can own and use them, doesn’t mean that you are immune to charges of “Disturbing the peace” and other such acts. Use common sense and respect adjoining property owner’s right to tranquility. If you live in a congested area, don’t shoot Tannerite® there. Drive to a safe and remote location for your shooting exercise."

Is it actually possible/ feels safet to go and ask this Doctor to turn the volume down? Admittedly the firearms make it a bigger potential deal than my going next door and asking the neighbours to turn down their stereo at 12:30am, as I did after they moved in.

#552 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 02:19 PM:

Tracie @ 550 -- It was during the dinner hour, here.

He certainly might be blowing up exploding targets of some kind. I wasn't aware of tannerite per se until now, but that sure seems possible. Also, many of the guys who shoot automatics reload, and therefore have ready access to black powder and caps.

It was certainly antisocial. If he was completely legal, he could have just mentioned what he was up to and we wouldn't have blinked. Heck, we probably would have said, "Sounds like fun!" and then we would have sent him away with a dozen eggs and some veggies as thanks for letting us know what he was up to. A neighborly person also would have kept the explosions down to a "large firecracker" size. It truly sounded like he was setting off IEDs up there.

It's a very, very, small community. He scared people badly, and that's not cool.

#554 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 03:16 PM:

thomas @ 543: That was nicely written, but I hate cliffhangers! When are we going to learn whether artificial banana flavoring tastes like the Real real thing?

#555 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 08:10 PM:

Mary Aileen #549: There are two others where that's the main point, and at least one where it comes up. Here's the AO3 search I used after coming across the first one.

#556 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 08:54 PM:

SandyB@522: We were paying around a hundred dollars a month when we got rid of the land line in the early 2000's. That had been pretty consistent for at least a decade before that.

We currently pay somewhat more in unadjusted dollars for 2 smartphone voice-and-data lines.

The bill broke down to about $30 for local service (including the $1 per month "extra" for touch-tone service), and the rest long distance - but many suburbs of Boston were "local long distance" from Cambridge, charged at about 25c per minute with no reductions. So that basic $30 didn't get you much. We got long distance at something like 10c per minute, and at the end free weekend long distance.

International calls were around a dollar a minute to England and France.

If you want to extend your argument back into the Phone Company era, people were paying much much more for long distance, which to a minor extent subsidized local service. A reference point: a 5-minute phone call from NYC to LA in 1950 cost $3.70, which would be about $36.30 in 2015 dollars.

#557 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 02:03 AM:

Lee @545: Ping Jacque...

This is probably the appropriate place to admit that, as a yout', I discovered that Thuderbolt's saddle* was just the right size for an adult guinea pig.... Poor old Ginger. She was so patient with me.

* Cf Johnny West, "Best of the West"

#558 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 05:34 AM:

Just bought some cheap citric acid, it makes a good kettle de-scaler. Somebody was asking if it was organic, with a tough of anti-GMO.

It's an intriguing problem.

Since the 1920s, citric acid has been produced by fermentation, a particular organism fed with cheap sugar solutions. That doesn't fit with what most people would call organic. They'd be thinking of extracting it from citrus fruit, which is a rather industrial chemical process anyway. Calcium hydroxide, sulphuric acid, they make the idea of "organic" a bit of a stretch.

Either way, it isn't GMO, but it's a candidate: could the Aspergillus niger strain used be improved is an obvious question. But then there are the cheap sugar sources. What about those?

I'll be honest, there are aspects of the "organic" label idea that are a bit silly. Some of the traditional pesticides are permitted, despite being rather nasty and less effective. Read the books of James Herriot: he's telling of the time when modern veterinary medicine was coming into use, when he was a young vet able to work miracles that some parts of the organic movement now frown on.

Anyway, it'll work as a kettle descaler, some commercial packs use it, and charge you for the expensive packaging, and have the usual warnings in the fine print.

#559 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:17 AM:

Jacque @ 557: I still am...

#560 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 10:48 AM:

Ginger @559 <snork> Now I want to see a photo of you wearing Thunderbolt's saddle... (I expect it would have to drape over your wrist or something, like an unusual bracelet...)

#561 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 12:31 PM:

Some data on police shootings from the Washington Post.

#562 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 12:56 PM:

@559: As it happens, I've actually had two guinea pigs named Ginger. First one was the doughty old matriarch of the herd I had as a kid. Black, white, and ginger-colered fur. Sweet, placid, unflappable....

Then there was the little girl I got free from the pet store because she spent all her time running in circles.

It quickly became obvious to me that she was very smart, and the spinning was her stimming because she was bored out of her furry little mind. Since she was all-over ginger-colored, it was clear to me that her name should be Ginger, too.

#563 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 01:04 PM:

@547 Someone was digging a pond? Removing a stump? That's what I'd guess, if I heard a noise like that around here. Of course, we're pretty rural.

(Does anyone else struggle with remembering a number long enough to get down to the text box and write a post @ing it? Took me three tries to get "547" in the right order...)

#564 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 01:10 PM:

Sarah @563:

What I do (when I remember to) is to control-c copy the header of the post to which I'm replying, and paste it into the box, like so:

#563 ::: Sarah

Then I reformat it, and Bob's your parent's sibling.

#565 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 01:51 PM:

Jacque @ 557 -- THANK you for that link. I have had Thunderbolt's saddle bags in my 'mystery stuff' tub of doll accessories for four or five years. I sell mostly dolls, not action figures, so I didn't recognize it until now ...

#566 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 01:54 PM:

I've been spending a lot of time on Petfinder (which allows targeted searches) and the local humane society website (which can but is a pain about it).

The results turning up on the latter has me wondering, cynically, what the next dog breed will become a fad item, resulting in overbreeding and inbreeding and thousands of dogs raised by twits who are then discarded because they are insufficiently like the adorable toys that the latest Disney (or whatever) film led them to believe they'd be.

Right now chihuahuas and teeny-tiny terrier mixes seem to be the dog to get rid of of choice.

Maybe corgis are next?


#567 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 02:27 PM:

Jacque @557, that one took me back. I don't have any of them any more (looking at prices, wish I'd kept some) but I had a Jane West and lots of horses, gear, etc. The list of action figures says Jane was Johnny's wife. Hmph. In all my stories she was entirely independent.

#568 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 02:52 PM:

OtterB (567): That takes me back, too, now that I finally went and looked at the picture. I don't specifically remember the horse (I had several), and I don't think I had a bridle at all, but boy! does that saddle look familiar.

Now I'm all nostalgic.

#569 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Dave Bell @558: tell them it's organic. It contains carbon molecules, so in a definition which has serious priority, it's definitely organic. (and the fermentation process you describe is a lot easier on the environment than the extraction you describe!)

Stefan Jones @566: The Wall Street Journal had an article earlier this year about Tibetan mastiffs falling out of favor as pets in China. Since they cost about $40 a day to feed, they're really hard to adopt out. They went from selling in the 7-figure range down to not selling for a day's food....

#570 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 03:30 PM:

Stefan, I am worried that catahoulas and similar dogs have been really rising in popularity and may be headed towards fad status. They are ... not good pet dog candidates, to say the least. Good dogs, yes. Dogs suitable for pet homes, not so much.

We have a catahoula/heeler cross. She's a lot of dog, even for us, and we are in the country where she gets to run beside quads and has an acre yard and a ton of attention. She'd never make it as a city dog. (We got her at four months from someone who wanted her gone, NOW. She hadn't even hit the terrible puppy-teen months yet.)

#571 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 03:49 PM:

Wow! I had a Johnny West, and a Jane West -- don't remember whether we had their horses, but we had the er, action figures and some of their accessories. I vaguely recall someone else we knew who had all the stuff -- buckboard, horses, and so on -- but I can't remember who it was. Well! I am going to have to see if my parents still have the stuff and if so, I'll see if there's a saddle still surviving.

I know I have the coffee pot in my house, because it got stored with the animals and cars that came with me. I think there may even be a frying pan somewhere.

Jane was rather independent in my world, too. I think I considered them brother and sister rather than husband and wife.

#572 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 05:06 PM:

Stefan #566 - I think French Bulldogs are on the rise here in Scotland, if not the UK.
Okay the ones I have met have all been fine but since they are close to terriers and have a history of poor breeding I would be wary.

Mind you my dad and stepmother's French bulldog just had 8 puppies.

#573 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 05:19 PM:

Cygnet #570: That was more or less my situation, but with a plain old hound-type (supposedly a Harrier, though small for the breed). After two years and some damage to my feet (way too many walks, often on uneven ground), I brought her back to the SPCA. (As I've noted recently, the SPCA also lowballed her age.)

#574 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 05:28 PM:

For those who might be curious, being inside an MRI machine is every bit as loud as advertised.

What I didn't expect was its mild musicality -- it has a tone like old video games, or (and this should not have surprised me) the Singing Tesla Coils.

Obviously it wasn't playing a tune, but it would make rhythmic noises at one pitch, stop, and then start again at a different pitch and rhythm.


Alas, the hospital I went to is not one that offers piped-in music or other audio, so I got to lie there with the provided earplugs in my ears and a cage locked over my face, not-quite-Hannibal-Lecter-esque, and do my best to breathe deeply and think about other things for 45min.

Yes, it was STILL loud through fairly heavy-duty foam earplugs. Not quite painful, with the plugs in, but right up there.

#575 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 05:34 PM:

I had Odin, the Viking Chief (on the right), apparently from the same company. I'd forgotten he could ride a horse! Mine came with both the winged and horned helmets, as well as a plain one which I preferred as I considered it more historically accurate. My stuffiness about historical accuracy didn't keep me from equipping him with GI Joe firearms that I'd gotten in trade from friends. A couple years ago, my mother dug up Odin and all his accessories, and sent him to me for my boys to play with. Sadly, the plastic was so brittle after 40 years that he very quickly became Odin the quadruple amputee Viking.

#576 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 05:52 PM:

Jeremy Leader #575: I gather he did not come with his horse, the 8-legged Sleipnir!

#577 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 06:01 PM:

Ha! I think he was supposed to be a human Viking, named after the god. He didn't have wolves or ravens, nor an eye patch.

#578 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 06:11 PM:

@Cygnet: My neighbor has a catahoula. Pretty, smart-looking dog. She (the dog) stations herself in a window and watches for . . . people, dogs, cats. And then barks, loudly, switching windows to keep an eye on the "intruder." They're on a triangular lot with windows that let them keep an eye on things so . . . well, I feel bad for the neighbors.

From what I can tell, the leopard dog and her little GSD brother (who is learning her barking ways) don't get out much. Short walks, maybe around the block.


#579 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 06:18 PM:

@Elliot: I had a MRI around (OMG!) twelve years ago, to confirm a spinal disk problem.

They gave me a lumbar support pillow, something I'd never heard of before, and it was HEAVEN. I'm sure I heard the noise, but the relief from the sciatic pain was so wonderful I don't really recall it.

* * *
I'm looking for a shepherd dog, deliberately leaving off the traditional national modifier. There are lots of mixes out there. Just need to be patient, and hope lightning strikes twice.

#580 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 06:23 PM:


Local woman is supposed to have health insurance coverage via a COBRA plan. That is handled by a middleman, which sends the money on to local woman's spouse's former employer.

It transpires that the only thing the COBRA people do efficiently is cash checks. Our check was, in fact, received and cashed a couple of weeks ago.

When I tried to refill a prescription, the pharmacy said it looked like I wasn't covered; the insurer said to talk to COBRA.

When I finally got through to someone there, she told me that the notification to the insurer that we had paid was sent today. But she wasn't sure if that meant later today, or if it had happened a few hours ago, and there's no way for her to check that. What she did know is that they only send those notifications once a week. But it should take "48 to 72 hours" so I will have my coverage back "by Wednesday, Thursday at the latest."

Then she told me that they know this is slow, and "that's why we make the coverage retroactive." I did not actually yell at her in pointing out that no, that's not why—they make it retroactive because federal law requires it.

Then sbe asked if there was anything else she could do for me. I said "let me get off the phone before I fucking scream at someone" and hit the "end call" button. I try not to yell at customer service peons, but whether she was incompetent or trying to be obstructive, it was obvious that she not only couldn't do anything else for me, she hadn't done very well at what I'd already asked for.

tl;dr: We need single-payer health care, but in the meantime, can we at least have minimally competent people answering the phones?

#581 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 06:43 PM:

My insurer has been getting lazy about sending out payment notices. (The one for the payment due today hadn't arrived by Saturday morning.) I'm sure they plan to blame the customers for the late payments, even though it's hard to make a payment you don't get a bill for.

#582 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:04 PM:

Vicki @580: ... can we at least have minimally competent people answering the phones?

No. Because they are paid a pittance, inadequately trained, and treated like crap. After all, they're just talking on the phone. How hard can that be?

#583 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:11 PM:

OtterB, #557: I never cared about the dolls, but I had Jane West's horse Flame as part of my collection of horse figurines -- the bay version rather than the palomino, because for me he was a stand-in for Flame from the Island Stallion series by Walter Farley.

My best friend also had a collection of horses, and we'd bring them over to each others' houses and make up stories with them the way most kids do with dolls.

#584 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:18 PM:

Lee (583): My best friend also had a collection of horses, and we'd ... make up stories with them the way most kids do with dolls.

The horse collection was mine, but otherwise you've just described what my best friend and I did. Occasionally some of my stuffed animals would ride the horses, but mostly the horses were just more characters in the stories.

#585 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:21 PM:

Lee and Mary Aileen, wish I'd known you back in the day.

#586 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:33 PM:

Does anyone know if the Dickipedia content is available as text, anywhere? The stupid fucking damned video shows a supposed wiki page, but I haven't been able to find text anywhere. The link on their FB page goes nowhere.

It's run by the Huffington Post. Don't they know there are deaf and HoH people who want this content? Jerks.

#587 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:40 PM:

Elliott Mason # 574

I hope the ordeal was helpful in finding something to work with or ruling something else out

MRIs don't have a patch on the old-fashioned CAT* scanners for noise. My first experience with them was when the medicos were playing diagnostics to see if my recurrent (*very* recurrent) migraines had an obvious physical cause.

The mechanism would do the traverse with a Whhhrrrrrrrgggh THUMP. And the point when the scanner hit the stops was heavy and vigorous enough that the whole apparatus would shake. Then rinse-and-repeat.
* yes, long enough ago that it was referred to as a "CAT scan" rather than "CT Scan," and the friendly little Xeroxed FAQ sheet the hospital gave out labeled it as "Computer-Aided Tomography," rather than the now-accepted "Computerized Axial Tomography" I don't know if they just got the nomenclature wrong in the FAQ or if the accepted name has changed

#588 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:57 PM:

Craig R @587: No idea yet. The tech said my doctor would explain my results.

Shortened version: I've been having a Weird Elbow Thing, where if I put pressure on the back of the joint (roughly the "funnybone whack" spot) my hands go pins-and-needles and then numb. Or if I bend them and leave them bent too long. Now it's to the point where lying on my back in my bed with straight arms by my sides puts too much pressure there and they start going numb (YAAAY).

The neurologist says that since it's symmetrical the problem is probably where the nerves sprout out of the spinal cord, up by my neck, instead of actually being an elbow problem, so that's what I got MRI'ed for today (hence the head-cage, because cervical MRI).

#589 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:57 PM:

Craig R @587: No idea yet. The tech said my doctor would explain my results.

Shortened version: I've been having a Weird Elbow Thing, where if I put pressure on the back of the joint (roughly the "funnybone whack" spot) my hands go pins-and-needles and then numb. Or if I bend them and leave them bent too long. Now it's to the point where lying on my back in my bed with straight arms by my sides puts too much pressure there and they start going numb (YAAAY).

The neurologist says that since it's symmetrical the problem is probably where the nerves sprout out of the spinal cord, up by my neck, instead of actually being an elbow problem, so that's what I got MRI'ed for today (hence the head-cage, because cervical MRI).

#590 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 08:05 PM:

Elliott Mason at 574: Yep. The earplugs are pretty critical (it's not fun being around a magnet in the middle of a sequence without them). Spent a fair bit of time in/around MRIs circa 2008-2010 (and I've been scanned more recently, but back in '08-10, MRI wrangling was my job). I was doing fMRI-based research back then, so normal scan length was 2-2.5 hours... while playing The Most Boring Video Game Ever.

#591 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 08:44 PM:


I had the same problem some years ago, with AETNA. The problem only got resolved when we wrote a letter complaining to the COBRA Compliance Office of (I think) the Dept. of Labor, and someone in the NC state government (I think the attorney general's office, maybe whatever agency regulates insurance). We went several months with effectively no coverage, still sending the checks in, calling and complaining to no avail.

I assumed then, and assume now, that this was a deliberate policy to get rid of us as clients. The law could make them sell us insurance, but they were going to make a good honest effort to lose our business if possible. But for all I know it was a problem somewhere else, like in the middleman company that cashed the checks. I just know if got fixed when we sent those letters, and thus caused someone to notice that maybe there would be some kind of consequences for what they were doing.

#592 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:09 PM:

Currently arguing with a dipshit troll who's accused me of having "poor language skills" because I said that 'transphobia' is the accepted term for bigotry against trans people. He's made the "etymology is meaning" argument! Naturally I swatted him down with 'gourmet' and had 'template' in my other hand.

Now he's nitpicking every word I use. I'll continue toying with him until I get bored; then it's time for a Mute, methinks.

#593 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:23 PM:

OMG OMG OMG! it's guilty pleasure time!

Turner Classic Movies currently has "ICE PIRATES" in its view-on-demand rotation,

#594 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:30 PM:

After he called me a fascist and an "illiberal authoritarian," and then compared me to ISIS (the bigoted murderers, not the goddess), while implying that they have sex with goats and that I'd probably want them accepted by society...I kinda got bored all at once.

#595 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:30 PM:

Stefan @ 578 -- that certainly sounds like a way to drive a catahoula insane in very short order. I would be scared of what the inside of their house looks like; I've never known a catahoula that wasn't destructive when bored. Or even when not-bored. They were bred to run, run, and run some more. And then get up and do the same thing the next day. If they can't run, they channel that energy into amazing feats of destruction. Ours ate an ATV once.

If you like herding breeds -- an older (not-puppy, ideally three years or older) Aussie or aussie-cross* with the right temperament may make a fairly good house dog, and they have fewer health problems than many of the herding breeds. Disposition and energy varies widely; you want one that is mellow for a house dog, of course, and not an OCD mess that tries to herd its own shadow.

(*Crossed with something sane -- aussies don't cross well with all breeds!)

#596 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:33 PM:

#595: Aussie are on the list!

Old dog was Belgian shepherd crossed with . . . maybe a Newfoundland? Capable of great physical feats but pretty laid back. I'd love to stumble across something like that again.

#597 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:39 PM:

Xopher @592:
One of my favorite etymology-is-meaning counterexamples is "manufacture" for things that are not handmade.

#598 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Thank you Chris! I'll add that to the bag for next time.

#599 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 11:42 PM:

I had a CAT scan when I was seven after we ran out of snow on the very small sled hill across the street. My brother and I decided that in the absence of snow, we'd try the narrow green sled on the big red slide with the tunnel (you know the one, right?). The drop at the bottom onto a puddle of ice was not pleasant, nor was the way my head smacked the slide itself after the drop. I went inside, tried to read a book, and couldn't because the green and purple letters weren't lining up with the black ones. Mild concussion, but yeah, CAT scan.

I remember what it looked like, but not that it made noise. I think I'd assumed it was only MRIs that did that because really, no idea. Memories are weird. So is noticing.

#600 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 08:20 AM:

Stefan Jones: How would you feel about a greyhound? They need a run once a day or so, but are utter couch potatoes the rest of the time--or at least, so I'm told by several sources, as I have never myself owned one.

#601 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 09:13 AM:

Carrie S @600:

My brother has a greyhound (retired racing rescue, as most of them are), and when she was younger it was more or less as you describe. They're sprinters, so they'll use up all their energy in a good short run once a day or so (by which I mean that for her it was okay to skip a day, not that she'd sometimes need more than one a day) and then loaf around recovering that energy. She's 12 now, getting old for the breed, so she is in full-time couch potato mode, and is a real sweetie.

#602 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Carry S @600, lorax @601, when I was a child, we had a whippet. Whippets are miniature greyhounds; about 2/3 the size, and I'm told they're very similar in temperment. Sweet dog, but really, really stupid. (Skinny head; no room for brains.)

He thought he was a lap dog, but he was all elbows and knees; whippets are BONY. If he got off his leash (see above re: skinny head; his collar could slip right off) you just waved goodbye; there was no chance at all to catch him. He was a sweetheart, though.

One thing I should mention; and I don't know if this is a breed thing or an individual thing; he was very, very nervous and highstrung. If you live in a region with frequent thunderstorms, be prepared for a terrified pup.

#603 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 01:20 PM:

I have an Aussie / Australian cattle dog cross (apparently) who, in complete contrast to the normal "one-person dog" reputation of both breeds, loves everything and everyone and is the most good-natured dog I have ever met. She is a complete and total sweetheart to people, dogs, cats... I think she'd probably snuggle up with the neighborhood deer if they'd hold still long enough.

She does have the "I like to push other animals' buttons" trait that is common to herding dogs, but uses it to pull benign stunts like lifting her lip at the elderly dachshund (from across the room) until he barks at her.

#604 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 02:28 PM:

Lila @ 603 -- I'm not sure I believe the "one person dog" reputation for either breed.

I've known some who are one-person dogs, but almost all were not well socialized when young. (Consider that a dog raised on a ranch may not see a lot of strangers when young.) When they are exposed to a lot of different people, they seem to be good, or even better than average, with strangers.

I have a heeler/aussie also, who is now fourteen. Your description of your dog is exactly what mine is like, as well, right down to the "teases other animals" part. It's pure mischief, however -- she just has a sneaky sense of humor. There's no actual malice in her.

She's raised generations of goats, starting with helping the mamas lick them clean. I've actually given her orphans to protect and care for. (I bottle fed 'em, she raised 'em.)

The local elk here are not afraid of her either. I've seen her walk within a few feet of them.

I used to have an aussie/border collie cross (she passed away of old age years ago) who had the same kind of disposition, including the same sense of humor. That dog would wait until the cats were drinking out of the pool, then sneak up behind them and bark. About half the time, the cats would fall into the pool. (They could get back out.) The dog found this truly hilarious.

#605 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 02:32 PM:

Cygnet @ 502

Depending on what e-reader you have, you may want to talk to people that buy e-books as well. A lot of the books I had bought from Amazon (I am pretty sure you need a Kindle to be able to read these loans) are loanable - so they can be loaned to someone else for free for reading. In some cases it is just a single loan (restricted to some number of days), sometimes it is less restricted. But it may be an option.

#606 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 02:54 PM:

The pigeon gene-pool report for the day: down by two.

#607 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 03:00 PM:

PJ Evans @606, may one presume that the pigeon gene-pool report is in inverse proportion to the hawk nutrition report...?

#608 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Thomas @ 543:

And Captain America/Banana Cultivar Monoculture fanfic is a thing.

Heh. When it comes to fanfic descriptions, that should probably be punctuated "Captain America - Banana Cultivar Monoculture". The "/" indicates that Captain America is getting VERY personal with the monoculture. :)

#609 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 03:14 PM:

It's probably a safe assumption.

#610 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 03:37 PM:

Quill @ 608 -- Of course, that probably exists somewhere ... either an infinite number of voles at typewriters or the direct result of a dare plus bored kinkmeme writers could produce it.

(There is always a kinkmeme somewhere, though I don't actually know where the Avenger's is.)

#611 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 05:44 PM:

Cygnet #610: Of course, that probably exists somewhere ... either an infinite number of voles at typewriters or the direct result of a dare plus bored kinkmeme writers could produce it.

Implementation hardly matters, as the true cause would be the Quantum Corollary Of Rule 34. :-)

I still remember the last (?) time someone around here tried testing Rule 34. They picked the unlikeliest combination they could think of -- IIRC, within a couple of hours we had links to two sites full of drawings.

#612 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 07:14 PM:

PJ Evans 609: FRA "60*8* It's probably a safe assumption."

Thank you, NO.

#613 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 07:31 PM:

We have Cooper's hawks in the area. They like pigeons. And blackbirds. And probably any other bird they can catch. (Accipiters. Think half-sized goshawks.)

#614 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 09:30 AM:

Goodbye to A Softer World.

#615 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 10:39 AM:

The software that powers the ads I see was pretty obviously not written with Alaska in mind. I was just told to "Get ready to meet mature women in [extremely small village on my island that is accessible only by float plane or boat, in which everybody knows everybody else and half of the people are related]." I have also been promised a list of "the best cosmetologists in [mainland wildlife refuge]."

#616 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 10:58 AM:

Jenny Islander #615: The automated ad systems are producing artificial bullshit -- that is, they make claims without caring whether its actually true or not. This is why I was immediately wary some otherwise-promising merch sites, because they'd implanted my search terms in their site copy.

#617 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 11:25 AM:

Jenny Islander I have also been promised a list of "the best cosmetologists in [mainland wildlife refuge]."

And somewhere in the wilderness, disconsolate, a moose wonders why he's getting no customers for his new cosmetology startup. Eventually, he knocks all the small, colorful bottles off their tree branch shelf, and walks away.

#618 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 11:38 AM:

Does anyone remember a fanfic about Susan Pevensie being angry about having her adult life in Narnia taken away?

#619 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 11:39 AM:

All Knowledge is Contained in Making Light.

I am finishing some knitting my mother did ages ago. "Finishing" in the knitting sense means sewing seams, doing any sort of edge treatments, and some other things.

It is a baby sweater. The body is stockinette stitch with a cable pattern. The hem is 1x1 ribbing and so are the sleeves at the wrist. I have two extra pieces. One is a curved strip of garter stitch. The other is a rectangle with the body pattern for about 5 inches and an edge of 1 1/4 inch of garter stitch.

The neck needs some sort of treatment, so I think that these pieces go on there. Abi and I thought it might be a hood. But I am not sure which edge to attach to which other edge. Where does the garter stitch come into play?

The original pattern has been lost long ago.

#620 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 11:45 AM:

I can not possibly love Cally's #617 as much as it deserves.

#621 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:09 PM:

Lady Kay @619

Might the curved strip of garter be a transition between the sweater and the hood? I imagine that the garter edge on the rectangle would be the edge that frames the baby's face, so the edge opposite that would be seamed together.

Photos would be helpful if possible.

#622 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:12 PM:

Lady Kay @619

Having thought a little bit more, an example seemed in order.

It's unlikely to be the same pattern, but the photo that goes with this pattern shows what I've got in mind.

#623 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:23 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #618: It's by our own UrsulaV, referenced recently. If someone doesn't beat me to it, I'll try to chase down the link after lunch.

#624 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Nancy, 618: Yes. She loved a dwarf and forgot his name. But I don't remember who wrote it. Possibly UrsulaV?

#625 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:30 PM:

Nancy: Elegant and Fine.

#626 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:35 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @618 said: Does anyone remember a fanfic about Susan Pevensie being angry about having her adult life in Narnia taken away?

There are so many more than one of those. :-> I shall dig about in my bookmarks for some good ones and provide a longer curated list.

#627 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:42 PM:

#625 ::: TexAnne

Thanks very much. "Elegant and Fine" is it.

Anyone know of fanfic about the Pevensies getting reunited in heaven?

#628 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:43 PM:

PJ Evans @ 613 -- We have a ton of sparrow hawks, around here. They're not much bigger than a city pigeon.

For about a year, we had a lively and growing population of sparrows in the barn. Our chicken coop is at the back of the (small) barn, and the sparrows had discovered the chicken feeder. You'd walk into the barn and around fifty or so sparrows would explode past you out the door in a frantic escape.

Then a local sparrow hawk discovered the feed. It was small enough to fit through the 8X8 entrance to the coop while flying. Mayhem and carnage resulted. Lots of sparrow feathers, everywhere.

The chickens were unamused; as far as they were concerned, there's no difference between a sparrow hawk and a redtail. The sparrow hawk was far too small to take a chicken (we have orpingtons), but try convincing them of that. Every time it zoomed over head, for a few days, I'd hear frantic frightened chicken noises, and look out to see the chickens running for cover -- cover which was not the safety of their coop, because there was a HAWK in their COOP.

Fortunately, the local sparrow flock vacated the premises (even sparrows are smart enough to realize that all the Layena they can eat is not worth their lives) and when they left, so did the sparrow hawk.

The chickens took quite awhile to stop trilling alarm whenever any large bird flew overhead, even something as benign as a jay.

#629 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 12:55 PM:

@David Harmon no. 116: I have to wonder where they're getting cosmetology and meeting mature women from then! Maybe those are the defaults when somebody's search terms are just too weird to parse?

#630 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 01:34 PM:

#622 ::: Naomi Parkhurst

That picture is stirring up some ideas. I'll put pictures on Ravelry and then link to them here, I guess.

#631 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 01:49 PM:

Pictures of pieces

These are the pieces. The inside edge of the curved garter piece is about 11 inches, the outside edge is about 13 inches.

the width of the rectangular piece is 12 inches.

The neck might be 15 inches (or if I sew the shoulders to the next logical place, 11 inches).

#632 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 01:57 PM:

TexAnne #625: Thank you, looks like I was already barking up the wrong forum. Relatedly, I'd just like to comment that Livejournal's search bar is remarkably unfriendly. Especially since their "archive" view shows only the dates of posts, no title.

#633 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 02:05 PM:

Jenny Islander #629: In your case, they know what they want to pitch, so they're plugging in your location instead. Instead of "what you want!", they're offering "where you are", but it's still "whatever gets you to click here!" Perhaps they have some statistical awareness that for Alaskans, "location" is probably more significant than in smaller places.

#634 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 02:29 PM:

Lady Kay @631

That curved piece really does look as if it should fit in the neckline, with the outer, longer curve sewn to the body, and the inner curve sewn to the hood. I know there's a length difference, but are you familiar with the idea of easing two edges of different lengths together in a seam? That might be what's going on there.

On the other hand, if the garter edge from the rectangle frames the wearer's face, then the hood's cables will be crosswise to the cables in the sweater's body, which isn't usual. Now I'm feeling more confused.

The measurements would seem to have the curved piece be around the neck, though.

Maybe this will be food for thought for someone.

#635 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Lady Kay, my guesses:

I agree with Naomi that the curved piece finishes the basic sweater, longer edge to the neckline.

The hood folds in half with the band (garter?) framing the face.

This is a cardigan?

Would you also do a front shot? Presumably what we're seeing on Ravelry is the back.

#636 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 02:45 PM:

The other possibility is that the garter-stitch edge on the probably-a-hood piece goes at the neck, and the curved piece goes around the other three sides and kind of gathers it around the face.

But if I were any good at figuring out stuff like that, I'd have finished the sweater my mother was working on when she died, instead of handing all of the pieces off to my niece. (I have the unfinished lace scarf that Mom left. Because I found the instructions for it.)

#637 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 03:21 PM:

Jenny Islander @615

One of the ads on my Facebook page this morning contained links to (and nowhere else).

#638 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Cygnet @628: there was a HAWK in their COOP.... The chickens took quite awhile to stop trilling alarm whenever any large bird flew overhead, even something as benign as a jay.

I suspect that the prey-animal mentality is specifically predisposed to PTSD; I can't even comprehend how delicate the trigger must be.

I accidentally put Yeti in Woofie's* pen one night after playtime. Then, when I put Woofie in, he innocently went to go to bed—and there was ANOTHER BOAR IN HIS BED!!!!

Blessedly, they did not come to blows, but it freaked 'em both out, especially Woofie. It took him weeks before he was even willing to go over to that side of his cage again, and then anytime he heard any movement in Yeti's pen next door, he'd come blazing out and sit staring, terrified, in the farthest corner. I don't remember what it took to talk him down, but it was a Project.

Since then, every once in a while, something will happen that will trigger him. A few months back, I came out in the morning to find him wandering around the living room, looking confused. I (also confused, because I don't tend to forget to put them in at night) put him back in his pen; he freaked, bolted, and shot over his fence again. This time, it took a week or so (with his bedroom stripped of all towels) for him to decide that maybe it was okay to sit in that corner. Maybe.

The latest round was last week. This time, he just sat in the opposite corner and looked scared; after a day, I realized what was going on, and put fresh hay in his bed and then set him on it, and he decided maybe it was okay, now. I don't know if a fly had walked on him in the night or what. But days like that I'm glad I don't live in his brain.

* Guinea pigs, for those that don't know.

#639 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 03:25 PM:

Since some of us are on the topic of Narnia fan-fic, does anyone remember the piece of Narnia fan-fic published in F&SF a few years back? Based on where I read it, I estimate it was between 1999 and 2010. (Yeah, that narrows it down ...)

#640 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 03:44 PM:

Is Hoyt actually suggesting that us liberal types read and promote books just because we want to be part of the cool crowd, and not because we love them? That's awfully rude.

*sigh* And of course I read the comments. Comments are their own punishment (present company excluded).

But I have to say that I am 100% done with anyone who wants to set themselves up as the Bathroom Police. Why is "leave me alone" and "let me live my life as I see fit" and "as long as I'm not hurting anyone, it's none of your business" not an option?

On a totally unrelated note, blind spots are the darndest things. My brain edits the edges together and I can only 'see' it when it distorts text. Like a black hole. Makes typing exciting, let me tell you.

#641 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 04:10 PM:

Jacque @ 638 -- Horses can be like that, too, re: deciding an area is scary because something scared them in it. I used to ride a horse in city parks. One day, we rode past a ramada in the park and there were silver mylar balloons tied to the ramada. She spooked and shied into a couple bicycles parked beside the trail, and scared herself stupid, and bolted. She was unhurt, just scared out of her mind. It took me a few hundred feet to bring her to a stop, and she wasn't normally a horse who bolted when scared.

It only took an afternoon in the round pen with a couple balloons, and another afternoon trotting over crossrails and running through weave poles with balloons tied to them to cure her of her fear of balloons themselves. I had a few friends "surprise" her on trails with balloons, too. Her fear of balloons went away totally. (I rode this horse next to city streets, so I really couldn't have her spooking at stupid stuff.)

However, it took her several months before she got over the fear of the area around the ramada. Something scared her badly there, therefore, there was danger there! And convincing her otherwise was very difficult.

#642 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 04:12 PM:

Sarah @640: Also to address a point she makes, I have read quite a lot of Heinlein (not every word he ever published in fiction, but probably at least 80% or more), and the internalized misogyny is really hard for me to miss. It's not just that the "cool kids" have told me I am supposed to hate him.

I grew up idolizing the worldviews of a lot of his characters, and only realized very much later in life that I'd set myself up with some extremely faulty software (and some other memes I still think are adaptive and useful in modern life).

I really detest BOTH the folks (on my Facebook feed and elsewhere) trumpeting, "Heinlein was the Most Progressive Ever And Is Still Awesomely Feminist!" and the folks glaring suspiciously around insisting that anybody who states otherwise (on this opinion or many others) is effectively trying to gaslight fandom on a mass scale.

There are some things, like Lovecraftian horrors, that once seen, cannot be unseen. I can't put the Suck Fairy back in her box. Once I realize there was just a soupcon of shit in that thing I used to really, really enjoy eating, I can't quite ever eat it the same way I used to, again.

But just because YOU don't taste it doesn't make it objectively not there. It just means you don't taste it. And maybe you never will -- and, in some ways, it's sort of good to go along continuing to not-see the things that Cannot Be Unseen. It's certainly more pleasant.

But sometimes that's just not having my chemical-level hatred of cilantro (which harms nobody except that I really dislike it and cannot enjoy anything containing lots of it) ... and sometimes it's not knowing that there's plutonium dust sprinkled all over your morning cereal, and you're going to die of bone cancer.

#643 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 04:50 PM:

Cygnet @641: Something scared her badly there, therefore, there was danger there!

Which, of course, is the way triggers work generally. And literally anything that can be experienced can be a trigger, though in horses I don't imagine one gets meta-triggers out of things like "thinking about things that have blue in them" the say the human brain can do.

No: you just get horse-eating Dixie cups.

#644 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 04:56 PM:

A friend and I are discussing movie plans for Friday. He laments the unavailability of Mad Max 5: Monkey Kingdom.

#645 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 05:30 PM:

This talk of loving Heinlein or hating him (which I've seen from a number of sources) rather bothers me; it seems (to me) to be one of those false dichotomy things...

My personal view is that Heinlein was a writer of somewhat above average ability, and like many another such writer, he brought his own world-view and a certain amount of personal baggage to his writing; he produced some good books and some notably sucky books, and (as often happens) the sucky ones tend to display more of his baggage than the good ones.

The thing is, Heinlein had a gift - which is by no means to be despised - for writing compelling, uncomplicated, adventure stories for a young adult audience, and an awful lot of young adults - myself included - grew up on these things and internalized Heinlein as part of our SF-cultural landscape. And it can be awfully difficult not to view him through the rose-tinted spectacles this produces.

He's also a writer who is badly served by his more rabid fans - I read Job once, thought to myself "yes, amiable enough comic fantasy, it was probably better first time around when it was James Branch Cabell's Jurgen, never mind", and promptly forgot about it. Then I was exposed to reviews from Heinlein fans about how it was overwhelmingly brilliant and had Changed Their Lives. Since it hadn't changed my life beyond making me £6.99 poorer and a couple of hours older once I'd bought and read it, I went back to it and looked at it more searchingly... and wound up conceiving a fairly strong dislike for it, overall.

(I could go on for some time discussing why, but this entry is too long already, and besides, I am on page 523 out of 782 of The Dark Between The Stars and am rapidly losing the will to live.)

#646 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 05:59 PM:

Steve Wright @ 645

I spent my teen years reading Heinlein when he was being made available - to say that he was under translated when I started reading SF will be an understatement (A shorter version of The Green Hills of Earth was the only thing available before 1989; The Star Beast was squeezed just when the changes started and then it would be 4 more years before we see anything else - at which point I was already reading the genre) but most of his major novels got translated in the years when I was getting my tastes defined. He does have issues but a lot of the old SF authors do.

I loved Job and at 16 it did show me another type of genre fiction - even if there was an older work that was essentially similar, I never read that one. So it is not just the rabid fans - it is also the ones that simply had not read a lot of the older than him (and contemporary to him) authors :)

#647 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 06:25 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Local fan availed himself today of senior discounts for the first time ever.

#648 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 06:28 PM:

I congratulate you on getting that far into that monster of space opera!

#649 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 06:32 PM:


Submitted without further comment:

#650 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 07:45 PM:

More pictures have been added to

sweater project

I have a feeling that the shoulders are meant to be more together, and I should be using the 11 inch measurement for the neck opening. I took some details of the shoulders to allow Naomi, Pj and Carol to opine on the shoulder seam. Any one else is welcome to contribute also.

I had to tutor more algebra today.

#651 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 07:55 PM:

So, my little red tabby girl kitty had a very bad day today.

Woke in a strange place.
With stitches in her belly.

She's still too hung over to complain much, but I expect I'll be hearing all about it from the confines of my bathroom tonight. Drama cat is always full of drama.

#652 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 08:07 PM:

Serge @ #647 -

My wife and I take advantage of senior discounts where we can, but I have a feeling as the bulge of the Boomers move through the demographic snake, we might see fewer of them. I've seen some examples of places (like movie theaters) that have raised their senior discount to 62 instead of 55, and my hair cut place (our neighborhood doesn't have barber shops) I go to (Sportclips) wants you to be 65.

#653 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 08:12 PM:

WRT Heinlein, I though Job was an example of later Heinlein that was decent. I found The Cat Who Walks Through Walls unreadable, ditto Number of the Beast. Friday started as a good story but lost its way. What I really wanted was the story that led to the society depicted in the novel. I would have loved a story of the development of the Shiptstone.

#654 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 08:51 PM:

My one-sentence evaluation of Heinlein: he tried to be ahead of his time on feminist matters—wouldn't it have been great if he'd succeeded?

#655 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Steve C @ 652... You're probably right. In my case, our grocery store still has the 55-year-old cutoff point, which means I could have been taking advantage of it for five years, except that we get 10% off on the total bill only on the first Wednesday of the month. I finally decided it was worth it so I changed my grocery-shopping habits from the weekend to today.

#656 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 09:20 PM:

Heinlein. ¬_¬

Ok good finished now can we talk about someone else?

#657 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 09:47 PM:

Heinlein isn't the only author I'm metagrr about*; I made it through The Handmaid's Tale only once I started analyzing it as a historical artifact rather than a great work of mindblowing feminism (I had a friend who wrote homages to it in eighth grade. I read it when I was in grad school and already a secular feminist. Not mindblowing.) Some of them are quite good, I'm told, and some come from recommendations here.

*here meaning that I'd probably not be so annoyed except people tell me the work is glorious and life-changing and no, that was not my experience... and especially if they tell me it's glorious and life-changing in a way that makes me think they think there's something wrong with me if I don't get it.

#658 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 09:58 PM:

#640 ::: Sarah

I've read the piece and am skimming through the comments.

The piece is factional and nasty, but there may well be something to the idea that the idea of elves can be sensibly interpreted as being about the pathological search for status even though the bit about not being able to tell a direct lie doesn't fit. As I recall, there's something about elves and status in Pratchett's Lords and Ladies.

Also, I've wondered whether financial bubbles could be usefully interpreted as fairy gold.

There are some good things in the comments. Skip past the bad imitations of inclusive language, and there's an intriguing discussion of truth and falsity not being precisely aligned with good and evil in Cinderella, and how godparents work in various cultures-- doing some help with raising the child in one place, and supplying political connections in another.

In the middle of complaining about SJ, a discussion of the names of colors and the history of "pink" breaks out.

"Mary | June 2, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Reply
Of course, prior to the 17th century, pink meant “to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern”. (The transition came through pinks, which flowers have a jagged edge. And often are pink.)"

#659 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 10:04 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz (658): Pinking shears!

#660 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 10:48 PM:

I just learned something about Ravelry, you can make pages public.


This should make the page viewable by everyone.

#661 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 11:40 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz # 658 -

English! It's a dessert topping *and* a floor wax!

#662 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 11:51 PM:

Hyperlocal cat update -- And Drama Kitty is proving the accuracy of her nickname. Back from her spay, and sobered up enough to be aware, she has, so far:

Bit me when I reached down to pat her.

Yowled, spat, and cursed angrily because her brother dared to put his paw under the bathroom door. (The brother, sat down, stared, and blinked a few times in surprise.)

Hissed at me when I went in to use the bathroom.

Growled under the door whenever any of the other cat-gang walk past the door.

Meowed ... endlessly. Off key.

I think she's still drunk. She's a mean drunk.

(Her name is Ginger. Most people assume she was named that because of her color. She's a rare female red tabby. The name applies just as well to her attitude, though -- Drama Kitty has never missed an opportunity for drama, starting before she was weaned.)

#663 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 12:17 AM:

Elliott, #642: As I've said before, the thing that I really don't understand about Heinlein-worshipers is their apparent belief that his work is immune to visits from the Suck Fairy.

I don't think Heinlein was a misogynist at all. He was, in fact, remarkably progressive about feminism for his day. And it's those last 3 words which cause all the trouble, just the way they do in ClassicTrek. Can you watch "Shore Leave" these days without wincing? Similarly, it gets very tiring to see one strong, independent woman after another decide that her path to True Happiness lies in giving up that independence to have babies with some guy. (Note: I'm not saying that this should never happen; women differ. But statistically, there should have been at least a few cases where it didn't.)

Serge, #647: What's really mind-blowing is when you don't qualify for the senior discount and the clerk gives it to you anyway, without asking.

Steve C., #652: That's odd -- most senior discounts I've seen want you to be at least 60, and 65 is more common. But the AARP comes after you as soon as you hit your 50th birthday; I swear I got my first solicitation 2 days later!

#664 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 12:35 AM:

My roommate started getting AARP solicitations when she was 23. She's tried to get them to stop with no success.

I have yet to receive an AARP solicitation, but then my hair started going gray when I was 14. You'd think by my age it would be a lovely uniform silver, but nope. The parts that I have allowed to grow out are more of a gunmetal. Currently sitting with a head full of pravana chromasilks cobalt blue dye in the hopes I can get a nice two tone black/blue going on.

#665 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 01:06 AM:

Oh, Hoyt.

A few years ago, probably during the controversy over the SFWA Bulletin, I got suckered into clicking a link to According To Hoyt.

Which is to say, I hadn't encountered her blog before and simply didn't know what I was in for. "Oh, here is further commentary on the events I am following," was what I thought.

I read it *very* generously, but it hit a few off-notes for me...

And then I got to the bit where she insisted that sexual harassment in the workplace was no big deal if you'd just pull up your big girl panties and grow a thick skin, and that sexual harassment workplace policies are just a sop for the babies who can't handle their fee-fees like adults...*

And I decided I was henceforth very allergic to Hoyt and needed no more exposure.

*I am sure someone with less of an allergic reaction could find the blog post I'm remembering from that description, or perhaps several. Me, I'm willing to let it go as a regrettable experience never to be repeated. If I can help others by pointing and saying, "There be dragons - no, not the nice sort, either," that is fine.

MRIs: I had one back in January** and it occurred to me at the time that, first, I should have asked for more pillows, and, second, when it made the WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! noise right at the beginning and everyone else left the room at speed, should I maybe be leaving the room too? Isn't that the kind of the sound that you hear when you should leave the building and wait for the nice people in the uniforms to tell you when it's safe to return?

After that, yes, the video-game noises were a hoot. They quite drowned out the classic rock playing on the noise-cancelling headphones the nice people gave me to listen to.

Best wishes for a useful diagnosis and treatment plan, Elliott.

**turned out I incurred an ACL injury rated between grade 1 and grade 2 to the left knee during a roller derby bout. I went in for the hit, bounced off the jammer, fell down, felt the knee make a sort of "pop!" feeling, got up sore and weak, took myself out of the game pretty much immediately. Eight weeks off skates, six of them submitting faithfully to physical therapy, and I'm back on the team at full capacity, but with a tendency to get sore and stiff in all the muscles surrounding the knee. Certainly could have been worse.

#666 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 05:23 AM:

This talk of MRIs intrigues me - I am scheduled for my first one ever, just under two weeks from now (having a back problem looked at). Sounds like it will be an interesting, if noisy, experience....

#667 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 06:25 AM:

Just sayin' MRIs are totally living in the future, possibly the future of the steampunk era. "A complete image of bones and viscera, granted by the power of MAGNETISM and CALCULATING MACHINES!"

#668 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Lee @ 663... What's really mind-blowing is when you don't qualify for the senior discount and the clerk gives it to you anyway, without asking.

Maybe they assumed I look younger than I actually am.

#669 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 09:55 AM:

@658 The comments weren't all bad -- I'm fascinated by the idea that Russian service ammunition is steel-core not because it's cheap but because they're preparing for a war against an enemy with an iron allergy.

And "what about elves hunting vampires?" is begging to be a World of Darkness campaign.

#670 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 10:02 AM:

Lee (663): What's really mind-blowing is when you don't qualify for the senior discount and the clerk gives it to you anyway, without asking.

The time that happened to me, I was only 42--and almost completely bald from chemotherapy*. Entirely understandable.

*I got better. Ten-year mark coming up in a few weeks!

#671 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 10:12 AM:

Cygnet @662: After I snerked at your cat's name, I pondered: did they give you any pain killer medication for the kitty, post-spay? If not, that may be why she's grouchy now.

Mary Aileen @670: Woo-hoo for the ten-year mark!

#672 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 12:43 PM:

As a totally random Open Thread comment, I took P in for his nine month checkup and his height put him in the 99.99%. Which basically means he's the tallest of roughly 10,000 little boys when they're doing the scale (and since the boy's scale is a bit larger than the girl's, that means he's pretty much the biggest.)

There are roughly 11,000 infants born every day in the U.S., half of them male. The chance of P being the tallest born on his specific birthday are statistically quite high.

Now if only he would learn to eat something so I didn't have to nurse him every few hours...

#673 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 02:06 PM:

B. Durbin @ 672

My oldest followed something like that pattern, except the Dr's office kept putting him down at the 105th percentile. My cries of "but think of the statistics!!!" kept getting ignored for some reason.

My youngest though, he's on the light side. He was lighter at his 5yr appt than the eldest was at 18 months.

#674 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 02:10 PM:

RE sexism and other cringe-worthy things in old Trek:

A good and valid thing to look for and be aware of.

But . . . Oh My, compared to what else was on then . . .

I've been continuing to watch episodes of The Man from UNCLE but . . . I dunno. They're up to the In Living Color episodes, and on a couple of occasions I've stopped watching an episode because of the utterly ludicrous "WTF?" portrayal of (Asian) Indians, Arabs, etc.

I haven't noticed a single continuing female character of note. Every episode of MFU features a woman guest star in some capacity, usually a sinister Thrush agent or (more commonly) some hapless bystander who gets sucked into the plot, or a minion who turns against her boss to aid Solo or Kuriakan.

#676 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 02:50 PM:

It's bad enough when your university cancels your financial aid...

because you have too many hours...

because they're counting the hours you earned in the 1980s in pursuit of an entirely different degree...

and they require you to file a written appeal with a statement from your advisor even after you point this out...

but if I die of apoplexy, the killing blow will have been...

that the online PDF of the appeals form enters your text


#677 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Human-Ginger @ 671 -- I asked, they said they gave her something long acting during surgery.

This area has a thriving drug culture and veterinarians have, in my experience, been fairly reluctant to prescribe pain meds for pets. Or any potentially fun meds. Or any meds, period, I suspect because they're afraid somebody might try to snort meloxicam and then sue them.

When we spayed the very hyper catahoula/heeler mix I mentioned above, the vet refused to prescribe even a few days' worth of downers, which led to quite a bit of trouble on our part trying to keep an incredibly hyper and incredibly athletic puppy quiet.

Ginger Kitty is doing better this morning. She's clearly sore, and she's not walking except to drink and use the littery box, but she's sobered up and is giving me big purrs when I pet her. I think she's fine, she's just one of those cats who has absolutely zero tolerance for pain.

Her brother has stopped putting his paws under the bathroom door. Judging by the noise he made, and knowing Ginger Kitty, I think she bit him.

(You know how red tabby males are often a bit ... cranky ...? Red tabby females get a double dose of the cranky gene. That's my explanation, and I'm sticking to it.)

#679 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Heinlein? Just remember that he was 7 years old when World War I broke out. As was noted earlier, pretty damned progressive/equalitarian for someone of that era_ and a hell of a lot more so than most of his age-cohort.

#680 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 03:53 PM:

…and my post just previous could easily be read as "damning with faint praise", which wasn't my intent at all, but oh well.

#681 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 07:39 PM:

So, as a kid I read some of his juveniles, as you do, when you are voraciously reading all the things. Probably when I was 12? I missed a lot of detail back then because I typically read at Mach 3, and I didn't have any kind of useful critical apparatus.

I eventually found Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which seemed like great fun in the tradition of H. Beam Piper and Clifford D. Simak (who I loved). Then I picked up Friday. Baffling to 13 year old me. I didn't see how grownups could behave that way. Finally, I bought The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. I was so excited to have a really new novel by a favorite author!

That was the end of liking Heinlien.

I remember hitting this one point where the likable protagonist said something really mean and vulgar to the bad guys. I don't like protagonists like that. Heroes are supposed to be heroic, not mean or bullying. It was a good lesson that protagonist does not equal hero. I've grown up a lot since then, but still, I believe that heroes are supposed to be heroic: trying to do the right thing, trying to be the best they can. I wanted to be a hero then. I want to be a hero now, just as I did then. I still want role models who struggle, who are clever, who overcome adversity, or cope bravely while being overcome. I want my heroes to be better than I, not worse. I want to say what I mean. I want to bear witness. And by God, I will iterate.

#682 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 07:42 PM:

Stefan, #674: Yes, exactly. For its day, ClassicTrek was amazingly forward-thinking and feminist. Given how the world has changed since then, not so much these days. And the same sentiment applies to much of Heinlein's work.

#683 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 07:47 PM:

@Cygnet: I hope Ginger cat continues to heal swiftly.

* * *

After initial interest I passed on adopting a German shepherd described as very friendly w/ dogs and people. Her backstory was . . . interesting. She and 16 big mastiffs were seized in a "drug bust." She was apparently a pet; the mastiffs were security.

Given that my house was used as a pot-grow site by a former occupant, I'm not sure if I'd be comfortable with that dog. She might try to restart the business while I was at work.

#684 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 08:44 PM:

Stefan 674: They had a version with a female protagonist. It was called The Girl from UNCLE. Of course. *sigh*

#685 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 08:45 PM:

Lee @682: It's sort of depressing to go back and watch early Old Trek and realize that both the speaking roles and the background extras have a far greater proportion of non-white and non-male humans than is currently the case in mainstream broadcast television.

Sometimes massively so.

#686 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 12:34 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @684: Aww, not The Woman from AUNTIE? Tsk.

(Yes, the man/girl juxtaposition is demeaning, but I was hoping for a sort of SHIELD/SWORD precursor with the agency name.)

#687 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:11 AM:

B. Durbin #672 "Rugrats of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist."

#688 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:20 AM:

Steve Wright : (666)
I can tell you one thing right now: with all the noise and the flirting with claustrophobia, that MRI is hellova better deal than exploratory surgery...

#689 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:21 AM:

Lila (676)
Oh my Ghod. Comic Sans?

I shouldn't laugh.

I know I shouldn't laugh.


Comic Sans?

#690 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:31 AM:

I can't believe I still remember what UNCLE stood for, 47 years after the show was cancelled.

Havgrq Argjbex Pbzznaq sbe Ynj Rasbeprzrag.

Yes, the Man from HAPYR. Sounds like an Old Norse spy show.

#691 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:49 AM:

Xopher: It's a muscle memory thing.

#692 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 02:14 AM:

On the Comic Sans subthread: both professors I TAed for as a grad student were inordinately fond of Comic Sans. All of their slides used it. For one, most handouts (and the course reader) used it.

I may have spent three semesters snarking to my students about it. And teasing both faculty members over their taste in fonts.

#693 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 02:20 AM:

Boingboing has a YouTube and animated gif of a hamster getting very very flat from petting.

I haven't had hamsters as pets, but I've had a few rabbits, and they reacted much the same way.

#694 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 09:43 AM:

#681 ::: kimiko

Heinlein thought that people (maybe just men-- I can't remember any of the female characters doing this) should be able to be really verbally nasty.

_Farnham's Freehold_ is the only example I can think of where telling someone off turns out to be a bad idea.

#695 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 09:51 AM:

A very clever short story on Star Slate Codex. Very much recommended.

#696 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 10:04 AM:

A friend used to give The Joy of Sex as a wedding gift. So when I was stuck for wedding gift ideas, I thought I would do it too. Until I flipped through a copy. Throughout, it described joyful sex between a man and a girl. Even in the 70s, this was skeevy. Apparently millions of other people didn't notice, or didn't care. Maybe they just looked at the pictures.

I understand that the 21st century updates have changed the girls into women, mostly. And I hope this memorable line has been excised: At a certain level and for all men, girls, and parts of girls, are at this stimulus level unpeople. Oh, yeah, that's a joyful attitude.

#697 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 10:39 AM:

albatross #695: Wow. What a sendup!

#698 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 10:43 AM:

Xopher: subtly wrong. It's Ynj naq Rasbeprzrag. The same difference is historically important for the AMTA: it was, for a while, the American Massage and Therapy Association, but the "and" got dropped. Which Changes Things. It's a large-scale buy-in to the medical model of massage, which is a little controversial. Not all massage fits well into the current Western model of medicine, at all.

#699 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 11:28 AM:

In local news -- weird weather continues to be weird. It is pouring. In June. In Arizona. By the sound of it, there's probably small hail mixed in. This is probably a sign of the apocalypse.

At least it's not snow this time. So far.

#700 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 12:24 PM:

#694, Nancy Lebovitz:

Heinlein thought that people (maybe just men-- I can't remember any of the female characters doing this) should be able to be really verbally nasty.

I remember seeing, more than once, a comment in the book, and sometimes in dialogue, that the male characters were verbally nasty and rude (not using those words, because they showed it as an ultimately positive thing) and they had more respect for people who stood up and fought back using the same verbally nasty methods, especially female characters. I guess because it showed they weren't like all those *other* women, and had opinions? I also remember thinking that said male character wouldn't think much of me because I don't get verbally nasty in that way.

#701 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 12:51 PM:

#700 ::: janra

I don't know whether this will take any of the curse off, but Heinlein women tended to be manipulative and he didn't hold it against them. As far as I can tell, he thought it was normal for people to want to be in charge, and he respected anyone who was basically competent and benign.

I'm not sure respect was given only to people who could be nasty back, or if it was just a matter of having more respect for people who didn't back down, which is how I remember it. We aren't going to know unless some actual quotes get turned up.

#702 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 12:53 PM:

@698 What is the medical model of massage? Or the Western model of medicine, for that matter? I've been reading Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, and I can't help but be reminded of those gengineered humans purring to heal one another.

#703 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 12:55 PM:

I have to admit that I don't get the hate-on for Comic Sans. It does what it's supposed to do -- it's a nice readable informal sans-serif font. The fact that people overuse it does not make the font itself bad!

I'm somewhat more sympathetic to the Papyrus-haters. That's what I think of as a "specialty" font, which should be used sparingly and with some attention to context, and (sadly) most of the people who use it do so abusively.

albatross, #695: That's fabulous. And even though it's all in support of a snark, I think the world-building and characterization are excellent. I'll be adding this to my personal list of potential Hugo nominees for 2016.

#704 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:02 PM:

I was shocked and felt a little dirty when I discovered the best font currently on my computer for printing out at large size in 20% grey for my kid to practice printed handwriting tracing was ... Comic Sans. It had the correct lower-case a for what they're teaching her in class, distinguished capital i from lower-case L from numeral one, etc etc.


#705 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:19 PM:

Cygnet @ 699

Tell me about it. I woke up this morning and did not even look outside before walking out the door to walk to work. 3 seconds later I was back trying to find my umbrella. It should have stopped raining weeks ago!

On the other hand, they are cleaning the external windows in the apartment complex I live in so I suspect this is why the weather decided to rain a bit :)

#706 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:35 PM:

Sarah @702: The medical model of massage says that massage is healthcare, and should be respected by doctors and paid for as healthcare is paid for: by insurance, mostly. That massage needs to be regulated as healthcare, by government intervention. And the Western model of healthcare is that health is disrupted by disease, and being healthy means having no diseases: and that large, immediate interventions should be engaged whenever a disease is discovered. Each of these models, IMO, is not entirely correct. I lean more towards a model of health which is more individual-oriented: that health is a functional mode, and a continuum (nobody is completely free of dis-ease: how well can this person function right now?). That massage doesn't just deal with disease as we think of it generally: that it helps with people being more functional in ways that Western healthcare does not recognize as being worth paying insurance money for; and that there is some good in respectful, supportive, nonsexual touch that a puritanistic society is likely to find shameful. I don't object to the medical model when properly applied: I also don't believe that it is always the most appropriate model for either massage or wellness.

#707 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 02:00 PM:

@706 That's fascinating. Thank you. I have zero experience with massage -- like MRI, it's on the list of things I'd think about if I ever got rich enough to afford it. I want to ask you all sorts of rude questions but I'm not sure this is the best place -- or if you want to deal with that. What do you think?

#708 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 02:10 PM:

I would be glad to answer questions, but you're right about this not necessarily being the best place. You can find me through thoshmore in Google's mail facility, or through the website listed in my comments.

#709 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 02:28 PM:

Lee (703): I agree with you about Comic Sans. When I was transferring a bunch of cassettes to CD, I used Comic Sans for the track lists on the CD inserts. (And I was sad when I bought a new computer that didn't have it; none of the other fonts were quite what I wanted for that purpose.) Yes, it can certainly be overused and misused, and I'd never use it for a public purpose given the widespread hatred for it, but it's not intrinsically a bad font.

#710 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 02:48 PM:

I think Elliott Mason just hit the nail on the head there: Comic Sans looks like relatively simple handwriting (which is great, I bet, for teaching kids), but looks pretty out of place otherwise. Syllabi in Comic Sans don't look desperately professional to my eyes, and I find them less pleasant to read. I've seen an entire 150-page course reader in Comic Sans, which was not something I much liked.

I find Papyrus OK in moderation, although it does scream early 2000s to me. However, my synagogue here in Berkeley uses it for all of their donation plaques which always makes me boggle a bit. Papyrus. On glass. In a decade-old modern-design synagogue. Not the font I'd have chosen.

#711 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 03:28 PM:

#701, Nancy Lebovitz: fair enough, I have more the memory of my reaction than a memory of the quote, or even which book(s) it was in. I'd have to do a lot of re-reading to find it/them again.

Definitely agreed that all the main characters, male and female, had the wanting to be in charge thing going on. Heinlein is one reason I'm so *tired* of the "band of rugged individualists" thing in stories. (The descriptions and reviews and fannish raves I saw consistently used that to describe Firefly, which actually kept me away from it for quite a while.)

#712 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 03:44 PM:

Tom 698: Ah, Tom, but you see why my memory glitched on it, right? "Ynj Rasbeprzrag" makes sense, while "Ynj naq Rasbeprzrag" is stupid. I'd also point out that I was at most 9 years old when it went off the air.

#713 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 03:59 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @694: Heinlein thought that people (maybe just men-- I can't remember any of the female characters doing this) should be able to be really verbally nasty. [emphasis mine]

My mental model of Heinlein says that he would have absolutely thought that women, also, should be able to be nasty. My recollection* is that he was generally in favor of being civil and respectful, and that nastiness was reserved for circumstances that warranted it. But it would have been important to be capable of nastiness, as yet another tool for the toolbox. (Cf "being able to start a fire, deliver a baby, build a house," &c.)

The particular class of situation (I distinctly remember it showing up in The Star Beast, though I think I remember it elsewhere (maybe Stranger?) where nastiness was warranted was when dealing with especially obdurate bureaucrats. "Insult them until they apologize," is the quote I remember.

* Though I concede this may have been my inferrence, rather than directly supported by the text.

Bill Stewart @693: "getting very very flat from petting." I haven't had hamsters as pets, but I've had a few rabbits, and they reacted much the same way.

See also: humans.

Which segues nicely to:

Sarah @707: I want to ask you all sorts of rude questions but I'm not sure this is the best place

Tom Whitmore 708: you're right about this not necessarily being the best place.

OTOH, there are those of who would be most interested in spectating such a discussion, so maybe this would be an okay place for any bits y'all feel comfortable sharing in public...?

#714 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 04:17 PM:

For those who kind of like Comic Sans, there's a font called Maiandra that always appeared to me to be what Comic Sans wanted to grow up to be. It's friendly and a bit more professional-looking, but also open and rounded.

#715 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 04:52 PM:

What makes Comic Sans a bad typeface is that (among other things) it was designed as a low-resolution screen font (and worked pretty well in that context), then badly redesigned as an outline font scalable to higher resolutions. It’s got all sorts of unsightly blobs where its strokes come together. Also, the letters just don’t fit together well. David Kadavy has a pretty good essay on the matter, with examples.

Comic Neue is an attempt to create a non-terrible alternative to Comic Sans.

#716 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 05:31 PM:

B. Durbin (714)/Avram (715): Those are both quite nice. But they both lose one of the things I really, really like about Comic Sans, namely that the lower-case 'a's are the traditional kind, the way kids learn to write them in school*. The ornate ones with the hook on the top never look quite right to me, no matter how many times I see them in print.

*as Elliott notes in #704: the correct lower-case a for what they're teaching her in class

#717 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Lila #676: I am obliged to point out that you are located in the Great State of Jawjuh. The absurd happens here on a regular basis.

#718 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Mary Aileen @716, what? Here’s Comic Sans, and here’s Comic Neue, the typeface I linked to. They both have the single-story a (that’s the one without the hook).

#719 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 06:47 PM:

On the other hand, I carefully taught myself what I then called "typewriter a's" in mid grade school, because I liked how they looked (and they were easier to not make look like o's in my quick and kind of sloppy handwriting).

#720 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 07:11 PM:

In other font news:

Hermann Zapf passed away yesterday.

#721 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 07:24 PM:

Avram (718): I looked at that Comic Neue page when you first linked to it. Are we seeing the same thing? In the header at the top of that page 'Lemonade Stand' has the single-story lower-case 'a'. But all of the examples lower down have the one with the hook. I was going by the extended examples.

#722 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 07:32 PM:

Buckler with Swash.

(Page 72).

#723 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Re: The United Network Command (for) Law (and) Enforcement...

I liked the bad guys' acronym too:

The Technological Hierarchy (for the) Removal (of) Undesirables (and the) Subjugation (of) Humanity

#724 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 08:46 PM:

Albatross @695:

I actually enjoyed that much more than anything I've read so far from this year's Hugo shortlist.

#725 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 08:56 PM:

Mary Aileen @712, here’s a screen shot I just took. I also just checked Google Images and it looks like a single-story a on all of the captured images there.

#726 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 09:36 PM:

Open threadiness: This made me laugh.

#727 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 09:43 PM:

Avram (725): Thanks. That does look like what I want. Where is that screenshot from? Here's what I was seeing when I looked at the page you linked to. Not at all the same; I wonder why not.

#728 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 10:01 PM:

Mary Aileen: That looks like your browser isn't recognizing the embedded font, and is falling back on a default.

#729 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 10:26 PM:

Lori Coulson @723: the latter acronym (for THRUSH) was invented by David McDaniel. Lee and Barry Gold are currently working on an exegesis for his UNCLE novels, and have up ones for THE RAINBOW AFFAIR and drafts of ones for the first 3.

#731 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 10:53 PM:

Steve Wright @ 666: I know people who have fallen asleep while getting an MRI. I wish I was one of them, but I'm claustrophobic, so I found the small space unpleasant. If you're claustrophobic, you may want to ask your doctor for a prescription to take that edge off.

#732 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 12:41 AM:

@713 Jacque : I suppose that's up to Tom and the mods.

#733 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 12:56 AM:

Tom Whitmore @729: That's so cool.

I wish someone would reprint the UNCLE books, or turn them into ebooks. Mine are falling apart.

#734 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 01:30 AM:

Jacque, #713: IMO, Heinlein's "list of essential skills" had some very large holes in it, in both directions. My deconstruction of it is here, if you're interested.

Avram, #715: Yes, that's a nice font, and I would happily grab it and use it in the same ways I use Comic Sans. I must admit, though, that I cannot discern so much as a pixel's worth of difference between the plain and "Angular" versions as displayed.

#735 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 02:31 AM:

More discussion of LL's list of what people ought to be able to do.

#736 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 06:33 AM:

janetl @731 - thanks! I don't think I'm particularly claustrophobic... I suppose I'm about to get a really good opportunity to find out.

The Heinlein list thing reminded me of something.... Many years ago, I was out of work for a while in the North-East of England. (As were many people. This was, of course, entirely due to the laziness and shiftlessness of the population, and nothing to do with traditional industrial bases being abruptly shut down, oh no, perish the thought.) Anyway, after a while I was called in to join a group of similar unfortunates at the local JobCentre, and we were given a set of those routine "preparation for re-entering the workforce" exercises to do.

We were divided into two groups, and each group was told to think of a goal to achieve, and to work out the steps necessary to achieve that goal. Some mundane examples were given. (The other group wound up planning "how to make breakfast", I think.)

Being fairly thoroughly fed up with the whole business by then, I made a slightly more ambitious suggestion to my group: "invade Poland".

We came up with quite a workable plan, I thought. One of the other guys was ex-military, and he had some valuable tips to give on the overall strategy (though I still have my doubts about his proposed step 10, "invade France first for practice"). This was, sadly, in the days before smartphones, so I do not have a picture of the session organizer's face as we announced our plan.

So, it turns out, I can, in fact, plan an invasion, and there is at least one civil servant at a Tyneside JobCentre who really wishes I couldn't.

#737 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 08:15 AM:

If a discussion of massage and medical models is had, I will try to contribute. (I have two sisters who are massage professionals, and wholeness vs illness models are interesting to me.)

#738 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 08:50 AM:

Steve Wright @ 736: The elderly cat on my lap would appreciate it if you didn't make me laugh so hard -- it woke him up.

#739 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 09:14 AM:

Stefan Jones & discussion of dog breeds My first dog was a Border Collie puppy. Very sweet and trainable -- and exhausting. Second was a 1-year-old rescue "Australian Ranch Dog"-German Shorthair Pointer mix. Description is from the people who gave her to the Humane Society at 6 months. Her next owners were a couple who already had another dog when they adopted her. They were knowledgable, caring dog owners, but gave up on getting the 2 dogs to get along after 6 months. The problem was that the 2 female dogs kept jockeying for dominance.

She was a blue Merle with golden eyes, and the more graceful build from the taller pointer. Smarts from the herdingf dog side, but more laid back and cuddly from the pointer. Visitors to our house saw a calm, friendly dog.

She had to be muzzled at the vet. The vet told us that she saw this a lot with Aussies -- very sweet at first, and then a lightning fast snap during the examination. While she did fine at supervised doggie daycare, I couldn't trust her off leash at the dog park. She wasn't much interested in playing with other dogs, and if an alpha male persisted she got nasty. She once took a tennis ball from a lab, and stood over it snarling.

I'd initially allowed her off leash in my front yard while I was gardening, but stopped that after she ran at a passerby, snarling. Fortunately, the woman froze and waited for me to grab the dog's collar. My theory was that the way the woman was dressed, and the bag over her shoulder, resembled the mail carrier.

Hard to say how much was breed, and how much was her treatment in the first 6 months. She was afraid of dog houses, and would stand outside in the rain and cold, whimpering, rather than go into one. She was also terrified of squeaky toys.

#740 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 09:54 AM:

Chris (728): Aha! That would explain the mystery. Except why would they embed the font on the page instead of images? They're showing off a new font; surely a lot of people don't have it installed yet.

#741 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 10:16 AM:

If you look on my Twitter feed . . . I'm getting dog-hunting advice from *Daniel Pinkwater*.

Huh . . .

I'd like to get another shepherd type, but preferably a mix like Kira. Getting along with other dogs would be a big plus, so I could leave him or her at a day care, and so we can take advantage of dog parks. (@janetl: Kira had a similar problem with pushy boy dogs at dog parks. She once pinned and screamed at a stupid airdale mix who kept trying to hump her. Poor dopey Ivan! OTOH she loved play fighting with big males; great danes and the like.)

#742 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Janetl, the aggression with other dogs and the snappiness is more-or-less characteristic of most herding breeds. I honestly expect it from stock dogs -- if I'm looking for a working dog, I WANT to see a bit of aggression.

It does make for a few challenges from a pet dog perspective, but for the most part, they're manageable -- they're not any worse than the quirks of most breeds. IMHO. Your mileage may vary. And certain herding dogs may be worse than others, particularly if they were not socialized well as a pup (it sounds like yours wasn't) or if they're on the "intense" end of the behavior spectrum, regardless of socialization.

A good farm dog has to be aggressive. Herding things takes some natural aggression, lightning fast reflexes (gotta duck flying hooves), and a willingness to bite as needed. Farm dogs get knocked around, butted, and kicked occasionally, and they need to be able to pick themselves back up and jump right back to work.

(How tough are herding dogs? I couldn't begin to tell you how many times I've seen cattle dogs kicked, and then promptly pick themselves up and streak right back to work. There's an awful lot of working farm dogs missing teeth, eyes, and/or legs.)

Aussies are actually less aggressive as a general rule than many stock breeds -- corgis, bred to herd pigs, or catahoulas or heelers, bred to work really rank cattle, can be MUCH sharper. But they still have that higher-than-average baseline level of aggression.

I really do think they make good pets if they're socialized young and if they're on the mellow end of the behavior spectrum. And if the owner is willing to give them the time, attention, and mental stimulation needed to keep them happy. (I've yet to meet a stupid Aussie. I've met a few who are so OCD that their natural intelligence is drowned by behavioral issues, but I've never met a truly dumb one.) I've known some that are so sharply aggressive, hyper, and OCD that the only way they'd make it as a house dog was with chemical help. That sort of dog needs a working home, though unfortunately, there are not enough working homes to go around for all the dogs who need them ... I've also known quite a few aussies that are best muzzled at the vet's, but can be trusted not to bite children. The mail man is hit or miss. (Our dogs love our mail carrier, but she has dog treats in her truck and they know it. Also, she's a dog person.)

#743 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 02:17 PM:

Steve Wright #736: How many tank divisions are necessary?

#744 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Mary Aileen@740: "Except why would they embed the font on the page instead of images?"

The page ( uses a downloadable web font. That is, the font file is itself on the site and linked from the CSS file. So it doesn't have to be installed on the viewer's machine.

This works on all current web browsers. Something must be going wrong on yours, but I don't know what the most likely problem is. If you're getting a wrong version of the font (rather than a fallback Helvetica) maybe it's a bad cache somewhere.

#745 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 02:41 PM:

Andrew Plotkin (744): Thanks. I just clicked through to that site on the PC at the library, and it looks fine. I'll have to try clearing my cache at home. (Firefox on both computers, but I wouldn't swear that they're the same version.)

#746 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Steve Wright #736 - that sounds like a more interesting experience at the job centre than my more recent experience. Nowadays they've farmed a lot of that stuff out to private companies, but it's even more "Heres a job, why don't you apply for that job, what do you mean it isn't for you, if you don't apply we'll cut your benefits."

Lee #734 - funny how in a society with greater longevity comforting the dying comes up, whereas in todays society it doesn't, not just because people live longer. I suppose that was partly the back to the past live like pioneers in the wilderness thing. What I do recall is that I read that list as a late teenager, and was hacked off at the apparently arbitrary choice and the fact that to do them all well would require a lot of time and practise. So I like your replies to many of them.

#747 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 05:37 PM:

Lee #734: Also, that "specialization is for insects" is bullshit -- but it's exactly the kind of bullshit I'd expect from someone who'd made their way in life based mostly on pure intelligence. (See also "The Lazy Boy".)

I've found that my own high intelligence acts as a sort of skeleton key, letting me fake small amounts of a wide variety of skills, and gain expertise more quickly in much of the same set. Similarly, it's let me build background knowledge -- I know a little bit about quite a lot of subjects, and quite a lot about a few of those.

But unlike Heinlein, I also recognize that "the jack of all trades is master of none". Yeah, millennial lifespans might change that... or maybe not, as IIRC he includes memory pruning as part of the mature rejuvenation technology.

#748 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 06:38 PM:

I might as well mention Brin's Glory Season in which part of how men are kept under the control of women is that men are encouraged to just know how to do a lot of things while women get to specialize.

I'm not strongly recommending the book, but it does have a terrifying section about coal getting loose in the hold of a wooden boat.

#749 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 09:35 PM:

Arrghh! With a crunch on at work, I decided to put dog-hunting on hold. I'd want to take a week, maybe two off to train and settle a new mutt.

I need to stop looking at the adoption web sites because opportunities like this show up:

#750 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 01:50 AM:

I earlier tried no dealing with puppy Tom K.

I refused to interact with him over at file770.

However, He has decided to take exception with one of my postings at my page. I was grumbling about the latest "excuse" the puppies have about the Hugo Awards, that somehow it's the fault of the Secret Cabal of the WorldCon concoms, because they don't tell people they can nominate and vote.

So I looked at the websites for the Worldcons for the last 6 years. The Aussie website is a no-go, as it's been taken over by some sort of publishers distribution middleman. The Canadian site is nothing but a stub, with the name, logo and links to the corporate sponsors. But of the remaining 4, only Loncon's site didn't have clear information.

And what I came up with is that nobody talks to anybody on what their websites did effectively or not, and that nobody has come up with some straightforward boilerplate on describing the classes and just what you get for that class of membership.

But I think it's just that people don't talk to each other, and that nobody wants to look "too much like" the Con That Went Before. Which is both OK and dumb.

That led me off into one of my rants about that the Puppies could do their own award, and there are plenty of award organizers who would be glad to help them organize their own, Then I went off on my high horse that the award the puppies *really* should have gone after was the Locus Awards: Really fan/reader popularity, not tied to membership in a convention, takes into account sales figures, etc. Just what it would seem that they (the puppies) would aim for.

For my sins Tom K showed up. He went off on the tack that the "lefty reaction to SP/RP" was what made him want to destroy the awards. (The police made me shoot the hostage).

I replied that there was no "lefty reaction," what got people pissed was that a bunch of writers got offended that they didn't win the award, and so they gamed the system, and they in turn got gamed by a neo-nazi with a 10-year-old grudge.

I *think* He claims the "lefty reaction" wasn't anything in the *reaction* that was "lefty," but that the people pissed off were "lefty".

I asked him if that was what it really was, was he saying that it was *who* it was saying what was said, and not *what* was said, and he went off about how it was all the leftists who said it, yada, yada, yada.

I know you're not supposed to read the comments, but come on, it's my own site!

I really expect more of adults, I really do.

My head hurts.

#751 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 02:30 AM:

I'd have disemvowelled his wilder comments before letting them post. (Moderation is good: I did it with part of a comment where the guy included an entirely unnecessary remark about modern times and pr0n.)

#752 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 02:42 AM:

Here's an archived version of Aussiecon 4.

#753 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 03:00 AM:

And the Internet Archive has snapshots of the Canadian; here's one. But really, when you join Worldcon, the information you get includes details about the Hugo, not to mention the reminders about nominating & voting deadlines.

The Hugo Awards website doesn't have the information on its frontpage, but it's just one click away in the "About" dropdown menu. It's not like informatrion about awards is hard to come by; it's only a Google search away. I find those that express shock that they can (if they chose to join the WSFS) actually nominate & vote in the Hugo Awards to be at least a little bit disingenuous.

#754 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 03:12 AM:

P.J. Evans # 751

They weren't really abusive, and I suppose I should count myself graced that he didn't threaten me.

Not really abusive, just, IMHO, strange and nonsensical

#755 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 03:21 AM:

I went to a (classical) concert tonight. It was a good concert, but it's provided me with one of those "once you've seen it, you can't un-see it" moments.

Imagine the following scene. You're at a concert, and the concerto soloist is a woman somewhere north of 60 years old. At the end of her (excellent) performance, they send out a good-looking young man to present the traditional flowers. How likely is it that the soloist will kiss the presenter on the lips? Or that she will then turn and kiss the (also young, good-looking, and male) concertmaster on the lips? And can you imagine the things that would be said if she did?

But that's exactly what the male soloist did, both to the pretty young woman who brought out the flowers and to the equally-pretty female concertmaster*... both of whom are easily young enough to be his granddaughters. No, he didn't do it in a creepy or smarmy way, but what on earth made him think he was entitled to a kiss from those young women?

I should note that the conductor is also a man north of 60, and someone I know, and he is extremely extroverted and touchy-feely, and HE did not attempt to kiss the concertmaster! There are things you just don't do in a professional context, and IMO that's one of them.

* Who, BTW, had her own solo turn in a later piece, and that soloist had better watch out, because I think she's after his position. And has the talent to pull it off. :-)

#756 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Heartfelt congratulations to UrsulaV of this parish on her shiny new Nebula award, won for her story Jackalope Wives! I loved there story, though I haven't read all its competition.

#757 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 09:16 AM:

Craig R @750:

Dipshits gonna dip, I guess. Sympathy that you had it stinking up your place.

#758 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 10:25 AM:

Craig R @ 750: I'm sorry he's stinking up your place. Don't spend all your energy on him, don't give him more than you have to. Your site, you know best how to manage this to your own comfort.

#759 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 10:48 AM:

Lee #755: My impression of concert etiquette was that the conductor et al shook hands with soloist and concertmaster, regardless of sex. Those kisses seems out of order to me.

#760 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 10:49 AM:

Lee @ 755: That's related to a pet peeve of mine -- what's with all the hugging in professional situations? I go to Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. The author and person doing the intro hug -- really? President Obama is a prime offender, hugging people after signing a bill, etc.

#761 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 11:00 AM:

janetl, #760: Hugs don't bother me in the same way. ISTR that hugging was more common in our culture when I was growing up, and that somewhere along the line people more or less stopped touching other people at all outside of family, and I don't think that's a particularly good thing. Kissing on the cheek I could have passed off as European; a lot of well-known classical musicians do go back and forth and pick up some European habits. Kissing on the lips? Even if it was only affectionate and not sexual, that struck me as inappropriate -- the power dynamic is what pings the "skeevy" reaction. And, as I said, something that's part of the double standard; a woman who did the same thing would have been excoriated.

#762 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 11:57 AM:

I had to spend the evening apologizing to my resident Puppy because SFWA invited a guy who makes fun of Libertarians to host the Nebulas. Why was he chosen, anyway? Why not one of our own? (Not that I wouldn't have ended up apologizing for whoever they chose...)

[begin sarcasm]

But Puppies oppose discriminating against people based on their politics, you know? They're totally against that. And we should have celebrities host genre award shows because it'll be good publicity, even if their humor offends some of the audience. You don't have a right not to be offended!

[end sarcasm]

I was very glad that SFWA decided to honor Joanna Russ. And I couldn't stop smiling during the whole bit with Stan Schmidt. He bought my first story, too! :D Such a nice guy -- it's wonderful to see him so happy. That's why I watch award shows, after all: I like watching happy people.

#763 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 01:12 PM:

Andrew Plotkin (744): Clearing the cache on my computer didn't help, but telling NoScript to allow scripts on did. So simple!

#764 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 02:46 PM:

AKICIML: A friend of a friend is looking for a story. Here's what she wrote:

I need my Sci-Fi reading friends' help in finding a story I read once:
It's a "space ark" story -- a polluted Earth was abandoned and everyone is travelling through space looking for a new home. Scouts travel on ahead checking out planets, raising people's hopes but then finding out the planet is unsuitable.
The protagonist is an artist who creates "symphonies" that involve more than just music: visuals, weather, etc. The scouts ask him to come along on a trip and create a symphony about it for the people. He learns the scouts' big secret - they are falsely keeping the people's hope for a new planet alive. They have never found a suitable planet and don't believe they ever will -- that's the part they want him to help explain to the ark's inhabitants.
The big thing I remember is that everyone was connected to the ship's computer and could access/share information instantly. (When the protagonist was travelling with the scouts he was disconnected from it and mentioned how odd it was.) This was way before the current Internet era.
I don't think it was novel-length; maybe novella or a long short story. I'm thinking that I must have read it before 1996.
I don't recognize that story, but I thought some of you might.

#765 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 03:14 PM:

Xopher: I don't recognize it, but if you ever track it down I'd sure like to read it.

Ursula LeGuin has at least one story that's thematically similar: "Newton's Sleep" in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.

#766 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Xopher: I remember the story though haven't much beyond that.

My guess would be sometime in the 80s or 90s, perhaps in IASFM or an anthology.

#767 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 06:15 PM:

Xopher, 764: I remember that! Everybody could access everybody else's sensorium because it all went into the computer. Computer-based telepathy, or something. Every time they went toward a planet, the whole fleet(?) redecorated in foresty-natural themes, and the solution was to convince them all that being interstellar wanderers was a perfectly valid culture.

I'm almost positive I read it before May 1990. I agree that it was shorter than novel-length, and I don't think it was a novella but I can't swear to it. I'm pretty sure it was in a book, not a magazine. Beyond that I can't help.

#768 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 09:27 PM:

Have arrived home from Girl Guide camp, where I wrote this; I thought some here might enjoy it!

Blackflies (to the tune of "Black Socks")

Blackflies, they never get weaker
the more that you swat them
the stronger they get.
Sometimes, I think nuclear option
but the gummint keeps telling me
don't blow them yet.

#769 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 09:36 PM:

Thanks! That's helpful. I'll tell her.

No one remembers the title or author?

#770 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 09:56 PM:

Abi & Lenora -
in re Mr TK: He decided to drop a number of links to his "columns" into the comments area, and I appended a note that he can generate spam elsewhere (I said that dropping links without some exposition wouldn't be allowed in the future)

I also put in a note reminding readers that:

The Management wishes to remind patrons that food obtained and eaten
off-premises may not have been properly decontaminated.

His response to *that* was to say I could "Kiss his a** and live in ignorance." I guess I wasn't deferential enough.

I replied "Goodbye Sir. Have a nice day."

Just what part of (besides the entirety) of common courtesy doesn't he understand?

#771 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 10:04 PM:

Craig, #770: I should greatly prefer to live in ignorance of TK's ass.

#772 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 10:49 PM:

Apparently the story is “Riding the Torch” by Norman Spinrad. I'll see if she thinks so, but this looks promising.

#773 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 11:43 PM:

Congratulations UrsulaV!!! It's well deserved; could I have voted, I'd have voted for your story.

#774 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 02:02 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #772:

Yes. I have a copy of "Riding the Torch" & it definitely checks all the boxes.

#775 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 06:35 AM:

Xopher, 772: That's it!

#776 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 07:28 AM:

Craig R. @770

I can sort of see a slight chain of explanation for those links TK posted, but it's almost wholly implicit in the sequence of comments. Starts as a rather slightly-explained response to my comment about how it seemed TK was so far to the right than it might be hard not to be a "lefty". It's not clear to me that the subsequent links have any relevance, and that's where he went badly wrong.

Anyway, comment threads can throw up a couple of reactions. It's not just "I can write better than that!", it's an economy-size can of "I can read better than that!" which he provokes. It's all part of a feeling that he is imperfectly socialized.

#777 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 07:32 AM:

Further to the above, I do get a general feeling that US politics is further to the Right than that in Europe, generally. It would be hard for me to choose between the two main parties in the USA, and it has rather two much of the "less of two evils" feel to it.

#778 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 09:11 AM:


#779 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 10:00 AM:

Re the LL list of things humans should be able to do:

I guess I took that to be saying, not that you needed *these specific skills*, but that you needed to be able to do a lot of things, rather than being overspecialized into one niche. And this fit with LL's life, which involved times colonizing new planets and other times living in civilization of various kinds.

I think it's useful for me to remember not to define myself too narrowly in terms of what I can and can't do.

#780 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 10:06 AM:

Re the LL list of things humans should be able to do:

I guess I took that to be saying, not that you needed *these specific skills*, but that you needed to be able to do a lot of things, rather than being overspecialized into one niche. And this fit with LL's life, which involved times colonizing new planets and other times living in civilization of various kinds.

I think it's useful for me to remember not to define myself too narrowly in terms of what I can and can't do.

#781 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 11:20 AM:

Lee @734 @ Nancy Lebovitz @735: I am disinclined to overanalyze things like the notebooks of LL. First, my read is that his list is not intended to be exhaustive; the items are intended as examples of a range of skills a "proper" generalist should aspire to. (I do quibble with his dismissal of specialists. I want my brain surgeon to eat, sleep, and breathe neurology, thankyouverymuch.)

As to the complaint of Lazarus Long being a sanctimonious snot: well, yes, of course he is: these overbearing nosey-parkers yank him out of his nice peaceful death, and then put him up on this pedestal and demand he emit "wisdom." His response is rather more generous than I would have managed, under similar circumstances.

I could also very easily see this as a thinly veiled snipe at the kind of people who take (for example) Stranger in a Strange Land as their Bible, and try to set him up as some kind of guru. "Dude! It's a novel. I wrote it to pay the bills."

#782 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 12:17 PM:

So Ginger Kitty is doing much better, and to celebrate her surgery, she got to go outside today. (Eventually, she's to be our Barn Cat and Garden Cat, hunting the rodents that the dogs can't get at because they're not allowed in with the chickens or in the vegetable garden.)

It was fun watching the reactions of the other animals.

The goats were oblivious; they've seen other cats before.

The chickens were wary, with much clucking and staring. They'll get over it; the cat is not interested in chickens.

The two older dogs, who are well acquainted with cat claws, kept a safe distance and quickly lost interest.

The catahoula/heeler pup has been obsessed with this cat since the first day they met. The feeling is mutual -- the cat loves the dog.

The cat roamed the yard, and the dog followed the cat around like a shadow. Occasionally, the cat gave the dog head bumps and big purrs. They laid down together in the shade for a bit.

Then they spotted a lizard in a rock wall, and spent a good twenty minutes trying to catch it -- which was cute, and I wish my phone had been charged. The lizard escaped, this time. The cat probably would have been more successful without the dog's "help" but they both seemed to be having fun.

(The pup is actually a rather good hunter, and routinely kills rodents and occasionally catches bunnies, squirrels, and lizards. I am very glad she was socialized with cats early and sees the cat as a buddy, or perhaps a puppy to be protected, not prey.)

The sparrow parents, with a clutch of peeping young, on the deck are Not Happy about the cat. Curiously, they don't mind the dog (and the dog has caught birds before) but they are frantically upset about the cat.

When the sparrows started chirping alarm calls, it upset the chickens, which started giving alarm calls of their own, which brought my heeler/aussie Cassidy running to see what had upset the chickens. (She's protective of HER birds.)

I'm just waiting for the cat to wander into the chicken coop and find the broody hens. Don't mess with the mamas ...

#783 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 12:28 PM:

#781 Jacque

Heinlein does a lot to distance himself from the notebooks of Lazarus Long-- firstly, of course, Long is a fictional character, and as you say, rambling along under some degree of coercion. After that, a sentient computer goes over the recordings to pull out what might be advice. There may have been another layer as well-- it's been a while since I read the book.

It would be nice if someone had asked Heinlein how much of the notebooks he thought was true, but so far as I know, this didn't happen.

#784 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 12:42 PM:

Okay, a weird question but people in my life have been talking about games.

Does anyone here play a game called 'dice'?

You play with five dice. Ones are a hundred points, fives are fifty points, rolling three of a kind is a hundred of that number or a thousand if they're ones. You set aside the dice you're keeping for points. If you roll the remaining dice and don't get any points, you lose all you've gotten that turn. Play to ten or twenty thousand. Reroll the dice you've set aside when necessary.

Zombie Dice has a similar thing going, but it isn't the same.

It can't be just my family that plays this game, can it?

#785 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 01:06 PM:

Diatryma: Sounds like Farkel:

I've played a variant called "Spicy Farkel" where the one pip is colored in on one die, the two pips are colored in on another, and so on, and if a colored in side is included as part of a set, the set counts double.

#786 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 01:23 PM:

Jacque, #781: I probably should have mentioned that I made that post in response to seeing the list going around LJ as a meme, with distinct overtones of "life advice direct from the Master on the Mountaintop". There is indeed some good advice in the list, but it is seriously incomplete and (as I noted) there's a pronounced tendency to use specific examples which are not necessarily relevant instead of stating the general principle that they're supposed to illustrate.

#787 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 01:44 PM:

Re the LL list of things people should be able to do: like albatross, I thought the list was one example of breadth, specifically aimed at a pioneer society, not an exhaustive list.

A year or two ago, someone here linked to an essay that I found really illuminating. Don't remember names, titles, or the specific terms that were used (don't think it was "liberal" and "conservative" but that's the way I remember it). It discussed the distinction between the virtues the conservatives tout, e.g. self-reliance and minding your own business, and the ones the liberals tout, e.g. tolerance and interdependence, as a difference between rural and urban virtues. If you're living on a farm or ranch some distance from others, then you will value self-reliance and while you may be perfectly willing to help others occasionally, e.g. barn raisings and so forth, mostly you keep to yourself and manage yourself and expect others to do the same. And, bringing it back to LL, you almost have to be a generalist to survive. On the other hand, if you're living in close quarters in a city, then it's a survival skill to get along with neighbors who may be very different from you, and you have the option to be a specialist since you're surrounded by others who may specialize in the areas you don't.

These aren't universals, of course - people and environments vary - but I thought it was an interesting take.

#788 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 01:47 PM:

Steve Wright @736

For the record - tea and keyboards do not go very well together. After saving the poor keyboard -
Poor Poland - everyone wants to invade it - even unemployed people. (Now - some days they really get on my nerves because of the consonants they tend to put next to each other with no vowels to help pronounce the thing but I highly doubt that any of the invasions happened because of that).


Congrats for the Nebula :)

#789 ::: Sylvia Sotomayor ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 02:10 PM:

@784 Diatryma
My family plays that, too. But we call it Strasse, and a roll of 1-2-3-4-5-6 scores 2000.

#790 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 03:08 PM:

OtterB, #787: That makes a lot of sense. Although I take issue with the idea that "minding your own business" is a rural value; IME, people in cities are much more likely to have good boundaries in that area than people out in the sticks, where the doings of your neighbors are a prime source of entertainment and gossip.

Also, the only reason that rural people can keep to themselves is that our country is basically civilized and law-abiding; you don't have to worry about roving bandit gangs descending on your while you're out plowing your fields! (Yet another thing that the "self-reliant" types often don't realize they only have because of society as a whole.)

Michael Longcor wrote a song about "self-reliance" in a post-apocalyptic society. It's not on YouTube, but the chorus goes,

You've got to grow your own food, mix your own powder,
Cook your own whiskey, brew your own beer;
You've got to be your own blacksmith, doctor, and police force --
The only help you'll get is what you get right here.

Which, bringing it back around to LL's list, sounds a lot like what it's talking about. But once you have any kind of society at all, you do end up with specialists, and some sort of medium of exchange that allows them to focus on what they do instead of having to do everything else as well.

#791 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 03:44 PM:

Today is the 23rd anniversary of Iman and David Bowie tying the knot.

"Let's dance!"

#792 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 04:19 PM:

Serge @ #791

Only if the Ballroom are not involved.

#794 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 04:27 PM:

@784 Diatryma
Known as Greed in my circle (of boardgamers, mainly)

#795 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 04:35 PM:

@784: I learned that dice game as "dice", c. 1983 in Maine.

#796 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 05:04 PM:


That was my first thought, too. Jeremy X sends his regards....

#797 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 05:07 PM:

My daughter, musing on Mad Max and on NASCAR's denunciation of Indiana's 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act':

"How come so many progressive things are happening around big noisy cars?"

#798 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 06:07 PM:

@784 and subsequent: I learned that game, or one very much like it, from my husband and his high-school era friends in Houston as "Hundreds".

Re: Lee and LL's list - I find that the arguments I would have with Heinlein's actual writing are often quite different than the arguments I would have with people who seem to fetishize Heinlein. And I too got very fed up with that list as a "words to live by" meme.

#799 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 07:08 PM:

Lee @790, I think you're right that the MYOB takes a different form in rural rather than urban settings. In urban settings, as you say, there's a certain amount of boundary-maintenance (e.g. don't make eye contact on the subway). Rural, it's more a matter of "I don't care what you do unless it has an impact on me," when being half a mile from your nearest neighbor (instead of immediately upstairs or down or across an arm's-length gap between houses) means a huge difference in what impacts your neighbor.

#800 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 07:15 PM:

Thanks for the dice advice. I am so glad my family is not the only one who calls it dice. It's been ages since I played it, too-- a few Christmases ago, we had a good run of dice and backgammon going, but it's been a while since any of us wanted to do anything but eat cookies and talk.

#801 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 08:17 PM:

Diatryma @784, this sounds like something from a family of related games that I think of as variations on Cosmic Wimpout (because that’s the first one of the family that I encountered). The Wikipedia article for the game mentions a bunch of similar games that seem to have some common unknown folk ancestor.

#802 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 08:24 PM:

Wisdom from My Internet is this year's Notebooks of Lazarus Long, but not as well written.

#803 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 03:32 AM:

Oh boy, the Irene Gallo situation looks hugely messy.

I did some googling, and I get the feeling, from some of the frothing lunacy I found in comment threads, that this ends up rather too like an author responding to a bad Amazon review. When people are saying they will burn every Tor book they own, and never buy another, how can you expect to placate them with a public statement?

What worries me is what the Tor Books reaction means for us here. The assorted Puppies have made accusations about this blog, just as they seem to against anywhere that disagrees with them. And we have that substantial series of threads on revising the Hugo Nomination process to diminish the power of slate voting.

The potential for the use of Dr. Gatling's Patent Toenail Clippers is breathtaking.

[No, I am not expecting a response from Patrick. And I doubt the Puppies have a cunning plan to nobble Making Light. But I really am worried by what this affair suggests about Tor Books.]

#804 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 05:54 AM:

Did you guys see this?

My heart was in my mouth when the officer took his gun out - looked like his two colleagues ran up to restrain him rather than support him, though it's difficult to say. I just kept thinking how easily it could've been yet another tragedy.

#805 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 05:54 AM:

Did you guys see this?

My heart was in my mouth when the officer took his gun out - looked like his two colleagues ran up to restrain him rather than support him, though it's difficult to say. I just kept thinking how easily it could've been yet another tragedy.

#806 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 05:56 AM:

Apologies for the double post.

#807 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 06:21 AM:

Dave Bell @803:

Let's not speculate in advance of clearer developments, please. It's both a waste of energy and an area that I'd rather not have to moderate just at present.

#808 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 08:07 AM:

The thing about the McKinney pool party, that would not be clear if we didn't have video, is that the chain of events went like this:

- Mixed-race group of kids attends pool party at neighborhood pool.
- White woman objects to presence of black kids. Objects loudly and repeatedly.
- Black late-teenager, party chaperone, points out that her comments are a problem and asks her to stop.
- White woman gets vituperative, eventually punching black teenage girl.
- Cops are called.
- Policeman instinctively decides the problem is ALL THESE BLACK KIDS IN OUR POOL.

It's a perfect microcosm of the history of race riots in the US: white people objecting to the presence and freedom of nonwhites all up in their face, and reacting to it with violence and institutional backup ... the white woman claims she was attacked. Both she and the initial cop insisted and insist that the problem is that the black pool-party attendees -- none of whom did ONE THING wrong, or one thing any white kid didn't do more of -- were the beginning, end, and complete cause of the entire problem.

#809 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 08:18 AM:

I got to hear parts of a seminar for cops on how to deal with situations like this. One of the things that the instructor emphasized was "You are, in fact, paid to take this sh*t."

We must hold the police to a higher standard.

#810 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 08:23 AM:

Diatryma @#784: That sounds like it might be the ancestor of Cosmic Wimpout (and Yahtzee).

#811 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 08:52 AM:

Since moving to the UK I have been introduced to "pub cricket". You get points by counting the number of legs implied by the pub name (e.g. The White Horse = 4 legs; The Duke of Wellington = 2 legs, etc.). When you encounter a pub with no legs (e.g. The Queen's Head), it's the next person's turn, and so on until the end of the journey.

The pedestrian equivalent is Beard Cricket. You will need: two or more players; a steady supply of passers-by. (Ideally played sitting outside a pub.)

Every passing beard scores runs, with the number of runs varying from a single (goatee, inconsistent fluff, soul patch) to a six (ZZ Top, Hasidic Jew, Charles Darwin). Sidewhiskers count as byes. But! If you're passed by a moustache with no beard, you're out, and it's the next player's go.

The scores have really climbed in the last few years since the advent of the Hipster Beard.

#812 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 10:33 AM:

The call in McKinney was allegedly "there are too many black kids at this pool party," with or without "they're not from this neighborhood and are crashing." So the police came expecting to throw a lot of black kids out of the pool.

They did not, of course, check these allegations. Anything white people say about black people is true, you know. And obviously gatherings of too many black teens are ipso facto a cause for police intervention.

In fact, most of the black teens there did live in the neighborhood (that is, they had every right to use that pool), and those who were not were invited to the party. The white teen who filmed the video said that the cops were only arresting POC, and ignoring white kids behaving the same way. "It was like I was invisible," he said.

The girl in the orange bikini was apparently saying she had a right to be there and wasn't going to leave. So of course he had to arrest her for Contempt of Cop and Failure to Cringe.

An ex-cop I chatted with (argued with) on Twitter said that it looked to him like the other cops were rushing to the fucked-up rageaholic one to get him to chill the fuck out. He's the only one I actually saw behaving badly on the video (but I couldn't watch much of it after he pulled his gun). It occurs to me that rushing to surround a fellow officer is both a good way of protecting him from a gathering "mob" and a way of chilling him the fuck out.

The McKinney PD owes a profound apology to all those teens. That cop should either be fired or forced to apologize to every one of those teenagers in person (I'm sure he'd rather die). In addition, the whole department needs to be trained in measured responses, not taking the information on the call at face value, and not considering white people more credible than black people.

#813 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Xopher #812:

The big problem that the McKinney affair (and I am surprised that no one has thought to ask Cynthia McKinney to comment, I certainly would have if I had a media platform) has, once again brought out is that black people are automatically guilty of the crime of not being white. A fourteen-year-old black girl needs to be beaten to the ground and handcuffed for dangerous bikini-wearing. Black teenage boys need to be menaced at gunpoint for the public good when all they are doing is trying to pacify an ignorant , violent redneck an honourable constable in the middle of being a sadist carrying out his duty.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s has been called a Second Reconstruction. I have begun to wonder if the US isn't going through a Second Redemption as the good produced by the struggles of the movement for integration is being pushed against by clowns who long for the 'good old days' when they could treat people of colour with brutality and society would either be silent or approve.

On principle I object to Frantz Fanon's answer. I don't believe it is morally right, and I don't think it works. But every event of this kind brings it to the forefront of my mind.

#814 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 03:32 PM:

Open-threadiness: there's a positive writeup (with a superfluous spoiler) of The Philosopher Kings in the May 15 2015 Library Journal.

#815 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Does anyone have any suggestions about where I could donate my copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica? Our local library shop doesn't want it, and I hate to just throw it away.

#816 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Does anyone have any suggestions about where I could donate my copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica? Our local library shop doesn't want it, and I hate to just throw it away.

#817 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 06:48 PM:

Doc Smith used "QX" instead of "OK" in the Lensman books. I saw a mention of how the Morse distress signal isn't strictly "SOS", the slight gaps between the letters are not there, and I wondererd what "QX" might be as a pattern.

SOS => ...---...
QX => --.--..-
OK => ----.-

And then I noticed that without inter-letter spaces, "QX" is the same as "MANA".

#818 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 07:10 PM:

An AKICIML question - but one, I think, that will be at least interesting:

My mother is curating a collection of books for a Famous Five exhibition/education at a local non-profit. Identifying, cataloguing (Dewey), archiving and preserving.

There are about 500 books in this collection with some duplicates. Obviously, both it and the non-profit are too small for a professional catalogue system; but it's too big for a sheet of paper.

I, of course, thought "personal library management system", and then thought "where do I know of a bunch of people with personal libraries big enough to require such a system?"

So, suggestions welcome on a system that would:

  • have several standard fields: author, title, date, publisher, ...

  • have several fields that can be customized: Dewey catalogue number, cataloguing phrases, availability (loanable or not, on loan or not, archive copy only or original available, ...)

  • searchable on all fields

  • decent duplicate detection and management ("we have two copies of this, but one is...")

  • relatively easy to use by someone other than the owner/cataloguer without more special training than expected for library cataloguing systems.

I also hope that there's something in the exhibit that shows that these people were human, and had some of the less-welcome "progressive" ideas of the time as well as the good ones.

#819 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 07:22 PM:

etv13 (816): How about schools, especially in smaller districts that might have smaller budgets? How about recycling sites, like ReuseIt? Craig's list?

I agree, someone should want it.

#820 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 07:29 PM:

Mycroft W - Do you have Microsoft Office with Access available? It shouldn't to be too difficult to set up a simple Access Database, and import the basic data from a spreadsheet.

#821 ::: Joe H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 07:56 PM:

Mycroft W: If an online solution would work, you might also check

#822 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 08:09 PM:

Mycroft W @ #818 Free for up to 200 books, $20 for a lifetime account after that (it is actually pay as much as you want).

It has both Dewey (if you pull from libraries and not from Amazon during the adding) and custom cataloguing system if you need it, has a pre-built system that allows loaning and tracking of books and so on? And it is very easy to give read only access to anyone you want to (basically anyone have read only access). The search was just revamped and search on all fields. Duplicates are detected both when you add them and there is a report for the ones you have.

It's not perfect but it is pretty usable for small institutional libraries (and for private libraries). :)

#823 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 08:31 PM:

Access imports from Excel pretty easily (I've done it a number of times). Excel itself isn't bad for basic database work - 'conditional formatting' can mark duplicates in a column, for a handy example.

#824 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 11:13 PM:

Mycroft W @ 818: You might consider or Goodreads -- there are probably others. The odds are good that the books will already be in LibraryThing's catalog, so just entering the ISBN, or title and author, will bring up the complete information on the book.

Since it's online, you can share the list with anyone who's interested.

You can organize them by Collection, and by Tag. You can add reviews.

#825 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 05:10 AM:

The McKinney officer has resigned.

#826 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 08:05 AM:

Mycroft W @818: And if the online offerings don't quite cut it, you could try Readerware. It definitely has the custom fields requirement covered.

#827 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 09:15 AM:

A nice bit of low-frequency science: Michael Theroux vs. "The Hum". Via his blog.

#828 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 09:22 AM:

Mycroft @818, is a good fit for what you're looking for.

So, suggestions welcome on a system that would:
have several standard fields: author, title, date, publisher, ...

have several fields that can be customized: Dewey catalogue number, cataloguing phrases, availability (loanable or not, on loan or not, archive copy only or original available, ...)

Author, title, publisher, date (both of the edition and the original publication date), Dewey (and LoC), are standard fields, and LT recently added a "circulation" feature to allow tracking of whether books are on loan. The other more custom requests should map well to tags or collections. There aren't truly custom fields (you can't say "I'm going to name this column XYZ"), but tags, collections, and comments are pretty flexible so they should cover what isn't in a pre-defined field (of which there are many). It is obviously searchable on all fields, and can find duplicates (and distinguish between "two of the exact same edition", as determined by ISBN, and "two different editions of the same book".

The most obvious downside is that there's a fee to add more than 200 books; it's $10 for a year (after which everything is still there, visible, searchable, etc, you just can't add any more until you pay again) or $25 for lifetime (it's actually pay-what-you-want).

I've been an LT member more or less since it started, with the same username as here. My catalog is at

if you want to see whether it's the sort of thing you're looking for.

#829 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 12:22 PM:

@827 That's really cool! Thank you.

#830 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 05:00 PM:

And absolutely off topic...

Living halfway across the world from your family sometimes gets hard. My baby sister had been in hospital for a few days (unexpectedly; out of ICU now so all seems to be better) and I wish I was closer by (not that I cannot dash there if it gets serious - I have preparations made for that since Friday technically) but... I wish I could be there and just sit with her for a bit...

Sorry for the rambling.

#831 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 05:10 PM:

Annie Y @830, <hugs> if welcome. That's tough. Best wishes for your sister's speedy recovery.

#832 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 05:19 PM:

Cassy B. @ 831


#833 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 05:57 PM:

Annie Y @830: I know that feeling. It's a hard feeling. I hope everything goes smoothly.

#834 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 06:13 PM:

Ah, the how do I catalogue my library question, I was wondering that myself recently. I was hoping some of you like Lorax and Rail would be able to answer some questions.

So, firstly, which of the options suggested above is best regarding current and long term privacy possibilities, as well as backup? I generally prefer a low internet profile and wouldn't be happy with something which splashes all over the internet the books that I own attached to my name.

Next, has anyone any preferences with regards to rare and old books without barcodes? I have some pretty rare books nowadays, and cataloguing them is going to be a pain.
Finally, how do you rate them for mobile device usage? Eventually I shall get a smart phone, which will at least make it easier to carry around a list of books I already have to avoid accidental 2nd copies being purchased.

Readerware does a mobile version, allowing the camera of your phone to scan barcodes, which seems like a good way to kill two birds with one stone.

#835 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 06:19 PM:

As far as stuff without barcodes: Library of Congress and even the Large South American River are helpful.

#836 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 06:59 PM:

Has anyone here checked out "Sense8?" A Netflix-exclusive series by the Wachowskis and Strazynski.

I started watching the first episode, and stopped after ten minutes after realizing that it will require my undivided attention. (I was fiddling with my budget paperwork.)

#837 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 07:03 PM:

I had the exact same reaction to Sense8, actually. It's intriguing, but it's clearly not a show I'll be able to watch casually, so I'm not going to start it again until I'm sure I have some time to focus.

#838 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 07:44 PM:

I had an entirely unscheduled day and wound up watching all of Sense8 in sequence, and I did enjoy it. A couple of parts had me sobbing - one had me sobbing for sorrow and laughing for... funniness?... at the same time. It was lovely. One thing I very much appreciated was that things happened to people in places that weren't North America or Europe. Another was the sheer joy one of the characters took from the experience.

#839 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 10:12 PM:

guthrie, #834: LibraryThing has a "search by title or author" option, which you can set to check Library of Congress, the Great Grey-Green Greasy Limpopo River, or any of several other options; it will also allow you to enter a book manually if none of those produce a match.

Re privacy, you have a username, which need not match any other name by which you are known online. And it doesn't link to anything else unless you specifically tell it to.

Also, there's a LibraryThing app available -- not a mobile version of the site itself, but one that will store a list of the books you have in your library. You do have to update it periodically, but it's quite useful for settling the "do I already have this" question.

#840 ::: Mary Aileen alerts the moderators ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 11:29 PM:

Teresa's latest Particle doesn't actually link to anything. I'm assuming that this is a mistake.

#841 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 12:23 AM:

I really should look into LibraryThing. I have enough books that it would be amusing to have them catalogued so I could have a sense of how many I actually do have.... It would take me a long time to enter everything, even the barcoded ones.

And yes, there are some which are not catalogued anywhere else (I'm thinking of my grandfather's handwritten volumes of poetry from the first two decades of the 20thC, published in editions of two to five copies -- in two colors of ink).

#843 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 07:31 AM:

We are almost finished with Sense8, and I am really liking it. Even nine episodes in, there isn't a strong obvious overarching plot, but the characters - primary and secondary - are simply so excellent done that I don't seem to miss that at all.

It's a good sign when "Which character is your favorite" is really only based on which one I saw last. Ahh, Neeta! Hernando!

#844 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 07:37 AM:

Oh, and one more thing: I have been reminded that while Josh Whedon does casual cruelty - death, violence, etc - quite well, JMS is the master of the classical tragedy. I find that style both more painful and less difficult to watch, and I'm not sure why.

#845 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 09:03 AM:

Christopher Lee has passed away.

#846 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 09:03 AM:

Christopher Lee has passed away.

#847 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 09:37 AM:

Idumea Arbacoochee, Threading Particles Like Beads @842: That's quite the ... er ... gnomic response, no?

(I refuse to believe that Idumea's comment suffered both disemvowelment and disconsonation at the hands of a rival modergnome.)

#848 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 09:59 AM:

Edmund Schweppe @847, applause for the term modergnome

I am the very model of a modern moderation gnome...

#849 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 10:09 AM:

OtterB @ #848

...I keep the discourse civil when there is nobody else at home...

#850 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 10:19 AM:

the spammers, when they meet me, know that they have surely met their match
because I banish spammers with elan and using great dispatch.

#851 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 10:41 AM:

The depths of towers glass and steel will never stop or hinder me;
I'll comfort all the missing posts I find there with a cup of tea.

#853 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:27 AM:

I disemvowel discourtesy and let the topic freely roam;
I am the very model of a modern moderation gnome.

#854 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:29 AM:

Applause for the G&S filking! I can't keep it going, but I do have one small quibble*:

In Cadbury Moose's #849, 'no one' would scan better than 'nobody'.

*I'm not much of a poet, but I'm a great kibbitzer.

#855 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:37 AM:

Mary Aileen:
I dunno:

I KEEP the DIScourse CIVil WHEN there IS noBOdy ELSE at HOME

works for me; "no one" is missing a foot, probably after "when". Unless I'm putting the beats in the wrong place? Easy enough to do with a patter song....

#857 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 12:57 PM:

Thank you much for your suggestions!

LibraryThing looks like the thing - especially *because* it can be public and people don't have to be at the site to access it.

The two things I was concerned about was "who can access" vs "who can change", and "what happens when LibraryThing goes away/goes private/tells people they now own all your data" - you know, the usual. First, no problem - although I'm not sure there can be multiple accounts for an "organization", and given that I work in security, two people knowing the same password is anathema (whether or not it's a Device), that's an issue. Second, "you can export your library to csv at any time" - so we don't lose data, just friendliness.

And the cost is certainly in the boat - as I said, "if you can't get the $25 to set up, I'll donate it myself."

But, of course, all I can do is the IT and the security issues (and the trivial facebookery legal stupidities). There's a company in there, and there are lawyers who need to look at this.

But this will work! Both I and my mother thank you for your assistance. I'll report back as things continue.

#858 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 01:09 PM:

Mycroft W,

If you have any issues with LT, just shout - there is a pretty active community of helpers out there (with some of them here as well as it seems) and everyone is more than happy to help when someone asks :) And if you have legal questions - send a mail to someone from the Contact Us page - the stuff is usually very helpful and accommodating when possible. :)

#859 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 01:44 PM:

Cally Soukup (855): Hmm. I just realized that I elided the "there is" into "there's":

I KEEP the DIScourse CIVil WHEN there's NO one ELSE at HOME.

The other way has too many feet--doesn't it? Maybe it's just me. (And maybe I should drop it; I hate to nitpick such delightfulness.)

#860 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 01:45 PM:

Cadbury Moose, Cassy B, Cally Soukup, and duckbunny, what fun.

Dropping a single line of parody in here is like dropping a seed crystal into a supersaturated solution.

#861 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 01:47 PM:

What OtterB said. Forget my ill-advised nitpickery.

#862 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 01:57 PM:

Mary Aileen: For Modern Major General you need a dactyl, a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables, at the end of each line:

I AM the very MOdel of a MOdern Major-GEneral, I've INformation VEgetable, ANimal, and MINeral, I KNOW the kings of ENGland, and I QUOTE the fights hisTORical From MARathon to WAterloo, in ORDer cateGORical.

the beats go like this, with - being unstressed, and ! being stressed:
- ! - - - ! - - - ! - - - ! - -

And nitpickery is perfectly fine. Lord knows, I've miscounted my feet in poetry before, and will again; you're perfectly entitled to the occasional miscount, yourself!

#863 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 02:21 PM:

Cally Soukup (862): Thank you. You're very kind.

(I had just realized that I was getting cranky. I don't want to do that.)

#864 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 05:21 PM:

She is the very model of a modern moderation gnome!

She's expert in the cunning schemes of purveyors of processed meat;
She stealthily repairs during the patter songs of tiny feet;
She slips between the ticks of CPU and cybermetronome -
She is the very model of a modern moderation gnome!

#865 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Thanks to Lee #839, and Mycroft #857. That you can export to CSV would be very useful.

#866 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 06:36 PM:

I think the tiny feet are missing a foot.

Or possibly there's a glitch in the stress pattern of that line. "Repairs during" may need repairs?

#867 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 07:08 PM:

Elyse, #866: I think it's the latter. Substituting either "among" or "amid" for "during" would fix it.

#868 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 08:48 PM:

guthrie @834: I haven't actually used the mobile app for Readerware. I first tripped over Readerware when I was helping a friend who was downsizing turn her book collection into an Amazon bookstore. Neither of us had smartphones then; I scanned the books that had bar codes with a CueCat. I used the same setup a little later to catalog almost ten feet of floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with Civil War and WW2 books. I exported that into an Excel spreadsheet, which the owner has since maintained manually. Both scan projects went very quickly and were mostly accurate.

It looks like I would need to dig my CueCat out to try LibraryThing; I don't see any direct way to scan books into their system via my phone.

A friend has finally browbeat me into joining her on GoodReads. Tonight, someone messaged me asking for more information about why I rated The Goblin Emperor so highly. I'm...not sure how I feel about that.

#869 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 10:51 PM:

Today on Twitter, I came up with a new theory to explain Theodore Beale.

He's a surgically-altered Algolian spy, doing a VERY poor job of fitting in among humans.

#870 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 07:03 AM:

Rail #868 - thanks, all hearing about experience is good.

#871 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 08:09 AM:


#872 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Andrew @871:

I think many of us do, but I also think it's pretty blindingly obvious why that might be better expressed elsewhere right at the present moment.

#873 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 10:39 AM:

"Recent events would seem to be directed toward a magnification of the basic hostilities between Humans and Klingons. Apparently, it is by design that we fight. We seem to be pawns."
- Spock in "Day of the Dove"

David Gerrold recently pointed out that what's going on in SF right now is like Star Trek's "Day of the Dove", with the Social Disease playing the part of the alien thing that sows discord and hatred because those emotions feed it and sustain it. Kirk and the klingons eventually get rid of it by laughing at it and mocking it and basically telling it to fuck off.

#874 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 02:27 PM:

I wonder what the various puppies will make of Worldcon being in Spokane where the black people are white?

#875 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Fragano @ 874... :-)

#876 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 02:44 PM:

This insta-filk of "Modern Major General" made me want to hear the original. So I went to the album I bought a while ago called "The Best of Gilbert and Sullivan"....only to find that the original isn't on it, and somehow I've gone all these years without noticing that. Sheesh.

#877 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 02:58 PM:

The history of songs being added to or taken out of G&S performances is interesting.

The copy of Penzance I grew up with is the Broadway cast recording of the version with Kevin Kline as the Pirate King and Linda Ronstadt as Mabel.

It has a song in it that I didn't know was supposed to be in Ruddigore: the "And It Really Doesn't Matter" pattersong where everyone's running around being confused and/or secretive.

Many years later, I signed up to be Third Townsperson From The Left in a filk light operetta, Doctor Who and the Torians, in a performance at ConChord. When we got there for the Friday rehearsal, however, the lady recruited to play Genny the Companion discovered she'd have to sing (a parody of) the And It Really Doesn't Matter pattersong, never having heard it before in her life -- and suddenly we switched roles and now I had a leading role, because I already knew the all the relevant tunes.

Thank you, Kevin Kline Pirate King!

#878 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 03:26 PM:

David G., #876: Here you go. Performed by someone with a much better voice than the movie version, with the lyrics available under the "More" tag.

Tangentially, I've been surprised and pleased to find some full professional G&S theatrical performances on YouTube of late, apparently officially blessed. Means I don't have to rely on whatever got made for TV any more when I want a fix!

#879 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 03:28 PM:

*grumble* Internal Server Error *whap*

#880 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 03:51 PM:

"Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest." In fact, lately I have not seen the other moderators. Is everyone alright?

#881 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 04:16 PM:

Lady Kay #880: Avram has been around, notably on the Hugo threads. Jim hasn't been seen here in a while, but just added a couple of posts to his own blog -- seems he's having fun with street magic. Teresa and Patrick themselves are probably pretty busy at their day jobs just now, and IIRC both have health issues which are likely soaking up time and energy on top of that.

#882 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 04:35 PM:

I am wishing health for both Patrick and Teresa.

And, of course, I realized that Teresa was in the America, Sweet America thread after I posted.

#883 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Snoop Dogg for Twitter CEO?

As the article notes, it's not quite as crazed as it might sound -- he's pretty techy, an tech investor in his own right, and definitely has a finger on the public pulse.

#884 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 07:53 PM:

It occurred to me to wonder just how bad movie popcorn was for you. Turns out a "large" popcorn has more calories than a stick of butter. (The stick has 810 calories.)

#885 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 07:58 PM:

The last time I had movie popcorn, it was a "small" that I got for free because of some promotional offer. It was still too much.

(Movie soda these days comes in what amounts to a paper bucket.)

#886 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 08:15 PM:

Yeah. While at home, I air-pop, and usually put 2 tablespoons of butter on more popcorn than that. (1/2 cup unpopped, not sure just how big my bowl is) Plus I can put other yummy stuff on -- nutritional yeast in lieu of cheese, soy sauce, spices....

#887 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 10:20 PM:

We're now four eps into Sense8. Am I the only one who's thinking it's highly resonant with the theme of the current DFD thread?

#888 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 11:04 PM:

My wife and I have been watching Star Trek: Enterprise on Netflix. When it came on originally, I just caught an episode every now and then. At first, I didn't care for it that much, but the re-watching has been rewarding.

I've enjoyed seeing how the early Starfleet was finding its way, and how the Vulcan relationship with Earth changed. There's always been a bit of the "we know better" vibe about the Vulcans, and it's interesting to see that countered by the brash humans.

The story quality varies, but there have been some strong outings. I particularly enjoyed one episode where two humanoid cultures were on the same planet, and the technologically superior one was in danger of extinction. The resolution to that was, I thought, quite ethical.

The acting on the Trek series has always been generally competent, and Scott Bakula makes a fine captain.

#889 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 06:13 AM:

The Twitter #distractinglysexy tag is great. It's based on Tim Hunt's unfortunate comments about female scientists, but it's an excellent source of photos of women doing science.

Female lab mates distract Sir Tim Hunt
It’s unfair that this causes affront
He’s just one of the boys
And the girls take his toys,
Fall in love, cry, and call him a sexist prick

#890 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 07:15 AM:

Lisa Grossman, the Tsarina of Tsocks and the co-author of Lobscouse and Spotted Dog, died yesterday. I'm going to miss her a lot.

#891 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 07:26 AM:

Bill Nye's solar sail craft wakes up, unfurls sail. Score one for the Science Guy!

#892 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 07:28 AM:

TexAnne @890

That's a terrible shock. I didn't know Lisa, only knew of her through the fabulous Shark Socks.

Crazy(and doubled over because, unlike a few other deaths this year, she was completely not expecting this one)Soph

#893 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 12:00 PM:

thomas, #889: *snerk*

David H., #891: Yay! I'd call that a successful proof of concept.

#894 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 03:21 PM:

The best solution to the Tim Hunt problem:

#895 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 10:50 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @894: The BBC's story on the #DistractinglySexy hashtag (Female scientists post 'distractingly sexy' photos) had this notice prior to their exemplar pictures:

WARNING: the photos below are not graphic in the slightest.

#896 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 11:00 AM:

As if the Memorial Day deluge wasn't enough, we've got a tropical system headed our way and SE Texas is going to get soaked (again).

#897 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 12:45 PM:

AKICIML: Fibular fracture edition.

So, I slipped on a grassy bank on Friday and I've fractured my fibula (the thinner of the two bones of the lower leg) at the ankle - technically, a Weber B fracture. I'm in a below-the-knee plaster cast (heavy, uncomfortable) and on crutches. Due for further assessment on Tuesday.

Can anyone with previous experience of leg fractures/crutches give me any practical hints for surviving the next several weeks with my sanity intact. Practical tips and psychological tips both useful. On the psychological side, note that I'd just got fully back to running proper distances (long runs of 20 to 26+ miles, total mileage 40+ a week plus 60-70 miles a week cycling) after a tendon tear in a cycling accident 20 months ago, was due to run a 30-mile race three weeks from now and I'm recognising that I'm likely to go doolally with the change to a non-exercising lifestyle. On the practical side, tips for coping with e.g. not being able to get up, walk across the room and carry something would be appreciated.

#898 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 01:04 PM:

dcb @897:

Oh, yeesh. I'm so sorry to hear this! Particularly as you were still coming off of that tendon tear.

No suggestions, I'm afraid. I've watched my mother struggle through a combination of knee replacement and broken ankle that has kept her from really enjoying her favorite sport (horseback riding) for a while, but very few of the lessons we've learned from that will apply to you.

But a ton of sympathy.

#899 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 01:37 PM:

dcb @897

I used a walker with a tray. Mine is pretty basic, wheels on the front and skids on the back. No brakes, seat, or basket.

I get around with a cane now, but I still use the walker sometimes, when the alternative is multiple trips with what I can carry in one hand.

#900 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 01:38 PM:

Yeesh. (Only experience with this is about third hand - my brother had it happen to him when he was three: three weeks in a cast, scooting around on hands and rear, and driving my mother batty.)

#901 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 02:21 PM:

dcb, my sympathies! I cannot use crutches, I'm too much of a klutz, but I found a walker VERY useful when I tore two ligaments off my right ankle many years ago.

Also, they've got these wonderful scooters that you can put the injured leg on:


#902 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 02:49 PM:

Edmund Schweppe #895: Understatement rules, OK.

#903 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 03:02 PM:

I'm very sad to report that Bruce Durocher, sometime member of this parish, died this morning from (basically) colon cancer. His liver had not responded to recent therapy. Karen and I had visited him on Thursday: he was in good spirits then, and we had an animated discussion about films and other topics. The final turnaround was very sudden.

His wife, Margaret Organ-Kean, wrote on the Book of Face:

My husband, Bruce, died today at 7:00 am from metastatic colon cancer.

I appreciate every one's sympathies and offers of support greatly. People will hear from me individually, but right now I have been up since 3:00 am yesterday and I am going to sleep.

My family is with me and I am being taken care of.

There will be a funeral in two or three weeks, when I've had the chance to make plans.

In the meantime, nothing could make me happier than if you are of an age to have an endoscopy and have not had one, please get your butt into your doctor's office.

#904 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Tom @903:

Thank you. I've pulled it onto the front page. I didn't know him at all well, even here on Making Light, but I find myself somewhat sandbagged to hear that he's gone.

#905 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 03:25 PM:

My sincere condolences to Bruce Durocher's family and friends.

#906 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 03:54 PM:

Thank you, abi -- more than I expected! I'll let Margaret know it's there. And I'll go say a little more there to move things along.

#907 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 04:11 PM:

dcb: I second the recommendation of a knee walker. It's far more mobile than a set of crutches, and it appears that you can rent one.

As for popcorn, I like to have mine with olive oil, since you only need a little for flavor and there's no need to melt anything. And—this is important—you can microwave popcorn without buying the horror that is "microwave popcorn." You literally take a paper bag, crimp the top over 1/4 cup of kernels, and microwave it at the Popcorn setting. That's it. No nasty chemicals. "Microwave popcorn" is like bottled water—usually unnecessary and overly complicated.

#908 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Popcorn -
one combo that was popular at the Oberlin co-ops (and I think invented there) is popcorn with nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper.

#909 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 05:21 PM:

Thank you all for your comments. I've found online a hands-free crutch (iwalk-free 2.0) which isn't cheap but, if I can use it once the permanent cast or whatever is on, would be well worth it for me, I think. Will have to discuss with the orthopaedic people (after hopefully getting them to understand that I need to be assessed and get treatment as an endurance athlete, not as a middle-aged woman with a sedentary job).

Tom Whitmore @903: That's a shock. I will miss his comments. Sympathies to his family and friends.

#910 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 05:37 PM:

Edmund, #895: I notice he's resigned. This is a good illustration of the less-drastic solution for making progress in science. If the dinosaurs refuse to die off, they can at least be removed from positions of influence.

dcb, #897: No practical suggestions, I fear, but much sympathy. That's got to be hard.

#911 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 07:02 PM:

dcb @909 -- when Karen was in her 40s, she sprained her ankle badly while traveling in England. She managed to get back up and dance in a couple of days because she insisted on being treated as an athlete. According to her, the magic words are to ask to see a "sports medicine" doctor immediately. And start physical therapy now, rather than later. If you can point to a serious financial outlay that you've made to run a marathon within a relatively short time (like less than 6 months out), they're even more likely to listen to you.

It's harder for women to get this sort of treatment than for men. Insist. It's good for them, as well as for you. Use the words "sports medicine" and "significant financial" frequently, to let them know you know what you're talking about. Good luck!

#912 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 07:15 PM:

Lee #910

He resigned from one of his honorary positions, and from a committee. He still has his real job as Principal Scientist at Cancer Research UK.

#913 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 07:25 PM:

dcb @909, I echo Tom Whitmore's suggestion to use the term "sports medicine."

#914 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 03:29 AM:

Tom Whitmore @911; OtterB @913: Thank you for that suggestion. You're right, and I will certainly use those words. I don't think any sort of financial outlay mention will make an iota of difference, but I'm certainly going to be repeatedly mentioning "endurance athlete" "50-mile races" and "sports medicine specialist" on Tuesday.

And Tom, specific condolences to you re. the loss of Bruce.

#915 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:08 AM:


That strikes me as a good outcome. Ending that guy's productive scientific career for saying some dumb things in an interview seems like a terrible idea. (More generally, firing people for what they say or believe away from work strikes me as a really bad idea, something we don't want to be broadly socially accepted. How will this look when it's routinely done to Wal-Mart employees for having the wrong politics on their facebook pages?).

#916 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:27 AM:

albatross #915: The thing is, this wasn't just being politically incorrect -- he was specifically attacking women in science, and furthermore doing as a prominent scientist speaking to a conference of science journalists -- about as close as he could plausibly come to "speaking for science".

On the one hand, we do want to keep to a proportionate response, on the other, this was pretty bad. In particular, it wasn't just him "exercising his free speech", it was also a major PR fuckup on behalf of his profession and his employers.

#917 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:33 AM:

firing people for what they say or believe away from work strikes me as a really bad idea

Except that the dumb thing he said wasn't "away from work"; it was directly relevant to his work. What he said boiled down to "I am a scientist, I think women suck at science because of all their silly hormones, and also my penis gets distracted."

I don't care about his opinions on immigration or single-payer health care, but when a guy starts talking about other people who do the same job as he does, I call that relevant to his continued employment. If nothing else, he made it clear that he can't work in a mixed-sex lab because he's too distracted by his gonads to do good work.

#918 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:36 AM:

albatross @915: Firstly, his career has not been destroyed. He lost a couple of honorary positions -- honorary positions are given because an institution wants some of your shiny PR to rub off on them, obviously he was going to lose those over any public piece of idiocy.

His actual job is the same as it always was, and he has lost no funding.

However, what he said was belittling and stereotyped in all the ways that men have been trying to keep women out of science since long before Marie Curie -- women can't control their dangerous female emotions, so you should quarantine them so men don't have to deal with it.

That is deeply harmful to the entire endeavor of "attempting to do good science," because it is strongly proved that diverse working teams always arrive at better, stronger conclusions than monocultural ones. In every industry that has been studied, working teams with a variety of lived experiences DO A BETTER JOB.

He was speaking as 'an eminent scientist,' saying things that not only punch a group that has been repeatedly punched, on the bruise where every bobdamn other person has punched them this week, but also explicitly insisting that things harmful to producing good science are best-practices.

And he said this in front of **a room of science journalists**.

Obviously they were going to write about what he said, that's what they were there to do!

#919 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:40 AM:

albatross @915:

Allowing him to remain in a position of power will harm many women's careers. He said in no uncertain terms that he cannot operate in the same laboratory with female scientists, because he does not believe they are competent and because he gets "distracted" by their presence. If he can't do his job in the presence of half the population, he should probably be fired for incompetence rather than allow him to continue to try to keep half the population from doing science.

#920 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:57 AM:

Also, not to point at anyone specific, but I have seen the narrative brought up many places in the past couple of years that any pushback against someone for saying things that are not OK is "a witchhunt," "lynch mob mentality," or "destroying their career," even when -- as in most cases -- there is minimal real-world professional consequence to the person who said the deeply inappropriate thing.

That NASA guy who wore the pinup shirt to be interviewed on national television? Not only was he not fired or censured at work, he actually realized, because of the various reactions, what he had been doing to his female coworkers and apologized. His apology was shared all over facebook by angry people yelling, "Look at what you mean activist oversensitive PC lynch mob did, you MADE A WHITE MAN CRY!" No, a white man was moved to tears when he realized the harm HE had been INADVERTENTLY causing other people. And apologized for it, resolving to try to do better. He was not the victim, and did not even think himself to be one.

Over and over, Person Says Icky Shit, which would likely not have even been news in 1985. However, because it is now and we have a lot more broadcasters, it blows up on Twitter or whatever and gets noticed as inappropriate by the larger media outfits. Person Gets Told That Shit Ain't Ok, and usually doubles down on inappropriateness and insists that it's perfectly ok to say the icky thing because it's not icky. And then there's a massive groundswell of HOW DARE YOU BE MEAN TO THAT PERSON!!!! WITCHHUNT!!! reaction, which I really don't understand.

It's almost like they don't know what actual witchhunts and lynch mobs look like, or like they don't realize that "had no meaningful professional consequences, but a lot of people said Christ-What-An-Asshole" is not actually a punishment.

#921 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 10:19 AM:

albatross, #915: In addition to what anyone else has said, let me ask you this: what effect are his words going to have on the environment in the lab where he still works? You're concerned about his right to freedom of speech; I'm concerned about his co-workers' right to be fairly judged on the quality of their work rather than on the basis of their boss' bigotry.

If he had said, "Black people don't belong in science because they get upset about the least little thing and you can't work with them," would you still be defending him? This is NO DIFFERENT, except that he based it on "hormones" and apparently that makes it okay with you.

I'm getting bloody sick and tired of white men throwing women under the bus in the name of ideology.

#922 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 10:56 AM:

Elliott, #920: Another case in point: Lawrence Summers. People were screaming bloody murder that he was "hounded out of his career by Political Correctness" after his claim that women just aren't smart enough to be scientists... and a few years later, he had a high-level position in the Obama administration. Yeah, a real career-limiting move he made there, right?

#923 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 12:03 PM:

dcb @ 897:Ouch! Condolences and sympathies...when I'd injured my foot and was on crutches, I used a backpack for everything that didn't need to be kept level. I'd make tea and put it into a thermos (and put milk into a bottle with a tight cap) so I could carry them with books or whatever else, back to the comfortable reclining place I'd settled into. I got one of those squooshy pillows -- don't know how else to describe them, they're very smushy, and filled with microbeads; they work a treat for supporting a painful foot/ankle without compressing a sore spot. This may be more appropriate after your cast is off. Using crutches does exercise the upper body, so if you're allowed to move around (or when it's allowed), crutching along a short course may help you avoid going doolally. I've just gotten one of those under-desk exercisers (a pedalling machine), so maybe consider one of those for later on?

I hope one of these things helps. Good luck with fast healing!

#924 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 12:25 PM:

All: I am not interested in arguing anyone's position or with anyone's words but my own. Please let me define my position by my words, not by a paraphrase of what someone else said, or what you think I probably meant.

I think losing some honorary positions is probably about proportionate, and that losing his career over saying dumb or offensive things would be an awful outcome. As it turns out he hasn't lost his career, just the honorary positions, this looks like a good outcome to me. Similarly, the shirt guy got a big outpouring of scorn for his choice of shirt, but didn't get fired or have his career wrecked--that's also a good thing. Speech should be responded to with speech, and if you say dumb and offensive things, you're going to have lots of people tell you you're being dumb and offensive.

I think having people get fired for holding or expressing the wrong opinions, even super wrongity-wrong-wrong opinions, is a bad thing. We should push back against that, even when we agree that the opinions are wrong and dumb. A world in which that becomes more widespread will be a world in which everyone is super careful not to say anything outside the political mainstream, because hey, I've got kids and a mortgage, I can't afford to screw around with this stuff. It's a poorer, duller, dumber world.

It's also pretty unlikely that all the powerful people who actually get to decide what will get you fired will have exactly the same take on that stuff as you or I do, or will care about the same things. Most likely, they'll mostly silence ideas that they find threatening or uncomfortable. Some of those will be things you find threatening or upsetting, too, but a lot will be stuff that offends them specifically, or seems to challenge their power.

I also think it's a pretty horrible idea for employers to respond to public outrage on social media by firing people, because public outrage is extremely random, and generally doesn't do much subtlety or context.

In all these cases, I'm much less interested in what this guy said this time than I am in the rules we're agreeing to play by. (Many of those rules are social rather than legal.) I think establishing the norm that employers should fire people for expressing dumb or offensive stuff will give us a much worse world. I think establishing the norm that employers should fire people due to social media outrages will similarly give us a much worse world. I don't think even most of the people who would be happy to see this guy lose his career over his remarks will be very happy with the world we'll get by establishing these norms.

#925 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 01:01 PM:

I think if a taxi driver said "Yeah, I always run red lights when people put luggage in the trunk, people shouldn't put luggage in my trunk!" we would say "Gosh, maybe this person's employers should reconsider his ability to drive a taxi," not "Ha ha, that's a silly opinion, but ~free speech~" in response.

But maybe that's just me! And maybe saying "I can't work when women around me and I consider the work of women colleagues to be inferior" has nothing to do with his work performance.

#926 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 01:12 PM:

albatross @924:

You're missing the point that what this guy said is not just dumb or wrongity-wrong-wrong, but directly related to his ability to do his job and to evaluate the job performance of his co-workers.

If a Wal-Mart manager said "I just can't work with female cashiers, they're so distracting that I can't properly do my job" - which maps reasonably directly to what Hunt said - he could reasonably be fired not for saying something stupid but for incompetence. And I don't think "Oh, I didn't mean I can't do my job, I just hate working with women" ought to be a terribly compelling defense; surely we wouldn't want anyone to be stuck in a job they hate.

I'm just really, really tired of being told that privileged white men can do whatever they want with no consequences because free! speech!, and that the women and people of color whose careers are ruined as a result should just take it, because free! speech!, and wouldn't we hate it if that was taken away.

#927 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Is there a technical term for what I think of as the Emmanuel Kant Fallacy*? Lists of logical fallacies can be hard to scan through.

*: "Refusing to acknowledge that context matters"

#928 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 01:16 PM:

Hunt is endorsing discrimination.
'nuff said.

#929 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 01:46 PM:

albatross, #924: Do you even realize how badly your third and fourth paragraphs contradict each other?

This guy is in a position of power, and what he's trying to suppress is something which offends him specifically and seems like a challenge to his power. And that thing is women in science. This is not a "freedom of speech" issue at all, it's a "creating a hostile environment" issue -- which has been recognized for several decades as being a legitimate problem.

Also, SO not impressed with your slippery-slope argument. Someone being fired because he's just admitted he can't do his job properly is not the same thing as being "fired for saying dumb or offensive stuff", and claiming that they are the same thing is palming a card and hoping nobody will notice. Believe me, we notice.

And you haven't answered my question. If this guy had said that black people should be banned from science, for the same kind of specious reasons he offered about women, would you still be defending his right to run a research lab which employed black scientists?

Realistically, he should resign his position; it would be the best thing he could do, both for himself and for the field he claims to value.

Lorax, #926: I'm just really, really tired of being told that privileged white men can do whatever they want with no consequences because free! speech!, and that the women and people of color whose careers are ruined as a result should just take it, because free! speech!, and wouldn't we hate it if that was taken away.


#930 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 02:23 PM:

And 'free speech' doesn't mean 'free of consequences': the consequence here is that he's in a position to lose his own job because he just said that his own female employees shouldn't even be in that field: their presence, their existence as scientists, offends him personally.

#931 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 03:10 PM:

My mother's a band director at a small school, and has worked at several small schools. Multiple times, she's had a problem with a male coworker and been told by the male administration that 'he just has a problem with women in authority'. That's a data point or three. Mom sets them straight pretty quickly-- rather, she knows her shit and outlasts them.

I'd also be upset if expressing a single opinion were grounds for unilateral firing, but at this point, we're at 'requires huge amounts of public outrage from the less powerful to spur a symbolic act' rather than thought police. And really, I'd be fine swinging that pendulum too far. To get the right balance, we have to bracket it with both extremes, right? For once, let's have that dystopia where people can't denigrate black people, women, queers, Latin@s, Asians, or anyone else without the entire public rearing up and yelling I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT like the Hokusai Great Wave. I want to see, "I'm not racist, but black people just don't have the background for these positions," reacted to like it's, ""* at a White House dinner.

I am okay with trying out that dystopia. I am so okay with it. Give me the hell of political correctness just so I know what it feels like. We can move toward a more reasonable middle ground once we have its limits set.

*Rot13ed and censored and then I couldn't leave it here because no, I will not say that even in sarcasm and to prove a point. I threw a lot of shit in there. Just assume it's hella offensive.

#932 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 03:33 PM:

I would just like for my daughter not to have people tell her to her face that she shouldn't be allowed to do her job because she's female, the way that I have been, repeatedly, throughout my working life.

I'd like her not to see this comic every time she feels so angry she cries, while her male colleagues who express their anger by slamming doors and punching literal holes in the wall are not symbols of how their entire sex is a failure. As has happened to me throughout my working life.

I would like her to be paid equally well for her work as her male colleagues. I'd like her to be evaluated fairly by her bosses and heard by her peers when she speaks. I'd like her to be judged on her competence and not on whether someone is or might be attracted to her.

Albatross, how can I get her to that world? You seem to have a lot of answers about how we shouldn't do things that would stop these things. Can you give me a way we can stop them, then?

Or is it just not a serious issue that half the population is routinely stepped on from birth?

#933 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 03:40 PM:

I take "hostile environment" as things someone says at his/her workplace that exclude or insult his/her coworkers. Usually a pattern of behavior.

James Watson had a pattern of behavior that was well-known (almost to the extent of being a missing stair). I don't know about any previous reputation of Dr. Hunt. I don't want to leave missing stairs in the community, but I also don't want one tweet or comment to drive someone out of all communities.

#934 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 03:51 PM:

Ginger @923: Thanks. I'm pretty sure you mentioned using the backpack before, because I remembered that and am doing so. Also got a travel kettle set up on the coffee table next to the sofa, so I can just carry in an empty mug and chosen tea, then boil the kettle and pour on the water.

Unfortunately crutching around short distances isn't going to compensate for losing the long trail/forest runs which have been my absolute delight over the past several weeks - not to mention my main means of replenishing my supply of spoons (in the DFD sense of spoons). At a minimum it's going to be six weeks to walking, three months to running and then however many months to work back up the distances again. I'm gutted. I'm trying to remind myself that at least when the bone is healed it's healed, which is good, but I've been warned to expect pain and swelling post-surgery and that my ankle won't feel right for about a year - and then that I might have problems with the plate and need to have it removed.

#935 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 04:19 PM:

abi, one of the problems that keeps coming up is that one person may say something sexist for the first time in his life, but the women who hear it have heard it from a million different men. They are being attacked, but he is just the last straw.

And every time it is repeated in the media, even though the journalists aren't attacking, I know it grates again, opening up old wounds.

I think we start with the missing stairs, personally. Using an ombuds(person), to listen to the outrage of the attacked and formulate the response. This was part of my graduate school experience actually. An senior leader, not in the lab or on any student's committee, came to ask us (the graduate students) about our experiences with our adviser first as a group, then individually. Now, there was more than one problem with that particular adviser, and he was given guidelines to improve and we were encouraged to report back to the ombudsman about any problems with the guidelines.

This was definitely a "we have a problem, let's keep it out of the newspapers" situation. It did work for us.

#936 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 05:02 PM:


I also have a daughter, and I want the same things for her. It's possible to want both a world where nobody's getting stepped on for being female, black, gay, etc., and *also* a world where nobody's getting fired for expressing unpopular opinions or saying dumb and offensive things in public.

I don't have the spoons for a me against the world dogpile. Maybe I'll try to respond to some other comments later, if I have the energy.

#937 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 05:10 PM:

I don't have the spoons for a me against the world dogpile.

Welcome to the party; lot of us have been here for a good while, but there's probably still beer in the bathtub.

Seriously, maybe rethink the notion that saying women shouldn't be in labs with men because they might get emotional is just expressing unpopular opinions or saying dumb and offensive things. How about treating it as genuinely wrong, even if powerful people do it, even if it's not evenly penalized at the moment, and see where that leads us?

Because your comments in this thread? Are part of a dogpile that extends way past the boundaries of Making Light, and a lot of us are out of spoons for it.

#938 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Disclaimer: I don't know much about the situation outside of the US, so my response to the Tim Hunt situation is very much based on "what would happen if a senior US researcher said that".

Is it a violation of free speech to prosecute someone who confesses a crime in public? What about suing someone who publicly admits committing illegal discrimination?

I agree with Albatross that firing someone just for expressing opinions outside of work is bad. And I agree that using internet outrage to drive justice is dysfunctional. But what should an employer do when a supervisory/managerial employee with hiring/firing authority publicly states (in a press conference!) that he doesn't like to hire members of a particular legally protected class* of employee?

It seems to me that by not firing or disciplining him, his employer is opening themselves up to significant liability from any employee or prospective employee in that protected class. Any woman who was turned down, or hired and later fired, by Dr. Hunt's lab would have a pretty good case for employment discrimination. And if the institution heard him state his policy, and doesn't have pretty substantial evidence of what they did to correct his behavior, they're just as liable as he is.

* In the US; the amount I know about UK employment discrimination law is insignificant even next to the tiny amount I know about such laws in the US.

#939 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 05:57 PM:

Lady Kay, #933/935: IME, someone who says "one thing" as offensive as that comment... it's not going to have been their first time, any more than the average "Internet fell on his head" sexual harasser is likely to have been caught and stopped the very first time he says or does something inappropriate.

It would be illuminating to see Hunt's feedback* for male vs. female employees, especially for those who are doing comparable work.

Also, seriously, having the Internet fall on your head over an incident like this is a very temporary problem if you're a white guy. See again, Larry Summers.

* Employee reviews, pay scales, promotions, references, etc.

#940 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 05:57 PM:

albatross, you have been here a good long while--probably longer than me, and you're much more chatty here than I am!--and I am genuinely trying to take your words as well-meaning. But I am honestly confused and frustrated by your take on this.

I'm not sure where you're drawing the line between "dumb opinion" and "proclaiming self to be incompetent in one's own field". A lot of us are reading "Half of the world's population is automatically bad at science" as a statement that he is not going to be very good at evaluating any potential subordinates for hiring them, and "Half the world's population makes my science worse just by existing near me" as a statement that he is not doing science very well right now. These are opinions that are directly related to his work functions. If his opinion was "I can't science as well if I have to be in the same room as tables," that would still be both a "stupid opinion" and a reason for an employer to seriously question his work-related competence.

Tables are pretty common in science-related activities. Maybe someone who can't science his science things as well when around tables should not be in a prominent position for doing science.

If he were a taxi-driver, then, yes, it would be a very bad idea to fire him for saying once to some reporters somewhere that he could not science well around tables. After all, if he is a taxi-driver, he is not being asked to science near tables. But he is a scientist! And the tables are right there.

#941 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 06:16 PM:

#938 ::: Jeremy Leader

Unless things have improved greatly, many of the people working in his lab will not have the status of employees. Post-docs (researchers with a PhD but dependent on another person for funding) are counted as trainees. Graduate students are counted either as students or trainees. And volunteers (researchers with NO funding) are in their own special circle of impotence and frustration.

#939 ::: Lee You are almost certainly right. It may be that he is known as a problem in his own institution. And I really don't have any feel for what kind of conference he was at (except that it involved journalists, which makes it unusual). A professional conference would be much, much worse (because trainees would be there, looking for jobs, getting recommendations from their advisers, practicing their job talks, etc.)--but very few professional conferences have more than one journalist. If he was at a regular professional conference, he's just stabbed all his trainees in the back.

#942 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 06:23 PM:

The light that guides may burn us still. We dare
To stand beneath the sun, or kindle fire
(The death of secrets, mystery's despair)
And see revealed the hidden heart's desire

To stand beneath the sun, or kindle fire,
We walk in light until the day draws near
And see, revealed, the hidden. Heart's desire
And purest thought, unfolding without fear.

We walk in light, until the day draws near
Discovering what lies beneath the skin
And purest thought, unfolding without fear
Until our minds encompass all within

Discovering what lies beneath the skin
The death of secrets, mysteries, despair
Until our minds encompass all within
The light that guides may burn us; still we dare.

#943 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 06:52 PM:

albatross @924: There is a big difference, for me, between "speech outside the political mainstream" and "saying hateful things about people who already have enough shit to deal with."

And yet a separate third thing, also relevant in Dr. Hunt's case, is "saying things that make it clear you probably can't do your job as well as we'd like, because you strongly misunderstand the nature of your job."

#944 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 07:49 PM:

Figuring out where you stand in wealth in the US.


Full disclosure: I thought I was at 85, but I was actually at 93.

#945 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 07:59 PM:

duckbunny #942: Wow. Bravo!

#946 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 08:11 PM:

Steve C. #944: Hmm. I guessed 30% on my personal assets, which was pretty on the mark: I scored 29%. What I didn't expect was that including a guess at my trust fund bumped me up to 48%, and that trust fund isn't so big. Of course, the test doesn't deal at all with income or potential thereof, or external resources.

#947 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 08:45 PM:

So, thinking a lot more, I've realized that there are two things I think about Dr. Hunt. One, I don't care what he says to journalists or "the public" or politicians, I care what he says to other scientists. Two, I don't feel he owes respect to women in general, but he does owe respect to the ones he has mentored and those he has power over.

This doesn't mean that I shouldn't care about his comments to the public or his respect for women in general, but when push comes to shove, I have much more concern for the specific women and specific other scientists he deals with. This may be that I don't know how to generalize well. It probably says a lot more about me, than about Dr. Hunt.

#948 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:12 PM:

duckbunny @942: *applause!*

#949 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 09:56 PM:

Steve C. @ 944: I'm the 1%!

... bottom 1%.

I'm curious how different that'll look in five years once I've finally got my student loans paid off.

#950 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 10:36 PM:

On another topic, I'm feeling like a bit of a monster regarding a Facebook group I started and administer.

The group is for reminiscing about the area of San Antonio I grew up in. It started out with a just few members (mainly family) and then a couple of years ago, it started growing like crazy, and now has nearly 3500 members. It's quite active and I enjoy seeing what people bring up.

The rules of the group are quite clear. I delete posts if they're advertising or off-topic (or porn, which comes across ever so often) and usually remove the user. We also stated that there should be no funding requests, and therein is the problem.

Lately I've started seeing GoFundMe requests for various things, and I don't really want them there. It's not what the group is for. I'm starting to get some pushback on that. My feeling is that there are plenty of outlets in social media for those kind of requests, and that people should not be solicited for contributions in the group no matter how worthy the cause.

So I asked the members what they would like the group to do. I said I would tabulate the responses and the majority would rule.

I get the feeling that no matter what I decide, I'm going to get slammed. I don't like it. I'm considering seeing if someone else will take over the group.

#951 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 11:42 PM:

Best wishes for working it out, Steve C. If you want suggestions, I can make some; if you just want sympathy, I send that. And if you just want to know someone read what you wrote: I did.

#952 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 11:47 PM:

Thanks, Tom. If you have suggestions, i'd be happy to hear them.

#953 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2015, 11:50 PM:

Thanks, Tom. If you have suggestions, i'd be happy to hear them.

#954 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:01 AM:

@950 Steve C.

If the group was started with a "no funding requests" policy then I do not think it is so tricky. If people disagree, they are free to leave.

Don't get me wrong - I can understand why people want to ask there but such groups are not really for funding and "click so my kid can win" posts (these latest ones had managed to make get off a lot of groups in FB which I otherwise kinda liked).

@914 dcb,

When I badly messed up my ankle last year, I did not need any special reasoning to get the sport treatment - the doctor actually proposed it - a soft brace which I did not think can work but because it is designed not to allow the ankle to roll, actually works. I was walking (well... limping a bit) within a day or so - so no weeks of physiotherapy after that either because of the time you spend not moving the ankle. Maybe I got lucky with the doctor but... Good luck with all this!

#955 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:09 AM:

In part, I think Annie has the best of it. But I think what you need most, Steve C, is to figure out what you want. You started the group, and you administer it. If you walked away from it, what would happen? If there's nobody keeping its space properly, you allow the tragedy of the commons to take over. And if those who want to have funding requests be part of it are not willing to do the work of maintaining it, then their request is a request to exploit you. And you can choose that, if you want. It's an honorable choice.

The one thing you don't get, as an administrator of a several-thousand person group: is to keep everyone happy. So choose who you're going to annoy, and choose which battles actually matter. IMO, this one does -- in particular, it does matter to you. So follow your heart: if that involves letting the group go, do so. If it involves getting back to the basics you set up, do so. If it involves a middle path, do so. Do it as gladly as you can. And recognize what has been good about what you have done so far.

It's a place of your heart. Do what's right for it. I send you wishes for clarity.

#956 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 06:28 AM:

Steve C. #950: Adding to prior comments, there's always someone willing to make a stink for their "right" to ignore the rules. You already had rules against funding requests, and also GoFundMe requests are just individuals advertising for themselves.

If anything, I'd say your biggest mistake so far was promising to abide by a vote instead of starting with a non-binding survey (or just laying down the law).

But having offered the question to a vote... well, you're not completely stuck with it, but going back on that could be painful. At least until the fund-chasers make themselves annoying enough to earn popular support for banning them.

I do not hang out on Facebook -- is it possible to set up a side-channel or tag, or otherwise segregate the funding requests from actual conversation?

#957 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 07:11 AM:

abi @ 932: I'd like a world in which it is virtually impossible to fire anyone for any speech act whatsoever. If it loosens the power of rich over poor, it will improve my daughter's life.

I don't blame folks for busting piñatas. It's loads of fun and feels great and the piñata machine, AKA the media conglomerate, will always have another. Just don't confuse it with change.

#958 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 07:13 AM:

dcb @ 934: No, of course hobbling around on crutches won't replace lovely long trail runs. But is taking to the trail on crutches also completely out of the picture? Is it the location or the physical activity -- running -- or a combination that means the most?

The prediction of time spent healing could be the more pessimistic view; since you are an endurance athlete, you know your limits and the signals from within -- is there some way to use those pessimistic time lines as obstacles to be overcome sooner? (I know I spent more time running when I was angry or otherwise challenged, but that may just be me.) If I recall correctly, athletes often surprise doctors with their ability to heal faster, overcome pain sooner, and return to functionality earlier.

And what about the cold laser stuff that's becoming so, er, hot in veterinary medicine? I've been hearing more and more people talk about using "cold laser therapy" to speed up tendon and muscle healing in animals; perhaps there's something for humans, too?

I guess it's most difficult in the beginning of the healing process, as you can see the entire long way stretching forever in front of you, and it can be overwhelming. I wish you the best of luck on this journey.

Albatross, I don't want you to think you're being dogpiled, especially when you've tried to be thoughtful about this situation with Dr. Hunt. I think here is a good time for you to think about your privilege as a man, and how it does influence your ability to perceive the difference in treatment of women, and how it makes the lives of women all around you that much more unpleasant. Not because of you, but despite your best attempts to be moderate and careful, and protective of your daughter. After all is said and done, Dr. Hunt didn't lose his job; he stepped down from an honorary professorship. He still has a lab.

#959 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 07:47 AM:

John @957: I don't want to live in that world.

Speech can be harmful. Speaking, all by itself, can cause damage.

Consider: You are a gender essentialist. You don't believe trans people exist. You have a trans employee, but you don't believe their gender is legitimate. You repeatedly voice your opinion that they are lying, deluded, and cross-dressing. You call them by the incorrect pronouns and use an incorrect name. You don't engage in physical violence against them. You just speak.

Is your speech harmless? Is your speech justifiable? Should your speech go unconstrained and have no consequences? No consequences for you, that is - it will undoubtedly have consequences for your employees, including the ones who now can't admit they're not cis.

In that situation, you absolutely should face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Not because your opinions are bad and wrong, although I think they are. But because your behaviour is unprofessional and creating a hostile environment. Speech is a part of behaviour and we expect people to behave appropriately when they are at work. Wilfully causing harm to your colleagues is not and should not be acceptable behaviour. Not even if your weapons are words.

#960 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 07:58 AM:

duckbunny @ 959: I find it telling that when I advocate not firing working people for speech acts, the immediate counter-example reached for is never a worker but always a boss or an employer.

#961 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 08:26 AM:

John A Arkansawyer: Tim Hunt is a boss.

So are most of the other people whose resignations are clamored for after they say things that are horrifying.

#962 ::: Cassy B. flags down the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 08:35 AM:

Elliott Mason apparently has a post stuck between this one and John A Arkansawyer @960. It's in the list, but there's no post.

#963 ::: Cassy B. calls off the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 08:36 AM:

Never mind; it posted while I was writing the note. Sorry for the trouble. Have some chocolate-chip cookies....

#964 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 08:57 AM:

I find it telling that when I advocate not firing working people for speech acts, the immediate counter-example reached for is never a worker but always a boss or an employer.

That's because when a worker does it, they get written up, and eventually fired. As they should. Unless you're interested in working in the same place as someone who regularly says horrible things about whatever group they don't like this week? I mean, duckbunny's example isn't made noticably better by being a fellow employee, rather than a supervisor, except insofar as a fellow employee at least doesn't have hire/fire discretion.

If "trans" doesn't have sufficient emotional resonance for you, imagine the scenario with...whatever group it is that does. (I think giving a list of possible examples would be a poor choice.) Words are actions, and whoever came up with the sticks-and-stones rhyme had never been verbally bullied.

#965 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:00 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 961: That's a very good point.

The examples everyone hears--"the clamor"--are indeed typically high-placed people for whom my heart bleeds approximately zero. It seldom makes the news when a boss fires a line worker.

Which, I wonder, is more common? Which causes more pain? Which does more damage? When you add it up.

#966 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:05 AM:

Which is most common and causes the most pain?

The workplaces that let their employees and managers say harming things without any consequences at all, those are the most common and the most damaging.

The only reason it's news when it happens to people like Tim Hunt is that they're actually getting pushback on their bigotry.

#967 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:51 AM:

When I was being sexually harassed by my assistant manager, I didn't want him fired; I just wanted him to knock it the hell off.

Neither, of course, happened. "Aw, he don't mean anything by it."

#968 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:52 AM:

dcb @897 and followup: Ow. I have a friend who was doing a lot of running, got hit by a car which broke his knee, and used a handcycle for exercise while recovering. (Being competitive, he did a half marathon in the handcycle.) He also may have found a group that loaned him a handcycle or helped financially. I've got a request for information in.

#969 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:59 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @965, what is most common? I don't know. What causes the most pain? I dunno about you, but I can ignore jibes from a colleague. I cannot ignore jibes from someone in a position of authority over me.

#970 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 10:19 AM:

Because of the open nature of open threads, and because this has been stewing in my mind all weekend, I might as well set this down here.

The Rachel Dolezal brouhaha is one more highlight of the irrational nature of racial divisions. Ms Dolezal appears to have decided, like Mezz Mezzrow and Johnny Otis, that she was happier being black than white, in spite of no African ancestry that anyone knew of in the past ten thousand years. She took some affirmative steps, like John Howard Griffin, to alter her appearance, in order to seem of mixed racial heritage and so claim the racial status she desired. So far so good. She went so far as to obtain a degree from a historically black university.

All of this allowed her to blend into an African-American community. Her claims of racial harassment, and the investigation by the press that followed, are what led to her story unravelling, as such stories do.

One FOAF, on the Book of Face, commended her for having invented the 'no drop rule' of racial identity.

Which brings me to my point. I know a number of pink-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed people who assert black identity on the basis of a definitively black ancestor two or three or four (sometimes) generations back. I don't find these claims laughable, in particular as they are part of a particular national and regional identity (Jamaican and West Indian) that the claimants are also asserting.

#971 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 10:24 AM:

It's possible to signal boost a gofundme for someone else.

Is it reasonable to split everyone into bosses and employees? There are a lot of middle managers (some of them ill-paid) who have qualities of both.

How do people feel about generalized political venting? I'm thinking about something like going on about how awful conservatives/liberals are.

#955, from Tom Whitmore

"The one thing you don't get, as an administrator of a several-thousand person group: is to keep everyone happy."

Thanks for the reminder.

#972 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 10:26 AM:

@958 Ginger : I've been hearing a lot about laser therapy, too. Mostly it's been in the cosmetic surgeons' journals. I got curious and did some research, and... unfortunately, the idea that shining a laser on the skin above damaged tissue can do anything at all... seems to be unsupported by the evidence.

#973 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 10:34 AM:

I find it deeply inappropriate for anyone in the Dolezal kerfuffle to be trying to use any kind of medical criterion to identify "valid" claimants of racial status OR trans status, because historically every attempt to do so has (a) ignored existing social contexts or psychological expertise, and (b) boiled down to yet again "white authority figures want the right to say what everyone else in the world is, without being argued with."

Opening the door to talking about "genetic markers" or any kind of medical test opens the door to reactionaries attempting to push BACK using (nonsensical attempts at) medical terms.

Gender is psychological.

Race is cultural.

Neither of those words mean "cloud-cuckoo made up stupidness so I can say I'm anything I want and you can't argue with me", I should note.

But anybody claiming that they can identify someone's race by a photo of them as a child is profoundly missing the point of racial identification as a societal item at all.

#974 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 11:14 AM:

Steve C. @950: There are two things to consider. One is that GoFundMe is somewhere on the continuum where friends that could use help is one end, beggars are in the middle, and scammers are on the other end. I read it as begging, but I don't have a clear position that I'm willing to defend.

The other one, that I feel clearer on, is that bad content drives out good. The first GoFundMe request doesn't drive anyone out of the community; the fiftieth has driven everyone out of the community except the people who want money.

#975 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 11:17 AM:

David, Tom, Annie - thanks for your suggestions. So far, the vote in the FB group is going the way I thought it would (i.e. against allowing funding requests) and I will most likely reinforce the rule.

Good point about not being able to please everyone.

#976 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 11:27 AM:

Sandy B., well put. Thanks.

#977 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 11:37 AM:

John A., #957: A world in which it is "impossible to fire anyone for any speech act whatsoever" will never loosen the power of rich over poor, because it will set the status quo in concrete. Or perhaps I should say instead that your ambition is only viable once equality and justice for all have already been achieved.

I also disagree that calling out inappropriate behavior does nothing to promote change. It's one of the few things that does. If you can't see that, perhaps it's because you're seeing things from the Easy game setting.

and @960: I find it equally telling that you can't seem to envision harmful speech coming from a boss or employer, when almost every example of what you blithely dismiss as "bashing pinatas" IS a boss or employer.

Fragano, #970: That entire issue is one upon which I feel profoundly unqualified to comment, which is why I have not been doing so (and will continue not to do so). I don't think there's anything I could say which would add anything useful to the discussion.

Sandy, #974: Your second point is extremely cogent.

#978 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 12:04 PM:

I am honestly boggled at the concept of how it might be an improvement to not fire people for any "speech act".

When the creepy man on the bus sits next to a woman and keeps up a constant whisper of the sexual acts he wants to perform on her, I want him thrown off the bus. I don't want him to be less likely to be thrown off the bus, quite permanently, if he's an employee of the bus company.

If the teenage kid working behind the counter at Subway starts screaming racist slurs at anyone in the building, whether it's their boss, coworker, or customer, I think I would, in fact, find this an appropriate "speech act" to have them fired for.

If the salesman I'm dealing with outright lies to me about the item I am buying, I would not be upset to have them fired for this "speech act".

If a manager explains how he discriminates against a protected class, and says that he does his job poorly when in the presence of various coworkers or subordinates, I think this could be great grounds for termination of employment. Even if he happens to have said it out loud.

I just. I don't even. Verbal communication is a vastly important component of huge numbers of jobs, and I can think of countless examples where someone could perform a "speech act" that would quite rightfully have them fired as proof that they were not doing their job well, even aside from whether or not they are also revealing themselves to have "bad opinions" or what not. I can believe in the right to free speech and also employment consequences for speech, in much the same way I can believe in personal bodily autonomy and also believe someone should be fired if they pee on their boss's desk.

#979 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 12:19 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 971: Is it reasonable to split everyone into bosses and employees? There are a lot of middle managers (some of them ill-paid) who have qualities of both.

I think about this a lot and don't have any good answers. I wish I did. There's lots of theory about it and none of it seems to match up with how the world actually works.

Lee @ 977: I also disagree that calling out inappropriate behavior does nothing to promote change. It's one of the few things that does. If you can't see that, perhaps it's because you're seeing things from the Easy game setting.

That could be. Or it could be that I don't believe "If the Tsar only knew, this never would have happened!" Or it could be that I don't overestimate the relative power of words. Or it could be--and I think this is the likeliest of these choices--that "calling out" is only effective because underprivileged folks had already gotten actual, physical, non-verbal power.

One thing I don't believe, in any way shape or form, is that just words make change. Do I mean words that are just in content or words that are only words? Yes. Yes, I do.

As to 960, yes, I am tired of piñata-bashing, scapegoating, two-minute hate drills, the whole nine yards of it all. Piñatas are what the media feeds people to keep them busy with bullshit.

#980 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 12:34 PM:

Fade Manley @ 978: You are correct. You have caught me in an overstatement. I could pick a little at a couple of your examples, but I don't see the point.

That said, I've known a lot of people who feared rationally for their jobs if they expressed opinions, while outside of work, with which their employers disagreed. (How do I know their fears were rational? Because they so often came true.) Now we live inside the Panopticon and that particular power imbalance between worker and employer is even greater. I'd like to lessen it.

(Actually, that's a lie. I am passionate about the idea of obliterating it.)

#981 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 12:38 PM:

John A, #979: Or it could be that I don't believe "If the Tsar only knew, this never would have happened!"

What that sounds like is that you don't believe transparency makes any difference. In which case I'd like to point out that an awful lot of government and corporate officials disagree -- that's why they go to such lengths to keep their decisions and policies secret!

As to "just words don't change anything" -- they change opinions, and that's the start of every other kind of change. Which, again, if you're not seeing it, ask a gay person.

Re "pinata-bashing", I refer you back to Lorax @926 and abi @937. When the alternative is that these idiots continue to run their mouths and there are NO CONSEQUENCES AT ALL, I'll take having the Internet fall on their head as being at least better than nothing. Yes, even when the likely outcome is "they lose Position X, they lie low for a while, and then they get hired for Better Position Y", because there are a lot of albatrosses and John A Arkansawyers in hiring offices.

#982 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 12:52 PM:

I find the gender distribution in this conversation interesting and telling. I suspect that's the product of some varied life experiences. Personally, I have not yet given up on either the value or the impact of words. and I regard the dismissiveness of these concerns as one of the largest pieces of damage the media has inflicted on us of late.

Another thing I find interesting, and something Steve Brust would certainly be telling us more about, is the sign of economic injustice we've all passed right over in this conversation: how many people are in such economic need that they're disrupting their special-interest communities.

Steve C, backing up what others have said: you have to choose what you want the community to be, and make it that. Every choice a community moderator makes effectively excludes some people. Even the choice to do nothing. All you can really do is choose based on who you really want around, and what conversations you want them to feel free to have.

#983 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 12:56 PM:

Sarah @972: Well, light does penetrate layers -- we use it in scanning the retina non-invasively with Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), as well as with laser. The key thing, I think, is which frequency of laser, because that interacts with the pigments in the layers being targeted. No pigment, no effect of the laser. (We're currently dealing with that problem in some of our research.) I don't know enough about the cold lasers to know whether they could penetrate skin or muscle -- not enough time in my daily routine to work and read all the papers -- but it is gaining some traction in veterinary medicine.

#984 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:00 PM:

abi @ 982... I find the gender distribution in this conversation interesting and telling

I contributed very little - except a bit early on - because why should I repeat what the conversation's women already said, and better than I would?

#985 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:05 PM:

And now for something completely different... Janet Delaney's photos of early 1980s San Francisco...

#986 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:14 PM:

dcb @ #897 and Ginger @ #983: I can cover a flashlight with my hand in a dark room and see the shadows of my bones. Evidently, light can pass through a significant thickness of soft tissue, even from a not-very-intense source.

There have been some randomized controlled trials that showed laser therapy was effective for chronic pain (example) and wound healing (animal example, human example).

#987 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:18 PM:

Serge @984:

Yes, I noticed that aspect as well.

#988 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:23 PM:

Lee @ 981: I shouldn't try to be cute when it leads to being misunderstood*, so my apologies.

*The Tsar comment was a riff on the old peasant claim in pre-Soviet Russia that if only the Tsar knew what his local authorities were doing to them, he'd put a stop to it.

#989 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:33 PM:

John, I think you may not be as far in advance of the commentariat in this conversation as you think you are.

#990 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:48 PM:

abi @ 989: I seldom am.

#991 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 01:50 PM:

John A. Arkensawyer @979:

One thing I don't believe, in any way shape or form, is that just words make change. Do I mean words that are just in content or words that are only words? Yes. Yes, I do.

I don't know what you mean by "words that are just in content or words that are only words." You seem to be excluding performative speech here, ranging from "You're fired" to "I now pronounce you married" among others, but what that suggests to me is that you haven't experienced a situation where you hear the same words again, and again, and again, from people with power that you do not have, and that those words are "You can't do this. You aren't smart enough. No girls allowed."

One idiot spouting sexist nonsense wouldn't suddenly move us from a world with full equality for women in science to a world where girls and women are systematically turned away from science at every step, but if we were in that world with full equality and Hunt was one idiot this would be a very different conversation. In this world - in the world where I went to graduate school and had my male advisor ask me why I couldn't be more like his male students, where my female colleagues were harassed out of the program (with their harassers getting prestigious positions at other institutions), where women talking about work-life balance and about making a better environment for women in science were told by senior women in the field that the senior women had sacrificed everything for their science so the younger ones should, too, where senior male scientists admit they've never in their life done laundry because "that's why you have a wife" - I know a hell of a lot of women who've had their careers ruined or derailed by the attitudes that sit behind words. Because they aren't just words, they're never just words. Nobody says "Women can't do science" if they don't believe it. And nobody who heads a lab who believes women can't do science is going to treat women in his lab fairly.

#992 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:05 PM:

John: I'm resisting the temptation to put words like "hysterical" and "overreacting" into your mouth, because I do think you are arguing in good faith.

I also think you are drastically underestimating the power of words.

To be told, every day, that you are incompetent at your chosen profession because of what you are, that is not a small thing. To be told that you are inferior, over and over and over again, from before you are old enough to understand it, that matters. I don't mean subtle subtexts. I mean statements like "women aren't good at science". "Girls can't do maths". We are swimming in it and it is toxic. People like Tim Hunt are openly poisoning our water. We have to live here. We are not able to dry ourselves off and go home when we're tired of fighting. We are not permitted to do that. I will never in my life be clean of what Tim Hunt has thrown on me.
He's not the only one. There are thousands upon thousands of Tim Hunts. My life will not be safer or more joyful for pretending that their words are not weapons. I am a target for my orientation, my gender, my sex life. I am a target because of my biology. It's inescapable. On the internet and on the street and in the papers it is open season on duckbunnies - is the value of speech-without-consequences so great that we should endure it at work too?

#993 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:08 PM:

abi, #982: how many people are in such economic need that they're disrupting their special-interest communities

That's an excellent point, and you're right that I didn't realize how much it ties in with everything else we're discussing here.

OTOH, it's also true that different people have different levels of online connection. If I needed to run a GoFundMe, I've got my Facebook account, my LJ and DW accounts, and my Twitter account to announce it in spaces that I personally control (and which will reach a fair number of people, not to mention those who will signal-boost for me) without having to come over here. For some of the people in Steve's group, that group may be the only place they have to say something about it where they know a lot of people will hear it. Which is not an excuse, but it is at least an understandable reason.

John A., #988: Yes, I did in fact understand both where the comment comes from and the metaphorical meaning you were invoking with it. I'm not ignorant; I disagree with what you said, and I explained why. So now that we've got the "misunderstood" brushoff out of the way, would you care to actually engage with my response?

Meta-comment: Does anyone else feel as though we are having pretty much the same conversation, with the same people making the same arguments, that happens everywhere when equality and social justice are under discussion, except filtered thru the values and standards of this particular community? As in, the only reason this thread hasn't degenerated into a name-calling flamewar is that we all know each other and we don't do that here?

#994 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:13 PM:

The power of words of course depends a lot on what words are said, uttered in what environment, and who is saying them.

#995 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:27 PM:

The power of words depends utterly upon the reading and hearing.

#996 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Speaking of the power of words, the DNC deliciously trolled Trump:

"Today, Donald Trump became the second major Republican candidate to announce for president in two days," DNC national press secretary Holly Shulman said in a statement. "He adds some much-needed seriousness that has previously been lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward hearing more about his ideas for the nation."

#997 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:42 PM:

duckbunny @ 992: Thank you for that. I love to discuss but I hate to debate.

And I do hear what you're saying. Words do have power. I don't deny that. And now that my niece is taking her degree in the same department I took mine in, I'm taking a very intense interest in who her teachers are. (I'd've warned her away from that one, but I thought he was dead by now. Not a particularly bad man, I think, but one whose time has passed.)

What I do question is the relative power of words versus actions, and particularly the relative power (or harm) of a single remark versus an entire career worth of work.

(I sure I wish I had a career to ruin.)

#998 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:55 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @997, What I do question is the relative power of words versus actions, and particularly the relative power (or harm) of a single remark versus an entire career worth of work.

Um. To the best of my knowledge, nobody here is saying, suggesting, or hinting that actions don't have power. Nobody that I've read in this discussion has said that actions don't have more impact than words.


Saying that actions are more important that words does NOT mean that words are not important.

Poking someone on the leg with a finger is less bad than hitting them in the leg with a baseball bat. But if one pokes them with that finger, in the same place on the same leg, over and over and over again... and if other people do the same, hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of times.... that poking finger can cripple them just as surely as the single hit with a baseball bat.

And even if a given person only pokes ONCE, but pokes that same suppurating wound caused by thousands of preceding pokes... then it's a little disingenuous for them to say, "well, I only poked once; I don't understand why they fell over and screamed..."

Hope this clarifies.

#999 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:58 PM:

Lee @ 993: I honestly believed I'd been too cute. I do that. But I was wrong, so I apologize again.

So to engage with your response as you meant it and not as I took it: Yes. I think transparency as a social virtue is right up there with "getting money out of politics" as a load of crap.

#1000 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 03:11 PM:

Woohoo! Post #1000!

There's a new Open Thread. It has a bowling alley and a cigar bar.

#1001 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 03:11 PM:

Cassy B. @ 998: I don't disagree. That's why I'd like to know more to judge this guy by.

I'd like to know how the female researchers he's supervised feel about him. I'd like to know what he's done professionally about gender equity. I'd like to know his results.

#1002 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 03:15 PM:

And are there results that would make his comments acceptable?

Speaking as someone whose colleagues live in the memetic atmosphere that guys like this are making, I have an answer. Because what he says is part of a chorus, and that chorus earworms people, and they hum snatches of it at me all the time.

#1003 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 03:29 PM:

John A. Arkensawyer @1001:

I'd like to know his results.

And what if his results are that another handful of high school girls hear him, and decide not to sign up for physics? What if his results are that another handful of female graduate students hear him, and decide to leave with their masters' degree rather than continuing for a PhD because the environment isn't getting better after all? How do you quantify those? How do you even see them? Does it matter only if he's the last straw, or if he just adds to the pile for another handful of women for whom someone else's casual off-the-cuff sexism is the last straw?

I think we're all saying "microaggression", but some of us are saying "it's still aggression, and they add up" and you seem to be saying "But this one particular instance considered in a vacuum really isn't all that bad, it's just micro". We're trying to explain that people who need to deal with this can't consider one particular isolation in a vacuum, because they keep happening.

#1004 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 03:44 PM:

abi @ 1002: There are results which would say that he is not a no-good shit.

lorax @ 1003: Could be. Could also be his labs and research groups have done a better-than-average job of turning woman students into woman scientists. Which matters more?

#1005 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 03:49 PM:

To support free speech[1] is *not* a claim that words are powerless. The whole point is that words and ideas matter, and that putting the powerful in a position to suppress the ones they dislike will ultimately do more harm than good.

I think we can all agree that there are ways you can use words on the job that will (and should) get you fired. Where we don't agree: Suppose you express really unpopular, offensive ideas outisde of work. Let's assume for argument that this is 100% away from a work context (not quite true in the Hunt case, as I understand it). You go give a speech on your own time and express some really offensive, wrong ideas. Maybe you say women can't be scientists[2]. Maybe you say the top leadership of the US is made up of war criminals. Maybe you say religious people can't be good scientists. Maybe you say homosexuality is a sin and gays are an abomination.

The question is, do we want social norms to support your employer firing you for saying those things. A second question is, how much should that depend on the *content* of your out-of-the-workplace speech?

My belief is that moving social norms toward more acceptance ot firing people for off-the-job speech is a terrible idea. That doesn't mean I don't understand that some expressed ideas and words do harm,[3] it means I think we're still better off with people able to express a very wide range of ideas than with the threat of being fired being used to narrow that range down.

Implicit in this: I don't believe that the people making decisions about what speech to penalize will share my values, or yours. They will be powerful people, who will use the power to penalize speech in ways that serve their ideas and their interests. They'll do this even if they only intend to penalize the most offensive speech, because what's offensive to you depends a lot of your life experiences and your position[4]. Pretty much by definition, the people making those decisions will not be the ones on the bottom, but the ones on or near the top.

Another POV (several people raised this) is that it should depend on the content of the speech, specifically about whether the ideas the speaker holds might make them worse at some aspect of their jobs. This sounds kind-of sensible, but
it seems to me that this explanation could be used for a really, really wide range of speech. Someone who says Republicans are all stupid is presumably as susceptible to being fired as somene who says women are all bad at science, under this formulation. I think you could find an *extremely* wide range of ideas that someone could make a plausible-sounding case for being evidence you'd do your job badly.

There is also a thread of comments which are explicitly concerned with one kind of speech--the kind that could support treating members of a disadvantaged group badly. Many of the comments above seemed to me to explicitly like the idea of:

a. Suppressing some ideas by penalizing anyone who expresses them in public.

b. Making the holding of some ideas grounds for being fired from your job as a way of changing the culture in some fields.

My feeling is that all this sounds a lot better when you assume that the people implementing it will be people who share your values and are well-intentioned[5]. Before signing on to that, reflect on who else might end up deciding which ideas are so offensive they should get you fired for expressing them, or even for giving any evidence you hold them.

[1] We're not talking about first amendment stuff here--nobody's proposing Hunt be sent to jail. But we are talking about social norms that will determine how much freedom we have to express unpopular (and wrong) beliefs in public. Most of us work for someone else, and if expressing the wrong beliefs in public becomes an acceptable reason to get fired, we will all find ourselves with a lot less practical freedom to speak our minds.

[2] Not quite what Hunt said, and I'm not even sure he was being entirely serious, but let's assume it for now.

[3] I agree that the speech in question is offensive and wrong, and I can definitely see how it must sting. I don't think anyone here is disagreeing with that.

[4] Which you can see to some extent in this discussion.

[5] Though I wouldn't trust myself with that power, long term. I don't think anyone is smart or wise enough to decide which ideas should be suppressed.

#1006 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 03:58 PM:

abi #1002:

If the argument is that Hunt's speech should get him fired because it proves that he's a sexist at work and so is unfit for his job, then it matters a great deal what his record with women at work looks like. That speech would be some evidence he's a sexist at work, but other evidence might convince you otherwise. (What if he's unusually good at mentoring women scientists?)

If the argument is that Hunt's speech should get him fired because the ideas he's expressing are harmful and should be made expensive to express, then his record at work doesn't matter. (Nor does the context of the speech, or whether he even meant it as anything but a dumb joke. Making an example of someone is not about justice, it's about makiing an example.)

#1007 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 04:10 PM:

abi #982:

I think the economic uncertainty is present in the other discussion, as well:

a. People who have more-or-less made it (not at the Summers level, but at the respectable middle class lifestyle level) can see an ever bigger drop just beyond their feet. The thought of something (Twitter mob, political ideas that piss off the boss) hounding them out of their job is a lot scarier now than it would be, if there were a lot of jobs out there for the taking. I know people who used to be middle-class professionals, and now are working at some big-box store. That can happen, and it's scary if you've reached some level of success. (I expect that's true everywhere, but my impression is that the height of the cliff you can fall from is especially high here in the US.)

b. People coming up, *especially in the sciences*, face this awful system where they spend a decade training and then more years doing poorly-paid work until maybe they get a middle-class lifestyle, or maybe they end up leaving their field or doing the bit where they commute between three colleges to teach enough classes as an adjunct to pay the bills.

The sciences are, way more than they should be, a "tournament" field, where there are a lot of competent, smart practitioners for every one who gets success, and a lot of what determines that seems random or arbitrary.

#1008 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 04:11 PM:

Fine. Tell me when it does become a priority that we're eroding the effectiveness and exhausting the joy of half the population.

We only seem to be able to change our societies for the worse: increase inequality, increase stress, increase harm. Somehow those violations of our common weal pass, and the same set of people are still carrying the freight. And then the blokes come and tell us that we women must continue suffer to maintain what little common good and freedom we have left. Before it's taken from us too. Which it will be.

Yes, I am discouraged. Congratulations.

#1010 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 04:17 PM:

"...Making an example of someone is not about justice, it's about makiing an example..."

Splitting hairs to suit the refusal to admit that one might be wrong...

#1011 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 04:37 PM:

albatross @1007:

How many people do you know personally who have been hounded out of their chosen career because of expressing, in a context wholly unrelated to work (which we agree Tim Hunt's comments manifestly weren't; it's hard to imagine a situation more obviously work-related than a scientist talking about science to a conference of science journalists), a politically unpopular opinion? If it's a lot, then maybe I can see where you're coming from.

Because I personally know five or six women who were graduate students at the same time and the same institution and the same department that I was who either left academic science or who had very lengthy career delays (at the level of "left after six years and started over from scratch at another institution") because of either specific men who were sexists or harassers or because of the general climate toward women in the field. And that's where I'm coming from. That I am no longer willing to cut privileged guys slack for ruining my friends' careers and the careers of people like them, when what they do with that slack is move into still more prestigious positions and keep ruining women's careers. So yeah, maybe I'm blaming Dr. Hunt a little bit for the sins of Dr. B, and Dr. S, and Dr. Z. Maybe it's his turn to suck it up and suffer for the societal good. It seems to me like you keep answering women's real lived experience with hypotheticals, but maybe the "people have their careers ruined for a tweet" scenario is your own lived experience, which is why I'm asking.

And speaking as abi was of exhausting joy, I'm now exhausted and completely out of spoons for this topic. So that's all I have to say for today.

#1012 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 05:01 PM:

I believe in making an example of people who make examples of other people. Anyway:

lorax @ 1011: Does the woman I knew who lost her job with the city of Fayetteville because she came out count? I mean, most of my friends don't have careers to lose. They just get fired from some low-level because the boss hears they don't agree with him politically. She's the only one I can think off off-hand who lost an actual career. It's just business as usual for most folks.

#1013 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 06:35 PM:

I for one am glad that Tim Hunt said what he did, where he did it.

It is better for him to express that viewpoint publicly and start/continue this discussion (not just here, but all over the feminist science blogosphere) than to continue, presumably, acting on those attitudes in his job in silence. If an investigation by is employer's HR department shows his work behavior as a supervisor was improper and he gets punished for it, then that's good too. His words, in the US, would also likely be strong evidence in a workplace discrimination suit against him. I don't know how UK workplace discrimination law works.

Similarly the AAAS Agony Aunt who advised a woman postdoc to put up with a colleague who constantly stared at her breasts lost a lot of reputation for that answer, but it highlighted the extent of the problem -- that a well-respected woman scientist would advise defeat in the face of gender-based hostile workplace issues is absurd.

The attitudes of these "leaders" have been exposed. Their colleagues have been warned. And the issues are getting even more air.

The world is not perfect; I'd even go as far as to say that in these issues, it's pretty bad. But hopefully Tim Hunt and company, by publicizing the depth of the problem by example, will help make the place a bit better.

#1014 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 07:13 PM:

albatross et al: I think it is very relevant in Dr. Hunt's case that the 'outside the workplace speech" for which he is being discussed was

a) directly relevant to his field of work and
b) said TO A ROOMFUL OF REPORTERS, fully intending that everything he said become public record.

If you say it at a press conference, then damn skippy it counts, IMO, and your employer gets to be horrified at the content of your statements.

It's different than if private emails are leaked. There should perhaps be a public/private dividing line somewhere, but Tim Hunt is firmly on the bright side of it.

#1015 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 07:58 PM:

So far I've only seen one letter in the Guardian from a female student of Hunt's defending him.

I'll be curious to see if there are more. I'll also be curious to see whether there are letters from people with dirt on him. After all, he's wounded, so now's the time.

I've also seen a letter defending him from a female Ph. D. candidate who asked that her name not be used, which perhaps has a bearing on the question of losing your job for speaking out.

These were both in today's Guardian letter section.

I was especially struck by this note about a BBC presentation on brain surgery:

To the apparent amusement of the audience and presenter James Naughtie, Mr Marsh described how the difficulties inherent in building expertise in brain surgery in the NHS were resolved – the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society were practised on first before aspiring surgeons graduated to the middle class. Only when surgeons were considered expert enough could they progress to the “insured middle classes”...Upset female scientists, lose your job; talk about damaging poor people’s brains, raise a polite laugh. Class prejudice does not appear to attract the same moral outrage as sexism, even where the consequences are far more severe.

And this interesting bit of information, which makes me even more curious than before about what Hunt said before and after those thirty-nine words that now sum up his life: Hunt "is married long-term to a professor of immunology whom he fell for while she was working in his lab..." I knew he was married to another scientist; I didn't know that detail, which seems relevant.

#1016 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2015, 03:40 PM:

Elliott Mason:

Race is ascriptive (that is, it is both social and cultural), and the agent of ascription is whoever is socially dominant. That makes the socially dominant 'race' (whatever it might be) more desirable (and its qualities more desired). Dolezal is not the only white person to have claimed to be black (Mezz Mezzrow and Johnny Otis come to mind), but she has some features that they don't: a family history that looks pretty horrible, and some serious questions about her mental state.

Lee: I understand. I will note that some of my friends (all of them Jamaican) have taken to calling Dolezal 'Black Rachel' in what appears to be a very ironic tone.

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#1018 ::: Naomi Parkhurst sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 05:17 AM:


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