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August 5, 2015

Open thread 207
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:44 PM * 961 comments

You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Comments on Open thread 207:
#1 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 05:39 PM:

First! (Never done that before)

#2 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 06:06 PM:

Jonesnori/Lenore Jones @960 in OT206

You asked about a gathering of light at Sasquan. I was wondering the same thing. If nobody else has plans in the works, I could organize a meet-up.

I mostly lurk here, but I've been reading for the last 15 years. It would be cool if I could meet some of you in realspace.

#3 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 06:11 PM:

I won't be making it to Sasquan (sad) but if any Making Light regulars ever make it out to SoCal I'd be happy to meet them for lunch/dinner/whatever.

#4 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 06:55 PM:

abi @ 0: "You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment."

Oh dear, now I'm wondering what Francis Urquhart has to do with the number 207 when I should be getting on with today's work! Darned Ian Richardson vocal earworm...

#5 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 07:09 PM:

In the end, my Amazing Fiance and I won't make it to Worldcon this year, since we're moving to Cambridge on the 25th.

In fact, Worldcon falls right in the middle of our Week of Nothingness (the time after our stuff ships out but before we get on a plane with the cat).

#7 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 08:13 PM:

Cath, #2: I don't have time to do party organization at Worldcon because I'm too busy in the dealer room, but if there is a party or dinner gather, count me in! Otherwise, anyone who wants to say hello can drop by the Instant Attitudes tables in the dealer room. (I don't have my company name listed separately this time for Reasons, but my jewelry will be there.)

#9 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 09:00 PM:

I've never been Tuckerized that I know of,* unless you count Elizabethan history.

*I'm almost certain the rude nickname given the title character of The Goblin Emperor isn't a Tuckerization, though I'd be delighted to find out that it is.

#10 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 09:20 PM:

I've never been Tuckerized.

I was Sanforized once. It was a wringing experience, but I'll never shrink from it again.

#11 ::: Jillian ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 11:21 PM:

I have been Tuckerized, but that was a different gender and and many, many years ago.

#12 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 11:27 PM:

Cath @ 2: If there's a Gathering of Light, I'd like to know too. Like Lee, I am too busy in the dealers' room to do any organizing this time, but I'd like to attend if schedule permits.

#13 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 12:09 AM:

Like other Sasquan-bound denizens, I'd love to know if there's a planned gathering. I'm aggressively "planning for success" with regard to socializing at the con. (Which is to say, I have a much higher ambition than my usual goal of "any event where I never end up hiding in the ladies' room crying counts as a win.") My plans involve volunteering for various things in addition to my programming, so knowing what sort of schedule to work around might be useful.

#14 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 12:27 AM:

Thanks to the advice here I signed up for a (one) kaffee-thingie I always misspell. I figure I will start small. I may be up for a gathering, although these days I mostly lurk. I haven't finalized my schedule yet, but the two things I know I'm doing that aren't panel, reading or signing related are the ukulele workshop and stopping by the drop-spindle demo area. Other than that, there are so many possible awesome things (many of them conflicting with other awesome things) that I'm not sure when I'll have time to eat.

#15 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 02:58 AM:

For people interested in dinner and/or an afternoon meetup at Sasquan, I can try and facilitate that. I'd like to do one of each: dinner for those such as dealers who are booked all day, and an afternoon for the people who have evening commitments. I also hope that other events will coalesce - room parties or breakfast gatherings or whatever, but I'm not going to take lead on making them happen.

It would help me if we could have the meetup discussion outside OT207. Since the Open Thread topics by design can wander all over, I find it difficult to keep track of one subthread, especially if there is a lot of back and forthing.

Abi, would it be ok to move Gathering of Light planning over to the Koinopoiēsis post? The dicussion of connectedness and community building resonated a lot with me. It's what encouraged me to volunteer to "fold chairs" for this event, so I thought it might be an appropriate place.

#16 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 03:59 AM:

Wheee! Yesterday evening I had a breakthrough in how to increase my weight bearing and reduce the weight going through the crutches. This morning I managed to carry my own bowl of cereals through to the table, so only using one crutch. And... (drum roll) just now I walked a few steps with NO CRUTCHES!

A week ago I couldn't see any way I would reach this in 7-10 days. Two days ago I was still doubtful. And suddenly it's done.

Next step: walking NOT wearing the protective boot.

#17 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 04:05 AM:

Cath @15:

I was actually wondering if we wanted a dedicated GoL thread. It would make the conversation easier to find.

Unless anyone objects, I'll add one this evening (my time).

dcb @16:


#18 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 04:48 AM:

yay dcb!

#19 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 05:37 AM:

On the premise that an open thread is a suitable place to delurk.. Hi, Fluorospherians. I've been an occasional reader for some years (usually, when someone pointed me at a particularly interesting thread), but following the many discussions in the wake of the Hugo nominations seems to have instilled in me a habit of reading regularly (though often a few days or a few weeks behind, which is why I didn't participate in the EPH discussions - I read every word, though, and will be at the BM to vote for the proposal).

Since I'll be at Sasquan, I figured I should post before I go wandering around the con looking for Fluorospherians - a few people here might know me from elseNet (AJ Luxton might or might not recall me from a small private e-list we were both on several years ago), but to most of you I'm a stranger.

I probably don't write poetry (did when I was younger, but it's been some ten years or more since Erato dropped in), but I've certainly been appreciating the fruits of others' pens/keyboards.

#20 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 07:01 AM:

Welcome, SunflowerP!

#21 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 07:43 AM:

I was Tuckerized in a famous Heinlein story written before I was born.
What, you don't buy that? Cynics.

Okay, instead, from now on I plan to name every character in everything I write "Tucker." That ought to help the cosmic balance.

#22 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 08:11 AM:

Welcome, SunflowerP!

#23 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 09:27 AM:

Abi @17
I'd been wondering if a dedicated GoL thread would be possible - so yes, please. I'm heading off to work now and will check back in this afternoon (Mountain time).

SunflowerP @19
Welcome! I look forward to meeting you in a couple of weeks.

#24 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 09:31 AM:

Also, dcb @16 - huzzah!

#25 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of "Real Genius". Who else noticed that the Pacific Tech Institute previously appeared in George Pal's "War of the Worlds"? There was also an Asimov joke (according to imdb):

"When Mitch rides the cart into the steam tunnels, the viewer briefly sees the quotation, "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" scrawled on the left wall. These are the original words of German poet 'Friedrich Schiller (I)'. Relevant to the film, Isaac Asimov named three separate stories "Against Stupidity", "The Gods Themselves" and "Contend in Vain"."

#26 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 11:30 AM:

My only Tuckerization, I had to buy, and I only had enough money to get half.

nnyhav @8: I actually witnessed a flock of blackbirds driving off an owl, flying away east over my condo complex. In a similar vein: I've had days like this.

Cath & abi: Or you could recycle last year's thread :-)

#27 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 11:37 AM:

I paid to have my wife tuckerized in the next Chtorr book. I'm sure it will happen...


#28 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 12:02 PM:

#772 previous open thread, Heather Rose:

I remember when there was a women's bookstore in Somerville/Cambridge, when I was in college long ago. There is still an indie bookstore there, but it stopped being feminist in primary orientation long ago and direction and management changed occurred.

I am bemused/remain bemused with the heavy m/m literary focus but negligible f/f literary focus as regards GLBTQ fiction and female readers of GLBTQ . There was a period back in the 1980s when SF/F was in style which female/female bond--especially female/female buddy bonding and in which if there was sex involved, it was not the major driver, and not necessarily exclusive (I'm trying to think of a particular series... of, one of the titles was Silverglass). The Frostfire and Thorn series was a sorceress/sword fighter pairing, corresponding to e.g. the Gray Mouser and Fahfrd. Neither Frosfire nor Thorn was lesbian, but they pair-bonded. , There was even the TV show Xen, which has Xena and Gabrielle as fighter and scholar traveling together, with a token male sidekick who was in large though not whole part the comic relief. For that matter, there was Buffy, though there was a larger core cast--Buffy, her mentor Giles, scholar/researcher (can't think of character name), Xander the male comic relief, the the three nasty clique girls, the Principle, and various demonic continuing vampires/demonic characters. Oh, and how could I forget the film Aliens ??

But that SF/F literary trend of two women as companions was going before the end of the 1990s, and the TV shows trailing along, were gone, too. On second thought, Maleficent focused on female/female bonding.. but not it did not get nominated for a Hugo, even though to my mind it's superior to what did get nominated.

M/m SF/F, has from its outbreak rooting in Trek Kirk/Spock fanfic so long ago, continued, and over time kept expanding. There are multiple publishers focused on m/m content, which publish SF/F as significant amounts of their catalog.

Personally, I am TIRED of the testoterone reekage. I spent too much of my life with too few female peers professionally--there were some, but the majority of people I dealt with were male, and the few women were mostly srong-willed go their own ways iconclastic in at least some ways, sorts. I don't WANT to read about men, men, men, men's relationships with one another, men's places in society, men's this/that/that other anymore. I don't want to read about women locked in purdah trying to get out,either. It's 2015, The Feminine Mystique's publication date was IIRC 1963, or closing on two entire generations ago. There are women on the Supreme Court, women who are base commanders at combat aircraft military bases, women on sea duty, female airline captains, Harvard's President is female... why am I still seeing stories of "the space pilots' guild is all male, and everyone knows that only males are psychologically and physically suitable for being space pilots, but way, Delia is an Exception and Delia is bucking the rules and surreptiously going to get trained to be a space pilot...; UGH!!!!! It is NOT 1974, when Caltech/Dartmouth/Princeton/West Point/etc. were still male-only,when there were no women in the astronaut corps, there were no women on the Supreme Courth, etc.

The culture in A Handmaiden's Tale was dreary and offputting and not rewarding reading for me. It's not a book I identify with, and as regards purdah, my memories are still extant of second or third grade being lectured to by boys saying how the natural order was stay at home wives and mothers, or teachers, or nurses, or scut clerical work, or cleaning lady roles from women... "Can you imagine -me- as a Happy Housewife?" I asked the lecturers. "No," they admitted. The reality was their reality/desired reality, people like me were aberrations who should not exist, who should cease existing due to failing to comply with their views and values of what was/ought to be...

A couple years ago I asked an author who write erotic SF/F .why she writes m/m and m/f/m and m/m/f but not f/f fiction. She indicates that she identifies with the female characters and that she doesn't identify with f/f. Lesbian relationships and lesbian sex are not mindspaces where she is/can go/will go, seems to be the issue, her writing is personal for her and emotionally, I surmise it's a an inverted relative of the line from Dune where Paul Maud'Dib told the Reverend Mother, "look in the place you can't go and you'll see me staring out of there." Hmm, Dune has always had its particular sexist components

But anyway, it makes me strongly disappointed, to have all that m/m literary trend, and "traditional" SF/F with the heavy testosterone reekage (though some of it is less unequal, it's not 50/50, but -most- of it is not 95/5, either.. though there are writers and most of the people here can probably think of some, whose gender biases in their writing might might make some of the 1950s era writers wince for egregious gender stereotyping and bigotry), and for the continued marginalization of women as regards gender equity.... including the lack of f/f.

#29 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Serge @25: _The Gods Themselves_ is the Asimov book made up of three parts (Against Stupidity, The Gods Themselves, Contend in Vain) -- which really don't stand alone.

#30 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 12:12 PM:

-dsr- @ 29... Thanks for the correction.

#31 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 12:15 PM:

dcb, #16: Yay!

SunflowerP, #19: Welcome! Looking forward to meeting you at the con.

Serge, #25: That's not quite right, or else it's incomplete. Asimov has a book called The Gods Themselves, which consists of three separate-but-related sections titled as stated. It's possible that they were originally published separately or as a serial in a magazine, but it's all one story.

#32 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 12:22 PM:

#28 ::: Paula Lieberman

Have you read Roz Kaveny's novels?

Rhapsody of Blood is very woman-centric, and has somewhat about oppression, but isn't mostly about oppression. It's spectacularly funny, intelligent, and angry.

Reflections struck me as merely very good rather than spectacular.

I haven't read Resurrections yet. There's going to be a fourth book.

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 01:55 PM:

White American Male with a Weapon.

A chilling read. I'm glad someone is making a comprehensive list of these things, demonstrating that they are not merely "isolated incidents" but part of a clear, repeating pattern.

#34 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 02:02 PM:

Paula @28

Indeed. Indeed. And there are many complex things going on behind all that. I have at least a couple of long thinky essays simmering away on topics related to these and at the moment I'm trying not to dilute that simmering too much with advance nattering.

#35 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 02:03 PM:

Okay, now here's a weird one:

I just got a LinkedIn invite from a guy (of whom I've never heard) who claims to be on the board and executive vice president of a major Japanese corporation. Googling the corp in question does in fact turn him up in the list of executives. Weird enough already. (Connections in common: 4 from two independent sets of contacts.) Just out of curiosity I connected, and started pawing through his connections (as one does).

He's got 146 (of which 146 are new) contacts. What immediately struck me was that there were a disproportionate number of $MyLastName. Which is a middlin'-common name, to be sure. But I did a count: out of the 146, 63 have $MyLastName as either first or last name.

Like, que?

(There used to be a way in LinkedIn to see how many connections you shared with someone, but I can't find that function now.)

#36 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 02:09 PM:

Alex R. - David Gerrold announced 'A Method for Madness' on FB this morning. Apparently it's done, though I have no idea exactly when it's going to hit print.

#37 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 03:07 PM:

re 28: Egad. I suppose I'm not given to the right sort of introspection to have noticed (and also I simply don't see enough movies to consider the notion of putting together a list of possible nominees) but the omission of Maleficent was indeed egregious. If it had been in the final noms I would have ranked it first, no question. It's kind of ironic, actually: as the second big Disney female-centered movie with an act of agape at its core, it should be, thematically, right up Puppy Wright's alley in particular.

#38 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 05:08 PM:

abi, Tamlyn, Cath, Lee: thank you. Being able to make a mug of tea and carry it into the next room is really nice!

SunflowerP: Welcome!

Jacque: Yes, that's weird.

#39 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 06:07 PM:

Latest: got email with "JOB OFFER" in the subject line, asking for my email address so he can "send all details." So I sent him a reply via LI, "Yes, I am interested. Please supply details." We'll see if the request for my specific email is repeated.

Latest count: 163 total / 67 $MyLastNames. So 20% of the latest additions are $MyLastName.

A coworker speculates that he's looking for somebody specific with the name $MyLastName, but this seems like a spectacularly Byzantine stalking scheme.

[Surname redacted as requested. —Idumea Arbacoochee, Rescuer of Nyms]

#40 ::: Jacque flags down gnomes for nym obfuscation ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 06:10 PM:

$MyLastName is pretty obvious if one knows how ML is structured; I'm just shy of casual Googleing. If a gnome would kindly redact my name in @39 as it is in @35, I would be grateful.

#41 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 06:12 PM:

dcb @38: As I get reminded periodically, it's important to remember to be grateful for the simple things in life: being able to walk, being able to carry things, being able to walk and carry things....

#42 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 06:39 PM:

I've created a thread for planning Gatherings of Light at Sasquan.

#43 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 06:59 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee: Thank you so much!

Okay, just got the full-on job offer; the money-shot appears to be "We are in search of a reliable offshore representatives who can help us establish a medium of getting our funds from our customers in their region ( i.e. USA & Canada )." Which, dodgy syntax notwisthanding, implies to me that whoever this is is looking for money launderers.

The text shows the hallmarks of those Nigerian scams that use corrupted spelling and punctuation to weed out the most clueful targets. With the extra fillip that it's wordy and complex and sounds like it ought to mean something impressive and legitimate. I suspect they've actually plagiarized some of the text directly off of the $Corporate website.

I would expect an email coming from an actual Japanese $Corporate executive's office to contain scrupulously correct English.

Other red flags: the X-OriginalArrivalTime appears to come from the Iceland/West Africa timezone.

Also: domain name on the Message-ID: comes up as "Bollocks" on Google.

So, tomorrow, if I think of it during the business day, I'm going to call $Corporation to let them know that somebody's impersonating one of their executive officers on Linked In.

Fun times....

#44 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 07:03 PM:

Jacque, that's not just money-laundering; if it's the scheme I think it is, it's outright theft. From you.

They have you deposit checks in your account and then write a check, less your "fee", to them. The checks you deposit will bounce. Yours to them will be cashed, and you'll be out however much that is.

Run-do-not-walk away from this. And, yes, report it.

#45 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 07:38 PM:

Heather Rose ones @13

(Which is to say, I have a much higher ambition than my usual goal of "any event where I never end up hiding in the ladies' room crying counts as a win.")

Here. Here's a shoulder and I have hankies.

#46 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 09:43 PM:

#36 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 02:09 PM:
Alex R. - David Gerrold announced 'A Method for Madness' on FB this morning. Apparently it's done, though I have no idea exactly when it's going to hit print. shows it with a Sept. 30th date.

But - given that it's now thirty-one years since Vol. I - I'l believe it when I see it....

#47 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 09:57 PM:

Jacque @43 -- also, please report it to LinkedIn. I know that many people there care about this sort of thing, and I hope they'll act to stop it.

This is part of why I don't connect with anyone I don't know well on LinkedIn. It's got to be someone I recognize immediately.

#48 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2015, 10:51 PM:

Paula Lieberman #28: There's also many of Lackey's Valdemar stories, the Oathbound group (duology?) comes to mind.

Jacque #43: Arggh. If you read this tomorrow, consider this a remonder to report it. However:

the money-shot appears to be

I do not think that word means what you seem to think it means. ;-)

#49 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 12:06 AM:

re 39: It's "The $MyLastName-Named League"!

#50 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 01:46 AM:

I've been Tuckerized once, as the President of France in one of Jo Walton's novels.

#51 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 01:59 AM:

Alex R @3: Depending where in SoCal, and when, I could be up for a GoL.

Serge Broom @25: How time flies! I was an undergrad at Caltech shortly before Real Genius. A friend of mine was a sort of intern with the production; he advised the writers and director on Caltech undergrad life. He and several other friends had walk-on roles as students.

#52 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 02:12 AM:

Jeremy Leader @ 51

I'm near Ontario Airport, but I travel around a lot. I'm in Los Angeles and Orange Counties frequently, Ventura or San Diego an average of once a month, and Kern County very occasionally.

#53 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 02:36 AM:

Clifton @ 36

Unfortunately, I don't Facebook, but its good to know.

#54 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 04:21 AM:

Cassy B. @44: Yeah, the check-cashing/bouncing scheme was one I vaguely remembered; I just couldn't pull the details out of the musty trunks in the back of my brain. I speculated something like that; the wrinkle I find particularly bemusing is the apparent targeting of people with a particular name.

It just now occurred to me to wonder if any of them are legit, either. Too. Whatever.

Seems like that would be an awful lot of work to spin up a bunch of faux members. OTOH, there does seem to have been a fair amount of thought put into this.... (Latest count: ~176 total, 73 $MyLastName.)

One wonders if there are similar gambits being targeted at other clusters of $Name. That might be an easy tell for LinkedIn to search on; look for disproportionate clusters of $Name in contacts lists.

Tom Whitmore @47: also, please report it to LinkedIn.

On the list; I figure to do that after contacting $Corporation; give them the opportunity to gather evidence, if they are so inclined. (Not that it would do any good; I gather these things are notoriously hard to prosecute.)

This is part of why I don't connect with anyone I don't know well on LinkedIn. It's got to be someone I recognize immediately.

Well, you know, I was skeptical. But probably my worst vice is curiosity.

David Harmon @48: "the money-shot appears to be" I do not think that word means what you seem to think it means. ;-)

Well, that is not, in fact, the expression I was reaching for, but that was the only close one that presented itself. OTOH, I think, not inaccurate: isn't the money shot the one where somebody gets, you know, screwed...?

#55 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 04:25 AM:

Oh yeah and:

C. Wingate @49: It's "The $MyLastName-Named League"!

Some year I plan to do badges for the dozen or so of us that show up at MileHiCon.

#56 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 06:19 AM:

Jacque @54

On the list; I figure to do that after contacting $Corporation; give them the opportunity to gather evidence, if they are so inclined. (Not that it would do any good; I gather these things are notoriously hard to prosecute.)

So the bad guys pick on the mother of a Special Forces guy, and, frustrated by the lack of official action, he decides to deal with it himself.

Things go wrong.

Mom turns up to save his bacon.

(The timing of it all works if she was a refugee from the fall of South Vietnam, but my initial thought was that Mom had been with the French Resistance. Either way, she's the competent one, with the covert ops experience. Her son makes John Rambo look discreet.)

#57 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 07:10 AM:

Cassy B @ #44:

You're out of lots of money. You're in trouble because you have deposited a false cheque. You're in trouble for having breached money-laundering legislation (varies depending on where you are on the planet).

In re the spelling reference, I am now trying to construct a narrative where the title "The Wired of the White Wolf" makes perfect sense.

#58 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 07:25 AM:

Jacque #54: I would have said "hook"; The money-shot is the moment that "proves" the screwing after the fact. Happily, you did not fall for this scheme, so they didn't get a money-shot.

The name thing makes me wonder if there may have been multiple lines in play, perhaps some of the others were getting geneology or inheritance spiels. Or the scammers may have happened to scrape a geneology site.

#60 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 08:06 AM:

#54 Jacque
Companies generally are not interested in prosecuting. What's the return on investment to them?
The example is insurance fraud which was rife in Lawrence, MA years ago. The insurance companies got hit with claims for damage to cars, for medical expenses, etc. Their reaction was to jack up the rates to a level twice as highas almost anywhere else in the state--they didn;t really care if there were fraud as long as they got their profit income performance goals met. It took a criminal homicide case, where a staged accident turned lethal, and a criminal investigtion, with more than 100 people charged and convicted who were part of a systematic insurance fraud culture, to effect an end to the fraud ring/culture. The number of claims and payouts dropped down to a level commensurate with the rest of the state, and the insurance rates dropped, too.

It was the government, on the homicide and corruption leading to it of the people involved who were accessories to the staged accident effecting the vehicular homicide, who did the investigation, NOT the insurance companies. They only cared about profits and charging rates to cover "expenses" and yielding corporate profit goals. Fraud? Raise the rates to cover it, investigations are expensive and don't contribute to the profit level, when you can jack up the rates to cover the fraud.

{sarcasm alert} Yeah, SURE companies police themselves and act in the public interest...{end sarcasm alert}

Try reporting fraud to ISPs which are listed as the domains phishing campaigns emanate from, and the ISP will tel YOU to go investigate....

#61 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 08:24 AM:

Also from the PSMag site Will Google kill 'The Fat Man'?

They actually cover most of the issues involved pretty well, but I'll add something:

I don't think the "fat man" scenario differs only in being more visceral. I think it's more that it's hitting a safeguard in our normal moral calculus, which the original trolley problem evades: Most folks are rightfully suspicious of any demand to kill someone "for a higher cause". It takes a fair bit of work to squelch that response, as in military training.)

#62 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 08:55 AM:

I recall a spam email (dramatically read aloud here by a skeptical recipient) that specifically claimed to have been searching for someone with the same last name as a deceased person, because this would supposedly allow the recipient to get the money out of the about-to-be-closed account, but (even if they're all really variants on the same scam) this doesn't seem to be quite the same scenario.

#63 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Jeremy Leader @ 51... It's my understanding that some of the stunts pulled by the movie's students were based on the stunts of Caltech students. Except for the popcorn one.

#64 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 10:13 AM:

This whole scam-by-name thing is reminding me of a Sherlock Holmes adventure where a man named Garrideb has been targeted. Details available at Project Gutenberg and anyplace else with the Holmes stories.

#65 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 11:09 AM:

I didn't watch the GOP debate last night, preferring to watch an episode of "X files" in which a quite young Ryan Reynolds (yes, that Ryan Reynolds) gets hanged, after which he bursts into flames while in a coffin.

#66 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 12:12 PM:

Serge Broom @63: I helped throw a party where a laser beam shone along the hallways near the ceiling to guide guests to the room with the party. But we had to tape 1/2 soda cans with burning incense up near the beam so it would be visible; it certainly didn't burn holes in anything.

I'd heard stories of a car reassembled in a dorm room, but they seemed vague and inconsistent, I don't know if or when it was ever actually done.

The skating in the dorm hallway was probably in part inspired by a bobsled one of the dorms built for a party. It ran on two narrow tracks of ice with refrigerator coils embedded in them. It was launched by cables pulled by the descent of a 400 lb chunk of lead that had formerly been shielding for some sort of sensitive radiation sensor. That dorm was famous for building an amusement-park ride for a party every year, though the rides were also notorious for breaking down, or for not being finished until 1:00 AM the night of the party.

#67 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Jeremy Leader @ 66... Science!

#68 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 12:32 PM:


The shoulder offer is appreciated though, in truth, unlikely to be needed. These days I use the "crying in the ladies' room" phrase as part of being assertively open about my social anxieties. I think the last time there were actual tears and an actual bathroom stall involved was the last filk convention I attended. Somehow filk shifted from being my "core fandom community" to being a place where I felt overwhelmingly lonely and isolated (among people who talked incessantly about what a welcoming friendly community it was). It was a hard lesson in learning when to cut my losses and let go of something, but now I can almost joke about it.

#69 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 12:49 PM:

The relevant threads being long over: the publisher of Castalia House was on Finnish national broadcaster's tv channel 15 minutes ago. With his actual face, his actual name presented.

He was pretty puppyish, the only interesting bit was where he implied, very carefully forming the statement so that it can later be denied, that the new publisher had to be founded because all old publishers give orders on what to write, and this was unbearable for those whose politics the orders were not aligned with.

The placement of this ten minute interview in an ongoing series of ten minute minor news series was the only comment by the broadcaster on this. It sort of relegates this to "look at this funny person we found on the street."

#70 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 02:09 PM:

HLN: Dealing with a flood/the aftermath of a flood in our house. It's going to be a long day/week/month. There is a lot of long-put-off cleaning that is happening (trying to find a silver lining). The book damage is: lots of Nancy Drew, much of Little House on the Prairie, Heinlein's Farmers in the Sky, two of CJ Cherryh's Merovingen Night's books, Conrad's Lord Jim, Kipling's Barrack Room Ballads, Katie John by Mary Calhoun. and Orson Scott Card's Future on Fire. Not sure why these particular books were on the stairs instead of the shelves (which are undamaged, thank goodness), but none of them are especially precious.

We are going to see the Fantastic Four tonight with friends. Friends is probably more important than the movie.

#71 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 02:44 PM:

To my amazement, my little essay on #BlackLivesMatter and why #AllLivesMatter is a racist response to it seems to be going viral on Facebook, which is good for some things.

Also got called the N word on Twitter today. I'm not quite sure how I should feel about that.

#72 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 03:09 PM:

Xopher @71, nice essay. There's something on the same subject in today's Washington Post by Petula Dvorak. I particularly liked your analogies.

#73 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 03:12 PM:

Teemu Kalvas @ #69:

Hm, do I recall correctly, if I recall you from c.l.l, in years past?

#74 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 03:39 PM:

My brother is in the credits of Real Genius (I think he worked on the lasers and such). When we saw it in the theater we stayed to the bitter end in order to clap him mightily and were therefore the last ones out, getting weird looks from the guy sweeping up popcorn.

#75 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 03:52 PM:

HelenS @ 74... getting weird looks from the guy sweeping up popcorn

...which turns into a bigger and bigger heap as the death ray pumps heat into it?

#76 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 04:17 PM:

Ingvar @ 73:

You certainly do. It's only twelve short years since we last had a beer together. Or maybe fourteen, I'm not quite sure.

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Well, have now contacted $Corporation. They've taken my number. $Reception says I'll get a call once they figure out who to hand this off to. (Presumably somebody in the legal department.)

Antonia T. Tiger @56: Her son makes John Rambo look discreet.

This would be, I presume, the novel this saga inspires you to write? Please write more, I'd love to read it! Except I think the premise would be funnier if he actually was highly competent; you know, the guy the other guys on his squad would be afraid of, if he was on the other side. It's because he learned his scary bad-assedness at his mum's knee. You know, in the spirit of Maddy Westen.

This in turn suggests the scene where Son is home for the holidays, with some of his buddies (because $un-copeable-with_family_drama), and Mum is shepherding them all about, stuffing them full of cookies and Motherly Affection (in her particularly irritating way). Meanwhile, at some point Something Happens, and Best Buddy realizes Mum is really scarey, and leans over to Son, "Dude, seriously?" Son, dryly: "Welcome to my life."

David Harmon @58: I would have said "hook"

That would work. But, you know, insufficiently purple. :-)

The name thing makes me wonder if there may have been multiple lines in play

Yeah, I was thinking that myself. I did a brief bit of research, and was unable to independently confirm the existence of the couple of other contacts in his connections list.

Kip W @64: This whole scam-by-name thing is reminding me of a Sherlock Holmes adventure where a man named Garrideb has been targeted.

Ah! So this type of scam has a fine tradition, then. I wonder if it actually has a name? Teresa?

Hm. That's disturbing, though. That implies that they are specifically targeting me. Which would be weird. I mean, it's not like I have any particular assets or special placement on offer.

Jeremy Leader @66: I'd heard stories of a car reassembled in a dorm room

Actually, the one I'd heard involved a fighter jet (the Air Force was apparently on campus recruiting, that week. And this was back in the '70s when such things were...unpopular.)

HelenS @74: last ones out, getting weird looks from the guy sweeping up popcorn.

We're always the last ones out; so consistently that we've actually started a little banterage with the cleaning staff. Last time, I observed the way they move in a line across the theater, each of them taking a row of seats. I commented that they needed a musical score. One of them claimed the Imperial Theme from Star Wars.

#78 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 04:42 PM:

I heard that they disassembled and reassembled a car in a dorm room that was a Model T, and it may have been done more than once. (I lived in East Pasadena. CalTech's pranks are A Thing, to where people were irritated when the police chief wanted to charge them with something after they'd hacked the Rose Bowl game. Dude, they're our geniuses.)

#79 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 05:14 PM:

Jacque @77: A fighter jet seems very unlikely, given the sizes of Caltech dorm rooms. Most house two students, and have enough room for two single beds, two desks, two wardrobes, and a sink, and a little space to walk between them. I think the rooms in the 4 "new" houses (1960) were about 20 feet long by maybe 10 feet wide; the rooms in the "old" houses (1931) were more varied in shape, but typically a little smaller. The interiors in Real Genius were modeled fairly faithfully after the "old" houses, including the often-nerdly graffiti in the halls, and the student-painted murals in some rooms and hallways.

The only anti-establishment prank at Caltech in the 70s that I heard of was the hanging of an "Impeach Nixon" banner from the top of the 10 story tall library.

PJ Evans @78: A Model T sounds more plausible; relatively small, light, probably relatively easy to disassemble.

I knew the guys who hacked the Rose Bowl scoreboard in the mid 80s. At least one of them was charged with trespassing, but then the judge let him (or them?) off with a warning. My favorite part was that a Rose Bowl staffer said they first realized something was up when they noticed lower-case text on the scoreboard, which their system didn't support.

#80 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 05:20 PM:

One way to investigate whether a LinkedIn account is legit is to do an image search (e.g. Google's "search for similar images") on their profile photo. A few years back I noticed a number of accounts used to spam the LinkedIn discussion boards that had photos which turned out to belong to unrelated people. In all the cases I looked at, the owner of the photo was more obviously real, typically appearing in similar photos on their employer's website, or in news articles, or various other places besides just LinkedIn.

#81 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 05:37 PM:

The way I've always heard it was that they dis-assembled a VW Bug, and reassembled it IN the dean's office.

When Social Security was still part of HHS, our investigators had a bunch of Nigerians doing a Social Security Number scam. The lead agent strolled past my desk on the way to lunch and told me that they needed a name for the project as it involved more that one perp (single perp cases go under that person's name).

While he was out of the office I pondered the situation, and came up with a solution. When he got back, as he passed my desk I said, "I have a name for the case..." He said, "Oh, yeah?" but didn't stop.

I replied, "Cheetah." And he froze, then doubled over laughing. But he used it, and to our mutual delight I found a single panel comic of a cheetah with a poker hand containing three aces with the fourth ace up his sleeve. It was used on the cover of every case report.

#82 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 05:44 PM:

re 61: That kind of "how the scenario is presented" thing is also very sensitive to knowing anything about the mechanisms involved. Here's what actually happens in all of them: throwing a switch in front of a fast-moving-enough-so-it-can't-stop rail vehicle is going to result in a derailment which is going to injure if not kill a lot of the people on board and is going to wipe out everything along a path potentially as wide as the first car is long and running for several hundred feet. And there's no man fat enough to stop or even slow down a motorcycle, much less a tram car. My apologies for being a killjoy, but there it is.

#83 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 06:15 PM:

No More in the Shadows

The sunlight's bright upon the scene
To center on the stage
The focus of the populace
For joy and love and rage

A group of men and boys stand there
With scripting primacy
And smatterings of female flesh
Deprived of dignity.

A curtain opens on the scene
The men and boys stand bold
"Oh hear ye all this tale to tell
To here from days of old! "

"Our boys are young and promising
Our men Charters uphold
They guard us from all change and threats
Now let the tale unfold!"

The women-flesh upon the stage
Are shadows barely seen
Some covered head to toe in shrouds
And others barely clad

They go around in ghostly trace
And tiptoe 'round the males
They give support submissively
Blood driplets in their trails.

A myriad of blows and cuts
Applied relentlessly
Those big brave male and boys so proud
Apply brutality.

For other males and other boys
Male bonding and respect
But womenkind's subservience
Is what is deemed correct.

And if so much a female dares
To want to stand in light
For self-determination and
Stand up in plain view sight

A bag appears to block the sun
And stuff the woman in
And Punch again knocks out Judy
For Patriarchy's win.

The focus of the play it be
On deeds of men and boys
And women are a deprecated
Threat made broken toys.

Oh let them be the mothers, wives
And sisters in the play
The cleaning bots and cooks and prizes
And the coins males pay.

See Medea cast away
Who sacrified her home
Ariadne too betrayed
On Naxos left to roam.

The servant girls of Ithaca
All slain for sins of men
And Spanish Queens made pawns for husbands
Salic law forfend.

Today there be Republicans
They're white and male and vain
They stand at lecterns on TV
To further rich men's gain

And walking wombs and chattel tools
To cook and clean and mend
Locked in Christian purdah toil
How they define women.

I don't accept their way and views
Or their philosophy
I want their stage and bully pulpit
Burned in infamy.

I want them locked by the same chains
They think women should bear
I want the biter bit to turn
And blow to hell their lairs.

I want to see light of day
On women's faces free
I want their jailers null and void
And full equality.

#84 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 06:17 PM:

C. Wingate #82: Sounds like problem boxes make you claustrophobic. ;-) Me too actually (and they do need to be designed carefully), but they can sometimes help tease out key elements of a scenario.

#85 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 06:23 PM:

Now I kind of want a superhero called Fatman, big and powerful enough to stop runaway tram cars.

#86 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 06:24 PM:

Jeremy Leader @66: Car pranks. From the UK, and mostly from Cambridge:

- disassembling a Mini, reassembling it on the roof of the Senate House. Then spreading the rumour they had got it up there in one piece. The fire department spend days trying to work out how to get it down in one piece.

- parking a car on the Cam (a statement on the lack of parking): the engineers sank some scaffolding, floated a car down the river on one or two punts, left the car perched on the scaffolding with its wheels touching the water.

- Not-Cambridge, but I can't remember where: sign in the library stating that students were not to park their cars outside the library... so of course one was lifted up the steps, in through the doors, and left parked inside the library.

#87 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 06:36 PM:

I was one of the people waiting inside the room for Rick to come in and see his reaction

The annotation to the image, does not mention there were also pennies included. The construction was four feet in diameter, plastic went down before the mortar and bricks, and it fit between the bed and the chest of drawers.

#88 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 06:59 PM:

My mother said that the game had been pretty dull up until then.

#89 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 08:03 PM:

OtterB 72: Thank you. I'll post that on my FB too.

#90 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 08:24 PM:

The runaway trolley problem was given added depth in McSweeney's.

#91 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 09:17 PM:

Paula Lieberman @87: A classic MIT hack, indeed!

Not nearly as notorious as the Campus Police car on the Great Dome, mind; that one included a box of donuts for the (dummy) officer, and a parking ticket.

(Followed up, several years later, by a fire engine on the Great Dome, complete with firehose and Dalmatians.)

#92 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 09:24 PM:

Edmund Schweppe #91: As I recall, the police car on the Dome also came with instructions for how to neatly disassemble the rig, demonstrating how the MIT pranksters ran a pretty tight ship. The chief of the campus police was actually a member of the prankster "secret society" (I've forgotten it's name), and that clearly cut both ways.

#93 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 10:03 PM:

Google on "keshlam" for the rules of hacking at MIT.... oh, by the way, he's a filker.

Getting up on the Great Dome is a lot harder these days than in my days, and MIT is much less tolerant to people who get caught at it (yeah, I know, don't get caught... it's harder to not get caught these days and the locks are tougher. They were only mechanical in my years....

#94 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 10:07 PM:

Jeremy Leader @80: Google's "search for similar images"

That was my first stop: Googled $Corporation, went to "Executives": boom, there he was, same image and everything.

But...oh now, that's weird(er). I do an image search based on the photo in LinkedIn, and it comes back with a couple dozen hits—none of which are the same guy.

I go to the $Corporation website (by as many back-door avenues as I can think of), find the image—which I can't figure out how to open independent of the page. (Okay, security measure, maybe. I get it.) So I take a screen cap, try an image search on that—and come up with the same batch of not-the-same-guys.

On the theory I'm doing something wrong, I go to a LI profile of someone I've been dealing with close to ten years, open that profile picture, do an image search, and come up with a gazillion copies of that same picture. Plus, in the "visually similar images", are several different pictures of the same person.

...I'm beginning to wonder if maybe a call to the FBI wouldn't go amiss....

#95 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 10:09 PM:

@93: Drones....

#96 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Sometime ago, I saw a recommendation from abi for Max Gladstone's novel Three Parts Dead. I added it to my list, and finally got around to it -- and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It's a fantasy novel, in that there are vampires and people using magic...but the people using magic are a whole lot like lawyers, only tougher. There are gods, but they have to worry about the lawyers Craft users, and they live their lives in a dance of contracts regulating the flow of godstuff. Did I mention the carriage horses? You're going to love the carriage horses. I can't read the next one yet, because I have books for 3 book groups to get started on, but I shall read it.

#97 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 10:53 PM:

C. Wingate, #82: Yeah, I had bounced off the physics of the "no human being is that massive, so you'd be killing someone to no purpose" thing as well. But it hadn't occurred to me to consider the derailment issue, and that's certainly a valid point too.

#98 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 11:37 PM:

Paula Lieberman #87: ??? I'm seeing the comics page from a Tuscaloosa newspaper from 1973.

#99 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2015, 11:41 PM:

It's top center on the page, when I looked. (Drag the page.)

#100 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 12:17 AM:

Thank you, all of you who've welcomed me so warmly.

Cath @ 23: I see from a post you made to the GoL thread that you are indeed the Cath I was wondering if you might possibly be. (You'd likely remember me as 'Mama Maureen'.) I'm looking forward to becoming re-acquainted!

Lee @ 31: I considered using my meatlife first name here, since that's how I'm registered at Sasquan, but it would be very confusing to have two Lees posting such similar perspectives. So I'm really looking forward to meeting you, too.

C. Wingate @ 82 - You haven't killed any joy for me; quite the contrary - I don't much care for these elaborately-constructed scenarios, and am always pleased to see their assumptions deconstructed. (And on similar grounds, thank you Roy G. Ovrebo @ 90 for the link to their satirization on McSweeney's.) And, David Harmon @ 84, thank you for the phrasing; 'problem boxes make me claustrophobic' is an excellent description, and one I will likely use in future.

#101 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 02:22 AM:


Just occurred to me to do a reverse phone lookup, and the phone for the head office of $Corporation also turns up the name of a couple of lawyers at the same address. A lawyer listing service is referenced, also; both names come up, but neither has any particulars in their listings.

I'd made a call to the listing agent of the address in $Corporation's website. The impression I got when I talked to the guy implied that they rented maybe one little office (I didn't think to ask at the time). Which seemed sparse for a NY office of a multinational. The lawyers in the reverse lookup share the same address as $Corporation.

Then I had an inspiration: the name might be a word in the original language, so I did a Wikipedia search, which provided a translation, and also pointed to $Corporation. Different web address; big surprise. So I go to that web address and find:

Notice about fraudulent use of the $Corporation name

We have recently become aware of a website, “www.$,” which is advertising financial services offered by an organization which names itself “$Corporation Group.”

Please be advised that this organization is in no way associated with any of the $Corporation companies referred in our “$” website, and has been acting without the knowledge or consent of the $Corporation companies.

No services offered by this “$Corporation Group” referred in the “www.$” website are sanctioned or endorsed by any of the $Corporation companies.

And now I notice that the $Corp website I initially encountered was $, and the one branching from the Wiki was $ When clicked it goes to www.$ When I try it without the hextuple-u, I get a "Forbidden" error. It's not redirecting to the hex address. Which seems...sloppy.

Hm. The fraudulent use notice is dated 2010. They've got a fraudulent email notice, too, dated 2004.

Crikey, is this one fake, too?

Yeah, I think maybe I have a conversation with CBI tomorrow. But, because I'm now feeling really REALLY paranoid, I think I'm going to get the number through local law enforcement, instead of off the web....

Have to give these jokers props for thoroughness, at any rate.

#102 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 02:31 AM:

Heh. He's now collecting people named $NewLastName. 22/193. $MyLastName now at 83/193.

#103 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 03:24 AM: has a link to a page where you can report cybercriminal activity. There's also

#104 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 03:48 AM:

Paula: At this point, I'm not trusting anything that's coming to me through the web that I'm not REAL familiar with. I just looked up CBI's office on the site. Because paranoia, I decided to check the address with the Denver Assessor's Office. Hm. No results for that address. As I'm trying to look around, I start getting Privacy Errors:

Attackers might be trying to steal your information from (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards).... This server could not prove that it is ... This may be caused by a misconfiguration or an attacker intercepting your connection.

So, all in all....

#105 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 04:10 AM:

Government offices should have .gov or be of e.g. the form for Massachusetts I think. for a government office sounds Very phishy...

#106 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 05:02 AM:

Actually, you could do me a favor, if you're willing: do a search on Denver County and tell me what you come up with.

#107 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 05:28 AM:

With regard to hypothetical ethical dilemmas (as a fat man, I would keenly resent being pushed under a trolley, but that's beside the point), I'm always reminded of the seamanship manual quoted by Len Deighton (at the start of Horse Under Water), on dealing with having your ship caught in a gale off a lee shore:-

... the following rules should be observed.

1. Never allow your vessel to be found in such a situation....

#108 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 06:57 AM:

P J Evans #99: Henry playing on somebody's walking stick, funeral homes getting out of the ambulance business, a regatta pipeout, or prisoner releases from Hanoi?

#109 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 08:12 AM:

So far as trolley problems are concerned, I've acquired a real hatred for problems framed around making the decision of who to kill, with all consequences to the decider being screened off.

Aside from any other problems, how are you supposed to throw someone who weighs a great deal more than you do off a bridge?

#110 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 09:19 AM:

I'm at Musecon this weekend. If anyone else reading this is, too, look for me around. (I know Elliott was planning to be here, and Cally is on the committee, but they may both be offline for the weekend.) You can most easily catch up to me after my Tribble-Making workshop this evening, but the workshop itself is full. I'll probably be in Solder World most of the rest of the time. Stained glass is fun!

#111 ::: PaulaLieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 10:45 AM:


I'm seeing www.denvergov.orgfor the city of DenverI'm also s and Denver's official stuff googling.

I'm also seeing as a result, hacking: Site back up, search on for cyber ...
May 25, 2010 - Update, 9:47 a.m.: The website is back up. Learn more about recent cyber-attacks on it in the item below, originally published at ...
May 25, 2010 - Update, 9:47 a.m.: The website is back up. Learn more about recent cyber-attacks on it in the item below, originally published at ...

Some years back one of the brazen cyberslime fake sites was a fake Mssachusetts Department of Revenue website...

#112 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 10:51 AM:

The link takes me to page 7 (of 8), with the relevant story top center, including the photo. Yes, it is the Tuscaloosa paper.

#113 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 11:12 AM:

Lovely new word encountered elseNet: latrinalia -- graffiti on lavatory walls.

#114 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 11:32 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz :@ #109: Aside from any other problems, how are you supposed to throw someone who weighs a great deal more than you do off a bridge?

My first encounter with the Prisoner's Dilemma was via a friend who told me that it had come up in class, and that a classmate who'd grown up behind the Iron Curtain (I forget where exactly) had raised the objection that this was a ridiculous scenario, because *everybody* knew that if the police offer you a deal like that, they haven't a scrap of evidence against either of you. Ever since then I've been wary of the thought experiment that depends on a really specific scenario.

#115 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 12:58 PM:

I think I'm having a weird blind spot, vaguely related to Paula Lieberman@28. In mythology, I can think of a lot of individual females, I can think of a lot of trios [graces, fates, gorgons, etc.,] but I can't think of any pairs.

Shakespeare had a lot of female friend pairs.

I don't really have any actual direction to my thoughts, yet, but I feel like there's something there worth pursuing.

#116 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 01:33 PM:

#115 Sandy

Classical mythology put women in opposition, or women in relation to men:

Aphrodite versus Athena
Aphrodite versus Artemis
Hera versus [individual females impregnated by Zeus]
Medea versus [woman Jason dumped her for]
Ariadne in relation to Theseus
Medea in relation to Jason
can't-think-of-the-name chained to the rock, freed by Perseus

The closest I can think of at the moment is Bona Fortuna/Malafortuna, which was a duality rather than a pairbonding.

Much of it are the societies and cultures involved, which pitted women against one another in the eyes of the (male) chroniclers. I can't think of the name of the author of Hagar the Egyptian and Sarah the Priestess. The author's thesis is the Hagar was Sarah's servant, that Sarah being childless, was using Hagar as a surrogate to produce an heir for -Sarah-, and that when Isaac appeared, Sarah sent him off to her relatives to marry because inheritance was matrilinear (Sarah and Abraham were half-siblings). Later redactions/revisions changed the foci
obscuring such considerations.

Oh! There is one female pairing I can think of in the Bible, of Ruth and can't think of her name. They were mother-in-law and widowed daughter-in-law and devoted to one another. The story focus on the HEA with Boaz, moves the attention away from the dedication of the daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law.

But most of the Western Tradition literary and myth heritage which survived to be mass/pop culture content, deprecates women as other than halff a step maybe above purdah, except for the likes of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I of England, Joan of Arc, etc.

Ooops, thought of another myth exception -- Rose White and Rose Red. Everything else springing to my mind, though, is female in Conflict, with wicked/rapacious stepmothers and evils stepsisters, competition for the Prince otherwise, evil witches going to eat children....

Hmm, I think examining this stuff would make some good programming at Kansas City next year...

#117 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 02:07 PM:

Ruth and Naomi

Andromeda was chained to a rock-- was she the one you were thinking of?

#118 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 02:23 PM:

P J Evans #112: Aha! I was being taken to page 1.

Sarah E. #114: The lesson of the prisoner's dilemma is exactly that you can't compute a a "best strategy" from within the problem box: you have to bring in information from outside, in order to decide whether you can trust the other player. That information can be social, cultural, experiential, political, or of other sorts, but you need something or you're stuck.

Your ex-Soviet classmate was doing exactly that, by citing the culture they'd grown up with (where "their folks" had a natural alliance against the police).

Sandy B. #115: There's Demeter and Persephone, but that's also a common opposition against Hades (and the rest of their family).
Paula Lieberman #116: IIRC, it was Andromeda who Perseus rescued.

#119 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Sandy B @ 115

Mythology's a fairly specific context, and the search for female pairs is often hampered by the overwhelming pattern of women existing in relation to men. (The triads you mention often aren't seen as individuated people -- the triplication can be symbolic rather than functional.) But if you're looking for "female bonds between two specific individuals of whatever relationship" and if we can expand it to classical literature in general rather than strictly mythological, then there's a fair assortment. In addition to the Demeter/Persephone example, There's Diana/Callisto, though Callisto's individuation from the general mass of Diana's nymphs depends entirely on the seduction by Zeus that destroyed the relationship. Depending on how you interpret the (trans)gender issues, Ovid's retelling of Iphis & Ianthe might count, at least before the divinely-mediated sex-change.

Shakespeare is far from the only literary context where female pair-bonds (whether sexualized or not) are valorized. The motif goes in and out of popularity from the Renaissance onward, often in tandem with social attitudes towards whether similarity or difference should be the driving force in friendship/affection.

#120 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Yes, 'twas Andromeda. And somewhere I have a picture of an anciet rock with a chain spiked to the rock, in the Haifa (or Jaffa? one of them) harbor, which is alleged to be Andromeda's rock, where she was chained.

And Ruth and Naomi were the paid I couldn't think of. The memory retrieval for various data, is virtually rusty.

#121 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 04:02 PM:

I also find as the official Denver site. Why it isn't, I don't know.

Another possible female pair from mythology would be Helen (of Troy or Sparta) and her sister Clytemnestra. Although it's true that when we see them on stage, they're long separated and have little or no interaction with one another.

#122 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 05:11 PM:

#118 ::: David Harmon@ #118: There's Demeter and Persephone, but that's also a common opposition against Hades (and the rest of their family).

Arguably Demeter also had some human female allies in the form of Iambe and Baubo.

There's Isis and Nephthys, if Egyptian mythology is ok.

#123 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 09:34 PM:

Anybody else get security alerts on

#124 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 09:40 PM:

#120 ::: Paula Lieberman

I thought Ruth's mother-in-law's name began with an N, but I ended up using google.

I refer to google as the larger part of my brain.

Occasionally, I can access one of my memories by imagining that I'm googling for it.

#125 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 10:12 PM:

A hot day. An open window. A brisk breeze. An overhead fan. A closed box; an open box. Surprise packing peanuts. A delighted cat.

(Verbs seem unnecessary, really.)

#126 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 06:31 AM:


You just put in in mind of the Elizabeth Willey novel where the battleminds separated out the personality/mind of one of the persons who had been assimilated into it, and reincarnated her in body...

#127 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Em @125:

I suspect the cat was verb enough for the whole situation.

#128 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 11:06 AM:

From Wikipedia:

All governments in the U.S. were allowed to apply for delegations in gov before May 2012, such as for the city of Atlanta, for the county of Loudoun, Virginia and for the U.S. state of Georgia. This was not always true; under an earlier policy, only federal agencies were allowed to use the domain, and agencies beneath cabinet level were required to use subdomains of their parent agency. There is a lack of consistency in addresses of state and local government sites, with some using gov, some us, some using both (the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania uses, and for the same web site) and still others in com, org or other [top-level domains])... .

Use of the gov domain is restricted to government entities. According to GSA guidelines, this includes U.S. Governmental departments, programs, and agencies on the federal level; federally recognized tribes (referred to by the GSA as Native Sovereign Nations, which must use the suffix; State governmental entities and programs; cities and townships represented by an elected body of officials; counties and parishes represented by an elected body of officials; and U.S. territories.
The URL for registration services is

(The Smithsonian Institution, although administered by the Federal government, has as its resource name.)

#129 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 01:12 PM:

#125 Rm
Cat ass trophy?

#130 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Oh, dear. Maybe caption this, "Ha ha, only kidding!"?


Leaving aside the fact that there are no wheelchair accessible units plausibly served by this parking lot. Unless, of course, you want to take the overland route across the lawns to the patios in back....

It's going to take great restraint for me to keep the snark out of my tone when I point this out to the grounds manager.

(In one of those cases we've discussed elsewhere, this access point would actually be very useful to me as a cyclist, because I not-infrequently need to get my bike trailer up onto the sidewalk by our door to load. Being able to use this onramp would be really useful.)

#132 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 03:41 PM:

David Goldfarb #131

Much like that, only with the air currents creating a veritable fountain of the damn things.

I think I got them all. I hope so. My folks are coming over for supper tonight and I like to fool them into thinking my apartment is regularly quite clean and not infested with bits of styrofoam.

On the bright side, the box also contained my new keyboard. I adore this keyboard. I had one like it previously but it died in a tragic accident, and it was discontinued, and lo! Someone was selling refurbished ones, and it is perfect.

#133 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 05:22 PM:

Em, #132: Be glad you didn't have this to deal with!

#134 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 01:03 AM:

The (not really a) kitten managed, somehow, to get both head and front legs through the string handles of an empty paper bag earlier today...

... and managed several harried laps of the house before pausing for long enough for me to talk him down (and remove him from the bag).

Credit as due, once he paused for long enough to hear me, he came carefully towards me, and was entirely cooperative[0] about being removed.

[0] This in direct contrast to my observation from somewhat earlier in the week that you know you've spent far too much time with cats, when your reaction to being bitten[1] or clawed is to freeze, and carefully extract the cat, rather than trying to retrieve whatever body the cat is attached to immediately ...
[1] ... and, uh ... it seems that the cat that owns me has ~1/4" difference in span between her top and bottom fangs...

#135 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 09:28 AM:

xeger @134: Sympathies for your cat and well done in extricating him. Our cat managed head-and-one leg through the handle of a plastic bag once. Plastic bag monster chased her three times round the house before she went to ground, panting, in the open drawer under the futon sofa. I manged to get my arms under there and extricate her. She was so scared she'd wet herself. And she has been frightened of the crinkling sound from that brand of plastic bag ever since.

#136 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 10:50 AM:

me @35: Heh. The wages of sin. LI profile now reads "Sorry, this profile couldn't be displayed."

Somebody else got to him before I did. Mwa-ha.

#137 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 11:07 AM:

Evil pet-eating shopping bags: it turns out that the paper bags with handles make less than optimal guinea pig toys. The handle loop is big enough to admit a guinea pig, but not to allow a passage of a pregnant guinea pig. Predictable panic ensues.

#138 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 12:38 PM:

Hee hee. A fan in any other language is clearly still a fan. (You have to scroll some to get to the really good stuff.)

#139 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 01:00 PM:

Ah -- the "cat comet" i.e. cat plus plastic grocery bag, otherwise known as the incredible exploding kitty...

We've only had one do this -- Poor Bramble got his head through the handles and the faster he ran the more the bag inflated until it popped. We finally managed to corral him and remove it, and he never would go near a plastic bag after.

But Jan and I nearly expired of laughter before we could even try to catch still makes me laugh, though Bramble has been one with the stars for quite some time now.

#140 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 03:45 PM:

Lori Coulson @139:

I had a cat that did this with a helium balloon. The balloon was on a string! And the string was dangling JUST above the floor, so clearly it was a kitty toy! So the cat grabbed the string and started to prance off with it, but then there was this THING! and it was following her!

So she'd run, but that only made the thing follow faster, so she'd duck under the table to try and throw it off track. This, of course, meant that the balloon (and string) would get stuck, so she'd have to backtrack and try a different approach.

At the time, we were living in a house where one could run a circuit around the main floor. We gave up counting after the cat passed us for the eleventh time. Once we'd stopped laughing, we did eventually take the balloon and string away, but kitty was most Put Out with us for doing so -- or for laughing; it's hard to tell.

#141 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 10:07 PM:

Catching up after a month away, visiting Wonderful Spouse's family in Brazil. Congratulations to those with good news (particularly including Xopher), and sympathies to others (particularly including Fragano). Also, good wishes to everyone going to Sasquan; this trip is one of the reasons we're not going to be there.

A few highlights, by category:

Books: Several (e)books I'd been waiting for came out just in time to make good travel reading, particularly including The Philosopher Kings (my reading on the way down, although it took some effort to save it for the trip), The Annihilation Score, and Last First Snow (my reading on the way back). Also, many thanks to ursulav for the recommendation of Uprooted, which was, indeed, wonderful, although it fit slightly uncomfortably between The Philosopher Kings and The Annihilation Score.

Food: Many favorite foods in great quantity, along with wonderful things I rarely get to eat, like vatapá, bobó de camarão, and requeijão; and so much wonderful fruit that is ridiculously plentiful even in the middle of winter. And we discovered atemoya, which is absolutely delicious and, apparently, North American! Also, there were several excellent cachaças and (drinks a short Hamming distance from) caipirinhas.

Sights: Not that many to list, actually, since family visits tend to get taken up by family, but the Jardim Botânico in Rio de Janeiro was great: first, they have a bromeliarium, which I entered with thoughts of Pratchett in my head (although there were neither blooms nor small frogs on display in this season); and second, I kept flashing back to the Palm House at Kew Gardens, with its extravagant steampunk infrastructure all intended to support what, in Rio, barely required a greenhouse. I was a little caught between the 19th century extravagance of the Palm House infrastructure and the 21st century extravagance of plentiful airplanes to London and Rio de Janeiro.

Anyway, back now, and gradually catching up.

#142 ::: Paual Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 11:23 PM:

#141 dotless

"Custard apples" which have a name I can't think of at the moment, apparently are related to cherimoyas and attemoyas (which can grow in Florida and maybe other zone 10 or even zone 9 regions. Alas, I have never seen a custard apple, even though I may have bought a tree of it which did not survive, once... ) and are hardy in the zone I live in.

#143 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 11:41 PM:

Re cats and bags:

A few months ago the chubby cat got her head and one leg stuck through the loop of a plastic bag. Predictable panic ensued.

The elderly cat(0) decided this strange apparition was an invader to be vanquished, and began chasing it while hissing and growling.

I was overcome with hysterical laughter, of course. When I finally got myself under control, I grabbed a pair of scissors(1), cornered the now-exhausted chubby cat, and cut her free.

(0) Now deceased, unfortunately

(1) Chubby cat is a biter so I really didn't want to touch her under those circumstances.

#144 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2015, 11:42 PM:

Re cats and bags:

A few months ago the chubby cat got her head and one leg stuck through the loop of a plastic bag. Predictable panic ensued.

The elderly cat(0) decided this strange apparition was an invader to be vanquished, and began chasing it while hissing and growling.

I was overcome with hysterical laughter, of course. When I finally got myself under control, I grabbed a pair of scissors(1), cornered the now-exhausted chubby cat, and cut her free.

(0) Now deceased, unfortunately

(1) Chubby cat is a biter so I really didn't want to touch her under those circumstances.

#145 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 12:02 AM:

Article from the Atlantic on narrative and self-image (among other things) which I suspect will be right up the Fluorosphere's alley

#146 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 07:11 AM:

C. Wingate @145, that's thought-provoking reading. Thanks for the link.

#147 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 08:14 AM:

C. Wingate @#145, cool article, thanks.

Two things that occurred to me right off the bat:

1. Dreams. If there's a Platonic Ideal for imposing narrative on random events/images, dreams would be it.

2. Though not explicit in the article, I think this hints at why representation in fiction (and nonfiction, for that matter) is important. "Young man setting out to seek his fortune" has ten million example narratives out there in the culture to model his own life story on. "Woman in her fifties after the children leave home", not so much. Likewise, people of color, people with disabilities, etc. etc. And of course, many of us find ourselves represented primarily as windowdressing (or obstacles, or prize tokens) in someone else's story.

#148 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 10:04 AM:

Paula Lieberman@142: I've heard of, but never tasted, custard apples. The relative I was more familiar with is the sugar apple (annona squamosa, or fruta-de-conde in Portuguese), which is reasonably common around Rio. (I was even served a fruta-de-conde caipirinha at one point, which was a mixed success.) The atemoyas were larger, softer, and sweeter than those. It's an odd, if tasty, family of fruits—among other things, I'm used to fruit seeds containing cyanide, but annona seeds apparently contain their own distinctive neurotoxin. Fortunately, the seeds are big and fairly easy to avoid.

#149 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 12:52 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 142:

Are you referring to the pawpaw? It's sometimes referred to as a custard apple and it sure does grow in the US. I think it's being grown as far north as MA, though don't quote me on that.

#150 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 12:54 PM:

Should have specified: Asmina triloba is the pawpaw I was referring to. Sorry.

#151 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 01:13 PM:

My late tuxedo cat, Jeeves, was generally quite intelligent, on the cat scale of intelligence, but bags with handles were his downfall. He had an uncanny ability to get caught by them. His panicked flight was too desperate to be funny, so all bags with handles that came into the house promptly had the handles cut open before they went into the recycling bin

#152 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 03:27 PM:

We have a new shirt which may be of interest to people here. Ordering (for delivery at Sasquan or mail-order afterwards) is happening on the Building of the Centerpiece thread.

#153 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 04:07 PM:

Lee, 404-page not found.

#154 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 05:38 PM:

Cassie, they fixed the permissions on it.

#155 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 09:19 PM:

Purdue Horticulture, on custard apples and pawpaws.

#156 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 10:18 PM:

#146 Dicentra

Yes, it's the pawpaw. THE USDA has sponsored some initiatives to try to commercialize production, but what I see in sotres are cherimoyas and occasional atemoyas at exorbitant prices, or chuncks of jackfruit (or in H-Mart entire jackfruit--the small ones are merely 8 to 10 pounds), I have never seen an actual pawpaw fruit live.

#157 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2015, 10:52 PM:

Many thanks to Clifton Royston, who spotted a glitch in our DNS propagation and was able to help my partner figure out and fix what was wrong!

#158 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 12:46 AM:

I feel required here to shrug, gaze bashfully downward, kick at the ground, and say "Aw shucks, 'tweren't nothin'!" (But seriously, glad I could help.)

#159 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 07:26 AM:

Seen in a SAS log file:

real time 4:23.49
cpu time 7:19.29

Apparently the cpu is making a VERY efficient use of time...

#160 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 07:38 AM:

Michael I @ #159:

Or you're using two CPUs, but the workload can't be perfectly parallelised.

#161 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 08:27 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ #156, the only place I've ever seen one is growing at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia; never seen one for sale. (It's a pretty attractive tree, though; big droopy leaves that turn bright yellow in the fall; small inconspicuous flowers, on account of being pollinated by flies & beetles.)

#162 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 09:50 AM:

Michael I @159, presumably it's a multi-core machine, so you're getting more than one CPU going at a time. (It's not necessarily "imperfect parallelization"; some cycles are going to be used for other things.)

One of my recent logs for instance says:

Total MapReduce CPU Time Spent: 57 minutes 35 seconds
Time taken: 997.487 seconds

That's explicitly multiple machines, of course, but CPU time is often longer than wall-clock time (and this wasn't a very intense job, I often see CPU time of a couple *days* and wall-clock time of a couple hours).

#163 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 10:59 AM:

#161 Lila
They're supposed to be extremely pest-resistant, meaning little to no need to apply pesticides and such.
(I am getting no apples from my eating apple trees this year, between damage by miserable damn cottontail and other winter debacles, and winter moth and other insect issues.)

#164 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 11:19 AM:

People wishing to plant a backyard pawpaw can buy nursery stock from Burpee:

#165 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 11:58 AM:

Today's xkcd is very fannish.

#166 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 12:15 PM:

PJ Evans @165, I confess I can't decipher the middle trilogy. (I will no doubt facepalm as soon as someone tells me what it is...)

#167 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 12:29 PM:


Which standard Fantasy novel/trilogy deals with a jewelery item that everyone seems to really want? If that does not help - it also has hobbits :)

#168 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 12:29 PM:

Cassy B at 166:

Gel punatvat wrjryel gb evatf.

#169 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 12:31 PM:

The ones filmed in Oz by Rocky Johnchild.

#170 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 12:35 PM:

I mean a land neighbouring Oz, of course.

#171 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 12:40 PM:

Clarification: I've seen pawpaw plants for sale, never fruit.

#172 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 01:41 PM:

Don't feel bad. It took me a while to figure that one out.

#173 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 01:54 PM:

Annie Y & Naomi Parkhurst - <facepalm> Yes, I should have guessed! I think I was thrown off by the word "czar" in the third book, which had me chasing Russian literature...


#174 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 02:00 PM:

I had the biggest trouble with that middle one, too.

#175 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 02:07 PM:

I can occasionally find pawpaws for sale at farmers markets in Philadelphia. I assume they aren't sold commercially because they're fragile-- soft and thin-skinned.

#176 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 02:09 PM:

Cassy B. @ 173

Ha. I think I am so used to that word (it is the same in Bulgarian for most of history) that it did not even cross my mind to go to the Russians - I just replaced with king and it kinda clicked. Now that you are saying it, it is kinda logical - not too many trilogies to choose from though (translated in English anyway):)

#177 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 03:22 PM:

R. Neal Peterson, who's relatively well-known amongst native fruit fanciers, has noted in his recent Kickstarter that pawpaws can sometimes be found at farmer's markets. The trees themselves are hardy to -20F. (The Kickstarter was to get him the wherewithal to export grafted trees to Asia. My contribution earned me ten seeds from his improved selections. I'm looking forward to watching the trees grow!) More info if you want it:

#178 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 03:39 PM:

Clarentine@177: Interesting! I've never tasted a pawpaw, and have no idea how the taste compares to annonas like fruta-de-conde or atemoya, but now I'm even more curious. The big black seeds look familiar, at least.

Cassy B.@173, Clifton@174: The middle one took me the longest as well. I think it's because the main title sent me down the wrong path (it sounded kind of Vaqvnan Wbarf-ish) and it took me a while to backtrack.

#179 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Random link from my wife: Ayn Rand's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

#180 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 04:42 PM:

#173 – I was lucky with the xkcd bafflement since I eventually remembered I'd used much the same circumlocution in oh dear 1988:

"... there are altogether too many derivative efforts called things like Dictator of the Circlets (successor to Emperor of the Annuli, Chieftain of the Toroids and Czar of the Hoops), divided into three dreadfully reminiscent volumes, all of which I then have to review."

#181 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 05:06 PM:

All I know about paw-paws is that one picks them up and puts them in one's pocket, preferably accompanied by music.

What do they taste like? Sweet? Sour? Bitter? Juicy? Dry? I'm curious...

Oh, and <snork> on the Randian Mouse/Cookie Problem.

#182 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Being Open thread and because this picture made me think of it...

When I was starting to learn English, the textbooks makers and the dictionaries creators (we had a prescribed learner's dictionary and my parents did not see a reason to buy another one until I need it) had decided not to confuse people so all the titles relevant to the Bulgarian history(khan, knyaz (there seems to be an agreement that this gets translated as Prince? I am still never sure how to translate it especially in the later Bulgarian history and tend to leave it as it is), tzar), even monarch were translated as king - now I am surprised that they chose to include the separate word for emporor. Not much English literature around me at the time, no internet, no English speakers so I just assume that is how it is in English.

Fast forward a year later and the teacher is doing a dictation (for spelling evaluation) and the text has both khan and tzar - which noone spelled correctly of course. As it turned out, the oversimplification had been exactly that - a helpful simplification to help the learner - but it took years to unroot it together with a few more like that (don't get me started on the shades of colors - I am bad with those in any language and when my visual memory puts the label green on all greenish colors, trying to rename them later is very hard). Which is why my eye caught and translated the word instantaneously this morning. And which is why I refuse to learn languages by simplifying things and returning to them later - unlearning is a lot harder than actually doing the work at the start and learning it correctly.

#183 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 05:28 PM:

Cassy B.: Oh good, I'm glad I wasn't the only one had problems with that one.

#184 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 06:42 PM:

Cassy B:

When we were 'way down yonder in the paw-paw patch, we picked up paw-paws and put them in a basket.

I did know that they were thin-skinned and fragile. Don't remember seeing, much less tasting one.

I think of a patch as something with low-growing plants not usually above knee high, not trees.

#185 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 06:43 PM:

I hadn't gotten that one, either.

#186 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 08:25 PM:

dcb @#86

When I was at U of Toronto, there was a Mini Cooper (sans engine) that appeared in sundry odd places. I remember it getting TV news coverage when the University President, Dr. John Evans, came out of his office and declaimed "There's a car in my office -- without a parking permit!" He was a good sport about such things.

The student association office was in an former observatory. The observatory dome was decorated in various ways at times; mouse ears, the propeller from a Piper Cub (making the world's biggest propeller beanie), etc.

#187 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2015, 09:44 PM:

Jimmy Carter is fighting cancer.

#188 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 01:41 AM:

I've lived in pawpaw country for more than thirty years and never had a taste of one. This year I'm planning to go to the pawpaw festival in Albany, Ohio. It's just a month from now and features pawpaw tasting and food vendors with pawpaw products.

#189 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 07:32 AM:

Anne Shelter, I, for one, look forward to your pawpaw repawt. Um, report.

#190 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 09:42 AM:

Henry Troup @186:

The student association office was in an former observatory. The observatory dome was decorated in various ways at times; mouse ears, the propeller from a Piper Cub (making the world's biggest propeller beanie), etc.

When I was in graduate school (in astronomy) a bunch of my fellow students decorated the Dome (still containing a small working telescope used for public outreach and education) as R2-D2. Most of the faculty were amused.

#191 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 10:55 AM:

Annie Y@182: I have another reason for not avoiding those helpful simplifications: the weird grammatical twists and turns and near-but-not-quite cognates and odd etymological trivia are the hooks I hold on to while I'm building up my knowledge. One of the best gifts Wonderful Spouse has given me in the recent past is a good etymological dictionary of Portuguese. It makes it much easier for me to remember even a common word when the memory is enhanced by the delight of discovering that it's probably derived from a long-dead relative of Basque.

This is part of why I had an easier time with Latin than with French in high school.

(The down side of this is that it's too easy for me to get distracted by the odd at the expense of the ordinary. I'm still eagerly looking forward to the day when I can confidently use the Portuguese personal infinitive, even though, as far as I can tell, it won't significantly change my expressive abilities at all.)

#192 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 10:55 AM:

The comparison I've heard (from Lee Reich, I think?) is "banana with a hint of pineapple". "Hoosier banana" is another of the fruit's many nicknames. Two sources I've found claim they relied on mastodons and giant ground sloths for seed dispersal (a task later taken over by humans, and currently performed mainly by flooding). We did have giant ground sloths around here--U.Ga. has a lovely skeleton on display.

#193 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 11:43 AM:

me@191: ...another reason for not avoiding...

Grrr. Too many edits, or one too few.

#194 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 11:50 AM:

Lila, so, firm, not-particularly-juicy flesh with some tartness to it? (Sounds like a flavor I'd appreciate.)

#195 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 12:27 PM:

Serge, I'd be delighted if he won against it. I don't believe I respect any other ex-president as much as I do Mr. Carter. He won me over, years ago.

#196 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 01:12 PM:

dotless ı @ 191

Oh, I agree - which also means that when I am starting a new language, it takes me a while to get through the easy parts - I tend to keep trying to figure why way too early:) Did not have much choice back in high school though. Plus I love linguistic matters.

Re #193 The rest of the comment was clear enough :)

#197 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 01:16 PM:


Damn, that article doesn't make his prognosis sound good.

#198 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 01:31 PM:

The Nobel Prize committee needs to make an award for Paladins in the Struggle Against the Scourges of Humanity and give one to Carter.

#199 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 01:33 PM:

albatross... It doesn't. I hope he makes it thru.

#200 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 01:39 PM:

Stefan Jones... Yes. Carter has worked to make the world a better place.

#201 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 04:35 PM:

The Wikipedia article on Filk Music features a photo of Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Emma Bull, both accomplished musicians, "making music."

I don't think of them as filkers, having mostly encountered them playing music I didn't think of as filk. But perhaps I should be more broad-minded.

In any case, this photo illustrates "two science fiction people singing in a hotel room at a con," which may be close enough.

#202 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 04:48 PM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @201:
I don't think of them as filkers

GAFilk would disagree, having invited Patrick as Super Secret Guest on his own in 2011, then, when he couldn't come, bringing him in as ConCom's choice in 2012 along with the Deaf Tones (Teresa and Elise Matthesen, I think).

(I also note that that GAFilk page gets Elise's surname quite fractally wrong. I don't know if that destroys their credibility with you...)

#203 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 05:14 PM:

Bill, #201: Also, Emma Bull has attended GAFilk and has also been seen participating in a hall-filk at Rivercon at least once.

The most practical definition of filk I've ever found is a circular one: filk is anything sung by one or more filkers in a filk gathering. And that definition, by extension, means that anyone taking part in a filk gathering can be described as a filker -- which definitely covers both Emma and Patrick.

#204 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 06:03 PM:

Filking, like many things, is self-defined. If Emma and Patrick think they're filkers, they are; if Pete Seeger had described himself as a filker, I'd have called him one. He certainly sang some filk songs, and was fascinated by the genre.

#205 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 06:16 PM:

HLN: "It is not the beginning of the end, but it may be, hopefully, the end of the beginning." The lower levels of the house have been quite thoroughly dried by the flood mitigation specialists. So our house flood disaster is heading in the direction of being cleaned up. Only two books have been declared dead-Lord Jim and the CJ Cherryh Merovingen Nights book.

#206 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Lady Kay (205): Hooray!

#207 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 09:54 PM:

Me @204: Oddly, after I wrote that I got interviewed about Sasquan by a reporter for a local Spokane alt-weekly -- and one of the things she asked about was filk! So I got to talk with her about how it started and some of the ways it works. Synchronicity, ain't it wonderful.

#208 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 09:55 PM:

Cassy B. @ # 194, my impression is that the texture is very soft, sort of pudding-like. It's supposed to be VERY sweet, but with more (floral?) fragrance than a banana.

#209 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2015, 10:06 PM:

I've had pawpaws which were just plain sweet, and pawpaws with a complex flavor that reminded me of other fruits.

The flesh is very soft, and there are big shiny black seeds in it-- probably another reason they aren't grown commercially. They aren't convenient to eat.

#211 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 11:40 AM:

I'm not sure Carter was a particularly good president[1], but he seems to me to be the best human being who happened to hold the presidency during my lifetime, at least so far.

[1] It's hard to judge that, because so much of the success of failure of a presidency is driven by outside stuff that the president has relatively little power to change. Really bad decisions can still wreck your presidency, but you might do everything right and still have a failed presidency because of stuff you had no control over, or do a lot wrong and still have a successful presidency because of stuff you had very little to do with.

#212 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 11:48 AM:


I think thought experiments like the trolley problem are perfectly reasonable things to use to illuminate different parts of a complicated bit of moral reasoning. (Lawyers and physicists both use similar techniques sometimes.)

Where this gets messy is when you try to use the moral insights from your thought experiment directly in the real world. Real-world situations rarely line up with the ideal assumptions of the thought experiment. Also, it often seems like the thought experiments are trotted out to justify doing things that are pretty unambiguously immoral, but with a fig leaf of argument that they're really okay. (If a married man starts spinning out various scenarios to his friends in which it would be okay for a man to cheat on his wife, it's more likely that he's planning adultery than thinking deeply about moral philosophy.)

#213 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 01:04 PM:

I'd like to see a few ethical thought experiments that include when people are obligated to sacrifice themselves rather than someone else. Or possibly requiring finding a solution that doesn't involve sacrificing people.

I could be too worried about this, but I think training people into a "who do I sacrifice" frame of mind isn't healthy.

Some people have personal history which makes those problems extremely stressful.

#214 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 02:04 PM:

I'm not sure Carter was a particularly good president[1], but he seems to me to be the best human being who happened to hold the presidency during my lifetime, at least so far.

I happen to agree, for the most part, but I do hold two grudges against Carter. The first is his intervention in Afghanistan, and I probably don't need more the word "blowback" to explain my feelings. That being said, it's the kind of stupid foreign adventure the US has been engaging in for years, so its not surprising that Carter got involved in at least one dumb foreign engagement, so this doesn't enrage me like the other thing does, it just strikes me as a blemish on an otherwise good record.

Second, and this is the one that really, really enrages me, was Carter's extraordinarily poor campaign against Reagan in 1980, particularly his willingness to let Reagan damn Carter as a "Liberal." I could be wrong here, but I think a smart, aggressive campaigner would have wrapped the word "Liberal" around Reagan's neck. Carter should have explained that yes, he was a Liberal, "...and here's why I am a Liberal, and here are the good things Liberals have done for the US, and Reagan's attempt to vilify me with the word proves that he's the anti-progress candidate." and so on.

I turned 18-years-old three weeks after Reagan's election, and Carter's 1980 campaign was my introduction to the idea that Democrat's can't campaign for shit.

All that being said, it's a major bummer that Carter has cancer. From my POV he's the one president we've had in my lifetime who probably deserved to die painlessly in his sleep.

#215 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 05:49 PM:

Alex R@214

The economy in 1980 was in seriously bad shape with the trendlines in the wrong direction. Add in a VERY high profile foreign policy setback and a bitter primary campaign and it's actually surprising that the margin wasn't even larger than it was. And that it remained close for as long as it did.

Not claiming that Carter's campaign was a model of brilliance but I don't think ANYONE could have salvaged a victory for him absent a massive blunder by Reagan.

#216 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Aaaaand ... in hyperlocal news ... I am down one part-time job. Apparently, because I have ADD, I was GOING to screw up and I was let go preemptively before I could screw up. For a job which I was completely qualified for. And I didn't actually screw up. Ever. Not once. I was literally let go because she thought I MIGHT make a mistake.

Yes, I could take legal action. No, it's really not worth it for a job that was one day a week. If I won, I'd be working under this person, and I definitely do not want to EVER work with her again.

There's way more to it than that, and at the moment, I am quite furious, but

#217 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 06:00 PM:

(Accidentally clicked on post.)

Meant to say,

There's way more to it than that, and at the moment, I am quite furious, but it is really not worth it to take it any farther. Sigh.

#218 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 06:22 PM:

Cygnet, I'd expect that you'd be less likely to screw up, because you'd be more careful. And I understand not wanting to work under someone like that.

#219 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 06:23 PM:

Lady Kay @ 205 ...
Only two books have been declared dead-Lord Jim and the CJ Cherryh Merovingen Nights book.

It seems oddly apropos that Merovingen Nights, replete with water would end up being, well... replete, with water.

#220 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 06:34 PM:


Let's hope that this will lead to you finding another part job with a human being for a boss and that you will really enjoy working at. In the meantime - so sorry about all this :(

#221 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Cygnet (216/217): How infuriating. Sympathies.

#222 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 08:22 PM:

Re: Part Time job -- I should note that I was still in training, but until the ADD came up, it was assumed I had the job. The boss was telling people she'd "finally found someone with a brain" and "she's just what I was looking for."

I am not posting this for sympathy, but posting this because it's a classic example of what people who are not neurotypical have to deal with on a pretty regular basis. Some of the others here may be familiar with this kind of thing. It was an extreme example, but it happens ALL THE TIME.

I am fairly obviously ADD. If you know what to look for, it's very obvious in the way I move. (I have that jerky, hyper, somewhat PHYSICALLY disorganized body language -- my brain will think "go left" and my body will turn right on its own. That sort of thing. So people familiar with ADD usually pick up on it pretty quick. I'm also high functioning autistic, but most people, if they see the signs, assume that's just more ADD-ness.)

I had been trying very hard to pass as neurotypical initially, but I can't keep it up forever, and when the body language started to slip in, and likely some verbal cues to (rapidfire changes in subject, and those inevitable "Oh, look, a squirrel!" moments. "Look at the shiny! Oops, that was kinda ADD, wasn't it?") And she picked up on it after a few days.

I am also good at pattern matching, very good at detail-oriented tasks that require a lot of focus, and I was generally extremely well suited for this particular job. I would have excelled at it. She was looking for a reliable employee who could do the job? She had one in me!

It was actually far, far, less taxing or difficult, and had far less responsibility involved, than some jobs I've had in the past. Jobs, I mighty add, that I excelled at and if I wanted to move back to the city (not happening) I could easily get back. With rare exceptions generally related to assholes for bosses, most of my employers would have me back. Shoot, I had moved on to bigger and better things once, left a job in good standing, and ten years later ran into my old boss at the airport and he asked if I was interested in having my old job back because he still remembered what a good job I did! (And that was a job rather similar to what I just got let go from.)

A few days ago, the boss told me I was doing a wonderful job (which I had been hearing all along) and then said, "Do you have ADD?"

A bit startled (I've never been bluntly asked that by an employer before.) I admitted I did.

She said, "Then maybe this isn't the right job for you."

Me: ...

(My actual reaction was to stare at her wordlessly and then giggle. I've NEVER had anyone say something quite that bluntly before. I've certainly "known" when people have an issue with me, but it's never been said to my face before.)

I'm still in training. She's teaching me the job, right? I've only been training a handful of days.

She proceeded to spend the next couple of days watching me like a hawk for any perceived error, omission, or forgetfulness, while stating I was "spacy" and "scatterbrained" and repeatedly referring to the ADD.

"Most people with ADD wouldn't be able to do this."

"Creative people with ADD are wonderful, but they can't do this job. There are other jobs you'd be better suited for."


The thing is, I made no actual errors and didn't actually forget anything. And again, I'm completely suited for the job.

She would "think" I was "about to make a mistake" and call me out on it, before I made any mistake. She'd say I "looked like I was about to make a mistake." Now, unless she's psychic, how the heck can she see into the future to know if I was about to make a mistake?

I would also be about to do a task and she'd say, "Don't forget to do $task!" as I'm physically going to do it. Then she would claim she had to "remind" me because I "forgot." If you remind someone BEFORE they forget something, they didn't actually forget.

If I tried to defend myself and point out that she was correcting me BEFORE I actually screwed up, she would claim that she "knew" I was going to screw up because she's a "mother" and if I persisted she would tell me that she could tell when people were lying because she was a mother (of an ADD kid), too.

Yes, she pretty much correlated dishonesty with ADD. Because apparently, when ADD people screw up, they are always going to lie about it to cover their tracks. (I am generally the first person to point out my own errors.)


Also, apparently, you need to be a Christian conservative to be a good worker. Heathen liberals are ruining this country, cheat, lie, steal, take advantage of entitlement programs, abort their babies, smoke and tattoo themselves then stand in line in front of her at the grocery store and pay for their junk food with food stamps, and just generally do not make good employees for reasons that should be obvious to any good Christian.

I'm a heathen liberal. I suppose it wouldn't have worked out anyway.

#223 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 08:32 PM:

She's very much not suited to be a supervisor of anyone. (I'd probably have told her where to go.)

#224 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 09:13 PM:

And she's rather obviously breaking a whole bunch of laws. Not that it's going to be worth it for you to fight about them.

#225 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 10:04 PM:

Whitmore, PJ Evans: Yeah, she's breaking a ton of laws, and yeah, I know I could go after her. It is truly not worth it even if I won, and odds are, if I tried, I'd lose -- she's a conservative Christian woman in Tea Party Central and I'm not. I might win legally, but she has multiple ways she could make my life hell and even ruin my own business, which is actually how I make a living.

The only thing I regret (and the only reason I took this job) is that this job would have given me the experience necessary for bigger and better things, in a field I'm very interested in. Oh well.

I did tell her off and stood up for myself. I expect she'll have a few sleepless nights.

Ah, well.

#226 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 10:11 PM:

To clarify, sleepless nights because when it all went pear shaped, I spelled out for her, exactly what labor laws she was breaking -- she was also flagrantly violating wage laws.

I do not intend to pursue anything, but she knows for a fact I could, and by her behavior, she also knows she was in the wrong.

#227 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 11:53 PM:

Sadly the Murray-Bahms will not be at Sasquan. A bizarre combination of house buying, moving, temporary unemployment, and an (ideally permanent) toe amputation will do that. But I encourage everyone to attend MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City next year. Y'all might be familiar with some of the Guests of Honor. And we have The Best Barbecue in the Known Universe™.

#228 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2015, 11:54 PM:

Sadly the Murray-Bahms will not be at Sasquan. A bizarre combination of house buying, moving, temporary unemployment, and an (ideally permanent) toe amputation will do that. But I encourage everyone to attend MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City next year. Y'all might be familiar with some of the Guests of Honor. And we have The Best Barbecue in the Known Universe™.

#229 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 12:46 AM:

In hyperlocal news, new RN takes night shift job, looks for tricks for timeshifting from experienced hands. Amber glasses, darkened room, and plenty of calories and liquid shortly before bed. Any other suggestions?

#230 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 03:54 AM:

Not claiming that Carter's campaign was a model of brilliance but I don't think ANYONE could have salvaged a victory for him absent a massive blunder by Reagan.

This is all very true, but "He's a Liberal" or "She's a Liberal" has been good, Republican currency ever since. Carter didn't just lose an election, he handed the Conservatives a nasty weapon, and his unwillingness to fight back gives that weapon power to this very day. I'm not saying a victory was likely even if he'd fought back brilliantly, but smacking the shit out of Reagan on that particular issue was important regardless and he didn't do it.

#231 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 05:53 AM:

Laura #229 - try to get to bed in the morning as soon as possible when you get sleepy. When I was doing night shift in the summer it got sunny and light long before I finished work and then by the time I got home it was definitely daytime and I felt much more awake.
Also you are likely to crave food around 4am in the morning, so what you do with that craving is up to you.
Also if coming off and on shift, it can help getting to bed later the couple of days before, and sleeping later. COming off is also tricky, some do it well, some don't. I tended to sleep for 4 hours, get up in a zombie like state and do boring chores, only perking up by the evening, but was then tired enough to sleep well and nearly normally that night.
Don't be afraid to experiment with things, but really it looks like you know the main things to do.

#232 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 09:15 AM:

#222 ::: Cygnet

Sympathies, and as you were describing your boss's annoying behaviors, I was thinking "that sounds like bad parenting" and then you said she said she was an expert because she's a mother. I'm sorry this happened to you, but I've actually got more sympathy for her children.

#233 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 01:09 PM:

Laura #229,

Dark bedroom. It won't be as dark as night but if you can see the sun, your body won't really want you to shift.
When I need to shift time (going to Europe for example), making a long day helps - just stay up until 5-6 on a day when you do not need to, and then repeat that for a few days. But then I usually don't have issues shifting time when needed.

#234 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 02:34 PM:

Open Threadiness: Some of you know the name Joe Boyd. He was the American producer who really made British folk-rock what it became, supporting Fairport Convention, Nick Drake and countless others over the years. He's just started a podcast, Joe Boyd's A-Z, where each week he's going to talk about a song beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. The first week the song is "Ain't Misbehaving" -- and I learned a lot about the person who wrote the lyrics. I can't wait to see what he's going to do each week! Highly recommended.

#235 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Cygnet @216/222: Sympathies. Talk about pre-judging!

#236 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Cygnet @216/222: Sympathies. Talk about pre-judging!

#237 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 05:28 PM:

I only pressed "post" once, ONCE!!!

#238 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 07:50 PM:

Laura@229 -- I don't know how you feel about chemicals, but melatonin helped me immensely when I had a graveyard shift.

Also, if at all possible, keep to the same schedule even when not working. Stay up all night and sleep during the day. It makes an immense difference on your physical health to keep the same schedule.

#239 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Also, generally, shifting sleep schedule is easier going forward than backward. I.e., where possible, go to bed later than the previous day. (I have a really hard time not doing this.)

#240 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2015, 10:17 PM:

As I've said before, Carter was the closest thing to a saint we've yet elected to the presidency.

Unfortunately, he was much better at doing good than battling evil, which is why he got eaten alive and (I believe) backstabbed by his CIA chief.

#241 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 02:30 AM:

Hmm. I seem to be a week behind. Sorry about out-of-order comments.

On government agencies using names: US states, cities, counties, and organizations thereof tend to be generally hopeless about DNS, and frequently don't use either .gov or .us. The Feds are a bit better, but still have things like "" (which they use for recruiting, not just because they're mercenaries for hire.)

On car pranks: my junior high school had an enclosed courtyard area that could only be reached by going up some stairs and through some doors. The football coach's VW ended up in there one day; I assume he probably made the team carry it back out.

Coincidentally, my church recently had a 4-week series of sermons about the book of Ruth. It was too hard to resist commenting about one week's "to be continued" with "and what about .... Naomi", which was entirely lost on my wife, who had not grown up with Sesame Street spinoff "The Electric Company"'s soap-opera spoof "Love of Chair" ending with that, and I'd said it quietly enough that it wasn't noticed by the people around me, who were mostly too young or non-US-born. (Technically I didn't grow up with Sesame Street either, nor Mr. Rogers, but my youngest sister did.)

#242 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 07:08 AM:

cygnet @222 and Nancy Lebovitz @232

I had the same reaction Nancy did. Your boss thought people with ADD lied to cover up their mistakes, probably because she has taught her child to do that. Which is a shame.

Sorry it wasn't the job you thought you were getting (or at least the boss), but I agree you're well out of the one you actully had.

#243 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 09:01 AM:

A discussion of the ineffectiveness of punitive parenting with many anecdotes in the comments of children who just aren't controlled by punishment.

I found that piece by way of which argues that a lot of claims about parenting methods and pickup artistry are efforts to present a system as cheat codes to control people, and in the real world, there are no absolutely reliable cheat codes.

#244 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 09:22 AM:

Bill@241, in some cases it's probably a pragmatic response to .com being by far the most popular Internet domain, and what a fair few people may try filling in by default

#245 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 03:29 PM:

This latest round of medical bills left me feeling really, really broke. So I decided to try selling some of my stories again. (Haven't had the emotional energy for it, these past few months.)

Can't find my stories on my new computer. Can't find my stories on my cloud storage.

Looks like I need to remote into my old computer (on the other side of the country) and see if I can figure out WTF happened.

Of course, those services cost money...

(My housemate, who is computer-sitting, is competent enough to turn it on but not really do any troubleshooting without supervision. And trying to troubleshoot your own computer over the phone is a special hell.)

#246 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 04:05 PM:

Dr Paisley @ #227: ...and an (ideally permanent) toe amputation...

Aren't they usually permanent?

#247 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 04:39 PM:

As requested in the last open thread, here's a photo of the penguin made from houndstooth fur. The scale of the fur is wrong for the size of the critter, but I wasn't going to make a scary-big penguin.

#248 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 06:05 PM:


#249 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2015, 08:45 PM:

Sarah E.: Oh, I was so biting back that question—!

#250 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2015, 05:51 PM:

Laura @ #229:

What has worked for me in the past is to see how many "go to sleep" events there'll be before the swing has to be complete, then shift my "go to be" time forwards by a suitable amount of hours to end up in the right place.

But, I don't really have a problem sleeping even in full daylight (I grew up at 59 degrees North, if you have a problem with daylight, you either need superb light-blocking curtains or sleep with daylight for ~3 months per year), so as far as colours or the help/unhelp from darkened rooms, I have no clue.

I tend to find it easier to "roll forward", than to "roll back", basically shifting by staying awake longer, then sleeping my normal amount. That can be done somewhat agressively, but I have problems doing more than 6-8 hours of shifting per "falling asleep" event.

#251 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2015, 11:13 PM:

So, our move to Cambridge is getting really close now (hence the not-going-to-Worldcon): we finished packing today and are loading pods with friends in the morning. I hope we can fit everything we want to... And that there is some great skill in 3d Tetris among our friends. I'm good, but I have seen experts at work, and know there is better.

#252 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2015, 11:22 PM:

A Worldcon question: I'm not able to make it this year, and have a reservation for Friday and Saturday at the Historic Davenport (the party hotel, not the Davenport Grand). Is it possible to have someone else take over the reservation, or should I simply cancel it and the con will figure out what to do? If the former, I'd want to note it to the ML community first.

#253 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 12:19 AM:

At this point, Kathryn: cancel. It's easier for the con if they get to handle it. And let people here know (as you have done) so they know they can ask. I'm speaking from the perspective of a convention organizer first, and a ML community member second -- but I believe this will get the best result for both.

#254 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 12:56 AM:

Getting the last bunch of stuff together for Worldcon. The bad news - my fabulous purple silk corset no longer fits my majestic rotundity. The good news - my roommate has a spare stola and palla that look fabulous on me and will be super comfortable for The Time Traveler's Ball. Of course, I have achieved only minimal competence with the waltz, and my polka is an energetic traveling affair more suitable for the stage than the ballroom. Not to mention my aversion to being touched by strangers. But no matter. I AM DRESSING UP AND GOING OUT. I am not permitted to hole up in my room with a bunch of books.

#255 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 02:50 AM:

Sarah @245: Sympathies and good luck for remote retrieval of your stories.

#256 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 01:03 PM:

@Cygnet: As a fellow, fully-diagnosed ADDer (the Inattentive variety), you have my sympathy, and my outrage. I'm just glad it was only one day a week. What a rotten boss.

#257 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 02:09 PM:

So, you want a book of romantic songs...shaped like a heart...bound in red velvet...with illustrations picked out in gold leaf...and some cutesy emoticons?

Here it is, in all its handmade glory, from 1470.

I've heard it asserted that kitsch is an artifact of the age of mass production. Ha!

#258 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 06:08 PM:

I'm amazed. I didn't know that that shape meant 'romance' as early as that.

#259 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 07:09 PM:

The best game of 3D Tetris I ever played was when my friend Geoff was moving to another part of the state and needed to put all his stuff into a storage locker. The locker rental included finite use of a truck.

At the storage facility, some measurements were taken, and it was ascertained that the locker would hold as much as the contents of the main truck. There were also items in one or two other vehicles. Things looked pretty bad.

So I took charge. This was my meat. I directed boxes and furniture pieces in, using advanced stacking techniques to make three things take the space of two. We filled that unit from floor to ceiling and from back to front. I had a thin board four or five feet long that I used to seat items comfortably higher than my head. When we got to the end of Geoff's stuff, there was no apparent space left at the front of the storage unit.

I helpfully held up the board I'd been using and invited Geoff to put it in the unit. "It's waffer thin!" I said.

So I was the big hero. Yay! We went out for pizza after that, but it was Papa John, so I've never ever helped anybody again. The end.

#260 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 07:13 PM:

Kip: Yeah, seriously: one negotiates the kind of pizza before the move, right?

#261 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 07:25 PM:

While I ate an awful lot of Papa John's prior to grad school, we paid our friends in Cheeseboard Pizza. As you do, when you live two blocks south on Shattuck.

There has been absolutely amazing 3D tetris accomplished this day. Everything that we wanted to take - even a few "we're OK dumping this, but we'd rather not" - including a Papasan chair - fit in the containers! They'll get picked up tomorrow, and we'll get them back on the 26th, having followed them East on the 25th.

#262 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 08:10 PM:

Jacque, it was my only experience with the brand.

#263 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 09:06 PM:

From the Department of So Many Books So Little Time Department, I finally read a book by Ellen Kushner -- The Privilege of the Sword. I adored the narrator's voice, and couldn't put it down. I stayed up far too late last night, and was distracted at work today. I read it on the bus home, finished it on my front porch, and now I shall decide which of her books to put on my Kobo next.

#264 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2015, 09:26 PM:

Open thready question to those with professional ties to the publishing industry: How common is it for a SF/F writer to go through four (or more) agents in a career?

#265 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 02:06 AM:

My uncle claims to have helped in the disassembly:reassembly of a car at Case Western, ca 1952.

My stepfather says that at UM they used to use the fire hoses to create skating rinks on the first floor; by leaving the doors open in Feb (ca 1965).

Re Tuckerizing: I've been tuckerized twice once in a book (Vampire Junction), and once in a video game (for the Amiga).

Re "mobbing behaviors": I have taken photos of magpies attacking red tail hawks. I have one which shows (a la Muybridge) that they actually hit the hawks when they do this.

#266 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 07:38 AM:

Elliott Mason #258: I'm amazed. I didn't know that that shape meant 'romance' as early as that.

ISTR it dates back to well before the Christian era, though perhaps more general than "romance".

#267 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 08:12 AM:

Question about Boston-area weather.

I'm considering attending 2016 Arisia (January 15-18, 2016). A major concern is the possibility of bad winter weather.

Any thoughts on how likely it is that there will be a serious snowstorm around that time in the Boston area?

"Serious" meaning enough snow to cause cancellation of incoming or outgoing flights from Logan airport.

(My originating airport would be BWI, between DC and Baltimore. Some possibility of serious snow, but presumably Boston weather is more likely to be the issue.)

#268 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 09:57 AM:

Michael I @267:

The change of transportation-hosing weather around Arisia is low but nonzero.

I've been coming to Arisia or other Boston-area January events since about 2000. I remember two years in which snow caused problems. In 2004 (2003 maybe? No, web site says 2005) the airport was closed on Sunday and the con extended itself with an impromptu day of extra programming. And this year, of course, snow caused travel problems from January through March. (That started slightly after Arisia, but really, you can't talk about Boston snow without mentioning early 2015.) (Boskone in February had real problems, airport *and* subway.)

So, on the odds, this should not be a major worry for you.

The chance that there will *have been* snow, well-plowed out of the streets and sidewalks, is quite high.

The chance that it will be damn flippin' cold is very high.

(Honestly I'm not sure that Boston is snowier than DC, in January. In November or March, yes... We had a Halloween snowstorm a few years back...)

#269 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 10:03 AM:

Michael I @267: Have you considered the train instead of flying? With all the transfers, it only takes a little more time, and it's a lot more likely to get through in January. The chance of a serious snowstorm is well under 50%, but well over 5% (estimated not from living there but from visiting).

#270 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 10:36 AM:

Michael I: This coming winter is supposed to have a very strong El Nino; looking up the effect of El Nino on Boston weather tells me that this winter should be warmer and wetter than usual, with less snow (and thus, I suppose, more rain?). Of course, that's trends, not forecasts, so you could still be snowed in somewhere, or the plane could be not available because of knock-on effects of problems somewhere else....

#271 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Andrew Plotkin@268: The chance that it will be damn flippin' cold is very high.

But, of course, not guaranteed. Boston weather likes to mess with you. (I think that in most years the food trucks parked behind the hotel produced a huddle of freezing people, and I was sure someone would make a killing running a courier service over those few meters between the hotel and the trucks. One year people were waiting in line in T-shirts.)

#272 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 10:44 AM:

Re fat men and motorcycles: it doesn't take a fat person to upset one. Newton will keep it in motion for some little while after that, but if there was something it was likely to hit, that risk drops abruptly.

(Saith the rider of motorcycles, who has been derailed by a cyanothus bush, the bike travelled much less distance than had been previously expected)

#273 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 11:27 AM:

Batgirl, aka Yvonne Craig, had passed away.

#274 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 03:52 PM:

Well, it is of course too late and my duties at Singularity University stop me from going to the convention, but I did write up my very minimalist and super simple amendment as an alternative to e Pluribus Hugo. I thought I would note it here for posterity. It has one big advantage -- it would fix the 2016 Hugos if desired if it were ratified in 2016 prior to the tallying of the ballots for that year.

It is simply the addition of write-in, and some clever tricks. It leaves the decision and power with the fans.

Voters may also write in their personal choice of candidate, so long as said candidate is eligible for nomination in that category, and so long as the total number of ranked candidates or written-in choices in that category does not exceed the number its official candidates on the final ballot, with “no award” not considered part of either count.

Clever tricks can be found at:
this blog post

#275 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 03:55 PM:

Brad @274:

Your link is munged beyond retrieval, I'm afraid.

#276 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 04:00 PM:

I suspect the link was meant to be this:

#277 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 04:28 PM:

Yes, that is the correct link -- not sure what happened with the other.

#278 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 04:37 PM:

Cally @276:

Thank you.

Brad @274:

Assuming that Cally's link is correct, I have to say that I find this suggestion to be a truly terrible idea, for a few reasons.

First of all, it's going to require more effort from the Hugo administrators. They would have to tabulate the write-in candidates, deduplicate them across multiple misspellings (I've seen five different spellings of "Torgersen" during this kerfuffle), ascertain eligibility, and basically do a ton of additional work at the final count. That's not going to make it popular with the people who run the process, even before you put them into the firestorm of your second proposal.

Because I can see no way that the committee you propose won't turn into a controversy magnet. Requiring the fannish community to trust the judgment of a committee right at this point in time will simply deepen the divisions already present. What would a group already convinced of a secretive conspiracy to dominate the Hugos think of a committee with "confidential access to all the nominating ballots" and the power to determine whether there's been "corruption"? The mind boggles, and the blood pressure rises, just at the thought of it.

Really, I can't see how this won't end in personal recriminations, heartache, and even more hostility than we're already laboring under. With luck, it won't include doxxing and threats, but I don't think our luck is in these days.

And third of all, sneaking a change past the process this year would be absolutely incendiary. And rightly so. Of all the times to do things clearly, rightly, and above-board, the days of grief and controversy are the most important. What we do, we must do openly, clearly, and unimpeachably honorably, or this will turn into a further running sore in the community for years to come.

Basically, I can't say that this amendment, or the timing of your revelation of it (just right to put a spoke in EPH, without offering a genuinely viable alternative) puts me in great faith of your predictions of fannish behavior. I can't believe that you proposed this out of a genuine desire to blow everything up, but the alternative is that you somehow don't see that this is precisely what you're doing.

I like you a lot, Brad, but this isn't the human solution to a human problem that you think it is. It's oil on troubled fires, and I'd thought you had a better sense of people than that.

#279 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 04:53 PM:

Since we were discussing recipes a while ago, I thought I'd share this blog post I found, it's on the Recipes Project, which blogs on lots of things to do with recipes in history, and not just food recipes.

What I found interesting was the varieties of snowball and how they were changed over time to fit new tastes and available ingredients.

#280 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 05:40 PM:

Michael I @267:Having lived in the Boston area for mumble-mumble years, I'd say it's possible but unlikely that Boston would be hit by an airport-closing snowstorm on any given January weekend. And frankly, any storm bad enough to shut Logan down would probably be big enough and bad enough to shut BWI down as well.

#282 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 06:10 PM:

In the "My Privileged Elite Background, Revealed" thread, around comment 200 or so, the prospect of who looks down on whom, the sciencies or the artsies, raised its head.

It is not my intent to bring that up here, quite.

However, being from the sciency side of that divide, (academic background: math) I have realized that, yes, I do have a tendency to look down my nose at the academic status of the less mathy academic disciplines and I'd like to stop doing that.

I believe - I am not certain - that a good deal of my disdain comes from a lack of exposure to actual rigorous serious non-math-based academics. My humanities distro requirements in undergrad were fulfilled by a true joke of a literature course (*) and three terms fumbling around my inability to hear well enough to tune my violin.

For subjects in mathematics or computer science and probably for that matter other hard and life sciences, I have enough background that I can now when I wish continue my education and dive deeper. I have my Rudin; I have my Knuth. Even when venturing out into the vast unwashed mess of what comes up with a Google search, I have enough broad background to filter the ridiculous or just confusing out of the way and continue.

The same is not true if I wish to figure out why, for example, someone I know could say that she found CS a much easier major intellectually than the English program she switched from. What is it that English (and Humanities in general) majors do in their courses that leads to such a statement? Actually, what is it that they do at all? All I know is that it involves lots and lots of writing. (And stress, and tears when files are lost.)

So how would I go about discovering whatever it is that actually goes on on the other side of the sciency/artsy divide? Are there standard materials that one must consult for reference but not actually read straight through (as with Knuth, Rudin above)? If so, what are the other sources one should read and digest fully start-to-finish to know enough to even properly reference those things?

(*) Made so primarily by the in-class discussion, which was as it was because there were lots of people just taking it just for the distro credit, and entirely too many first-year students. So, yes, this is a circle I was part of, but the professor let us get away with such shallow discussion.

#283 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 07:20 PM:

Daniel Martin @282 - It's always seemed to me that the arts and the "soft" sciences require great intellectual rigor simply because they are "soft" - there is no bedrock of inarguable fact, as it were, to support one's theses.

In the hard sciences, you've got definite objective facts you can build on - two plus two equals four, objects of a given mass accelerate proportionately to the force applied to them, iron is different from hydrogen, giraffes have more legs than slugs but fewer than centipedes, and so on. In the fuzzy subjects, if you're going to do anything consistent and worthwhile with them, you need to define your terms and your methods of approach with great care and attention. Because you have no solid bedrock, as it were, you have to build very sturdy intellectual scaffolding.

The truth of "Two plus two equals four" is comparatively straightforward to demonstrate. The truth of "Shakespeare was a great writer" is something that requires you to demonstrate that you know who Shakespeare was, and to come up with some definition of what makes for "greatness" in a writer, and even to define what "writing" is. Actually analysing all these questions is a whole bunch of work.

Of course, there is room for any number of different approaches to these questions - different makes and styles of your intellectual scaffolding, if I may push the metaphor a bit further - which leads one into the territory of meta-analysis, comparing which approaches and which philosophies give what sorts of results....

The thing is, these things do, in the end, feed back into the "hard" sciences - because, although the hard sciences concern themselves with objective fact, the people doing hard science are those notoriously fuzzy creatures called human beings, and the intellectual scaffolding they build on their solid bedrock may, in fact, influence the work that they do.

Perhaps a useful approach, for you, might be to look into the philosophy of science itself? The two "big names" that immediately spring to mind, here, are of course Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn - but starting from those guys could lead you into all sorts of interesting directions.

(My own academic background, such as it is, consists of an MA in Linguistics and an MSc in Software Engineering. I've spent a fair amount of time doing formal grammars and stuff, and I've read an awful lot of Wittgenstein. Basically, though, I exist in the no man's land between arts and science, keeping my head well down while getting shelled by both sides....)

#284 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 07:23 PM:

Abi, I must admit I am confused. The Hugo adminstrators already take a large write-in ballot, de-duplicate variant spellings and do all that. This is what the nominating ballot is. I actually suspect the task for the final ballot would be an easier task, with far less variation of names. Not that variation of names is a particularly hard problem. It's probably 10 minutes work! This is no barrier to a system that would otherwise save the awards. I would happily volunteer to do the effort, I have conducted many Hugo style votes and other votes and written software to do so, this is not an idle offer.

My timing could improve, I agree. I actually did participate quite a bit in the EPH and other debates, though, and advanced these philosophies several times there (though not this exact proposal) and found much more support for EPH, to the point of it not being productive and as such I withdrew from discussion on this site. Nonetheless, I felt it appropriate to link to my final conclusions as we head into the convention.

I am pretty confident that your impression of the contention is unlikely to be true, though I do understand your fear of rancour over any expression of human judgement. But as I point out, almost every other system out there does not solve this problem with game theory as EPH seeks to do, but solves it with human judgment, in spite of all the flaws. When one is going against the established wisdom so strongly, so overwhelmingly, one may well be the great genius who sees a new light -- but that's not the way to bet.

To the point, I look at this year's situation. If write-in already was waiting for ratification this year, I think there would have been broad support to having the committee pull out the puppy ballots and list the should-have-made-it candidates. I expect there would have been some arguing about it, but much, much, much less arguing than we've had about the problem in general (by a couple of orders of magnitude.)

After all, all I'm suggesting this group be able to do is to publish the names of some candidates who didn't make the ballot. Information that will be published in 5 days anyway.

In fact, let me go further and simpler. I don't think there's any significant reason that a convention could not publish the names and totals of the next 5 candidates in any category the day they publish the final ballot. Or even all the non-nominated candidates. Traditionally they don't, they wait post ceremony, but why not earlier?

Now, there is a reason not to publish the nomination totals for the actually final ballot "winners." With write-in, these works that didn't make the ballot will be at a disadvantage, because we'll know they had less than anything that made it. As such, fans would need to really love them, but they would have a shot. And most importantly, fans could judge if there was corruption and fans could fix it if they felt it strongly.

What do you think of that revision? Write-in, and the committee publishes the rest of the nominees (or just the top 5) with the ballot. let fans figure out the rest. Support will still focus strongly on the 5 who made the ballot, for sure -- write in is always a hard sell. Only something as dramatic as the puppies would be likely to make it happen.

Most importantly to me, it's robust. A slate conspiracy can't easily be secret. It needs to recruit supporters, and it's very hard for a big group to keep a secret. Let them try, and the fans would fix it.

Now I still like doing a real analysis of the ballot for corruption to get us closer to the truth. While I know it could cause disagreement on how that would be done, I think it's valuable. But if the fear of that disagreement is as strong as you feel, then the simple formulaic approach can also work.

#285 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 07:28 PM:

Oh yeah, let me add that there is one piece of data in the nomination list that might have a very minor effect on voting for the final nominees, namely the disclosure of works withdrawn by an author. That would be disclosed by the publication of the below-threshold nominees with the ballot. I judge the effect of that to be quite minor. In STV, work withdrawl is usually a foolish strategy, though not 100% so it does happen.

Otherwise my only main negative on the idea of publishing the whole list and allowing write-in is that it might not work, because write-in historically rarely gels enough to work. Only extreme events (like puppies) would be likely to get it to work.

We also learn from the nomination list sometimes that an author has more (or less support) for their broad body of work than we might have estimated. Again this is very minor.

#286 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 08:16 PM:

Write-ins are ALREADY what happens in the nominating phase. I don't see how it helps to have it in the voting phase as well.

And as for having a panel or committee with the power to throw out nominations... not just no, but HELL no. (I apologize if I've misunderstood your position here.)

#287 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Sorry, a committee with the power to throw out nominations? Where did you read that? Certainly there has been no talk of that. (I did describe an option where people could review the ballots for signs of corruption and tell people before they are normally required to be told, the names of additional candidates they judge were unfairly pushed off the ballot, but that's not fully necessary to this discussion.)

Write-in, which is common in many elections ranging from big political ones to the Hugo nominations and WSFS site selection, is usually a way for the electorate to correct errors in the nomination process. That's why it's there, most of the time, and that's what we need.

The difference is that the nomination process (corrupted as it is or otherwise) gathers a set of candidates on which voters are expected to focus. This helps voters choose what to read in advance, may define what goes in a voter packet and so on. It's still a valuable process -- even more so if it's not corrupted of course.

Though many elections, even those that are not corrupted, still feature write-in options. They feature them to deal with the question of "what if something was wrong with the nominating process?" What if there is a candidate which was shut out of that process for some reason, or who arose to prominence only after the deadline for it expired? This, and many other things like that happen, and that's why there are write ins.

They rarely change the results. They are left in because they make the election appear more fair, and because in very rare cases they actually do more than make it appear fair, and change the results.

They are the catch-all solution. Whatever was wrong with the nomination process, if the voters have a strong feeling, they are empowered to fix it.

I do hope this reminds people of the plight of an award they like.

The reality of write-in is that unless something is really wrong (as it is in 2015) the write-in would have minor effect, if any. The official nominating ballot will normally entirely dominate the minds of all but a few voters, and all would be as it normally is.

Unless something is really wrong, like an attack on the nomination process.

BTW, there is no reason you could not have write-in (and early publication of non-winners) combined with EPH. In fact, you should.

I will say that much of the time, the winner of the Hugo is the top nomination getter, and wins by the 4th or 5th are quite rare, though they do exist. They are more common in some categories than others. (Doctor Who: Pandorica Opens was a Hugo winner that was #4 in nominations, it is an example of a winner that would probably have been pushed off by a slate, even in EPH.)

#288 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 09:14 PM:

Brad, are you volunteering to do the work of figuring out what people intended to write in?
(Having been involved in Hugos, I can tell you that you don't want to drop this on the final ballots.)

#289 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 09:26 PM:

Brad @284:
The Hugo adminstrators already take a large write-in ballot, de-duplicate variant spellings and do all that. This is what the nominating ballot is. I actually suspect the task for the final ballot would be an easier task, with far less variation of names.

This year, there were 2122 nominating ballots. The task of determining which variant names and titles were in fact the same was, to put it lightly, nontrivial.

This year, there were 5914 ballots for the finals. If even half of them had write-in candidates for problematic categories, the final vote count could go from the status quo of "so simple a computer can do it" to a more human-labor-intensive task than the nominating round.

#290 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 09:43 PM:

Brad, my mistake; I misunderstood the power you were giving the committee. I saw you wanted to give a committee the power to decide what is a slate, got interrupted by a phone call, and made an incorrect assumption as to the direction of your argument, for which I sincerely apologize.

But giving humans the power to rule on what is, and what is not, a slate is still problematic. You're putting in place a cabal where there has never been a cabal before.

Let EPH work for a year or two; then decide if further changes need to be made.

#291 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 10:24 PM:

In 1984 we used mark-sense ballots, and still had to deal with decoding What People Meant. And dealing with people who felt that '#2 Pencil' included 2H pencil, black India ink, blue ball-point pen, and proofreading marks in the spaces. (We spent actual money to re-mark ballots so they could be read by the machine.)

Never assume that people will do it right, even with instructions.

#292 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2015, 11:38 PM:

Daniel Martin @282: If you wish to dabble your toes in zoological anatomy and phylogenetics/taxonomy, I can highly recommend the readable blog Tetrapod Zoology, by Darren Naish, and its also-extremely-knowledgeable commentariat. Everyone participating there is versed in how to be highly rigorous in their disciplines, but also where the realistic boundaries of "what CAN be rigorously discovered, and what must always be speculation? And how can we keep our speculation from launching out into bullshit?" lie. They have deep archives, so you can start from animals and groups you know something about and wiki-safari from there.

If you do podcasts, The Weekly Weinersmith is also really good -- the two hosts (Kelly Weinersmith, who is a parasitologist, and her husband Zack, who writes the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) read current scientific papers in a variety of (mostly biological) disciplines and then hash them out in discussion on-air. They also have regular episodes where another scientist comes on to talk about their specific research.

#293 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:00 AM:

Daniel Martin @282:

What Steve Wright said is excellent. I'm a Humanities student who quite likes science (my minor is in Geology), and I find that the humanities are more interdisciplinary than the sciences are. There's that xkcd comic where everything's a subset of math, and to a degree, that's true, and it definitely helps to know chemistry if you're studying biology, etc.

But when I write assignments for my geology classes*, I don't tend to have to go and do research in, say, biology journals. The physics involved is the stuff I learned in high school about friction, specific heat, and density. If I got into meteorology seriously, I'd need more math, but as it is, not so much.

On the other hand, I just wrote a paper on Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (unofficially titled "Christopher Marlowe: Punk, Gadabout, and Kicker of Shit") and how it related to medieval morality plays (it's like he turned "Everyman" inside-out, it's amazing). I wound up with history books, religious studies articles, a psychology textbook, stuff about the economics of the church and the nobility of Elizabethan England and how that affected the arts, a political science analysis of relations between England, France, and Germany at the time, another article that was an analysis of a book that amounted to a several centuries post-facto coroner's report on Marlowe**, an article on the distribution of and printing of dramatic texts after the invention of the printing press, some minutes from the Privy Council stating that all plays had to be approved by the Lord Mayor's office and a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury... and that was just the background work for the first three pages to introduce what I was going to be talking about, so that people would realize why I thought Marlowe was being especially sneaky by having Faustus follow the pattern of a Classical tragic hero in the framework of a Medieval morality play.

My conclusion is that Faustus was a much better human than the Everyman character, and that God in Doctor Faustus was a jerk.

... and then I handed it in, got home, and realized that I accidentally called Aristotle Sophocles and somehow both I and the person who edited it missed that. *facepalm*

Meanwhile for my Geology class at the same ostensible level, I found a bunch of rocks and identified them by filling in a chart labelling their characteristics, and wrote a report on my methods. "Here's what I did! It means that the area around where I live is on sedimentary plain." It was excellent and really good fun, because I happen to like squinting at things through a tiny magnifying class and seeing all the little details, but it required a lot less background work.

Humanities and Sciences are both about finding patterns in things, but I find that Humanities has a lot more patterns, and they're all kind of tangled up, and the joy's in the untangling. And people can disagree with you entirely! With my Geology report, pretty much everyone who looks at my findings is going to go "yep, sedimentary plain"***. Likewise, I imagine, with most sciences, though I know there's the usual amount of "this is how we've always done it/that's not possible/politics" stuff. But someone else can look at Doctor Faustus (in fact, they have, I cited their papers) and all the same things I looked at, and say "nah, Faustus is a jerk, he totally had it coming, rah rah God". So my argument has to be completely and utterly airtight. Which, yes, science needs to be at the graduate level and in practical application, but at the undergraduate level, not so much, because there's a certain amount of "everyone knows"-ness to it.

Where to start? I'd say pick a book, or some poetry, or a play, or a painting -- something you like -- and go to a research librarian, because librarians are magic. Ideally, pick something written in a time or place you're not familiar with, because patterns stand out more if they're not part of your background paradigm. I learned last summer that at one point it was cheaper to cover your painting in gold leaf than it was to use a certain colour of blue, which was counter-intuitive to me and made me realize that the Virgin's robe was the most "valuable" part of the painting economically, and what does that say about why she's in blue?

So go to a research librarian and ask for help finding a good book on the history of the time. Then read/look at the work again, and see what you notice. What does the culture it was written in find to be virtuous? What does it find to be terrible? (If you look at a city, what are its tallest and most prominent buildings?) If it's a material work, like a painting or a sculpture, what's it made of (see: blue) and where did it come from?

I wonder if the study of Arts is mostly just a way to Get All The Jokes and References.

*I don't know how true this would continue to be if I did postgrad work. We're talking undergraduate How The Planet Works here. But then, I'm also talking undergrad lit.

**Stabbed in the head in a bar brawl. I can't believe Shakespeare has had so many biopics and Marlowe hasn't yet; the guy was fascinating, sexy, dramatic, controversial, probably a spy, and died excitingly. You'd probably have to tone things down for the movie!

***Yes, climate change deniers, people who don't think evolution's a real thing, etc.,

#294 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:42 AM:

Brad from Sunnyvale: It's probably 10 minutes work!

At the risk of being tendentious: rubbish. In an average year there are ~2000 ballots. In a contentious year (e.g. this one) there are some 6,000.

I will wager the counting of the ballots, given they are limited in scope, is more than a trifle automated. Write in ballots can't be so automated. The counting of a limited set of options for an Australian ballot can take hours when there are only four categories, and usually not more than five candidates.

I also don't see that it prevents gaming the system. Unless I'm missing something what you are, in effect, doing is saying the nominees aren't really the nominees, but rather the most popular of the shortlist.

Moreover the same mechanism you suggest for correction could be used to stealth attack. Let's say I have a book which I know isn't going to win (for whatever reason, it came out too late in the year to be widely read, it was released early in the year and had poor reviews and worse sales, what have you). But I have a collection of devout fans who would like to see it win (say, 600 or so). If a small group put me on the ballot, then the larger group could write me in, with the resulting win.

As it stands we have a way to cope with people gaming the system (No Award), making a new set of rules to game is problematic (and why the proposals bruited about here were so thoroughly hashed). To add one at the last minute, which makes more work, and seems (to me) to create more ways to gum up the works strikes me as a bad idea.

#295 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:56 AM:

Re the sciences and the humanities (and the soft-sciences).

I like all of 'em. (I'm sort of polymathic, with a poor grasp of mathematics past alegebra; though apparently [say those who have more math than I] I understand what those other maths do, to some level of practical comprehension)

But non-math languages are slippery. One of the things I really like is sword play (and military science). Trying to reconstruct what the european martial arts were is brutally difficult; hampered by a break in tradition, and TONS of misapprehensions over the time from when swords were the weapon of decision, and the present.

I have some theories, but it takes pages to set up the background, and then more pages to explain away the things people think they know (e.g. european swords of the latter 16th century weighed between 1.5-2.8 lbs. Japanese swords of the same time frame wieghed... about the same: it's physics and physiognomy. Humans have limits to what they can swing about; and if it's too light it can't do the work, if it's too heavy making so much as one mistake is fatal).

That's before trying to explain that men in armor weren't able to hack through it; a person in full plate/harness was pretty much invulnerable to simple attacks from a sword.

Once I've demonstrated all that, then we can get down to the nitty-gritty of the argument.

And that's for something simple. Move it to something less demonstrable (the use of celtic imagery in paintings of the pre-raphaelite school, or some such) and the amount of interdisciplinary research grows by leaps and bounds.

And if you don't understand the jargon (which is, of course, designed to obviate the need to create definitions, ab initio for each paper one writes, as well as easing the work of collating cross-disciplinary subjects) then things like, "the male gaze" seem to be fictive devices with no actual substance in the real world.

Kind of like the square root of a negative number.


#296 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 02:00 AM:

Things defined so you don't have to argue what they should be: 0! = 1. (Don't ask me why, because I don't know.)

#297 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 02:08 AM:

Em, I've said in the past that writing computer programs is writing: that is, it's actual work and takes time and knowledge. Sometimes, in school, I'd get an assignment where I could see right away how it should go. Other times, it was a fight, mostly because I'd be trying to do it from the wrong end (or the wrong viewpoint).

I thought it was slightly amusing that getting into college required passing a writing test, and so did getting out of it. At the time I took it, there was a section of multiple-guess questions, some of which had no right answers (IMO), as well as an essay section, where they'd hand you a topic and give you a set amount of time to write the essay. I was handed 'Why I believe [fill in blank]'. So I wrote them an essay on 'why I believe that reading SF is good for you', with as many examples as I could think of from my own reading.
I passed the test. (And then dropped out at the end of the year. Money and three classes I knew I wasn't going to pass, ever.)

#298 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 02:16 AM:

In other news, it seems I will be in Nevada in Nov, speaking at the Am. Psyc. Assoc.

You can probably guess the subject.

#299 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 04:37 AM:

It's not a lot of work. There are many options which could make it even easier, but I don't plan them because it's not a lot of work, and so building the options would be more work. But to be frank, this is a distraction from the real topic, which is whether the fans could effectively make the process more resilient to attack with write-in, which is the method used in many voting systems.

To to avoid discussion of that, let me say that I would volunteer to provide software and do the work, or to provide the money to the convention to pay somebody to do the work, in perpetuity. That's how certain I am that this is not a hard problem, not the question to be discussed. So stipulate that if you can, and get to the real questions -- would it stop slates, would it stop them more effectively than other methods and be more robust against their attacks.

My main concern, worthy of debate, is whether it's strong enough. I think if the crisis is visible) as the puppies are, that it probably is.

The key advantages that lead me to this choice are:

1) It is not algorithmic, so there no ability of attackers to test their new attacks against it and get confidence. It does not need to be revised with each new attack.

2) It is the most democratic method of allowing human judgment to play a role.

3) It is one of the shortest and simplest proposals.

4) It could start working in one year, rather than 2.

5) All works pushed off the traditional ballot by collusion still get at least some shot -- EPH and most other proposals we worked around here allow some slate candidates to entirely displace real nominees in a strong slate effort -- I consider that a serious failure of such systems, though not all agree about how serious it is.

#300 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 05:11 AM:

AKICIML: drafting patterns for clothing, bonus for well-tested methods of dealing with ample busts.

Details: I want to fire my current pattern-drafting book. It's something I picked up in the mid-80's, on an employee discount. It has lots of what looks like the right stuff, but even though I've pored over the written instructions, some of the shapes I'm coming up with are plain wrong. And, in what seems to be a major boo-boo that an editor didn't catch, the relationship between the sleeve draft and arm-scye is inconsistently pictured. Worse, the main instruction of which side is front/back is opposite to at least one of my most comfortable, best-wearing jackets.

I keep telling myself that I must not be seeing it correctly, but evidence for concluding "error" is mounting, and... I can't, anymore.

So, time for a new book.

Suggestions from the Commentariat?

Crazy(oh, and an internet search on this book's name/author has turned up very little - and no gosh-wow raving on the treasure of classic that I had hoped this book could be)Soph

PS Ask for examples of shapes, I dare you. ;) I'm tempted to convey them via ASCII-art.

#301 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 09:24 AM:

crazysoph @300: Do you have a handle on how to adjust a generic block to get the result you want? If so, Nancy Zieman has a book on adjusting commercial patterns with a good explanation of an ample bust adjustment.

I was able to start with a standard Vogue fitting shell, work through the book, and have a well-fitting set of blocks at the end.

#302 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 09:28 AM:

Open thready: A typo in a book (Houses of Stone) that was just a little too subtle for "Dreadful Phrases".

"There was movement out there, though- branches swaying in the breeze, a shadowy shape gliding silently across the driveway. The shape was that of a car; its eyes glowed eerily, reflecting some unknown source of light, before it vanished into the shrubbery."

I had to reread it about five times to make sure that it was, in fact, supposed to be a cat.

#303 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 10:25 AM:

This site has a link to a PDF of Mabel Erwin's "Practical Dress Design", which I've found is fairly reliable. (You can also find an edition at the Large South American River.) The designs are all very dated, but the information isn't.

#304 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 11:08 AM:

P J @303: Oooh, and the Friday Freebies category has more. TY! *starts downloading*

#305 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 11:25 AM:

When are the Site Selection results announced? I don't see anything about it on the Sasquan website, and a quick google didn't turn it up, either.

#306 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 11:27 AM:

Sunday, IIRC. (They have to count the ballots physically, and people can vote in person.)

#307 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 11:39 AM:


Why should people stipulate the things that they think aren't true, and in fact have offered arguments against? This feels a bit like someone asking me to stipulate the reality of the Greek pantheon in order to discuss whether/to what extent lightning rods interfere with the will of Zeus. Lightning and lightning rods are observable facts; Zeus flinging the lightning is at best a hypothesis.

Another real-world example of slow counting: the recent 35-candidate Minneapolis mayoral election in which voters marked their top three choices, with the same style of elimination and redistribution of votes as for the Hugo ballots. Yes, there was a much larger number of votes as well as candidates than the Hugos, but only one office.

#308 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 11:48 AM:

Terry Karney @298: It's a shame they didn't ask your advice a dozen or so years ago!

Will your talk be open to the public?

#309 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 11:59 AM:

Thanks for the replies.

Steve Wright @283. Okay, I'll grant that philosophy of science might be an area worth exploring. I'm not sure though that I'm armed with enough background to just go heading off towards primary sources having in hand the names of two bigwigs in the field. That strikes me as about as useful as deciding I wanted to study Jewish Theology, so the first thing I should do is go find a translation of the works of Maimonides. Possible, and perhaps there are people who have started from scratch in that manner, but unlikely.

Still, looking in that direction might be productive.

Elliott Mason@292:
I actually managed in various places to pick up enough biology to feel that I could build on my knowledge there without issue. Mostly, my impression of undergraduate biology is careful lab work that is spoiled because of a tiny bit of incompletely sterilized equipment or that, despite everyone agreeing that impeccable technique was followed throughout the whole process, simply fails to work at all some large percentage of the time. (My exposure here is primarily gene splicing/DNA extraction work. It boggles me that crime labs work as often as they seem to)

P J Evans@296:
Because the product of all the elements in the empty list is 1, or because Γ(1) = 1, or because (1! / 1) = 1. Take your pick.

Okay, that's a plan. It's a bit stymied because I do not have a research library within easy access, but I do have a cousin who is a librarian at such a library half-way across the country and I might convince him to help me out. Many years ago we (my cousin and I) were going to do something with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, so I guess I should start by reading that and the commentary that surrounds the poem in the edition I have.

I did actually start that reading last night, and Ugh. The poem is long so I only got ~ 15% through it but the pre-poem commentary...

Part of the problem I have with the commentary is that I don't really have the necessary experience to easily filter what's important from what's just the author expanding on something he's already said, or just giving due reference to work that's gone before. In science papers, I know how to recognize those sections that can be skimmed or mined only for references; I also know how to recognize BSing and extraneous equations thrown in not to make the paper more understandable or clearer, but to make it look better.

I suspect that some similar behavior is going on in the commentary before the poem, but I can't be sure. E.g., I read the introductory text before the poem last night and there were two words whose meaning I had to look up: prosody and adumbrate. Okay, "prosody" is fine: it's a specialized word that functions as jargon in this field and describes exactly what it was used for. But "adumbrate"? There was no call for that at all - there are several perfectly good alternative words and phrases the author could have used that would have conveyed the same meaning.

#310 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:01 PM:

Daneil Martin @309: the difference between lab DNA extraction and most of the examples I gave is vast. Field biology, the art of turning stamp collecting into viable intellectual structures, is not amenable to reagents (though data acquired in labs often informs the building of structures).

#311 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:31 PM:

P J Evans @ #296:

There's a two-word explanation that doesn't make sense unless you already understand it, "multiplicative identity".

In short, what "0!" means is "multiply 0 consecutive numbers, starting at 1 and counting upwards". So, we're left to ask ourselves, what does 0 numbers, multiplied together, mean?

Well, if we extend the multiplication we all know and may or may not love, we're used to multiplying two numbers. Let's say 3 and 5. We know that 3 * 5 is 15. If we want to multiply three numbers, let's say 3, 5 and 6, we can easily extend this to 3 * 5 * 6 and let's say that's the same as 15 * 6, so the result is 90.

Maybe it works the same way when we multiply just one number, let's say 3. So 3 multiplied by, eh, nothing is 3. And maybe we can figure out if there's a number that when we multiply things by it, nothing changes. That means we can, by analogy, extend multiplying no things to be this identity ("the multiplicative identity"). And there happens to be such a number, our humble 1.

This gives us something appealing.
No numbers: 1
One number: 1 * 3
Two: 1 * 3 * 5
Three: 1 * 3 * 5 * 6

So, that's why 0! (and any number other than 0 raised to the 0th power) is 1.

#312 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:34 PM:

#309 ::: Daniel Martin

For Thomas Kuhn, you want "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". It is very easy to get a superficial understanding of that book (and that was all I wanted from it).

For Karl Popper, I can't find the book I was assigned. You can try "The Logic of Scientific Discovery".

And we were assigned "Against Method" by Paul Feyerabend.

All of this was in a college freshman level course, so don't be afraid that it will drown you.

#313 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:37 PM:

Brad from Sunnyvale @ #299:

It might stop slates, but it moves the slate-loving mindset to a much crunchier target. Instead of having to find and coordinate N books for the nomination phase, you only need to find and coordinate 1 book for the voting phase.

Thus, you may have a smaller exposure area, but you have handily provided a strong magnet just behind it and a clear path, for stabbing straight into it, with minimal effort and maximal guidance.

I am not going to argue that you should or should not propose this, but I do ask you to examine whatever proposal you have with an "attacker's mindset".

#314 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:40 PM:

Daniel, you might like Why We Keep Asking “Was Machiavelli an Atheist?”, which is a meticulous effort to figure out what people in various eras were thinking.

#315 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:53 PM:

Brad from Sunnyvale -- you've missed your chance to put your proposal before the WSFS Business meeting for Sasquan, the deadline was a couple of weeks ago.

As someone who has done the grunt work on counting and interpreting ballots for another award system, I tell you that anything that adds more physical work to the procedure isn't likely to be looked on with favor.

#316 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:53 PM:


I'm worried about the committee you propose, because it seems to me to be too open to challenge. If the committee announces that the process was corrupted, the slate supporters can say 'Corrupted! How dare you? Our process was perfectly fair and open!' and threaten to sue for libel. I don't suppose they'd get very far, but the mere threat can cause enough trouble. And conversely, people can complain that the committee has not designated nominations as corrupt when (they claim) they clearly are: 'Why has the nomination for Cora Dixon not been declared corrupt, when it was the result of clearly unfair advertising by Martin R.R. George?'.

Your other suggestion, that the convention just release all the nomination data anyway (do you mean literally all, or the top fifteen, as currently required after the ceremony?), seems effectively to eliminate the shortlisting phase; voters make their choice from everything that is nominated (in the grammatical sense). I don't think this can work, because it gives us too much to consider.

#317 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 12:55 PM:


I'm worried about the committee you propose, because it seems to me to be too open to challenge. If the committee announces that the process was corrupted, the slate supporters can say 'Corrupted! How dare you? Our process was perfectly fair and open!' and threaten to sue for libel. I don't suppose they'd get very far, but the mere threat can cause enough trouble. And conversely, people can complain that the committee has not designated nominations as corrupt when (they claim) they clearly are: 'Why has the nomination for Cora Dixon not been declared corrupt, when it was the result of clearly unfair advertising by Martin R.R. George?'.

Your other suggestion, that the convention just release all the nomination data anyway (do you mean literally all, or the top fifteen, as currently required after the ceremony?), seems effectively to eliminate the shortlisting phase; voters make their choice from everything that is nominated (in the grammatical sense). I don't think this can work, because it gives us too much to consider.

#318 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:00 PM:

Sorry about the double post; it told me it had not posted the first time.

Ingvar: Surely if they have enough numbers to overpower other candidates at the voting phase, they have won anyway, and don't need any particular mechanism to ensure success?

#319 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:12 PM:

P J Evans (306): Thank you. I thought it might be Sunday, but I wasn't sure.

#320 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:35 PM:

Andrew: Surely if they have enough numbers to overpower other candidates at the voting phase, they have won anyway, and don't need any particular mechanism to ensure success?

I don't think so. It's a question of timing. Yes, the numbers needed to swamp the nominations is fairly small, but once done is pretty obvious, which allows the social antibodies to kick in.*

But if the actual award voting were wide open (in which case why have nominations to a final ballot?) then the block voting can be made more stealthy. If an average worldcon has 1,500 voters for the Hugo, how many does one need to overwhelm the spread? About 800.

But look what happened this year, the voting public decided it had a stake in the outcome, and turned out in record numbers.**

It's possible the huge uptick is puppy supporters, trying to stick to the SJWs, but I rather doubt it. The people the Rabid Puppies used to get on the ballot aren't quite the sort to kick in the level of time and money for a quiet, and delayed, payoff.

But a one-time deal, just pay some money, make one vote, and stick in in the eye of those they disdain... I can see that.

*this even without the question of having to kick in more money, some months later to actually vote for the works which were gotten onto the ballot.

**The outcome of which I'd like to see first, even if I thought the idea of a write-in option for the award was a viable one: if the Puppies got enough people to be more than half of those voters, then they can do it for a write in campaign.

#321 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:37 PM:

Brad: It could start working in one year, rather than 2.

No, it can't, as the deadline for submissions to the business meeting was closed about three weeks ago.

So stipulate that if you can, and get to the real questions

I can't stipulate to that. My experience with the voting system in question (in several iterations/contexts) is such that I don't think your expectation of triviality is sound.

I used to take part in a twice yearly election, which was done completely by hand; by this method. With about 150 people voting, (four offices, never more than five candidates) the ballot counting took hours.

Retabulation is the point that slows things down.

With thousands of votes, and no real limit on the number of candidates... the retabulation will take quite some time. Hell, the site selection balloting takes hours, and that's just one balloting to manage.

So no, I don't so stipulate; because (apart from the other objections I've already made) the issue of counting is significant.

#322 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:37 PM:

Kuhn and Popper both write fairly accessibly, I think.... It sometimes seems to me that the primary sources are often more accessible than the subsequent analyses and commentaries on them. (For example, Wealth of Nations deliberately sets out to be - as Smith himself puts it - "perspicuous", and, as eighteenth-century treatises on political economics go, it's quite a fun read.)

#323 ::: Cassy B. calls the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Terry Karney reports being gnomed at 320.

#324 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 02:07 PM:

I was just sorting that out, Cassy. Thanks.

#325 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 02:34 PM:

Em @ #293:I can't believe Shakespeare has had so many biopics and Marlowe hasn't yet; the guy was fascinating, sexy, dramatic, controversial, probably a spy, and died excitingly. You'd probably have to tone things down for the movie!

There was a discussion on a LJ a few years back about how the world needed a TV series of “Kit Marlowe: Gay Atheist Spy!” (“He likes boys! He talks shit about Moses! He fights crime!”)

#326 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 02:39 PM:

The summer is winding down (I may never get used to how short the season of practical growing is here, compared to the Calif. Coast).

I have about 3/4 cup of dill seed (Tetra/Bouquet cross, I think, at least those were the seeds I planted last year, the result of which grew this one). If anyone should like a packet, drop me a line (its the relatively obvious google based address).

#327 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 02:48 PM:

Ingvar M @311: So, that's why 0! (and any number other than 0 raised to the 0th power) is 1.

Ow. My brain hurts.

#328 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 03:56 PM:

Jacque @327:

You can also explain why n^0 == 1 for n != 0 with the following explanation:

The definition of exponentiation means "multiply this number by itself x times".


n^1 = n
n^2 = n*n
n^3 = n*n*n

You can also write this as

n^x = (n^(x-1)) * n

Rename x as y + 1 and you get

n^(y+1) = (n^y) * n , which you can rearrange as

n^y = n^(y+1) / n

Set y=0 and you get

n^0 = n^1 / n

But since n^1 = n by the definition of exponentiation, n^0 must = 1, as long as n != 0.

#329 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Tempted to rewrite this in 1500s spellings, but instead I'll just make a long-contemplated adjustment to the title and leave it. Written in 2001, featured here in 2004:

For long and weary hours, I bored myself
Counting the old and tired webs of spiders
In my narrow office. Just then I heard
A ringing sound come from the bell out front,
And in my dismal garrett I beheld
A wench who made a goodly first impression
To my eyes. Her face, I thought could launch,
A thousand or so ships, her eyes burn down
A hell of a lot of topless towers.
I took a look at her form and tear-streaked face
She beseechingly asked, "Mister Marlowe?
I'm in trouble. They told me you could help."

(Christopher Marlowe, _The Tragedy of The Great Slumber_, act I)

#330 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 04:44 PM:

lorax @328: Hrm. Intercepting transmissions from the Martian invasion fleet again, I see!

I can do math. I can even enjoy math under some circumstances. But—huh; I just now made this connection—a stretch of mathishness hits my brain the same way poetry does: "*Frtzz* gznack! crackle...ow. Does not compute—" ... and my brain shuts off.

I can slow down and parse it, given sufficient motivation, but it's a slow and painful process.

I could be moved to wish it weren't so, if my time was not already over-committed....::sigh::

#331 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 05:15 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @261: Belated "well done" on the 3D Tetris.

janetl @263: Yes, that's a good book.

Kip W @@259: Sounds like you did a good job; pity the payment didn't match!

Sandy B. @302: *Grin*

Kip W @329: Bravo!

#332 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 05:52 PM:

Vicki #307 -- that's just what stipulation is for, to allow you to temporarily agree not to argue about one point to get onto the next one, hopefully the real one. The nominations themselves are an existence proof that full write in (from the space of all works) is tractable, the only debate would be a distracting one about how or if it can be easy. So I offer to do it -- and it's a serious offer, not a rhetorical one -- to avoid that debate and get to the real issues.

That it adds some work is true. But some work is worth it -- well worth it -- if it protects the Hugos from the collusion.

The STV vote system, Ingvar #313, is fairly robust against slate collusion, in a way that the nomination system is not. A slate large enough to actually pick the winner has to be huge, in theory almost half the voters, though in practice a bit less. I will agree that write-in would modestly drop that number but not by much. Note that with ePH and many others, the slate gets a couple of nominees on ballot.

Business meeting: Yup, as you will note from my original post #274, my first sentence was "it is too late..." so I am not sure why people are pointing that out. This is a more academic follow-up to earlier discussion with hypotheticals.

Lessons from by-hand elections are valuable, but the Hugo ballot is effectively entirely electronic now -- I think they get a dozen paper ballots -- so those lessons only go so far. For example, you can have an electronic ballot entry system which has suggestions: "Did you mean 'Togersen'?" which has to pull suggestions from a very finite list (the nomination longlist.) Not that you need to do this, I think it's still easy without it. But again, the purpose of stipulation is to say, "I don't agree with that, but I will stipulate it to get to the issue you want to discuss."

#317 -- let's not worry about the commiteee -- I'll stipulate that there is no value to the committee for the purpose of debate, and focus on whether write-in, the world's most common tool for letting an electorate deal with nomination roblems -- is a good idea.

#333 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 06:17 PM:

Brad: Business meeting: Yup, as you will note from my original post #274, my first sentence was "it is too late..." so I am not sure why people are pointing that out.

Because you argue that it can be implemented in 2016, which would require the Business Mtg to act on it this year.

The issue with the by hand elections isn't the problem of spelling/handwriting: that is largely irrelevant. It's the act of reading/counting.

If one has actual write-ins, then it can't be automated. If every person who gets an eligible work on the longlist gets a tickybox to "write-in" then there what you have is more like the front half of the Pegasus Awards, a brainstorming session, and then a vote (absent the middle part of the Pegasus where the longlist becomes the slate of nominees).

On that model (wherein anyone who gets named is, de facto a finalist) then yeah, front end work to make all the ticky boxen would mean it's only a little longer at the back end.

But if it's a text field, then every ballot which has a text entry needs to be eyeballed, and collated, by a person; which is the thing which makes counting the ballots for the Pegasus (all ticky boxen) take about 3 hours. And makes all other Australian Ballots I've been involved with lengthy processes.

It's a non-trivial aspect of the problem. Stipulating it out palms a card; because it hides what is going to be a fair bit of work, added to the already non-trivial work Worldcon Committees have to do.

Hashing out the game theory of the idea, without accounting the issues of counting, is kicking that can of worms down the road; and (should the idea find favor) leaving there as a booby trap.

And no, I don't your offer to do the work is practicable. I don't think you want to do it forever. Even if you were, having one person at the nexus of the counting, year in, year out, is just going to create a seed crystal for a different set of conspiracy theories about why the people who aren't writing what the voting members of the community like to blame things on.

#334 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 06:19 PM:

Oh, I'll also point out we don't know how long it takes to tab the nominations and that the collating of nominations is a single count.

No serial counting for the run-offs. A gets y votes, B gets Z votes, etc. Top five (of eligible works nominated) are on the ballot.

#335 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 06:29 PM:

I everyone up in Spokane is having fun and enjoying the smokey sunsets.

The high-power rocket launch out in Oregon's high desert was scrubbed due to the fire danger. First time I recall that happening. As someone pointed out, it is hard to set sagebrush burning, but once it starts it burns way hot.

#336 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 09:00 PM:

Daniel @ 309:

For Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (awesome choice), there was a rather excellent BBC documentary about it hosted by Simon Armitage, who's translated it. I had a quick look, and it's on Youtube. Because it's an hour of TV rather than an academic article, it's less jargon-y. (As for non-jargon difficult words, literature academics pretty universally like weird words and we're delighted when we get to use them. "I've been wanting to use this one since it showed up on my word-a-day-calendar six years ago! Whoohoo!") He does context, but he also looks at the mechanics of the language and the way it sounds.

Something else which might wind up being interesting is the Norton Critical Edition. Norton publishes a lot of anthologies which are a) interesting and b) excellent offensive weapons, but they also do the critical editions, which are heavily-annotated single texts with extensive bibliographies, so they're a great jumping-off point.

My apologies if I'm being overbearing! I just really like this stuff.

Kip @329: :D :D :D

#337 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2015, 10:17 PM:

Daniel Martin @309 -

This is a good opportunity to mention Signum University (aka - Mythgard Academy). It's an accredited school that teaches online courses in (basically) speculative literature and related fields. At core, it's a bunch of super-intense Tolkien fans, but they do branch out. Last term, I took a class called "Beowulf through Tolkien, and Vice Versa" taught by Tom Shippey. It was fantastic.

This term (which starts next week), the offerings include "Tolkien's Wars and Middle Earth" taught by John Garth, author of "Tolkien and the Great War." There are also classes in Anglo-Saxon language and Star Wars.

I have really enjoyed the classes I've taken, and truly, I think that many here at Making Light would also enjoy them. You can also get recordings of past classes, should you be interested.

This is relevant to you, because the course on British literature included Gawain and the Green Knight, and there is another course on Arthurian legend which gives a lot of background. Look into it. I think you'll enjoy it.

#338 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 04:34 AM:

#333 Terry -- as you might guess from my prior posts, I am hoping not to have a debate about how hard it is, because my goal is to talk about the other issue. Happy to talk offline. I don't doubt your experience, but we're talking at cross purposes with different experiences. I'm talking a world where effectively all ballots are done online, the list of potential write-in nominees is known an the list with any real chance is very small, and there are software tools to assist voters in making their write-ins in canonical ways. One important trick available is that you know how many write-ins the software could not put in canonical form, and because you know that, you quickly get to the point where even if ALL of them were the same candidate, they could not affect the outcome. This is because most people don't write in, because it only has a chance when there is a big and well known groundswell of dissatisfaction with the nomination process (ie. puppies.)

(This technique, of "don't bother counting when you know it can't affect the race" does bother people of course. Even in US elections, it is quite common to delay counting all the mail-in ballots until days after the election once it is determined, as it usually is, that they won't affect the race. They are still counted and the write-ins canonicalized because the law demands it, but it's done at leisure.)

My prediction for write in (or rather type-in) done with a "suggester" function loaded with all nominees from the nomination long list is that only a handful of entries would not quickly be in their canonical form, and the system would know precisely which they are, and display them for quick visual review. There would be so few that you could run the race without trying to figure them out. You could still publish them without canonicalizing them, because they could not affect the outcome. Fans who cared could look at them.

But as I have said, this technical discussion of how to do something is not what I'm here for. I don't just throw out claims without backing them up -- I have actually written software to conduct STV style votes with large sets of potential candidates and tools to help voters find the one they are looking for and be sure they are casting the ballot they meant. Done it decades ago.

I do apologize for writing up my description with the number 2016 in it. I started writing up my plans in the past, and got sidetracked, so when I finally finished them up and posted them for feedback, I knew, as I said in the OP, that it was too late for the worldcon. Sorry to those who missed that first sentence later in the thread. (I know I don't always go back to see the OP myself sometimes.) As the con came upon us, I felt it worthwhile to get the ideas under discussion, even if the agenda for the biz meeting was already set.

(Here, where ePH originated, there is now consensus in favour of it. Sadly, though, in other places I have talked about this, even my own social media pages, most of the people who come to argue are puppies, wanting to argue that I should be not trying to stop slates. At least I don't get that here. :-)

#339 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 06:40 AM:

Brad @338 - so, in effect, you're suggesting three different methods of voting for the Hugos: the existing STV among the five finalists, or a write-in, or free selection from the long list of nominees (presumably, curated to remove ineligible nominees? How about cases where the nomination was declined?)

As for "software tools to assist voters in making their write-ins in canonical ways", even if this is well-intentioned, it is fraught with possibilities for abuse, or at least for accusations of abuse. (What happens if you have two potential nominees with similar names? How easy will it be for the voter to convince the system that yes, they really did mean to vote for Fondacion by the obscure but brilliant Peruvian novelist Izaak Asimo?) "Suggester" functions in a voting process may make sense from a technical viewpoint, but they're not acceptable for very obvious other reasons....

It seems to me that the technical challenges involved in your suggestion are, ultimately, surmountable... but it is going to take a lot more than ten minutes of extra work, and that matters, rather a lot, to the people who will have to do that work.

#340 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 07:04 AM:

Daniel @ 309, Juli Thompson #337: Also, Tolkien did a rather nice translation of Gawain atGK.

#341 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 11:57 AM:

David Harmon @340:

Actually, Tolkien did two versions. He and a colleague published a scholars edition, with Middle English text and extensive notes, and he also published a modern English translation.

I haven't taken either course I mentioned, but this comes up often enough in side comments in other courses that I'm sure they cover it in depth.

#342 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 01:44 PM:

No, Steve@339 -- not 3 ways. An STV with 5 finalists and the ability to add a type-in instead of one of the finalists in any of your rank positions. Variations would include the ability to type-in anything, to type in anything from the already canonicalized longlist, or even anything from the top 10 on the longlist. (The latter is not quite the same as having 15 nominees, but it has a lot of similarities. The 5 finalists get listed on the main ballot, seats at the ceremony, can call themselves Hugo nominees, get automatic hugo packet inclusion and other prominence by tradition.)

The ability to type-in causes minimal effect if there is nothing wrong with the original nominations, as is the case in all other elections. Absent an attack or problem, the number of type-ins is low enough, I predict, that all type-ins as a group are eliminated in the first round of any runoff. One can't guarantee this, but doing a type-in for something that doesn't have a groundswell of support has zero chance of working, so you only do it as a gesture. Full eligibility checks need only be done on type-ins which get enough support to affect the results.

You have given me an idea, though, which I would need to explore. Depending on the volume of type-ins, you could treat "all unverified type-ins" as a single candidate, and if that candidate is eliminated, your work is done. If it is not, you need to pull out the most popular one(s), check them like you did nominees, and do that until "all other unverified type-ins" is eliminated. My guess is that in an ordinary year this would work fine. In a year where the nominations were deliberately corrupted, there is more work -- but that's fine, I hope none would be bothered by the work needed to counter an attack.

(Some minor notes: People would not be allowed to type-in a finalist, to simplify that issue. The question of withdrawn works is an interesting one. It becomes necessary with type-in to declare the names of withdrawn works. It's a whole other debate if you would want to let people who came 6th "withdraw" from type-in or otherwise publicise their declaration that they would decline the award. I am personally not a fan of the right to withdraw -- I think it cheapens the award of the "winner who won only because the popular candidate withdrew" though most such winners would rather have a cheapened award than none, I suspect. Some could see the ability of the fans to override a withdrawl as a feature, others as a bug. And for those who withdraw because they feel they got their nomination unfairly in an attack are another story.)

We live in a much more dynamic and instantly communicating world, now. Unlike the old days of paper elections where you got a ballot in the mail and might just cast it without every talking to anybody, today there are 1,000 rounds of back and forth communication among fans and from committees during the process. It does make one ponder whether whole new ideas make sense.

I've also been pondering the flaw of most voting systems where if you two works, A and B, A being much more popular, but where almost everybody who read both A and B voted for B over A. A still wins in our systems, but it seems very likely B is the better choice. I wonder if there are ways to make dynamic systems which detect that, and go another round with fans to encourage them to read B and rank again, for example.

#343 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 01:55 PM:


Here in Washington, all ballots are sent by mail, and either mailed back or dropped off at the board of elections or a few other places (there might be one day you can drop it at Seattle City Hall). Any ballot postmarked by election day and received by a deadline is counted.

As in many places, preliminary results are published on Election Day based on a partial count: "with 23 percent of the votes counted, Candidate B is ahead by 5 percentage points in King County." Of course, that's from ballots that were mailed early enough to arrive by Election Day.

In 2013, based on those preliminary results, an incumbent Seattle City Council member thanked the voters for re-electing him. Why am I mentioning this? Because two weeks later, after all the votes had come in, he conceded.

The invalid assumption there was that there is no difference in demographics or opinions between early and late voters. That's not visible with voting machines, because what comes in first isn't everyone who voted by 9:30 a.m., it's all the votes from a certain geographic area (large or small), and people realize that Harlem is likely to vote differently than a wealthy suburb.

An unlimited-write-ins system would also have to allow for the reality that if the names on the ballot are (say) Asimov, Bull, Clarke, Delany, and Eisenstein and there's also a write-in slot, some people who want to vote for Asimov, Clarke, or Delany won't put a "1" next to those names, they'll use the write-in line. (And some of those may put "Clark" or "Delaney" or "Dealy.") So you have to count all of the write-ins even if you can see immediately that the total number of write-in votes is less than the number of people who used the neat lines to vote for one of the candidates on the ballot, in case the write-ins are what put Bull ahead of Clarke.

#344 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 02:44 PM:

Brad, can you come up with a clear, simple reason why we need write-ins on the final ballots, when the entire nomination process is write-ins?
Because so far, it's not at all clear what your goal/intention actually is, other than making a hella lotta work for administrators at the point where they're already busy. (You do realize there's only about four weeks to count the final ballots and get the plaques made for the trophies? And that it's crunch time for the committee?)

#345 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 04:10 PM:


Magic: The Gathering is Turing complete, meaning that you can use it as a computer. Fun, fun, fun.

#346 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 08:04 PM:

Brad: #333 Terry -- as you might guess from my prior posts, I am hoping not to have a debate about how hard it is, because my goal is to talk about the other issue. Happy to talk offline. I don't doubt your experience, but we're talking at cross purposes with different experiences. I'm talking a world where effectively all ballots are done online, the list of potential write-in nominees is known an the list with any real chance is very small, and there are software tools to assist voters in making their write-ins in canonical ways. One important trick available is that you know how many write-ins the software could not put in canonical form, and because you know that, you quickly get to the point where even if ALL of them were the same candidate, they could not affect the outcome. This is because most people don't write in, because it only has a chance when there is a big and well known groundswell of dissatisfaction with the nomination process (ie. puppies.)

There are several problems with what I see in this.

1: I don't think the issues *are* severable. If this idea were approved, it comes with the question of the balloting. Logistics are always relevant (and rarely trivial).

2: What you are actually suggesting seems (from this elaboration) to say any book anyone nominates (so long as it wasn't otherwise ineligble) is de facto on the ballot; but we shall steer people to the top five.

3: If some the Hugo Committe feels there was gamesmanship they will flag it and then people will avail themselves of the longer list.

4: Said longer list will have emmendation showing which titles "should" have been the "legitimate" nominees.

5: Unless 3 & 4 into play we can expect the voting public will not write in.

6: In the event 3 & 4 do come into play the write-ins will conveniently be preponderant to the "should have been on the designated short list", and counting them will be trival.

That's fiddly. It's open to all sorts of social gaming, culture warring and bickering. It creates several points of greater work, confuses the issue of what "ought" to be in consideration and makes the present systemic device for dealing with fraud (i.e. No Award) almost certainly useless.

Because what you are suggesting isn't actually a "write in" option. It's a "nominate everything" and try to limit the pool people choose from through ballot design.

I am against it.

What we have now, works. It's flawed, (in that it can be gamed), but prior to this year that flaw wasn't really an issue, because the greater community wasn't willing to game the system.

It has a means of redress: the rebuke of No Award. We shall see on Sat. if that is the direction the community took.

The reason for proposing changes is to reduce the ability to game the system. A lot of pixels were spent thrashing it out. On top of that lots of hours of face to face conversation have taken place.

More hours of conversation are taking place. By next year's Business Meeting (no matter the outcome of the Hugo voting this year, or the ballot proposals currently on the agenda) more thousands of hours of discussion are likely to take place.

It's possible a different solution to those presently on the floor will need to be worked out. But I don't think (for all the reasons I listed; in addition to the logistical problems I see, and you discount) that this expanded ballot idea is the one to choose.

#347 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 08:16 PM:

Brad: I'm confused:

I've also been pondering the flaw of most voting systems where if you two works, A and B, A being much more popular, but where almost everybody who read both A and B voted for B over A. A still wins in our systems, but it seems very likely B is the better choice. I wonder if there are ways to make dynamic systems which detect that, and go another round with fans to encourage them to read B and rank again, for example.

In what way is B the better choice? Why should we be second guessing the people who voted for A?

Who is making this determination?

What really confuses me is this is, in essence, the Puppy Position. They are claiming that the books being placed on the ballot aren't really the books the readers like, but the chosen works of, "The Clandestine Cabal".

So who shall choose the arbiters of "hey, y'all really need to go read B again and think about changing your vote".

We already do that: we publish the names of the nominees well in advance of the voting. For some years now we have even had the nominated works provided to the eligible voters.

If they want to vote for A, then they can vote for A. If they vote for A, then A deserves to win; even if I voted for C.

#348 ::: Brad from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 08:18 PM:

#344 Patrick -- quite simply, write-in is the most commonly used method to allow voters to deal with flaws in a nomination process. All nomination processes have flaws and failures (something obviously true with the Hugos) and so many elections use write-in as a general "power to the people" method to fix that. The most common flaw of a nomination process is that it somehow (due to deadlines or strict rule adherence) stops an otherwise good candidate from making the ballot. The flaw in the Hugos -- that collusion can take over the nomination process -- is less common but obviously real.

Generally, almost all systems of rules in the world do not rely entirely on algorithmic fixes to deal with attacks. Definitely not algorithms that take 2 years to change. In the "real" world, we use courts, arbitrators, parliaments and many other approaches to deal with disputes over rules and attacks on the rules. Only human judgment is general and adaptable enough to battle human attack.

Write-in is perhaps the simplest and most democratic approach to adding human judgement to allow fighting attack on the system. Because SF fans are math nerds (I count myself, as I have a degree in mathematics) we have a surprising desire to try to solve problems with game theory rather than human judgment. The rigidity of game theoretic approaches and their absolute form of justice appeals to us.

In spite of my own background, I find that appeal to be wrong. In the end, I don't think you can fight dynamic human attack with algorithms changed every 2 years. And by the way, even cryptographers feel that way too. Their crypto algorithms are as robust as they can make them, but their know their crypto protocols are flawed and must be dynamic to fight human attack.

Anyway, that put me on a quest to wonder what the simplest system of applying human judgement would be, and it looks like it might be type-in voting. Here in the flourosphere, the distrust of human judgment is surprisingly high; to the point of blinding us, I fear. I mean I distrust it hugely -- look at my background of involvement in lawsuits against government actions. I would venture that few others here have been before the supreme court of the USA twice on such fights.

In spite of this, I think those who study how to fight human adversaries know more than us. The instinct of "how could we trust a human committee to fix this" is odd because even though it fails from time to time, most of the time it actually works. However, I have learned not to suggest that here. :-)

Counting the ballots, if they are filled in online, takes a fraction of a second. I know, I have done it many times. I do not seek to make that much harder, though I do feel it is worth making it a bit harder if it provides a robust defence against attack. Robust defence has another value -- deterrence. If attackers know they are fighting a well defined system, they can find a flaw and defeat it reliably, and so they invest resources. If attackers know they must defeat human judgment, they know they are very unlikely to win, and won't even try in many cases.

This is explained in the link in the OP -- did you get a chance to read that?

#349 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 08:56 PM:

HLN: Area retiree gets a nice new camera. On arrival home, retiree discovers that it does not have a memory card. Pedals back over to the store and gets one, hearing from person behind counter that these are not usually included nowadays. Seems to recall that they used to be. Area retiree proceeds to first-light the camera, but when ready to transfer images to computer, finds that the camera's USB port does not match any plug in the house. Current condition: wanting to kick somebody's @$$.
[Would pull out the card and stick that in the computer, but don't want to handle that card any more than can be helped.]

#350 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 09:29 PM:

Angiportus @349: That's odd. Every digital camera I've ever bought new came with a (small for it's time, now tiny) memory card, and a standard-USB-to-weird-camera-port cable. Not getting either sounds like you might be getting an item that had previously been returned, without some of its accessories. It's probably worth mentioning to the management of the store.

However, I wouldn't worry unduly about handling the memory card. I'd try to avoid getting fingerprints on the contacts, because while any contamination or corrosion can be cleaned off with a pencil eraser, eventually you'll wear away the anti-corrosion plating, but even that would take quite a bit of abuse before it did any noticeable damage. I've even heard of memory cards surviving a trip through the washer and dryer.

#351 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 09:48 PM:

Angiportus @ 349 -- YMMV depending on the memory card, but I treat memory cards about like I used to treat floppy drives. I pop them in and out of my cameras as they fill up. *shrug* And I take a LOT of pictures in the course of a day's work. I've never had a memory card fail. (Flash memory does eventually wear out in that it gets slower and slower the more you use it, but the hardware has never croaked on me.)

Now, if you're talking those itty-bitty fingernail sized cards I've occasionally seen here and there ... those, I'd be afraid of losing.

#352 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 09:58 PM:

My two digital cameras didn't come with cards. Neither did the reader. Or the elderly-but-working PDA.

(The biggest problem is finding cards that the older stuff will accept. They don't like the larger-capacity cards.)

#353 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 11:02 PM:

My husband is a photographer; he worked as a stringer at the local newspaper (taking photos of school sports) for almost ten years. He pops those memory cards in and out all the time; I seem to recall at least one survived a trip through a washing-machine. (I might, however, be thinking of a memory-stick; it was one or the other....)

So they're not particularly fragile. Don't stress too much about regular handling.

#354 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 11:36 PM:

As a photographer, the only real worry is being rough with them; which is only a real worth with drives that have pins (as with my dSLR). The risk isn't to the drive, but to the camera (bent pins).

I have four drives, because I take a lot of photos, and don't want to miss shots. Film is cheap, but RAM is all up front; so I want to have the 1200, or so, frames that come of four drives.

#355 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 02:10 AM:

305/306: The Site Selection results will actually be announced tomorrow morning, Saturday, at the Worldcon Business Meeting. (They're often announced on Sunday, when a Worldcon runs Thursday-Monday, but this Worldcon runs Wednesday-Sunday.)

#356 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 02:15 AM:

Enthusiastic amateur photographer here confirming the "don't stress about handling the card". Personally I often pop a card out during a break in the action at an airshow so I can put it in a phone and share photos - main concern during this process is not dropping the card, and being able to find it if I do (so done at a table or over camera bag).
In fact, many warn against plugging the camera into a computer, because you then have the risk of the camera getting dragged off the table if the cable gets yanked. It's also a good idea to close the door/flap on the camera over the card slot immediately after it is removed, to minimize the risk of dust damage. Don't forget to put the card back into the camera straight after you have finished copying the photos, you don't want the frustration of trying to use the camera with no card.

#357 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 03:04 AM:

I stand corrected: the unofficial Site Selection results have just been announced. On the first ballot, Helsinki 1363, DC 878, Montreal 228, Japan 120.

#358 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 05:45 AM:

Come to think of it, just why does Brad get to ink up our open thread when we've got multiple threads for discussion of the Hugo voting proposals and sequelae?

#359 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 05:49 AM:

David Harmon @358:

Threads drift, open threads doubly so.

I'm fine with this conversation happening here right now. There are plenty of other places to talk about other things, and you can always start a subthread on another topic of conversation if you want to talk about something else here.

(I'm a little baffled that you're quite so testy right now. Are you OK?)

#360 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 07:39 AM:

Threads drift, and they can also drift back. Don't sweat it, anyone, even those who are tired of the Hugo hassle.
Gratitude is expressed to those who responded about cameras and cards. I currently keep my 20+ years of journal on hard drives and flash drives; now I wonder if I should get a card too?

#361 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 08:15 AM:

abi #359: A little stressed in RL, not all of it bad-stress... but I think this is really in-context temper: Briefly, I do not share your evaluation of Brad "dealing honestly with the conversation". I've sent more to you by email, because I'm not sure of my tone. You can feel free to post that if you find it appropriate to do so.

I do know that you're trying to make a point of letting him speak his piece (and, if he wishes, dig holes), but I haven't a fraction of your patience, and long ago lost interest in trying to engage him.

#362 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 08:49 AM:

And you know what, I realize I haven't been posting much HLN lately, but I have been getting up to a bit more fun:

* While the heat here has been oppressive, I've occasionally been able to get out on my local hiking trail in the early mornings, and I have a new prospect for a possible hiking buddy.

* I've been going out to local concerts and such with friends (including the potential hiking buddy); last night was the 60's party, an SPCA benefit by our local weekly newspaper: $20 for lots of high end food trucks, other booths with food, and free drinks. The music could have done with a better sound guy, but whatever, it was fun.

* Another friend was hiding out with his college buddy for a couple of months, but has recently come back to down for weekly stuff again. Tomorrow we're hopefully going to do a labyrinth walk, if he's OK (he called in sick for last night, I'll be talking to him today).

* The labyrinth walk itself is me dipping a toe into Zrrghc.pbz (URL rot13'ed to not offend the gnomes), which has potential.

* Similarly, my boss at the bookstore got injured a few weeks ago, and had me on half my usual hours for a while. But now he's recovered enough to get back on track and have me on our regular schedule.

* Still playing Minecraft, including trying out some new mods in my Thaumcraft/Mystcraft stack.

* Some travel in my future: I've got a dual bat mitzvah in Boston-area and a local bar mitzvah coming up, for my respective sister's kids. I'm still trying to plan a trip up to NYC to see my high-school buds, but that may end up getting put off to late fall.

#363 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 08:50 AM:

NIce to see the voting: I got a preliminary; of early counting, just before bed, of the first bit of couting and the race was tight; Helsinki ahead by 9 votes.

#364 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 09:15 AM:

Angiportus @360, my husband the photographer and IT geek keeps his backups burned to not-one-but-two DVDs, or on portable hard drives. Flash drives (cards, thumb drives) apparently do not make good long-term storage media. DVDs are so-so, which is why he does a double-backup for redundancy. (Also they're small and cheap, so it's not a hardship.) His more recent stuff is all on the sort of harddrive you plug into your computer. He hasn't said anything about going to cloud storage so I don't know his views on that. Hope this helps.

#365 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 10:27 AM:

I have my data backed up... 2 or 3 places? This christmas I'll be moving a copy to an offsite storage location (a fire right now would be bad).

But I've only got about a terrabyte of RAW files. (it would be more but the past four years I've shot practically nothing).

Flash drives (SSD) are pretty stable (it's one of the reasons the iPod moved to it), and most small USB drives for computers are now SSD.

I'm not a fan of, "The Cloud" as a storarge solution.

1: It's rent.
2: If they stop I probably little recourse (When they closed Yahoo Groups it was just an e-mail announcemtent, same for GeoCities. You had a limited time to figure out how to save what you could)
3: I don't really trust them for security. I don't want all my art to end up de facto in the public domain.

#366 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 10:35 AM:

Terry Karney @365, thanks for the additional information. I wrote sloppily; when I said "flash drives" I was specifically referring to memory sticks and memory cards, not to external USB drives for computers. I appreciate your clarification.

#367 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 11:05 AM:


Eight or nine years ago I was underemployed and suicidally depressed, and half out of desperation thought I might go back to school to become a librarian--the few things I still loved were reading and finding information, and I also loved the thought of benefits and a steady paycheck. One of the people who convinced me I might be suited for the job was Travis Fristoe, who used to work at my local library. He was always patient, thoughtful, and generous with patrons and co-workers alike, and after I finished my degree and got a job at the library we gradually came to know each other better. I respected and admired him not least because I saw that he tended to see the good in people and I tended to see the bad, that he was quick to extend the benefit of the doubt and I was quick to judge but slow to trust.

He'd long been involved in zines, in punk music, and in comics, and I had read a surprising number of indie graphic novels where the author thanked him in the back of the book. When we were both working in the reference department I mentioned that I'd been writing a comic book memoir, and asked if he'd be willing to read the script. I warned him that it was intense and depressing, and said I'd understand completely if that wasn't his cup of tea or if he didn't have time for it. But he said he'd be honored to read it, and his feedback was both sincere and encouraging; he very skillfully pointed out various issues with the telling of the story without making them seem insurmountable.

After Travis moved he got married and got a job managing a small library in New England; six months ago he and his wife had a daughter. Over the last couple of months I've been working on a short story which--as impossible as it seems--I think might be a new approach to a well-established trope. I keep starting it over, trying to find the way in, trying to find how to thread the needle on the plot. I thought I'd show the story to Travis once I had a decent draft, that if it was good he'd tell me and that if it needed work he'd know how to say so without making the effort seem pointless.

Two weeks ago he died in conditions which are unclear but which look to me like suicide: the fundraiser page for his widow mentions his long struggle with alcoholism, and Nate Powell's tweet about his death ends "DON'T GIVE UP."

Many many years ago I worked with an alcoholic; I never would have guessed that Travis was an alcoholic.

I have thought about him several times a day every day since he died. It still seems a bit unreal to me; I keep hoping it's some extended and horribly tasteless practical joke.

The memorial is tomorrow. He was a remarkable person, and I miss him.


In other news--much less depressing news--the DOJ continues suing corporations and government institutions for having inaccessible websites, in spite of five years of continually postponing their NPRM on the accessibility requirements of websites. As a result I've been working on the accessibility of the library's website. In November 2014 WAVE reported 14 errors, 13 alerts, and 58 contrast errors on our home page. As of yesterday we're at 0, 1, and 0.

#368 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 11:16 AM:

johnofjack: Condolence and sympathies.

And congratulations on the accessibiltiy report.

#369 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 11:19 AM:

johnofjack @367:

That's so hard, particularly if it was suicide. Please be kind to yourself, and be mindful that you're probably going to be somewhat short of joy for a while.

May his memory be a blessing.

#370 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 11:20 AM:

I've recently been upping my back-up game.

I have a NAS in a closet off the garage. Two mirrored drives in a case with networking. My desktop and laptop and a little-used Windows desktop synch to it. Synching is WUNNERFUL.

I have been impulse-buying thumb drives for a year or so. "Gee, $10 for a 16 gb stick? I'll buy four and use them as gifts!" But it turns out the recipients have enough of their own thank you.

So now I have a bunch of labeled thumb drives:

Documents fits on a 8 gb stick, music on a 16 gb, photos on a 32 gb.

I plan to have two of each, one set of which I'll keep at work.

Plus a pair of 64 gb, one of which will live at my sister's house across the country and get swapped out occasionally.

#371 ::: Lee Billings ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 02:50 PM:

There are still several SJW shirt pre-orders which have not yet been picked up. If one of them is yours, please stop by the Instant Attitudes table in the dealer room to get it.

#372 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 08:02 PM:

Thanks, all, for the info on drives. Portable hard drives will be looked into. I didn't realize there was a problem with jump-drives or cards--where do I read up on the long-term testing of these (esp. since they haven't been around that long?) I'm looking at 50 years max, and will probably wind up not being here half that long, seeing what happens to old people if they aren't rich.
More HLN--here in Renton, after 2 or so long years of waiting, a world-unique library is up and running again. Redesigned from the floor up, it still spans a river, half building and half bridge. The new look is...going to take some getting used to; although there is oodles of glass and a great view upstream and down, the ceiling is black and this makes the whole interior seem dark. It's also higher than seems necessary; recalls those setups where a place has a real high ceiling and the owners disguise this with a layer of light fixtures and string, to make people think it's low, which I always found paradoxical.
There are also not enough bookshelves; one seating area could be removed to make room for a more suitable number. It's like a great big lounge with some books off in the corner. Rationale being that the actually-over-the-water part could not handle the weight of tall stacks. But there's some of the on-land area that could be spared. The pre-opening speeches disgustingly didn't say a word about the people who fought to keep our library from being uprooted and stuffed into a tiny spot inland, nor, when that victory was secured, to keep the builders from shrinking it more than they did--this, in the state's 5th largest city, and still growing. But it's great to not have to rely any more on the temporary branch, which had the world's slowest printer.
Off to Google info on storage media hardiness.

#373 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2015, 11:52 PM:

As a former Renton-area resident (pre-incorporation Newcastle, to be precise), it's good to hear about the library.

#374 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:36 AM:

The puppies got lots of no-awards tonight.

#375 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:47 AM:

I kind of fell in love with Connie Willis tonight (for her remarks in general, and her delivery, and "and who should we send?") I haven't read any of her books yet, but will have to address that soon.

Guardians of the Galaxy was the only Puppy candidate which won, and it almost certainly would have won anyway. (We'll know soon enough; I'd imagine that votes on Short Story and on Novella would give a very good idea of the size of the Puppy voting bloc.)

#376 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:48 AM:

Speaking of backing up, is anyone here a user of iTunes Match, Apple's music backup suggestion? At $25 a year it seems like it might be a bargain for an 8GB iTunes library.

#377 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:58 AM:

Linkmeister: I figure a thumb drive, or some spare space on an external is worth it. Paying $25 a year, in perpetuity, seems exorbitant for 8 gigs.

#378 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:59 AM:

I posted the results from Locus on 'Reading for Rockets' - they have the nominating numbers, but not yet the voting results.

#380 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 09:35 AM:

(abi: your link goes to this OT). Link should be:
Hugo discussion thread

#381 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 09:40 AM:

Thanks, dcb. I posted it just before throwing clothes on and running out the door. (Made it on time, by two minutes, by standing on my pedals, but I really did not have time to proofread much.)

#382 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 11:15 AM:

abi, you're very welcome - I guessed it was something like that! Hey, I wasn't in a hurry and it took me three tries to get the link correct (I'm not very good at making links - always forgetting something).

And thank you for providing the discussion thread.

#383 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 11:32 AM:

#372: Something to consider:

A slightly less reliable back-up method that you DO do is better than the best backup method you don't get around to.

So: Cycling through two thumb drives > an external drive you only bother to plug in now and then.

And an observation:

A lot of external drives are crappy, but it is often the case / power supply / controller that goes bad, not the drive. You can buy a replacement empty case for under $50 and maybe salvage that "broken" drive and everything on it. This happened to two of my sister's drives.

#384 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:10 PM:

AKICIML: Does anyone know how long it takes on average to do surgery to put pins into a broken fibula (ankle end)? My mum's in surgery at the moment (she broke her leg gardening) and it seems like it's been forever.

#385 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:13 PM:

... and I just got a text from my dad to say she's out and okay. Cancel the question!

#386 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Em, I was going to say it feels like forever, because you're waiting.

#387 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:44 PM:

Ah. I thought I'd posted yesterday, but I either missed the post-preview click or it got lost as spam.

Thank you, abi, Terry, for the kind words. I'm feeling much better now than I was when I posted that, though I imagine the pain will last a while.... One of the projects Travis was heavily involved in was Books for Prisoners; I think I'll check in with them to see if they're still active in town and if there's a way I might help.

#388 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 02:10 PM:

Oh. I forgot to plug this episode of The Memory Palace:

Notes on an Imagined Plaque

#389 ::: ookpik ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 03:19 PM:

crazysoph@300: I don't know about books, but Craftsy has classes (on-demand video series) on both of the subjects you mention. I'm an extreme beginner at clothes-making but plan to do both of those classes when I get to that level.

(If this has already been noted, please excuse duplication. I read through quickly and didn't see anything.)

#390 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Stefan Jones @383

There aren't that many manufacturers hard drives left -- it's pretty much guaranteed that the unit that's in the external drives is the same as you can buy somewhere else as a bare drive, maybe for more, maybe for less. The market's been funny that way.

One big caveat about reliability though, there are certain models of drives that have horrific reliability stats, to the point that it's just a matter of time, and not necessarily very long at that. The specific model that I have experience with is the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 3TB. Backblaze has seen > 25% failure rates on them the last time I checked, where their normal failure rate for a batch of drives is in the

#391 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 05:40 PM:

@ 390: Uh oh, I think eric's hard drive just crashed.

#392 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 06:14 PM:

Arg. I wrote more than that. Including a less than sign. Sigh.

Ordinary failure rates are [less than] 5%. I lost one 3tb 7200.12 with a bunch of data on it, and there are hordes of people who've lost data on those. If you have one, replace it while you can still save the data.

I've also had trouble with WD Green 2tb, of the 6 or so that I've had, I've lost all of them. Most have lasted a couple of years, some in pretty rough conditions, but failures on those are way higher than WD Blacks or others that I'm using in similar circumstances.

#393 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 06:28 PM:

Em @384/5: Having just (nine weeks ago) had a fractured distal (ankle end) fibula plated myself, let me know if you want me to point you/your mother at some really useful online resources with answers to FAQs on coping with a broken leg/ankle and what's normal with a broken leg/ankle.

#394 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 07:08 PM:

I have broken an ankle cast, no surgery, and am willing to share experience; insofar as it may be relevant.

#395 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 08:38 PM:

Terry at #365: Yahoo Groups is still active. Perhaps you were thinking of something else?

#396 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 11:00 PM:

Ok...I think I'm officially up too late...

I just caught an ad on TV where someone is selling a showerhead that lights up (LEDs I presume) along with a floating light-up ball for the tub.


#397 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 12:41 AM:

dcb and Terry: Yes please! I'd be very grateful. She's in a cast just up to below her knee and (because she likes to do things thoroughly) has a mild sprain of the other ankle. She can stand up, but not for long, so we're worried about washing; their tub is not one we can put a chair in, and the shower stall is very small, so we've got visions of putting her on the deck and getting the hose. Any advice, as well as advice on how to not go stir-crazy, would be much appreciated.

#398 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 01:35 AM:

Ok... I can help with the washing.

She needs a Blue Sock (

That will let her bathe, shower, soak in a hot-tub, etc.

I also commend a "kneel-chair" They can be rented.

The thing to remember is one can't scratch inside the cast; don't use any sort of tool to do it, as you can't see what's going on.

The Blue Sock is great. If you soak in a hot tub the liner in the cast may get sweaty and stick. Just take another soak.

The Kneel-chair makes getting around so much easier than using crutches. Also making sure there are sofa-backs, chairs, tables, etc. to allow one to get about, in the house, absent crutches (I got very adept at hopping; but I'm told I'm ridiculously physical, so make of that what you will).

Also, don't be shy about using drugs. If you are in pain you heal less well. If you get to the tail end of the prescription, ask for more. Pill hoarding is worse than having leftovers.

#399 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 03:10 AM:

Terry @ #377, my mistake. 8800 songs, over 51GB of data.

#400 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 03:16 AM:

Em: A knee scooter (if that's what Terry means by a kneel chair) can be hired and I've heard people say lots of good things about them. Given the sprain, it might even be worth hiring a wheel chair for the first week or two. Some people have used a wheeled office chair for getting about in the house! Consider an ankle support and a knee support (just normal athletic ones you can buy) for the non-broken leg as that will be taking a lot of strain when she's on crutches.

For bathing, can you get a small plastic stool into the bath tub? I managed to sit on one of those and I put the leg up on a partially-inflated Swiss ball (exercise ball). For the first few weeks I mostly sat on a folding chair next to the bathroom sink, with my injured leg up on a stool and took sponge baths - not as refreshing, but effective. If she sponges the top half of the bad leg and immediately dries it, then covers that leg with a towel, she should be able to do the rest of the sponge bath without wetting the cast, with care, even without a proper cast protector.

She should expect to spend a lot of time lying or sitting on the sofa with her leg up on pillows/cushions. A large beanbag can be useful in bed as the leg sinks into it and then it's supported on the sides, there's no worry about it slipping off the pillows and the covers don't drag on the foot. Plenty of sleep is a good thing for healing.

For during the day, particularly if she will be alone, make a "nest" near the sofa with everything in reach - snacks, means of making hot drinks (I have a travel kettle and a large bottle of water for filling it up), mugs and tea/coffee, milk in a cool box, several types of entertainment (books, music, computer, TV, embroidery - whatever she prefers), tissues, a cloth for moping up spills...

As Terry says, she shouldn't be afraid to use the medication given against pain. Note that all opiates (e.g. co-codam*l, which is c*deine and paracetam*l) (asterisks 'cos I'm not sure what might be Words of Power) tend to cause constipation. I strongly suggest immediately countering that with diet - lots of leafy green veg, prunes etc.

She needs to eat well - protein, enough calories for healing (more than you think!), calcium and vitamin D - hopefully the orthopaedic surgeon or someone will have given some advice on that?

Note that feeling depressed, fed up, angry, helpless etc. is likely. Being told to "cheer up - it could be worse!" or "look on the bright side!" are not helpful when you're feeling like that. Try to protect her from people who will say such things.

Bending and straightening the knee is a good thing - hopefully she will have been told to do that. Also marching in place while sitting (or sort of cycling the legs in the air while lying/reclining) - to keep the other joints moving. And wiggling the toes.

There's a good discussion forum at My Broken Leg ( for asking specific questions - it's full of people who have been through this/are going through this. I'm active there at the moment - as dcb.

Hope some of that is helpful.

#401 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 10:23 AM:

Lori Coulson @#396:

I just caught an ad on TV where someone is selling a showerhead that lights up (LEDs I presume) along with a floating light-up ball for the tub.

I have a remarkably inexpensive handheld showerhead from Large Orange Big Box Store that has LED's for indicating temperature. It lights up pretty bright and the kids love it! It is biased a bit low temp (red is 130F IIRC) but any temp in the green zone above "just changed from cold/blue" isn't uncomfortable enough to produce shrieks of upset. It helps to have an "objective standard" other than my own hand for "too cold/hot!" arguments - and has provided enough feedback to avoid them easier, which is a big plus!

#402 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 11:40 AM:

cajunfj40 @401: "too cold/hot!" arguments


Wow, there's a personal boundaries issue if ever I heard one!

#403 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 12:00 PM:

Internet server error; trying to knock loose a message....

#404 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Ok, that didn't work. Shorter verson: name brand of temperature detecting showerhead? Might be useful. My husband and I have very different ideas of comfortable shower temperature, and it's easy to lose track of who last showered (and therefore which temp the shower is set to).

#405 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 02:43 PM:

Oh... bed. I used a modified box to make an open space; thus keeping the blankets from being oppressive in the night. The drag on the cast can feel as if one is trapped (or that the leg is being twisted).

Be aware that a significant number of caucasions don't process vicodin well (I am one of those, and need percoset) because it requires the liver to convert it to oxycodone.

However, even if your body isn't processing it, the rate of of side-effects is the same. Grapefruit juice is also contraindicated, though it wasn't mentioned to me (though to be fair, mostly people don't drink grapefruit juice the way I do, which is pretty much by the quart, repeatedly).

#406 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 02:45 PM:

Ohm right, I mentioned the names of the drugs, and so was gnomed. I'm willing to share my grapefruit juice.

#408 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 04:19 PM:

open-threadiness, HLN reading edition:

Over the last three weeks, I've read three books. The best of these was _The Emperor of All Maladies_, a really excellent book about the history of cancer treatment with a fair bit about cancer biology in there, too. I really strongly recommend it if t's not going to depress you to read a whole book about cancer treatments, most of which weren't all that effective. (Though you also get to see a few early cancer patients right a the cusp of some effective treatment being developed, so you get an occasional story where essentially everyone diagnosed of this particular form of cancer until this one person died, and most people diagnosed with it after survived.)

Seveneves would potentally be a Hugo nominee for next year. I found it really captivating while I was readiing it, but the huge discontinuity in the middle really bugged me. (Spoilers follow) Gur qvfnfgre fgbel frrzrq cerggl cynhfvoyr--vs jr xarj gur Rnegu jnf tbvat gb or qrfgeblrq va gjb lrnef, jr'q gel gb qb fbzrguvat gb yrg crbcyr fheivir, naq vg jbhyq nyzbfg pregnvayl snvy, orpnhfr gur wbo vf gbb uneq sbe bhe novyvgvrf. Ohg nsgre gur rvtug fheivibef (frira rirf cyhf bar cbfg-zrabcnhfny jbzna) znxr vg gb Pyrsg, fgvyy jvgu enqvbnpgvir pbagnzvangvba, va n fhcre ubfgvyr raivebazrag jvgu fhpu yvzvgrq zrnaf, V'q rkcrpg gurz gb qvr bss. Znvagnvavat gurve grpuabybtl ybbxf uneq jvgubhg ng yrnfg uhaqerqf, cebonoyl gubhfnaqf, bs crbcyr nebhaq gb fcernq gur arrqrq rkcregvfr nzbat. Ur tybffrf bire guvf, V thrff orpnhfr ur pbhyqa'g svaq n cynhfvoyr jnl gb jevgr vg

Reamde was less captivating, but also interesting reading. But the bizarre zero-probability coincicence in the middle of the story was similarly jarring.

#409 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Re: Busted ankle

IF the sufferer doesn't have the arm strength to manage crutches (I couldn't) walkers are wonderful, and you can get some that have a seat with a basket under it.

#410 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 06:07 PM:

albatross @ #408: I really strongly recommend it if it's not going to depress you to read a whole book about cancer treatments, most of which weren't all that effective.

Did it include Fanny Burney's account of her mastectomy? because it's horrifying, but also kind of amazing; her portrait of the surgeon is very subtly drawn.

#411 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 06:28 PM:

For the first time in . . . well, my adult lifetime, I have a stye. A swollen eyelid.

I'm wondering if this was somehow caused by the rotten smokey air* in the Portland area, or if its appearance was coincidental and just adding to the misery of smoke-reddened eyes.

* From wildfires.

#412 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 06:39 PM:

Having completed his last day at work on Friday, area man is now officially a Gentleman of Leisure. Said area man confesses to being somewhat croggled to discover that accumulated savings are sufficient for him to count as mildly rich.

Area man assures well-wishers that there is plenty to occupy his time, and he will not be bored.

#413 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 06:43 PM:

And my Amazing Fiancé and I are now ensconced in a hotel near SFO, having moved out of our Berkeley apartment today. We're flying to Boston in the morning, and didn't want to make any of our friends drive through Bay Area transbay traffic at rush hour to get us and all our luggage to the airport.

Our cat, Totoro, is currently hiding under the bed, because the Monkeys have taken him somewhere new.

#414 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 06:58 PM:

#412: Congratulations!

I have hopes that that retired, comfortable, and not-bored is possible for me.

#415 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 10:11 PM:

J Homes: congratulations!

#416 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 10:56 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe: Congrats.

J Homes: Congrats.

In my own HLN: my work finally crossed the line whereby the accommodations I made for them were not offset by the accommodations they were willing to make for me.

Being underpaid, and overworked, was one thing. Being expected to take, on top of that, a constant availability, irrespective of my personal needs and desires, well it wasn't worth it.

So, rather than lose my presence for a period of time (well in keeping of both previous periods of time, and the implications of the employee handbook), they have lost my presence in toto.

There were amusements (at least to me)in the various stages of denouement.

#417 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 11:06 PM:

Terry Karney @416, best wishes in finding a new position that appreciates you.

#418 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 11:07 PM:

Jacque @#402:

Wow, there's a personal boundaries issue if ever I heard one!

*blinks* Huh?


Yeah, I'm not perfect. There have been plenty of tired/frustrated parent days where my objective was "clean kid fast" and I said it wasn't too hot/cold because it felt fine to me when I tested it. Having this cheap gadget give me a less variable stimulus than the temp sense of my hand is me hacking my own stimulus-response mechanisms to try and interrupt or prevent me from disagreeing with my kids about how the water feels on their skin, and just turn the knob already. I don't like tired/frustrated parent brain - it isn't fun to live in, and it does counterproductive things like that. So this cheap gadget helps.

It works the other way, too. Kid A is 8, kid B is 5, they sometimes complain that the shower water is either too hot or too cold before it does more than barely nick a leg or ankle. Having a brightly colored indicator built into the shower head gives all of us an unambiguous visual cue as to the approximate temperature, rather than them having to take my word for it when I stick my hand under the stream to check the temp. They can see the color change from blue to green, and they know I won't douse them until a bit after that color change. This has substantially reduced the incidence of shrieking due to being doused with water that is too cold or too hot for them. Prior to the light, the variable mismatch between what my (wet from checking/exposed to air from vents/etc) hand felt was OK and what they felt was OK led to said shrieking.

It also helped retrain habits formed on different pipes/water heater - we moved a few months ago. These pipes are slower to heat up at first, and take longer to "settle" once at a useable temp. Once settled, they seem to respond a bit faster to interim changes, and the knob is much less "sensitive", so a tiny nudge doesn't cause a 40F swing in temp nearly a minute later. Huh. Now that I think of it, I bet some of the frustration and disagreement and unwillingness to just turn the dang knob already was due to that twitchy knob on the old shower - didn't want to take forever getting it back into the comfort zone while kid shivered and complained over out from under the water. Phooey. Anyhow, new shower plus shiny gadget helps, brings more peace.

#419 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 11:20 PM:

Cassy B. @#404:
Ok, that didn't work. Shorter verson: name brand of temperature detecting showerhead? Might be useful. My husband and I have very different ideas of comfortable shower temperature, and it's easy to lose track of who last showered (and therefore which temp the shower is set to).

Neat, separate temp knob and, well, "volume" knob? Next time I have to change the shower valve I want one of those!

I kept the packaging this time. First one died in a month or so, but "lifetime warranty". Glacier Bay brand - Big Orange's house brand I think? Packing says distributed by Big Orange. P/N 1000 041 318 for chrome. Model SH-72LED-07, barcode 8 27578 03202 4.

Got the temps wrong. Blue below 77F, green 78-95F, red 96-113F, flashing red above 113F. Zero hysteresis, so when at the edge of a zone it blinks back and forth for a bit. Can't tell if battery or water-turbine powered, but it does hum a bit. Sealed/not openable.

#420 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 11:27 PM:

Cassy: Thanks, but I am not looking. The Army pays me to breathe (since the condition of my continued breathing has been permanently called into question as a result of things the Army did).

My partners had been encouraging me to quit for some time (and cleared the last emotional hurdle to my walking away some months back by combining to buy something I had vowed I wouldn't leave without buying).

So I am more than semi-retired at the moment. Now I need to get my ass in gear and exploit the schooling I can still squeeze out of them.

#421 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 07:59 AM:

cajunfj40, not physically separate temperature and volume knobs, but you pull straight out to turn on the water (and presumably control volume, but I pull to the limit every time) and twist for temp. So if one just pulls before one checks where it's twisted to (and it's a round knob with a small arrow, so not instantly obvious), I might get parboiled, and my husband might get hypothermia... <wry grin>

Thanks much for the information!

#422 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 08:01 AM:

Terry Karney @420, in that case, congratulations on your retirement! <smile> And may your idiot bosses *really* miss your contributions...

#423 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 08:56 AM:

cajunfj40 #418: Kid A is 8, kid B is 5, they sometimes complain that the shower water is either too hot or too cold before it does more than barely nick a leg or ankle.

They may also be responding to spray and/or IR. I know that I can tell if a water stream is much too hot or cold without actually touching it.

Also, I totally wish I had a one of those knobs where you can set the temperature independently of volume, and leave it there between showers.

Since we're on plumbing, I realize I missed an HLN thing in my recent roundup: I discovered that I was getting dripping from my bathroom into my living room -- into my laundry basket, as it turned out. (Which retconned a "moldy laundry" incident from a while ago -- I'd thought I'd put wet jeans in, but this seems more plausible for the results.) After 3 tries, maintenance figured out it was the loose covers on the shower knobs, and eventually fixed them. They even replaced the damaged molding and such....

And new the other day, my dishwasher died... still waiting on a replacement for that.

#424 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 11:55 AM:

On the shower control subthread - my parents' house, built after they retired, had a shower setup where water was turned on by pulling the knob out and temperature by rotating the knob - it had a button that stopped it rotating past 105F unless you pushed it in, as a safety feature. (Moen, I think, but it's long enough back that I can't swear to it. I wouldn't be surprised if other name manufacturers have something similar.)

#425 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 11:57 AM:

PJ Evans, my shower control, which works as you describe, is a Moen. But it's older than your parents' shower knob; it doesn't have that safety feature...

#426 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 12:26 PM:

cajunfj40 @418: new shower plus shiny gadget helps, brings more peace.

Peace & shiny gadgets are good!

Hm. I wonder if I would benefit from one of those things. In addition to pipelag (between the water heater and the spigot, between the spigot and the shower head) and non-linearly twitchy knobs, yet another variable I struggle with is the relationship between the water-temp and my skin, which varies. A water temp that is too hot on first exposure can be cozy and comfy once my skin circulation has adjusted. Likewise, relative humidity; a water temp that is warm enough on first exposure can be too cold once my skin gets wet and evaporative cooling kicks in.

It's really a terribly complicated business, when you think about it. :-) I can see where having an objective, non-tactile measure of water temp (for which knob position is not really an adequate proxy*) would cut out at least one category of variable. (Although I anticipate that the colored lights would not be an optimal metric for me, though; my color perception varies in the same way that my skin's temp perception does.)

* Particularly since, on my system at least, a given knob position still produces a wide range of temperatures based on freakin' flow rate. :-\

#427 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 12:33 PM:

We have an appallingly simple/complex set up. There are three sets of nozzle; one "standard" one freehand, three which are non-standard (one at waist height, drain end: on the other end one is at shoulder height, one is at waist height; those are aimed parallel to the floor, in line with the long axis of the tub).

But water management is one rotating lever (180°) for pressure, and one knob of 270° arc for temperature.

It's the nozzles that get you. They have an independent knob, which is't marked, and rotates a full 360°. If it's been adjusted, one is surprised. If it gets switched during the shower one gets the standing water in the nozzle's pipes; i.e. COLD.

#428 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 01:17 PM:

They don't put it on all their stuff - I think it's their 'Posi-Temp' stuff. (My parents' house was built in 1980. I wouldn't bet that those fixtures are still there.)

#429 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 01:45 PM:

HLN: while you are discussing shower fixtures, the actual plumber is here in my house fixing... a long list of things that need fixing. After the plumbing, we can think about replacing SO much drywall and stop looking at the wall studs all the time.

"We can rebuild it, strong, faster, better."

#430 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 02:12 PM:

How not to react when a publisher rejects your work. Wow, just wow:

He'll go far in the business - not.

#431 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 06:29 PM:

Rob, I went and looked at his work.

Uh. I probably shouldn't say any more.

#432 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 07:25 PM:

Wow... just wow. Bulky is how he describes it. The art isn't bad but the stream of his consciousness needs some flood control measures.

#433 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 07:29 PM:

Oh dear... That sounds like a tantrum from a 14 years old that had always lived at home, his parents never denied him anything and he finally hears his first no. If you cannot take a rejection, you should not be working in anything creative...

#434 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 07:49 PM:

Or he should have flunked a few times in school. (I did.)

#435 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 08:46 PM:

So...did anything else interesting happen at Worldcon? Besides the Hugos kerfluffle, I mean?

Stories! I want stories!!

#436 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 09:42 PM:

Annie Y @ 433: Then there's the letter accompanying a story submission. It may even have been P & T who quoted from a bunch of these some years back. My favourite was the one that began "I think you'll find this a cut above the sort of rubbish you usually publish...."

#437 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2015, 11:26 PM:

My Amazing Fiancé and I are now in Cambridge, in our new apartment (such 1970s, wow). Our stuff arrives tomorrow, and we've got movers to move it for us (as opposed to a half-dozen friends). Totoro the Cat tolerated his second flight as well as his first (the first was Nashville to Oakland in 2010) - which is to say, he was scared basically stiff, and didn't make a peep.

#438 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 12:04 AM:

Lots of fun things happened at Worldcon. I made it to the end of the GoL, which was definite fun; met Annie Y in passing at the Business Meeting; kept getting to introduce Joe and Gay Haldeman to news media people (because they were always around when I was needing someone); I got to do the art show auction on about half-an-hour's notice, with Phil Foglio, which was good because he won't auction his own work and that was more than a third of the whole auction (including a batch of pieces for charity); the Discworld Exhibit was brilliant, and the memorials and Pratchett panels were pretty amazing. There were too many other memorials, and I didn't get to either of the ones I really wanted to attend (Peggy Rae Sapienza and Stu Shiffman). And there was all the usual Worldcon stuff.

I got to very few parties, but sat cordially with Antonelli at the pre-Hugo reception. He was alone at a table, looking a bit disgruntled, and I took the admonition to treat all the nominees with respect seriously, so I sat down and we had a pleasant conversation about Texas. A few minutes later, TNH rolled over and they spoke entirely cordially. Antonelli even averred that TNH had never said anything negative about him....

A wonderful new small ball of energy (no, her name wasn't Dawn, it was Beck) showed up working volunteers -- many people were very taken with her. I want to point her here, because she's studying library science in Seattle with a strong interest in graphic novels and French literature. I think she'd fit in here.

I'd give you more stories, but I'm still recovering. The con ran smoothly, but getting up at 4 AM to do short spots on the morning TV news the first day left me tired throughout. The fires (this was the first Worldcon held in the middle of a national disaster area, I think) and the deaths of firefighters meant that the local channels were too busy to do human/business interest stories that weren't fire related.

And two people showed up for my KaffeeKlatche -- both people I know fairly well. Neither of them (AFAIK) Making Light people. My earliest signup was an MLer who ended up having a conflict, but we chatted for a bit offline.

#439 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 12:12 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 438

Beck is solely responsible for sending me up to the Con Suite when I asked what I can help with - which ended up with me spending there 60+ hours (I am not chopping another vegetable for at least a week! :) ), meeting a lot of people (turned out that meeting them while actually helping is not as scary as trying to talk to people while attending something) and having the best Worldcon I've ever had :) Anyone that did not come upstairs and visit the Con Suite missed a lot :)

I did not make it to anything besides the Business Meetings, the Dealer's Room (for about an hour) and the Con Suite - but it worked out just great.

#440 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 12:17 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe: Yay for being in place, if not ensconced. I may be in Boston in Sept. (depends in part on Merav's back; if it's still bad I'll need to go with her to haul her luggage, if not then I'll stay home).

I also need to make some Arisia Meetings this autumn.

#441 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 12:39 AM:

HLN: So the conference which wants me to speak is not this year, but next. It's in Nevada (Vegas, I think). I think anyone can attend, in the same way anyone can come to Worldcon.

#442 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 02:51 AM:

We had a terrific Worldcon. So we decided to spend a couple of days seeing Yellowstone on the way home... and my partner has developed symptoms consistent with appendicitis. He is now on the way to the hospital in Rexburg, ID (there not being anything closer), while I stay behind to check us out of the hotel room and then follow in the morning.

It feels like we just can't catch a break.

#443 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 03:02 AM:

Oh no, Lee. I hope it end up being just a stomach bug or something.

#444 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 07:29 AM:

Lee #442: best of luck for your parter and you. And, this being America, your wallet. I got seriously screwed by an ambulance call once. :-/

#445 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 08:39 AM:

Shit, Lee. Best wishes for a swift and uneventful resolution! Hang in there.

#446 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 09:40 AM:

Best wishes for you and your partner, Lee.

#447 ::: Lee Billings ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 10:03 AM:

Update: it was a kidney stone, and he's okay. Now the issue becomes how to pay for this, since he has no insurance thanks to our asshole governor.

#448 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 10:51 AM:

Lee @447 Glad to hear he's doing okay, but sympathies for the insurance.

#449 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 11:56 AM:

Oh dear lord. Kidney stones are awful. And sadly expensive. So much sympathy.

#450 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 12:28 PM:

Lee Billings #447: Ouch, My sympathies. Probably less expensive than appendicitis, but medical bills are crazed these days. That said, the hospital may have some provision for the underfunded.

#451 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 12:48 PM:

Lee @442, 447: Yikes. Am glad it wasn't appendicitis, but kidney stones aren't that much better.

GoodThoughts (tm) en route.

#452 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 12:57 PM:

I'll post about my fabulous Worldcon sometime when I'm not sitting in a dentist's chair pecking at a phone screen. But it was fabulous.

#453 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 01:50 PM:

I also had an excellent first Worldcon, but am currently in the midst of one of those Third Circle of Hell all day work teambuilding activities. On the plus side, the "give me space/I need to be alone" ribbon i acquired has been deftly repurposed on my work badge.

#454 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 02:51 PM:

Prompted by comments over on the massive Hugo thread:

I am fascinated to see more and more works coming out lately that:

(a) contain devoutly religious characters or institutional 'everyone does them' religious practices
(b) where the religion in question is NEITHER so blandly nondescribed as to be completely generic NOR is it just Christianity with the serial numbers rubbed off.

Ruthanna Emrys is writing several different fictional universes with religious practice in them, from her nearly-Hugo-nominated Litany of Earth to her Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land, and beyond, her characters have inbuilt, devout religious lives that don't feel like Christianity at all.

Marie Brennan's Lady Trent dragon books (first volume:; four in the series to date) contain a Not-Quite-Our-Victorians world where the entity occupying the space of the Anglican church is most definitely Judaism. There are several branches of it in the world, of which the not-quite-Anglicans are only one (the one promulgated by colonizers), and there are people with several degrees of observance of it, and of entirely separate religions, throughout the books.

Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon is a new world with its own religion, but that religion's flavor and practices are clearly Islam-with-all-the-serial-numbers-rubbed-off, which is really interesting to read.

Elizabeth Bear's silk road fantasy novels starting with Range of Ghosts, as well as being stuffed full of fascinating worldbuilding choices, contain a variety of different, competing religions. I'm pretty sure none of them is Christian-ish, though aspects of the cultures where the Scholar-God is worshipped echo non-religious cultural aspects of our world's medieval Islamic caliphates.

Leckie's Ancillary books have an institutionalized, colonizing, syncretic polytheism that echoes Ancient Rome in structure but whose practices are most definitely not Christianity-rubbed-generic.

I think this is exciting. Just as in our UU subthread, in speculative fiction, often our two options if any religion were depicted at all were D&D-esque or Christianity-lite, and seeing people branch out -- WITHOUT just swiping shallow stage-dressing from existing human cultures and using them in a random pasted-together mishmash -- is really heartening to me.

It helps that I find them all to be cracking reads (YMMV).

#455 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 03:15 PM:

I wanted to share good wishes, and prayers for Lee's family.

I had other things I wanted to rant about, but they really, really, aren't important.

I will now go think about Elliot Mason's post about alternate reality religions in the context of typical anime tropes.

#456 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 09:06 PM:

Rather than repeat my Worldcon squee from my blog, I'll just note that the last handful of posts with the 'conventions' tag will adequately convey my experiences. This year's convention marathon has been an interesting exploration of my improving social skill-set and of having the perspective to figure out when a bad convention experience is Them Not Me.

Elliott @ 454 - One of the aspects of my Alpennia series that most surprised me was the realization that my characters were going to be sincerely and devoutly traditionally religious (in various flavors, if one counts the secondary characters). In the end, it came down to "historical realism", that much maligned feature of epic fantasy. It meant the world to me that my readers tell me I pulled it off.

#457 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 09:11 PM:

Oh, and for completeness, two of my favorite fictional worlds with religions that WORK (that do something in their society, as religions do in this world) are the Paksenarrion books and Bujold's Chalion.

But the former is D&D-ish (and impressively imagined), and the second is exceedingly Catholic. Well, everything but the actual theology is Catholic.

#458 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 09:37 PM:

Last Thursday there was a big thunderstorm in the morning. Made my commute on the bus to work quite interesting. Well, I got an email from the Houston Museum of Natural Science today (as I do sometimes) and it had a link to a Facebook post saying "Did you catch the light show last Thursday?" and that had a link to this spectacular shot.

Now, the page there says "near downtown Houston." That covers a lot of ground, so I didn't expect to recognize the location.

...and then a few seconds later, my backbrain starts saying, "Don't those buildings in the background look familiar?"

...and then a few seconds later than that, my forebrain is all, "HOLY SHIT! That's half a mile from where I LIVE!" I've been by that intersection hundreds of times. I'll have to get down there soon and see what it looks like now.

(Fortunately, I live right across the street from a fire station! So there should have been a quick response.)

#459 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 09:47 PM:

Where in Houston, David? I still remember bits of it from my time there, though they're now embedded in much, much bigger bits.

For instance, where I lived was only a block or two from where Bob Newhart recorded his first album, and around the block from the hotel George H.W. Bush listed as his Texas residence when he ran for President (and in which Texas Democrats rented his suite to throw a fundraiser).

#460 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 09:51 PM:

Posted that last without catching up on the thread first. Lee, best wishes.

#461 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 10:08 PM:

Heather 456: I was delighted to meet you in person!

#462 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 10:17 PM:

OK, I'm done with the wretched "teambuilding" - here's how my Worldcon went down.

It was awesome.

It was my first Worldcon and I wasn't sure what to expect. I had heard grumblings about "the greying of fandom", and complaints about how everyone was some sort of a cane-shaker shouting at the anime kids to get off their lawns and whatnot, but I didn't witness any of it. Which of course is not to say there's not a faction of cranky folks yelling at clouds, but it does seem to be possible to avoid them.

It didn't get off to the most auspicious of starts, as in the SeaTac airport waiting to board the plane for Spokane one of the many other purple-haired women I saw throughout the weekend (am sad that I am not unique, as the prevalence of that particular shade of violet may well have turned it into a "natural" color) admitted to a stranger that she was also going to Worldcon, but had attended SDCC and would be going to DragonCon in two weeks. A murmur of smug "well, this isn't like THOSE types of conventions" comments made me worried that the stupid SF Convention Bun Fight was going to last for the next five days. Happily, that was pretty much the last I heard of it. Not so with my second favorite convention Bingo square, the Middle Aged White Dude Who Knows Everything About Everything And Expounds On It Constantly 10 dB Louder Than Circumstances Require, which happened a few other times over the week.

I was quite pleased with the Dealer's room, which while smaller than I am accustomed to from my experiences at Dragoncon, had way, way more stuff for me to buy. Shopping was pleasant. Maybe too pleasant - I ended up jettisoning a few tired outfits to make room in my suitcase for the new swag. I also really, REALLY liked the abundance of seating - chairs, sofas, etc - because I don't necessarily want to be on my feet at all times. I don't know if this is a Worldcon thing, or a Spokane Convention Center thing, but damn was it appreciated.

The panels I saw were for the most part excellently moderated, however two were a little iffy - one had a super-defensive mod who I felt took over the conversation a bit much, and the other had moderation that was the opposite - i.e. if one more old white dude got up to list all the books he read that might somehow relate to the panel (in that they didn't relate at all) rather than actually asking a damn question, I was ready to start lobbing soft objects at them. I feel after the first of these rambling diatribes, a mod might wish to remind people that a question usually has a question mark after it.

I was slightly social, although not as social as I had planned (skipped the Time Traveler's Ball, despite having brought a beautiful costume and every piece of make-up I own because I was just exhausted), made nerd small-talk with strangers, popped into the Making Light meetup (Hi, all!), had dinner with a few, and attended the masquerade.

The big thing I was worried about - whether I would be a party-pooper at Kaffee Klatches - was really much ado about nothing. My roommate signed up for KKs with two of her favorite authors, and in the first one, someone had brought a fussy baby which made conversation difficult, and what conversation they did have centered around babies and children, which left my roommate entirely out of the discussion. The second one both of us signed up for, but there was apparently a miscommunication with the author, and he was on a plane by the time we all gathered. I found that pretty funny, actually, and those at the table had a rollicking conversation without the author in question, discussing such things as early morning drinking, industrial accidents, apocalyptic natural disasters and other delightful topics. 10/10 would kaffee klatch again.

As a first time Worldcon member, I will say a couple of things really impressed me. One was the professional level of the stage management/tech for the masquerade (didn't watch the Hugos because I worried about my embarrassment reflex), which I don't know if that bit is also fan-sourced, or paid for, but wow, was it nice. Not to mention the wonderful costuming that was done. The second thing that I noticed was how open the professional community is. I wound up watching one panel that was really much more geared to the pro or semi-pro writer, and there was some solid advice and encouragement going on. Rather than jealously guarding their professional standings, writers were helping other writers with their craft. It was really awesome.

I'm not sure if my vacation budget next year will allow for Kansas City, but I'm definitely buying a non-attending membership. This is a community I can be proud of being a part of.

#463 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Kip W @459: That's the corner of Richmond and Weslayan. So about three miles west-northwest of where you lived.

The web page says the photo was taken at about 8:30 AM. That line of cars right next to where the bolt is hitting? It occurs to me that if it had been, say, 45 minutes earlier, my wife would have been driving one of them.

#464 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2015, 11:18 PM:

It's two or three miles north of where my most-senior-aunt lives, on Braeswood west of Stella Link. I'd guess she noticed it.

#465 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 12:00 AM:

Elliot Mason 454:

"Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land" was my favorite short story of 2014 (which I did nominate for the Hugos) largely because I was so very happy to see a Jewish portal fantasy.

I actually think that story is the perfect example of what "box-checking" (if it exists, which I doubt) isn't. The named characters are all women. Several are Jewish. One is Muslim. One is Christian. At least two are queer. The words "Jewish," "Muslim," "Christian," "queer, "lesbian," and "bisexual" do not appear anywhere in the story, and they don't have to, because the story tells us enough about the characters to let us as readers make those deductions.

But the characters' identities are critically necessary for the story, because "Seven Commentaries" is primarily about communities, and the way people share communities and make connections because of their shared identities. Dinah and Miriam can use their Judaism and their cuttings of mint to access the land of Tikanu together. Miriam and Samira don't have Tikanu itself in common, but they have other beliefs and practices that they can share, and those similar practices let them join in a larger community. Amber may be Christian, but she has the right kind of imagination, and the right kind of love for Lily, to let her join Lily in Tikanu, and then to travel with Lily through a larger world of shared identities and shared communities. If these characters weren't all women, if they didn't all have deep love for their various religious practices, if they didn't have those commonalities that build a community, there would be no story at all. And if the characters were all white and Christian, it wouldn't be Tikanu; it would just be (as Amber's storyline hints) Narnia.

I love that story. Maybe I should grow mint on my windowsill.

#466 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 07:52 AM:

David, thanks! Familiar street names. Looks like it's not too far from Third Planet and the Village.

May I say how glad I am that nobody in your family was electrically augmented?

#467 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 07:52 AM:

I love that story. Maybe I should grow mint on my windowsill.

Safer than growing it in your yard.

#468 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 08:24 AM:

Lee and Russ, very best wishes.

#469 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Message in a bottle takes over 100 years to arrive. It's one heck of a time travel story.

#470 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 11:15 AM:

You can grow mint in your yard.
I recommend either (1) having it in an area with at least 4 feet of concrete paving (or structure) on all four sides or (b) frequent mowing and minimal water.

#471 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 11:29 AM:

Further Moving Updates: our stuff arrived yesterday, and our movers subsequently moved it from pods to our apartment yesterday evening. Which meant that we unpacked from about 7pm-1am, which was enough to rebuild our bedroom and unearth enough kitchen stuff to do a modicum of cooking.

Today is, unsurprisingly, given over to a lot more unpacking. Tomorrow, if we're good, will be driving out to Ikea and buying bookshelves, since we got rid of two in Berkeley and lost one in transit (protip: stacking a 4x2 Expedit bookcase with 8 bankers boxes of books, one per hole, results in catastrophe on the road - every single shelf broke its mounts).

#472 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 11:31 AM:

Lee, sending good thoughts to you and Russ.

David, Kip - that's a very dramatic picture of the lightning bolt. I saw it a few days ago on Eric Berger's Twitter feed.

The storm that came into the Houston area Tuesday made for this panorama. I loved seeing that roll in.


#473 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 12:16 PM:

I expect I will eventually get caught up reading the Hugo thread which has shown up with the advent of this year's Worldcon, and with this open thread. I've looked at the last few posts in this thread.

Why I'm posting--on the Lois McMaster Bujold list there's a thread about a site which lists her work as being in the top 25 SF/F works/series. All the others are by men. The focal perspective prompted me to come up with "testicular cancer SF/F" as a descriptive term for the tastes of those stuck in 1950s SF/F androcentricity values/outlook/perspective.

#474 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Benjamin: I learned that with my move to Jersey. Sadly the shelf that was destroyed they no longer make.

So I have a hallway lined with my buddies Billy (seven tall friends, as I got the extra shelf for all of them).

#475 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 02:21 PM:

Lee: I hope that the kidney stone resolves without too much physical or financial pain.

HLN: I have been cursed lately. Last night, my wallet was stolen out of my purse (somehow I didn't notice the change in weight) and all the credit cards were compromised. All morning here has been spent dealing with cancelling card numbers, etc. Now, just the library cards are left to take care of (mine and my daughter's). I'm sure that my spouse and I have about one nerve left apiece. Our to-do lists just keep growing and growing and many things have a dependency list of other things to accomplish first. I guess we just "keep on swimming".

#476 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 02:40 PM:

LadyKay, condolences. Best wishes for immediate improvement in all your circumstances.

#477 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 05:03 PM:

It occurs to me that I really ought to make an effort to get to Westercon next year; as that will be the 40th anniversary of my exposure to fandom.

It's where/why I met Kelly Freas, and Frank Gasperik, and any number of other people who were (and are) important to me.

It's why, ultimately, I know all of you.

#478 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 05:08 PM:

#365 Terry

Also there's #4:
If the lookup table gets scrambled (that is, the lookup table for where the data's stored in the cloud) the data can be somewhere in the cloud, but the path to it is gone. Effectively the data's not there... it's a relative of the lost gold mine situation.

#354 Terry

I dumped the contents of some storage cards to a 128 GB USB stick which was on sale last week at Staples. I get hundreds of 16 mpixel RAW images on a card... but I've been taking pictures fast the past few days.

#350 Jeremy

DSLRs don't always come with memory cards. They do come with cabling, but my current DSLR, the camera does not really act as a storage device to the computer...

#479 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 06:21 PM:

LadyKay #475: Ow, that's nasty! Best of luck in dealing with it and defending your bank account from pilferage!

#480 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 06:24 PM:

I would just like to say that Kieran Healy's sober academic paper "Fuck Nuance", to which I just linked from the sidebar, is inestimably brilliant.

The blocking that nuance causes is not just a matter of practical or strictly empirical utility. It also has an aesthetic aspect. This is most obvious with the nuance of the connoisseur. Connoisseurs call for the contemplation of complexity almost for its own sake, or remind everyone that things are more subtle than they seem, or than you just said. The attractive thing about this move is that it is literally always available to the person who wants to make it. Theory is founded on abstraction, abstraction means throwing away detail for the sake of a bit of generality, and so things are always "more complicated than that" -- for any value of "that". Connoisseurship gets its aesthetic bite, and a little kick of symbolic violence, from the easy insinuation that the person trying to simplify things is, sadly, a bit less sophisticated a thinker than the person pointing out that things are more complicated.
I am certain that I will be referring back to this paper for years to come. Also, best abstract evar.

#481 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 06:52 PM:

#282 Daniel

Different people have different preferred processing and analytical modes. One of the reasons I went to MIT--a minor one--was to avoid having to take English Composition. I only very much later got informed of such things as Tess of the D'Ubervilles is a parody and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a parody, too. (But nothing is going to make me appreciate As I Lay Dying -- or perhaps I should modify that, since I have not looked at it since forced to read it in high school. My sense of humor neither regards as humorous pregnant teenagers wanting an abortion being persuaded as a way to end a pregnancy for the preacher to persuade them instead to have sex with the preacher, nor hauling the dead body of a family member (especially not a woman) around as humor. I also fail to appreciate such things as as e.g. social commentary otherwise....)

#283 Steve

I was more than underwhelmed being presented with stuff which my reaction to essentially is "sexist crap by dead or living white testicular-cancer inclined male apparently misogynists." Some of that, as with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, might be overly harsh--but then again, consider the likes of A Separate Peace and Lord of the Flies which are testicular cancers IMO as regards complete and utter disregard/disdain/dismissal of existence of/relevance of non-androwelt*.

*inventing the term here to mean world/universe which denies any agency and even betimes existence other than to penis-and-testicles-bearing characters.

I also resented public school English classes for wrecking Shakespeare for me, in addition to forcing me to read androcentric angst and other androcentric intrinsically obnoxious to me "great literature". Why would I want to engage i in studying stuff I found intrinsically repellent?!

#293 Em
Oh, I forgot about Everyman and its preachy androwelt Christianity....

Yeah, context matters, a lot--see above regarding "They're PARODIES!" Not being familiar with what they were parodies of, I had no context for such recognition--and the English classes pushing the works, failed completely to provide even a hint of the situation. I actually did recognize a pattern in Portrait of the Artist that was the stuff of parody, but again, lacked the context for what was being parodied and thus only saw the caricature gloss. With e.g. Shamela which I read on my own after getting completely and thoroughly annoyed/squicked halfway through Pamela with the abuse that the titular characters was being subjected to and the whole psychological space/culture involved and giving the book back to the library unwilling to read anymore of the revolting thing, it was obvious to my what was being parodied. (I got even less far into broad humor of its type, I don't have a novel or anywhere near to it level of tolerance for.)

BTW, you know about Peekleherring, yes?

Marlowe is a leading character in a novel by Lisa Barnett and Melissa Scott, and appears in some other people's novels, though I can't think of them offhand.

#482 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2015, 08:09 PM:

PNH @480: Healy is dancing very close to what we were doing with the Language of Data Project, looking at the difference between data displays for presentation and data displays for analysis (on page 4, looking at how abstraction works). In analysis, you want to throw away (hide) a great deal of the common information in a bunch of data, so you can look at the ways in which they vary interestingly. Then, in order to figure out what was going on, you add that information back in and figure out how to show other people the cool thing you found, and what it actually means. I think adding that idea into this paper would make for a really interesting discussion.

Will keep reading, but I wanted to share that bit.

#483 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 12:27 AM:

Paula #481:
BTW, you know about Peekleherring, yes?

No! It is now added to the list of "things I know I don't know", right under "what does 'androwelt' mean?" I googled both, and the results for "androwelt" weren't particularly helpful, and I'm not sure which of the three results for "Peekleherring" is the one you're referring to. Probably this one which looks interesting enough to read anyway, but please do tell me if it's something else so I can find it!

It might be a Pokemon. Water-class, with Bad Smell Attack?

#484 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 12:34 AM:

Oh, heck, I just noticed your name on that Peekleherring link, so I'll just go ahead and assume that's the one you meant. Thanks for pointing me at it! It has a passage which I'll find handy in a discussion I'm having with a facebook friend who asserted that "freedom isn't the absence of slavery; freedom is having the right master", which I find all kinds of problematic, even in the religious context in which he probably means it. The first large paragraph is providing me with some food for thought, so thanks again!

#485 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 04:08 AM:

On "Ricki and the Flash", no spoilers.

Long, long ago, I got into strife here for saying I didn't like or get rock music - that I found it really unpleasant, actually disorienting and frightening. A crowded space with hot lighting and what I thought of as noise at overwhelming volume is my idea of hell, pretty much. I know some people like it. I can't for the life of me understand how.

Well, I've just been to see "Ricki and the Flash". I went to see it because Meryl Streep. The critics, while acknowledging her magisterial performance, are luke-warm, but for me the film was a revelation. For the first time I could actually stare into the hot, grimy heart of rock music and it actually spoke to me. Me, who heard Elvis and the Beatles the first time around, and didn't have the slightest idea what everyone else was on about. "This is crapola," I thought. "Noisy, too, which makes it worse." But here, here, in what is really a rather slight film, here it spoke.

Maybe it took a musician like Rick Springfield, an actor like Streep, and some of the greatest rock music to do it, but it did it.

Oddly enough, the underlay was the same as a very oldie that I was watching on the Youb: Bing Crosby in "Bells of St Mary's": the idea that music heals.

All right, fair enough. It did that. This is music.

I was wrong.

#486 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 09:11 AM:

Via Computerworld:

Richard Serra "Television Delivers People" (1973)

Despite being 40+ years old, the polemic is still throughly relevant. And it's apparently the source of the modern maxim "if the service is free, you are the product".

#487 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 09:31 AM:

HLN: Area woman was laid off on Monday in one of the odder terminations she's had. Boss-folk were highly apologetic and spoke of her in glowing -- near gushing -- terms, but had no useful work for her to be doing at the company.

There's no immediate financial stress -- we have savings for just this purpose -- but I am finding that I'm getting daily anxiety spikes anyway. I loathe job-hunting. Any tips and tricks on how to keep the anxiety monster at bay would be appreciated.

OTOH, the cats are delighted. Mom's home! And not kicking us away from the computer! This is best for cats.

#488 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 10:58 AM:

cyllan, best wishes on the job search. Can you maybe get written recommendations from those boss-folk, to aid your search?

#489 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 11:03 AM:

Dave @485 : I adore rock music, and I grew up on the stuff, but I'd never want to disparage someone for not liking it*; I'm sorry that happened for you. Conversely, I'm glad to hear that it's finally done something good for you! I had plans to see that movie, but life intervened, and now I'm looking forward to seeing it next week even more.

* People like different things. Jazz has never done it for me, for instance. I find it tedious, with the occasional "performed live" exception. I hope one day something will make me grok jazz, but it hasn't happened yet.

#490 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 01:13 PM:

cyllan @487 Good luck to you in job search. It's nerve-wracking.

I think we have the right tools and have done the right things to protect our (joint) bank account.

Monday is the first day of school for the 2015-2016 school year. Daughter will be going.

#491 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 01:40 PM:

cyllan @487

Good luck with the job hunting!

#492 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 02:14 PM:

HLN: area man will be making his first trip outside the continental US next week. He reports he will have spare time in both Dresden and Amsterdam, and solicits recommendations for interesting ways to spend that time. "It's somewhat silly for it to be cheaper to spend the weekend in Europe than it is to come home after this workshop," he says, "but I really can't complain if it makes the accountants happy."

#493 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 04:59 PM:

Dave Luckett, I am happy for you!

Elliott Mason@#454 -- YES. Thanks for the recommendations! This is one reason I am partway through The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu -- the other is that I hear he goes into taxes a lot, which would thrill me.

#494 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 05:12 PM:

Sumana @493: Well, that post was basically a reply to what you said about the religion in the Ancillary books, so I'm glad you like it. :->

I pulled it into the Open Thread because of general interest.

#495 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 05:34 PM:

Eeeee! Mutual admiration then. :)

I get the sense that some folks in this community are interested in learning more about Indian practices and Indian life and culture in general. In 2010, after my father died, I spent several weeks in India, and I think several of my blog posts from that period would be of interest.

Important Distinctions In Kannada

"And then there is the communication stuff. There is lots of shouting and interrupting that doesn't mean anger or scorn. People repeat redundant instructions and I get irked at the implied lack of trust....except that it doesn't mean lack of trust here, it means care."

"I've always known I was alien, but it was as though I was seeing for the first time the good that I am alien to."

"The first week of November, here in Karnataka, is a week to celebrate the indigenous language. I went with my mom to this festival because they were, among other things, honoring my late father, a big proponent of Kannada. Have I mentioned I don't speak Kannada? Awkward."

The "Cordial" Part Of "You Are Cordially Invited"

"I am not used to huge pictures of a man's head, except just above or below political slogans."

Longbows & Longboxes

On my father's upbringing and a close call when he was at college.

I'm an Indian-American whose parents were Brahmins born and brought up in fairly poor families in Karnataka; my parents, with at least four master's degrees between them, raised my sister and me in several small cities across the US. I only know my own experience. It might also help you understand my family better to read "Method of Loci", which is about my dad's office/library.

#496 ::: Sumana Harihareswara has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 05:35 PM:

I posted something with many hyperlinks and request it be released. Thank you! May I offer you some beet hummus?

#497 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 08:04 PM:

Amusement of the day:
I just got a call from 'Jordan Barker' from 'Tech Support America'. Obvious Indian accent. (You'd think they'd catch on that it's not working so well any more.)

#498 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 08:30 PM:

P J Evans @ 497:

The last time I worked in a call center, I had colleagues in Buenos Aires and Manila. Because we were providing support to Americans*, they were asked to come up with fake names for themselves which read as "American". However, it doesn't seem like anyone was vetting them at all, which is how I wound up working with Richard Dean Anderson, Ron Jeremy, Homer and Marge Sampson (sic), Dean Winchester, Betty White, Ronald Weasley, and a variety of other real and fictional luminaries.

Granted, we were a legitimate inbound call center for a large automotive company, rather than a bunch of criminals targeting the technologically uncertain, but the name thing was still stupid.

* It was kind of hilarious to us in Newfoundland that we'd answer and people would go "oh thank gawd, an American". I used to answer the suspicious "where are you FROM?" question with "well, I grew up about forty minutes from Vermont's border with Canada" and neglect to mention that it was forty minutes North. I did get one southerner who told me I was "real nice for a Yankee!"

#499 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 08:33 PM:

The company I worked at dealt with a call center that was in Quebec somewhere, for some of our internal software. (Which had, unfortunately, no warning when the password was expiring, and a tendency to lock up when you tried to log in.)

#500 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 10:12 PM:

I recall an anecdote about someone who answered callers from the U.S. who wanted to know "where are you?" with "just south of Detroit," counting on the fact that few Americans know where Windsor, Ont., is.

Sumana--Do you make the beet hummus yourself, or buy it? And what's in it other than roasted beets?

#501 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 11:03 PM:

I've heard a joke using the fact that the southernmost part of Ontario is actually farther south than the north state line of California (42 North).

#502 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 11:33 PM:

I used to work phone tech support. When I mentioned that my name was Sumana, some people assumed I was in India. I was not. (If I had been Indian, I figured, I would have said my name was Heather or similar.) Also some people would say shit like "oh I loved Monsoon Wedding!" or that they did yoga or whatever.

Vicki: it's Trader Joe's brand beet hummus -- regular hummus but with added beets and beet juice.

#503 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 11:35 PM:

Argh, whoops, I mean, if I had been in India. I am Indian-American, though; it feels neither inaccurate nor accurate to merely call me Indian...

#504 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2015, 11:35 PM:

Pelee Island (and Pelee Point) are both below 42 degrees north. Interesting!

#505 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 12:10 AM:

@497: Hey! My buddy Jordan is sensitive about his accent. Got his tongue caught in a mechanical rice-picker.

I used to take phone reservations for a condo in Maui, and answered the phone "Aloha!" Sometimes folks asked about the weather, and I'd look out the window at the Front Range of the Rockies and describe our wintry weather.

#506 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 12:32 AM:

Your call centre had windows? I am envious. (Ours did not, under the assumption that having windows would lead to a) staring out of them and not working and b) discord based on class wars where class was "how close you were to the window". It's far from the worst place I've worked, but I would have liked windows.)

#507 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 03:29 AM:

Having way too much fun with Google Deep Dream.

#508 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 04:27 AM:

cyllan @487: Any tips and tricks...?

Ask bossfolk for any leads, suggestions, or connections they might have to offer?

#509 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 08:27 AM:

Em, it was 1979, and we were an office making reservations for one place, so not really a call center.

Come to think of it, I did work as a phone secretary for an answering service that was located in the same building, but it was right around the same time, and even that had windows you could look out of. It was a different world.

#510 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 09:14 AM:

I have a suspicion that these fraudulent tech support calls have found a weakness in caller-line-ID systems. In one recent case I was given a number for the line (it's often "withheld"). The data is a necessary part of the phone system sending the data back and forth between the two ends of the call.

The number I was given was for a non-existent UK dialling code.

It's possible that the system is mis-presenting the numbers for international calls, that the fault is in the system you can dial to get the number your provious call came from. They may be truncating the number to get it into a limited-length data field.

A couple of times I have had end-truncation of what look like numbers in the USA. You get the UK international-call prefix, the North America country/region code, a dialling code that points to part of the USA, and a too-short final part.

I am also getting spam calls to my mobile phone.

Not for the first time, I wonder if there are any of the Seven Deadly Sins which have not led to an advert.

Sometimes they push low-cost: avarice. That's obvious. The only one that seems unusual is wrath.

#511 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 11:39 AM:

I don't know - I don't have caller ID on my phone, so I can't see the number they're claiming to be calling from.

#512 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 11:52 AM:

What I get is dead air. I don't know if they are waiting for a response to move to a person, or what. I have taken, as a rule, to not answering my landline with a vocalisation, unless I recognise the number.

So I get a lot of dead air. The Asimov Scam has been trying again. They call, I get dead air, I hang up, they call back.

They ask if partner is home, I ask who is calling; they assume I am partner, try to get pushy, get called on the scam, insist "you have a bill which needs to be paid," and I tell them to get stuffed.

But mostly I get dead air. I mean it, something like 95 calls in a hundred are dead air.

#513 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 02:51 PM:

Terry, #512: We use PhoneTray Pro, which is inexpensive and works with your computer to provide a log of incoming calls with ID information. But the best thing about it is that they also have a database of known spam callers who will either never ring thru at all, or will ring only once before being blocked. You can also add individual numbers to your personal block list, with or without the addition of reporting them as spam to the central system. The aggravation level from spam callers has dropped dramatically since we installed it.

#514 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 03:11 PM:

Wouldn't I have to have it running through my computer, 24/7 to take advantage of it?

#515 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 03:33 PM:

Fraudulent tech support calls: in one case, I got a call and googled the phone number and merely found out it was a number of a call center company that sold the use of the phone line to other parties.

#516 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Dave Bell @ 510 and related: Ooh, a topic I know something about.

Caller-ID has never actually been authoritative for anything other than calls from a single personal line.

It has always had the weakness that if you were using a T1 or better digital connection to the phone network - basically 23 lines or more - the calling ID was effectively supplied by the calling system (PBX or whatever). The digital signalling was designed on the assumption that it was all basically coming from the phone network talking to itself, or at least from trustworthy systems connected to it. That broke down as soon as the situation arose where the customers were crooks, but the phone company didn't want to give up the revenue, so that's been a problem for a long time.

Nowadays any kind of high-volume calls normally originate from VOIP over the Internet, meaning they could actually be anywhere in the world, regardless of where the gateway is that they enter the phone network through, and the caller ID would be supplied by the VoIP protocol setup, so the caller ID info is even less trustworthy than before. Caller ID is now just about as reliable as the "From" line on an email - not in the slightest unless it's from someone you already know, and maybe not even then as it could be someone targeting you with a spoof.

#517 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 07:20 PM:

Dave Bell @ 510
The only one that seems unusual is wrath.

That would be political ads.

J Homes.

#518 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 09:10 PM:

On the box for a post lamp:

"Due to limitations with the printing process the product illustrated on this carton is representative only of its contents."

We have no idea.

#519 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 10:04 PM:

Elliott Mason #457

Oh, and for completeness, two of my favorite fictional worlds with religions that WORK (that do something in their society, as religions do in this world) are the Paksenarrion books and Bujold's Chalion.

I was thinking recently about the Pakserranion books and what I liked about the religion. One aspect is how most characters treat many religious questions as having definite but unknown answers. There are, for example, differences between creation myths, and there is some fact of the matter as to which is true, but no-one knows and no-one actually needs to know.

That's in contrast to Mercedes Lackey's books, where the epistemological humility goes all the way up to the author and it's not just that everyone's beliefs should be respected, but that everyone's beliefs seems to be literally true (even if some of their religious practices and church structures are deprecated).

#520 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 10:13 PM:

A story with wonderful sense of place, about Karangahape Rd in Auckland. I realise hardly any of you will know the place, but if you've lived in a big city you know somewhere like it.

#521 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 10:17 PM:

C. Wingate @ 518

"Due to limitations with the printing process the product illustrated on this carton is representative only of its contents."

Being as one of my professional job skills is to devise plausible scenarios that are consistent with the observed evidence…

Perhaps a non-idiomatic translation intended to convey "this picture is only a representation of the type of object inside and is not a photograph of the specific object"?

#522 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 10:24 PM:

....which would make sense if the image in question were not a photograph.

#523 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 10:30 PM:

wrw #492:

I don't know Dresden at all, but for Amsterdam the canal boat tours are recommended, as is renting a bike and just cycling around.

If you have any interest at all, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are worth the queues; I think you can reserve tickets on line as well.

The Oude Kerk (incongrously in the red-light district) often has interesting exhibitions. Yes, they seem to have a programme based on a temporary rooftop platform.

Unless you live in or regularly visit a large US city, the American Bookstore on the Spui may well be worth a visit.

As far as I could tell, the Dutch not only almost all speak very good English, they actually prefer it if you speak English rather than wasting their time trying to speak Dutch.

#524 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 10:36 PM:

C. Wingate #518,522

"This is a photograph, but it's a really crappy photograph, so don't judge whether the lamp will match its intended environment based on the picture"

#525 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2015, 10:57 PM:

Mercedes Lackey's 'there is no one true way' bugs me because there demonstrably is. And because the world only holds to it sometimes-- there is religious persecution in Valdemar, just handwaved because it's against the Karsites.

Someday I'll figure out what I think about Christianity in fantasy and the role of the church in folklore, particularly European. Not yet, though.

#526 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 01:12 AM:

Was there anyone who pre-ordered the SJW shirt for delivery at Sasquan who didn't get it? We had separated out the pre-order pile and there were still several shirts left in it at the end of the con, but perhaps those people bought shirts from the general-purchase pile on the table and failed to mention that they were from ML.

If you didn't pick up your shirt, or if you pre-ordered one to be shipped after the con, please contact vasb@vafgnagnggvghqrf.pbz (ROT13) to arrange for payment and delivery.

HLN: the kidney stone itself seems to have passed, but my partner is now suffering one of the side effects from having had to use the pain medication for several days, and he is Not A Happy Camper. GoodThoughts in his direction would be welcomed, since he needs to be back at full steam ASAP -- he's got an event in Denver next weekend!

#527 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 02:21 AM:

Good wishes for a speedy recovery to Lee's partner.

J Homes.

#528 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 03:47 AM:

Good wishes for speedy recovery of your partner, Lee!

#529 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 04:42 AM:

Dave Bell @ #510:

In the UK, all you need is a "type 5 agreement" to send whatever number you want to be put in the "this is the calling number" field of the SS7 setup (this is in many cases different from the phone number used to route the originating end of the call, as it were).

At least in the UK, many PBXes without a "type 5 agreement" only ever present the last few digits of the calling number, with the rest prepended by the operating phone company, that makes it much harder to concoct completely fictional numbers (semi-fictional, as in non-routed extensions, are still trivial).

Please don't ask how I know these things, I'l get very-previous-work flashbacks and I really don't need to start phone system neepery again.

#531 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 08:18 AM:

Dad's been having age-related problems with his hearing. Not only did he lose some high notes (years ago, actually, when he had a diesel engine in his '56 Willys Jeep), but he hears some notes 'wrong.'

Oliver Sacks's book, Musicophilia, was a big help to Dad, who heard about the book and sought it out. I think the book may have given him some coping strategies, too.

So I won't miss Sacks just for the entertainment value of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings. He helped Dad.

#532 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 08:56 AM:

Good thoughts for Lee's partner from here... kidney stones are Not Fun in a big way.

#533 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara, pleasure to meet you! (I see you've been posting here for several years. I blame myself for not noticing the awesome earlier.)

#534 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 09:55 AM:

Oliver Sacks knew he was dying, and we knew he was dying because he let us know . . . and continued writing, essay after profound essay, as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

Any sadness I'm feeling is overshadowed by gratitude.

One of the drawbacks of growing up reading the SF classics of the 50s, 60s, and 70s is that a lot of the science was . . . crap. Especially many authors' takes on evolution, and bodies, and minds. Yeah, yeah, I know the standard line about science fiction opening up the minds of young people to the wonders and possibilities, but there's an awful of ideological bilge and feel-good nonsense. Especially when it came to evolution, and bodies, and minds. If you're really interested in how things work, you have to move on.

Writers like McPhee, and E.O. Wilson, and Loren Eiseley, and Oliver Sacks . . . their works went a long way to peeling off the stick glop, and showing me how damn frightfully complex were, and the wonders of the ground under our feet.

#535 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 12:26 PM:

@Diatryma no. 525: I've been running into quite a bit of "Oh those bad Christians, those evil Christians, they persecuted our noble pagan ancestors who had the right ideas about everything, so let's rewrite the past to make it all pagan with bathtubs and deodorant" recently in the SCA. And, yes, Christendom did some godawful things in the name of identity maintenance.


It was considered completely normal for the Doge of Venice to enact a symbolic marriage with the goddess of the sea (or was it commerce?) with a Catholic priest on the barge as well. St. Brigid's previous career appears to have been an open secret. This kind of thing was everywhere. The poeple of Christendom recognized paganism as part of their heritage; it's just that they themselves were Christian TYVM.

I can't recall any fantasy novels that portray this mindset.

#536 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 12:52 PM:

There's that, and there's the fairy thing, where church bells and crosses drive the fae away-- or vampires, too, I guess. This gets handwaved in urban fantasy where Christian lore is presented as just another aspect of the supernatural. Jim Butcher has the Knights of the Cross and the Denarii, Patricia Briggs has Mercy use Christianity as a weapon, sometimes on purpose, things like that. Butcher's worse on that for me because he makes it be literal Christian truth in the same universe as Odin, and come on, Odin is not some minor saint in the Christian pantheon. Briggs works better for me both because I like the books better and will excuse more from them and because the books haven't involved Christianity as more of a plot point than, say, silver.

So part of the deal with supernatural creatures of a European bent is that they are vulnerable to, variously, iron, silver, and Christianity. But supernatural creatures from elsewhere aren't. And it's the intersection of that that has something for me to chew on.

#537 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Thomas at #520, that was a lovely story. Yes, I have known places like that, but they have a nasty tendency to get wiped *completely* off the map, so that not even the stairways remain.

I liked that there was a memorial to the places and people who had occupied the space now allotted to the expressway. I can't recall anything like that in my history of places.

#538 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 02:39 PM:

Just to confirm, nobody really wants a mimeo machine, right? I see the stencils going into the trash, and the Gestetner in the garage will probably go out somewhere. If I was an antique store, I'd put a price on it, but I'm not sure one would even take it.

Suggestions? I can't be the only one with this problem.

#539 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 04:31 PM:

And the move is done. We got bookcases (we should have gotten more, but by the time we'd grabbed all we needed, I was wheeling a 500+ pound cart around Ikea), we had them delivered yesterday and have now finished unpacking.

Which is good, because we've tomorrow to ourselves and we start our respective postdocs (my Amazing Fiancé and I will be in different labs, at different universities) on the 1st.

#540 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 04:39 PM:

#538:There have to be folks who not only appreciate, but cherish mimeo machines. The trick is, finding them, and particularly one who will do a pick-up of your gear.

#541 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 04:52 PM:

#538: Offhand, I'd suggest googling for enthusiast groups. Maybe check out maker-sites like Instructables.

#542 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Kip W -- Location? It'd help for possibly finding someone.

#543 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 06:46 PM:

I'm in New York, an hour and a fraction east of Buffalo on 90.

I do occasionally get in the car and go places, most often Michigan's upper peninsula, but there's a run to Monson, MA, in my future. The machine could be transported thusly, maybe even left off at some unimaginable location for future pickup.

#544 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 07:33 PM:

Huh. Oliver Sack's last Tweet:

I watched/listened to that video an hour or so ago.

#545 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2015, 07:59 PM:

HLN: After four months of travel, a mostly-lurker and her spouse have returned to the Boston area. "We aren't back in our regular rental house until the 9th, but we found temporary accommodation nearby until then, since I needed to be back this week for school."

In addition to having regular internet access again, the couple were very grateful to find that the ocean was right where they had left it.

#546 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 09:37 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @539: Congrats on the move and the acquisition of bookcases. Good luck for the start of the post-docs!

#547 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 01:57 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe@539: Welcome! We've been assembling a lot of flat-pack items ourselves recently. All strength to your allen wrench.

Carol Witt@545: Welcome back! Coming back home after several months of travel, some years back, we discovered how strongly we'd started to miss a couple of things. The kitchen and clothes washer both nearly got small shrines established to them on our return.

Elliott Mason@454, thanks for bringing up the topic; and Sumana Harihareswara thanks for your recent notes both here and in the Hugo discussion. (Frustratingly, I'm in too much of a crunch right now to do more than thank you both and bookmark things for future reading, but hopefully I'll catch up enough to contribute before the discussion completely ends.)

#548 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 02:54 PM:

AKICIML: next year's Worldcon is doing the 1941 Retro Hugos as well, and I am delving around for possible stuff to nominate there, too.

One problematic area, it seems to me, is in the Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category... assuming they're using the same categories as we have today. It's easy to come up with some possibles for Long Form, but Short Form is more difficult - nominating individual episodes of a serial like Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe doesn't make sense to me.

And, of course, television basically wasn't happening in 1940... but radio now, that's a different matter. So. Are there any experts in old-time radio shows, who can suggest anything of interest that aired in 1940? (And any online archives where we might be able to hear it now?) I would just love to have some decent nominees I could send in.

(Obviously, it needn't be US or UK radio. Would be nice if the rest of the world got a look-in, too.)

#549 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 02:59 PM:

Lee@526: Sympathies to your partner, and good wishes for a rapid return to normal.

#550 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 03:21 PM:

Radio shows in 1940: According to Wikipedia, the first Adventures of Superman was broadcast by station WOR on 12 February.

Hmm… movies of 1940 include Disney's Fantasia (candidate for Best Related Work?), Disney's Pinocchio, and Thief of Baghdad.

#551 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 03:38 PM:

There was also a Blue Beetle radio show for a short time in 1940... but it seems like thin pickings for me, otherwise, so far.

Whole piles of good stuff happened later on in the 40s, but shows actually running in 1940 - so far, I'm not finding many.

Ideally, what I'm looking for, I guess, is an anthology show with a fantasy/horror/SF/superhero bent. Something where an individual episode might be self-supporting and stand out.

Obviously, if anyone knows of any film shorts which would fit the criteria, that'd be great too.

But it seems a thin year. It's almost as if something else was going on, something which took away people's attention. Can't imagine what.

#552 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 04:04 PM:

Steve Wright, there's always radio shows. And I know there are archive sites of Old Time Radio....

#553 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 05:13 PM:

I'm delving into those now, Cassy! Also picking the brains of any handy octogenarians.

#554 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Cally, who posts here, is something of an Old Time Radio fanatic. I'll ask her to post suggestions and links.

#555 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 05:58 PM:

That'd be great, Cassy, thanks! (So far, I've been checking out the Internet archive, which led me on to the Old Time Radio Researchers' group, and Zoot Radio.)

#556 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 06:04 PM:

Jenny Islander @ #535:The people of Christendom recognized paganism as part of their heritage; it's just that they themselves were Christian TYVM.

I can't recall any fantasy novels that portray this mindset.

Would The Box of Delights qualify? There's a whole mash-up there with Herne the Hunter, Roman soldiers, bishops and time-travelling alchemists (I doubt it was an accident when the 1980s BBC adaptation quite included Patrick Troughton in its cast) all on the side of good.

#557 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 06:28 PM:

#556 "Herne the Hunter, Roman soldiers, bishops and time-travelling alchemists"

I watch through all six episodes every December to remind me that I wasn't just imagining all that.

#558 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 07:12 PM:

I just got the news that Ned Brooks fell off his roof and died.

Ned was a personal friend for the time we all lived in Newport News, and of course a friend of multiple friends. We were able to 'randomly' select him as GoH at the Ditto Cathy hosted in Virginia Beach, and this was his speech, probably paraphrsed:

"A fellow, this was in France, was prevailed upon by his friends to take a ride in a sedan chair. Oh, they said, you'll just love it. When he agreed, they played a joke on him and furnished a sedan chair with no bottom to it, so that he had to stand up in the chair part. The footmen then carried it off, and he had to step lively to keep up. At the end of the 'ride,' his friends asked him what he thought of it, and he said, 'Well, apart from the honor of the thing, it's very much like walking.'"

#559 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 07:30 PM:

#558: Sorry to hear the news.

Excellent speech.

#560 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 09:42 PM:

1940 was a good year for old time radio, but a thin year for SF on the radio. Superman was available, but that would be long form, not short form, because the 1940 shows were all serialized. And I honestly can't see the Superman radio show beating out Fantasia or The Thief of Bagdad. The Blue Beetle was pretty dire. Your best bet is something like The Shadow. I recommend for your consideration "The Laughing Corpse" broadcast on March 10, 1940, audible HERE, along with lots of other Shadow broadcasts>
The 1950s were excellent for SF radio shows; even 1941 would have been better. 1940, not so much, unfortunately.

I've not gone through and listened to all the Shadow broadcasts from 1940 recently, so it's possible there's a better one; The Laughing Corpse came to mind because a) it's clearly science fiction, and b) it's quite possibly where the idea for Batman's The Joker came from.

#561 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 10:13 PM:

AKICIML: I've found the original Scots Gaelic lyrics for "Mairi's Wedding," but I have no idea how to pronounce them. Anybody have a phonetic pronunciation guide for Anglophones that will produce a somewhat recognizable result?

#562 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 10:14 PM:

I've found another possible Hugo nominee for Dramatic Presentation Short Form: "My Client Curly", broadcast as part of the Columbia Workshop anthology show on April 04, 1940. MP3 available HERE.
It's a fantasy of the Tall Tale school, but well done.

#563 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 10:42 PM:

Kip W., my condolences.

I've been listening to John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme (British radio sketch comedy series; nearly all the episodes are up on YouTube for listening) and it struck me that some of the sketches are speculative fiction and very very good, and would amuse folks here. Not necessarily Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form-worthy, but fun.

#564 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2015, 11:57 PM:

A couple of paragraphs about Ned, some of which repeats my earlier comment.

#565 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 05:47 AM:

Cally, Sumana, thank you both!

("My Client Curly", though, doesn't show up on that Columbia Workshop listings page - at least, not for me; is it possible the list's filtered somehow?)

#566 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 08:13 AM:

Kip W #558, #564: My condolences. Would this fellow by any chance have something to do with why you have a mimeo machine looking for a home?

#567 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 08:25 AM:

Jenny Islander: a quick googling produces several Gaelic pronunciation guides, of which this one seems to be the best compromise between accessible and accurate.

If you need a rundown on the broad/slender thing in different words than the page uses, I'll be happy to oblige.

#568 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 11:43 AM:

I hate the new Internet Archive wrapper. Here's another place to find My Client Curly:
(I believe that the script was re-used at least once, and possibly more times, so it's important to find the qualified broadcast)

#569 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Here's a follow-up to my comment @300, now that the current crunch project has been resolved and I have been able to recharge.

My thanks to Rail @301 , P J Evans @303, and ookpik @389. I haven't yet managed more than to look at Rail's recommendation, but it looks good enough to order now that the crazy time has passed. Ookpik, I had encountered those Craftsy classes in my earlier searches. They looked rather good, but would be for later, though, since I was looking for something to apply immediately to a problem I was having. The copyright-free work pointed to by P J Evans was MAGNIFICENT, and it's now living on both my regular workstation and my portable device - a great resource to browse and the vintage-qualities of the design are not bugs but features, in my own mind.

I'm seriously considering trying to make a Barbie-sized stuffed doll with some attempt to model my own proportions. Terms and conditions apply, as DH says.

Crazy(the references being so full of interesting ideas that I don't want to screw up at full scale)Soph

#570 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 02:11 PM:

Thanks again to Cally Soukup (says the guy who is rapidly overdosing on 1940 episodes of "The Shadow").

#571 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 02:36 PM:

All attempts at OTC remedies having failed over the weekend, my partner ended up in the hospital yesterday for a possible bowel impaction. While there, they found a second kidney stone. They're still holding him for observation, whatever that's supposed to mean.

This is throwing 3 sets of plans (not all ours) into a cocked hat, and ghod knows how we're going to pay for it.

#572 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Thinking of you, Lee.

#573 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 02:39 PM:

Lee @571, best wishes for a good and inexpensive outcome...

#574 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 02:46 PM:

@Lee: Argh. As though one kidney stone weren't bad enough. My hopes for a quick and non-budget-busting resolution.

Hopefully congress will swiftly deal with all the important duties of governance, like hearing to debate un-renaming mountains, and move on to trivia like making health care more affordable available.

#575 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Lee@571: Ouch, and double-ouch. Further sympathies and best wishes.

#576 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 04:48 PM:

Sympathies and good thoughts, Lee

#577 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 05:37 PM:

Lee, good thoughts to you both from here, too.

#578 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 06:18 PM:

Lee: all good wishes to both of you for a successful result and speedy recovery. (((Hug)))s as appropriate, you are good people.

#579 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 07:14 PM:

Open thready weird experience: Rereading "A is for Alibi". In 1982 it was a detective novel. In 2015 it's a book about what the world was like before cell phones. She's driving around calling her answering service, losing or missing messages, telling people how to reach her, using a long-distance phone bill to find out who talked to whom when... there's a LOT of phone-call detail in it.

"It's like an alternate history, where people developed phones but they weren't portable!"

#580 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 08:45 PM:

Sandy B. #579: I've heard pretty much the whole Buffy original franchise suffers from the same problem.

#581 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Good wishes to both your partner and you, Lee.

#582 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 10:33 PM:

Lee, best wishes and bright blessings for a speedy and affordable recovery, AIBH/YOW.

#583 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2015, 10:59 PM:

#574 Stefan

The majority in Congress, though, are ruthless narcissists who believe that their church and other sectarian donations/payments/allegiance/activities fulfill any and all charitable obligations and social generosity or responsibilities to those who might be indigent, in inadequate housing, jobless or underemployed, underpaid, hungry and short of funds and/or food preparation facilities and/or knowledge and/or time for food preparation for adequate nutrition for themselves nd their familiesl those who can;t get opportunities for educations/better lives due to bigotry, due to lack of education, due to abusive living conditions, due to having to work at shitty jobs paying shitty wages with too-long hours, or lacking childcare and having to mind children, or lacking affordable transportation to get them to work or having to spend hours every day commuting.....

#483 Em

Peekleherring is a traditional trope character in the Netherlands, who appears in various Dutch masters' paintings. He's got a herring sticking out of his hat and is a figure of humor, something of a degenerated/degenerate bumbling would-be trickster, he's not competent enough to be a trickster, and he isn't necessarily sober, either.

The link you provided, reconstruction on my part in the present, is that I was grabbing away for analogy, and pulled Peekleherring out of the neural storage to use for a hypothetical House name for illustrative purpose.

Again, my source for the name is the Dutch masters paintings. More specifically, it's the Dutch masters' art collection of the Worcester, MA, Worcester Art Museum, and the explanations the museum displays provide of the different/diverse elements which often appear in their art.

#487 cyllan

Sympathies and good luck.
People are

#489 Em
Jazz mostly fails to appeal to me. Reasons include the tonality and the rhythm/meter, and the combination of the toalisties and the rhythm/meter, and particularly the percussive aspects. My neural system tends to finding it irritating/rasping or worse.

#535 Jenny

Poul Anderson's The Merman's Children has characters referring to "the White Christ" and some pagans turning Christian, and some... not. His first novel The Broken Sword has tension between those who were Christian, and those who weren't. Baptism protected babies from being stolen away into Faerie, not being baptized and not being protected by being consecrated into some other religion, oops..

#584 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 12:23 AM:

The "Dreadful Phrases" thread is 9 years old and almost 1100 comments long, and it's getting to where posting on it takes a while. Perhaps there could be a new thread on the topic, with a link back to the older one?

#585 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 01:06 AM:

Lee @ 571: Oh, that bites. Here's hoping that the various angles and tangles resolve with a minimum of awful.

Sandy B @ 579: Yes, and Sue Grafton chose to continue writing them in the same time period (three or four novel-sized episodes per year of Kinsey's life), so the newer books really are period novels, just for a much more recent period than that usually implies. It's a bit weird for me at times (that's my early adulthood!) but mostly I find it delightful and fascinating.

#586 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 01:16 AM:

SunflowerP @ 585

And that is one of the best decisions that Grafton could have taken - Kinsey in this century would not be the same :)Plus technology just does not fit her mindset.

#587 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 01:41 AM:

@Paula Lieberman no. 583: Yes, but I'm looking for "We're Christian. We leave bowls of milk out for the fairies, carve Green Men over the lintels of our buildings, make a corn dolly at the end of the harvest, and set aside certain saints' days for fortunetelling. Furthermore, we put Hermes in when we make woodcuts depicting our marketplaces and have the goddess Diana and the demigod Hercules on our playing cards along with the Last Judgment and the Devil. Also one of our annual festivals includes a symbolic marriage with a god or local spirit with a priest lending his countenance to the occasion. In conclusion: Christian."

Basically the historically attested Christian practices that would give modern followers of the so-called Old Paths fits.

#588 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 01:42 AM:

Um, Ms. Arbacoochee? Your worshipfulness? I've been gnomed.

#589 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 02:03 AM:

Lee @584:

Done. Sorry for the lack of brilliant intro. I take refuge in the fact that the commentariat is the best part of Making Light.

Jenny Islander @588:

And done. Fly free, little comment!

Can you please change your name to include the word "gnomed" or some other variant of "gnome" when you post for my attention? Or Idumea, or something. It makes it easier to spot that I'm needed when I'm short of time and have only scanned the recent comments.

#590 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 08:07 AM:

David Harmon @ #580: I've heard pretty much the whole Buffy original franchise suffers from the same problem.

Not really a problem, though, just historically accurate. I'm heard some modern writers complain about the difficulty of constructing a plot in a present-day setting where all the characters can just check up on each other, compare information, etc.

Can't recall if I've mentioned it here before, but one thing that struck me when I began reading 1930s-40s detective novels is that all the phone booths are in shops or restaurants, not on street corners; so all it takes is a late hour to make it difficult for a character to call the police or contact other characters about the important clue they've discovered.

#591 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 08:15 AM:

My 14 year old points out that Ms Marvel is a good example of how to plot using modern cell phone communication. His reaction was basically, "Finally! Someone who gets it!"

#592 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 08:52 AM:

Sarah E @590: On the other hand, I don't have a data plan -- I have an app-running Android device and an app-running iOS device, but no cellular service, just wifi.

A ridiculous number of apps assume you are always going to have firehose-levels of internet available. They refuse to run at all without it, even if it seems to me like they ought to be able to do a lot of stuff with locally-cached information.

Similarly, I can be out and about and realize I don't have the capability to just do a quick check of something unless I find a McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, etc, and park in their lot close enough to the building for free wifi for long enough to look it up.

There's a weird mismatch between those of my friends who prefer to use text messages for in-motion coordination and those who use any of a variety of internet-based instant messenger clients - and some of them get really mad when I don't answer, because they haven't internalized "Elliott has NO INTERNET when moving" to mean "and that means APPNAME won't reach him."

Most of the new phones use a very IM-style interface on their text message app, and even integrate other stuff, meaning a lot of people who first started using these things in the past year don't realize there IS a difference between SMS and, say, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts.

#593 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 09:21 AM:

I don't know if this is the right place to bring this up, but just as Mad Max: Fury Road was a groundbreaking new way to do a straight-up action flick, but leave out all the accumulated misogynistic "that's just how we do it" moviemaking tropes ...

The new Danish Girl movie (starring Eddie Redmayne, though it was going to be Nicole Kidman for a while) looks, from its newly-released trailer, to be precisely the opposite.

Yes, the Crying Game has now become a byword and trope namer for the harmful "pickle surprise" trope about trans women. But when it was made, it was ground-breaking in its nuanced, sympathetic portrayal of the trans character at its center (until the horrible ending where the cis men acted, well, about how most people expected cis men to act at that point).

That was 1992.

It is now 2015.

And Hollywood has decided to make an Oscar-bait period piece about one of our most beloved trans foremothers, Lili Elbe, who transitioned and wasn't ashamed about it in the 1930s.

And Hollywood has cast a cis man as Lili -- ok, sigh, Nicole Kidman would have been better, I thought, but whatever, Redmayne's a good actor, maybe he can rescue it to marginally-ok (as John Lithgow did two generations earlier with Roberta Muldoon in Garp).

And then I see the trailer.

The entire plot is structured, apparently, to make Lili's crossdressing come about because her wife pressures her to put on dresses and then the Horrible Perversion becomes addictive and irresistable. Lili puts on, in this version, misogynistic cariacatures of femininity specifically to make men fall in love with her, because she is sexually fixated on the idea of herself as a desirable woman.

This is autogynephilia made biopic.

This is every reason cis men murder trans women in alleys.

This is a major, big-budget Hollywood Oscar-bait production.

Please, if you see friends talking about this, point out why it is harmful. We have come so far in the past two years, but this movie dramatizes (and frames as 'historically accurate' with all the Merchant-Ivory-esque skill Hollywood possesses) ridiculous nonsense cis people believe and use as excuses for murder and assault.

I will not be seeing it, because if it makes any money at all they will make MORE.

This is a movie made by cis people, from a book written by a cis person, attempting to explain what trans people are and what we feel. And it focusses on only the parts of the story that cis people find deeply fascinating, transgressive, and compelling.


#594 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 10:00 AM:

Lee, best wishes for you and your partner.

#595 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 10:53 AM:

David Harmon @566:
The impending eventual absence of the mimeo has been in the works for a while as we try to declutter, and precedes the loss of Ned. Thinking back, I'm not sure where we got the machine or how long we've had it, but I believe we had it when we were in Houston (where I determined that a dot-matrix printer can cut a stencil), so we got it in Georgia or Colorado. I'm inclined toward the former, which would date it to 1980 or before.

So we at least moved it to Houston, then Virginia, then within Virginia twice, then to Massachusetts, and finally New York. It had a good run. If it can now go to someone who appreciates it, then it will have had a great one.

#596 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 11:56 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #593: The entire plot is structured, apparently, to make Lili's crossdressing come about because her wife pressures her to put on dresses and then the Horrible Perversion becomes addictive and irresistable.


That -- basically, Glen or Glenda is better than that.

#597 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 12:10 PM:

David Harmon@580: Buffy is a funny case in terms of cell phone timing. My understanding is that it was a deliberate decision at the start: cell phones were available at the time but not yet ubiquitous, so Whedon could plausibly keep them out of the show (although they did have pagers that they occasionally remembered about). By season 7 this had become implausible, and cell phones started appearing, but they still didn't catch up with real-life ubiquity. (Presumably Buffy, at least, could have kept a phone in the same hidden pocket she used for all those stakes.)

abi@591: I won't claim to be an expert on teenage cell communication (I'm sure I'll know more in a decade or so), but I can believe it. I'm several issues behind in Ms. Marvel now, but looking forward to catching up.

Elliott Mason@592: It's interesting how connection styles (cell phone, texts, messaging apps, mobile data, etc.) spread through different groups of people; but it can be inconvenient, at the least, to be on the boundary as a new technology or technique moves through a group. Some years ago we moved from US to UK and back, starting before texting became common in our US social group. When we arrived in the UK we had to learn to text, because everyone in our UK social groups did so, and it was just too inconvenient not to. After our return to the US texting spread throughout our social groups there (and we probably did our small part to help that, since we were then in the habit of texting).

#598 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 12:10 PM:

Steve Wright: The Shadow started in 1930 and a number of episodes aired during 1940 , according to

Lee: Sympathies for you both - hope it all gets resoled as speedily an inexpensively as possible.

#599 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 12:49 PM:

Google Street View covers Adamstown on Pitcairn Island.

#600 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 01:07 PM:

Lee @ 571: Extra HealingThoughts on the way to Russ and you FedEx. *sympathetic pained wince*

Elliott Mason @ 593: Obviously a clever plot to cause the audience to save their money by deliberately making movies twisting the motives of the lightly fictionalized characters so that --

Wait; that doesn't work.

#601 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 587

I'm looking for "We're Christian. We leave bowls of milk out for the fairies, carve Green Men over the lintels of our buildings, make a corn dolly at the end of the harvest, and set aside certain saints' days for fortunetelling. Furthermore, we put Hermes in when we make woodcuts depicting our marketplaces and have the goddess Diana and the demigod Hercules on our playing cards along with the Last Judgment and the Devil. Also one of our annual festivals includes a symbolic marriage with a god or local spirit with a priest lending his countenance to the occasion. In conclusion: Christian."

If I may be forgiven the personal example, to some extent, this is the flavor I'm trying for in my own novels, but with the fantastic element that -- for some people -- religious practices, both folk and "high", can have a far more concrete causational presence in the world than we're used to. But it goes beyond folk-religious practices that people recognize as having pre-Christian roots. Some fields such as alchemy use overtly pagan imagery which "works" just as well as the practices that are categorized under "religion", but this contradiction is explained away (that is, the in-story justification) as being purely symbolic mnemonics for scientific principles rather than invoking non-Christian Powers. But then that leaves the lingering questions of supernatural causation within activities that are neither overtly religious nor classifiable as science. To say nothing of integrating the notion that Other People's Religions have their own "effective mystical practices" that rely on entirely different notions of how things work.

It gets complicated because different characters have different levels of commitment to a qualitative distinction between miracles, sorcery, and science. (Whereas I, as author, consider them far more unified.) Part of the fun is in challenging their beliefs and watching them integrate those challenges within both their understanding of the world and their direct experience of the mystical/magical.

#602 ::: Heather Rose Jones may have been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 02:08 PM:

Possible gnoming ca. #601? No excess links or anything, but discussions of mysticism may have disturbed the aether.

#603 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 03:19 PM:


After 18 years, I'm getting tossed to QA'ing in an entirely different product group. Same building, but entirely different people & product type. The deep and arcane work of servers to end-user GUIs.

None of my accumulated expertise & industry knowledge will be of any use. I'm just a goddamn "head count."

And worse, it's a nightmare grind group with overhead monitors showing testing progress, flyers showing proper work flow, and open cubicles so everyone can see what you're doing . . . no slack.

What a shpxing insult. If it wouldn't mean giving up a 5 minute commute and the number of PTO hours that come with 18 years of seniority I'd be polishing my resume.

This would be a good weekend to win the lottery.

#604 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 03:27 PM:

My brother is the one into old-style detective fiction and sometimes bends my ear on it.

You can still, even in densely populated England, fail to get a usable mobile phone connection. You could, with a few slight changes to the dialogue, update the Rocky Horror Show to today. And there could be a lot of stage business around people doing things such as taking selfies.

Also, some of the cheaper phones have much worse performance than assumed by "official" coverage maps such as at Ofcom in the UK I'm including the full set, rather than just the mobile phone coverage, because these pictures of the digital world might be useful for story ideas.

Last week I found a second-hand Nexus 5 phone at a good price, and grabbed it. Semi-impulse, but the phone signal went from slightly marginal where I live to something close to the map. In the nearby small town, I could never get a useful mobile data connection, but now I can.

I don't really need mobile data, but it's a good piece of kit in so many ways. All the sensors, for example, and good camera/screen. I may feel grumpy sometimes about the lack of a MicroSD slot, and the battery life is questionable, but it supports Qi cordless charging. Which is neat.

Anyway, there are plenty of places where mobile phones are not an option. We'll go to that house Janet, and ask if we can use their landline...

#605 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 04:15 PM:

When we did "Kiss Me, Kate," around 1999, the director simply had all the phone scenes take place with cell phones. Some of the prop activity for the show seemed a bit hit-or-miss (and costume — nobody would get me a pair of shoes until I wore my bright two-tones to a rehearsal and declared I'd wear 'em unless someone had another idea) so I bought a toy cell phone.

The cell phone was used again for the 2000 CNU "Mikado," which is still one of the best things I ever got to stand around on the inside of. (Photo, story, and an audio file at the link.) The cell phone can be heard in the recording, as it was used just for the sound effect, which the conductor obligingly held up to his microphone at the proper moment.

#606 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 04:16 PM:

Dave B., #604: Yeah -- we ran into a lot of that on the way to and from Spokane. There's a great deal of area out that way that gets no signal AT ALL. Even between Houston and Dallas, there are places where a call will drop.

What I don't like to see is the way some authors attempt to end-run the problem by making their protagonist a ditz who forgets her phone, or her charger, or whatever. And for some reason it's always a female character when I see this trope.

#607 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 04:38 PM:

Dave Bell@604: A year ago we drove out to visit friends deep in one of the UK's cellular deserts (with the result that we just missed LonCon, unfortunately). We had advance warning, and rentedhired a car with GPSsat nav. Sure enough, our phones stopped being able to give us useful directions just when we needed them; but just like in the old days we were able to limp along on the car's sat nav and the directions our friends had emailed to us until we got to their house and connected to their internet.

Perhaps it should be "...and ask if we can use their wi-fi"?

#608 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 04:47 PM:

Lee @ 606

Gender-skewing aside, I've seen enough cell phone failure modes in real life to figure that a good author could always make them plausible when plot-necessary. (I.e., it helps if you've done some foreshadowing for the specific failure mode.) I've seen a lot of people get caught short on charge at [what they consider to be] critical moments, whether due to poor planning or some new app/version that suddenly is draining charge for continuous data-pulls. I've had several occasions when I changed my app usage patterns and had to hunt down the power-hogging functions to avoid having to re-charge in the middle of the day.

For that matter, a recalcitrant app that regularly bricks your phone or requires a reset at a critical moment could work. (About once every couple of weeks my iPhone decides to lose the signal entirely and I have to turn it completely off and on to pick it up again.)

Someone who isn't able to afford replacement of a marginally-functioning phone (cracked screen, residual moisture after a dunking, etc. ) could easily find it non-functional at plot-relevant times.

If getting ahold of a specific 2nd party is plot-critical, then you can multiply the failure modes together to increase likelihood. I know a lot of people who turn their ringers off (or set phone to "ignore") for job-related reasons or simply to get a break from accessibility. For that matter, I know people who use their cell phones only to place calls and may have the phone entirely turned off the rest of the time. Another option: I take seriously the ban on manual cell-phone use while driving but my incoming call volume is so miniscule that it isn't worth it to me to have a hands-free set-up. So if I receive a call while driving either I listen to the message up to 20 minutes later or I assume it wasn't important enough for them to leave a message.

Heck, I could see an entire reference manual on "Plausible ways for cell phone communication to fail at essential moments in the story without having it look too clumsy." I don't see it as an entirely implausible plot device, but simply one that needs to be properly integrated in the set-up to be believable.

#609 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 05:16 PM:

Amusing that mobile phones in stories should turn up; I spent some time last week putting modern technology into a story I started 12 or 13 years ago and forgot to upgrade, as it were, when I actually finished it a couple of years ago. I suspect some readers wouldn't notice, but I am sure a lot more would, and that wouldn't do.

Didn't J K Rowling partly set Harry Potter pre-mobile phone in order to avoid that sort of hassle?

#610 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 05:26 PM:

Heather Rose Jones (608): I know people who use their cell phones only to place calls and may have the phone entirely turned off the rest of the time.

I'm one of them. My cell phone is emergency-and-travel only. I can go weeks without turning it on; the outgoing message on my voice-mail now explicitly says as much.

#611 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 05:42 PM:

I leave my ringer off, generally, and don't answer while driving, either. I'm not going to interrupt a massage in order to answer the phone -- my clients appreciate that.

#612 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Lee: I hope all is now medically well!

Steve Wright: Please let us know if you discover any 1940 Shadow eps that you think are as good or better Hugo Dramatic Short Form possibilities than The Laughing Corpse. It's been a few years since I listened to all of them.

#613 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 05:49 PM:

#587 Jenny
The Day of the Dead in Mexico, is ritual/religion which is very definitely not Christian in origin and I suspect much of it current practice.

#593 Elliott

Euwwww! Putrescent Patriarchy testicular cancer cooties!!!

#614 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 06:01 PM:

Lee, wishing your partner a very speedy recovery.

Belated report on Greg's first Worldcon + first sci-fi con: I had, overall, an awesome time, notwithstanding some general exhaustion and necessity to nap (I had to miss the masquerade in favor of NAPTIME.) I plunged in by volunteering to help set up the stage, met a bunch of people at Kaffee Klatches (including PNH and TNH), found that David Gerrold is very nice and every bit the class act in person that one would suspect, had a decent workshopping of the beginning to the novel, and went to the ML meetup and the File770 meetup. Also, randomly met a person working at a text-based games company and ended up pitching them several games, one of which was just tentatively approved for outline.

I would live this five days again. Strongly recommend it for anyone on the fence, and am saving finances now to attend MidAmeriCon.

#615 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 08:06 PM:

Sarah E: Can't recall if I've mentioned it here before, but one thing that struck me when I began reading 1930s-40s detective novels is that all the phone booths are in shops or restaurants, not on street corners; so all it takes is a late hour to make it difficult for a character to call the police or contact other characters about the important clue they've discovered.

One of the interesting things about reading Wolfe and Chandler is the settings (I say Chandler because he has two detectives running about Los Angeles John Dalmas, and Phillip Marlow. Though many people credit all of his work [esp. Trouble is my business] to being Marlowe. The narrative voice is similar, but not the same. Dalmas is less fleshed, and more cynical. He's more willing to exploit everyone.), is the 24 hour nature of the cities they discuss. I find it strange to think LA was more 24 hour in the late 40s than it was in the '70s-'00s (when I was living there). So phones are always ready to hand (though Neither Chandler, nor Stout, are prone to having protagonists calling the cops unless they absolutely have to).

#616 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 08:07 PM:

Elliot: Most of the new phones use a very IM-style interface on their text message app, and even integrate other stuff, meaning a lot of people who first started using these things in the past year don't realize there IS a difference between SMS and, say, WhatsApp

What interesting about that is where WhatsApp, in particular, is really successful. I put it on my phone when we were in the England/RepIreland, because data was a lot cheaper than minutes.

re phone failures: winter. I've, more than once, gone from a fair bit of charge, to a brick, because the weather was cold. Yeah, 20-30 minutes in my pant's pocket, not my jacket, and it was back to 40 percent, but it's a good thing I was on my way back, not my way out, so I didn't end up lost.

Me, I'm iffy on phone use. I have it set to vibrate. It's rarely next to my skin (either in a sporran, or my jacket) so texts are often missed for 10-20 minutes. If I'm at work, driving (don't even think about using a phone on the motorcycle), at a show, etc. I'm not going to answer. If I'm home, it's usually not in arm's reach.

So, more often than not, I miss things.

#617 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 08:24 PM:

Cally Soukup @ #612: Please let us know if you discover any 1940 Shadow eps that you think are as good or better Hugo Dramatic Short Form possibilities than The Laughing Corpse.

I just remembered 1940 was also the year of the Shadow movie serial -- as a work it's got pros and cons, but it counts as SF, I guess -- this version of the Shadow is closer to the magazine version and uses disguises, but the villain can sort of make himself invisible (it requires an elaborate lighting set-up, and we only see him do it when holding meetings with his men, in order to conceal his identity).

#618 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2015, 10:47 PM:

#587 Jenny
The Day of the Dead in Mexico, is ritual/religion which is very definitely not Christian in origin and I suspect much of it current practice.

#593 Elliott

Euwwww! Putrescent Patriarchy testicular cancer cooties!!!

#619 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 01:03 AM:

I sometimes think people put up with crappy communication in order to preserve excuses - "Oh, I didn't hear that text come through" or whatever. Then I think about all the crappy things people put up with that aren't communication ["Those spots where I lose XM reception", for instance] and think "no, it's probably just companies getting away with everything they can get away with."

#620 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 02:00 AM:

Another thought is that the Rocky Horror Show is a period piece. It's set in the fairly narrow window between the Pill and AIDS, which still seems to be the default setting in entertainment media. (Even when they remember to update the automobiles.) Brad and Janet show some of the old-style thinking, and are an expression of both the old-'uns fears of the swinging Sixties and the changes in younger people. (It was also a fairly small group that was actually "swingin'".)

Contrast it with How to Marry a Millionaire. It's not just the effect of the Hays Code.

Incidentally, while there are more millionaires in Britain than ever before, a million quid is worth less than ever before. $1m in 1953 is a bit over $9m now, while £1m works out at over £25m.

Sex, money, and cellphones have all changed.

#621 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 03:16 AM:

European data-point on cell phone/mobile phone/GSM use:

texts relatively cheaper than voice; the market's being retooled to admit more operators, so there's a lot of offers to evaluate.

Sitting on a delayed train, everyone now gets out a mobile phone, mostly to alert someone elsewhere waiting for them. I might text DH to see if he's near his desktop, and if he can learn what the delay is about. Mostly if I'm bored, which is rare since I always have something to do with me on the train. Or if it's late, and I'm anxious to reach home.

Coverage is generally good, but between towns getting a signal is sometimes chancy. Additionally, and more frequently, I lose signal in some of the oldest buildings, because their massive construction blocks the signal. In Dublin, we liked to joke about how a particular used bookstore had a dimension doorway, because of the number of times one of our number would "disappear" in the science fiction/fantasy section in the back, beyond all telephone communication. Closer to home, on the continent, I have to regularly remind guests that if they want to take a call with their mobile phone, they'll have to stand near a window. (Some phones/providers seem better than others.)

Typical image at university-level examinations is that the students are told to leave their backpacks (presumably with their mobile phones) at the front of the hall - only pens, and small snacks allowed at the seat. I wish there was a penalty for students who forget to turn off the telephone alerts before the exam starts - the shame of coming down from the back of the examination hall with everyone staring angrily for breaking the concentration didn't seem to cut it.

Crazy(happily nattering)Soph

#622 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 04:04 AM:

Paula @618
Are you wishing cancer on people? I can't tell. If you are, please don't. Just don't. And if you aren't, please still don't. It's a very jarring thing to think you wrote.

#623 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 04:56 AM:

#473 ::: Paula Lieberman

Paula isn't wishing cancer on people, she's describing situations that have too many many men/not enough women as being like a specifically male cancer.

Cathy, I haven't had the nerve to say how much I dislike this, so thanks for bringing it up.

#624 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 07:32 AM:

The sci-fi novel Revision by Andrea Phillips (you can read the first three chapters without cost at this link) (published in May 2015) employs a novel device to explain why protagonist Mira doesn't get information as quickly as she could, despite living in Brooklyn in 2015 and owning a working cell phone; she has a bad relationship with her family and thus avoids answering or returning their calls or listening to/reading messages from them. (I have been trained to be a dutiful enough daughter that this is kind of inconceivable for me, meaning that I had to suspend my disbelief harder for this than for any of the physics or tech stuff.)

#625 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 08:27 AM:

Two "Shadow" episodes I was pretty impressed with: "Death is an Art" (the central concept, mad scientist type is petrifying living people and exhibiting the corpses as sculpture), and "Death on the Bridge" (mostly for the sound effects - the whistling wind on the bridge and the eerie voice from nowhere are especially well done. Though there is one jarring note; the "siren" that sounds when someone falls from the bridge is very obviously a swanee whistle and comes across as disconcertingly comic.)

Still - it's got a lot going for it, has "The Shadow". It's like the first season of Danger Man - it's amazing how much story you can pack into twenty-odd minutes if you try.

#627 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 01:10 PM:

The particle about frog coffins in Finland reminded me of the human desire to do fiddly things with their hands, and that led to Sweaters for Penguins.

#629 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 03:57 PM:

Nancy #623:

There is a style of rhetoric popular in certain corners of the internet that reads like this--basically dehumanizing your political/social opponents or your outgroup[0]. Stuff like calling the kind of people who offend you a cancer or vermin or a plague. There was a time when I could kind-of go along with it, even laugh at it. These days, I just find it makes me sad and a little sick.

We are built with the ability for pretty-much limitless nastiness to the outgroup, and with the ability to rationalize it to ourselves so we don't feel bad about it. (Because that kind of creep has it coming. Because losers like that need to be taught a lesson. Because those bastards do it to us all the time, so now it's their turn. Because the only thing those people understand is violence and pain.)

You can see the fruits of this stuff in a bunch of rhetoric about immigrants right now. You can see the fruits of this sort of rhetoric in the hellholes we've made of our prisons. (Hey, let's make some really funny jokes about someone we don't like going to prison and being raped!) You can see it in our treatment of sex offenders[1], deadbeat dads, crack moms[2], suspected terrorists, etc.

A certain fraction of our conversations (us = the world, not so much us here on ML) are optimized for outrage-amplification and othering. (Star Slate Codex's wonderful post The Toxoplasma of Rage talks about this.) There are media platforms that *live* on driving outrage, both new media stuff (think Gawker or Drudge) and old stuff (pretty much every 24 hour cable news channel). At one level, that's just exploiting the bugs in the human brain to make a buck. At another, it's poisoning the whole common atmosphere of our discussions.

[0] And who the outgroup depends on context. It's not like there's some limit to how many different kinds of subhuman vermin you can hate. Hate is cathartic and self-re-enforcing--you won't run out.

[1] The common received wisdom is that sex offenders are sure to re-offend, and so must be locked up forever or given the Mark of Cain before being released into public. This is, as far as I can tell from reading a bit on it, completely 180 degrees out of phase with the available evidence, but that pretty-much doesn't matter. They're an approved target of hatred, so saying anything other than "burn them with FIRE" pretty marks you out as suspect--maybe *you're* a witch, too.

[2] This was a moral panic for a few years, but apparently on more careful analysis (like you probably should do before passing laws and locking lots of women up in prison), it turns out there's probably not any such thing as a crack baby. Poor, uneducated moms often have kids who turn out poor and uneducated, but that's probably mostly the same cultural and genetic forces that we see acting everywhere else in our society, not crack. See also shaken baby syndrome and ritual satanic abuse.

#630 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 04:54 PM:

More, lots more about bad news rhetoric-- my partial transcription with comments of a lecture on polarizing rhetoric by Kathryn Ruud.

Section five is the one about comparing one's opponents to diseases and vermin.

#631 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 06:34 PM:

One further note on "The Shadow" - sometimes it does strike a wrong note or two.

(in a dead zombie-style voice): "That house belong to devil lady - Mrs. Nesbitt."

#632 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2015, 08:50 PM:

Anyone up for a gatherin of light next Wednesday or Thursday in Ann Arbor, Michigan? I'm traveling for work, and wouldn't mind dinner company.

#633 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2015, 07:09 AM:

Open Thready: Biohackers., including at least a couple of attempts to extend human visual range, experimenting on themselves.¹ It looks like the blogger just split up with his blogging-partner (who took their posts with them), but there's still a fair bit of stuff there, including recently a withering account of a Microsoft "extreme future tech" conference. I originally got there via a viralized mention of their giving someone night vision, but I think that must have been one of the posts that the partner took with them.

¹ Better them than me -- exotic substances injected into eyeballs, Do Not Want.

#634 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2015, 09:12 AM:

De-lurking to reply to Nancy @632: I would be very interested in a GoL in Ann Arbor next week! Thursday is probably better for me than Wednesday.

Anyone else?

#636 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2015, 03:34 PM:

Chiming in briefly as interested in an Ann Arbor GoL! Wednesday is probably better for me than Thursday (sorry, Susie @634), but I could do either.

#637 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2015, 04:27 PM:

#635 ::: John A Arkansawyer

Thanks for the link-- I didn't realize Burke had something new up.

However, the quote you gave is offered as an example of a bad-- or at least incomplete-- argument.

#638 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2015, 04:27 PM:

#635 ::: John A Arkansawyer

Thanks for the link-- I didn't realize Burke had something new up.

However, the quote you gave is offered as an example of a bad-- or at least incomplete-- argument.

#639 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2015, 04:52 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 637/8: I thought I'd seen you comment there!

It is indeed incomplete. I picked it as a teaser in the hopes that it would draw readers. You are absolutely right that it is not representative of his argument.

#640 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 08:09 AM:

I liked this bit too:

When I’ve gotten into debates over the years with violence-in-media activists, one of the responses I often hear is, “Well, we’re not concerned with what well-educated, economically comfortable people in stable homes think when they watch violent media, we’re concerned about it as a contributing factor to violence in impoverished, marginalized and unstable homes”. At which point, my response is that “violent media” is being used as a substitute and alibi for poverty, inequality and injustice. It’s being made to stand in for the whole because the whole is perceived as too big and too difficult to attack.

#641 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 10:25 AM:

Kip W #640: Oh yes -- and there's also a "one true Scotsman" argument lurking in phrases like " well-educated, economically comfortable people in stable homes". It's all very much "people like us aren't the problem, it's those people ...". (Which hardly holds up in the wake of recent school shootings and such.)

#642 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 10:42 AM:

"Alcohol/Dime novels/Whatever is the Scourge of the Working Classes."

#643 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 11:45 AM:

So, I know some of you like to edit Wikipedia. I tried to get into the fandom there at one point, but the complexity and lack of documentation of the interface and norms defeated me, and now even looking at their edit screens is anxiety-inducing.


Ursula Vernon's entry is significantly out of date, and specifically her Books section might need, structurally, to be broken up into three segments (T. Kingfisher, adult-oriented works as Ursula, kid-oriented books as Ursula).

It is also missing her two newest publications as Ursula, the first Hamster Princess novel and Castle Hangnail.

#644 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 08:02 PM:

In order to organize the Ann Arbor GOL, please email me at Erqebfr3125@whab.pbz (rot13'd for anti-spam. Unless anyone else wants to join, I'll flip a coin for wed. Or thurs.

#645 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 09:56 PM:

With hardly any warning, and not the slightest consultation with me or my manager, I'm getting dropped into another development team.

In addition to having to work with a Windows development environment, I'm going to have to deal with new people and a high-pressure development methodology. (Data point: Developers whose code "breaks the build" have a blinking red light hung on their cubicle wall.)

I'm having panic attacks anticipating "team building" exercises involving drinking and laser tag. I don't need that. If I'm on a team I have everyone's back. I'm a compulsive knowledge sharer. I'm the guy who brings in baked goods and takes a collection up for a meal delivery service when someone has a health crisis in the family.

I'm having paranoid thoughts that this a way to get a know introvert to quit.

I am so tired of being a "resource". I'm so tired of this bullshit.

I'm going to take a walk and buy a lottery ticket.

#646 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 10:15 PM:

Stefan Jones: Software development... team building... laser tag....

If it were me, I'd take a cue from Sheldon Cooper, stick my head up, and shout "PHP is not a real programming language!"

#647 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2015, 10:59 PM:

How to smell a rape-prone campus. (PDF)

Given that the school year is starting, I thought this list of warning signs for recognizing colleges which will not handle rape cases well might be useful.

#648 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2015, 01:30 PM:

I've finished "Shockwave Rider", after stalling 2/3 of the way through. It's very good, as you all said, so thank you.

However today I also read on facebook a comment by someone that matched "Shockwave rider" and set my mental alarm bells going.
From a friends open facebook post, someone else commented:

"Funnily enough, a lot of the process of things getting better is very closely linked with business thinking (and, actually at the moment it's the top tier tech corps rather than our universities that are developing the next stages in *social* enlightenment)

The people at the sharp end of business driven progress are feeling it *really* hard but in worldwide terms they are very much the minority."

Now, having read Shockwave Rider" and many other books about the future, especially those written in the 60's and 70's, I get shivers down my spine from the bland assumption that a) social enlightenment is both possible and desirable, whatever it is, b) that it can be done by corporations who are acting in their own best interests, a measured by the stock market and bean counters who crashed the economy a few years ago.
I mean are businesses worldwide actually really changing things in ways which don't match those in 40 year old dystopian novels?

#649 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2015, 01:59 PM:

@Guthrie: I feel that commentator may have a serious case of Kool-Aid poisoning.

#650 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 01:04 AM:

My favorite of the proposed new categories is the Best Anthology. It's a lot easier to have an informed opinion about an anthology than about an editor.

This being said, is there a formal difference between an anthology and an issue of a magazine? Does it matter?

#651 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 01:21 AM:

There has been some hubub among the writers of the video game sphere about the Hugos again. I'm a member of the International Game Developers' Association, and I'm friends with most of their writers' Special Interest Group. There's been rumblings on their mailing lists and at Dragoncon, PAX, etc about the whole Hugo category thing.

My SMOF friend laughed when I said people might be serious about raising the idea of a video game Hugo again, but I figure there's no time like the present, with the spotlight on the Hugos and all... and I could theoretically make it to Midwestercon to plead the case if it were to somehow look feasible.

#652 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 04:46 AM:

Leah Miller @ #651:

I could possibly make a case for video games fitting well in under "Best Dramatic Presentation (long form)" (on the basis that I prefer games that have well over 90 minutes of play time). It looks as if the plain text "categories" explanation agrees that computer games are eligible for both "long form" and "short form".

The main problem I see there is the amount of overlap between "voters" and "people who have played the game" (I, as an example, have only played the original Halo and that only very briefly), since voting should ideally be well-informed.

But, I say "go for it", I'm happy to peer at your proposal(s) and feed back on them, even though I can only plead some familiarity with general (as opposed to WSFS) rules-lawyering.

#653 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 05:35 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @650 - well, a magazine has readers' letters, and other columns like reviews and editorials, and is... usually thinner and floppier than an anthology....

OK, I haven't got much, but they feel like a different reading experience, in a way which is (evidently, for me) hard to define. Perhaps it's that letter column after all; a magazine issue is one part of an ongoing continuity, that refers back to itself, whereas an anthology (even ones along the lines of Best Moribund SF 37) is more of a stand-alone book.

#654 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 07:11 AM:

guthrie #648: Like many other prescient books (not a few of them from John Brunner), Shockwave Rider predicted fragments of our future, a handful of points and themes that turned out to be important. But like the others, it also missed a lot of calls.

"Revealing all the secrets to everybody" made for a suitably apocalyptic ending to the novel, but in practice we're lucky to get occasional releases from scattered whistleblowers. Also as it turns out, revealing private data is a sword that cuts both ways.

And in that book, IIRC Brunner didn't much address what would actually be accomplished by the revelations -- as it turns out, that's not always a lot, because the abuses don't exist in a vacuum -- they're backed by people with power, who also have access to "opinion management" and other social-control measures used to keep the public confused and divided.

#655 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 12:27 PM:

(The sound of a topic pattering in from another thread on its little topic-paws... re )

So, recategorizing movies as "short-form dramatic presentation". Sensible? Too soon?

#656 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 12:55 PM:

Andrew Plotkin: I like it. My own iconoclastic opinion has been for a while that the two categories should simply be 'Best Film' and 'Best TV Production', which would allow whole series to compete for the TV award, rather than making different episodes of the same series fight it out. But your proposal would achieve the same aim without the collateral damage my idea would involve.

Nancy Lebovitz: I think the formal difference is that you can subscribe to a magazine. (This distinction also exists in the academic world, where there are journals, which you can subscribe to, and collections which appear regularly, which you can't: trouble is occasionally caused by librarians failing to spot this.) But I agree with Steve Wright that the real difference is feel.

#657 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 01:02 PM:

Videogames! (Leah Miller @651, Ingvar M @652)

As a (struggling) (not-that-young) game designer, I am all in favor of Hugo consideration for games. I also see a lot of potential for clashing assumptions.

Ingvar talks about fitting them in the Dramatic Presentation categories, but I am dubious. Games are interactive experiences, *primarily* interactive; classing them with TV and movies omits the larger part of what makes them games. (Analogy: nominating a comic under Short Story because it contains words.)

You can look at _Mass Effect_ or _Dragon Age_ and think of it as a long movie with added interaction and combat scenes. But this is just one game genre(*) and a Hugo category shouldn't be modelled on it. My own _Hadean Lands_ [BEST INTERACTIVE STORY 2014?] is a lot more like a short novel with added interaction and puzzles. (About 75kwords of original text, if you're curious.) Or, if you don't want me as an example, look at Max Gladstone's _Choice of the Deathless_, another all-text game.

Then you look at roguelike-ish games (_Nethack_, _FTL_) and what do those compare to? They're not a lot like *either* prose stories or movies. They don't have clearly-delineated play-times, either. (One game might be ten minutes; learning to *win* might take weeks.)

(* "Science fiction" and "fantasy" are not game genres. Just to add to the fun.)

Ingvar: "The main problem I see there is the amount of overlap between 'voters' and 'people who have played the game'..."

Agreed there. Some fans are gamers, but then some fans were comic-booksers back in 1988 (when _Watchmen_ won in Other Forms). It still took until 2009 for a Graphic Story category to be added.

My conservative instinct is to say: We should nominate games for Best Related Work for a few years, and if that draws a lot of enthusiasm and votes, push for a Best Interactive Story category. (Best Interactive Experience?)

But my instinct isn't particularly informed by history. I wasn't around for the Graphic Story debate. (That is, I was around fandom and went to some Worldcons, but I didn't follow the Hugo rules discussion.) I see that graphic novels only occasionally went up for Related Work.

#658 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 01:41 PM:

Is there, maybe, a case for splitting Dramatic Presentation into three? Say, Short Form for one-act dramas or individual show episoded, Long Form for full-length movies, and (to pick a word) Extended Form for movie trilogies (including four-, five- or six-part trilogies) and full TV seasons?

I know we don't want award categories to proliferate endlessly, but that sort of division seems to make sense to me. Just a thought.

#659 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Is there a difference between an anthology and an issue of a magazine? Definitely.

A magazine contains letters, an editorial, reviews, and also a selected variety of other pieces. For a magazine of fiction (I assume that's what we are all talking about), usually a novelette, or a section of a novel, a longish story, and a couple of shorter stories. Also, maybe, some very short humorous bits and often a non-fiction piece (speculative or factual).

An anthology, on the other hand, contains a bunch of the same thing, usually selected to have similar subject matter, by different authors. Not the same at all. Although one could, I suppose, publish anthologies as periodicals. Maybe not monthly, but quarterly?

#660 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 03:11 PM:

My personal interest would be seeing a category for Best Fanvid split out from Short Form Dramatic Presentation. There are a lot of really good fanvids out there, but they're usually no more than 5-10 minutes in length, and that puts them at the same kind of disadvantage when competing with TV-show episodes that the latter had when competing with movies. And "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" was nominated for a Hugo a few years ago, but didn't win. I was pushing hard for "Roll a D6" in 2013, but it didn't even get a nomination.

The main problem here would be preventing the category from being overrun by movie trailers, but I think that could be addressed in the definition. (Which is to say, I don't believe that a commercial movie trailer is a fanvid by definition -- but a fan-trailer for "a movie I'd like to see", like that one for Green Lantern a few years ago, is.)

#661 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Steve Wright #658: The big question is whether each category can draw sufficient nominations.

#662 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 03:39 PM:

Utah political cartoonist Pat Bagley takes on Joe Hill in a brief six-strip tribute.

"I never died," says he.

#663 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 03:44 PM:

People are always talking about getting younger fans into the Hugos, and I think that looking at what kind of SF&F media young people* are consuming would be a benefit. Much of it doesn't play nicely with current categories and nomination modes.

I wonder what percentage of SF&F fans who'd be willing to buy a supporting membership have read at least two or three works in every short fiction category in the last year, vs how many have played at least two or three video games with a SF&F theme. What percentage has listened to a serialized narrative podcast?

On Video Games specifically

The scuttlebut is that someone asked Scalzi at Worldcon, and he said that video games could potentially be nominated as "best related work" at this point... a category that it doesn't really seem to fit, based on a quick scan of past winners.

I really think they'd need their own category if they were ever going to get any traction, based solely on how difficult it is to judge a video game vs... well... ANYTHING else. It's so different from any category. And yes, you might have to group apples and oranges games together... FTL with Five Nights at Freddy's with Dragon Age, but video games have always had that challenge, and I think most people who play games are more comfortable dealing with those clashes than they would be trying to "rules lawyer" different genres into different pre-existing categories.

On Other Possible Hugo Categories, Edge Cases, and Transmedia

Serious question: what differentiates a dramatic presentation from a book or short story originally released in audio format? Some may describe Welcome to Night Vale as a dramatic presentation, but for me it has always felt more like a series of short stories. The days when radio and TV competed in very similar spheres dramtically At the same time, these days audio can have a much wider impact than traditional short fiction publishing... having works that are widely available for free in audio up against works that are not may feel unfair, like stacking the deck.

Fiction podcasts and fiction short webseries float in a weird categorical nether-realm now. Technically they could be a dramatic presentation, but there's no way they could stand up against major blockbusters that nearly every fan has seen. At the same time, podcasts and webseries are thriving, and probably have far more regular listeners and viewers than the short fiction categories have regular readers.

Basically, I feel like Big Budget Film and TV will always overwhelm pure audio. Audio (and low-effort video - talking heads on screen, standing on a stage with scripts, etc) is slowly getting a leg up on pure printed text. Modern life often presents opportunities for audio consumption when reading text is impossible.

I'm not sure of the solution to any of this messiness, but it's something the fandom may have to seriously come to grips with very soon, if they want the Hugos to reflect the media most fans consume, and how they consume it.

On Dramatic Presentations, Length, and Episode Selection

I brought up Steven Universe in a Hugo discussion thread earlier. As a TV show it would seem to fit into Best Dramatic Presentation (short) but its episodes are 12 minutes long. Could I pick five of them, if those five comprise a mini-arc? Would they have to be consecutive? The overwhelming majority of critically important modern TV doesn't fall into the categories of stand-alones and two-parters anymore, and formats are going haywire. Of modern, popular SF, Doctor Who, Adventure Time, and Community are the only shows I can think of where nominating a single episode (vs a season or an arc) makes even the tiniest bit of sense, and I can name dozens where a season or series is the logical unit.

I think that Dramatic Presentation - Feature Length and Dramatic Presentation - Series are probably the highest-utility version of the current categories. I'd also like to see a category added for shows that are in the 15 or 30 minute formats. These tend to be comedies and the history of comedy fighting drama for TV awards is bleak and dire. Making poor, scrappy Community fight Dr. Who was just cruel. I can't think of a good name for such a category... Dramatic Presentation - series (short format) is the closest I can come up with, and I think past hugo voters might find that confusing.

The whole thing is going to be a mess for a while, methinks.

*Defined as people born in 1980 or after... so I'm casting a wide net.

#664 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 03:46 PM:

(blah, edits on my last post went awry. The sentence in the edge-cases paragraph should read "The days when radio and TV competed in very similar spheres dramatically are long gone.")

#665 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Lee @660: Well, why not "fan-made dramatic presentation"? We separate fanwriting from all other sorts, and fan art from pro art. I see no reason there couldn't be a nonwritten, non-static fanmade thing category of some shape or description. Right now fan writer and fan artist are for a person's yearly body of work, while zine can be a single ish or a whole year's output. I don't know that the original category-conceivers had an idea that any single fanwork that was NOT a zine might possibly gain enough support from a broad cross-section of fandom to be worth nominating.

Well, besides the objection "Oh good Ghu don't make us give out five more statuettes, there's too damn many separate Hugoes already," but nothing's going to help that, really, except total fossilization.

#666 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 04:48 PM:

Older @659: good examples of regular original anthology series: UNIVERSE, edited by Terry Carr (annual); QUARK, edited by Delany and Hacker (quarterly). Reprint anthology series are a whole other bag of worms. With a good anthology series, the taste of the editor is what determines what goes in -- very much like a magazine. The line gets blurry when you look at things like the firs series of PULPHOUSE, which claimed to be a magazine but seemed more like an anthology series to me.

#667 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 05:33 PM:

Leah Miller #663: Never mind past winners for BRW, it's the "miscellaneous" category, meant for anything that doesn't fit into an existinc category. It's certainly worth considering new categories, but again, the key question is whether they can get enough nominations. That can only be guessed at beforehand, but if enough people think a given category will work, it can be added via the BM (with a sunset clause in case it doesn't).

#668 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 06:04 PM:

It is also possible to get the committee to try a new category, if they think it's a good idea (and then have it added by the Business Meeting after the test). That's been done by several conventions; look up the Hugo administrators for MAC2 and send them a note to see if they're interested. They will probably say no, but they might say yes!

#669 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 06:21 PM:

Elliott, #665: I'd be willing to go for "Best Fan-Made Dramatic Presentation". That would include original works like "Roll a D6" and "The Hunt for Gollum" and also outstanding tribute fanvids like The War Was In Color, which involve creativity in both music selection and film editing.

#670 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 06:28 PM:

David Harmon #667

While I realize "Best Related Work" is technically miscellaneous, it seems to have slowly solidified into the category for nonfiction, discussion, reference, and wank. That's what it feels like now, and it'd feel odd trying to get a video game nom in there as proof of concept.

There's kind of a Catch 22 in play here. Hugos aren't as relevant to the younger generations because they contain so few categories that coincide with the way the younger generations consume media. And the formats that reflect the way that the younger generations consume media can't get traction because the older generation doesn't interact with them. The generational disconnect is therefore solidified, fandom continues to grey.

The thing is, there are some video games that I think Hugo voters would actually find it very easy to interact with: the text-based narrative-driven browser game Fallen London, the mobile interactive novel 80 Days, etc.

I think it could potentially be possible to recruit some new Hugo voters and nominators from various game dev organizations... coincidentally, most of the biggest readers of traditional SF&F I know in my generation are fellow game devs and game writers. I may bring this up in one of our mailing lists, and suggest we have a meeting to develop a proposal next GDC (which is in March), to get something in the mix for Midwestercon.

#671 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 06:34 PM:

Tom Whitmore #668

Ooh, that is tremendously interesting. Would it be best to send them a causal note, and then a more detailed proposal/letter if they're interested, or start out with something of a formal letter with endorsement from (say) a trade organization in the relevant field? I might be able to bring various developers' associations or the WGA on board. And do you have any idea what a good window would be for reaching out to the concom?

There seems to be a huge upswell of public awareness about this topic right now, and I know several groups who would be keen to act on it... but it's also good to take one's time and make the best case possible.

#672 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 07:07 PM:

Best Related Work feels, to me, like 'best work *about* SFF'. Someone up thread mentioned Best Other Work, and that sounds like a good catchall.

Anthologies and magazines are definitely different. In a magazine, you don't have to put everything together all at once-- you can move stories to next month if a better fit comes in or there's a cool conversation happening between editorial and story. An anthology is a Thing, while most issues of magazines are pieces.

#673 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 07:26 PM:

Older @ 659 (extending Tom W @ 666): Orbit was probably the biggest anthology series: 21 ~semi-annual volumes 1966-1980.

#674 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 07:40 PM:

Leah Miller @671: My guess on the best way to do it is to cultivate friends among those who run conventions, and get them talking about the idea. This is a long-term strategy, and it generally involves going to several Worldcons and working on them (the best way to cultivate the friendship of Worldcon runners is to work with them). Failing having started doing that a few years ago, the next best method is to write a polite note and ask whether the Administrators are considering doing a special category this year. Some administrators/committees don't want to do it at all; others are thinking about it. You can include a short idea of what you're thinking about, and offer to send more info if they're at all interested. Polite and fairly short works best for an initial contact.

Don't expect it to work the first time. But if you get some interest, think about asking whether you can help somewhere in their department. This will help you know the people working in the next few years, and make them more likely to listen to you.

Yes, I know this is sounding like all the advice you've ever heard about how to get change to happen gradually: it's so much more fun to try to make change happen Right! Now!, but that actually seldom works. I'm surprised (for example) that EPH passed this year, its first time out: but look at the amount of time and sheer work that went into fleshing it out! The creators showed that they actually were willing to work to make something better, and people noticed. Usually, overnight success takes years, if not decades.

#675 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 08:06 PM:

Tom Whitmore @674

Your advice is very much appreciated. I know these things take time, EPH passing was rather shocking and can be explained as the business meeting reacting to a pressing need, etc.

I know a few SMOFs, but most of them are closer to my age and tend to work PAX, or anime cons, or other youth multimedia cons... yet some still identify as SMOFs, and are in the grapevine. Perhaps they can point me in interesting directions.

Failing effective backroomery, and failing any given concom considering a special category, I wonder whether the strategy of sending a small, polite group to (most) Worldcons for a few years to submit a proposal would work. I don't expect things to happen "now now now", but coordinating an interested group of 3-7 game writers to work on a proposal and go to Worldcon business meetings seems eminently do-able, and something various interested parties could ensure happens several years in a row.

#676 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 08:27 PM:

One option would be to submit a nonbinding resolution to the 2016 Business Meeting, requesting that the 2017 Worldcon consider a one-time video game category. I'm not wise enough in the ways of the Worldcon to say whether that will actually help, but if you can get enough people to show up at the Business Meeting to speak in favor of it and vote for the resolution, Helsinki is likely to at least take notice.

#677 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 08:57 PM:

#659 ::: Older

I'm not sure that all sf magazines have letter columns, but they usually do have book reviews, science articles, and other material that isn't fiction or introductions to fiction.

I remember Baen's Destinies series as a rather magazine-like anthology.

#678 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2015, 09:21 PM:

Leah Miller @675: I expect that strategy would work very well. At the very least, you should be able to (in one or two years) get a committee appointed to look into whether such an award has enough good material in most years to make it worth considering -- and a report demonstrating that would make a lot more people interested in voting for such a new award.

#679 ::: Eleri Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 04:04 AM:

On a Video Game Hugo
Here's what I posted on the subject after Sasquan

The TL;DR being that I am actively working on a proposal for a Best Interactive Media Hugo, and in the next couple of months, I should have a blog or somesuch where we can get into the nitty gritty of what the award would be, why it should exist, and how to make it happen at MidAmeriCon and Helsinki.

#680 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 04:10 AM:

Video games can have problems for Hugo nomination besides the category.

Kerbal Space Program has been available for years, starting in 2911, official beta in 2014, and v1.0 came out this year. So which date applies?

I'd be inclined to nominate it based on the v1.0 date. It's something simple to make a choice on.

But v1.0 also introduced Valentina Kerbal, who is sure to annoy the usual suspects by her existence.

#681 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 04:17 AM:

I note that annoying Valentina Kerbal may lead to large tanks of LFO being dropped on your head.

#682 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 04:53 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @ #657:

I may have been a bit unclear. I meant that "you could totally nominate games right now" (and the Hugo Awards category guide agrees with me). I am not in any way opposed to pulling them out as a separate category.

Leah Miller @ #663:

I quote from The Hugo Award Categories (which, admittedly, claims to not be The Rules, but merely an explanation of them).

  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): This Award can be given a dramatized production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theater, computer games or music. The work must last 90 minutes or longer (excluding commercials).
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): This Award can be given a dramatized production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theater, computer games or music. The work must be less than 90 minutes long (excluding commercials).

However, having a separate category makes sense.

#683 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 06:41 AM:

Ingvar @682: That's a good catch, but it's also interesting because it demonstrates how games really truly do not work with pre-existing categories.

How long is a given game? If a game can be "Speed run" in under an hour, is that its length? What about a twine or branching narrative piece of interactive fiction, where a single "read-through" could range anywhere between 400 and 2000 words? Then again, that same piece of interactive fiction could require several hours of repeated play in order to see the whole story. Which length counts?

The game industry itself doesn't have the answer to that question, and the ridiculousness of trying to attribute a concrete length to modern games is a common subject of industry jokes. This point could potentially be moot as the large majority of blockbuster games are at least definitely longer than an hour. Probably. For most people. For some genres of game, wordcount would be a much more accurate measure of length than anything like "running time." For others, there are essentially no narrative words, like a silent film. Games and interactive fiction are weird.

Eleri @679 has the right of it, and we should probably go more in the "interactive fiction" direction, so we don't have to worry so much about the eternal debate as to what constitutes a game.

Dave Bell @680 raises another very interesting question. My suggestion would be to treat major updates for a game the same way we'd treat a new novel in a series, possibly incorporating the "season" idea we've been expressing about TV shows.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire won a Hugo, while Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite book in the series) did not. Still, I believe a lot of people nominated Goblet of Fire not because they believed it to be the best book in the series, but because they had an overall fondness for Harry Potter, and Goblet was the qualifying publication that year. I'd wager that most people who nominated and voted for Harry Potter or Song of Ice and Fire novels were basing those choices on the impact that particular piece had in the context of the series as a whole, not as a stand-alone work. Something similar could be said for individual episodes of Orphan Black or Game of Thrones nominated for Dramatic Presentation.

In the same way, if Kerbal V1.0 introduced sufficient new narrative to the world of Kerbal (in the way that Goblet introduces more narrative into the world of Harry Potter), it would qualify. The same thing goes for expansions and DLC, and other forms of major content updates. Content updates being the key - patches that contain merely bug fixes and tweaks but no major narrative additions would not qualify, in the same way that (for instance) Gaiman's release of the Author's Preferred Text edition of American Gods wouldn't have made it eligible again.

It could get tricky, and it'd take some work to hash out formal rules. I think it's completely do-able, though.

#684 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 07:10 AM:

Leah Miller @ #683:

The question of "how long is a game" is a really really interesting one. I think I would discount speed-running for an average-bound, possibly count them for a lower bound and definitely not use them for an upper bound.

It also gets complicated for open-world games (I've spent maybe 40 hours with a fully-unlocked Saints Row IV just zipping around the world, accomplishing goals set by me, uncoupled to any goals set by the game, but obviously using the existing mechanics for my own enjoyment).

I also wonder if "time" is a good measurement (it feels like it's a better choice than "megas", though).

I suspect, for nominations until such a point that a dedicated "interactive things" category exist that some sort of "if the game can sensibly be played through for the first time in 10-60 minutes, it's probably short form, otherwise not" guideline may not be entirely wrong.

#685 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 07:55 AM:

From following the Ben Franklin sidebar item:

During the storm, Franklin rescued a drunken Dutchman who was drowning; in the man’s pocket, he found a copy of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which, in the autobiography, gives Franklin the opportunity to reflect on Bunyan’s having been ‘‘the first that I know of who mix’d Narration & Dialogue, a Method of Writing very engaging to the Reader, who in the most interesting Parts finds himself as it were brought into the Company, & present at the Discourse. De foe in his Cruso, his Moll Flanders, Religious Courtship, Family Instructor, & other Pieces, has imitated it with Success. And Richardson has done the same in his Pamela, &c.’’

Does this qualify as a definition of the modern form in prose?

Re: The game thing, I'm being increasingly convinced that trying a game category up front is worthwhile.

#686 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 08:13 AM:

Ingvar M #684: Let alone sandbox games such as Minecraft. It's End (they even capitalize it :-) ) is a blatant appendage for a game where you can just wander around as long as you like. (And the latest versions have added more content to the End itself.)

And... oh. MMORPGs. How the heck would you figure play time for those?

#687 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Ingvar M #684: Let alone sandbox games such as Minecraft. It's End (they even capitalize it :-) ) is a blatant appendage for a game where you can just wander around as long as you like. (And the latest versions have added more content to the End itself.)

And... oh. MMORPGs. How the heck would you figure play time for those?

#688 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 09:05 AM:

How are existing game awards structured?

#689 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 09:17 AM:

Ingar M & David Harmon Re: Game Length

I honestly don't think we need (or want to suggest) more than one interactive fiction category... not to start anyway, and not anytime soon. If a category split appears in the future, it will be driven by voting patterns and better understanding of the medium.

Game awards are categorized pretty haphazardly. Sometimes it's 2D vs. 3D. Sometimes it's "AAA" vs Indie. The former is a matter of graphics and formats, the latter of budget and studio size. Sometimes there are genre distinctions. I have a feeling that the Hugo Voters will care about even more different things. It's complicated. Let's start simple.

We've only had "Best Graphic Story" for under a decade, and there's only one length category for that one... despite the fact that the serialized web format has a distinctly different flavor from the book format. It's a young category. Grouping everything together and sorting it by compilation volume makes sense for now.

Subcategorization nonsense aside, MMOs and their variable playtimes, modes, and updates are one of the reasons I am strongly in favor of the "new content added to the game makes it eligible again, as long as it's of substantial length and forms a distinct addition to the story." One of the first projects I worked on was a free update to an existing MMO. It was a serialized story released in chapters every two to four weeks for six months. I produced at least a novelette's worth of in-game text, and several pieces of illustrated microfiction for the web. It told a story with a beginning, middle, and end that I'm still proud of, even if some of the original text feels pretty juvenile these days. Stuff like that should be eligible.

The same thing goes for Fallen London (the game I won't shut up about). It's beautifully written, browser-based, and narrative focused. It's been around for several years, but just recently they started an initiative called "Exceptional Stories," where they release a small short story every month to subscribers. These stories can also be purchased à la carte as dlc when the month is over. Ideally, there'd be a way to nominate "Fallen London Exceptional stories: 2016" (or whatever year) in their entirety, but at least we should make it so it's possible to nominate individual stories.

The ability to nominate substantial additions to living worlds that exist outside the traditional "retail box" model is something I'm pretty passionate about. It's something the industry isn't entirely sure how to handle, but that I feel is more in the Hugos wheelhouse.

#690 ::: venus ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 09:21 AM:

On the sidebar item about re-phrasing the Civil War. Mostly I enjoyed the article and thought it quite good, but this sentenced tossed me right out of it: The Constitution continued to operate normally; elections were held; Congress, the presidency, and the courts functioned; diplomacy was conducted; taxes were collected; crimes were punished; etc.

The Constitution did not either function normally. Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1861. Jeez.

You could argue that it was suspended for due cause, but it's not like arrests happened as per usual when the military between DC and NY could just arrest whoever they felt like.

Broadly speaking, I agree with the article, but it's not going to persuade a lot of cranky historians when this level of ignorance or sloppiness remains.

#691 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 09:28 AM:

The Franklin essay is great.

He once wrote an essay about inequality in the form of a petition from ‘‘the Letter Z’’ to Swift’s Isaac Bickerstaff, complaining ‘‘that he is not only plac’d at the Tail of the Alphabet, when he had as much Right as any other to be at the Head; but is, by the Injustice of his enemies totally excluded from the Word WISE, and his Place injuriously filled by a little, hissing, crooked, serpentine, venomous Letter called s.’’ (Bickerstaff refused to grant the petition, instead decreeing ‘‘that Z be admonished to be content with his Station, forbear Reflections upon his Brother Letters, & remember his own small Usefulness, and the little Occasion there is for him in the Republick of Letters.’’)
Gosh, that reminds me of something ...

#692 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 09:34 AM:

Hugo things:

I'm very doubtful about the use of Best Related as a catch-all category. It used to be Best Related Book, and was changed to 'Work' as part of a Making the Web Eligible move (so if anything it has liquefied rather than solidified); I think Diatryma is right that it's meant to be for works about SF, (for a broad sense of 'about'). It's for works that don't fit elsewhere because of content, rather than format. Also, the rule says Related Works should be non-fictional, or, if fictional, 'noteworthy for something other than the fictional text', which is, I guess, debatably applicable to games, but in any case doesn't obviously fit them. In any case, if games can be nominated as Dramatic Presentations, they are ruled out as Related Works by the bit of the rule that says 'not eligible in any other category'.

But really, I think they are so unlike anything else that they need a category of their own, and agree that starting it as a one-off makes sense. I think it's likely the demographic will have shifted enough that it will get more support this time.

On splitting DP: my sense is that two is enough. Do we really need a category for single TV episodes, if there's also one for series? The fact that they are being nominated now is an artefact of the way the category is defined; if it hadn't developed this way I'm not sure anyone would have thought they needed an award.

We do have to be careful about multiplication. Bear in mind that there are two committees at the moment working on plans for new Hugos or not-Hugos. When the list of Hugos was first stabilised in 1960 or thereabouts there were six; now there are sixteen (plus the Campbell). Assuming both these reports are accepted, there will be eighteen (or nineteen). Add games and we have twenty. Mild growth makes sense, when there are things the existing list really can't accommodate (which includes games, an art form quite distinct from any other); ever finer subdivisions is another matter.

#693 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 09:51 AM:


'Will there be enough nominations?' is always a pertinent question; and especially now. In happier times, one might have argued that it's fine to have a small number of nominators; they would be people familiar with the particular field in question, who, by nominating, would introduce the works to a wider audience, the voters. But right now, we need a large number of nominators to block the effect of slates (and that's still true under EPH; it reduces the power of slates to take over the ballot, but doesn't eliminate it). There's also a problem in that very diverse nominations can be overwhelmed by slates, even if there are a lot of them.

On fanvids: there was a proposal for 'Best Fan Performance' at Loncon, which was not passed; I think this would have covered some of the things being discussed here. With compiled fanvids like 'The War was in Colour', though, might there not be legal issues?

#694 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 10:14 AM:

This isn't the Hugo thread? Guess not, nobody's posting to that one. I laugh at the apparent disorder of the universe! HA!

Anyway, when HaRoSFA was helping Kelly Freas pack up and move from Virginia, I was boxing books upstairs (let me tell you, they can really deliver a punch) and saw a couple by Andrew Loomis. I myself was a lifelong fan of his Fun with a Pencil, a fantastic beginner-on-up book of drawing basics and tips. Kelly said those were some of the best art books he had.

So it's with joy that I present six books by Andrew Loomis, available free at Archive, including my personal favorite, see above.

Seriously, this is a freaking treasure trove. NSFW, because he likes drawing undraped females, but he will take you from drawing a crooked circle to creating a three-dimensional universe to put your finished, shaded characters into if you follow along.

#695 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 10:23 AM:

venus #690: That aticle as a whole is a mirror to the Confederacy apologists -- in effect, it's calling to recast the Civil War as a mere police action, and rewrite the past to Other the slaveowners. That's simply dishonest -- the divisions that led to the Civil War ran back to the Revolution and beyond -- remember that Washington, Jefferson, and probably others of the Founders owned slaves.

#696 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 10:24 AM:

Leah Miller @ #689:

That all sounds good. My waffling about length was for the existing categories games are shoe-horned into.

#698 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 02:45 PM:

Radley Balko article involving bite-mark evidence.

The backstory is that we've been putting people in prison for *years* based on "evidence" that doesn't seem to actually be very meaningful. The article points out that in testing, bite mark experts cannot reliably tell whether it was a human or an animal that bit a human. Several people convicted on bite-mark evidence have later been proven innocent by DNA evidence[1].

There's a wider story here. Lots of evidence in criminal cases is apparently like this. Shoe print evidence. Partial fingerprint matches. Ballistic matches.

Think about how this happens. Usually, the guy the police arrested and the prosecutor has charged with the crime looks pretty guilty. Probably he *is* guilty most of the time. So the bite mark expert who usually can convince himself that the bite on the victim matches with the defendant is usually getting the right answer. He rehearses testimony and goes to court and comes off as very convincing, and in the process further convinces himself. (It's *way* harder to be convincing if you aren't convinced.) He can justify his decisions in ways that seem pretty plausible--this broken tooth here left that mark there. Prosecutors gravitate to the experts who are most comfortable doing it, and thus are the most personally convinced and the most likely to see the match whether it's there or not. (And remember, most of the time, the guy is probably guilty, so there won't be all that much contradictory evidence.)

The pattern goes deeper. Doctors often have a standard of care that's built up over decades, based on a plausible mechanism of what's going on and how to treat it, and things they were trained to do. Sometimes, that works pretty well; other times, you get radical mastectomies that give you no better survival time than much more limited (and much less damaging) surgery. And if you think about it, the whole field of medicine before the mid 1800s was *all* stuff people had learned, and was overwhelmingly just wrong and actively harmful. But those doctors were probably just about as convinced they were helping their patients as the radical mastectomy guys, who were some of the most skilled surgeons of their day, using the best technology available.

And to go back to the legal system, think of the use of eyewitness evidence and lie detector tests. Worse, think about the police beating confessions out of suspects. (That was definitely going on systematically in the US as late as the 80s--there were lawsuits about systematic coerced confessions in Chigago from then. I expect it's still going on in the US now, from time to time.) I bet the police beating the confessions out of those suspects were usually pretty sure they were getting at the truth. And often they were--again, probably a lot of times, they pretty-much knew who had committed the crime when they started in with the rubber hoses. Hell, the witch hunters and inquisitors from the past were probably pretty convinced they were getting at the truth, too.

This makes me wonder where else we have socially-accepted proof mechanisms that have all the trappings of rightness (expertise, learning, decades of being trusted), but are similarly built on sand. Medicine and law are two places where we often insist on a higher standard of evidence than in the rest of our lives, and yet even there, we routinely and massively screw it up.

[1] I think these are usually rape/murder cases, so if the DNA isn't the defendant's, then it's pretty clear he didn't commit the crime.

#699 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 03:12 PM:

An open-thread, non-sequitor followup to an ancient (2003) post:

When getting beer/soda/pizza for a party (as per the Pizza Algorithm, how much beer/soda/pizza should be gotten? The algoritm gives good tips on proportions, but not on quantities.

#700 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 03:15 PM:

Andrew, #692: WRT Dramatic Presentations, I submit that it does make sense to separate out an award for Best Fan-Made DP. We have separate awards for fan writing and pro writing, for fanzines and prozines (and semi-prozines!), for fan art and professional art. A Fan DP award fits neatly into our existing fannish traditions. :-)

Legally, I think there's a case to be made for a "fair use" exemption on remix fanvids.

Kip, #694: There was a specific moderator request that discussion of new Hugo categories (as opposed to reading recommendations) be moved to the Open Thread.

#701 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 03:15 PM:

Buddha Buck @699, I can't answer the beverage question, but the rule of thumb in my gaming group (assuming this is for dinner, and not just a snack to graze on among other snacks) is one large pizza per three adults. We have heavy eaters and light eaters in the gaming group, so it averages out.

Hope this helps.

#702 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 04:28 PM:

Lee: I was thinking more of the proposals to create yet another class by length. A class for fan-made DP's would be more justifiable, since they lie outside the sort of thing that gets nominated now, even if they are technically eligible. But I think it wouldn't be wise to introduce it just now, since something similar was considered and rejected last year (and I find there was a rather similar proposal in 2013 as well). And there might be an issue whether there would be enough nominations, and whether they would be sufficiently focused to compete with slates. This is a shadow that hangs over all Hugo proposals at the moment.

There is certainly a case to be made for fair use, but I wouldn't like to be the person who had to make it.

Leah Miller@663, re audio: After much controversy, it's now been firmly decided that an audio version of a story counts as a story, and should be nominated as Novel, Novella etc., just like a printed story. I'd agree that this does leave some tricky edge cases where it's not clear if something should count as a story or a dramatic presentation.

I have wondered if there's a case for a Best Audio Production Hugo, so they do not have to compete with films and TV. My worry is that I think WTNV might dominate it massively, much more than Doctor Who or Girl Genius ever dominated their categories; and there's not much point having an award if there isn't a real question who is going to win it.

#703 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 04:58 PM:

Open threadiness: Prompted by the discussion of butt/buck naked in the dreadful phrases thread:

Does anyone have a citation for "barefoot all the way up to her neck"? I seem to remember seeing it in SF. The speaker was an adolescent or pre-pubescent boy, describing an adult woman. He was astonished. Gratified, too, but mostly astonished. Maybe Heinlein?

#704 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 05:06 PM:

Buddha Buck @699

I have some thoughts on quantities, but they're situational... and like much party planning wisdom, very dependent on knowing your audience. Note: the parties I'm thinking of when spitting these ratios out are corporate, college, or house parties. I don't have direct experience with running fan convention parties.

I'll start with the hardest part.


Alcohol quantity is tricky. For corporate Beer 'n Wine type parties (usual duration 2-4 hours) I've been to, the rule of thumb seems to be 2-3 beers per attendee, even if some attendees may not end up drinking. That falls into the "generous... some people may get tipsy but almost no one will get loaded" category. For especially large gatherings of this type, you might want to start out using a drink ticket system, then loosen the rules up a bit as the night progresses. (Note: my experiences are in the game/tech/entertainment industries, which tend to be pretty boozy).

If the party is a "this party goes all night and people will want to get tipsy at least and most people will not be driving 'cause we're in a hotel/house/cabin in the woods/city with good public transportation" kind of party, about 4-5 beers per attendee is pretty generous. This is where the math starts to involve a sort of gestalt hoodoo: the more you know about the appetites and drinking habits of your group, the better you can make your estimate. I have some groups of friends where "four beers per person" means everyone will drink as much as they can handle and you'll have a ton of beer left over. I have friends who have worked in corporate environments where anything less than a six pack per person is a flippin JOKE.

A few more questions to ask yourself:

Is anyone going to bring their own beer to add to the pile? I have held MULTIPLE parties where I have ended up with twice as much beer as I started with, Loaves and Fishes style. This is usually only a problem with more casual parties held in private homes, hotel suites, or campgrounds... but it can be a thing.

Are you more interested in erring on the side of having a lot of beer left over or running out early? How will you deal with the leftovers, if they exist?

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Here, duration is key. You can start with the assumption attendee will have 3-4 drinks (total, alcoholic and non-alcoholic combined) every 2 hours they're at your party, if food is present.

Also, and I can't stress this enough, have a source for cold, appetizing water. Whether this is a cooler of bagged ice specifically for drinks + pitchers of good local tap water, a few full brita pitchers on the counter, or several cases of water bottles... for gods' sake make sure everyone has access to plentiful water. Make water the easiest thing to obtain and drink. You'll thank me later.

Cans are easier to estimate than 2 liter bottles, and people tend to drink them in a more controlled and predictable fashion. Consider a single can of soda a "drink" for the purpose of the calculations above. Note that US soda cans are 12oz, and the recommended serving in a 2 liter bottle is 8oz, meaning that the average 2 liter contains less than six "can-sized" servings and almost nine "recommended-sized" servings. Go by the can-sized rule-of-thumb. Many a party has been under-soda'd by trusting the recommended serving on a 2 liter label.

Based on parties I've worked in the past, I'd recommend starting with a 2:3 ratio of beer/alcoholic beverages to soda/non-alcoholic, not counting water. You probably want to have at least half as much water as you have soda, more in more health-conscious environments. Adjust these ration in response to the different kinds of party described above, with more soda for a lighter drinking party and more water for a boozier affair.

Finally, make sure you have at least 2 solo cups available per guest, if it's that kind of party. Most people will misplace/accidentally toss at least one solo cup per party, and running out is dire. Sharpies for people to write names on cups are great, but even they don't prevent accidental loss of cup.

Pizza (and other food)

Anecdotal update to previous post: I've noticed higher demand for cheese in recent years. I've been to at least 2-3 dozen pizza parties, socials, or meetings in the past five years, and cheese frequently runs out first. I've been at several parties where a public announcement has to be made before everyone's even had their first slice that the Cheese Is Now Reserved for Vegetarians. This may be because people are ordering fewer plain cheese pies than they used to. I've also had to start carrying a toothbrush in my purse because all veggie pizzas are covered with onions, and there's nothing worse than talking to strangers when you have onion breath. This may also be due to the fact that most HR/ops people aren't following Teresa's original advice regarding simple meatball or sausage combos, and the plain cheese ends up being the least offensive thing available. Still, I felt the need to datapoint.

All that aside, the 1 large pie per 3 people ratio suggested by Cassy B. is pretty good. I'd also strongly recommend 1 large supermarket-style veggie platter per 8 guests. Everyone's digestive systems and hearts will thank you later.

Don't even get me started on how these ratios change with the introduction of cake and/or coffee. I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

#705 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 05:59 PM:

Lee, thanks. I missed the memo. I can close the link now, confident it won't explode into activity the minute I do.

#706 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 06:06 PM:

On video games as "Best Dramatic Production, ____ Form" - whether they count as Long Form or Short Form depends on the reviewer as well as the game. There's a correlation between reviewers who really like a particular game, which they consider to be long-form with lots of interesting complexity, compared to reviewers like me, for whom the game is short-form, and the "you die in a puff of greasy orange smoke" trope looks all too familiar from other games.

On pizza algorithms - I agree with Xopher's comments in the 2003 thread. Vegetarians aren't likely to have sudden conversions to pepperoniism when that's what's left, but carnivores are perfectly happy to consume any remaining cheese pizzas, and may have had that or the veggie pizza along with their first slice of pepperoni. Some of them can be dissuaded by putting black olives on some of the pies, but that's often unsuccessful. (And a particularly annoying California variant is pizza which has veggies and maybe pesto with pieces of chicken hiding in there, pretending to be artichokes or whatever, much less visible than the pepperoni.)

#707 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 06:13 PM:

Bruce @703, Ted Sturgeon mentioned somebody being "barefoot up to his armpits" in a short story featuring an ophecleide. The title escapes me at the moment, but I remember it being funny.

#708 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 06:58 PM:

Adrian @ 707 -

I could be wrong, but that sounds like "And Now the News".

#709 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 07:16 PM:

albatross #698: From ancient days, people have depended on not only rulers, but diviners, priests and wizards (by more names than those) to determine guilt and innocence of criminals. And also to intercede against sickness, ill-luck, and other misfortune.... Nowadays, doctors are very much among the priestly castes, and scientists in general are taken as diviners and wizards.

For the priestly castes in general... well, there's nobody easier to fool than yourself. The scientific method, and other traditions of modern scientists, were developed to combat that among other challenges.

But full scientific rigor requires not just training, but temperament, plus, it's hard. And the findings of science are often specific about their uncertainty, which does not go over well with laymen wanting an authoritative judgement. Not to mention pressure from those who want a particular judgement....

#710 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 08:15 PM:

@Lee et al regarding fanvids

Rather than making a Hugo category for them, it might be wiser to take a cue from anime cons and create a not-a-Hugo contest for them. It's more work (and would have a different feel/results than traditional Hugo voting), but I'd argue strongly that it's a far better showcase for the format. If enough people care passionately about this to make it a Hugo category, enough people should care passionately enough about it to organize a fanvid contest board at most Worldcons. These things also tend to gain momentum rapidly: the Fanvid contest can become such an intrinsic part of the schedule that organizing it just becomes a matter of course.

There's an AMV contest at practically every anime convention, and the format is simple and easy to replicate.

1) The "Board" for the fanvid contest accepts submissions for a several month period and whittles them down to enough finalists for a 1-3 hour showing. Either creators send in their own vids, or anyone can nominate and the committee contacts the creators to see if they're cool with being included.

2) Fans at the con attend the showing(s) and are handed ballots they can fill out to vote. Voting closes mid-con and votes are tallied. These showings are frequently extremely popular at anime cons, so there's also the benefit of the contest providing some solid programming.

3) The winners are announced and/or shown during closing ceremonies/award ceremony.

Off-the-cuff suggestions for categories, based on what people have written here:

Best original short
Best original song
Best parody/filk
Best compilation edit/music video (serious)
Best compilation edit/music video (comedy)

Best in Show (favorite from all the categories)

(You may want to merge/split some of these depending on what the field commonly looks like. Anime music video contests tend to be broken up into comedy/action/drama categories, but I get the impression there's more original work in play here.)

Fanvids have been a huge part of certain varieties of con for decades now, but they are openly acknowledged as existing in a legal grey area. Fair use arguments can be made much more easily for the video clips in question, but full-length songs or song melodies are the shrugging point.

The common practices to mitigate this are as follows: the con can post or publish a list of the videos to be shown (by title and creator), but will not release digital downloads of them or otherwise link directly to them. This is where having them as part of the Hugos seems dangerous: putting a fanvid that uses a melody still in copyright in a Hugo packet crosses a line that dozens of cons have been very careful not to cross for decades. Even the use of copyrighted music briefly in the background of a video can cause serious problems... and yet these things are intrinsic to fanvid culture. Disqualifying all videos that use pre-existing music might create a category that's too narrow to have more than four or five eligible works every year.

Right now, my rule of thumb for "should I seriously consider a proposal for a Hugo category?" is "Can I think of at least ten works every year for the last five years that are Hugo worthy in this category?" Maybe there are that many fanvids that don't use any songs or characters that could lead to legal problems if included in the packet, but I'm not sure. AMV and fanvid showings have a long history of being at least tolerated, but the people I know who organize them are very careful to remain well within consensus groundrules.

#711 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2015, 08:43 PM:

Bruce H., #703: Not that specific reference, but Harry Belafonte's rendition of Zombie Jamboree includes the line, "All of the men feel like Casanova / When they see that she's barefoot all over." So versions of it were around.

#712 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 07:13 AM:

More open-threading, sewing/pattern drafting edition.

Making Perfect Pants

Pattern Alteration

I'm sure there's more, but my first impression is that this is not a shabby resource, and I wanted to share it before life got ahead of me.

Crazy(as it often can, these days)Soph

#713 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 07:19 AM:

Cassie, Leah: Thanks

We are holding an "Annual Membership Meeting" for our local makerspace. Since this involves voting for officers and stuff like that, I guess it falls into the "business meeting with food" category, rather than "party" category. As such, I'll recommend to the food committee that we let people bring beer, but don't supply it ourselves.

We expect about 30 people for 2 hours, so based on the recommendations, that puts it at 10 large pizzas, 3 veggie platters, 10 12-packs of soda, and several cases of bottled water + ice. That seems like a lot, but maybe it isn't. It also seems like a 5 cheese, 3 pepperoni, 2 sausage would be a good mix on the pizza.

It seems like a lot of food.

#715 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 09:00 AM:

Buddha Buck, if it's "business-meeting-with-food" and not explicitly "dinner will be provided", you can probably cut the pizza provided down somewhat, to perhaps half or 2/3 of what you'd provide for an explicit dinner. Some will have eaten already; some will have other dinner plans...

#716 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 12:39 PM:

Those of you with elderly parents may find this family oral history outline of questions helpful. I'm also grateful to the US department of Health and Human Services for their family health history tool (Before You Start; printable version of questionnaire). It's evidently especially useful to know which of your blood relatives have had alcoholism, arthritis, depression, various cancers, diabetes, genetic diseases, heart disease and hypertension, osteoporosis, pregnancy complications, and strokes.

#717 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 12:47 PM:

Sadness. I was reading more of the Beale Brigade and saw someone say something which made me think I knew who it was. Circumstantial evidence means I did. I hadn't thought this person to be the sort to become a VD Vector.

What's depressing is I was thinking of them recently, and wondering how they were. Now I don't care to find out, lest the partisan divide make it's painful presence known.

On the flip side, it does show how easily apparent semi-anonymity can be pierced.

#718 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 02:11 PM:

Buddha Buck #713

Ah! A party like that definitely uses different variables than the ones I was working with. My food and drink estimates for a pizza party tend to assume that people will arrive thirsty and rely on this party to be their primary source for a meal's worth of food, because they're at a conference, working overtime, or otherwise stuck somewhere.

I'd still get around 5-6 pizzas, with a breakdown like this: 2 pepperoni, 2 cheese, 1 sausage or meatball (or bacon), and 1 vegetable. I'd also pick up one veggie platter and maybe a fruit platter. Snacky not-meal things are important at not-explicitly-dinner gatherings.

You can also cut your soda estimates down, 40-60 sodas total will probably suffice. I'd still get at least 40 bottles of water as well: better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Depending on your ability to store overages in some back room/communal fridge, you can err on the side of over-ordering. Buying sodas/waters will always be imprecise: a friend of mine who did light catering was talking about how a 5 degree difference in temperature can increase drink consumption 40%. My original estimates were so high because nothing tanks a party faster than running out of beverages, but this is the kind of event where that would be less disastrous.

This sort of illustrates why the original post didn't have quantities. You're asking about community members stopping by for a business meeting at a social clubish place. That has a different vibe and different needs than a party where clients/employees who are far from home are relying on you for daily sustenance.

#719 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 03:23 PM:

My current place of employment is having an education fair specifically for working adults. Since I lack a degree, I thought it might not be a bad idea to see if I could get work to pay for it. However, about a third of the schools on their list are identified on Wikipedia’s page of For-Profit colleges. When researching the remaining two thirds, is there a specific credential I should look for?

(yes, I know about community colleges. However, my working situation is starting to feel a little funny and I’m not sure I have the time and energy to do independent research with HR to determine how tuition reimbursement works, a community college contact to discuss which programs can be completed outside of business hours, and a final round with management to determine which of those courses of study would be applicable to my job. Right now I am in fact-finding mode, and the education fair seems to be the lowest hanging fruit. Rest assured I will not have anyone pay for my education/certification without my due diligence.)

#720 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 03:40 PM:

nerdycellist: Most Calif. CC have degree programs (AA/AS) which can be completed in evening hours. They have specific tracks for that, and (usually) an administrator in charge of helping people in the "working, while schooling" mode.

#721 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 03:54 PM:

nerdycellist @719 Check on accreditation. One would hope that if your place of employment is sponsoring this education fair it would invite only accredited institutions, but you never know.

For your purpose, you might not want to rule out the for-profits a priori. You'd want to do special diligence on them in terms of how long they've been in business, completion rates, placement of former students, etc. They are limiting in some senses - if you think you'd like to go to a not-for-profit graduate school at some point, then a undergrad degree from one might limit your further choices. But, the better ones of them are specifically organized to meet the needs of nontraditional students including working adults. For a broader liberal arts education, or something focused on learning-to-learn, not so much. For a credential that opens future work doors, or specific technical knowledge of value to your employer, maybe.

#722 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 04:05 PM:

Thanks to all who responded to my "barefoot" question.

#723 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 04:29 PM:

Well my giant corporation has paid for many a University of Phoenix degree, and by the looks of the list of education fair participants, will continue to do so in the future. Which goes to show that to a giant corporation, all that matters is a piece of paper with a few initials on it, not the education behind it. I have also not ruled out getting certification rather than a degree, which I believe my local CC can also help me with. Right now, I’m just looking to do a bit of research on whether it’s worth going to the education fair or not.

#724 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Bruce, I meant to say also that "Barefooted… Up to her Chin" is a chapter in Low Man on a Totem Pole by H. Allen Smith, ©1940, 1941.

#725 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 04:51 PM:

I've been thinking that it might be time to get a nutrition-tracking app. There are a gazillion of these, but most of them only or primarily track calories and fats, and that's not what's important to me -- I need one that will track carbs and sodium. And preferably not nag me to change my eating habits; I can do that on my own once I know where I'm starting from, and also the nagging would (again) not be in the directions I need to go. Also, I don't mind paying for it as long as it's not over $10. Anybody got a good suggestion?

#726 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 05:02 PM:

nerdycellist: if you can get to the fair without it being a hassle, go! You don't know what you'll find out. And they'll be motivated to find a way to help you use their services: if you know what you want out of it, you'll be able to leverage that.

#727 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 05:04 PM:

Lee: iPhone or Android? (Not that I know of a good one on either, but it does make a difference to those making recommendations.)

#728 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 07:21 PM:

Oh, right, I should have said that. Android, Samsung S3.

#729 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 09:26 PM:

It occurs to me that the pizza algorithm doesn't work for my group of friends-- we have people who eat kosher, so it's almost always veggie pizza with some cheese for the few of us who don't like crunchies.

#730 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 09:40 PM:

Diatryma: For my kosher keeping friends/relations, it has to be a veggie/kosher pizza place, or it's not kosher.

So pizza is rare.

#731 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 10:22 PM:

I'd recommend not having a "video game Hugo" of any sort for at least 2-3 years, just to wait for the Puppy attack to die down, and for G*m*r*ate to die down a bit more, because otherwise any of the "actually, it's about ethics in Hugo awarding" trolls that Beale didn't manage to attract this time will have more of an excuse to show up. Sigh.

#732 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2015, 11:53 PM:

Bill Stewart@731:

Yes, I had a similar thought. But... it's awfully close to "be very very still and the assholes might not see you". I'm not interested in letting them dictate my goals that way.

Nor do I expect either the Puppies or Gamergate to die down of their own accord. They'll be "gone" when the world ignores them, which day will come sooner if fandom continues to create, promote, and discuss great SF. This means moving the conversation forward, not hiding from it.

I'll allow that it could go badly if a category launched in 2016 before EPH. But (again)... we're already talking about plans that could take two or three years. (E.g. Leah Miller @675, Steven desJardins @676.) So now is the right time to start, with perhaps a flag to raise if MidAmeriCon gets excited about doing a 2016 ad-hoc category.

#733 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 02:10 AM:

Lee @725, I’ve been using My Fitness Pal, which as well as having free official apps (for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Mobile), also has some kind of API that lets third parties write apps for it. If you’ve got a Fitbit, for instance, you can set things up so it automatically tracks your walking/running and adjusts your calorie budget accordingly. And it’s got a very big database of foods, and a handy feature that lets you scan the bar code on a commercial food item and look it up automatically. The website and mobile apps all connect with your account, so you can enter things on your phone, then look at them on the website, or vice-versa.

It’s aimed primarily at calorie tracking. The website does display running totals of carbs and sodium (as well as calories, fat, protein, and sugar), but there’s no requirement that people adding items to the database enter anything but calories. Still, for most common items, the additional info will be there. If possible, stick with items that have the green marker indicating that somebody has verified the information. Here’s a screenshot of the database entry (from the website) for an apple, so you can see what the information breakdown looks like.

The phone app displays detailed breakdowns as well, but only one item at a time; it only shows you a running total of calories, though it will tell you if an item you’ve just entered is particularly high in something, and if you’re getting near (or have gone over) a limit for the day.

#734 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 09:17 AM:

If you like the prose stylings of facetious Amazon product reviews, you might want to know that this movie review exists:

We Watched That So You Didn't Have To: John Cusack and Jackie Chan's VOD Historical Action Epic Dragon Blade.

Crying from laughter over here. And i kind of want to watch the movie.

But probably not sober. And certainly not without a raucous roomful of friends to share the experience.

#735 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 11:59 AM:

(from SFSite) Ohio bookdealer Larry Smith has been hospitalized in Tennessee after an accident while driving home from DragonCon. The van Smith was driving, containing his inventory, was totaled. Sally Kobee is looking for people in Knoxville, TN and Columbus, OH who can help retrieve and salvage books, displays, and other objects from the van. If you can help, please contact Sally at sallykobee (at)

(further information, via Scott of Pegasus Publishing) The only reason Larry isn't dead is that the gridwall was stacked vertically behind the driver's seat, which kept the roof from being crushed. As it is, he had several broken ribs, a concussion, and a ruptured spleen, but he'll recover. Sally was in a second vehicle and is unhurt. The site of the wreck was near Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville. This is not on their direct route home from DragonCon, so there must have been some errand Larry wanted to run in that area. Cause of the wreck: he was on a 2-lane highway when high winds pushed him onto the right shoulder, he over-corrected, and there was a ditch on the other side.

Anyone who lives in the area -- Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Huntsville (AL), Birmingham, Memphis -- and can help, or knows someone who can, I'm sure Sally would be deeply grateful.

#736 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 12:23 PM:

Damn. I'm glad Larry is going to be all right. I'll never swear at gridwall again (much).
I had a version of that accident myself once (instead of wind there was an SUV that merged into me, forcing me onto the shoulder), but was lucky enough that my car didn't roll. If what happened to me happened to him, it's quite possible he didn't, himself, over-correct; in my case the shoulder was just soft enough to grab and stop one front wheel, which my whole car pivoted around and was suddenly going backwards diagonally across the street and into the opposite ditch. Not-rolling was a very near thing; had I been driving a van, it would certainly have gone over.
Best wishes for swift healing to Larry, and I hope they can find enough local fans to help deal with stuff and logistics.

#737 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 01:06 PM:

The Net's reality
transcends the present
Old friends, who've stepped out,
"for some time"

Are still about.

More fresh than blossoms
pressed in pages
Less gone than
summer's time

And yet
Those voices,
Are not present in the present
though the past is not yet still.

#738 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 01:37 PM:

Lee -- I've done the run to and from Dragon*Con once with Sally (Larry was doing the Chicago Worldcon that year), and she always hits every used bookstore near the route (Half-Price, mostly) going both to and from the con. I expect that's what they were doing.

They make it a policy to buy up the older SF/F hardcovers for resale at the table. I was able to fill in a couple of blank spots in my collection that trip.

I've got a candle lit for Larry...

#739 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 02:49 PM:

HLN: Local human's coworker spotted a small snake on the ground during an outdoor meeting; local human swooped down to inspect, and visually confirmed a black/dark grey back and a bright orange belly, before the snake wriggled back into the dirt. A hasty Googling suggested the endangered Copperbelly, and provided an email address to which to report sightings. Local human dutifully composed an email. Further Googling later suggested an alternate ID of the (common) Northern Redbellied snake. Local human composed additional, apologetic, email to the nice government conservationists...

"It was a very cute snake," local human pointed out, "regardless of ID."

#740 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 04:52 PM:

(Local snake looked extremely similar to this one)

#741 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Hyperlocal news: I celebrated the weather cooling off by cooking a mac and cheese, hamburger, curry, and viciously hot veggies (a lot of eggplant, some small leeks, and two hot peppers) combo.

#742 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 04:55 PM:

Hyperlocal news: I celebrated the weather cooling off by cooking a mac and cheese, hamburger, curry, and viciously hot veggies (a lot of eggplant, some small leeks, and two hot peppers) combo.

#743 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 05:13 PM:

Latest entry in the Entitled White Dude Sweepstakes.

Summary: White guy submits poem 40 times, it gets rejected. He decides that this must be because of politically-correct anti-white-male prejudice, so he sticks a Chinese name on it and submits it to more markets, collecting 9 more rejections in the process before it's finally accepted for publication. (I'm presuming here that he wasn't stupid enough to re-submit the same work to any of the markets he'd previously tried.)

Then it gets selected for inclusion in Best American Poetry 2015, at which point he promptly reveals that AHA! You picked a poem by a white man! (Sounds like the plot of a Mercedes Lackey short story in reverse, doesn't it?)

But wait, that's not all!. Rather than selecting a Chinese name at random, this white dude appropriated the name of a former classmate. Her family is Not Happy.

Y'know all those disclaimers on books that say, "This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons living or dead is coincidental"? This is why.

The dude works at a library. As a genealogist. How easy would it have been for him to locate a random Chinese name? Hell, Googling for "most common Chinese names" turns up this on the first page!

I would say that words fail me, but they don't really. There are any number which could be deemed suitable for this guy, but I think we can start with "lazy, entitled, appropriating asshole".

#744 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 07:11 PM:


Yeah, i just wonder how many kind of high priest we have that are doing some impressive-looking ritual drawing on their deep learning and long study and obvious importance and seriousness that amounts to deciding whether your case of the mumps requires bleeding or purging next.

I strongly suspect that a lot of top-level policy (monetary policy, policing strategies, foreign policy) is just *filled* with this stuff. US foreign policy in particular strikes me as a place where there are a lot of very smart, educated, serious people whose actual demonstrated outcomes suggest that they have got about 10% of a clue what the hell they're doing.

#745 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 07:52 PM:

Albatross @744: My experience as a consultant bears this out. At some point, we humans just can not cope with the amount of random variables and data overload that is required to make fully informed decisions, and we wind up making Best Guesses. These sometimes work, sometimes don't.

Also, I am fully convinced that the World Political Stage is made up by personalities that are quite similar to my local LARPing group. Having seen what we do with imaginary power, I quail at the thought of what people become when they have actual power.

#746 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 08:23 PM:

albatross @ #744

Yeah, a few years ago the police here realized that a pathologist from Sick Kids, who'd been the expert witness on almost every case for the past decade in which the victim was a child, had had a tendency to cry wolf.

At least one person was cleared of murder charges but has a tough row to hoe rebuilding relations with his family and community; and I don't know if they've found any other cases, but I wouldn't be surprised. Certainly a lot of appeals have probably been filed.

#747 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 09:08 PM:

albatross @698: ...The backstory is that we've been putting people in prison for *years* based on "evidence" that doesn't seem to actually be very meaningful. The article points out that in testing, bite mark experts cannot reliably tell whether it was a human or an animal that bit a human. Several people convicted on bite-mark evidence have later been proven innocent by DNA evidence...

Another area where "forensic science" has been anything but scientific is arson investigations. The New Yorker had an article in 2009 about a man convicted of setting a fire that killed his children. He not only went to prison and was executed, but had the nightmare of losing his beloved children and having everyone believe he murdered them. When I just went searching for that article for this post, I found one from 2013 about a man being released from prison after 42 years. This second article gave me the impression that the situation is improving. It will take time for fire departments all across the country to be retrained. Horrible.

A friend of mine is a scientist who works in the area of DNA and testing, though not in a forensic way. She is exasperated by the public trust in DNA testing as infallible. Samples can be contaminated and mislabeled. The matching isn't done to 100% of the sample and defendant's DNA -- a subset of (Janet waves hands here, with apologies to the actually knowledgeable) the genome is actually analyzed. Multiple people can match the sample on that small part of the DNA. So DNA tests are great for exonerating, but potentially dangerous for convicting. The expert witness says something along the lines that only a tiny percentage of the population will match that sample, and then jury may assume that the odds are so low that the defendant must be guilty, based on the DNA alone. There's a wikipedia article called The Prosecutor's Fallacy about this.

#748 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2015, 09:20 PM:

On a lighter note, I just read another Courtney Milan novel. Well, actually, two. Back to back. When I add books and/or authors to my "should check out" list, I try to include who recommended it. It was Diatryma who recommended Milan.

One of the two novels had the dashing gentleman and young lady escaping together on one horse ... and they found it quite awkward and uncomfortable. As someone who has ridden horses, I always found the trope of the hero sweeping the woman onto his horse and everything going swimmingly to be ridiculous, and was so pleased to see Ms. Milan handle this properly!

#749 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 12:03 AM:

As far as I can tell, Milan handles everything decently at the very least. I haven't read her latest yet-- library's being stubborn and I'm lazy.

On randomness and economic stuff: there was an article a while back about a particular tribe that cleared land according to sightings of a specific bird. This, theoretically, led to better fields. Except the bird was *random*, completely, no correlation to anything at all... but this was as good a system as any they could have come up with, given the variables in question. The choice boils down to committing to something and having it be random, or committing to something else and having it be worse.

#750 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 12:53 AM:

Interesting interview with Stephen Colbert coming up soon, reviewed hereat The Daily Beast. He talks about being a devout Catholic, and I think that might interest some people here.

#751 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 07:23 AM:

cyllan #745: My experience as a consultant bears this out. At some point, we humans just can not cope with the amount of random variables and data overload that is required to make fully informed decisions, and we wind up making Best Guesses. These sometimes work, sometimes don't., also Diatryma #749:

Sometimes we can't make "fully informed decisions" because we simply don't have all the information (the world is mean about that), or lack the understanding that would let us interpret the information (ditto). But even a semi-random response to a crisis is usually better than complete paralysis. This is especially true if we can eliminate some options up front, and also if we can look at the results and adapt our response as we go along.

#752 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 08:47 AM:

David Harmon @751:
Oh sure. I am generally in favor of at least trying something, and one can usually make better choices than no choice. But that society functions at all still seems like something akin to Deep Magic to me.

(Much like the internet. I have written internet routing protocols, and I still swear it's magic that makes everything get to where it's going. Math-based magic, but still magic.)

#753 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 09:40 AM:

Stuck for a word choice: What's a positive way of saying the opposite of "visionary"?

#754 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 09:45 AM:

I think most of us know most of this already, but if you know someone who doesn't, hand it to them:

How can developers learn from writers?

#755 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 10:01 AM:

John A Arkensawyer @753:

"Practical"? "Down-to-earth"?

#756 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 10:06 AM:


Pragmatic, feet-on-the-ground, tried-and-true.


One thing that gets incorporated into this is what Randy Waldman calls rational astrology, where the social consensus is built up around something that doesn't work, but that people have a personal or social or organizational need that's met by believing in it (or pretending to) anyway. One example he gives is credit rating agencies for investments--they're demonstrably not all that careful or incorruptable, but their ratings are still trusted because there's a big need for something like them. My preferred example would be lie detector tests, which as I understand it probably aren't very good at detecting lies, but which provide an organizationally-necessary set of rituals for vetting employees of intelligence agencies and the like.

#757 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 10:21 AM:

There are times when you have to make some kind of decision, and so you're better off using a flawed method to do so than remaining paralyzed. The CEO who makes the really hard decisions based on a Ouija Board[1] session communing with the ghost of J Paul Getty may do better than the CEO who, when faced with a hard decision, spends six months commissioning ever more elaborate studies before he makes the decision.

But somewhere, there needs to be a way of noting which heuristics are really pretty solid, and which ones are crappy but we don't have anything better. These cases with awful evidence (recovered memories, coerced confessions, bite mark evidence, shoe print evidence) amount to times where the CEO uses the Ouija Board method to make decisions that contradict much stronger engineering or accounting arguments, because the Ouija Board method has a good, convincing story and is widely attested by respectable-looking experts. ("Yes, the guy from the engineering department is droning a bunch of nonsense about conservation of energy and thermodynamics, but the ghost of J Paul says we should *definitely* bet the company on this new perpetual motion machine invention.")

[1] This could also be a tool for the CEO to tickle his own intuition, or for one of his assistants to deniably propose a course of action. I'm assuming he takes it seriously here, the way prosecutors and judges and juries appear to have taken bite mark matches seriously.

#758 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 10:27 AM:

cyllan #752: But that society functions at all still seems like something akin to Deep Magic to me.

Well, yes, it is: A collection of individuals with varied behavior and interests, manages to self-organize into functional and adaptive structure on multiple levels. And our capacity to do so is itself shaped by evolution over millions of years, as expressed through thousands of interacting genes and other heredities, further modified by each individual's interactions with their environment....

If that isn't Deep Magic, I don't know what is.

albatross #756: Yup. The MBTI tests are another modern, nominally "scientific" appearance of that theme.

#759 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 10:32 AM:

albatross #757: Judging the accuracy and relevance of heuristics is a Hard Problem, especially when various parties have different stakes in an outcome. Eventually, you end up needing to use one or more mechanisms of governance, just to choose between competing "experts".

#760 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 10:43 AM:

lorax/albatross @ 755/756: All good suggestions and "pragmatic" is exactly what I need!

I was looking for something that puts the two on relatively equal terms. I'm going to be arguing in favor of the visionary and I must not be unfair to those with whom I disagree.

#761 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 10:59 AM:

Happy birthday, Xopher.

This is also the birthday of LDH, a good friend who died far too young of a heart attack. Take care of yourselves, folks.

#763 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 11:14 AM:

#758 ::: David Harmon

What's more, I can demonstrate that people on the whole do much more good than harm for people. (This includes the good that people do for themselves.)

Considering entropy, the human race would die off fairly quickly if we didn't do a lot of successful maintenance on ourselves. Therefor, we have been and are doing a lot of successful maintenance.

I find that this is worth contemplating because there's so much emphasis on how stupid and evil people are.

#764 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 01:58 PM:

albatross @ #756: My preferred example would be lie detector tests, which as I understand it probably aren't very good at detecting lies, but which provide an organizationally-necessary set of rituals for vetting employees of intelligence agencies and the like.

By scaring off applicants who fear taking one, do you mean? Like those stories where someone identify the culprit by setting up a fake guilt test, and then waiting for someone to try and cheat it?

#765 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 05:20 PM:

Here's a link to "110 Stories," but instead of the direct link, this goes to the "John M. Ford: 1957–2006" thread, which has a conspicuous link to the poem early on.

No need to wait for this date to read the poem, of course, but I can't think of a better way to remember the voices that stopped then. Be wary where you read it. It brings it back.

That reminds me of another remembrance that a friend co-wrote about an associate killed on the plane that went down in Shanksville.

#766 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2015, 06:48 PM:

People who have the same reaction to 'Is your name' as they do to 'Are you now or have you ever been' - the examiners are unable to tell a difference between truthful and untruthful answers.

#768 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 04:11 PM:

Lila 761: Thank you.

P J 766: Are you saying that people looking to hire spies actively prefer the ones whose truthful and untruthful responses can't be distinguished by a lie-detector test run by an experienced examiner?

#769 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 04:27 PM:

Xopher, heck no - it's that no matter how honest and incorruptible you might be, if they can't see differences between 'truthful' and 'untruthful' answers, they won't hire you. (Whether the answers actually are truthful when claimed as such is, of course, another matter.)

#770 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 04:46 PM:

It's been a while since I posted here, and only, um, three weeks after seeing some of you at Worldcon and promising to be a little more active again. So, hi!

No, I still don't write poetry, alas, except for limericks and double dactyls. I had a lovely conversation with someone at the end of the Gathering of Light about how my eyes slide right off poetry and I can't seem to read it. Alas, I've forgotten your name. Sorry!

To make up for the lack of poetry, here's a recipe for mini cheesecakes instead.

* Ingredients
** Graham-Cracker Crust
- 11 graham crackers, crushed
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp butter, melted
** Cheesecake
- 19 oz cream cheese (2 × 8 oz packages + 3 oz more), softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs

* Procedure

Mix crushed graham crackers with sugar, then add melted butter and stir until evenly mixed through. Distribute into 5 large (10 oz / 300 ml) pyrex custard dishes, and press into a shell so that the crust comes up to the top of the bands around the dish. Note that there may be some crust mixture left over at the end. Bake in oven at 330°F for 6 minutes, then let cool.

Reduce oven to 280°F. Beat cheese. Gradually add sugar to cheese and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Beat in eggs one at a time. Pour into custard dishes and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 3 hours.

These are deceptively small. They are actually equivalent to 1/5 of a 10 inch cheesecake.

If you like goat cheese, you can substitute soft chèvre for the cream cheese. I like it, but it's not to everyone's taste.

#771 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 04:53 PM:

There's a cute hashtag game on Twitter right now that may amuse some here. It's called #DiminutiveSciFi, and basically it consists of making famous SFF smaller (in whatever sense you like). My favorite one so far is by Len Schiff (@Signs_of_Life):

1001: A Long Walk To My Cousin Wilfric's What Lives Two Towns Over
I've tried several entries, like
Not Recommended Because It's Gotten All Touristy Planet
but my best so far was
Local Charity
Local Charity and City Government
Second Local Charity
Anyone want to play?

#772 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Lie detectors work on a pretty simple principle: the subject believes they work.

F. Lee Bailey obviously wasn't keeping up with the work in the field, as I read a U of Chicago study on it ~2000. They took a bunch of students, one group was given a lecture about the scientific support for ploygraph, etc. The other was shown a lot of evidence demonstrating how ineffective they are.

Group A consistently got tripped up when they tried to lie.

Group B more consistently failed to show any difference between truthful answers and false ones. It's interesting (in that vein) how many people who have had to take them as a regular part of their job (e.g. LAPD officers) later get caught for corruption, after "passing" polygraph tests which asked about the sort of corruption they were engaged in.

#773 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 05:37 PM:

Xopher @ 771: Foundation trilogy, right? Love it!

I'll play:

The Ones Who Try to Walk Away from Bedford Falls But Never Quite Manage To Leave
One Prince in Chanhassen
Red Shirt-tail Relatives
Stand on Sanibel

And this is a twofer:

The FPS of Avalon

#774 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 05:46 PM:

"The Girl Who Had a Facebook Account"
"The Littoral Range"
"Sandcastle Street-Corner-Preacher"
"Next-Door-Neighbour's Kids of Sandcastle"

#775 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 08:50 PM:

"I have thin lips and I kinda feel like whining"
"Extra Spats iv: A Refurbished Yearning"
"Extra Spats v: The PTA Feints"
Extra Spats vi: Overdue Fees of the Padawan"

#776 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Terry Karney @772: F. Lee Bailey obviously wasn't keeping up with the work in the field, as I read a U of Chicago study on it ~2000.

I hope you weren't expecting him, at the time of the demonstration back in the early '70s, to have been up on the turn-of-the-millenium state-of-the-art. Granted, knowing the tech used in one's field is important, but requiring excursions decades into the future does seem a bit much—!


#777 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 09:11 PM:

Jacque #776: "Do you, have you ever in the past, or will you in the future, have access to a time machine?"

#778 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2015, 11:44 PM:

Jacque, sorry, the link you posted had a much more recent date (2009, as I recall), I blame the NYT Website.

It seemed oddly recent to me.

#779 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 12:36 AM:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Mass-Transit System of Stockbridge MA
Guy Who Doesn't Hang Out in This Bar Very Often
The Insufficiently Lit Left Thumb
The Minor Annoyance from Down the Corridor
A Sound of Thunder From a Really Long Way Off
The Snapshots from My Vacation in Mars PA

#780 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 12:37 AM:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Mass-Transit System of Stockbridge MA
Guy Who Doesn't Hang Out in This Bar Very Often
The Insufficiently Lit Left Thumb
The Minor Annoyance from Down the Corridor
A Sound of Thunder From a Really Long Way Off
The Snapshots from My Vacation in Mars PA

#781 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 12:45 AM:

KeithS@770: I had a lovely conversation with someone at the end of the Gathering of Light about how my eyes slide right off poetry and I can't seem to read it. Alas, I've forgotten your name. Sorry!

I think that might have been me (wearing my meatlife name, Lee SurnameIPreferNotToPostOnline), since that sounds quite familiar - but I didn't recall your name, either, so we're even. If so, we also discussed the inherent geekiness of lawyers.

#782 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 01:32 AM:

KeithS, #770: Good to see you back! And those sound delicious.


Daydream Park
The Barroom Project
The Los Angeles Ouija Board

#783 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 05:37 AM:

Based on ones I can see from right here:-

Mission of Levity
Do Cyborgs Muse About Battery-Operated Teddy Bears?
The Pits of Spelter
The Morning of the Stinging Nettles
The Octopus Twitches a Bit, Snores, and Rolls Over on its Other Side
The Faucets of Purgatory

#784 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 11:11 AM:

Steve Wright (783): I don't know, *do* cyborgs muse about battery-operated teddy bears? Now I'm going to be pondering that question all day.

Also, ::snerk::

#785 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 05:43 PM:

The trouble is, I could keep on doing this. And shouldn't. But will anyway. I can also see:-

White Christmas
Them Blokes and Them Other Blokes at the Front of the Queue (bound together with its sequel, Them Blokes in Luton)
A trilogy consisting of Big Fella, Paul Daniels, and Imp.
Tales from the Plasterer's Arms
The Cafe at the Edge of the Ordnance Survey Map
Ooo, Errm, Wait a Bit, It's on the Tip of my Tongue, It'll Come to me in a Minute

...all right, I'll stop now.

#786 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2015, 11:06 PM:

We had a parlor game not unlike this a little while ago, didn't we? I was rather proud of coming up with:

Twenty Years After

#787 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2015, 05:35 AM:

David, is that the one that was based on Twenty Years After?

#788 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2015, 10:49 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 771:

I'll try some.

The Bad Thing Files
The Man in the Two-Storey Blockhouse
Unstable Max, Disgruntled Lane

SunflowerP @ 781:

I don't recall the lawyer conversation specifically, but your name (both here and in RL) look familiar, so I'm pretty sure that was you. Hi!

#789 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Sara E #764:

I suspect that lie detector tests function mostly as a form of security theater, with the intended audience being both employees subject to the tests (to make them nervous about doing anything they'd have to lie about) and higher-ups (to show that Something Is Being Done about the potential for insider attacks).

I should emphasize that I have no particular expertise in any of this--my impression is that polygraph tests don't actually work all that well and mainly function based on people *thinking* they function, but I could be wrong. If they function mainly based on the person being tested expecting them to work, as Terry says[1], then you'd expect all kinds of oddball techniques for defeating them to be developed and demonstrated to work--not because the techniques themselves were all that effective, but because they would undermine the target's belief that the lie detector couldn't be defeated.

[1] Terry *is* an expert in interrogation, and so his opinion on this is probably more worth listening to than mine.

#790 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2015, 06:55 PM:

"As always, if you are caught or killed, the Secretary will disemvowel all your old posts. Good luck, Jim."

#791 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2015, 07:28 PM:

New Guy in Unfamiliar Territory

#792 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2015, 09:50 PM:

Happy Rosh Hashanah, for those for whom it's a thing. After last year's shoo-far pie we went back to our honey ginger cake this year (a.k.a., a soft gingerbread cake with half the sugars replaced with honey), supplemented with a trip to our local honey store. (Can I say that I really love having a local honey store?) End result: yummy cake, three very different honeys, and a stickier-than-usual child who is now asking why every meal doesn't have lots of honey.

In other sugar-related discoveries: a week ago Amazing Spouse announced that we would have a Pimm's cup before Summer departed; which led to Felicity Cloake's "perfect summer cup" column; which, true to form, contains proposed replacements for both lemonade and Pimm's. The Pimm's replacement is tasty, but the happiest discovery was that Cloake's lemonade replacement was a really yummy cordial on its own. Cut down to its essentials, and slightly modified:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 scant cup water
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced (not peeled)
  • 2-4 large sprigs of mint
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • Seltzer, to taste
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cucumber, mint, and zest from lemon, and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and steep for an hour, then strain. Add lemon juice and let cool. Mix with seltzer to taste. Make more.

#793 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2015, 09:51 PM:

Kip W @790: Ah, yes, that classic 1960s spy drama, Mssn: Mpssbl.

#794 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2015, 07:26 AM:

Cruise Ship Bouncers
A Few Moments for a Friend
Grimy Glasses Guy
Mr Buddy's Beach Hut
The Tardy Pony

#796 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2015, 02:15 PM:

So...since Sense8 has been renewed (yay!), I've been having fun speculating about where they'll take it next.

The obvious Battles With Evil are actually less interesting to me than the potential for interpersonal drama. The obvious Romance Fail, of course, takes on whole new dimensions when you literally can't get away from your ex.

When will they start having formal Family Meetings? And at what point will non-Sensate SOs be included?* (Boring ol' conference calls seem like an obvious hack, here.*) How do they decide who has to wake up in the middle of the night to do attend? How do they negotiate, like, inter-cluster political disagreements? Is there state of the art that, say, Jonas could bring to bear?

What else?

* I'm looking forward to more reveals, like when Lito's fam gets clued in.

** Would the non-Sensates be Senseless?

#797 ::: Scrabble ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2015, 02:40 PM:

I am in a great deal of pointless pain and cannot take the next OTC painkiller until more than twenty minutes after the current moment. [/helpless venting]

@Jacque: They would be the Insensate. Or the Sensinine. Additional "non-" pun mileage!

#798 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2015, 02:50 PM:

Scrabble @797:

Sympathy. Ten minutes to go.

#799 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2015, 03:50 PM:

Some kayakers in Monterey Bay got a surprise from a humpback whale.

#800 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2015, 07:15 PM:

Could anyone tell me how to copyright a play? The question has come up for a non-profit I'm part of.

#801 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2015, 08:48 PM:

Nancy: Try this.

#802 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 06:47 AM:

Thanks, Jacque!

#803 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 12:25 PM:

albatross: I'd guess the "beat the test" sort of thing don't work very well, as they reinforce (to the subject) the idea the test does work, and they are getting around it somehow.

So the underlying idea (that one will be caught out), is still nagging at the back of the mind.

#804 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 01:35 PM:

Prosecute MacArthur principal Dan Cummings for making a false police report!

When will the man who made the hoax bomb threat be arrested? The facts in the case are clear:

This young man made a clock.
He said it was a clock.
It is in fact a clock.
The principal who sicced the police on this young man called it in as a bomb.
It is in fact not a bomb.

So why isn't the principal the one being led away in handcuffs?

#805 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 01:57 PM:

Because mens rea is a crucial element in criminal guilt. To be a hoax, the person doing it must know that it is false. If he honestly believed that it was a bomb despite the denials of the people involved, then he was wrong, but he was not filing a report knowing it to be false. To be mistaken, and to be lying, are separate things.

(Now, it's still a doofus move, and I think his school board, or superiors, or whatever, should take this into account when considering his judgment, remuneration, continued employment, and so on, but it's their job, not the job of the police and courts, to decide what happens.)

#806 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk @ 805: How do we know what he believed? Has he been handcuffed and interrogated yet? Who knows what he might say when he's looking at hard time?

I say let's treat him like a dangerous criminal until he can prove otherwise.

#807 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 03:43 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #804: "False bomb threat" probably not, but among other points from the article, we have

"The principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a written statement, he said. “They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed said. “I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.” “He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”

For starters, that immediately sounds like an attempt to coerce a "confession". If this gets into court, I'd also be really interested in whether other students had brought homemade devices into school (apparently Ahmed intended to show it at a student council meeting), and what happened to them.

And then there's that business of "it looks like a movie bomb"... the stupidity, it burns.

#808 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 04:04 PM:

I read elseweb that the kid's been given a scholarship to Space Camp.

I wonder if all the attention that Ahmed's getting will make the adults double down? I hope not, but sometimes authority figures caught doing stupid stuff get even stupider when challenged...

#809 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 04:20 PM:

John A., #804/806: I understand what you're trying to do here. However, this is not the audience you should be trying to do it with. Save it for people who are actually saying the crap you're mirroring.

Cassy, #808: Also, the President has invited him to bring his clock to the White House.

*pauses, thinks about that for a moment*

My ghod, that's BRILLIANT! Puts the "all Scary Brown People are terrorists" group and the "Obama is a Sekrit Mooslim" group and the "anything to get that n***** out of the White House" group (which already have a lot of overlap with each other) at each others' throats. I'll bring the popcorn...

#810 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 05:41 PM:

Lee #809: My ghod, that's BRILLIANT! Puts the ... at each others' throats.

Hmm? I don't see that, in fact it sounds to me like it could possibly do the opposite, uniting them under "Bonzn oebhtug gur fpnel oebja onol-greebevfg NAQ UVF OBZO evtug vagb gur Juvgr Ubhfr"! (Rot-13ed to discourage potential scraping & context-stripping.)

#811 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 06:04 PM:

David Harmon @ 810: It does kind of cluster them together, for those who hadn't yet figured out those three groups are pretty much three mouths on one face and they must scream.

#812 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 07:02 PM:

Nancy @ 800: You may already know this, but a lot of people don't, so forgive me if I'm repeating the obvious:

One copyrights the play simply by writing the play; it is "born copyrighted", so to speak.

The link Jacque gave you allows the author to register the copyright, which gives them additional rights, such as ability to collect extra damages, but it's copyrighted by the author from the moment they write it down. Citation:
Also, registering the copyright makes a claim of ownership by whoever files the registration, but would not override the actual authors' rights.

Since you're asking for a non-profit, I am guessing the play was created for them? If the person or persons who wrote it are employed by the organization, and did it as part of their jobs, then it would normally be considered a "work for hire" and the copyright would belong to the non-profit, but it would still be a good idea if possible to have them specifically assign the copyright to the non-profit to avoid questions later on when nobody remembers the details.

If they are not employed by the non-profit, and were not contractors with a specific written "work for hire" clause about ownership of copyright for things they write or create, then the non-profit would have to ask them pretty please to assign the copyright, because it belongs to them unless and until they assign it to the non-profit.
Citation:, page 2.

#813 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 09:37 PM:

Rattt Kinggg, promo photo. They also work for MCA who only stand and pose with hair.

#814 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 11:31 PM:

Teresa:With regards to the epic irony, I see that:

"Morlock Promotions provides services/products related to Fuel Management, Management & Consulting Services in LAFAYETTE, LA"

One really has to wonder.

#815 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2015, 11:54 PM:

That Rattt kinggg picture is brilliant.

#816 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 02:50 AM:

I don't think it's plausible that the principal really believed it was a bomb. I also don't think it's likely he'll be charged with anything.

I really wish regular cops (that is, not the bomb squad) had better training in bombs than watching NCIS, CSI, and Roadrunner.

#817 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 04:05 AM:

Regarding the Case of the Scary Brown Kid Who Built A So-Called Clock: If any of the nominal adults involved with this mess actually had believed that Ahmed's gizmo was a bomb, why didn't they call the bomb squad? Evacuate the school? Do, well, pretty much anything that would make sense in the context of a dangerous device of unknown power?

If we take these people at their face-value word, they should all be fired for putting the entire school at risk.

#818 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 04:25 AM:

Paging Xopher Halftongue: You might want to check your email account(s); one of them seems to be emitting spam.

#819 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 09:42 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 813:

I'm not sure if those are four guys with truly fabulous hair, or one enormous hair with four guys dangling from it.

Xopher Halftongue @ 816 and Cubist @ 817:

It looked like a movie bomb and was scary, but we all know that movie bombs stop at 1 second left, so it wasn't actually dangerous?

#820 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 10:14 AM:

Steve Halter @ #814 and Teresa

Heh. I read "Eloi" and thought "Why does that sound familiar?" I googled it, thinking it was vaguely biblical. It is, BTW, which goes to show I attend Good Friday/Passion Play services more than I re-read H.G. Wells. After due consideration, the "My God" Plantation -- or rather "My God!" (as an expletive since the sign has it italicized) really works for me. They're breeding Morlock fodder.

All things considered, I'd say it's less about irony and more of a situational pun. Or I could just mis-quote "The Princess Bride".... I don't think that word means what they think it means.

#821 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 10:35 AM:

And Ahmed's already been memed.

#822 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 10:59 AM:


Nothing in the school's actions suggests much of a clue w.r.t. recognizing or handling bombs. My guess is, someone misunderstood the situation and panicked, and then everyone ran around following whatever procedures they'd trained for (probably the ones for handling a kid that had brought a weapon to school). Eventually, someone with some common sense looked at this and saw that it was a huge screw-up, but that probably took awhile.

There's a lot of fear about Islamic terrorism, but my guess is that at least as much of the driving fear among school officials is from the school shootings that come up from time to time. In both cases, you're talking about incredibly rare events that are also spectacularly awful, and that get a lot of publicity. And our brains (and thus our institutions) handle that kind of thing really badly. Thank God the authorities didn't do anything irrevocable like shooting this kid before they figured out what was actually going on. And I wonder if they'd have still tried to railroad him into admitting some kind of lesser guilt to save face, if the story hadn't made the news so heavily.

#823 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 11:00 AM:


Nothing in the school's actions suggests much of a clue w.r.t. recognizing or handling bombs. My guess is, someone misunderstood the situation and panicked, and then everyone ran around following whatever procedures they'd trained for (probably the ones for handling a kid that had brought a weapon to school). Eventually, someone with some common sense looked at this and saw that it was a huge screw-up, but that probably took awhile.

There's a lot of fear about Islamic terrorism, but my guess is that at least as much of the driving fear among school officials is from the school shootings that come up from time to time. In both cases, you're talking about incredibly rare events that are also spectacularly awful, and that get a lot of publicity. And our brains (and thus our institutions) handle that kind of thing really badly. Thank God the authorities didn't do anything irrevocable like shooting this kid before they figured out what was actually going on. And I wonder if they'd have still tried to railroad him into admitting some kind of lesser guilt to save face, if the story hadn't made the news so heavily.

#824 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 11:22 AM:

Re Ahmed and the Blinking Clock of Doom:

There's a pattern in this story[1] that I think is worth calling out: When you see this kind of story, it's really common for the discussion to be all about what's wrong with the specific decisionmakers--they're stupid or racist or evil or hate boys or hate smart kids or whatever. And I have no doubt that this is often true--the world has a surplus of both stupidity and evil.

But I think that type of discussion misses a lot, because when we focus on the flaws of the people making some dumb decision, it's too easy to lose sight of the system in which they're making the decision. If you want cops not to overreact and kill unarmed civilians, or you want principals not to call the cops on kids with cool science projects that look too much like the bombs that appear in action movies, you need rules and procedures and systems that prevent those things from happening so much. (Some of that is training. For example, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty convinced that a lot of unnecessary police shootings[2] come down to bad training and bad procedures.)

When you're scared or angry or very rushed for time, you get stupid. Probably your biases come out more, because you have fewer mental resources to correct for them. The best you can probably do then is to follow the procedures you've got in place, and that you've been trained to do. So the key to making good decisions in that situation is much less to replace all the decisionmakers with smarter, less biased people than to set up your procedures to minimize the damage when people get things wrong.

News stories work largely on interesting stories and outrage, and that works best when you can name someone as the villain of the story and call them a bunch of names. But actually making things better will involve fixing a system[3], and that doesn't usually make as interesting of a story or as powerful of a focus for a protest movement.

[1] To my mind, this is common to stories about both zero-tolerance school policies, and also to police or prosecutor overreactions that go all the way up to shooting some kid for having a flashlight that looks vaguely threatening.

[2] There will always be some tragic screw-ups that were unavoidable. The goal of your procedures and training should be to minimize those screw-ups, while accepting that they will never completely go away.

[3] Part of improving the system can be improving the quality of people in the system, too.

#825 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 12:01 PM:

albatross @ 824:

Admittedly I've only been keeping up with this story at a remove, largely because it's come to a successful and happy resolution. Nevertheless, I don't think this situation is as bad as you make it. Most of the posts I've seen about it that have been more than one-liners have dealt with the structural racism aspect. They haven't been long treatises on the subject, but have pointed out over and over that this almost certainly wouldn't have happened if Ahmed had been white. This, to me, is not people pointing to yet another isolated incident, this is people talking about yet another example that shows that systemic racism is alive and well. And also that the principal was an idiot.

#826 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 12:37 PM:

albatross @ #824:
I'd compare it not only to cases where a kid gets led away in handcuffs for, say, having a butter knife in their lunch-box, but to the ones where a psychic tells a teacher "I sense that a child in one of your classes whose name begins with the letter V is being abused," and due to mandatory reporting all the way up, the parents of a kid whose name begins with V suddenly find themselves having to prove their innocence even though no one at any stage really believes the psychic's statement is evidence.

There's mandatory reporting to prevent institutional cover-ups, and then there's "once someone comments out loud that a situation might, if you squint at it, faintly resemble one of the situations covered in this policy, no one on-site is authorized to treat it otherwise."

#827 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 01:03 PM:

Just seen: Yale University is collecting interest on 1000-guilder bond from Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden, issued in 1648. The goatskin bond was purchased as a rare document in 2003; but, as a friend said, you don't get a multi-billion dollar endowment without the sort of mindset that says "Hey, can we still collect the interest on this?"

#828 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 01:03 PM:

The thing I noted was in the Irving PD statement, which boiled down to... We had to arrest him because he wouldn't confess.

The student showed the device to a teacher, who was concerned it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb. School resource officers questions the student about his intentions and the reasons why he brought the device to school. The student would only say that it was a clock, and was not forthcoming at that time about any other details.

At which point they arrested him for having "a hoax bomb", and go on...

Under Texas law, a person is guilty of possessing a hoax bomb if he [sic] possesses a device that is intended to cause anyone to be alarmed or a reaction of any type by law enforcement officers So, because he insisted it was only a clock and, "was not forthcoming... about any other details" they decided his "intent was to cause alarm, or a reaction... by law enforcement officers."

So they went past the available evidence, to pretend he might have been thinking about pretending it was a bomb, and then arrested him for that. The campus cops never thought it was a bomb (prima facie, as they never called the bomb squad) but they arrested him, and told the community it was because several teachers thought it was a bomb. The most charitable take on this is bad, i.e. the cops had overreacted and needed to charge him with something to avoid embarassment.

But I'm guessing the real reasons have to do with skin color, and religion.

#829 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 01:49 PM:

I agree with Terry that ethnic prejudice had a lot to do with this. But the teacher who reported it as "looking like a bomb" (and thus caused the police to be called) did NOT do so after a conversation like:
"Hey [teachers name]! Look what I made!"
"What on earth is that? It looks like a bomb!"
"No, it's a clock."
"Well, it LOOKS like a bomb. You're going to the principal's office."

The kid showed it to his engineering teacher, who did not have any problem with it. Then he put it in his bag and went to another class, where a teacher said:
"What's that sound? Is somebody playing a game?
"No. That's the clock I made. See?"
"It looks like a bomb."
"No. It's just a clock."

#830 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 02:31 PM:

albatross, #824: To you, this is a pretty academic exercise. To people like Ahmed, it's their LIVES on the line, literally. So, I'm really not impressed with your "Oh, we need to stop focusing on the racism and stupidity and think about changing the existing systems" line -- because the racism and stupidity are part of what went into creating the existing system. These things do not happen in a vacuum, and it does you no credit to suggest that we can separate problems which are inextricably intertwined.

#831 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 02:58 PM:

Lee @830, albatross @824: I wonder (and please pardon me if this is an old line of thought; I am young and naive still) whether it is possible in the short term to create procedures which partially compensate for the existence of the systemic racism, Islamophobia, etc. Particularly I wonder this because it seems to me that telling people "when you call in the police over a suspected bomb, if it turns out not to have been a bomb you will get in trouble, yes really, you will have to defend your behavior to people who are not your friends or coworkers" might be more effective in the short term than telling them "don't decide something is a bomb just because brown people scare you, idiot," first because they can't then squirm out of it by merely protesting "but any reasonable person...!" and second because telling people they are idiots tends to put them on the defensive (so the only people likely to be convinced one way or the other are the bystanders).

In other words, I wonder if it is possible to implement policies that increase the chances of someone restraining the *ist reflex reaction, or that reduce the ease of implementing the *ist reflex reaction.

#832 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 03:03 PM:

estelendur @831:
That sort of policy tends to get thrown out the moment someone fails to report something genuinely dangerous because they're afraid of what will happen if they're wrong.

#833 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Achmed reports hearing a policeman say "Oh, yes, I know you," even though he had never had contact with the police before. It's been speculated that the cop knew his name because his father has spoken out against Quran burnings and also run for public office--all without committing any crimes. But, you know, brown, Muslim, and with a funny name--gotta keep an eye on that type. An official eye. An armed official eye.

#834 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 03:26 PM:

Victoria, #820: I would be willing to bet that the subdivision is named for what used to be on that piece of property, namely the Eloi Plantation. It's the sort of name that would have been used during the slavery era, and I'd guess that no one involved in the decision of what to call the subdivision was thinking beyond its local-historical connotations.

#835 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 03:28 PM:

Internal Server Error...

#836 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Lee @ 835:

Obviously the Internal Server Morlocks would like to register their displeasure.

#837 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 05:42 PM:


You mean, as opposed to your extremely high probability of being profiled as a terrorist by the local high school principal? In the sense you're talking about, this issue is academic for both of us. Probably, it's less academic for me, because I have kids in school, at least one of whom is a pretty enthusiastic electronics hobbyist, so the zero-tolerance nonsense (though thankfully, not the Muslim terrorist under every bed nonsense) could plausibly land a lot harder in my life than in yours.

However, I'd like to think that *both* of us want things to get better for the Ahmeds of the world.

When I say I think it's a mistake to focus on accusing everyone involved of racism and evil motives, that doesn't mean that I somehow care less about the issue than you do. It means I don't think it actually makes the next Ahmed[1] less likely to get hauled off from school in handcuffs.

How might we make this sort of thing less likely to happen next time? Ideally, this should be done in a way that doesn't decrease the teachers' ability to respond to kids who are actually bringing dangerous things to school?

#838 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 05:49 PM:

Terry, #828: The thing I noted was in the Irving PD statement, which boiled down to... We had to arrest him because he wouldn't confess.

This has been echoing thru my brain ever since I read it. If that formulation doesn't scare the ever-loving shit out of you, white or not, you're not paying attention. Because any of us, thru bad luck and circumstances, is capable of being thought of as a suspect. My now-ex had the bad luck of being out on a run in an area where a robbery had taken place, and was stopped by a cop because he was running. They let him go because he didn't match the description (and it was 25 years ago) -- but that was only good luck. If he'd been even a partial match, he probably would have been arrested.

I've had a cop take angry exception to being asked why I'd been pulled over -- politely, because I honestly didn't know what I might have done -- and threaten to arrest me. Again, that was 25 years ago, and eventually (after browbeating and threatening me for a few minutes) he just wrote me the ticket and let me go. At the time, I was more confused than frightened.

Now? I would expect to be pulled out of the car, to be tased, quite possibly to be shot for "resisting arrest". I can no longer believe that being white is enough to save me from an out-of-control law enforcement officer, if I say the wrong thing or am wearing the wrong T-shirt or don't move fast enough. (And I'm nearly 60 years old, and I don't move as fast as I used to.)

I see stories about things like this*, and what I take away from it is, "that could be ME." I don't have the privilege of assuming that it would never happen to me any more. Nor, I think, does anyone else, but some people haven't realized it yet.

* Not this specific story, but a lot of related ones, especially those concerning traffic stops that suddenly turn into police violence. Sandra Bland? Oh yeah, THAT could easily be me.

#839 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 10:01 PM:

HLN: area woman adopts dog found by significant other on Saturday. Cats remain undecided about the new arrival.

#840 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 11:08 PM:

My sister, who was very recently diagnosed with colon cancer, has already been moved to a hospice facility. I've booked a flight there, but the earliest one I could afford isn't until the end of the month.

#841 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 11:13 PM:

Albatross: I'm sorry -- I think I didn't give enough context in my first response. Let me try again, in more detail.

But I think that type of discussion misses a lot, because when we focus on the flaws of the people making some dumb decision, it's too easy to lose sight of the system in which they're making the decision. If you want cops not to overreact and kill unarmed civilians, or you want principals not to call the cops on kids with cool science projects that look too much like the bombs that appear in action movies, you need rules and procedures and systems that prevent those things from happening so much.

sounds remarkably like, "Hey, you guys just don't get it. We're looking at the wrong things! If we just go focus over here instead, look at changing the system instead of the individuals, we can fix this!"

...which in turn sounds an awful lot like throwing the people who are being hurt right now, by those individuals, under the bus.

The individuals are part of the system; they are both the cause and the result. We have to push on BOTH ends of this problem, just as we have to push on both rape culture and individual rapists. And one way of changing the system is to make sure that there are consequences for people who make stupid decisions on the basis of bigotry and Ramboland fantasies.

Saying things like "News stories work largely on interesting stories and outrage, and that works best when you can name someone as the villain of the story and call them a bunch of names," sounds as though you're making excuses for the people who put a child's life at risk because of religious bigotry. You yourself recognize that it would have been all too easy for the police to have shot first and asked questions later, but you don't seem to be integrating that into your view of the problem.

Not going to get into playing the "who's at more risk here" game with you. We're both at risk, in different ways -- and so is everybody else in the country.

#842 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 11:45 PM:

Jeff: That's hard. [Hugs] if you want them.

#843 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 11:52 PM:

Lee #838: I can no longer believe that being white is enough to save me from an out-of-control law enforcement officer... I see stories about things like this*, and what I take away from it is, "that could be ME."

Yup. In my case, I'm also hard-of-hearing and on the autistic spectrum. There have already been cases where deaf or autistic people were attacked or killed by police for not obeying orders they couldn't hear or were unable to respond to.

And to albatross: You are looking past your own privilege again. Those "systems" are set up that way precisely because they allow the cops to attack "undesirables", and do so with near-complete impunity. Muncipalities that try to hold cops to account generally get immediate blowback from police unions and/or "Benevolent Associations". Most towns can't afford to outlawyer those, and even in larger cities, the cops generally have enough power to screw over an uncooperative mayor (remember Mayor Dinkins in NYC?) or council.

#844 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2015, 11:59 PM:

Jeff #840: My sympathies.

#845 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 12:05 AM:

Jacque: Oh, dear. Is it one of the yahoos or one of the gmails? Not seeing it in my Sent Mail in any of them.

#846 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 12:37 AM:

@Jeff: That is hard news, and having to wait to see her must suck. Take care of yourself.

#847 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 12:45 AM:

Jeff, I'm so sorry.

#848 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 12:50 AM:

@Albatross: The best way to change a system like this is to name, blame, and shame the individuals involved, loudly and often. Do it every time somebody pulls crap like this and it will happen less often. They're already ignoring their mandates to protect, serve, and/or foster the pursuit of knowledge, so changing the system by making a new mandate won't help.

#849 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 04:32 AM:

Both of my cats have been to the vet this week. The older one isn't doing very well, and the vet upped her meds because she's lost a lot of weight since last visit, but she's about 17-18 so having her still around at all is pretty good.

But the younger one, who's 11, hadn't eaten in a couple of days and was throwing up, so we brought him in also. The x-ray and ultrasound found some kind of mass, about 2cm, needle biopsy wasn't very conclusive, so tomorrow they're operating on him to take it out and try to see if it's what's been causing his digestion problems; there wasn't anything else going on except his kidneys being a bit small, which the vet said is typical for his age, and weighing 18 pounds, which is about the same as when we got him (he was a 4-year-old rescue cat.) So we're worried and stressed, but hoping he'll come through it.

#850 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 05:20 AM:

Xopher: rot13ed: cucto.arg

#851 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 07:54 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 848: And then the people on the school board put in a new stooge. And then we nameblameshame that one. And then they put in another stooge. Work into a lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm not saying not to call out egregious examples such as this bozo. That's a good thing to do and I support it. Heck, I did it! But I am saying it's not enough to make long-term systemic change.

#852 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 08:43 AM:

From the immortal Bob and Ray, another successful wrap-up to a police story:

The suspect apprehended at La Brea and Rossmore was convicted on three counts of being apprehended and one count of being a suspect. Apprehended suspects are punished under state law by a term of not less than five years in the correctional institution at Soledad.
If you're goofy enough, you can't help being prophetic.

#853 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 08:55 AM:

Xopher, the spam Jacque is getting might not actually be from you; someone might be spoofing your email addy. If so, there's little you can do about it.

#854 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 08:57 AM:

Jeff, sympathies.

#855 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 09:38 AM:

Lee @ 834

I'm positive that is the case as well. I'm just amused by how the context about the word/situation has changed.

#856 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 09:55 AM:

I have been hip-deep in dealing with spam at work, and the only reliable way I know of to determine the difference between a compromise and a spoof with certainty is to examine the headers.

#857 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 10:52 AM:

Jacque: I think Cassy must be right, especially since I have no such email address and never have had.

As a precaution, though, I've changed all my email passwords.

#858 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 11:09 AM:

Jeff: my sympathies as well. That's a terrible situation to be in.

#859 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 11:24 AM:

Victoria@855 & Lee @ 834:
Yep -- irony impairment through the years for that piece of land.

#860 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 12:07 PM:

Jeff, my sympathies :(

#861 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 02:42 PM:

Jenny: Achmed reports hearing a policeman say "Oh, yes, I know you," even though he had never had contact with the police before. It's been speculated that the cop knew his name because his father has spoken out against Quran burnings and also run for public office--all without committing any crimes. But, you know, brown, Muslim, and with a funny name--gotta keep an eye on that type. An official eye. An armed official eye.

Apparently Ahmed's sister was accused of threatening to blow up the school in the past; got a three day suspension for it. Total evidence... another student accused her.

#862 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 02:44 PM:

I'm all for addressing the poblems in"The System" but there isn't really an organised "System" to dismantle. There is no set of specific rules to attack. It's collection of social ideas, put into practice by individuals. Those individuals are then given cover by the argument, "s/he was just responding to a suspicious incident".

But those single incidents add up. Collectively they're why POC have to give their kids, "The Talk".

The best way to disrupt "The System" is to give a lot less slack to people in it; to deny them the cover of, "they were just trying to protect us/do their job/etc. when they step in it, and pretend they didn't have a choice. Because it's how the MacArthur High, and the Irving PD chose to respond that caused the problem.

They never thought it was a bomb. Never. Even the teacher can't have really thought it was a bomb (ok, maybe that teacher thought it was a real bomb; and that ahmed was foolish enough to wire an audible alarm into it; and not be aware the circuit was going to trip. Me, if thought a bomb-maker was that clueles... I woudn't be examining the thing. I'd be emptying the room, the hall, the building). '

So they asked him what it was. He told them. And they pressured him to confess to planning to pretend it was a bomb ("They wanted me to tell them it was a bomb, but it's a clock" is the gist of his written statement to the cops). He wouldn't. So they arrested him for having a "hoax bomb". But... a hoax bomb is a crime of intent. He never made the overt act required to move it from, "whoa... what is that?", to, "OMG, you have a BOMB!".

So calling that out IS working to change the system. I don't want people in authority to think they can get away with that sort of sloppy decision making. I don't want them arresting people to cover up having made a mistake. If they do, I want them to be held accountable for abusing their position/power.

#863 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 02:45 PM:

Jeff, all condolence.

#864 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Jeff@840: My sympathies.

#865 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 03:17 PM:

Open threadiness: congratulations to Brother Guy Consolmagno on being named director of the Vatican Observatory! (hat tip to @scalzi for the info!)

#866 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Jeff, my sympathies. Bill Stewart, hope the cats are going to be all right.

#867 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 03:34 PM:

My apologies for being late to the marked-down stories list, but here's one I came up with years ago and have always been fond of:

The Pier Blocks Trilogy:

Pier Blocks
Pier Blocks and School Board
More Pier Blocks

#868 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 03:41 PM:

So sorry, Jeff. Holding you (and your sister) in the Light.

#869 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 05:50 PM:

Well, as no one else seems to have said anything yet, Brother Guy has been named the Vatican Astronomer.

So much happy.

#870 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 06:10 PM:

Best thoughts, Jeff. I'm sorry you're in this position and hope you get to see her and spend some good time with her.

#872 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 07:02 PM:

Jeff, I'm sorry she's sick, and I hope, you know, for the best.

#873 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 07:03 PM:

(If that's phrased too clumsily, read Clifton's again and picture me nodding.)

#874 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 07:19 PM:

Terry Karney, 862,

I agree. "The System" is a side effect of the power of Story. The perps in power want to be heroes, so they need a hero-story. "zero tolerance" "if you see somethings, say something" "think of the children" etc provides something more important than cover: self importance. So they probably know the risks*, but the reward is a direct shot of dopamine mediated by a feeling of self-righteousness.**

I used to wonder why the Pharisees were such [redacted] in the New Testament. I don't wonder so much anymore.

*risks to their reputation etc. I'm sure they aren't _actually_ thinking of the children.
**I'm getting a similar shot by writing this :(

#875 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 07:19 PM:

Terry Karney, 862,

I agree. "The System" is a side effect of the power of Story. The perps in power want to be heroes, so they need a hero-story. "zero tolerance" "if you see somethings, say something" "think of the children" etc provides something more important than cover: self importance. So they probably know the risks*, but the reward is a direct shot of dopamine mediated by a feeling of self-righteousness.**

I used to wonder why the Pharisees were such [redacted] in the New Testament. I don't wonder so much anymore.

*risks to their reputation etc. I'm sure they aren't _actually_ thinking of the children.
**I'm getting a similar shot by writing this :(

#876 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 07:28 PM:

Free advice for any school district that wants to avoid the sort of attention Irving is currently getting:

Calling in the police should be a last resort. Don't do it unless you're certain that the situation cannot or should not be handled internally.

The appropriate response would be to call Ahmed to the office, and have the principal sit down and talk with him. The first question is "what is this device?". The second question - the important one - is "how does it work?". By the time he's finished his detailed explanation, it should be quite clear that he's a geek who likes building things. At this point, you explain why you find it problematic that he brought something that looks like that to school, and suggest acceptable alternatives (e.g. bringing in pictures first, and only bringing the device itself if the teacher asks him to). Finally, tell him he's welcome to pick it up from the office at the end of the day to take it home.

#877 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 08:05 PM:

kimiko: I'm not sure if it's on point, but the Pharisees are the bad guys because... erf, this harder to write than I thought.

Ok... the Pharisees we are told about in the NT aren't Pharisees; not philosophically (philosophically Jesus is, basically, a Pharisees). The POV we see ascribed to them are those of the Sadducees.

But the Gospels were written, in lots of ways, to appeal to Romans; and Rome wasn't happy with the Pharisees; they were one of the groups who were behind the revolt.

So the Christian hero narrative needed to put them in opposition to a group Rome saw as traitors and terrorists.

#879 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 09:22 PM:

Terry Karney (racing Lila #865 to the announcement) writes in #869:

Well, as no one else seems to have said anything yet, Brother Guy has been named the Vatican Astronomer.

If I may be permitted to be pedantic, that's not really a title.

In a picture here of, er, the boss addressing the staff today, one can see several Vatican [Observatory] astronomers. Guy is in the front row, third from the right-hand wall. Just as there are multiple Goodyear Blimps, there are multiple Vatican astronomers.

As Lila points out, Guy's new title is Director of the Vatican Observatory or, if you like, "Direttore della Specola Vaticana."

If Pope Francis is not the most-photographed person on Earth, it's not because the lenspersons of L'Osservatore Romano (the newspaper, not the place with the telescopes) tire in their efforts. Every event in his life is relentlessly illustrated, archived, and made available for sale. Thus I can commend to you one of many photos of Brother Guy and the Holy Father, known to its owner as 00300_18092015. If you don't mind a huge watermark.

As I understand it, in addition to his duties as Direttore, Brother Guy will continue as President of the nonprofit Vatican Observatory Foundation, the fundraising organization that supports the Observatory's operations and educational projects.

To see some of his writings, check out the VOF's blog, The Catholic Astronomer.

#880 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 10:40 PM:

Bill, yes, I goofed. And I don't know why, as I know better.

#881 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 10:43 PM:

Lori@866, thanks. The first round of surgery on Jack (the middle-aged fat cat) didn't go well; the 2cm mass was too close to major blood vessels to remove, but also the intestines and liver were inflamed, so the vet biopsied them too, and we'll see in a day or two if that tells us anything (though the liver inflammation looks like the kind cats get when they haven't been eating for a while, so that may be ok.) Meanwhile he's wondering if the cat's going to need a feeding tube for a while until he's back eating on his own.
Spot (older cat) is doing ok for now, and increasing her prednisone dose also helps her arthritis, so she's walking a bit better.

#882 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 11:09 PM:

Jeff, #840: That sucks like unto a Shop-Vac. I hope you get to have some time with her before the end.

Congratulations to Brother Guy!

#883 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2015, 11:21 PM:

Thanks, everybody for the sympathies, good wishes, etc.

#884 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 02:22 PM:

Bill Stewart: One candle to St. Francis, coming right up, for Jack and Spot.

#886 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 04:37 PM:

Jeff: Sympathies and good thoughts for you and your sister.

Bill Stewart: Hope all goes as well as possible for both your cats.

#887 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 05:30 PM:

I though it was only the Americans who armed bears?

(A little harsh on poor Ted, though.)

#888 ::: Cadbury Moose at one and a third Beasts ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 05:35 PM:

All sympathy and good wishes to Jeff.

Also I hope Bills cats have a successful result.

dcb: hope your leg is now OK and you're up and about again (but not overdoing things).

#889 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 05:39 PM:

Jeff at 840: Ah, I'm sorry. Wishing your sister and you comfort and kindness. Bill Stewart, I hope the news gets better.

As for Ahmed and the Clock That Was Not A Bomb: no way to know what the teacher believed, or the principal of the school, but the police NEVER actually believed it was a bomb. When you think something is really truly a bomb, you get people the hell away from it and you call the Bomb Squad. Which did not happen. It was all racist security theater, focused on the uppity brown Muslim kid. Yay for President Obama.

#890 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 10:58 PM:

Cassy B. @853: Re: spam from Xopher's account: someone might be spoofing your email addy.

If so, they've managed to forge the relevant parts of the message header, as well. Also: there are other Fluorospherians in the Bcc list. At minimum, rarely a bad idea to change a password.

#891 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @857: I think Cassy must be right, especially since I have no such email address and never have had.

Huh. Well, okay then! See also: that's weird. And also has some disturbing implications.

#892 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 11:20 PM:

Ahmed is probably too mature for this, but I would find it really tempting in his place to write the principle and the police a thank-you note for arranging his meeting with the President. For extra snark: on White House notepaper.

#893 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 11:41 PM:

Jacque, I'm no security expert, but it seems to me possible that some third Flourospherian, with both you AND Xopher in their contact list, has gotten hacked at least to the extent that the hacker got their contact list and is emailing folks on it, while spoofing as being from another person on it. I don't know if that's particularly likely, however.

#894 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2015, 11:45 PM:

Thank you, Clifton, for the added information.

#895 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 01:41 AM:

Jacque, #892: No matter how satisfying that might be, it would be a really, really bad thing to do. Not bad as in "evil", but bad as in "an absolutely terrible idea". I'm sure you can figure out why.

As a private joke between Ahmed and his family for the rest of their lives -- hell, yeah.

Dallas' annual fan-run con, FenCon, is this coming weekend. I have suggested to them that perhaps Ahmed could be comped a membership. Not asked to be on panels or anything, just "hey, come out and have fun with us".

#896 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 07:08 AM:


The documentary "Thank You For Playing" tells about a couple who responded to their child's cancer, by creating a video game about it -- their own version of "fuck cancer!"

The game itself has not yet been released retail, but an early version can be gotten by contributing to its Kickstarter: That Dragon, Cancer..

#897 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 08:07 AM:

I love this band so much! They write songs I would write if I had the talent and the nerve.

WARNING! Their material is beyond NSFW. It's more like NSFLife. I love it. You may not.

You have been warned.

#898 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 08:31 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @897:

If your video link is "beyond NSFW", it's kind of a courtesy not to link, unlabeled, to a YouTube video for a person to find out what band it is. Give a person a hint? A name they can Google or a band blog that doesn't play the music you've just said should not be played in unchosen company?

This comment may have been brought to you by the Society For the Differentiation of Internets and Guessing Games. Or maybe not.

#899 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 09:30 AM:

abi @ 898: Whoops! Good point.

The band is Birdcloud, a two-woman acoustic band. They play facing each other and not the audience. And I'm not sure there is a single song I've heard by them on which I would not plaster a warning.

The one I linked is maybe one of the most of them all. I love it so much!

#900 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 09:36 AM:

From the band bio:

Birdcloud is Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green...The duo write songs about what Sarah Palin deemed “the real America,” that unsung republic of countrified interstices stretching from coast to coast between cities. Kaset and Green’s America is a nation of indulgent reprobates and boastful imbeciles, laughing maniacs and horny high school dropouts— the desperate, absurd place we all inhabit in one way or another*...The complicated sensation of listening to Birdcloud’s music—the simultaneous urge to laugh, vomit, and maybe break down and cry a little at how familiar and sad and true it all is—has won the band fans across the lower 48, stupefying and sickening audiences in equal measure.

*those of us who live in the lower 48, that is, in body, mind, or spirit

#901 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 09:59 AM:

John #897: WTH? Also, WTP? (point)

Abi #898: They're called Birdcloud, and AFAICT from the linked song and half of another, they're barely worth mocking. Definitely NSFW audio, possibly interesting to people who like women talkingsinging dirty.

#902 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 10:13 AM:

Me #901: OK, I may have been hasty... but buy, John, did you pick the wrong song to showcase them (and I happened to pick a not-so-hot one as my initial double-check). Further investigation has turned up other songs that actually go somewhere beyond dirty talk.

#903 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 10:50 AM:

David Harmon @ 901/2: I think they go beyond just "singing dirty", even when that's all they do. It's bare-knuckles cultural criticism of, by, and for My People as they are, bless their hearts.

It will not be to everyone's tastes, but if Samuel Delany ever needs someone to do the soundtrack to the movie of one of his pornier novels, they are who I would recommend.

I picked that one as slightly tangentially SFnal with the animorph reference, but I'm not planning to nominate it as a Related Work. At least, I wasn't till I said I wasn't.

#904 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 03:29 PM:

I think one of the main takeaways from the Ahmed affair is how symptomatic it is of the urge to avoid decision making. Zero-tolerance policies in schools (along with its cousin mandatory-minimum sentencing) are a way of shifting responsibility from those on the scene to policies that simply can't handle every situation.

In an earlier, more sensible period, Ahmed's clock would have been, at most, confiscated by the teacher or principal, and then returned later.

But it's oh so much safer to defer being an adult and making a judgment to a "policy". After all, you don't get in trouble by following the rules, right?

It's a way to treat adults like children. And it's stupid as hell.

#905 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 05:30 PM:

Steve 904: #include everthingyoujustsaid.h
main() {

#906 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 05:32 PM:

Cadbury Moose @888:

Thank you for asking. Three months after my fractured fibula was plated and I'm now able to walk and drive and I've been cleared to cycle, and I've even done a very little bit of jogging. Feels very good to be able to do this much, but it will be a while before I'm running properly. More detail in my recent blog posts (

How about you? No more DVT problems, I hope?

#907 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 06:49 PM:

dcb @906

Thankfully everything seems to be under control now.

Very glad you're on the mend, too.

#908 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 07:03 PM:

dcb: I recall the level of care/hesitance to do things as I did them before the cast (break at the ankle). Some of it was unlearning new habits (e.g. a return to putting weight on my foot in the shower), and some of it was real limits.

Do you have an air-cast? I found that for about a year I needed one when travelling, because the extra weight of my luggage caused pain/put me in fear of reinjury.

#909 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 09:09 PM:

Steve C. #904: Except that in practice, people do make those decisions anyway, just "off the radar". I am quite sure that if a white kid had brought in his homemade clock, nobody would have presumed it to be a bomb, and the police would certainly not have been called. If their white sibling had been accused by a single classmate of threatening to blow up the school, it would likely (lacking other evidence) have been dismissed as a joke, with no report filed (and if it wasn't, there would have been a media outcry at the time).

When the official rules are too unreasonable, they tend to get enforced selectively, at the discretion of the people responsible for enforcing them. At least until somebody who gets burned turns out to have a voice after all....

#910 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 09:37 PM:

David 909: That's another reason ZTPs are stupid. They lead to selective blindness.

I forget where I saw the study that concluded that ZTPs against bullying lead to LESS enforcement against bullies (not less actual bullying), because the decision point is moved from "how severe do I have to make this punishment?" to "do I see this?" And the amount of trouble and work for an incident is a deterrent to noticing problems at all.

Ahmed's English teacher decided it was worth starting the whole process against a black Muslim kid. Everyone else was "just following orders."

#911 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 10:18 PM:


Maybe you're right, but how do you know? Does anyone keep statistics on this kind of ZTPfail? I've certainly heard of other ZTP failures and injustices, usually not getting nearly so much press as Ahmed's case did. It's quite plausible to me that this sort of policy is selectively enforced against Muslims, but it's not so obvious to me that this must be true.

Now, getting rid of ZTPs seems like a sensible way forward either way, though it's not like I have any experience running a high school, so maybe there's some reason why that's a bad idea. What are the benefits to the schools of these policies?

#912 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 11:10 PM:

Birdcloud left me neutral. I'm glad you found something you like.

I just found out one of those songs I heard 25 years ago and liked, but had no way of tracking down at the time, is Stiff Little Fingers, "Suspect Device." So that's what I'm currently listening to.

#913 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 11:24 PM:

@Albatross no. 911: There's a collection of ZTP stories here:

The "winner" to me is probably the exchange student who was observed, while not even on school grounds, outside school hours, cutting an interesting plant with his Swiss army knife in order to take it home and identify it--and he ended up in the criminal justice system. Although the kid who found a knife in the school bathroom and turned it in only to be punished for possession of a weapon comes in a close second. Or should I point out the one about the Texas school district that forbade students from bringing any type of sunscreen to school on the grounds that somebody might drink one of the liquid kinds (which a five-minute Google reveals as not deadly at all) and DIEEEEE? I repeat, no sunscreen allowed, for the children's safety, in Texas.

#914 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 11:27 PM:

albatross: There is no way to prove how many incidents were deemed to be non-problems (save the aforementioned study on how it works in relation to bullying).

But given the background radiation (e.g. the disparate rages of suspension/expulsion/arrest of black students in relation to white students) I'd be willing to lay long odds that ZTP is very selectively enforced, which means it's not really zero-tolerance at all.

#915 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2015, 11:42 PM:

Re Ahmed: I have a couple of friends who teach high school here, and I asked them for their opinions about all this. And got information I didn't expect -- they said that by official Texas BoE policy, they were required to call Ahmed's parents BEFORE calling in the cops. And that the head of the BoE had issued an official statement which boiled down to, "This school couldn't have handled this situation any more wrongly if they'd tried." So they're in big trouble on the state level.

And let's not forget that once the cops were called, they questioned Ahmed for several hours without allowing him access to either his parents or a lawyer despite his requests for both. That moves it up to a Federal-level offense, being a violation of his Miranda rights.

This is going to shake out interestingly, and with any luck, for the better.

albatross, #911: Because (again vide my friends who are local teachers) this school already has a bad rep for anti-Islamic bigotry.

As to the ill effects of zero-tolerance policies in general, Let Me Google That For You. Do your own research for once.

Why do YOU keep insisting that this might not be the root cause, in the teeth of all evidence to the contrary? Do you even realize how [clueless|blind|idiotic] it makes you look to those of us who do understand that this shit is REAL, and widespread, and that what we find out about is only the tip of the iceberg? Are you really that determined to keep believing that the world you see from the top of the pyramid is the only one that exists?

#916 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 12:04 AM:

Terry Karney #914: the disparate rages of suspension/expulsion/arrest of black students

You know, that typo seems rather apropos in this context.

#917 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 12:04 AM:

In light of recent events in the United Kingdom, my new Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic, a 591-word piece entitled "Swine's Arrow". (I am loathe to link to Gawker, the Daily Mail, and similar to provide context for the latest allegations surrounding David Cameron. They involve a pig.)

#918 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 01:26 AM:

I assume that the primary benefit of zero-tolerance policies, from an institutional point of view, is a buttress against potential lawsuits.

#919 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 05:23 AM:

Jacque @ #890:

If the "Bcc" list actually made it through to your mail client, something, somewhere, is seriously Not As it Should Be.

I'll happily believe the "Cc" list getting through, but the "Bcc" list should never leave the sending server (it's communicated separately from the email itself, by the sending server(s) specifying multiple recipients prior to communicating the email itself, at least as they're talking SMTP (I am thankfully extremely hazy on UUCP, these days and never really knew the FIDO protocol(s); other mail systems I am blissfully unaware of)).

#920 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 06:50 AM:

Ingvar M #919: The usual reason the Bcc: list makes it through, is when the sender screws up by not providing at least one visible address (that is, To: or Cc:). Otherwise the messages would arrive with no apparent addressee at all, which is Not Allowed.

AFAIK that gotcha goes back to the beginnings of sendmail, but certainly back when I started in the late 80's, it regularly bit the senders of broadcast announcements. The proper workaround was and is, to also (visibly) send the message to yourself.

#921 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 07:04 AM:

David Harmon @ #920:

Interesting corner case. Don't think I've ever seen that (and may well have configured mail servers to drop "no To or Cc header" mails on the floor).

#922 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 08:18 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara @ 917: By definition, all incidents involving David Cameron involve a pig.

#923 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 08:36 AM:

Pork barrel politics?

#924 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 10:27 AM:

Thank you, Great Britain, for distracting from the low level of political discourse in the United States for one day. And, I might note, that Lyndon B. Johnson was remarkably prescient.

#925 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Avram, #918: Unfortunately, it also fails in that regard, particularly where medical issues are involved.

A middle-of-the-night thought: ISTM that one reason things like zero-tolerance policies and mandatory-minimum sentencing are popular is that people who fit the Authoritarian pattern don't like nuance or grey areas, and outright hate the kind of independent thinking required to evaluate them; they want black-and-white rules that are easy to follow and don't require thought. This also goes into things like the Texas school board actively calling for the elimination of teaching critical thinking.

#926 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 01:58 PM:

Ingvar M @919: If the "Bcc" list actually made it through to your mail client, something, somewhere, is seriously Not As it Should Be.

Sorry, you're right. Brain-fart. The other hanes were in the Cc.

#927 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 04:20 PM:

The other what—? Yeesh. Out without supervision again, I see.

Ahem. "The other names were in the CC."

#928 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 04:44 PM:

Jacque @ 926 and 927:

Airing your dirty laundry?

#929 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 05:02 PM:


You're reminding me of all the reasons I don't enjoy talking about politics these days. I've started writing responses a couple times, burned a couple hours I'll never get back, and the truth is, I can't see any way to engage on this stuff that isn't a soul-sucking black hole. (I particularly like the snarky personal put-downs for asking for evidence for a specific very strong claim, and for asking what the upside might be to these policies that seem pretty destructive. Goodness, if only I could throw together a Google search.)

#930 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 05:05 PM:

KeithS: Only briefly.

#931 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 06:35 PM:

albatross: Do you think I enjoy going back over and over the same old oft-explained ground again and again, only to have the same goddamn "Oh, but are you REALLY sure? What makes you think that's true?" crap pop up like a bad smell in yet another discussion. Do you think WE are incapable of doing the research?

Yes, I know. Every time you do this, it's an individual, specific incident, and completely different from the last time it happened. Never anything resembling an ongoing pattern of behavior that people might notice.

And it's not just you -- in fact, you're far from being the worst. But it's particularly frustrating with you, because every time it seems as though there might be some progress, the whole goddamn pattern reasserts itself and we're back to square one.

#932 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 06:38 PM:

I like the particular zero-tolerance/mandatory-sentencing parallel that shows up most regularly in my life: I am not sure if I am a mandatory reporter, but I fall back on that because it is much too easy to stay silent, to make it not my business, and I have done that enough times in my life because I was afraid of getting in trouble. But it's not a perfect parallel-- the perfect parallel would be a report-everything process where someone else would evaluate threats for plausibility.

Albatross, I agree that labeling people as the bad guys, acting alone, is not productive. It isn't just a few bad apples but a tree that has been intentionally infected with worms and never sprayed to eliminate them. Doesn't mean I want to eat the apples, though; I think we can attack from both sides because both sides have merit.

Also, the 'let me google that for you' thing is particularly condescending. I don't like that it's becoming more prevalent in circles I favor.

#933 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 07:25 PM:

Diatryma #932: The thing that always bugs me about the "just a few bad apples" line is that nobody ever seems to remember the original proverb: One bad apple spoils the barrel.

That proverb comes from the days of sailing ships, where a long-distance ship would literally carry barrels of apples to ward off scurvy. If one apple in a pile or barrel begins to rot, it literally causes the apples next to it to rot. (As we now know, that's because a ripening or overripening fruit gives off ethylene, which speeds the process in other fruit.) So on those ships, someone would have to regularly go through those apples to pick out the ones that were going bad.

Likewise in human groups, if one person is ignoring the group's rules, others watching them will begin to do the same. And if you don't want the whole group to go bad, you need to interrupt that process, by removing the bad apple. Sometimes it may be possible to reform the person, but in general, that requires at least the threat of punishment up to and including expulsion, so if removing them isn't an option, then neither is reforming them.

As far as Albatross goes, the problem Lee, I, and several others have with him, is that he's always the one doubting the pattern, saying "how do you know there's anything bigger than this one individual incident". He's done that often enough that by now, we're recognizing that as his pattern: Trying to dismiss or demand proof of problems which are not only hurting people, but are widely known to be hurting people. That "widely known" is where Lee's LMGTFY is coming from -- it's a brief way to say "no, this is a real thing, you do not get to yet again make me prove the existence of systemic racism/sexism/victimization/etc on my own time".

#934 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 07:53 PM:

I believe that what Cameron is alleged to have done is properly known as necrobestial irrumation.

#935 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 09:43 PM:

I suppose I am responding more to the initial comment that it's *not* something that can be excised, but the system itself. I interpreted Albatross' comment to be that it is not enough to label the offenders and shun them; we must also change the systems to mitigate the effects and put other people in power. Sort of like saying the problem is bad apples, so you toss them, but the barrel is next to an ethylene tap.

And yeah, I don't have as much context and lost patience. I forget who's who much of the time; there's a Making Light Borg with some names attached and I don't often remember patterns of commenting from thread to thread. In this case, I thought the original idea had merit-- toss the bad apples AND turn off the ethylene source. Make the journey shorter so there's less time for apples to spoil. Build a better barrel with ethylene absorbers.

I thought the original post was agreeing with and reinforcing the point, I guess.

And I still don't like Let Me Google That For You.

#936 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2015, 10:55 PM:

For all the women who wrote the names of scumbags on a wall in a college bathroom so at least other women would be forewarned--

For all the women who thought they knew a guy, but heard the whispers and snickers afterward and realized they really didn't--

For all the women who put up with the wet stares and the slithering hands because they had to have a damn job--

Stick your heads out the window and holler BOOYAH! Behold:

Summary: Two guys who run a business together sexually harassed their female employees. They also co-ran a blog where they liked to post their so-called exploits, such as having sex with a girlfriend who was drugged senseless in the hospital, as well as the usual hurr-hurr-women-are-receptacles-for-our-mighty-ejaculate crap, talking trash about their consenting sexual partners and so on.

Until a local non-creepy blogger figured out their meatspace identities. And let everybody know. WITH DOCUMENTATION.

NAMED, SHAMED, AND BLAMED on the public sidewalk right in front of their business! Scroll down for a link to photos of the protest.

I think my favorite part is where they tried to donate the rest of the year's profits to a local women's crisis center and the center refused on the grounds that they could lie in the bed they had made for themselves.

*waves like Vir Cotto*

#937 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 06:11 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 936: The drugged girlfriend part is almost certainly rape. It's possible the girlfriend might disagree. I think whatever she thinks is true.

The rest of it is consensual sex.

So how exactly is what the blog doing in outing them not slut-shaming?

#938 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 07:48 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ #937:

Pressuring your employees into having sex with you is not what I'd class as "consensual", it is far too frequently coerced from the view of the non-boss.

#939 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:13 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @937:

In addition to Ingvar M @938's point, one of the matters that the community was concerned about was the disrespectful and misogynistic way in which they discussed their partners.

Unlike pressuring your employees into having sex with you, and having sex with people incapable of consent, that's not a crime. It is a social crime, however, and the appropriate way to address it is social censure.

Putting this under the umbrella of slut-shaming devalues the value of criticism of slut-shaming, which is about how even respectful and consensual sex is penalized, particularly for women. Given how much the MRA community does slut-shame, bringing it into this conversation is, at best, deeply ironic.

#940 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:15 AM:

So how exactly is what the blog doing in outing them not slut-shaming?

It's asshole shaming. It's just that their assholery happens to revolve around sex.

If one or both of them had a blog where they posted about their respectful, happy, non-coercive sex lives and that got outed, then there'd be a case for slut-shaming.

#941 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:20 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @937: Slut-shaming is when you take any evidence of sexual activity on the part of a woman (it could be anyone, but 90% of the time it's women) and plaster it all over the universe as proof of their lack of moral fiber.

This site is taking proof of creeper, dangerous, harrassing behavior by these dorkwads and letting all their future partners (and neighbors) know what harmful patterns of behavior they've been hiding away from their public personae.

It's entirely the same difference as between "Hey, that fat woman at the grocery store has a bag of cheetos in her cart, what a waste of skin!" and "Did you know that the new guy they hired to help with school lunches is putting dogshit in every kid's serving of veggies?!?"

#942 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:28 AM:

Something that worked much better than threats of punishment. Video.

This seems to be an example of ignoring issues relating to cultural appropriation working out well.

#943 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:35 AM:

If any of you would like to clarify your thinking on the enjoyment of real-life nonconsensual pain and humiliation--which is what you are doing if you are enjoying these two guys having done to them--I recommend Donna Minkowitz's essay "Giving It Up: Orgasm, Fear, and Femaleness" in To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism, as a starting point. And please remember: Your kink is okay. I'm not shaming you. I am challenging you to think more deeply about what you are doing.

And just to be clear about something no one has said yet: Someone who has provably had sex with a person unable to consent is guilty of rape until proven innocent.

#944 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 09:38 AM:

In other news, good news of interest to those of you in New York City: What's Blocking Your Bike Lane?

#945 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 09:40 AM:

John Arkansawyer, any statement that begins "If any of you would like to clarify your thinking," and ends with "I am challenging you to think more deeply about what you are doing," is going to irritate its hearers.

What they'll hear is "I know and understand much more about this subject than you do; I see where you've gone wrong with it; and your shallow opinions are the result of insufficient thought."

I'm stating it as a general rule, but what we have here is a specific case. You've generated a problem for yourself. Do you have any plans yet for handling it?

Also, the earlier commenters are right. This isn't slut-shaming. The point is not that these guys are having sex; it's that they're long-term habitual douchewads.* Sex just happens to be the subject on which they're currently exercising it.

*I hope I have that right. I'm trying to update my vocabulary.

#946 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 09:46 AM:

John Arkansawyer @944: If that's the one I'm thinking of, Patrick already sends them photos. It's a good mechanism.

#947 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Teresa @ 945: Why yes, I have handled my problem, which was a certain angry despair at watching people, usually thoughtful ones, taking unthinking pleasure in the suffering of others.

I may have been hypocritical in the process. I mean, I certainly enjoyed writing that somewhat snotty note. That's a personal vice and I'll live with it, consciously.

It's a great essay in a fantastic book. Even if someone reads it just to refute me, I'm happy.

I also disappointed many of my friends on Facebook when I told them they were wrong to slam Kim Davis for being a slut, and an ugly one to boot, and I'm good with that, too.

(I defended her hypocrisy just as I did mine.

(That is to say, weakly.)

#948 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 10:03 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer: There was a long essay here on the existence and use of the mental killfile, but it's not worth the grandstanding, so two things.

1) Your #943 is practically a demonstration example of asshole behavior, subcategory "breathtakingly condescending". I had thought better of you.

2) *plonk*

#949 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 10:18 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz, thanks for that link. I am glad that many residents and area Buddhists are glad about what has happened. I am thinking about whether I agree with your assessment. (I am curious about who the people were who were hanging out on that particular spot before, and who no longer do. And whether some Buddhists, upon finding out about a Buddha statue that was not being cared for, felt a responsibility to stop/prevent its desecration.)

Separately: yesterday I started seeing reminders of the obvious-if-one-thinks-about-it fact that if those allegations about Cameron are true, and we are joking about them, then we are -- possibly? probably? -- joking about sexual harassment and being pressured into a sex act, which is much less okay.

#951 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 11:01 AM:

#949 ::: Sumana Harihareswara

You're welcome. The thing that's striking me is that it wasn't just about people not wanting the Buddha statue to be desecrated, they had a positive desire to have a satisfactory shrine.

After all, the city didn't want the corner lot desecrated with mattresses, but they didn't have a method which worked.

In addition to the people who were hanging out on the corner, how hard is it for people in Oakland to dispose of old mattresses?

Noodling further, perhaps part of the problem is that modern cities don't have a way of seeing themselves as sacred. Oakland was perfectly content to put up an ugly, threatening sign-- it apparently had no concept of presenting itself as valuable.

#952 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 11:07 AM:

John, you need to take a time-out from this conversation. Intelligent people of good will are seeing red when they read your comments. Only some of them are posting replies. Believe me, I am hearing from the others.

I'd rather you take the time-out voluntarily.

#953 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 11:27 AM:

Although I wound up never writing about it, I was also uncomfortable seeing a lot of friends joke about Kim Davis's checkered personal history, as if being married four times is prima facie evidence of bad character. There are so many things wrong with what Kim Davis was doing; it didn't seem necessary to abuse her just for being someone with a complicated (and probably not all that easy) life.

Yes, she's a hypocrite, her ethics are flawed, her beliefs are delusional, and she demonstrates an unlovely eye for the main chance. But being religious and having a difficult personal history don't add up to hypocrisy. In a lot of traditions, church is because most of us are fucked up.

That said, the reason I wound up never writing about it was that I found I also didn't want to be scolding people who, for very good reasons, have been angry at her for shitting all over the personal happiness of people in Rowan County, Kentucky simply so she could perform her own little drama of pharisaical righteousness. Life is complicated, and I don't feel so righteous myself.

#954 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 11:39 AM:

Patrick @ 953: I didn't like doing that sort of scolding myself. I was deeply conflicted.

Teresa @ 952: Sure. As a person of good will (usually) myself, I'm glad to do so.

#955 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @951: I'm not very comfortable referring to homeless people taking over unused space as a lot being "desecrated by" mattresses.

#956 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 12:07 PM:

Trying to draw a parallel between the outing of a pair of creepy sexual predators and rape strikes me as desperately stretching for any excuse to paint said predators as the real victims here. And we've all seen the way "appropriating the language of victimhood for themselves" has been adopted by bigots and assholes of every stripe.

#958 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 02:30 PM:

#955 ::: Elliott Mason

I'm sorry, I didn't check back at the link (I'd watched a video and assumed the link covered the same material). I thought the mattresses were there because homeowners were dumping them, not that homeless people were sleeping on them.

#959 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 04:38 PM:

Same reaction re: mattresses for the same reasons as Nancy - that the area was used as a dump.

#960 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 06:01 PM:

Nancy @958, Carol @959:

I only read the text at the link and did not watch the video, but I also had the impression that the mattresses were being dumped as trash and not used by homeless people. Certainly that could be the spin put on it by the man who put up the statue (who had previously been calling in complaints about the mattresses), but it wasn't at all obvious to me that the mattresses were being slept on, either.

#961 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:15 AM:

I didn't like the way people referred to Kim Davis marital history: I very much didn't like the way some of her staff were abused for not getting themselves fired.

I have no problem with the events in Asheville.

The men were predatory. I've spent a lot of time (perhaps too much) peering into the "manosphere" (and it's got a lot of ugly corners).

The PUA subset, to which they seem to most voiciferously belong is actively harmful to women. Their employees recount abuses. They recounted abusing women (and boasting of it).

Here is a link to some of the women recounting what they experienced

Some examples of what they said in their blog/twitter

V whfg shpxrq n cyngr va gur tnentr arkg gb zl ohfvarff. Nsgre gryyvat ure V jnagrq gb fghss ure fbpxf va ure zbhgu naq shpx ure fghcvq.


8. J. – Business – 6/7/7 – Played
Mid thirties ginger, hippie with a rail-thin body. Crazy in bed like older girls tend to be. Lived in an RV and smelled like beeswax, but was smart and interesting. I hit on her at my business. We stopped seeing each other because I talked too much about game (I’d just read The Game and discovered the manosphere) and it freaked her out. Classic mistake. No clue what she’s up to, but I think she’s headed towards cat lady status.


“daily morsels of tasty game. 2013: 17 notches. 2014: 22 notches. 2015: 15 notches and counting.”


That's not just "consensual sex", it's obectification (and in some cases outright sexual harassment in the workplace, one case was an e-mail sent to an employee who had already expressed non-interest).

So, on a purely philosophical level, I don't see an equivalence between public censure of reprehensible PUBLIC acts, and shaming someone for what they do in their private lives. These two guys weren't just going around screwing, they were making a point to talk about what, why, and how they were doing it with the specific intent of their behavior being used a model for others.

It's not benign. It's not even them being douchecanoes and screwing people over in private. It's them boasting of treating other human beings like objects.

So yeah I think they deserve the scorn they are getting. I'm not terribly grieved if the coffee shop goes under. I'm really glad the community is being supportive of the workers (other coffee shops have offered them jobs, so they won't suffer) because "think of the people who depend on them for work" is often used to get people to look the other way at systemic abuses.

What we walk past is what we accept. Asheville chose to not walk past it.

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