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September 22, 2015

Open thread 208
Posted by Patrick at 12:21 PM * 981 comments

Arthur Chu interviewed medievalist and journalist David Perry on TechCrunch:

Perry: [W]hen I hear people talk about Nordic fantasy as white supremacist, I like talking about the diverse ways the Vikings interacted with people around the world. They often intermarried local populations, they very quickly adopted local religions when it was useful. The Viking experience in Russia is really not the story they want to tell. You can try to make it that way, but the story in Russia is really state-building, collaboration with Slavic peoples, connections to the Eastern Mediterranean, both the Islamic and the Greek Orthodox world — and quite a diverse Islamic world at that. The story to me is that the greatest Nordic civilization is this wonderful Kievan polyglot, polyethnic society.

That’s not the story that the racists want to tell and they’re not gonna listen, but people asking “Is this true? Is their way the only way to do it?”, you can really work with that.

You can also tell the story of medieval democracy in Iceland, for instance, with a very non-authoritarian, collaborative element — where violence still played a very prominent role. I try to complicate this vision of Vikings as all about dominance and conquest.

Chu: It seems that we’re drawn to idealized versions of medieval times one way or another — some forms of fantasy that depict those times as a romantic ideal, a “simpler time” filled with pageantry and honor, and then Game of Thrones subversions that focus on rape and mutilation and horrible suffering, but rarely anything in between.

Perry: These are all things that tell us a lot more about ourselves than about the Middle Ages. Not that rape and torture didn’t happen in the Middle Ages, it certainly did, and not that it wasn’t responded to in ways that are different than ways we would respond to it today.

But, you know, we pick and choose, the creators pick and choose, they want to show something that will be disturbing or controversial or will be a political tool and they try to say history supports us in this. And then they throw in dragons and zombies and then they say that’s unrealistic but that’s okay, that’s just storytelling.

That comes back to what I try to say — it’s okay to draw from history, but history does not wholeheartedly support any one of these fictional depictions. These come from creators making choices. And the choices they make have consequences.

Comments on Open thread 208:
#1 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 12:45 PM:

I never expected to see the day when the Prime Minister of my country was involved in pig-fucking allegations (and a dead one at that), but this is apparently the world we live in now:


#2 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 01:10 PM:

My wife's comment about the movie "Wag the Dog" was that maybe they had it backwards - the Clinton sex scandal was being used to cover up how badly the war was going.

But hey, I guess the Conservatives are deciding that if Labour can suddenly have a new party leader, so can they.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 01:45 PM:

Meanwhile, meet Marvel Comics's newest writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates.

#5 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 01:58 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden@4: Oh, that's exciting! I really want to see how that turns out.

#6 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 02:08 PM:

Many more details about the 1648 Dutch bond I mentioned last week. I still think it's really cool that there's a 367-year-old financial instrument still paying interest—there's a paragraph about how they balance the requirements of archival storage with the fact that it's a bearer bond that has to be physically presented in the Netherlands—but it's not exactly the impression I had from the previous news pieces. (I had initially pictured someone at Yale suddenly saying, "Hey, I wonder if we can still collect the interest on this?")

#7 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 02:09 PM:

Rob Hansen @1, Bill Stewart @2: My initial though was that the story in the Sunday Times about a general threatening a coup if Corbyn got elected had people really rattled.

Oh, and while we're at it, #NotAllOldEtonians. Just saying.

#8 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 02:23 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden@4

I somehow managed to miss the announcement from Marvel :) It's great news. Of course just mentioning Brian Stelfreeze in passing is not the best way this article could have been written (as much as Coates is a celebrity writer and this is important news, Stelfreeze is one of the best comics artists working today and he had not done a big visible project for a while - and the fact that the two of them are headlining the new title is actually even better news than having Coates as the writer). I was curious at what Coates can achieve; with Stelfreeze as an artist, that should be awesome :)

#9 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 02:25 PM:

pnh@4: To anyone who follows Coates - as I know you do - it was almost inevitable that he would one day write a Marvel comic. I'm sure this will draw puzzled comments from some who see this as him slumming, but the man genuinely loves comics. It's kind of like Sir Ian McKellan appearing in a soap and on stage as the Widow Twankey in a pantomime. He, I'm sure, never saw this as slumming either, but as working with stuff he loves. If you're eminent enough to do so, why not? We should all be so lucky.

#10 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 02:41 PM:

Rob Hansen @1, Bill Stewart @2, praisegod barebones @7

'She said to us, as the campfire burned low...

"Of course, you realise they're all still out there? Older, stronger, richer and even more powerful, playing those same ugly twisted games. These days though...these days? Well...We're that pig."

And at that I could not help reach up to feel the bristles of my snout, as I peered out into the twilight suddenly searching for them.'

#11 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 02:49 PM:

I'm Icelandic, the old viking history and sagas are very close to my heart.

Seeing my history and culture appropriated by racist idiots makes my blood boil.

Things were far from perfect way back then obviously but it's much more complicated than just rarrr pillage, slaughter and raiding.

Women (as widows) could be heads of households, getting divorces was fairly straight forward, there was an interesting form of early democracy. Lots of poetry and stories and written down "how to adult" manuals with a very high value on travelling and learning. One of my favourite viking women ->

But yeah, the vikings were farmers and fishermen at home and they travelled very far and wide, sometimes peacefully, sometimes not.

#12 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 03:12 PM:

I don't see TNC writing for Marvel Comics as slumming - I see it as him finally getting to do something fun instead of having to be serious all the time. Not that he won't be awesome at it as well, and probably put some fairly deep content in there, but that's part of why it's cool to be able to write for Marvel.

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 03:20 PM:

I was struck by something Albatross said back at #629 in the previous thread:

A certain fraction of our conversations (us = the world, not so much us here on ML) are optimized for outrage-amplification and othering. ... 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.
There've been some interesting studies done on the health and social costs of long automobile commutes.

Outrage is a stimulant, an adrenaline high that mixes well with long commutes. Alertness goes up, pain goes down, focus sharpens. Discontents get relocated onto targets that aren't you and your life.

Right-wing news media and drive-time talk radio have fed and been fed by this. They also deal in self-pity, which IMO does for the post-adrenaline crash what outrage does on the upswing. The worldview expressed has gotten very unrealistic.

I've been thinking about this in connection with arguments over the Yugos. (You know -- those skiffy awards shaped like Soviet-era cars.) For me, one of the most disturbing things about the Mad Newts and Rapid Newts is their abandonment of the shared, externally verifiable universe. Their rhetoric is built around the emotional needs of the moment. They can shift from one scenario to a conflicting scenario within a single rant, apparently without noticing they've done it.

If their emotional comfort requires them to believe that Yugo outcomes don't reflect the real preferences of free-range individual boaters, or that the comprehensive repudiation of their Menominees in favor of Noah Ward represents some kind of victory, then they believe it, and adjust the rest of the narrative to match.

I'm also disturbed by how much permission they give themselves to hate real people they've arbitrarily identified with their invented and constantly reinvented adversaries.

I don't believe people have always worked this way, and that I'm only just now noticing it.

#14 ::: Scrabble ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 03:30 PM:

That is surprising. I would have expected that to be having a negative impact, on account of it being a distraction from the road. I was listening to an interview-podcast during one commute and reacted slowly to a traffic-light change because I was feeling quite indignant about the quality of the interview questions and was pondering the possibility of transcribing it myself so I could look at it as a whole and figure out solid objections (or at least why I was feeling so indignant).

#15 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 04:04 PM:

My recent experiences playing an online game have convinced me it's not my cup of tea, but I've begun wondering if among those who do enjoy such things, there might be a market for a game in which you play a 1930s housewife, and the objects are to accumulate social capital while balancing the family budget. One of the regular missions could be Going to the Movies -- this costs you ten cents, but nets you social-interaction points (because you can discuss the latest movies with your neighbours) and once a week, it also nets you dishes, which you can trade to accumulate sets (the trading also garners social-interaction points.)

I've also been trying to imagine how such a game could handle sex without being totally heteronormative -- maybe, within the game, consensual sex would boost your stats and those of your partner, but would carry the risk of Scandal (if same-sex, opposite sex using a condom, or unmarried) or Baby (if opposite sex, no condom.) Unmarried with Baby would carry an especially heavy Scandal penalty, married with baby would be socially ok, but you'd need to rebalance the family finances (and might lose all secondary income, to represent a wife having to quit her job once the first kid comes along.)

Problem is I basically know nothing about game mechanics, so I don't feel up to creating this.

#16 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 04:07 PM:

This is excessively brief, since I'm on the T home, but distraction and other attentional phenomena are a major topic of driving research... which, incidentally, is what I'm doing my postdoc on. More, if there's interest, after Yom Kippur.

#17 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 04:08 PM:

The Cameron story made me think immediately of this:

[L]egend has it that during one of Lyndon Johnson's congressional campaigns he decided to spread a rumor that his opponent was a pig-fucker. LBJ's campaign manager said, "Lyndon, you know he doesn't do that!" Johnson replied, "I know. I just want to make him deny it."

#18 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Teresa, #13: Tengentially related... Science fiction is the literature of ideas. It always has been. The notion that it's nothing but pulpy space opera is external, something said about SF by those who disliked it or didn't consider it "respectable" enough.

Scrabble, #14: It depends a lot on how well you can multi-task. I would have the same issue you do; I once missed a split on the Interstate while listening to an audiobook, and found myself 20 miles down the road in the wrong direction!

#19 ::: Scrabble ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 04:14 PM:

@Sarah E: The medium of games encompasses a vastly heterogeneous swathe of works. What you are describing sounds similar to some of the stuff that people are doing with _-management simulators, visual novels, and the like.

Someone who enjoys MMORPGs isn't necessarily going to enjoy the same things as someone who enjoys FPSes, or someone who enjoys parser-based interactive fiction, or someone who enjoys hyperlink-based IF, or someone who enjoys grand strategy games or... etc.

If you would like to try your hand at it, you might be interested in tools like Ren'py and Choicescript, which are geared more toward non-programmers and seem somewhat suited toward your idea. (Twine is especially beginner-friendly, but I am not sure it is an appropriate tool for this; others with more Twine experience might chime in here with corrections.)

#20 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 04:47 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 13:

I would be hesitant to say that people have not always worked that way (disclaimer: I am not a sociologist or anthropologist, nor do I play one on TV). I believe albatross has correctly identified whatever this is as "exploiting the bugs in the human brain", which means it's been there for a while.

My guess (again, IANASOA) would be that we're running up against human limitations in the ability to keep track of community in a world that isn't getting any smaller, combined with a world where we can choose[1] our communities without as much regard to geography. Whether karass, granfalloon, or something in between, there's something that defines in-group and out-group, even if it's simply that they're not, you know, those people over there.

Given that people have found some truly horrendous excuses to do abominable things to those people over there throughout history, and that many of them haven't always made a whole lot of sense, I'd say that, unfortunately, people have always worked that way. What's different now is the media saturation that lets us marinate in it and exploits us thereby, and the cheap, global communication that makes it easier to pick up a megaphone.

More later, if I can condense some of the mists of thought tickling the back of my brain.

[1] Sometimes consciously, as in deciding that Making Light is a really neat place or nodding along to talk radio in the car, sometimes more unconsciously, as in the background radiation of cultural narratives regarding race and gender.

Sarah E @ 15:

Just about anything can be gamified if done correctly. It's not for nothing that the Sims is one of the largest game franchises in the world, even though it's mostly about managing little people wandering around and interacting with each other. My go-to recommendation for a beginner's guide to what makes a game is Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design.

#21 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 05:08 PM:

I'm no admirer of David Cameron - far from it - but the pig story is unverified, reported at (at least) second hand by a former political fixer with a massive chip on his shoulder. I'm not inclined to take it seriously.

If I were really cynical (and I am often tempted), I'd suggest that it was deliberately allowed to appear, not as an attempted character assassination, but as an attempt to demonstrate that Cameron has a character worth assassinating....

#22 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 05:21 PM:

Teresa, the link between commute time and adrenaline-addiction talk radio is a fascinating idea!

For people expressing doubt that podcasts or talk radio could work that way, I would suggest that there are different modes of listening, that present very different cognitive loads.

On the one hand, you could listen to something very analytically, maybe even looking for flaws in it, and on the other hand you could listen to something that reinforces what you already know, and asks for much more emotional engagement than intellectual.

Personally, when I had a very long solo commute through heavy traffic, I found that listening to novels-on-CD didn't work very well, because I wanted to be able to remember what had happened and who the characters were, and I had a hard time doing that while navigating and paying attention to the vehicles around me. On the other hand, I can listen to an "alternative music" radio station's morning show, because I connect emotionally with the DJs (I've been listening to some of them off & on for 30 years), and if 5 minutes later I don't remember the details of something they've said, so what.

#23 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 05:33 PM:

Scrabble @#19 & KeithS @ #20: I think my problem is that the game I'm envisioning is a management simulator, which is a game genre I don't personally enjoy. Thanks for the link, though.

#24 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 05:47 PM:

[Deadlines have me too busy at present to keep up reading all the threads in time to comment in a timely manner, which I regret.]

Cadbury Moose @907/OT 207: Very pleased to hear you're okay now.

Terry Karney @908/OT 207: Oh yes, many times in the days after being told I could start weight bearing, I still found myself swinging along on good leg plus crutches, following the "keep the foot raised" habits of the previous seven weeks.

I do have an Aircast boot, had it since two week post-op* but it hurts me to wear it (I have a problem with allodynia - my body translates constant low grade pressure on my ankle bones or Achilles' tendon into pain) so I will probably try just about anything to avoid wearing that thing again. Thanks you for the pre-warning about heavy luggage, however.

*It didn't hurt any less than the cast, but unlike a cast I could take it off if my leg was elevated and supported. And I had a plate fitted, so it was only for protection, not to hold the bone in place.

#25 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 05:53 PM:

David Perry! His translated recipes have provided many moments of gustatory bliss to our SCA shire.

I agree wholeheartedly about the appropriation of the past. I think the best parts of the SCA are about the self-conscious editing of the past we recreate, where we acknowledge that there was a lot more squalor and bigotry than we choose to portray, then set it aside. I've given up on finding anything nearly as balanced in today's media.

Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series is a case in point. The books are the product of years of research and depict ordinary decent people, including a humanist born ahead of his time, trying to do the best they can in the context of their culture and of the civil war that is currently (in the books) ripping their country apart. There's some pretty brutal stuff in there--mobs, murders, depictions of horrific battlefield wounds--but there's plenty of kindness too, with moments of sheer joy. There are also at least two unmistakable miracles.

So of course when they were brought to the screen the plots had to be rewritten to--well, here, have The Pilgrim of Hate:

BOOK: Joyous religious procession to honor local saint. Sunny day, flowers, singing.
MOVIE: Near-riot in the dark with torches and random piles of straw-covered junk to show that it's the Middle Ages.

BOOK: Some of the pilgrims who come to be healed at the saint's altar are probably hypochondriacs or faking it so they can go home with a miracle story, but one kid who arrived with his sister, is clearly disabled with an obvious malformation of his leg. He is healed in the sight of all in an indisputable miracle.
MOVIE: She's not his sister and he's a con man with a taste for whipping up religious riots.

BOOK: Also on pilgrimage is a man wearing a heavy cross on a thin cord, doing penance by traveling from shrine to shrine on foot with a devoted assistant standing by. Actually he's a murderer who thought he was doing his overlord a good turn. He was set this penance by a bishop in lieu of a court trial. The apparently devoted assistant is the pilgrim of hate: he is waiting for him to take the cross off because the moment he does his life is forfeit.
MOVIE: They're brothers and the victim is their father. The assistant is the murderer, a violent religious fanatic (gee I sense a theme) who choked their father with a rosary, a fact discovered when the monks boil down the victim's corpse and pull off the flesh with hooks (WHAT THE EVERLOVING WHAT). The assistant has fooled the penitent into thinking that he, the penitent, is the murderer--that a fight he had with their father just previous to his death actually killed him.

BOOK: Bandits who arrived disguised as pilgrims menace the eponymous pilgrim of hate and the guy with the cross. Saving the murderer's life, the pilgrim of hate realizes that his journey of hatred is a waste and lets the murderer go on his way.
MOVIE: I dunno, just lots of dying and killing.

BOOK: Someone Brother Cadfael loves very much is involved in making sure that all ends as well as it can. He regards this person's presence as a blessing from his personal saint.
MOVIE: Ha! Not a chance.

I don't watch or read much medieval-themed stuff (other than Peters' later Brother Cadfael books) that was made after, say, Ladyhawke, because it's all either awfully pretty or, well, the above.

#26 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 06:48 PM:

Jenny Islander @ #25: There are also at least two unmistakable miracles.

It's been a while since I read most of the books in the series, and I only remember having noticed one, which is the one in The Pilgrim of Hate that you mention later in your comment. What's the other one?

#27 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 07:34 PM:

Shopping and cognitive load-- this could be gamified at various levels of difficulty.

#28 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:03 PM:

KeithS @20: The Sims is basically a dollhouse, only with some limited AI adding personalities to your dolls, and missions/high scores as well. I recognized that this was one of the "fun"s I was getting out of playing it after finding out how many people were writing little micro fictions explaining and dramatizing all the randomness that happened in their Sims family's life.

#29 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:25 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #27: Oh hell yes -- cognitive load is a dominating factor in my shopping habits. There are stores I actively cringe from because their environment increases my load, either by sensory overload or by product-placement games.

And CL is probably the big reason why I'm currently accumulating a list of "stuff to buy online", but haven't done it yet, because vetting and exploring a new site is always high-load for me, and life over the last few weeks has been keeping medangerously close to my overload threshold.

#30 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:36 PM:

I just found out, courtesy of Nancy Lebovitz, that I cannot read yellow words on a purple background.

I'm amazed that anyone can.

#31 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:46 PM:

@Paul A. no. 26: They try the sortes Biblicae and the pages do something that is not physically possible.

#32 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:51 PM:

@David Harmon no. 29: I keep running into stuff I didn't know was in my local Wal-Mart because my job requires me to walk a lot of aisles that I avoid when shopping. I did one massive "Here's what I need, here's where I think it is, if it's there I'll write down the cost, now GET ME OUTTA HERE" run back when the store opened; now I go through the place as fast as I can on shopping day, purchasing as much as possible elsewhere if the price is better. And it's a small Wal-Mart.

#33 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 08:58 PM:

Lizzy L. @30: Interesting. That looks like maroon and gold to me, which is pretty close to what used to be recommended (back in the VGA days) as the optimal reducing-eyestrain combination.

Admittedly, the font sizes ("font", ha ha) were much larger then, because so were the pixels.

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 09:05 PM:

RE commute time and talk radio:

My commute is ten minutes. Which may explain my liberal views and why I'm staying with my current employer even though my new assignment is a total sweatshop bummer.

@Sarah E#15: I jotted down notes for a game where you inherit (or win, or discover) a Roadside Attraction, which you are challenged to make money off of. You need to deal with parking, whether to make souvenirs or ran a snack stand, etcetera.

But I don't know the slightest thing about developing for graphical platforms such as tablets and the like.

#35 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 09:18 PM:

My apologies-- I read livejournal in my preferred style, which is black on white with purple dividers.

I don't know what the best solution is if you don't have a livejournal account, but Select All (CNRL-A) is more tolerable for me than siderea's color choice.

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 09:20 PM:

Wandering around from KeithS #20's link, I stumbled across this amazing thing:

And Then We Held Hands...

This is a non-verbal cooperative game about emotional negotiation/communication. It apparently started as a print-and-play thing, but there is a Kickstarter for a new physical version. There is no question of the game not actually being produced, (it is already fivefold overfunded), but apparently future distribution may be an issue due to its non-typical nature.

Contributing to the Kickstarter gets you a copy of the game (and optionally a music track) at the end of the Kickstarter, which is September 29 (7 days from now).

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 11:09 PM:

What I remember being recommended was amber (orange-gold) on black, back in the days before Windows and color. I had an amber monitor for several years, and it was fine for my eyes.

#38 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 11:09 PM:

About talk radio - how big is the audience really? I suspect that at most 20 million listen regularly to the Limbaugh/Hannity shtick, and the demographics are largely old, white, and diminishing. Is it an influence? Sure. But I don't lose sleep over it.

#39 ::: Priscilla King ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2015, 11:41 PM:

@Rob Hansen #1: Courage...I'm sure worse things were said about Disraeli. Only not in "polite" company.

#40 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:25 AM:

OT (in an Open Thread?)

Nancy L: I need a button which says, "wanna buy some yarn".

#41 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:35 AM:

I've thought about getting into SCA but the problem I run into is twofold: How to cosplay as a medieval Jew? And how to deal with the things people said when I told them what I was trying to do?

I solve both problems by not doing any sort of re-enactment. I wouldn't do well in the past, anyway.

Working-class steampunk, now... that could be interesting. And I'm liking what I'm hearing about solarpunk; with any luck I'll find a buyer for my solarpunk story soon.

#42 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 05:26 AM:

Sarah @ #41:

For the first, I have seen it done (back when Nordmark was a barony), but that was someone cosplaying as (well, someone whose persona was) a medieval male Jew, I don't know how severe the differences would be for a female Jew.

For the second, I have no answer.

#43 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 06:40 AM:

'Happy Birthday To You' ruled as public domain. Thanks to XKCD for the tip-off.

#44 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 08:11 AM:

I grieve for the conflict between reenactment and LARP. In larp circles, it's mainly a cultural distaste and a sense of aggrieved inferiority - those people insist upon in-character underwear and then they talk about the football, how dare they sneer at us. I'm not sure how much actual sneering there is, from the reenactment side, but anecdotally I have encountered that sense that we are just not doing it right. We don't use real weapons, so we aren't strong enough or serious enough and people who shouldn't win (small, female, unfit, untrained) can win fights. Somehow those conversations always focus on the fighting, with a side order of costume authenticity.

They're clearly different hobbies. Larp is focused on the roleplay, on the creation of new stories, and the parts of the hobby I'm involved with have a strong emphasis on maintaining character. One does not talk about the football. One does not make Star Trek jokes. One feels rather awkward mentioning the stirling with which one buys lunch, because "money", unspecified, means rings, crowns and thrones.
Which also means that you can create a setting that does not contain common real-world concepts such as gender-based division of roles, and reasonably require people to go along with that. It's not an instant solution, because sexism is the water we soak in, and we carry it with us into games. It's not easy to remove gender roles from everything you say and do. But it's reasonable to expect you to try.

What I find particularly interesting is how this interacts with the emphasis on remaining in-character. Writing sexism out of the setting means that objections to in-game sexism aren't based on morality, but on something closer to good taste. Dropping character to talk about "men" when you mean "troops" is crass, and we are embarrassed by you. Describing something as "women's chain" is a faux pas, and some nice person will helpfully suggest other terms you might use for light mail.
Most of these helpful people will regard the excluded concepts as undesirable in real life, which is why we'll fight hard to actually get our non-gendered medieval setting. But the setting gives us a trump card. If you're sexist in-game, you are provably doing it wrong.

#45 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 08:47 AM:

Jews in the SCA-- positive account in the mainstream press.

Sarah, if you don't mind, what did people say to you?

#46 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 09:21 AM:

Sarah @41, peripheral to your comment, but I remember, years ago, a coworker going to Medieval Times, a fake-Medieval banquet house with jousting-as-entertainment.

Him: "I so want to go back to the Middle Ages!"

Me: "No you don't." Explain at length about sanitation, fleas, food scarcity, serfdom, lack of plumbing, etc.

Him: "Oh, I'd be a lord!"

Me: "Danny, you're Jewish."

Him: "So what?"

Me: "There were no Jewish lords." Explain at length about the life of Jews in Middle Ages Europe, including pograms, restrictions, ghettos...

Him: Oh. (Then he spent a little time trying to handwave it away.)

I almost felt sorry about bursting his bubble. But honestly, I was amazed at how utterly clueless he was about the precarious position of Jews in medieval society. Even privileged, high-status Jews, like doctors.

#47 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 09:50 AM:

Our local con used to have a nicely outfitted Zouave every year in the costume contest. One year, though, he gave it a fantasy spin by being a Zouave inexplicably transported into our time! He conveyed this by looking about himself in amazement, as the MC helpfully explained the setup.

I expect the SCA has rules against time travelers, and that it's based on past experiences.

#48 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 10:00 AM:

Kip @ 47. Time travellers strictly cash.

#49 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 10:01 AM:

Kip @47 Time travellers strictly cash.

(Hope this isn't double-posting, as I just received the dreaded Internal Server Error. Or perhaps a non-cash-carrying time traveller.)

#50 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 10:21 AM:

As I understand it, the SCA substitutes space for time. People from a range of eras mingle, and if someone's customs don't make sense, it's because they're a far traveler.

#51 ::: errhead ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 10:34 AM:

I thought some people here might be interested in the EPH calculator and slate simulator web app I put up at

#52 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 10:55 AM:

Nancy@45: I was going to talk about my friend with the Jewish persona ... and she's actually quoted in that article!

I am greatly pleased.

#53 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 11:29 AM:

KiethS @ #20 and Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 13:

I have to agree with KiethS. Humans have always been capable of Outrage As A Stimulant and of the piling on and topic switching in mid-debate and all of that.

In the past, all of that got tucked under the banner of lynch mobs, posses, vigilante justice, and etc. The speakers and actors also had to live within a mostly fixed community where their past actions were remembered forever by the people around them. "To Kill A Mocking Bird" comes to mind as a good fiction example. It also shows why Outrage As A Stimulant was always short lived. Even in a largely homogeneous group, there are dissenters and outliers and people who feel obligated to say "Wait a minute," and accept the brief but very important role as The Voice Of Sanity And Reason. (or, more importantly, as the voice who yells "Will You Just Shut Up Already!?!")

What has changed and is still continuing to change is how we organize ourselves into communities. I belong to six: residential (I'm a commuter), work, social, familial, fannish, and virtual. There is some Venn-ish overlap in some of the communities, but only some. I've seen Outrage As A Stimulant happen in all of them.

My virtual community is the only place where I see it happen unchecked. It's very easy to "move" from location to location pitching your tent until you find a place and a people among which you want to homestead in a Birds-and-Feathers operational way. I've also seen virtual communities drive off people who tried to be The Voice of Sanity And Reason. Sometimes it was for trollish behavior, other times it was through well-meant dog-piling. In every instance, The Voice Of Sanity And Reason that would have short circuited the feedback loop that drives the Outrage As A Stimulant had no incentive to stay and perform their duties. John Scalzi is perceived by a lot of virtual community residents to be a heavy-hitter among The Voice Of Sanity And Reason cadre. That is why he occasionally posts the "It's not my job to comment on your issues" entry on his blog. People who have failed in curbing their local outrage, want him to wield his Mallet of Loving Correction on their behalf.

On the internet there is no fiscal cost to leaving toxic groups who live on Outrage As A Stimulant. (Or in muting or blocking them as Scalzi does). In addition to the lack of cost, there is also a positive emotional benefit to avoiding the Sturm und Drang involved in whipping up a whole community into Stimulated Outrage.

#54 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 11:42 AM:

Nancy, #45: Fascinating link! Thank you for posting it.

#55 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 01:09 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #45: I especially liked: King Cariadoc of the East became arguably the first king in history to declare war against himself, accept the challenge and lose.

#56 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 01:14 PM:

Also, Sandy B. #52: If that's "Saarah bint Ishaq", she's local to me! (I live in Charlottesville)

#57 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 01:17 PM:

@Nancy Lebovitz no. 50: Yep! The sheer vastness and sensawunda of the medieval and Renaissance world allows for two people to meet across 500 years' difference and treat each other as peculiar foreigners from opposite ends of the Earth.

My homeschoolers are studying the early (that is, Renaissance) Spanish exploration of North America: naming the West Coast after a fictional country in a printed novel on one hand, and on the other spending their own and others' lives in the search for cities of gold from medieval legends in old handwritten manuscripts...

#58 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 01:28 PM:

Sarah @41: If you're still interested in poking at the topic, it looks like Eleazar ha-Levi, mentioned in Nancy Lebovitz's link, has written a number of articles on the topic. I'm not sure about the KWHSS stuff, but back issues of Compleat Anachronist and Tournaments Illuminated can be ordered here, and have often been made available online for free SOMEWHERE.

#59 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 01:41 PM:

Annie Y. @8: Got art recommendations for Stelfreeze books? I am still enough of a novice to comics fandom (and he's not been in the same corner of Marvel I've been reading, I guess?) that his name rings no bells. I think the household subscription to Marvel Unlimited is still active, so I can go a ways back in the archives without relying on local comics stores' inventories.

#60 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 01:47 PM:

(and I just realized that handwritten manuscript is redundant argh)

ANyway, I've been told that at least one SCA war involves real-world rabbis laying out special markers--I forget the proper name--to show that the minimal walking around one is supposed to do on the Sabbath in that branch of Judaism coincides with the boundaries of the event site. IOW, having fun at War is not profaning the Sabbath.

#61 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 02:16 PM:

@60 It's my understanding that having fun is never profaning the Sabbath (I'm not exactly traditional, of course).

@ the rest... ok, right now I'm broke and living in a strange city with no job and soon no place to live. SCA is not happening.

But when I was less unsettled, I discussed the topic with friends and got variations on either "There weren't Jews in the relevant places/times" or "Why do you have to be a Jew?" with a side of "Interesting project; too bad there's no records."

Those were people who were inclined to be sympathetic. I then extrapolated those reactions to the people I'd met, the ones who insist on using Nazi symbols because something something Nordic heritage... and I decided that I had better things to do.

Was I wrong? Maybe. Can I go back and change it? No.

#62 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:30 PM:

Update on "And Then We Held Hands...": The overwhelming response has accounted for their entire first printing. They've ordered a second printing, which they expect to ship at worst by January.

#63 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:37 PM:

Just lost my cat; still in shock. Jack was at the vet where they were hydrating him before trying to put in a feeding tube, but didn't make it. Cancer. So sudden; he was the middle-aged healthy-looking cat. If it had been the older one, we'd be sad but not shocked.

#64 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Sympathies, Bill.

#65 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:50 PM:

Bill Stewart #63: My condolences. And surprise does make it worse, I've been there.

#66 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:57 PM:

Bill Stewart, my sympathies.

#67 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Bill Stewart -- my sympathies.

#68 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 04:00 PM:

Bill, that's awful. Sincere sympathies.

#69 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 04:09 PM:

Bill S., #63: My condolences on your loss. It's never easy, and worse when it happens so unexpectedly.

#70 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 05:07 PM:

Bill, BTDT -- it never gets easier, and I wasn't ready to let mine go either...


#71 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 05:07 PM:

Bill Stewart, sympathies.

#72 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 05:27 PM:

Sympathy, Bill Stewart -- we've lost two cats in the last few years to cancer (large cell lymphoma) and it isn't fun. One of them responded to chemo, the other didn't; the one who didn't, didn't live much more than a week after diagnosis.

#73 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 06:13 PM:

Adding to the sympathy wishes.

#74 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Re the sidebar item announcing a gated community called Eloi --

I thought the Eloi lived in the Plaza Hotel.

#75 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Regarding Jews in the SCA and/or middle ages, I just found out that an old friend of mine is planning on running for crown consort in his kingdom next year. If his Champion wins the tournament, then he will be using his Jewish persona, as there was a medieval nomadic kingdom that (a) had a diarchy, with two kings reigning at once, and (b) was Jewish.

#76 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 07:18 PM:

@Sarah no. 61: I think the issue at hand was that to do anything at a major SCA camping event you have to walk, walk, walk.* Privies are this way, potable water is that way, and classes are over yonder. It starts to feel kind of like, well, work.

Sorry people were so offputting! Unfortunately the quality of the local SCA chapter depends in large part on whether the participants like to read or not. If you are interested in getting involved in a low-key, local (=cheap) way, check out the massive archive at florilegium dot org for years of conversations, articles, and primary-source documentation on, well, pretty much anything of interest to the Society. Material on Jewish life is behind the Cultures link. It isn't an encyclopedia, but it is a good jumping-off point.

*Or use a mobility device. Possibly decorated with the kinds of things your persona would have hung on a mobility device if there had been such things in period. Wheelchairs OF THE MONGOL HORDE!

#77 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 08:18 PM:

Buddha Buck @75, sounds fascinating! Can you tell us more?

#78 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 08:28 PM:

wrw @ 59

He had done a lot of covers through the years and not so many full comics(he did all of the art for the The Demon and Cat Woman in Wednesdays comics a few years ago for example and back in the days he did Domino for Marvel (2003 or thereabouts - the first time I noticed him as an artist was with this series); these days he is working on something for Boom Studio that I do not read). Which is why I am happy to see him getting a project like this one - he is one of those guys I see the name of often but never attached to a big project for long.

PS: See if something here rings a bell.

#79 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Annie Y @ 78: Thanks much. That's a lot of DC, and not much recent Marvel, and none of the Vertigo stuff that I've actually read, which explains why I've never heard of him before. His covers look neat, and if he draws Black Panther similarly to how he draws Batman I'm pretty sure I'm on board for the art as well as the writing.

#80 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 09:11 PM:

@Bill Stewart: So sorry to hear the news. Been there, last spring, with my dog.

#81 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 09:31 PM:

Cassey @77: No ;-)

The nomadic group who his persona is from is the Khazars, and pretty much all I know of them is from the liked Wikipedia article.

#82 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 10:19 PM:

Bill: I'm sorry for your loss.

#83 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2015, 11:37 PM:

Proposed: That one debate on both the Republican and Democratic side be devoted to having candidates answer the U.S. Citizenship Test Civics Questions. It seems only fair that anyone who is running for President be required to demonstrate the same level of knowledge about our country and its government that we require of people who are applying to become citizens.

Now, let's make it interesting. Do it quiz-show style! Each candidate has a podium with a screen and 4 buttons. The screens show each question and its possible answers in turn, mirrored on a large overhead screen facing the audience. When all candidates have made their choices, the correct answer is highlighted on the screen, and the front of each podium lights up green or red, for a right answer or a wrong one -- with a running score at the top.

Bonus: This can be made to provide a handy checklist against which to compare candidates' later campaign statements. If a candidate answers a question correctly in the debate test but later says something contradictory to it, someone needs to ask why! And if any candidate can't score at least 90% on this test (because I've looked at it, and those are easy questions for the most part), then we should seriously question their qualification to be running at all.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 01:13 AM:

I like that, Lee!

#85 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 01:21 AM:

Oh yeah!
(If they're missing stuff that they should have learned in eighth grade, the question is why do they not know this?)

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 02:17 AM:

The link I gave @83 only gives you 24 questions out of about 100 possible ones. This link goes to a more-comprehensive set.

#87 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 05:19 AM:

I went through the citizenship questions when my wife was studying them a couple years back. IIRC, with no prep I got about high 80s of them correct out of the 100. (disregarding snarky answers like "a damn good idea" for the question "What is the rule of law"). She got about 60% correct never having taken any american civics.

Most of them are really not hard, there are some having to do with dates that could get confused, and there are some questions where the answers change with the elections, appointments, and State of the respondent.

I would expect that someone who was running for president should be able to answer them all with a little prep, even under pressure.

#88 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:25 AM:

The audience of such a debate might learn something.

#89 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:28 AM:

Jennie Breeden's con taxonomy.

Off too the airport RSN.

#90 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:38 AM:

I was just informed that my sister passed away last night.

#91 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Jeff, <hugs> there are no words.

#92 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:52 AM:

Jeff, so sorry.

#93 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:54 AM:

Jeff, I'm so sorry for your loss.

#94 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 09:08 AM:

Jeff, I'm sorry for your loss.

#96 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 10:29 AM:

((HUGS)) Jeff.

#97 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Jeff@90: I'm so sorry.

#98 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 11:33 AM:

Jeff, my condolences. I'm sorry for your loss.

#99 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 11:54 AM:

Victoria @ 53 (&prev): would people in the past have lived the sort of semi-perpetual outrage that we see now, given the same stimuli? Huck Finn's father is a good example of unthinking outrage from over a century ago, but he was a social extreme. Or has such outrage gradually seeped into mainstream culture? (e.g., is it a habit the current generations picked up in their youth?) Or is it a reflection of increased leisure, such that people have more time to fritter away on stack-blowing?
      I'm reminded of the big fuss a couple of decades ago over the essay "Bowling Alone", which argued that people were not making ]personal networks[ as in the past, to their and society's detriment. If the argument was correct, outrage may have been a somewhat-predictable outcome of online access; I wonder how Putnam looks on the kind of common-view communities that have sprung up on the net? (cf Christopher Anvil's be-careful-what-you-wish-for story "Gadget Versus Trend".)

The article on the SCA is fascinating, even where it adds a layer of error to existing legends[1] rather than just making up its own[2] or using very debatable terms[3].

Jenny @ 76: I think reading isn't the only differentiator -- but certainly baronies/shires can vary widely. (Someone formerly of my area complained that in her new home everyone was focused on awards....)

Lee @ 86: fascinating. I got 96/97 and would have ... issues ... with a teacher who asked the one I missed (on Selective Service) as the answers were badly phrased -- but so were many of the others. (In my mind's ear my mother, who taught U.S. history for 20 years, was indignant about several of them.) I definitely agree on making all the candidates answer the test in public, in real time; it would be fascinating both to expose the candidates' ignorance and/or lies and (perhaps) to make clear to certain parties (see "outrage" up-thread) that all of the candidates are more knowledgeable than their average voter, despite any pretensions to folksiness.
      OTOH, I wonder whether there's any mechanism to make sure that the would-be citizens this test is sprung on get a variety of topics, instead of a random draw that gives them oversize chunks of history or geography. (IMO, none of those questions are as important as the ones about governance now.)

[1] Cariadoc, knowing that a war arrow was used to summon vassal lords, would not have broken it; the story I heard was that it was broken by the originally-challenged king, who didn't know this.

[2] The Midrealm was the 3rd kingdom. This would have been trivial to check.

[3] "taxes".

#100 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 12:13 PM:

In #60, Jenny Islander writes parenthetically:

(and I just realized that handwritten manuscript is redundant argh)

Browsing movie descriptions, I just came across Survivor, in which a character

...finds herself framed for crimes she didn't commit and racing to elude assassins while trying to clear her name and stop a large scale terrorist attack set for New Years Eve.

Crimes you didn't commit are the very best kinds of crimes to get framed for.

Anyway, on second thought, is it completely incorrect to refer to a "typewritten manuscript" or a "laser-printed manuscript?"

If so, what is a better term for a typewritten draft of a novel?

If not, then "handwritten manuscript" does convey meaningful information.

#101 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 12:35 PM:

Jeff @ 90

I am so sorry for your loss

#102 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 01:25 PM:


That's a huge loss to bear. I'm sorry for you.

#103 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 02:32 PM:

Wendi Iserman, (probably best known in fandom as a huckster, her business
was Regal Pewter), died yesterday from cancer.

There's information and tributes at Wendi's wife. Sheila
Iserman, posted some of the last updates.

No funeral is planned, but there will be a gathering of friends-- date to
be announced.

There's more to be said, but I'm remembering Wendi as a remarkably descent

Wendi was assigned male at birth, so you might remember her as Bill Iserman.

#104 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 02:39 PM:

Jeff: I'm so sorry.

#105 ::: Raskos ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 02:41 PM:

I believe that "holograph manuscript" is the term for an ms. that is written out by hand, although to my modern sensibilities this has a flickery 3-D sound to it.

#106 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Jeff: My condolences.

#107 ::: tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 03:23 PM:

CHip #99: and [4] conflating two SCA figures. The SCA's first knight was David Bradley (MZB's oldest son).

#108 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Bill Higgins @100:

Police departments do frame guilty people: sometimes the police think they know who did it, so they plant evidence, lie on the stand, etc., because their reason for suspecting someone is that the person has a history of similar crimes, and was in the right general area on the 12th, which isn't proof, but "Detective So-and-so saw him leaving the building carrying a box" might convince a jury.

#109 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 04:16 PM:

Bill Higgins @100 >> If so, what is a better term for a typewritten draft of a novel?

I have seen the word "typescript". I don't know how widely used it is, or was. Google isn't very helpful because there is a commercial software product by the same name.

#110 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 04:17 PM:

Jeff: I'm sorry for your loss.

#111 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 05:36 PM:

Target just flunked basic biology. Someone needs to tell them that spiders don't have bones.

#112 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 05:36 PM:

Vicki #108: And then you have messes like the O.J. Simpson case. My father (a lawyer) commented that the prosecutor there blew his case by framing a guilty man.

#113 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 06:11 PM:

Condolences to Jeff.

#114 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 06:19 PM:

Mary Aileen @111: Spiders may not have bones, but they do have a skeleton: an exoskeleton, like other arthropods. And that really does look like a reasonable version (bleached, of course) of the exoskeleton of a spider. On that level, I think they get a pass on that one.

Nowhere on the Target ad do they mention bones.

#115 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 06:47 PM:

David Harmon @ #112: And then there's the occasional mystery novel where the murder frames themself, as a double bluff.

#116 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 07:25 PM:

CHip @ 99

Would people in the past have lived the sort of semi-perpetual outrage that we see now, given the same stimuli?

I don't know how retrievable the "semi-perpetual" aspect is from the historic record, but take a look at the long history of sermons against a vast array of social behaviors and you'll see a lot of really pointless outrage against in still-familiar categories such as "WTF are kids wearing these days?", slut-shaming, "God hates [insert hated category", and so on. For the casual reader, English sermons of the 16-17th century are probably most accessible. I don't mean to pick on religion as a source of outrage in particular, because most of the concerns weren't anything to do with dogma, but simply reflected the pervasiveness with which religion was used as a basis of social enforcement at the time.

#117 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Tom Whitmore (114): The picture looks a lot more reasonable than the actual item. (I saw it in the store first, then looked online.)

#118 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 07:57 PM:

Tom (114)/Me (117): Unless you're telling me that spider exoskeletons look like a backbone and ribs, in which case I'm just wrong.

#119 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:10 PM:

#116 ::: Heather Rose Jones

Very good point.

#120 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:37 PM:

Jenny Islander @60, Bill Higgins @100, Raskos @105, Bruce H. @109:

The manu in manuscript has gone the same way as the manu in manufacture. In common usage, to my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with a manuscript which is not written by hand.

#121 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 08:43 PM:

Thanks, everybody, for the condolences.

#122 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 10:11 PM:

Another view of that spider skeleton, showing the ribs(?!?).

#123 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 10:31 PM:

Mary Aileen @111, Tom Whitmore @114, Jeremy Leader @122: But you can just see the design meeting at the injection-molded-plastic-novelty company, though.

L: "Hey, Chris."

C: "Hi, Les."

L: "Halloween's coming."

C: "Yeah. Same old, same old. We really need something new to juice sales."

L: "Something scary, but innovative. Not too gross. What's scary? Skeletons, witches, black cats, broken mirrors, tests you haven't studied for, spiders, dental work, mortgages, tombstones, impending unemployment …"

C: "Wait a minute, Les, go back."

L: "Tests you haven't studied for? Kind of hard to get that across in a six inch novelty--"

C: "No, no. Skeletons. AND spiders! A spider skeleton! What's scarier than an effing spider skeleton?"

L: "Chris. I hate to break it to you, but spiders are invertebrates. I remember it distinctly from second-grade science. The part of the spider you can see already IS their skeleton."

C: "No, not the SPIDER's skeleton, a spider MADE of skeleton! Like, Halloween skellingtons. Hey, HR Giger wired together a buttload of chicken bones and painted them black to make the monsters from Alien, we can get the art guys to sculpt together a patchworked necromantic spider made of bones! BOOM, ten percent jump in corner drugstore seasonal aisle sales, here we come."

L: "I feel dirty, man. If you can't rely on your cheap holiday decorations to have at least a basic modicum of biological realism, what has our world even come to?"

C: "Oh, go soak your head. Get a coffee and come back. I need you to help me work out how big we can make the giant inflatable cat and still have it fit between the majority of store shelving units and their ceilings."

#124 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2015, 10:38 PM:

True, it's not unlike one of Giger's horrors. And that idea of the discussion at the novelty company is ... disturbingly plausible.

#125 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 12:02 AM:

Oh, shpx vg gb uryy, I am so overdue for a career change. I could continue to enjoy a very good salary and benefits and a short commute, but now working in a high-pressure software sweatshop situation on a project I care nothing about.

Is it unrealistic to consider changing to doing something vaguely creative in one's mid 50s?

Especially considering I . . . I don't have a bliss to follow?

#126 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 12:10 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 125 -

I hate to say "that depends", but you need to factor in your financial situation, the duration of the project, and other the feelings of those close to you. You're in your prime earning years, so that can affect when you segue into retirement.

OTOH, only you know where the shoe pinches.

#127 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 12:24 AM:

Stefan Jones: I'm the wrong person to ask, as I've gone from one low-paying but interesting job to another throughout my life. Deciding early not to have kids made this somewhat possible. Being lucky in the birth lottery helped. And I switched from running a bookstore to massage therapy in my mid-40s; I still keep my hand in with books, though.

One of the best pieces of advice for managing one's life is: be in the process of creating what you want to see in the world. Life is a process, not a result. Results are frequently not what I expected; in the long run, they are usually much more interesting than I thought at the time.

#128 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 12:47 AM:

Jeff, Bill, Condolence.

#129 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 12:54 AM:

re OJ: If he did it* the evidence is such that it's almost impossible to accept he acted alone. The blood spatter shows that Goldman stood completely still while Brown-Simpson was killed. He also had "restraint wounds"** on his neck.

Reading the autopsy, and comparing what it says of the timeline for what happened against the physical circumstance of the crime scene would require Goldman to have stood stock still for more than a minute, with easy escape to hand, and then not move when the killer came to him.

So yes, it's possible OJ was involved, but not plausible he was the only person who took part in the murders. That, as much as anything else, is why the jury acquitted (and the foreperson of the jury had served a murder trial once before; where the reversed the not-guilty of the other jurors and so that defendant was convicted).

*which I cannot say to either side

** small wounds, from someone holding the point of a knife to his skin

#130 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 01:00 AM:

Stefan: I'm sort of with Tom. I've been lucky, in that friends and partners have (with the, unpredictable, help of family on occasion) meant that I have only once been close to truly desperate.

So I've been able to "follow my bliss" (for certain values of bliss). It's not been without cost (both fiscal and emotional), but (assuming you are not at risk of grave disruption) I would say that, if you can afford the risk/can stomach a return to the "grind" which is presently oppressing you, taking the plunge to something which is more likely to be emotionally satisfying is what I'd recommend.

#131 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 01:37 AM:

The two complexities I'm facing: My new assignment -- involuntary, take it or walk -- uses none of my existing coding or OS skills or industry experience. No one on my new team knows what I've done; I'm just the new QA guy. It's . . . depersonalizing. I know change is inevitable, but to be in the same office where we made custom computer hardware and operating systems and file systems, and now have nothing left to test but an utterly banal web application . . . sigh?

The other: I'm the well-paid successful sibling who will be the one who Helps Out. I've already lent money, given money for tuition, bought computers.

If I stuck with my current gig for four more years I would be in excellent shape to retire, but I'm not sure what would be left of me after that many years of the Agile Development grind.

#132 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 01:49 AM:

(and I'm sorry for whining like this when someone has lost a sibling, and a beloved pet.)

#133 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 02:07 AM:

Stefan Jones @131

You never know when a job that you do not seem to like will turn into something unexpectedly good. 10 years ago I started working for my current company as a developer and expected that I will be bored within months - it did not sound that interesting. Fast forward 10 years and I am still working for them, my job description changed a lot (mainly because I volunteered to do some things when noone else wanted and they kinda led to me becoming the person to do the next things that everyone wanted but could not do) and I even ended up in a different country. At the same time my dream job (the one before this one) ended up with me in a nervous breakdown contemplating major change in my career and the job itself ended up badly to say the least. So you never know.

Now I will be the first to admit that I do not have as much life experience as you do and that at some point almost nothing can surprise you but still... Up to you at the end of the day but I'd give the job a chance at least for a while if I was you. Find something else to do outside of work in the meantime... But if it is really bad and you can afford it, start something new - why not - 50 is the new 30, right? :) Good luck whatever you decide to do.

PS: And Agile Development is an invention of the dark forces. I do not care what stats managers keeps showing, it is just too... impersonal for my taste.

#134 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 02:07 AM:

Re: the kickoff topic: a while ago I read a fairly dry historical account of the failure of the Viking Greenland colony which asserted that one of the reasons the colony failed was that the Greenlanders where racists who couldn't bring themselves to trade with, let alone integrate with, the Inuit. This isn't at all inconsistent with the idea that Viking culture was fairly accepting as a rule; after all, the Greenland colony was composed mostly of political exiles, and led by an accused murderer (even by the loose standards for homicide at the time).

#135 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:41 AM:

On the original topic, I was reminded of Rosemary Sutcliff's Blood Feud, which involves Vikings, raids on England, Constantinople (including the Hagia Sophia), Kiev, and intermarriage.

#136 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 08:28 AM:

Jeff@90, sorry for your loss.

#137 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 08:29 AM:

Wondermark on nostalgia for fauxtopia

#138 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 10:37 AM:

The slides from this talk are absolutely fascinating. It's a talk about the advertising ecosystem, ad blockers, and privacy at first, but then segues into some bigger social questions about ceding lots of power over the shape fo the world to silicon valley entrepreneurs. Strongly recommended.

#139 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 11:09 AM:

Bill and Jeff: My condolences.

#140 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 12:06 PM:

I've been kicking around a poem pastiche for a while, and I think I'm not going to get any furtherer with it; the later verses don't goose my muse the way the start did.

But I figured I might as well share it. Original inspiration here, by Jenny Joseph; an excerpt of her poem "Warning" that is usually called (in excerpted form) "When I Am Old" or similar. It serves as founding inspiration for the Red Hat Society.

I was prompted to write this by conversations I've had with well-meaning friends who say things that reveal more about their assumptions about the "proper" ways to do masculinity than any actual universal social truths.

I said to at least one of them, "Yeah, well, if becoming a man means I can never wear sparkly purple shirts again you can keep it." Because that's the kind of queer I am. :->

Anyway. Poem:

When I am an old man, I shall still wear purple
With a shiny red tie that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on bright dyes and sparkly shoes
And knitting yarn, and say I've no interest in football.
I shall break into song when I've a mind
And fuss with my hair and advise youths on clothes
And wave my stick about as I badly pretend to be Gene Kelly.
I shall go out half-naked in the rain
And cultivate flowers in my friends' gardens
And learn to draw.

#141 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 02:28 PM:

Terry Karney @129 -- Re: OJ

One of the things that slipped out of the media's attention at the time, was that there were TWO blonde ladies living at that residence, and one of them was a drug addict...

I have always wondered if the addict's pusher sent someone to make an example of her, and as the addict wasn't home at the time, they offed the wrong blonde.

And I also wonder why the prosecution didn't bring the family dog to court, to see his reaction to OJ.

#142 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 03:20 PM:

I used to think the bit in Charlotte's Web about leg sections ("Furthermore, each leg of mine has seven sections — the coxa, the trochanter, the femur, the patella, the tibia, the metatarsus, and the tarsus") was just EBW being whimsical using bone names, but apparently they're actually called that.

#143 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:07 PM:

Helen S: those are indeed the human (and general) mammalian bone names, in order, going down from the hip -- didn't know they used them in spiders as well! Fascinating bit of comparative anatomy to remember. I'm sure in spiders they were named metaphorically....

#144 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:23 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 131 I'm sorry. I, too, transferred out of necessity to a QA department that neither knew or valued my experience. When I said, "I can do good things for you; I was the manager of X" they said, "But that was years ago."

My advice is to hang on for a few more months, at least, and see if any opportunities open up. After that--I don't know.

Sorry again.

#145 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:24 PM:

Teresa #13:

Re: widely-held weirdly-counterfactual beliefs

I keep wondering whether the average person (American, media consumer, Republican, whatever) actually has a model of the world that's more out of synch with reality now than in the past. An alternative is that there used to be one (or at least a smaller number of) main worldview that almost everyone more-or-less believed, whereas now, there are multiple different ones. The result is that it's easy for us (not part of the tea party bubble, but part of some other bubble) to see the crazy bits of their worldview, whereas it would have been harder to do if we all lived in the same bubble.

I'm not sure how to tell these apart. I mean, Obama as a secret socialist Muslim doesn't make much sense, but if it were a common belief in my social circle, I wonder if it would seem so silly. And I wonder how weird and counterfactual the common beliefs of Americans in 1950 or 1970 or 1990 were, relative to now.

I don't know how that relates to the SPs and RPs. Aggrieved parties have always been able to spin up a story that made them out to be the good guys, but I don't know if they're worse than the average in that regard. One other difference is that a lot of what is said in these groups is actually recorded, as opposed to earlier times when it was seldom recorded unless it happened to be in a newspaper article and you happened to see it. (Even if it was recorded somewhere, it used to be hard to find those things and share them around, whereas now it's easy.)

#146 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:38 PM:


Yep. My impression[1] is that a lot of the time when someone gets prosecuted, the police had a good idea of who was probably guily very early on. (For example, a dead ex-wife and her boyfriend has an obvious suspect.) Police departments that frame people are probably often doing it in those situations--we're already pretty sure this guy is guilty, so let's go ahead and beat a confession out of him, or throw down some drugs and say we found them on him, or whatever.

My wife was an alternate juror a couple years ago, which meant that she sat through the trial, but wasn't required to stick around to vote. She suspected that the guy (accused drug dealer) was guilty, but was also nearly certain that the police had planted the evidence. My guess is that this is relatively common in the big world--most of the time, the cops are probably actually sending a guilty person to jail, but often their evidence isn't very good. (Like coerced confessions or bite-mark evidence or shoe-print matches.) Of course, sometimes, they're sending an innocent person to jail, either knowingly or (probably more common) unknowingly. It would be really interesting to have some idea about what fraction of the time that is the case, and how it varies by race, income, and similar stuff.

[1] If someone knows, please correct me--it's not like I'm any kind of expert on this stuff.

#147 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 04:48 PM:

Since it's an open thread – here's something I've been doing in my Copious Spare Time: trying to assemble an ebook collecting the fanzine writings of Vince Clarke, that old-time fan (1948-1960) who came back again (1982-1998) and in the latter period was a friend. Work in progress, to be released soon, or so I hope.

#148 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 05:45 PM:

HLN: The event I'm speaking at is going to be a daylong continuing education course for psychologists.

It's possible one of the people who argued for making it mandatory for psychologists to torture people may show up (as he's local).

Gonna be, regardless, a long day; about 6 hours of platform time. Gonna have to earn that honorarium.

#149 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 05:45 PM:

Lori: One of the things the defense didn't bring up (and I can see lots of reasons not to, but this is the court of public opinion): There had been a couple of other, drug related murders, in the area with similar MO.

#150 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 05:47 PM:

albatross: Cops come to decisions pretty quickly. More often than not their first guess is correct, because most crimes aren't tht complicated. The problem is (so my research implies to the point of relative certainty) that once they decide on a culprit they focus the investigation on that person. From there confirmation bias takes effect, other leads are ignored, etc..

At which point the railroading of innocent people can be pretty easy, exacerbated by the faith jurors put in cops, married to the practice they get at speaking in court, and the sympathetic treatment they get from prosecutors.

Their polish, married to the lack of polish of defense witnesses has the effect of, often, making defense testimony seem suspect.

#151 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 07:35 PM:

Remember the time Kathryn from Sunnyvale and Brad Templeton used a Beam "telepresence robot" to attend Worldcon in London? And wrote a really good account of the experience?

Well, there's news from the Etiquette Frontier, in the form of Jason O. Gilbert's anguished plea:
Dear Apple: Please do not sell an iPhone to the woman who sent a robot to wait in line for her

My pal Josh Hopkins commented, "We live in the future. This writer wants an actual clerk to tell an actual droid 'we don't serve your kind here.'"

Apple crushed Mr. Gilbert's hopes.
Sydney woman buys new Apple iPhone with robot and avoids the rain

#152 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 09:09 PM:

@All. Thanks for the thoughts.

I hate to call it PTSD, but . . . it is, really: When hordes of corporate types from HQ descend on the office and have meetings behind closed doors, I get a sour stomach, low-key panic attacks, sleepless nights. That happened yesterday. Nobody fired, but moved around. Sometimes, like me, into odd positions. But none as odd a fit as mine.

The HR director, who saw how forlorn I've been looking, said to hang around at least to the end of the year because interesting things were happening. So I guess I'll have to learn Windows cloud platform stuff to be able to talk to developers. (And I *do* have cake mixes ready for my usual holiday baking blitz.)

I'm so tired of these shenanigans. Thus the appeal of low key self-employment.

Let's see if I can relax before getting back in the rat wheel on Monday.

#153 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 10:09 PM:

tracie @ 107: and I left out the debatables, e.g. whether there was an SF author at the first event. (IIRC, Poul Anderson was at the 2nd; I haven't heard that MZB was at the first.)

Heather Rose Jones @ 116: but do sermons reflect the general zeitgeist, or were they paid to thunder and ignored the other 160+ hours of the week? And you mention sermons as social control (from people who were expected to exert it); ISTM that a major element of outrage is people realizing they are not as in control of the world as they think they're entitled to be.

I'm amused at the comments on Agile; one stable friend really likes it, but I remember thinking it was being crammed down our throats -- a special concern in my group since we'd already had to deal with the lack of properly thought-out design (there was this clash with European privacy rules) and since we were spending a fair amount of time fixing everything from said effects to ancient messes(*) , and would have had to suspend fixing (some of it urgent) to participate in Agile sprints. I was laid off before I had to be involved, and was near enough to retirement that I could walk away; I haven't asked any survivors their reactions.

(*) The oldest screwup that I personally found was ~15 years old (in a ~25-year-old company), although it was hidden for ~90% of that time by another screwup that was harmless until it wasn't. Finding it took weeks of rebuilding, which made me very grateful to the people who had worked over our lame adaptation of an off-the-shelf SCCS until it was usable.

#154 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 10:29 PM:

I think Agile is useful for mature products that need regular updates.

The product I've been dropped into is *almost* like that. Closing in on deployment.

What I'm *used* to and was good at was more exploratory development. "Hey, we need to make a local advertising overlay system that is 99.9% reliable. Disks are the weak point. Let's make a journaling file system for a redundant cluster of off the shelf servers!"

And they would. And us QA folks would figure out how to test it and torture it.

Or I'd get dropped into testing a data gathering system for a analytics system. But OK because it was linux based and given that I coudl figure things out. (When I had to explain that system to a contractor it took a wall-sized whiteboard.) The team that made that really want me back.

My old department had lots of patent plaques in offices and cubicles. So far mine is the only one I've seen in the new bullpen; nose to the grindstone to maintain Velocity and keep the line on the Burndown charts pointed downwards doesn't encourage thinking and exploration.

Arrgghhhgaaah. I need to forget about this stuff for a few days.

#155 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 11:21 PM:

Stephan Jones @#152:
I know how you feel about hesitating to use terms like PTSD about office scenarios, because how dare we compare our experiences with those of people who suffered or risked physical harm, but your description makes me think office-PTSD may be a real thing. A few years back when I worked in a call centre, I had to triple my meds just to face each day, and still I felt stomach pains every time I got off the subway and headed up to my workplace. The only thing worse than the phone calls was the quiet in between, because it could be interrupted at any moment, and knowing that, I couldn't relax or think.

#156 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 11:27 PM:

I only got a brief taste of Agile before I retired, and by then I was more of a business analyst, responsible in part for developing specs for application development. My feeling was that when the rubber met the road, you still needed to have clear goals in mind for the software, senior leadership buy-in, and developers who understood more than just language syntax. In other words, pretty much the same as it was 30 years before, only with more documents.

At one point I acidly suggested my own development methodology - JDTFW. Just Do The Fucking Work.

#157 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2015, 11:29 PM:

Jenny @25: A little late, I'm afraid, but I'm so glad not to be the only one who hated the TV version of Brother Cadfael (even though I love Derek Jacobi). I didn't last as long as you did either -- only got about 5 or 10 minutes in, and was deeply annoyed when Hugh Berengar showed up as the idiot cop giving Cadfael a hard time. Hugh is my favorite character in the whole series and turning him into Inspector Lestrade with a blond Prince Valiant haircut ruined the whole thing for me. Your description makes me even gladder that I just blew the rest of it off.

#158 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 01:05 AM:

Tehanu @157: I'm just grateful that they never got to An Excellent Mystery. There probably would have been a rape or two, maybe a secret abortion or a nice graphically bloody miscarriage...

What really karks me? Most of the books are laid out scene by scene with the dialogue, atmosphere, scenery, setpieces, foreshadowing, and thrilling drama right fricking there. I guess decent people drive too many of the original subplots. Away with them! There must be more angry suspicious ignoramuses, violently reality-challenged religious people, and just plain jerks!

Oh well. Guess I'll try the radio dramas.

#159 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 01:40 AM:

@Tehanu: Another one: Morning Glory the book is a sweet romance with psychological drama and a murder mystery woven into it. Two people who are as down as you can be without being completely out meet by happenstance in a small Southern town on the brink of World War II. Some of the townsfolk are ordinary decent folks, some are justifiably suspicious, a few are asses, and two are outright scumbags. The book was turned into a movie with Christopher Reeve in it, but not even Christopher Reeve could save it. All of LaVyrle Spencer's deftly sketched characters are swept away, replaced by broad redneck stereotypes, and the humor and the cute kids are also done away with. I expected a couple of half-dressed drunken lunkheads to rant about "the Woah of Noth'n Agrayshun" while picking out "Dueling Banjos," it's that bad.

Here's a bit from the beginning of the book: She's poor but has a home and a farm of sorts; he's been on the road a long time and his last meal was green apples and sour buttermilk stolen off a farm. She lets him in and cuts a slice of homemade bread. He watches that one slice curl away from the knife as if there were nothing else in the world, and then he realizes that it's for him. That one scene, where this homely, tired, pregnant widow is quietly cutting bread in her shabby kitchen and this desperate hobo has almost realized that she is fixing to give him a chance to prove his worth, is a beautifully described moment of peace after a couple of chapters setting up the couple's miserable backstories. So of course it's not in the movie.

#160 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 01:59 AM:

Stefan Jones @154:

First off, get a new job while we still have a boom on. There's zero reason in this economy for you to stay with a tech job you hate.

Speaking as a consultant to many, many startups, Agile is theoretically useful for two things: (1) as a test-and-customer-response-driven methodology which works well with certain kinds of web and mobile applications, and (2) as a countertendency to the ginormously overplanned "waterfall" development which could otherwise take place. When properly used, Agile involves the extremely useful admissions that any successful application is going to be completely rewritten at least twice, so better to get something out there and get feedback on it as fast as possible.

However, in most real-world cases, "Agile" is a euphemism for "we have no real management, planning, or specifications for anything." My favorite quote:

"We don't have unit tests. We're Agile."

As a consultant, I can roll my eyes at these things. As an employee, that's a sign it's quittin' time.

#161 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 02:44 AM:

Thursday's Ask A Manager seems a propos to the discussion about office PTSD.

#162 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 07:46 AM:

My nerdy stand-up comedy routine (18-minute video) includes my observation that if you haven't tried Agile, think of it like polyamory: clear your calendar now, there'll be a lot of meetings. (And other related observations.)

#163 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 08:39 AM:

Also, whether one feels comfortable calling it PTSD without a formal diagnosis, it is most definitely strong anxiety symptoms.

#164 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 12:19 PM:

I've had some relatively positive experiences with Agile (mostly in the form of Scrum) and some fairly negative experiences. The positive experiences were when it was mostly adopted by the team members, where we got to decide how we wanted to do Agile, and we were free to try making changes if we thought it would improve our work. The negative experiences were when it was externally imposed, and run by a "scrum master" who wasn't really part of the team (and only showed up to conduct looong meetings).

Stefan, I agree with Josh that now would be a good time to find a better job, but I also understand how that suggestion might sound like "over-stressed by your job? why not seek out more stress!" The good news is that you have a job, which alleviates some of the job-hunting pressure, and also means employers view you more positively. If you can convince yourself that you're just exploring what's out there, learning about how other companies do things, maybe that can help reduce the stress.

On the other hand, as it sounds like you're the senior QA person on your team, maybe you can get more involved in planning and running the process, which might give you some leverage to adjust things to feel more humane to you. Or, maybe not, in which case it's back to job hunting.

My employer, ZipRecruiter has openings for at least 3 QA positions (manager, analyst, and software engineer in test), as well as for developers. We're in Santa Monica, but we also have quite a few remote developers. I don't know if the QA positions could be remote, I could ask if you're interested (my email is wyrnqre@nyhzav.pnygrpu.rqh).

#165 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2015, 07:39 PM:

Josh @134:

Something I read* about the Norse settlements in Greenland described the settlements as fading away in the Little Ice Age. The author said that yes, some of the people went back to Scandinavia, and some died when the crops failed; but some joined Eskimo groups and adopted that language and culture.

If you’re looking at this from a “Europeans settling the wilderness” or “spreading Christianity” perspective, all three of those outcomes look like failure. If you’re looking at it in terms of whether the settlers left descendants in Greenland, or from the viewpoint of a hypothetical 16th-century Eskimo who could have said that one of their grandparents had been of the farming people, it’s a big difference.

Unfortunately it’s been a while, and I don’t remember things like whether there were (successful or otherwise) attempts at trade when the Norse settlements were doing reasonably well. What I remember is that they carried logs from Newfoundland [Markland] to sell to shipbuilders in Iceland. That’s documented, though the documentation just shows “yes, this happens” and leaves open the question of whether there were a lot more shipments than anyone recorded, or whether it was a very occasional event. We do know that Iceland needed the logs.

*I'm not sure, but it might have been in Fritjof Nansen's Farthest North, a history of Arctic exploration, including mapmaking and navigation, by Europeans over the couple of thousand years ending in the early 20th century, when it was written.

#166 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 01:41 AM:

Hey, Sumana! (@162). I've never seen you do your comedy schtick, I'll have to catch it one of these cons.

#167 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 02:40 AM:

Tehanu @157: I gave the 1977 radio production of A Morbid Taste for Bones a listen at radio echoes dot com just now. It is not as textured as more recent productions, of course, but it is nicely condensed into 86 minutes, none of the main characters or plotlines has been messed with, and the climactic scene is as eerie as it should be. Also the actor who plays Brother Columbanus is crackerjack at mad scenes. Radio Echoes is an ad-supported site that offers downloads of radio dramas "believed to be in the public domain." I don't see anything hinky there. Sound quality is not always the best, though; I had to use headphones.

#168 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:18 AM:

Thought of the morning: Phenomenology is as phenomenology does.

#169 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 10:06 AM:

Jeremy Leader at #164, if your scrum master conducted looong meetings, they were doing agile wrong.

#170 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 04:30 PM:

For those who haven't already heard through other avenues, UK fan D.West died on Friday as a result of cancer.

#171 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 06:15 PM:

So, there I am, teaching my class in political theory. As I do. And, because I am doing the unit on Thomas Aquinas, I bring in a little bit of comparative religion, that is, I mention a number of monotheisms and their sacred texts. Then a student asks me 'Why do you know that?' (That being the name of the sacred text of the Sikhs, the Granth.)

To say that I was nonplussed would be putting it mildly. Gail said that I should have asked the student why they didn't.

#172 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 07:24 PM:

To those of you you with clear skies, have fun watching the eclipse tonight. #CloudsSuck

#173 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 08:15 PM:

Allan Beatty @169: yes, that was abundantly clear! I left the company not too much after that.

#174 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 08:23 PM:

Clouds are blocking most views of the eclipse from the East Coast to the Mississippi. Better luck west, I hope.

#175 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 08:46 PM:

It's cloud-free here, but I have to walk half a block and stand on a street-corner to be tree-free.

#176 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Eclipse times for those in MDT:

Begins: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 6:11 PM
Maximum: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 8:47 PM
Ends: Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 11:22 PM

Duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes

#177 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:01 PM:

@152, 155, 163: Maybe we need a different term?

If there's a general phenomenon of stress flashbacks, where being in a similar situation to when you experienced stress before makes you feel stressed again... then it would make sense that trauma, as an especially intense form of stress, would produce the strongest stress flashbacks (i.e. PTSD), but other forms of stress would still produce something that is recognizably similar (though less severe).

#178 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:07 PM:

chris #177: Learned response?

I forget the proper terminology for various forms of conditioning, but this seems pretty basic, there has to be a standard term for it.

#179 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:07 PM:

Me @175:

Amazing what a difference a half-hour can make. Near totality -- of cloud cover where the moon is.

#180 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:22 PM:

So, I'm back in C-ville. The dual Bat Mitzvah went well, exhausting for everyone, but mostly drama-free. My sister did have house problems (leakage, mold) right before the big weekend (scheduled by Finagle, surely). But she managed to field that, and prevent it from interfering with the festivities (aside from some exposed beams during the final brunch.

Eclipse: I've got partial visibility behind moving clouds.

#181 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:34 PM:

Socked in here in Columbus, not a glimmer of moonlight to be seen.

It never fails -- when there's something I want to see in the sky, the clouds roll right in.

#182 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 09:36 PM:

Eclipse update: The clouds have moved out, and I took GF and her son out to look at it. There's a nice healthy chunk of umbra coverage, but not enough to really dim the moon's overall brightness. The "red" of the blood moon was not evident. We are going to go back out every 15 minutes until the kiddo has to go to bed. It looks like 10pm +/- 10 minutes (EDT) should be good viewing.

#183 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 10:02 PM:

Cloudless skies over Portland, but it is still very light out.

I'm going to watch a couple of episodes of "Over the Garden Wall" and then take a walk.

I highly recommend watching a couple of episodes of "Over the Garden Wall," even when an eclipse isn't imminent.

#184 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @171:

I'm always tempted to quote Bill Bailey (from an episode of Q.I.) for stuff like that. "Welcome to my world of knowing! The wonderful world of looking up things in books!"

#185 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 10:31 PM:

Moon hasn't risen here yet; but we'll try again a little later.

#186 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 11:13 PM:

Finally came up -- looked appropriately spooky.

#187 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 11:32 PM:

Moon is dark blood-red here with very atmospheric (heh) thin clouds scudding across it periodically.

#188 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 11:47 PM:

Totality came a little after dusk and was only satisfactory, but now there's a spectacular view of the moon leaving the shadow.

#189 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2015, 11:54 PM:

I went to an Agile users group once and didn't know what they were talking about. Seems like such a thick layer of abstraction over the work that you can't tell what the actual work is.

#190 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:18 AM:

#189: There's a logic behind it all, and with discipline I think it can work, but . . . yeah, there's this whole BS overhead about Story Points and Velocity and sign-offs on Team Agreements.

Right now I think I've swallowed enough of the Kool-Aid to get by, but I'm faced with not knowing a fracking thing about Microsoft web applications, so I don't have a common vocabulary with the developers. I'm asking my manager to recommend lesson plans so can get a grasp of the basics.

#$*$%!! A few months ago I was working with a bunch of guys from the Advanced Research Center to create a big data collection system. I could understand *them,* and I knew how to turn their "concept ware" into something like a deployable product. Now I'm back to feeling like an idiot.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that I can soft-retire at the end of next year. Let's see if I can make it.

#191 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:19 AM:

Double-decker cloud cover over the place where the moon should be rising. That's the way it usually goes around here.

#192 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 01:08 AM:

I caught a little bit near the end. L.A. had intermittent clouds, too.

#193 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 01:59 AM:

#152/155 re "office PTSD": My Job From Hell experience wasn't precisely like that, but some of what's been described here resonates. I was only in said job for 6 months, but it was a horribly emotionally-abusive environment, and it soaked up all my reservoir of "cope" -- to the point where I'd get home and trivial shit (a rude telemarketing call, dinner got scorched) would send me into screaming hysterics because I had nothing left to deal with it. In hindsight, once I finally got out, I realized that I'd probably been less than a month away from a full-fledged nervous breakdown.

Stefan, is there anything else you can do in your life that would restore some of the energy this new position is sucking out of you? Can you adjust to thinking of it as a paycheck, drop it mentally back to the level of "day job," and focus your love and attention and creativity somewhere else instead? That might make the situation more bearable for the amount of time you feel that you're stuck with it.

Tehanu, #157: Heh. One of the things that really stuck in my craw about the BBC Cadfael was that they cast a tall, blond actor to play Hugh, who is repeatedly described as both very short and very dark. (Jacobi doesn't look much like Cadfael either, but I put that down to dramatic necessity and wanting a Damn Good Actor.) But the bit that kicked me completely out of the series was "The Sanctuary Sparrow", where they created an entire subplot out of whole cloth, which added nothing to the story and seriously detracted from parts of it. I can usually deal with things being deleted, but adding inferior crap that wasn't in the book was the last straw.

Steve C., #172: We had a good view of the beginning of it on our way back from FenCon. I got at least one decent picture, which will be up in a day or two. We also got to see the fully-red moon very briefly before the clouds rolled in above the rest area just north of Huntsville, and my partner got a truly spectacular picture which, again, will be up in a day or two. I'll come back and post links when they are.

#194 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:12 AM:

Lee @ 193 - Looking forward to the shots you've taken. Glad you got a chance to observe it.

#195 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:28 AM:

It was cloudy today, but most of the clouds had blown off except in the east where it mattered. Couldn't see the moon from near home, so we drove to some nearby hills that have a good east view, found an area with a bunch of cars parked by the road, a few people with tripods, who all said the clouds were too thick near the horizon. About when the moon was supposed to come out of totality, it suddenly appeared just over the clouds! Not a great show, but a reasonable one.

The interesting part for me was when about 3/4 of the shadow was gone, but the moon wasn't the shape of a 3/4 gibbous moon - the earth's shadow on it was backwards :-)

The Bay Area's resident demigod, Karl the Fog, tweeted that "I just ate San Francisco. It tastes like #Supermoon and disappointment."

#196 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 08:47 AM:

I went out several times and was rewarded most of them. I recalled Vachel Lindsay's "The Moon is the North Wind's Cookie" seeing the unusual bite out of the underside. The part in shadow was more visible than usual. Slightly different color than its own shadow is.

When it was all gone, I couldn't see it at all, but I suspect that clouds helped with that a little. Later on I saw it fully round, but in a reddish-brownish shadow whose gradations made it look quite spherical. The last time I went out, it was emerging, and the white part was really pushing out the photons. Shadows cast were sharp-edged.

I was inspired to see if I could line up my cell camera with my monocular, but that's much easier during the day when you can see more than one thing. I never succeeded. While I was fiddling with it, the moon became more or less entire.

Inconstant moon!

#197 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 08:49 AM:

(Near Rochester, NY, by the way, out in the bedroom suburbs. Stepping around the side of the garage puts me in a substantial shadow that counteracts a goodly amount of light spill.)

#198 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 09:05 AM:

Boston had ~99% clear skies (early on, some haze or very thin cloud enough to give some glare around the moon), making very good viewing. (This matches unusually clear weather of the past couple of weeks -- great for viewing and solar generation, not so great for the blackberries we hope will ripen.) I noticed that the dark red-orange was only visible near totality -- otherwise the shadow looked very dark colorless grey -- and suspect this reflects the limitations of the eye (subtle shades disappearing when there's a bright white right next to them).

#199 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 09:07 AM:

Can you adjust to thinking of it as a paycheck, drop it mentally back to the level of "day job," and focus your love and attention and creativity somewhere else instead?
I'm going to have to, I guess.

It was interesting, for a decade and a half, having both an interesting job and involving hobbies and interests. But the former is likely gone. It is not going to be easy to forget that.

#200 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 11:01 AM:

We had Agile dumped on us in the last year, and yes, it's very Kool-Aid-ish, plus I think we aren't doing it right. But the fundamental problem with us doing Agile is that our customers need enormous quantities of direction from us. I and the other main analyst have come to the same conclusion: really what we should be selling is consulting about the business we serve, not just our software, because much of the time we know their business better than they do. (And that's not counting the couple of customers who let everyone competent go. Some of them pay us to run their system for them, because they can't.)

The adaptiveness of Agile ends up being a problem for us, not a feature. We have to cut the customer off from continually revising things, so we have to rigidly lock down specs fairly early in the game.

#201 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 12:51 PM:

Fragano@171: That is the strangest thing said by a student I have ever heard of. Was it said in a challenging way, as in 'How dare you know?', or just inquistively?

#202 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 01:30 PM:

Jeff and Bill, my condolences. :(

My experiences with Agile have been few, and fairly laid-back; my little three-dev department does daily 15-minute standup and I've gotten us into doing irregular (every 3-4 weeks) retrospectives to work on improving our process, but our sprints(/iterations) aren't inviolable, we don't track velocity, and our weekly iteration completion goal is 70%.

Upon hearing that I was going to be working in an Agile environment, my father lent me his copy of Scrum and I thought it was reasonably compelling, if a little cultish.

I am curious to hear a little more solid on why Agile is awful/impersonal/grindy, for those who have had negative experiences with it (this is my first programming job and I have been at it since April, you see. Little perspective has I).

I didn't bother looking for the moon, as it was cloudy all evening and kept on being on my drive home in the dark. :(

#203 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:11 PM:

We only saw the cookie-bite at the end, but got lots of atmospheric glimpses of a big golden moon swimming in artistically torn clouds. The sky cleared overnight, though, and the moon was so bright early this morning that I thought somebody was shining a spotlight off the neighbor's porch when I left for work. Then I got up the steps (the front door is downstairs--I live on a mountainside) and saw the fog rolling in. It's some of the thickest we've had all year.

#204 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:28 PM:

Jeremy Leader @122: Another view of that spider skeleton, showing the ribs(?!?).

And the rat skeleton...? Last I looked, nose and ears weren't part of the skeletal structure.

#205 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:48 PM:

Bill Higgins @151: Dear Apple: Please do not sell an iPhone to the woman who sent a robot to wait in line for her

Where is Emily Latella when you need her...?

#206 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 02:54 PM:

CHip@198: We woke up the young one to see the eclipse once we saw how clear that view was (and once friends in other places reminded us not to take the clear sky for granted). The response was a sleepily confused, but generally interested.

Fragano@171: The first answer that occurs to me is, "Have you ever just delighted in learning something?", but I'd be afraid of hearing, "No."

(Replying to two comments that made me feel fortunate today.)

#207 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 03:15 PM:

Jacque (204): Yep, the rat's ears are another big Oops. I liked that one when I saw it in the store; the ear problem was a fridge moment for me.

#208 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 03:46 PM:

Eclipse: Moon was clear for the first fifteen minutes after rising, then hid behind the clouds for the next couple of hours. Finally, at 9:55pmMDT, I decided to have one more try, and was rewarded with a sight that looked almost exactly like this. I did take a pic, but on preview at least, all it showed was a very faint gray crescent. Better than what my neighbor's tablet managed, though.

#209 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 03:54 PM:

Stefan Jones @190: I'm faced with not knowing a fracking thing about Microsoft web applications

Are you by chance dealing with ::gag:: SharePoint? If so, I might be able to help, some.

#210 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 04:10 PM:

David Harmon @178: I forget the proper terminology for various forms of conditioning, but this seems pretty basic, there has to be a standard term for it.

Well, the one-trial learning that produces the easily triggered flash-back is, in NLP parlance, referred to as an anchor. Can be achieved with both negative and positive experiences.

#211 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 04:15 PM:

estelendur @202

Agile is workable if used in its proper context and for the correct type of projects. The problem is that a lot of companies seems to adopt it because it is the new shiny thing in the business (or was 7 years ago or so) and to try to use it to solve problems that just get hidden by it or get worse actually. It was scrum done badly basically - and the next few attempts did not help much.

I've seen it done properly on projects that are clear and know what they are trying to achieve. Then there are the usual kind of projects that I am involved in (these days on the implementation and services side and not on the writing code ones but still), agile basically does not match the needs and ends up a pain. Including a manager that does a daily standup with 60 people for example. Or a project that changed its main requirements 6 times in 8 weeks (no strategy would have helped that one; someone sticking to weird things made it worse).

Welcome to the business and have fun.

#212 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 04:20 PM:

They kept pushing SharePoint at us, the last couple of years before I retired. It wasn't 'taking', though.
When we asked what made SharePoint so great, we got vague answers along the line of 'try it and you'll love it' - that's the kind of answer that you get in stories where someone's brain has been taken over. No, thanks; if you can't give me actual reasons with actual examples, I'll pass.

I think they were trying to get us to stop using our network virtual disk. (People tended to use it for everything, so the space filled up, when it was intended only for shareable files.)

#213 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 04:29 PM:

'try it and you'll love it' - that's the kind of answer that you get in stories where someone's brain has been taken over.

*snerk* Not, um, inaccurate, IME.

#214 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 04:48 PM:

That was what they kept telling us. But they never could explain why we should use it or what exactly it would do that we couldn't already do.

I am, actually, kind of glad to be out of there. I miss part of the work, some of the people (not all of those I miss are still there), and, of course, the paycheck I was getting. But not the stress I wasn't seeing, and not the idjit lead person I had. (I was hired to do a certain kind of QC work, and idjit lead was making me do a different kind, without the training I needed, and no one was getting that I wasn't doing it as well as expected because I didn't have the training. And lead person couldn't be arsed to provide the manual that everyone else got.)

#216 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 05:30 PM:

I should clarify: "try it and you'll love it" with SP—I've been "trying it" for coming on nine years. I don't, um, "love it." Politely speaking. (It says a lot to me that SP 2013 will be the last version released.)

Idjit lead person sounds like an idjit.

#217 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Nancy, #215: Heh. My brain went here instead, but I can see how you got to that one.

#218 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 05:49 PM:

After working as a consultant for almost two years, I've come to agree with one of my coworkers: Agile is fantastic for about 5-10% of companies out there. For everyone else, it is a slow rolling disaster.

I have worked at places where it is brilliant and wonderful, but it's hard to implement correctly, and it requires a certain type of environment to fully thrive. When I was doing my most recent round of interviews, I asked a lot of questions about how the interviewing company implemented their Agile process, and several companies failed to make the "I would work here" grade based on their answers. Sad that folks are encountering the bad side of it; that sucks.

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 06:08 PM:

Not really qualified for that job, based on their prior experience, and generally a paper-pusher more than anything else. (Also was earnestly disliked by their previous workgroup, for reasons that should have gotten said idjit fired.)

#220 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 10:26 PM:

SharePoint: Used that on the last project. Miserable.

Also, a god-awful bug tracking / Agile requirement/story/task tracking thing called RTC/RQM. It was slow, obscure, badly laid out.

FWIW, the tools I'm learning about for this new group are better. JIRA for bug and test and task tracking. Confluence for Wiki.

But really, I'm sick and tired of it all. My career is over. I'm getting paid an exorbitant salary to train for a job I'll have for about a year and a half. In this industry, at my age, that's easier than job hunting.

I'm going to get by a day at a time, and enable fantasies of agency and freedom by indulging in the ritual of buying a couple of lottery tickets on Saturday evening.

#221 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2015, 10:35 PM:

Sheeeeesh. I forgot to mention. My former manager, the rest of whose team (my former direct co-workers) was dispersed from beneath her during a shake-up on Friday . . . got to create a new position for herself in the product group I'm now in. Engineering director or something.

She got to choose. Agency. Choice. Respect for her skills.

I wonder what that must be like.

#222 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 12:35 AM:

Well, you know, if you can keep it from killing your soul, an exorbitant salary is not such a bad thing.

If you have any taste for writing, maybe approach it as research for your next novel...?

#223 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 12:52 AM:

MacArthur Fellowships just got announced. Ta-Nehisi Coates got it - well-deserved, and everybody else will have told you about it by tomorrow morning.

But the pleasant surprise was to see Basil Twist as well. Back in 1998 or so, he did an abstract underwater puppet show called "Symphonie Fantastique" in San Francisco that was simply amazing. They had a tank of water about 20 feet long, 4 or 5 feet high, light-show system behind it, puppeteers on top (hidden behind curtains) moving various objects through the water, eponymous music. You could probably create some similar effects with CGI and psychedelics, but they'd both have to be pretty good.

#224 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 12:55 AM:

Thanks for all the sympathy for me about my cat, and I'll try not to be back for more of it too soon, though I'd be surprised if the 18-year-old cat lasts more than another year, but she's done pretty well for a stray kitten my wife found in a parking lot.

#225 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 01:11 AM:

We've been doing Agile for maybe two years. It's not been a particularly good match for what we do, and we tried to split it up into one set of people working from user stories that require actual code to be written, and another group of people trying to translate user stories about things like network security into user stories about things you'd like to have computers actually do for you, like look at packets and decide whether to allow them in or not. On the other hand, traditional waterfall methodology hasn't done us a whole lot of favors either, so our management's been pretty flexible about treating Agile as a metaphor and letting people hand us jugs of Kool-Aid and have us provide PowerPoints about how someone could take the jugs and apply drinking methodologies to them to generate exciting business opportunities for The Future, but with frequent short Scrum(tm) meetings instead of less frequent presentations to upper management.

What Agile seems to be well-matched at is developing something that has an architecture that looks like a web interface and some business logic and some database backends for a customer who's got fairly unclear specific requirements and needs a bunch of prototypes to understand the problem. For network security / system integration things, that's probably not a bad set of tools to use for designing how the user interfaces for the management system that configures them work, if the vendors of the various components actually provide APIs you can manage them from, even though it won't always do what you need for the actual network parts (e.g. taking each packet, wrapping it in a RESTful system call along with the history of all the other packets with the same source and destination, and handing it to a random server that's not too busy right now but might disappear before it can answer you? Not so efficient.)

#226 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 02:19 AM:

Stefan @221:

Wait, a woman employee got to exert agency and choice, while the male employee got rerouted to a position irrelevant to his skills? In the *tech industry*?

Where the Sam Hill do you work?

I know it sucks for you, but you have to appreciate the trends your company is bucking ...

#227 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 03:22 AM:

Are there publishers who scavenge for books which are out of print and it's hideously expensive to get a reading copy?

I'd been meaning to ask about The Abomination of Moab-- I'm in the middle of it, and I'm planning to write an overview-- and now I've found out that The Good American Witch is also out of print and expensive. Those two books have probably never been in the same sentence before.

I realize that sometimes there are copyright problems and sometimes there isn't an obvious audience, but I'm curious about whether anyone makes a specialty of checking.

#228 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 05:30 AM:

I mostly don't write code. Actually, no, I spend quite a while writing code, but I don't write "features", I write "tooling" (the things that make running "the features" a smoother experience for the people writing them, the people using them and the people kicking the tyres to get the whole kit and kaboodle down the metaphorical Intahrwebz Superhighway.

I find that some elements of Agile are useful, like a regular standup meeting (although 2-3 times a week seems plenty) and the stressing of communication as a general good (see "stand-up", which we have declared means "I am working on ..." and "These are my current blocker").

I can see how those would enhance feature-writing productivity. However, the part of Agile that stresses flexibility and requirements change is something I didn't need telling me, because our production environments seldom stay static for more than a few days.

#229 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 06:24 AM:

Nancy, Dover Publications might be a good place to look.

#230 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 07:14 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #227: The Good American Witch <pokes searchbar> Peggy Bacon, 1957? If you want I can look around at work (used-book store) today.

#231 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 09:07 AM:

@Josh: Also, a female VP of engineering.

#232 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 10:58 AM:

David, thanks. Yes, please look.

#233 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 11:39 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @227: I hope one of the other good suggestions above bears fruit. If not, have you tried interlibrary loan?

#234 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 01:01 PM:

I've gotten Abomination of Moab from interlibrary loan. Sometimes I'd like to be able to own the book, and I also like the feeling that it's just plain available to other people as well as to me.

#235 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 01:25 PM:

I must be an oddity here. I rather like Agile, even though I'm in one of the more stressful positions in it (Product Owner). We're a big department, with seven scrum teams across two locations, so we're using Scaled Agile Framework (please don't make me call it SAFe).

It helps that we have buy-in all the way up the management chain, so when the dev team says "we can't do that this sprint" management goes "OK". They whine a little sometimes, but they accept that they have to listen to the teams.

We have our choke points, particularly when it comes to strategic technical thinking (too few architects, too few devs willing to take the broad view that architects do) and customer requirements (one person as the channel to our customers is not ideal, but getting her to split the role requires time she's not got).

But what I really like about it in comparison to the other ways I've worked is that if you look at the processes in the light of human interaction management, they fluoresce. What I mean by this is that the role of the scrum master (as we practice it) and the function of the retrospective are to steadily, incrementally work on how the people work together. Space is made for koinopoiesis. I like that.

#236 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 02:24 PM:

Annie Y @211: Welcome to the business and have fun.

Thanks. :) My first professional language, actually, is Smalltalk - which is obscure, obscurely delightful, and delightfully obscure. The two reactions I get when people ask what I code in are "What's Smalltalk?" and "People still use that?!" So I am already having fun with that.

Thanks, all, for the replies on Agile.

abi @235: On the topic of making space for koinopoiesis: I went to a meetup on retrospectives and was inspired (~2 months into employment) to get my team to start doing retrospectives. I also noticed that there was a severe divide between Dev and Non-Dev in terms of communicating what we should work on next, and spent this quarter getting a process into place to address that gap (basically, making the other departments jointly in charge of keeping the backlog and passing on the next five most important things to work on). Both of these things seem to be working out well so far! From what I have heard, this would only be possible under fairly atypical management styles. And I am helping, a bit at a time, to heal the (at times jagged) divide between the head of Sales & Marketing and the Dev team.

So that's part of why I have liked my experience so far with Agile-esque management(? possibly the wrong word).

#237 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 05:40 PM:

The company I work for has a daily standup meeting in the morning: each person in turn says, "Here's what I worked on yesterday; here's what I plan to do today" and in some cases "here's what's blocking me". That is theoretically supposed to be 15 minutes but in practice nearly always is more like 20. After that we have about 10-20 minutes of discussion, of topics placed on a whiteboard. (I remember the first time I dared to put one up! But nowadays I do it without a qualm.)

There's talk about "iterations" and "sprints" and "story points", but things rarely seem to be set in stone.

Someone above linked to a site about "What was the last straw at your job", and I read some of it and marveled at what a good workplace I seem to have fallen into.

#238 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 05:50 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 231

Not that unusual lately... a lot more unusual to see a woman in the high management/under VP positions though (at least in the companies I work with).

#239 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #232: I looked, but alas, we do not seem to have it.

estelendur #236: As you surely know, Smalltalk is also seminal in computer science, especially for graphical interfaces.

David Goldfarb #237: I've been reading that comments thread too. My big mistake at a number of junctures was not recognizing things that should have been the "straw", so that eventually it wasn't the camel that broke, it was me.

#240 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 06:46 PM:

#239 ::: David Harmon

Thanks for looking. I wasn't especially expecting you to have a copy, it seems to be a fairly rare book.

#241 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 07:10 PM:

Ouch, that book "The Good American Witch", cheapest I can find at first search on bookfinder is £20.97.
Which is related to something that sometime puzzles me, sometimes annoys me - online book pricing. I often see books, say 20 year old fairly niche books, priced at 2 or 3 times what I might be prepared to pay for them, sometimes much more than they were new (e.g. published by an academic press). I appreciate booksellers have to make a living and all that, but the variations in price online are confusing. Some are down to algorithms pricing them, others, not so much.
I mean who is going to buy a hideously expensive niche book? Niche would bring out a few people who might pay a lot, but still.

Then there's the way the same sellers seem to have multiple listings at increasing prices.

Yet by spending time looking through actual physical bookstores and charity shops I can often get decent books at an affordable price, much cheaper than online, even often the same niche/ unusual books, but half the price.

#242 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2015, 09:58 PM:

I think my biggest problem is that I'm remembering better times. Really, really good times. Bonusses several times a year just because, departments staffed with lawyers who dangle a bonus in front of you to blather about ideas, shirts and tote bags, sumptuous lunches left in the break room after business meetings. Stock options.* Sabbaticals for cripes sake; I missed out on mine by a year. The mission-spirit of a start-up where peopled worked late because they were building something great and not because their team hadn't fulfilled its quota of Story Points. Beer in the fridges.

It hasn't been like that for over ten years, but even after three acquisitions and layoffs my old product group still had a glimmer of the old times. Patent plaques being handed out; new technology initiatives. They hosted an SCTE standards group meeting today. But I think the last remnants is on the way out; I might have been transferred out so I could still have a job.

I shouldn't be indulging in whiny and nostalgic. I've been incredibly lucky and privileged. I'm glad I only have a year (well, it looks like two) left in the new sweat shop reality.

* You know, if I was able to keep the stock options I lost when Oracle sold out division, I'd be writing about trying to feel needed and useful in my retirement.

#243 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 07:40 AM:

guthrie@241: That's because online bookselling has much more liquidity.

Booksellers price to (a) get the most money they can reasonably get out of a given item while (b) not having to store it egregiously long.

Each seller's definition of egregious is different, of course, and some are less motivated to maximize (a) than others.

A physical store will get a limited number of walk-in browsers a week, and if a book doesn't move, they may lower the price until it does.

An online seller can watch how often they sell a given title (or titles like it), pick a nice lucrative point, and wait a month or two to see what happens. Often within that time someone who has quite a LOT of money and REALLY wants the book, will jump at the price and take it. If not, they may gradually lower the price below 'specialized collector' levels.

Online booksellers can also use eBay for research purposes to see what similar things go for when there is a competitive price auction.

#244 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 07:54 AM:

abi @ #235:

Based on the fact that the only part we've really adopted is "communication"... :)

Most of the toosl I write are relatively small, call it up to 1-2 person-weeks of "how to do it, implement a rough prototype, polish prototype, get feedback, polish more or throw away". Some tools can go from "idea" to "implemented, submitted and have automatic builds" in half a day.

But, internal tooling and production support are, I gather, quite different from feature development for a large-ish customer base and "the only constant is change" has been true for the 4.75 years I've been here (and, on an unrelated note, today is my last day "here", starting "elsewhere" on Monday).

#245 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 08:33 AM:

I like Agile, too. We used it at my last job, which was an environment well-suited to it (a startup). At my current job everything is very, very overplanned from above, such that key improvements we need (I'm on the data science team now), that we requested in mid-September, can't be done until next year, since we're already in the throes of Q4 planning and the things we need weren't budgeted for. I can certainly see scaling problems with Agile for large teams, but there are environments where it works really well.

#246 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 08:48 AM:

Bud Webster told me once how he looks online for prices to sell his books at—the prices they've actually sold for. Other vendors, he says, look at the prices that have been asked, regardless of whether they moved at that price or not.

I'm reminded of how the existence of the Overstreet (aka Overprice) catalog seems to go along with back issues invariably ratcheting up in price every year. I can't speak to causality, but the books document the one-way trend. When I was managing a comic store, I was sure the insanity couldn't last, and it was going to crash soon. That was in '76. Some day, if I live long enough, I'll shake my wizened finger and say, "See? SEE?"

#247 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 10:26 AM:

Elliott Mason #243: not having to store it egregiously long. Each seller's definition of egregious is different...

No kidding -- my default test is whether the book has been on our shelves for 10 years. Given weeding is uneven, I've seen books marked from the 70's (the store's "only" been here for 41 years).

#248 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 10:34 AM:

HLN: Local woman hunts in vain for canned pumpkin at local supermarket, in the process passing display of Pumpkin Spice Everything several times. "I kind of like some of the pumpkin spice* things," she said. "But this is ridiculous. I just want to make pumpkin bread."

*Cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg-and-maybe-cloves. What's not to like?

#249 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 11:56 AM:

While I was getting ready to go to work last Sunday morning, I heard an interview with Brother Guy Consolmagno (and Father George Coyne) on NPR's program On Being.

I knew it would be of interest here, but I was concerned with getting out the door (and it would be considered inappropriate to post from work computers), and I figured someone else would post about it.

I haven't seen anything, so here is a link to the archived episode: Asteroids, Stars, and the Love of God.

#250 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 12:41 PM:

Nancy @227

If you have a rare-ish book from interlibrary loan and you want to own a copy, find a secluded copy machine, lay the book down page by page, and pump in money until you have a copy. Mentally apologize to the copyright owner.

That's what I did for the obscure Spanish novel I wrote my master's thesis on. Plus, I could write on my copy. I still have my copy somewhere.

This post is not intended to advise anyone to break the law, of course.

#251 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 12:58 PM:

#246 ::: Kip W

How do you find the prices books actually sell for?

#252 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 01:10 PM:

Mary Aileen @111: Target just flunked basic biology. Someone needs to tell them that spiders don't have bones.

I saw those recently at a thrift store in the Savers chain (not recycled — it seems thrift stores offer a lot of new stuff for Halloween).

It reminded me of a story: Art Linkletter used to have a segment on his TV show called 'Kids Say The Darndest Things' where he interviewed young children — many of best bits got recycled into books. In the intro to one of those books, Linkletter says he originally started the tradition on his radio show, and it had been inspired by an interview with his young son.

In that interview, his son had talked about having a spider. He said he'd put the spider in a box with a butterfly, and when he looked in the box the next day, the spider had eaten the butterfly.

"How do you know the spider ate the butterfly?"

"Because when I looked in the box, there was nothing left but butterfly bones."

#253 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 01:56 PM:

David Harmon @239: Actually I am unfamiliar with the significance of Smalltalk to graphical interfaces in particular! Would you like to elaborate?

I haven't looked at the thread yet, but while I'm not sure what the straw was I can identify the moment at which I realized the camel's back was, in fact, broken: the moment when I was vividly fantasizing about performing self-harm at my boss in the hopes that she would realize her employees were being hurt and it was her fault and she should stop. Since that wasn't going to happen, I kicked up the job-hunting to an intensity that actually got me a new one.

Stefan Jones @242: That sounds like a great workplace. I am sorry it has gone.

Brenda Kalt @250: My university had a scanner that one could easily use for an entire book; since it was in the library, they assumed anyone using it was a student or faculty member and had legitimate reasons. I once scanned two entire books. They were by an anarchist who makes sure his books are on "the free sites", so I suspect he would not mind if he knew. I miss that scanner, goshdarnit.

#254 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:02 PM:

Rob Rusick #252: For a young kid, I'd consider "butterfly bones" a decent summation of shell scraps and whatever.

#255 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:05 PM:

Mary Aileen @248 "Local woman hunts in vain for canned pumpkin at local supermarket..."

It should be in the canned vegetables section. If it's not there, use the canned squash.

Brenda Kalt @250 to Nancy @227 "If you have a rare-ish book from interlibrary loan and you want to own a copy, find a secluded copy machine, lay the book down page by page, and pump in money until you have a copy. Mentally apologize to the copyright owner."

The book I did that with was The Pedant and the Shuffly. Except... I found six other people who wanted a copy, collected $2.00 from each of them (The pricetag on the book was $1.95.), and sent John Bellairs a check for $13.65.

#256 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:12 PM:

Pfusand (255): Canned vegetables was the first* place I checked. No canned squash, either.

*No, I lie. I passed by the baking stuff on the way to the canned vegetable aisle, so I looked there first. (In the run-up to Thanksgiving, there is often canned pumpkin near the evaporated milk. But not now.)

#258 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:34 PM:

David Harmon @ 36:

Wow, that's a neat-looking game. I'm always fascinated by the sorts of things that people make games of, and good ones at that.

Jenny Islander @ 60:

The word you're looking for is eruv. I'd never even thought about that at an event like the SCA has, but it makes complete sense.

CHip @ 99:

would people in the past have lived the sort of semi-perpetual outrage that we see now, given the same stimuli? Huck Finn's father is a good example of unthinking outrage from over a century ago, but he was a social extreme. Or has such outrage gradually seeped into mainstream culture? (e.g., is it a habit the current generations picked up in their youth?) Or is it a reflection of increased leisure, such that people have more time to fritter away on stack-blowing?

I wouldn't call it leisure time, but certainly the talk shows and long commutes that Teresa mentioned are a part of it. So is having waiting room televisions tuned to a cable news channel. Still, we can go back to Hearst inflaming people's desire to go to war with Spain in the 1890s because it would sell more newspapers, and I don't think people had more leisure time then.

Whether or not Huck Finn's father was a social extreme, he was still recognizable as a part of society, and openly said things that many people would have at least thought.

What's been itching at the back of my brain for the last few days is that what's really new about the issue of ignoring reality and hating people outside their self-selected community is that white people have started doing it to other white people in the same country.

abi @ 235:

I don't think you're an oddity for liking Agile. I'm not in software development (although I'd sort of like to be), but I do try to keep an eye on the field. My impression is that, as you point out, with good human interaction and good management, it works quite well for many people and many projects. When it's buzzword seasoning sprinkled on top of an existing structure because some manager thought it was pixie dust, not so much.

#259 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:36 PM:

abi @235: if you look at the processes in the light of human interaction management, they fluoresce.

This looks interesting. Expand, please?

#260 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:54 PM:

KeithS@258: what's really new…is that white people have started doing it to other white people in the same country.

I'm having trouble reconciling that idea with the history of religious conflict, even just within the U.S.

abi@235: Like Jacque, I'd be interested in more about this. I've so far never been in Agile shop—nor, as far as I can remember, in any place that used a named methodology.

(In an unrelated point (I assume), it just occurred to me that, contrary to Josh Berkus@226, all or nearly all of the paid programming work in my career has been for organizations headed by women. Huh.)

#261 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:54 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz ,

I have "The Good American Witch" in one of my boxes (long story about me catching up on children books I had never read, buying way too many of them and then not reading all of them - it's a pattern for me). I am not sure that I will be able to look through the boxes this weekend and locate it (insert some grumbling about weekend work) but I will be happy to send it to you when I get around to it (and probably read it before that - I do not remember reading it). It may not be in the best of shapes (I do not really remember - can let you know when I find it) but if you want it... :)

#262 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 02:54 PM:

My first Internal Server Error! Trying to shake it loose now...

#263 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:03 PM:

Mary Aileen: If you haven't already, check the baking isle. See also: "seasonal."

#264 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:04 PM:

My theory on Agile is pretty much like Bill Stewart's @225. And we've rather beat on it so that we probably aren't doing it "right", but it doesn't get in the way of doing what needs to be done in our business too much. But it doesn't really fit what we do that well, and it obviously got dropped on us as the latest industry fad. The one time it "worked" (people developed a new feature out in a completely wrongheaded direction, which was caught at the demo) it was treated as a failure.

#265 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:14 PM:

Pfusand @255: It should be in the canned vegetables section.

One would think, wouldn't one? But that's not where my grocery store keeps it.

#266 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:21 PM:

I saw canned pumpkin in the market last weekend. Near the evaporated milk, and with the canned pie fillings. (YMMV.)

#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:26 PM:

Huh. I just remembered. I started seeing Christmas decorations going up in the last week of August (!?) in my groc store. When the shelf-top display went up with the ginormous tree-bulbs, I was moved to write a nasty-gram.

Blessed Ghu, it seemes to have worked! I haven't noticed them the last couple of times I've been there.

#268 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:34 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @251: if copies have sold on eBay, it's possible to find what they sold for in the Advanced Search menu (just check "Sold items"). If you're just looking at Bookfinder or ABE, it's not possible to tell.

My grocery store always has canned pumpkin, including some organic ones. It's either with the baking supplies, or with the canned fruits, in most stores I've checked.

#269 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 03:52 PM:

Jacque (263)/P J Evans (266): Yep, checked the baking aisle. Even took a good, hard look at the Pumpkin Spice Everything display.

Tom Whitmore (268): I did look at the canned fruits in passing, but I could have missed it. In the past, it's always been either with the canned vegetables or with the evaporated milk. Or with the big "everything you need for Thanksgiving dinner next week" display, but it's too early for that in the US.

#270 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 04:20 PM:

Annie Y, thank you very much. I'll cover postage.

#271 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 270

As long as you are not in Australia or something (and even then, it won't be such a problem really), don't worry about it :) Will post back when I pull it out. I see an email on the page you have linked to your name - is that a good email to drop you a note for the address when I am ready to send it?

#272 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Annie, thanks. That email is good.

#273 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 04:59 PM:

Nancy, I don't recall whether the conversation I had (over a decade ago) went into that detail. Tom Whitmore's answer is a good one, though whether it's what Bud would have said, I don't know.

#274 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 05:07 PM:

Jacque @267: I was in my local Costco last weekend, and they have their Christmas section set up already, plus various holiday goodies scattered around the store.

Mary Aileen @248: I always struggle to remember where my local grocery store stocks the canned pumpkin (even after shopping there for close to 30 years) since I only buy it once a year. The only thought I have that hasn't already been suggested is if they have a seasonal goods area. My store has part of one aisle where they stock things related to upcoming holidays. They're probably still on Halloween at this point, but if your store has something like that it might be worth checking.

#275 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 05:14 PM:

Jon (274): The seasonal aisle is a good thought, although all I noticed in that regard was lot of Halloween candy plus the Pumpkin Spice Everything display.

This discussion is reminding me of abi's long, chewy thread about The Sugar Problem a couple of years ago.

#276 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Here, the canned pumpkin is usually in the baking aisle with the other pie fillings. Most of the stores I shop at put the pie fillings on the bottom-most shelf in the display.

#277 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 05:33 PM:

Lori Coulson @#276, that's exactly where my supermarket puts it.

#278 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 05:55 PM:

Regarding canned pumpkin: If I'm not being Captain Obvious here, why not ask the Customer Service desk (or one of the employees) where it is?

#279 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 06:30 PM:

I used to regularly buy canned pumpkin for use in making a homemade cat food mix. It was always in the baking/pie-making section, on the bottom shelf, along side canned butternut squash and canned pumpkin pie mix (with the sugar and spices already added).

And one day, there was no regular pumpkin there. They were all out and I guess weren't in a hurry to restock, because there was still plenty of pumpkin pie mix, and anyone making a pie should be just fine with that, right? And there's no other reason to buy canned pumpkin, right?

So this is a thing that sometimes happens.

#280 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 06:50 PM:

David Harmon (278): why not ask the Customer Service desk (or one of the employees) where it is?

Because I didn't think of it. I should have. That's how I finally found the wheat germ; my family uses it for baking, so I was looking by the flour. Turns out it's in the cereal aisle.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (279): No pumpkin pie filling this week, either. Not that I would use that; it tastes all wrong. Besides, I want to make pumpkin bread right now, not pie.

#281 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 08:22 PM:

KeithS @ 258: Personally I think this discussion is mistaking stuff that popular history books politely gloss over, and stuff we'd rather forget from our own lifetimes, for "didn't happen".

For example, whatever you think of the Mormons as a religion, it's worth looking at the history of how they got run out of Missouri, and then out of Illinois by violent mobs, which is why they ended up moving the entire sect to Utah. Or look at the American Party of the 1850s, aka "Know Nothing" party. That's just off the top of my head.

From what I read a long time ago, the kind of general public bile and WTF in our current election cycle doesn't even approach the level that was common in US elections in the 1800s.

Too far back? I understand JFK was initially considered an unelectable candidate because of the level of unreasoning grass-roots feeling against Catholics. How about the roots of George Wallace's political career? Chicago '68? How about the people in 1970 who were loudly saying "they should have shot more kids at Kent State", while around the same time some leftist radicals were calling for people to go out and jump-start the imminent revolution by shooting some cops? Guys getting beat up for having long hair? Teenagers' tackle ball game being called "Smear the Queer"? The '60s and '70s were pretty damn rancorous. (I'm not really sure if the '80s were less so, or if I just noticed it less.)

The current level of discourse is pretty crappy, but I think it's also being juxtaposed with a view of the past through rose-colored glasses.

#282 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 10:43 PM:

Realized, today:

I turn 54 on Saturday.

Tuesday is my 18th service year anniversary.

Meaning I've had more or less the same job for a third of my life.

* * *
I used to scoop up dented or past-the-holidays-sale cans of pumpkin puree.

For helping with canine digestive issues. Not quite a cure-all but close to it.

Now I miss my dog again.

#283 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2015, 11:27 PM:

dotless ı @ 260 and Clifton @ 281:

There's some interesting stuff relating to who was and wasn't considered white in the US, too. For a long time, Irish weren't, and, I believe, Italians weren't either. Strange to think that now.

You're right, and I'm wrong about my last claim there. Well, that's what I get for my mind going to mush during my long commute. I'm glad to be wrong, I think.

And how I could forget about the Know Nothings, I don't know. I swear I paid attention in my good history classes. (Owing to my schooling situation, I missed out on most of the American Propaganda Disguised as History classes, for which I am grateful.)

David Harmon @ 278:

Back when City of Heroes was a thing, I heard about a character called Captain Obvious. He tended to announce things like, "Ouch, that hurt," or, when face-down in the sewers, something like, "This tastes yucky." I wish I'd seen him for real, because he sounded fantastic.

Regarding the "Owl doing laundry" particle:

I don't know either, but then I never thought doing laundry was a real hoot.

#284 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 12:35 AM:

Jon @274
Costco supplies stock to a lot of small retailers so they need to front run the seasonal stuff so that Costco's business customers will have time to set up their displays and sell things to the eventual retail customers.

They really do sit in the wholesale slot in the supply chain for some purposes. The timing works differently.

#285 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 06:58 AM:

Very tentative theory-- it's not that politics has become unusually hostile lately, it's that we're contrasting the present with a relatively polite and/or apathetic era, maybe from the sixties to the nineties.

It really does seem to me that Americans didn't used to lose friendships over party affiliation. There didn't used to be advice on how to endure being around relatives whose politics you couldn't stand.

#286 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 07:22 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #285: I suspect you're thinking of the artificially-regressed period from the end of WW2 running into the fifties of the late forties and fifties -- after WW2 let the women have a taste of working in factories and managing households, there was an actual propaganda campaign to get them "back in their place". Likewise for blacks, though the GI Bill was something of a spoiler for that. Until, of course, the lid started to blow off in the late fifties....

And I've heard occasional mentions of politics dividing families pretty far back. (Not to mention the Civil War!)

#287 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 07:25 AM:

PS: Also, things got pretty nasty even during the Reagan era, let alone afterwards.

#288 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 01:03 PM:

I don't pretend to know what the lack of canned pumpkin in a particular store might be caused by, but I do know that, in past years, if there was a particularly bad harvest where the majority of the squash was grown, the canned stuff can be hard to come by. (What we call pumpkin is a squash, and almost all canned "pumpkin" is actually a variety of Cucurbita moschata, frequently something like the Butternut squash.) It's really easy to roast and mash your own (and freeze what you don't immediately want to use), but suboptimal if you want to bake now.

#289 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 02:35 PM:

Nancy, #285: a relatively polite and/or apathetic era, maybe from the sixties to the nineties

I honestly don't see where you're getting that.

Maybe people didn't fight over party affiliation directly, but there were definitely friendships lost and families split (up to and including disowning children) over whether or not you supported the Vietnam War.

What I think has made the largest difference is media capture. Faux News is the worst offender, but there's a whole media industry now that makes its money off encouraging people to hate each other.

#290 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 285

Or maybe with internet, FB and Twitter (and all similar things) it became a lot easier to see some of these things - and for people that are prone to it, to get worked up a lot easier and find easy ways to keep hating.

#291 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 03:38 PM:


This may be my fuzzy memories of childhood, but I have the sense that in (say) 1970, there was more-or-less one US mainstream media picture of the world, driven by the three big TV networks, the big radio networks, and the big city newspapers (especially the New York Times and Washington Post), and by the two big political parties.

My impression is that this picture was often propaganda or other bullshit, sometimes more-or-less crazy, but also more-or-less unified. And it seems to me that cable news shows and talk radio, and later Fox News and related stuff, have served to create an alternative media bubble, separate from that of the NBC/CBS/ABC/Washington Post/New York Times consensus. That alternative bubble is often bullshit and sometimes crazy, and looks even worse than the mainstream media bubble in most ways. But the thing that makes it visibly bad is that it's also very *different* from the mainstream bubble.

This is where I suspect there's something interesting happening: It's commonplace for the media bubble inside a country to give you a skewed picture of the world, with lots of blind spots and things nobody mentions. (For an entertaining example of this right now, look at the US media coverage of the Russians' bombings in Syria vs. US bombings in Syria.)

What I think is not so common (at least in my lifetime in the US) is multiple conflicting bubbles, with substantial numbers of people living in different bubbles whose pictures of reality are often wildly incompatible. This makes it harder for people to resolve their differences or make common cause on any shared goals, because they start out saying things that sound crazy to each other. I think this effect is made worse by the tendency of these bubbles to come up with terminology and throwaway references and such that serve as group membership markers, and thus further divide the two bubbles' members.

I mean, it's a big problem that most voters have a picture of the world that's incompatible with reality. But it's an even bigger problem that large groups of voters have *contradictory* broken pictures of reality.

#292 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 04:06 PM:

This Pew Report talks about some of the political polarization of media. There's a lot of detail there, but one big difference between conservatives and liberals in their survey data really stood out: Liberals have a pretty wide range of different media sources that are their primary ones--NPR, CNN, PBS, etc. Conservatives have one really dominant media source--Fox. That means that Fox is in a much better position than (say) CNN or NPR to change their viewers' pictures of the world, say by deciding that some particular story deserves to be shouted from the housetops, or that some particular question needs to be asked over and over[1]. By doing that, Fox can probably get a critical mass of conservative viewers all reading off the same page. By contrast, if NPR tries the same thing, it only gets 15% or so of liberal viewers. It's much harder for NPR (or any other source) to directly decide what liberal listeners will think is a big issue, than for Fox to directly decide what conservative viewers will think is a big issue.

[1] I recall being on vacation a couple years ago when the underage immigrant crisis was in the headlines, and being stuck in a hotel lobby with Fox running for a couple hours. They managed to hit the "Why doesn't Obama visit the border?" question, as far as I could tell, every fifteen minutes.

#293 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 04:16 PM:

The Toxoplasma of Rage is a wonderful SSC post that talks about how a lot of our idea-ecosystem (including both media sites and people on social media) are becoming optimized for outrage, because that's how they become more successful.

Political movements and media sources have used outrage to drive their success for a very long time. But two things that may be different now are:

a. There are potentially an enormous number of sites and people looking for attention, clicks, audience, etc., which can be gotten more efficiently through outrage than in any other way.

b. They can evolve *very* quickly in the current environment.

#294 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 07:54 PM:

Area retiree is disgusted to hear of another gunman going wild in a public place. Watching a few videos found from Googling "how to survive an active shooter" does not help feelings much, but is recommended. Retiree wonders if this might be a good time for one of those emergency preparedness threads, dealing with this sort of occurrence. (If, in fact, one was not already done some years back.)

#295 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 08:53 PM:

My new work gig means not having Twitter up on my work station. I didn't know about the shooting -- way south of me -- until my lunch break.

Local radio news is all over it of course.

I'm so sick of this stuff.

#296 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 09:22 PM:

Ugh, I looked at the screen shots of people egging the shooter on. I don't know if he was specifically an MRA type, but one of those encouraging was, because they suggested he target a girls' school, "which is safer because there are no beta males throwing theirself for their rescue."

I just. I'm furious. I can't tell which is worse, people with this much hate or people who just don't care and it's all a big joke to them.

#297 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 10:48 PM:

KeithS @ 258: I see several other people have raised the first objections (e.g., treatment of any new strain of immigrants and generations of their descendants).

re Agile: with good human interaction and good management, it works quite well for many people and many projects; I suspect \anything/ can work given those conditions, and that little or nothing (existing -- let's not ask for clue-by-fours) can fix their absence.

albatross @ 291: (For an entertaining example of this right now, look at the US media coverage of the Russians' bombings in Syria vs. US bombings in Syria.) Expand, please? I see the BBC is also remarking on the Russian bombing of Assad-styled "terrorists".

@ 294: "Toxoplasma" was interesting for a bit, but I wonder about the claim of the effectiveness of outrage; how often does it move people rather than just getting eyeballs for ads? (The author suggests this further down.) The author notes that support for police body cameras was already high before Ferguson blew up; did the blowup move more operators of civil police to think about body cams?
      OTOH, the Moloch metaphor sounds eerily accurate; maybe the reason we don't hear from star-faring species is that their own tech gives too much growth room to chaos.

#298 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 10:57 PM:

Raph Koster's Timeline of Online World Development. I noticed at least one unexpected name, providing a few quotes starting in the 1973 entry.

#299 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2015, 11:57 PM:

David Harmon @298 -- just made a correction there about Tolkien first being published in the US (1955, not 1966 -- and the Ace pbs were 1965, even). Surprised nobody's caught that one before.

#300 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 12:20 AM:

David Harmon @298: That's a fascinating and very detailed timeline, with some odd lacunae. The quotes you mention probably come from "Oddly, a paper written by a pair of Jesuit astronomers." (in the credits at the bottom of the page)

I would argue that he should have included H.G. Wells' "Little Wars" of 1913 (possibly the first published manual for table-top wargaming).

He mentions Rogue in passing, but don't mention when it was developed (I remember it being very dominant on my school's VAXen in the very early 80s, but don't know anything else).

He says Worlds was founded in Seattle, and developed WorldsChat. In reality, WorldsChat was developed at KnowledgeAdventure in Southern California, around 1994, then spun off into its own company, Worlds, which moved to San Francisco and also had people in Seattle (and elsewhere). They say AlphaWorlds was a successor product to WorldsChat, which isn't quite correct; the two were developed in parallel with very different design goals (though they both used the same underlying 3D renderer). AlphaWorld was oriented towards people being able to build out their own spaces, but had some performance problems with dynamic content downloading on low-memory systems or slow modems as a result; WorldsChat was designed for higher performance, but only in a pre-designed environment (the content was all delivered ahead of time, either on a CD or in one big download&install). Worlds also made several abortive attempts to build MOORPGs based on the WorldsChat engine; none ever saw the light of day. Worlds went under around 1997, then the technology was bought and the company was re-launched around 2000, with a plan to create 3D multi-user environments for various popular musicians. I know Hanson World and Bowie World both reached public view. I've heard that the WorldsChat servers are still running somewhere, though there are very few regular users.

#301 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:09 AM:

Angiportus @294:

Here's the thread:

Active Shooter

#302 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 06:28 AM:

Tom Whitmore #299, Jeremy Leader #300: I suspect the lacunae represent the "stone soup" character of his contributors, and/or limited attention to the list.

My own comments: As of '84-85 (my freshman year), nethack had shown up and was competing with rogue. And if he's tracking group chats, Ascii Express was a dialup chat in the early 80's, running off and mostly accessed from Apple IIs. Some of the chat hosts had hacked their machines to handle up to 10 modems!

#303 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 08:31 AM:

David Harmon @298: Philip Sandifer has posited (in his wonderful Tardis Eruditorum deep dive critical blog) that Terry Nation accidentally hit upon the ideal plot structure for a video game in 1964 when he wrote the Keys of Marinus.

It's not nearly as successful as a television story, but for us much later re-viewers thinking of it that way adds some points of interest.

#304 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 08:35 AM:

Darnit I munged that link. It should go here instead of to nowhere.

#305 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 09:13 AM:

I've long thought of Budrys's "Rogue Moon" as a story that is practically a template for video games, except for the fact that it's got an end.

I once drew a flyer for a comic shop that sold video games. My representation of a game cartridge had a cartoon picture on it of a little guy rolling a huge boulder up a hill.

#306 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 09:18 AM:

Rob Hansen @1: PigGate reminds me of a Smothers Brothers skit, part of a WW1 arc, in which a British officer is interviewing a private who has just been hauled before him for kissing a pig.

"Kissing a pig? … At teatime? [pause] It's just not done!"

"I married the blooming pig, sir."

"You can't marry the pig! … She's mine."

#307 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 10:04 AM:

David Harmon @302, I doubt he's following chat software development per se, or surely he wouldn't have ignored ddials (which were very big in the early-mid 1980s). It looks to me like he's mostly focused on game-related stuff. (Granted, many a trivia game was played on ddials...)

#308 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 10:32 AM:

Has anyone here seen "The Martian" movie yet?

No spoilers, I promise.

I splurged and went to the 3D* version. Solo. Late on a work night when I really needed the sleep.

Ridley Scott understands the 3D media well. The whole movie was basically one big money shot^. I'm a very visual person, and this movie almost overwhelmed me it was so pretty and sooooo big. So much so, when I go back to the theater with my friends (who chose not to go without sleep), I will happily go the 2D route.

Having read the book, I figured it would translate well to the silver screen. I was right. Drew Goddard, the screenwriter, and Scott are obvious in their appreciation of science geeks and really got behind the "Love Letter to Science" theme. (In interviews, that's how Ridley Scott described the book and screenplay.) The movie was very faithful to the book. I will note that a good bit of the stuff that got cut from movie was used in the promotional stuff. The book stuff that didn't get used at all I didn't really miss because book story mechanics are very different from movie story mechanics. There was some very Hollywood bits added, but not very many, and they worked well.

Goddard did a great job of taking the geekery-heavy plot and making it work for the non-geeks while not alienating the geeks. The geek-culture in jokes were wonderful.

I've been reading reviews from mainstream media about the movie. Everyone of them, so far, says "It's good... and funny. I didn't expect the funny." The geek-stream media reviews I've seen basically say, "It's good, but they cut out too much of the science geekery."

Me, I think it's a good "geekery for beginners" movie. I can see why NASA was a wholehearted supporter of the movie. For them, it's a 2 hour and 21 minute recruiting ad for science and exploration.

* Which turned out to be a good choice. I normally hate and/or are disappointed by 3D movies. I don't like having stuff thrown at me. A lot of the early users of the media seemed to favor expanding into the theater rather than making the viewer fall into it. It turned me off of 3D movies really quickly.

^ I find myself paying attention to how the visual elements work during a movie. Every 3D film I saw before abandoning the category, didn't shoot the action to take advantage of stuff like depth of field. ("Up" was the first movie I saw that did that.) Even the interior shots of "The Martian" gave the impression of depth. It worked to give the claustrophobic bits more impact.

#309 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Victoria (308): The (mainstream) reviewer in Newsday thought that the science stuff was really well done but complained that the movie had no plot as such.

#310 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 11:54 AM:

The reviewer at SFGate thought all the MacGyvering was great, but that it slowed when they went to the government/scientist part. (And didn't like the music.)

#311 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Mary Aileen @309, I guess "Cast Away" didn't have a plot, either. Funny that it had two Oscar nominations, one for Tom Hanks, and that it won a Golden Globe...

PJ Evans @310, fair's fair; Watley didn't like the music, either...

(Hoping to see the movie this Sunday.)

#312 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 12:08 PM:

David Harmon @ #302:

QZ-KOM was a dial-up "BBS" (the subtle differences between a KOM/COM and a BBS are numerous and subtle, it's all about feel, and to some extent threaded comments) that started in 1978, spawning multiple derivatives (and a company, KomUnity Software, who developed PortaCOM as a commercial product).

#313 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 12:19 PM:

PJ Evans @310: I've heard a lot of reviews of the book that wish all the NASA stuff was cut, too.

I don't get that. I really like those parts.

#314 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:00 PM:

David Harmon@302: My memory is that "Hack" was around in '85 but it hadn't yet become "NetHack". I'm not 100% certain about this, but I remember noticing the name difference sometime later.

Speaking of "stone soup", I had a a "con vs. catalyst" perspective shift yesterday. I heard someone refer to "stone soup" with an entirely positive connotation, implying that everyone would put a little bit in to make something big to share. I realized that the notion that had stuck with me from childhood, perhaps based on the first versions of the story I heard, focused entirely on the deception—the provider of the stone as a (perhaps admirable) con artist—so I found the reference momentarily startling. It was a common cultural reference that had exactly the wrong meaning to me. (I see that this difference was briefly mentioned here a couple of years ago.)

#315 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:08 PM:

P J Evans @ 310 and Mary Aileen @ #309

This is something that does not surprise me at all. I spent a lot of years participating in work shops and critique groups both in college while pursuing my degree and afterwards while writing for fun and profit. (At my Day Job, I have to write to meet expectations or needs. So judging the audience is a critical thing.)

Over time, I've developed a habit of reviewing the reviewers' reviews. Because lots and lots of workshopping taught me that everyone has their biases and expectations. Every single reviewer I've read/watched so far, puts their expectations in their review. (Along with a full plot synopsis.) As a result, the stronger the expectations the worse the review when one or more expectation is not met.

Lois McMaster Bujold wrote/gave an excellent speech about readers'/viewers' expectations If you want to see a real life version of this in action, (as a preserved narrative) go to Amazon and read the readers comments on "The Sharing Knife: Beguilement". She made a lot of her hardcore fanbase very angry when she didn't stay true to their preferred genre.

So I went and read your examples. (I hadn't seen them yet, since I have a pool of reviewers I prefer plus watching whatever clips a search on YouTube threw up for the talking head-bits.)

There's an expectation gap, for lack of a better term, between the author/movie producer and the audience. I'm willing to bet that if I went and looked at Rafer Guzman's past movie reviews, that he favors plot and action over other kinds of movies. Mick LaSalle prefers standard space operas. Both reviewers seem to need to have an active antagonist to make a movie work -- someone to hate or strive against. They like predictable plot devices.

Both miss the fact that the whole story is a man vs nature story in a setting where no one is out of touch or out of range for very long -- even over incredible distances.

The trailers made it abundantly clear that the movie was about a rescue mission. To "win" against the "shit happens so deal with it" plot, The Survivor has to fight to survive and the The Rescuers have to work hard to retrieve The Survivor. All of the "political and NASA boring bits" are actually vital to the story that was being told, not the movie those reviewers wanted to see.

I didn't think their "draggy, boring bits" were draggy at all. I found them to be some of the funniest parts of the movie -- but then they were all about the coping mechanisms of intelligent and capable people who felt helpless and overwhelmed by the task at hand. I like character-driven feely stuff as well as a good action flick, so my expectation gap is/was a lot smaller than theirs.

#316 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:10 PM:

albatross @ 291: "What I think is not so common (at least in my lifetime in the US) is multiple conflicting bubbles, with substantial numbers of people living in different bubbles whose pictures of reality are often wildly incompatible."

I agree, though I think another unusual characteristic of the current moment is a high, albeit highly selective, awareness of those other, wildly incompatible bubbles. Insofar as there were such bubbles in the 70s (and there were: the John Birch Society has been around for a long time, as have the Wobblies) their bubbles were relatively invisible from the outside. Maybe there was a bar, or a club, or a living room where there was a radically different consensus reality, but unless you somehow got access to that physical space (or accidentally subscribed to their newsletter) you could easily go years without hearing a word they said.

The internet has changed that dramatically. It's another aspect of the "randos wandering into your living room" problem of the internet: sometimes we're the randos, wandering to the living rooms of people inhabiting very different bubbles. We're suddenly in the direct presence of all those strange, hothouse arguments that exist there, full of non-sequitur logics that reach the Right conclusion and therefore go unchallenged. Before, we mostly saw the relatively polished, moderate words of their professional representatives. Now we can peer, at will, into the darkest recesses of Stromfornt or numberChan.

And then that too becomes part of how the bubbles sustain themselves: there are, on both sides of any conflict you care to name, individuals who take it as their purpose to dig through their opponent's communications in search of outrageous claims to carry back and share with their fellow travelers. It's equally characteristic of Fox News and the Daily Show, of GGers and SJWs. "Truly," we all think, "the other side is populated entirely of radicals and monsters! Their extremity surely exceeds my own."

#317 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:29 PM:

For those who have seen the Martian: we're planning on taking my (science-interested, space-interested) ten year old to it this evening. Does anyone have any warning flags to throw on this idea? I'm not worried about bad language, there's nothing in the book that I think would upset her, and she's capable of sitting through all of the Hobbit movies without a complaint to the length, so I think we're good. But if someone here does have a warning, I'd like to know.

#318 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:30 PM:

AKICIML: Does anyone know if the Vorkosigan books have been translated into French? And if so, how I may get my hands on them? (The versions on are in English, so far as I can tell.)

#319 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:38 PM:

dotless ı @314:

Thank you for the link back to that post. Rereading it, I was struck by this passage:

And although I’m sure the Conclave is intending to vote for the Pope who will make us all our best selves, I don’t think they’re the right electorate to identify him. I think they, and the entire hierarchy, have forgotten (or never knew) what it is to be a Catholic in the world. I don’t think they will elect a Pope who will make us our best selves (or them their best selves), and when he does not, I think they will continue to blame everyone but themselves. [...] I wish it were not so. I’d love a Pope who renewed the church, and turned us from an engine of politics and condemnation to one of love and healing.

I'm astonished how close we've come to that, particularly given the electorate and the candidate list.

#320 ::: Craft (Alchemy) sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:53 PM:

Carrie SS @318: apparently yes! French Wikipedia mentions a set of French editions published by J'ai Lu and the entries for individual works have ISBNs listed, which are searchable on Abebooks. E.g. the first omnibus (Cordelia's Honour, I think.)

#321 ::: Craft (Alchemy) does not actually see spam, sorry ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 01:59 PM:

Re previous: no spam - forgot to normalise my nym. Apologies.

#322 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee is grateful for spam-fighting Fluorospherians ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 02:04 PM:

And totally doesn't mind the occasional whoopsie. It's a reminder that our community cares so much about our common home.

#323 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 02:20 PM:

Craft (Alchemy): I'm pretty sure that's the version I saw on, which has the language listed as "anglais". Though I admit it seems odd that they'd translate the titles and nothing else.

#324 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 02:25 PM:

dotless ı #314: The thing is, even the original story wasn't completely a "con", in that the resulting soup was shared among the village. The "trick" there was convincing a bunch of folks (who were "shields up" against giving up anything) to each give a little that they could spare, to produce a common good that was greater than the sum of the parts.

And that's the name of the game for "crowdsourcing", always has been. Note that as Mr. Koster points out elsewhere, "attention is the currency of the future present.) But even so, the same model applies even to "crowdfunding", where many small contributions add up to 'real money". What makes this much more practical in modern days is that it's possible to reach so many people, and for the willing to chip in from a distance.

#325 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:14 PM:

cyllan #317

My answer is a bit spoiler-y, so Rot-13.

Bgure guna gur bppnfvbany fjrne jbeq (naq gurl qvq n terng wbo bs hfvat prafbe-sevraqyl s-jbeq flabalzf gb uhzbebhf rssrpg), gur bayl bgure guvat gung znqr vg CT-13 jnf znyr ahqvgl, shyy yratgug svyzrq sebz gur onpx.

Gur svyzznxref fubjrq jung frireny zbagu bs n fgneingvba qvrg qb gb gur uhzna obql. Zngg Qnzba unf gjb ahqr fprarf: bar jvgu "orq fberf" sebz jrnevat uvf cerffher fhvg sbe 100 qnlf jvgubhg n oernx (ur jnf punatvat vagb uvf mreb-t uneq fhvg) naq bar jvgubhg (ng gur ortvaavat bs uvf gevc gb gur ZNI).

Nyy va nyy, gur ahqvgl jnf hfrq va na nccebcevngr jnl gb shegure gur fgbel. Rneyvre va gur zbivr, Zngg Qnzba'f punenpgre qrzbafgengrf, sbe gur pnzren/bssvpvny erpbeq jung n fgneingvba qvrg ybbxf yvxr ba n cyngr.

#326 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:16 PM:

dotless ı (314)/David Harmon (324): The stone soup story that I originally learned featured a traveler* and a kindly old lady who wanted to be hospitable but who had nothing to eat in the house. Except that she did turn out to have a few odds and ends of things to add to the soup produced by his magical stone. So he "tricked" her, but in a for-her-own-good, now-you-have-something-to-eat kind of way. He left the magic stone with her (having just picked it up from the side of the road himself) so that she could make her own soup with it in future.

*I forget his actual occupation--peddler, maybe?

#327 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:17 PM:

cylan #317:

I'm interested in the same question. I've been reading my kids _The Martian_ (though my middle son took off on his own, so he may finish it before we do). I'd like to take them to see the movie. I'm okay with the occasional bad language (though it causes some giggles among my kids), but I'd like to make sure they didn't insert something wildly inappropriate in there. ("And here's where we cut to a shower scene, followed by a high speed car chase and gun battle through NASA headquarters. Just because.") My youngest is 6, so she's the one I'm most concerned with. I could see her getting scared.

#328 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:27 PM:

So, so I've just started The Library At Mount Char. I'm about two chapters in. And I have to ask, does it stay this grimdark-horrors-all-is-bleak all the way through? Because I'm strongly tempted to walk away right now, whilst i still have some will to live....

#329 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Mary Aileen #326: My, but that's very different! To me, the point was always in the gathering a little bit from everyone, whatever they could spare.

In considering your version, my first thought was why someone whose "cupboard was bare" (especially someone old enough to know how to make soup from scraps) wouldn't already have been scrounging such bits out of the corners. (And that would in turn imply more of a con.)

I'm reminded of another "traveller's tale", where the traveller, refused food despite the apparent prosperity of his hosts, begins stalking back and forth in front of the hearth, exclaiming angrily "well, then, if you'll give me no food, I'll just have to do what my father used to do! Much as I hate to, I'll just have to do as my father would do, when none would give him food!" After a few rounds of this, the increasingly frightened locals decide maybe they should avoid trouble, and share with him some of their food. Afterwards, one asks him meekly, "just what was it your father would do?" To which his response is "Why, he would tb gb orq uhatel, bs pbhefr!"

#330 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Thanks, Victoria!

#331 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:49 PM:


Yeah, that's a good point. There are always a lot of information bubbles whose worldview is incompatible with the most common information bubble in the country. But most of the time, the small bubbles aren't visible. In this case, we have a bigger bubble, and a smaller (but still quite big) bubble, which are in conflict on a lot of questions about what the world looks like. And that makes it hard to come to a consensus.

Note that both bubbles are often wildly out of synch with reality. The way it looks to me, the Fox and NPR/CNN/PBS/NBC bubbles provide a view of foreign policy that looks like a cartoon, complete with obvious villains and good guys, no memory of anything that's happened in the past, and absolutely no notion that the US has ever really done anything *bad* in the world[1].

But even if we're all living in a drreamworld, if we're living in the same dreamworld, we can at least agree on what's to be done. Often, we'll agree on doing silly things, but at least some kind of decision or discussion s possible.

And you've also got a good point about the whole point-and-laugh aspect of a lot of reporting from one bubble to another. I think that's always been somethign that was done (mainstream media sources have no qualms about finding some apparent wackos to point and laugh at), but it seems like right now, it's some huge fraction of visible web articles. Sometimes these are actually reporting what the other side believes, but I think it's a lot more common to find the craziest or dumbest person on the other side, or to find something that sounds crazy taken out of context but actually has some rational thought behind it.

An extremely common construction of these is helpfully "translating" someone from the other side. In these articles, the phrase "In other words...." is usually a flag for "I'm about to spin the other side's views in the most vile, crazy way possible, confident that my readers will be too unsympathetic to him to object."

[1] A lot of the cartoon worldview of the Fox and non-Fox big media bubbles is actually shared, which is one reason why it's often easier to come to consensus on foreign policy than domestic policy. Plenty of Republicans are on board with bombing in Syria or Yemen as a response to ISIS or Al Qaida.

#332 ::: Andrew Woode ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:54 PM:

# 318 etc: I used to own 'Cordelia Vorkosigan' (the earlier title for the French translation of 'Shards of Honor') - bought on holiday in Martinique. Quite enjoyable to see it in another version, though involving vocabulary I do not imagine I shall need again...

#333 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 03:59 PM:

David Harmon@329: That's the fun thing about folk tales: lots of versions. I wouldn't put money on saying which way the "original" story went. In this case, there are differences both of facts (a whole village vs. a lone mark) and emphasis (on the cleverness of the con or on the collective benefit). The way I remembered the story put much more emphasis on the con: if the marks were happy afterward, that just demonstrated how clever the con was.

Amazing Spouse's reaction when I mentioned this was "Seventy-six trombones?"

#334 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 04:18 PM:

David Harmon (329): It's entirely possibly that kid-me interpreted both characters as nicer than they were meant to be (she more hospitable, he less of a con-artist). The fact that he left her the magic stone does support my reading, though.

#335 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 04:38 PM:

Cassy B, I don't know about the Amazon listing itself, but the back cover picture here mentions the translators.

Also, several people have mentioned The Library at Mount Char on another thread if you're interested.

Idumea, thank you and I shall try not to do it again in any case. I am still learning my way round, but spam-spotting seems like one of those chores that basically anyone can pitch in with and be useful.

David Harmon @329: Reminds me of the wonderful bit in (is it?) Men at Arms where Carrot declares that if he doesn't get some answers he will be forced to carry out the order he was given before coming in...

#336 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 05:20 PM:

Mary Aileen #334: Well, there usually is some ambiguity in trickster tales -- exploiting the mark, or teaching a worthwhile lesson, mocking the victim or bringing them into the joke? Not to mention the ones where the trickster gets caught in his own machinations (as in The Music Man, noted by dotless ı #333).

#337 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 05:33 PM:

Lori, #301--thanks. I have also done some Googling on the subject, and feel a tiny bit less helpless now, but still twitchy when downtown.

#338 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 05:42 PM:

Any fluent Japanese speakers in the house? Korean? Chinese (not fussy about dialect)?

#339 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 05:47 PM:

Did anyone else feel terribly conned as a reader when they found out that the magic stone wasn't magic? I think that might be a typical youngest-of-a-big-family reaction on my part, as I was so used to people playing on my gullibility.

#340 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 05:51 PM:

cyllan @ 330

You're welcome.

I hope he, and you, enjoy it. I had very high expectations and came away satisfied and happy. Not unlike this reviewer.

#341 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 05:57 PM:

@318 Carrie S.

AKICIML: Does anyone know if the Vorkosigan books have been translated into French? And if so, how I may get my hands on them? (The versions on are in English, so far as I can tell.)

Gee, I haven't posted here in ages... hello, everyone!

Carrie, I haven't looked at the Wikipedia page, but you can find a list of all LMB's translated works on her official website; the French are here:

#342 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 06:39 PM:

Cassy B. @ #311:

To be fair, the review explicitly mentions "Cast Away" and talks about what it had that the reviewer believes "The Martian" lacks.

#343 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 06:47 PM:

Albatross@331: As Reginald Perrin famously said when confronted with an 'in other words' translation of his views, 'Those certainly are other words'.

#344 ::: Jan B ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2015, 08:52 PM:

Well, all I hear all day long is how wonderful Martian is, and Martian did this or Martian did that.

Martian, Martian, Martian!

#346 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 12:16 AM:

Jenny Islander, I'm still happily exploring the byways of radio echoes. There's a radio version of KING KONG from 1938, and a 1954 LAURA which has Gene Tierney (like their first version with Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb), but this one co-features Victor Mature and, with barely discernible billing that you have to wait until the end for, Joseph Kearns as "Paul Lydecker."

They don't list the casts for Lux Radio Theater (and its related names), which is unfortunate, as the casts are often the best part. Edward G. Robinson as Sam Spade really, really kicked ass in THE MALTESE FALCON, for instance, and the Lux folks practically reassembled the original cast of AFTER THE THIN MAN. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE also has the principals, as do DOUBLE INDEMNITY and others. SHADOW OF A DOUBT has William Powell in the Joseph Cotten role.

They seem to have about the same set of programs as — I mean, of Lux programs. I'm also set to give Cadfael a try there.

And they have a number of more recent Philip Marlowe adaptations from the books, which looks mighty appealing. The regular Marlowe programs include two different dramatizations of "Red Wind," one of which is pretty close to capturing the story, albeit in digest form. Not sure if either one had the sense to present the devastating original close. (The opening is often quoted, but if it wasn't for spoilers, I'd be broadcasting the end of the story instead. All the ineffable feeling of loss from THE LONG GOODBYE is there.)

#347 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 01:30 AM:

Regarding "Stone Soup," the version presented to me as a child was the one about how the people of the village had enough to get everybody through if they just quit hoarding what they had for fear that if they offered one person one morsel everybody would take every bit. They each had a lot of one ingredient, but man cannot live by celery alone.


(Above link is to a Society for Creative Anachronism version of "Stone Soup" by Heather Dale.)

#348 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 07:15 AM:

So, Hurricane/whatever Joaquin is soaking up the US East Coast (and well inland, including here in C-ville). In the course of investigating, I decided to follow Weather Underground on Twitter (which I don't use much), and encountered what I think is my very first Twitter spammer:

"Bernice" followed me unsolicited, announces herself as "Im a hottie geek! And I love to party, even lanparty!" (note density of spamflags), and is following 885 people, but is followed by only 34. Only posts seem to be 20-odd racy-to-porny photos (half celebrity shots) all from September 10 (I told you I don't use Twitter much), starting with her #myfirstTweet.

I'm wondering... just what does somebody hope to gain by this idiocy? Obviously they're not doing too well at keeping followers, but maybe a bunch of porn-fans might have followed them at the beginning (and presumably dispersed when there was no more material). Is that spike something they could actually monetize? Or would they be trying to lure people to direct-message for conventional predation?

#349 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 11:30 AM:

#348: P0rn and spam twitter is like tree pollen. Incredibly easy and almost no cost to produce. They just count on one "grain" amongst millions finding a target.

Even more puzzling that than p0rny spammers are Simulated Ditz Spammers. Their feeds having nothing actually objectionable, just dozens of retweets and vapid generic comments. Sometimes you'll see the same vapid comments on different Simulated Ditz timelines. Best guess is that these are followers for sale, doing their bot thing, or maybe they're trying to get followers prior to a suicidal spam-blitz.

#350 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 12:13 PM:

Joaquin steamrollered the Bahamas before hitting the U.S. and it was doing 157 mph at the time. I've seen an attempt to signal boost this because apparently it isn't getting much coverage in broadcast news. What, did another movie star get divorced?

#351 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Angiportus @337:

You're welcome -- I had fun prowling the archives!

#352 ::: Raph Koster ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 05:59 PM:

Now I know why I suddenly started to get corrections to the timeline again!

David Harmon @298: I presume you mean from Consolmagno? Bumping into his name in multiple contexts was one of my first experiences of Internet serendipity.

As it happens, the history of PLATO is contentious, and there are still simmering feuds around it! More than once I have received emails with updates that have had a fair amount of anger at forty-year-old slights.

@Jim Whitmore in general: thanks again for what you sent in!

Jeremy Leader @300: if you don't mind, I'll scarf that very interesting paragraph up for inclusion! Alas, the last time Worlds was in the news was when it threatened patent lawsuits against every major MMORPG -- I recall a call from (probably?) Thom Kidrin around 2006 or 2007 about it.

Cassy B @307: the original intent was purely around the history of online multiplayer virtual worlds, namely those things that have been various termed MMOs, MMORPGs, MUDs, ORPGs, VW's, PSWs, MOOs, MUCKs, MUSEs, PIGs, and a host of other unpleasant acro- and backro-nyms. Chat systems entered more as a historical sidelight, mostly where there was some trace of mutual influence.

The original historical material was supplied by a few extant timelines, munged together, plus active contributions from people on the fabled MUD-Dev mailing list. I think It last saw major updates in 2002, though minor updates have trickled in from time to time. I remember how tickled I was when I started getting emails from the original authors of Zork.

I used to maintain a list of SF books that portrayed virtual worlds. The volume of said books has now exceeded my ability to track it, but for quite a while there were less than a few dozen.

#353 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Jeremy Leader @ 300: I also noticed the absence of a header for Rogue, which I remember from 1980. (I tried to comment on this and the incorrect Brunner title (it's The Shockwave Rider), but couldn't find a way in even after registering.)

#354 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 07:40 PM:

CHip @353 -- the way I found to comment was to look for the "Contact me" under Raph's "About" section. It worked well (even if he got my first name wrong here).

#355 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Raph Koster #352: Yup, Brother Guy is something of a social-graph nexus, probably from being memorably distinctive in most of his various contexts.

#356 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 08:58 PM:

Heh... talking about Agile, Trello just sent out an article about using it within families.

#357 ::: Raph Koster ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 09:38 PM:

Tom @352: Oops, sorry Tom! I blame poor short-term retention plus having to scroll back and forth a bunch of times as I was finding who to respond to. :(

CHip @353: I'll fix the book title...

#358 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 10:13 PM:

Kip: I happened to remember that the Lux Radio Theater version of "Laura" had Vincent Price, just like the movie, and with that information I was able to find the other major stars of their 1945 production: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, & Otto Kruger.

In 1954 they did "Laura" again, with Gene Tierney, Victor Mature, Joseph Kearns, & Carlton Young.

Like pretty much all the Lux Radio Theater shows, it's excellently done.

I now just checked Jerry Haendeges' Old Time Radio Logs, and he lists at least one star for almost all the shows he has listed.

#359 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 11:00 PM:

Jacque @338:

Moderately fluent in Japanese. Why do you ask?

#360 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 11:20 PM:

Thanks, Cally. I can generally find info on a show, but that's a lot of back and forth with a list of 650+ (though a number of them are dupes, maybe from different source tapes). I also have a fallback, "Ask Andrew," because this guy seems to know every voice. Notice I didn't qualify that. I expect if I said "1954 Lux Laura," he'd say "Joseph Kearns," because Kearns is one of his favorites.

I compared the two "Red Wind" broadcasts while I was on the trudgemaster and futile cycle at the Y. (If I mentioned that to Andrew, he'd first mention Parley Baer, who has a small role in one of them.) The scripts are nearly identical, but with occasional small surprises, so it comes down to a matter of who I like better as Marlowe. Van Heflin sounds a little less stagey than Mohr, but maybe that's just me having listened to dozens of Mohr shows. It even has a version of the standard Mohr opening line that lists three things Marlowe will run into in this caper. "…But who knew that, before this case was over, I'd run into an disgruntled parakeet, a 50 pound keg of Marmite, and the concept of logical positivism in a case I call THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR!"

Screen Directors' Playhouse has some great casting as well, but is usually a half hour. CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR got a whole hour, for some reason.

I should go to bed soon. I can't even tell if I'm digressing.

#361 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2015, 11:31 PM:

ps: Thanks for that link. Even one name per show is a big improvement, all right.

#362 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 12:25 AM:

I thoroughly enjoyed "The Martian."

#363 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 12:39 AM:

Chris @359: Moderately fluent in Japanese. Why do you ask?

I have a silly I want to commit: about once a year, life reinforces to me how important diet is to my mental well-being. In particular, the impact that consuming dark leafy greens has on my mental health.

To motivate myself, I think of it as a practice, such as meditation or a martial art. But, of course, a good practice needs a good name. My joke to myself is to practice this as a 道 (dō) which, of course, needs a proper name. Something in the nature of "broccoli-do." But me being me, of course, it also wants cool calligraphy to go with it, and a simple transliteration of "broccoli" into katakana just won't do, so my search for the Japanese equivalent of broccoli turns up nanohana the kanji for which is 菜の花.

So far, so good; I get approximately this:

菜の花道, which certainly meets the "cool callibraphy" requirement.

But when I ran my construction past my Japanese-speaking neighbor, I just got a puzzled look. Apparently the "nanohana" and "do" don't go together in a way that makes syntactical sense; or at least that was the closest I came to understanding her objection.

So, I could just go with what I've got so far, since really this is just for me to help me remember to be dilligent about this. But it would be really nifty if I could construct the joke such that it actually worked for Japanese speakers, and I could use it, and get a laugh.

Does this make sense? Is this in any way possible?

#364 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 12:59 AM:

Jacque: Your problem is that "nanohana" is already not really a word but a phrase, "flower of vegetables". Notice how the "no" character is noticeably simpler than the two surrounding characters? It's a preposition. So you're trying to take (菜の花) and treat it as one lexical unit, to which 道 can be appended, but it doesn't really work – any more than the phrase "flowerway of vegetables" would work for us.

Some poking around in an online kanji dictionary turns up this:
菜食, read "saishoku", which means "vegetable diet". I think that 菜食道, saishokudo, would work.

(But I am not remotely fluent or expert, so please don't blame me if I'm wrong.)

(And yes, that's the same character which was previously being read "na", now being read "sai". Japanese is really annoying that way.)

#365 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 03:18 AM:

Raph Koster @357 -- No worries, as they say in Australia. I hope you spend a little time looking around here and hanging out -- this is a fun and knowledgeable group of people. Didn't get far enough in your timeline yet to figure out if you talk about Howard Rheingold, Electric Minds, and Brainstorms (the last of which is still going moderately, and I spend too much time there -- it's a lot more comprehensible than the firehose that is F***B***. And if you write poetry....

#366 ::: SorchaRei ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 07:33 AM:

Raph Koster, perhaps you can help me find a book I have been seeking for years. Goodreads and Tomato Nation have come up blank, but it definitely includes virtual reality and it is at least 25 years old. Is there somewhere I can see your old list?

#367 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 10:30 AM:

SorchaRei #366: IIRC, One of Clarke's novels (The City and the Stars?) had reference to VR entertainments.

#368 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 10:50 AM:

Another 6 thumbs up for "The Martian" from me, my husband, and our kid the Mars researcher.

#369 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 10:59 AM:

A 花道 -- read "hanamichi", because japanese -- is the walkway on stage right in a kabuki theatre.

The vegetable's actually called 菜, na, when people aren't being more specific; nanohana just means the flower. Google image search is good for these checks.

I think 菜の道 [na no michi], the path of na, has the meaning you're after.

#370 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 11:30 AM:

I think 菜の道 [na no michi], the path of na, has the meaning you're after.

I love this community.

#371 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 01:39 PM:

I've been thinking recently about how sex gets plopped into places where it just doesn't belong. I've liked the recent song called "Big Girls Don't Cry" (I hope you know, I hope you know/That this has nothing to do with you/It's personal; myself and I/We have some straightening out to do...) ever since I first heard it on the radio. So the other day I went to Youtube for a link because it was relevant to a discussion.

Lyrics: I'm sorry, but I've outgrown who we were together; I'm using our relationship as a crutch; it's time for us to separate; I have to figure out who I am as not-part-of-a-couple.

Visuals: The performer, somebody called Fergie, dividing her time among playing with some guy's nipples, sashaying around in tiny underpants, and doing the high-heeled butt strut up to a microphone so she can sing the refrain while splaying on a stool. All with a wet-lipped drunk-eyed stare. I'm embarrassed to run it on this computer, which is in the living room. I found a good acoustic cover instead.

Yes, we're sexual beings; yes, prudery is not healthy; but if somebody is going to aim a camera at her butt, breasts, and crotch, I expect to be listening to a butt, breasts, and crotch song.

And yes, I know, fish complains that water is wet. I've been off cable for so long that I had no idea music videos were still this bad.

#372 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 02:58 PM:

Kip W @ #360:
I now really want to hear "The Case of the Very Hungry Caterpillar."

#373 ::: Spiegel ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 05:56 PM:

What a coincidence that the thread mentions games, ...and then we held hands and Agile. I've been working on a cooperative game based on software development that incorporates things like pair programming to gain experience. (If anyone would like to playtest it, give me a shout; I've got a prototype running on Google Drive).

I've also been trying to get more people in my workplace to play coops (both because they're fun and as part of team-building exercises). We've tried ...and then we held hands, but couldn't really follow the no-communication rule. We had to resort to a third party whom we dubbed our marriage counselor to help with rules and legal moves. I find it very appealing from an abstract puzzle point of view, though. Would love to get good at it. (In the end we decided to try Hanabi for team building, because it's so much easier to explain and fast to play.)

To add to the Agile conversation: I think perhaps if you haven't worked with waterfall, or if it somehow worked well for you (it didn't for me), it's harder to see the appeal of Agile. And like anything else it can be done badly -- I keep hoping that Annie Y's comment @211 about 60 people has an extra zero or that the standup in question refers to the comedy kind.

#374 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 07:41 PM:

Jenny Islander #371: It's basically the same pattern as tossing refined sugar into prepared foods, or onto "children's" cereals -- going for the cheap "hit" from basic drives, at the expense of deep value.

#375 ::: Raph Koster ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 08:43 PM:

Tom @365: Actually, I've been here many times before; I read semi-regularly but post rarely. I've even had dinner with TNH though I doubt she remembers (there were about thirty of us there; I was dragged along by Cory Doctorow, who is a friend).

I even once posted a poem. :)

I know Howard, actually, we've shared a stage once or twice. BrainStorms is on the list of links I am about to point out to...

SorchaRei @366: I didn't track all "virtual reality" books -- only those that were about online virtual worlds, as opposed to single-user virtual experiences. Otherwise it would have been hopeless. That said, the old list is here: To help you find the book, I would almost certainly need more of a description of the plot. Can you remember anything about it?

#376 ::: SorchaRei ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2015, 11:38 PM:

Raph Koster, as a matter of fact . . .

Summary: Book is about people who live inside a giant immersive virtual reality system, although I think it was written before IVR jargon was invented.

Spoiler-y description: Turns out I recall a LOT about this book, just not the author or title.

Written in first person by a male narrator. The other main character is a woman named Jen. I do not recall if the narrator is given a name.

Book starts by describing Jen and the narrator growing up in a mid-20th century town somewhere in what I think was the Midwest. They are childhood sweethearts. She is more restless and intelligent than he. When they are in high school, she starts asking things like "what if this is not a real world?" and "what if we could escape?"

Soon, the narrator suspects that she has, in fact, escaped, partly because she seems to have no more interest in such questions. So one night he lies awake in bed and manages to somehow think himself out of the small town. He lands on a beach in Hawai'i, where Jen appears, tan enough to suggest she has been there awhile. She pulls a wad of money out of mid-air.

Then there is a section about some of their adventures, both together and apart. In the course of these adventures, they also figure out how the system is set up. It seems that aliens came to Earth with an IVR-type technology. Most humans have been absorbed by the machine and now exist as some kind of glowing balls in a big vat. The planet has been allowed to return to a state unintruded upon by humans and their technology. At one point, the narrator asks to see his little glowing ball. Then he wants to see Jen, but it turns out that she is one of a small minority of people who are too restless and intense to be reducible to a glowing ball, so her body is kept in suspended animation.

Meanwhile, narrator and Jen are growing bored with being able to invent new scenarios and live them out. Narrator becomes discouraged when an alien tells him that in all the lifetimes he has lived in the system he has had no moment of experience that is entirely original to him. Jen and narrator realize that last time they got this bored, they had their minds wiped and started over as children in the location that was the first part of the book. This time, they want to opt out entirely.

So the aliens cook them up new bodies and release them in the North American plains. It all goes well for awhile. Then Jen is injured or sick, and they realize they do not have the skills to survive outside for real, when death is final. So they decide to brainwipe again, but this time, they choose to be raised in a pre-Columbian North American tribe so that when they eventually get bored and get new bodies, they will have the skills to live in that environment. The aliens take them back into the system.

There are numerous issues with the book, including exoticising non-Western cultures and depicting women in a way I sometimes had trouble relating to. On the other hand, as you can see, in a world where I read several hundred books a year, this one stuck with me for over 20 years, and I want to find it and reread it.

Any ideas what it might be?

#377 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 12:30 AM:

SorchaRei #366: Try us. What do you remember about the virtual reality book?

#378 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 01:30 AM:

Bill Higgins @ #377, SorchaRei @ #376:

Nice comment time-travel you two managed! Well, probably complete co-incidence.

In HLN, local area man is about to set forth to work. Normally not something considered newsworthy, but it is the first day at a new workplace.

#379 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 02:14 AM:

Good luck, Ingvar! Hope you have a great day.

#380 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 08:02 AM:

Victoria @ 308: Can I just say how much I like "geek-stream" as a contrast to "mainstream"? So much less implied value judgement than "niche", and makes "mainstream" into an equally marked state. Very elegant.

#381 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 09:57 AM:

Open thread: Today I learned this was a thing. Along with seeing statues of Buddhas with heavy Greek influence on the art. Neat!

(In other news, I am in Greece on vacation, basically illiterate in Greek and still a compulsive reader. It's exhausting.)

#382 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 12:26 PM:

Jaque @ #363

I used to be more fluent in Japanese than I am now, sadly. But...

葉菜道 (yousaidou) might also be a gloss for what you want, while keeping the onyomi (or Chinese-influenced) pronunciation for 道, which does carry a very slightly different connotation than the aforementioned "michi" kunyomi (native Japanese pronunciation).* 葉菜 by itself means leafy greens or edible herbs. (Japanese doesn't make a linguistic distinction between herbs and vegetables.)

* I could write you a brief-ish essay on the distinctions between them, but it's boring unless you're into that kind of thing.

#383 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 12:31 PM:

Andrew M #201: It was said in a rather challenging way, as in 'Why on earth would you know that?'

#384 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 12:33 PM:

dotless i #206: So would I.

#385 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 12:41 PM:

Ralph Koster @352: You're certainly welcome to use my paragraph about Worlds. Those were fun times with interesting people, that I look back on warmly. Yes, Mr. Kidrin was one of the purchasers of Worlds in 2000, it's sad to see what he's done with it lately.

#386 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 02:02 PM:

Sandy B @ 381

Hi! You're close enough that if I were Sarah Palin, I'd be able to see you from my back-garden. If I had a back-garden, obviously.

#388 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 02:22 PM:

duckbunny @ 380


#389 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 02:25 PM:

Re: Stone Soup

I've always thought of the miracle of the loaves and fishes[1] as being more stone soup than miracle. (I mean, okay, I imagine if God wanted to he could make five loaves of bread and two fish expand to feed a huge crowd, but it was easy for me to imagine everyone saying "Ah, what we're supposed to do is share what we have around. Okay, then."

[1] Christian New Testament reference--basically a big hungry crowd is gathered somewhere far from easy-to-find food, and Jesus has his disciples start sharing the very small amount they have for lunch. And so everyone else sits down and does the same, resulting in plenty to eat for everyone, and a fair bit left over for later.

#390 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 03:03 PM:

albatross #389: The water-to-wine thing is another one that I find tempting to reimagine as a trickster tale.

#391 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 03:09 PM:

albatross@389: Xopher made a similar observation in the other thread I mentioned. It's an appealing interpretation, given the "croudsourcing" versions of the stone soup story.

abi@319: You're welcome. I had related thoughts when I reread that post. (Not being Christian, I'm generally cautious about expressing strong opinions on what the Church "should" be or do, but I'm not blind to the effect on my loved ones.)

#392 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 06:47 PM:

Thought I'd mention.

Capclave is this weekend (Friday-Sunday) at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg in Gaithersburg. The hotel is on Perry Parkway, just off of I-270. Is there any interest in a Gathering of Light?

(Probably either Friday or Saturday evening.)

(Driving directions can be found at the hotel website. has transit instructions and other information, including registration, progamming, etc.)

#393 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 07:02 PM:

A couple of belated responses:

estelendur #253: Actually I am unfamiliar with the significance of Smalltalk to graphical interfaces in particular! Would you like to elaborate?

My understanding is that it was the engine behind one of (if not the), first windowed GUI(s), using "blits" for highlighting and boxes, and messages for inter-process communications. I'm not sure if that was at PARC, MIT, or what (the actual developments were well before my time), but that was how Smalltalk was introduced back in my freshman CS "language survey" class.

abi #319: Talk about your "true kings"...

#394 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 11:04 PM:

SandyB #381:

On a business trip to Israel (I got five days notice), I got some insight, perhaps, into the world of a child before they learn to read. All these letters, and they don't convey meaning yet.

I could attack Hebrew script by a basically cryptographic approach, decoding in multiple phases with a pocket Berlitz book. The first Hebrew lettering I read spontaneously was actually food packaging; I realized that it said "bar burger" on the burger box. English written in Hebrew turns out to be moderately common in Tel Aviv.

The other thing that was interesting and challenging is that the letter forms tended to be rather more modern, sans-serif, and harder to recognize (less distinct) than the black-letter equivalents I'm used to seeing. To see that, in Windows charmap, access the Hebrew range of Arial, and compare to the fonts named David, Rod, or Ahroni.

#395 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2015, 11:17 PM:

Somehow I was expecting the particle about the "owl doing the washing" tile to involve one of those peculiar medieval anthropomorphic animals motifs (like the preaching foxes and the rabbits going hunting). Now the (false) image is so fixed in my brain I may need to draw up the design.

#396 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 01:35 AM:

*waves to praisegod barebones*

#397 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 08:09 AM:

Michael I @392. We're in the area, and would be interested in gathering some light. I guess Saturday has the higher ease of doing it.

#398 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 08:12 AM:

Henry Troup @#394:

The first Hebrew lettering I read spontaneously was actually food packaging; I realized that it said "bar burger" on the burger box.

Now I'm wondering if the feminine form would be a "bat burger"....

#399 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 09:49 AM:

Henry Troup @ 394:

My first trip to China was very strange from a reading standpoint. I didn't mind so much that I couldn't understand the spoken language, because I'm used to that anyway. As an inveterate reader, that there were all these signs that I knew contained meaning but I could not read and couldn't even puzzle out how to read was deeply frustrating and disorienting.

#400 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 10:44 AM:

WRT canned pumpkin, this may not suit the need, but I notice that my local groc store has fresh pie pumkins in the produce section. My recollection is that rendering it for pie is as simple as cooking like a squash, and then puree-ing the flesh.

#401 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 11:04 AM:

Jacque (400): Thanks for the suggestion, but any additional work* (such as turning an actual pumpkin into puree) means that I'm not going to do it. As it happens, my even local-er grocery store (the smaller one) had canned pumpkin in the baking aisle this weekend. So I'm all set.

*I find cooking to be incredibly spoon-draining, but every once in a while, when I'm feeling energetic, I have the urge to bake something.

#402 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 11:05 AM:

Louis Patterson @369: I think 菜の道 [na no michi], the path of na, has the meaning you're after.

So, does this refer to that specific vegetable*? If not, is there a way to make that clear? Because the point I'm trying to emphasize is that, while vegetables are all well and good, it's the dark leafy greens—broccoli, especially, in American cuisine—that really make the difference. Just consuming J. Random Vegetables doesn't do the job.

If that makes sense.

* I.e., the rapeseed plant

#403 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 11:22 AM:

alsafi @382: 葉菜道 (yousaidou) might also be a gloss for what you want

Heh. And Google back-translates this as "Leafy Road," which totally works.

I could write you a brief-ish essay on the distinctions between them, but it's boring unless you're into that kind of thing.

Yes, please!

#404 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 11:31 AM:

me, prev: I'm giggling at the italicized kanji, above. I'm wondering if this is a meaningful construct in any Asian language?

#405 ::: Raph Koster ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 12:00 PM:

SorchaRei @376: I'm afraid that book does not ring a bell, and was not on my list.

#406 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 12:04 PM:

Jacque @ 404:

My admittedly limited experience is that bold and italics aren't typically used for hanzi or kanji due to readability issues. I know emphasis is done with a different size or typeface. I think, but am not sure, that it can be done by playing with spacing as well, and would be curious to know if this is true. A cursory search also says that in Japanese, spelling things out in katakana can be used for emphasis, as can using quotation marks. I don't know if using quotation marks holds for Chinese or not. For quotations and book titles, quotation marks.

#407 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 12:21 PM:

@Mary Aileen: Tired Person's Punkin Chunks

We eat this a lot in late fall and winter.

Get a pumpkin that is meant for pie; they're easier to cut up than Halloween pumpkins even if they do cost more. Or get a butternut squash, same-same. Hack up, de-gut, put chunks face down on a foil-lined tray, add just a little water, and bake until soft enough to pierce from the skin side with a fork. (You'll probably have time for a nap or a bath if you're using a full-sized pumpkin.) Turn over, mash butter, sweetener, and pumpkin pie spice into punkin chunks (non-tiny people must do this themselves because Mom is tired), and eat right out of the skin. Nobody likes the crust anyway. If you are of the cohort that takes pie as a reason for whipped cream, have cocoa with lots of whipped cream on the side.

#408 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 12:45 PM:

I have been at my periodic task of marking papers, and am, once again, in search of a good suicide hotline. Either that or some really good aged rum.

I learn many things from my students, one of them being that the English language is stuck in the ICU.


Although humans are all the same, we are very different.

A summer in Algeria, which is already located in the largest desert in the world, can leave a civilization completely famished and dry, due to a very long drought during the dry season.

In the begging of Mozi's teachings as a boy, he was influenced by the ways of Confucius due to his established teachings in the Zhou dynasty.

These forms of benefits would range from a variety of things from providing the local children with a proper education to providing needs for the poor.

Han Feizi contends that rulers should ignore what philosophers like Confucious have to say and govern people by strict and ridged application of laws.

Plato, a Greek philosopher and educator emphasized that someone who is educated is good and withholds morals.

In this essay I will answer the question as to why I Aristotle, rather than Plato, is seen as the founder of political science.

Plato based a lot of his philosophies off Confucianism which of course did not give much room for people to obtain freedom.

#409 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 12:50 PM:

Jenny Islander (407): My eyes started to glaze over when I saw "easier to cut up". When I got to "hack up, de-gut" my mind went NOPE!! really loudly and shut down. Starting from an actual pumpkin and not canned puree Is Not Happening.

(On going back and forcing myself to read--or at least skim--the rest of your comment: Hey! I like the crust!)

#410 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 12:57 PM:

Good crusts are a very important part of a pie. Bad crusts -- well, that's an excuse to eat only the filling. I outsource my crusts in-house (that is, Karen has a recipe that is outstanding for piecrust -- she makes the fruit pies, I make the pecan, and we're negotiating about the savories).

#411 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 01:05 PM:

A good pie crust is a thing of wonder. I can't make them, but fortunately I live with someone who does.

#412 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 01:45 PM:

@Mary Aileen: Best to stick with a small butternut squash then, because you can just stick holes in it, like baking a potato, and then cook it for an hour (shut oven door, set timer, walk away: I love those). At that point you can cut it in half with a butterknife, scoop out the middle, and mash in some butter etc.--again, like a big potato, just with one extra step. This plus a glass of cold milk is lunch sometimes...

But if you're trying to make actual pie, stick with the canned stuff unless your market sells top-quality pie pumpkins.

#413 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 02:21 PM:

Tom Whitmore (410), Naomi Parkhurst (411): I usually buy ready-made pie crusts, although I have been known to make a graham-cracker* crust. Pumpkin pies demand graham-cracker crusts.

Jenny Islander (412): Thanks for the instructions. Unfortunately, I don't like butternut squash. There is at least one pumpkin pie in my near future--Thanksgiving is coming--but the current can of pumpkin is destined to be made into pumpkin bread.

*wheat germ works, too

#414 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 02:23 PM:

The Way of Broccoli:

How about 油菜, pronounced aburana and literally translating to "oil greens"? That's the Japanese word for the Brassica family.

Brassica oleracea is the plant from which we've cultivated all the leafy greens except for chard: kale, collard greens, Chinese broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and broccoli.

Disclaimer: I don't speak Japanese and have no idea how common this word is or if it can be made into a "Way of" without making Japanese people look at you funny.

#415 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @408, I deduce from the subject matter (Plato, Aristotle, Confucius) that these are college students?


#416 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Mary Aileen @413: Well over half of the canned "pumpkin" sold in the US is actually butternut squash, and it's not labeled as different.

#417 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 02:46 PM:

Elliott Mason (416): I'd heard that. Same genus, apparently. If I can't taste the difference I'm not going to care. But I've had butternut squash prepared the way Jenny suggested and hated it. Quite possibly I would hate pumpkin prepared in the same manner; I'm not about to try it to find out.

#418 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 03:12 PM:

shadowsong @414:

That would run into the same problem as nanohana, in that you're trying to put a Chinese-derived suffix (-do) on a Japanese-derived word.

#419 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 03:52 PM:

@Mary Aileen: I wonder if the big canneries peel it before they cook it. There might be a taste migrating inward from the skin.

Pumpkin bread is fabulous! Pumpkin cheesecake too.

#420 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 04:48 PM:

Butternut squash, like sweet potatoes, goes very nicely with soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil.

I also cook it, scrape out the innards, mash, add a couple of eggs, a little milk and some spices (coriander, clove, nutmeg) and bake as a casserole. But I also like it with butter and spices as Jenny suggested, so that may not work for everyone.

#421 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 05:20 PM:

If you have issues with sweet potato casserole being too sweet, try julienning the potatoes and sauteing them with garam masala and a little cinnamon. Had me asking for seconds, and I thought I hated sweet potatoes!

HLN: Local woman spies a new teahouse and decides to give it a try. The judgement is that Kung Fu Teahouse, at Yoakum and Westheimer right across from Half Price Books, makes a very good bubble tea.

#422 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 05:47 PM:

So, I've got a couple of reusable shopping bags that I've been using for years-- very convenient, they each stuff into their own little pockets. Since they were showing a bit of wear (and I didn't have enough of them), I tracked them down to Chicobag, and bought a few more.

By way of the site, I learned that a number of states and cities have been trying to ban disposable plastic bags, but are getting serious pushback: Arizona's city bans forbidden by state legislature and California's ban delayed for referendum. :(

#423 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 06:11 PM:

My latest favorite squash is red kuri. I cook it in the pressure cooker for a bit to soften, take it out and halve/de-seed it, and put the halves back in and cook it to death. Mash up skin and all. The seeds roast fairly well, too.

I think it would probably be good in a pie, as the texture is very smooth, but I haven't tried that yet.

#424 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Regarding canned pumpkin, I just heard on NPR that there's liable to be something of a canned pumpkin shortage this year. Apparently harvests are down by about a third. So that might explain the difficulty in finding it.

#425 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 07:53 PM:

Chris @418: Like using a Greek root and a Latin suffix, I guess?

In addition to 道 -do, Japanese also uses 術 -jutsu and 芸 -gei. Are any of those Japanese in origin?

Alternately, some relevant Chinese words include:

  • 菜花 cài huā "flower vegetable", broccoli
  • 卷心菜 juǎn xīn cài "curly heart vegetable", cabbage
  • 甘蓝 gān lán "sweet indigo", cabbage

That last one is also used in Japanese, pronounced kanran.

(Apparently I treat foreign words like puzzle pieces, trying to see which ones I can fit together.)

#426 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 08:20 PM:

shadowsong: Yeah, pretty much the same sort of thing. It's more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule - shortly after that post, it struck me that karate-do is exactly that sort of mixture.

And I had to look them up to be sure, but both jutsu and gei come from Chinese.

#427 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 08:27 PM:

David H., #422: One thing that several cities with local bans have discovered is that there has to be an exception for grocery items, especially fresh produce. The interiors of reusable bags can harbor bacteria which get onto the produce and hence into the people who eat it, with less than ideal results.

Not one bit surprised about AZ, however.

Seeking advice: I have The Martian, but for various reasons I have not yet gotten around to reading it. I want to see the movie, preferably before it leaves the theaters. Would I be well-advised to read the book first, or does the movie stand up well on its own?

#428 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 09:02 PM:

Cassy B. (424): Hmm. Maybe I should have bought more than one can.

#429 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 09:20 PM:

@Lee: I have not (yet) read The Martian.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

I understand that the book amps up the geek appeal and science content by an order of magnitude.

#430 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 09:36 PM:

Lee, #427:

The film of The Martian, being an adaptation faithful to a remarkable degree, stands on its own quite well.

The book has pleasures of its own, of course, but the film will be a very satisfying experience, if you like this sort of story.

I'd compare it to The Princess Bride (which was famously adapted by its own author (who also wrote a book about adapting novels into screenplays)). You miss stuff if you only see the movie and don't read the book, but the essentials are definitely in there.

Much of the book consists of Astronaut Watney's snarky blog entries. The movie gives him a video blog instead; this weakens the John Scalzi on Mars effect.

#431 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 10:06 PM:

I have reusable (and washable) mesh bags that I use for bananas. Other produce, depending on what it's like, will get plastic bags or not. (Apparently the bag ban is not aimed at produce bags so much at shopping bags. But even produce doesn't need to be bagged all the time.

#432 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 10:38 PM:

Lee @ 421: I hate super-sweet sweet potato casserole, too, and thought that I hated sweet potatoes.

I discovered that I love sweet potatoes cooked and then drizzled with fresh lime juice, and a bit of salt. You can cook them like a baked potato, and just split them open to add the lime juice, or be fancy and peel and boil them.

#433 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Lee @ 421:

I saw "The Martian" movie Saturday, then immediately came home and devoured the novel.

No preparation required for the movie.

The weirdest part for me was HLN: Local man sees first movie in a theater since having detached retina reattached. Minor distortion in repaired eye made 2-D movie almost feel like 3-D.

#434 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 12:07 AM:

> So, does this refer to that specific vegetable*?

Translation's more an art than a science, you know! And my japanese is only conversational level anyway, not translator-level. From wwwjdic:

菜 【な】 (n) (1) greens; vegetables; (2) rape (Brassica napus); rapeseed; (P) [Edit][ViewDB][FreqCnt][L][G][GI][S][A][W]

2: is the historical / original meaning; calligraphy is usually pretty gnomic, so that's probably OK.

[but the flower has a larger role in japanese perception than it does in english; my google image search for na no michi got me pathways surrounded by nanohana, for example. We could use nappa 菜っ葉, na leaf, but that takes us back to "greens" generally rather than the plant you want. Words don't map 1-1, and stuff. Like map projections: you don't eliminate the distortion, you push it to where it doesn't cause problems.]

On a related note: the discussion about pumpkins vs squashes is interesting to me, since australian english doesn't make the distinction. They're all pumpkins, treated equivalently.

... but we roast or boil them rather than making pies. Is that part of the difference?

#435 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 03:50 AM:

Louis Patterson #434: On a related note: the discussion about pumpkins vs squashes is interesting to me, since australian english doesn't make the distinction. They're all pumpkins, treated equivalently.

Did you perhaps mean "they're all squashes"? I'd be amazed if a fellow colony of England folded all of squashdom (including "marrow" and other summer squashes?) into an American winter squash.

#436 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 05:24 AM:

No, speaking as a New Zealander, Louis has it right, if it's got hard yellow/orange flesh it's a pumpkin, so butternut squashes and buttercup pumpkins and the like are all pumpkins to us.

We wouldn't call a marrow a pumpkin, but we don't see them much either, only their smaller versions, which we call courgettes or zucchinis fairly interchangeably.


#437 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 07:35 AM:

[Capclave GOL?]

Checking interest in a GOL at Capclave this weekend. Second post, the initial post is at #392.

Capclave is a local SF convention being held at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg in Gaithersburg. The hotel is on Perry Parkway, just off of I-270.

Driving directions can be found at the hotel website. Transit instructions and other information can be found at

Any GOL would probably be on either Friday or Saturday evening. So far Lady Kay has indicated interest and a preference for Saturday evening.

#438 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 07:55 AM:

See also parts of England (Staffordshire, and possibly elsewhere) where because pumpkins are expensive, they laboriously hollow out a root vegetable and carve it into a "turnip lantern", which in my vocabulary is made of a swede. Turnips are the little ones with white flesh, swedes are the big ones with yellow flesh, except apparently when they're not.
A pumpkin is a large round orange gourd used almost exclusively for decorative lanterns. Smaller gourds are squashes, including the ones that look just like pumpkins provided they're of eating size. Large green summer squashes are vegetable marrow and not popular, but we eat courgette. I wouldn't personally call a squash a pumpkin, but I'd understand if someone did and was referring to food that they might mean any form of autumn squash.
Pumpkin pie doesn't exist.

#439 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 08:24 AM:

Louis Patterson #434, Aquila #436: Interesting! In fact, that got me poking around Wiktionary and Wikipedia. Things I discovered that I hadn't known:
1) All the Cucurbita genus are New World species.
2) American-usage common-name "pumpkin" is mostly Cucurbita pepo, but some of the biggest varieties ("giant pumpkins") are ringers from Cucurbita maxima. WP includes this choice phrase regarding the giants: "Such germplasm is commercially provocative...".
3) C. pepo includes not only pumpkins and acorn squash, but also, surprisingly, summer squash and zucchini.
4) Gourds are a different genus (Lagenaria) native to Africa, but still within the family Cucurbitaceae.
5) "Vegetable marrow" seems not to be what I had thought it was -- I thought it was zucchini, but WP shows an oval squash and notes spaghetti squash as a winter variety.

#440 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 08:32 AM:

The one time I saw a Harry Potter movie before reading the book, it turned out to be the best way to do it, and the others might have been as well. When I saw the movie, I was able to enjoy it without wondering where plotlines had gone, and then when I read the book, there were these new parts I hadn't suspected, so it was a win-win.

#441 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 08:49 AM:

Also, Cucurbita pepo is likely the oldest human-domesticated plant species!

#442 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 08:52 AM:

[Capclave GOL]

I live in the area, I'm not planning to go to the con, but I'd like to get together with other MLers.

#443 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 09:35 AM:

In regards to the Martian and 10 year old children:

We went on Friday, and Daughter was hooked by the movie hard. She talked about it a lot (it replaced her Manual of the Planes discussions for several days which was worth the price of the ticket on that alone) and is plowing through the book with glee.

There was nothing in the movie that I considered objectionable for a 10 year old. Naq juvyr fur jnf n yvggyr jvttrq bhg ol gur ubzr fhetrel fprar ng gur irel ortvaavat, rira gung qvqa'g ernyyl obgure ure. What did bother her were the trailers. While I understand what boxes The Martian ticked to earn the PG-13 rating, it didn't contain anything really bothersome. The trailers, OTOH, were for Crimson Peak (which I'm interested in seeing, but only at home with a pause button and a lot of daylight) and a movie that centered around a dead child and her mother's search for revenge/justice/resolution.

Daughter flatly refused to look at the latter trailer and insisted that I help cover her eyes and ears because it freaked her out. Crimson Peak got a "I'm so glad I've skipped this ad on you-tube" comment, and more hiding in my shoulder.

In short, we will be skipping trailers for non-Marvel PG-13 movies in the future -- at least for a few years.

#444 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 10:21 AM:

cyllan @443, yeah, I saw The Martian last weekend, and my husband and I joked that the person who set up the Coming Attractions had no idea what The Martian was about. There were, to my recollection, two horror flicks, two chick-flicks, one testosterone-drenched revenge fantasy, and at least one other film that I don't quite remember. NONE of the trailers were for an SF movie. (Unless you consider horror to be SF, of course.)

#445 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 10:40 AM:

Mary Aileen @413: Graham-cracker crust pumpkin pie? Brilliant! I must try it...

#446 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 10:53 AM:

cyllan @ 443

V gbgnyyl sbetbg nobhg gur QVL fhetrel!

But having witnessed (and helped) first hand with some of that at the approximate age of your daughter, it never occurred to me that it might not be considered "appropriate" for children. Ah, the joys of growing up on a farm.

I'm glad she enjoyed it.

I will say the trailers were a bad match for the movie. Usually, the trailers are in the same spirit as the feature film. It was like the people who organized this went "We're really short on Space Adventure movies and Marvel/DC has nothing slated for release.... What OTHER movies don't have enough ad placement?" It's either that or "Well, this movie has a certain chance of death along with endless struggling against the odds... Horror sounds like a good fit to me!" (This is knowing that, in Hollywood, the people who make the trailers are not the same people as the ones who make the films.)

I did see a 15 second ad for "The Martian" while waiting for "The Martian" to start. It was a weird mix of surreal and Meta.

#447 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 11:04 AM:

I refer to hard-skinned squash-category vegetables as squashes unless they are round and orange (or white), in which case they are pumpkins.

I refer to soft-skinned squash category vegetables as zucchini, and never as squashes or summer squashes.

I see there are several kinds of summer squash which haven't crossed my path.

I got into a heated discussion with a friend about a successful hot sausage and (butternut) squash spaghetti sauce I made because I said squash and he heard zucchini and he hates zucchini. I like zucchini and have no problem with putting it in spaghetti sauce, but hadn't in this case.

Most squashes taste the same to me, but I think butternut and some kind of squash whose name I can't remember (shaped like a pumpkin, but with red flesh, bought it at a farmers market stand which specializes in asian vegetables) are superior.

#448 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 11:04 AM:

estelendur @445 and Mary Aileen @413
graham-cracker crust pumpkin pie

I have discovered that a recipe of pumpkin pie filling (I use the recipe on the can) nicely fills two purchased premade graham cracker crusts because they are smaller and shallower than a regular pie plate. Bake for less time than the recipe calls for.

#449 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 12:00 PM:

Cassy B #415: Your deduction is correct.

#450 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 12:02 PM:

My own preference when it comes to pumpkins are those that are close to watermelons in size, have orange flesh, and make really good soup.

#451 ::: Gennis ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 12:06 PM:

Trailers for The Martian: we got James Bond, The Hunger Games, and Star Wars. We're actually planning to see two out of three of those, so that might be a record for proportion of interesting to non-interesting trailers.

#452 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 12:09 PM:

Nancy, #447: Squashes definitely don't all taste the same to me. I love zucchini, can eat yellow squash (summer squash), and have issues with most winter squashes. Have tried several ways of preparing spaghetti squash, of which by far the most successful is what we dubbed "Hash Yellows".


1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeds scooped out
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 stick butter
Salt & pepper
Optional - other spices to taste


Preheat oven to 375°. Put squash halves cut-side-up on a baking sheet. Fill the hollows with the chopped onion, and top with half a stick of butter each. Cover tops with foil and bake until done (it took about an hour and a half here). Scrape out squash-innards-with-onions into a serving bowl, add salt & pepper to taste, and mix well. Feeds 2 as a main dish, probably 4-6 as a side dish.

This comes out remarkably like hash browns in both flavor and texture.

ISTR having a butternut squash soup with curry once that was pretty good, but we've never tried to replicate that ourselves.

#454 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 01:00 PM:

For me, summer squash is all the thin-skinned varieties, frex: zucchini, crooknecks, pattypans.
Winter squash are the ones with hard shells, frex: pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash (which is unusual because you don't eat the shell).

(My favorite slow-cooker cookbook has a recipe for 'pumpkin job'. If you like the filling but hate crust, that's the recipe for you.)

#455 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 01:24 PM:

Mary Aileen @409: Boy, I tell ya, that NOPE wall, right? It's amazing what will set it off, and it doesn't always make sense. Couple of times lately, I've been faced with making a grocery run on days off, and while it would, in any meaningful way, be easier to do on my bike, I have to go on foot because otherwise NOPE.

#456 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 01:33 PM:

shadowsong @425: In addition to 道 -do, Japanese also uses 術 -jutsu and 芸 -gei. Are any of those Japanese in origin?

Well, now that you bring it up, I'm not completely wedded to it being Japanese. Though I think I do want more of the "path" or "way" connotation than "skill".

#457 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Bill Higgins @430: this weakens the John Scalzi on Mars effect.


#458 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 01:47 PM:

Aquila @436: No, speaking as a New Zealander, Louis has it right, if it's got hard yellow/orange flesh it's a pumpkin, so butternut squashes and buttercup pumpkins and the like are all pumpkins to us.

Butbutbut...what do you make your jack-o'-lanterns out of?

#459 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Question for the thread: I was talking elsewhere about Ann Leckie's Ancillary books, and described the characters as either human or 'Star Wars human', meaning by the latter 'as close as you like to biologically Homo Sapiens, but in the universe of the story not descended from east African plains apes from Sol 3.' And it struck me that there really should be an SF term of art for the concept, but I'd never heard it. Is there one?

#460 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Butbutbut...what do you make your jack-o'-lanterns out of?

Any of the pumpkins at that link. Crown pumpkins work well, despite being hard as hell to cut through and not orange on the outside. I've also made them out of actual oranges once. But yeah, jack'o'lanterns aren't that common here, Halloween is in spring here, after all.

Here's the one I made last October.

#461 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 02:53 PM:

Jacque @458
That's in the same class as "Why don't you have fireworks at Guy Fawke's?"

BTW, Aquila's definition would appear to capture some of the varieties of sweet potato that we refer to as kumara (which are different from what Maori had on European contact).

#462 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 03:19 PM:

LizardBreath #459: AIUI, in "Golden Age" SF (e.g., Asimov), they tended to be simply described as human, or "humanoid" if they vary a bit more. Sometimes there's a "seeded by Forerunners" backstory, or a "convergent evolution" handwave, but sometimes there's just the declaration "yeah, there are humans on lots of worlds".

Now, with the current state of biological knowledge, both seeding and convergent evolution look pretty unlikely, but then, we haven't actually seen what's on other worlds. If/When we ever do get out there, if we do find effectively-human inhabitants, well then we'd surely be looking for some explanation why.

#463 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 03:21 PM:

Errolwi @461: That's in the same class as "Why don't you have fireworks at Guy Fawke's?"

THANK you. Yes, I was being a snot. :-)

An acquaintance of mine grew up in Peru, so for her Halloween is kind of an alien abstraction. Day of the Dead, now....

It's fascinating to me that things that are so much a part of our native social landscape can be exotic arcane practices to someone else.

Which is why the penny only now dropped wrt Aquila's @460: But yeah, jack'o'lanterns aren't that common here, Halloween is in spring here, after all.

Halloween in the spring is weird enough, but, yeah, ripe squash fruits would be thin on the ground because, duh, spring.

#464 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 03:21 PM:

Aquila #460: Your links are not found on Instagram. :(

#465 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 03:30 PM:

David Harmon @ 462: Yeah, I've got that generally. It just seems like a concept that it would be useful to have a word for when talking about the sort SF where it happens, but I don't know what the word is, or if there isn't one.

#466 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 05:21 PM:

I'm fairly sure that Leckie's humans do come from Earth, because they have songs which originated on Earth (notably L’homme armé).

#467 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 06:14 PM:

Yeah, the humans of the Ancillary* books are very much descended from east African plains apes of Sol 3. Though there's at least one subset of them that's done some significant genetic modification such that they don't look particularly humanoid, just to confuse the issue. (And which show up for maybe six paragraphs of backstory.)

#468 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 06:15 PM:

Andrew M @ 466

Any Human society sufficiently distant from our current context (time and/or place) counts as alien.

#469 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 06:37 PM:

David Harmon @439: Yes, everything from zucchini out through most pumpkins and all the weird decorative squashes/gourds are technically the same species. Sort of.

Well, they fit the "biological species model," in that they will quite happily cross-breed and make fertile offspring.

This is somewhat inconvenient to people trying to grow prize (or merely 'jack-o-lantern') pumpkins one yard over from people growing ... any other member of the species. Because the fruits are grown from the genetics of the SEEDS, not the PARENT PLANT.

This led to one very memorable summer and fall in my childhood yard, where a single, extremely enthusiastic and fecund pumpkin vine, sprouted no fewer than eight wildly different fruit morphologies (apparently our bees were busy and cosmopolitan; there were a lot of yards with high fences, so I have no idea what came from where).

Most of them were really tasty. One made an absolutely FABULOUS jack-o-lantern, because ... well, it wasn't near-spherical like most pumpkins. It sort of almost had a neck, like those knobby three-color gourds they have you make birdhouses of in nature camp. But it was really effective, once we were careful about where we put the face. :->

#470 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 06:41 PM:

I think the description I read was that squashes are promiscuous.

#471 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 07:35 PM:

[Capclave GOL]

Initial suggestion for meeting time and place.

Meet in the hotel lobby at 6:00 pm on Saturday and then proceed to a restaurant.

(I'm open to meeting earlier or later. The lobby seems the obvious place to meet.)

I'm not suggesting a restaurant right now. Any suggestions are welcome. I did print out a copy of the restaurant guide from the Capclave website. There are a number of places within a fairly short driving distance and several within walking distance of the hotel.

#472 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 07:40 PM:

#468: Any Human society sufficiently distant from our current context (time and/or place) counts as alien.

I think Bren Cameron would disagree. Or to put it less cryptically, any sufficiently alien society is distinguishable from a human one -- because it's built and sustained by beings whose minds don't work the way human minds do.

#473 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 08:23 PM:

LizardBreath #465: TVTropes might have a name for it. I won't be looking it up just now, because I want to get some sleep tonight. ;-)

#474 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 08:24 PM:

duckbunny @ #438, I think what you call "swedes" we call "rutabagas".

Bill Higgins, "John Scalzi on Mars" is a pretty good fit.

Though I liked the movie, there's a single line in the book that I think is worth the cover price all by itself. (It involves Aquaman.) I was disappointed that the movie had the setup for it, but not the payoff.

#475 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 09:05 PM:

My first impression after a few days testing the product I was abruptly reassigned to work on:


#476 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 09:12 PM:

[Capclave GOL]

I am good with 6:00pm meeting at the lobby. I will have spouse and child.

#477 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2015, 09:26 PM:

albatross @ 331 "I think that's always been somethign that was done (mainstream media sources have no qualms about finding some apparent wackos to point and laugh at), but it seems like right now, it's some huge fraction of visible web articles. Sometimes these are actually reporting what the other side believes, but I think it's a lot more common to find the craziest or dumbest person on the other side, or to find something that sounds crazy taken out of context but actually has some rational thought behind it."

Yes, it's true. One of the more frustrating things about the last few years is how all the left-wing media email lists I signed up for over the last decade have slid slowly but surely into outrage bait. This is particularly annoying when followed by "--and so send us money!" It's also becoming a much larger portion of my twitter stream than I'd like.

There's a space between "finding the craziest person" and "taking things out of context," which is to find the arguments which maybe don't quite make sense but reach the ideologically correct conclusion, and so are hard to eradicate from within* and become widely circulated. These are almost perfect for propaganda purposes: it really is widely-held, and even relatively sensible members of the group will try to defend it even though, really, it isn't a good argument.

* "Hmm, I agree with cause [x] but I think this particular argument is a bit wonky, see, it--" "YOU TRAITOR" "eep, nevermind"

#478 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 01:27 AM:


Taking up the other half of your conundrum, I'm currently very fond of the El Dorado 15-year Demerara. If your tastes run to the more piratical style, I like Smith and Cross quite a bit, as well as the local-to-me-anyway Lost Spirits brand.

Working the other half of the problem, I try to remind myself that part of college is discovering that chronic sleep deprivation does not help in intellectual pursuits. It helps keep me out of the rum when I run across one of my old college papers unexpectedly.

Despite the evidence, I turned out OK.

#479 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 01:54 AM:

#462 ::: David Harmon

I wouldn't mind having a term for humans who aren't plausibly connected to our timeline-- Game of Thrones is a prime example.

#480 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 01:54 AM:

janetl @432,
For the longest time only one restaurant in my neighborhood -- and even the whole SFBay Area -- had nothing but 5/5 stars on yelp. It was the sweet potato stall outside of a local Korean grocery store. It's one person who sells one item: absolutely perfect fresh-from-the-oven sweet potatoes. I learned that done right, they don't even need salt.

The variety they use is thinner than the typical ones I see in stores, and the oven is made specifically for roasting them. At home I've gotten results not too far away from the SPS by starting them up in the microwave (getting the internal temp to about 140F) and then roasting at a high temperature.

On Peeling Hard Squashes
I've had good luck with my pressure cooker for hard squashes, either to fully cook them or to make them peelable. What I'd found by accident (when I stopped a cooking 7 minutes in because I'd forgotten an ingredient) was that part way done meant it slipped out of the shell easily. (This timing for a squash of a size where 13-14 minutes is done, and 16-20 minutes is done and very, very soft).

Ever since then I've used this method to peel squash, especially those with ridges. Much more recently I learned that a tiny bit of baking soda/ alkalinity added before a pressure cooking lets the squash caramelize. As a complete replacement for roasting I find this works if I'm making soup, but the start by PCing, finish in the oven method is better if the squash needs to stay in identifiable pieces.

#481 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 02:27 AM:

Ooh - a new use for the pressure cooker! Do you cut the squash up first, or do they go in whole?

#482 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 02:43 AM:

Victoria @468

Which makes a lightly-fictionalised account of the Bounty voyage into Science Fiction on the meeting, and clash between, cultures.

This isn't ridiculous, but I think the classification does depend somewhat on the writing style. Anything Aubrey/Maturin is already alien culture, but historical does it differently.

#483 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 03:15 AM:

The cooking utensil with 1000 uses, now 1001. I've had mine for about 5-6 years now, and I have no idea how I got on without one before. All those "then simmer for 3 hours" reduced down to 20 minutes means all sorts of recipes are doable in a short evening.

Cut in half, and this has been for soccer-ball (or a bit smaller) -sized squash. It's a bit trial-and-error, still. I've now had times where the shell slips off and is still hard enough to work as a bowl, and I then use it as such, for a dash of shiny.

#484 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 06:53 AM:

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash
400g tinned chickpeas*
400g coconut milk*
Curry paste or powder

*Based on the size of tins easily available to me; other proportions are highly likely to work.

Peel, remove seeds and chop butternut squash. It will be blended later, but I chop small-ish so it'll cook quicker.

Simmer butternut squash in a minimum of water until you can stick a fork in it.

Transfer butternut squash to blender, along with as much of the water as possible because some of the flavour is in it, and blend until smooth. Or blend with a hand blender.

Add chickpeas, with or without the chickpea water, and blend again. I have to put most of the soup back in the pan first, or it won't fit in the blender's jug, but the soup provides the liquid to keep the blender happy. If blending seperately, stir together before seasoning.

Season. I always use curry paste or powder and a vegetable stock cube, which I (surprise) blend into a portion of the soup and stir in. I will usually use at least some of:
tomato paste (tablespoon or so)
garlic paste (teaspoon)
soy sauce (big splash)
fish sauce (small splash)
salt (a pinch or two, carefully - stock cubes, curry paste, soy sauce and fish sauce all contain salt already)

Simmer for five minutes or until the hungry household arrive home from work.

Add tin of coconut milk. Stir until the coconut has combined. Let it come just up to simmering temperature, and serve.

Makes four big bowls or six starters.

Also good, although notably less thick, with sweet potato. Chickpeas can be replaced with other pulses but be aware of the skins, which may not blend well. Pulses are strictly speaking optional but make for a heartier dinner with protein in it. Chilli haters can use korma powders or roll their own spice mix; chilli lovers can add cayenne or chilli paste.

#485 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 07:39 AM:

Lila @474: They put that joke into one of the pre-movie online promotional vids (supposedly the result of pre-Mars-mission psych training and testing).

#486 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 08:46 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, forgive me, but I have been reading waaaay too much Avengers fanfic, and must recommend you search AO3 for the Foodieverse. It's a restaurant alternate universe. Tony and Bruce do molecular gastronomy. Steve hates being called the hot hipster chef and has a food truck that donates to the hungry. Eventually, Sam Wilson shows up with Potato Rescue, a truck that does nothing but potatoes.

It is ridiculously comforting to me that this exists. And your sweet potato stall. Good job, sweet potato people. Good job.

#487 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 08:52 AM:

Diatryma @486, Kathryn @483: Helpful link directly to the Foodieverse stories.

#488 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 09:58 AM:

[Capclave GOL]

There's a Panera (chain bakery/sandwich place) more-or-less across the street from the conference hotel that wouldn't be a bad place to sit and talk. There's a pretty decent vegetarian Indian place a couple miles away (I normally only eat there for lunch), and there's a pretty nice brewpub with good local beers a couple miles away--they'd all probably be pretty decent places for a gathering. (The Panera will be quieter for talking, but will have less interesting food; the brewpub is quite good, but it will be loud on a Saturday night.)

#489 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 10:11 AM:

Lila @ 474
Oh, but they did! in the teaser trailers and "training mission excerpts" The advertising team took the idea and ran with it. Aquaman and whales.

Nancy Lebovitz @ 479
Alt-Humans (as in Alt-History?)

Dave Bell @ 482
"The past is another country" or rather "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there." If I want to get the quote right.

Having tutored ESL post docs and their spouses -- and provided instruction on how to do everyday tasks* I never stopped to think about -- doing a year-long residency, I've had more than a few paradigm shifts in my thinking. There is a reason the definitions of "foreign national" and "resident alien" are pretty much the same.

* How to get your hair cut. How to find a doctor. Where to find certain types of groceries. How the US Postal Service works.

#490 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 11:00 AM:

I'm not crazy about alt-humans because it suggests to me that humans are different, rather than humans being a stable factor while the background of the story is what's different.

#491 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 11:10 AM:

Lila @ #474:

Ayup. The English call it "swede" as short for "Swedish turnip" and the Americans call it "rutabaga" as an Anglification of "rotbagge" (root ram", which was a local dialect word for the cabbage-roots (which is a literal translation of their Swedish name) in one of the areas that had a high incidence of "emigrate to the Americas" roughly 1830 to 1910-or-so.

#492 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 11:44 AM:

Dave Bell @482: Go read Randall Garrett's "Despoilers of the Golden Empire" (on Project Gutenberg here for various epub formats). The idea's been around for a while -- the story was published in Astounding in 1959.

#493 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 01:51 PM:


It seems like there are several different variations of this.

1 Humans evolved from Earth, but somehow got other places:

a. You can have some prehistorical alien abduction thing going on--someone sampled some humans or hominids a very long time ago, brought them to other planets, and they've gone on their merry way adapting and evolving in their own direction. L Neil Smith's Forge of the Elders series had this idea--a few humans had been sampled by some time-traveling (kinda) aliens, and so a human shows up with no common history with modern humans for tens of thousands of years. I've seen this other places, but can't think of other examples right now.

b. You can have aliens or gods or God or someone forcing evolution to converge on the same or related forms everywhere. There are a couple Star Trek episodes with this idea (retroconning why you can have Vulcans and humans crossbreeding--some powerful ancient aliens planted the seeds for all these related species like humans, Klingons, Vulcans, Cardassians, Bajorans, etc, somehow.) CS Lewis also did something like this in his Space Trilogy--all intelligent life after the birth of Christ would be in man's image to honor the one time God took human form. (If you can get an omniscent, omnipotent God forcing things to come out the way you want, your problems of explaining impossible coincidences nicely go away.)

c. You could have some story where humans developed spacefaring civilization and spread in the past, but then the civilization got bombed into the stone age without leaving evidence. I can't think of an example, but I've probably read this story somewhere.

d. Convergent evolution magically makes sentient beings look a whole lot like humans. (Bipedal, one head, standing upright, etc.) This seems to me to require the equivalent of the dice coming up snake eyes a million times in a row, but I think it was a common handwavy explanation in a lot of SF stories. Subverted in _Protector_.

On the other hand, panspermia[1] is a plausible notion--that wouldn't give you humanoids, but it would give you some shared biology--perhaps enough to ultimately share pathogens and food sources.

2. Humans originated elsewhere and we just got the origin wrong

The best example of this I can think of (for hominids, not humans) is Niven's _Protector_. But I think there have been other stories like this, too. In terms of plausibility, this is almost as bad as convergent evolution, given the incredible amount of fossil and biological evidence about shared ancestry among all living things on Earth, along with approximate timelines given by isotope dating and geology.

Another possible example is in _The Dispossessed_-the dominant spacefaring civilization of the time claims to have proof that humans evolved and spread from their planet. It's not clear if we're supposed to believe them, or simply figure that they're claiming this prestige for their own reasons despite any inconvenient facts; we see people from Earth in the novel, BTW.

3 Human origins lost in the mists of time (they may have come from Earth, they may not, nobody knows)

I think this is pretty common. In _A Fire Upon the Deep_ I think this is the situation--we readers know that humans originated on Earth, but I don't think the humans know much about our actual origin. A lot of stories involving humans or humanoids leave this as a possibility.

4 Humans are on some other planet/galaxy with no alternative explanation.

Star Wars, GOT, etc have this going on. They're just there, deal with it, the author isn't going to tell you how they got there.

[1] The idea is that once life evolves anywhere in the galaxy, it will spread by random events--an occasional meteor carries bacterial spores throughout the solar system, and then out to nearby stars. There will be selection for stuff that can spread via random meteor/commet strikes, planets breaking up, big celestial collisions, maybe even suns going nova. This seems more plausible when you realize just how unbelievably tough some bacterial spores are, and how wide the range of bacteria/archea living environments are. If we someday find bacteria living on mars with shared biological mechanisms with Earth life (DNA->RNA->protein via ribosomes, frex) that would make it really plausible.

#494 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 01:53 PM:

David Harmon @ 367: I'd forgotten that -- but it pushes the line back decades. (Another vision from the inventor of the comsat!) Raph Koster, note that this is clearly multi-user remote VR; when the lead gronks the system he wakes up in his own room, then gets calls from other players complaining. Peripheral to the story rather than central, but definitely fits your criteria in #375.

Henry Troup @ 394: English written in Hebrew turns out to be moderately common in Tel Aviv.
      Is it English, or simply words that Hebrew didn't have? (e.g., I've heard that Japanese has (by pronunciation) "bei-su-bo-ru" instead of using J words for the concept of baseball -- although I can't vouch for the source from however-long-ago.) Is Israel as down on absorbed words as official France is about Franglish (e.g., "le weekend"), or are they more tolerant?

Steve Wright @ 398: Only if it's served at night.

Fragano @ 408: there's a really good single-malt bar whose tender makes intelligent recommendations; unfortunately, it's in Saratoga Springs.

Tom W @ 492: oh yes. Surprising for Garrett, though; I wonder if that was an idea Campbell spun out....

general wrt canned pumpkin: a story in yesterday's Boston Globe said you should buy now if you want not to make your own this year; they said that Illinois (90% of canned "pumpkin") had a lot of fields washed out, so there will be a shortage. I don't remember hearing of floods, but after last Boston's winter I was less attentive to other peoples' weather; can anyone comment? I see from later comments that this would not affect carving pumpkins, so that fact that I've seen at least 4 carved pumpkins (which will certainly rot before Halloween) on the half-mile walk from my home to the Y doesn't mean people are being wasteful.
      OTOH, I'm bemused at not distinguishing between butternut squash (mostly flesh, bright-orange inside) and US pumpkins (mostly air, pale inside).

#495 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 03:27 PM:

Victor S #478: I like El Dorado 15-year-old myself. It's a double-distilled dunder-process rum.

CHip #494: That's a bit of a walk for me.

#496 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 04:49 PM:

I'm reading "Ancillary Justice" just now, and thought it pretty clear that the humans are Earth originated, but the fun question is when did their alternative history branch out from our one? European Iron age? Roman empire gone differently? A mix up of Indian and Alexandrian empires starting in the 4th century BC?

The other thing that occured to me is that I feel I can't judge it properly as a book without having read the other two, because there are clearly plots and backstory and world building which may or may not make sense in the end, but I don't know because I haven't read the other two books.

Also, for the humans elsewhere in Space, Iain Banks had a story where that was virtually just a throwaway back story, that they were descended from ones kidnapped from earth by aliens thousands of years ago, and thus we were really put in our place when first contact came.

#497 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 05:23 PM:

albatross @493:

If we someday find bacteria living on mars with shared biological mechanisms with Earth life (DNA->RNA->protein via ribosomes, frex) that would make it really plausible.

Interplanetary distances are sufficiently smaller than interstellar distances that a common origin for life on Earth and current or former life on Mars is no more indicative of the plausibility of interstellar spread of life than the common origin of life on continents separated by 1000 km is indicative of the plausibility of the interplanetary spread of life. (The orders of magnitude actually work out pretty well for this analogy.)

(And while it's not relevant, if we ever did find such a thing, it's more likely that the original origin would have been on Mars, rather than Earth, for the same reason that meteorites on Earth of Martian origin are known to exist and those of Venusian origin are, last I heard, not - it's a lot easier for rocks to fall downhill than for them to go uphill.)

#498 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 05:45 PM:

albatross @493: Michael Kube-McDowell's Trigon Disunity trilogy is sort of an example of 1c; the ancient human civilization was destroyed by an alien attack, the nature of which is the main plot thread.

#499 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 06:12 PM:

AKICIML: My husband has finally finished the complete revision of his novel, and is about to put it into the hands of beta readers.

I dimly recall some excellent advice about beta readers, more detailed than the also excellent "If they tell you there's a problem, they're usually right; if they tell you how to fix it, they're usually wrong." I think it may have been Mary Robinette Kowal?? But I don't remember where. Anyway, she said there were 4 (?) specific things she asks her beta readers to tell her: something like what surprised you, what didn't you understand, what kicked you out of the story, and...???

Does this ring a bell for anyone, and if so, can you point me at the original?

#500 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 06:13 PM:

lorax #497: On the other hand, chemical pre-panspermia is marginally more likely -- AIUI, we've seen some biochemical precursors (amino acids at least) in interstellar dust clouds -- and more interestingly, they matched Earth's chirality.

Of course, that doesn't preclude another world's biota using, say, peptides for genetic coding, and nucleic acid polymers for structural material.

#501 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 07:18 PM:

Lila @ #499:

From this blog post by Mary Robinette Kowal:

I ask my readers to tell me:

1. What bores you
2. What confuses you
3. What don't you believe
4. What's cool? (So I don't accidentally "fix" it.)

#502 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 07:34 PM:

Lila @499:

She goes into it here, too: How to train your internal editor.

#503 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 08:25 PM:

Surprising for Garrett, though; I wonder if that was an idea Campbell spun out….

I read the story in his anthology TakeOff, where the afterword summarizes the discussion that led to the story. I can't remember who he was talking with, and I don't have the book on hand at the moment, but it was someone who had a habit of asking leading questions that would inspire stories.

#504 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 08:25 PM:

[Capclave GOL]

Meet in the hotel lobby at 6:00 pm on Saturday and then proceed to a restaurant.

I'm not proposing a restaurant right now, albatross suggested some possibilities above at #488.

There are additional possibilities in the Capclave 2015 restaurant guide (I am planning to bring a copy). There is a link to the guide on the website (at the "Printable Material" webpage).

I'm about 5'4", male, japanese ancestry, glasses. I should also be wearing my name badge.

#505 ::: Jim Henley ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2015, 09:42 PM:

If anyone's taking requests, a spoilerific Ancillary Mercy thread would really hit the spot.

#506 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 12:41 AM:

guthrie @496: Why does the Imperial Radch's timeline have to be an alternate to ours? I haven't read Mercy yet, but I don't recall anything in the first two that's inconsistent with them just being our own far-future descendants.

#507 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 12:51 AM:

Chris @503: My copy is at hand (it's where I found the title) and CHip is right -- it was a Campbell idea.

#508 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 01:33 AM:

There are some sampled-from-the-past humans in other solar systems in Ken Macleod's Cosmonaut Keep and its sequels.

#509 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 03:13 AM:

Jim Henley @505:

Your wish is my command.

#510 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 03:18 AM:

Some time ago I posted a rant about a bunch of ads that were then all over the flippin' Internet. They all promised to provide the special secret to being THIN FOREVAH and showed an object that, it was heavily implied, was some type of THIN FOREVAH superfood. Some of the objects were difficult to identify as life forms or pieces thereof. I wanted to know what the heck they even were, so folks had some fun digging up pictures and I learned about Google Image Search and horned melons.

Welp, just stumbled across another one! It's a photo of somebody holding an egg-like object with a white stem or holdfast sticking out of one end. It is a very egg-like object. In fact, it's an egg. A malformed chicken egg...

Here's a link to the blog of the person who took the photo, with some comments about how far the ganked copy spread and who appears to have been using it (Dr. Oz?!).

Eat malformed chicken eggs and be THIN FOREVAH!

#511 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 07:28 AM:

Jenny Islander @510

I've been getting those ads a lot lately, and have been bemused to note that the most recent accompanying photo shows the knees of someone who's been kneeling on pebbles (as penance?).

Do. Not. Understand.

#512 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 08:20 AM:

Random, off-topic for the thread, but my first, second, and third thoughts upon reading this Tiny Cat Pants piece on Tolkien and Lewis was, "The Fluorosphere would love this."

"We were briefly talking about what it would be like to have C.S. Lewis in your writing group and how that might explain a lot about why Tolkien had songs and histories of various grasses and chapters devoted to wandering around in circles..."

And based on past form, the Spooky Saturday posts this month will be well worth reading.

#513 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 09:44 AM:


Well, bacteria spreading between planets would be a nice proof-of-possibility--it would show that microbes could successfully move between planets via natural processes. That wouldn't be proof that it could work between stars, but it would at least show that you *could* get it to work when the spores or whatever had to survive a few months or years traveling within the solar system, and the heat and shock of whatever impact managed to carry pieces between planets.

Now, the scale of the distances is enormous. My back-of-the-envelope calculation says that a trip between the stars at solar escape velocity would take at least thousands of years to get to the nearest star. My intuition (I'm very much *not* an expert here) is that the main danger to a bacterial spore that has already survived the original impact that carried a chunk of Earth out of the solar system will be cosmic rays. Spores don't have any (or maybe just not very much) biological activity going on, so they won't be able to repair genetic damage, or for that matter structural damage, done by cosmic rays. So it's quite possible that a spore that can survive a few years of cosmit radiation and still be viable when it gets into a nice environment will just not be viable after a few thousand years. Other than that, I'd expect the extremely cold vaccuum of space to be a pretty decent one for preserving the spores, assuming getting into the vaccuum and extreme cold didn't kill them initially.

#514 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 10:11 AM:

albatross #513: ISTM a spore's primary protection against cosmic rays would be its tiny cross-section. I don't know how the orders of magnitude work out there.

#515 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 10:34 AM:

HLN: Local man observes that changing the flashplayer plugin setting to "ask to activate" (from "always activate") makes his browser run a LOT more smoothly.

#516 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 11:08 AM:

Naomi Parkhurst @511: As I, er, 'understand' it, the entire point is that "do not understand" reaction. The images are chosen to be unusual such that people go "Wait, how does that work?" and click through to find out what the answer is. It's not unlike the micro-payment fighty phone games that advertise mostly through having pictures of large-breasted women staring seductively out of an ad. It doesn't have anything to do with the content: it's just supposed to grab attention and convince someone to click through.

#517 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 11:24 AM:

>> Eat malformed chicken eggs and be THIN FOREVAH!

Well, yeah. There can't be that many of them around.

#518 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 12:20 PM:

Bruce H@517: yes, but it's possible to create them deliberately, and there would be a large market if you can convince enough people that it actually works. Meaning people would find better ways to produce them.

#519 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 12:31 PM:

David #506 - it seemed suffiently different in lot of little ways to suggest that the original space settlement was not by a heavily Europeanised culture with a decent amount of capitalist democracy in the mix.

Of course being seemingly so far in the future that Dyson Spheres are in existence (or have been discovered and colonised) and the names of the polytheistic gods are different from what we have now, would help give enough time for such things to evolve. Yet in a time binding culture such as we have just now, I personally have trouble seeing the connections between now and that possible future, given the differences.

#520 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 06:06 PM:

HLN: Area man arrives for job interview at nine am, receives phone call at half past eleven. Area man will take up his post, which is career relevant, permanent and in an ideal location, in five weeks.
Area man is still pinching himself.

#521 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 06:07 PM:

Yay area man!

#522 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 06:08 PM:

duckbunny @520, congrats!

#523 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 06:20 PM:

duckbunny @520, that's terrific!

#524 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 06:23 PM:

Duckbunny @ 520: Great news! Many congratulations!

#525 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 06:56 PM:

duckbunny, that's wonderful!!

#526 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 08:20 PM:

Congratulations, duckbunny!

#527 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 08:28 PM:

Over on the other location (forget if it was Reddit or Blog, but I can't reply to it), Ann Leckie was talking about tea, and commenting on the convenience of having a proper tea-water kettle that knows how to make 170-degree water for green tea. I had such a kettle, which then died, and until I replaced it, I had a simple alternative -
diluting boiling water with room-temperature (which is much simpler in Celsius, so I'll convert it using Very Round Numbers and wave my hands wizardishly over the teapot.)

80C = 175F (My kettle used 175 for green.)
75C = 3/4 *100C (boiling water in a microwave is easy.)
_5C = 1/4 * 20C (room-temperature-ish tap water.)
So 3 parts boiling water and 1 part tap or filtered water is just right for green tea.
Coffee wants 190-200F, which is about 10% tap water, so diluted a bit off boiling.

(This assumes, of course, that you're not making tea for the original reason, which is that it makes boiled-for-safety water less boring.)

#528 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 08:29 PM:

Go, duckbunny!

#529 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 08:56 PM:

*squints suspiciously at the malformed chicken egg*

Chickens get ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer and general ovarian funkiness fairly often. Just a general observation from having butchered more than my fair share of old layers ...

#530 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 09:37 PM:

Yay duckbunny!

Bill Stewart #527: If your water needs boiling for safety, you might well keep a bottle/jar of already-boiled water handy for general use. In which case you can use that to adjust your temperature.

#531 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 09:44 PM:

Hooray duckbunny!

#532 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 11:07 PM:

Congrats, duckbunny! :D

Bill Stewart @527: Ooh, clever! Shall have to try that. (I do not habitually drink green tea, because it is inevitably bitter...)

#533 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2015, 11:09 PM:

(A few of you have already seen this, as I wrote about it on Facebook yesterday.)

Yesterday morning when we got up I found our cat Penelope cold and stiff on the floor. Evidently she died suddenly during the night. She hadn't seemed sick or weak and she wasn't old - only about 10 - so it was unexpected. I don't know what happened but at least she doesn't look like she was in pain. It may have been a heart attack or stroke.

Penelope was a very sweet and good-natured goofball. When she was happy she would sit or lie there with the tip of her tongue sticking out and her eyes slightly crossed; our nanny and babysitter, when Seth was small, used to say Penelope's tongue was too long for her mouth. She adored petting and was quite shameless and undignified about flopping on her back like a teddy bear to have her tummy rubbed. She was diligent about washing us to show she was pleased with us when we petted her, and had the funniest array of little squeaks and trills on top of the usual cat meows and yowls.

When I got home from work yesterday, I dug her a good grave about 2 1/2 feet deep out in back of the house. We all said goodbye to her - the other pets got a chance to sniff her - and then we took her out and laid her in the grave with the towel we'd put her on earlier. I recited the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra for her before we buried her.

I'm glad it doesn't seem she suffered much. She is survived by her sister Mme. Curie, her close cat friend Einstein, and her dog friend Maggie, as well as her people.

#534 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 12:32 AM:

Clifton, I'm so sorry. That's got to be such a shock.

#535 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 12:52 AM:

@Clifton: :-(

#536 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 02:01 AM:

Oh, Clifton - I'm so sorry for your loss.

#537 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 06:18 AM:

Clifton, I'm so sorry.

#538 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 06:29 AM:

Clifton #533: I'm sorry for you and your family.

#539 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 07:30 AM:

Clifton @553: I'm so sorry. May her memory be a joy to you.

#540 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 10:24 AM:

[capclave gol]

I'll be the bearded fat white guy wearing a green Weird Al T shirt. (This may not make me stand out in a con crowd.)

#541 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 10:24 AM:

Clifton, I'm so sorry.

#542 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 11:11 AM:

Sad to hear, Clifton. Nay her memory be a comfort.

#543 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 02:47 PM:

Interesting video on bicyclists not conforming with the law in Amsterdam, and how that might be a good thing.

#544 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 03:17 PM:

Chris @ 503 / Tom @ 507: I was sitting a few feet from my copy and didn't think to check. I forget what the first thing is I hate about getting old....

Michael I @ 515: how do you make Flash ask for permission in Win7? (I thought I'd saved a link on this but don't find it.) Win7 search doesn't show me a free-standing program that I can run to alter the settings of; blocking Flash would save me a fair amount of waiting for web pages to open.

#545 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 03:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore #543: There's a deep question there which wasn't mentioned by the video, but is currently being revisited around America: Whose streets are they, anyway?

That is, where is a pedestrian, a cyclist, (a scooterist?), or a motorist: (1) presumed to use the road by right, (2) licensed to use the road subject to good behavior, (3) permitted on sufferance, so long as they don't interfere with higher-status users, or even (4) excluded from use of a given space.

In America, automobiles have the highest status, and while they're theoretically "licensed" on most roads, Patrick's reports from NYC show how in many places, they've gained "presumed right" over even public avenues that are supposedly shared with other travellers. In the Netherlands, it's clearly bicyclists who have the "presumed right" in most areas, and that's reflected in their treatment by the law.

#546 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 04:01 PM:

In Firefox, it's Tools > Addons > Plugins and the far-right column has the dropdowns for changing the activation setting.

#547 ::: LadyKay2 ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 04:16 PM:

[Capclave GOL] I am a 5'9" woman trying to decide between a purple T-shirt and a white blouse. That doesn't help, does it?

#548 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 04:30 PM:

I stumbled on a fun Metafilter thread which starts out with some interview links with a guy who's a romance novel cover model but rapidly turns into ideas for romance novel plotlines, SF vs. romance genre conventions, plots with tall women and short men, A Civil Campaign, and F/F romance novel recommendations with a callout for Heather Rose Jones ("particularly excellent"), inter alia. It just seems like the kind of discussion we all like.

#549 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 05:20 PM:

Linkwalking off Clifton #548: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Trailer.

#550 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 06:20 PM:

So sorry, Clifton.

#551 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 07:59 PM:

Clifton @548

Thanks for the pointer -- I'd read that thread earlier when it was much shorter. Always gives me the warm fuzzies when I see my books recced.

#552 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 08:37 PM:

[trying to kick Heather's post loose]

#553 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2015, 09:12 PM:


I blocked it in the settings for the browser I usually use. Basically the browser has someplace where you can set whether each add-on is set to always activate, activate when asked, or never activate.

#554 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 12:03 AM:

I have a Saturday night ritual. Cue up some podcasts on a mp3 player, walk a couple miles to a grocery store, buy a lottery ticket, pick up any groceries I need for the next day, check last week's lottery ticket, walk home.

Tonight's walk took me through a wetlands preserve / greenspace area. It's night, overcast, no lighting.I have an umbrella because it is drizzling.

At one point the path runs under a corridor high tension power lines; the kind of thing no one builds under. I'm used to hearing a buzz under these things, but tonight it was more of a crackle, and . . .

. . . the hub of my umbrella was sparking.

Nothing dramatic, but there's this wee little arc of electricity zip-zapping around the hub. Looked down; more tiny sparks jumping from the base of the metal umbrella shaft to the ring that the ends of the canopy ribs fit into when the umbrella was closed. Fortunately the handle was dry and insulated.

I'm going to have to that again.

#555 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 12:50 AM:

@Clifton: What a horrible shock! I'm so sorry.

#556 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 01:32 PM:

Lazy weekend, so I found time to skim the thread (I'd love to be a regular Fluorospherian, but don't have the time/energy that being an active member of this community demands). A couple things that stuck in my brain while reading:

Gingersnap crusts are fabulous for pumpkin pies. Like a graham cracker crust, but with gingersnaps instead.

And going waaaay back to the beginning, the Zap Colors bookmarklet is a staple. Bookmarklets are a very old web technology but still useful.

#557 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 03:08 PM:

Phiala (556): Gingersnap crusts for pumpkin pie sound scrumptious!

#558 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Clifton @533: Really sorry. I hope you can continue to enjoy remembering her.

#559 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 05:05 PM:

Victoria @489: I had vacationed in the US on several occasions. But it wasn't until I lived there for three months that I learned/noticed a whole bunch of stuff that was different from the UK. "Two countries divided by a common language" came to mind quite often. It was jarring to find that some groceries that I took for granted in the UK just did not exist in the US - certainly not in a supermarket in rural Wisconsin*. And which foods were cheap and which were expensive also varied somewhat from what I was used to - not to mention the name differences and the pronunciation differences (which sometimes made me think we were talking about different items). Then there was the lack of anything like a national daily newspaper, and what appeared to me to be minimal to non-existent national and international stories on the TV news. Definite culture shock.

e.g. Double concentrate tomato puree in a tube, ditto garlic puree. Fruit squash (look it up if you don't have a clue what this is), various 'standard' cheeses in the UK, such as Cheshire.

#560 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 07:42 PM:

It's not just two countries divided by different grocery choices; it's different areas within the same country. I have a hard time finding bread that we like in the Seattle area (almost everything that doesn't have a soft crust is sourdough, which I am okay with but Andy doesn't like), and can get quite grumpy on the subject of canned beans.

I expected to find different varieties of apples, and kinds of fresh fish; I didn't expect to find different-shaped sticks of butter, or that thin egg noodles are shelved in "ethnic foods."

#561 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 08:06 PM:

Vicki, #560: We had a discussion about this a couple of years ago. And amusingly, very near the top of that thread is a comment about having to search for canned pumpkin!

#562 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 08:17 PM:

I can't find Campbell's Green Pea Soup anymore locally, but up north in Illinois it's still available. Just one of those annoyances.

#563 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 08:44 PM:

Vicki: I think the best bread in the Seattle area (apart from the stuff my husband makes, natch) is from Tall Grass. We mostly get it for parties, because it's a bit expensive for every day, but well worth it now and then. (And of course for people who don't go through a ton of bread in a week, a couple of bucks extra is not that big a deal.)

#564 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 09:25 PM:

#560: The different-shaped-sticks-of-butter thing really tripped me up the first time I baked cookies on the west coast.

#565 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2015, 11:55 PM:

Hyper-Local News: area person gets less than expected done on Friday due to staying up too late reading. Book called "Daughter of Mystery" is blamed. I got seriously hooked partway through, and couldn't stop.

#566 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 12:16 AM:

Elise @ 565: Word. Thank you, Heather.

Vicki@560: The western-US short fat stick of butter is still boggling to me. And a pain to measure in anything less than a full stick.

#567 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 12:25 AM:

They have it marked on the wrapper. You cut off the amount you need, then unwrap the part you're going to use. I've only had problems when there's a small piece left that I'm cutting from.

#568 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 02:10 AM:

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments here.
Penelope is gone, and we miss her, but I remember her with fondness and joy, here and now.

#569 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 02:34 AM:

PJ@567 - sure, but any cutting error is much more significant than on a long skinny stick of butter.

#570 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 05:29 AM:

And there's another cultural difference - whether you measure for baking using volume or weight. Though I do have an excellent recipe for chocolate cake, and another for fruit cake, using neither weight nor standard cups but mugs.

#571 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 08:50 AM:

My dad, who grew up mostly in Texas, claims to have seen a recipe that called for "eight glurgs of molasses."

Seems like a lot to me.

#572 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 01:53 PM:

Clifton: My condolences.

Duckbunny: Congratulations!

General mostly-local news: We had a small GoL in the middle of Capclave--I had a great Chinese dinner with (if I'm remembering everyone's handles right) Lady Kay and her family and Michael I. Good food and interesting conversation was shared. I didn't even realize there was a con going on a few miles from my house till Michael suggested a gathering--I'll have to see if I can take the time to go next year.

#573 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 02:49 PM:

NZ butter comes in 500g blocks, with 50g marks on the paper.

#574 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Tom/David @ 543/545: I wonder what pedestrians would think of that video (a thought sharpened by a friend's problems with keeping mentally focused after being hit by a bicyclist). My recollections of Amsterdam in 1964 and 1990 don't include sidewalks large enough for those shenanigans, but the video scraps may come from outside the inner core. I also sense no sympathy for the post-crash state-of-mind of a driver who has hit a lightless cyclist -- which I see around here far too often. As someone who was a ~60% bicycle commuter for 11 years (stopped when my job moved too far out) and obeyed all the local laws as a matter of courtesy, I'm not sure his support of a "bicycle culture" is warranted -- how much trouble/cost are lights/reflectors and bright tape on one's backpack?

#575 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 07:13 PM:

Not just between different countries, but groceries can differ across generations within the same company. A friend gave me a tea infuser for my birthday, so I went shopping for loose tea, which I used all the time back in the 1980s when I had a tea ball. Since then the United States has apparently switched over exclusively to teabags. After checking three or four other stores, I finally found loose tea at a Super Target.

#576 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 07:23 PM:

Allan, #575: Your local Chinese or Indian grocery will still have loose tea, in better quality and more varieties than you can find in the regular grocery store. Whole Foods (and Central Market, if you live in their area) also sell bulk tea, and some bubble-tea shops do as well. Then there are specialty tea shops like Teavana, but they're going to be pricey. If you don't live near any of those, there are places online to order loose tea, some of them allowing you to custom-mix your own blend. Those also tend to be pricey, though. The Asian grocery is cheap, because it's a staple for their customers.

(Yes, we drink a lot of tea.)

#577 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 07:29 PM:

My grocery complaint is that a couple of my favorite Progresso soups have disappeared, at least from my local supermarket: First Pasta E Fagoli, now Chickarina.

Alan #575: Loose tea is still available in Asian markets and the occasional specialty store. Probably online, too. Also, I got a tea brick at the Monticello gift shop. (After all, that"s what they were dumping at the Boston Tea Party.)

#578 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 09:52 PM:


#579 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 10:10 PM:

The interview with the guy who models for romance covers was interesting. But my mental eyes kind of slammed into a road-block (eye-block?) when the interviewer referred to a photo of the model wearing "only a handful of change over his privates." Visuals often hang me up. In this case, I'm thinking "well, my sweetie doesn't have a fabulous, ah, physique, but he would have to use more than "a handful". Depending, I guess on the coins and on the hand which is full. I may have to ask him to try this out with actual coins. I'm thinking quarters will give the best coverage per dollar.

#580 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 10:25 PM:

Older, I dunno; I think a hundred pennies will cover more than four quarters.... But I admit that 100 pennies is more than a handful. For coverage per handful, I think quarters is the way to go.

#581 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 10:32 PM:

Two rolls of quarters might be enough...if removed from the rolls. It still counts as a handful that way, doesn't it?

#582 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 11:38 PM:

579-581: Spread out, with links (think sequins, or scale armor), it'd take about $4 in quarters to cover most of a 4-inch square area -- quarters are just under an inch in diameter (I just measured one) -- and the coverage does not have to be complete, just obscuring enough. So, yes, a handful of change is actually quite enough to cover most male genitalia without making the censors go too crazy. For comparison, a dollar (or any other US current bill) is 6 inches by 2.5 inches, close as makes no nevermind for most purposes: so a bill is very useful as a half-foot measure for all sorts of purposes.

#583 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2015, 11:38 PM:

elise @ 565

I'll just sit here in the corner grinning.

#584 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 12:35 AM:

That Playgirl pic is probably on the web somewhere, y'know. I'm not gonna look for it.

#585 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 02:35 AM:

Heather @583 Bask in the glow by all means, but pretty please write more too?

Allan @ 575 In my local Safeway you can find a few brands of loose tea, usually on the ankle-level shelves. It can also congregate in the "ethnic foods" aisle; that was my experience in Boston, where it usually ended up between the Irish and British sub-sectors.

Otherwise, there are a number of companies selling tea by mail. I've been using Upton Tea for decades. (Decades? There's an unbalancing thought, for sure). They sell good tea at reasonable prices, and also very fancy tea for rather more. I price out Lipton's teabags at roughly $12 per pound of tea, and at that level you have lots of good choices in loose-leaf.

If you have birthday money to spend, I can also recommend Camellia Sinensis, out of Montreal. They have superb tea, and their prices are correct for the quality of their wares.

#586 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 05:36 AM:

Open thready: the guy from Myths Retold discusses chivalry (very sweary).

#587 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 08:16 AM:

I'm a coffee-drinking tea-philistine, myself, so there are probably some subtleties I'm missing, but... if you have a need for loose tea, and you have teabags... do you not, in fact, have loose tea? Just in lots of little, flimsy, easily-torn-open bags?

(I'm sure it's not an ideal solution, from the packaging waste point of view, just for a start. But is there some actual distinction between the tea that goes in teabags and just, y'know, tea?)

#588 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 08:45 AM:

(In a sand buggy race to Benghazi, Our Hero Tom Slick runs out of gas. Luckily, there's a filling station right there, in the middle of the trackless desert.)

Tom: Fill 'er up!

Attendant: Gonna be kinda hard to do, sonny. Somebody punched a hole in your gas tank as big as a half dollar.

Tom: Confound that "Sneaky Shiek"! I've got to plug it up!

Attendant: You got a half dollar?

Tom: No, but I've got two quarters. They'll have to do!

(from "George of the Jungle" show, late 60s)

#589 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 09:01 AM:

My cousin, who visited last spring, was a loose tea afficianado. We found Lipton at Fred Meyer, a Kroger chain. It was harder to find the little basket; I still have that and the big Pyrex beaker he steeped it in.

#590 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 09:06 AM:

Steve Wright @ #587, the tea inside tea bags consists of much smaller particles than tea sold as "loose tea", with the result that you'd get a lot of little tealeaf bits escaping into your cup from the holes of your infuser. (Or slipping through your tea strainer, if that's the way you roll.)

#591 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 09:39 AM:

Steve Wright @ 587

What Lila at #590 said.

I took a tea class from a tea seller several years ago. What goes into tea bags are what the instructor called "floor sweepings" so its more than just the small, crumbly bits from one kind of tea. Actual tea dust is involved (I actually dissected several tea bags*) plus stray crumbly bits from other kinds of teas processed/bagged in the same facility.

Being anosmic, I don't get anything at all from the infusions and aromatics that other people rave on and on about. I can however, taste the difference between bagged tea crumbs and fresh tea leaves. Tea bags produce weaker, less flavorful tea, unless you want to pay twice to three times per bag for gourmet tea bags. (These are the kind of tea bags that come in a presentation box and aren't carried in most grocery stores.)

Tea leaves make a better brew. The fresher the leaf, the better the tea. Tea leaves, like spices, loose flavor the longer you have them in storage. Which is why I would always double up on my tea bags. I like my tea strong. In the end, it makes more sense to pay a little more for a decent loose leaf tea. I actually go through less of it per cup.

* I was gifted a Japanese style tea pot, the kind with the handle on the side, like a little pot, and a built in strainer. It made sense to remove the leaves from the bag when using that pot.

#592 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Allan Beatty @575: the United States has apparently switched over exclusively to teabags.

Which annoys me as well. I can deal, but if I truly want loose tea, I have to go to some more fru-fru place like Whole Foods.

#593 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 11:44 AM:

Lila, Victoria - thank you for setting me straight! (And I will not now attempt any MacGyver-like improvisations when a situation calls for actual loose tea.)

In fact, I'll stay with coffee, I think. Stick to what you know, that's my motto.

#594 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 12:21 PM:

Steve W., #587: In addition to our loose teas, we do have some in teabags, mostly flavored ones that don't come any other way. And we do rip the bag open to put those into the tea-maker -- not by themselves, but as a flavoring agent for plain tea. Lila and company are right; tea from a teabag is much more powdery, not actual leaves, and you'd end up with a lot of fine sludge in your cup if you tried to use it with an infuser. It doesn't do that in the tea-maker because that uses a paper filter, which is fine enough to catch the powdery bits.

Also, you can have my share of coffee. I'm one of those weird freaks who hate the stuff. :-)

#595 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 12:32 PM:

You can tell that there's tea-dust in bagged teas, because it does filter out, and ends up in the bottom of the box.

#596 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 01:40 PM:

VictorS @ 585

Bask in the glow by all means, but pretty please write more too?

Oh, I am, I am! Every morning before work and most weekend days! The first draft of book 3 is up to chapter 14 out of 35 or so. I'd say something about a pesky day job, but it's the day job that makes me able to write stories that are not particularly commercially viable. (Too mainstream for LesFic, too queer for mainstream.)

My aspirational goal is to be able to produce one book per year while I'm still working full time. Heck, at this point my aspirational goal is to break into the double digits of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for book 2.

#597 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 01:45 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @596, wait, what? There's a book two???? (I'm 3/4 of the way through Daughter of Mystery, and enjoying it immensely.) Off to the bookstore....

#598 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 02:13 PM:

Cassy B. @ 597

Book 2: The Mystic Marriage - alchemy and intrigue and all your favorite characters from the last book doing new and different things

If you want to keep up with all the Alpennia news, I blog a lot on LJ as "hrj".

#599 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 04:34 PM:

If I may put in a plug - Tea Source - has an immense variety of teas and equipment. I am lucky, I just have to drive across the river; they also do mail order. I've never gotten the high end teas, but their standard house blend of Earl Grey is excellent. Loose teas are not as expensive as they seem, because they make up so much more tea than tea bags.

#600 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 05:46 PM:

Well, if we're going to start plugging teahouses.... (They also have an online tea store.)

Last time I was there, I learned a new trick: I mostly loathe Earl Gray because it tastes to me like nothing so much as cigarette smoke. But if you infuse your olive oil with it, the resulting oil tastes really yummy on bread.

(Last time I was there was also my first time being unambiguously in the age of invisibility. Our waitron failed to see me sitting there. Repeatedly. He didn't get much of a tip. :-\ )

#601 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 08:37 PM:

Thanks for the tips on tea, everyone. I'll try the Asian food store (I don't think Omaha is big enough to support specifically Indian or Chinese stores) rather than Whole Foods (which I've never shopped at, although for a while I thought I might try it, but then quinoa became mainstream).

#602 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 08:45 PM:

Hey, P J Evans! Not that any sane person would spend time reading old SGM posts, particularly in threads filled with W--- J------. But if someone did come across a 2013 post in which much-respected ML regular P J Evans mentioned "my fourth-great-grandfather Joshua Knap who was born in New York and married in 1792 in Kentucky (at the same time as his older brother Moses), and who is a descendant of Nicholas Knapp of Waterbury, according to DNA testing," one might get immediately curious about where this Joshua Knapp sits in the line of descendants from TNH's 9X-great grandfather Nicholas Knapp (1606-1670).

To the best of my knowledge and research, T's Knapp forebears are:

[1] Nicholas Knapp (1606-1670), m., bef. 1631, Eleanor (d. 1658). Nicholas was in Watertown, Massachusetts by 1 Mar 1631, when he was fined for selling "water of noe worth nor value" as a cure for scurvy. I swear to God I am not making this up.

[2] Caleb Knapp (1637-1674), son of [1], m., bef. 1661, Hannah Smith (b. 1642, d. bet 1687 & 1691).

The next two are siblings:
[3] Capt. John Knapp (1664-1749), son of [2], m., 10 Jun 1692, Hannah Ferris (1666-1724).
[4] Sarah Knapp, daughter of [2], m., 1691, Ebenezer Mead (1663-1728).

[5] Moses Knapp (1709-1787), son of [3], m., 25 Nov 1731, Jemima Mead (1708-1766), daughter of [4]. This married pair of first cousins is ancestral to the political Romney family, specifically as forebears of Lenore LaFount (1908-1998), wife of George Romney, governor of Michigan and father of Willard Mitt Romney.

[6] Moses Knapp (1736-1821), son of [5], m., 8 Sep 1760, Margaret Kasson (1741-1815). Moses was possibly a soldier in the Revolution, but too many different sources claim that he served in too many different units. His existence, parentage, and marriage are not, however, in doubt.

[7] Calvin Knapp (1770-1823), son of [6], m., 12 Nov 1800, Deborah Hopkins (1778-1831). She was a descendant of Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins, the only seventeenth-century North American to be Tuckerized in a Shakespeare play.

[8] Clarinda Knapp (1802-1862), daughter of [7], m., 11 Dec 1824, Andrew Lee Allen (1791-1870), Mormon pioneers and great-grandparents of Teresa's maternal grandmother Barbara Allen (1903-2003).

Based on that 1792 marriage my guess is that you and TNH are fifth cousins -- that the Joshua and Moses to which you refer are siblings of [7] Calvin -- but Inquiring Minds Want to Know.

#603 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 09:26 PM:

I dunno. We're missing just enough information to make it a WAG. But I do think they left NY because their father had died. (Or was behind bars. There are some records involving a Moses Knap who wasn't a patriot.)

Stranger things have happened.

#604 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 09:34 PM:

That's very interesting. I've long thought there was something...strenuous...about various people's insistence that Moses (1736-1821) was the all-fired hero of the Revolutionary War.

How did you wind up getting DNA-proved as a descendant of the original Connecticut immigrant?

#605 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 10:38 PM:

SGM? W--- J------? [*]

#606 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 11:07 PM:

soc.genealogy.medieval (basically, before 1600)
W--- J------ is someone who went troll.

The one who was not-a-patriot was locked up for a while and apparently died in the 1790s. He might be the guy who went to Nova Scotia. (I keep in mind that about a third of the country was for, about a third was against, and the other third probably just wanted the war to be somewhere else.)
On the DNA - that was one of the descendants of Moses junior. Unfortunately Joshua seems to produced mostly female descendants.

#607 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2015, 11:07 PM:

Teas definitely suffer when kept too long. But what constitutes "too long" depends on the variety.

Some types of tea (mostly pu erh, but some toasted oolongs as well) improve with age under the right conditions.

So there are some fifteen-to-thirty-year-old teas that are pretty awesome. But most are already a waste of hot water after a year or two. It's pretty variable.

#608 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 12:53 AM:

Patrick, I'm going to have to see if I still have, somewhere in my files, the post that involves the ancestry of Wesley Crusher. (It was from 1994 or so, so it's no longer in any archives that I can find.)

#609 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 01:13 AM:

found it - it's 1996. This should get the whole thread to display.

#610 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 01:45 AM:

Quick note:

Been reading Jo Walton's "What Makes This Book So Great" in bits and pieces, and just got to her article on Lord Dunsany yesterday. This inspired me to check the local library catalog for him, and to check out the ebook of "The Hashish Man and Other Stories".

I read the first story, "Charon". It was only about two pages long, so I read it out loud to myself, just to taste the language. At its conclusion, I sat back, exhaled, and may have also said something like "woah."

Basically, that was when I knew I was in good hands.

So. Many thanks!

#611 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 01:21 PM:

This might be the time to mention possibly my favorite standards document ever (not hard, if you've ever read any standards documents): British Standard BS 6008:1980 "Method for Preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests". It's short, readable, and was awarded the 1999 Ig Noble Prize for Literature.

#612 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 02:13 PM:

That standard is no longer available through the link at the Ig Nobels -- they claimed it was 6 pages, which may be short for a standards page but sounds a bit long for tea-making instructions. Even for a standardized cuppa.

#613 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 02:49 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 612:

The instructions themselves aren't that long. The rest is introduction, definitions, diagrams of suggested pots, and the like.

#614 ::: Elyse Grasso ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 05:45 PM:

A quick Google informs me that British Standard BS 6008:1980 "Method for Preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests" is also ISO-3103-1980. It has a wikipedia page.

#615 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 06:44 PM:

Feeling a little low. I've been in the hospital with cellulitis. Back in August, I had a bypass on my left leg, with an artificial artery grafted on. I was doing great, walking around like a normal person last Monday. Tuesday morning I woke up in great pain, with a swollen leg that didn't work. Fortunately I still had a walker. The surgeon's office was no help, other than running an ultrasound and assuring me it wasn't a clot or other blockage. Eventually it got bad enough to go to the ER.

The 5 different antibiotics don't seem to be working well. It's not MRSA -- they checked for that -- but the infection is getting worse. We're planning for surgery, probably tomorrow. Once the cut me open, the options are (1) remove the infection, if it's only one, and/or (2) clean up the grafted artery, if it is infected, or (3) maybe remove the graft and replace it. All of these are much more serious than the first operation and involve a long recuperation. Sorry if this is TMI, but I want you to know I have a good excuse for not being my usually cheery and perky self.

I welcome your prayers and good thoughts. Thank you.

Lila - I'm at Athens Regional.

#616 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 07:01 PM:

>> ... my favorite standards document ever ...

My favorite is the US National Map Accuracy Standards. One page, in this PDF. An earlier search found a two page version.

#617 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 07:12 PM:

Tracie @615, best wishes for the least traumatic and quickest-healing outcome.

#618 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 07:52 PM:

Tracie: OW! I have horrid bronchitis so I should perhaps not visit--unless there's something i could bring you or an errand I could run? In which case I can put on a mask and be generous with the hand sanitizer!

In any case, best wishes for a quick recovery. That sounds extremely unpleasant and scary.

#619 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 08:46 PM:

Tracie @615, prayers and healing thoughts being sent your way

#620 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 08:52 PM:

Tracie (615): Thinking good thoughts for you.

#621 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 09:08 PM:

Tracie, best wishes for you.

#622 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2015, 11:35 PM:

Tracie, I hope that you recover swiftly and fully.

#623 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 12:35 AM:

Best wishes for Tracie.

J Homes.

#624 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 12:56 AM:

Best of luck, Tracie! May everything take less time and less pain to heal better than you expect.

#625 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 01:46 AM:

Best wishes for a good prognosis and quick healing, Tracie.

#626 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 06:37 AM:

Tracie #615: Ow! best of luck in dealing with this!

Elyse Grasso #614: So there really is an ISO standard cup of tea! (Which. I see, has already been noted by ESR.)

#627 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 10:39 AM:

Tracie @615: Oh dear, I hope the infection is dealt with effectively and without further complications. :( *sends a packet of heals, if desired*

*sips tea, brewed to the standard which prevents bitterness and optimizes flavor in these particular leaves* ;)

#628 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Tracie @ 615,

Good luck with the second surgery and let's hope it is the last one.

#629 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 04:38 PM:

In the suicide-inducement column this week, comes this effort at trying to persuade me that the student knows what s/he's about:

It is explained that Socrates was sure to make his students and the gods of Athens understand that a nation cannot be just with rulers who had illogical reasoning.

The image of little Athene sitting at Socrates' feet is just precious. On the other hand, it just cannot drive out the image of the divine Wisdom turning Socrates into a literal gadfly.

#630 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2015, 06:10 PM:

It occurs to me that the fluorosphere might like
#ramereshorts, a Twitter-based literary parlour game.

Each Friday (NZ time, so Thursday for most), the NZ National Book Council tweets a set of six words. The challenge is a single-tweet composition using all six -- with the hashtag, that comes to 124 characters.

#631 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 02:03 AM:

Fragano@629 - For me, this one is about the extremely passive voice. I can't help but think: "It was explained - and I really wish right now I'd been paying attention when it was..."

Possibly continued with: "...but I was daydreaming about that girl with the helmet..."

#632 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 03:27 AM:

Bruce @616

I am old enough to remember 1-inch-to-1-mile maps, and 1/50 inch on the map is a bit over 100 feet on the ground

I reckon the standard is as much to do with the printing process was with the underlying data. The data comes into play with the altitude element of the standard, I think.

But 1/50 of an inch isn't that sharp a line or dot, so there's a bit more precision.

The permitted error in the map is a little larger than you can get with ordinary GPS, most of the time.

I have had experience of government agencies expecting expensive survey data to justify claiming a payment of a few hundred pounds. I heard that the requirement came from the politicians.

#633 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 03:30 AM:

Microsoft are reported to be trying to sneak Windows 10 onto computers as a Windows Update.

Other reports suggest that the process can make an office computer unusable for most of the following working day.

Oh, look! The Winged Victory of Samothrace!

(Installs Linux.)

#634 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 07:12 AM:

Dave Bell #633: I remember seeing something about that a few weeks ago... is this still, or again?

#635 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 10:32 AM:

Surgery finished yesterday, slept soundly. I know they woke me up a few times, but I don't remember. Enjoying the morphine while I can. There's a good sized gash that will be filled next week by some muscle from elsewhere. Six weeks or more weeks of antibiotic therapy planned, mostly outpatient.

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts. I'd like to ask you for prayers and good thoughts for my friend Gale (VIscountess Elitha in the SCA) for her lung transplant.

Morphine is telling me I need (another) nap.

#636 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 10:50 AM:

Dave B., #633: My partner has installed Windows 10 on one of our computers so far, and reports that it took him far less time to render it workable than any other upgrade since about Windows 2000. (Mind you, we skipped both Vista and Windows 8 based on what we were hearing about them from others.) He says that the interface is the most user-friendly in a long time as well, except that they changed the taskbar background color to black and the time-and-date text to white, so that while you can lighten the taskbar color, if you go all the way back to the original light grey then you can't see the text. He also says that this is the first Windows upgrade in years for which he hasn't had to reinstall every single software package we use.

#637 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 11:41 AM:

Lee, sounds like the every-other-Windows-version rule continues to hold.

#638 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 12:33 PM:

VictorS #631: True, that is one hell of a misuse of the passive voice. Nonetheless, I felt that I should have invoked the Divine Jo Walton's wrath upon the student there and then.

#639 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 01:39 PM:

Tracie, thank you for the update and best wishes for continued recovery. I am coughing/sneezing a lot less now, so please do call on me if I can do anything/bring anything for you.

#640 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 05:51 PM:

HLN: Having successfully located canned pumpkin, local woman makes pumpkin bread. "It smells amazing," she remarked, "but it isn't cool enough to eat yet." Local woman fully expects it to taste as good as it smells.

#641 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 07:25 PM:

"Isn't cool enough to eat"? Pah. Don't let fashion stop you eating things you like!

#642 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 08:13 PM:

Paul A. (641): LOL!* I had some a little while ago. It is indeed yummy.

*I only use this literally.

#643 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 08:41 PM:

@Tracie: Best wishes for a fast recovery and rehab.

#644 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2015, 11:00 PM:

So, Mary Aileen @642, that's LLOL? Or is it LOLL?

#645 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 10:36 AM:

Tom Whitmore (644): I think I prefer LLOL, but either one would work. Except it would still require an explanation every single time.

#646 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 03:48 PM:

HLN: Someone on Metafilter the other day mentioned some people who had come up with a delicious pate made of wildebeest meat. Area retiree, reading of this, joins in chorus of encouraging all to start spreading the gnus.

#647 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 04:33 PM:

Angiportus (646): Oh, thank goodness, I was starting to think I'd broken the blog. The previous comment was my #645, from five hours ago. Is everyone out having lives, or something?

Also, I love "spreading the gnus."

#648 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 05:14 PM:

I currently have Linux Mint 17.2 on an external hard drive, booting fine.

If your PC can be set to boot from USB this is pretty easy to set up, as such things go, and the results are quite usable with USB 2.0

The drive I am using is capable of USB 3.0 which should be excellent speed. I still have to get the nVidia drivers installed, and I want to do some other tweaking, but Kerbal Space Program is working well enough in its Linux version.

I have most of the software I use booting in Linux. There's a couple of Windows programs I think I can run in Wine, and Google Drive looks to be awkward.

Compared to the hassles I have had with Windows since August, Linux seems to be quick, easy, and reliable. And this is a step-by-step pathway which, as long as you are careful about where you save your data, is trivial to reverse.

Yes, I know how the publishing business depends on MS Office. I haven't checked in detail but the Wine package has a history of supporting Office well.

I am also perhaps rather blasé about some of the file-editing a Linux install can need. Some people reading this will have no knowledge of the furkling that MS-DOS required in the last century.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Some people with interests in computer security may be justifiably nervous about the possibilities which come from being able to do a USB boot.

#649 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 06:39 PM:

This moose has been out shopping and doing stuff for most of today. Tomorrow may well see a serious attempt at "making light" because there is a kit of 7-led photographic/video lights to assemble.

Everyone has been "Doing Stuff" today, I think.

#650 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 09:11 PM:

I had the Houston Bead Society meeting, followed by a couple of hours spent running flyers around for our show next weekend, followed by actually sitting down and making jewelry! And then dinner out with a friend. So I've been offline for much of the day.

#651 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 09:34 PM:

Paul A @ 641: it's not just fashion. A late friend who was fairly serious about bread making argued that it in fact tasted better after being allowed to cool. A surviving friend who also does bread says she tested this and concurred. YMMV. Also note that this was real bread; a lot of "pumpkin bread" is really a cake, like "banana bread"; however, I wouldn't assume that eating something that one can easily smell outside one's mouth would taste better -- senses do overload.

#652 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 09:40 PM:

CHip (651): At the risk of ruining the joke by explaining it, I took Paul to be punning on 'cool enough'.

(Apologies if you already understood this and were just riffing.)

#653 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 09:42 PM:

CHip #651: YMMV indeed -- I love bread nearly fresh out of the oven (I do let it cool to non-burny temperatures). However, it is harder to slice before it "solidifies", and if the loaf isn't being devoured immediately (say, by a swarm of college students ;) ), the cut face will also dry out and get a bit crusty.

#654 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 10:43 PM:

After you cut it, you put it cut side down on the work surface. That will slow it drying out.

Or you wait until it's at room temperature, bag it, and stash it in the freezer. Assuming you can keep the hordes from devouring it first. *g*

Quick breads, like pumpkin and banana bread, are denser than cake. They don't have all that air beaten into them. That's why you can slice them so thin.

#655 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 10:51 PM:

For Tracie: prayers, best wishes, and a candle for healing.

#656 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2015, 11:30 PM:

Angiportus @ 646:

<sings>I'm a gnu. I'm a gnu! The gnicest work of gnature in the zoo.</sings>

Dave Bell @ 648:

Wine supports office pretty well. The commercial version, Crossover, explicitly supports it and makes everything work smoothly.

#657 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 01:06 AM:

Taylors of Harrogate is that weird exception among bagged teas, in that it brews up strong and flavorful every time. The Pure Assam is my necessary morning cup.

Jacque - speaking local to local, what do you think of Ku Cha House of Tea? It is my preferred walk-in source for all the anguished tea-dithering I could hope to do in an afternoon. Also a very pleasant place to sit and enjoy that tea; the back half of the shop is partitioned off with tables and soft lighting and a fountain. Saturday afternoons they do free tastings, too.

Definitely more selection than WF, and probably higher quality; possibly higher price too, though. I'll only buy 2 oz or so at a time (milk oolong and sweet green rice pu-erh are favorites) and I'll make that stuff *last.*

(And now that I'm all caught up--)

Best wishes to Tracie for speedy healing. All the sympathies to Clifton. All the congratulations to duckbunny.

#658 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 10:34 AM:

HLN: Local man attends Maryland Renaissance Festival. Decides that the Irish Rover
of the folk song is obviously a TARDIS.

Although probably a defective one considering what happens to the crew...

#659 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 11:46 AM:

HLN: I am recovering from annoying respiratory crud. Spouse set up the lightbox and has been reminding me about its use.
I have an interview for admission to the teaching program on the 23th (which is Friday, not Thursday, in spite of my brain trying to change it). I am definitely hoping that all respiratory crud is completely out of the system at that point.

#660 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 11:54 AM:

I have a writing resources request for you fine writerly folks:

So every year for NaNoWriMo I set myself a challenge to do something in my writing that I haven't done before. This year I'm thinking of challenging myself to actually include a romance subplot of some sort. (Because, despite the fact that it seems to be considered obligatory for the main character to have a Love Interest, I have never actually written a story in which that was part of the plot. I have one story where the main character has a crush on a minor character but that's background detail and doesn't really affect the plot at all, and neither does it get resolved into relationship or no relationship. It's just there, as part of building the character and the community the MC is part of.)

The issue is that I really hate the style of romantic subplot where the two characters hate each other with a passion then fall in love equally passionately as they find out they are The One for each other. I also really hate the style of romantic subplot where one of the characters (usually the man) pursues the other, ignoring the other's rejection, until she realizes that he's The One for her and they fall passionately in love. And... I don't know of a lot of other examples to study! Those, and the Love Interest being the passive prize which is won after the Hero does his heroic thing, seem to be the most common romantic subplots. Not. Interested.

Any recommendations for resources on how to set up a romantic subplot that is interesting but doesn't fall into the type of "romance" that ranges from making me want to nope the hell out of there, to rolling my eyes and trying to ignore it and find the main plot again? I figure if anybody knows this stuff, it will be the people here!

Side note, I saw a recommendation a while back, possibly here, to try Courtney Milan. I read most of the brothers sinister series and enjoyed all of them except the midwinter one, with the doctor, which at several points made me roll my eyes and at one point made me say OH HELL NO and also made me very reluctant to finish the series. (I did, eventually, because that one seemed to be an outlier, and I'm glad I did. Also glad that wasn't the first one I read, otherwise I'd have never read the others.) Most of those ones seemed to be of the sort where some external situation makes the romance not an option until the two people involved make it happen anyway.

Side note 2, I started reading the Vorkosigan series a while back, because I kept seeing it mentioned here. Not very far into it because my library only has a handful of the newest ones and I'm trying to read it in order. Through the first book I kept thinking "misattribution of arousal" as Cordelia falls in love with her captor and literally the only man on the entire planet while she's in a dangerous situation. Sigh.

#661 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 01:29 PM:

KeithS, #656: We had that selfsame Flanders and Swann record, "At the Drop of a Hat", when I was a wee...Angiportus, and I remember all the songs. Apropos of cooking, there was one called "The Reluctant Cannibal". But they did not hang around long enough to come up with something like "Do do that kudu that you do so well."

#662 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Saturday, I was writing for Novel in a Day, which involves getting a chapter outline, and writing that chapter before the dealine.

It was a Western this year. You can download from the Marshal Law thread here.

NiaD at the Scrivener website forms

I see they're talking about the accent cliches that get applied to Arizona in the 1860s

I wrote what feels like a huge amount. The minimum expected is similar to NaNoWriMo.

#663 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 02:18 PM:

Apropos of last month's discussion about a Best Videogame category for the Hugos...

One of the threads of the discussion -- not so much here, but strongly on File770 ( -- was "Are there really 20-to-25 good SF and fantasy-related videogames in any one year?"

I finally sat down and made a list, just looking at indie and interactive fiction titles. I got past *thirty* and that was just up through September.

So there.

Okay, some of these are marginal -- not clearly genre, re-releases of pre-2015 games. Still, I got that far without straining myself *and* without looking at big-budget or even medium-budget game studios.

#664 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 02:21 PM:

My first NaNoWriMo effort had a romance, two slightly lonely middle-aged people who were thrown into a dangerous situation that showed both talents and deeper character. Time passed. They exchanged letters. Eventually they got together again.

There are hints that they didn't bother with the formalities of marriage, at first, but no explicit detail. One of my mental images is Bogart and Bacall. And a touch of Bogart and Bergman.

The lady could well be at the controls of the plane. He knows he would have to be the passenger.

#665 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 02:22 PM:

Mary Aileen 645: I've used LOLIRL or LOLFR (Laughing Out Loud For Real).

#666 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 02:24 PM:


(Had to. You know I had to.)

#667 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Andy and I got a loaf of good rye bread, already sliced, about ten days ago, and put part of it in the freezer, in a single bag. We ate the rest, and then I left town. He is waiting until I get home to use what's left.

We seem to have a difference of opinion on toast: if we want to make rye toast, do we need to defrost the bread first, or can we just pop it in the toaster, perhaps set slightly darker than we otherwise would?

#668 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 02:53 PM:

A variant romance plot is one where one person simply doesn't see that the other is interested for most of the book.

In one case, the unknowing person was very busy and further made unlikely to notice because she'd been told the man was gay, and in the other, I think she was simply very busy.

#669 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 03:02 PM:

janra #660: How about, professional peers thrown together for a project, over time they start learning each other's habits and quirks, and become more and more comfortable with each other? (Too realistic? ;-) )

#670 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Vicki @667: No need to defrost, possibly not even set your toaster to a "darker" setting (toasters tend to be temp-based, not time-based, so putting in frozen bread will result in a longer time to come to temp).

There's a good reason to NOT defrost: One of the principle chemical processes going on in bread getting stale is starch recrystalization. This happens fastest around refrigerator temperatures. This is why storing bread in the fridge isn't a good idea. The faster you can freeze bread, or reheat frozen bread, the less staling will go on. So don't defrost bread if you can avoid it, if you have to freeze it.

#671 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 03:43 PM:

Dual protagonists (i.e., they're both investigating the same mystery for different reasons) whose storylines converge midway through the story; when they learn of each other's existence and motives they team up, and by the end realize they're also attracted to each other romantically?

#672 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Janra @660 -- the expert, IMVHO, is Diana Gabaldon. Try her first book, Outlander. Also worth a look is Roberta Gellis, especially her Magdalene le Batarde series, first book is A Mortal Bane.

#673 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Xopher #666: I, for one, salute our new infernal overlord.

#674 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 04:18 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz (668): For the "told he was gay" romance, are you thinking of Zheqre jvgu Crnpbpxf?

#675 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 04:37 PM:

Janra #660 - I'm not sure reading the Vorkosigan saga in order is necessary or desirable.
I think my order was, the first Miles book when he is 17 or so, then the 2nd Cordelia book, which was a far more polished, interesting and readable book than the first Cordelia one, which after having read once I have no real desire to read again. Authors develop and change and their best work is often several books in.

#676 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 05:04 PM:

The prologue of Milan's Kiss for Midwinter is among the most horrifying passages I have read recently.

#677 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 05:28 PM:

janra, #660: I'd suggest writing a romance that works the way they most often do in real life -- the characters meet by chance, each one thinks the other is attractive or potentially interesting, they pursue it tentatively to see if it works out, and it does. I've actually seen stories with this kind of romance subplot before, usually in conjunction with a mystery main plot.

Another way of handling it is the "strong and inexplicable mutual attraction", but that one is hard to handle properly and I see it fumbled a lot of the time.

#678 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 05:45 PM:

#674 ::: Mary Aileen

That's it.

#679 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 08:08 PM:

Janra: Try that Metafilter thread I linked earlier for a lot of discussion of possible alternate romance plots and problems with the standard plotlines.

#680 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2015, 08:10 PM:

I feel like there's a romance distinction to make: Is it a romance subplot - where there are difficulties to overcome - or just a relationship that develops over the course of the book?

Also, in a "not sure if that's been covered" moment, "Trainwreck" is an interesting recent take on the romance movie, except the points where Judd Apatow pees on the script to establish dominance.

#681 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 03:25 AM:

Dave Bell, Nancy Lebovitz, David Harmon, Sarah E., and Lee: Thanks for throwing out suggestions for possible ways a romance could play out!

Lori Coulson, Clifton, and Sandy B.: thanks for the resources, I will be looking those up soon. Next stop, library...

guthrie: I wasn't sure how strongly the Vorkosigan series should be read in order or not. Some series make substantially less sense if you skip books. I was going by the "reading order" list on a website, possibly Bujold's own.

Sandy B.: that's an interesting question, and I suppose it demonstrates that I've had so very little to do with Romance that it never even occurred to me to make the distinction. I'm not sure yet which form it will take, and since I launch my story into November with only a few made-up names and a challenge in mind, I don't know if I'll figure that out until halfway through the month. However, it's reassuring to know that I can include a romance without needing to have all kinds of conflict and difficulties about it. I guess the business of needing conflict and trouble to overcome for a plot is why the enemies falling in love and the chasing despite rejection thing happens so often; fights are an obvious form of conflict.

Diatryma: I'm pretty sure the prologue was intended to be read as horrifying. The part that made me say OH HELL NO was clearly not intended that way.

#682 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 05:46 AM:

janra @681 IMO the distinction between a satisfying romantic subplot and an annoying one lies in whether the characters are behaving in character, according to what they know at the time and according to their cultural beliefs. Or, are they making bonehead moves because otherwise the author has no subplot (e.g. the difficulties that would collapse if people just TALKED to each other and they have no good reason for not doing so, or the characters who are overcome by lust in the midst of escaping someone who wants to kill them). If your main plot is a mystery or a thriller, your characters could be on opposite sides or think they are, or one could be an innocent bystander that the other doesn't want to endanger, or one could have some special expertise that the other needs to draw on.

#683 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 09:00 AM:

The order of the Vorkosigan books isn't absolutely critical, but there are some books that make big world-changing things happen, and a lot of what follows won't make sense without them.

For example, I think you need to read these in at least an approximate order for stuff to make sense:

a. Early Vorkosigan Books (Cordelia's Honor, Warrior's Apprentice, Vor Game, etc.)

b. Brothers in Arms and Mirror Dance, in that order. (Mirror Dance only makes sense after Brothers in Arms)

c. Memory (deals with the aftermath of Mirror Dance and involves some big changes in Miles' life and status--later books won't make sense wthout this one).

d. Komarr and A Civil Campaign, in that order. A Civil Campaign is more-or-less the continuation of the romantic subplot from Komarr, and the two are tightly bound together.

After that, I think you can read Winterfair Gifts, Diplomatic Immunity, Captain Vorpatrll's Alliance, and Cryoburn out of order without missing out on too much. Things will be a bit jumbled (Does Miles have kids yet or not?) but comprehensible.

Each of those depends on some previous events from other books, but not critically so. For example, Diplomatic Immunity makes more sense if you've read Cetaganda first, and the story in Diplomatic Immunity takes place in a system that was settled by the characters in the excellent (but not much Vorkosigan-related) Falling Free. Winterfair Gifts, Mirror Dance, and Diplomatic Immunity both draw on events from Labyrinth, but they can all be read without it.

#684 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 09:46 AM:

Do folks here think that a "it could be resolved quickly if they'd just *talk* with each other" story is acceptable if the characters really don't have the opportunity to talk?

Also, having been annoyed by a novel where the female lead ended up with a man who didn't give her crucial information instead of his much more pleasant younger brother, are there books where the woman chooses someone other than the romance hero?

#685 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:17 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @657: Jacque - speaking local to local, what do you think of Ku Cha House of Tea?

Stopped in there of an afternoon with our own CZEdwards and found it entirely pleasant, though I vaguely recall that they, like virtually everybody else on the planet, does not give you water that's hot enough.* Sadly, I am a tea gourmand; my taste is insufficiently nuanced to appreciate the Good Stuff. I'm perfectly happy with (and in many cases prefer) Liptons.

Also: I'm too poor to be spending $N for a cup of tea (except for very very special occassions). So my appreciation is limited. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance. (Fountains! FTW!)

Odd, I thought that was farther east on Pearl...? You'd think, 50+ years in, I'd have Boulder accurately mapped in my brain by now....

* for my taste; I require it to boiling—at 5.4K feet, which I think works out to 207°?F)

#686 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:20 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #684: The thing is, there's all sorts of reasons for people not to "just talk to each other"! Some examples from my own experiences and observations: Social norms, personality faults ranging from shyness to arrogance, autistic-spectrum issues (both the overtly social handicaps, and also overload situations), drug/alcohol/etc (ab)use, anxiety, anger, and/or embarrassment (perhaps connected to any of the above)... that's just offhand, there must be plenty more.

#687 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:23 AM:

janra @ 660

A romance/romantic sub plot is nothing more than the events that bring together/keep apart two people who are attracted to each other. The rest is just trope. One of the funnier romances I've read is "Agnes and the Hitman" by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer. The romance was basically like at first sight that developed into love and devotion during the events of the book.

However, if you want to pick from a laundry list of romance tropes, just google "romance tropes" and start following the links. This list is good and has examples if you want to read up on certain tropes.

#688 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:39 AM:

The romance dynamic I love best is when Our Heroes are deep In The Thick Of It, battling along, overcoming obstacles, learning to work together, developing a shared Witty Banter, establishing a deep rapport—becoming friends—and then look up at some point, eyes meet, and simultaneously think, "Oh—say...."

Can't think of an example offhand.

#689 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:45 AM:

janra @681: I wasn't sure how strongly the Vorkosigan series should be read in order or not.

I had the delightful experience of reading them in the order that I found them in used book stores (until I got hooked—now I'll actually buy them in hardback because I'm unwilling to wait), and then went back and reread them in story order, and it was almost like getting a whole new set, because now I could go, "Oh, that's what was going on there!"

#690 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:57 AM:

Bear in mind that roughly the first half of the Vorkosigan books were written out of chronological order. For example, Barrayar (the second book in the Cordelia's Honor omnibus) was written after Warrior's Apprentice and Vor Game. From Mirror Dance onward, however, they really should be read in publication order for best effect.

#691 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 01:32 PM:

albatross, #683: I'm going to disagree mildly on this. I've picked up the Vorkosigan books in a fairly random order, and I still haven't read all of them, and I haven't had too much trouble following any given book. In some cases, reading a later book has made me decide to pick up the earlier one to get the back-story, but Bujold is pretty damn good at including the bare bones of any vital information the reader may need for a given story, without doing infodumps. In particular, from your list, I read A Civil Campaign before Komarr, Memory much later than both of those, and I still haven't read either Brothers in Arms or Mirror Dance. But I feel as though I have a basic idea of what happened in the stories I haven't read yet -- just not the details.

OTOH, I'm also used to reading back-story fanfic, and that may make a difference in how I approach reading books out of order. :-)

Nancy, #684: A plot in which the characters flat-out don't have time to talk to each other is one way of handling that particular situation plausibly. If the lack of communication is due to external factors rather than ignoring/evading opportunities, it's much more believable. It indicates that the author has thought the situation thru for themselves, and written the story accordingly.

David H., #686: Agreed, but some of those reasons will go *clunk* for a particular reader and others won't -- and which ones do or don't is entirely a matter of personal preference. I once ditched a mystery/romance series because the male lead had developed the habit of initiating sex to avoid intimacy, and/or to shut the female lead up when she was trying to tell him something he didn't want to hear. And then he did it when the thing she was trying to tell him was important to the mystery -- and yes, then blamed her for not telling him after things blew up. At which point I said, "Enough already," and never read another book in that series again.

#692 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 03:22 PM:

It's been a while since I last reread the bulk of the Vorkosigan books, but I remember really liking how Miles matured over the course of the books. I don't know if that would have been as clear to me if I'd read his story (which isn't all of the books) out of order, but since I read the Miles books in order the first time I can't really say for sure.

#693 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 03:46 PM:

Jacque @685 - You remember correctly. I double-checked their address, and they are indeed between Broadway and 11th. Don't know why I remembered them around the corner from 13th, except perhaps because they first opened up on 13th in the location that is now a smoke shop ("Buddha's Goudha" or the like).

I've given up on an out-of-house experience that involves actual boiling water (at least, these days now that Tea Spot is no longer an actual place to be). I give Ku Cha some benefit of the doubt in that respect for two reasons - one, that they work with a lot of teas that actually don't want boiling water; two, that their carafes keep the water a lot hotter than most anywhere else I've seen.

But at home I definitely let the electric kettle reach Actual Boiling Temperature, as close to 212 as our altitude allows anyway, for everything *but* green and white tea. And I get frustrated with the restaurant set-up where they bring you a bag of black tea and a little tin pitcher of not-even-steaming water.

#694 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 06:20 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: I get frustrated with the restaurant set-up where they bring you a bag of black tea and a little tin pitcher of not-even-steaming water.

Preach it, sister. Tea is at the very top of my list of "things you can get at home but not when you eat out." Except in Chinese or Japanese restaurants, restaurant tea is a complete waste of time.

(We used to have a combination bookstore/tea shop in town that did tea RIGHT: warmed pot, boiling water. I still miss it. I liked their book selection, too.)

#695 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 06:27 PM:

I once had a waitress make a point of bringing me HOTHOTHOT water (unasked, even!)—enough to warn me for safety sake. It doubled her tip.

One of my favorite bits in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is Muriel's rant about doing tea right.

Even Liptons requires HOT water.

#696 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 06:41 PM:

Instant tea is improved by using HOT water. (I have a kettle that only boils water. My tea is always HOT.)

#697 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 07:12 PM:

I read the Vorkosigans out of order, starting with Cetaganda. I think that there's a best vs adequate thing going on here-- there might be a best order, but it's perfectly okay to start elsewhere, as long as you aren't bothered by realizing you've read them out of order (see me and Brust, though there are other issues there.)

#698 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 07:17 PM:

Albatross 683: I also recommend reading Ethan of Athos before Cetaganda, for a chill to the spine that's hard to get otherwise.

#699 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 07:20 PM:

This moose bought a glass teapot with removable infuser, simply for loose leaf tea. (Darjeeling a speciality!) This was caused by a visit here during Satellite 4 in 2014. It's a vast improvement over my previous tea making equipment, and a worthwhile purchase.

Being only a few hundred feet above MSL, boiling water is fairly close to 100 C.

Instant tea is probably an abomination, worse than the "tea vending machine" @ Ork, which uses leaf tea but must have been based on the HHGttG Nutrimatic range. Yeuch!

Too late for a cuppa, bed beckons.


#700 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 07:32 PM:

While there are many good reasons for a hero/heroine not talking, the 'just talk to each other!' exclamation tends to come when it's out of character (speaking for myself, obviously). If there had been evidence before that they were awkward or shy or social norms dictated a lack of communication or whatever, it wouldn't jar so much. When it's a supposedly intelligent heroine who suddenly has to do something stupid for plot reasons it really annoys me.

Heroes are quite often portrayed as bad at significant communication, etc, so I guess I get frustrated even when it's within character because I'm sick of that character type.

(There are, of course, characters I love like that too. A good author can make it work.)

#701 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 07:43 PM:

I use instant mostly for cold (not-really-iced) tea, because several months out of the year it's too hot for real tea.
Boiling water does improve its flavor markedly.

#702 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Our iced tea is brewed in the tea-maker, then jugged and put in the fridge. Significantly better than instant, and minus any Miracles of Modern Chemistry to boot.

#703 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:52 PM:

Tamlyn @700: If there had been evidence before that they were awkward or shy or social norms dictated a lack of communication or whatever

Or, handily crossing threads, a case of all three at once:

"Where are you going!?"


One of my favorite Cordelia moments.

#704 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2015, 11:55 PM:

re 699: It does get worse: when your only source of hot water is to run it through the coffee maker. That was when I got a glass teapot which could be put in the microwave.

#705 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 12:00 AM:

Lee @702: Our iced tea is brewed in the tea-maker, then jugged and put in the fridge.

Ah, fond memories. Back when I was doing karate, I'd boil a quart of water, toss in a tea-ball loaded with Liptons loose-leaf, and go to bed. Put the steeped pot in the fridge in the morning before work.

Then, when I'd get home from karate (especially during the summer, when it was common to dump five pounds of water-weight in a class), one part tea, one part ice, one part sugar.* Aaaaaaaaaah! that was good...! Makes me thirsty, just thinking about it.

* Okay, maybe not quite that much sugar....

#706 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 12:08 AM:

Why I have ceramic mugs that can be nuked, although my actual much is usually stainless-steel. (Sometimes necessary at work, because the hot-water machine occasionally was out of service.)

#707 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 12:41 AM:

Good news from Canada: Harper is out, and the Liberals have taken a majority.

#708 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 02:27 AM:

HLN: Local woman, husband watch latest trailer for The Force Awakens on his 13-year-old computer. Afterward, he announces, "Well, that's the choppiest video that ever gave me goosebumps."

#709 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 07:37 AM:

Last week or so I got an IDIC pin through Amazon, and wasn't too happy with it (neither were most of the other reviewers). My letter to to the effect of "WTH don't you have these?" was just answered to the effect of "coming with more stuff in 2016, for the 50th anniversary!"

#710 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 10:05 AM:

Jacque @#705
Okay, maybe not quite that much sugar....


For a moment I thought you were a southerner. I had to learn how to make sweet tea for my Texas cousins when they come up to hunt each January. It took me a couple of tries to get it right because there's a certain order of things that must be followed. Classic tea lovers will be appalled. Consider this your trigger warning.

Southern Sweet Tea
Fresh loose leaf tea (Liptons is OK, any black tea will work.)
Boiling water (yes, BOILING water because the tea liquor has to be as bitter as revenge.)
Sugar in an equal volume to the water/tea mixture
Ice/cold water (for dilution)

For every 1/4 cup of loose leaf tea*, boil 2 cups of water. Add the tea and keep at a rolling boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of water** and boil for another 5 to 10 minutes stirring regularly. Strain the tea solution into a pitcher (or 5 gallon cooler) filled halfway with ice. Rinse the tea leaves until the water is clear. Add water to the pitcher until desired strength is achieved. Makes about 1 gallon. (More if you like it weak, less if you like it strong.)

* I have a large family. When we get together, I make tea and punches^ by the gallon, not the pitcher.

** Essentially, you're candying^^ the tea leaves at this point. When dried and mixed with melted chocolate, they make a decent candy^^^. Just be sure to bake the leaves in the oven until they're dry and crunchy again before mixing them with chocolate. If you don't dry them all the way, they get stuck in your teeth.

^ I'm also the Punch Queen and have been teaching the next generation all of my secrets.

^^ After making candied ginger, candied tea leaves was not that much of a creative leap, food wise. Both involve boiling stuff in a simple syrup.

^^^ My family accepts my habit of playing with food. The rule of thumb? If no one recognizes it, I made it. The picky kid called my chocolate tea "weird but oddly addictive."

#711 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 11:51 AM:

Or you can do what one of my favorite Nashville restaurants does, and serve "liquid sugar" (aka a small bottle of simple syrup) for those who want it to mix into regular tea.

#712 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 12:43 PM:

Victoria @710: For a moment I thought you were a southerner.

No, just a voracious sweet tooth. My buddy Gerry gave me my excuse: I take my tea Turkish style.

Lee @711: serve "liquid sugar" (aka a small bottle of simple syrup) for those who want it to mix into regular tea.

That's pretty clever. My issue would be that it would cool the tea too much for a given amount of sweetness.

When I drink my tea, I sip timidly until it hits Just The Right Temperature, then I savor it in yummy mouthfuls. The Right Temperature is, apparently, closer to boiling than to ambient.

#713 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 12:44 PM:

How very odd. Perhaps the gnomes share my taste for Really Hot, Very Sweet Tea?

#714 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 03:03 PM:

Re "Just talk to each other":

This reminds me all too much of whichever season it was of Heroes (2nd or 3rd, I think) where most of the plot could have been avoided if anyone had been honest with anyone else about anything.

#715 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Jacque @ 712

Simple syrup is a 50/50 mix of sugar and water that's boiled until the sugar dissolves. You can store it at room temperature since sugar is a preservative and boiling removes most if not all of the microbes. If that's too cold, warm up the syrup before adding to the tea.

Although according to my sweet-tea aficionados, adding sugar after the fact isn't sweet tea. It's just tea with sugar in it.

I now have to research Turkish Tea.

#716 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 04:31 PM:

adding sugar after the fact isn't sweet tea. It's just tea with sugar in it.

::giggle:: picky is as picky does, I guess. :-)

Hell, I have a tough time if my tea is made with the wrong water. o.0 Woe!

#717 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 06:52 PM:

With regard to the "If they would talk to each other it would break the (romantic) plot" trope, in my head that is called "The Mammoth Hunters Problem" because Jean Auel's third Ayla book is the first one I ran into that completely lampshaded its stupidity in a way that (high-school) me couldn't ignore.

Similarly, when a character is a VERY BELIEVABLY written teenager making STUPID teenager decisions in exactly the way teens do but you want to smack them, that's an "Order of the Phoenix Problem."

"The Twilight Problem" is when an author writes in a genre or using tropes that have a long, established history, but the author just bases it on a movie poster or the back cover of a summary and makes everything else up willy-nilly however they like with very little worldbuilding follow-through. It is distinct from times, like Robin McKinley's Sunshine, when the author has DONE their research and CHOOSES to diverge intensely from accepted, standard usage of the genre furniture to do something specific and creative. That's not, to me, a problem. :->

#718 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 08:00 PM:

Regarding tea and sugar, I have slightly idiosyncratic opinions and tastes.

One of the best kitchen gadgets I ever bought was a Zojirushi hot water pot. Two liter capacity, can be set to at least three temperatures appropriate for green, oolong, or black. Also useful for instant noodles or pasta, and for cleaning the dregs out of that mug you used last week.

Normal black tea should be consumed with sugar and milk/cream. Non-black tea should be either tart and lemony or "I'm drinking this because it's good for me." (I imprinted on Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea as a kid, so now I think "tea" is a hot drink that tastes like lemon juice and looks like it's bleeding.)

I like my coffee (and chai) Vietnamese style, with a big ol' glug of sweetened condensed milk. If it's hot and sweet, it also needs to be creamy enough to have some body and texture.

I'm very particular about my chai - I use one scoop of mamri tea from the Indian grocery (Assam treated to produce granules rather than leaves, with a malty taste), two scoops of Trikona brand pre-ground chai masala, and as much refrigerated condensed milk as I can wind around the bowl of a spoon without making a mess. The spices scratch the itch of a sore throat, and the condensed milk soothes and coats it.

#719 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 08:50 PM:

I miss a lot of the conversation for one reason or another, but I've been thinking lately about things I'm grateful for and I just wanted to say that I really like the community here.

#720 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 10:26 PM:

shadowsong @718: Another Zojirushi fan here. We got a second one (4 liter, with vacuum insulated walls to cut down on energy keeping it hot!) from a garage sale for $5, which means the original one travels to conventions we drive to. Karen is serious about her tea. We've converted several people to using them -- they're amazing for parties.

#721 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2015, 10:32 PM:

My sister has a 3-liter Zo. It beats microwaving the water.

#722 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 12:33 AM:

I like half-and-half in coffee (or whipped cream as a special treat), and I like tea with milk and sugar, but somehow tea with cream is Wrong, no matter how strong the tea. Milk in coffee, however, is fine, just not as lush. (Okay, maybe not nonfat milk.)

#723 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 05:58 AM:

I seem to be an outlier, as I prefer my coffee without cream/milk and without sugar. Likewise, most tea should be served "just steeped" (no milk, no sugar, no citrus juice added after steeping), but I occasionally (very occasionally) enjoy a small cup of strong, sweet masala chai (tea steeped in half milk, half water, with assorted spices added and plenty of sugar), but it has to be small, lest the lactose causes later stomach-upset.,

#724 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 07:48 AM:

I was never a fan of sweet tea, but since I got the diabetes, it's been right out.

I drink tea when I'm out, mostly, as I don't like beverages too hot or too cold. Both coffee and tea at home are a "I'm thirsty now, let's make a piping hot beverage I have to wait 10 minutes to drink" proposition, and getting seltzer is much faster. But out, I can order an unsweetened iced tea without ice and be fine.

It helps that I like my tea strong, luke-warm, and in large cups, which tends to be how unsweetened iced tea is before its iced.

I didn't imprint on lemon zinger, but on red zinger and the imprinting has carried on to the other zinger flavors by Celestial Seasoning. My preferred herbal infusions thus have a strong taste of hibiscus.

#725 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 10:04 AM:

Jacque @716

I get it. It's kinda funny, tea lovers are as picky about their tea as chili and BBQ and Pizza enthusiasts are. However, they're much more polite about their preferences. While I am quite happy to make sweet tea for my cousins, I rarely drink it. I like my coffee and my tea black and strong. I sometimes mix black tea with mint or lemon herbal teas (lemon zinger) it gives a nice kick to things. Although I do have a flavored creamer thing. I think adding them to coffee makes it taste like a liquid candy bar. That's a sometimes treat for me.

My biggest thing? I'm very sensitive to caffeine. Most restaurants don't stock decaff teas. I've made a tea caddy for my bagged teas that I take with me wherever I go. The container had a mani/pedi kit in it originally. I bought it because the zippered container's dimensions matched my tea needs. It hold about a dozen tea bags very easily. I will note that the snack-size ziplock baggies will hold around six tea bags so you can carry them around in a purse/backpack/bag and not have them get buggered up.

Buddha Buck @ 724
A local-ish tea vendor makes her own blends of herbal teas and includes stevia leaves in some them so the people who like sweet tasting tea don't actually have to put sugar in them. She goes to sci-fi/fantasy conventions in the region which is how I found her. Very lovely herbal teas, some with caffeine, some without.

#726 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 10:21 AM:

I finally broke down and bought an electric kettle for work for my tea. I had been deluding myself that the hot water tap on the coffee maker was hot enough, but a few weeks ago it decided to completely disabuse me of that notion.

I've been so much happier ever since.

I've been buying my tea from Chado Tea Room. They have plenty of teas that are well out of my price range, but their basic ones are perfectly tasty.

My experience with sweet tea was certainly something, and leaving it at that would probably be better for all concerned.

#727 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 10:53 AM:

Ingvar M @723: Add me to your list of people who prefers their tea "just steeped." I don't like the taste of liquid dairy; my teeth hate me already so unsweetened beverages are preferable; and I like to access the flavor of the tea in and of itself without milk or sugar interfering overly. (For me, it is interference, rather than enhancement.)

My boyfriend likes sweet tea, and when I make him the kind with simple syrup (when cold) or added sugar (when hot) I might steal a sip or two. :P

I find the hibiscus/citric acid-y herbal teas too tart for my taste - and I think my teeth don't like them much either. When you add in the fact that I'm also not fond of chamomile or anise or fennel, the number of commercially available herbal teas I will enjoy comes out to basically "mint" and "some rooiboses." But that's alright.

I get most of my looseleaf from Adagio Teas; their flavored teas are plenty strong enough that I can still taste them even when my nose is a bit clogged, and their plain black teas are nice and varied. For local tea shops, I have the slightly-pricier-than-Adagio Tea Haus, which has a large selection and a nice little tea room with delicious pastries (I joke that it's "what Teavana is trying to be" except they've got a selection that, to my tastes, is a bit nicer and more worth the price).

Tea is just excellent to me. My only problem is that I am afraid I will develop a caffeine dependence from drinking-too-much-because-it's-tasty.

#728 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 11:32 AM:

Ingvar M@723: I seem to be an outlier, as I prefer my coffee without cream/milk and without sugar.

I'm with you on that. I discovered that this made me a strong outlier when visiting Amazing Spouse's family in Brazil: on our first visit I had many iterations of the same conversation (sometimes with the same people), in both English and Portuguese:

"Would you like coffee?"
"Yes, please."
"Do you want sugar?"
"No, thank you"
"Then you want artificial sweetener?"
"No, thank you."

If the conversation happened in Portuguese, then they might try again in English. Then there would be a pause, and then they would turn to Spouse and ask for confirmation, convinced that either I had misunderstood the question or they had misunderstood my answer.

#729 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 11:52 AM:

I got out of the habit of sugar in my iced tea many years ago because of something you could call the Steinbeck Effect: I think it's in "Travels with Charley" where he complains about getting your iced tea in a restaurant, getting all the sugar just right, drinking it halfway down, and then the server comes by with a refill from a pitcher. You don't tell her "no" in time, or you have to let her do it now if you want any refill at all, and then it totally messes with the sweetness level and you have to adjust things all over again. I figured out it just wasn't worth it, and can feel vaguely virtuous by going without any addition.

#730 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 12:26 PM:

dotless ı @728: There is a reason New Yorkers upload their coffee preferences when first asked whether they want coffee.

#731 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 12:57 PM:

#682, OtterB: the distinction between a satisfying romantic subplot and an annoying one

That's a good thing to remember. Also applies to everything else a character does, of course :)

I haven't paid close enough attention to the structure of romantic aspects of books to be sure. Sometimes there's a certain amount of eyeroll due to of *course* the hero wins the heart of the main female character, how predictable and who didn't see that coming. It kind of feels obligatory sometimes. To me at least.

#683, albatross:

Alas, my library only has Captain Vorpatril's Alliance and Cryoburn available. I've read Cordelia's Honor and Young Miles so far, each of which contains more than one Vorkosigan title. (The library has a few more, but only in audiobook format. Audiobooks and me don't really get along; I find them very hard to follow.)

#687, Victoria: However, if you want to pick from a laundry list of romance tropes, just google "romance tropes" and start following the links.

The main problem with that idea is that I'm specifically looking for ways to set up a fictional romance that I don't find in the range of annoying to repellent, which is how I react to a lot of romance subplots. Which means that typical romance tropes are probably not what I'm looking for.

#688, Jacque: The romance dynamic I love best is when Our Heroes are deep In The Thick Of It, battling along, overcoming obstacles, learning to work together, developing a shared Witty Banter, establishing a deep rapport—becoming friends—and then look up at some point, eyes meet, and simultaneously think, "Oh—say...."

Misattribution of arousal :) Although I suppose if the realization comes during a quiet time rather than a dramatic time it might not be entirely that.

#700, Tamlyn: While there are many good reasons for a hero/heroine not talking, the 'just talk to each other!' exclamation tends to come when it's out of character (speaking for myself, obviously). If there had been evidence before that they were awkward or shy or social norms dictated a lack of communication or whatever, it wouldn't jar so much. When it's a supposedly intelligent heroine who suddenly has to do something stupid for plot reasons it really annoys me.

Yeah, romance-related or not, so many problems avoided if people just talk. While editing a previous NaNo, I actually tracked who knew what and when they learned it, because in some cases they wouldn't think to ask the question (or wouldn't know who to ask) without a certain amount of prior clue, and also to make sure they were making the best decision they could based on the information they had at the time instead of based on the information that I knew as a writer about what was going on. I hope I got it set up right so the reader doesn't get annoyed at the character not putting things together when they've seen things in the other POV sections.

I have had a NaNo that suffered from a major case of the stupids, meaning the plot only worked if the characters were all idiots. Not going to edit that one, though I did rescue one of the characters for use in a different story.

#703, Jacque: "Where are you going!?"


Nicely pointing out the need for people to talk to each other. :)

Although I do wish the trope of the warrior woman in a strongly patriarchal society as too big and too ugly to be an acceptable woman by the majority of their society's standards would just die.

#717, Elliott Mason: when a character is a VERY BELIEVABLY written teenager making STUPID teenager decisions in exactly the way teens do but you want to smack them, that's an "Order of the Phoenix Problem."

I'm curious, why is it a problem for a character to act in character both for themselves and for their demographic?

So my library has Outlander, and while it doesn't have A Mortal Bane, it does have Chains of Folly from the same series. The synopses look interesting so I will grab them next time I'm at the library. The synopsis of Trainwreck (from imdb) sounds about the opposite of appealing to me, however. From the description it looks like it mostly works in the space of watching people make terrible decisions and calling it funny, combined with a woman being rescued (from herself) by a man who she inevitably falls in love with. Now this might be not at all representative of what the movie is actually like, but that's what the synopsis brings to mind for me, and those are not things I enjoy watching.

#732 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 01:08 PM:

janra @731: My problem with it is that I find it incredibly uncomfortable to read, sitting in the head of someone who's making all the stupid teenager decisions I made, knowing the trainwrecks they're setting themselves up for, with no way to affect the course of action or smack them.

Usually (if it's well written) the character learns and grows by the end of the book and therefore the NEXT book doesn't ALSO have to be full of that, but it's agonizing and unpleasant for me as a reader, however in-character it might be.

In re Outlander, since you've said you dislike romance tropes, you might find it kind of yick.

I only like the series because I started with the second, Dragonfly in Amber, which jumps right into the action (with some incluing and mention of background events that have already happened -- I read a lot of books that start in medias res so that didn't bother me) and moves along and actually contains plot.

For me, at least, Outlander was full of a lot of the main character not being allowed any control whatsoever over what was happening while the author showed us (a) how much research she did (which is awesome, I love reading books for the worldbuilding) and (b) how awesome for the main character the Designated Love Interest would be, shouldn't they get together? Wouldn't it be awesome if they did?

Dragonfly in Amber has more of a plot and through-line, and -- to me -- far better motivations for the actions of most of the main characters.

Outlander reads like a romance novel, and I very rarely enjoy those. Sometimes I can put up with them for the sake of other squees the book contains for me, but mostly, no.

And that's really what annoys me about far too much of recent Bujold -- she's started dumping her plots and characters into romance-novel-shaped buckets and using those toolkits, and they just annoy the piss out of me. Personally. I'm not saying she needs to change how she's writing, obviously she should follow her own sense of What Should Be, she's the author. But. Still.

#733 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 01:57 PM:

shadowsong @718: What's wrong with a normal electric kettle?

I love tea. I have a wide variety of flavoured black teas, green teas (various flavours), oolong (plain and citrus), rooibos (plain and various flavours) and different herbal teas. Some of them are naturally sweet due to e.g. liquorice in them, but I don't add sugar to any of them, or milk (I even prefer my chai black and unsweetened).

I realy don't like "standard tea bag tea" very much - okay if it's (a) strong AND (b) I can drink it with a devent slice of lemon, but otherwise not so much. I commonly take a variety of the individually-wrapped tea bags from my collection with me when travelling, in case there's no decent tea.

#734 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 02:27 PM:

#732, Elliott Mason:

I see, so it's more the character type that bothers you than the fact that they're acting in character.

Female main character with no control over anything doesn't sound very good, romance novel or not. I will approach with caution.

I dislike many of the common romance tropes as I said in my first post, but I have read (a few) romance novels that I enjoyed - namely the Courtney Milan ones that I mentioned. I should look up more of her stuff, hopefully the other series are also something I can enjoy.

That's one disadvantage to asking for recommendations in a genre where I dislike so many of the tropes. The people who love that genre don't (can't) know which of the tropes are going to turn me off so they can't filter their recommendations to something I'd like. One reason I tend to mostly take book recs outside of SFF from people who know my taste well.

#735 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 03:37 PM:

dcb@733: Speaking as someone who only has an electric kettle and not Zojirushi-style pot: Standard electric kettles don't have the same ability to set a specific temperature for the kind of tea you're making (unless that temperature is boiling), and they don't keep the water at that temperature. Neither of these features is absolutely necessary, but both can be very convenient.

(Also, I'm not sure where shadowsong is located, but it's probably worth noting that the electric kettles that are ubiquitous in the UK aren't nearly as common in the US. Our electric kettle was one of our first purchases on returning to the US from the UK, since we'd gotten so used to having one around.)

#736 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 04:28 PM:

janra @731: Early versions of Cyroburn has a cdrom with most of the Vorkosigan saga on it in ebook form. (except Memory IIRC, which is why that was the first hardcopy I bought.) My library's copy still has that cdrom in it.

Re Tea: My inlaws in the UK all drink tea with milk, and I drink tea with sugar (or vice versa, it's more like sugar with tea, I like it sweet). Almost every time I've visited the first cuppa is served with milk, until about halfway through when they realize and apologize, and insist on making another one, this time with sugar.

#737 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 05:34 PM:

I found Trainwreck to be smart, funny, and rude as hell. The trailer is a reasonably good approximation to the movie, without putting all the good parts into two and a half minutes. The humor I recall isn't so much Wacky Sitcom as setpieces: "My parents always told me don't go to bed mad..." says Mr. Right; eleven hours later they're still arguing.

If that doesn't work for you, sorry for continuing to push it.

#738 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 05:54 PM:

dotless ı @735: I keep thinking "surely the USA has electric kettles by now..." and then being surprised when they still don't. For me it's such a necessity that when I arrived at a conference in Spain, absolutely knackered, when I reached the hotel room and realised there was no kettle (and I'd forgotten to bring my travel kettle) I spent the next two hours traipsing round Barcelona in search of a kettle. Even though I really needed a snooze. Oh well, the next conference I go to on the European mainland I won't have to pack an adapter for the kettle, just take the one with the European plug on it.

#739 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 06:46 PM:

dcb @ 738:

I occasionally see electric kettles in Target and the like. There'll typically be 1 to 4 different models of kettle, three of which will be far too expensive (no, I am not paying $60 for a kettle), and the remaining one will be out of stock.

I suspect the main reason is that there isn't the market for them in the US like there is for drip coffee makers. The other part is probably that they can't be nearly as powerful as European ones (120V × 15A = 1800W, versus 240V × 10A = 2400W), which might make stovetop or microwave boiling more attractive.

#740 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 07:09 PM:

I live in the US and have an electric kettle. It's made by Hamilton Beach. It was a gift so I don't know where it was purchased.

It's more convenient than the microwave because it's more vocal about announcing when the water is boiling and then it shuts itself off.

I also use it for a purpose not contemplated in Britain. I carry it out to the deck for spot applications of boiling water after scraping up raccoon poop.

#741 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Look at the selection on their website. Much larger. Also check places like Bed Bath & Beyond, especially online. Probably worth looking at the online tea merchants, too.

#742 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 07:36 PM:

I, too, have an electric kettle in the US, and we also have one at work. The most frustrating thing about them is the noise. It starts out making a slight hissing sound, gets somewhat louder over time, then goes nearly silent as it comes to a boil, then about 15 seconds later goes "tick" and turns itself off. Unfortunately, there's no other notification it has come to a boil.

My understanding is that the Zojirushi kettles will both hold the set temperature, but also plays a tune when it comes to temp. I really wish the kettles I use did either, or both.

#743 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 08:16 PM:

While I'm not much of a tea drinker myself, my Amazing Fiance used to be a very serious tea drinker (to the point where when we moved to Cambridge in August, there were three boxes of various teas). We've had a few different controllable kettles - right now, we've got a slightly odd one from Adiago Teas.

Looking at the kettle topic from the land of coffee, I'm very fond of Bonavita's temperature-controlled kettles. About half the price of many other options, and often starting around $50. Still not cheap, but vastly better than, say, Cuisinart's $100 entry point for temperature control.

#744 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 08:20 PM:

My electric kettle, like Buddha Buck's, makes a hissing noise (as the vapor escapes the spout) and then ticks and turns off. Very difficult to hear from a couple rooms away.

On the other hand, my rice cooker shrieks like a smoke alarm. Quite distressing the first couple times it happened and we didn't know what was giving such bloodcurdling beeps at the top of its lungs.

Nowadays when it goes off we vocally caption it, "Caution! Caution! Rice proximity! Cooked rice is in your area! Take appropriate measures!" while waving Robby-the-Robot-style wiggly arms.

*IT* can be heard in the backyard, with the windows shut, from the kitchen.

#745 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 08:32 PM:

The only differences between a hot water dispenser like mine and an electric kettle that I am aware of are a) you probably can't set a temperature for the water to be held at with a kettle and b) you can't pick up and pour with a hot water dispenser.

And yes, I'm in the US - although the Asian grocery where I got my Zojirushi had plenty of electric kettles I could have bought instead, so scarcity isn't an explanation in my case.

#746 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 08:35 PM:

While we're on kitchen tools, does anyone know where I would source a reasonably priced noodle pot with the kind of lid that sort of screws on a bit and has holes, so it self-colander-izes for draining?

We got our first one as a "collect thirty stamps and pay $15" at the grocery store deal, and when it became unusably dented eight years later I lucked into finding another one at some random store.

But that one is now getting ... rickety (for one thing, the handle rotates on the lid, making UN-securing it so we can get at the noodles kind of a job), and it's turning out to be nearly impossible to buy one.

I've found exactly one model on offer, and it's both rickety AND over $50, which is a weird combination.

#747 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 08:39 PM:

Belated Pawpaw repawt: Went to the Pawpaw festival as intended, ate a sample of fresh pawpaw and several cooked products. I liked the flavor of the fresh fruit, sort of banana-apricot-hint of tropical. The texture was very soft, eat-with-a-spoon pudding soft, and I didn't much like that. Had a pumpkin-pawpaw-walnut muffin, pawpaw flavor not pushing through the others much. A sample of pawpaw sauce on vanilla ice cream, cooked with a little honey, cinnamon and ginger - very good. A sample of pawpaw-spiceberry jam - I bought a jar of that, have been eating it on my breakfast toast.

I can see why it's not often sold as fresh fruit, not a good keeper or shipper. I'm surprised no one seems to be marketing frozen pawpaw pulp. I can think of several dessert ideas I'd try if I could get that.

#748 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Zos will play a tune, or simply beep. It's a changeable setting. I found the tune to be more annoying than the beep.

I can hear my kettle turn off from some distance: it's a 'tunk' rather than a 'tick'.

#749 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 09:22 PM:

dcb@738: I keep thinking "surely the USA has electric kettles by now..." and then being surprised when they still don't.

As others have said, it's not exactly that we don't have electric kettles here at all. It's more that you can't just assume that any random person will have one—most of our friends here don't—and, at least the last time I looked, you couldn't assume that any kitchen goods store would carry them. In contrast—and fitting in well with your Spain story—I'm not sure I know anyone in England, Scotland, or Wales who doesn't have at least one electric kettle. So the decision to get a different water heating solution probably has a different flavor here than in the UK.

#750 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 10:23 PM:

Our 3-liter Zojirushi doesn't make a noise to signal it's done; the 4 liter plays a tune that is not quite one I recognize. It keeps sounding like something else....

#751 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2015, 10:37 PM:

Ingvar, #723: Hmmm, I'll have to try that steeping-in-half-milk-half-water trick. When I steep a bag of chai tea in hot water and then add milk, it never seems to come out quite right. But I can pour out some milk in a mug, and by the time the water in the kettle is boiling it'll be close enough to room temperature that it shouldn't cool the water down too much for the tea to steep.

Victoria, #725: Our "house blend" in the tea-maker is 2 parts green, 2 parts black, or sometimes 1 part plain black and 1 part flavored black (this is where a torn-open teabag can come into play). It makes a nice mix, neither too strong nor too tart.

KeithS, #726: I take it you got the forty-weight variety? My partner swears that in parts of Mississippi and Alabama, you could use the sweetea (remember, it's not pronounced as two words!) for waffle syrup.

joann, #729: Yeah, I remember that problem too, when I added sweetener to my tea. We weaned ourselves off using sugar in our tea about 10 years ago when we were trying to cut back on sugar in general, and now sweetea is just cloying and I keep thinking, "I used to drink this?" if I get some by mistake.

Elliott, #732: I find it incredibly uncomfortable to read, sitting in the head of someone who's making all the stupid teenager decisions I made, knowing the trainwrecks they're setting themselves up for, with no way to affect the course of action or smack them.

I can deal with that, mostly, with teenagers or the functional equivalent thereof (cf. Miles in ACC, dealing with emotional issues he's never genuinely faced before in inimitable Miles style). Make that protagonist a supposedly-functional adult in a contemporary setting, and I bounce off it HARD. This is a very common issue in chick-lit mysteries, which is why I don't read many of them. If I spend too much of my time wanting to smack the protagonist upside the head, that's not someone I want to spend my time with even fictionally.

#752 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:14 AM:

A home-made tea blend I've had and liked is 1 part Darjeeling and one part Earl Grey.

#753 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:19 AM:

Lee @751: We weaned ourselves off using sugar in our tea about 10 years ago when we were trying to cut back on sugar in general

I try this every five to ten years or so, and every time, I wind up not drinking tea at all. Until I start putting sugar in it again, and then it's glorious. Un(- or inadequately-)sweetened tea is just nasty. See also coffee. (Looping back to the Picky McPickersons subthread.)

#754 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:35 AM:

Elliott @ 746: I know what you're talking about, the self-straining pasta pot. We first had a crappy and not-very-usable one which we got in one of those "As Seen on TV" sections at Walgreens or something similar, I think. It didn't last long but proved the concept. We now have a much more sturdy one which we got at Costco - one of their randomly popping up kitchen items - and we use it several times a week. It's made by an Italian company, Bialetti. Googling "Bialetti pasta pot" turns up a lot of links in the $30 range.

#755 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 01:03 AM:

Lee @751 >> I bounce off it HARD.

I did that with two of Sue Grafton's books, the one where Kinsey assaulted a cop to get into the jail where she needed to question someone and then one where she got involved with something suspicious with her ex.

Just, Nope.

#756 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 03:12 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @743: "when we moved to Cambridge in August, there were three boxes of various teas" I'm going to show this to my husband to prove I'm not the only one!

dotless ı @79: The problem in Spain was simply not being in an area of the city with the kind of store that would sell kettles. However there was a covered market I was directed to where stalls were selling a wide variety of goods, new and used, including, thankfully, kettles.

shadowsong @745: Okay!

Like P J Evans @748, I can hear my kettle's "click" as it turns off from several rooms away.

I particularly like jug-style kettles because it's possible to boil only a mug or so of water, which is economical with electricity.

I do own a tea urn that will keep water hot, but it's much larger (15 or 20 litres -can't remember exactly)and I only use it for events with 15+ people.

#757 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 07:33 AM:

One of the things about electric kettles is that Europe has about twice the domestic supply voltage as standard. it's one of those things where the standards got tweaked by the EU; the voltage is specified as a range around the nominal value, and somebody noticed that the previous standards were almost compatible.

So the nominal voltages were a bit meaningless. The maximum voltage had some relevance for insulation standards, but not much: there is a big margin. The only awkward element is the power connector on the wall, that's covered with the standard connector on the appliance.

Kettles use the high-temperature version of the IEC 3-pin, the C15 instead of the C13, but you can use a C15 lead for a low-temperature item, such as a computer.

Either way, the British wiring/wall-plug standard has a voltage/current capacity for a kettle. And trying to get 3kW out of a 110v US connection is something that I find a bit scary.1

The rest of Europe has a different plug-standard.

1 I have done 3-phase wiring for stuff drawing enough current to dim the street-lamps when you switch on, but I could see the cable all the way. I didn't have to worry what some electrician had used a half-century ago.

#758 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 07:43 AM:

I agree with KeithS@739 that a large part of the reason electric kettles are less popular in the US is that they just take longer to do the job.

#759 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 07:49 AM:

Romances: I'm currently halfway through Lackey's recent PB "Closer to Home", and somewhat nonplused by the romance subplot. Clumsy editorialization about "noble attitudes", plus the POV girl is a great example of "teenage stupid" (and overly set up to boot), while the guy's non-POV status just comes across as authorial caginess. (And why isn't his family being monitored half as closely as the girl's?)

#760 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 08:42 AM:

David Harmon, the snarky answer is 'because Valdemar' but yeah, that's a... subplot, I guess, not necessarily a romance novel. But Valdemar has an area effect of unreality. Doesn't mean I don't read the books, just that my expectations for feels and character are hella low.

#761 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 10:28 AM:

Dave Bell @ #757

The 'Harmonisation' of the domestic electricity supply (by shifting the permitted tolerance) was very much a paper exercise.

The original standard (which all the transformer ratios in the distribution system were designed around was 240 volts +/- 6%

This was supposed to change as the UK Government agreed to harmonization at 230V on 9th March 1993.

UK voltage tolerances then supposed to change:

From January 1995 to 216V - 253V (230 volts -6%/+10%)

followed by from January 2003 to 207V - 253V (230 volts +/- 10%)

(The second stage was deferred so we're still on 216 - 253 volts.)

It doesn't really affect anything, except that cheap incandescent lamps burn out rather more quickly (being designed around 220/230 volts) on the UK electicity supply (240/250 volts) since a 10% rise in voltage causes a 50% reduction in life.

More on harmonisation.

#762 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 10:56 AM:

@746 Elliott Mason

While we're on kitchen tools, does anyone know where I would source a reasonably priced noodle pot with the kind of lid that sort of screws on a bit and has holes, so it self-colander-izes for draining?

Do you have an Ikea near you?

#763 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 11:23 AM:

Lee @ 751

One of my sisters does something similiar when she makes iced tea. For her it's: one bag Green Jasmine, two bags Constant Comment Black, Two bags Constant Comment Green, 3 bags black decaf, 2 bags green decaf, to one gallon of water. The decaf is a concession to those who only do decaffeinated beverages (like me). Plus Tino says the decaf teas are smoother than regular one so she can get a strong concoction without the bitterness.

The jasmine tea is wasted on me. I'm anosmic so the aromatics have no impact. Now mango flavored black tea on the other hand... that's tasty. I understood why people like flavored teas once I got a cup of that. However, if the flavor comes from "infusing aromatics" rather than putting actual jasmine flowers in with the tea... just give me plain black or green tea.

As for electric kettles... Our sister Poppy gave Tino one as a "thanks for letting me bunk with you on my vacation" gift. I don't know the brand, but it is nice. I really like the auto-off function. Time wise, it's not much different than boiling water on the stove. Safety wise - I like being able to wander off and do other things.

In a way it's like if I'm doing an only-me bit of baking, I use the toaster oven instead of a stove's oven.

#764 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 11:25 AM:

Sandy B@758 and others: a large part of the reason electric kettles are less popular in the US is that they just take longer to do the job.

It's possible, but I'm not sure. That is, I'm sure kettles in the US draw less power than in the UK (the one in our kitchen draws just 1500W), and I assume that they therefore heat water more slowly. But what are the alternatives in the US? For most people making coffee in the US a drip coffee maker is more convenient than an electric kettle; my experience when we got our kettle was that it was much faster and more convenient than boiling water on the stove; and I'm pretty certain this difference in adoption was well established before microwaves were ubiquitous. If I had to bet I'd put the difference more on a coffee vs. tea culture.

I suppose the interesting test case would Canada. How common are electric kettles there?

#765 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 11:30 AM:

@764 dotless

I suppose the interesting test case would Canada. How common are electric kettles there?

I can't speak for all of Canada, but electric kettles are ubiquitous around here (Montreal). I don't know anyone who doesn't have one, and all kinds of brands are available in any kitchen section.

IME, they are faster at boiling water than a pan on the stovetop.

#766 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:02 PM:

a large part of the reason electric kettles are less popular in the US is that they just take longer to do the job.

As one who spent 6 years, more or less, selling cookware to americans... I don't think that's it. I think it's mostly that americans find them redundant. They have a stovetop kettle (if they make tea), or a coffee-maker, if they take coffee.

Also they see them as a gadget, good for one thing. So they use the microwave, when in a hurry, or the stovetop when they aren't.

IME, a decent kettle will draw not less 1200W, and bring a liter to a boil in about five minutes.

#767 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:04 PM:

HLN: Area man quit job in Sept. Much happier.

Same area man (et famille) just offered on a larger place. Move will be about as simple as such things go. Up three-four flights of stairs. May even keep same mailbox.

Now it's just waiting on all the needed paperworks; and the nailbiting.

#768 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Elliot: There is a device which does what you describe (for draining) and works with pretty much any pot. It's a heat resistant (to past boiling) plastic wedge held on with a silicone clamp.

Water boils, put the clamp on, drain the pasta, remove the wedge. Made by Chef's Planet.

(we use one in the travelling kitchen)

#769 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:32 PM:

I use an electric kettle in the US and can vouch for them being much faster than boiling on an electric stove. I was just away from home this past weekend and stayed in a rental; the kettle took so much longer to boil that I was wishing I'd brought the electric kettle along! Though I suspect that might have been frustrating for the family I left behind.

#770 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:35 PM:

The electric kettle I have is 1500W and 1.7L. Made by Russell Hobbs, for the US.

#771 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:45 PM:

David H., #759: This is a sequel to the Collegium books, I take it? Haven't read it yet, but IIRC Mags doesn't have any family in Valdemar; he was an orphan in fosterage when we first met him, and the overall arc of the Collegium series was establishing that his bloodline is from a country somewhere beyond Karse. The Heralds are really the only approximation of a family that he has. Or is there a new male character here? Time for a trip to the library, I think.

dotless i, #764: That squares with my experience; furthermore, IME the electric kettle is also no slower than heating the equivalent amount of water in the microwave, and possibly faster. I use it to heat the water for hot chocolate, ramen or bullion, too.

#772 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:54 PM:

Lee (771): Yes, it's a sequel to the Collegium Chronicles. The second book in this follow-up series has just been published. (I'm not crazy about the Collegium books; the second series is about the same.) The male half of the romance in Closer to Home is a new character, not Mags. That romance plot will come to look very familiar if you know your Shakespeare.

#773 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 12:59 PM:

Re: electric kettles:

Eleven years ago, when I was just getting into CSI fanfic, one could tell the difference between an American author and a British one by whether the characters made tea with a stovetop kettle or an electric one. At the time, the only people in the U.S. I knew of who had electric kettles were college students in dorms.

Now they're much more common in American homes. Not sure why the change. I just bought a tiny one earlier this week for my office, so we can make tea without using the microwave. Boiling water in a microwave makes me nervous, and a cup's worth takes less time in the kettle.

#774 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 01:06 PM:

Mary Aileen @772 -- Lackey has been playing on Shakespeare (as well as Dickens) in many of her books, the last Mags book had a send-up of Romeo and Juliet.

Her Five Hundred Kingdoms books play with various fairytale tropes in a humorous and sometimes deadly way, as do her Elemental Masters.

I have them all, and they are my fun and/or comfort reading.

#775 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 01:14 PM:

Sandy B @758: We got my kid an electric kettle (this one, which has the advantage of being all stainless on the inside and easy to clean, plus it lifts off the part with the cord: ) so she could make her own instant oatmeal and hard-boil eggs. We use it occasionally for grownup culinary applications, and when I'm boiling both it and the stovetop kettle (gas stove), I find that the electric one is done significantly faster.

Which still might be a lot slower than happens in the UK, but one datapoint. :->


Clifton @754: Our current one is a Bialetti (this one, I think, or its older predecessor model: ), and it's quite workable. The lid's handle (eventually! Many years of service) worked loose, and no matter how tightly we screw it back on, it's prone to simply rotating in place and not disengaging the lid's seal.

My only quibble with its overall design, if I got to wave a magic wand and modify it slightly until it was just PERFECT, is that if it were an inch or two higher (or otherwise volumetrically about 115% what it is -- if that one on Amazon is really the same, then 6qt rather than 5qt would probably do me), I could boil two pounds of bagged supermarket pasta in it quite handily and with no problem.

Right now I CAN cook two pounds of pasta in it, but only if I choose one of the shapes that has very little air in each piece and standing over it carefully, because really it's a bit overstuffed that way. I find it convenient to make Mass Quantities of pasta a time or two per month when I know our next week of consumption is going to be high, because in our household we mostly make pasta once and then eat it for several days out of the fridge (instead of boiling up a handful every time you have a meal that needs some). I know that method/lifestyle is anathema to some serious pasta-eaters, and they're probably right, but it's what works out best for us in practice.

Terry Karney: I'm sure the strainer thing works well for you, but it doesn't cover enough of the pot for how I strain pasta, biomechanically, and I'm very good at pouring it all over the sink, so a whole-pot cover (or at least one that covers half or more) would be better.

There appears to be a Tramontina model that Target carries (inter alia) that has sort of a metal screw-on version of the silicone attachment, I'd want to play with it in the store and see how it goes.

Or there are $90 ones.

I admit to a dubiousness about pots (like the IKEA one recommended, or my current Bialetti) with screw-to-lock mechanisms and lids that attach with only one screw. The $90 one has a two-points-of-attachment handle, which would be nice.

My Bialetti is oval, meaning that it will boil spaghetti without having to take extra care dunking it all down in the water; most models I see in the 6qt range are circular. And all the 8qt models that show up for "locking lid" or "self draining" actually come with an integrated colander, which is a nifty technology but causes both a storage-space problem on my end and the fact that using a similar one at a friend's house dumps boiling water on my shoes every time.

I think I'm not coordinated enough to be allowed to own one like that.

Still looking.

#776 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Elliott Mason @#775 et prev.:

If a single-screw handle is loose on something, check to see if the screw is bottoming out in the handle. If it is, a lock washer or star washer (or two - don't stack, put on opposite sides of lid, single should be under handle on top of pot) might patch it up by allowing the screw to draw the handle tight against the lid instead of having the screw tight against the bottom of the screw hole. The lock washer itself will also resist unscrewing.

If the screw or screw hole are stripped, ceramic cabinet knobs can be used as replacements if high-temp plastic ones are not readily available. Substitute stainless hardware and beware the exposed part as it will get hot. I have used a bolt-on rubber foot atop a ceramic knob as a standoff foot for a hot sculpture and the rubber did not get smelly, YMMV.

If repair is unsuccessful/not desired, and a suitable replacement pot does not present itself, a used pressure cooker and Fun With Power Tools (subtype - corded drill) may suffice: custom colander pattern.

Good luck!

#777 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 02:20 PM:

Elliot: Ah. It occurs to me my new stock pot can be used for spaghetti, because it's taller than the equivalent 14 qt "standard" one.

#778 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Lori Coulson (774): I'm very fond of both the Elemental Masters and The Five Hundred Kingdoms series. More so that Valdemar, which I find rather uneven.

#779 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 02:38 PM:

me (778): ohnosecond: ...more so than Valdemar...

#780 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 02:58 PM:

C. Wingate @ 704: one of the notable improvements in convention hotels is that they mostly provide mass water in clusters of pitchers instead of in a coffee transport (brewing urn or insulated carrier). I sometimes like good coffee, but had to be really desperate to drink that water, even in dry/cold weather -- they \never/ got all the vile-tasting coffee residue out of the transport.

#781 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 03:16 PM:

I've got a pasta pot with a built-in colander, so that you just lift the cooked pasta out of the boiling water. Unfortunately, it's too large to store anyplace convenient.

#782 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 03:34 PM:

AKICIML: someone in The Rhesus Chart (latest-but-one Laundry Files book) argued that vampirism was impossible because of the low nutrient content of blood. Now comes a BBC article about people who drink human blood (sometimes directly), stating that "blood is highly nutritious". Any info on which is less incorrect? (Or are both correct for different nutrients?)

#783 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 03:46 PM:

I suspect boiling water on the stove would be much faster on a gas stove as opposed to electric. I was raised with a gas stove and though I understand there are solid reasons that (nearly?) everywhere else I have ever lived has had an electric stove (dorms and rentals, mostly), goshdarnit I want instantaneous temperature control and I don't think you can get that with electric.

#784 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 03:55 PM:

late response to Annie Y @ 339: under what circumstances do you think the provision should be used? Granted that I got the date wrong, do you think The Dagger and the Coin should not be eligible for a Hugo in 2016, and if so why? I'm honestly curious; this is a later provision, so there's no practice (let alone practice around the obvious hole) to go with the theory. This is very different from (e.g.) the tweaks that made clear fantasy was eligible; those simply ratified long-standing practice (e.g., "That Hell-Bound Train" won in 1959 (beating at least one other fantasy), some decades before the tweaks.)

#785 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 03:55 PM:

Diatryma #760: The thing is, she's done way better in the past... but yeah (Mary Aileen #778), the series is a bit uneven.

Lee #771: The romance here is not Mags & Aimee, but one of their "jobs" -- two feuding noble families are visiting the capital, Our Heroes are trying to keep the peace, despite the various loose cannons rolling around.

#786 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 04:14 PM:

I've almost always had electric stoves, so I don't mind the lack of instantaneous temperature control as much. (The quick way to get it cooler is to slide the pot halfway off the burner, but that's better for boiling than frying.) A few years ago our stove died, and we replaced it with a flat-glass-top model, and suddenly the teapot didn't work, because it had a rim around the edge that wasn't a problem on traditional electric stoves where the burner sticks up a bit. So I switched to microwaving, which has the advantage that it not only boils the water but also preheats the coffee cup, and there's never a problem with too much or too little water for the cup.

Then my wife got me an electric kettle with temperature settings, and I've gotten very used to it. It's fast enough that the water's usually ready by the time I've gotten the coffee ground and coffee press cleaned and found a cup, but I can see that running off UK/EU power would make it conveniently faster. Not sure how much power it uses, but I can only use two of {kettle, microwave, toaster} at the same time, not all three, as my circuit breaker reminded me this morning, so it's probably about 1000 watts.

#787 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 06:04 PM:

We cook with gas, but will often boil the water in the electric kettle then pour it into the pan of vegetables or whatever on the stove. Certainly our perception is that that's a faster way to do things than bringing the water to the boil on the stove.

#788 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Electric stoves heat large quantities of water (e.g., for pasta) faster than gas. Not sure which is better for a smaller quantity. Me, I really want induction on our next stove (which I hope we will get round to soon).

#789 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 08:16 PM:

CHip @782:

I'm not an expert by any means, but I'd say that since blood is the primary mechanism for nutrient transport in the human body, you could probably get a fair amount of nutrition out of it.

#790 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 09:44 PM:

Me @789:

On further consideration, given the rate of transport (on average, one day's worth of nutrients per day), the amount in the bloodstream at any given time may not be all that large.

#791 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 10:07 PM:

Blood nutrition facts (assuming lamb is a reasonable substitute for human).


#792 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 10:34 PM:

#764 dotless - electric kettles in Canada

I'm on the west coast, and everyone has one. Well, we didn't, but ours died a few years ago and we were slow to replace it. Visitors remarked on the lack now and again, as I recall.

I did finally replace it, with a quite nice one that's glass. I can watch the water boil, which is super neat! And it goes off with a particularly chummy little click when it's done. I have it upstairs in my office, as I work from home.

I favour plain teas: honeybush and green for the most part. At night there's sleepytime. My trick for unbitter green is to stare at the just boiled pot till I think it's unboiled for long enough, then pour. So far, so good.

#793 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 10:48 PM:

PSA: The eARC of Bujold's new book, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is out. I haven't bought it yet, because I just found out and I have to go to bed now. But I know what I'm reading next.

#794 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 11:19 PM:

I've always thought the (lack of) electric kettles in the US had far more to do with the general inability to get a decent cup of tea in vast swaths of the US[0]; if you're brainwashed into thinking that tepid water with a teabag on the side is "tea", it's hardly a surprise that you'd consider an electric kettle to be a weird gadget.

[0] Yes, this is a generalization -- but there's a reason I've got a small (400mL) travel kettle ...

#795 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 11:47 PM:

Our Bialetti (5 qt, oval) actually has the same problem with the lid handle; if I tighten the screw occasionally, the handle gets tight enough that I can twist the lid on and off, but it still rotates some and I've been too lazy^Wbusy^Wshort on spoons to fix it. In our case, I think I know what the problem is.

Look on the underside of the lid and see if there's another hole next to the screw hole - in ours, I think there was a kind of peg or protrusion from the handle which was supposed to lock it in place, but snapped off short at some point. I figure if I get around to finding the right size short, self-tapping screw, driving it through that hole and into the base of the handle should lock it in place again. Maybe you will get around to trying this theory sooner than I, or if I actually get to it I'll report back.

#796 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 11:47 PM:

Mary Aileen @793: I splurged for it too, because I'm going to be stuck in a Greyhound bus for the better part of 20 hours (in two spates) this weekend and I have a feeling I'm going ot need it.

#797 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2015, 11:50 PM:

Oh, related: If anyone else is going to be at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest, I'm going, and am up for communal meal runs or other Gatherings of Mini-Light (Fairy Lights?).

#798 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 02:48 AM:

Jacque @ 791 - Neat! If we assume vampires prey on humans exclusively, where does that get us?

That would be on the order of 3L blood per day to supply basic caloric requirements. A non-lethal vampire would therefore require about 6 (500-ml) donors per day, with repeat visits every 56 days - which is 336 un-shared donors total, per vampire. So that will make for a very social vampire.

Observe that if you push these numbers, the RBC count goes down, and so does the nutritional content of the blood - since the plasma volume gets replaced much faster than the other stuff.

The lethal vampire will have to kill somewhat more often than once every two days. So that makes for a very, very unsocial vampire who nonetheless has to get out quite a lot, and also deal with.. umm.. about 220 pallid corpses per annum.

So much for undetected.

#799 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 05:40 AM:

Mary Aileen @793

Thank you for the tip on Gentleman Jole. I didn't buy the eARC, but I did read the sample chapters.

We've discussed before about how the Miles books stand alone pretty well, but how much more texture they contain when you read the whole series. An example I cited was in Cryoburn, where Miles reacts to someone saying that living well is the best revenge by saying, "Huh. Where I come from, the best revenge is somebody's head in a bag." That's funny all by itself, but it means more if you've read Barrayar.

Well, I found another one in Gentleman Jole. Cordelia and Jole are talking about Miles' plan soon after his marriage to start a dozen children in uterine replicators all at the same time, in the interest of efficiency. Cordelia says, "V bssrerq gb gnxr gheaf jvgu Rxngreva ubyqvat uvf urnq haqre jngre gvyy ur unq n orggre vqrn, ohg nf vg ghearq bhg, fur qvqa’g arrq zl uryc."

That's funny, but it means more if you've read Shards of Honor.

#800 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 06:59 AM:

VictorS @ 798

You're assuming vamps have similar caloric requirements to humans, which doesn't map very well with everything we know about vampires. Vamps don't give off body heat, which would likely indicate huge energy savings. Also, for most vamp types, their resting state works more like hibernation than human sleep. In addition, there's the likely possibility that vampire cells are replaced at a slower rate than human, with the extreme version being that they're only replaced in case of injury.

A biochemist friend of mine did a bit on this for a zine a long time ago. I don't know where my copy is, so I might be butchering a lot of this, but here's what I remember. 75% of the energy the human body consumes is lost as heat. The fact that vampires don't radiate heat implies that their biology is significantly more efficient, and they lack the reptilian need to maintain warmth in other ways.

I think the ultimate conclusion was that an especially languorous vampire could probably get by on about 5% of human caloric intake, and most vampires probably live in the 10-20% range (remember, we're saving the 75% usually lost to heat AND we're going into ultimate power-saver mode for about 12 hours a day). This also nicely explains why vampires are so often depicted lounging stylishly - if they don't do much physical activity, they're likely shockingly energy efficient.

I like this math because even the 5% figure still does not allow for a single human donor to completely provide for a vampire's needs, but it makes the whole thing a little more logistically doable. This breakdown also implies that vampires who use their speed and strength have to feed more often. It gives them a reason to be sneaky and seductive: pure efficiency and convenience. They could easily overpower just about anybody, but the predator math thing comes into play - you don't want to expend more energy on a kill than absolutely necessary, and 10-20 pallid corpses per year is a lot easier to cover up - as well as more closely reflecting much of the fiction.

As for how a non-killer vamp could get by undetected? There's some very interesting math to be done with tindr and similar apps, especially if we have vamps with mind manipulation powers. I'm not about to start factoring their more arcane abilities into the whole caloric equations, though. Down that road lies madness.

#801 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 11:30 AM:

HLN: Area woman decides, at last minute, to go to hyperlocal con. Not just for Saturday but in fact for all weekend. Seems to have snagged a con-group-rate room even after con page said they were gone. Convenient.

Any other Mile Hi Congoers here?


Electric Kettles and such: Picked up one after a friend gave me a lovely Japanese self-straining teapot, and I decided I didn't want to have to get up from my desk and go to the kitchen stove every time I wanted to resteep my oolong. It's an "Aroma" brand, simple on/off mechanism that clicks off when done. Got it at Boulder's very fancy downtown kitchen store, Peppercorn.

It's tolerably quick from cold (I can water the plants out front while it heats, but it'll be done by the time I get back from watering plants out back) and fairly rapid when heating up water that it heated up just an hour before.

I don't know precisely how much power it draws (though I suppose I could find out), but I have learned that if I run it at the same time as the microwave, I will very soon be wrestling open the breaker panel to reset the switch. And I will be doing this in the dark, because the laundry room lights are on the same circuit. So I try to remember that any attempt to make hot tea *and* microwave oatmeal simultaneously needs to use the stovetop kettle.

Despite being a Southerner, I take both tea and coffee black. At some point my sweet tooth sort of went away. It doesn't help that the iced tea I was raised on was Lipton or Luzianne Instant, so I didn't have the quality stuff to get nostalgic for. My husband, also a southerner, *adores* sweet tea, and will make a mission of finding anywhere he can get sweet tea in the Denver region.

Which appears to include McDonald's and Popeye's these days. I always get the gallon jug of the "Cane's Sweeeeet!" for him when I make a pilgrimage to the Popeye's in Firestone/Longmont.

#802 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 12:11 PM:

For those who don't know how much power their kettle draws, every electrical item has its volts and watts (and/or amps) printed on it somewhere. Usually on the back or the bottom near where the power cord goes in. My kettle is 1465W. Household breakers (in north america; I don't know the standards for the rest of the world) are rated 15A for the most part, so if you get that information you can pretty easily figure out what can't share a circuit. 1465W/120V is about 12A so I wouldn't want to put my kettle on a circuit with much else, unless I knew the other thing was a very low power device.

The main thing I dislike about electric kettles is the lack of a steam whistle to call out and tell me that my water is ready. Otherwise they're fantastic.

#803 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Everything's energy efficiency with me, and this post shows that perfectly.

@782 and following: Vampires are not going to be four times as efficient as humans. I don't know how much of the "75% heat" that the human body produces is produced to keep the body's heat up and how much is waste heat required by the laws of thermodynamics. After all, a car on the highway also puts 25% of the chemical energy into moving forward and 75% into heat . A vampire might easily be 60% efficient [like a real-world fuel cell] instead of 25% efficient, but it's not going to be 100% efficient.

Electric kettles: I think the coffee-not-tea culture is a much better explanation than the 230 -not-110 volt wiring.

I use an electric kettle in the summer [when I don't want to heat the house up] and a stovetop kettle in the winter [when I do.] The energy-efficiency logic is that a stovetop kettle is about 30% efficient at turning fuel energy into hot water, and the grid is about 35% efficient at turning fuel energy into electricity, so that's kind of a wash. But if I can use the waste heat to heat my house, I'm ahead.

#804 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 05:32 PM:

Sandy @ 803

Sure, nothing's gonna be 100% efficient, but we know from their complete lack of heat output that they must be really, really efficient, and likely that their biology is fundamentally different from ours. The 5-20% number wasn't entirely from heat savings, it was a combination of heat savings, cellular regeneration savings, savings on the respiratory and circulatory systems which are - if not completely dormant - at least much, much slower.

Look at insects: they take about 1/4 the total calories as a mammal to put on an equivalent amount of body weight, and we're still talking about an animal that is growing and replacing cells at a normal rate. Sure, insects have efficiencies that don't map to a larger organism (respiratory systems, etc... which is why we don't have giant bugs), but I'm not saying vampires are similar to bugs, just pointing out that extreme energy efficiency isn't outside the realm of possibility for life on earth.

It all depends on whether you're thinking of vampires in terms of being only very slightly modified humans (humans who can only subsist on blood and who have slightly higher than normal strength and speed), or something with fundamentally altered biology and biochemistry. Vamps being cool to the touch is one of the most consistent and enduring descriptors, and their frequency of feeding - while inconsistently represented - simply does not reflect the kind of numbers that would be required by near-human biology.

When you're trying to science your vampires (which always falls apart if you go to far, but meh we're here now), I like the "alien biology symbiote" route, which allows for more interesting chemistry. "Flexible/cold metabolism" is the most obvious solution: vamps produce specialized catalysts that allow similar chemical reactions to happen efficiently at wildly varying temperatures, but there are other interesting possibilities. One of my friends posited symbiotic cellular organelles that allow vampires to absorb and store energy incredibly efficiently, but with a downside: if they're exposed to the sun, heat and solar radiation overwhelm their hyper-efficient metabolic batteries, causing them to overheat and burst into flames.

Vampires are weird enough that I'm willing to do their calculations based on the very extremes of known biology, and even extrapolate a little beyond them. We don't know exactly how they would do it, but that level of efficiency isn't so far outside known biology that it's just laughable on its face. We don't see it much in large, complex creatures... but we also don't see functional immortality and eternal youth in large complex creatures, either.

#805 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 06:42 PM:

I'm willing to posit non-homophagic vampires, but human blood would likely contain crucial micronutrients, making human blood the optimal vampire food. This help mitigate your trail of palid corpses problem.

Then there's also this, which might account both for vampire longevity as well as their reputed taste for young victims. And support cell-repair efficiencies, as well.

Leah Miller @800: if we have vamps with mind manipulation powers

If you stiplulate that vampire metabilism produces higher than normal ghb, which is expressed in, say, the saliva, there you go. "Euphoria, increased sex drive, and tranquility are reported positive effects of GHB abuse." This would also account for the erotic mythos around vampires. The "[n]egative effects [of] ... loss of consciousness, ... hallucinations, [and] amnesia...." would be a feature, not a bug, from the viewpoint of the vampire.

Hell, (as has been thoroughly explored in the literature), the club scene would be vampire paradise. Target rich environment, synchronized to circadian cycle, and prey behavior that handily camouflages the effects of vampire feeding.

If your vampire can supplement with animal blood (available through any number of avenues), and isn't compelled to completely drain his or her human victims, a viable vamp population isn't even much of a stretch.

#806 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 07:02 PM:

#782: someone in The Rhesus Chart (latest-but-one Laundry Files book) argued that vampirism was impossible because of the low nutrient content of blood

I don't know if you've finished that book yet, but there are spoilery reasons to be suspicious of what characters in that universe say about vampires.

#799: That's funny, but it means more if you've read Shards of Honor.

I thought first of _Memory_, but it's referring to both of them at once, in a way (despite the fact that I hadn't previously thought of those two scenes as particularly connected to each other). But my favorite example of this is in _Komarr_, when Ekaterin, *juvyr orvat vagreebtngrq ba snfg-cragn*, mutters "If Lord Vorkosigan can do it, I can do it" -- with no prior exposure (AFAIK) to the little Admiral's former motivational catchphrase.

There is one example that seems intended to be this kind of continuity callback that baffles me as a long-time fan of the series, though. In _Captain Vorpatril's Alliance_, when discussing the replacement of Vorkosigan House's entryway floor, Ekaterin says "my mother-in-law was telling me about some unhappy events that she always associated with the old black-and-white marble tiles that used to be here". I thought most of her unhappy events occurred in the Imperial Residence, or aboard spaceships, or on other planets. What did the floor remind her of?

#807 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 07:31 PM:

One of the prime traits of vampires is that they don't age. Plus, if they're injured, they heal perfectly.

I would think that would take some energy to maintain. I wonder if the telomeres in the vampire cells don't ever shorten?

#808 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 07:33 PM:

chris @806

I was thinking of the scene in Shards of Honor where Cordelia ubyqf gur cflpubybtvfg'f urnq haqre jngre gb svaq bhe gur ahzore naq qvfcbfvgvba bs gur frphevgl thneqf. I don't remember a similar scene in Memory

#809 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 07:37 PM:

I thought the soltoxin attack was at Vorkosigan House. (And the arguments with Count Pyotr.)

#810 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 08:24 PM:

Is there a chance we could move the Vorkosigan talk into a new thread? I appreciate the ROT-13, but even the relatively minor unencoded bits are coming perilously close to telling me more than I want to know before I have a chance to read it.

#811 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 08:52 PM:

The Metabolic Efficiency of Vampires; or, Why I Love Making Light.

#812 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 10:57 PM:

Nicole, #801: Any other Mile Hi Congoers here?

Keep an eye out for my friend Chelsea Schumacher. (Her badge name might be Cerval.) If you run into her, tell her Celine says hi.

And I will be doing this in the dark, because the laundry room lights are on the same circuit.

Ignore if helpy, but this sounds like a good place to put one of those little battery-operated stick-up lights that turn on and off by pressing the front. We have one in the hallway, located so that it casts light on the thermostat which is otherwise impossible to read (being stuck in the narrow slot between two floor-to-ceiling bookcases).

#813 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2015, 11:04 PM:

I'm a coffee drinker, not a tea drinker. I make my coffee in a French press. I heat my coffee water in an electric kettle. It's made by Proctor-Silex, it's white, plastic, very light, and extremely inexpensive at Target. I recommend it.

#814 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 12:15 AM:

pericat: Right??

#815 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 12:39 AM:

Steve C. @807: One of the prime traits of vampires is that they don't age. Plus, if they're injured, they heal perfectly. I would think that would take some energy to maintain.

Part of that is explained (above) by the consumption of blood from young victims. Also: while the high levels of iron in a blood diet are hazardous to humans, vampires actually coopt it to serve their photoferrotrophy metabolism. The initial phase of a vampire's feeding cycle draws down the prey's water volume, thus increasing the victim's blood bicarbonate levels. This is another reason vampires have to limit direct sunlight exposure, though; overproduction of carbohydrates can cause them to spontaneously combust. (Have we fallen over the edge of plausible physics yet?)

I wonder if the telomeres in the vampire cells don't ever shorten?

They coopt any stem cells that are floating around in the blood they consume. Which constrains how much non-human blood they can consume and still maintain health. (It also explains some vampiric chimerism, such as their fabled ability to turn into bats.)

This-all argues that at least some of the prey blood goes straight into the vampire's circulatory system, rather than going through digestion.

(It's amazing what you can handwave together with a few Google search terms.)

#816 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 04:19 AM:

AKICIML: Does anybody know of a Super Mario World emulator for PC that actually works and also isn't just a cover for doing awful things to my computer? Willing to pay a small amount. I had a lot of fun with that game back in the day.

#817 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 09:14 AM:

Jenny Islander @816:

MAME (and it's related project MESS) is a well-respected open-source arcade-game emulator, attempting to emulate thousands of classic arcade game hardware on modern equipment. The goal officially is to document and preservation of these historic and classic systems, but being able to play the game is a fortunate side effect.

Until April of this year, MAME did not support console games, just arcade games (so MAME does not support Super Mario Brothers on the NES, but does support the Super Mario Brothers pinball game), and MESS was a fork that supported console games. In April the two projects merged. MAME/MESS does support SNES emulation, so it should run Super Mario World fine.

Some folks at my Makerspace have been commissioned to make an arcade cabinet, complete with professional joysticks, buttons, etc, connected to a PC inside driving a modern monitor, to play one of the classic games -- I don't know which offhand. On Monday, two people were making the cabinet box, and one was "testing" the software (aka, playing Galaga).

#818 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 10:36 AM:

Via Serge on the Book of Face, parachuting beavers.

#819 ::: Angportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 03:16 PM:

This non-vampire has at times used beef blood in cooking. I got it from Uwajimaya. It's been a while but I have noted that hamburger stew with blood mixed in, sticks to the ribs a while longer than without it. Not sure of effects on endurance and so on. It does make the kitchen smell funny...There was a recipe book, but it seems to have gotten lost.
Of course, I would not try to live on it exclusively...there must be chocolate, of course.

#820 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 03:23 PM:

I just got back from Amtrak's Lost & Found counter at LA's Union station. My parents came out last week and my dad left his laptop on the train to San Diego. It is the second time he has left his laptop somewhere. We are all lucky it was still there when I picked it up. Mom and Dad travel with carry-ons only, and both are crappy, outdated, tippy, non-spinny models. He had originally intended his laptop case to piggyback, but attempting to do so causes the whole thing to fall over and the laptop bag to go skittering across the floor, so he has just been carrying it. Which leads to him forgetting he was carrying it in the first place. I thought I'd upgrade his carry-on for X-mas, looking for one with spinner wheels designed to also carry a laptop case when necessary. Unfortunately, I am not seeing anything marketed as such - or at least, I am having trouble sifting through all the websites to find what I'm looking for. Does anyone here have a carry-on/laptop combo they can recommend, or maybe know what the magic words are to search?

#821 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 04:37 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 816:

If Buddha Buck's suggestion doesn't work for you for whatever reason, you can also try BizHawk.

nerdycellist @ 820:

I don't have a particular recommendation for you, but there are plenty of carry-on bags aimed at business travellers that would probably be appropriate. They don't really support balancing a separate laptop bag on them, but rather have an outer compartment aimed at holding the laptop and associated goodies. You can try searching for some combination of suitcase or "carry on" and office, and see if that helps.

#822 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 05:49 PM:

#819 ::: Angportus

Considering that salted chocolate is fairly common and chocolate with bacon is available, you could probably find a market for chocolate with beef blood.

#823 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 06:05 PM:

Angportus #819: I have seen a book titled Blood and Chocolate, but it was about a werewolf, not a vampire. Oh hey, it's a movie too.

#824 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 06:47 PM:

Angiportus @819, just today I stumbled across a recipe for blood and chocolate, southern-Italy-style

#825 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 07:19 PM:

Samuel Hubbard, George Lawton (m Isabel Smith), John Scarborough (m Mary Pierson).

#826 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2015, 10:40 PM:

Bruce 808: I don't remember a similar scene in Memory.

I think they must be referring to the scene where Vina naq Qhi qhzc Zvyrf vagb n ongugho shyy bs vpr jngre naq chfu uvz haqre n pbhcyr bs gvzrf.

#827 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 03:06 AM:

I am in a bad mood.

Opera appears to have broken YouTube.

It's a browser that has some good interface features, but YouTube videos have stopped playing. And exporting Bookmarks is hard.

It looks to be down to changes introduced with the lastest Adobe Flash security fix. And all the help available seems to be fixes for much older problems.

How long, I wonder, before the big three in the browser world become of the big two?

#828 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 04:26 AM:

Xopher @826

Thank you. Not a close parallel, IMO, but I can see how it resonates.

After I wrote #799, I remembered the scene, also in Shards of Honor, where gur Oneenlnena fbyqvref ner ubyqvat Qhonhre'f urnq haqre jngre gb trg uvz gb gnyx. Which may be where Cordelia got the idea.

#829 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 09:24 AM:

I bought an electric kettle after forgetting the tea kettle on the stove, and it boiled dry. No terrible consequences, fortunately, but I decided I need something that shuts off automatically.

I am have a HARD time resisting the Bujold ARC.

#830 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 09:27 AM:

In Chrome, when I right-click on a highlighted passage, sometimes I get offered two rot13s, and sometimes only one.

The better rot13-- it transforms the words I've highlighted in place, preserving formatting-- has a blue and white icon with a 13 in the middle and two arrows circling around it.

The inferior rot13-- it puts the transformed text in a gray popup, loses paragraphing, and has to be clicked to make it go away so the page is accessible again-- is black with ROT13 in very narrow letters in it.

The better rot13 is only available sporadically, and I have no idea what the pattern is. Anyone know what's going on? Any way of having the better rot13 all the time?

#831 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 02:27 PM:

I have been earwormed by Abi's latest parhelion. And I keep making up new verses. (I am not alone in this.)

#832 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 02:48 PM:

nerdycellist @820: Try searching for: rolling laptop case. Most of them are briefcase-sized which is probably too small, but there are lots of styles and sizes.

#833 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 03:59 PM:

I have a rolling catalog case with a laptop pocket. Whether it would work for your father I don't know - it's a bit too large for a carry-on. I think - but it can hold quite a lot.

I also have a two-piece roller that I bought through a guy I worked with: it's a rolling attache with a removable laptop case that latches onto the wheeled section. (Seems to be fairly sturdy.)

#834 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 04:09 PM:

So, I delivered the Pegasus Awards to OVFF yesterday, but due to other commitments I had to leave early. This morning I woke with a raging head cold -- I feel like I was hit by a truck.

I am not going back to the con today, I really doubt that anyone would want to share these symptoms. I am not happy that I'm going to miss the jam session and the dead dog...sigh.

#835 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 05:42 PM:

Mary Aileen @831:
I keep making up new verses. (I am not alone in this.)

No, you really aren't.

#836 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 06:32 PM:

By a malign coincidence, I just reread Sturgeon's "The Golden Helix", which is about things going around in a somewhat less friendly fashion.

#837 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 07:55 PM:

In case you's like a cute food chaser after those blood desserts.

#838 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2015, 08:19 PM:

Public Service Announcement—just to those Twitter users who, like me, didn't realize this. The rest of you can go about your business.

There are two Twitter account settings that are enabled by default, and you may want to disable them. The settings under Security and privacy include:
- Let others find me by my email address
- Let others find me by my phone number

If you're using a Twitter handle that doesn't include your real name, someone doesn't need to get fancy with hacking to find out who you are. If they have the email address or phone number you used for your Twitter account, they can just look for you by that email or phone number, and Twitter will helpfully provide your handle.

Of course, if you're using your real name and want friends to find you on Twitter and follow you, enabled is splendid.

#839 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:04 AM:

Elliott @ 797 - Sorry I didn't see your comment before OVFF. I was there, but as far as I know didn't cross paths with you. I did get to have a nice chat with Lori Coulson, and briefly met Terry Karney.

Lori - really glad I had a chance to catch up with you on Saturday, and hope you get over the cold quickly. My prednisone insomnia was more a feature than a bug during the con, but now I'm dog tired and still not ready to lie down.

Maybe we'll actually manage to coordinate something next year.

#840 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 06:13 AM:

Water Spirals at 1600fps. ("Gav and Dan the Slo Mo Guys")

#841 ::: Quil ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 09:55 AM:

David Harmon @823:

The book is excellent; don't judge it by the movie (ugh). Annette Curtis Klause also wrote The Silver Kiss, which is vampire YA, and also good, though I think Blood and Chocolate is more original.

#842 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 10:48 AM:

Any thoughts about where "everything happens for a reason" comes from? My impression is that it wasn't a cultural commonplace until the past decade or two, and that it's bad New Age metaphysics.

#843 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 11:02 AM:

estelendur, #824: thanks for the link. At a Scandinavian deli in my region, I used to be able to get a sweet blood-sausage with barley in it. The frozen stuff there now, with raisins, did not appeal. I'm not much on pudding-y/gelatinous dishes, but I used to make brownies from a storebought mix and I put blood in in lieu of eggs. (I don't use/eat eggs, for taste/texture reasons.) Usually it was pretty good but one time there was an unpleasant ferrous taste.
I imagine that experimentation will resume...

#844 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:03 PM:

Nancy @ 842 -

I'm pretty sure I've heard that phrase at least forty years ago. My guess is that "everything happens for a reason" was a cliche tossed out to explain seemingly senseless occurrences that can't be justified by a person's character or actions or something obvious. An assurance that there's a plan, even if it's not evident.

One of my favorite Pearls Before Swine cartoon shows a raisin that wins the lottery, and Pig says, "Everything happens for a raisin".

#845 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:12 PM:

Nancy @842: I always figured it was the non-denominational/"secular" version of "it's all in God's Plan".

#846 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:23 PM:

Gargh. I'm very irritated with my doctor's office. They've been bought out by the local hospital chain in the last year or two, and I have to say, the customer service Has Not Improved.

My doctor, last couple of times I've been in for a physical, has made a point of telling me about this cool new thing they have, apparently some viral inhibitor. She very enthusiastically told me to call them next time I feel like I'm coming down with a head-cold.

Well, I am, and I did. Except she's not on duty today, and everybody else is going, "Buh...wha...?" Grr. Next step: phone tag, once she gets the message. Grrr.

#847 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:23 PM:

If anyone wants me, I'll be doing Happy Hour on a comet.

#848 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @842: Any thoughts about where "everything happens for a reason"

Well, there's always the old-time "Ghu works in mysterious ways, her wonders to perform...."

#849 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 12:55 PM:

Everything does happen for a reason (actually, depending on the context you choose, it happens for any number of reasons -- possibly an infinite number, but certainly an uncountable one in human terms).

Whether that reason is at all relevant, or even comprehensible -- that's up for debate.

#850 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 01:14 PM:

Hi, Anne! Glad I got to talk with you. I'm making a note in next year's calendar to remember to set up a Gathering of Light at OVFF next year.

Feeling some better today. I have some voice, but now my throat is dry and scratchy...sigh. Will make it to adoration this afternoon, but by myself. Whatever the heck this bug is, Mom now has it, and it's hitting her harder than it did me.

Spent the little time I was awake yesterday working on chaplets. A 'Prayers for the souls in Purgatory' for one of my fellow adorers, and the first of two Christmas (or St. Andrew's) Novena chaplets. Managed to find some luscious purple Czech glass beads for the latter.

#851 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 01:23 PM:

Nancy, #842: It was around long before that, but usually expressed more along the lines of, "God has a plan for us, even if we can't understand it." And it's still said in that format to people grieving the tragic loss of a loved one (due to violence, disease, or whatever). All the NewAgers did was remove the specific religious reference.

#852 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 01:36 PM:

Lori Coulson @850:

Wish the Dutch were bigger on adoration. Say hi from me?

What sort of chaplets?

#853 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Quil #841: Yeah, the WP summaries made it clear that the movie made a thorough hash of the book.

Tom Whitmore #849: You're conflating "reason=purpose" with "reason=cause", the former is the thought of the proverb.

Lee #851: God has a plan for us, even if we can't understand it.

Which in this context makes me think of one of Teresa's "Commonplaces": “Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying.” (The Joker) Seriously, the idea that God's plans are simply beyond human comprehension is one of the common approaches to theodicy, but not one that appeals to me, precisely because given the argument, I'm not terribly impressed with his results.

#854 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 04:33 PM:

David Harmon @853: that just moves it back one. Purpose is a human interpretation -- whose purpose, and why? Same arguments apply, IMO.

#855 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 07:22 PM:

janetl @ 829

I can't get past the "please log in to complete your purchase" bit. I contacted their tech people.

Me: Hi, it's not working.
Tech: Hi, use a different browser or clear your cache. Thanks for shopping with us!
Me: Hi, did all that, still not working.

I'm just waiting to hear back on that. If I didn't have this addiction...

#856 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 08:11 PM:

@826, 828: Yes, that was what I was thinking of. Gur pbzzrag va _Tragyrzna Wbyr_ zngpurf cnegf bs rnpu va qvssrerag jnlf, rira gubhtu gurl qba'g ernyyl zngpu rnpu bgure.

Also in response to the second part of 828: I think that was definitely an intended connection. Pbeqryvn npghnyyl fnlf fbzrguvat yvxr "lbh'er nobhg gb trg n penfu pbhefr va gur erny Oneenlnena vagreebtngvba grpuavdhrf" va gur fprar jvgu Qe. Zrugn, VVEP.

Anyone who is worried about spoilers from this particular subthread needn't be, IMO (although I have rot13'd pretty aggressively here anyway following the request of my namesake at 810); to call it peripheral to the real plot is to give it much more importance than it deserves. But if our hosts don't object to having a *real* spoilery discussion thread for a book that is (a) published by a competitor and (b) technically not even out yet (whatever that means when an ebook is available to anyone who wants to pay for it), it does look like there might be interest.

#858 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 11:12 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @842: looking on Google Books I find usages from the 1950s onward (apparent early 1900s usages seem to be from misdated books).

The Mystery of Mouldy Manor - Page 50
Ted Westgate - 1950 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
You wouldn't understand. DEAN. Try me. WILL. Trust me. This is my problem. (Beat) Dean, do you believe in fate? In destiny? DEAN. Fate? I don't know. Never really have thought about it. WILL. Do you think everything happens for a reason?

Of course you can find the general sentiment at least as far back as Democritus, but I don't think he meant it in that particular wishy-washy New-Agey way.

#859 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 11:24 PM:

Adoration is one of my favorite ways to worship -- and I passed your greetings along to Him.

Chaplets -- the one I made for a fellow adorer is the Chaplet for the Souls in Purgatory. A Carmelite convent in Colorado created this one -- it's like a small rosary.

The chaplet consists of 27 beads, a 'tail' with a crucifix then three small bead and one large bead, a centerpiece, then a loop of three groups of seven small beads divided by two large beads.

The three sets of seven beads represent the three hours of Our Lord's agony, the seven beads of each set stand for the remains of the seven capital sins from which the holy souls are being purified.

On the crucifix you recite Psalm 129 (De Profundis).

On the three small beads, which represents the souls' sins against faith, hope, and charity:

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world grant them rest. (Repeat on second small bead)

(On the third bead) Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world grant them eternal rest.

On the large beads: May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

On the groups of seven: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

On completing the chaplet say:

Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Let us pray -- O Lord Jesus Christ, Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of our brethren who have passed out of this life the remission of all their sins; that by the intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin and all the saints, and through our own devout prayers, they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired. We ask this of You, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.

The second chaplet is the Christmas Novena a/k/a St. Andrew's Chaplet. The prayer is recited 15 times a day from November 30th (Feast of St. Andrew) until Midnight on Christmas Eve.

It has 15 purple beads and can use either a Nativity medal or a St. Andrew medal. I elected to use a lovely medal showing two angels entertaining Baby Jesus -- one of them is dangling a star over Him and the crib.

The prayer:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayers and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

#860 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 11:30 PM:

Abi @852

I'm really, really lucky that my parish has a Perpetual Adoration chapel. Mom and I have a regular hour every Monday afternoon, and is my guaranteed hour of peace each week.

Oh -- I forgot to put this link in the above:

The Souls in Purgatory Chaplet

#861 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2015, 11:33 PM:

Souls in Purgatory Chaplet

Somehow I botched the link in the prior post -- let's try it this time...

#862 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 12:36 AM:

Lee @ 812: Keep an eye out for my friend Chelsea Schumacher. (Her badge name might be Cerval.) If you run into her, tell her Celine says hi.

I did not, to my knowledge, run into her. I hope she had at least a good a time as I had, though!

#863 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 03:24 AM:

The "everything happens for a reason" meme is something that can make the Manichean Heresy so tempting.

But Natural Theology

#864 ::: alenahk ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 11:13 AM:

Semi-long-time lurker (I know I've been coming "here" at least since spring), wondering if this is a good time to jump in. Catching up this morning, I had some thoughts related to the tea discussion and strainer-pot discussions... now those themes may have waned a bit so I'm feeling somewhat unsure, but here goes...

Elliott @775: I've had the Ikea pot in question for 4 years or so, and I love the thing, though I use it just as often for making popcorn on the stove top as for boiling pasta. The lid's handle has never loosened in this time, though I do have another Ikea cooking pot that has needed such tightening.

My main reaction to the tea discussion was surprise that no-one seemed to take honey in their (hot) tea, or at least I didn't see anyone mentioning such... I take sugar and milk in coffee, but the only teas I take with sugar are ones such as chai that I may also add milk to.

#865 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 11:37 AM:

I use honey when I have no brown sugar, but I don't like the extra taste as much.

#866 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 12:01 PM:

I'd be tempted to try making chai with honey. I dislike sweetened tea as a rule, but make an exception for sweet-spicy-creamy chai. Honey might go rather well.

#867 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 12:17 PM:

"Everything happens for a reason" I think is partly a logical fallacy relating to the power of Story. Because the backstory of How Awesome Person Got So Awesome (real life or fictional) often includes a tragedy that they have not just overcome, but are actively using in order to do good. So doesn't that mean that other people's fresh tragedies are awesomeness-in-the-making? (Not-so-Spoiler: not necessarily. And even if they are fuel for future awesomeness, it doesn't make them Good Things. It makes them Bad Things out of which good can be salvaged.)

#868 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 12:48 PM:

#829 janetl wrote: "I am have a HARD time resisting the Bujold ARC."

I nearly succumbed today, since I have a foul cold and fancied some comfort reading. But was put off by the Baen site's insistence that I create an account and enter personal details, with phone number (which I do not give out) as a mandatory field. Much prefer vendor sites that let you click a PayPal button and take it from there ...

#869 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 01:35 PM:

I don't have a phone. Let me repeat that: I. Do. Not. Have. A. Phone. There are ways to reach me that work, and if you're entitled to intrude on my downtime, you'll be given access.

At work, or if needed from friends/relations, I can *use* a phone.

So, when they ask, I tell them that and let *their* system deal with it.

Even when I did have a phone, I gave a different number to companies. They want to pull up your account by phone#, and I don't let them. Why won't you give it to us? We'll never call it - yeah, that's *exactly* the reason. What you *will* do with it.

212.555.1212 and its variants work well; so does 1060 W. Addison (although since I'm Canadian, and there are times when they need to know that, I have to use things like 800 MacLeod Tr. S).

#870 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 01:55 PM:

Server error elbow-jog.

#871 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Ok, that didn't work. Let me try again.

Mycroft W, I respect that you don't want to give out your phone number (and even that you don't have one to give out.) But just a data point from the other side: I work for a company that has people fill out a form on our website so we can send them quotes on items they're interested in.

Fully 5-10% of the forms are filled out with incorrect email addresses. Sometimes it's obvious, like rather than, or like gmail.cmo. Sometimes, there is no way in the world to guess what's wrong with it. Joe Smith from ABC Company has for his home and for his work, and gives us either or

In those cases, if we don't have a valid phone number, we cannot send out the requested information. So, yes, sometimes there are valid reasons for asking for a phone number. (Which doesn't mean you should be *required* to give it.)

#872 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 01:56 PM:

This moose has a Baen account, and has bought (and read) GJ&TRQ.

Companies demanding phone numbers are a nuisance, and I tended to give them (.uk) 0123 456 7890, which I'm quite certain was never issued to a subscriber. (I used to know what the (a?) direct dial number was for the speaking clock, but have lost that.)

As for addresses (particularly for enquiries or over-the-counter purchases where I don't want junkmail), I tend to hand them a plausible address and postcode for a street that no longer exists due to redevelopment.


#873 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 02:03 PM:

I'll give my phone number to companies I do business with. I won't give it out when, for example, I'm filling out the e-mail form for a congresscritter - they'll get the 555-1212 variation.
(My browser does remember how I fill in forms, but not always the way I want.)

#874 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 03:43 PM:

Lori @859ff:

Thank you for the information - that's neat!

As the only rosary fan in my currently living family, I have ended up with All The Family Chaplets (as well as most of the prayer books and a lead figurine of St Christopher that would not look out of place in a D&D party). I've developed a minor interest in the staggering variety of them that the church has created and passed on over the centuries.

(And I've invented a couple, because they filled a gap.)

And speaking of Adoration, there's a thing I'd like to email you, if it's OK. I have your email address, but since I got it because I have superpowers here, I don't want to intrude on your inbox without your permission.

#875 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 04:31 PM:

Abi, you are welcome to email me any time you like.

Glad you liked the info -- I really like having chaplets that key into different portions of the liturgical year. I started the Purgatory chaplet last November, and liked it enough to keep it in my daily routine.

I have a weakness for beads of any kind, so I seem to be acquiring old rosaries. And prayerbooks! I've got a poor small beat-up Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary that is in need of being rebound, I keep promising it that I'll look up a local bookbinder...real soon now.

And I've fallen in love with the Liturgy of the now breviaries are finding a way to sneak into the house. (The books are plotting to take over. Should be fun to watch how they deal with the house's sentient black hole.)

#876 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 05:03 PM:

Lori @875:

You have mail.

In a rather complex sequence of events, I ended up with a Dutch breviary last year, just in time for Lent. It was lovely in every aspect except for the vinyl cover, so I rebound it and used it as my Lenten practice. I find the Dutch Liturgy of the Hours less jarring than the English-language one, where the default-masculine language is kind of triggering me about a bunch of things about the Church and women.

Then my pastor showed me the Dutch-language smartphone app he's been using. It's got an episcopal concordet and everything.

I'm surprisingly fond of it, despite being a bookbinder and a book person in general.

(On chaplets: I've tweaked the standard rosary to allow me to use it to recite the Beatitudes, because I got cranky about the Luminous Mysteries and wanted something else to do on a Thursday. I added markers that divide the beads in the loop into six sets of seven bracketed by two sets of six. This allows me to do an Our Father and six short prayers for each Beatitude, reusing the first paternoster for the last prayer. I use the first lines of Psalm 100 instead of Hail Mary's, though I do keep the Hail Mary's for faith, hope, and charity.)

#877 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 05:05 PM:

I realize on rereading the above that I sound really crabby: don't like this, don't care for that. In my defense, I'll just say that I use my visceral dislikes of things to steer me to practices that work better for me. These things are so personal.

#878 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 06:37 PM:

Re Patrick's Sidelight about SXSW: Buzzfeed and Vox Media have stated that they will pull out of the conference unless the cancelled panels are reinstated. Yes. Let's not teach the terrorists that this shit works, TYVM.

What really pisses me off is that the SXSW committee characterized their decision as a "need to keep the dialogue civil and respectful". The way you do that is to have a BOUNCER, and promptly eject anyone who's trying to make trouble. Not to kowtow to the demands of bullies.

#879 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 07:01 PM:


Amen. I think the term of art here is the hecker's veto. Not only does this allow the current bunch of terrorists to shut down a discussion they don't want happening, it also teaches everyone else what to do to shut down discussions *they* dislike. Reward terrorism, and you get more of it.

#880 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 07:04 PM:

@878: If you would have civil discussion, be thou then prepared for trolls?

...sounds like good advice, actually, although the original I adapted it from is a bit more controversial.

#881 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 07:17 PM:

Chris @ #880

Si vis pacem, para bellum?

Anyway, I think they'd need a splatter rather than a bouncer to deal with the gators. Detritus would be about right.

#882 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 07:41 PM:

This estimate of human blood's calorie content (showing working) is roughly in accord with Jacque's link #791, so supports "low nutrient of blood". The linked article estimates 500mL blood to contain 450 calories which works out to 90 calories/100 mL human blood putting it in the same ballpark of 75 calories/100 mL lamb blood.

I haven't (yet) purchased the e-ARC of the new Bujold despite feeling FOMO. A question that's cropped up elseweb (File770) is whether "Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen" is eligible for the 2016 Hugo awards? It's not due for "official" release until February 2016, but it's hard to argue that it's not already widely available from the Baen site which describes it as "Published 10/21/2015".

#883 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 07:54 PM:

Re Gentleman Jole, it depends if the finished version counts as "substantially different" from the eARC. If I remember correctly, the professionally-published version of The Martian was ruled to be functionally identical to the original, self-published one, so didn't get a new year of eligibility just because now most of fandom had heard of it.

#884 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 09:35 PM:

albatross, #878: Agreed. And beyond that, by shutting down panels that the terrorists disagree with, SXSW is negating its own claim to having a "big tent", because it's pushing women (and men who support equality for women) out entirely. See also "refusing to take sides is siding with the status quo".

However, jargon aside, what's happening here goes well beyond anything I would ever describe as "heckling". Standing up in the middle of a political rally and chanting protest slogans is heckling. Threatening violence if you don't get your way is a crime.

#885 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 10:21 PM:

Apparently, the story behind the SXSW mess is much uglier than Patrick's link makes it look.

#886 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2015, 10:44 PM:

Elliott Mason @883, I don't think there's actually been an official eligibility ruling on The Martian (for Campbell purposes; obviously, no matter what, it's too late for Best Novel.) At this point, unless I find a couple more great new authors, I'm keeping Weir on my Campbell ballot and letting the administrators decide whether it's a valid nomination.

#887 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 04:20 AM:

abi @876: Then my pastor showed me the Dutch-language smartphone app he's been using.


<talkshow announcer voice>
Practical Religious Practice ... In The Future!

#888 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 06:06 AM:

There's been some interesting developments in machine typesetting (I shall call it "typesetting" even though it mostly involves directing an inkjet or laser inscriber to deposit marks in the right spot, rather than pouring hot lead or assembling cast letters) inspired by bible translation needs.

Link to source code for those so inclined.

#889 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 09:27 AM:


Yeah, I understand the term "heckler" sounds more harmless than what's going on, but I think "heckler's veto" is the common term for this argument for shutting down free speech. The Popehat article I linked to had two different cases where the "hecklers" were threatening violence as a way of convincing the authorities to suppress the speech the hecklers wanted shut down.

Like all terrorism, this isn't an ideology or a side, it's a tactic. If the tactic works, it will be used more.

#890 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 09:50 AM:

Lori Coulson@859: Thanks from me as well. For me this was a window into a fascinating area of practice.

#891 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 01:18 PM:

albatross, #889: The problem with jargon that conflicts with common usage is that people who aren't familiar with the jargon are easily fooled into believing that it means something else. We see this all the time with the scientific meaning vs. the common usage of the word "theory", and again when "spanking" is used to refer to beating children with objects. In this particular case, people have a basic understanding of what "heckling" is, so referring to terrorist threats by that name is misleading even if it's technically the correct jargon term.

#892 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 02:22 PM:

Lee #891: That's really part of the more general problem of people exploiting any available ambiguity of language, and sometimes creating abiguity where there wasn't.

#893 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 02:23 PM:

(Sigh, typos.)

#894 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 04:18 PM:

Abi -- re: stalking the wild breviary --

I started out with Shorter Christian Prayer about this time of year in 2013. When I hit Advent, this abridged version repeats the same week over ad infinitum, or whenever you finally reach Christmas.

Not wanting to do THAT again during Lent, I bought the one volume Christian Prayer and began learning my way around the Propers of the Seasons and Saints, and the joys of multi-ribbon markers.

Then I found Coffee and Canticles and discovered that the Daughters of St. Paul publish a version of Christian Prayer that is MUCH easier to use. Problem -- it's out of print, and they won't be doing more until the new version is approved by the US Bishops. I finally scored a copy on Ebay.

Along the way, I've collected several Little Offices of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a few books of prayer that are small enough for a child's hands (3 x 4 inches!), and a couple of pre-Vatican II breviaries designed for the laity.

The gem of the collection, though, is a banned breviary. It was banned because it didn't use the Grail psalms, and it seems more Orders were buying it as it was cheaper than the one volume breviary published by Catholic Book Publishing...

According to one of the experts on the above mentioned blog, it's the only one volume that has a complete Office of Readings and is the best English translation of Liturgy of the Hours. In my opinion, it beats the other two versions handily.

I do have the LotH on my Kindle as well -- I use the Divine Office app created by the folks at

Everything old is new again!

#895 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 08:46 PM:


anyone here remember a piece about Christmas traditions written in the style of a Rabbinic discussion about what is proper observance?

#896 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 08:57 PM:

Lila @895. Yes, and it was hilarious, but I have no idea where the link to it is.

#897 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 10:26 PM:

Lila@895: I'm pretty sure there have been multiple takes on this (and likewise for Halloween and other occasions) but here's one.

#898 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2015, 10:32 PM:

And while I'm linking to silliness, some apocryphal apostolic putdowns.

#899 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 04:01 AM:

Today, I'm one of the lucky 10,000.

Because I never knew about paternosters (for people who don't the stop/start nature of elevators). My hands get clammy just looking at the video.

#900 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 06:39 AM:

Soon Lee @ #899:

I've used paternoster elevators, but in Sweden rather than in Denmark. It was a little bit stressful the first few times, but it isn't much scarier than (say) using escalators or travelators.

#901 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 07:00 AM:

Soon Lee #899: Hmm. I gather from WP there was a safety backlash against them starting in the 70s.

I find myself of mixed feelings there -- for the able-bodied, they could clearly be more convenient and faster (and likely cheaper) than a modern elevator of the same size. But, for the not-so-able-bodied, hazardous, and if they're the "normal" way to get between levels for a given location, that makes them exclusionary. Also, they're clearly an attractive nuisance for the overly daring!

Modern safety interlocks could obviously help with the safety issues, in exchange for increased cost and an easy DoS. But too, I suspect the system just doesn't scale very well at all.

#902 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 07:42 AM:

#901 ::: David Harmon

Would it make sense for a building with a bank of elevators to have some paternoster elevators and some stop-and-start?

#903 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #902: Maybe but not obviously. You'd still have the attractive-nuisance issues, some Dunning-Kruger issues, and you'd still need the modern safety features.

#904 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 09:31 AM:

The almost-entirely-restored version of Metropolis has a scene in an apartment building lobby in which a paternoster is seen operating in the background.

I'm told the name comes from the fact that you got on it and prayed you got off safely.

#905 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 10:02 AM:

Stefan Jones #904: I'm told the name comes from the fact that you got on it and prayed you got off safely.

I'm sure that was/is a running joke, but Wikipedia cites the structural resemblance to a rosary.

#906 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 10:34 AM:

dotless ı @ #897, that's the one! Thank you!

#907 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 12:10 PM:

871 CassyB:

I do understand that one (and I see several places that require me to enter and confirm my email address, probably for exactly that reason). When I'm asking for *information*, with the expectation of a discussion about it, I expect to be contactable. When I'm asking for one-time sale of a product, even if that product is digital, somewhat less so. If I ask for something, and don't hear back, either it's my imperative to reach out again and find out what's going on. Speaking of which, time to reach out again on that one thing :-).

But I used to work in Market Research, and I now work in IT Security (with a sidelight in Privacy and Tracking behaviour). I know that for every time I put in a piece of information that doesn't "seem" required because it actually is required, there are 9 that want it for tracking, sales, or data mining purposes - and at least half of them sell that information off to aggregators whose entire purpose for the information is data mining, so they can sell *me* to *their* clients.

And the laws are written such that "any request for anything implies a permanent license to bother you with whatever we think we want to sell you today" (in Canada, as of last year, "provided we've had contact with you in the last two years" - which is nice in a way, but ups the contact rate in others...A sidelight was all the companies who I hadn't heard of in years pleading me to give consent to continued commercial harassment. The feeling of "wailing consigned to the outer darkness" was passive-aggressively pleasurable.

I've seen places that tell you *why* they require the information they require. That has a higher conversion rate - because if you can convince me that it's not "required because our sales force wants it, or because our data isn't as valuable without it", well then.

On a similar note, any company that wants a permanent email address to bombard me with for what is guaranteed to be a one-time transaction is welcome to wail into as much as they want (unless the data they're going to send me is sensitive, of course). Hey, it's a *valid* address, and I'll even read it (for long enough to finish the transaction).

#908 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 01:09 PM:

Mycroft, #907: I recently ran into an instance where no name or address were necessary, but they were being required. I was sufficiently annoyed to enter my name as "Nunna Yerbusiness" and my address as (And was a little surprised that the latter went thru, but apparently the site was just checking for a valid form of address, not pinging the address itself.)

#909 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 02:46 PM:

Lee @ 908:

I used to use postmaster@localhost for those sorts of things, but websites check for that now.

Then there was the nosy vendor who wanted people to sign up just to look at product data sheets. A M. Mouse in Anaheim, CA is now very interested in low flow switches.

#910 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 06:23 PM:

I've come across a bit of a fuss about Halloween candies, a kid with an awkward set of allergies: no nuts, no dairy, no gluten.

Straight out, you have to be careful about chocolate, because most is very dairy, but I could see possible answers. After a little checking, I found stuff I could make, and I'm no expert on confectionery.

OK, some of the fuss could be blamed on the way the parent was acting, but if it happened here, I would roll my eyes, mutter "Some people!", and try and make something.

Initial idea: dark cooking chocolate (check no-dairy) melted over Rice Krispies. Maybe add some soy margarine. maybe some candied fruit.

Then I found a recipe for dairy-free toffee.

And then I thought "mole sauce".

If something like this were happening locally, if I had the warning time I could do something that this kid could eat. And I don't think I would want to pick the kid out. I'd try to make something all the kids could enjoy.

Of course, there's some scared about poisoned candy, It's harder if you want to stick with factory-packed stuff. And there are those ass-covering "may contain traces" labels. But it seems pretty dumb to just offer the kids a choice of Snickers bars. That's an obvious allergy. But even with the allergy list above, I think I could find something.

But one of my first choices contains wheat flour.

#911 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 07:58 PM:

Many kids with allergies can eat straight sugar candies (like Jolly Ranchers). But not if they have problems with any of the artificial colors, or corn syrup ...

This is why the teal pumpkin movement was started: any home displaying a teal pumpkin in their decorations will have available NON-FOOD Halloween treats. Some have only non-food; some have them on request, or will offer them to everyone.

#912 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 08:38 PM:

Dave B., #910: PSA: There has never been a proven case of deliberate, random Halloween-candy poisoning. There has been at least one instance of a parent trying to kill a child for life-insurance money, using that story as a cover. Virtually all reported instances prove, on further investigation, to be people trying to cover up accidental poisoning, pranks played by the children themselves, or cases of a local police department and/or the media jumping the gun, which turn out to be unconnected to Halloween candy.

The legend will live on because it's impossible to stamp out one of these things once it's started, but we can at least provide reality-based data for people who are concerned.

#913 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 08:46 PM:

This is just to say thanks, Lori Coulson and abi, for the discussion of breviaries and chaplets. It's one of the things as a new convert that no one tells you - there's so much stuff in the storehouse of tradition, and I really like learning about new pieces.

#914 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 08:59 PM:

I'm annoyed at my local troop leader for passing on that stupid warning about people giving trick-or-treaters drugs. Giving pills to random children you have never seen before and may never see again is not the way to build clientele, and doing it for the giggles would be ridiculously expensive. Not to mention prosecutable. My middle child just told me that trick-or-treating is dangerous because drugs. Eye. Roll.

#915 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2015, 09:19 PM:

I'd wondered whether, in the era of Snopes, the myth was finally dying out -- the only references I've seen this week to "dangerous Hallowe'en treats" have either been debunkings, or parody PSAs (the one I saw this morning had increasingly ludicrous examples of "suspicious" candy -- when it came to the single Skittle candy, balanced on the blade of a katana, I nearly lost it.

#916 ::: Paul Woodford ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 12:00 AM:

Most cyclists are working class immigrants, not hipsters? You mean all those wrong-way salmons working off DUIs?

#917 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 01:48 AM:

I can't resist placing this here: Karen saw a call for humorous Halloween stories about nonprofits, so she wrote one. They rejected it as too long, so she put it on her blog. I liked it a lot, so I'm sharing it with you all.

#918 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 07:55 AM:

Paul Woodford @916

"Wrong-way salmon" is a phrase I'm unfamiliar with, but it sounds as if you're implying that all people who ride bicycles without following the law are only doing so because they had DUIs? Am I misinterpreting?

#919 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Side-eyeing ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 08:00 AM:

I for one am very interested in what exactly Paul Woodford @916 means, how he comes to this particular generality, and what factual basis he has for any assertions he makes on the topic.

#920 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 08:40 AM:

Colorful phrase, but wouldn't a wrong-way salmon be headed downstream?

#921 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 09:04 AM:

Naomi Parkhurst @918: In cycling parlance, a "salmon" is someone deliberately choosing to ride against the flow of vehicular traffic (the wrong way up a one-way street, or on the 'other' side of a wide two-way thoroughfare).

For many years, people were taught this is SAFER, theoretically because it feels safer if you can see the cars coming at you than if you imagine them creeping up behind you like sneaky shadow monsters.

In reality, crash statistics show that salmoning is incredibly dangerous, AND it pisses off drivers (because it's stressful for them; one wiggle of your handlebars and suddenly the car has to swerve or hit you head-on), making them provably more likely to act aggressively even to legal, non-salmoning, highly-visible cyclists in future.

The rest of his comment is reprehensible and a complete nonsequitur to anything else we've been saying, as far as I can determine.

#922 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 09:36 AM:

I was certainly taught to walk on the "opposite side" as a pedestrian because it increases visibility, but not as a cyclist (because a bicycle is a vehicle). But yeah, that part makes good sense - thanks for the explanation.

Patrick linked an article in Sidelights which is what's being referenced, so not a complete non sequitur. I found the article of interest and gave me some added information to use in a conversation I was having with friends elsewhere about cars, bicycles, and pedestrians.

"Wrong-way salmon" does look rather like a slur in the context of the rest of the comment and with the context of immigration from the linked article.

#923 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 11:16 AM:

Every year at this time, throngs of bicycles gather and make their way uphill, against the traffic, until they return to the road or path where they were born. There they spawn. Look for a patch of clean gravel and you may see the clusters of fertilized ball bearings. In a few months the young tricycles and stingrays will be big enough to make the journey to downtown, where they can grow into adult bicycles.

#924 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 12:30 PM:

TomB: I thought the progression was: paper clips, then coat hangers, then bicycles...?


Oh sigh. A coworker has decided (again; he did this in previous years) than appropriate costume would be "cannibal." This is me, biting my tongue.

#925 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 12:37 PM:

Elliott, #921: When I was a kid and rode my bike everywhere, I noticed that looking over my shoulder to check on traffic behind me tended to make me swerve into the path of said traffic. My solution was to get a rear-view mirror, which is every bit as useful on a bike as it is on a car.

It's painfully obvious that Paul @916 didn't actually read the linked article, but responded to the headline with a shoot-from-the-lip slur. I did read the article, and it matches up with my personal observation. There are many more people who ride bikes out of personal necessity than who ride for fun, exercise, or because it's hip or cool -- but bike accommodations are optimized for the recreational cyclist, not the person who's trying to get to work and the grocery store.

This strikes me as the sort of thing for which fixing it would yield unexpected side benefits. If you make it easier and safer for people to use a bike instead of a car to run errands, more people will use bikes because they can. This will have longer-term effects on society as a whole.

Furthermore, I am convinced that part of the reason for resistance to safer and more convenient bike accommodations is that all the reasons in their favor are seen as "liberal causes"; in addition to the "urban hipster Liberal" image, reducing vehicular emissions is an environmental thing and thus Liberal, and doing anything to help poor people is clearly Liberal. So there's a lot of asshole pushback from the kind of people who think that helping poor people or the environment is a waste of money.

#926 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 12:38 PM:

Jacque @924: So, like, Jeffrey Dahmer, or unfortunate ethnic stereotyping?

#927 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 01:58 PM:

It's happening here in Southern California.
Bike cars on commuter trains (along with the spaces for three bikes on each regular car), bike lockers at stations, and bike lockers at some of the bus stations, too, and two-bike racks on many buses.
There are bike spaces on each car on the subway, although some riders intentionally don't use them: they want to sit, so they park their bike in the aisle at the other end of the car from the bike space, and annoy the passengers there.

#928 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 03:32 PM:

Elliott Mason @926: Not Jeffrey Dahmer, alas.

OTOH, his costume is sufficiently ambiguous that one might be forgiven for interpreting it as Gene Simmons after a hard rain. (Though I'm not sure exactly how the aviator shades fit in....)

#929 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 05:34 PM:

I think I have fixed on what my NaNoWriMo will be.

I have a setting where I can bring together a bunch of characters I already have.

A pistol-toting pilot who used to ride a motor-cycle and knew a certain Ned Lawrence.

A stage magician who became a jewel thief.

An German-speaking African with a natural talent for arithmetic who is an ace navigator and weather-forecaster for long-distance air-races.

A mechanic with too much royal blood to feel comfortable, who has slipped out of sight in the chaos of a war.

A judge.

The lead in a long-running adventure serial, who really did do that high-dive off a cliff stunt.

Opposition will be provided by a copious assortment of Princes, Pirates, Nazis, Communists, Fascists, gangsters, smugglers and policemen.

The Anarchists are mostly friendly.

Did I mention that the lead characters are all women?

#930 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Elliot #921 - the other way salmoning would annoy car drivers is that it makes it seem like cyclists follow different rules than them. At least here in the UK, as far as I know cyclists are supposed to cycle on the same side as the cars, as they are road users like the cars (Obviously cycle lanes are different). Seeing other people break the rules annoys otherwise law abiding and nice drivers.

#931 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 10:48 PM:

HLN: I have just finished translating the home page of the local Democratic Party's website into Spanish. (Thank goodness for the extensive English-Spanish and Spanish-English dictionaries and forums at Fortunately, I am not creating said home page, just providing the text. The hardest part was abbreviated text, such as menus. (Translating a menu choice named "ABOUT"? I finally picked "INFORMACION".) Along the way, I discovered that Ted Cruz has multiple pages in Spanish, but Marco Rubio has none; and the Democratic National Committee has none (but: a paragraph addressed to Hispanic groups--in English). I hope this effort will help someone in our small area.

#932 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 10:52 PM:

If you include a link here, Brenda Kalt @931, some folks might like to think about cannibalizing it!

#933 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2015, 10:54 PM:

Chris @ 806: I thought I remembered that comment coming from someone who had no reason to be unreliable -- Mo, maybe? Of course I could be misremembering, in which case kudos to Charlie for the setup.

pericat @ 811: exactly so.

soon lee @ 899: and today I am, perhaps, because I'd heard of them (and even seen one, in the credits of Men...), but never knew what it was called.

#934 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 01:42 AM:


Almost everyone at the Laundry (Mo included) has reason to be unreliable on this topic. There are other reasons beside dishonesty for being unreliable.

J Homes.

#935 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 09:13 AM:

A perennial favorite of mine that I usually catch up on in chunks after forgetting to check in for a while: The Warrington Cycle Campaign's "Bicycle Facility of the Month," looks with understated sarcasm at the sort of accommodations that are made for bicycle safety (generally because they have been forced to Do Something they have no inclination to put any real effort into).

#936 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 10:48 AM:

Tom Whitmore @932

I'll post a link when it's available. Right now the text is in a Word document, waiting to be sent to the webmaster.

#937 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 03:15 PM:

First batch of trick-or-treaters just hit (3:15PM). Good thing I already set up the bowl.

#938 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 03:34 PM:

David Harmon (937): I got my first trick-or-treaters a little before 2:00. No one else so far, although I did see another batch go by across the street about an hour ago. I'm not sure how many I'll get; this is only my second Halloween at this address, and last year I didn't get home until well after 6:30, by which time everything was winding down. I hope I have enough candy. (Not worried about having way too much, although my waistline should be.)

#939 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 03:41 PM:

We've got rain and wind in Seattle, so who knows when the first TOTs will show!

#940 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 07:16 PM:

HLN: area man is limbering up his typing fingers for his thirteenth NaNoWriMo.... I'm not nearly as organized as Dave Bell @929 - in NaNo jargon, I am a dedicated pantser and always have been. But I have a setting and a central situation defined, I have some characters, and I have vague adumbrations of an ending. So all I need to do is start, now, and hope those characters can successfully carry me through to the end!

(I also have a vastly over-ambitious narrative structure planned, and no clear idea of the adversaries, as yet. But I'm not going to let trivia like that bother me.)

#941 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 07:52 PM:

Any mathies in the house? I need someone who speaks things like reaction-diffusion and wave optics. With maybe some AI on the side?

#942 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2015, 08:20 PM:

First TOT at 5:19.

#943 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 12:36 AM:

That was unusual. One quite large group, 15 or 20 all together with a parent hanging out at the street in a safety vest, right at 7:00 -- and then nothing, no groups, no singles, none at all until we shut down at 9:00. I suppose the heavy rain earlier may have had something to do with it, but usually we get at least 3 or 4 groups during the evening.

Which means we have most of a big bag of candy left over. I guess it'll go to Chambanacon as a donation for the consuite!

#944 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 01:42 AM:

We've gotten fewer than half a dozen ToTers, total, in all the years I've lived at this address, even though you can see the house from everywhere in town. We light big friendly jack o'lanterns and leave the door open and everything. But then NOBODY can ever find this house on the first try: not the pizza place, not the Chinese food place right down the hill, not Fed-Ex, NOBODY. I note that the ToTers were all kids we already knew...Oh well; more candy for us!

#945 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 08:16 AM:

We got a good sized crowd, but it ended at 7:00 PM, which seemed early. Good weather, but some local construction-- I'm not sure whether the latter had an effect.

There wasn't any obviously predominant costumes, but there were a few which were more ambitious than usual-- some very nice recreationist dresses, and some costumes with lights. It may be a sign of an improving economy.

#946 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 08:56 AM:

Five or six groups of trick-or-treaters came by. Most acted amused when I said, "Oh, is that what night this is?" and revealed the bowl of candy. If I'd known how light the turnout was, I'd have given much more candy out to each kid. Cathy will take the excess to work. I have to watch the intake now, so I read the grim facts on the label and shudder.

It's not easy having a good time.

#947 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 09:12 AM:

I ultimately had about 30-40 kids, mostly in batches, judging by the amount of candy that was left (not much). I turned out the porch light at 9:00, so any later ToT'ers didn't stop here. A couple of families early, but the bulk of them came after 5:00.

I was surprised how many I saw later in the evening this year. Last year I didn't get home until 6:45; I got one batch just before 7:00 plus one lone kid later, and that was it. (This is only my second Halloween in this apartment.)

#948 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 09:49 AM:

Because the 31st was a Saturday, we ended up going to a friend's big shindig instead of staying home to give out candy.

Because said friend is a parent, there were lots of kids at the party, and a trick-or-treating expotition was organized. In fact, two, because they did their first early on and we were late so we parented a second round.

This was in Oak Park, a fairly prosperous and tries-to-be-socially-aware suburb. I noticed a lot of differences between Trick-or-Treating there than in our own neighborhood (houses much less expensive, many recent immigrants, densely urban).

When I was a kid it was always a stereotype that you "should" go to a more expensive neighborhood to trick-or-treat, because they had "better loot". But last night showed the flaws in this general hypothesis.

We walked around the perimeters of four fairly large blocks. Because the area is high-SES, all the house lots are 1.5-3 times the width of house lots in my neighborhood. Of the properties that were single-family homes, about 60% had no decorations up and all their lights were off -- opting out of offering candy. Some houses were lit up on all their internal windows, had enthusiastic decorations, etc -- clearly opting IN to being trick-or-treated. About 10% of the total were iffy: mixed signals. About half of those yielded candy.

The multi-family dwellings (apartment buildings ranging from two units to ten) were all 'closed for business,' none had decorations and none yielded candy.

In my neighborhood, not only does each 100 yards of block have more house lots in it, but over 80% of the single-family houses are 'at home' to trick-or-treaters, every year. And even the apartment buildings often have one or two householders hanging around in the doorbell lobby lying in wait (and sometimes they have a barbecue grill with a fire on the front walk and several grownups standing around it to keep warm and socialize while waiting to pass out loot).

It is socially acceptable, in that neighborhood of Oak Park, to just not be at-home to trick-or-treaters. Around here, even many of the people who are going to be out that evening put a bucket of loot on the porch to reward kids for attempting the stairs.

It's an interesting difference in norms.

#949 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Oh, also, Oak Park had municipal trick-or-treating hours: 4PM to 7PM. This concept is just mind-bogglingly weird to me as a Chicagoan -- and we did see people turning off their porch lights promptly at 7PM.

In our neighborhood it starts sometime in the afternoon (for littles) and goes till at least 9 with a few straggling groups of preteens. There also appears to be a pattern where people trick-or-treat in their own neighborhoods early and then get in the car to go hit another neighborhood (possibly with a group of friends who live there).

#950 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 10:17 AM:

I wrapped around 7:15, didn't see any other groups going around. Fair number of groups, mostly large, and way better costumes than last year.

#951 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 10:23 AM:

We had at least 700 kids, at one piece/kid, between 5:45 and 7:30, when we shut down because we ran out. Reports from neighbors suggest there were still people wandering round collecting at 9:30, and one set of crazed outliers trying to get candy at 11:00 from people who hadn't turned out their lights.

(Our neighborhood has, over the last 7 years, developed a Reputation for providing maximum front porches with minimum walking effort. We've all developed the strategy of just sitting on the bottom steps, bowl in hand.)

#952 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 01:28 PM:

In my old apartment building*, I developed the habit of leaving a bowl of candy on my front steps (with a sign "Only One Each, Please" that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't). It started when I worked until 9PM one Halloween, and continued because otherwise I had to go down my (inside) stairs** every time the doorbell rang. There wasn't anywhere convenient for me to sit at the bottom (except on the stairs themselves, which I did at least one year). We never got very many kids there anyway; most of them skipped the apartment building.

*"garden"†-style apartments: each unit had its own outside door
†If there were ever actual gardens, they got eaten by the parking lot.
**My apartment was on the second floor.

#953 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 01:30 PM:

We never get trick-or-treaters on our street so we have usually taken Seth out either to a Halloween party, or to the shuffle around one of the major malls.

Last night we went to a party with some friends on the UH faculty, in faculty housing - apparently they always get huge throngs of kids coming through there, and last night was no exception. Their solution was to ask each family coming to bring a big bag of candy to add to the pool to give out, and we all took turns sitting outside their door to give it out. The candy was just barely holding out when we left the party around 9:00, after giving out many big bowls full. Meanwhile all of our kids were out running around the neighborhood collecting their own haul.

I had thrown together a last-minute costume as an oni (Japanese demon) with an authentic yukata and straw farmer's hat and a rubber demon/monster mask, but I had to take the mask off to help hand out candy because the trick-or-treaters wouldn't come within 10 feet of me with the mask on.

#954 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 01:41 PM:

We were very spotty -- large batches would come through, then nobody for a while. Around 75 kids, total, I'd estimate.

#955 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 01:43 PM:

We were not at home to trick-or-treaters because we were not at home, but we had to have the light on so we could find the keyhole when we *did* get home. So we were That House.

I grew up knowing that you can hit the rich houses a block or two away, but the really good stuff comes from my own neighborhood, which is full of people and kids and never gets as many... which means zero candy rationing. Like, handfuls. Or full-size candy bars for kids my parents recognize. Candy rationing means a really busy night at my parents' house.

Now I enjoy thirteen dollars of half-price candy. Nom.

#956 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 02:49 PM:

I live in a rowhouse neighborhood-- I think most of the rowhouses on my street are 15' (about 5 meters) wide. I'm getting an impression this is pretty unusual.

#957 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 02:57 PM:

The one year I left out an "honesty bowl" it apparently marked us out as Not Home rather than anti-social-not-giving-out-candy; our house got egged and our garage got broken into.

(Data point: I live in a prosperous white-collar suburb.)

So, now, if we're not home, we leave on lights in upstairs or basement rooms and keep the porch light off; signaling Curmudgeon rather than Absent.

#958 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 05:43 PM:

Jacque: I am a little mathy, maybe mathy enough. Email sent.

#959 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 05:53 PM:

Lee #908: There's a public wi-fi that I use from time to time that requires an email address but does not ping it. As a result, I have been a wide variety of persons over the years (,,, &c.).

#960 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 06:07 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @956: The "standard" Chicago house lot size (from which there is much deviation) is 25ft x 125ft. Some blocks are known to have "long" lots, which are still 25ft wide in street frontage but bigger the other way, and in neighborhoods laid out in about 1900-1920 it's common for each block to have a mix of lot widths, from 'standard' up to double-width (originally built with more luxurious homes/bigger yards, or apartment buildings). 1x, 1.5x, and 2x are fairly common throughout the city, with occasional oddballs due to a given block's size or a certain developer's personal quirks (or, say, someone buying a 1x lot and its next-door 1.5x lot and combining, which yields a 2.5x property).

#961 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 06:44 PM:

Having spent many years looking at plat maps of various places in Southern California, I've found that older neighborhoods tend to have lots that are 20 to 30 feet wide and as much as 200 feet deep. You could spot the older residential areas just from the lot density. (Places where you can see this stuff: beach cities, like Balboa Peninsula and Venice. San Francisco's Victorians are on lots like this, too.)

#962 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2015, 10:02 PM:

The basic problem with the Today Show costumes (from the sidebar) is that they're literalizing the stylistic shorthand of a cartoon -- which yanks them squarely into the uncanny valley.

#963 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 01:17 AM:

Spent the evening at a costume party at the home of local fen. Amazingly many trick-or-treaters, in various sized groups, and a number of houses in the neighborhood were decorated.

My house in New Jersey was in a town that was built with double-depth lots - house on the front street, stables on the back street - most of which had been subdivided with one or two houses on the back lot. This meant that most of them didn't have garages, at most short driveways, so local custom was that in the winter you'd park on your lawn if it was going to snow enough for plowing.

#964 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 02:58 AM:

Mycroft W@869: '...(although since I'm Canadian, and there are times when they need to know that, I have to use things like 800 MacLeod Tr. S).'

::hyper-local snrk::

#965 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 09:10 AM:

Holy shit (so to speak), Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon's Preacher is coming to television. This should be... interesting.

#966 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 10:33 AM:

ToT: I assisted at giving out 1754 full-size bars (that's the house-owner's schtick, despite some neighborhood protests) on a wide street, with big old(*) houses, between two principal (but two-lane) streets south of downtown Boston; one misguided at 2pm, very light until about 5:30, then heavy (lines of up to 30 waiting for their handout) with 1-2 letups, slowing gradually after 7. \Perfect/ weather (scattered clouds, cool enough that costumes didn't overheat but not much colder) may have increased the flow a little, but this street always gets heavy traffic; several houses that gave out smaller doses were still going when we shut down.

(*) late Victorian to early Edwardian; almost all designed for one big family rather than multiple units.

J Homes @ 934: I didn't get/remember that; guess I didn't put enough pieces together and will have to reread. Oh, the pain, the pain....

#967 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Going back to an early subthread: the BBC notices the US obsession with "pumpkin spice". And snacks for the assistants at the above handout included Trader Joe's "pumpkin tortilla chips" (includes pulp, sliced seeds, and spices); a little odd, but not bad. I've also tried their "dark chocolate pumpkin spiced salted caramels"; IMO those were less successful -- the spice mix was heavy enough to hide the caramel flavor (maybe too much clove?).

#968 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 10:51 AM:

Over in the Dysfunctional Family thread, Jacque complimented me for supplying good links, but my talking about where to find good links seemed to fit better here.

Thank you very much for the compliment. In case your question wasn't rhetorical, I just look for things that interest me. Here are some specific sources, but it's not as though Facebook is completely useless.

Siderea does amazing writing. She's got a excellent recent series about Patreon and some of the emotional issues involved in embracing getting money for her writing.

Andrew Ducker does a daily link collection (from Delicious, I think) which I find the most valuable.

There's also Geekpress.

Slate Star Codex has a weekly link collection which tends to be interesting links I haven't seen elsewhere. Let it be noted that this is safe space for rationalists, which is not quite the same thing what is usually meant by safe space. However, there is a requirement that comments are at least two of true, necessary, and kind, so I consider the comments to be frequently worth reading.

On the other hand, while good links can be found at Marginal Revolution, the comments tend to be dull rightwing material. I've been told this is a result of lack of moderation.

What I don't know how to describe is my ability to remember appropriate links to bring into discussions.

#969 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 10:53 AM:

I've got a comment being held for review, probably because it has a bunch of links. I offer some Equal Exchange chocolate with toasted almonds.

#970 ::: Jacque sees that Nancy Levovitz hails the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:24 AM:

Nancy: Those requests get noticed faster if you put "gnomes" in your name line, so I took the liberty....

#971 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Open Thread 209 is now available.

#972 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @968: *lick* >Smack!<

I've already bookmarked Siderea, being thoroughly impressed with the link you presented. Bookmarking the rest of your comment for when I run out of ML. :-)

(I'm now redfaced, wondering if the gnomes had got to this before I posted my @970. Oh well. Nobody died. :-> )

#973 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 04:36 PM:

@Chip no. 967: [sca] Pumpkin spice is just a variety of powder douce. If there isn't any allspice in it, it's perfectly period! [/sca]

But seriously, for my Advent fast this year I'm giving up all sweets. I've already found that porridge with some whole milk and pumpkin spice, or any homemade powder douce without sugar, is quite satisfying.

#974 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 04:51 PM:

Chip @ 966: Vg pbzrf bhg bs gur jubyr fho-cybg nobhg rknpgyl *jul* vf vg gung rirelobql vf fb pregnva gurer pbhyqa'g cbffvoyl or npghny inzcverf, juvpu riraghnyyl yrnqf gb gur zbyr va gur zvqfg bs gur Ynhaqel rkrepvfvat batbvat zvaq-pbageby ba guvf znggre bire zbfg bs gur fgnss. But you should probably force yourself through the dreadful ordeal of re-reading the book, just to be sure.

#975 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:27 PM:

Be advised that this open thread will be used to store stale Peeps and other out-of-date, unpopular Halloween treats.

#976 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:27 PM:

Be advised that this open thread will be used to store stale Peeps and other out-of-date, unpopular Halloween treats.

#977 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 01:09 AM:

Licorice vines, when I was a kid.

#978 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 02:57 PM:

We just unloaded a bunch of Jolly-Rancher vines on the office upstairs. "Ooo! They've got gummy candy!" "Uh, yeah—ya want 'em?"

They took two large bags. Go, them...?

#979 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 05:11 PM:

This moose has been Tidying Up, and found a "well-past its expiry date" bar of chocolate in its addressed jiffybag from the great AFPGhost conspiracy. I'll just dump it here, if you don't mind.

<g,d&rvvvf, while holding cabbage shield up (in case ppint is reading this>

#980 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 06:23 PM:

We didn't have any problem with red vines. We didn't like licorice-flavor anything.

They'd get dry and hard and covered with dust. And a year later we'd toss them.

#981 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 10:04 AM:

Ingvar M #888:

There's been some interesting developments in machine typesetting (I shall call it "typesetting" even though it mostly involves directing an inkjet or laser inscriber to deposit marks in the right spot, rather than pouring hot lead or assembling cast letters) inspired by bible translation needs.

It seems to me that even as the technology at every step has changed, “typesetting” remains an entirely usable term for that specific part of the process: putting all the individual characters in their particular places in the available space. The printing plate or the vector graphic are merely the suitable output format for the following printing step.

(In semi-related non-news, the analog-computing-if-you-squint way Linotype machines performed automatic justification is really neat.)

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