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November 2, 2015

Open thread 209
Posted by Patrick at 11:09 AM * 948 comments

From The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester by George Ormerod. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, and Jones, 1819:

“[Sir Hugh de Dutton, b. about 1175] also had the magistracy, or rule and authority, over all the letchers and whores of all Cheshire, granted unto him and his heirs, by John constable of Cheshire and baron of Halton, as freely as the said John held the same of the earl of Chester, saving the right of the said John to him and his heirs; which are the very words of the deed, only rendered by me in English. Lib. C. fol. 154, h. So that he holds it, as it were, under the baron of Halton, who reserves his own right by a special reservation.

“This privilege over such loose persons was granted first under Roger Lacy, constable of Cheshire, under Richard the First, by Randle, surnamed Blundevill, earl of Chester, in memory of his good service done to the earl in raising the siege of the Welsh-men, who had beset the earl in his castle of Rothelent in Flintshire; for the constable having got a promiscuous rabble of such like persons together, and marching towards the said castle, the Welsh, supposing a great army to be coming, raised their siege and fled. So saith the ancient roll of the barons of Halton. Lib. C. fol. 85, b. Monasticon Anglicanum, 2 pars, pag. 187. This roll saith, that rabble consisted of players, fidlers, and shoe-makers. The deed here toucheth letchers and whores. The privilege and custom used at this day by the heirs of Dutton, is over the minstrelsie and common fidlers, none being suffered to play in this county without the licence of the lord of Dutton, who keeps a court at Chester yearly, on Midsomer-day, for the same, where all the licenced minstrels of Cheshire do appear, and renew their licences; so that the custom seems to have been altered to the fidlers, as necessary attendants on revellers in bawdy-houses and taverns.

“And it is to be observed, that those minstrels which are licensed by the heirs of Dutton of Dutton, within the county-palatine of Chester, or the county of the city of Chester, according to their ancient custom, are exempted out of the statute of rogues, 39 Eliz. cap. 4.”

Comments on Open thread 209:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:16 AM:

(Or, to give the quoted work its full title, The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester; Compiled from Original Evidences in Public Offices, the Harleian and Cottonian Mss., Parochial Registers, Private Muniments, Unpublished Ms. Collections of Successive Cheshire Antiquaries, and a Personal Survey of Every Township In The County; Incorporated with a Republication of King's Vale Royal and Leycester's Cheshire Antiquities. They really don't make titles like that any more.)

#2 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:18 AM:

IRTA Count Palpatine.

#4 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:45 AM:

@2: It's the fault of the SW media blitz. Anyway, that's the story I'm going with. :-)

#5 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:58 AM:

In olden times a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. Now, Heaven knows, anything goes.

#6 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 12:19 PM:

As it happens, I spent the first 37 years of my life living in the County Palatine and City of Chester. Dutton was still a prominent local surname when I was growing up -- there was a major grocer called Dutton's of Chester in the city centre, and the name (though not the business) still exists as a wine bar.

#7 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 12:35 PM:

The good news is, as of 2013, it is no longer a criminal offence in the UK to be an incorrigable rogue.

#8 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 12:54 PM:

How about being an incorrigible punster?

I can think of a few offhand.

#9 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 01:01 PM:

Cadbury Moose #8: Well, don't incorrige them. ;-)

#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 01:02 PM:

PS: What would a "letcher" be as per the document's context??

#11 ::: Jacque flags the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 02:29 PM:

to release a ginormous comment from moderation.

Holloween candy, everyone?

#12 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Holloween candy has a less-fattening centre?

#13 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 02:43 PM:

David Harmon @ 10: Current spelling "lecher" aka "letch."

#14 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Times (and spellings) change. New Paltz, NY was named by French Huguenot settlers (they had been refugees in Mannheim in the Pfalz (in English, Palatinate (see? there actually is a connection))).

#15 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 03:18 PM:

when I was a very young man in the Army, there was an old Staff Sergeant who grew up in the walled city of Chester, and later worked at Bletchley Park during the war. I used to go out to lunch with him and hear all his stories, most of which I have now forgotten which is a pity. He was a self-proclaimed 'old rogue' with a twinkle in his eye and some great stories. Back in Chester, spare parts for his first car, a broken-down old Austin, were courtesy of 'the number 10 spanner shop'.. late night raids on other Austins, equipped with a #10 spanner to get parts off.

@10 David, I too am curious as to who the 'letchers' are. Presumably those that patronize the whores, but how that was accounted is an interesting question..

#16 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 03:55 PM:

Area Woman has decided to try making Tomato Soup Cake -- went with what I suspect is an older version of the recipe, containing no eggs. I'm not sure what the soup is subbing for in the versions that do call for eggs (possibly oil or butter, as the eggless recipe calls for half-a-cup of the latter).

So far it smells good, very cinnamon-y.

#17 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 04:39 PM:

Patrick writes in #1:

They really don't make titles like that any more.

Gee whiz, if you really care about this, as a senior editor at a major publisher, you're in a position to do something about it!

I look forward to seeing lengthy, complicated titles on forthcoming books from Tor.

(I recommend you try, if possible, to work in a phrase such as "The Whole so clearly explained as to be within the reach of the most limited Capacity."

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 04:47 PM:

The cookbook I have with tomato soup (AKA mystery) cake has no eggs, but the note that one or two can be beaten in after the butter (1/4 cup) and sugar (1 cup) are creamed, for a richer cake. I think that it doesn't need the eggs because it's using condensed soup - there doesn't seem to be anything else that would work.

#19 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 05:22 PM:

It's occurred to me the acid in the tomatoes is also activating the baking soda. Will try a slice after supper.

#20 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 05:38 PM:

An appeal to combined knowledge of the Fluorosphere:

Next month, I will be making my first foray beyond the borders of my native Australia, with a group of friends going to Europe to see this "white Christmas" thing so many songs have been written about. We will be touching down in Frankfurt, then heading east to Prague, south to Vienna, west through Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg and Munich, and so back to Frankfurt.

What is there in these places, or points between, that we absolutely should not miss?

#21 ::: SorchaRei ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 05:45 PM:

@20 Paul A.

The salt mines in Salzburg.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 06:15 PM:

Bill Higgins, #17: I remind you that in my very first year at Tor, I reprinted, as one side of a tete-a-tete "Tor Double," Samuel R. Delany's We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line.

#23 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 06:16 PM:

#16, #18, #19:

Verdict -- tastes like the better pumpkin-spice items floating about at this time of year (I used nutmeg instead of allspice); texture similar to that of a (N. American) muffin. I used a square 9" pan and the cake didn't rise all that high -- slicing it into two rectangles and stacking them as layers with cream-cheese frosting in between and on top would probably be a good serving suggestion, but I don't have any cream-cheese on hand at the moment.

8.0 out of 10, would make again.

#24 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 06:24 PM:

One of my favorite old-style titles is Casaubon's 'A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits' or more correctly:

'A True & Faithful Relation of What passed for many Yeers Between Dr. John Dee (A Mathematician of Great Fame in Q. Eliz. and King James their reignes) and Some Spirits: Tending (had it Succeeded) to a General Alteration of most States and Kingdomes in the World. His Private Conferences with Rodolphe Emperor of Germany, Stephen K. of Poland, and divers other Princes about it. The Particulars of his Cause, as it was agitated in the Emperors court; by the Pope's Intervention : his Banishment and Restoration in part. As Also The Letters of Sundry Great Men and Princes (some whereof were present at some of these Conferences and Apparitions of Spirits) to the said D. Dee. Out of the original copy, written with Dr. Dees own Hand, kept in the Library of Sir Tho. Cotton Kt. Baronet. With a Preface Confirming the Reality (as to the Point of Spirits) of this Relation, and shewing the several good Uses that a Sober Christian may make of All.'

(I am not doing anything like justice to the printer's enthusiastic use of ALL CAPS, punctuation, and spectacularly varying point sizes.)

#25 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 07:25 PM:

GoodThoughts are requested for my partner, who has an appointment at the urology clinic tomorrow. If we're very lucky, they'll go ahead and take the damn stent out right then; if not, hopefully they'll give him an appointment to get it taken out sometime sooner than the day before Thanksgiving. The stone has not moved since the stent went in; at this point the stent is giving him more trouble than the stone, and we think it's actually holding the stone in place.

He has lost two full months to dealing with this shit. We can't afford to lose any more.

#26 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 07:26 PM:

Re #24: I still remember the early years after the introduction of the Macintosh effectively brought unconstrained typesetting to the masses. At the time I had no idea that the resulting wild excesses were merely a reprise of a phase that printers (the people) had to work themselves through centuries earlier.

#27 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 07:38 PM:

Indeed, if not for the specifics of the typefaces and some spelling issues, this title page could well stand for a late 1980s desktop-publishing production:
A True & Faithful RELATION

There's something I really love about that title page, and about the book itself - perhaps it's its admixture of sharp skepticism with credulity rivaling Dee's own credulity.

#28 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 07:40 PM:

Good thoughts on the way, Lee.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Dear Ghu, they went to the trouble of two-color printing? They must have had high hopes for the book.

#30 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 08:00 PM:

Paul A @ 20

I studied for a few months in Vienna, so think of me a tourist with little money.

Do not miss the Heeresgeschictliches Museum; it has everything from a manual of arms for pike to clubs from the street fighting of the 1930's.

The meal I remember most fondly was at a Mostheuriger--a cider Heuriger; the Heuriger sell wine from the vineyard they are in and food to go with it, this one had cider rather than wine. I think it was in the Gentzgasse.

If you have the slightest interest in opera, standing tickets at the Staatsoper are an incredible deal; pay the extra for the ground-floor tickets if they are available.

#31 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 08:12 PM:

Lee @25 sending good thoughts his way

#32 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 08:19 PM:

P J Evans @29 -- it was a specialty market item, even then. Something that folks who were interested would pay a premium for; they didn't expect it to turn into a bestseller. Probably didn't hold onto the reprint rights, either -- they might have made a little on that. Though it is out of copyright, so maybe not. (Said all with tongue firmly in cheek, in case you can't tell -- though it is all probably true!)

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 08:56 PM:

HLN: local woman reports light rain is falling, signally that it's now autumn in Los Angeles. (It looked like just another deep marine layer until mid-afternoon, when the wind rose and the temperature dropped.)

#34 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 09:02 PM:

Sending good thoughts, Lee.

#35 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 09:19 PM:

Best wishes for your partner, Lee.

#36 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 09:57 PM:

Best wishes, Lee.

#37 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 10:12 PM:

Lee, having recently been there myself, sending the best thoughts I can manage while in the presence of the word 'stent.' Two months is too long. Shuddering. Best wishes sent.

#38 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 10:30 PM:

Lee @25: Good thoughts. Kidney stones are one of the true miseries of life. May this end happily, and soon, for you and your partner.

#39 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Lee, all good thoughts to you and your partner. Hoping for rapid progress soon.

#40 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2015, 11:28 PM:

Lee, all good thoughts, hopes, and prayers for your partner's recovery.

#41 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 12:41 AM:

Lee: Guh. Hope things turn around for Partner!

#42 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 01:14 AM:

More good wishes for Lee's partner.

J Homes.

#43 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 05:47 AM:

Sending good thoughts Lee's partner's way.

#44 ::: Paul Herzberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 07:13 AM:

Paul A @ 20:

I can maybe help a little with Vienna though, to be honest, if you just go the Stephansplatz and wander round you'll probably find something.

Go to see The Third Man in the Burg Kino, then go down the sewers (near the Museum Café). Then go to Prater and take the big wheel. While there you could visit Schweizerhaus and have a Stelze.

There are plenty of Galleries. The Albertina doesn't always have the best art, but it's an interesting place and they have the Dürer hare. If Egon Schiele is your thing then the Leopold is a must. The Hundertwasserhaus is a bit of a tourist trap, but worth a look.

There are some good brew pubs. Near the Staatsoper there's the 1516 which has good trendy beers (hoppy IPAs, hoppy Ambers Ales, the odd not so hoppy beer), but is a bit dark and loud in the evening. It's also fairly near the Ronacher if you ever wanted to know what Mary Poppins sounded like in German (surprisingly good). The Siebensternbräu does a great Prager Dunkles bier (it's like a porter) and decent pub food in generous portions. Try a Zwickl bier anywhere.

Have coffee and cake somewhere expensive. It's hard to get bad coffee in Austria (though definitely not impossible) but drinking it in a place with too much marble adds something.

Simon Winder's Germania and Danubia books are a Bryson-esque look at the history of where you'll be and I enjoyed them immensely and it's always good to be able to point out why Heldenplatz is, perhaps, misnamed.

#45 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 08:40 AM:

Lee, thinking good thoughts for the both of you.

#46 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 09:23 AM:

Lee: best wishes to you both for a successful outcome and speedy recovery.

#47 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 09:26 AM:

open-thready political comment, ignore as needed:

Have I misunderstood something, or are we basically saying we're running ground troops in Iraq and Syria now? This article says we are.

As with the last several of these little adventures, I'm having a hard time seeing why this one is going to work out. I'm certainly no expert on the region or on military affairs, but our track record is really awful. You don't have to be a stock market expert to predict that the guy who's made a loss on every investment he's made in the last couple decades is probably not, in fact, going to turn everything around this time. It could happen, but it's not the way to bet.

An election year is coming up. And yet, I think I can predict with a lot of confidence that we won't, in practice, be getting a vote on this kind of policy. (Maybe you will if you vote in the primaries, but in the general election, I suspect it will be a race to see which candidate can sound more beligerant.) This is a pattern--it's very hard for us to get a vote on this stuff. Maybe simply because it's not too unpopular--we kill a lot of faceless third-world people, but they don't vote and mostly don't show up on US TV, so it has little effect on popular opinion. Some US soldiers die, but they're not draftees so the whole endless war thing isn't *all that* unpopular.

Sometimes I long for the days when I was young and naive enough to think that the country's leadership was evil and Machiavellian, instead of merely inept and captives of the sytem they're living in.

#48 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 09:31 AM:

Ann Leckie recently blogged about her first ever visit to IKEA, which caused this moose to remember the Mitch Benn and the Distractions song about that company.

Original and Metal


(The Moose Operating Division feels that the Metal version is superior, and intends to buy the album: Crimes against Music.)

#49 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 11:00 AM:

Lost in Ikea movie tailer.

A song which should exist "They Call the Store Ikea".

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 11:40 AM:

Cadbury Moose, #48: So there are now two IKEA songs.

#51 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 01:28 PM:

Fans of the Anglican Hymnal will like this post on Crooked Timber:

#52 ::: charming.quark ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 03:24 PM:

Paul A:
As you probably already know, all of these cities will have Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkt, through the month of December. Have a piece of Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher in Salzburg. Go for a sleigh ride!

Good thoughts to your partner and you.

#53 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 03:37 PM:

Paul A. -- Vienna, if you can afford the tickets, go see the Lipizzans perform.

Lee -- best wishes for partner!

#54 ::: charming.quark ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 03:38 PM:

In 'Life in a Medieval Village' Frances and Joseph Gies write:

'Court records contain numerous instances of women leaving their villages in company of men without any mention of marriage. They contain even more frequent instances of "leirwite" or "legerwite" (lecher-wite), a fine for premariatal sex, literally for lying down. On some manors a seperate fine called "childwite" was levied for bearing a child out of wedlock, but in Elton premarital sex and pregnancy were lumped together. Twenty-two cases of leirwite are listed in surviving Elton records between 1279 and 1342, with fines of either sixpence or twelve pence in a single three pence. In all but one, only the woman is named,and she paid the fine: in the single excpetion, in 1286, Maggie Carter and Richard Miller were fined sixpence each.

#55 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 03:55 PM:

Paul A: Wherever you go, you're going to miss something. What I would most recommend is not trying to schedule too much in, and allowing some time for just random walking to see what you find. The serendipity of just being in a new place and wandering around, eyes very wide, will allow you to find little bits that you'd have missed no matter what anyone said in advance.

Different things are "don't miss" for different people, and I wouldn't try recommending without knowing what you care about.

#56 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 04:21 PM:

Lee: Best wishes to your partner.

Paul A: Years and years and years ago, in Munich, I was charmed by the Glockenspiel; a clocktower with a mechanical show. I'm sure there are better clock automata out there, but this was the first major one I ever saw, and was good enough for me.

As for Salzburg, besides the salt mines (which I enjoyed), and the cathedral, and the funicular (spectacular views!) and other such touristy places, I had a dessert there that as far as I know you can't get other places: the Salzburger Nockerl. It's a kind of dessert souffle. Be prepared to share; it's large and filling, or was when I visited. Perhaps they've got bite-sized versions now.

And Frankfurt, or a roadside cafe just outside of Frankfurt, was where I used my single year of German to order the one thing I could read on the menu "Chicken Soup with Egg", and was horrified when the smiling waiter broke a raw egg into my not-nearly-hot-enough-to-cook-it chicken broth soup. And had to sit there and pretend that I knew he was going to do that, and it's what I'd wanted all along, because I wasn't going to be That Tourist.

#57 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 04:48 PM:

I see on twitter (and UrsulaV has confirmed there) that Disney has optioned movie rights to Castle Hangnail for an adaptation to be produced by Ellen DeGeneres. You may now commence the squeeing, and the keep-fingers-crossed that the project will fly and that it will do the book justice.

Also, I originally typed the producer's name as "DeGenres," which would be an excellent name for the purpose.

#58 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 06:59 PM:

oldster @ #51:

That's awesome.

Also, I felt immediately obliged to sink several minutes into finding a tune to sing it to. It goes pretty well to DIADEMATA ("Crown Him with many crowns").

#59 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 07:02 PM:

#57 and preceding.

Castle Hangnail? UrsulaV, you are Edward Gorey, and I claim my five pounds.

Here in NZ, I have never heard/seen the "five pounds" programme, but I have read about it often enough (usually in parody) and it was the first thing that came to mind.

J Homes.

#60 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 07:16 PM:

PNH, #22:

I did need reminding. Well, that should give you street cred with the long-titles crowd. Even though it turns out to be a misquotation.

"We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line" is a perennial favorite when Science Fiction Charades are played.

#61 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2015, 07:27 PM:

I probably should have made this announcement sooner, but I've been lurching from stressor to stressor for weeks if not months. But anyway....

I will be visiting NYC for the next few days (4th-9th November). I realize it's remarkably short notice, but if any NYC-area Fluorosphereans want to arrange a mini-GoL, I'd be game, and can receive mail at my firstname_lastname (at) Earthlink dot net. Otherwise I will be wandering about the city, to various points of interest.

This will definitely include the Museum of Natural History, which has been a point of amusement as my sister and a couple of other folks responded to that with "wait, what about the Met?". I may well get there too, but Different Priorities. ;-)

Friday night appears to be spoken for, by the high-school friends who are the main reason for this visit.

#62 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 01:46 AM:

Medical update on my partner: (1) No joy on getting the stent out today; (2) it now appears that the stent has pushed the stone back up into the kidney; (3) they were able to offer him an appointment next Tuesday for getting the stent out and doing ultrasonic lithotripsy on the stone. (And presumably also on the one we know is present on the other side as well, so that we're not doing this dance all over again 6 months from now.)

This means that he's going to have to deal with the stent over Austin Celtic weekend, which is going to be a bitch.

We are not exactly happy campers right now, but at least it looks as if there's an end to the ordeal in sight.

#63 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 06:12 AM:

Lee #62: Ow ow ow, much sympathies.

#64 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 07:32 AM:

Bill Higgins @ #60

"Hot wireless sets, Aspirin tablets, the sandpaper sides of used matchboxes, and something that might have been castor oil"?

#65 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 08:07 AM:

Paul A. @58-

Someone on the CT thread says that they immediately sang it to "St. Thomas," a.k.a. "I love thy kingdom, Lord."

#66 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 09:10 AM:

@Lee: ARgh! I hope things resolve well and quickly for your partner. And take care of yourself.

#67 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 11:12 AM:

Lee--I hope that all goes well with what the doctors plan to do, and recovery is fast and pain-free.

My computer started uncontrollably playing Peter Gabriel last night and it is behaving slowly this morning. I have a fear that it is singing silently to itself.

However, a funny moment ensued.
Spouse had tried some methods and a song had just ended. Spouse said, "I think I fixed it." The computer replied, "Hi there"--the beginning of "Big Time". All present started laughing.

#68 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 01:07 PM:

Lee -- best wishes to you and partner through this ordeal. Not much else I can offer from here!

#69 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2015, 07:40 PM:

Lee: Aaargh. Best of luck on finally getting this over with.

#71 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 01:25 AM:

QA engineer walks into a bar, orders beers all around.

#73 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 11:25 AM:

Steve: tl;dr: Sysadmins get no love? ('Cept from other sysadmins.)

#74 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 05:22 PM:

Jacque #73: And it seems designers get no respect. Sysadmins do tend to be in the "bad guy" position a lot when they'real talking to users, and their greatest successes are when the users don't notice anything (despite smoke coming out of the server room). I can believe they'll have an image problem.

#75 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 05:33 PM:

Lee: Good thoughts heading your way.

#76 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 05:37 PM:

So, there's me of this parish explaining that Thomas Hobbes considers that a key element of human nature is infinite acquisitiveness. So far, so C.B. Macpherson.

Now, this is what I get back from one, shall we say, less than perfectly literate student:

Civil Order is based on human rationality and infinite inquisitiveness of the social contract.

It is to weep, and I did.

#77 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2015, 08:54 PM:

@59 - Alas! I do not look nearly so impressive in a fur coat.

Lee, all my sympathy for your partner. My husband gets kidney stones and I have never seen him reduced so completely as when he has one. Best of luck.

#78 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2015, 09:26 AM:

UrsulaV@77: You clearly need to try on a large number of fur coats to find the one that works for you.

#79 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2015, 11:49 AM:

Gorey did not look quite so impressive in a fur coat as his pictures do.

#80 ::: Stanoje ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2015, 07:15 AM:

Paul A@20:
Be prepared for a serious temperature range in Germany and the Czech Republic. Within the last week in Germany's Baden-Württemberg state, I've run around in a thin sweater, and at other times I ran the full-body cover of winter jacket, gloves, long underpants, and a beanie. Mind you, I work outside, but still.

#81 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2015, 09:58 AM:

QA engineer walks into a meeting room. Takes PostIt notes from back of notebook. Jots down figures of how long it will take to save up cash for first year of retirement. Idly figures out after-tax amount of top prize in state lottery. Notes meeting room clock is still on DST. Wonders if future generations will have to be taught the velocity started out as a physics term and initially had nothing to do with time management. Idly figures out after-tax amount of top prize in state lottery if no one wins this week.

#82 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2015, 10:25 PM:

Speaking of Palpatine: War on Kinkade

#83 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2015, 09:13 AM:

I had been vaguely wondering why the new season of Agents of SHIELD hadn't shown up on Australian TV yet, and now I know: after airing on free-to-air for the first two seasons, it's been snapped up by pay TV.

I'm not sure yet how I intend to respond to this. Certainly it's not going to be by giving pay TV another customer. I might get it the DVD when it eventually comes out, but I'm not sure I'll even do that. It's not as if there are any big unanswered questions to drag me back to the show, since they answered all of those last season anyway. I might just not bother.

#84 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2015, 01:09 PM:

C. Wingate #82:

Almost does what's needed, but where's the trail of destruction? So far, it's almost all just menace.

#85 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2015, 01:51 PM:

Interesting article on FBI forensic problems in the Washington Post. The FBI is probably way more professional and careful than anyone else doing this kind of evidence, and yet they're now acknowledging that a huge amount of their forensic work was flawrd.

My guess is that most people who were convicted based on this evidence were probably guilty--the police had arrested them and the prosecutor brought the case against them, so they must have looked pretty guilty. But some significant number were innocent, and were railroaded based on forensic evidence that turned out to be bullshit. Some of them went to death row, and probably a few innocent people were executed as a result of this screwed-up evidence.

This is probably a symptom of a lot of bigger problems--being more wedded to formalisms than to getting the right answer, too many people assuming anything with the word "science" in it must be true or right, inability of a lot of critical stuff in our society to adapt to new technology in a sensible way, etc. But it's also just horrifying to imagine being that guy who gets sent to the death chamber because he looked pretty guilty and some forensic analyst claimed that the stray fibers on his clothes were a 100% perfect match for the ones on the victim's clothes, or that his teeth were the only ones on Earth that could have made that particular bite mark, or whatever else.

#86 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2015, 06:28 PM:

Albatross #85, I worry about the idea that "most people who were convicted based on this [bad] evidence were probably guilty." The police don't arrest people because they're guilty. It isn't their job to determine guilt or innocence--many police officers are under pressure to close cases, so they arrest somebody who seems halfway plausible and let the courts sort it out. And sometimes when the prosecutor thought a suspect "looked pretty guilty," the prosecutor's thinking was based on hair analysis. Prosecutors rely on lab analysis even before they go to court.

I think you're right that the FBI analysts probably did this technique more carefully than others. Most of the other labs using hair analysis probably learned it from the FBI. The problem is that some techniques are just fundamentally flawed (like using burn patterns to prove arson), so it doesn't help to be super-meticulous.

#87 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2015, 08:44 PM:

albatross 86: My guess is that most people who were convicted based on this evidence were probably guilty--the police had arrested them and the prosecutor brought the case against them, so they must have looked pretty guilty.

I agree with Adrian, and would add that this is not how we do things in America. In fact the sentence above is one of the most appalling things I've seen you write. "Looking pretty guilty" isn't enough reason to convict someone.

And given the corruption that we all know pervades the so-called "justice system," it's not even reasonable to conclude they were "probably guilty."

#88 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Paul A @ 20: If you're crossing the space in between those cities on the ground, Mad Louie's castle at Neuschwanstein may be worth a visit. (Don't know whether it's open in the cold season.)

albatross: I wonder how much older tech would fail when examined? e.g., how reliable are the markings put on bullets by rifling? I saw a traveling exhibit on forensics some years ago, but I figure their examples were chosen so that inexperienced viewers would have a chance of getting them correct.

#89 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2015, 10:55 PM:

Because it's an Open Thread:

I've put up a tumblr, Hugo Eligible Art 2015, to collect potential Pro and Fan Artist nominees. Mike Glyer has generously put up my post The Recent History of the Hugo Artist Awards on File770 for discussion.

In particular, I'm hoping a lot of people will talk about how *you* think the Hugo Art Awards should divide up the vast and exponentially growing world of SFF art.

#90 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 12:11 AM:

CHip @88 -- back in the 70s I helped someone review the information on rifling marks -- and even then some folks were saying that they were not very useful. After about 3 shots, the marks change significantly. Don't know what's been done on that since, but it's probably easier to research now than it was then.

#91 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 08:01 AM:

Adrian and Xopher:

I didn't say it was okay to convict them on "probably guilty," I said my guess is that most people who get arrested and charged are guilty[1].

This probably made it easier for forensics experts to convince themselves that their junk science worked--they usually saw cases where lots of circumstantial evidence suggested guilt, and their results, which tended to support convictions very often, usually went along with that. It also means that many of the people convicted on that junk science probably were actually guilty, but since we don't know which ones, we probably need to give them all new trials. The alternative is releasing everyone convicted using thet evidence, but that probably puts a lot of actual criminals back on the streets.

Imagine a forensic Magic 8-ball which had 5 "guilty" and one "not guilty" answers. In this environment, the magic 8-ball would seem pretty accurate--usually the guys looked guilty and usually the 8-ball said so. It was probably easy for the forensics guys and the police and prosecutors to convince themselves that their equivalent of a magic 8-ball (like bite mark analysis) was really accurate. The forensic techniques we're discussing probably had some validity, so they weren't random like the 8-ball, but they were apparently very noisy and unreliable.

[1] This is an empirical statement. It can be correct or incorrect, but making a moral judgement about it won't help you figure out which.

#92 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 08:46 AM:

CHip@88 asked "I wonder how much older tech would fail when examined? e.g., how reliable are the markings put on bullets by rifling? I saw a traveling exhibit on forensics some years ago, but I figure their examples were chosen so that inexperienced viewers would have a chance of getting them correct."

When I got to do the comparison (in 1969) I had no trouble getting the striations to match up -- once I found which grove on the right bullet (which I could rotate) matched up to the front-facing groove on the left bullet.

Tom Whitmore@90 wrote "CHip @88 -- back in the 70s I helped someone review the information on rifling marks -- and even then some folks were saying that they were not very useful. After about 3 shots, the marks change significantly."

My bullets were fired consecutively (into a long tube of cotton wadding), so I didn't face that problem. I will note that it gives you a false negative rather than a false positive, which isn't so bad.

Most criminals don't fire their guns a lot of times. There was an armed robbery that went bad in 1920, and the robbers killed two men. When they were arrested, the police found a gun of the same make and model as the murder weapon in the home of one of the men. There were no ballistics tests in those days, and the suspect admitted that it was his gun.

Come the sixties, and someone finally runs a ballistics test on that weapon. It was a match to the bullet recovered from one of the victims. So Nicola Sacco was guilty, or at least had guilty knowledge of the crime for which he was convicted and executed.

#93 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 09:49 AM:

#91 ::: albatross

When you say "probably guilty", do you mean a little over half? 80%? 95%?

I hear a lot about the worst cases, which seem to be damn near random arrests followed by railroading, but I have no idea how typical that is.

#94 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 11:41 AM:

re 84: Pantone Menace? (G,D,R)

#95 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 01:59 PM:

My knowledge here is pretty sketchy, but from what I can tell, it's probably more like 90%. This is based on what I have read, but also on conversations with criminal defense attorneys and with some inmates in the distant past, when I was involved in a project that involves some prison inmates, many years ago.

Again, that absolutely doesn't mean it's okay to make up evidence or convict people on magic 8-ball and ouija board evidence. It just says that the police often have a good idea who committed the crime pretty early on, and prosecutors don't like to go to trial with a weak case. It also suggests a mechanism for how reasonably bright people could have convinced themselves that their magic 8-balls were telling them who did and didn't commit the crime--if you massively overestimate the probability of guilt, that's hard to notice if it's applied to a pool of mostly guilty people--you will seldom see obvious contradictions.

Is there any good data on what fraction of inmates really did it? I'm not sure how you'd get to ground truth there, but it would be really interesting to know.

#96 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 02:38 PM:

There was a clip on the news while I was sitting in the doctor's waiting room that absolutely pissed me off. Apparently Houston is going to be hosting the NCAA basketball Final Four in 2016... and they're looking for 3,000 volunteers to help with putting it on.


This is absolutely not a struggling non-profit agency. Ghod knows how much money they're going to rake in on this event -- but they can't afford to HIRE people to work for them? In an economy where even temporary jobs might help some people stay off public assistance? There's a name for that. They are TAKERS.

#97 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 02:56 PM:

albatross #95: The first key point here is that every "false positive" here is not merely a mistake, but a betrayal of justice. The traditional rule was "better that a hundred criminals go free than one innocent man be imprisoned unjustly". That's just one of the things that's gone by the wayside in recent years.

The second key point is that the errors aren't random, they're focused on the already-oppressed -- non-white, poor, female, and so on -- and diverted away from the advantaged, the people who get the benefit of the doubt or can afford to out-lawyer the state. If a cop wants to "find" another drug conviction, or meet his quota for traffic stops, you know who they'll pick on. That's not even counting criminals who actively frame someone else, usually taking advantage of those same biases.

#98 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 03:06 PM:

David H., #97: The third key point is that if there are two people who, circumstantially, are equally likely to be guilty, and one is in a privileged class relative to the other, guess which one the cops are going to focus on and which will be cleared based on a cursory investigation?

The fourth key point is that then those numbers, already biased by institutional racism, are used to defend racism, which is obscene.

#99 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 03:21 PM:

There's one arena in which wrongful convictions can be established with some certainty, and in which the identity of the actual felon can sometimes also be determined: exoneration of convicted criminals on the basis of DNA evidence.

As David Harmon and Lee suggest, the record strongly supports the notion that black people are more likely to be wrongfully convicted.

Also, relevant to the current discussion: "Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science played a role in 47 percent of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA testing."

#100 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 03:53 PM:

This is just to say

I am reading
the conversation
conviction rates

One which
we are certainly
not turning
into an argument

that everyone here
is commenting
in good faith.

#101 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 03:55 PM:

#97 ::: David Harmon

Women have it worse in a lot of ways than men, but I think men are more likely to be suspected and convicted of crimes, regardless of guilt.

#102 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 04:13 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #101: For wrongful convictions, I'm thinking in particular of: Women who kill their abusers and do not get any recognition of the context, and child-death cases (notably SIDS) that get blamed on the mother. There's also several other situations which aren't exactly "wrongful conviction", but where women traditionally get the wrong end of the legal stick, and/or face rules that fail the "law in its majesty" test. A lot of those situations are improving over time, but slowly.

#103 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 04:54 PM:

David, both of those things certainly happen.

I'm inclined to think that women are at less risk (but still some risk) of being wrongfully convicted, but it would take a lot of number-crunching with dubious numbers to prove it.

Women being convicted for being in the drug trade when they've done very little but don't have much information to trade in a plea deal would also belong on your list.

#104 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Lee@96 - IIRC, I heard the same thing discussed on the radio a while back for the Superbowl, which will be here in the SF Bay Area next year. I forget if it was before or after the NFL gave up the pretense of being a non-profit.

My reaction at the time was that if you get to be in the stadium where you can watch the game, having to spend half the time ushering might still make it worth volunteering (if you care about football, anyway.) But for herding traffic around parking lots, and NOT getting to see the game? That's a job, and needs to be paying cash.

#105 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 07:14 PM:

And, I just found a reminder that some folks don't even get trials: Over in DC, another black guy dead in police custody. Apparently courtesy of "special police".

Unicorn chaser: The Guerrilla Grafting Movement: Grafting fruit-bearing branches onto SF's ornamental trees. ObSFF link: Might help bring more elves (back?) to SF, too. :-)

#106 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 07:50 PM:


I think we're in substantial agreement. Nobody here is saying that either the use of sketchy forensic evidence or the railroading of the innocent is remotely acceptable.

One interesting sideline from Lila's link: two of the sketchy kinds of evidence that led to a lot of false convictions are ones that have traditionally been held in very high regard in the law--confessions and eyewitness testimony. It's pretty clear that neither of these is actually very reliable (though there are probably procedures that make them better--I know there's a big project to get local police departments to adopt a standard way of doing police lineups so that they don't bias the witnesses toward one suspect, for example.). But I think the law generally gives them both a lot of weight.

I don't have any data better than Lila's link, but intuitively, I'd guess being black, poor, without a private lawyer, or uneducated probably all make you a lot more likely to be railroaded. I doubt being a woman makes you more likely to be railroaded, but again, I don't know where we'd find good data to decide who's right. Women make up a very small fraction of prison inmates, FWIW.

My guess is that most railroadings aren't the cops and prosecutors knowingly sending an innocent man to prison, they're cops and prosecutors convincing themselves the wrong guy is guilty and then conveying that belief in a convincing way to a judge and jury. I suspect that is usually true even when there is serious misconduct, like beating a confession out of someone or bribing a cell mate to make up a jailhouse confession. Even when doing really bad things, most people convince themselves that they're doing the right thing. Sketchy forensic evidence plays into that really well--I already know that bastard is guilty, and this bite mark analysis proves it.

#107 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 07:53 PM:

As an aside, shaken baby syndrome has led to a number of people going to prison, but my (very limited) understanding is that the diagnosis is actually not at all clear, and probably a fair fraction of people in prison for it didn't kill their baby by shaking them.

#108 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 08:39 PM:

I haven't been able to find a source, but I think I've read that being ugly and not being local are also risk factors for false conviction.

#109 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 10:14 PM:

Update on my partner: Due to legitimate medical concerns, the stent removal / bilateral lithotripsy has been rescheduled for Monday. But once that's done, the physical part of this ordeal should be OVER. He's already made some changes to his diet to reduce the likelihood of further stones developing. GoodThoughts for a smooth procedure would be welcomed.

#110 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 10:22 PM:

Lee (109): May all go well.

#111 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2015, 11:38 PM:

Best wishes from here, Lee, for both of you!

#112 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 12:40 AM:

@Lee: Good Thoughts order queued up!

#113 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 12:43 AM:

Lee@109: Good thoughts on their way!

#114 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 04:50 AM:

Lee #109: Best of luck!

#115 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 06:53 AM:

I remember getting a dose of the underlying Stats explained to me, and I find myself wondering just what DNA evidence can prove. Essentially, we share DNA with our near family, it doesn't have to be all that near, and some of the DNA differences that are tracked in "fingerprinting" are in the "junk DNA".

So what does a match prove?

It's arguable that the lack of a match, proving the negative, as in the DNA Exonerations, is far more reliable that the claimed matches can be, but courts and lawyers have never really had the limits explained to them.

Incidentally, the traditional fingerprint indexing systems can lead to a hit without any match. They were a way of finding recorded fingerprints close enough to be worth checking. I wonder how many people in the system realise that. For all I know, some Chinese crook has fingerprints that index to the same value as those of John Dillinger.

A fingerprint can be compared in far more detail than the index records. I sometimes wonder how much modern forensic science is at the level of matching an index entry.

What would Sherlock Holmes do?

#116 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 07:53 AM:

Lee #109

Best wishes!

#115 ::: Dave Bell

Sherlock Holmes has the author on his side in ways that the rest of us presumably don't. Sherlock Holmes could probably look at a fingerprint and tell whether owner's name was misspelled in the police records.

#117 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 08:27 AM:

This moose has never been much of a fan of Sherlock Holmes. Dr Thorndyke, on the other hoof....

#118 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 08:33 AM:

Another fan of Dr. Thorndyke here. I have nothing against Holmes, but the Thorndyke stories are steeped in the forensic science of the day. (The author, R. Austin Freeman, was trained as an apothecary and a physician, but made his living as a writer.) Interested would-be readers can find Dr. Thorndyke stories at

#119 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 10:07 AM:

I take the view that Dr. Thorndyke is more technically accurate, but loads less fun than Holmes. It might just be because I was introduced to Holmes at a much more impressionable age, though.

#120 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 03:08 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads @100:

Some say this thread will drift to food,
Some say to verse.
From what I've sampled of our mood,
I hold with those who favor food.
But since its drift will not be terse
I think I know enough of feet
To say that for distraction verse
Is also neat
And worth the purse.

#121 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 04:19 PM:

Edmund Schweppe @120


#122 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 05:10 PM:

Edmund Schweppe @120:

The foody posts are sweeter,
But the poetry runs longer;
I therefore deem it meeter
To make the latter stronger.
I made a single comment;
Your answer, inspiration;
I hope that I don't bomb it
And kill this conversation.

#123 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 05:14 PM:


Good thing I wasn't drinking tea at the time.

#124 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Food posts or poetry
Either is welcome and
Good in our sight

Both on the menu and
Chewy or fluffy, they
Feed Making Light

#125 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 06:07 PM:

pity this busy commentariat
making light
not -- commenting is a comfortable disease....

#126 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 07:33 PM:

I think that releasing 75 books in five years would have been a clue that something was up.

Laura Harner caught plagiarizng

#127 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 07:44 PM:

Note that on my prior post, I'm hardly a fan of the Daily Mail and its clickbait headlines. I found the link on John Varley's blog.

#128 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 07:46 PM:

A purely informational note. If one stores items in the oven it is important to make sure to remove all such items before turning the oven on. Not that anyone here would actually make that particular mistake you understand...

(Damage was actually minimal. A large cutting board that I use five times a year got singed a bit, but is still usable. I may replace it anyway.)

#129 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 08:41 PM:

Michael #128:

At least your cutting board wasn't plastic, like the ice cream scoop I left in my oven 20 years ago.

#130 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 08:56 PM:

Back in the days of the Bell monopoly, before the Carterphone decision, my parents had a basement extension phone which had not been blessed by almighty Ma (and for which they didn't pay the monthly connection fee). It had crocodile clips to connect it to the binding posts on the junction block, so we could unhook it and stash it in the dryer when a telephone repair man was going to be in the house. Sometimes it didn't get hooked up again until the next time someone needed to use the phone down there. We never actually ran the dryer with the phone in it, but there were a couple close calls, where someone closed the dryer after throwing in a bunch of wet clothes, and then thought to open it and check if the phone was under the clothes, before turning it on.

#131 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 09:08 PM:

Michael, #128: My partner is in the habit of using our (gas) oven as a warming/drying chamber. I, never having had anything but an electric oven until moving here, do not have that habit. More than once he has asked me to pre-heat the oven for cooking without mentioning that he had something sitting in it, with sadly predictable results. Once or twice he's done it to himself as well.

Our work-around for this issue is a piece of masking tape on the edge of the oven dial. When there's something being dried/warmed in the oven, the tape goes over the dial. Ta-da! If I go to turn the oven on and there's tape over the dial, I know there's something in there that has to be removed first. End of problem.

#132 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 09:33 PM:

Lee @ #131 - We stick one of our Pyrex baking dishes in our lower oven. I don't know how many times I've had to pull it out when I wanted to use both ovens to do a meal.

I've come to the conclusion that one acquires kitchen & cooking gear to fill 110% of the space available. No matter how much space is available.

#133 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 09:40 PM:

We had a sign on our dishwasher: two index cards stapled together with a magnet inside, in case the stuff hadn't been taken out of the machine fast enough after it finished its run.

#134 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 10:09 PM:

P J Evans (133): My mother puts a fridge magnet* on the dishwasher when she runs it, to indicate that the dishes therein are clean, not dirty.

*Specifically, one shaped like a skunk. When the original magnet became damaged, I had the dickens of a time finding her a new skunk magnet.

#135 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 10:54 PM:

I think the last dishwasher my parents had, they used a magnet that was painted green on one side and red on the other. I also think I prefer the labeled card; it's easier to see.

(We used dry milk, and had another card magnet for when a new pitcher needed to be mixed. ISTR that it read 'XIM KLIM'.)

#136 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 11:12 PM:

To-day we have faving of foods. Yesterday,
We had metered rhyming. And to-morrow morning
We shall have how to steep while brewing. But to-day,
Today we have faving of foods. Current events
Loom like monstrous sentinels on the television,
And to-day we have faving of foods.

This is the lutefisk. And this
Is the recipe for gluten-free muffins, which you can eat
Whether or not you tolerate wheat. And this is a sestina,
Which in my case I can not write. Repetition
Gives it its cumulative intricate crescendo,
Which in my case I can not write.

#137 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2015, 11:26 PM:

Been away for some time, busy with work and stuff. That being said, abi said I should post here about something we talked about. I'm in the process of whittling down my LJ site, including its various picture galleries. A few years back, I set one up featuring various ML participants, called "Making Light and Faces". I'll be shutting it down on December 14, but go ahead and download any of its pics until down if you want. Be warned that LJ messed it up and that the photos are not in alphabetical order anymore. Go HERE for a trip down Memory Lane.

#138 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 12:04 AM:

...darn it, Kip. My version using that poem is not nearly as good.

#139 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 12:36 AM:

Aw, thanks, Carrie.

Also, just as I'm shutting off the lights, it occurs to me that others here may be interested in this magazine from Chicago, called The Chicagoan, which ran from 1928 to 1936, and looks like (as one of my professors puts it) an artifact from an alternate universe where it was all happening in Chicago. The pages of these magazines (they all seem to be here, from a mostly complete collection at U. of Chi., filled in with issues from elsewhere as needed) show that there certainly was a lot happening in the Windy City, and this proves it.

It's all searchable, and the link I provide is of search results for Covarrubias, a striking Mexican artist much loved by one of the art professors here, whose style knocks me out. I hadn't known him until we were looking at this book.

This magazine coincides, in date and time, with my mom's early years. One of my sisters thinks she saw a copy of it at the house Mom grew up in, in the 60s, but isn't certain. So I was happy to pick this up. The book, I mean. It's not perfect. The cartoons are kind of weak. Several of them name-check Peter Arno out of a self-conscious envy, I guess. The only name I recognize in the cartoons is E. Simms Campbell, who I never thought a lot of, though this one time he did a passable imitation of Arno.

In other news, I'm happy to say I had to punch a new hole in my belt today, for good reasons.

#140 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 07:11 AM:

Another pic in the style of the Hawkeye Project: Wonder Woman draws the line.... ;-)

#141 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 09:33 AM:

Of fast and cheap and good, pick one or two
My sonnets run to quick and nearly free
And piping hot, are served in front of you
But will not gain me immortality.

Nor did it for the Bard - had Shakespeare not
done cheap and cheerful (for the groundlings) fare
His mistress's eyes, his poems would be forgot
His summer's days all melted in thin air.

A meal, ephemeral, can also be
A work of art and craft - though not of rhyme
To please us now, and in our memory
A single joy, of just one place and time.

I wrote this o'er a single cup of tea
It does not need to awe posterity.

#142 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 10:34 AM:

Sandy B. , magnificent!

#143 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 11:21 AM:

Making Light, in poetry basks.
Many forms are on display.

Another form, more northern in style.
Alliterates across your screen.

Kin to the skaldworks.
Keen to be seein.

Interesting feedback?
Inform us at will.

Nary a word remains.
Never too much form.

Go forth and write.
Give in to your muse.


I think I vaguely lost the plot towards the end there, sorry team. Acrostic and alliterated poems are non-trivial and I should probably have restrained the urge.

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 02:59 PM:

WFC awards will no longer feature the bust of H.P. Lovecraft.

That's a step forward I hadn't expected to see so quickly. As usual, don't read the comments.

#145 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 03:07 PM:

Michael I @128: If one stores items in the oven it is important to make sure to remove all such items before turning the oven on.

In a similar vein, I have empirically verified that, having taken the vacuum cleaner bag off to empty it, the vacuum cleaner is far more effective on its next use if you put the bag back on.

#146 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 03:24 PM:

Steve C. @132: I've come to the conclusion that one acquires  kitchen & cooking gear  stuff to fill 110% of the space available. No matter how much space is available.


Mary Aileen @134: My mother puts a fridge magnet* on the dishwasher when she runs it, to indicate that the dishes therein are clean, not dirty.

Friend of mine actually found one purpose-made: triangular dowel, about three inches long. Face A is the magnet, face B says "Dirty," face C says "Clean." One just turns it around when the contents change state.

#147 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Sarah had a set of magnetic letters. For a while, we used D to indicate dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and Y for, well, "Yes, they're clean!" When we moved, the D went to some farm upstate where it can chase rabbits all day, but the presence of the Y still indicates clean dishes.

#148 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 06:06 PM:

Steve Wright @ #119: I love Sherlock Holmes, but Freeman's Mr. Pottermack's Oversight can stand up against the best. For one thing, it's a perfect inverted detective story (a form invented by Freeman). For another, the forensics are perfectly legitimate. Best of all is the counterpoint, in alternating chapters, between a truly likable murderer and a brilliant detective, with a completely satisfactory resolution of the conflict.

#149 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 06:50 PM:

Mr Pottermack's Oversight is simply superb,

Mr Polton Explains is another good one.

The observed detail, if you're watching the background, in all of the books is startling.

This moose was hooked by The D'Arblay Mystery in his grandparents bookcase, Lo! These Many Years Ago, and has never looked back.

"House of Stratus" appears to have "republished" most of them when the copyright expired in .uk, but this moose prefers the original hardcovers.

#150 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 07:27 PM:

The Oatmeal's done it again: Secret Origins of someone nearly all of us remember fondly. (Trar Ebqqraoreel)

#151 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 08:38 PM:

Marcia and I have cleared out more than half of our books, many dearly loved, in anticipation of a move to smaller quarters in the not-too-distant future. But I've kept all my Freemans.

#152 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 09:11 PM:

#150: It is interesting seeing The Oatmeal venture into Zen Pencils territory.

#153 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2015, 10:11 PM:

Stefan Jones #152: Well, this isn't from a quote like ZP does. I'd consider this fairly well in line with Oatmeal's prior pieces on Tesla (he might have done another of the sort too, I forget). But I'll agree that the tone is uncharacteristic (especially the lack of profanity :-) ).

#154 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 08:42 AM:

@148: I initially parsed the Freeman in question as this one, and was momentarily very confused.

#155 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 09:02 AM:

When the darkness comes sooner and stays later, Get yourself one big po-ta-ter
Boil it for a bit so the jacket slips off then shred it on a grater
Chop some onion, mince some garlic,
Add an egg – to make things stick.
Take some bacon and weave a mat,
Spread the po-ta-ter mix over that.
Lift one end, then make it roll
Put it in a pan without a hole.
Then bake it well
Until brown, with a heavenly smell.

#156 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 07:32 PM:


Medicating myself with the soundtrack of Hamilton. It's a much needed dose of music, history and perspective on this terrible news day.

#157 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 09:17 PM:

ma larkey, #156: Hey, you're back! Good to see you, and how have things been for you of late?

#158 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 09:27 PM:

I put on a silly movie, but it's not helping. Time to turn off social media. What a damned world. Poor Paris.

#159 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 10:45 PM:

I'm just gonna leave this here.

#160 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 10:56 PM:

I'm gonna accompany #159 with this.

#161 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 11:14 PM:

Em, did you mean to link that?

#162 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 11:18 PM:

I did, oops. Here it is.

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 11:28 PM:

Teresa, you may be interested in this. Apparently there's a mass resignation event planned in Salt Lake City because of the LDS' recent decision about gay couples and their children.

#164 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2015, 11:52 PM:

#157 Hi, Lee. Yes, still here but just short of spoonage at times. It helps that I have a stable, sane partner who helps me keep it real now. Sending good thoughts to all.

#165 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2015, 12:19 AM:

My system for keeping track of whether the dishwasher has clean or dirty dishes in it is to check the soap tray.
- If it's open, the dishes are clean.
- If it's closed with soap in it, they're dirty.
- If it's empty, put soap in it before dishes.

Ovens? Yeah, not so much. Fortunately we've got enough kitchen space to not usually need to store things in it, except the occasional forgotten extra potatoes, and when we've done so intentionally, it's usually led to at least mild annoyance (metal pans being undamaged but too hot to put anywhere except the stovetop, which is busy preparing things that are supposed to get moved into the oven...) or forgetting where we left the whatever-it-was pan when we want it.

#166 ::: Chickadee ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2015, 01:04 AM:

ma larkey @164: Hi! So glad to hear you're still around, and that you've got (as you say) a stable, sane partner to help you out. :) :) :)

#167 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2015, 08:07 AM:

ma larkey #164: Definitely glad to hear from you! Given the last we'd heard from you, the radio silence was worrisome.

#168 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2015, 08:38 AM:

Jacque @145, I once had a builder doing some work in my house, who then used my vacuum cleaner to clean up. Without realising there wasn't a bag in it. I had plaster dust everywhere.

#169 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Bill Stewart #165:

No problems with the dishwasher, as we run it overnight, and whoever's down first in the morning (almost always not me) sees the little blue "done" light and unloads.

Where things can go ascrew here is indeed with the oven, but more with the racks. I've lost count of the times I've not checked beforehand to ensure the rack isn't all the way up under the broiler, because if it is, there's an extra shuffle at the last minute.

#170 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2015, 01:50 AM:

#167 thank you Dave. And here I was too absorbed in stuff to think of posting here. Should have posted sooner to at least let folks know I'm alive, cared for, and doing as well as can be expected for someone with my problems.

#171 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2015, 03:47 AM:

Just saw a shot from the end of the latest Victoria's Secret runway show.

Wow, their stuff has gotten to be so fugly.

#172 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 06:06 AM:

AKICML, and related to next year's Hugos....

I'm involved in one of the many efforts to get a non-partisan "list of good stuff out there" going, and the current topic of the week is Professional Artist candidates.

Now, I'm so clueless about art, I barely even know what I like, so the only idea I had was to look out book covers (obviously, for recently published works) that have struck me as memorable for one reason or another, and find out which cover artists did them, and then dig out some more about their work....

Trouble is, I'm having a devil of a time getting that first step done - identifying the cover artists. Is there any easy way of doing this? Any online "one-stop-shop" where you can find out who did the cover on a particular book? (It would sort of have to be online, due to my own mobility issues.)

(The one that started this train of thought off was the very striking cover for The Library at Mount Char... I found lots and lots of stuff about the book, obviously enough, but haven't been able to put my finger on the cover artist.)

#173 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 11:18 AM:

Woman stages early celebration of Officially Becoming a Senior Citizen by getting shots for flu, tetanus/pertussis, and shingles. (On insurance, for which hurray!) Pharmacy person was very good at it: the shots were almost unnoticeable; only the tetanus/pertussis shot is having lingering effects.

#174 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 11:26 AM:

Tom Hanks apparently was approached to appear on "Doctor Who", but he had to pass only because he's very busy. In related news, Peter Capaldi wouldn't mind having David Bowie on the show.

#175 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 01:40 PM:

So, as a result of - things - (grumble airlines, grumble procrastination, grumble too agreeable, grumble...) I will be in Denver for the end of the month starting Nov 25.

1) can I pick someone's brain for not-terribly-exhausting things to do (in Denver) (whether you're dead or not)?

2) Ideas on places to stay relatively cheaply that might be fun?

3) barring Friday and Saturday (the only days I'm there *for*), is anyone interested in a meetup?

#176 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 02:42 PM:

Mycroft W: I'm in Boulder, so of limited help with accomodations recs. Carol Kimball might be able to help. As to things to do, what categories do you have in mind? There's obvious stuff like museums and such. Frex, I've actually realized I need to go the the zoo.

WRT a GoL, I'd be up for it, long as it's not on Sunday.

#177 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 02:55 PM:

Where in town are your meetings?

There's a great Wyeth show at the Denver Art Museum. I'm in Capitol Hill so within walking distance of DAM/the 16th Street Mall, if we wanted to set a GoL there.

That also has easy bus access for Boulderites and a free shuttle once there.

Many places for cheap/interesting food. Not much help on lodging.

#178 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 03:36 PM:

AKICIML: A friend is trying to identify a book.

I am reminded of a science fiction story I read many years ago, whose author clearly was familiar with this phenomenon [of lodgepole pines propagating via forest fire]. The tree species in question shed bark that spontaneously combusted after several years of buildup, causing a fire that burned up the tree and allowed the seed cones to burst and scatter widely. Having taken steps to prevent this spontaneous combustion based on the understandable premise that Forest Fires Are Bad, the settlers were wondering why these trees were not propagating!

And now I am going to spend hours wondering who wrote that story, and what its title was, and wondering if I can find it in my library so I can re-read it... Does it sound familiar to anybody?

So far we have determined that she's not talking about Niven's stage trees. Anyone here care to take a crack at it?

#179 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 03:41 PM:


It sounds like one of the sections of "Mirabile" by Janet Kagan.

#180 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 03:41 PM:

shadowsong @178:

One of the stories in Janet Kagan's Mirabile has firestarting trees; the rest of the details don't quite match my recollection, but it's been awhile since I read it.

#181 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 04:50 PM:

Yeah, the Mirabile story is a bit different; instead of the bark itself combusting, there's a different plant which does it, and one of the townspeople is under suspicion of starting fires.

#182 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 07:22 PM:

First: thanks for the amazing, though expected, immediate response and interest. That it is expected is one of the things we get spoiled with here, no?

Jacque: I'm looking for "home-grown" experiences (no, not that kind of home-grown, I guess I should say, being that it's Colorado) - not necessarily the touristy stuff I could find by looking at the tourist board, but interesting little places.

For some idea - I hated Toronto, and everything that supposedly were "the things about" Toronto (except Bakka, but you don't see that in the list unless you're talking to SF people). But people who deeply loved the place and didn't do the tourist things (as we all don't do, in our own city, no?) took me to their places, and that was much more fun.

I'm an introvert - and currently in "constant recovery" mode. So I know if I let myself, I'll spend the entire "extra days" I have in my hotel room, blahing around. But I can recover "alone in a crowd", too, as long as it's not too invasive (public transport is fine, dance club is not) - if I come prepared with a list of potentials so I can get myself out of my room.

Carol: specifically I'll be going to the ACBL Fall Nationals (Sheraton Denver Downtown); but I have a place for Thursday through Saturday. Wed night, Sunday and Monday are my issues, and since I don't have to be anywhere in particular, I can be anywhere that works.

In particular, I will be looking for quintessentially Denver food, whether the immigrants brought the style in 5, 200, or 10 000 years ago. Quintessentially (even if a bit kitschy) Denver other things are good, too.

Does that help?

Re: meetup: permission given for abi to give out my email address to those who ask.

#183 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 07:45 PM:

Re: Denver. Home to one of the best independent bookstores around, The Tattered Cover.

#184 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2015, 11:10 PM:

HLN: Area traveler has an unexpected adventure.
After spending a weekend of baking and river observation, I headed home on an intercity bus. About 1/3 of the way out, there was a loud beeping and the driver yells "We're on fire in the back! Everybody out!" So he pulls over and stops and we all get out(a dozen of us)into the rain and cold wind with the freeway traffic roaring by, an acrid burnt smell following, and the driver goes back to look at the motor, and it was I that called 911. I didn't see anyone else doing it and figured I'd better even though I wasn't sure if anyone was in real danger or not. I could not quite say where we were bec/ of no landmarks but someone gave me a street number. 911 wanted to know if everyone was out [yes] and were there flames inside [no]. Then they put me thru to the state patrol and I told them what I knew and they said they were on their way. The driver came back and said that another bus was on the way. I think he had gotten the fire under control. Long story short, lights and sirens were soon evident, stories were taken down, and the new bus arrived and from then on I only had to deal with the usual crappy traffic. I think we had been stuck for about 20 or 25 minutes. I also think that Jim's posts/threads helped me think and do what was needed, so some major thanks from here.
And the other lesson? If there is (any chance of) weather less than appealing, bring one more layer of clothes than you think you need...

#185 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 01:41 AM:

I echo Steve C's endorsement of the Tattered Cover.

If you can get to Boulder, another attractions is McGuckins, the One True Hardware Store.

#186 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 01:50 AM:

*sign* Sadly, the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be an oncoming train. In brief: the original kidney stone that caused all the trouble is out; they could not reach the one on the other side, so it's still there like a ticking time bomb; and now he's got TWO stents instead of one, and will be mostly out of commission for at least a week.

Dammit, this was not how the day was supposed to end.

#187 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 06:56 AM:

Lee, deep sympathies and continued good wishes, with hopes that these will be more efficacious than the last round.

Angiportus, ugh. I also came home on an intercity bus last night. It wasn't raining here, but if I'd needed to get out because of bus trouble, my sweater was in my bag under the bus and I wouldn't have had access to it. Will rethink "what I need with me" next time.

Also relevant to emergency discussions here, I went to a meeting in New York City yesterday. As the leader was instructing us on agenda and where the restrooms were located and so forth, she mentioned that since we were in a New York City skyscraper, there were go bags for guests in a closet in the lobby, that they included instructions on where to assemble once we got out, and that employees had theirs at their desks. I didn't ask what else the bags included. But I thought it was simultaneously a nice touch and a bit discouraging that this should be routine.

#188 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 07:56 AM:

Lee, commiserations and hoping that things will get better soon.

#189 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 10:57 AM:

Lee #186: My sympathies. Both my brothers have had kidney stones, as has Gail. They are not fun, and I can just imagine all that the two of you are coping with. Good thoughts are heading your way.

#190 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 11:20 AM:

Sympathies for your partner, Lee, and for you, you're clearly feeling worn down by this. Remember to care for yourself and take things a little slower than you might. Good wishes to both of you.

#191 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 11:20 AM:

Lee, I am cursing the universe on your behalf. Sorry I can't do something better.

#192 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 12:06 PM:

Lee, my sympathies to you and your partner. I've never had a kidney stone but those who have had the misfortune tell me it's agonizing. I hope your partner has some good meds for that.

#193 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 12:07 PM:

Lee @ 144 (re WFC trophy): "That's a step forward I hadn't expected to see so quickly." Any particular reason why not? (Note also that there has been rising opposition for some time; 2014 is simply when it got much more public.)

@186: sympathies on the stone problems; I've never had anyone close suffer them, but Asimov's autobiography makes clear just how awful they can be.

The comments about oven safeties are giving me flashbacks; my first thought was of the ]OPEN[ / ]CLOSED[ signs I had to put on safes of secret info ~30 years ago. (Not that unhappy a time, except when we had trouble closing because some induhvidual phone tech had decided our alarm line was unused because there was no tone on it, but interesting memories.) The dishwasher we bought in ~2010 has a number of indicators, one of which goes on only when the cycle is utterly complete and goes off when the door is opened AND RECLOSED (important tweak, that) -- but that wouldn't work for ovens.

Steve Wright @ 172: how up-to-date is

#194 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 12:54 PM:

Mycroft W @182: I'm hampered by the fact that I don't get down to Denver very often, and when I do, it's generally a very targeted experience. Standard "Let's go do something" I'm aware of:

  • Denver Art Museum (as mentioned)
  • Denver Zoo (which I need to do)*
  • Denver Museum of Natural History (proximal to the zoo)
  • Sakura Square

Something that's very "home-grown" (though possibly too touristy):

  • Molly Brown's house

Steve C.'s suggestion of Tattered Cover is a good one.

Generally, I'm afraid my knowledge of Denver is more at the "tourist board" level.

Come up to Boulder, now, it's a whole different story. We'd take you out to Dushanbe Tea House, then maybe up to NCAR to play with their science toys, then out on the Mesa for a wee hike....

And then, of course, there's going up to Trail Ridge (which is a reasonable day-trip—from Boulder; not sure about from Denver), though it's not unlikely that the road would be closed by then. Stop off at the Stanley for lunch, maybe. (I've never actually been in there.)

Touristy but still fun: the Celestial Seasonings tour.

I know we have more Denver locals, but they tend to lurk.

Oh! Oh! Here's one: Domo Restaurant and museum. It's a trad Japanese country house, and the cuisine is "Japanese country." Most emphatically not your standard touriste trappe.

Bruce H. @185: If you can get to Boulder, another attractions is McGuckin, the One True Hardware Store.


Lee: Jeez. The guy can't catch a break! :-(

#195 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 02:29 PM:

In #172, we learn of Steve Wright's quest to find the artists illustrating 2015 books and magazine stories.

When I want to identify a cover artist, I turn to the marvelous site

I'm typically looking for years-old books, though, so I don't have a feel for how up-to-the-minute ISFDB's database is. I am in awe of the effort it took to create and maintain this site.

As an example, suppose I am interested in Ann Leckie's 2015 novel Ancillary Mercy. I ask ISFDB for Ancillary Mercy's summary page, showing its various editions. It offers publisher, ISBN, cover price, and, yup, name of cover artist: John Harris.

Another trick, if you are looking at Amazon or some other site that's got an image of a book cover, is to use Google Image Search's "Search by Image" lookup, which finds pictures similar to the picture you've got.

Go to the page with the cover image. Ask your browser (in Firefox, a right-click menu) to "View Image." This should get you a page which holds the image, and nothing else. Go up to your address bar and copy the URL appearing there.

Now head for Google Image Search. Ignore the text-entry box and instead click on the little gray camera. You should get the message
Search by image
Search Google with an image instead of text. Try dragging an image here.

(Image-dragging works if you've got the right browser, but that's not the feature I'm describing here.)

See the box labeled "Paste image URL?" Paste your URL there and hit Carriage Return. I guess people call that Enter these days.

Google will give you a page like this one. It'll have a thumbnail of your cover picture, links to some guesses at what the picture is about, usually a fascinating row of "Visually similar images," and finally links to sites that have more or less exact copies of your picture.

Why is this relevant? I'm thinking that some of the other sites that feature your cover may also mention the artist's name.

Rabbit Hole Warning: Following "Visually similar images" and images that are similar to the similar images can lead to fractal loss of time and a dazed sensation.

#196 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 02:34 PM:

@Bill Higgins - thanks a lot! (I had a feeling ISFDB might be my saviour on this one; I just don't use it often enough to know my way around it. Or possibly often enough, full stop.)

Delving around other sources online has led me to some other interesting possibilities, anyway. I am determined to try and contribute something to this discussion, even if it's only "stay away from anything that Steve Wright fellow recommends, his taste is appalling."

#197 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Steve W., #196: Another possible point of approach is to look at the websites for various conventions and see who their Artist GoH is, then go looking for that person's website. (Many con websites will have a link right there.) This has the advantage that you don't just get 2D artists, and there are a number of people who work in 3D (hence no book covers) who are well worth consideration.

I have a LOT of SF/F art. If you'd like a list of names of artists I particularly like, drop me a note via LJ.

#198 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 03:25 PM:

(195/196): Note that the Internet Speculative Fiction Database is at (not .com).

#199 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 04:12 PM:

Ma Larkey @164: Great to hear from you, and that you have a sane and stable partner; sympathies for the continuing spoon shortage - good luck for more spoons coming your way soon.

Lee @186: Sympathies to you and your partner.

#200 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 04:24 PM:

Chip @193, Lee @144: I've heard that part of the reason it's happening now is because they've just run out of the last bunch of cast-in-large-batches-to-make-it-cheap weirdo Lovecraft heads.

If they have to cast a new batch,t hey might as well cast them NOT him.

#201 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 04:31 PM:

Mary Aileen, #198:

Org? Arg!

Thanks for correcting my error in #195.

#202 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Michael I, lorax, and Lee at 179-181:

Good job! "The Flowering Inferno" from Mirabile appears to be what she was looking for.

#203 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2015, 11:16 PM:

CHip, #193: For some reason I had the impression that the Old Guard had a much tighter grip on the administration of WFC than appears to be the case, that's all. Mind you, I know very little about the inner workings of WFC (far less than I know about Worldcons), so I'm not all that surprised to be wrong.

Elliott, #200: That makes a lot of sense.

#204 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2015, 04:54 PM:

I lay before the collective wisdom of the Fluorosphere the following two sentences. I would dearly love to know what they mean. Suggestions involving calling the Samaritans may be considered.

Rousseau felt that human should not lose any power when it can down to making a social contract. This meant that the state had do a power toward the people and in an essence that state in Rousseau social contract never existed.

#205 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2015, 05:09 PM:

I picked up my kid's 1st-quarter report card for first grade today, and the teacher actually walked me through a rubric for skill levels relating to writing and comprehending English that show where she is now and where the teacher would like her to be by the end of the year.

I'm realizing that by the time she's out of second grade, if she achieves roughly the median of what her teachers want of her, she will know better than to produce sentences like the ones that bedevil poor Fragano every day.

I think I LIKE the writing curriculum my kid's school is using ...

#206 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2015, 05:29 PM:

Fragano (204): I'm guessing† that the first sentence should be "...when it came* down to...". The second sentence is a bit too word-salad for me to even venture a guess.

*not 'can'
†meaning, completely uncertain

#207 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2015, 05:35 PM:

Fragano @204: I think the person is claiming that Rousseau believed that there should be no limits on social contracts between individuals, and that states therefore shouldn't exist. This one is, I expect, largely a result of someone using a poorly-trained speech-to-text program and not checking for sense. Thus, "can" in the first sentence is replacing "came"; "do" was probably "due" in the second sentence, and "a" and "an" were spuriously added, and probably the author was referring to "the state and Rousseau" rather than "the state in Rousseau." They're all pretty close homophone errors, and entirely not the error that someone typing would make.

#208 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2015, 09:06 PM:

Arggh. For a while, my Ubuntu system had been managing to get photos imported from my iPhone, but now it's reverted to worse behavior than ever -- not only is it repeatedly disconnecting and connecting, but it's hanging not just Shotwell, but the X system.

#209 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2015, 10:59 PM:

I thought nothing could top whatsisface, the radio host, insisting that women only take birth control pills when we are planning to have slutty slutty sex, the more sex on the menu, the more pills in the dose. Then I found out that there's an anti-BCP preacher out there insisting that women who use the Pill have a uterine lining studded with teeny tiny dead babies. And then I found this:

TL;DR: Woman reports that a former boss didn't want to let her go to the bathroom when her period started in the middle of her office work because he thought that women could turn off their bleeding at will, but wouldn't because women amirite, and furthermore that pads and tampons were sex toys. Her boss was a state legislator.

#210 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2015, 11:38 PM:

#209: That's . . . mind boggling.

How was that guy elected?

#211 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 12:30 AM:

We don't know when the legislator was elected, or in what state -- both of those would give us more of a sense of how he was elected. I'd believe in a story like that from the 1970s or earlier without much trouble -- from the 2010s, though, I wouldn't (and can you imagine the trouble he'd have gotten in today's social media world?).

#212 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 12:35 AM:

"But Joe", said I, "you're 100 years dead"
"I never died," said he

Today (or tomorrow, depending on time zones) is the centenary of Joe Hill's execution. Back then, union membership was only about 10%, and about 50% of income went to the top 10% of Americans.

#213 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 03:00 AM:

Jenny, #209: It's worse than that. In an office job, nobody should need permission to go to the bathroom -- we're supposed to be all adults here, right? The fact that he apparently considered her an elementary-school student and himself the teacher issuing a hall pass is even more appalling than his ignorance about female biology (for which, at his age, there might have been at least the excuse that he was never taught anything about it).

#214 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 03:46 AM:

@Lee no. 213: She was an intern, which apparently means that she could be treated like that.

On the good side, he was apparently open to being educated. She describes his shock when it got through to him that she couldn't just stop bleeding whenever she wanted.

#215 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 09:06 AM:

I tentatively take

This meant that the state had do a power toward the people and in an essence that state in Rousseau social contract never existed.
to possibly have been intended as "the state had no power," and the second clause to indicate that as the state had no power, it was as good as nonexistent.


#216 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 11:46 AM:

I just dropped my partner off at the emergency room. He's been in continuous pain for 2 full days, unable to do anything, sleeping poorly. The hospital called for a follow-up, and he told them how he was doing, in detail. They said it was time to come in.

We know exactly what the problem is -- it's the goddamn stents! Fortunately, those can be removed as an outpatient procedure, which we have some hope of convincing them to do. I expect it to take all day for them to get to him, but if it gets done today, he should be mostly recovered by the weekend. GoodThoughts would be welcomed.

#217 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 11:49 AM:

Elliott @ 200: I was not part of the final discussion, but I've been involved with many WFCs over the past ~20 years (co-chaired 1999) and doubt there was any such stash; each committee with any sense ordered enough to cover some ties, usually after making sure that the successor committee would buy any surplus. IIRC, the one time I was involved in ordering the heads, there was (at best) a modest discount for ordering enough to cover two conventions. cf. Peter Weston's discussion of making Hugos (in the N4 program book), especially the point that they'd be cheap (and high-quality, which they weren't before he took over manufacturing) if only someone would front a run of many hundreds to make injection molding worthwhile.

#218 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 11:50 AM:

HLN. I did not get into the teacher training program that I wanted to. I am determined and will try again, but my mental schedule of when this will work out is all upside down.

#219 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 03:02 PM:

Looking for book recommendations.

A friend's 15 year old son has been reading mostly YA. His mom says she knows some of the adult SFF would be of interest to him but it's not what she reads, so she doesn't know what authors to recommend.

He has read and enjoyed the Ender series and books by Catherine Fisher.

I did tell my friend that YA isn't necessarily something you outgrow; that many adults enjoy things packaged as YA. But broadening his horizons isn't a bad thing either.

I know we've done the recommendation thing here before, but I think he's a bit older than the previous recommendees.

#220 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 03:53 PM:

Not-So-YA: I've been recommending Vatta's War (Elizabeth Moon, first book "Trading in Danger") a lot lately.

#221 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 03:57 PM:

@Lee - all good thoughts to you and yours. (I've had kidney troubles of my own, and your partner's sound worse than mine ever were, so, well, ouch! and best wishes for a fast improvement.)

#222 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 04:13 PM:

Mary Aileen #206/Tom Whitmore #207 Those are interesting suggestions. My own suspicions involve chemical alterations to the brain. Speech-to-text is an intriguing idea (especially given some of Siri's interpretations of my speech). My own poor brain, however, is in danger of exploding.

I'm also trying to figure out why, when I warn students that I will inflict condign punishments for plagiarism, inflict such punishments, and make no bones about it, students insist on committing that crime?

#223 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 04:18 PM:

Jenny Islander #209: I would expect a 10-year-old boy to be so ignorant. An adult man, however, should have learnt about the facts of life.

I've lived in a place where there was a cultural objection -- by women -- against tampons. They preferred pads, apparently in the belief that tampons damaged the hymen. But nowhere have I heard that tampons and pads were sex toys. That deserves a special prize, one involving a mallet and the idiot's head. I'm not sure what the belief in menstrual flow control deserves; possibly application of a foot to the fool's posterior.

#224 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 06:57 PM:

Fragano: I too grew up hearing that tampons "wreck your virginity". But the voluntary shut-off idea is new to me.

#225 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 07:32 PM:

Lee @216: Hm...what's that word...? "Iatrogenic?"

Here's best wishes for all speedy healing....

Fragano Ledgister @222: I'm also trying to figure out why, when I warn students that I will inflict condign punishments for plagiarism, inflict such punishments, and make no bones about it, students insist on committing that crime?

"Don't think of a blue horse"?

Lila: But the voluntary shut-off idea is new to me.

"But there's sphincters, right?"

I've heard of similar cluelessnes WRT lactation.

#226 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 08:33 PM:

AKICIML: When dentists in the USA put the letters "SC" after their names, what does it stand for? (I can't figure out a way to search for this without getting all the dentists in South Caroline.)

#227 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 10:44 PM:

Allen Beatty @226

While I have no idea what SC stands for, it should be possible to craft a search for "Dentists" and "SC" but not "South Carolina". You may have to go to the Advanced Search facility. If there isn't one, this is a good reason to be using another search engine.

J Homes.

#228 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2015, 11:08 PM:

@Fragano Ledgister no. 223: I can see it happening in the generation before mine (graduated late '80s). After all, there were boys' and girls' sex ed classes with separate information streams. Women were expected to be "discreet" about their bodily functions, including pregnancy, menstruation, and lactation, which practically speaking meant that the only people who knew about them were other women. Also, many men were socialized to think that learning about topics like that would give them unmanliness cooties. So they were thrown back on male analogies (menstruating = farting all the time, putting something in your crotch = getting off on it).

Actually I saw it in my own generation. I'd been married for 15 years before my husband learned that a speculum is not "um...a...cylinder?"

It's still scary that men with the power to legislate against women's access to basic health and hygiene could be this ignorant. Let's never do that type of mincing, secretive sex ed again.

#229 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 01:44 AM:

*sigh* After 14 hours at the hospital, and being seen by 2 different doctors... the stents are still in place. However, he's got a much more effective set of painkillers, and they identified a UTI which was causing some of the pain and he's on antibiotics for that, and he's got an appointment for Tuesday when the stents should actually go away. From where I sit, he's looking and sounding much more normal (at least, what's been the "new normal" for the last couple of months), and he thinks he'll be able to get some stuff done over the weekend.

And yes, Jacque, "iatrogenic" is a word that's been much on my mind since early September.

#230 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 08:37 AM:

Jenny Islander @228: Not even women knew about the basics of their own physiology, actually.

When I was 11 (so, 1987) in summer sleepaway camp, I got the nickname "Dr. Ruth" from the Counselors-In-Training (who were 18-19) for my cabin, because in their words I was "short and knew EVERYTHING about sex."

I didn't know EVERYTHING about sex, but I'd read several (aimed at adults) nonfiction reference works on the subject, including a rather extensive dictionary of terms, and my mom had sat me down and drawn diagrams of endometrial tissue and hormone cycles so I'd understand the mechanics of periods.

The 19-year-old CIT for my cabin literally thought "there are rocks up in there that God put there when Eve sinned, and when you're meant to get pregnant he takes the rocks out" was a valid explanation for how periods work.

At least, it was the most coherent one she'd ever gotten.

I ended up doing a little five-CIT intervention with diagrams and basic rundowns on what activities CAN and CAN'T make you pregnant and some basic sex safety tips in all the remaining free periods between then and when I had to get home.

This information was radical, mindblowing, and completely new to these young women, which shocked and appalled 11-yo me.

#231 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 09:17 AM:

@Elliot: 1987? That's . . . mind boggling. Rocks?

My 6th grade boys-only hour-long sex-ed session (1974, Gym teacher, one other male teacher, corny film strip) had a brief run-down on the nature of periods. I remember the teacher taking pains to not stigmatize menstruation. "Girls get periods, but boys get noctournal emissions, they're both messy but no big deal."

(Girls went to the main auditorium and saw a film.)

#232 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 09:56 AM:

@228, @230 & @231

Mom thought I would be shown "Those Films" at school so she never said word one to me about things like menstruation. Ever. Lucky for me, one of my older sisters had been through nursing school and left one of her text books at home. If it weren't for the illustrations in that book, and the fact that I would ready anything beginning at an early age...

As it was, I think I was more prepared for "The talk" than Mom was. That was something you just didn't chat about. It felt like a furtive, back alley exchange of information. Instead of getting a bag of heroin in exchange for money, I was given sanitary supplies in exchange for the assurance that I knew what was going on with my body.

At the time, I was impatient with what I now know was dithering on her part. Looking back - it's just surreal.

#233 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 11:36 AM:

The "rocks" hypothesis is memorialized in Louise Fitzhugh's "The Long Secret", sequel to "Harriet the Spy".

#234 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 11:55 AM:

Lila #224: Sex ed at my school was pretty general (including an all school lecture on the subject), but I took a class in human biology (and got an O-Level in the subject), which meant that I learnt about such matters as menstruation in clinical terms.

Plus, I was educated on the subject in my teens and twenties by female friends (emphasis on the 'friends') and by my first wife, who was not shy on the subject. In addition, when our children were born we went the natural childbirth route at the Childbearing Centre on the Upper East Side. Yes, we were unbearable overeducated young N'yorkers.

Also, I spent my teens on a farm. I've seen more live sex than anyone who doesn't direct porno films, and the other end of the process as well (and am equally awed whether the end product is a lamb, a calf, a piglet, a kid, or a child).

Jenny Islander #228: I agree with you. I'd only add that some of the people voting in favour of fear and ignorance are women, and they're voting in favour of keeping other women repressed in order to maintain what they see as benefits of kyriarchy, in particular access to powerful men, and restricting pleasure only to the 'worthy'.

#235 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 11:59 AM:

I don't see how the "because rocks" explanation wouldn't have raised more questions than it answered. Is the bleeding caused by the rocks? Is menstruation the rocks themselves coming out? Were the rocks damming the flow of blood until puberty, when God teleports the rocks away? Why is menstruation monthly rather than non-stop, in that case?

#236 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Elliott Mason @230: When I was 11 (so, 1987)

Sometime in the mid-late '60s, I had met my mother at the drug store where she worked as a bookkeeper. On our way home, she bought some stuff, and as we were standing at the check-out register, I looked at the pile of items, and saw amongst them a very enigmatic box. Now, being an avid watcher of TV, I think it is safe to say that I was well up on what was available to the American consumer of the day. I studied this box, and puzzled, and realized that, for the life of me, I had no clue what was in it. So I asked my mom.

She mumbled something unresponsive, and said she'd "tell me later." Which, being my mom, she never did.

When I was 11, we had "health class" in 6th grade (1969), and they went through all the anatomy and functioning of male and female physiology. Which was when I found out about periods, and a damn good thing, too, because it was probably three months later that mine started.* On the strength of that knowledge, I went to the teacher (as we had been instructed to do), and she took me off to the teacher's loo, and issued me my first pad (and belt—!)**

The health class had one conspicuous omission, though: they never covered how the sperm actually got from the male parts to the female parts, and I wasn't quite cluefull enough to make the, er, conceputal leap. (Moot point anyway, since no boys were ever interested in me.) That I had to learn over the back fence from a classmate. "Ew! He puts it where??"


* One of the most miserable*** weeks of my life, with all my nether parts feeling like they were going to burst through my skin for a solid eight days.****

** Thank all the ghods and 3M for the stick-on variety! I still have the scar on my tailbone from those old-style pads.

*** My brother once actually had the gall to ask me if menstrual cramps might just possibly be all in my head. This was in 1991. I was so gobsmacked, it didn't occur to me to suggest to him I demonstrate just how imaginary the pain was.

**** Which, of course, coincided with our class trip to Estes Park—with a class from whom I was already thoroughly isolated. Ghu bless my friend Glenda; she was the one classmate who spent any time with me. Uncharacteristically, my mom went, too, as a chaperone. Oh, that was such a comfort.

#237 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 02:45 PM:

Sarah: You're presuming the ability to ask questions, the repression of which (I can tell you from long, bitter personal experience*) also supresses the ability to think of questions.

* I had to manually retrofit curiosity, well into my adulthood.

#238 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Sarah E @235: Believe me, I asked all those. Apparently them being Magic God Rocks of Destiny solves all objections. Though she did start getting uncertain looks on her face as I chased her down the logical consequences. Hence why she was willing to join our intervention/study group.

#239 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 04:25 PM:

Someone needs to come up with a fantasy-story race for which the rocks thing is how things actually work.

Instead of Flow . . . Aggregate.

* * *
And again . . . rocks?

In this century?

The present is not easily distributed.

#240 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 05:10 PM:

I once wrote a fairly terrifying yet plausible where-babies-come-from hypothesis for a fantasy society. It involved a baby attempting to eat the mother from the inside, and the mother's body fighting it, and then blood. Semen fed the baby so it didn't eat the mother, and then baby. Better than rocks, but I'm really glad that's not how it actually works.

(I was the kind of clueless that didn't figure out the mechanics of sex for ages... and I read Auel until the books fell apart when I was ten. *No* idea. I was some kind of armored weapons-grade self-healing clueless.)

#241 ::: Nzinga ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 05:21 PM:

Allan @ 226

The best way with google is often the simplest:

Googling "What does "sc" mean" returns this result:

"The quick answer is: “S.C.” is an abbreviation for “Service Corporation.” As with other, “regular” corporations, the S.C. is a creature of state law. In Wisconsin, Service Corp.s’ are addressed in Subchapter XIX of Chapter 180 of the Wisconsin business corporation law.

The S.C. is sometimes used when a group of commonly licensed professionals (e.g. lawyers, accountants, doctors and other health care professionals, etc.) partner together to form a common business concern."

Also, googling "what is a service corporation" returns a lot info including the fact that "personal service corporation" seems to be the preferred term.

#242 ::: Nzinga ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 05:35 PM:

Diatryma @ 240

Except pregnancy kind of does work that way:

War in the womb: A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy:

"The cells of the human endometrium are tightly aligned, creating a fortress-like wall around the inside of the uterus. That barrier is packed with lethal immune cells. As far back as 1903, researchers observed embryos ‘invading’ and ‘digesting’ their way into the uterine lining. In 1914, R W Johnstone described the implantation zone as ‘the fighting line where the conflict between the maternal cells and the invading trophoderm takes place’. It was a battlefield ‘strewn with… the dead on both sides’."

#243 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 06:04 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #239:
Someone needs to come up with a fantasy-story race for which the rocks thing is how things actually work.

Instead of Flow . . . Aggregate.

Ow. I think there was already a discussion upthread of kidney stones.

#244 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 07:28 PM:

Diatryma, #240: armored weapons-grade self-healing clueless

I can think of a number of people who fit this description. You aren't any of them. (But I am SO stealing it for application where appropriate!)

Sarah, #243: Indeed there was.

#245 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 09:00 PM:

Oh, and @Elliot? Kudos to your mom for teaching you, and kudos for you for passing on your knowledge.

You can bet that those CITs won't be passing on the "rocks" theory to their kids.

Thus is ignorance beaten back.

#246 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 09:53 PM:

Nzinga #242: That article shows the classic problem of many evo-dev narratives: It fails to cover all the bases.

In particular, it neglects the basic point that if the fetus kills the mother, it dies too. In fact, our dependency on postpartum care is such that if the fetus even weakens the mother too much (unable to nurse or otherwise take care of the infant), the baby dies even if it survived to birth. Not to mention the long-term population-level issue of needing to replace the parents.... (Yeah, currently the advanced societies are getting a partial wash on that because we've massively overpopulated the planet, but that's comparing the millennial scale of history with the much longer scale of species survival.)

#247 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 10:38 PM:

222 Fragano

I've heard that a lot of students don't know what 'plagiarism' means. I wonder whether 'piracy' would be clearer, or if it would just make it sound cool.

#248 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2015, 11:14 PM:

Thanks, Nzinga. I did find the same link you quoted. No idea why the examples I noticed were all dentists, which led me down a blind alley of reading up about dentist credentials.

I think my approach to searching leans too heavily towards keywords and not enough on connector words.

#249 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2015, 12:46 AM:


Local woman has had her hair dyed purple. "I'm pleased they were able to keep a white streak," woman says.

#250 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2015, 01:30 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #247: I make the term clear in my syllabi. It's mentioned in the Student Handbook. The department passes out a booklet mentioning it (and we're revising the department handbook right now, and will sure as hell be mentioning it). On t'other hand, I'd be interested in calling it 'piracy' if I could hang the culprits from the yardarm pour encourager les autres. I've already complained to students about living in effete days when I'm forbidden from using the cat o' nine tails on such miscreants. For some reason they seem to think I'm not altogether serious.

#251 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2015, 02:28 PM:

I was ten years old, had been through one round of your-changing-body class, and read Jean M Auel's books until they literally disintegrated. And yet I had no idea that, for example, a woman's legs had to move for sex.

I may not be clueless now, but I certainly was then.

(I say this affectionately. Past Me had many good qualities and was kind of cute.)

#253 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2015, 08:30 PM:

I have a sewing question. I have a splendid coat which I found at a vintage store. The outside is a water-repellant nylon or somesuch, and the inside is a plush fake fur. It is warm and rain-proof, with a hood big enough to keep rain off of my glasses. Just the thing for someone who waits at bus stops in a cold climate. The hood is secured by a button on one side, and an elastic loop on the other. Alas, the elastic broke and raveled. It's too short to just re-attach. The elastic is rather sturdy, flat in profile, and 3mm wide.

The nearest sewing store is an hour's drive, so I'm searching online. At JoAnn Fabric, I find elastic that's flat, and wider than 3mm.

At other suppliers, I find 3mm round elastic cord that seems to be called "shock cord" and intended for sports/outdoor sorts of uses. I fear it may not be feasible to stitch it to fabric.

Any suggestions?

#254 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Shock cord would work. Rather than sew it to the garment, I'd pick open a bit of the seam in the right spot, knot each end of the elastic, poke the knots through to the inside and then sew the opening securely shut.

#255 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2015, 10:39 PM:

Violin-playing Folks: Is there any strong reason someone wishing to learn to play this instrument should NOT start on a 3/4 or 1/2 scale instrument, especially if their hands are small?

I know that learning small and then later changing up to full–scale would involve a significant retraining period. But is there a strong reason why it's bad to just play a smaller one?

#256 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2015, 11:35 PM:

Elliott @255:
It's totally standard to start on a smaller instrument and move up as you grow. I started on a 1/4-size many years ago, and I don't remember it being a problem; in fact, it was kind of exciting to graduate from one size to the next. (Maybe we put tape on the fingerboard again to get me used to where the notes were? Or maybe my ear was sufficiently trained by then to work it out?)

There are excellent reasons not to attempt to play a full-size instrument before your hands and arms are big enough. Most important is the avoidance of injury and bad habits from trying to reach notes that your hands are too small for. Relatedly, if you can't reach the notes, you'll play out of tune...

#257 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 01:03 AM:

Suzie @256: I'm 39, I don't think I've much more growing to do. :->

#258 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 04:37 AM:

David Harmon @252: Cartoon: And you thought your sex ed was bad.

Oh ghods, I haven't thought of this in years: senior year of high school, science survey class, taught by one of the (less clueful) science teachers, who was also a coach. To convey the shape of female reproductive organs, he stands in front of the class, hands raised above his shoulders. Fingers are splayed, pointing downwards: "Okay, imagine me without my head."

It can be hard to facepalm inconspicuously, when everybody in the class is doing it simultaneously.

#259 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 10:26 AM:

Elliott Mason: most double-bass players play a 3/4. All 3 of my kids play strings (2 violiins, 1 bass) and none of them had difficulty adjusting to changing sizes as they grew.

OTOH, if a 3/4 fits your hands well, why change?

#260 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 11:58 AM:

Janetl, for that kind of thing, I would probably use a flat hair tie. Snip it at the seam bit, do whatever you have to do to it, make sure it's soundly fastened to the hood, and you should be good. It's what I used for the button loop on my bag as well as the key loop. Plus they come in different colors.

#261 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Elliott @257: Pardon my leap to conclusions!

Is there a violin teacher you can consult in person about what size fits you? I'd recommend starting with the size you intend to play long-term.

My hands are smallish -- can't reach a tenth on the piano -- but I'm fine with a full-size violin. If the quality of the instrument is a consideration, you'll likely have more choices in full-size than in 3/4 or whatever.

#262 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 03:49 PM:

JanetI @253

Sewing cord to fabric is a very standard and old technique.

"cording", "couching", and "piping" are key jargon terms. Replacing a button loop can be complicated, however they're made.

I'm not sure how the elastic cord you've seen is made. I'll assume it has some sort of braided casing tube. One answer would be to fix one end by stitching through the tube to the mounting fabric, then make up the loop structure using ziz-zag stitching over the cord, Adjust the length by pulling the loop through the zig-zag, and fix the free end. That's the basic method for an elasticated gather.

Would it need knots at the ends? I'm not sure. I've seen Fray-check recommended at the ends.

It does look like a lot of stitching.

#263 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 08:10 PM:

AKICIML: What the hell just happened with the Organization for Transformative Work (the organization that sponsors Archive Of Our Own)? Apparently the board of directors just resigned?

(disclaimer: except for reading and posting on AO3, I know nothing at all about the organization or any of the people on the board)

#264 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 09:19 PM:

Lila, I don't quite understand it myself, but I can quote the explanation that was offered elsewhere. (Anonymously, so I can't attribute it usefully, except via link on request.) Namely:

"Apparently there were elections for two new board members, but also a third seat open that wasn't put up for election. Right after the elections were over (but before the new board members were officially in place and able to take part in votes) the current board voted to appoint the person who came last (out of six) in the election to that third empty seat. Everyone not on the board collectively went WTF and started talking about votes of no confidence, so the entire current board promptly flounced in a huff."

Every other explanation I can find of this event is either much longer (and thus harder for me to evaluate) or even more clearly written by someone too irate to pretend objectivity, so that's the best I have to go on so far.

#265 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2015, 09:19 PM:

Lila @263:
I've just done a bit of searching, and the best information I've found so far can be found here:

Short version as I understand it: There was an election where those currently in power would have come out behind. Those currently in power pulled some possibly legal but ethically questionable maneuvers to retain a 2/3 majority. They got called on it, tried to quash dissent with further less-than-ethical moves, and the outrage reached a point where they had to quit or let the whole organization tear itself apart.

#266 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 02:04 PM:

Open Threadiness: Could I ask for some media recommendations?

I've been listening to Hamilton more-or-less on repeat for the last ten days. It is lighting up the same circuits as giving speeches in my fictional governmental capacity does. I want more of this sort of thing.

What I think I'm looking for: Politics, as in the activity. High-level decision making. The intersection between principle and personality. Acquisition and use of power. The business of government, the compromises it involves, and the means by which it is done.

Media I can identify as having to some extent scratched this itch: Hamilton (massively). Les Miserables, Evita, Wicked. The bits of Strange and Norrell that are about manipulating the British government. The bits of the Temeraire books that are not the adventure story. The Cabinet scene in Torchwood: Children of Earth. Empress by Karen Miller. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Daughter/Servant/Mistress of the Empire, with my favourite parts being very strongly the Game of the Council sections over the romantic or military plots.

What should a person read, listen to, watch, to observe how the sausage is made? It's four months before my next chance to make speeches and high-level decisions. I can't listen to Hamilton on repeat for the next four months. The neighbours would get annoyed.

#267 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 02:16 PM:

duckbunny @266: I haven't gotten deep into it yet, but something that's on my "add to pile" list for exactly the same things you say you want is the The Weeds podcast.

#268 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 02:17 PM:

House of Cards?

#269 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 02:26 PM:

abi @268: Oh! The On the Media recap podcast for House of Cards Season 2 is AMAZING (and I say that as someone with no interest in watching the show).

Brooke Gladstone gets all kinds of jaw-droppingly amazing people to come and geek out with her about what it's like to make the sausage of US government.

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 06:40 PM:

duckbunny, #266: It's a bit simplified for the audience, but 1776 gives a decent overview of what the process of the American colonies declaring independence from Britain probably looked like. Even better, find the libretto, which was published as a book with the creators' notes at the end.

Also, The Goblin Emperor is pretty much ALL about politics, albeit in a fantasy setting.

The parts of S.M. Stirling's Changed World series which aren't focused on warfare have a lot of political discussion. Fair warning, you'll have to wade thru a fair amount of travel and battle scenes in the process, but Stirling's world-building is thorough.

#271 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 07:18 PM:

From what I've heard about The Goblin Emperor, it'll be my cup of tea.

1776 I'll definitely look into - simplified is probably about my speed, because I have only the very vaguest notion of how American independence came about. I went to some pretty poor schools and humanities were a low priority, so I have mostly studied the Romans, the Tudors, and the First World War, but only the bit with the trenches. We might have done the Civil War at some point, but I like the Civil War and so do documentary makers so I might just have watched a lot of things about it. The Empire, the colonies, and the various independence struggles ought to have been on the curriculum, but.

(If I could write music... scratch that. Give me twenty years to figure out how to compose an acceptable tune or team up with someone who can, and I'll write a musical about Cromwell and it will all be Lin-Manuel Miranda's fault.)

I spent much of last night lying awake rehearsing political speeches to the ceiling. Easter seems far too far away. Although since I have several major documents to write before then, I won't be saying this come February.

#272 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 08:30 PM:

Duckbunny @266 -- try Clancy, and begin with Patriot Games followed by Red Rabbit -- there's a lot of government maneuvering going on in addition to the derring-do. I'd say read up to Bear and Dragon, I abandoned the series when I found Clancy had had one of my favorite characters assassinated.

#273 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 09:01 PM:

Duckbunny @266 -- Since you said "media" and indicated what to read, watch, listen to, etc, I'll recommend The West Wing. It's a longish (7 seasons, 156 hour-long episodes) centered around the senior Presidential advisers who work in the west wing of the White House. While the show features a decent amount of non-political drama, almost all of it is tied back into how the White House operates to accomplish their political goals (which includes passing legislation, crisis management, running the country, and getting re-elected). It had a most impressive run for a political drama about how the sausage is made.

#274 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 09:52 PM:

I am watching the West Wing right now- I recommend it.

#275 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 10:50 PM:

Open-threaded pop TV -

I've been enjoying the episodes of Supergirl. It's has a vibe reminiscent of Lois and Clark, which I thought was a perfect blend of adventure and romantic comedy.

I think the best thing about the show is the James Olsen character. He's superbly portrayed by Mehcad Brooks.

The stories have been fun. I'm still not sure about the "Devil Wears Prada" characteristics of Cat Grant, but Callista Flockhart is an engaging actor. She's growing on me.

#276 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2015, 11:30 PM:

re 266 et seq.: Add me to the list of those recommending 1776 and Goblin Emperor. And in the case of the former, it's worth it just for the wordplay (much of it roughly verbatum from the subjects) and especially the double (and occasionally single) entendres. But make sure you get the restored full edition.

#277 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 01:35 AM:

I've been enjoying Supergirl as well.

#278 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 06:34 AM:

In The Loop, a black comedy film about politicians and generals not avoiding a slide into war, and the cultural clash between British and US government advisors?

(The same producer made The Thick of It, a British comedy series about a dysfunctional government department with lots of very creative swearing, and also Veep.)

#279 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 08:39 AM:

duckbunny @266, your examples are all fiction, but good memoir or biography might scratch the itch too.

#280 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Duckbunny@266: The "Expanse" sci-fi series (now becoming a SyFy TV series) has a continuing element of politics. (Also spaceship fights and alien-goo horror.)

Speaking of TV: Supergirl! I... almost like it. I want to like it. I don't think I'm going to keep watching it.

It's cheesy, but gods know I watch cheesier shows. I see what they're trying to put together, and it's a good idea. I guess it's just somewhere on the spectrum between "this doesn't quite work" and "this doesn't quite work for me."

I had the same "enh" reaction to Gotham. Contrariwise, iZombie, Killjoys, Arrow, and Librarians hooked me. I don't think there's a consistent set of parameters you can pull out about what I like in TV shows; it's up in the realm of intangibles.

The good news is, there's so much good TV on that I can pick and choose the shows that ring my chimes.

#281 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 12:41 PM:

Duckbunny #266: I'd second abi's suggestion of House of Cards, but add that the British miniseries is of, perhaps, greater interest than the American one.

The miniseries based on Geoffrey Archer's First Among Equals is also worth watching, if you discount the soapy element, since it does show the sausage being made. Sticking with British television, there was also A Very British Coup based on a novel by Chris Mullin, a journalist turned politician.

A film I used to show my students when I taught US government some years back was Bob Roberts, about a senate campaign. Another film I used was Warren Beatty's Bulworth.

Charlie Stross's Merchant Princes series does some interesting work on politics, with a hell of a lot of sausage-making on display, to come back to sf/fnal works.

#282 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 01:04 PM:

Fragano (281): That's Jeffrey Archer, not Geoffrey. /kneejerk pedantry

#283 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 01:17 PM:

At last, good news -- the stents are out! And since the larger kidney stone (the one they couldn't reach) appears to be firmly embedded, we have some breathing space before that needs to be dealt with.

Anybody going to be at Chambanacon this weekend?

#284 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 01:32 PM:

Lee, good news indeed. Wishing both of you a restful break before you have to deal with this again.

#285 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 04:51 PM:

Mary Aileen #282: Thanks!

#286 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 05:09 PM:

I can't sort out who wanted this.

Excellent general history of the US is:
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

If you want to know more about the founding of the country, I'd suggest the biography, which covers a lot of the events:
Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober

#287 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 10:34 PM:

OtterB @ 219: If you think he can handle complex text, try some Cherryh; Merchanter's Luck, Finity's End, and Tripoint deal with adolescents or near-adolescents without in any way being written as YA (AFAICT). I (like Sandy B.) liked Vatta's War, but felt that book 1 was weak (surprising considering Moon's experience by then); later books are better. Bujold's Miles books may go down well -- not necessarily in order, but the most recent few may need too much backstory to start with.

Fragano @ 222: Some people don't need drugs to be confused; see my answer to you in the Paris thread. And some people just don't believe they'll get caught, or think they can outface the charge when they are -- sort of the opposite of the Sidelight on engineers, some people think \everything/ is malleable. (Yes, I still remember the person who tried to tell me that 325 was 248 (arguing that his story was short enough for a contest).) One reads frequently of children whose parents never constrain them regardless of how badly they behave; what would such a one make of your stricture?

Lee @ 270: I would recommend 1776 only with major caveats, as it plays fast and loose with history (e.g., James Wilson as a coward); YMMV as to whether this invalidates the degree of realism that duckbunny is looking for.

AKICIML: I am trying to reconstruct a recipe for soft molasses "drop cakes" (cookies); unlike all the other file cards my mother left me, this one is a straight copy of the bland-looking Joy of Cooking recipe rather than the one sharpened by coffee and vinegar -- perhaps 1/4c and 1/2tsp respectively for a batch (2c flour? cinnamon/ginger/cloves, probably not nutmeg). Googling finds references that look good by summary but get 404'd; does anyone have a starting point?

#288 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 11:35 PM:

The molasses cookie recipe my mother had in her file had 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1 cup of molasses, but no coffee.

#289 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2015, 11:40 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 255 ...
Violin-playing Folks: Is there any strong reason someone wishing to learn to play this instrument should NOT start on a 3/4 or 1/2 scale instrument, especially if their hands are small?

Well -- for one, the full sized instrument almost always sounds less scrapy/tinny... and it's much easier to get a good range of instruments, bows, strings and other bits.

That said. IIRC, your hands are in the same size range as mine, or slightly larger, and a full sized violin isn't a problem for my hands[0].

The main literal and figurative pain that I'd expect is the process of training and stretching your hands into positions you'd describe as "WTH is your problem" if you weren't trying to make music.

[0] A viola, OTOH, is a stretch

#290 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 12:13 AM:

xeger @289: Yeah, my left-hand pinky and ring finger gave me a lot of that guff while I was learning to play guitar (on, initially, a 3/5 scale teeny that STILL felt insanely wide). I've got them broken in now, so there should be less insanity on any new instrument I actually do manage to pick up. :->

I also know how to keep a neutral wrist position and not f*&^ up my carpal tunnel while chording, which is a life skill.

#291 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 12:38 AM:

Fragano@222 et al:

A lot of teenagers get told a lot of crap about a lot of bad consequences that never happen. And getting caught cheating requires teachers to care, and to pay attention, and to take any heat that may result.

I remember a prof in one of my hardest grad-school classes giving out grades on the first homework, something to the effect of "Three students made the exact same mistakes: those are all zeroes. Two students handed in the homework late, just after I posted the answers: those are all zeroes." There was one other category of cheater that he hammered flat, and it was a really small class. And everyone in that class had presumably made it through four years of college without learning that lesson.

In that same class, instead of solving a homework problem by grinding it up with a computer (as recommended), I tried to fight it with math. I ended up with a horrible botch and he gave me very close to full marks. (The course was Heat Transfer: my first attempt was off by something like 24 orders of magnitude. I'm sure people have been wronger in the past, but not many and not often. You usually have to go to Stat Mech or Relativity to get those kinds of mistakes, I think.)

#292 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 03:24 AM:

CHip @287: wrt the soft molasses "drop cakes", what are the approximate target dimensions/consistency? Crumbly cake-like domes? chewy flat discs? If you already tried the JoC recipe, what were the most salient differences from what you wanted?

#293 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 03:27 AM:

duckbunny #266. Scalzi's Old Man's War, not so much the first book but increasingly thereafter.

J.R. Pournelle's Outies

In a weird way, Max Gladstone's 'Craft' sequence.

Quite a lot of Elizabeth Bear, eg, Carnival and the Scardown/Hammered/Worldwired trilogy.

#294 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 10:54 AM:

Unfavorite neologism of the year: A radio ad extolling the wonderfulness of a pre-Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving itself actually used the word 'Thanksgetting'. Bleargh!

Can't we have one holiday not corrupted by "Gimme!" culture? Please? Just one?

#295 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 11:10 AM:

I am looking forward to exactly one Black Friday sale, at a sporting goods store within walking distance. My youngest needs a new winter coat and gloves. I would rather buy quality than settle for Wal-Mart's offerings; if that means getting up at chicken o'clock to go stand in line on the one day a year when the prices are down at my level, OK.

#296 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 11:16 AM:

Jenny Islander (295): Black Friday sales do have their uses. But that's the next day. Turning Thanksgiving, as in giving thanks, into 'Thanksgetting' (Bleargh!) is just appalling.

#297 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 11:17 AM:

Happy 100th birthday to the General Theory of Relativity.

#298 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 11:17 AM:

Mary Aileen @294
I second your Bleargh!
I generally feel like it is a feature rather than a bug that the commercial steamroller usually runs right over Thanksgiving on its way to Christmas. Pass on by, nothing to see here, just ignore Thanksgiving (other than food and recipe discussion)

#299 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 01:37 PM:

I think the corruption of Thanksgiving is one of the reasons Halloween has taken over all of October, and refuses to give an inch of ground. We've lost the Thanksgiving border, but Halloween grows in power every year.

Once my generation became too old for trick-or-treating, Halloween became the holiday of community and camaraderie. Halloween is all about making things with your own hands, hosting and attending parties, human emotions, deep thoughts, genuine engagement with things outside the material plane, and enduring friendships.

With our nomadic lifestyles, Thanksgiving is often more about loss, distance, or obligation. It can involve weighing inflated expense and stress against familial connections. The history of Thanksgiving is dire and depressing, and the politics that come up when multiple generations are gathered around the table are starker and more potentially upsetting than ever before.

Thanksgiving won't get its old feeling back until the finances of young people change so that the yearly pilgrimage isn't a substantial burden, and/or until modern society fully embraces a mode of thanksgiving that doesn't include physical proximity with your family. It's at a very weird place culturally right now.

#300 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 02:27 PM:

duckbunny @ 266:

Yes Minister, and Yes Prime Minister, perhaps? (Disclaimer: they're still on my to watch list, but I've only ever heard good things.) Also seconding the recommendation of The Goblin Emperor.

Leah Miller @ 299:

I wish Halloween would complete its takeover of October. Unfortunately, the outlet mall near me decorates for Chistmas starting in the middle of October. They do up the facade to look like a giant Christmas present, and brag that they have the world's largest bow. Psst, guys, I don't think that's a category anyone bothers to compete in.

#301 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 02:27 PM:

Leah Miller: Thanksgiving won't get its old feeling back until

Doesn't help that Retail starts champing at the bit on freakin Labor Day to start the OMGHOLIDAYPLZGIVEUSURMONEYPROFITZZZZ!!!!!1!11!eleventy!! holiday advertizing blitz.

You know, with all the psych horsepower that goes into marketing, you'd think they would have had a class on extinction somewhere in there.

#302 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 02:49 PM:

Duckbunny @266: Keith S. got to 'Yes Minister' marginally before me, but it's excellent: both shrewd and funny. The books are also good, and in them there's some excellent play with a series of differently unreliable narrators.

#303 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 04:34 PM:

Sandy B #291: That's it exactly. The important thing, as I see it, is that students learn. Nothing frustrates me so much as when students actively resist learning or try to skate their way through without making the effort to master the material.

#304 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 05:00 PM:

May I make a short appeal for a local-to-me charity? If it's inappropriate, please delete this.

I volunteer at a food pantry, the Elmhurst Yorkfield Food Pantry, which is currently building a new, purpose-built food pantry to replace the terrible, tiny, not-very-accessible but better-than-nothing old cottage basement we used to operate out of. The new building is mostly built (hurray for getting rid of the Terrifying Stairs that shattered a volunteer’s leg!), but can still use money for fittings, operating costs, and being able to buy food for pennies on the dollar from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

If you have any available money in your charity budget, on-line contributions given at http:/ on "Giving Tuesday", December 1 (Central US time; for calibration purposes it's 4:00 pm here as I post this), will provide individuals a one-day opportunity to receive a match of $1 for each $2 of donation. The match is made possible by Thing 1-2-3 Foundation which is sponsoring EYFP’s #Giving Tuesday campaign.

Thank you.

#305 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 07:04 PM:

HLN: Area family sits down to watch first episode of new PBS show. Wonders aloud what a relentlessly peppy cat in a Robin Hood costume, a mouse behaving like a stereotypical dumb blonde, a hamster con artist in a Donald Trump wig, and a dog with problems distinguishing reality from fantasy have to do with learning about nature. Oh, and the One Reasonable Person, a rabbit with super-science powers.

Now they've wasted five minutes of the next segment trying to get to the Moon using a giant rubber band. And use the blueprints for a rocket as a rocket.

Oh and hey they recycled a classic Bugs Bunny gag using one of their own protagonists as the butt because why not.

Eight Deadly Words said and done.

#306 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 07:57 PM:

I third Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. The two main characters are (at the beginning of the series) a newly minted Cabinet Minister and his chief career bureaucrat, whose job is, in part, to show the new guy how things are run, and to keep him from changing things.

In the sequel show, the Minister we've been following gets promoted to Prime Minister, with his bureaucrat following.

Both shows were made in the 1980's, and were a favorite of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It's the only sit-com I've ever seen that used the word "Quango". One of the creators is quoted as saying "there was not a single scene set in the House of Commons because government does not take place in the House of Commons. Some politics and much theatre takes place there. Government happens in private. As in all public performances, the real work is done in rehearsal, behind closed doors. Then the public and the House are shown what the government wishes them to see."

#307 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 08:09 PM:

Politics, not in media, but in novels: Allan Drury did a really good job of verisimilitude in the novels starting with ADVISE AND CONSENT. I read them back in the 60s, and still remember just how convoluted he showed lawmaking to be. Sort of like Dorothy Dunnett without the language, history, and romance.

#308 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 09:15 PM:

I just heard 'Thanksgetting' used to describe the day before Thanksgiving, when everybody's getting out of town and trying to get home at the same time.

That was a Verizon ad. Not sure if they were having a sale or not. I never listen to the details.

#309 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2015, 09:24 PM:

Xopher (308): That was probably the same ad, since the one I semi-heard was from Verizon. I was trying very hard not to really listen, so I may have the details wrong.

It's still a horrible word.

#310 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 01:09 AM:

It's still a horrible word.

No disagreement from me on that point.

#311 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 09:57 AM:

Tom Whitmore@307: Drury's is a name I know from his two historical novels set in ancient Egypt - A God Against the Gods and Return to Thebes - and, as I remember, there's a fair amount of politicking in those, too, in among all the other... err... umm... details of the court of Akhenaten.

A surprising amount of the better milSF stuff, too, goes into politics and the reasons behind all the fighting. (Obviously, I'm not talking about the boring stuff where all civilians are cowards and all politicians are corrupt... but some milSF has pretty serious thinking behind it, and the political manoeuvring is sometimes more fun than the battle scenes.)

#312 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 10:19 AM:

Happy Thanksgiving!

#313 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 11:20 AM:

Randall made another world. Ignore the flashing red warning to "return to the game area". ;-)

#314 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 02:02 PM:

Thanks to all (esp. Carol, Jacque) for the suggestions! Sorry for the dead air, lot of panic to get everything done before I went. Landed in Denver, staying at a lovely tiny place. Already went to two things on people's lists - and so, again, thanks! Also: with the way the public transport works, I think I will take a trip to Boulder - just for the fun of it.

I think I may do nothing today, in the inimitable "what am I thankful for?" tradition. On that note: Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate in November.

duckbunny: One thing I just found, from a "side-eye" view of politics: "Absolute Power" (the BBC series, not the movie). A story not of politics per se, but of the manipulation behind the politics. One warning: the main characters are self-centered to the point of abusiveness; sometimes it bites them, but not often enough.

#315 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Buddha Buck @306: You've missed out the.*junior* civil servant, who constantly needs instructing in the ways of the world by his very senior boss (and whose POV in the books is that of the Head of the Civil Service reminiscing about his younger days.

#316 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 02:51 PM:

This is just to say
I love the distelfink
Bedecking the Google doodle

#317 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 04:03 PM:

It took me a perhaps shamefully long time to realize that this is xkcd, and the game area might be larger than I thought. I got stuck in the big black tower to the west, though.

A side note, does anyone know where I might find a cartoony/chibi-style drawing of Oliver Cromwell? Because I really need more embroidery projects to ignore.

#318 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 05:07 PM:

I couldn't figure out the XKCD game well enough to exit the initial game area.

#319 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 06:23 PM:

Use the "up" arrow key. A lot. And press it many times in rapid succession; don't just hold it down.

I liked the corridor peristalsis.

#320 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 08:40 PM:

XKCD: Also, there's at least one hidden passage to a secret area under the lava (there's a second hidden area there, but I couldn't get from there to anywhere visible). And wow, that starship is a whole realm unto itself.... I got 142 coins, but I doubt that's all of them.

#321 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 08:52 PM:

Indeed, someone early in the forums got 154, and they didn't even find the volcano lair... oh there, someone hit the source and says there are nuhaqerqfvkglavar.

#322 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 09:03 PM:

Also, hidden passages show as color #010101 instead of #000000, so you can see them by turning your contrast way up.

#323 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2015, 11:14 PM:

I didn't figure out how to tell how many coins I have. How do you know?

#324 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 03:49 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ #323:

By returning to the play area and depositing your coins (however, that resets ALL the coins, so...).

#325 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Tried that. It didn't say anything anywhere I could see (or hear) about how many coins I'd gotten.

#326 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 03:41 PM:

Tom @325: Just to the right of your starting position it says "Deposit coins here".

#327 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 03:59 PM:

Yes, I've been there and seen that. There just is no place where the number of coins shows up, in my system and under my observation. I've deposited coins there several times. No number.

#328 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 04:15 PM:

For me there's a pop-up, listing coins and time taken.

#329 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 04:29 PM:

I see the text with coins and time taken in yellow letters on the black area below the game, blinking up for a pretty short time (and I just gave up on exploring that starship, it's truly massive)

#330 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 05:24 PM:

I certainly don't see it using Firefox on a Mac.

#331 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 05:48 PM:

I didn't get either the coin counter or the red letters telling me to "return to game area" the first time I played. After I restarted my computer (for unrelated reasons) and ran the game in a new chrome window, I did. Weird.

#332 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 06:00 PM:

I never got red letters telling me to return to the game area, either. Ah well.

#333 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 08:46 PM:

Julie L @ 292: I haven't tried the JoC recipe -- wanted to start with something closer, if possible, because it has been a \long/ time since I had these. (IIRC, last made them for Disclave's International Cookie Conspiracy early in the 1980's.) Definitely domed (heaping teaspoonful dropped on sheet was 1.5-2" around and easily .5" high when cooked), not quite crumbly but break smoothly&easily rather than abruptly (i.e, not a snap -- rather like Archway's molasses cookies if you've seen those).
    I should probably just try a single batch (or even half-batch, vs the minimum-double batch my family always made) with added coffee & vinegar (and flour to balance, or reduce molasses a bit but use the strongest) and see what I get. It's not as if I shouldn't have the time, especially with the weather about to be too vile for outdoor projectile practice....

Leah Miller @ 299: IMO you're much too generous; ISTM that Halloween grew as marketroids saw its commercial potential. (cf Halloween looking to me in 1997 like it was taking over from Guy Fawkes in the UK, because Halloween is mostly about buying (costumes, candy, ...) instead of improvising a raggy-looking dummy and shilling for pennies).

#334 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 09:12 PM:

Before this week I had never heard of Janet Cardiff, or her installation "Forty Part Motet". I'm in California visiting my mother, and she wanted to go to a craft fair in Fort Mason, in north San Francisco. The installation is also, in its travels, in a gallery there.

It's a setting of Thomas Tallis's motet "Spem in Alium", which I know I've heard Xopher mention before. Forty singers make up the ensemble, and each of them is recorded separately and played back on a separate loudspeaker. You can sit in the middle and listen as though the chorus were all around you; or you can wander up to one speaker or another, and listen primarily to one voice.

It was...breathtaking. When the performance ended, everyone just stood silent for a few seconds. No other reaction seemed appropriate.

We stayed through it twice. We had time constraints, or I might have wanted to stay longer. (I could totally imagine myself spending a whole afternoon.)

The installation is in San Francisco through mid-January. I don't know where it's going after that, but I can say to anyone here that if you can get to it, do not miss it.

#335 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2015, 09:14 PM:

Open Thready: Peacocks are an invasive species. I don't have nearly the flamboyance to start the band "Peacock Invasion." Alas.

#336 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 01:35 AM:

Mycroft W @314: I'm in Boulder, if you need a local guide, and haven't been through town yet. I was asleep all day today, so (obvy) inaccessible. I'll try to keep an eye on my email, next two days.* (Phone is an unreliable medium for me.)

* See bottom of page linked to my name here.

#337 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 04:40 AM:

Diatryma @317: One (1) each chutney, by your command.

#338 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 04:58 AM:

David Goldfarb @334: That performance sounds magnificent. I heard a life performance of Spem in Alium last year. They had a magnificent round room, and the choir was distributed in 8 different directions in the room, with the audience at least partly inside the circle where the choir was.

But obviously your experience there depended heavily on where you were seated. Zooming in and out of the different voices as you described? What a great idea!

#339 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 11:20 AM:

I have a usage question.

I learned 'startle' as a transitive verb: He startled me or I was startled. More recently, I have been seeing it used intransitively: He startled; I would have phrased that as He started.

Is this a recent change? A regional difference? Did I mislearn it and misuse it for ~40 years?

#340 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Mary Aileen, my impression is that it's a recent change, which I've seen discussed elsewhere as well. I've actually noticed it happening to my own usage. When I write 'She started' in text, it feels unfinished; I'm so used to 'start' being used with an infinitive, that even knowing it's the correct (for "traditionally used in my dialect" values of "correct") usage, it reads as ambiguous and jarring to me. Whereas 'startle' feels like it might as well have a middle voice usage. (The oven baked the cake, the cake baked in the oven. The noise startled me, I startled at the noise.)

To what degree it's becoming acceptable in various places that want more formal language, or how wide-spread it is, I couldn't say. My experience with it is almost entirely in casual/amateur fiction writing.

#341 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 12:27 PM:

Fade Manley (340): Thanks. That fits my experience, except that I still find the intransitive usage very jarring. I definitely see it in fanfic, but I'm fairly sure I've seen it in professional fiction as well.

#342 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 12:28 PM:

Mary Aileen and Fade, I wonder if the adjectival use in biomedical literature ("startle response") has had an influence?

(On a not quite entirely unrelated note, one of my favorite medical terms, "Jumping Frenchmen of Maine", is the name of an abnormally strong startle response, and not, as it might appear, something that Captain Haddock is given to saying when startled.)

#343 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 02:36 PM:

Lila (342): Now I want to read a fic in which Captain Haddock exclaims "Jumping Frenchmen of Maine!"

#344 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 03:26 PM:

Mary Aileen: similarly, I long to hear Robin say "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, Batman!"

#345 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Fond of Herpestids ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 04:20 PM:

I have just received the following email, which I reproduce here for your information and (if you like) action:

Dear all
For mental health reasons I have been very quiet online for a long time. I apologise to those of you I've failed to keep in touch with via e-mail or Twitter. I'm not in a good way.
However, that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about you all. I have been learning to draw, which I am finding therapeutic; and I have a little something of an artistic nature for Advent and Christmas which I'd be glad to share with anyone who is interested. It's my Christmas card to you all. And Advent calendar, in a way.
If anyone would like to receive it, Abi has my e-mail address. Please let me know, preferably before Wednesday. Alternatively, I will be posting the images on Deviant Art, where I go by Ottokar von Luftschiff. I can handle that site, because people don't talk about much other than art, which isn't stressful.
Love and best wishes to all of you.

I am, in fact, happy to do this task. abi at this domain will work.

#346 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2015, 10:11 PM:

Well. The CPAP I got back in, I dunno… August? …has been working quite well. I'll find out how well tonight, when I sleep without it, having driven 270 miles and remembering everything but the leather bit that straps it to my face. I hope I'll get a decent night's sleep, because in the morning, I'm driving 270 miles back home, and Monday I go back to school.

School's going great, by the way. This art teacher is actually teaching me how to draw. It's the first real instruction I've gotten in the subject in three decades of (not constant) college.

#347 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 02:41 AM:

Leather? Huh. All of my masks have had cloth straps adjustable with Velcro.

I had one of those moments, a while ago this year, when you realize something that ought to have been obvious. (Why don't we have a word for that?) I wash the frontal cushion on my mask daily, so that skin oils don't interfere with the seal. I've had problems with water getting into parts of the mask that I can't easily dry, leading to mold growth. The realization I had? That the cushion is detachable. So now I take it off, and the water doesn't get into the places that don't dry.

Here's hoping one night of bad sleep doesn't do significant harm. (It probably won't.)

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 04:14 AM:

one of those moments, a while ago this year, when you realize something that ought to have been obvious. (Why don't we have a word for that?)

Where I come from, that's known as a BFO.*

* Blinding Flash of the Obvious

#349 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Am I the only one who gets a 404 on Jacque's link @337?

#350 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Reading on File770 about seed bombs and why they are (mostly) useless and (sometimes) harmful. Perhaps, The Martian in the movie theater will remind people of the importance of good soil--in two of the senses of that word.

There is only one place on the land I use that is compacted. Much of the rest has a very high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio from multiple years of trees and tree leaves.

Our local government has been putting swales into public areas (like road medians) in an attempt to control heavy rains and run off.

#351 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 12:47 PM:

LadyKay @ #350 -

A quote that's been going around on Facebook says "Humanity owes its existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains."

#352 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 02:21 PM:

No - I think that 'orig03' should be at the end, or at least not at the beginning, and it's borking the link.

#353 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 05:55 PM:

Idumea, I do hope that our resident herpestid is feeling much better soon.

#354 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 07:08 PM:

P J Evans @ #353

Ditto here, this moose has much affection/respect for the mongoose and hopes they're OK.

Is there anything a somewhat reprehensible ungulate can do to help?

#355 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 07:12 PM:

Bruce H. @349: 404?

I just checked; it's definitely there. It's not impossible there's a permissions issue, though....

It is a link directly to the jpg; try the deviantart page, and see if that works any better.

#356 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 07:46 PM:

Thank you, Jacque. That one worked for me.

#357 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2015, 10:57 PM:

#345 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Fond of Herpestids

Thank you for relaying that message from Mongoose. I am gently wishing for the best for that Herpestid.

#358 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 09:13 AM:

Not a great night sleeping, but I was able to get up in the morning and drive the fourth 320 mile trip in eight days. NY to MA, visit relatives (including two second cousins I'd never met), take Dad back to NY for a visit, then back to MA, sleep, and drive back.

I was able to have a meal or two in the former town of residence, including korma at Pintu's and (so sorely missed) tortellini soup and a braunschweiger on rye at the Celery Stalk. I played piano/violin duos with my aunt. I organized an excursion to the Pease Collection of Historic Instruments (where Geri Sullivan decided to purchase a handsome deco accordion). All in all, a very active vacation. Now I can go back and enjoy the rest of the semester, which is well nigh over, alas.

#359 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee #345: Pray convey my best wishes to Mongoose.

#360 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 01:21 PM:

Kip W re: CPAP

I sympathize with the inadvertent experiment in CPAP withdrawal. I've been using one since just before Worldcon and would have said my judgment was "probably helping a little, hard to tell, couldn't hurt". (My apnea was just barely into the "moderate" zone.) But I decided to do without it the night before my current NYC trip, so that I wouldn't have to deal with packing it in my early-morning fumbling toward the airport. Going without even for one night makes me more certain that it's useful.

#361 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 01:22 PM:

Kip W #358: Sounds like an excellent visit with family and old haunts! But now to rest....

#362 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 01:24 PM:

Another sending good wishes to Mongoose.

#363 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 05:15 PM:

Sending good wishes and some spoons (I happen to have a few extra this week) to Mongoose.

#364 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 05:21 PM:

Best wishes to our herpestid.

#365 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Also hoping that Mongoose does better soon. I miss our local herpestid.

#366 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 07:32 PM:

mongoose: may your burrow be cozy, your nights clear, and all the cobras slow and inattentive.

#367 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2015, 08:38 PM:

CHip, #333: I don't care what's driving the Halloween push; anything that prevents Christmas from colonizing October is fine with me. November is pretty much a lost cause already.

Best wishes for Mongoose here as well.

#368 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2015, 09:23 AM:

The 'leather' CPAP harness turns out to be some sort of man-made material with a friendly felt-like inner side. I am something of an amateur magician with a small audience. I excel at fooling myself, sometimes for years.

Was it mentioned here that the Higgins Armory in Worcester, Massachusetts, has closed? It was a lovely building that looked like riveted steel on the outside, and I recall seeing it with our host and hostess on one occasion. They had some cool armaments, including a number of suits of armor. Sounds like I'm working up to a pun, but you'll have to make your own.

#369 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Mongoose! Best wishes to you are speeding your way. They include wishes for strength, spoons, and fun.

#370 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2015, 10:15 PM:

Adding best wishes for Mongoose, and hopes that any buses ridden will not catch fire.

#371 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 09:29 AM:

War on People roundup,
you win some, you lose some" edition:
Alabama plays Planned Parenthood's legal fees over attempt to defund them.... while Colorado cops defend PP against a terrorist.

Back in Alabama, A group of police whistleblowers are trying again to get action (after 15 years) on the planting of drugs on young black men by Neoconfederate cops.

More recently, Chicago Police destroy evidence in execution of 17-year-old, but the State Attorney General is calling for a Federal investigation. And partly in response to the shooting, a teenage videoblogger has renounced conservativism, apparently having realized that he's got the wrong end of the (boom-)stick.

#372 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 10:31 AM:

Best wishes for Mongoose.

Increasingly suspecting that, for various reasons, which might be related to not formally diagnosed executive dysfunction, I am simply not suited at this time to 40 hr/wk, 50 wk/yr work. But it is more stressful to be broke than it is to go in to an office for 8 hours a day, so any alternative would have to be relatively-high-paying part-time. Seems likely these are highly sought-after work conditions for a lot of people, though, and not easy to get.

I was hoping to get a bit of advice from the collective wisdom. I have computer and programming skills. Is consulting or contract sysadminning a viable solution, if I have the skills and knowledge? How brilliant do I actually need to be to be a successful niche consultant? Friends elsewhere advise that for contract sysadminning I will want to learn Windows Server (possibly getting a certification?), which makes some sense. But there is so much to learn, it is kind of overwhelming.

Alternately, is it normal to feel overwhelmed by the energy demands of a full-time job, and will I get used to it?

#373 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 10:38 AM:

I think this goes here, but it might provide some fodder for the "I see you like science fiction" thread.

People who don't usually read Whatever might want to have a quick look this week-
Scalzi's doing his annual posts where authors, craftspeople, and fans can suggest things that people might want to buy for winter gifting opportunities; so far there've been the trad-published and self-published writers' threads, today will be crafts, music, etc, and tomorrow a chance for fans of anything to enthuse about what they like.

I've bought a couple of books and got kindle samples of a couple more from the author threads (specifically: Linesman by S.K. Dunstall, a short story by Patricia Bowne, Hanzai Japan (short sff crime stories from Hakaisoru), Planetfall by Emma Newman- I think I'd heard about this one in other places as well, but the blurb on Whatever reminded me to look it up properly- Derelict by LJ Cohen, and Santuario by LJ Cohen.)
Also Rosemary Kirstein pointed out that there's a sale on the ebook of The Steerswoman, if you've been meaning to get hold of that.

#374 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 10:40 AM:

ohnosecond: Santuario by G.B. Gordon.

#376 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Fond of Herpestids ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 12:53 PM:

Dear people,

I have passed your good wishes on to our Mongoose. I hope they find them of use.

#377 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 01:28 PM:

Kip W @ 358

Somehow, I'd missed the geographical connection. Cross the river and leave off the directional indicator to get to the town where I live.

#378 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 02:58 PM:

SamChevre, it was nice to drive through the old place to see what was still there. The second time through I got off the Pike at the town of buggy whips and drove on, I guess, 20. I didn't manage to eat at the White Hut. Good to see that the Big letters, particularly E and Y, still have their place there, too.

#379 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 05:35 PM:

HLN: Area retiree wants to know why the heck they can't put screens on the intakes of jet engines.
It's a long story. I had been going thru a bad mood about my life story, so by way of distraction I looked into one of my favorite odds-and-ends blogs, and it linked to a video of huge chunks of ice falling off a tower, filmed by people safe under a roof, and that video site in turn linked to one of a demonstration of how the jet wind or whatever you call it from a 747 can send [empty] cars and buses flying like candy wrappers--so far so good, I'm a bit of a science nut--but there were thumbnails of still others, and one of them had a title (apparently by an ESL writer) about a man being killed at an airport in Abu Dhabi and you saw a little image of what looked like a jet engine, you know, round and white and many-bladed--except this one was crimson.
No I don't want to watch that one, even after the fact, I said to myself; I had once read of something of the sort happening somewhere but I didn't know it had happened more than once. So I got my eyeballs off line and went off to the library to check on the river, but when I came back I had to check the email and that was when the provider's home page told me there'd been another mass shooting.
I read that thing you linked to from '05 in the Not Paris post, but it hasn't worked yet. Also talked to a friend and that helped a little but not much.
I guess it's another reason I haven't been on a plane in 37 years. But I'm a bit rattled right now, in ways I can't even explain...

#380 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 08:23 PM:

Angiportus @379:

People ask that a lot, as you'd think that screens would be an easy solution to engine ingestion of birds, debris, or the occasional person.

The trouble is that screens strong enough to do good would be heavy and block a significant amount of airflow, all of which cut down on the efficiency of the plane.

#381 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 09:13 PM:

Also, given the pressures involved -- you might just strain the offending object through the screen (if the screen wires are strong enough and thin enough). Not pleasant for anyone involved.

#382 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2015, 11:55 PM:

estelendur @372: It's definitely possible to make a living as a contract sysadmin. I know more work-from-home programmers than sysadmins, but mostly because I'm a programmer and generally know more programmers than sysadmins. Because of the sorts of places I've worked, more of the sysadmins I know work with Linux than with Windows servers, so I don't know much about the Microsoft side of things.

The most common path seems to be to work on-site at a company, and then either move away, or stay behind when the company relocates, but I also know people who've gotten remote jobs initially. Contracting is a little harder, though I know people making a go of that, too.

Some places to look:

My own employer,, has a bunch of remote programmers, a few of whom are towards the DevOps or sysadmin side of things. Despite that, we don't yet have a way to search for remote jobs on our site, though we've talked about adding that feature.

If you want to describe your background (what sort of sysadmining you've done, whether you know a little programming or web design, etc.), I might be able to give more pointers, either here or via email (firstnamelastname at the mail service of Google).

#383 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 12:28 AM:

Here's wishing Mongoose a sumptuous cobra feast.

estelendur @372: will I get used to it?

I never have. I did a 40hrs/wk for a couple of years at my previous job. One of the few times in my life I actually felt like I had "enough" money. But in addition to being exhausting, I never had any time. It was awful.

Blessedly, my current job came out of the gate defined as 32hrs/wk. Which is still a but much; I prefer 30hrs/wk. The downside, of course, is that I'm chronically broke.

Tom Whitmore: the slo mo guys

#384 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 12:28 AM:

"Slow Mo" :-\

#385 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 02:39 AM:

estelendur, #372: is it normal to feel overwhelmed by the energy demands of a full-time job, and will I get used to it?

If you haven't been working full-time -- and especially if you never have -- then I can see how it would feel overwhelming. I spent 20 years doing 8-to-5 and didn't have any problems with it. But then I moved down here and changed my lifestyle, and when I got into a show a few years back that was effectively a "day job" for 10 days, it flat wore me out. I would get home too exhausted to do anything besides eat, check e-mail, and sleep. Now, part of that may have been because I'm an introvert and I was having to be "on" all day long (my previous full-time work was programming and involved a lot of time alone in my office), but I am convinced that some of it was just having gotten out of the habit of being a full-time employee.

#386 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 04:26 AM:

#379, screens on engines:

(Note: Roadkill, kind of disgusting.)

My dad once hit a pigeon with our old Volvo. Got out, couldn't find anything but feathers, concluded it must have got away. Went to clean up later, took off the radiator grill, discovered he had been wrong.

Given the extent to which jet engine > moving car, I have to concur with Tom Whitmore @381.

#387 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 04:51 AM:

#379 see also "Daunt stopper" from early jet engine development.

#388 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 07:03 AM:

Also, a grill would tend to, and this is one of my favorite technical verbs, turbulate the incoming air. There are times you want turbulence, but this isn't one of them.

#389 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 10:26 AM:

Jeremy Leader @382: I'm not even necessarily looking for remote work, as long as I don't have to move; I do fine in an office, I just don't do fine at 36-40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. Hence wondering about contracting, where potentially I can be on site for X much more time working with it before I would be comfortable using it for anything important; I've touched enough Java, Python, and Scheme to be reasonably comfortable with the syntax but not enough to have any idea what good practices in those languages are.

I run Debian testing on one of my laptops and do a little bit of server log-diving at work. My workstation runs Windows because of the dialect of Smalltalk we use (Dolphin), which is Windows-only. While I don't have much sysadmin experience as such, I'm partly looking for pointers on what is good to learn or vital to know, so that I can learn it. :P

Jacque @383: My current job asks me to do 35-40 hrs/wk, which is much better than previous job (42.5 hrs/wk, and horrible for other reasons) but still more sustained brain power than I actually have in me. But I stay in the office that long anyway, because... money. (I'm sort of dramatically underpaid for a software developer, but the working conditions are so easy on my psyche that I'm gonna stick it out until the company wouldn't be actively screwed if I quit.) But yeah.... never having any time, that is me.

Lee @385: I've been working full-time for about a year and a half, which feels like it ought to have been long enough to get used to it. But maybe not.

#390 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 10:40 AM:

estelendur @372: If you go independent, you will need to spend time on marketing (finding clients), billing and taxes. Also you will need to cover your own social security, health insurance and retirement. I have relatives who are self-employed. It works for them. I seem to be more suited to working at a company (although not literally in a suit). I hope you find what works for you.

#391 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 01:40 PM:

estelendur -- check out JobsUSA, the federal government is always looking for IT people.

#392 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 04:42 PM:

Any recommendations for sf or mysteries that include somewhat about clothes-making pre-1200?

I'm thinking about a gift for a friend.

Offhand, all I can think of is The Dreamweavers by Margaret Ball and The Spellcoats by Dianna Wynne Jones.

#393 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 07:23 PM:

Thanks to the several who answered my engineering question above. I can't say I feel much better about it, but I'm a tiny bit less ignorant I guess.

#394 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 392

My wife's suggestions:
Many of the Brother Cadfael mysteries (England/Wales, 1100's)

Too late but maybe of interest:
The Mantlemass Chronicles (just after the War of the Roses)

I am planning a day trip to NYC on Saturday to take my 5-year-old to the Bronx Zoo, coming in by train. What else should I consider doing?

#395 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 07:35 PM:

Nancy @392 --

If you haven't already considered it: Hild by Nicola Griffith. Takes place in seventh-century Britain, includes a great deal of domestic detail including period spinning, weaving, sewing, etc.

#396 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 07:51 PM:

Here's my experience. I spent a couple years doing contract software development, and you indeed want to structure your rates such that you get roughly a full year's worth of salaried pay if you work a half year as a contractor. Such rates are considered reasonable, and that's the good part. Another minor benefit is that certain things you'd spend money on anyway - home computer purchase or upgrades, possibly internet connectivity, etc. - become deductible business expenses.

While on one level all of that is kind of nice, my experience was that it introduced a whole new level and kind of stress. I was spending the other six months per year trying one way or another to line up that half year's work, because if I didn't get that lined up somehow, it seemed likely it wasn't going to happen. In essence it's a sales job, and I found that a lot harder than programming. I knew that; I'd willingly signed up for it; but it was stressful nonetheless. Further, I was in fact having a general sense of executive dysfunction at the time and this made for a really bad combination. (Hours spent replaying Half-Life 2, randomly browsing the web, etc. do not result in contract jobs magically appearing.) You also kind of need to understand at least the general principles of business and bookkeeping/accounting, even if you are paying a bookkeeper, so you can operate as an S Corporation or proprietorship, keep your books correctly, dish out the appropriate chunk of your income to yourself while filing all the right taxes, etc. etc. I do understand those and have a very good sense of what I should and shouldn't do as a business owner, but even so that definitely creates some extra work with the minor associated stress of keeping on top of all that.

After a couple years of that, one of my contract customers wanted me to come on full time. Going back to regular employment meant a slight drop in net annual pay - which was made up by raises and bonuses within a couple years - and a pretty strong reduction in my general stress level.

Your mileage may vary, as they say.

#397 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 08:42 PM:

I'm retired now, but but here's some of what I went through.

If you are a fully independent contractor, yeah, you have to do all the administrative crap - bill them, pay estimated taxes, etc.

If you go through an agency, you often have a choice of doing W2 where the agency deducts taxes and FICA or of going 1099, where you handle it. Either way, the agency gets its cut. You often won't know what the bill rate that the agency is charging.

When I last did a contract, it was W2, and I got $50/hour. When I did a totally independent gig before that, I bill $80/hour. It all depends on the market and how hot your skill level is. I known a few independents with really hot stuff who billed $200/hour.

Here's something I found:

#398 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 10:05 PM:

I am thinking--not that idly about rewriting The Martian at a lower reading level, maybe much lower. At about the Stage 4 Easy Reader level. (Just starting paragraphs). My nephews are fascinated by Mars.

If it is going to be done by a professional, I wouldn't do it. But how do I find that out?

#399 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2015, 10:30 PM:

@Nancy Lebovitz no. 392: There are lots of details about textile production, conservation, etc., scattered throughout the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters, which is set in 11th-century England and Wales. In particular you might want to look at The Sanctuary Sparrow, and One Corpse Too Many, in which items of clothing provide vital leads.

#400 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 12:47 AM:

LadyKay @ 398:

By completely amazing coincidence, today I ran across an announcement by Andy Weir that he's adapting The Martian for school-aged kids.

Also, I finished reading The Martian today and it was amazing. I hope the movie's just as good. Judging by comments in the previous open thread, it should be.

#401 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 06:56 PM:

KeithS #400: My favorite line from the comments: "I told my 13 year old that he could use all the swear words he wanted the next time he was stranded on Mars." Sounds about right....

But I think this is not going as far back as LadyKay was considering.

#402 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 11:07 PM:

Saw The Good Dinosaur this afternoon.

I was astonished. I didn't know Pixar had it in 'em.

It was terrible. Oh, it was gorgeous to look at. But it seems like they totally forgot their commitment to Story. The script was a bizarre pastiche of the most hackneyed '50s and '60s movie tropes—except for the bits that made no sense at all.


I suppose it was inevitable. :-(

#403 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 11:10 PM:

I too loved that swearing comment.

#404 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 11:10 PM:

Jacque: that's because it was a Disney movie, not a Pixar movie.

#405 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2015, 11:36 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 392 ...
Any recommendations for sf or mysteries that include somewhat about clothes-making pre-1200?

Hm... that puts the Dame Frevisse books out of era (they start in 1431) -- likewise the various books written by Candace Robb, set in the 13th century.

A number of the books written by Rosemary Sutcliffe are probably era-appropriate (but they're generally considered to be YA).

IIRC there's a bit in the Doomsday Book, depending on the extent to which 'clothes making' needs to be involved.

The Druid's Tune is again YA, but does have some memorable (although I can't speak to accuracy) descriptions of clothing and creating thereof.

The bits I've mentioned are specifically european -- is that where you'd be wanting to look?

#406 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 12:48 AM:

I'd read that "The Good Dinosaur" was tossed around and rewritten a few times. Early impression was that it was a kiddie entry along the lines of "Cars." That one had pretty scenery and a nothing plot too . . .

#407 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 01:03 AM:

Elliott Mason @404: Then why does the Pixar logo appear at 0:17 of the trailer?

#408 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 07:27 AM:

Found something cool:
A cool popular presentation of bacterial/unicellular types. Clicking on the cartoon version gets you a dossier (with a real image of the critter). The "bad" bugs get cartoons with teeth. ;-)

#409 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 10:45 AM:

Pixar has made commercial duds before. Disney Animation has made some winners. I'm not worried about either.

I still need to watch "Inside Out" again. That film was an achievement. It wasn't made to sell toys.

#410 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 10:49 AM:

Jacque @407: Since the merger what logo is on it is not descriptive of what quality of movie it is.

Frozen was a Pixar movie, really. The Good Dinosaur is classic Disney, made in all the broken ways Disney has always made movies.

#411 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 11:51 AM:

Elliott, #410: made in all the broken ways Disney has always made movies

That's an argument I haven't heard before. Could you expand on it a bit?

#412 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Lee: What was revolutionary about Pixar qua Pixar, Pixar in its heydey, and how Brad likes to make movies (which is now true of some "Disney" productions since he's head of animation there) is a creative team gets built and stays iwth the movie, and gets to workshop it out and really make it good, with skilled, empathetic curation from the higher-ups (but without sticking their oars in to micromanage). Each working group is a ministudio with creative control, but with full access to the expertise and resources of the whole studio.

In the Pixar Method, each movie is a love project that has the love of everyone working on it poured into it for five straight years.

At Disney the movies are made in tranches and basically everyone works on everything in tiny broken segments, disconnected from anyone else's. Management gives notes, changes scripts, and generally dumbs the whole process down to what they imagine a 'normal' audience in 'middle America' will want to spend money on.

This is basically how all Hollywood movies are made, for the most part, in the big studios, and it's how Disney has long worked. They don't take risks. They don't privilege story and character over ... anything else.

#413 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 12:33 PM:

@Nancy Lebovitz no. 492: Just reread The Rose Rent. That one features a weaving business.

#414 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 03:22 PM:

Elliott Mason @410: Since the merger what logo is on it is not descriptive of what quality of movie it is.

I would say no longer descriptive. Otherwise, yours is a true statement. They held it together pretty well while Jobs* was still around to glare at the Disney execs. Since then, um, somewhat less so.

Your @412 makes me even more afraid for SW:TFA.** The low-altitude B-52 squadron level of industry "buzz" leaves me rather less than optimistic about its quality. Oh, sure, it'll be pretty; but that's the easy part these days.

* Whatever else there is to be said about the man, he was able to make quality happen.

** I don't know what to think about Disney's hoovering up of all of our cultural assets, except to be very afraid, in a hard to pin down*** sort of way.

*** I mean, aside from its not-so-subtle attempts to monopolize cultural vision,**** and all.

**** There's a better term*^5 for what I mean, but I'm out of brain.

*^5 "Cultural Imperialism"? "Cultural plunder"?

#415 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 05:40 PM:

Jessica Jones, on the other hand ... sweet holy Creation—!

How can something be so hilarious—and simultaneously make you want to just crawl out of your skin?—! Somebody really knows their stalkers.

And David Tennant. Wow. I mean, just. wow.

#416 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 07:44 PM:

#400 ::: KeithS :
I looked carefully at that link. And then I wrote a post asking about a younger version, which would actually be a group of stories because the attention span doesn't stay at that age.

Oh well, I may have to build it if I want it.

#417 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 09:51 PM:

WRT Jessica Jones: Xvytenir vf jub Puneyvr K jbhyq unir tebja hc gb or vs gur Gunfvnaf unqa'g pnhtug hc jvgu uvz.

#418 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 10:19 PM:

I just got back from a relatively-shallow dive into TV Tropes. They were discussing "Arc Words" (e.g. "From Beneath You It Devours" or "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World" ) and they mentioned Gossip Girl: "Three words. Eight letters. Say them and I'm yours."

I started off with the obvious "Is that it?" and then I thought, "What show would that go with?" So here's the challenge. Pick three words, eight letters, and a show.

ostentatiously drops a gauntlet, exits

#419 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 10:54 PM:

I'll go with a movie.

"It's a trap!"

Return of the Jedi

#420 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 10:55 PM:

Agents of SHIELD, an early series: Is Ward good?

#421 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 10:56 PM:

Oops, too quick and therefore too long. "Is Ward us?"works better.

#422 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2015, 11:32 PM:

"Let me he'p." from STA' TREK.

#423 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 12:58 AM:

"Wut U want?" -- Bab'lin 5

#424 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 12:58 PM:

"Make it so" ST:TNG

#425 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 01:43 PM:

Unfortunately, "boldly go" is only two words.

#426 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 02:15 PM:

"Wesen r us" Grimm.

#427 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 02:23 PM:

"Beam me up!"

#428 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 02:44 PM:

I'd just like to say that I am SICK of having my grammatical editing second-guessed by people who don't know an emdash from a crowbar.

Sigh. I need a new job.

#429 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Alternatively for the empire strikes back: "I'm your pa"

#430 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 04:42 PM:

Xopher: A project for your (no doubt copious) free time: Find or write explanations for the points in question (a la Jon Singer's wonderful essays—if the links worked, Jon ::looks sternly over glasses::), boil them down to a paragraph or two. Maybe add droll clip-art, a la Ashleigh Brilliant.

Print these onto 3x5 cards, and keep nearby to hand out whenever one of your back-seat copy editors annoys you.

Then publish (and/or sell!) them online, for all your copy editor friends to use and enjoy, too!

#431 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 05:10 PM:

"So it goes." —Slaughterhouse-Five

"Let's do it!" —Animal House

#432 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 06:16 PM:

I have spent the weekend marking term papers. I reached the depth of despair when I read this less-than-brilliant offering:

Although the façade of them seeming to share the power to the people both the systems are riddled with and economic and political structures that calls for the government to be in control of all the capital and industry in the country in an effort to remove the economic equality.

I have managed to keep my resolution to stay away from the hard stuff until the final exams are completed, but it is truly difficult so to do.

#433 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 07:15 PM:

I had an almost-full container of ricotta cheese left over from making Thanksgiving stuff. I asked my mother if she had any ideas. Turns out that my grandparent's restaurant, Fugazzi's, served a sort of cheesecake pie.

I have two left over graham cracker pie shelfs left over as well, so now I have two of the pies baking.

"I used to have a knock your socks off ricotta pie recipe using grated orange rind, eggs and a frozen bottom crust; our waiter, Paul, in Fugazzi's used to make it and the customers loved it. Found Lydia's recipe!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 large pie crust ....10 inch
2 tbsp. grated orange peel
3 cups Ricotta
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
aisins, if desired

Defrost pie crust.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients gently and well.

Pour into crust; bake 50-60 minutes.

An inserted knife should come outclean when it's done.

PS: I plump the raisins up by simmering in a small amount of water an cinnamon.

#434 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 07:28 PM:

I decided I wanted to make tacos de chorizo at home. I've made it twice now, and enjoyed both times.

The first time, I had some cubed chorizo, some onion, soft corn tortillas, and salsa that incorporated some amount of pico de gallo. Sort of a compromise. I chopped the onion fine and sauteed it till it started to turn, then added the chorizo, and when that was cooked enough, I had supper. Simple and effective.

The second time, I had chorizo in sausage skins, which I disrobed and cut up. I finely chopped onion and some poblano pepper and sauteed those like the first time. When it was sufficiently cooked, I put in a bit of chopped-up chilpotle in spicy adobo sauce (this came in a can—Goya—but I had to chop it myself, using one pepper, about a teaspoon) and stirred, then I added onion that hadn't been sauteed, and had it in the soft tacos with some salsa verde (also Goya, I seem to recall). I crumbled some queso fresco over it. That was good, too.

Next time, I'll use the same ingredients as the second time. Since the chorizo wants to stay intact and not crumble, I might run it through a cheese grater next time, to try and get the texture I've always liked.

I was guided by a recipe I found online, though the final decisions were mine.

#435 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 08:23 PM:

Fragano, #432: Whoa. That's not even into "yes, that's a sentence" territory.

#436 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 08:49 PM:

@everyone playing my game: Delightful!

... "I am Groot."

#437 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2015, 11:19 PM:

"He is dead." -- Game of Thrones

#438 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 12:11 AM:

"No, he's not" -- Game of Thrones

#439 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 12:54 AM:

Well, for one particular value of "he", maybe not. But there are at least a dozen others I could mention for which he most sincerely is.

#440 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:29 AM:

I and Thou.
The Left Hand of Darkness

#441 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:33 AM:

By the way, Patrick, Teresa and I were discussing the text in the original post (which I had forgotten was there! Sorry!). In particular, this: memory of his good service done to the earl in raising the siege of the Welsh-men, who had beset the earl in his castle of Rothelent in Flintshire; for the constable having got a promiscuous rabble of such like persons together, and marching towards the said castle, the Welsh, supposing a great army to be coming, raised their siege and fled. [...] that rabble consisted of players, fidlers, and shoe-makers.

I pointed out that this is the plot of at least two movies: A Bug's Life and Galaxy Quest (It was Martin that first pointed out that those two have the same plot.)

Except maybe the shoe-makers stayed home for the movie versions. And, um, made shoes?

#442 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 03:44 AM:

I don't know if this will add to or subtract from Fragano's despair, but I'm pleased to say that I'm giving my mother her first ever academic citation in the term paper I'm currently writing. I am crediting her as "Ann (Lastname), cozy mystery enthusiast".

This is the for the same professor for whom I cited a plastic bag last summer, so I think it will be all right.

I hope.

#443 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 04:28 AM:

HLN: Area man visits Finland; goes further north than ever in his life before (Jyvaskyla); enjoys academic business, but fazed by darkness at 9 am; returns to Helsinki; wakes in time for sunrise; and says 'thank goodness it gets light at a reasonable time down here'.

#444 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 07:38 AM:

I pointed out that this is the plot of at least two movies: A Bug's Life and Galaxy Quest

Also, Seven Samurai.

#445 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 08:37 AM:

Abi, it's been nearly thirty years since I saw it, but isn't that also the plot of "Three Amigos"? I remember something about Our Theatrical Heroes rallying a village to make costumes to imply an army, in order to dissuade attack. Unless I'm thinking of a different movie....

#446 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 09:52 AM:

Also, Seven Samurai.
Though it's an influence, I don't remember that trickery about the number or nature of the warriors appears in that one (other than Mifune's character claiming to be a samurai).

#447 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 10:04 AM:

Every year after doing Nutcracker I say I'm going to take the Monday after the show off. And every following year, I don't take the Monday after the show off. I need tea. Lots of tea. Also, to remember to take the Monday after the show off.

Xopher Halftongue @ 428:

On the other hand, I got a document from a vendor to review that was so bad that halfway through I gave up and left a note in the margin that basically said, "get an editor". On the front I left a rather large paragraph dryly detailing the document's numerous deficiencies. My boss loved it. Some of the sentences in it were nearly as bad as those produced by some of Fragano's students.

Speaking of which...

Fragano Ledgister @ 432:

At least they spelled façade correctly?

#448 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 10:28 AM:

I saw Spotlight (a movie about the team of journalists at the Boston Globe who revealed the pedophile priest scandal) last night. It was excellent.

#450 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 01:08 PM:

Actually, I had to rename that file, so that link won't work. Try this.

#451 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 01:15 PM:

I wanted to remind you that, on December 14, I'll be shutting down my "Making Light and Faces" photo gallery. No point in my paying LJ for a blog i don't use anymore beyond the basic free stuff so off my pics will go. The gallery can be found HERE.

#452 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 01:15 PM:

I wanted to remind you that, on December 14, I'll be shutting down my "Making Light and Faces" photo gallery. No point in my paying LJ for a blog i don't use anymore beyond the basic free stuff so off my pics will go. The gallery can be found HERE.

#453 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 01:31 PM:

abi @441: It was Martin that first pointed out that those two have the same plot.

Except for the shoe-makers.

Carrie S. @444: Also, Seven Samurai.

Except for the players, fidlers, and shoe-makers. :-)

#454 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:07 PM:

Xopher @ 428: are the carpers native speakers of English? One of my unhappinesses with my former employer was their shutdown of the local doc group, which was replaced by people in another country. I know there have been brilliant authors who wrote in a language they weren't born with -- but brilliance isn't common enough to document an array of large software products.

praisegod @ 443: wow. I thought it was weird watching the sunrise during morning exercise when I went to Calgary for the World Fantasy Convention (~Halloween), but you got further north and closer to the solstice. Not a timing I'd choose, I think; I remember Keillor grumbling about early dark in Copenhagen.

Nancy L. @ 448: Spotlight, for all its virtues, appears to have moved a light-grey (at worst) character into the dark side; there's been local kerfuffle in which the moviemakers have claimed artistic/editing privilege in a way that pretty much acknowledges their screwup (e.g., by putting someone else's lines in this guy's mouth). We'll see whether the movie is remembered a few years from now.

Carrie S. @ 444: having seen Seven Samurai recently, I'm puzzled by this. The villagers were clumsy fighters -- but they fought; at the worst, they split up bandit groups that got into the village and held them at bay until somebody with a sharper weapon showed up. The force they were facing was not scared off by a dust cloud.

#455 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:24 PM:

I have a pretty strong memory of, when a bug's life came out, people writing articles going, basically, "This movie is Seven Samurai with insects." But I could be remembering incorrectly.

#456 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:32 PM:

For what it's worth, I have a vague memory of learning in school about a fort that, during either the French & Indian Wars or possibly the American Revolution, was successfully defended by a handful of soldiers... and a whole bunch of snowmen. The memory is <mumble> decades old, and I cannot remember enough details to successfully google whether or not the incident actually happened.

#457 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 02:59 PM:

#454 ::: CHip

I'd be interested in some more detail about that.

The thing I was wondering about with the movie was whether there really was so little push-back when the article came out.

#458 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 03:26 PM:

When talk began about remaking "Seven Samurai" as a "The Magnificent Seven", James Coburn - one of the few actors already familiar with the original - declared that *he* should play the equivalent of the World's Greatest Swordsman.

#459 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 03:27 PM:

What about John Boy and the seven space mercenaries?

#460 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 04:24 PM:

Many years ago, I talked to someone who'd gone off to college in Alaska, where she only lasted a year before transferring to a school in southern California. Her comment was "I knew it would be cold and dark all winter; nobody told me it would be cold and dark and depressing." (Though I'm sure there are people who don't have that reaction, de gustibus non est disputandum and all that)

#461 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 05:41 PM:

Lee #435/KeithS #447: All of that student's energy seems to have gone into the correct spelling of façade.

#462 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 06:11 PM:

Isn't there a [historical] Vlad Dracula story where he scares off the Turks with the vzcnyrq pbecfrf bs uvf rarzvrf?

#463 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 06:24 PM:

Jacque, thanks for sharing your lake mower tale with us.

I can picture some of those Minneapolis city lakes, having taken time out of a Minicon decades ago to bus and then hike out to one of them.

#465 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2015, 11:29 PM:

Jacque 430: They're seldom in the office, and when they are I dodge them the best I can. Also, they have a deep belief that their opinion of how something looks should trump correct grammar and punctuation.

Fragano 432: I think I know some people who went to that same high school.

KeithS 447: Are they hiring where you work?

CHip 454: Yeah, native speakers. I've actually never had a non-native speaker tell me my correction to their English was wrong or irrelevant. I don't tend to correct people unless a) they ask me to or b) it's my job, as it is now.

Sandy 462: Yes, Vlad the Impaler is a real historical figure, and he really did that (though they weren't corpses when he impaled them, if I understand correctly). He also ordered some Turkish diplomats to remove their fezzes in his presence; when they refused, he had his people nail them on.

IIRC 'Dracul' was a kind of knighthood, the Order of the Dragon, which he was given after successfully repelling an invasion by the impaling tactic, but before he sank into depths of depravity well beyond what war could justify.

#466 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 08:59 AM:

December 5 marked the 8th anniversary of Abi becoming one of Making Light's moderators.
Happy belated anniversary, Abi!

#467 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Happy Anniversary, Abi.

I find the mid-latitudes hard to endure in mid-winter. Europe's population is distributed more to the north than the US population, so the experience of short days and dark nights must get pretty extreme for Europeans.

#468 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 11:52 AM:

I once read a parody of Lovecraft set in a world of anthropomophized animals, a sort of post-humanity setup, and one character had long graceful horns, which the narrator thought meant he could have been a descendant of Vlad the Impala.

#469 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 12:17 PM:

LadyKay @ #467:

As someone who grew up at 59 degrees North (this is south of Achorage and Yellowknife, but north of pretty much all of Canada's larger cities, the Orkneys and the entirety of the continental US), I have no noticeable problem with the winter. However, I find summers in London to be freakish, because it gets dark around the solstice and that's just wrong. I've considered getting a lightbox for the summer, but it feels a little bit silly. I might try to pop North a bit, around the summer solstice, though, next summer.

#470 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 02:32 PM:

Serge @466:

You know, for the first year since Patrick IMed me to ask if I wanted to join the front page, I totally forgot the anniversary. We were in the midst of some travel chaos here (Martin got back from Scotland on December 4 and was scheduled to fly to New York on December 6*. So the 5th was busy in all kinds of ways.)

I remain honored and humbled by this community. I haven't been very good about writing posts of late, because of a bunch of other stuff. But I love Making Light, and I'm glad to be here.

* Then his flight on the 6th was cancelled because reasons, and after 7 hours at Schiphol he had to come home again. He flew on the 7th on a specially laid-on replacement flight for the people who hadn't been rebooked. About 30 people on the plane, cabin crew who had been through the tail end of the cancellation drama with them. Many jokes about a private jet, and apparently an excellent flight.

#471 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 03:18 PM:

Xopher @ 465: Keep in mind that the history of Vlad Dracul is mainly written by the Turks, who hated him. Naturally, they wanted him to look bad.

#472 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2015, 04:44 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @465: they have a deep belief that their opinion of how something looks should trump correct grammar and punctuation.

So the issue is less their writing skills than their willful ineducability? Feh.

#473 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 09:55 AM:

HLN: area man had tooth extracted 2 hours 45 minutes ago; anaesthetic now wearing off; self-pity mode engaged.

(I have painkillers and after-care instructions, and anyway it's my own silly fault for not going to the dentist at least eighteen months earlier. But whining is traditional in these situations!)

The fun part, of course, was getting a cab back home afterwards. Apparently "kha'i v tcxi tpikm'upfm X me'i'asntr n tae'mi t [address] soo'z pbbl plee?" is actually decipherable English to the person on the other end of the phone line.

#474 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:23 AM:


I have a just-turned-eight-years-old niece who is not an avid reader. I live a thousand miles away from her, so I don’t know much about her tastes or passions. (Her grandmother tells me she likes doing arts-and-crafts projects and playing board games with friends.) I am, according to her parents, the only one who buys her books for the holidays; the “book aunt” as it were. So, I need recommendations for a non-bibliophile child. (I got her Castle Hangnail and The Hamster Princess for her birthday; I have not gotten feedback from her or her parents, alas.)

Anyone have any ideas? Or should I give up and send a gift card?

#475 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:37 AM:

Cassy B (474): Maybe a book of kids' craft projects?

#476 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Mary Aileen, that's a promising idea. Anyone know any good titles in kids-craft books....?

#477 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:52 AM:

Cassy B. @ 474:

Coloring books for adults are a thing (that I don't quite understand) at the moment. If she likes coloring but finds kids' coloring books too simple, perhaps one or two of those, as they're more demanding. A getting started with origami kit might be well received.

For board games, some that might be suitable for her age and also for playing with the family are Wits and Wagers Family, Takenoko, and Catan Junior.

Also, both the books you gave her are excellent books, and I hope they hooked her even though she's not much of a reader.

#478 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:53 AM:

Cassy B. @474: How about something from the Exploratorium Store?

#479 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:58 AM:

CassyB - try the Klutz line of activity books. I think there's still a Website up, but you'll get better results through Amazon. Just search for "Klutz".

Lots of humor, intelligently written when I read them. If she has long hair, and the braid books are still available, those are winners.

#480 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 11:22 AM:

CassyB: If Dover still has Jayne's STRING FIGURES AND HOW TO MAKE THEM, that's a possibility -- cat's-cradle figures from all over the world, and it's something her friends are really unlikely to have seen. It's an amazing time-waster.

#481 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 11:33 AM:

I can't decide whether today's XKCD is
1) not funny
2) not funny to me, or
3) I'm missing the joke.

... I did invent my own punchline, though, which amused me. Onyybba navzny.


#482 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 11:53 AM:


A well done book about weaving that's aimed at kids (but would be suitable for adults, too): Kids Weaving, by Sarah Swett.

Alternately, a kids' novel that's chock full of weaving as a plot point: The Spellcoats, by Diana Wynne Jones.

#483 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Thanks all; these suggestions are really really helpful!

#484 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 12:10 PM:

Sandy B. @ 481 -

I think Randall was aiming at whimsy today.

#485 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 01:29 PM:

One of our go to gifts for kids that age is a nice sketchbook and good pencils or other adult like art implements. It's generally received well by both kids and their parents.

For bookish ones, my 6 and 8 yr olds have been enjoying the Wings of Fire series. They're a little violent, but most of it is dragon vs dragon fighting, and not humans getting eaten.

#486 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Steve Wright @473: area man had tooth extracted

Wheee! Welcome to the snaggle-tooth club! I had a top middle incisor extracted two weeks ago, to deal with a chronic infection, and in preparation for an implant. (I've been dreaming about getting that tooth replaced for ages.)

"kha'i v tcxi tpikm'upfm X me'i'asntr n tae'mi t [address] soo'z pbbl plee?"

*snerk* I initially parsed this as rot13. Um, which it's not. :-)

I didn't even bother with the lipless English; my lower jaw was fully occupied pressing the gauze into the slot formerly occuped by Tooth #9, and as a consequence, my tongue was of no help, either. Instead, I wrote notes, and waved my hands a lot. (But then, I was communicating in person.) :-)

Cassy B. @474: Anyone have any ideas?

If you're not dead-set on giving a book: Googling make magazine for kids produced this page, from which Build a Custom Family Tree Board Game for the Holidays immediately jumped out at me. Maybe print out instructions and package them up with the materials?

Also, Googling make your own board games looks like it could be mined to good effect.

#487 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 03:45 PM:

One reason our politics is so broken that people like Donald Trump can consistently get attention for proposing awful things[1]. This story points out that Trump alone has gotten more TV news coverage than *all the Democrats* combined. As in all areas of life, we get more of what we reward--in this case, Trump proposing whatever awful bit of nastiness pops into his head. Outrage sells, and nobody beats The Donald for triggering cheap outrage-fests.

[1] Though often, the mainstream proposals are at least as awful, but not widely seen as so because they're mainstream. Most of the GOP presidential candidates are on board with torturing prisoners, but this is a mainstream position (God help us), so it doesn't get the same gasp of horror, even though denying people visas is actually a lot less awful than torturing them to death.

#488 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 03:52 PM:

AKICIML: Does anybody out there have a problem with importing documents into whatever version of Word comes pre-loaded on those super keen fast and shiny Windows 10 machines, like the one my husband just bought, and then being unable to actually type anything in them? My school district sent me a form to fill in that is too advanced for this clunky old thing I am typing on now, so I forwarded the form to my husband, saved it to his desktop, and attempted to fill in the blanks, which aren't actually blanks but some kind of macro field thing that can be exported or data sorted or something like that. Anyway, I can make parts of the document big or small, view the whole thing like a webpage, or rename it. That's it.


#489 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 04:15 PM:

albatross, #487: You're making the same mistaken assumption about Trump that a lot of other people have made. Check out this analysis to see why "ignore him and he'll go away" wouldn't work. Basically, Trump is the voice of the American Bully, and there are a lot of them.

#490 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 04:40 PM:

HLN: Area observer returns from trip to find local river in spate again. People and property are still safe. Observer concludes, however, for the several-th time in 25 years, that this town needs a taller gauge-post.

#491 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 05:09 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 488:

My experience is that most people don't make fill-out forms in Word correctly. It sounds like this one is actually properly made, since you say that all the places you need to fill out are form fields instead of only some of them, but improperly protected.

Check the document protection (Review tab, Protect Document, Restrict Formatting and Editing). The document should be protected for filling out forms and nothing else ("This document is protected from unintentional editing. You may only fill in forms in this region."). If you find that it's protected for something else (e.g. read only, commenting), you will need to stop protection, and then protect it for filling in forms. If it asks for a password when you stop protection, you need to get the school district to fix the document and send you a new one. When it asks for a password to protect it, you can leave that blank.

Hopefully that fixes the problem.

#492 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 05:41 PM:

@KeithS no. 491: I'll give it a try!

I hate to sound like an old fogey, but just because you can make every field in every document universally searchable doesn't mean you should. The school district's IT department loves to make everything super shiny and is all about the spandex jackets for everyone. They don't think about those of us who don't have a budget that allows us to buy new PCs as soon as the factory smell wears off the old ones. My husband's last computer had a version of Word that simply stripped all the macros out of documents created in later versions, so I could at least open the things--but it ran incredibly slowly. His new one popped up a message that the forms the school district sends me aren't quite shiny enough and it was going to update their format ever so helpfully. Like a dummy, I clicked Yes. Even if I can de-protect this document, my hopes are not high.

#493 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 06:09 PM:


I'm not really assuming he'll go away, so much as I'm trying to understand why he is doing what he's doing, and why it's working out for him.

Media coverage is like oxygen for presidential candidates. Trump has gotten an incredible amount of media coverage, more-or-less smothering several of his rival candidates, via a strategy of being extremely mediagenic. Partly that's because he's really good at media stuff--he's always been a showman, and he's been pretty successful at various reality TV gigs lately. But he's also understood that the media ecosystem lives largely on outrage. He can get as much media coverage as he wants, so long as he creates outrage. And he can get outrage among a substantial subset of Americans by saying things that another substantial subset of Americans either agree with, or at least don't think is totally crazy[0].

This strategy is working for him. That's why he continues doing it. So long as outrage is the main source of nutrition craved by the media, I imagine his strategy will continue working--not necessarily in the sense that he will win the election[1], but in the sense that he will continue getting a lot of media coverage, which will continue driving his poll numbers and the attention paid to him by other people, which will help him keep getting a lot of media coverage.

The media has covered Trump more than it's covered all the Democratic candidates combined. This seems like something really important to understand--similar to how the Tea Party at its height had about as much public support as the antiwar movement right before the Iraq war, but the Tea Party somehow got *vast* amounts of publicity, whereas the antiwar movement could hardly get on TV at all. Media coverage is what has given Trump the fuel to get as far as he has, and to move the Overton window in mostly really bad directions. I'd like to understand why.

One thing I notice about this: There is a subset of the country that takes attacks by the MSM in the US as a kind of badge of honor. Now, on one side, this isn't crazy, because the MSM is actually pretty bad at reporting the truth, is riddled with biases and systematic flaws, etc. But on the other side, this means that both the Tea Party and Trump have been able to benefit from MSM attacks--there's a big MSM outrage fest with all the empty-headed talk jocks saying how Trump is beyond the pale with his latest comment, and that actually increases Trump's credibility with a subset of the audience. Sometimes, they're people saying "yeah, why don't we deport all the Muslims," but other times, they're people saying "well, he's probably full of shit, but at least he has the right enemies."

There's this interesting feedback dynamic going on there, and I wish I understood it better.

[0] Often it's just factually wrong, or blatantly unconstitutional, or an obviously terrible idea. But that isn't really limited to Trump--it's not that the other candidates are less crazy or evil, so much as that they're more clustered together where their crazy and evil seems normal because lots of respectable-looking people are saying it together.

[1] I think he will have a very hard time winning the nomination, and an even harder time winning the election. On the other hand, both of those things *could* happen. And then, lots of people, both Democrats and Republicans, will suddenly notice what a remarkably bad idea it has been to break down all kinds of barriers to the president doing lots of crazy stuff on his own authority. Gee, who coulda seen *that* coming?

#494 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Due to a mixture of poor planning and various spoon thievery, I need a couple of presents for my nephews, as in this Saturday (so online would be too slow). I have something for my niece, but it's not a book, so I want to go not-a-book for the nephews too. I do have an Barnes & Noble and a high-end toy store or two nearby.

#495 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 07:12 PM:

David Harmon (494): How old are your nephews? Any idea what kinds of things they're interested in?

(If you're just remarking, rather than asking for suggestions, feel free to ignore me.)

#496 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 07:37 PM:

HLN: Area man has less than a week to go before embarking on first ever international holiday.

"I'd like to thank all the folks who gave me suggestions, earlier in this Open Thread, about what to see," he told our reporter.

The venture has meant expanding his collection of winter outerwear, he added. "It wasn't very expansive to begin with," he said, "since we're semi-arid here, and even in winter it doesn't get all that cold except at night."

"And I went and bought new jeans yesterday. My first new pair in about fifteen years, so this is the first time I've had to deal with the Skinny Leg High Waist Boot Cut Stretch Denim wall-of-options phenomenon. Turns out I'm most comfortable in traditional denim, Regular Fit. Who'd'a guessed?"

#497 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Mary Aileen #495: They're 13 and 15, both science/techie types (both parents are MIT grads). The older is heavy into robotics competitions, the younger is the family "foodie".

#498 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 09:47 PM:

@David: An Arduino or Raspberry Pi? One of the Munchkin games? A copy of the Joy of Cooking?

#499 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 10:05 PM:

On Food and Cooking (2nd edition) by Harold McGee is a great present for a science/techie type who is into food — assuming they don't already have it.

#500 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 11:11 PM:

David Harmon @ 497: I know you were trying to avoid books, but Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for the Food" cookbooks have the same kind of "here's the science behind this recipe" quality that his Good Eats TV show did. Splendidly nerdy. I'm a baker, not a cook, and I really liked I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking. The cheesecake recipe is perfect.

#501 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2015, 11:13 PM:

The books from the Cook's Illustrated crew are similarly excellent, but less entertaining.

#502 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 04:32 AM:

My own fave rec for science-of-cooking cookbooks is Jeff Potter's Cooking for Geeks.

#503 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 05:03 AM:

Stefan Jones #498: The hardware is probably above my price range, but the Munchkin suggestion reminded me of my local gaming store, which likely has a lot of possibilities.

To all, re: cookbooks, he got a molecular gastronomy kit a couple of birthdays ago... getting him cookbooks feels kinda like my parents probably felt buying me D&D stuff. ;-)

#504 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 07:47 AM:

David Harmon @497: The current Humble Bundle ebook grouping is a bunch of texts on how to program Arduino. They're a pay-what-you-want-for-a-wad-of-books deal that also benefits charity. In this case if you pay at least $15 you get extra titles.

Considering that Raspberry Pi computers (that take Arduino) are now $5 per ... might make an attractive gift bundle for robotics-y kids.

#505 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 09:54 AM:

@493, Albatros -- as a resident of Arizona I've watched any number of local candidates run and win for major state office using the same tactics that Trump does. Joe Arpaio, several recent governors, our school superintendent, assorted others.

I'm convinced there's a sizable segment of any population that will vote for somebody simply because that person's name is most familiar. As far as they're concerned, familiar = good, and they're not paying attention (or don't care) about anything else.

That phenomena scares me, because Trump is very, very, familiar to a lot of people ...

#506 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 10:10 AM:

Sandy B. @ 481a& Steve C. @ 484

I just figured he was being non-nonsensical. If you ever think a joke went over your head there's
this wiki a co-worker told me about. There are times when I do get the joke, I just don't think it's all that funny. I just wish he'd go back to his weekly "what if" bit.

#507 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 11:57 AM:

A possibly-fun cultural reference game: Victorian Christmas Cards Are Weird.

I get some of these because my grandfather bought me bound volumes of the St. Nicholas Magazine (staggeringly popular in the 1870s-90s among the 6-10 year old kid demographic) when I was little, so I actually get the references.

But there are a bunch that are inexplicable even to me, and I don't want to jump right in and go after them all if others of you will find it fun. :->

To get it started, though: I'm pretty sure the dead robin in #12 is a Christ reference. Well, that and folksongs.

I imagine people of two centuries from now eyeing multiple-fandom pop culture mashup memes with the same sort of jaundiced eye. "A leaf on the wind? Why is that related to laundry?"

#508 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 12:26 PM:

Like Cassy, I am The Book Aunt. Now I have a niecelet as well as a niece, so I am looking for new board books. I wish libraries would distinguish between new books that have been written in the last few years, and "new" books that were written decades ago, where the library has just acquired a new copy with no drool.

I know many (most?) of you have read A Wizard of Earthsea. Did any of you read it when you were 10? I'd love to introduce my niece to it, but I don't want to frighten her away from LeGuin by trying it too soon. I think of Earthsea as less scary than the Harry Potter books, and she's been enjoying those (even the 7th book) for well over a year...and she's had the first 2 Lady Trent books as read-alouds. But I gave her Breadcrumbs last year, and that was too scary.

#509 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 12:41 PM:

Adrian @508: A recent group of titles in the range of board book (but not exactly) are the move-and-flap books by Matthew Van Fleet: Cat, Dog, and Tails. Their poetry, believe it or not, is actually entertaining to the adult on the fifth read-through in a row, and as "pull the lever, lift the flap" books go they're reasonably durable. Cat and Dog are illustrated with photos of actual animals,and the names of all his models are cited in the back.

#510 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 01:02 PM:

More Board Book Recommendations, mostly not cutting-edge new but published this century, available in board book format, and entertaining to the adult involved:

The gosling books by Olivier Dunrea (Gossie, Peedie, BooBoo, et alia): Short but interesting sentences, often sending up or showing a difference from the art. Some of them led to lasting family catchphrases for us.

Is Your Mama a Llama, by Deborah Guarino. Sort of cheating because 1998, but the poetry was quite appealing (although we found ourselves absolutely required to pronounce llama in Spanish and most of the Ll-personal names later in the book with the Welsh letter, because) on multiple rereads.

#511 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 01:49 PM:

With regard to Niece:

I’m getting her “Trash This Journal” and two Klutz craft books; one for stencils (with pens and sticker-paper), and one for making clay charms (with clay, clay-molding tools, and charm bracelet).

I’m hoping that Books You Do Something With or To will appeal.

Heartfelt thanks, again, for all the suggestions and recommendations! I honestly think you guys may have saved me from becoming “That Aunt <eyeroll>”.

#512 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 01:57 PM:

Adrian, for what it's worth, from my Book Aunt experience in sending cartloads of board books to assorted nephews/nieces -- I got a heart-felt "thank-you" from the mother for "But Not The Hippopotamus" by Boynton. This is NOT a recent board-book... but my sister-in-law said that it was a book she could actually stand to read a hundred times in a row. Unlike so many of the others.

#513 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:03 PM:

Adrian @508: a hearty second for "But Not the Hippopotamus" and also other Sandra Boynton board books. (My second favorites by her are the Bellybutton book and also "Blue Hat, Green Hat".)

#514 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:11 PM:

Elliot Mason@507: I understand the Christmas Pudding ones, and the Dead Robin -- or at least I think I do. I even get the one with the weird lumpy root-person. But I am baffled by the murdered frog and the Pig Girl ones.

Thank you for these, BTW. They've brightened my day considerably.

#515 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:16 PM:

Sandra Boynton books are wonderful--all three of my kids have love them. We also like Dr Seuss books in my house, but it's worth noticing that there are a bunch of books sold with the cat in the hat logo on them which aren't Dr Seuss; some were written to try to match Seuss' style, some are just childrens' books. They're often perfectly fine books, but not quite the same as Seuss' books.

My daughter has only started reading independently this year, and she's really loved the Click Clack Moo series of books, and the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series of books.

#516 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:18 PM:

cyllan @514: but why a POTATO, I wanna know.

#517 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:24 PM:

My problem is that my nieces are sisters, not cousins. If it's an amazingly good board book that existed when the older girl was tiny, they probably have it already. (I remember sending "Hippos Go Berserk" about 10 years ago. And her grandparents are no slouches in sending picture books, either.) Even if I give a new copy of something the big sister loved to death, it still feels like giving a hand-me-down as a present, somehow.

#518 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 02:39 PM:

Adrian @508 -- unfortunately, I was 15 when A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA was published. I did love it then, however. Possibly Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books? The early ones are a bit precious, but TARAN WANDERER is a very powerful fantasy novel.

#519 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 03:15 PM:

More fun: a crowdsourced OCR/transcription project working on renaissance British manuscripts called Shakespeare's World It's a Zooniverse project, so if you have a login with them you can use the same one.

#520 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 04:19 PM:

I have a book query.

Mom used to have a volume of activities, which I came to firmly believe was Darwin A. Hindman's book of games and stunts. It included a section of "snares" which was, in sixth grade, my main interest. These were, for want of a better term, generally inane and sometimes nasty tricks you could play on others in the context of a presentation to a group, or an initiation. For instance, "Knight of the Blanket" consisted of putting two chairs a chair's width apart and covering them with a blanket. Two confederates would sit on the chairs, and the victim would be instructed to sit in the middle chair, and the other two would stand up as he sat. Hilarious fun. Dave Barry wrote about it a little once (it's in his Greatest Hits).

You'll be glad to know I never pulled any of the mean ones, or intended to. But I still want to have a look at the thing again. It turned out there was a copy of the book in the Open Library, so I checked it out, but the whole "snares" section indicated in the contents, wasn't there.

Can anyone confirm that this is actually the book I'm remembering? I'd hate to risk 17¢ and be snookered by the wrong thing. Be kind of a snare, come to think.

#521 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 04:26 PM:

cyllan, #514: The carrying-around of a dead bird (robin or wren) from door to door during the holiday season is an English ritual, rather like trick-or-treating. There's a song about it even.

#522 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 07:44 PM:

cyllan #514: The Christmas Puddings are those brown ovoids? And the donkey is clearly arguing for temperance. But some of these really look like they might have been the "memes" of the time, passed along in political and other cartoons, or referring to the most popular media works of the day.

#523 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 09:47 PM:

But who killed Cock Robin?

#524 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2015, 10:05 PM:

The straight and narrow says it was the Sparrow, with his bow and arrow...

#525 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 07:15 AM:

Adrian @517:
We've had success at giving American books to English kids and vice versa- if you browse the "other" Amazon's books for 0-2 year olds section, you'll often see very popular ones that are unfamiliar in your own country. Australia/NZ, too, Margaret Mahy's picture books are lovely.

#526 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 09:36 AM:

I don't know if they're available on board, but a Canadian author that many US families have NEVER HEARD OF is Robert Munsch. Or, they have, but only the Paper Bag Princess. The man is prolific and they're all pretty good: A lot come in tiny 4"-square editions for little readers.

I can particularly recommend:
★ Stephanie's Ponytail (doing what you want with your hair independent of peer pressure)
★ Purple, Green, and Yellow (why it's inadvisable to color on yourself)
★ Pigs (unintended consequences from not closing doors behind one)
★ Jonathan Cleaned Up -- And Then He Heard A Sound! (unexpected subway train in your apartment, and then quest to fix it)
★ Murmel, Murmel, Murmel (surreal chase-the-lost-baby tale not entirely unlike Henson's Labyrinth)

There are also, sold in the Canadian market, omnibus volumes with 10-15 Munsch books in each, but I don't know how available they are in non-Canadian sellers.

#527 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 09:45 AM:

For those looking for gifts for the younger set: Cricket magazine and its spinoffs are great for both readers and those less enthusiastic about reading. There are magazines for several age levels, and a couple specialize in history and science.

I loved it when I was little; my seven-year-old godson loves it now.

#528 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 09:52 AM:

My favorite Boynton book was Barnyard Dance, read like a square dance caller. Just because.

One that's not one of the big names is "Bear on a Bike" by Stella Blackstone. This was a gift from the bookish aunt, and it's one of the very few board books we still have 10 years on. It's far better than any of the other Bear books we've seen.

#529 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 10:26 AM:

I'd recommend the Gerald and Piggie books by Mo Willems, particularly My Friend is Sad and Today I will Fly!. They outlasted many culls of outgrown books, and remain in the house as Worth Keeping Just Because.

#530 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 12:07 PM:

#516 ::: Elliott Mason
It's not a potato; it's a Jerusalem Artichoke which was a Special Christmas Vegetable of the times. It's roughly similar to modern cards with Candy Canes or a Christmas Ham. (Not that I think there are modern cards with Christmas Hams, but there could be.)

#531 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 12:15 PM:

Adrian @508: I would have been 10 or 11 when I read A Wizard of Earthsea and the rest of the trilogy. Fantastic introduction to "with great power comes great responsibility". I didn't find anything frightening in there. But then I read The Lord of the Rings about the same time and didn't find that a problem either.

#532 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 02:26 PM:

Speaking of Victoriana -- I've been looking at a silver bowl which is inscribed "Martha to Lizzie 1st August 1860." In my family tree there are two sisters with those names, who were alive at the time, and one of whom got married (Lizzie) on that date. But I'm wondering: how common was it to inscribe a wedding present to only one-half of the married couple? Is this normal, or an anomaly? (They were grandchildren of Roger Sherman, who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution -- the only one to manage this Trifecta.)

#533 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Tom Whitmore @532: As I understand it, a bride-to-be would accumulate her "hope chest" of linens, etc., embroidered with her maiden initial because of course she started long before she knew who she would marry. So I don't think inscribing a gift of a household item to the bride and not both members of a couple would be considered out of line.

#534 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 03:51 PM:

HLN: Area retiree witnesses the arrival of a new bridge! It was just about 45 minutes ago. It is a shiny aluminum pedestrian span with elements of both truss and arch, and was set into place with a great big crane. About 2 dozen people gathered to watch this at a park on the still-in-spate Cedar River, in Renton, about a mile upstream from the famous library. It wasn't there and now it is, almost as if by magic -- that's how it feels even when you see it all happen.
Area retiree has had a rather eventful couple of months.

#535 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 07:07 PM:

My son read Wizard of Earthsea and then the rest of the original series (i.e. not Tehanu yet) at age 10 or 11 - not too scary for him. I know it was by age 11 because he did a book report on it in 5th grade, including making a board game for it.

#536 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 08:35 PM:

Angiportus @534: We really should meet up some time. I feel silly driving past all these landmarks you mention and having never said hi to you. I'm not stalking you, I promise, I just live here!

#537 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2015, 11:43 PM:

Tom Whitmore @532: Well into the 20th century, the practice was that wedding gifts given before the wedding were gifts to the bride. This was certainly true when my parents married mid-20c. Monogrammed items bore the bride's "maiden" initials. And wedding gifts were sent before the wedding* -- none this modern business of bringing them to the wedding and piling them up on a table. These practices are still observed today by some.

*My parents married overseas, so my mother actually received her gifts from family members after the wedding, especially appliances that ran on US current. However, they still bore her maiden monogram.

#538 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 12:04 AM:

I tend to give Mo Willems books-- not always Elephant and Piggie, but almost always Willems-- because I can't remember which Boyntons the tinyfriends have. But I'm their source for Willems. I think I've hit Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Amanda and Her Alligator, Today I Will Fly, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. They're lots of fun to read, and the tinyfriends can follow along with the drama.

(my sources are limited to new books for special occasions like birthdays and whatever the used bookstore has on the days I show up there. I basically turn adult books into children's books these days. I am so very okay with that.)

#539 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 12:13 AM:

Cory Doctorow's answer to West Point cadet's question: "I want to join the NSA. What do you think of that?"

#540 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 04:09 AM:

Is it just me or is H. R. Giger's stuff kind of...mysogynistic?

#541 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 04:33 AM:

Tracie @537: Thank you for direct experience! Good to know, and now I'll be even more certain about the bowl's provenance. It's my guess that it was passed down to the Elizabeth in each family (my maternal lineage has 4 Elizabeths in a row before me) -- my mother had no daughter named Elizabeth, but she does have a niece of that name. Now to find out if she'd actually treasure the item, or not care.

Jacque, Giger stuff is highly misanthropic in the wider sense; and women are half of that. But the misogynistic side is more commercially viable, I expect. (I don't think I've heard the term misandric used for "hating men", but it's useful to have the distinction and no other term is floating up in my cold-fogged brain at this late hour.) In any case, Giger has a love-hate relationship with the human form, at least in his artwork.

#542 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 08:10 AM:

Tom Whitmore @541

I am familiar with misandry, so misandric, while new to me, doesn't hurt my heart. The Firefox spell checker doesn't like it, though.

#543 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 10:27 AM:

Tom, #541: "Misandry" and "misandric" are common terminology in the soi-disant "men's rights" movement, and have become very loaded terms in any other context because of that.

#545 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Elliott @ #507, Allan @ #544, thanks for those!

#546 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 01:25 PM:

Shadowsong, #536, you needn't feel silly; there's lots of people that for one reason or another keep their online and offline personas entirely separate. For this reason I don't plan to meet anyone in town who knows of my presence here, but you just try and be decent to everyone [which I am sure you are already doing] and I will too... It's an odd and interesting feeling to consider that any stranger I see on my travels might be someone I have met online. Makes me want to work harder on my manners and so on.
I'm not sure when the new bridge will be ready for public use, but plan to introduce myself to it when the time comes. The illusion of its having arrived miraculously is a familiar one; I have had that feeling even with things I have built. It's because of the new configuration of the parts and in some cases the surroundings.
I expect that I will this aft find the river still decidedly high...

#547 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 02:56 PM:

Tom @ 541 re: family heirlooms

I have a similar "who to pass it to" dilemma. There are several heirlooms that came down to me as the only daughter of an only daughter of an only daughter. Not only do I have no daughters, but my sole sibling's-child is a boy, so none of the defaults solve the problem for me.

A burglar solved the question of who would get great-great-grandmother's diamond ring, alas. But the monogrammed silver tea service passed down in the same line needs a decision. I've had some strong hints from my mother's sister-in-law that her family would cherish it, but I don't have much in the way of specific personal connections with any of the individuals of a generation to be designated.

And quite possibly my nephew will at some point express an interest or initiate a lineage that would pull my decision in that direction. Who knows?

#548 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 03:35 PM:

My father rescued his parents' silverplate flatware from the moving sale his mother had. (My mother suspected he forgot is was plate, not sterling. I doubt it, as he was one of those who bought it for them.) I ended up with it, invested some money in additional pieces of the pattern, and a chest, and gave it to my brother's son, who is the only one of his kids who would remember her.

#549 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Heather Rose Jones@547: There's quite a bit of Whitmore silver, and a fair amount unmarked as to family; I'm thinking bits of that might go to nieces/nephews as wedding presents. But nobody in the next generation seems to care much about family history. Maybe it just shows up later -- I wasn't anywhere near as interested in it earlier in my life, but finding things out about the various family members has gotten me fascinated. Good luck on having the nephew actually get interested!

Part of it may be the way I was taught history in high school, which convinced me that I didn't like history: it's only later that I've really internalized the feeling that "history is just folks doing stuff" (I think that's a Greg Chalfin quote, but I'm bad at history) and that it's fun to figure out who the folks actually were and what it meant to them while it was happening. "Great Man" theories discourage me (and probably most people) from identifying with the people I learned about in history classes, which makes it harder to stay interested.

#550 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2015, 09:54 PM:

So, Hannukah party's done with. I did "token" gifts with much simpler cards (just a small sketch on each), but my niece loved the tool-bearing hairclips, and the boys seemed to like the metal-foldup Star Wars models (at least, the older one had brought out a work tray to start on it before I left for the evening).

#551 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 12:30 AM:

Allan Beatty #544:

Those are delightful! Thanks for linking.

#552 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 03:38 AM:

I've been thinking about this for a while, but this essay was prompted by a comment made by Tom Whitmore over on Making Light: "the way I was taught history in high school ... convinced me that I didn't like history."

I've been fascinated how my experience of "history" has evolved. My first memory of being "taught" history was when we did the Civil War in fifth grade. My teacher (who was otherwise generally clueful, so this puzzles me) "taught" the civil war by writing out the events (I presume; I don't actually remember) out on the blackboard in outline form, and making us copy them down by hand. This took place over the span of a couple of weeks or so. (This would have been in 1967 or '68.) I figure she presumed that, by having to copy everything, we'd be forced to pay attention.

What she failed to take into account was that, since we had to rush to keep up and get everything copied before she erased the board to start the next piece, we didn't have time to actually read any of it (having somehow missed the fact that words going through eyes != comprehension going into brain.*) (As it happens, I did actually infer a good understanding of outline structure, so it wasn't a complete waste of time, ink, and paper.)

Sadly, this experience also gave me the idea that I had no interest in history. Blessedly, the end of school, though, is not the end of learning.**

Fortunately, my brain knows better than I do, and as I autodidacted(?) my way through my adulthood, I began to pick up bits and snippets here and there, primarily through popular entertainment.

In a parallel evolution, it turns out that I also pay a fair amount of attention to artistic style, and can (when given sufficient exposure) often identify the artist (of music or visual work, sometimes even things like architecture) simply based on style. I can't often tell you the specifics of what I'm seeing that goes into that identification; this process seems to rely on data I've accumulated and stored outside of awareness.

But it turns out that one important axis of "style" is vintage. A lot of times I will guess the identity of a creator based on when a piece sounds or looks like it was made. Correspondingly, this has prompted me to develop a rough timeline of when various composers and artists lived. Which, in turn, has brought my attention to the cultural, political, and social influences surrounding those artists and their works.

Take, for example, the early 1800s book, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I came to this through the 1995 film with Emma Thompson. Its place in history is multidimensional: the original piece, its modern interpretation, and my experience as a twenty-first century viewer.

Fairly recently, I became conscious that each chunk: each artist, work, style, culture, and event in history—each of these is a piece in the great grand jigsaw puzzle*** that is History. It's holographic: each piece you find and snap into place brings nuance and detail to the whole, and also elaborates every other piece. It's also a great, grand conversation, with each piece speaking to and about all the pieces around and before it.

I realized that, despite the best efforts of the American educational system, I find history fascinating. Because it's not really about "history" at all: it's about art, literature, music, perception, values, and human experience.

* The same fallacy drove those hateful filmstrips designed to speed up a student's reading by making them watch a projection where a window passed over the words faster and faster, missing entirely that that's not how speed-reading works. Reading speed generally increases (as I understand it) as one becomes able to parse larger and larger blocks of text at a gulp. These damn devices actually impeded parsing, being as you got to see (in the case of the ones I saw) only one word at a time.

** During the 1980s, as I was learning how to learn, I amused myself by coming up with the aphorism, "Education is not a noun, it's a verb." I.e., it's a process and, optimally, it can continue throughout life. This was an important insight, because I came up in (towards the end of, blessedly) an era and culture when the prevailing idea was that you did all your learning in school, and then you were done, and went out to live your life. Which has never been true, but I've been relieved as our culture has progressively shed that idea.

*** And if it's a jigsaw puzzle, what are the "edge pieces" one uses to "frame" the "picture"? Turns out one of mine is Empire waists in women's clothing. This evokes Josephine Bonaparte, which tells us that the era is around the War of 1812. We look up the publication date for Sense and Sensibility: 1811. Hah! We burnish our nails and feel smug: another piece slots nicely into place.

#553 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 04:12 AM:

Argh. I didn't mean to actually post that. I was just using the comment preview to format it. No harm done, but apologies for the Wall-O-Text.

#554 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 06:54 AM:

Jacque @552

I was about a third of the way through that when I had the 'this is a) absolutely right and b) exactly the kind of thing I come to Making Light for' experience that's one of the things that keeps me coming back here.

Also 'to autodidact' is a fine verb, which will be entering my idiolect forthwith. (If education is a verb, so is autodidact.)

#555 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 07:35 AM:

Jacque, I too love that comment. (If the 'oops, hit post when I didn't mean to' means you intended to add more, I also want to see the more. If you meant to post it elsewhere, I am curious about the discussion elsewhere!) As someone who loves reading many books classified as 'history', but who couldn't stand history in school (despite being a diligent student in general), I found it especially interesting.

#556 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 07:50 AM:

Jacque #552: I assume you meant that for your own blog, but it's certainly interesting. You are rediscovering a claim I first heard about Tolkien, to the effect that when one digs deeply enough into any one field of human knowledge, we strike a vein that underlies the whole. Over on the science side of the noosphere, Wilson's "consilience" is another example of the principle.

#557 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Jacque @552 -- Wow, THAT explains why I got so damn frustrated with "Reign."

I learned most of my history from fiction and TV. If the book/show made me want to know more, I'd go to the library and read the non-fiction about the period.

I didn't read just the history, but about the types of clothes, what they grew in their gardens, the foods, and the art of the time. (That's where I got my addiction to small prayer books -- I can't look at a medieval Book of Hours without lust in my heart.)

I was lucky that I had a good teacher in Junior High that encouraged exposure to all the facets of history. Prior to that most of the 'social studies' were the 'memorize the dates' sorts.

#558 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 03:57 PM:

I'm glad you posted that here, too, Jacque: I probably wouldn't have seen it elsewhere (I don't get out much on the Interwebs). And you reflect a lot of my experience, at much more depth, in well-chosen words. Thank you for helping me see more.

#559 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 06:04 PM:

For those few millions who don't read my Twitter, an educational moment:

The Sarcasts were a philosophical movement that flourished in the Golden Age of Oratory, led by one Sheckes of Syracuse, or possibly Troy. Uncertainty persists because attempts at biography were countered with "So you have said."or "You have described yourself to a Tau." Eventually, his would-be scribe, Irasces, quit in anger, destroying his tablets and much of the wine bar where the interviews took place.

Of the Sarcasts themselves, little writing remains, as they spent much of their time and energy simply repeating others in different tones of voice. (One of their number, Ontogenes, made a name for himself by simply recapitulating everything said by the hapless Philogenes.) Nonetheless, their influence remains powerful in today's discourse, I'm sure. I mean, how could it not, right?

#560 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2015, 08:54 PM:

I'm reminded of a discussion somewhere about history/culture being the wars vs history/culture being what's interrupted by the wars. I tend to use historical military actions as time-markers and as a way to remember what was and wasn't available in the important things, like daily life.

#561 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 03:00 AM:

'Nother wall-o-text to thank you all, for your kind reassurances, and very interesting responses. If one is going to have an attack of inadvertant logorrhea, this is definitely the place to do it!*

praisegod barebones @554: 'to autodidact' is a fine verb

One of the things I love about Internet culture is this tendancy we've shown to take ideas that are referred to by nouns—things (e.g., "adult") and turn them back into processes ("adulting"). "Things" just are, "processes" are on-going and can be altered and re-aimed. An altogether more powerful way of thinking, I think.

Fade Manley @555: If the 'oops, hit post when I didn't mean to' means you intended to add more, I also want to see the more.

No, that particular thought is reasonably complete. Ghods willing, there will eventually be more thoughts, though. :-)

David Harmon @556: when one digs deeply enough into any one field of human knowledge, we strike a vein that underlies the whole.

Yup: another axis on (Thoreau? Feynman?)'s idea of the Universe in a square foot of soil. It's All Connected. Distinctions are largely a convenience to make things easier to think about. But we often forget that, and begin to believe they're "real."

Lori Coulson @557: Wow, THAT explains why I got so damn frustrated with "Reign."

Oh, seriously. I think I've got that rant somewhere in my VAB. It's interesting that you bring this up, because it's a perfect example of "modern interpretation of...." It's so clearly a modern story dressed up in (less than adequately researched) historical costume. If I squint and grit my teeth, I can sort of stand to watch it, but it takes more effort than I'm usually willing to invest in a TV show. Especially if one comes upon it right after watching something like Borgia. (Not so tangentially, this discussion also illustrates one of the reasons I love Ada Palmer's stuff so much.)

I was lucky that I had a good teacher in Junior High that encouraged exposure to all the facets of history. Prior to that most of the 'social studies' were the 'memorize the dates' sorts.

For me, it was my high school acting teacher. (And Dick Cavett.) And the whole "memorize the dates' thing.... It helps a lot to realize that's for the convenience of the teachers—easier to write easily-graded homework and tests. (Doesn't make it any less of a PITA, though.) It's maybe not surprising that education that cultivates curiosity and skill in learning is a rare beast. It's much harder.

Tom Whitmore @558: you reflect a lot of my experience

Well, it's all your fault, you know. :-) Thank you for saying the thing that prompted me to finally pull those thoughts together!

Diatryma @560: history/culture being the wars vs history/culture being what's interrupted by the wars.

Figure/ground, yeah. And these distinctions also make it easy to forget that the conflicts that produce wars are generally brewing all along, anyway.

Not unrelated to the tendency, frex, for the narratives to be about the nobility, and completely forget about the other segments of society.

(One of the neat things about the series Rome is that they considered many strata of society, not just the "movers and shakers." I strongly recommend the DVD commentaries—lots of additional history and analysis piled in on top of the already very good stories.)

I tend to use historical military actions as time-markers

Edge pieces, yes, definitely. A lot of history teaching forgets that one needs all those middle pieces to make any sense out of the wars, in the first place.

* I did, in fact, put it on my own site (which is, as yet, not set up to deal with comments, though I hope to fix that soon.)

#562 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 03:03 AM:

559: Kiiiiip!!


What's that old quote? Something about:

"Euripides? Eumenides!"

#563 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 11:07 AM:

Jacque @ #562, the conversation between the Greek tailor and his customer?

#564 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 12:03 PM:

The melodies and lyrics of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and the Huron Carol (AKA "Twas In the Moon of Wintertime") are interchangeable. Just in case anyone wanted to know. :-)

#565 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 12:46 PM:

SF musings - I've read Childhood's End a dozen times over the years, caught up in Clarke's poetic writing, and I'm looking forward to the SyFy Channel's adaptation tonight, but when you get down to it, it's a story of an alien invasion that results in the total destruction of the human race.

#566 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 01:28 PM:

Yup -- and Clarke wanted to write that as a happy ending.

#567 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 01:34 PM:

Tonight on SyFy, the premiere of "The Expanse", a space opera based on the novels of James SA Corey, aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.
Be there!

#568 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 01:52 PM:

Steve C. #565: Well, sort of. it's explicitly stated that the final transformation is intrinsic to our race, not something they do to us; without the aliens, it would not only have happened anyway, but might have gone very bad.

#569 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 02:11 PM:

"The Expanse" first episode was previewed a couple of weeks ago -- I assume to build buzz for the launch of the series. I was pretty impressed. I will be watching it, although perhaps a few weeks behind.

"The Magicians" has a preview in a couple of days, too. The novels never interested me but I suppose I'll check out the first episode.

(I'm badly lagged on TV at this point... need to see the last Game of Thrones S5 episode, even. Then there's _The Librarians_ piling up on top of _Lost Girl_...)

#570 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 02:53 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 569... To help build even more buzz for "The Expanse", George RR Martin's Cocteau Cinema showed Eps One and Two on December 3. The authors are very happy with what they see, and were even involved in the writing of some episodes. The whole crew is currently working on Season Two. (If they make Season Three, I hope they'll keep the character of Serge, which yes, is me being tuckerized and dying of a bullet to the head.)

#571 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 02:55 PM:

Among those in the world of Cinema who passed away this year, Leonard Nimoy can be found at the 1:31 point of "TCM remembers 2015".

#572 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 04:21 PM:

Apropos of absolutely nothing, my newspaper prints one page of comics in two columns. I read all of the left column, then all of the right column. Is there anyone with this arrangement who reads across?

#573 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 07:35 PM:

Until you mentioned it, Brenda, I never thought that anyone would read across.

#575 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 08:35 PM:

Tom, #566: And IMO he succeeded. It's an early version of the Singularity.

Serge, #571: And Harve Bennett right after him. Also, how did I miss James Horner's death? And Andrew Lesnie, cinematographer on the LOTR trilogy. Both of the last two were too damn young to die (61 and 59, respectively).

#576 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 08:36 PM:

It is interesting living in a time when you can be picky about the genre TV you watch. And that there's an excellent chance that what you watch will be somewhat intelligent.

My DVR is going to be pretty full these next few weeks . . .

#577 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 09:47 PM:

Allan, #574: I love the way the Beowulf limerick retains the alliterative property of the original! Post now bookmarked for future reference.

#578 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 11:32 PM:

Tichborne's Elegy

My prime of youth’s nothing but cares,
And my cornfield is choked up with tares,
Found my death in my womb,
All the earth is a tomb,
And my life’s but delusions and snares.

#579 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 11:38 PM:

My Last Duchess

See? my wife’s portrait painter was skilled,
And with telling detail the work’s filled.
But her temper was such
That she smiled far too much,
So that’s why I had the dame killed.

#580 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2015, 11:51 PM:

Ariel’s Farewell

Our revels are ended. The score,
The towers, and globe, are no more.
We’re naught but the shade
Out of which dreams are made
And we round our wee lives with a snore.

#581 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:03 AM:

Lessons of the War

Nature’s bounty calls out to our hearts
With the lure of lewd beckoning tarts,
The Japonica twines…
But the carbine’s clip shines
For today we have naming of parts

#582 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:14 AM:

Spoon River Anthology

We’re the dead folk asleep on the hill,
Of our life's substance freely we spill.
Some were victims, some kind,
Some were evil defined.
All are grist for the moralist’s mill.

#583 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:24 AM:

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

As sun's rays light turrets at dawn
We’re new vessels, fired up to go on.
Freshly crafted and fine,
Filled with promise and wine,
Yet by night, we’re all drunk, and then gone.

#584 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:35 AM:

To His Coy Mistress

Had we more time and space at our call,
I’d not mind your reluctance at all,
But you might die a maid,
And I’ll never get laid!
Best we drop this demureness and ball.

#585 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:44 AM:

Lee @ 575... So many leaving every year, some too soon. Some after a long life, but still being missed.

#586 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:50 AM:

The Listeners

The Traveler called out at the door
That his promise he’d kept, as he’d swore,
Till unanswered, bereft,
He grew weary and left
Just our silence behind him, no more.

#587 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:54 AM:

Fire and Ice

So some say earth will finish in ice,
While some others say fire’s just as nice.
What I know of desire
Makes me lean toward the fire,
Or perhaps some atomic device.

#588 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 02:27 AM:

This is one I prepared much earlier, but I can't resist reusing it

This is just to say

The plums, which you left there on ice
I have eaten; they went in a trice
If you meant them to last
For an evening repast
Then I'm sorry, but boy were they nice

#589 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 02:35 AM:

The Oxen

“They’ll be kneeling, the ox and the cow”
But no-one would think like that now.
But if he wants to look,
Like a kid in a book..
He’d convince me, though I don’t know how.

#590 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 02:46 AM:

Naming of Parts

The Enfield is made of a lot
Of machine-work, and easy it’s not
But there’s spring in the air
And the bees couldn’t care
For a swivel, which we have not got

#591 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 08:42 AM:

The Rolling English road

The Englishman's fond of his beer
He drinks it each day of the year
Which is why our roads ramble
As we drunkenly amble
Till death us do part, my old dear.

#592 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 10:17 AM:

The Windhover

This morning, as something that pleases,
I saw a bird riding the breezes.
The grace of his flight
Filled me with delight -
In a way he reminds me of Jesus.

#593 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 11:14 AM:

Brenda Kalt #572: I not only read a column at a time, I read down the left column and up the right. And read the Sunday funnies back to front, except for the first page. (For some reason, I'm more comfortable with paging in reverse for large-format things that are not necessarily ordered.)

#594 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 11:29 AM:

The Warning

When I'm old I'll wear purple and red
And put a daft hat on my head.
I think I'll start now.
I look foolish, and how!
Come back! Was it something I said?

#595 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:24 PM:


#596 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 12:51 PM:

In the midst of both shot and of shell
our bisti, he did his job well
so it seems untoward
that his only reward
is carrying water in hell

#597 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 07:53 PM:

The woods of my neighbor are deep,
But linger I can't, so I keep
The horse on his way;
As he hauls on the sleigh
In a few miles I'm going to sleep.

#598 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 08:05 PM:


There once was a man who said, "Hark!
Did Jesus set foot in this park?
Did he once tread green hills
Where are now mostly mills
That are British, satanic, and dark?"

#599 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 08:08 PM:

A. E. Housman

Terence, this all is a bore.
To read your sad tales is a chore.
We'd jump up and dance
If you'd give us a chance,
For we like the cheerful tunes more.

#600 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 08:48 PM:

We live in this dreary old town
A life of dispair, not renown.
Women come and they go
Speak of Mich'langelo
And we go to the mermaids, and drown.

#601 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 08:49 PM:

We live in this FOGGY old town....

#602 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 09:01 PM:


“O Edward, my son, do you bleed?”
“No, I just killed my hawk. …No, my steed.
Well, in truth, I killed Dad.”
“O my son! Why so bad?”
“You should know! Your damned words I did heed!”

#603 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 09:06 PM:

(quietly changing my own copy to "…did I heed," for those keeping score at home)

#604 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 09:09 PM:

Green Eggs and Ham

“I am Sam! Have some green eggs and ham!”
“For your foodstuff, I don’t give a clam!
I’d not eat them here, there,
On the sea, ground, or air…
…Hm, no: wait. These are great! Thank you, Sam!”

#605 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 09:12 PM:


Spam Spam Spam, Spam Spam Spam, Spam Spam Spam
Spam, Spam, Spam Spam Spam, wonderful Spam:
Spam Spam Spam, Spam Spam Spam
Spam Spam Glorious Spam,
Spam Spam, Spam Spam Spam, Spam Spam Spam Spam!

#606 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 10:38 PM:

A traveler got lost in the sand --
Found a head, not an arm or a hand.
Its inscription was proud,
But it no longer cowed,
When nothing was left to command.

#607 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2015, 11:14 PM:

Milton told some Friends, playing at Dice,
his Idea 'bout the dark Lord of Vice.
Quoth one Friend, "My dear John,
are you putting me on?
Don't you know Dante's got Him on Ice!"

Milt shrugged as He blew on his Fist.
"There's so much to be said of the Tryst
'twixt the Girl and the Snake,
and there's so much at Stake.
So how's This for the ultimate Twist:--

"I will make the main Character Satan,
and the Conflict is all about Fate and
the Will:-- is It Free?
But I'm Blind, don't you see.
My sweet Daughters won't mind my Dictatin'.

"It would seem Life's a Series of Traps
set to tempt all you Ladies and Chaps
with Deceptions and Lies----"
Then He roll'd up Snake Eyes :
So It was that He clean'd up at Craps.

"Well Play'd," call'd a Friend from the Back.
"And I know that you sure aren't a Hack.
You've not written It yet,
so perhaps It's not Set,
but:-- I guess that Eve had a nice Rack?"

"Oh, no, no," cried Jack to his Pal.
"It's got nothing to do with the Gal
being skillful in Bed,
or a Turner of Heads
which sends Them from that bless'd Locale.
It's about Their free Will,
and how Satan's dark Trill
didn't harmonize with the Chorale."

#608 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 01:15 AM:

Board Books Thread: I was just reminded of the existence of the works of Satoshi Kitamura, most especially including Cat is Sleepy and Dog is Thirsty. Bonkers in a fun way, gentle, the illustrations are a lot of fun, and it was amusing for the adult to read many times.

#610 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 01:38 PM:

I've been reading through the GOP debate transcript from last night. Watching those guys talk about foreign policy and terrorism is sort-of like watching a bunch of 8-year-olds discuss how to design airplanes, based on cartoon physics.

#611 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 01:38 PM:

I've been reading through the GOP debate transcript from last night. Watching those guys talk about foreign policy and terrorism is sort-of like watching a bunch of 8-year-olds discuss how to design airplanes, based on cartoon physics.

#612 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 03:46 PM:

Open thready: Is there a name for this sort of cover design? The leather of the book cover has been molded, sculpted, and/or wrinkled to create a raised figure. I can't figure out what search terms to use that will give me results from more than this one Etsy shop.

#613 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 04:26 PM:

albatross @ 611 -

Agreed. That said, the format of the GOP debates with ten candidates precludes anything substantial or subtle. Nine out of the ten present are going to political Neverland, and they really hate the idea. (I'm assuming the four at the kiddie table already know they're dog meat).

#614 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 04:43 PM:

shadowsong @612:

Were I to describe that, I'd say "molded leather" (or "moulded leather", depending on dialect.)

#615 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2015, 10:36 PM:

I was impressed with the SyFy channels presentation of Childhood's End and The Expanse.

Charles Dance's portrayal of Karellen in the former was superb, and I was impressed with the CGI and makeup to create the Overlord.

And The Expanse is really good. I don't know about anyone else, but I kept getting a flavor of The Stars My Destination in it. It had the same feeling that the whole solar system was the stage (at least out to Jupiter). Very nicely done.

#616 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 12:50 AM:

I just started watching Childhood's End. Literally just now. I'm pleased to hear it was well recieved.

* * *
What has really blown me away this fall is "Fargo." Ghastly people, ghastly violence. Plus a few decent people, who (having not seen the finale) I hope survive.

#617 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 12:55 AM:

It took four hours and a half when it should have taken three hours to get there, but the last scene from "Childhood's End" remained heartbreaking.

#618 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 02:06 AM:

I'm very sad to report here that one of the most brilliant authors I know has died. Peter Dickinson is no longer with us. I'm very sad. An under-recognized genre-breaker.

#619 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 11:03 AM:

Tom Whitmore #618:

And married to Robin McKinley.

#620 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 11:47 AM:

the Google doodle reminded me:
It's Beethoven's birthday!

#621 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 01:12 PM:

For the past few months I have been labouring under the belief that the script of world politics was being written by a team consisting of Kafka, Ionesco, and Dalí. That Groucho Marx is on that team as well is confirmed by the fact that Vladimir Putin has both endorsed Donald Trump and called for Sepp Blatter to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

AKICIML When's the next flight to Arcturus?

#622 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Miranda's dad had to flee
To an isle in the midst of the sea;
But the villains got there,
Were trapped in their lair,
And Ariel, at last, was set free.

#623 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 02:26 PM:

P J Evans @ 620:

[nitpick] Google seems to be celebrating the anniversary of Beethoven's baptism. I was surprised to see the Doodle today, since I've always thought he was born on December 16. Wikipedia says he was baptized the 17th, and that although there's no record of the exact date of his birth, his family and teacher celebrated it on the 16th. I take this as permission to celebrate Beethoven's nativity for (at least) two days...

Thanks for prompting me to look it up!

#624 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 05:21 PM:

The Expanse, Childhood's End, The Magicians: it's been an "all my evenings are reserved" week. I've loved the Expanse, agree with Serge on CE, and haven't decided what I think about Magicians the adaptation.

With the latter, I can't model what I'd think about it if I hadn't read the books (parallel stories from the books are shown in episode 1). I'm now trying to decide how much of what I like about the books' storytelling is the heavy-duty allusionary postmodern style, which can't translate to the screen.

On a meta level, I'm glad we've reached that time where special effects are cheap enough to often not be the limiting factor in adapting stories for screens. There are plenty of great stories which couldn't be done well 15 years ago, and now they're at least feasible.

#625 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 06:07 PM:

To me, the 17th has always been Beethoven's Boxing Day.

My birthday was the 15th, and the birth certificate says I was born at 11:59 pm, PST. Only recently did I learn, from Dad, that I was born at exactly midnight, and the doctor gave Mom a choice, and she opted to have my birthday be the day she'd spent pretty much being in labor all day, which seems sort of right.

#626 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 09:39 PM:

AKICIML: If one had chickenpox at 18, and shingles at 47, the latter during a period of extreme psychological stress, should one get the shingles vaccine at 59, when similar stress is at hand, and expected to last for months? I am not sure when/whether I will be able to afford to see a doctor who really knows...

#627 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 10:26 PM:

Angiportus @626: IANAD, but I'd get the vaccine in those circumstances. It's (relatively) cheap insurance against getting shingles again, right? I've never had shingles, but I really don't want to, from all the descriptions. You have, and you know how much it's worth to you not to have them again.

And anything that says "at 60" can be done at 59, medically. There's nothing magic about a specific year. Just a change in the probability matrix.

#628 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 10:35 PM:

Angiportus, my health insurance wouldn't cover the shingles vaccine until I was 60. If you can afford to pay for it out of pocket, go ahead and get it...

#629 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2015, 10:50 PM:

This is NOT Beethoven's birthday. That was yesterday. Today is Beethoven's BAPTISM day.

#630 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 12:03 AM:

It probably won't prevent it, but it should make it less bad. My insurance covered it, although they might not be happy. (It's around $230.)

#631 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 03:10 AM:

Angioportus #626: Since 2011, the shingles vaccine has been approved for people over 50.

#632 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 03:13 AM:

Angioportus #626: restrictions on recommending it for people under 60 are based on the average cost-effectiveness being lower in younger people because shingles is less common.

#633 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 04:11 AM:

That WebMD article you link to has one sentence that rings very oddly to me:

When reactivated in later years, the virus erupts into extremely painful shingles-like lesions.
...shingles-like?? I mean, yeah, you can't get more like shingles than that, okay.

#634 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 09:07 AM:

Late, late yestreen, Mark Evanier said he would repost his most popular post today. I was pretty sure I knew which one he meant, and I was right.

#635 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 09:50 AM:

David Goldfarb, I think the article means "like-shingles-on-a-roof", not the tautological "like the lesions that this virus causes."

#636 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 10:19 AM:

I intend to get the shingles vaccine. Meanwhile I'm enjoying the advertising. One has . . . one of the Van Dyke brothers? . . . happily talking up the benefits. Another is scaaaaary, and ends with a guy with shingles about to call his doctor to announce that the rash is about to hit his eye. BLEAURRRHHHG!

There's another vaccine ad out there that I adore, for the wrong reason. It's for whooping cough. It shows doting grandparents coughing and turning into whopping great werewolves as their infant grandchild is about to arrive. The print ad shows two werewolves doting over a baby. Only, they're not ravening werewolves. As an SF fan it comes across as a kindly elderly uplifted-wolf couple babysitting their neighbor's new arrival. Awwww!

#637 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 12:28 PM:

I'm idly wondering whether our esteemed moderators are considering the establishment of a spoiler thread dedicated to Star Wars: I Think We Can All Agree That This Is the Seventh One.

All the hype and toy-mongering and chatter among younger enthusiasts on the Net keeps reminding me of the staggering impact Movie One had upon me and my friends in the summer of 1977. There's a reason so many stood in line. There's a reason some of us went to see it again and again. It just grabbed our brains. For a while every conversation seemed to turn, sooner or later, to Star Wars. I don't suppose I'll ever experience another phenomenon like it.

I'm hoping the new film delivers a fraction of that magic. Not only to me, not only to my fellow aging Boomers, but also to those for whom Star Wars has always been present in the world.

#638 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 12:33 PM:

Bill: for me, going to see the Matrix as an adult who had seen a lot of SF and action films was mind-blowing. Nothing had ever been like that. He left the phone booth at the end and the entire theater was just stunned. Everyone was talking it over as we left, trying to process it.

Movies made after it are, in a very real way, living in a Hollywood the Matrix made. It's striking to me watching people considerably younger than me consume culture and just live in a world where the Matrix is an ASSUMPTION, a baseline upon which all their pop culture is made.

I imagine it must have been similar for Star Wars. I've read essays written by people who were adults when it launched, but I've never known a world without Star Wars as an assumed baseline to all pop culture.

#639 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Cute overload: river otters with snow (SF's Aquarium of the Bay)

#640 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 04:00 PM:

I realized today why "GIF" has a soft G.

Giraffic Interchange Format.

#641 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 04:15 PM:

Bill Higgins, #637, Elliott Mason #638: I think there's actually a third example of that sort of transformative film; it wasn't a big-budget release, and its effects were slower to kick in, but The Rocky Horror Picture Show surely informed much of what came after it.

#642 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 05:39 PM:

Bill Higgins: I was 16 in 1977. I am cautiously hopeful for this one, particularly after Scalzi's (spoiler-free) review.

#643 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 06:07 PM:

shadowsong @612 and abi @614

I'm not sure that this is quite the same technique, but I was thinking of "embossed" as the word, and Google turning up a page about a Dutch guy,

Using a 3D printer to make the mould for an embossed leather book cover

Except that there are a few things in it which abi might not approve of. Though it is maybe in thje spirit of Making Light

#644 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 06:15 PM:

Star Wars wasn't a transformative film for me, but I loved it at the time because it felt like a validation of sorts. Gorgeous big canvas space opera akin to Anderson, Dickson, Asimov, Niven, et al.

And of course there were the visceral thrills. That first shot of the freaking enormous starship flying over . . . I suppose the dramatic pull-out from the window of the space freighter in Silent Running was akin to that, so I can't write "there was nothing ever like that before," but that, and the cool sets, and wonderful sound production, really raised the bar.

Current plans are to see TFA with family next week. It is going to be hard to wait. My nieces want to see the first six films first, which is going to be painful. Revenge of the Sith . . . ugh!

#645 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 06:25 PM:

Riffing off Sandy B. @ 640 -

Welcome to Giraffic Park

#646 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 06:36 PM:

Bud Webster's in a hospice. He got over his edema, and was blindsided by cancer of the bile ducts. Some of my other friends down there in the Richmond, VA, area are hanging with him (and Mary Horton, who has outlived her "three years" prognosis by half a year, so far) in his room. This hasn't been a good year for Virginia fandom. Makes me damn glad Bud got his recognition while he could enjoy it.

#647 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 07:41 PM:

For the font enthusiasts: New Canada 150 typeface supports English, French, indigenous languages.

It's not a particularly memorable font, but it's not meant to be.

#648 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 08:32 PM:

Interesting short SF film about VR. With a disturbing bent....

#649 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 08:39 PM:

Of late I've been noticing that on my Facebook mobile app (not on the desktop version AFAICT), when I click on a political item linked by a friend, the thing that shows up as a "people also read" item underneath it is something about the same item on a RWA site like br**tb* I have two questions about this:

1) Is the placement of this stuff being paid for? (Answer: almost certainly yes.)

2) Do the people who paid to place it get back a list of the names to whom it was shown? Because that would be... disturbing, for multiple reasons.

#650 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 08:57 PM:

Lee @ 649 -

If Facebook does share your name, they're going against what they state.

Here are the types of third parties we can share information with about you:
Advertising, Measurement and Analytics Services (Non-Personally Identifiable Information Only).
We want our advertising to be as relevant and interesting as the other information you find on our Services. With this in mind, we use all of the information we have about you to show you relevant ads. We do not share information that personally identifies you (personally identifiable information is information like name or email address that can by itself be used to contact you or identifies who you are) with advertising, measurement or analytics partners unless you give us permission. We may provide these partners with information about the reach and effectiveness of their advertising without providing information that personally identifies you, or if we have aggregated the information so that it does not personally identify you. For example, we may tell an advertiser how its ads performed, or how many people viewed their ads or installed an app after seeing an ad, or provide non-personally identifying demographic information (such as 25 year old female, in Madrid, who likes software engineering) to these partners to help them understand their audience or customers, but only after the advertiser has agreed to abide by our advertiser guidelines.

#651 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 09:46 PM:

A slideshow for Fragano and other teachers to dream on:

16 Hilarious notes from teachers who've had just about enough of their students.

#652 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2015, 09:52 PM:

I am not a doctor either, but while doctors generally won't recommend the shingles vaccine for anyone under sixty, it's approved (in the U.S.) for anyone over 50. I think I was eight days past my fiftieth birthday when I asked my doctor to prescribe it, and she just said "OK" and wrote the script, which I took to the nearest pharmacy. (That wasn't the main purpose of that visit, but I had been keeping an eye on the calendar for this.) The doctor didn't say anything about warnings/counterindications.

Also, obviously I don't know what your insurance covers, but if you don't know it's worth checking rather than assuming it isn't covered.

#653 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 07:39 AM:

Also, apparently, having had shingles protects you against getting it again. But I may have gotten that wrong, so ask your doctor.

#654 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 09:06 AM:

When everyone has it, nobody will, and mankind will enter a new phase called the Shingularity.

#655 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 09:27 AM:

Re: TNH's new particle Boutique Academia, I saw a lot of that jewelry in the gift shop for NYC's Museum of Natural History.

#656 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 09:34 AM:

Abi, thank you for the Force Awakens spoiler thread. I'm probably not going to be seeing it until after Christmas, and maybe not until after the New Year. I'd like to go in as unspoiled as possible.

(It's going to be really, really hard for me to stay away from that thread until then. More words! On Making Light! And I can't read them yet! Waaaaaah! :)

#657 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Angiportus @626: I had shingles in my 30s, and asked my doctor about the shingles vaccine just the other day. She said that it would give me more protection. Since I'm not 60 yet, insurance probably won't cover it. She said that insurance seemed to be more likely to cover it at a pharmacy than in the doctor's office, but YMMV. She gave me a pneumonia vaccine -- apparently recommended for those of us with asthma -- and said to wait 2-3 weeks before I got a shingles shot, because they don't give live & dead vaccines at the same time.

Stefan Jone @636: My shingles was on my back, and I cannot fathom having it head for my eye. Eeeee!

#658 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 11:14 AM:

A recent article in "Consumer Reports" documents how prescription prices vary enormously from one store to another. Realizing that I should compare prices before I get my shingles vaccine, I just called the Rite Aid near me. They checked my insurance, and said there wouldn't even be a co-pay!

Then I called the pharmacy at the Giant Eagle pharmacy. They said they couldn't check my insurance because it requires a prescription if you are younger than 65. Since my doctor said no prescription is required, I think their system is messed up.

#659 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 11:33 AM:

I'm 54 and the shingles vaccine is not covered by my insurance until I'm 60, even though I work in health care and am exposed to patients with shingles. :-P

(My workplace provides several vaccines to employees at no cost, but not that one.)

#660 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 11:54 AM:

Don't bet on that. I've had it twice in the last six years. (I'll recommend antivirals, if your doctor will prescribe them. Makes it Not So Bad.)

#661 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 07:44 PM:

Nancy L @ 457: that's about all I know; there was also a columnist fulminating, but the producers basically said -"that's the way we chose to fit the story into a movie length"- and (AFAICT) didn't even acknowledge the offended person's complaint. I'm not surprised there wasn't more; suing Hollywood for libel takes deep pockets, and finding a fair jury would not be trivial.

Cassy B @ 474: for next year, maybe Howl's Moving Castle?

Lee @ 564: can you format the GodRest/Huron mapping to make sense in this blog? I'm not getting the last lines to work at all....

thomas @ 589: there's a coincidence; I'd never heard of that poem until a few weeks ago, when our conductor handed us a setting of it by Bryan Cresswell (who I'd also never heard of, but should), the father of one of our members.

Kip W @ 634: what a wonderful story!
Not as good, but a video that got to me: Flash mob sings "Wana Baraka" in a library

#662 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 07:47 PM:

I wrote a political double dactyl this afternoon and I thought about posting it here but it might be too incendiary. I need to make time in my life for Making Light once again.

#663 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2015, 09:40 PM:

CHip: I have always loved that story, and I'm not even a fan of Torme, though I have a certain respect for him and I think his voice sounds good. In my opinion, nobody can tell a story quite like Mark Evanier, though as he points out, people like to reprint that story and pretend they wrote it. I did a search a couple of days back and found examples of it.

He also says that someone wrote and asked what his second most popular post was, and he allowed as how it might be his Larry Hagman story. He cautions that he doesn't know what the third or fourth would be, so people shouldn't write in and ask.

I liked the video. I looked up the song, and it's a Kenyan Folk Song. I do wish they'd mentioned the fact — giving credit where due, and all that. You go, Kenyan folk!

#664 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 05:08 AM:

David Harmon @648: Wow. Raqre'f Tnzr zrrgf Angvbany Trbtencuvp.

#665 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 06:15 AM:

Ear @662:
I need to make time in my life for Making Light once again.

Please do.

#666 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 07:39 AM:

Jacque #664: Indeed.

#667 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 03:19 PM:

David Harmon @648, 666 -- it was to me much more reminiscent of Peter Watkins' work than anything I've seen in years. Same kind of brilliant, too. Perhaps worth mentioning over on the Hugo noms thread.

#668 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 07:27 PM:

The Rijksmuseum is putting a lot of pictures online, and encouraging you to download and use them in your own creations.

#669 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 08:27 PM:

Packing for a trip back east.

For the first time in years, I don't have a dog I need to hustle to the boarding kennel.

Convenient, but sad.

Thinking about what it would take to adopt a train a new dog is making me resent my new job assignment all the more, and the new corporate atmosphere. Longer hours, no dogs in the office.

I had it so good for so many years.

#670 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Packing for a trip back east.

For the first time in years, I don't have a dog I need to hustle to the boarding kennel.

Convenient, but sad.

Thinking about what it would take to adopt a train a new dog is making me resent my new job assignment all the more, and the new corporate atmosphere. Longer hours, no dogs in the office.

I had it so good for so many years.

#671 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 09:53 PM:

David Harmon @666*: Also: chillingly plausible.

* snerk!

#672 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 10:06 PM:

*puff!* >strut!<

This is my guy!

Cory Doctorow characterizes him as "a known happy mutant." :-)

(Sometimes living in Boulder is really cool!)

#673 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 10:30 PM:

I could just cry. My son wanted a yellow cake for his birthday tomorrow, so I pulled the 4-egg cake recipe from The Joy and went to it. It's a butter cake with sifted cake flour, white sugar, milk, salt, vanilla, baking powder, and 4 separated eggs; the whites are beaten until stiff with cream of tartar and more sugar, then folded into the batter. Bake in 3 9-inch pans.

I checked them 10 minutes short of the time. The layer on the bottom rack had puffed up nicely, but the ones on the top rack had shrunk almost half an inch away from the sides of the pan and were about a finger thick! Then the one on the bottom fell too.

I'm out of flour and tired. Can I salvage this cake with some good frosting or should we give up and go to the bakery? And what did I do wrong?

#674 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 10:58 PM:

Jenny Islander - weird. Maybe temperature differences, or the baking powder didn't get mixed in evenly enough? My perspective on how I would have reacted to it at that age is that (unless the cake was too tough to slice), a higher ratio of frosting to cake overrides just about any problems less serious than using salt instead of the sugar. Maybe the two thinner layers should go on the bottom so it cuts more evenly.

#675 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2015, 11:00 PM:

Maybe I shouldn't have had the baking stone in? Also, I'm not very familiar with beating egg whites. I beat them to soft peaks with the cream of tartar, then beat them until what I took for stiff peaks with the sugar. But I stopped just when the egg white held its shape when pulled upward because they weren't supposed to get dry.

#676 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 02:29 AM:

Jenny Islander - That cake sounds like it will be very tasty regardless.

#677 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 09:16 AM:

Jenny Islander #673: Ouch! For starters, I agree with TomB that if it's cuttable and chewable, it's still a cake, and frosting can make up the difference.

At first I was thinking temperature differences, perhaps aggravated by the baking stone. But if the third layer then fell too, there might be a more basic problem with the recipe... or perhaps with the oven. (1) Do you have an oven thermometer in there, to verify what temperature it's reaching? Home ovens can be pretty bad about precision, my own oven seems to run about 25°F low. (2) I'll let some more experienced baker figure out the thing with the eggs, but it does seem plausible that there could be a problem there. I vaguely remember some dire warning about stray yolk in with the whites...?

In any case, I hope your son's birthday party goes well!

Coincidentally, I just made chocolate chip cookies for a potluck party. Note that recipe doesn't have any spice, but regardless I added my "secret ingredient", cardamom. I made a "warm-up" batch the day before, which came out a little too spicy and mostly merged in the pan. Upon tasting I decided on further tweaks for the party batch the next day: Most importantly, adding my third (smallest) cookie sheet. I also reduced the cardamom to 1/4 tsp (from nearly 1/2 tsp), and just softened the butter instead of melting it. That last didn't get me the domes I'd hoped for, but at least with the extra room there was much less merging, and the spicing came out just right.

They were a major hit at the party. ;-) I gave most of the first batch to my sister's family, but did keep a few for myself (and my stepfather, who'd missed the party).

I'm liking that "Serious Eats" site; while wandering around there I also found a nice guide to the practical differences between white and brown sugar. There's also an article comparing light and dark brown sugar, but that just sums up to "more molasses flavor, not much difference in behavior".

#678 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Minor correction to me #677: I was agreeing with Bill Stewart as well as TomB.

#679 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Arggh, this is even stupider than the "clock kid" case: 12 year old Sikh boy arrested on bomb charges over solar panel. This in response to an unsubstantiated accusation from one of his classmates.

#680 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 11:32 AM:

David Harmon @ 677

If you want the domes, freeze the cookie dough 24 hours before you bake it. (put frozen dough in oven, bake as directed.)

#681 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 02:20 PM:

I am done for the semester. My grades are in. I am, for the first time in months, able to breathe. However, I cannot let the semester pass without, ahem, unfurling one last batch of student wisdom:

Unlike Castro, Stroessner was not able to retire due to his old health.

However the distinction between race and ethnicity is one that is often confused amongst each other.

In 1948 the federation of 11 peninsular states were compromised in 1948.

The organization of homo genius ethnic interest groups act as a voice for the concerns of those people within that specific category.

Once the British fought the Spanish and acquired Jamaica from them many Jamaicans escaped to the Maroons and created a deadly force that specialized in gorilla warfare.

One of the most interesting things about Jamaica’s rituals is Jamaican’s use of rum in their rituals.

I believe Russia has the best chance of becoming and staying a democracy in the near future and that is because Russia has slowly been moving towards a socialist democratic state. Now socialism isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it is often tied to dictatorships and with dictatorships there is very little reform or democracy in a state.

Mauritania is a country that I had no knowledge of its existence, and furthermore no knowledge of the lifestyle that lies within it.

Less developed countries, more commonly known as third world countries are nations that are currently behind the wave of increasing industrial capitalizing countries.

David Hume was highly influenced by Locke philosophies and most aspects that are were surrounded by.

Both the ancient and Enlightenment thinks of the world gave numerous aspects to the political subjects that are studied today. Ancient thinkers dealt with the mind of Confusions and Chistine de Pizan, any others.

Plato and Aristotle were considered to be three of the few greatest ancient thinkers that the world has ever seen.

In the Republican, he spoke of the virtuous individual but in a different view.

His family’s involvement in Jamaican government could have possibly overrode his true thoughts of slavery, causing him to carry a duel sided opinion.

Though for the citizens, political liberty mean neither citizen should fear the other.

#682 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 02:39 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 681:

And now is it time for one of those Jamaican rum rituals?

#683 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 02:46 PM:

Getting students to write for each other.

I don't know that it would do Fragano's students any good-- it seems to assume some basic competence-- but I like the idea.

#684 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 03:13 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #683, I took an online class last year that had a very substantial discussion-board component (one comment on the prompt and 2 responses to another student's comment, twice a week). It really decreased the sense of isolation and boredom. Moreover, this is a small program, and I did have other classes with many of my online classmates; the discussion board helped me get to know them.

#685 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 05:41 PM:

There's a new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is supposed to follow Harry, Hermione,and Ron into middle age. Casting for the three leads has just been announced, and the actor cast for Hermione is black. Predictably, the nastier parts of the blogosphere are having the same kind of meltdown they had over a black lead in Star Wars.

Rowling, however, is just fine with this.

#686 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 07:49 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @681 Mauritania is a country that I had no knowledge of its existence, and furthermore no knowledge of the lifestyle that lies within it.

I'd call that a refreshing bit of honestly, actually. <grin>

#687 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 08:43 PM:

Well, the party's over. I called it a sponge cake and slathered it in milk chocolate frosting. It went well with the ice cream, which was a choice of strawberry, vanilla, and (at my son's request) blueberry. My son is a genius.

I'll definitely try it again without the baking stone and check the temperature with the oven thermometer. It's my first foam cake, so I probably goofed with the eggs, but best be sure.

#688 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 09:27 PM:

David Harmon @648:
That is phenomenal, and way too plausible a possibility for comfort.

#689 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 09:42 PM:

Jenny Islander 687: Glad the cake worked! I wouldn't blame the baking stone. I always keep one in my oven. Give the oven a little more time to reach temperature, and thoroughly heat the stone, and it will keep your oven a more consistent temperature when you open the door to check things.

Is it a convection oven? A good fan moving the air around should make multiple pans bake the same. I usually don't try to put 3 pans in the oven. If I want more filling, I'll bake two layers and split them.

To be honest, while I make some fancy things like flourless chocolate torte from scratch, when it comes to cakes, I almost always go with recipes from "The Cake Mix Doctor" cookbooks. They are bulletproof and delicious. I took some baking classes at a culinary school, and when we got to the cakes from scratch, I was disappointed. It was fiddly having the eggs and butter at just the right temperature, and the final results all needed the flavor and moisture boosted with syrup or the like.

Speaking of flourless chocolate torte, I just discovered that an Oxo "omelet" spatula is perfect for folding together the melted chocolate mixture and beaten eggs. This may interest Benjamin Wolfe, though he probably already has a splendid spatula.

#690 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 11:17 PM:

In fact, I own several. I'm particularly fond of a gigantic Rubbermaid number for working with large mixer bowls full of cake batter and the like. The nice thing is that the spatula in question is cheap, however the cheap one is not well suited to temperatures beyond boiling. Just because it looks like you can stir eggs with it while scrambling doesn't mean you should.

#691 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2015, 11:57 PM:

Jenny Islander #687: the ice cream, which was a choice of strawberry, vanilla, and (at my son's request) blueberry. My son is a genius.

And patriotic too! (Assuming you are in the US.) :-) Glad things worked out.

cajunfj40 #688: And entirely too close to current practice with the drones. :-( As I put it to my friends, "they're playing the game, but who's playing them?"

#692 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 01:23 AM:

Glad the cake turned out to be good.

This reminded me of when I was young and my dad decided to get into baking bread. Challenging bread, such as wild sourdough rye. For the first few years the loaves came out pretty dense, about 10" wide and 1.5" tall. They had oodles of flavor and excellent structural integrity. Sandwiches made with his bread could hold up to anything. Eventually he figured out how to make tall fluffy loaves, which are also good. But nothing could be better than the whole grain doorstops of my childhood.

#693 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 02:34 AM:

David Harmon @648

I doubt it. The whole point of games is to eliminate the boring parts of real life, and I bet that actual warfare has more boredom than would be tolerable for gamers.

#694 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 08:30 AM:

TomB #692: I recall the "Bread Book" of my college days had a section on "how to slice a brick" (for square sandwiches). The trick was to cut the condensed-matter loaf in half, then cut those roughly-square pieces flatwise.

Nancy Lebovitz #693: Real warfare also involves actual fear of the enemy, as opposed to sitting in a safe base and potshotting targets on your screen. As far as the movie scenario, it would be easy to come up with "filler" material to keep players entertained between "erny" svtugf.

#695 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 09:19 AM:

David Harmon @ 694

That's The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book; it is a superb guide to making whole-grain bread (I have it, have probably read most pages at least 3 times, and lend it out frequently.)

#696 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 09:43 AM:

#694 ::: David Harmon

Sitting in an air-conditioned office piloting a drone may not be "real" warfare, but it's happening in the real world.

I'm not looking forward to the the possibility of an attack on Langley, but I can't say it would be unjustified.

I don't have a feeling for whether real war has a sufficiently predictable rhythm that you could have gamers do the fun parts while adding filler. I'm still mystified at why they'd use uninformed gamers rather than soldiers.

#697 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #696: why they'd use uninformed gamers rather than soldiers.

Like I said, not meant to be an actual prediction. That is part of the conceit of the film; artistically, it serves the purpose of bringing the viewers (many of them gamers) into the protagonist's position. That said, the arguments from Ender's Game itself apply; military indoctrination being imperfect, informed combatants might object to their orders.

#698 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 11:11 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @693: I bet that actual warfare has more boredom than would be tolerable for gamers.

Except here, you could presumably unplug to go pee and get a snack, or maybe just hop out to a different part of the game. Also, I think a lot of the boredom comes when you're waiting for something to happen. The implication is that here, you could go make something happen.

#699 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 12:22 PM:

#692, TomB: wild sourdough rye. For the first few years the loaves came out pretty dense, about 10" wide and 1.5" tall. They had oodles of flavor and excellent structural integrity. Sandwiches made with his bread could hold up to anything. Eventually he figured out how to make tall fluffy loaves, which are also good. But nothing could be better than the whole grain doorstops of my childhood.

I'm at the 10" wide and 1.5" tall stage of 100% rye sourdough. I've seen more puffy loaves at the farm market that claim they are 100% rye sourdough. What's the secret? (Also I have dark rye flour; I've never seen light rye flour in my grocery store. The recipe I have been using is modified from a light rye flour recipe, mainly adding more water so it rises at all. Took a couple of tries to get the hydration percentage right.)

I agree that the dense flat ones are amazing, both for their taste and for the entertainment value of watching somebody who's never seen it before try to cut a slice off, but it would be nice to get a slightly taller loaf that isn't 80% crust sometimes. Although having a good chewy crust to work on for a while is also nice.

#700 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 01:27 PM:

Janra @699 -- how much rising time are you giving the dough?

For heavy doughs, like the mincemeat bread I'll be making on Christmas Eve, allow at least 3 risings.

And you can always cheat -- add commercial fast-rising yeast...

#701 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 01:39 PM:

Random open-threadiness

I decided to do something nearly unheard-of for me and take the three extra days vacation to get Christmas week entirely off work and then NOT GO ANYWHERE. I have, in fact, taken the unheard-of (but forgiven) step of not joining my brothers and father in Maine for family rituals. This is largely because I've spent all my other vacation and holiday time this year traveling, mostly to assorted conventions, and by golly I needed some me time.

I haven't quite gone all-out vegetative, however, because no sooner had I made the decision than I thought, "You know, with an entire week off, if I could write one chapter per day, I could accomplish my original goal of having the first draft of Mother of Souls complete by the end of 2015." So far, I'm on track.

But in a nod to the season, I'm doing some desultory holiday cooking. Today I chopped up a great deal of dried and preserved fruit and set it soaking in brandy in anticipation of a cake-like-object. I'm enjoying being able to take most of the ingredients from "the produce of my estates" (i.e., home-grown or at least home-processed): the three types of candied peel, the dried apples, the black walnuts. (Only the currants are store-bought.)

I feel like I've been neglecting participation here lately. (I confess I'm two-timing the Making Light community with File 770.) Here's hoping all the fluorospherians have a chance to enjoy the season in whatever peculiar mixture of activities you enjoy, like I am.

#702 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 02:19 PM:

#700, Lori Coulson: Yes, three risings. The particular recipe I've been using takes a couple of days. I generally time it as an all-day rise, an overnight rise, and the third rise in the morning before baking it in the afternoon. This recipe uses only a tiny dab of sourdough starter, so it takes a lot of time to grow. I imagine that if baking this bread every day instead of as a special treat, one would bake half of it and feed the other half and keep it at the middle stage so it's an overnight rise then bake, overnight rise then bake.

Thing is, the dough does rise, but 100% rye is such a sloppy mess that it grows outwards, not up, if it's not constrained in a bowl. (I usually use one of my glass bowls so I can see all the lovely bubbles the yeast makes.) And if I used less water, it wasn't flexible enough to grow at all.

I expect that if I cut top half from bottom half this loaf would make a pair of excellent dinner plates.

#703 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 03:08 PM:

Rye bread is notorious for not rising much.
Beard on Bread has a recipe for one (Bavarian Rye) where after the first rise, it says 'You will note that little or nothing has happened to the dough. Punch it down anyway' - and that it's going to make one 8x4x2.5 inch loaf.

#704 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 04:45 PM:

Huh -- well, as for not rising up...dough bucket?

I know rye is wet and produces a very slack dough, and the only experience I have with whole grain flours is King Arthur's Heart of Winter bread. I haven't been brave enough to try any others!

Or...possibly...bread pans that would force it to the shape you want?

Wish I could be more help.

#705 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 04:57 PM:

KeithS #682: To put it in Jamaican terms: Mi naa gu dash we two-trii drap fi di dopi dem. Di waatas a fi mi wan.

#706 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 05:09 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #683: Some of those are interesting ideas. I might adopt one or two.

One of the problems I am increasingly encountering is an active resistance to learning. That is, there are students who seem to believe that university is merely a matter of certification and thus classes are optional. They don't do the readings, they don't prepare, and they they turn in either totally crappy papers or they plagiarise.

When they receive low marks as a result, they complain that I am being unfair because they need better grades in order to get into law school/graduate school/the wonderful job they're expecting will fall into their lap. Last spring, for example, one student, who could not manage to produce clear and coherent writing kept insisting that he was a master of literary style and shouted at me when I attempted to explain what was wrong with the paper he'd submitted ('I don't understand what you mean by "subordinate adjectival clause"! That's nonsense!'). Two students who turned in identical papers had incoherent explanations of how this miracle happened. A student who plagiarised their senior thesis insisted upon the need to graduate and insisted that I was driven by personal animus.

At some point in the past few decades I turned into a grown-up. This feels strange.

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

They sound like the young man I read about who's suing his law school for not being able to get a good job, despite the fact that he's failed the bar exams in two different states. (I don't think the problem is his school.)

#708 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 05:42 PM:

Fragano, I only hope that you get an occasional student who actually is interested and eager to learn. Some of them must be out there somewhere.

#709 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 06:39 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @706, an internet friend of mine who used to teach at a college in Texas (he passed away last year, sadly) would sometimes relay things his (failing) students would tell him. Like, "I paid for this class, so you owe me a good grade." Sadly, it sounds like you have the same entitled oafs in your classes....

#710 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 06:49 PM:

Going off of Fragano's observation at #706, I've seen much the same thing as a TA (and, to a lesser, but in some ways more disturbing degree, as a grad student).

I saw a few versions of this from undergrads (all of which drove me to drink and ranting). One was the deeply problematic idea that that they'd, in essence, bought their grade by dint of paying tuition. A related version was the idea that they were entitled to (or, in their language, "deserved") a high grade because they claimed to have worked hard on whatever was being graded. Feh. One occasionally works quite hard in the smallest room, but that doesn't deserve an A, either.

I've seen a handful of graduate students who were either unwilling or unable to learn, and that's a much more disconcerting version. Asking for help is one thing, wanting other people to do your research for you is another. The less immediately lethal version is failing to respect the people you're trying to work with (I might describe this as viewing everyone else in one's environment as a non-player character, and of no consequence...)

#711 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 07:42 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 662 ...
I wrote a political double dactyl this afternoon and I thought about posting it here but it might be too incendiary. I need to make time in my life for Making Light once again.

I misread that as a 'polydactyl double dactyl' ... which would be an entirely different (one thinks) matter -- but with the second sentiment I agree wholeheartedly.

#712 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 09:00 PM:

Fragano, #706: We had a similar discussion here a few years back in which someone brought up the "grocery store" hypothesis -- namely, that these people think of college as being like a grocery store. You pick out the products (classes) you want, you pay at the register (tuition), and you walk out with the goods (degree). No other effort needed.

Personally, I'm now thinking about a different model: dating/courtship vs. a call-girl service. In both cases, the ultimate goal is (most of the time) a sexual relationship. But in the first model, you have to do more than just throw money at it; in the second, you don't. And every woman knows that there are guys who think that buying you dinner entitles them to have sex with you.

If you're feeling snarky, you might consider referring these types to one of the diploma mills, since they've evidently mistaken your institution for such.

I do suggest that you quietly install some sort of voice-recording equipment near your desk, and have it turned on when students come in to complain about grades. Documentation of what was actually said might become vital at some point.

#713 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2015, 09:39 PM:

Sorry to hear about the woes of teaching these days. When I was a student, I wasn't *quite* that dim. Although I still retain a tendency to pig out on chocolate more than is good for me, if it is in the house. As I did tonight. Anyway, happy solstice! May your cooking turn out good, your students wise up and your chilling scenarios remain... unchilled.

#714 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 01:55 AM:

janra: The tall fluffy loaves my dad makes are wheat only. If you're getting sourdough rye bread to rise at all, you're really doing pretty good. But I will ask him what he advises. I started doing bread making myself, because it's fun to be able to share it with him.

#716 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 03:07 AM:

Tony Zbaraschuk #715: Alas, your link is borked.

#718 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @706: A student who plagiarised their senior thesis insisted upon the need to graduate and insisted that I was driven by personal animus.

Remarkable. Trolling reaches Academia!

#719 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Steve C #708: I definitely do. It's what keeps me going. There are few joys greater than that of seeing a student who gets it. Or of seeing a student who, on being told 'these are your limitations' immediately set out to overcome them. I am immensely proud of those young, or not so young, people.

#720 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 12:35 PM:

Cassy B #709/Benjamin Wolfe #710: I've come across heavily entitled students (and the concomitant helicopter parents) for some time. Oafs is a good word.

Most of the time they've been undergraduates, but in the past couple of years the rot has been spreading to graduate students. We've had a growing number of cases where students seem to think that MAs and PhDs are supposed to be handed out if they just turn up. Requiring course-work, research, integrity, and clarity are being called impositions. One instructor was charged with demanding 'excessive reading' in a required graduate course.

#721 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Lee #712: That's not a bad idea.

#722 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 12:47 PM:

Nancy @717: that is the link!

#723 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 12:55 PM:

Jacque #718: Sadly, it's been here for years. Eight years ago, a young man chased me down to my department's graduation dinner in an attempt to get me to change his grade of F (which was preventing him from graduating from a neighbouring college). As he'd earned himself that grade fair and square through blatant plagiarism, and he'd been playing monkey-in-the-middle between myself and the dean of the college for the previous week, this was his last chance; I came very close to calling the police.

#724 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 01:39 PM:

#714, TomB:

Ah, I see. I'm familiar with how wheat makes a nice tall loaf. A mix of wheat and rye will also do a reasonable job of rising; that was the first recipe I tried, before I found the 100% rye recipe.

I've been slightly obsessed since I saw the loaf at the farm market which claimed to have the ingredients rye flour, water, and salt, yet was reasonably tall and light -- by rye standards; it was a very dense loaf by wheat standards, but it was not 80% crust the way my rye is. Either it's possible to get 100% rye to rise, or that vendor was lying and put wheat flour in it. Given that they claimed "no yeast!" but actually meant no commercial quick-rise yeast, since further reading revealed that it was a sourdough which has a different type of yeast in it, who knows what else they were being misleading about.

#725 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Open Threadiness: The Ferguson city government is considering settling with the Justice Dept. One issue for them is that they will have to raise taxes to cover the money they were previously bringing in by running their police and court system as a revenue source.

I very much wish I thought this was the beginning of a new trend. There's a whole large set of ways local governments raise money by fines and fees that absolutely screw some people to the wall--including civil forfeiture, charging people room and board for their time in prison, optimizing the local court system to extract money from anyone caught in its grasp, running the probation monitoring system to turn a profit by fining the probationees, incredibly high fees charged to prisoners for phone calls, etc.

My guess is that these programs all started out relatively innocently--someone had a budget shortfall and saw a quick way to raise a little extra money, or someone started bringing in a little extra money with fines or fees or something, and realized it could come in handy with their budget problems. And then, each year, it was easier to extract a little more money from the people caught up in the justice system than it was to raise taxes or cut spending. Private companies brought in to deal with some aspect of the justice system (like private jails or private probation monitoring) saw that they could extract a little extra revenue from their "clients." It's easy to see how they could have started as something that didn't seem too objectionable, and it's easy to see how they could have changed little by little into something that nobody would ever have wanted.

Since prisoners are at the bottom of society in pretty much way (mostly poor, unsympathetic, uneducated, often minorities), it was pretty easy to get away with screwing them over. They didn't have much of a voice, and mostly didn't know anyone who did. The people immediately benefitting had a voice--they could get the newspapers and TV stations to report their reasoning easily, they're richer and more articulate and better educated and better connected and more sympathetic.

Alongside that, two aspects of US politics, especially on the right, probably drove things: a generic resistance to taxes, and a tough-on-crime mentality. It was politically painful to raise taxes, and politically easy to extract a few more pennies from the people at the bottom--who were mostly poor, minority, and otherwise not all that sympathetic to many voters.

I don't have a good sense for how widespread this is, or how big the impact is. But people at the bottom in US society tend to get screwed over *all the time*, and generally it's hard to even see it in media reporting.

I think this will be very hard to reverse. Just as it's easy to see how we got here step by step, with no one step seeming all that outrageous, it's hard to see how we get back. Suppose we have a political consensus to stop funding local governments with fines. Think of all the towns that, like Ferguson, will end up having to significantly raise taxes or significantly cut services, because they can't sustain their current budget without raising 10% of their budget in fines and fees. I expect that a serious push in this direction will cause some genuine fiscal crises in some places.

#726 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Tony/Nancy: Fascinating! If I had more free time, that's something I might think about getting involved with. When I was a kid, one of the joys of spring for me was finding masses of tangled kite string on the ground; I'd take it home, carefully untangle it, and add it to my collection ball, which was about 6 inches in diameter when we moved to Tennessee and that pastime was no longer available to me.

#727 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 03:19 PM:

albatross, I'm in general agreement with you.

Part of what's going on with prisoners isn't just that they have many traits which make them unsympathetic. Many people are unsympathetic to prisoners, regardless of other traits.

I remember reading that part of what was going on at Ferguson was that it had many small government divisions, which meant more jobs/expenses to be covered by fines.

#728 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 04:47 PM:

In re the discussion of student entitlement, among Fragano's students and others:

One part of Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which stuck with me was his recollection of similar entitlement politics when he was teaching college in Montana. There, the state legislature had required the University to admit all undergraduate applicants who had graduated from a Montana high school with some minimal GPA, and then if I remember right had passed some other bill which would penalize the University if their grades were not high enough, as too many of them were failing out of college. Pirsig was one of the faculty who had contacted the college's accrediting organization and asked them to review its accreditation, expecting that it would be removed. In the many angry discussions which ensued, one student stood up and said "The governor won't let you take away the college's accreditation!" When asked how this would work, he answered "The governor will post troops to prevent it!"

The sheer scope of the student's misunderstanding of what accreditation is, and what a college is, prompted a lovely essay on the nature of education and, as Pirsig - or his earlier self - had sliced it, the distinction between a college or university and the ideals of College and Higher Learning to which they aspire to belong. As he put it, the withdrawal of accreditation wouldn't halt classes or take away the college's buildings - it would just be an acknowledgement that it had already ceased to belong to the tradition of University.

In that vein, we could perhaps say that some of these students, for all that they are paying tuition and perhaps showing up to class, are mistaken in thinking they are actually University Students.

#729 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 07:06 PM:

Clifton #728: That is fascinating. Some years back, in 2008 or 2009, a student who had managed to get into the position of being unable to graduate by reason of having a grade below C in a course I taught came to me demanding that I change their grade or give them an opportunity for extra credit. I refused I was asked what option they had, and said that appeal to the department chair was always open. Then the student asked me 'If I get the grade changed, what's my degree worth?' I was flummoxed.

#730 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 08:36 PM:

Fragano, this is very tentatively offered, but I wonder what would happen if you asked them to write about what it took to get good at a video game?

#731 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 08:41 PM:

Well. That was an interesting experience.

Walking up Willow to Broadway to get from my unfucking gig to my dog-walking gig, and an older lady in a minivan pulls up to ask directions. She wants to go to Davis Square OR Porter Square. And she's got limited English; from the accent, Russian or a related language.

I try to explain that Davis is back-that-way, & give her simple directions. Not so good...she doesn't seem to be retaining them. Says something about nervous, and her husband being drunk, & also that she needs to get gas. I try to tell her that for a gas station, she should go to the traffic light & turn right on Broadway. Still very confused, and hunting through her pocketbook because she thinks she left her money in her other bag.

I say, how about I get in and show you where the gas station is? And if you need a few bucks for gas, I can give you some. Because really, I doubt an old lady is going to kidnap and murder me, and the ride will get me closer to where I'm going, and am I really gonna leave her all run out of gas on a rainy December night? No I am not.

She's still asking about Davis or Porter, and I explain no, gas station first, because I don't want her to run empty. She says she'll put me where I need to go, and I say that's okay, at the gas station I'll be almost there. I tell her I'd guide her back to Davis except I have a dog to walk. She says I look like her granddaughter - I think she said it was because of my Red Sox cap, but I'm not sure. She says she's been married fifty years, five-oh, and she's never seen her husband like that. I'm probably more like her daughter's age, in that case, but I don't say it. She's also driving the almost certainly automatic transmission minivan as if it's a stick. Well, we don't stall, so what's it to me?

She doesn't pull into the first gas station on the right. Which makes me a little nervous. I tell her put on your blinker, go into the Gulf station. I have to repeat that I'll give her five bucks for gas, because she's going on about her other pocketbook and she doesn't know if she has the money, and I swear she would have kept on driving until the car stopped flat. It was chiming the low fuel warning. She thanks me profusely and pulls a large Mass card out of her bag and says Mary's going to take good care of me. I say we can all use a little help sometimes.

So we annoy a lot of traffic getting into the Gulf station, with her going on about how she's nervous, I guess because of the dark and the rain, which I can sympathize with.

I get her sorted out with what side the gas tank is on. I've got an indeterminate number of ones and a ten in my wallet, so I give her the ten. She expresses her gratitude again.

The station is full serve, so there's an attendant. I tell her he'll get her sorted out with directions. Which, I've probably just given him a headache for the night, but odds are he'll manage /something/. I hop out of the car and wish her a good night.

I hope she makes it where she's going. Ten bucks' worth of gas ought to give her some leeway for wrong turns. Maybe the gas station guy will have let her call her sister - that's who she said she was going to, because of the drunk husband. I hope she's ok.

I'm counting it as a pay-it-forward moment, though not quite as effective as I'd have liked it to be.

Anyway, her car didn't run out of gas.

#732 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 09:27 PM:

You're a good person, Rikibeth. I hope she'll remember this as the night a stranger helped her when she was confused and near panic.

#733 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 10:03 PM:

Clifton, more than once I've run into major car trouble when trying to leave a convention, once with the addition of my ex-husband coming down with a 101-degree fever at the same time. People we barely knew took us in, put us up overnight, and hooked us up with local mechanics. I owe the universe.

#734 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 10:48 PM:

Fans of Amsterdam, bicycling, and/or silly videos may appreciate this:

#735 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 10:50 PM:

...and one ohnosecond later, a direct link to the YouTube video with identifying information. Sorry about that!

#736 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 11:36 PM:

Rikibeth, when I first visited Boston and Cambridge in the late 1990s, I was deeply touched by how kind people were to me--specifically, by how they offered me help when I was lost. (And I could get lost twice in a block.) You did a good thing. I really hope the minivan driver is ok.

#737 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2015, 11:42 PM:

Rikibeth @ 731 ...
Well. That was an interesting experience.

I hear that -- but still, I think, both a good thing, and a gift to the universe (especially given how often the universe gifts us with 'interesting').

#738 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 12:15 AM:

Adrian, I grew up here, and I think that in general those of us who did try to help out the lost, because we /know/ how irrational the layout is. I remember, as a teen with a decent mental map of Lexington and Cambridge, being convinced that Somerville was at right angles to reality, because I couldn't fit it along the axis of Mass. Ave. I was STILL momentarily stymied at how to get her from Willow St. to Porter, though I know exactly how to get from Porter onto Willow. (I don't think I've ever done the reverse and I'm pretty sure there's a one-way complicating the process.)

xeger, I was put in mind of Vonnegut in Cat's Cradle saying "strange travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."

#739 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 08:30 AM:

Also: I'll bet the gas station attendant has copious experience dealing with bewildered, lost, ESL, out-of-towners, so I'm wagering that, in addition to doing good in your own right, you handed her off to someone who could do even better.

#740 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Odd local geometries can really mess with your dead reckoning. I moved to my current town 5 years ago and still do most of my navigation relative to the skeleton of main arteries. Trying to second-guess short cuts always ends up being longer. In large part, it's because that skeleton of main arteries bears no resemblance to a regular grid. Streets intersect at odd angles, curve away gently, parallel and then veer. A name-change one block further over and the main drag Concord Blvd would intersect the main drag Concord Ave. And then there's the problem of trying to integrate the bike/rec trails to my understanding of the streets. The first time I headed out on one of the bike trails, I was convinced I was heading due east when I was actually going south-west.

All in all, I considered it a victory when I felt comfortable driving around without my GPS on.

#741 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 04:17 PM:

Festive Salutations!

We've just had a Christmas morning late breakfast, and are off for more excessive food & drink shortly. Hope your days are happy ones.

#742 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 04:25 PM:

Soon Lee #741: Compliments of the Season to you! Enjoy yourself down there in Gondor.

#743 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 10:25 PM:

I do miss babelfish... Google Translate has provided me with the following description for a knitting pattern... (dutch to english):

A knitting pattern for a col which also has a scarf.
You choose beautiful yarn, put on stabbing, goes around knitting until your sphere is on your side and off. That is basically how you make Trees.

#744 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 10:48 PM:

janra: I got the lowdown on making rye rise better. It is not as easy as wheat but it is doable. Some of this you may already be doing. The first thing is to get the starter active. Three days before making the bread, throw out half the starter and feed it some flour and distilled or spring water (never tap water). Repeat daily. On the fourth day, make a sponge. Adding a tablespoon of molasses or honey can help it rise. The yeast will grow best if it is warm (80 °F) and humid. For example, in an oven with the light on (heat off) and covered by a damp cloth. For the baking proper, consider using a no-knead recipe (dutch oven) or baking stone to get oven spring.

Good luck! I hope you find the loaf that is exactly the way you want it.

#745 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2015, 11:27 PM:

For your singing pleasure, carols from Mad Magazine (after the intro material).

#746 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 12:48 AM:

xeger @743: Debbie Notkin always treasured the knitting instruction she found in a translated pattern: "Using white color, make a row of holes."

#747 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 02:37 AM:

/joins Soon Lee in wishing all those who celebrate it a Happy Christmas.

#748 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 05:31 AM:

Merry Christmas to everyone! (Or whatever you choose to celebrate. Or even if you don't celebrate anything, I hope it's a good day for you!)

#749 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 09:56 AM:

Merry Christmas! Here's our family card for 2015.

#750 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Combining the "entitled students" and "bad English" themes: Aby student who buys their paper from these guys earned their F fair and square. I'll quote the first couple of sentences, for those reading after the link's gone dead:

These days essay helping so as writing services are assuming a tremendous part of the students everywhere throughout the world. A genuine essay writing service goes about as an educator in fact.

#751 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 09:58 AM:

(Arggh, typo)

#752 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 10:08 AM:

Also: This "small star war" is billed as a meditation on getting older. My reaction is more that the writer understands something basic about our "community of words", the impulse behind libraries and bookstores and archives....

#753 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 11:09 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @740: Having grown up in Boulder, I have >NO< sense of direction. If I can't see the mountains, I'm completely lost.

If I can't see the mountains, I do have a sense of direction. Which is nearly always 180° off. Which is why, after my first trip to NYC, I bought a compass to hang from my keychain. (It takes real doing, to get lost in mid-town Manhattan.) The one time I've had to use it in Boulder was on an overcast day, when I came out of the newly-built Home Depot. None of the landscape looked familiar, couldn't find the mountains.... Remarkable how disorienting that was.

I've been saying for years that Boulder should pass a city ordinance: any enclosed space has to have the west wall demarcated somehow. But does anybody listen to me? Nooooo.

Took a high-school buddy of mine, who grew up in Kansas, down into the bowels of the NCAR Mesa Laboratory. Once we'd been around a couple of loops, I said, "Okay, quick! Where are the mountains?" She thought a moment, pointed. I struggled to work out the geometry in my head: she was right. :-\ :-)


Everyone: Happy Felicitations of the Seasonings!

#754 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 12:15 PM:

Jacque @ 753

It takes real doing, to get lost in mid-town Manhattan.

It's been taking me quite some time to be able to navigate mid-town Manhattan on my own (without reference to the map on my iPhone) because 80% of the time when I'm there, it's in company with my Manhattan-born-and-bred girlfriend, who is leading off boldly through the maze. My focus is on sticking at her side, not on figuring out how we're getting from A to B.

#755 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 12:16 PM:

#744, TomB: I am doing some of those things. In my oven with the light on gets above 30C if I give it long enough, which is rather warmer than sourdough really wants, so I'll have the oven light on for the first part of the rise then turn it off without opening the door to retain the heat. (I stuck a thermometer in a glass of water in the oven the first time I tried that method, to find out how warm it got. Old lab fridge trick so the thermometer will still read the inside temperature when you pull it out into the room to look at it...)

I haven't been getting the starter active several days beforehand, largely because in the second rise the saran wrap I seal over the bowl to keep everything else out balloons into a hemisphere, so I figured my yeast is pretty vigorous even starting right out of the fridge, and also never felt the need to add any sugars. (The first rise in the recipe I started from has the highest salt content to somewhat inhibit the yeast and give the acid bacteria a head start, for a good strong sour, so it doesn't rise much and it's not intended to.) I've even had the split between top crust and internal body happen, which I read is from *too much* yeast activity?

Likewise, I have always used tap water right from day one several years ago when I first started the culture, and always gotten good activity out of my culture. Possibly of note, my tap water is not at all hard water; I've heard it described as "aggressively soft".

I cook it straight on a baking stone. On parchment for the transfer, then I yank the parchment out a few minutes later when the bottom surface of the bread has sealed up a bit.

I was re-reading parts of the link above while looking for the comment with the recipe I started from, and I spotted a mention of amylase activity breaking down the pentosan chains if left too long and getting a gummy bread because those chains are what hold rye bread together instead of gluten... so maybe *over* fermentation is my problem. I am definitely getting a gummy middle.

Further experimentation is in order.

#756 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 01:02 PM:

Jacque @ 753

Two anecdotes: 1) I've heard of Mormon kids who grow up in Boulder, go away to school at BYU, and are disoriented because the mountains in Provo are on the opposite side of town. I haven't asked if the problem recurs when they come home for summer vacation, or when they go back in the fall.

2) I had once been walking around downtown Nairobi for several hours when my traveling companion wondered what time it was. I cranked my head around to look at the sun, then realized it wouldn't help. I might eventually have been able to figure out how to compute the time from the sun position while standing 80 miles south of the equator, but I couldn't do it intuitively.

#757 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 01:10 PM:

If you can find a sturdy magnetic hook (or something else that will stay in place), use it to prop the oven door open about an inch at the top.

#758 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 02:42 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @754: boldly through the maze.

It helped a lot once I'd noticed it was largely a numbered grid. Problem is, that doesn't necessarily tell you which direction you're facing on any given corner. Sun direction is only a little help, at certain times of the day. That's where I got into trouble.

Downtown, OTOH.... Can you say, "legacy cowpaths"?

Oh yeah, and: a friend I was visiting blithely gave me "uptown" and "downtown" directions, not realizing that in any other city I've visited, "downtown" meant "central business district" and had no reference to any particular direction. And my only experience with an "Uptown" was the Lake & Hennepin area of Minneapolis.

@756: the mountains in Provo are on the opposite side of town.

Heh. I would find that problematic, too. Interestingly, I have no trouble navigating Vancouver, BC., where the mountains are to the north. Apparently that's "the same only different" enough that my compass cheerfully resets.

Oddly, I found I felt quite at home in Manhattan (which I'd always expected to feel very alien) because, apparently, tall buildings present a similar enough gravitational profile that it feels right to my "lumpy ground" sense.

80 miles south of the equator, but I couldn't do it intuitively.

I fell to chatting with a bus driver here in town, who was a native of Australia. He said the weirdest thing for him was that the sun is in the southern sky.

I've never been farther south than Florida, but I swear, when I see video shot in the southern hemisphere, that there's a fundamental difference in the quality of the sunlight. I'm probably just imagining it, but....

#759 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 03:19 PM:

David Harmon #750: Aaaarghhhh!

#760 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 04:50 PM:

When I first visited the Northern Hemisphere, I was sitting in the sunshine in my cousin's yard. The sun was mildly irritating to my eyes, but I noticed that a tree's shadow would shortly reach my race, so didn't bother moving.
A few minutes later I realised that the shadow was getting further away - D'oh!

#761 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 05:08 PM:

janra: That's really interesting. My dad had a bacteriology class that he really liked. His career ended up going in a completely different direction, but he loves everything to do with fermentation and his technique is meticulous. He was telling me about how some people take their starter with them on vacations so they can make sure it is fed and cared for properly.

#762 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 05:55 PM:

Folks here who normally read with glasses... When you drink hot beverages (tea, coffee, etc) whilst reading, did you learn to not exhale while drinking, or do you just wait out the white-out? Should I get used to it, or train myself to avoid it?

#763 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 08:51 PM:

Buddha Buck #762: I don't think I've ever fogged my glasses that way, even before I started (for other reasons) having to take my glasses off for reading.

#764 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 10:23 PM:

Buddha Buck - I don't remember having that happen with tea or coffee. Soup, yes, and opening ovens or microwaves, yes, I have to remember to take off my glasses first.

#765 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2015, 11:19 PM:

Buddha Buck @762: It only bothers me when my glasses have come in from the cold outside, with hot beverages. In general, they clear really quickly.

But I once had the chance of a lifetime around this. Karen and I were having a small argument -- it happens in the best of relationships. And she was stepping out the back door as I opened the dishwasher to empty it, after it had just run. She says "Are you steamed?" I lean over the dishwasher, and lift my face up to her, saying nothing at all -- letting my glasses answer for me.

Getting a zinger in verbally is one thing, but being able to do it entirely silently is another. Neither of us planned it, and we both laughed heartily.

#766 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2015, 12:08 AM:

I never have that problem but I have worn glasses over 50 years and whatever I do to avoid it is now unconscious.

#767 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2015, 12:08 AM:

I never have that problem but I have worn glasses over 50 years and whatever I do to avoid it is now unconscious.

#768 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2015, 12:39 AM:

I'm with Allan. I don't recall ever having that problem with hot soup or a hot beverage, which probably means that I figured out how to avoid it so long ago that by now I do it without thought.

#769 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2015, 02:15 AM:

I occasionally manage to steam up my eyeballs with hot tea; does that count?

#770 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2015, 11:10 AM:

Glasses steaming: A couple of years ago I started using reading glasses after many decades of contacts-only; I had to learn to take the reading glasses off anytime I was eating anything--not just steam, but because of grease exhalations and such. I no longer read the newspaper while eating--it's the main thing I keep the glasses around for.

#771 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2015, 06:37 PM:

I have been participating at Making Light for much less than 50 years and still need to work at avoiding double-posting.

#772 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2015, 11:59 PM:

Huh. Just occurred to me: since I get all my TV via Internet these days, it's been years since I've had to sit through those horrible multiply reduplicated Christmas ads from local businesses.

One more thing to love about living in the future.

#773 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2015, 08:34 AM:

Argghhhh. My mental calendar had New Year's Eve (when I return back East) on Friday, which means one less day available for visiting folks than I'd expected.

#774 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2015, 06:44 PM:

After several months of booting from a USB drive to start Linux, I finally set this machine to dual-boot from the internal drive. In theory I can still use Windows, but I don't feel any particular urge. More disconcerting is that I can be listening to a streaming audio, and spot Flanagan and Allen before they can finish singing the first word.

There's one streaming station that plays a lot of pre-WW2 stuff. It doesn't have to make any effort to start sounding offensively racist. You can imagine a flash-mob playing Beethoven's 9th on dog whistles.

#775 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2015, 06:55 PM:

I used to think that people got less tolerant (and more racist) as they got older, but then realised it was the other way round, and that society was gradually improving in its attitudes. Long may it continue! (Eventually we may end up with proper equality.)

#776 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2015, 08:07 PM:

#775: There is a behavioral phenomena called an extinction burst, associated with training animals out of bad habits, and with people breaking addictions and bad habits.

Right before the behavior seems to be on its way, out, there's a recurrence or backsliding or relapse. Stick with the effort, and you are in the clear.

In optimistic moments, I speculate that the current egregious pukery of intolerance and suspicion -- be it from Trump and his ilk, or the g@mer g@ters -- is an extinction burst. A few more years of dealing with this crap (actively dealing with it, not just riding it out) and we'll look back on these times with embarrassment and disgust and wonder what the heck was going on. A decade on, and the GOP will claim always have been on the side of marriage equality and fair immigration practices and generosity to refugees.

Fingers crossed.

#777 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2015, 08:42 PM:

"I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it!"

via Ken MacLeod: Academic Urban Legends. Or, how an allegedly misplaced decimal point became accepted uncritically as fact.

Perhaps the greatest heroes are, however, invisible in this landscape: those who read about the decimal point error in one or more of these sources, but found out that they could not use it because the references and the documentation were not solid enough. Individuals with such attitudes are among the most important propellers of scientific development and accumulative knowledge, but many of them nonetheless end up as losers in systems where quantity is more important than quality, and where academic production is reduced to units being counted, rather than something worth taken into account.

#778 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2015, 08:44 PM:

To be precise, Carl V. Phillips pointed to it in a tweet, but I would not have seen it if it hadn't been retweeted by Mr. MacLeod.

#779 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2015, 09:32 PM:

Kip W #777: "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it!"

Mmmm, spinach.

Seriously, factoids are a problem, but they're a very old problem. They're the informational (memetic) analogue of the propagation of genetic errors, and I suspect the analogy would hold for basically any imperfect network of nodes/agents passing information around.

The desire for an exact citation trail is a fairly modern innovation in itself; before modern information technology, the sort of forensic investigation of sources exemplified by this article, was quite difficult. Even now, it's still fairly difficult, especially (as here) when the trail leads back not just before the Information Revolution, but before convenient duplication of documents.

#780 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 01:35 AM:

Stefan Jones@: In four to twelve years, the Republican Party will no longer be on the ballot in enough states to be able, mathematically, to elect a President, much less a majority in either house of Congress. At that point, it will be safe for progressives to decamp for a new political party to the left of the Democrats.
Paint the electoral map blue, then start painting it green.

#781 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 02:33 AM:

John B., #780: Much as I would love to see this come to pass, I don't see how you're supporting your premise that the Republicans will be off the ballot. Could you unpack it a bit more?

#782 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 10:26 AM:

If anyone would like to register their predictions and keep track of them, there's Prediction Book. You have the option of making private or public predictions.

#783 ::: nosuchperson ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 02:08 PM:

Posting under another name for now. Woman considers ending her ten month relationship with her boyfriend after he tells her he is mad at people for thinking cops drive around looking to kill other people. In other words, boyfriend is defending the cops who killed Tamir Rice.

So sad and mad and considering a breakup. Is it silly to want to be on the same page in this matter?

#784 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 02:39 PM:

nosuchperson@783: I don't think it's silly to want to be on the same page.

My own boyfriend is on a very different page than me regarding the question of inherent human worth. I'm strongly (non-theological) Unitarian Universalist with an emphasis on the "inherent worth and dignity of every person", while he tends to express contempt for "stupid" people and doesn't seem to care much about the lives of strangers. This bothers me a lot and makes me sad whenever it comes up; I don't know if it's worth it for me to break up with him over it.

For me the question is, does knowing that my partner disagrees with me on this point outweigh the happiness and stability I derive from being with him? Someday the answer might be 'yes'; for me, right now, it's 'no.' The outcome of your emotional calculus will most likely be different from mine. I hope the eventual outcome is the one that's best for all involved, but especially for you.

#785 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 03:01 PM:

#780, #781 -

I very much doubt the creation or spin-off of another political party of any kind unless there's substantial money behind it.

#786 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 03:57 PM:

The Big Two will destroy any third party that looks likely to draw a significant chunk of the electorate, teaming up if necessary to do so. Look at what happened to Perot’s Reform Party— the Commission on Presidential Debates (run by the Big Two) changed how debates were run after Perot split the conservative vote in 1992, and then Pat Buchanan (long-time Republican dirty tricks operative) got the party’s nomination in 2000 and wrecked it.

#787 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 04:01 PM:

nosuchperson@783: that would definitely be a big, big problem for me. Lack of empathy is an enormous red flag.

#788 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 04:03 PM:

The Big Two will destroy any third party that looks likely to draw a significant chunk of the electorate

They won't, because they can't work together. Not in this universe, at this time, anyway.

#789 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 04:18 PM:

Mmmmm....the Big Two don't necessarily have to work together if they each aim at the same goal - i.e. preventing another party from gathering money and influence.

#790 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 04:31 PM:

PJ Evans:

You mean like with the Iraq war, or making sure nobody involved in our torture programs faced any jail time other than some disposable nobodies from West Virginia? Or bailing out the big banks in the financial crisis?

The two big parties work together on stuff all the time.

#791 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 04:35 PM:

nosuchperson @783, I think there's room for nuance depending what he's like otherwise. My daughter recently finished a degree in law enforcement and knows many people who are cops / were cops / want to be cops. She doesn't deny that there can be problems, but is similarly annoyed by a presumption that all cops are bad.

How is he on empathy/privilege more generally?

#792 ::: nosuchperson ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 04:57 PM:

Thanks for the replies. Yeah, right now I feel it's a warning to me, if he identifies more with the particular policemen and thinks the kid had it coming when he played with the toy gun in public.

We've tried to talk out some of the nuances, and I still need to think more on what the fallout would be if I broke up with him, because there are other issues, taking into account that yes, we love each other and care deeply about making it work.

How is he on privilege? Sometimes I think he is blase about it, not so aware as a person of color would be. We're a mixed race couple, and once, in a store, a white guy hissed at me, nonwhite woman: "n*-lover". Later when I told bf did you hear that, he said he hadn't. But he tried to make light of it as I am not black. I said, that's beside the point, if a racist sees me and thinks I am black, then in that moment, I am black.


#793 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 04:58 PM:

Third parties that don't attract substantial attention go nowhere, for obvious reasons.

Third parties that do attract substantial attention prove that their issue(s) get votes -- at which point it becomes extremely likely that one of the two main parties will jump in and start gunning for those votes by adopting (to some extent) the issue in question. At which point, the people in the third party who want to Get Things Done will work with the big party, and the people who want to be Absolutely Ideologically Pure will be left out in the no-longer-very-large third party.

#794 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 05:17 PM:

nosuchperson, #783: Seconding HelenS -- that would be a huge red flag for me too. There are so many things wrong about the Tamir Rice case that at the very least there should have been a trial. I would say that I was mad about people assuming that no matter what any cop does, it's automatically the right thing, and see what kind of response that brought out. Not necessarily suggesting that you should do this; I know that I'm more comfortable with confrontation than many people.

But no, you're not wrong to be bothered by this.

#795 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 06:14 PM:

Avram #786: As I understand it, no American third party has ever taken root until one of the existing two has melted down. The Republicans appear to be in the process of that, but that's not finished or even certain.

#796 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 06:48 PM:

nosuchperson @783: What's a deal-breaker for one person is a deal-maker for another. It's not silly to discover that you want certain things in a relationship more than you realized: which is what sounds as if is happening here. There's also a fear that his lack of compassion here will translate into a lack of compassion for you (I note that it may be a lack of compassion for Tamar Rice because of a heightened compassion for the cop -- compassion doesn't exist without considering the object of the compassion). You are the one who gets to decide what's important in your relationships, and it's not up to me to tell you what you feel -- in that area, I can listen and ask questions, but I don't get to say that what you actually feel is anything other than what you feel. It's no sillier than anything related to love and living together.

#797 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 07:25 PM:

And they take root from the ground up. Trying to do a third party by starting with a presidential election is really doing it upside-down and backwards: the necessary support isn't there. (See: all the previous third-party candidates trying to start at the top.)

#798 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 08:38 PM:

nosuchperson, your initial post made me think "well, most cops probably aren't, but that's not the same as defending these particular trigger-happy psychos."

Then I saw your second post, where it was clear that he was exactly defending those trigger-happy psychos.

I would ask him why the kid had it coming, playing with a TOY gun IN AN OPEN-CARRY STATE.

Never mind, for the moment, the fact that it's pretty much impossible for an unarmed 12-year-old to DESERVE to be shot out of hand with no attempt at negotiation.

(If you're inclined to say "well, actually, what if the 12-year-old had a knife to a baby's throat" or anything like it, STFU.)

#799 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 09:31 PM:

Albatross @ 790... is this a variation on the oft-heard assertion that there is no difference between the two Parties?

#800 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 09:44 PM:

Xopher, #798: Nitpick: someone displaying a knife isn't unarmed by definition.

There was a lovely FB meme going around today. If the cops are saying they thought he was an adult*, and it's an open-carry state, exactly what law did Tamir Rice break?

Well, aside from the obvious unwritten law that open carry is only for whites, of course.

* And the level of WTFery in that statement is enough all by itself to have justified a trial. I've seen the photos. He looked like a 12-year-old kid; yes, there are outlier 12-year-olds who are well-grown enough to be taken for adults, but Tamir Rice was not one of them. If they honestly thought he was an adult, they seriously don't need to be on the police force AT ALL, because that's delusional to the point of hallucinating.

#801 ::: nosuchperson ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 10:44 PM:

Just had a long argument with SO. It's almost enough for me to give up completely. SO admitted that he doesn't think he has white privilege, that I probably do not have enough grounds to have an informed opinion of life in this country because I have been here only x number of years versus y years. It was a conversation that was hurtful and disrespectful and when I told SO that his words had hurt me, he said, why should he apologize when he didn't mean to hurt me.


#802 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 10:58 PM:

nosuchperson #801: I'm not you, and won't presume to tell you what you do. I will say that as a white man, if I shot my mouth off like that (both conversations) to a nonwhite friend, I would have little cause for surprise if they stopped being my friend.

#803 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 11:04 PM:

Nosuchperson, I have had the serious political mismatch conversations with a boyfriend and they did not turn out well. It is okay to talk to him and try to explain yourself better. It is also okay to break up with him over this. He may tell you it's not okay. But it is.

It's up to you what you want to do. It sounds like a terrible conversation, really stressful and heartbreaking, and I'm sorry you have to have it.

#804 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2015, 11:51 PM:

Kip W @777: Academic Urban Legends

Thanks, that was an excellent rabbit hole. I recommend the Malcolm Ashmore paper cited in the footnotes, discussing the (famed) N-ray debunking story.

( -- I hope that URL works)

#805 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 12:43 AM:

Avram@786, I was somewhat involved with my local Reform Party group back when that happened. Their biggest problem wasn't attacks by the big parties, it was Perot himself. He wanted it to be his party, run top-down, but it was trying to escape into being an actual grass-roots third-party, and he squelched it rather than let that happen. (Of course, his few weeks of dropping his candidacy during the race didn't help at all, whether there really had been threats against his family or whether he was just paranoid or whether he was being blackmailed by The Powers That Be or whatever. But at least he attracted enough votes that Bush didn't win.)

#806 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 12:51 AM:


Nope, it's a repetition of the seldom-heard comment that the leadership of the two big parties are often on exactly the same page, as with the Iraq war, massive surveillance, hammering whistleblowers, making sure nobody involved in the CIA torture program ever faces any consequences for it, and bailing out the big financial companies. Those were policies supported by both wings of the ruling class. The opposition to them was generally from outsiders in both parties. The current form of the war on terror is very much a bipartisan affair.

There are certainly differences between the parties, but those aren't among them.

#807 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 01:36 AM:

They're not on the same page. They may be in the same book, though, for some things.

I am so effing tired of the idea that both parties are the same, when they obviously are not.

#808 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 03:46 AM:

I am so effing tired of the idea that both parties are the same, when they obviously are not.

How very fortunate, then, that no one here is espousing that view.

I can think of areas where both parties are on the same word of the same sentence in the same book. For instance, on the importance of maintaining market capitalism as the economic engine of the United States, and as much of the world as its economic impact can reach. That doesn't make them the same on racial issues, voting rights, medical care, religious liberty, or the place of women in society.

Albatross is allowed to feel that the Democrats have not sufficiently differentiated themselves from the Republicans in the areas he listed. I agree with him, in point of fact, on that list. I suspect it's because it's expensive to get elected, and there's big money in defense contracting, meaning significant donor dollars are available. Even in those cases where that doesn't change platforms, it can change the order in which platforms are proclaimed and enacted.

And yet the two parties are not the same in many important areas, and until anyone asserts that they are, please do not get all angry or weary as though someone has.

Really. It's not a thing that's happening in this conversation, and it's completely OK not to spend the spoons on an issue that isn't being argued.

#809 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 10:51 AM:

Nosuchperson @801

With the understanding that you are posting out of current hurt, and currently focusing on specific extremes of behavior (because if your relationship were like this all the time in all ways, I think we'd all be saying, "Are you OK? Do we need to get you out of there?")…

The big red flags for me are his inability to see, much less accept, that he has enormous blind spots in his experience. Any white person who thinks they don't have white privilege is delusional. (I say this as a white person keenly aware of my white privilege.) And perhaps even more so, his invalidation of your experience and your perceptions. The experience you recounted in 792 about him not even hearing that comment made to you suggests to me that he may have a hard time viewing as "real" any experience that doesn't impinge directly on him. And evidently your hurt (and possibly your fear -- though you didn't mention specifically being afraid) don't impinge on him.

I'd think about that very hard, if I were you. Does he see you as an autonomous human being whose experiences and relationships to the world have equal validity to his own? Or does he see you as someone who exists in relationship to him? And -- perhaps -- as being "not like those other [people who might be perceived as black]"? Is his relationship to you contingent on removing you from your own context within the larger world?

Would you be happy in this relationship if he never shifted from the positions and attitudes that you've heard him express in these conversations? For the rest of your lives?

#810 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 12:54 PM:

nosuchperson: Is there a wise person you could talk to? Someone you can trust to treat this as an ethical issue and who will take you seriously? I hope there is. I think you need and deserve some real support. Personally I feel insufficiently wise and I am probably not local.

#811 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 02:04 PM:

The Traveler knocked loudly again,
We Listeners let him remain
He called and he knocked
Till he gave up and walked
And then we all laughed like a drain.

#812 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 02:42 PM:

when I told SO that his words had hurt me, he said, why should he apologize when he didn't mean to hurt me.

Why wouldn't he at least be sorry THAT you were hurt, even if he doesn't feel responsible? Heck, I'm certainly not responsible for what happened, and I'm sorry.

#813 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 04:24 PM:

Shout-out for Fragments of Him. From another article on that blog: "... it’s not a game about a gay relationship: it’s a story about grieving and moving on, which also happens to feature people who were in a gay relationship."

#814 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 08:31 PM:

Re Avram's Phosphene on Dniepropetrovsk: I present you the local version in King County WA. Revisionist history is surprisingly common, it seems.

#815 ::: nosuchperson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 08:37 PM:

I talked to an older friend of mine, and she said that she wanted my relationship to work, and that nothing is perfect. I wish there were someone else I could talk to about this, someone closer/local, but I can't think of anyone.

I just had dinner with the SO then he dropped me off at my place. He didn't say anything about our argument and didn't apologize, just said he loved me. I don't know why I feel like crying but I do.

#816 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 08:38 PM:

Tom, #814: I don't think that "revisionist history" is the right term for what's going on there, unless it's part of an attempt to actively erase all memory of the original choice. "We made an embarrassing mistake, and now we're fixing it" is a perfectly legitimate attitude, and I submit that it's an important one to model in the face of crap like "flip-flop" and "stay the course".

#817 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 09:16 PM:

I was on a plane trip with my friend Lenore, and got up (as I often do...more often then I'd like) to go to the bathroom. When I got back, unbeknownst to me she'd taken off her shoes. Even though I was trying to be careful, I stepped on her toes.

Did I say "well, you should have been wearing your shoes"? I did not.

Did I say "well, I didn't mean to hurt you, so I don't see why I should apologize"? I did not.

I apologized profusely, because I'd unintentionally hurt someone I care about (not that I wouldn't apologize to a stranger).

To add a little complexity, I might have been more careful if I'd known she'd taken her shoes off. If I had, and had failed to be more careful, then I think I'd be considerably more culpable (not that, etc.).

nosuchperson, I'm sorry that that happened to you. My saying that is NOT an apology, but an expression of sympathy, because nothing I did caused you pain, intentionally or not.

When someone you're in a relationship with says "I'm sorry that happened to you, but I'm not apologizing," about something they did that hurt you, intentionally or not, that's a huge red flag about their character and maturity. I broke up with someone once over exactly this issue (well, it also woke me to related issues).

But if you're not willing to shrug and walk away yet, and it sounds like you aren't, I'd suggest you might want to have a conversation about apologies and culpability. Adults (IMO and IME) don't need to have done something deliberately hurtful to apologize.

#819 ::: nosuchperson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 10:06 PM:

Thank you Xopher. That is a very good way to put it.

Much to think about.

#820 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 10:50 PM:

Nosuchperson, it looks like you're in a horribly painful situation. I'm sorry. I've been dithering about a response to what you wrote at #783, about "is it silly to want to be on the same page in this matter?" Like some of the people above, I've had political mismatches with people I love, where we agreed to disagree and loved each other anyway. This gets harder if you're disagreeing about something more important, obviously. What might not be so obvious is that it gets harder if you're disagreeing about something closer to home. To pick an example unrelated to your current difficulty: if lovers disagree about global warming, they may be able to set the problem aside for a time. If they disagree about whether to air-condition the bedroom, there will be times that problem really can't be ignored, when it will force itself into their bed.

You might be able to agree to disagree about police brutality or white privilege. (Though I suspect it's hard for mixed-race couples to completely stop worrying about racism.) But I don't think any couple can agree to disagree about how they treat each other. Does he really think it's ok for him to hurt you if he's not attacking you on purpose? Or ok for others to attack you with deliberately-mean words that are not technically accurate? That's more important than the political disagreements, because there's not really a way to set it aside.

Somebody who usually cares about your feelings but is sometimes selfish and inconsiderate might be worth the work of building a stronger relationship. Couples counselors are good at helping with that sort of thing. But he doesn't seem very caring or respectful of you, from what you've said.

#821 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 10:54 PM:

nosuchperson, #815: Unfortunately, that's a common response from people who have never been involved in a problematic relationship when you try to express your concerns to them. When someone has never seen the Big Red Flags in action -- and his refusing to apologize, or even to acknowledge that what he did hurt you, is a REALLY BIG Red Flag -- they tend to minimize them, to apply the standards of a healthy relationship to one which is starting to show unhealthy symptoms, and that never ends well.

Just brainstorming here, ignore if helpy: is there a majority-black, non-evangelical church anywhere near you? If so, you might think about taking your concerns to the pastor. Yes, even though you aren't a member; many pastors will make the time to speak to someone who's troubled whether that person is a member of their church or not, and if they won't, then you're not out anything but a phone call to ask for an appointment. I specify majority-black (and preferably a black pastor) because they will understand the precipitating issue in a way that can't be guaranteed otherwise, and non-evangelical because they're less likely to pull the "you're the woman, you must submit" bullshit.

#822 ::: nosuchperson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 11:03 PM:

I think he is a caring person, with blind spots. The question is, do these blind spots make this an untenable situation? For example: SO picks me up and gives me a ride home even if he has other work to do.
I'm willing to hope that he sees where he is at and wants to make changes, but I am well aware that this could just be wishful thinking on my part.

That is a very good idea, Lee, thank you, I'll have to see. Right now I feel like seeking out pastoral help, but yeah, I'm wary of the guilt trip and other stuff that might impede actual helping.

#823 ::: nosuchperson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 11:04 PM:

I think he is a caring person, with blind spots. The question is, do these blind spots make this an untenable situation? For example: SO picks me up and gives me a ride home even if he has other work to do.
I'm willing to hope that he sees where he is at and wants to make changes, but I am well aware that this could just be wishful thinking on my part.

That is a very good idea, Lee, thank you, I'll have to see. Right now I feel like seeking out pastoral help, but yeah, I'm wary of the guilt trip and other stuff that might impede actual helping.

#824 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2015, 11:51 PM:

Met with old friends today. One is dealing with a recurrence of cancer, another with failed kidneys, mobility trouble and utter brokeness. One guy who couldn't make it is facing losing a second kid to cancer.

My trouble are freaking nothing.

#825 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 12:40 AM:

Stefan, #824: Ouch, sympathies. But also remember that even though your troubles may pale in comparison to someone else's, that doesn't mean that they aren't troubles, or that you don't have the right to be concerned about your own situation. It's not a contest. A sense of perspective is a useful thing; changing it into a reason to feel guilty and/or selfish is not.

#826 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 06:23 AM:

It is now officially 2016 here in Aotearoa.

A gude New Year to ane and a',
And mony may ye see.

Happy New Year.

J Homes

#827 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 07:46 AM:

Muslims hilariously troll ISIS after their call for new jihadists ends up on Twitter

"Sorry, but I can’t trust a group that uses a deflating football and Arabic comic sans as their logo."

#828 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 08:04 AM:

Happy New Year, J Homes, from all of us living in the past.

#829 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 08:17 AM:

@Lee: Any stock tips? Who wins the Superbowl?

Just, please, no Downton Abbey spoilers.

#830 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 10:28 AM:


Trust your instincts. If your gut says, "This is bad, I don't like this" and that feeling won't go away, it means there are other things wrong that haven't surfaced yet. Our animal brains are wired for survival. Our logical brains are wired for group living. The two sometimes work against each other.

I've done some research on how bad/abusive relationships start and why they last. The abuser starts out with little tests to see how far they can go. If the little tests don't get a push back, bigger things get tried. After a while a kind of gas lighting takes place where the abused is trained that disrespect is "no big deal as long as I (say) love you." True love is showing respect for the feelings and beliefs of the loved one - even and especially when the other feels and believes differently.

#832 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 04:24 PM:

The only problem with abi's latest parhelia (parhelium?): nothing from B5!

#833 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 04:33 PM:

nosuchperson, many people have said good and insightful things, and I just wanted to chime in: the original disagreement points to a values mismatch, and it's not unreasonable to consider that a dealbreaker. Even if the person has many other fine qualities. It's possible that his position comes from ignorance or failure to think the issue through, and that if he's a compassionate person at heart that reasoned discussion will change his mind, BUT. It's not unreasonable to decide that, while he needs to be educated, you don't feel like being the one to do the educating, and you're not comfortable continuing the relationship with him as he currently is.

The fact that he doesn't believe he has white privilege and that he doesn't think he needs to apologize to you because his intent wasn't to hurt...shows he needs a lot of education on those points. You get to decide if those are dealbreakers. You're even allowed to tell him they are; maybe hearing that will be the push he needs to examine & change his thinking. Or you can skip telling him. Nobody is obligated to give reasons for breaking up beyond "I don't want to be in this relationship anymore." If you think telling him will cause more drama than it's worth to stay in the relationship and/or make the breakup uglier than you want to deal with, you don't have to get into it.

What I wouldn't do is to tell yourself that "it's not that important" while staying with him. It is important to you, and trying to behave as if it's not will only lead to unhappiness, whether expressed or unexpressed. Trust yourself (young Jedi).

While we're on the subject of ignorance: the racist stranger called you a "n*-lover"? Not your white boyfriend? Because it's usually reserved for the white partner of a black person. Maybe you can take comfort in knowing that the stranger was so damn ignorant he didn't even know how to apply his lousy racist insult accurately.

#834 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 05:04 PM:

estelendur, your comment about the attitude mismatch with your boyfriend has got me questioning myself and how well I behave in accordance with what I profess to believe.

That is, if you asked me, I'd say I believed in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and certainly that concept strongly informs how I vote and how I exhort my elected representatives, and to some extent how I spend my money.

However, I'm often frustrated with "stupid" people, and I fear contempt creeps in when that "stupidity" is a result of ignorance, which they could damned well do something about - especially if it's willful ignorance. Even when it's not ignorance but an actual disability, and I don't feel contempt, the frustration remains. I don't have the patience of a saint, to be sure, but should it take a saint?

Likewise, caring about the lives of strangers. Sometimes, I definitely care: a named person, a specific story, an injustice done. But something like an earthquake or a plane crash far away from me? I acknowledge that it's a sad thing, but how much caring am I supposed to do? And when it's a shooting in my own city, my first instinct isn't "what can I do to help their family" - it's to look up the address to see just how close to me it happened, and to study the details of the story to see if it was a street robbery or if it was a dispute between people who knew each other, because the first thing I care about is my own safety.

I guess your post is making me wonder just how good a person I actually am.

#835 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 05:04 PM:

Moose @832:

Parhelion (it's Greek neuter, thus -a as a plural ending).

And I agree entirely.

#836 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2015, 06:55 PM:

Rikibeth @834: I don't think worrying about their own safety, or feeling frustrated with other people, could by themselves make someone a bad person. The question is, what do you do about those feelings? If you do good things despite those feelings, that's good; if you do bad things because of those feelings, that's bad (though sometimes understandable!).

#837 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 01:05 AM:

Rikibeth #834: Likewise, caring about the lives of strangers. Sometimes, I definitely care: a named person, a specific story, an injustice done. But something like an earthquake or a plane crash far away from me? I acknowledge that it's a sad thing, but how much caring am I supposed to do? And when it's a shooting in my own city, my first instinct isn't "what can I do to help their family" - it's to look up the address to see just how close to me it happened, and to study the details of the story to see if it was a street robbery or if it was a dispute between people who knew each other, because the first thing I care about is my own safety.

This is on all points, entirely normal human behavior. When learning about some potentially threatening thing in the world, the functional, practical, and usual first response, is to judge it for salience to your own life.

It is simply not practical, or functional, to sink the same amount of emotional energy into the fate of every stranger you hear about as you do into the fate of people you know personally, or at least identify with on some count or another. That way lies universalized anxiety, emotional burnout, obsession and fixations, or worse.

On a lighter note, Happy New Year everyone!

#838 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 01:29 AM:

Happy New Year to those east of the Mountain Time Zone!

I just got home from a cross country flight. The in-flight entertainment system offered Casablanca, which is a fine way to pass the time.

Now to tackle the mail-pile.

#839 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 02:13 AM:

Wishing a happy new year to regulars and visitors alike!

#840 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 02:54 AM:

Happy New Year, now that most people have NewYeared

I've been trying to write triolets, which are sufficiently easy that you don't get a sense of accomplishment merely from matching the form, but sufficiently hard that none of mine are any good.

I have, however, found my favorite triolet ever, by A E Stallings. The refrain is

"Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night"

#841 ::: Wolf Baginski ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 03:43 AM:

Traditionally, the Spontoonie New Year is not, strictly, tied to the calendar. It begins with the ceremonial trolling of the first tourist, when a delegation from the Althing welcomes the first planeload at the Airport.

It is carefully explained that the Althing Chair, currently a time-worn Aeron, is a symbol of the Althings power being derived from the people, not from some arbitrary authority, and they are presented with a specially made "Kiss Me Quick" hat, of the finest materials, which, as all such hats are required to do, declares in exquisite Spontoonie calligraphy, that the wearer has a small penis.

Not many people outside the Islands can read Spontoonie.

Other gifts are presented to other members of the family, together with guidebooks and gift vouchers from prominent businesses and the Water Taxi Collective. Prayers are offered by a local cleric, carefully selected to offend Tourists of a more bigoted nature. The spectacle of American Tourists trying to avoid being blessed by an Eastern Orthodox priest in full rig was once voted the most popular TV news item of the year.

Most of the reception party will on the next day be doing their usual work of making high-tech thingumajigs. Modern tourists just aren't rich enough to be worth the effort, and the commonplaces of the past have faded from sight. No more are tourists found rescuing pretty maidens from sinister native priests (bound naked to the altar extra).

Besides, these days the super-rich tourist is more dangerous than any sinister native priest can ever expect to be. Rather than your soul (or virginity, special fee applies), they will take something far more precious, if you give them half the chance.

And so, as the New Year sun rises over the Islands, the smiling natives offer you exotic (and rather expensive) hangover remedies which, in the USA, would only be available on prescription, with special permission from the DEA.

#842 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 04:44 AM:

Cadbury Moose @832

There's a brief flash of something that I though was from B5 at around the 2-minute mark, something that felt vaguely Vorlon. but I see B5 doesn't get credited.

I think there's a lot of stuff that doesn't get in, some of it far older. And there's a lot I don't recognise. One shot I only "got" because the character is mentioned in a critique of TFA, as a counter-example to the way that a TFA character changes.

I get a different view here in the UK, of course, but B5 was in a pre-digital era, VHS rather than DVD, and there doesn't seem to be the repetition on British TV.

I just looked up the dates. It's old. It's usenet era, and if you thought the spoiler fuss about TFA was bad, you should see the frothiness that surrounded British TV broadcasting of episodes ahead of the USA. It was even forbidden to use episode names.

And you can get it on DVD.... Which makes illicit sources certain.

But what is it that make a series last in the general imagination. Some things get reinforcement, such as Star Trek in all its forms. Some don't.

But it that enough to keep it alive?

#843 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 09:35 AM:

When I see the name Spontoon, I always think of this etching I made in 1981 with that title. I named it that because I did a krazy kartoon kaption kontest in DAPA, and one of the entries was "SPONTOON!"

#844 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 09:43 AM:

Lest I forget, Happy 2016! Having a white New Year here in Pittsford, with flakes spiraling down profusely. For some reason, it usually seems to wait until I'm watching to start snowing. When I stepped outside upon rising to smell the air, it was just the light pattering of icy little pellets too small to notice.

No actual resolutions. I replaced the computer peripherals that took a dive in 2015 already. New Apple keyboard, new Intuos tablet (which my Wacom mouse doesn't seem to work on, of course, so I'm mouseless now). I had previously, reluctantly, upped my time on the Futile Cycle and Trudgemaster from 15 minutes each to 25 each at the YMCA, and this week I nudged it up to 30 boring minutes apiece. Going well so far. I now have a body like Charles Atlas, and the hair on the back of my head has come back, full and lush, even as a myriad of aches and pains I didn't even notice any more all left simultaneously, and clients came out of the woodwork to ask me to design covers for their books.

Okay, I did actually get one returning client who wants a cover. It's a good start. Wishing you all a good start as well.

#845 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 10:09 AM:

Went to look at the Starships particle - no, I hadn't seen it, and seeing it made me smile. Which slightly lightens the burden of having decided to let go of something that was very dear to me, but has turned into a depressing time-sink that is no longer fun. (Japanese language classes, in a nutshell.)

Crazy(and trying to look forward to the new year, in between naps)Soph

#846 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 10:34 AM:

Ian Murdock of Debian Fame, Dead Under Suspicious Circumstances. I have no idea what to think here.

#847 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 10:44 AM:

crazy(but not acting it in this case)Soph @845:

Sometimes I comfort myself with the thought that having more awesome [people/activities/subjects to learn/books] than I have time for is better than the reverse. I don't know that I'd go so far as to prefer exhaustion to boredom, which seems to be the corollary to that, but the richness of things we can do is a kind of wealth.

It's hard not to squander that wealth, but doing less and savoring it because you're not exhausted and consequently miserable is the more prudent course. It's good stewardship of your joy.

Abi(and a total hypocrite with this as she flirts with taking up Greek again)gail

#848 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 11:44 AM:

Stopping by to wish you all the happiest of new years.

#849 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 01:07 PM:

Kip W @843

Your link leads me to a Yahoo login page.

#850 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 01:28 PM:

#842 ::: Dave Bell @ 842 ...
There's a brief flash of something that I though was from B5 at around the 2-minute mark, something that felt vaguely Vorlon. but I see B5 doesn't get credited.

The creator says explicitly that they didn't include content from B5.

But what is it that make a series last in the general imagination. Some things get reinforcement, such as Star Trek in all its forms. Some don't.

But it that enough to keep it alive?

You say that as I'm sitting here watching B5 ...

#851 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 02:14 PM:

Thanks, Bruce! It worked on preview, but when I try it… well, it doesn't work, and even my regular bookmark doesn't work, so I can't make it any better. This could be a problem at flickr or Yahoo!, who probably owns them now.

[Some time elapses.] Okay, now it's coming in, and the link works for me. Let's try another link and see if one or the other will work for someone other than me. Not going to embed, as it seems rude and probably wouldn't work anyway. I hope this is an improvement.

(And here's the link as it looks sitting on the table:

#852 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 02:46 PM:

Kip W (851): The new link works for me.

#853 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 02:47 PM:

Six decades ago, sometime in the past week, my mother told my father the glad (perhaps) tidings. For two decades (more or less) my father was to tell me 'Bwoi, yu caus trobl bifaa yu baan'.

To many more years of premature troublemaking! Happy 2016 to all of you!

#854 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 03:40 PM:

The flickr link worked fine. Thank you very kindly.

#855 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 04:13 PM:

HLN: In the interest of doing small things that make my life more pleasant, I have alphabetized my spices. No, really, I know this is a joke about people who have too much time on their hands. But when I thought, what are the regular annoyances in my life that could be improved with a little organization, I thought of repeatedly rooting through the cupboard by the stove and the shelf in the pantry that holds the overflow, muttering, "Cumin, I know I have cumin. Not curry, not cinnamon, not coriander, not cayenne, not chile powder..." And I'd buy another jar, and then turn up the old one while looking for something else. So things are now sorted. The frequent-use stuff like garlic salt is next to the stove. The rest are ordered in the pantry. There are, if you're interested, two jars of powdered ginger, three of chile powder, three of cinnamon, two of cumin (but one is almost empty, so that just counts as having a replacement ready). And I've realized that if I want to try the tasty-sounding curried cauliflower and chickpea recipe, I don't have to buy anything except the cauliflower, because I found both turmeric and paprika, which I didn't know I had. Go, me.

#856 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 04:15 PM:

Oh, and wishing everyone the best for 2016.

#857 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 05:02 PM:

OtterB @855:

I don't consider it a joke. I have a friend who 25 years ago started collecting small glass juice bottles for her spice rack, and stores her spices, alphabetically, in the juice bottles. I'm well acquainted with finding her cumin amongst the corieander, cayenne, chile powder, etc. When you have 60+ spice bottles, it makes sense to sort them.

Of course, when people talk about lots of spices, I am reminded to a scene from a Simpson's episode where Marge sees an 8-spice spice rack and wonders what the other three are. The immediate question for me is: what her her five?

#858 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 05:40 PM:

Sherlock has been shown.

The Victorian feel was superb.

And Stephen Moffatt spoiled it all for a cheap theatrical trick.

#859 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 06:42 PM:

Buddha Buck @ #857 :
... Marge sees an 8-spice spice rack and wonders what the other three are. The immediate question for me is: what her her five?

I think there's an episode once where she replies when complimented on a roast, "the secret ingredient is salt," so that might be one.

#860 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 06:47 PM:

It may just be a riff on the idea of five-spice powder being the only spice she's heard of as a spice.

Or possibly it's Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Posh....

#861 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 07:05 PM:

I used to store my cumin (whole seed) in a quart mason jar. Some of the other common ones got pint or cup jars, and I'd go through a jar every couple of months.

Organization was roughly topical: spicy to Mexican to Indian, to SE Asia, and other common ones in front. And then they'd get put back wrong and I'd be lost.

#862 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 07:37 PM:

As part of the general long-range housecleaning, I finally motivated myself to discard bits and pieces of 'art' that I had never liked, including two self-portraits from 1989-90. Not wanting to see either one show up in a book of hideous paintings rescued from the trash, I took the precaution of cutting them in strips.

It turns out I like one of the strips, so I saved that and put it on my office door. Naturally, it shows the messiest slice of my office, but you can see a keyboard and my Predicta, so what the heck. It's ART, baby!

I hope I have mastered this thing with links. It's not me! Flickr keeps changing how they permit their stuff to be shared, and it's hard for me to keep up.

Saw the STAR WARS thing, and it wasn't bad, but I think there's a thread for that, and I don't want to start a discussion here, so just forget I said that. I've forgotten already.

#863 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 07:58 PM:

I love the Starships vid. Oh my gosh.

Dave Bell@842: "I think there's a lot of stuff that doesn't get in, some of it far older."

There was a response video, where was it...

"This is a near shot-by-shot remake of bironic's Starships! vid using exclusively black and white sources that were released prior to July 1969."

And how I love that the TARDIS is in both of them.

#864 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 08:01 PM:

In other news, I alphabetized my spices several years ago. It helps less than it should, because do I look under "ancho", "pepper", or "chili"?

The magnetic spice rack I made is a win, though.

#865 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 08:23 PM:

Kip W@851

Whether the link works depends on which browser I use. With Seamonkey (one of the Mozilla browsers) I get the Yahoo login screen with both links you've posted. With Internet Explorer 11 both links work.

#866 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 09:07 PM:

OtterB, #855: If you have more than a dozen different spices, that's not a joke at all. Ours aren't, and I'm not the regular cook around here, and if I'm looking for something I always end up having to ask my partner to find it. (Of course, this is also partly because the spices are on a shelf that I'm not tall enough to see all the way to the rear of.)

Buddha B., #857: Well, if Marge is anything like my mother, they would be salt, black pepper, cinnamon sugar, poultry seasoning, and pumpkin pie spice. And the last 2 would only be used twice a year. (Vanilla extract would not be kept on the spice rack.)

Kip: Your Flickr "share" links are working erratically for me (first one was 404, second one worked, third one got me a page with everything on it except the photo itself). But if you go to the page with the picture on it and just copy what's in the browser address bar, you can use it like any other HTML address in a regular link. Or at least you could the last time I checked.

#867 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 09:09 PM:

@863: One is blocked because copyright violation, the other requires password. :-\

#869 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 09:19 PM:

Buddha Buck @857 and Lee @866 Of course, when people talk about lots of spices, I am reminded to a scene from a Simpson's episode where Marge sees an 8-spice spice rack and wonders what the other three are. The immediate question for me is: what her her five?

My mom's would have been salt, black pepper, garlic salt, oregano, and perhaps cinnamon. But then she would have needed ginger or cloves once or twice a year for the pumpkin pie. And she would have had nutmeg too. So more than five, but not nearly as many as I have.

Andrew Plotkin @864, I had that problem with the peppers too. For some reason I have no problem leaving chili in the c's, but I went back and forth about cayenne.

eric @861 I considered topical, but would probably have just separated "sweet" and "savory".

#870 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 10:17 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @864

>> ... do I look under "ancho", "pepper", or "chili"?

Well, since you asked :), under "chili", then alphabetically by variety.

#871 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 10:27 PM:

My five, for many years, would have been oregano, garlic powder, thyme, basil, and ... not sure what the fifth one would be. Possibly bay leaves.

(I think of salt and pepper as coming from the shaker and not the spice rack. I know, you have to reload the shaker from somewhere.)

#872 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2016, 11:18 PM:

Dill, oregano, salt, basil, pepper for me.

My wife added quite a few when she moved in....

#873 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 01:19 AM:

I alphabetized my spices once but it was boring. Instead I used the bottles to spell an unpronounceable word which, if read, struck terror beyond description.

#874 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 04:53 AM:

Kip, check the privacy settings on your photos. claims to be "Viewing this photo: Private", in which case it is odd that others can see it if you share the link in the address bar.

Unless there is a setting on your account or the individual photo that prevents it, the way Flickr wants you you make a link to the photo page to share is to click on the "Share this" icon (curved arrow shape to the bottom right of the photo itself). This icon may be greyed out, depending on privacy settings. The default result once clicked is a pop-up 'Share 1 photo to:" page, with a shortcode html link selected, ready to copy-and-paste where-ever.

#875 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 07:05 AM:

Stefan Jones #873 I used the bottles to spell an unpronounceable word which, if read, struck terror beyond description.

Possibly this explains my general household disorder. Who knows what my previous jumble of spices may inadvertently have summoned? What's the demonic equivalent of Pratchett's Anoia, the goddess of things that get stuck in drawers?

#876 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 09:15 AM:

Thanks. Damned flickr has changed my default, once again. I hope I can make it change more quickly this time than the other times.

#877 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 09:27 AM:

Some checking. Flickr is telling me everything's public and safe to look at. It's lying to somebody. Of course, the last time was long enough ago that I don't remember what finally worked.

Anyway, I changed the photos in question, one by one, and it seems to have accepted the changes. (Yes, flickr told me that all my photos are public, and when I looked at them one by one, the recent ones are private. It is smart.)

#878 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 09:43 AM:

Kip W, late to the thread, but I can see your pictures. So your setting changes worked. (I like the boat one especially.)

#879 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 10:55 AM:

Kip W @ 868 ...

Echoing #878 Cassy B. @ 878 ... that's one lovely boat!

#880 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 11:05 AM:

Thanks! I thought of posting it after abi had put up a beautiful morning vista of canals and flats, with a differently lovely shade of blue in it, on Twitter. Dad can't build more boats like that, or even go out in one, which is sad for me, and probably a lot sadder for him when he realizes it. It may be just as well that he still thinks he can do things he can't.

At 92, he can still play the piano anyway, and though his problems are audible, he's having them with pieces I've never even attempted. (Unless you count laboriously going through the easier bits as an attempt.)

#881 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 11:05 AM:

Thanks! I thought of posting it after abi had put up a beautiful morning vista of canals and flats, with a differently lovely shade of blue in it, on Twitter. Dad can't build more boats like that, or even go out in one, which is sad for me, and probably a lot sadder for him when he realizes it. It may be just as well that he still thinks he can do things he can't.

At 92, he can still play the piano anyway, and though his problems are audible, he's having them with pieces I've never even attempted. (Unless you count laboriously going through the easier bits as an attempt.)

#882 ::: Kip W sees duplicate posts ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 11:06 AM:

Sorry! I usually know better than to hit 'post' while it's cogitating. This time was a reflex. (Like trying to put a t after the x in the word 'reflex.' Twicet.)

#883 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 12:40 PM:

Wow, 60 jars of spices? I have *counts them* 18, including the salt. I feel -- inadequate.

In other news: it's a new year. Happy New Year!

#884 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 01:02 PM:

I have...I don't know how many jars of spices. It's been more than 5 for a long, long time. (Sorting: 'baking' vs 'cooking'.)

#885 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 02:20 PM:

After my last purge of spices (too old; never use; why do I have six tubs of cumin?) I have somewhere near 50. Several of those are combinations (garam masala, curry, chili spice rubs) that I use a lot, and there are a few from very specific recipes that I rarely use, so I actively use (at least once a week) about half that number.

But I cook a *lot* and I like a really wide flavor palate. I have several friends who have a much less tolerant range, and they are more than happy with their five or ten spices.

As for alphabetizing them: I do so about once a month. When they're in alphabetical order, it's very handy for finding things, but they rapidly fall into disarray. When I had stacking jars instead of stacks of tubs, it was easier to keep them in order. I have also reached the point in my cooking life where I can identify most spices by sight, so there's less need to alphabetize them. (Although the cinnamon persists in hiding from me -- even when arranged. I don't understand.)

#886 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 03:07 PM:

We actually have about 50 in our alphabetic racks (and several forms of chili outside of the racks). That's herbs and spices together, of course: I'd guess there are more herbs and herb blends than actual spices, and we grow half-a-dozen herbs so we can have fresh (rosemary, thyme, parsley, bay, oregano at least). They don't all get used regularly, but it's nice to know the right flavor is there.

#887 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 06:28 PM:

Here's a new low: direct mail marking from your friendly neighborhood mortuary. Just in time, you know, for the holidays....

#888 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 06:47 PM:

Spice-related annoyance:

I have a nice spice rack, a wire gadget that fits in the cupboard shelf designated for spices. The problem is, many of the spice bottles I've accumulated don't fit in it. The worst offenders cheap spices in big plastic shaker bottles which I had bought at Walgreens, as I recall. But some "quality" spices in glass bottles don't fit either.

I should cook more so I can use up the seasonings in the big bottles and replace them iwth spices that come in rack-compliant bottles.

#889 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 06:47 PM:

Spice-related annoyance:

I have a nice spice rack, a wire gadget that fits in the cupboard shelf designated for spices. The problem is, many of the spice bottles I've accumulated don't fit in it. The worst offenders cheap spices in big plastic shaker bottles which I had bought at Walgreens, as I recall. But some "quality" spices in glass bottles don't fit either.

I should cook more so I can use up the seasonings in the big bottles and replace them iwth spices that come in rack-compliant bottles.

#890 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 06:47 PM:

Jacque @ 887 -

My favorite direct mail story is about the Church of Christ which was sent one of those pesonalized mailings:

Dear Mr. Christ:

Are you wasting your time in a dead-end,
low-paying job?

#891 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 07:35 PM:

I count 18 jars of spices in my cabinet. I have as well a whole bunch of small bags with just a little bit of something in them, that I should probably throw away.

See, the supermarket I shop at has a bulk section with spices. So, if I want to make Marissa Lingen's stew recipe from her website, which calls for a bit of cardamom, I don't have to spend $18 on a giant jar of cardamom that I'm never going to finish; I can spend $.40 on just a little more than I need to make it once. Nutmeg, cloves, allspice, all similarly. This is something I love about that supermarket.

(Also, if we assume the bulk spices are as good as the ones in the jars and compare prices, we find that the little glass jars themselves cost about $3.50. That strikes me as excessive, and a quick google search on "empty glass spice jar" confirms it.)

#892 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 08:05 PM:

Happy Birthday Patrick!

#893 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 08:26 PM:

Happy birthday, Patrick (and thanks again!).

#894 ::: Mary Aileen notes an oddity ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 09:05 PM:

The Recent Comments list shows a post from Tom Whitmore after Stefan's #892. It's visible in Tom's VAB but not showing here.

Maybe another comment will shake it loose?

#895 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 09:06 PM:

...Yep, there it is.

#896 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 09:43 PM:

David Goldfarb #891: Amen on the bulk aisle, that's the only reason I darken the door of Whole Foods. Regarding the cost of spice bottles, some of that is shipping and handling -- what I think of as the cost of buying a "generic thing". For spices, that'll be aggravated by hopefully-picky handling at the packaging end.

#897 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 09:46 PM:

Having seen the latest Sherlock, I am torn between being amazed at the quality of the acting and being annoyed at Moffat's imbecility.

#898 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2016, 11:22 PM:

RE bulk sections, the WinCo chain in the Pacific Northwest has spices in their humongous bulk foods section. I wonder how quality and selection compares to Whole Foods. (I'm almost certain the prices are better!)

#899 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 02:10 AM:

Hey, can the gnomes please add a language warning to the link for "Starships?" I couldn't stop smiling while I watched it, but with my Kindergartener in the room I'm sure glad I put on my headphones!

#900 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 02:36 AM:

Jacque, #887: That actually makes a very morbid kind of sense. It's a statistical fact that the holiday season generally has a spike in deaths.

#901 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 03:02 AM:

Jenny Islander @899:

Added. Sorry 'bout that; my habits around audible swearz are rusty due to kids old enough to out-cuss me in multiple languages if they so choose.

#902 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 10:06 AM:

abi @ #835

Parhelium, thank you. (Moose are notably poor at foreign languages, possibly due to the difficulties of travelling by air.)

This particular specimen failed 'O' level Latin (grade 7) and just about scraped through French (with a grade 6).

I shall take the opportunity to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year, and to thank you for being here and being you.

#903 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 10:50 AM:

My rack of 24 spices is nicely alphabetized, and then the rest are floating loose in 2 different cupboards. Those would be the ones I use less often, such as the jar of Chinese 5-spice powder (which contains 7 spices) that I bought for the tea egg recipe posted here on Making Light several years ago. They also include unopened duplicates. I am about to slip small notes behind some of the containers in the rack saying "Don't buy more—there's another one on the shelf."

#904 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 10:50 AM:

Parhelion. Um would be Latin; om is Greek.

(Classicist. I don't get to use my education very often or for anything very useful...)

#905 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 10:59 AM:

abi @ #904

Argh! I knew I should have copy/pasted that. 3:O(>

Bad Moose <Smack!> naughty Moose.

(Adds "Proofredd before psoting." to New Year resolutions.)

#906 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 11:13 AM:

@904: And by om, I presume you mean on, yes? :-) (That m is pernicious, I had to pay close attention to avoid replicating it in my second case, above.)

~ Meanwhile, I think I've figured out where (at least the vast majority of) the wee moths have been coming from, last couple of weeks (New Years? Really?), in addition to the half-dozen very fat and well-fed looking meal worms that appeared randomly on my kitchen counter.

Seems they got into my nut stores. The stocks sealed in canning jars appear to be unaffected, but the ones left in plastic produce bags—my, but that was a remarkably disgusting mess. Rot13ed for those of delicate sensibilities: n fgvpxl, ternfl, pyhzcl nqzvkgher bs tanjrq ahgf, pnfg-bss fvyx naq cerfhznoyl rkbfxryrgbaf cyhf, hz, rk-ahgf, naq gur ohetrbavat cbchyngvba bs nf-lrg-hatenqhngrq bpphcnagf. Turns out plastic bags are no barrier and, in fact, looked like they might have served as appetizer and/or dessert.

In a word, plyeuch!

#907 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 11:40 AM:

I tend to collect spices obsessively (Hey, you never know when I might have reason to need whole anatto seed!) but tend to use relatively small amounts. When I moved into my current house, I decided to set up everything-visible racks for them on the back side of one pair of kitchen cabinet doors and then bought little flip-top bottles from Cost Plus to standardize storage size. I think I have close to 100 different items. (But some are really just curiosities.) Since the Cost Plus bottles came in several different color lids--and to fit with my usual organizational preferences--the contents are grouped by general type of item with a specific color code.

Green = leafy herbaceous spices
Red = peppers, hot spices (such as ginger and clove), and "dessert" spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
Blue = seeds
Orange = mixed blends of any type
White = other, such as vanilla beans/sugar, saffron, gum arabic, etc.

I find this method fits with my cooking approach which is more inspirational than aspirational.

Now, the spices in my medieval camp kitchen are a bit different, because I've tried to limit myself to items that a pre-1600 Welsh cook might have had access to, and have labelled them in the appropriate language.

#908 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 12:22 PM:

Put nuts (and oatmeal!) in the freezer for a week or so, if you don't store them there. They're notorious for having six-legged residents.

#909 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 12:43 PM:

P J Evans @ 908

Seconding this. I tend to use Tupperware-type containers not only for bulk-bought foods but for anything that comes in a box or plastic bag. And even at that, the critters are remarkably good at getting past anything that isn't a genuine air-tight seal.

When I moved from the relatively cool clime of Oakland out to the much more Central Valley-like Concord, I had to re-think a lot of long-term food storage. Things that had good shelf life previously were now having issues with regular 90F temperatures in the summer. (I don't air condition for assorted reasons.)

So nuts live in the freezer not only for critter-related issues but because they tend to go rancid over the summer. Ditto any sort of solid chocolate baking products, but in order to avoid melting (to say nothing of the more cosmetic issue of blooming).

#910 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 01:15 PM:

I had Indianmeal moths* in my rice recently. There must have been eggs in the bag when I bought it, because the sealed rice container has never had a problem before. The new bag of rice is currently in the freezer.

*Ybgf bs juvgr jroovat va gur evpr pbagnvare--yuck!

#911 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 02:29 PM:

A friend once expressively described the results of grain moths getting into the paprika. Bright orange grubs crawling around the pantry.

#912 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 03:43 PM:

My brother, in high school, was making cookies and taking them to school (oatmeal chocolate chip - the standard cookie for my family). One of his classmates asked him what made them so good, and he said it was the mealworms in the oatmeal (rolled oats, for non-US readers). The next time he went to make cookies, there actually were mealworms in the oatmeal. (Thus, frozen oatmeal.)

I've found critters in raisins, too. Inside the cellophane. Live, at least once. (Put me off eating raisins as raisins.) They get run through the freezer, now, also.

#913 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 04:10 PM:

In other news, Andy M. Stewart, the lead singer for Silly Wizard and one of the best deadpan comedians I've ever seen, died a few days ago. His voice was gentle, his performances memorable, and his kindness great. I hardly knew him, but I'll miss him.

#914 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 04:28 PM:

Yeah, for a long time (after my last infestation), I'd been in the habit of keeping everything attractive either in sealed jars or the freezer. Worked, so I got sloppy. (Seems to be the story of my life.)

#915 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 04:32 PM:

I'm just catching up on the open thread, and most of Making Light, after roughly five weeks away. Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope December was, overall, a good month.

Our December was, well... A lovely Advent (our first home-made calendar for the four-year-old); Hanukkah (many sufganiot); Christmas (described elsewhere); and, for the most part, New Years Eve/Day (including a lovely visit from my father). And between the last two events Amazing Spouse broke an arm, badly. The dominant arm, of course. Logistics for the next month or so will be interesting.

On the plus side: is there a name for that feeling of relief when your refrigerator is no longer overstuffed with fowl awaiting cooking?

And a shout-out to UrsulaV, in case she might spot it here: my octogenarian father arrived here a few days ago and said, "Where's that book I started during Thanksgiving? I want to know how it ends?" The book was Harriet the Invincible.

Brief notes on the bits of the open thread I've just caught up on (plus occasional snippets I spotted previously in passing):

Thanks on multiple counts (as usual) to abi: for "Starships", which always brings a big smile to my face; for recommending Today I will Fly!, which was a big hit here; for conveying the message from Mongoose, for whom I am wishing the best, and of whom would appreciate any news they care to pass along; and for your continuing and effective presence here.

Sad thanks to Tom Whitmore@618 & 913 for the news about Peter Dickinson and Andy M. Stewart, both of whom brightened my life immensely.

Thanks to Kip W. et al@478ff. for the wonderful limericks, and also to Kip W.@777 for the "Academic Urban Legends" link.

Finally, for this note:

xeger@711: polydactyl double dactyl

Higgledy piggledy.
Vengeful Inigio spent
Years in pursuit of
A six-fingered man.

Villain identified
Shouting "Hello!",
He accomplished his plan.

#916 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 04:43 PM:

I have just returned from 16 days in Forn Parts (though very familiar ones: my in-laws' place in Toronto, which I've been visiting at least once a year (since oh-God-it-was-1995-or-6six-so-that-means) for the last twenty years.

I visited parts of the city I had not previously seen. Some because I just hadn't, and some because they weren't THERE back then (the waterfront touristico area south of Skydome).

I can report that the Ripley's Aquarium therein is definitely a RIPLEY'S property long before it's an aquarium. It has one, fixed, nonreversible path: you enter in Room A, continue to Room B, and so on, with periodic choke-points meaning you can't go back past a certain horizon without leaving the attraction and paying again.

It was definitely worth seeing, even at its fairly exorbitant price, but if I hadn't had a kid chivvying me madly through the first three areas at nearly a run I'd be happier about it.

#917 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 04:46 PM:

In the department of Cheerful Things, I have just begun reading the delightful nonfiction book about the chemistry of history entitled Napoleon's Buttons. Even as a nerd with chemical interests I am learning things I did not know.

Engaging style, no prior knowledge of anything but middle-grade English required to enjoy it, highly recommended. Mild Content Warning: the author is not nearly as versed in noticing colonialist and racist assumptions as he thinks he is, and does relay a couple of apocryphal just-so stories tangential to his main point in passing that aren't actually true. Things like the "Medieval Europeans spiced their food heavily to cover the taste of rot" and so on.

#918 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 09:34 PM:

I once had a tin of Szeged paprika that got me through several makings of chicken paprikash with no trouble...until that one time that I came to sprinkle the paprika on, and what came out instead was a whole bunch of little things that looked like sesame seeds. I threw out that batch of chicken, and since then I've bought paprika in little plastic bags instead, so that I can see it before I try to use it.

#919 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 10:57 PM:

Anybody interested in a Gathering of Light at GAFilk this coming weekend?

#920 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2016, 11:25 PM:

Dang it, will have to miss GAFilk again. Currently in Oklahoma, heading for Nevada to drop the youngest off at grad school.

#921 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 12:25 AM:

dotless ı @915: The dominant arm, of course. Logistics for the next month or so will be interesting.

Back when Mr. Fuzzy Logan was new to the household, I made the mistake of throwing him in with the girls without allowing proper introductions.* Not surprisingly, they decided He Needed To Die. In my second stupid move of the day, I rescued him barehanded. After pulling his lower incisors out of the palmris longus of my right wrist, I put him back in a safe place, and rounded up the girls, and went on with my day. My third stupid move was not immediately bustling down to the ER to get shot full of antibiotics.

By the following Monday, my right hand was basically a useless club, and remained so for much of the ensuing month, even after (finally) visiting the doctor and initiating proper treatment.

Mercifully, I had taught myself to write with my left hand, back in high school, so it wasn't as much of a problem as it might have been. Nevertheless, it's remarkable how much technology it takes to make up for one (1) dominant hand.

** As can be seen in the photo, subsequent proper introductions resulted in happy cohabitation.

#922 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 08:13 AM:

HLN -- Area man is distressed to hear about mealy moths in Boulder (Jacque @906). AM has lived in Boulder for most of the last 40 years (27 years at his current residence), has numerous comestibles in marginal or sub-marginal storage conditions, and has never encountered this problem. AM thought the dry climate here was a sufficient preventive. AM makes anti-vampire sign of cross with fingers in direction of north Boulder (which probably won't help any more than the dry climate).

In unrelated news, has changed its user interface, and area man doesn't like it.

#923 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:03 AM:

Jacque @ 921 ...
By the following Monday, my right hand was basically a useless club, and remained so for much of the ensuing month, even after (finally) visiting the doctor and initiating proper treatment.

I didn't wait as long as you, but have still had the 'fun' of having to trek down to the hospital for daily IV antibiotics after not getting a cat bite dealt with -RIGHT THEN- instead of at the end of the day[0].

Mercifully, I had taught myself to write with my left hand, back in high school, so it wasn't as much of a problem as it might have been. Nevertheless, it's remarkable how much technology it takes to make up for one (1) dominant hand.

Unfortunately true :(

[0] There were a bunch of mitigating causes, but watching the red lines start creeping down my arm was ... disconcerting.

#924 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:09 AM:

Bloody moths were a scourge in Virginia. I found them (sometimes alive) in boxes of cereal purchased from the SuperFresh, and once in a Whitman Sampler I bought for my boss. I learned that I could maintain a deadpan while discovering one in a chocolate I'd already put in my mouth for the sake of someone else.

Up here in northwestern NY, not so much. Ants and mice, yeah. I miss my cat, Frances, who brought down two mice in one day and alerted me to at least one more.

#925 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:39 AM:

My childhood home in LI had a few outbreaks of pantry moths. Possible vector: I recall finding them in boxes of Jiffy (?) corn bread mix. Once there was a huge outbreak. Larva all over the kitchen ceiling. Ugh.

Here in OR, a batch burst out of a baggy of date candies bought at a bulk food place. I acted aggresively. Traps, cedar blocks, bay leaves, inspection and cleaning. The moths hung around for a while, but didn't contaminate anything. I have since sealed up all grain products, to slow or limit spread if anything else gets in.

I've also since deployed traps. I suspect they pull in random moths from outside, because inspection of products after they turn up show no infestations.

#926 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Bruce H. @922: As it happens, this is by no means my first encounter with mealy moths in Boulder. (I've got feathers I've had for decades that have developed notches due to same.)

IME, they usually ride in on the rice, or some such (hence storage practices) but this batch seems to have come in from the wild.

I really need to do a purge of the cabinet that contained the infested nuts, but ::whinge::

#927 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 10:25 AM:

::grumble:: resetting ID fields ::grumble::

#928 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:14 AM:

WRT Teresa's "Lying Liars" Particle: Gee, I'll bet Patrick wishes he had half the power John C. Write ascribes to him....

#929 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:18 AM:

Ahem. "Wright." (Hey, c'mon! It's  the middle of the night  early Monday morning....)

#930 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:40 AM:

Paprika: The first time I hit that particular infestation was as a guest who'd been charged with mixing up the onion dip and adding whatever I liked from the spice cabinet. Things went rather awry when I dumped in the paprika and there were blobs ... that started moving about. I'm still not clear on what would have been the Polite Thing to do; I basically said, "Yawp! Bugs!"

After having my own infestation some years later, I started storing the tin inside a baggie. Works so far, but makes for a rather inconvenient thing on the spice carousel.

#931 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:55 AM:

Spices generally:

I'm not really sure my mother had even *five* spices; all I can remember were paprika, garlic salt, cinnamon and poultry seasoning. Oh, wait, there was also a tin of nutmeg that was so old and desiccated I couldn't believe that nutmeg had any purpose at all. And the bay leaves, that only ever got used with the paprika in something she called "Turkish rice" that was basically the toughest stew beef possible and onions in tomato sauce. So, I guess, six or seven plus normal salt and that finely ground black pepper that looks like snuff and has no taste.

It was a great revelation to me when the choice of pizza mix boxes expanded from Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee to Kraft, because they included a special packet of herbs to sprinkle on top of the finished product--the first time I had encountered things like basil and oregano.

I have two of those double-height spice carousels, with each level for a type of spice: peppers, baking spices, herbs/seeds, and Stuff (includes stock cubes, cupcake sprinkles and other such). Frequently-used things, each with its own location, in a big tray on the counter to the left of the stove, along with a sugar shaker, olive oil, a pepper grinder, a red pepper shaker, a sugar bowl full of kosher salt, and the default flavor cholula sauce.

#932 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 01:37 PM:

This thread has inspired me to go and alphabetise my spice shelf, and it turns out I have 22 distinct things in 25 bottles (duplicates: basil ground & in leaves, cinnamon ground & in sticks, pepper ground and in -corns.)

The list approximately matches what I thought I had, but I'm at a loss to explain the marjoram.

#933 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 01:37 PM:

This thread has inspired me to go and alphabetise my spice shelf, and it turns out I have 22 distinct things in 25 bottles (duplicates: basil ground & in leaves, cinnamon ground & in sticks, pepper ground and in -corns.)

The list approximately matches what I thought I had, but I'm at a loss to explain the marjoram.

#934 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 02:46 PM:

Jacque@921: it's remarkable how much technology it takes to make up for one (1) dominant hand.

No kidding. Speaking of technology, there is one amusing side note for us: for several years, until a couple of years before I met Amazing Spouse, I worked on speech recognition software. Spouse is now making good use of a descendant of that same software, which probably still contains some code I wrote once upon a time. I get at least a little satisfaction from that.

Meanwhile, Amazing Spouse says that intellectually she knows that we're really lucky: this probably won't affect our income, and we have flexibility from our workplaces. But it scrambles family and personal plans from now at least through Summer; it's upsetting to both parent and child to have the parent suddenly be fragile; and right now Spouse finds it all really depressing.

#935 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 03:26 PM:

dotless ı: right now Spouse finds it all really depressing.

I get reminded every few years that it's important not to underestimate the cognitive/emotional/spoon-sucking load that having a sudden eruption of one's functioning can cause. Just having to do things differently soaks up a lot of energy, even without factoring in all the rest of it.

#937 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 03:53 PM:

dotless ı:

All the sympathy, for both the injury and the consequences. My shoulder continues to hurt, but it doesn't disrupt more than my sleep.

We just shoveled through our box of spices. Three out-of-date containers of baking powder! Incredible amounts of whole allspice! We deduplicated, got rid of expired spices, and tidied up. But it's the ebb before the flow; I know it'll grow again.

#938 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 04:07 PM:

From comments to TNH's particle, a new definition.

Ultraviolet prose: text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery it is beyond the ability of mere mortals to read it. (cf purple prose)

Credit to wtfpancakes.

#939 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 04:12 PM:

Any thoughts about using bay leaves to discourage grain moths?

#940 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 06:00 PM:

I have about three spices. That includes herbs. I'm envious of everyone's spices (or, at least, of their ability to cook things that require having many spices).

I want lots of spices just so I can alphabetise them...

#941 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 07:50 PM:

Rikibeth @834: I, too, am often frustrated with "stupid" people, and I don't really feel caring about the lives of strangers. I consider my belief to be an aspirational ideal, and check myself against it when, say, a news story or blog post contains information about beliefs of my ideological opponents that I find scary and/or disgusting. The first steps for me are that I not actively wish harm on others, and that I not say "this person is less than I am." The first steps are that I try.

I read a lot of writings by certain people who call themselves "effective altruists," and although there are some pretty odd opinions and areas of focus in the group as a whole, what I find immensely helpful is that all the ones I read urge compassion, not only for strangers, but for yourself. You shouldn't try to help make the world better if you have to suffer unduly in order to do so - and you get to decide what "unduly" means. Everyone's happiness matters, including yours. So if you feel like a bad person for not living up to your standards, it's possible you need to adjust your standards so that you actually can live up to them.

@bug subthread... yeek. *puts newly purchased barley in the freezer*

#942 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 08:11 PM:

Jacque 928-9: I've started referring to him as See Johnny Write.

#944 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:13 PM:

We're spraying for Thread Moths here.

#945 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:14 PM:

We're spraying for Thread Moths here.

#946 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 12:03 PM:

945: Little slow on the uptake, but I just got this. :-)

#947 ::: Sushi Denver ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2019, 04:38 PM:

My family visited the City of Chester when I was young. I could barely remember how the place looks like and I am kind of interested how it looks like now. Though Google and YouTube can take us places we never been but experience (of visiting there "again") will still be the best teacher.

#948 ::: P J Evans sees something like spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2019, 05:01 PM:

It's coherent, and almost relevant, but there's a commercial URL behind the user name.

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