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January 4, 2016

Open thread 210
Posted by Patrick at 08:35 PM * 999 comments

You know the sheriff’s got his problems too.

Comments on Open thread 210:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 08:46 PM:

How long before there's a mass shooting at an SF convention?

#2 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:06 PM:

That question is more a matter of luck than anything else, Patrick. And it reminds me of the thought that everybody, during the Cold War, had a reason why their town would be Ground Zero for a nuclear bomb.

We all tend to think we're a little more important in the scheme of things than we are. I wonder if this is just an expansion of the Dunning-Kruger effect, or the natural outcome of our being the most important actor in our own picture show. It's the solipsist in all of us, fighting to get out and be seen by all those other people who we think exist?

No answer, though. Just some thoughts.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:10 PM:

Tom, mass shootings actually happen. Real people get killed.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:13 PM:

The Bomb never got dropped (so far, post-WWII, at any rate). Mass shootings happen every few days in America. That's a significant difference.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:16 PM:

A college friend was at a Furry convention that got hit with a (chlorine?) gas attack. Never solved AFAIK.

#6 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:26 PM:

It certainly could happen. I do not want to say that it couldn't, and I certainly don't want to see it happen either in my lifetime or ever.

It's strange that we're living in the time of Brunner's muckers (cf Stand on Zanzibar); and that people are slowly realizing it.

I apologize for seeming to dismiss your concern. I do think it's something beyond my control. And maybe this is just my way of burying my head in the sand -- I try to keep rare events (and these are still rare events, even as they get commoner) in some distant perspective.

#7 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:42 PM:

How long before there is a mass shooting at a bowling tournament? Or a National Book Award ceremony? Or a quilting festival?

Yes, there are mass shootings every few days (if you define mass shootings as where four or more people are shot) but I would lay long odds against the possibility of a mass shooting at any particular gathering.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:44 PM:

Steve C.: I have spent my adult life in the SF world, and I disagree. I'd be delighted to be wrong, but I don't think I am.

#10 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:52 PM:

Two ammosexuals planned to shoot up a Pokemon convention in Boston last year. They were caught (with arsenal) beforehand because they were less than discreet on social media.

#11 ::: Paul Weimer ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:53 PM:

Tom Whitmore (hi Tom!) said:
"It's strange that we're living in the time of Brunner's muckers (cf Stand on Zanzibar); and that people are slowly realizing it."

Yeah, Brunner had his muckers using hand to hand weapons, as I recall, instead of guns, but otherwise he was dead on accurate, and scarily so.

#12 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 09:53 PM:

If I understand correctly, it makes a pretty big difference in the numbers if you count gang related shootings, robberies, and domestic violence. None of those have much to do with the nut shooting up a con, bowling tournament, etc, though they're all probably more common ways for people to die. (Mass shootings are like terrorism in that they are spectacular but also very rare--enough so that they're a really tiny fraction of the risk you face in daily life.)

#13 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 10:14 PM:

There's a depressing line of inquiry in Chicago right now looking into how many of our "gang-related homicides" are actually cops killing Black folks who happen to live in "gang-related" neighborhoods and putting it down on the form as two gang members shooting each other.

Nobody's sure whether they're 5% or 90% of the total. Probably somewhere between those two numbers. But not lower than the bottom bound I gave.


#14 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 10:24 PM:

Until a few years ago, I'd have rated such a thing as unlikely to the point of "not worth worrying about". Now... I'm not so sure.

If somebody wants to "make a statement", comic-cons are now mainstream and huge and everybody knows about them, and half the people there are in costume, and a lot of those costumes include prop guns; it would be relatively easy to blend into that kind of crowd with a real one appropriately painted. And you've got loons on both sides of the "nerd divide" to worry about here -- the ones who consider comics/media to be one of the Devil's tools corrupting our society on the one hand, and the ones who want to "take back" comics and comic fandom on the other. I would imagine that a similar argument could be made about the major gaming-cons, although I don't know how big costuming is at those because I haven't been to one.

If you confine the definition to "traditional" fan-run cons like Worldcon, it gets much murkier. Because if something like that does happen at one of those, it will almost certainly be done by someone who bought a membership. And again, until fairly recently I would have said that was too unlikely to waste time thinking about, but after the events of recent years I'm less sure of that than I used to be.

#15 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 10:51 PM:

I try to ignore media fearmongering. Elliott's right: The stats are inflated, and we're not in any more danger of having a mass shooting at a Woldcon this year than any other year.

When I have been afraid at cons, it has been far more personal. I carried during one con because I didn't like the neighborhood I was staying in, had to walk through it at night alone, and had decided to femme it up and therefore felt like more of a target than usual.

(It didn't help; femme!Sarah is as much of a pariah at cons as normal!Sarah.)

(Another perk of having a pistol in your luggage is that keeps the TSA from stealing your underwear.)

#16 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:23 PM:

I think that the probability of a shooting happening is greater at a US Worldcon than a non-US Worldcon going on per capita gun-crime statistics alone. And even in the US I suspect the probability is very low (but non-zero). If the opportunity arises I would feel relatively comfortable about attending a US-located Worldcon.

Spices (from previous OT): our pantry has roughly 35-40 spices/dried herbs, because I like to cook & growing up in Malaysia meant I was exposed to diverse cuisines. My main problem is spices going stale because I have so many. Infestation is not an issue as the spices are stored in sealed containers, and that keeps them fresh longer too.

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:37 PM:

I have a jar of whole nutmegs that belonged to my grandmother, who died in 1981 (and hadn't had a kitchen for several years before that). They seem to be fine. (I have another jar, as well. And a package in the freezer.)

#18 ::: Ericka ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:40 PM:

I won't say this well, for which apologies, but after watching GG from the distance of social media and the Hugo kerfuffle from a bit closer, I would think concern over a possible attack of some kind at a convention is entirely justified and rational.

Even if the hate flinging ring leaders are not likely to instigate an attack, it's still reasonable, I think, to wonder how many followers, at what level of instability, they might unknowingly have attracted without actually embracing paranoia. It only takes one, right?

#19 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2016, 11:47 PM:

Just so I'm clear, is it the general consensus that the percentage of potentially homicidal loons is higher in the SF and Gamer community than in the general pop?

#20 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:00 AM:

I have no idea on percentages, and I'd question anyone who does, Steve C. It's not something on which statistics can be gathered easily. And methodology on gathering those kinds of statistics is particularly fraught with error.

#21 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:03 AM:

Then I guess it's basically a vague feeling.

#22 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:13 AM:

A) There are potentially homicidal loons.
B) There are SF and fantasy fans.
C) The probability of overlap between these two sets is non-zero.

And all it takes is one to make bad things happen.

I think it's completely irrelevant whether there's a higher probability or not within fandom/convention attendees/the SF/Gamer community (which may or may not be the same set, depending on how you're defining things, but definitely have overlaps).

#23 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:20 AM:

Tom, mass shootings actually happen. Real people get killed.

#24 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:22 AM:

Does anyone know of a bread that has the same form factor as an english muffin, but tastes better (or at least isn't covered in shmuts)?

#25 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:29 AM:

Teresa, I got the feeling from Patrick's initial post that there was special reason to worry about an SF convention being more likely than another gathering to be subject to a mass shooting. If all he was referring to was the possibility of mass shootings in general, than I misread it.

#26 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:35 AM:

I completely agree with that, Teresa, and I would hope that my comment @22 would be read as agreeing with that. Because it was intended to be so read.

#27 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 01:25 AM:

Some of the Rabid Puppy rhetoric seemed, to me at least, to be trying for stochastic terrorism. None of the big names would actually be willing to bleed, but...who knows how RSHD's lickspittles might react?

#28 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 02:26 AM:

Steve C., #19: Percentages don't matter when you're talking about stochastic terrorism. All it takes is ONE.

And @25: That's not the feeling I got from it at all. I thought it was more, "Loons go to crowded places. A con is a crowded place." That's why I would estimate the risk to be higher at a comic-con than at a Worldcon, unless the loon in question had a specific type of agenda. More people, more (and higher-profile) targets.

#29 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 02:42 AM:

Pingback to Open Tread 209

Xopher: I've started referring to him as See Johnny Write.

Ouch! ;-)

#30 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 03:04 AM:

Soon Lee @16: My main problem is spices going stale because I have so many. Infestation is not an issue as the spices are stored in sealed containers, and that keeps them fresh longer too.

Staleness rather than infestations is the reason I started storing my spices in the freezer. Downside: they're in a disorganized sack of bottles that tends to migrate down and back, and thus are hard to get to. This reinforces my habit of not using them. :-( The seasonings I keep handy in the cupboard (in sealed jars) are garlic powder, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and cheap parmesan cheese. (The fancy parm lives in the fridge.) The cookie mix I bought yesterday is in the freezer. The bag is probably proof against the bugs, but I don't want to discover I'm wrong the hard way. (And given their demonstrated taste for fatty stuff, they'd luuuuv this stuff if they got to it.)

Steve C. @19 & Tom Whitmore @20: "Engineers are much more likely to become fundamentalist terrorists." Modulo reliable measures, of course.

#31 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 05:49 AM:

Tom @22:

I think it's a bit more specific than that.

1. There is a group, A, of SF fans who are heavily invested in US gun culture.

2. There is a group, B, of SF fans who are noisily and irrationally aggrieved at the con-going SF community in general, and who have a track record of intemperate and ill-considered reactions to perceived slights.

3. The overlap between groups A and B is substantial.

#32 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 08:27 AM:

Bugs in the pantry: several years ago we had an infestation of harvest mites in our kitchen cupboards, leading to the loss of multiple bags of flour, boxes of cereals etc. - and leading to my decision to keep all flour, grains, pulses etc. in sealed containers. So at least this summer when I made the unhappy discovery that the lovely risotto rice* had been half-eaten by grubs, a check of the other products confirmed that they had not managed to reach anything else. And while it took us a while to track down the source of the infestation of larder beetles (later in the summer) to some fat balls (for the birds) left over from last winter, once again nothing else was affected and it was relatively simple to get rid of them, thankfully (I understand that if they get really dug in it can be rather more difficult).

I'd never thought that they might get into the herbs and spices (which are in glass jars on spice racks).

* Okay, I'd not used it in about two years.

#33 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:04 AM:

If anyone wants to make a prediction with a date and a percentage, there's Prediction Book. You can make a private prediction if you like.

I've heard of lesser violence being a good predictor for murder by individuals, but I don't know whether violence in a group is useful for predicting spree/mass killing. My belief is that violence among fans is very rare. Anyone actually know?

I do remember ML getting very worried about GWB staging a coup-- which didn't happen. We may be a nervous bunch. On the other hand, mass shootings are more common in this country than coups.

I'm with the idea that such a shooting is possible but not very likely. If it does happen, it's more likely to be someone just going after a public gathering rather than someone from fandom. This might be wishful thinking, but I believe that fans (including the obnoxious ones) like being fannish. It's a lot harder to be fannish if you're dead or in prison.

Also, the graying of fandom might be a factor making mass/spree killing less likely. What's the age distribution for killers?

Meanwhile, while we're all cheering each other up, I've been rather haunted by some elements in John Barnes' writing. In particular, the random killings in his Timeline books (1996), and in his Daybreak books (2011), the "internet artifact" of people setting up websites figuring out how to destroy civilization-- the latter has some elements in common with ISIS recruiting, though when I check the dates, it isn't all that prescient.

For better news, there's a good little restaurant specializing in British hand pies near where I live--Stargazy. It's the first time I've had eel soup (stew?), their mashed potatoes are excellent, and I've discovered Tango, a strongly orange soda. There are other flavors of Tango, but I haven't tried them yet.

#34 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:33 AM:

Hand pies? Wait, this isn't on Fleet Street, is it?

#35 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:48 AM:

A look at Dunbar's number may be worthwhile from the standpoint of "who am I motivated to care about actively"

#36 ::: Greg Hullender ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:31 AM:

But have we really seen many (or any) politically-motivated mass shootings? They all (or almost all) seem to be committed by crazy people. They target schools, malls, movie theatres, etc., but not any particular group.

Mass-shootings by sane people--no matter how angry--seem to be very, very rare, if not non-existent.

Accordingly, I'd say the risk that an angry fan with a political agenda shoots up a convention to make a political point are near zero. You're more likely to get hit by lightening.

#37 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:32 AM:

Iain Coleman @31 -- that's my assessment, and why I think the chance of a shooting incident at a convention is non-zero. Though I think that an incident at a comic con is more likely than at a worldcon, with the GG incitement going on there.

However, I am not worrying about it. Too many other things are likely to kill me first.

#38 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:46 AM:

I was surprised there was not a shoot-up at the Phoenix worldcon. To the total surprise of Jim and I, a deranged former friend appeared on the stage as a character from the Forever War. To our horror, we realized he was toting at least one real weapon on his person.

This was someone who was thrown out of being a guest at Jim's college residence because, while up early on a Sunday morning, he took umbrage at someone whistling while walking down Massachusetts Street and started shooting at him with a handgun.

As soon as he came on stage, the masquerade was over for us. All we wanted to be was out of that auditorium.

#39 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:47 AM:

We've seen several politically-motivated mass shootings in the United States over the last several years, actually. It's just that when the political motivation is "I hate women and resent that they won't sleep with me" or "I am against abortion" and done by a white guy, it gets classified in the media as a gosh-darnit-unpredictable-unpreventable-crazed-loner event, as opposed to the terrorism it is. Somehow, misogyny and anti-choice politics aren't considered "politics" if people kill for them.

#40 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:49 AM:

I know of a political mass shooting that targeted women. The similarities between the shooter's festering resentments and those of our present-day angry manboys seem obvious to me. Additional examples, I'm happy to say, aren't coming to mind immediately.

#41 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 11:05 AM:

Another political mass shooting we all remember. Of course mass shootings are perpetrated by crazy people, because sane people don't perpetrate mass shootings.

#42 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 11:49 AM:

Can I speak up and ask that we not conflate mental illness and people who commit atrocities such as mass shootings?

There are lots of people who are mentally ill who don't go out and shoot people, and resent that mental illnesses have a stigma that is completely unlike that of any other illness. Additionally, dismissing mass shooters as mentally ill does neither the mentally ill nor any future victims of mass shootings a service, especially as it's often used to dismiss most of the personal and/or political warning signs that were there previously.

Conversely, there are plenty of people who don't have mental illnesses who have come to believe some truly vile and awful things, and are more than willing to kill for them. Feel free to search for stories about teenage women being killed by teenage men because the women didn't want to go out with them. I'm willing to bet that not every abortion clinic shooter was mentally ill, for example. The level of gun violence in the US is staggering when compared to pretty much everywhere else, and we do everyone a disservice to dismiss it as the act of crazy people (especially when those people are white and male).

#43 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:03 PM:

PNH writes in #1:

How long before there's a mass shooting at an SF convention?

Has it already happened?

The ZombiCon shooting of 18 October 2015 in Fort Myers, Florida, comes pretty close. One dead, five injured.

It was a street festival, not a con in the sense Patrick is thinking of.

CNN: Deadly shooting sparks panic at ZombiCon event in Fort Myers, Florida

Chaos broke out at a zombie-themed street festival in downtown Fort Myers, Florida, after shooting left one man dead and five other people wounded. Crowds of festivalgoers fled screaming through the streets after the shots rang out late Saturday at ZombiCon. [...]The deadly shooting took place at ZombiCon, a festival that features bands and DJs performing on stage in the downtown area to people dressed in zombie costumes. It draws upward of 20,000 attendees, police said.

The killer remains at large.

Profile of the late Tyrell Taylor.

#44 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:37 PM:

#40, Kip W:

I know of a political mass shooting that targeted women. The similarities between the shooter's festering resentments and those of our present-day angry manboys seem obvious to me. Additional examples, I'm happy to say, aren't coming to mind immediately.

What, has the red pill "incel" shooter been forgotten already?

The École Polytechnique shooting was not an isolated incident. It's just one that has an annual observance which keeps it in memory.

#45 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:47 PM:

For those who think a shooting at an sf convention is likely enough to be worth thinking about, do you think going to an sf convention is significantly more risky than just living an ordinary life, being out in public, and going to other sorts of events?

#46 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 12:53 PM:

Greg, #36: Off the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen politically-motivated mass shootings, if we go by the words of the shooters. It's the mass media that push the "disturbed individual" narrative... at least for white males.

Note that these two things are not mutually exclusive! Certainly there are a lot of people who hate one political group or another who never pick up a gun and go on a spree. But there's a significant subset of spree shooters who are indeed after a political target, whether it's "liberals" or pro-choicers or black people or women. And when you have witnesses, or their own "manifesto", saying that they're targeting a particular group for political reasons, I'm inclined to believe that over what the mass media says.

I will note also that you don't have to be mentally ill to be a spree shooter. There are multiple socially-acceptable narratives you can buy into which greatly boost the chances of becoming one:

1) The law doesn't apply to you if you're "answering to a higher law".
2) Violence is an acceptable solution to social problems, individually or on a larger scale.
3) You're the Good Guy With A Gun.
4) [Group X] is the cause of everything you don't like about society, or about your own life.

Most spree shooters have at least one of those narratives; many have more than one. And "anger management issues" is not a mental illness.

Kip, #40: You're missing at least 2 more that I can think of: Elliot Rodger and at least one of the high-school shootings in which women were specifically targeted -- there have been so many school shootings at this point that I can't remember enough for a Google search. Which is itself a sad commentary.

#47 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 01:11 PM:

I wonder if need some granularity between "mentally ill" and "sane". If by "sane" you mean the classic M'Naghten rule, then yes, just about all mass shooters are sane because they know the difference between right and wrong.

However, it still doesn't sound right to refer to anyone who deliberately murders anyone else as being rational or "sane".

#48 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 01:31 PM:

Janra @44:
What, has the red pill "incel" shooter been forgotten already?

My inability to recall a thing while writing a post is no barometer of whether it has been forgotten or not. Sometimes I'm just ignorant.

#49 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Lee @46: Might you be thinking of the shooting at the West Nickel Mines Amish School, where the shooter specifically targeted the girls in the class?

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 02:01 PM:

Kip, #48: Given that the incident in question was discussed in some depth on ML, I don't think "ignorant" is applicable. What I do think is applicable is that women generally remember spree killings that target women more keenly than men do.

Jennifer, #49: That's probably it. I was able to find a non-specific reference to it in one of my LJ posts from 2007, so a 2006 event seems likely. (The LJ post was about the social resistance to identifying the selective killing of women, as opposed to the selective killing of members of pretty much any other group, as a hate crime.)

#51 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Lee @50:

Can we not make assumptions about why people do and do not remember things?

I, for instance, recall the shooting but had forgotten that we discussed it on ML. I forget a lot of things that we discuss on ML, including blog posts that I myself have written.

more generally:

This is a conversation to tread lightly in. Everyone is on edge. Respect others' perspectives, fears, concerns, and quirks. Assume that everyone is commenting in good faith and is an expert on their own lives and experiences. Mark sarcasm, assume mindfulness, and when in doubt, qualify your statements if they're not about (a) objective reality, or (b) your own experience.

#52 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 02:53 PM:

Excuse me a moment while I rant about the piece of over-engineered pseudo-helpful CRAP that is Windows 10.

Why, why why WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY, does it save attached .docx files as roaming apps--ON A FRICKING DESKTOP? Why WHY WHY WHY WHY can't I use the file search function to bring up the address and move the file to the document folder where it is supposed to be? I can copy the file address and paste it in a document so I can see it. BUT I CANNOT ENTER THE SAME ADDRESS INTO THE SEARCH FUNCTION TO FIND THE DOCUMENT. IT WILL NOT LET ME SEE THOSE FOLDERS. PROBABLY FOR MY "PROTECTION."

It's my daughter's second quarter homeschool progress report. Back when I hand-wrote them it took me half an hour to get it done. Now? Two hours. Most of that time is TRYING TO MAKE THIS STUPID SOFTWARE OPEN AN "APP" IN ORDER TO PERFORM A "FUNCTION" THAT I COULD DO WITH A PEN IN HALF THE TIME!

And all because the school IT department thinks that forcing everybody to use super-dooper forms that we had to buy a new computer to even READ is somehow "helping."

I give up. The computer can have my half-completed report. I will save another one DIRECTLY ON THE DESKTOP so I can even SEE IT. I will click and drag it into the correct folder, which will also be on the desktop NO THANKS TO YOU WINDOWS 10, like an office Neanderthal. And I will NEVER trust the file search or document saving functions on our new computer EVER AGAIN.

#53 ::: martin schafer ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 03:13 PM:

While gun violence is huge problem in this country we have to remember that we are much safer now than we were 20 years ago.

From the 1993 peak of 7 gun homicides per hundred thousand the rate dropped to 3.8 in 2001 and has been basically level since then.

While the hard statistics won't be available for years there is no indication that the preliminary totals are outside the 13000 plus or minus it has been each year for some time.

Of course there is a possibility of a mass shooting a convention. Just like there is a possibility of a mass shooting at your local coffee shop or anywhere else you happen to be in the course of a day.

I have not seen anything that makes me think that mass shootings should lead any convention attendee or convention runner to modify their convention behavior. To the degree that we can work on the problem, the proper forum is politics. We need to begin to control the prevalence of guns in the country.

Possibly I'm overreacting but I've seen several statements in this thread that seem to indicate that not being afraid of something happening at a con is a mistake and I strongly disagree with that.

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 03:30 PM:

I am very glad that I have switched to Linux.

An observation: web pages produced by the various local managements of health services in the UK routine include the opening hours of local pharmacies, over the busy holiday periods such as Christmas and New Year. I know of three pharmacies in the local small town, and they try to make sure that there is always at least one open during the normal operating hours (roughly 8am to 10pm).

Unfortunately the local management/contracting-authority managed to publish their list on the internet in the form of a spreadsheet file, of the Microsoft Office type, accessible through a single-word-labelled link in a page of text.

I coped with my desktop machine. I would have had little hope with a smartphone or tablet.

I didn't think it could just be blamed on what Windows does to hide things from the user, and it's part of a general official habit of computer based stupidity. Assume everybody has a computer, no matter how poor or how desperate. Shut down public transport, close down the alternatives, and then complain when people turn up at the ER because the alternative services you recommend don't exist.

Our government seems to have made it OK to be sociopathic.

#55 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 03:34 PM:

Sarah @24 First, try non-Thomas' English Muffins: your megamart may or may not have some other brand, many of which do not include what you characterize as schmutz. Alternatively, they may be sold as crumpets (although they are not truly interchangeable).

That said, if it's form factor (and not texture) you're seeking to replicate, frozen bagels are usually about the same diameter and height.

#56 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 03:37 PM:

I'm not a congoer; I'm not calibrated to the current level of looniness at these things. But it is true that SF fans tend to be farther from the middle of the bell curve than most, to start with, and more likely by definition to embrace weird ideas. Ideally they'd also reject more illogic, but I don't think we can count on that when it comes to human behavior.

#57 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 03:41 PM:

What I actually came here to ask about was a book on the tip of my tongue. My recollection is that it was fantasy by a writer who normally did SF, and the hero was a young prince (king?). One of his advisors was the Crooked Man. Probably written 1995-2000.

All Help Is Appreciated.

#58 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 03:57 PM:

My three main weapons are forgetting things. Forgetting things, and often, not having read a post or the thread it was in. These are my five main weapons.

#59 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 04:11 PM:

So I bashed out producing some Word documents, saving them where I could find them, and attaching them to e-mails over at my husband's shiny new computer. As I was attaching the last file, Windows asked me to "rate my enjoyment of this app." What.

#60 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 04:51 PM:

Jenny Islander (59): Does the rating form allow negative numbers?

#61 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:27 PM:

Sandy B @57: "One For the Morning Glory," by Steven Barnes. Now I'm wondering where my copy went, because it *is* a really good book.

#62 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:30 PM:

@BSD why frozen bagels, in particular?

(I'm looking for something that I can make egg-and-sausage sandwiches with that tastes better than english muffins but is the same size as aforementioned egg and sausage. I adore multigrain break, particularly with sunflower seeds in it, if that's any help.)

#63 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:33 PM:

Sandy B. @57: Any chance it's One For the Morning Glory, by John Barnes? It's been long enough since I read it that I don't remember a "Crooked Man" in it (and a quick Google search is no help) but it matches your other criteria: protagonist is a young prince/king; published in 1996; John Barnes is mostly known for SF rather than fantasy.

#64 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:35 PM:

Ninja'd by mjfgates! Nice to get confirmation, anyway.

#65 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 09:37 PM:

I've posted very little here in recent months - not for any desire to avoid Making Light, just different stuff commanding my head than has been talked about here. But I'd like to start off the new year of commenting with the news that I have a new pair of kittens. They're about six months old, and growing really fast. The girl is a blue/cream tortoiseshell - that is, she has both the recessive gene that softens black to gray/blue and the one that softens orange to cream. Her brother is a classic tuxedo cat, who was born with a stumpy lil' tail.

They are incredibly enthusiastic and loving. They care for each other a great deal, and routinely nap snuggled together. They love me, too, and each comes around multiple times a day just to snuggle in my lap and get petted for a little while. When the cat I'd had for 15 years died in August, friends told me I should think about a pair next time, and I'm so glad these two came into my home. It's a whole different experience.

Here's a short video of them tussling together. And here they are lounging on the dining table. The photo doesn't exaggerate: they both have amazing orange eyes.

They have been making my life much happier for this last month, and I hope they do it for a good long time to come.

#66 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:30 PM:

abi, noted. Kip, I apologize.

martin, #53: Of course there is a possibility of a mass shooting a convention. Just like there is a possibility of a mass shooting at your local coffee shop or anywhere else you happen to be in the course of a day.

I think that's sort of the point. These things do happen in coffee shops and theaters and malls and churches. Why would they be any less likely to happen at a con? That probability may be very low, but it isn't zero, and that's something we should be aware of.

(Honestly, the event I worry about is the big gem show in Tucson in February. That's got both tempting merchandise and a lot of Scary Brown People selling same. It also has heavy security because of all the merchandise, but for some of these yahoos that might not be a deterrent.)

Bruce B., #65: What adorable babies!

#67 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:36 PM:

One of the things that really annoyed me about last falls job-reassignment was having to move into a Windows environment. I'd always had a Windows system on my desk, for a few apps that didn't work well on Linux, but I always had a self-installed Fedora system to do my "real" work on.

At home, it's Linux 95% of the time. Maybe more. I really wish that the Linux office suites were better; there's a certain flakiness and inconsistency about Libreoffice that means I have to do final layout in Word.

#68 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:40 PM:


Crumpets are pretty much the same form factor as English muffins, but they're soft all the way through and don't have any grainy stuff on the outside, if that's what you're objecting to. I like them a bit better than English muffins, but then I like English muffins too. On the other hand a really good bagel beats them both, but it's gotten hard to find really good bagels even in NYC.

#69 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:44 PM:

Thanks, Lee.

#70 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 10:59 PM:

Sarah@24, you might also consider trying a bialy - it's a round, flatish disk of bread, a little like a bagel. It's not boiled before baking; it's just baked, so it doesn't have the hard shiny crust or chewy texture; it's more bready. I like them for sandwiches because they don't have a hole in the middle for the egg to fall through, unlike a bagel. (It does have a depression in the center of the top, so you'll have a hole in the top of your sandwich. But eggs are less likely to escape from the top....)

However, I don't know where, other than bagel stores, you can buy bialys (I think that's the plural); I've never seen them in a supermarket.

#71 ::: borogove ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 11:00 PM:


Try Arnold Sandwich Thins. My mother uses them for breakfast sandwiches and likes that they're light, not bulky. I've seen several varieties in grocery stores.

#72 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2016, 11:56 PM:

Sandwich thins. YES. I shall search for these the next time I visit my local Safeway grocery store.

Thank you!

#73 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 07:46 AM:

"sandwich thins" look to be something that British baking corporations have picked up, but I wouldn't like to bet on my local supermarkets stocking them. Here up north, we already have "baps".

#75 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 09:23 AM:

Dave Bell @73, sandwich thins have definitely made it into all my local supermarkets (central Leeds).

They do seem a bit surplus to requirements, though, when we already have baps/buns/rolls/cobs/breadcakes/whatever you want to call the roundish flattish sliced-horizontally bread-things.

#76 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 09:41 AM:


You can get frozen bialys in the supermarket, but of course they are nothing like ones fresh from the baker.

#77 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 10:24 AM:

borogove (71): Pepperidge Farm also makes them, under the name Deli Flats. The PF are slightly smaller in diameter, also slightly softer in texture.

#78 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 10:43 AM:

Jacque and abi in Open Thread 209: thanks for the comments and sympathy. And abi, I hope your shoulder is improving; the fall certainly sounds scary.

Craft (Alchemy)@75: I would have called them redundant in the US as well (they look to be much like a slightly flatter roll or bun) but I don't think Occam's Breadknife (panes non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem?) should be a guiding principle. Every little variation will be someone's favorite somewhere. Let a thousand sourdoughs bloom!

#79 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 10:49 AM:

The pictures of sandwich flats remind me of mini-pita bread, except maybe a bit thicker?

#80 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 11:50 AM:

The sandwich thins in my supermarket are made of two halves, each about a quarter inch thick, or slightly more. (Thinner than English muffins.)

#81 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 11:51 AM:

Sandwich flats are similar to mini-pitas but slightly more substantial. Their surface that faces the food is more bread-like. I like them for sandwiches when I'm trying to reduce the number of carbs I'm eating, or when I really just want the sandwich filling with as little bread as possible holding it all together.

#82 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 12:04 PM:

Thank you, abi, for including "Starships" in your perihelia. The people who put that together have a great story-telling, emotional sense. It flows!

#83 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 12:04 PM:

parhelia, sorry.

#84 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 01:01 PM:

Lady Kay, #82 and #83:

It was a near miss.

#85 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Sarah @62:
right size
Also, is it the taste of english muffins or the schmutz (I assume you mean the semolina (I think it's semolina) on the bottom of each piece) that bother you? They make multigrain english muffins, certainly.

#86 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 02:56 PM:

I dare you all not to laugh.

How people will be dancing in the future.

(Found via a tweet from The Bloggess.)

#87 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 03:03 PM:

Steve C @86:

Awesome. When they grab each other's knees and circle about...gracious.

Here, meanwhile is how people dance in the present.

#88 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 03:25 PM:

abi @ 87 -

They're great!

#89 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Steve C.@86: Excellent! I think that years as a morris dancer insulated me slightly against laughing (out loud) at dance absurdities, but I love it. I really want to know what the next figure was!

abi@87: Also excellent, but in a completely different way!

#90 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 04:22 PM:

Steve C., #86:

The first episode had a similar dance sequence in the undersea tavern.

I wrote a little about it here. "What really sold me on this show was the way it livened up a simple 'two spacemen talking in a bar' scene."

On Youtube one can find examples of modern-day Raumpatrouille Orion enthusiasts replicating the costumes and choreography of such scenes.

#91 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 05:30 PM:

David Goldfarb@63: Yes! Thank you.

#92 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2016, 11:49 PM:

OK, this one's already viral, but The Dancing Dad.

#93 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 12:11 AM:

BSD @85 Yes? Which is to say that english muffins don't really taste like much, but they're chewy and they have that stuff on them and they don't taste good.

I have acquired some sandwich thins. (There's no way a roll would fit in my toaster anyway.) Tomorrow morning, we feast! That is, I feast, and I talk to myself while doing it.

(Being alone has been getting to me today; I want to believe that I will overcome this but sometimes it is so hard.)

#94 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 02:10 AM:

Bruce Baugh @ 65 ...
Here's a short video of them tussling together. And here they are lounging on the dining table. The photo doesn't exaggerate: they both have amazing orange eyes.

They have been making my life much happier for this last month, and I hope they do it for a good long time to come.

Awwww! That's a wonderful lump of cutes!

#95 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 08:30 AM:

Sarah @93: to me, the entire point of English muffins, flavor-wise, is to halve them and toast them until the very tips of all the bubbles are nearly black and all the rest of it is warmed through and golden. Then put butter, jam, or cream cheese on it and let it melt in thoroughly.

Cold ones straight out of the fridge are ... completely pointless verging on nasty. They were invented, so far as I can determine, specifically to be a vehicle for toastiness.

#96 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 08:34 AM:

HyVee English muffins don't have the weird grainy stuff on them. They're less like English muffins than I think most people like, but that's why I like them. They are a good vehicle for peanut butter or lemon curd.

#97 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 09:29 AM:

I used to eat a LOT of English muffins before I cut "breakfast bread" out of my diet five days a week. Friday = bagel day at work, Sunday = raisin bread. EMuffins depend so much on calorie rich toppings for flavor that they dropped out of the picture.

Realized what the gritty stuff on English muffins was about when I made no-knead bread for the first time.

#98 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 10:30 AM:

@Elliot What makes you think I haven't eaten a toasted english muffin before?

#99 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 10:42 AM:

Sarah @98: Rereading to be sure, but I was careful to phrase my whole comment in "I" statements so as not to impute any experience to anyone else in this thread. I'm sorry if it came off as making assertions about you, but I certainly didn't mean to.

#100 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 01:23 PM:

To address something way back up the page, the furcon chlorine thing was weird. No question that it happened, I mean, or that there was chlorine gas, or that the hotel had to be evacuated, and the police said it looked intentional, but there was nothing to tie it in particular to the convention, rather than just a disgruntled hotel employee with a pile of pool chemicals or something. (There was a dog show going on at the same time, as memory serves, and I've always wondered if it had more to do with that.)

It sucked, no question, but it never really fit the standard profile of attacks, where it seems like the attacker wants people to know WHY they did it. Which could just mean incompetent or cold feet or something, obviously. But I didn't get any vibe off the whole thing that would make me concerned to go to another fur con (or even to go to that one again.)

(Disclosure--been a GoH at that particular con twice, friends with some of the organizers, know half the staff.)

#101 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 01:44 PM:

I'd been wondering for a while if there'd been any follow up to the chlorine incident. Every so often I'd google it, but could only find the original news coverage.

#102 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 02:48 PM:

@59 Jenny,
"As I was attaching the last file, Windows asked me to "rate my enjoyment of this app." "

I am ashamed to report I have responded to prompts like this one before.. it is sure and certain that my comments went straight to the great bit bucket in the sky, but at least I felt momentarily better.

Everything I write starts in Textpad or Notepad++. For personal use it stays in text format. For so-called professional use, have to schedule a day or so of utterly tedious mind-numbing formatting slog through the thickets of Word teeming with malicious imps..

@31 Iain has it right on the original question I think.

Mass shootings - 374 in 2015, more than one a day.

Also worth reading,

#103 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 05:53 PM:

Spree shootings at a convention: I'd rate it as sadly possible. But it's more likely in my view to happen where three contributory circumstances converge: (a) the bigger the convention the more possible angry and unstable people (e.g. DragonCon, ComiCons), (b) weak gun control laws (or proximity to states with weak gun control -- for example, Mass is at greater risk because of proximity to New Hampshire), and (c) culture wars target because of perceived bias towards "politically correct" con-goers (Worldcon, WisCon, maybe ReaderCon). (NB: With respect to the latter, yes, I know such perceived bias is total bullshit: but it's how it's presented among the Rabid Puppies and their fellow-travellers.)

I think the probability of being involved in any such event is still very low and it won't stop me going to US conventions, but if the rhetoric from the more crazy culture warriors doesn't cool down soon it's eventually going to tip some angry unstable young man over the edge.

Is there anything concoms can start doing now to reduce the risk of this happening, as opposed to waiting until after the event and then reacting? Because prevention beats palliation any day of the week.

#104 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 06:31 PM:

Charlie Stross @103: "Is there anything concoms can start doing now to reduce the risk of this happening, as opposed to waiting until after the event and then reacting? Because prevention beats palliation any day of the week." That is a great question. And cons have been doing things to try to prevent this sort of happening: weapons policies date back to the seventies, as an example of something that might help. But we don't know what might be effective: and some things that might appear to be effective on the surface (like weapons policies) might actually egg some people on. Most Worldcons, for example, really do talk to the local police before the convention -- is that effective? I don't know.

What might you suggest that could be effective in this? Anyone?

#105 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 06:50 PM:

Weapons policies will stop the con-goer who is there from pulling a weapon in a fit of immediate anger/overreaction and shooting someone, but it isn't going to stop someone who's first interaction with the con is to walk into the con and start firing. If your goal is mass murder and possibly death-by-cop, the threat of being kicked out of the con for carrying a gun isn't a deterrent.

That isn't to say that weapons policies are bad generally, or that weapons policies "disarm the victims", but rather they are limited in effectiveness against this particular threat.

I don't think that weapons policies will egg anyone on. I think the anti-harassment policies and other examples of "SJW control" would egg people on more. I think more people are upset they can't feel up the cosplayers and drink-into-bed the women fans than they are that they can't use a real katana or AK-47 in their costume. But the solution to that problem is continued efforts to change to social norms, so the harassment and sexual predation are seen as out of place as carrying live weapons.

#106 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 06:54 PM:

Considering the range of psychiatric profiles among attendees, plus the presence of both weapons and "maker" enthusiasts, I'd say we've had less of that sort of trouble than I'd have expected already. I could easily believe the furcon chlorine incident as "sciencey horseplay" gone wrong, possibly assisted by misuse of various drugs. (This is probably influenced by my hanging out with a particularly wild crowd during and after college.)

As far as prevention, a bit of basic security planning will go a long way. Much of the usual preparation for generic disasters will apply also to a terrorist attack, even a shooter; making sure of clear escape routes, limits on crowding, having good comms and scenario planning among staff, and the presence of early-responder type folks.

#107 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 06:55 PM:

Offhand, not admitting males between the ages of 20 and 40 would knock the chances down quite a bit.

#108 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 07:52 PM:

For the very long haul, workshops in meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other methods of calming oneself might be useful. For an sfnal spin, the hook could be "how much of self-improvement in sf actually exists in the real world?".

The workshops for tai chi and yoga and such should *not* always be first thing in the morning.

#109 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 08:11 PM:

Tom W @ 209::913: sad news indeed. I hadn't seen him since Silly Wizard stopped touring but remember those concerts with pleasure.

@209::general: we have a greenish exterminator in periodically to deal with more mobile vermin, and have been fortunate in not having any crawlies in some time -- but the place I usually go to for New Year's Eve had to cancel due to a bedbug infestation. I just hope the owner found the vector.

Fade @ 39: there's also been at least one racist massacre (in the Southern black church -- sorry the perp's name has fallen out of my mind), with similar MSM failure to call it terrorism, ask how the perp was ]twisted[, etc. Note that there is a subtle distinction between these and (e.g.) San Bernardino: the perp does not invoke an organization, which many labelers consider a prequisite for terrorism. This is, of course, no comfort to the grieving relatives. (he non-fatal terrorism in Oregon is getting group callouts -- and denials -- amid a similar MSM silence.

Tom W @ 104 / Buddha Buck @ 105: having been around for some of the pre-policy weapons craziness at cons, I also doubt the policies will reduce the odds of a mass shooting. They might reduce the amount of free fire (and hence the total casualties); cf the discussions about what might have happened at the shooting that injured Giffords if other civilians had tried to shoot down the shooter.

Steve C @ 107: mathematically, maybe yes. OTOH, how likely is it that such a policy would attract attention from the violent?

#110 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 08:46 PM:

So I checked the Malheur Refuge page for what it did before it became yet another bit of performance art space for people who like to wave guns.

Apparently the refuge's heinous acts of depriving people of valuable freedom-land include having been established to protect flocks of birds that were being driven ever closer to extinction for the plume trade; providing a valuable rest stop along the Pacific Flyway for birds that land in serious need of refueling, such as sandhill cranes; and keeping areas of the refuge open for hunting and fishing.

And the gunmen want to do what with it, exactly?

#111 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 08:49 PM:

OK, the page finally loaded (I keep running across information on Malheur on pages that make my old desktop PC choke) and I saw how they want to free a couple of people who are convicted of setting fires on open rangeland. And something about a war on private ranchers.

So refusing to let people use the land for its stated purpose is a blow for freedom to use land for purposes not allowed by law.

OK then.

#112 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 09:53 PM:

I attended a 1965 LASFS Halloween party, at someone's home, that a couple of guys tried to crash. Later they came back and shot at the group through the window. I don't think they hit anyone; this was 50 years ago and my memory is pretty vague, but I do recall that somebody got dinged by splinters or bits of glass. I can't even remember if the cops came. Anyway, my point is, there have always been violent assholes; we just find out about them faster now.

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 10:07 PM:

And the two guys who were convicted of arson didn't want the 'help', any more than the other local residents.

#114 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 11:13 PM:

The Bundy crowd want to return the reserve to whoever owned it before it was unfairly taken, so it can be logged, ranched, and mined.

How wonderful that these folks want to give the land back to the Paiute tribe!

* * *
There's pretty good coverage of the occupation on the local NPR station. The locals: "They brought some important issues to light, but they really have to go." Bundy bunch: "We're not leaving until the jailed ranchers are freed and we get everything we want."

Meanwhile, some of the occupiers are staying local hotels, and at least one has been spending donated money on a bender.


#115 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2016, 11:22 PM:

I saw someone say that an occupier was drinking donated money. Must be that well-lubricated militia at work.

#116 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 01:02 AM:

abi 87: I recognize your daughter, but who's the young man? Surely that can't be the same person who was a mere child at Loncon? Shot up like a very weed, he has.

Unless I'm just not remembering. I was pretty crazed at Loncon. Forgive me if so.

Kip 115: That's abominable, and I'm totally stealing it.

#117 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 02:15 AM:

Xopher @116:

He's taller than his dad now. No wider than a broomstick, but taller than his dad. She's entirely different too, but that dance shows very little of it. Also, she looks a lot less small when she's not standing next to him.

#118 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 10:10 AM:

One practical thing we can do to reduce the risk of something bad happening at a con is wash our hands frequently. A norovirus outbreak is really no fun. The more you can do to limit the spread of the virus, the better.

#119 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 11:20 AM:

@114: While I know you're being sarcastic, I immediately ran a search on "Paiute Malheur" and got a lot of headlines from a lot of different papers, all of them saying basically, "Paiutes Declare That These Guys Are Jerks."

Because it's still a sacred site, and they're squatting on it. Also school isn't going to reopen until these yahoos go home.

#120 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 11:34 AM:

Kip W @115: we're talking about the same people, right? Y'All Quaida?

#121 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 11:54 AM:

Charlie Stross @120: Yes, but without implying that they're contemptuous because they're rural and "Muslim-like".

#122 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 11:57 AM:

I prefer the term "Vanilla ISIS" for any number of reasons.

#123 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 12:06 PM:

Stefan Jones @209/945: Little slow on the uptake, but I just got this. :-)

#124 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 01:02 PM:

Kip W, sorry for seeming to attack you; it was more that your comment was a launching point and I wasn't clear about that.

On thinking about it for a few days, perhaps a better way to have phrased it would be: The École Polytechnique shootings have an organization dedicated to making sure that event shows up in the news cycle every single winter and making sure it's not forgotten, so it's no surprise that it's the one most people reach for when they need an example.

Unfortunately, because that news coverage only talks about a single event in December 1989 — 26 years and 1 month ago! — it reinforces the cultural narrative that these sorts of targeted attacks are isolated events and not a pattern, not something that happens over and over again. Old isolated events now, too, not something that still happens. All the other "isolated events" appear and fall out of the news cycle and are never seen again, while we keep saying 14 not forgotten, we can't let this happen again. But it does happen again, and again, and again, and we keep forgetting all the new victims.

And so the "incel" shooter is forgotten already, along with many others whose news coverage I may not have even seen, if they got any beyond a local note or two. Doug K @102 posted that there were 374 mass shootings last year: I certainly didn't see all of them in the news. So not only are they forgotten, they're barely even recognized. How can you remember something you never knew?

#125 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 01:08 PM:

Every single female-protagonist, female-written, or full-of-girl-cooties big budget Hollywood money that makes butt-tons of money is also an "isolated event," in the eyes of the people who greenlight big projects in Hollywood.

#126 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 05:33 PM:

As has been observed, "Story is a force of nature." Also a fascinating counterpoint to page 2 of the Cracked article linked above: 'Most Terrorists Go Into "Robot Mode"'

#127 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 06:19 PM:

And Patrick, thanks for that reminder of how much I miss Warren Zevon.

I saw Lon Cheney walking with the Queen...

#128 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 06:26 PM:

Bruce Baugh @ 65: The kittens are adorable! I agree wholeheartedly that the best way to go is to adopt two kittens at the same time. I've done that twice now. The best kitten toy is another kitten. They take out their energy on each other, and they are adorable to watch whether they are snuggling or wrestling.

#130 ::: emgrasso ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2016, 09:06 PM:

I have a 1K house: 1024 square feet on the main level, with a basement that is partly usable for storage and laundry room.

Looking at my usage of space, I would need one tiny house for the books and DVDs and other media and collectibles, and one for the craft supplies and equipment and workspace, and one to live in with the cat(s).

I suspect that people who can contemplate living in tiny houses don't have the librarian gene, or indoor hobbies.

#131 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 08:55 AM:

I know a guy that loves a small house - it sort of is his hobby, and for everything that comes in, something has to go out. I'd guess at 700 square feet. It's also what I think of as NYC entertaining (not that he lives in NYC) - a lot of socializing is done in restaurants, parks, etc.

I'm pretty sure "tiny homes" come with a generous helping of self-delusion.

#132 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 09:26 AM:

I remember seeing advice not to get two kittens at the same time, because instead of focusing on you, they'd focus on each other, and you'd just be the thing that feeds them. People I know who've done it never seem to have borne this out, though.

We got Beulah about three months after we got Natasha. We didn't set out to get Beulah, but she was all alone in the world and we fell for her. Tosh didn't. She attacked her for six months to a year before they settled into a fairly benign pattern. Over the years, they became sisters and would groom each other. When Beulah died on the operating table, we brought her home and let Tosh see her body. She sniffed a bit, then suddenly seemed to take alarm and left the room. Not long after, Tasha got out the outside door, and seemed to be searching along the house, meowing urgently. I drew my own conclusions about it, and it broke my heart. (Good grief, my eyes are watering up now.)

#133 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 11:17 AM:

Kip W @ 132: I've had a single kitten wrap herself around my head at night, while a pair curl up together to sleep -- I'll take that "focus on each other" any time! Our cats have been very affectionate with us. Here's a photo of Miles and Ivan ignoring me while I'm reading in the recliner.

#134 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 12:27 PM:

I don't fully agree with everything in Ten things Americans get wrong about America but it makes some very good points.

#135 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 01:17 PM:

Jenny @ 119: that may be referential rather than sarcasm; a Kos article quotes a leader-of-some-]amerindian[-group, to the effect of "they're saying the land should go back to its original owners. Did any of them come over the Bering Strait?"

#136 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 01:37 PM:

There's a petition at to name Element 117 Octarine in honor of Sir Terry Pratchett. They want the two letter symbol to be Oc, pronounced "Ook." It's got over 30,000 supporters already.

#137 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 01:41 PM:

Regarding tiny houses: there used to be lots of them in my hometown. A few are still there in their original forms. Others fell to subdivision, but most persist as the cores of no-longer-tiny-but-definitely-small houses, having sprouted extra rooms over the years the owners' finances permitted. The houses were tiny because you either paid precious money for an oil stove, with the fuel costing easily twice as much as in the Lower 48, or you chopped and hauled firewood. Either way, the less space to heat, the better. (Improved insulation and heating systems allowed for larger houses as time passed.) People managed to raise entire families in these tiny houses without eating each other because everybody lived within walking distance of at least one public gathering space--and that's where modern tiny house culture breaks down IMO. A tiny house neighborhood needs an old-fashioned walkable downtown, either right there or a short distance away by bus, with lots of public and commercial space to use for events. And--I don't want to sound like a Luddite here--everybody needs to mingle in that space. Virtual communities are fantastic, but if you live in a neighborhood where you have to share space for family parties, etc., accepting that your meatspace neighbors are in fact your neighbors and getting to know them is important.

#138 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 01:43 PM:

Lemmium has a good deal more, according to a comment at File 770.

#139 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 03:17 PM:

Kip W@138: but if it's a halogen, it should end in "-ine" to be consistent with the others, right? Haven't looked at the current periodic table to see whether it is one, mind you -- just going by the note in the petition.

#140 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 04:30 PM:

Re: Tiny houses -- I've lived the last few years in a travel trailer that is, with the slides out, about 300 square feet. Two rooms, a bedroom and living area with small kitchen. I don't have a problem with it at all, though I wouldn't want to try living with someone else in the same space. Three elderly cats* and a dog aren't an issue, though.

It has lots of storage.

The only issue I have with a small space like this is that cooking oil builds up everywhere if you fry anything and it can be a real cleaning issue.

(*On the subject of multiple kittens -- I got two of my now-elderly cats, plus one who passed on a few months ago, at the same time. They were two three week old bottle babies, plus a twelve week old feral kitten. They all ended up very affectionate with both each other AND people. The feral kitten never trusted anyone else but me and exactly two other people in his whole life, but the two bitties grew up to love the whole world.)

#141 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 05:49 PM:

I'm just reporting. I just looked at and they now have over 127,000 signatures. I think someone pointed out that the element is a heavy metal, though I expect they'd be voting for it anyway.

#142 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 11:40 PM:

I would hope they'd reserve Octarine for some super-duper heavy metal in an island of stability that has miraculous properties.

#143 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2016, 11:50 PM:

Octarine has to be some weird eight-lobed fruit.

#144 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2016, 12:25 AM:

Steve C. @ 143:

Octarines, being a magical greenish-yellow purple color that can only be seen by wizards and cats, were not developed as a crop for a long time, as most farmers and customers couldn't see the fruits. That said, they do exist, unlike the tangenterine, which barely makes contact with reality.

#145 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2016, 06:49 AM:

Kip W: These cats focus on each other and on me, really. when I go to bed, one might be on the other pillow and one down around my feet. Or they might both be up near the head. Or one on each side, nuzzling and purring. Or one on the bed and one on the dresser supervising. :) The brother spends more time in my lap when I'm at the computer desk, the sister more time on me or at my feet when I lie on the couch.

They like to be around me, and around each other.

#146 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2016, 01:06 PM:

My two cats are often in different parts of the house, but if you close a door that's between them, there will be trouble!

#147 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2016, 01:10 PM:

Bottle-raised kittens are truly very loving felines, I have known several, as my Mom had to feed the occasional kitten that a queen would refuse to nurse.* I'm guessing that this situation results in a super-social cat.

*And those that got dumped near her house in the country.

#149 ::: Mary Aileen points to undeleted spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 12:09 PM:

old spam on a closed thread

(Feel free to delete this pointer once the spam is gone.)

#150 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee pauses in gratitude ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 12:53 PM:

Mary Aileen @149:

Nope, not deleting the pointer. I end up deleting all your others, leaving so little visible trace of all the old spam you've flagged.

So instead I just want to say thank you for doing it.

#151 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 12:57 PM:

Idumea (150): You are entirely welcome. My pleasure.

#152 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 01:31 PM:

I wrote about David Bowie's life and death before I went to sleep last night. Words are still difficult, but I'm proud of one particular turn of phrase:

David Bowie was the dream that uniqueness would be accepted and beloved, that transformation and remaining true to yourself were in no way contradictory.

#153 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 01:33 PM:

My son is actively planning for construction of a tiny house (120 sq ft) on our rural property. I can see him living in it - it's essentially the same size as the room above the garage he's been living in for the past ~five years, not including time spent with various girlfriends. I think it'll work for him, but then he's of the generation that buys no CDs, no records, no physical books or magazines. All of that stuff is in the "cloud."

(Nancy Lebovitz @129 - the article does make the valid point that communal socializing space, and real plumbing, become desirable when one lives in a tiny house. A composting toilet and, in the summer, an outdoor shower and chairs and table on the lawn are all very well when the weather's good. In January, not so much. I expect my son will be back to using our facilities in those circumstances.)

I figure that, if he finds someone who he will want to live with long-term, he'll move in with them or they'll find a larger place...and then the little house will become a home office, or guest cottage, or something like that.

#154 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 01:56 PM:

Sandy B. @131: 700 sqft is bigger than my last condo (540, if memory serves), and is roughly equivalent to my current condo if you ignore the  Fibber McGee's closet  second bedroom. Which I find entirely useable.

As a kid, I had fantasies of traveling around and living in a gypsy wagon (a la the magician manifestation of the Wizard of Oz), but there you have the option of doing your cooking &c outside nearby, which I gather is the Roma practice, as well. You basically use your wagon for haulage and as a sheltered place to sleep. As Clarentine points out, this is an approach that works best in warm weather.

janetl @133: Miles and Ivan ignoring me while I'm reading in the recliner.

"What's she doing?"

"Dammfino. She just sits there."

"Wait, what's she doing to that thing in her lap?"

"Peeling it? She did that a while ago, too."

"Lets see if she does it again."

My pigs do that. I'll look up, and find one of them Watching me. For, like, hours.

#155 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 03:01 PM:

The English language has just shown me something marvelous. In a discussion of how an ampere is defined, I read this discussion of "realizing" the ampere, ohm, volt and watt.

As in "making real". I had never thought of that as being a literal phrase!

#156 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 10:20 PM:

In regard to small houses and living inside/outside them, I recall seeing it a common site in movies set in the (modern) west to have one of the characters living in an Airstream or mobile home in the secluded desert outside of town with basically the kitchen, bedroom, and bath in the trailer and the living "room" outside. I don't know how accurate that is, and if it is, how they deal with the occasional rain, but it seems to be a similar idea to living outside with a semi-portable shelter for sleeping in.

#157 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2016, 11:08 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 156, I personally know people who live like that part or full time. It's reasonably accurate trope.

It's entirely doable in spring/summer/fall. Rain storms tend to be brief (if intense), and you go inside if you don't have a porch.

Many trailers have an attached porch or at least a covered patio area. This being Arizona, our natural reaction is to go outside and admire the weather when it starts raining, so many people will not go inside. They save going inside for when it's snowing sideways ... maybe. Snow gets admired too, at least until it starts getting deep.

The trailer's for sleeping, for storing gear and food (the fridges run on propane) and maybe for cooking, though many people will also cook outside on a camp stove or grill.

The biggest issue with living in trailers is that the pipes freeze in winter, and, worse, the sewage tank or grey water drain hoses can freeze. I suspect that tiny homes may have the same sorts of issues with freezing if they're up on wheels, too, unless very well designed and insulated.

(When it's ten degrees and the wind is gusting to 70mph -- not unheard of up here -- keeping the trailer itself warm can become a real challenge. Most of them are not even remotely airtight. I've also actually gotten motion sickness a few times in mine, when it really starts rocking and rolling in the wind.)

#158 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 01:37 AM:

Nancy, #129: A lot of people aren't as big on self-knowledge as they think they are. I greatly admire the "clean and spare" style of home decorating, but I've long since acknowledged that I will never be capable of doing it either physically or psychologically -- I'm a collector and a pack-rat, neither of which lends itself to that lifestyle. My couple of stints in studio apartments reinforced that awareness no end. And I have never yet looked at an ultra-tiny habitat of any sort without thinking that (1) it would be WAY too cramped and (2) I would constantly be knocking things over.

Lori, #147: We suspect that our Spot, who was a dumped-kitten rescue the day after Christmas, may have been bottle-raised. We have never seen another cat as completely human-focused as she is! Not that she won't play and cuddle with the other cats as well, but she prefers to be with a human.

Sandy, #155: It's the same sense as "realizing" the value of a piece of property when you sell it. Not the most common usage, but not totally obscure either.

#159 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 07:41 AM:

#158 ::: Lee

I don't think "tiny houses are wonderful" is just about lack of self-knowledge-- it's also very tempting for people set up inhuman standards about what people ought to be like.

It's not just people wanting tiny houses for themselves-- there's been a project of building tiny houses for the homeless and another about building tiny houses for old people.

#160 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 11:10 AM:

For what it's worth: it seems that apartment sizes have been increasing over the years. Some decades ago, for my last year of college and another couple of years at just over minimum wage, I lived in an apartment built somewhere between 1955 and 1965 that was just about 400 square feet. Somehow this space managed to hold a king-sized bed, a large dresser, three closets, a dinette, a desk, an 8-ft-wide bookcase, and the usual amount of living room furniture. The kitchen was big enough to do moderately serious baking, and there was enough room to walk around in and even do yoga. Admittedly, I was not happy when a friend moved in for a few weeks, but I figured it was just my famous intolerance of roommates.

Some of our current and former city council-members are proponents of micro-housing, which in this case appears to mean 350-450 sq ft apartments. Much shock and horror on the part of many people who do not seem to realize that this was normal many years back.

I look at what passes for student housing nowadays (luxury apartments of Unusually Large Size) and marvel.

#161 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 08:10 PM:

AKICIML: What the deuce kind of vehicle is a "sport cute"? My partner the car expert has no idea, and neither do I.

#162 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 08:17 PM:

A Dreadful Phrase for sport coupe?

#163 ::: Nancy Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 08:20 PM:

A small, adorable sport utility vehicle?

#164 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 08:39 PM:

A quick google suggests that Nancy Mittens is right.

#165 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 08:43 PM:

My current house is 480 square feet. It used to be my garage. I turned it into my home a year and a half ago. The bathroom (shower, no bath -- my preference) is a separate room, but otherwise it's just one big rectangular space. I have a living room space, a kitchen space (with a fridge, sink, cabinets, and a Breville Compact Oven), a bedroom space, five bookshelves, a table which is mostly a desk with a laptop, and oh by the way -- the house has no closets. It has five windows and two skylights. A portion of the ceiling is a 10 feet high cut-out, which contains one of the skylights.

I have a separate office in the larger front house: it's a 90 s.f. room which holds the big computer, two desks, and four file cabinets, and another bookshelf. Sometime in the next 3-4 years I may decide to do without that office space. Or not. I do not do crafts. I love books. When I moved from the front house to the garage, I divested myself of over half my belongings, including over half my books. I use the library and sometimes my e-reader for new books. The rule in the house is: if something comes in to stay, something else has to go out.

I am very happy.

#166 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 10:46 PM:

162-164: Thank you. In all honesty, I think Carrie's suggestion is better! The other sounds like a marketing miscegenation -- a vehicle with neither the practical attributes of a passenger car nor the actual utility of an SUV, and which is sold on trendiness alone.

#167 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2016, 11:00 PM:

Sport Cutes are compact SUVs, like the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. Before I bought my RAV 4 a couple of months ago, I checked a few out.

As Consumer Reports suggests, they're more like tall hatchbacks.

#168 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 12:33 AM:

Am I the only one who's enjoying the hell out of The Expanse? Spoilers through Ep 5 below.

V ernyyl jnag Ninfnenyn gb qvr ubeevoyl. Fur'f n pbzcyrgr zbafgre: n gbeghere, pbzcyrgryl qrfgeblrq n sevraq'f yvsr sbe n ovg bs vagry, n oynpxznvyre...V ubcr fbzrbar xvqancf ure nqbenoyr tenaqfba naq nqbcgf uvz bhg gb n avpr Orygre snzvyl naq znxrf ure guvax ur'f qrnq...gura nyvir...gura qrnq. Jura ur svanyyl gheaf hc nyvir (frnfba 9!) ur fgnof ure va gur purfg, naq nf fur'f qlvat yrnaf bire ure, uvffvat Gv fbssbpn vy fnathr? bire naq bire.

V'ir qrirybcrq erny nssrpgvba sbe nyy gur perj bs gur Ebpvanagr, gubhtu. V'z FB fuvccvat Nzbf naq Wvz!

#169 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 12:42 AM:

The Expanse is an impressive piece of TV SF. A nice mix of character, from the wretchedly Machiavellian to trying really hard to be good. Seems to cross its Ts and dot it Is in the physics and astronomy department. Great action and suspense.

The political set-up seems a bit like a set-up though, designed for conflict. Not much sign of moderates and cosmopolitans of good will. I suppose that comes with the needs for drama.

#170 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 12:52 AM:

There was one cosmoderate, and my love-to-hate character destroyed his life and dreams for the needs of the moment.

#171 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 01:19 AM:

@Xopher: The guy who wanted to move to Mars? Yes, awful how he was used.

#172 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 08:16 AM:

[GOL: Arisia]

Any interesting in having a Gathering of Light at Arisia?

#173 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 09:09 AM:

Tangentially inspired over at File 770 to almost versify:

I am inside the noise.
I am a unicorn. A sailboat. A dolphin.
I float over my background, yet I am flat.
Let your gaze drift. I am there.

(And tweeted, sans title.)

#174 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 10:00 AM:

Kip W @173, very nice

#175 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 11:13 AM:

I was reading one of those interesting web pages which is cluttered with auto-added adverts and links to clickbait.

And then I clicked. It was something that might be relevant to me. There was a long-running, tedious, and not-at-all useful video presentation, that ended up trying to get me to pay for their "secret". They were waving around sheaves of scientific papers that you couldn't identify on freeze-frame. There was a plethora of tv-style doctors, sometimes wearing scrubs and with dangling stethoscopes.

I may have clicked on the link, but I'm not quite that much of a mug.

And in the end it is the American medical system, in which people are desperate, trapped by huge bills for anything that works, ready to try anything that looks cheaper.

The patent medicine show lives.

#176 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Michael I@172: Yes, but I think our time at Arisia is going to be more restricted than usual this year. It's possible we'll only be there Saturday.

#177 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 10:41 PM:

re 172: Unfortunately I'm not going to make it to Arisia this year.

#178 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2016, 11:09 PM:

Michael I at 172: I'm into it. I will be at Arisia.

#179 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 07:59 AM:

Alan Rickman dead at 69.

Can I get a rousing chorus of "Fuck Cancer"?

#180 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 09:03 AM:

Bowie and Rickman in the same week?

Fuck cancer!

#181 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 09:05 AM:

His death prompts me -- to me, he is one of the actors who are, to me, iconic for a kind of part they play staggeringly well.

--If you want a drawling sarcast to slouch around the edges stealing every single scene, hire Alan Rickman.
--If you want an elderly starched upper-class British woman who can alternately flay you to the bone and soothe your tears, hire Maggie Smith.
--If you want a classically-trained Shakesperian who can say any line at all and make it come out emotional, hire Derek Jacobi (or Patrick Stewart).

Who else, actingwise, do you think of as so strongly skilled at a certain kind of character that when you write something in that area they leap to mind as "obviously" the person you would hire -- to the point that casting directors talk about actors as "a ____ type"?

#182 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 09:09 AM:

Open Thready: A used book store owner keeps a list of some of the stupider things customers have said.

#183 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 09:25 AM:

Elliott Mason @181:

I'd put Ian McKellen in with Jacobi and Stewart there.

Whenever I encounter a grizzled, possibly tragic veteran/mentor figure on the page, I think of Sean Bean. This may just be me though. (Anyone else read Order of the Stick? Sean Bean for General Tarquin!)

#184 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 10:08 AM:

Julie Walters, though I'm having a hard time defining the role.

#185 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 11:19 AM:

Elliot @181, Ron Perlman, for the trope of 'beastman'

#186 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 12:37 PM:

Oh, Hades take it, Rickman TOO?

Damn... Looks like I'll break out the Kostner Robin Hood this weekend.

#187 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 01:25 PM:

Rickman's death really adds to the sadness.

#188 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 01:51 PM:

Open threadiness:

This post from Conor Friedersdorf started as a pretty standard bash on Trump and Limbaugh, but then became something much more interesting[1].

There's a discussion of the way Bush Sr managed to coopt Limbaugh (who before that was much less interested in following the script of the Republican end of the ruling class) by inviting him to the White House and making a big deal of him. And there's a discussion of Limbaugh probably realizing over time that this didn't reflect Bush and the other party bigwigs really valuing his input because of his demonstrated success and insight--instead, they wanted his support because he has a big audience. I suspect that this describes a huge amount of the interaction between the powerful of both parties and media types.

And that sense of "you're good enough to court for votes and money and campaign volunteers, but not really one of *us*" seems like it also has a lot to do with the way the powerful in the conservative movement interact with their voting base.

Very interesting and worth reading.

[1] I can't really think of a plausible sequence of events that would lead me to vote for or support Trump in any way at all, and I haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh in probably 25 years, so bashing them doesn't really provide me much useful information.

#189 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 03:29 PM:

Re the sidelight "Against School:" The Commissioner of Education signed off on a measure to improve the dismal math and English scores of incoming university freshmen. Out of all the possible things they could have done--rethink the pedagogy, improve student:teacher ratios, test for heretofore missed learning disabilities, examine the textbooks, consider the nourishing ability of school lunch, etc.--they decided that making the annual tests tougher starting in third grade would fix this issue. Because, as he wrote, "Higher standards lead to higher performance!" Oh good grief.

I am going to keep homeschooling for as long as I possibly can. They still have to take the stupid annual exams, but at least I can dump all the others.

#190 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 07:38 PM:

I saw a meme on FB showing Rickman as Snape, with the caption "I'm going to a very exclusive Bowie concert and you are not." I found that surprisingly comforting.

Fuck cancer with a thorny stick covered in radioactive shit.

#191 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 09:13 PM:

HLN: Area retiree (who already has enough to think about) learns that favorite cousin is in danger. Said cousin lives in a remote tropical valley which has just been closed off by local authorities because of dengue fever, with several confirmed local cases. Measures to control vectors have been started. Cousin is old and uses an oxygen tank. Area retiree does not want to lose cousin, and the usual supply of close people to talk to about it is running a bit short tonight.
Fuck dengue, too.

#192 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2016, 09:40 PM:

Angiortus, best wishes for your cousin's safety and for you to have good news soon.

I would not be surprised to see dengue (along with chikungunya) here in Georgia within my lifetime. Dengue's already gotten a foothold in the Miami area.

#193 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 02:48 AM:

Angiportus @191:

I'm sorry that's happening to your cousin. Obviously you're worried. But at least there are people in the area, working to control the situation. Attention is being paid. Help is there. Care is there.

I know it's not the same as no dengue in the area, but it does at least mean that the illness of an infirm, housebound person won't go unnoticed and untreated.

Please tell us how things go.

#194 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2016, 03:22 PM:

re 188: There's an even better picture of the Trump bloc in this article from the January Atlantic. Exec summary: There is a large political party (as opposed to Party) in the US which is populist, conservative (as opposed to just right wing) and extremely anxious and unhappy about the erosion of their position (socially and especially economically). They have no trust in princes of whichever side and feel neglected (and increasingly used) by politicians and the corporations they are forced to deal with. These people tend towards the GOP because they see progressives as people who want to tax them to support "unworthies" and otherwise boss them around, but the GOP backers have lost their grip on them because the interests of those backers (ideologues and Big Biz) are at odds with the interests of these groups. So they cling for the moment to outsiders like Trump (and Carson and Fiorina) who aren't tainted with politics and who can pander to them.

My feeling is that there is a possibility for Sanders to pick these people up if he can convince them that he is a real populist and not someone who is going push more taxes on them and interfere more with their lives. Clinton can't, I think, because she pretty much epitomizes bossy liberal taxation.

What I find most striking in the whole show is Trump's invincible Teflon. There is no attack on his stupidity, cupidity, duplicity, or behavior which seems to have any effect. For these people, apparently, the establishment as a moral or informational authority has been totally wiped out.

#195 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2016, 05:35 PM:

I just found this, and it was enjoyable. The cable channel E! (or as I call it, "E Factorial" — presumably the product of A x B x C x D x E) made a documentary on the 20th anniversary of the legendary TV show "Galaxy Quest", which came out just in time to coincide with the movie GALAXY QUEST. What are the odds? It includes interviews with Nesmith, DeMarco, Dane, and other series regulars, as well as fans and authorities. It's in three parts, none of them very long, and I had to watch a three-minute commercial about a crapping unicorn to see the first part. I wish you luck in avoiding a similar fate.

#196 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2016, 06:23 PM:

Kip W (195): That link takes me to a File 770 thread. Was that what you intended? If so, I'm very confused.

#197 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2016, 06:41 PM:

HLN followup--Favorite cousin is still with us, but that's about all we know. Said individual is historically not real good at providing details.
Thanks for the words of reassurance.

#198 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2016, 06:54 PM:

This may be relevant to your interests (and I don't think it's come up here yet): WikiSonnet, which extracts iambic pentameters from Wikipedia articles to generate sonnets.

Give it a starting page, and it takes it from there. For computer-generated poetry, it's not half-bad (yeah, I know, that's a low bar).

Best one I've seen so far, which used "Cow magnet" as a starting point:

Domestic turkeys are averse to high
concerns of worsening the attack, and are
genetic markers to identify
the money for the damage to his car.

the OSHA regulations do refer
to the entire herd before the age
of patients who achieved "response" or were
eliminated in the Second Stage.

The series was created by Michelle
and mounting during estrus can increase
the rate of cancer by promoting cell
employee of the Palestine Police.

The study is expected to complete
in urine landing on the toilet seat.
#199 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2016, 07:19 PM:

Mary Aileen: Very odd, but not terribly surprising. Sometimes I hit COPY three times in a row on a link, and it still doesn't get the message. Hang on a bit…

This damn well better be it.

Okay, this has "youtube" in the URL, and hovering gets me a preview still from the video. Fingers crossed, and thanks for letting me know.

#200 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2016, 08:01 PM:

Kip W: I found the link in the File 770 thread, after a little searching. I generally copy from the YouTube "share" utility. Sometimes that gets me the wrong URL, but pretty seldom. (And I've shared it with a friend who loves GALAXY QUEST.) Rickman does an amazing job in the first section there (haven't watched the other two yet).

#201 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 12:44 AM:

I can't get WikiSonnet to do anything.

#202 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 02:16 AM:

WikiSonnet on "Sonnet":

It was included in the Oxford Book
revolted, ousted him from leadership
and other European poets, took
to make arrangements with another ship.

Diana holds the dying Pope, and John
to his will, where his mausoleum stands
the major sonnet "Leda and the Swan",
that had "the blood of Suez on its hands".

Bradstreet continues to express her sun
connected by the interlocking rhyme
coordination and cooperation
for an Australian writer at that time.

The money helped her to realize her dream:
a sense of the Italian rhyming scheme.

(with a slight tweak to punctuation.)

And, on "Haiku":

Before him, honorary presidents
alone, and in that sense the meaning came
to emphasize the order of events
and there is little cause to doubt his claim.

Non-fiction covered everything from crime
to leave the business world, Ueda began
fulfilling but did not enjoy the time
adopted and adapted in Japan

His frank expression of his feeling found
specific temples on specifics days,
of people demonstrating his profound
poetic view, and his poetic plays.

The symbol to be shown can also be
a present situation differently.

#203 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 10:14 AM:

I'be been having fun with WikiSonnet by feeding it random technical mathematics articles. This is the best one it's come up with so far, for "modularity theorem"

It is the smallest number that is one
and when contrasting numbers in the teens
and humankind has only just begun
to the intrinsic charge of the proteins.

Just as the limit is a special case
of this is, that for any highest weight
constructions show that every metric space
is actually basic copper carbonate.

In mathematics, a projective range
is any number that can be expressed
from standard British telephone exchange
potential of the metal under test.

The mother claimed the infant had been near
the field of rational functions on the sphere.

#204 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 10:57 AM:

Oh hey, first snow down here in Charlottesville, VA.

#205 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 10:59 AM:

Cute bunny toy becomes mecha warrior:

#206 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 11:21 AM:

Epic High Tea with Alan Rickman

From a series of "Dynamic Portraits" that someone has massaged to fit a suitable soundtrack.

#207 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 03:09 PM:

David Crisp at 203: I just read your comment and searched the internet for WikiSonnet. The GitHub link gives me a 404 message and there is a video about what it is on Vimeo, but nothing else. How do you get it?

#208 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 03:26 PM:

Never mind me at #207. A more thorough reading of the comment thread showed me the website. I did not understand right away from the last few comments.

#209 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 05:48 PM:

new winner!

Axiom of Choice

The coal is agitated in the mill
of Choice is necessary to select
this definition in a way that will
be calibrated and the systems checked.

The cloud is often hard to see unless
the open mapping theorem and the closed
compact connected metric space, or less
the types of groups considered are imposed.

The definitions for a general net
of graphs is not a product in the sense
of choice for its existence; every set
will go ahead or when it would commence.

The arms appear to terminate in small
harmonic functions in the unit ball.

#210 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 07:57 PM:

I still can't get to do anything at all. There's what looks like an obvious place to put a URL from Wikipedia, so I do that, hit enter, and... nothing. The page looks suspiciously empty, too -- perhaps it isn't displaying correctly on my computer?

#211 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 08:12 PM:

Here is a question which I feel sure has people here who are well-qualified to answer.

Does anyone have a particular recommendation, for Tolkien's elvish languages, of an English-Elven dictionary? My son has requested one for his birthday. I think Sindarin would be the language he's primarily interested in (though he referred to it as "Sylvian") rather than Quenya, as he wants it for reference to the language spoken in Rivendell and Lothlorien.

Online resources would also be good, but he specifically asked for a print dictionary. (If there is one which incorporates a basic grammar, or a good online resource for it, that might be appreciated, too.)

Thanks in advance!

#212 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 08:14 PM:

HelenS: Sorry, I meant to reply to you before, but forgot.

Does your browser perhaps have Javascript disabled? The user interface seems to rely on it, and wouldn't do anything for me until I enabled it in NoScript.

#213 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 08:24 PM:

Clifton, I'd check Ardalambion. I don't know how much there is available in print, but if there is such a thing Helge will know about it.

#214 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2016, 08:50 PM:

Clifton@212: I checked about:config and do apparently have Javascript enabled. Odd.

#215 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 01:48 AM:

Open-threadiness: Having been unexpectedly blindsided by an attack of I-don't-belong-here depression last night (not *here* here, where-I-was-last-night here) and had a depression hangover today that made distraction necessary, I've plowed through to complete my current just-for-fun fiction project. It all started on twitter when someone expressed a wish for something like The Three Musketeers but with all women. And I made the mistake of thinking about just what would happen if I threw together all the actual historic swashbuckling women I knew about who were wandering around France and England in the later 17th century One novelette later...

I still can't believe I wasted an entire hour on Google trying to discover whether there was a bridge across the Seine at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine in 1678. (I still don't know, but they ended up taking a ferry instead.)

#216 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 01:55 AM:

Dave Crisp:
It seems to work well with technical mathematical terms made up of common words, like your "Axiom of choice" and "Large cardinal"

#217 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 04:45 AM:

Helen S @210: this confused me, but to be clear you don't need to cut and paste in a Wikipedia URL - just start typing an article title/subject in the box and a list will come up.

Dori, thank you so much for the link. I've had great fun with it and also shown it to my father (who also loves it.)

Heather Rose Jones @215, that sounds fantastic.

#218 ::: Stav ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 10:39 AM:

WikiSonnet: "Domestic Canary"

This means that in the Northern Hemisphere
the platypus is a frequent subject
of controversy during his career;
is close to black and mostly held erect.

Successful hybrids could evolve into
exaggerated archetypes of male
and pair formation, which occurs a few
to the remains of a beluga whale

It is a major pest of sorghum, where
it slices through the fluid at a small
descent of the Rodrigues solitaire
and may be intermingled with the call.

The shark extracts its prey from the substrate
in order to attract and find a mate.

#219 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 11:59 AM:

HRJ, #215: First off, your description of the process made me laugh immoderately. Secondly, I want to read this!

Stav, #218: What in the world are platypuses, beluga whales, sorghum, and sharks doing in an article about domestic canaries?!

Open Threadiness linguistic curiosity... my partner travels a lot, and he says he's been noticing something of late -- that even in the northern parts of the country, unless he's in a large city he doesn't hear a "Northern" accent (which is both his and my native dialect) any more. In smaller towns and rural areas, the dominant speech pattern sounds very Southern, like being in rural Tennessee. He says it's particularly noticeable to him in northern Ohio. Has anyone else observed this kind of linguistic shift?

#220 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 12:18 PM:

These are making me want to write sonnets, for the first time in a long time.

#221 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 03:31 PM:

Open Thready fun with Jack Dannisms:

A couple of years ago I stumbled across a book by Lisa Jackson called Deserves to Die. Now I discover that one of her others books is titled You Don't Want to Know. So--

You don't want to know Lisa Jackson.
Lisa Jackson deserves to die.

That's quite a warning!

#222 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 03:50 PM:

Open thready thing: Kids Today (at least in Australia) have apparently invented the verb "to verse", a weird backformation from "Versus". So if you wanted to play chess with someone, you would ask to verse them in chess.

I find it charming. I can't think of an exact synonym; "antagonize" certainly isn't it...

#223 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 03:58 PM:

you don't need to cut and paste in a Wikipedia URL - just start typing an article title/subject in the box and a list will come up

AH. That would never have occurred to me. I've actually got it to say it is fetching a poem. We shall see.

#224 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 04:00 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @215: I want to read that!

#225 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 04:44 PM:

For those expressing interest in my little Musketeer fic, when I have it polished up and e-formatted nicely, I'll be putting it up on my website for all and sundry to enjoy. If I'm patient enough, I may save it to be part of the Grand Opening of my new improved website. I'll let people know.

(Oh, and there will be end-notes. Extensive endnotes. Because the least believable elements of the story are the most solidly historic ones.)

#226 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 06:12 PM:

Sandy 444: Oppose.

#227 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 06:12 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @225: Great! I look forward to seeing it.

#228 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Gah. No poem fetched after many minutes. No error message, either.

#229 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 06:19 PM:

hrj @225, in regards to historical believability: Lin-Manuel Miranda has found that, too. A lot of people are watching his show, being inspired to look into things they found completely implausible, and finding out that no, that's actually documented.

The things he changed weren't, generally, earth-shaking or obvious in terms of the show (like how many siblings the Schuyler sisters had and minor issues of timeline and which events happened precisely when).

#230 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 07:21 PM:

Expertise requested! I'm terrible at making things look good, and someone pointed out that my resume looks like it's ten years old. I said "Well, I haven't really changed the format for twenty."

There are certainly layout problems, but right now, I'm looking at fonts. I'm still using Times New Roman. For people with preferences, what would you choose to look modern and technically competent? All I know is "Don't use comic sans, and don't use more than about three different fonts."

#231 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 08:57 PM:

Lee, at first I thought of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, but that doesn't quite fit your description. Can you pick out areas on the American English Dialects map?

#232 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 09:31 PM:

Hyper Local Victory:

I moved into my house three years ago last Thursday.

One thing I never managed to do in all that time was replace the incandescent bulbs in this one light fixture high over a stairway landing. High, as in seriously out of reach of a 8' ladder.

I really resented that thing, and was always puzzled how the builders got bulbs into it. Did they install the fixture with the bulbs inside?

Yesterday I bought a 17' extension ladder. And STILL couldn't reach it. Height wasn't the problem; it was the position of the ladder on the landing.

This morning, not wanting to admit defeat, I based the ladder on the second flight of stairs and propped it on the wall behind the landing. It was at a crazy angle, but by standing on the almost-the-top-rung I could reach the fixture and . . .
. . . not be able to open it, because I couldn't both lift and turn the glass dome to remove it.



Duct tape handle, stuck to the dome with a tab to pull.

I put in 20 year rated LED bulbs which blaze with sunny glory.

#233 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2016, 10:06 PM:

Congrats, Stefan@232 !

#234 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 12:57 AM:

Sandy B #230: Have you checked out the "Ask a Manager" blog? She's got some great advice on resumes and cover letters, and a very involved commentariat. This thread specifically discusses using Times New Roman. Short answer is "yes, that's fine", and the comments expand that to "depending on the job, anyway. It's probably not the best for a graphic designer job."

#235 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 10:51 AM:

Sandy @ #222: my eldest, when she was in about 1st or 2nd grade, wrote a story called "The Girl Who Versed a Ghost and a (something...giant?)". Same back-formation.

#236 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 11:24 AM:

So, my friend P and I go to M&J's annual "It's after the Holidays so now we have time to Party!" party. During the evening, I mention that I need to find a blacksmith to make some weiner forks for another friend's new house of many fireplaces.

P says, "Hm. You need to invent a time machine, so you can go back in time when they had blacksmiths."

I look at him kindly. "Well, no, you ask your buddies at the party, and they direct you to the hobbyist down the street who owns a forge."

P is like, "Wait, what?" :-)

He apparently hasn't crossed paths with too many SCAdians.

#237 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 11:42 AM:

Jacque, #236: Or artisans -- I've seen a portable smithy at many a fine-crafts fair, turning out decorative tableware and bric-a-brac. When I lived in a house with a fireplace, I bought a nice set of fireplace tools from one of them. Even at the fairs that won't allow them to set up the forge itself, there's often someone selling their hand-forged wares.

Or equestrians! Where you have riding horses you need horseshoes, and there are still farriers -- there's a farrier school right off the interstate in Oklahoma, that we sometimes pass on our travels.

#238 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 12:34 PM:

Jacque @236: The City of Chicago actually employs quite a few people with the job-title of "blacksmith". They do custom metal fabbing for repairing garbage trucks and the like, more often with torches and welding gear than classic forges, but that's the job title.

#239 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 12:48 PM:

Jacque @ 236 ...
I look at him kindly. "Well, no, you ask your buddies at the party, and they direct you to the hobbyist down the street who owns a forge."

So ... I don't presently have a forge, but I do have an anvil[0] in the kitchen...

[0] A baby, at about 60lbs, but it's got a lovely shproing to it!

#240 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 12:55 PM:

I don't have a proper anvil. What I do have that serves some of the purpose is an 8lb iron brick—roughly the size of a pint carton of milk—that I found alone and abandoned in the parking lot on the way home from the grocery.

Went into the jeweler to get my watch battery replaced, and was enjoying the little tiny anvil in their repair shop.

#241 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 01:14 PM:

Jacque @240: that makes me think of the little tiny iron my quilter mother uses for getting into awkward corners.

WikiSonnet entry: "Bee"

It can maintain an angle of descent
in many ecosystems that contain
protection from predation, and prevent
the roots of social problems" in Ukraine.

The variation of the body size
in Ancient Egypt jars of honey were
distinguished with a Special Jury Prize
from August to September might occur.

The floral apparatus may arise
the narrow tidal isthmus that connects
a viscous liquid which solidifies
the sooty mold, and some of the insects.

The long existence of this body plan
is a persistent parasite of man.

#242 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 02:15 PM:

For those of you who have been successful getting Wikisonnets, how long did it take for the results to appear? I keep getting stuck on "Fetching poem." I tried again just now on the bee article, figuring that was a known quantity (others I tried might not have been long enough or something), and nothing has happened in over ten minutes.

#243 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 10:35 PM:

Wikisonnet seeded with "Eggs"

In contrast, the females are rusty red
to surface ratio necessitate
the hive, producing pheromones to lead
his territory and attract a mate.

Illegal logging is a major threat
and many other termites show that they
are inexpensive and nonlethal, yet
into the air to sing in their display.

In normal talking, people formulate
the complex tissues that identify
the conservation status of the great
courtship has been reported in July.

The most important sense for the raccoon
the adult to escape from the cocoon.

#244 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2016, 11:37 PM:

Karen reports to me that Kathryn Cramer has posted on FB that Dave Hartwell had a massive hemorrhagic stroke this evening. He is not expected to recover.

I feel a massive disturbance in the Force. I don't know what else to say.

#245 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 01:20 AM:

Can we return this year for a refund and get a better one?

#246 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 01:33 AM:

Am now realizing that I have no idea why anvils are the shape they are.

#247 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 04:55 AM:

The problems HelenS is having with Wikisonnet, those also do I have. Mrph. Frustrating.

#248 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 08:32 AM:

Bill Higgins @ #246:

My understanding is "for many and complicated reasons". You want a flat bit, for flattening things out. You want a round bit, for making circles or spirals (and, indeed, the horn on an anvil is a surprisingly complex shape, to get perfect circles, you need to hold the thing you're bending at an angle to the "centre of the anvil" length-wise axis).

You want relatively crisp edges, for a variety of reasons.

You also want a couple of holes in the anvil, so you can drop in auxilliary tools (bottom side of a cutter, various shaped bits, ...).

And if you combine all of the things that you would want, into a single item, while conserving some mass (they do occasionally need moving and the lighter they are, the easier it is to move, up until they get so light that any "not straight down in the middle" pounding starts risking shifting the anvil), you get the slight narrowing towards the base, before it flares out again, with something that looks pretty much like a "classic anvil".

You also get a variety of other anvils, for a variety of other purposes (pole anvils, that you mount in a vise; farrier anvils, that need to be transported a lot, ...).

#249 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 08:52 AM:

I'd go to either the New Jersey branch of ABANA or Peters Valley (local-ish craft place) for my blacksmithing needs.

As far as "the shape of an anvil" (Bill Higgins@246) I found this diagram.

The hardy hole is square, for sticking things like cold chisels into. The pritchel hole is round, and I've never used it. This gentleman uses it for round stock at about 1 minute 10, but I'm not sure that's the main use.

The horn is used for making curves, the face is used for almost everything else, and you have a rounded edge for bending ... umm, long straight things that need to be long bent things.

#250 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 10:26 AM:

elise@247: As do I. I'm guessing it's not handling load well, but that's just a guess; the only actual evidence I have is the "Fetching poem" message, blinking hopefully at me.

#251 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 11:20 AM:

On WikiSonnet, you should get some lines fairly rapidly, after a brief pause with "Fetching poem" flashing, with the remainder of the sonnet appearing as lines of dashes:
until they're filled in. If you don't see 3 quatrains and a couplet filled in fairly soon with one or the other, it's not working at all and I don't know why. Try a different browser? Both Chrome and Firefox worked for me.

Also, try a subject that's been posted previously - I think it caches the sonnets resulting from previous queries.

WikiSonnet for "Making Light":

Making Light
For adaptation to a water phase,
invasion is detected, but it may
be simplified, except the octave days
of Oakland and environs of that day.

The novel is divided into three
The Power of the Ballot: A Handbook
received a formal graduate degree
for Best Non-Fiction Book for Making Book

This novel was adapted for the screen
in two equipment cases of suitcase
described the story as a cross between
landlord for new employee tenant Case?

The father, Abel, has a Hampshire boar
between the first and second Balkan War.

#252 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 02:59 PM:

There's an interesting (and non-spoilery) discussion of movie soundtracks going on in the Force Awakens spoiler thread, for those who aren't reading that. It starts in comment #278. (There was an earlier comment or two about the Force Awakens soundtrack that did contain some spoilers.) Comments #280-282 are on a different topic, so skip those if you're avoiding spoilers. The soundtrack discussion then picks up again in #283 and continues to the current end of the thread.

Anyone who is extremely spoiler-averse might want to leave the whole thing until later; if you follow these links, I can't guarantee that your eyes won't fall on something that you didn't want to know.

#253 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 07:46 PM:

Stefan @ 232: installed-with-bulbs-inside strikes me as unlikely; incandescents are fragile at the wrong times. However, I've seen long poles end in ~suction cups (activated/released by a lever on the far end of the pole) used to replace lamps in high inset ceiling fixtures. I don't know whether the cups hold enough to twist your dome into place. Or maybe they just had more bodies to make it work; getting it done by yourself is ingenious.

Jacque @ 236: or just look online (Yellow Pages, Google, ...). Not every city will have a teaching forge, but I'd expect most to have smiths; IIRC, Clam Chowder's lead guitarist made part of his living smithing. (Finding a hobbyist may be cheaper but may not get competence.)

Lee @ 237: IIRC, farriers are commonly not general smiths; animal podiatry (digitatry?) is a different skill set.

Lee @ 245: that was my wife's comment (after removing the personal decorations -- somebody's trying to back her into a position).

Sandy B @ 249: fascinating. I assumed it was a deliberately evolved (intelligently designed?) shape but didn't know details.

#254 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 09:51 PM:


Area Woman observes woman walking a cat on a leash. The kitteh, a large, floofy tabby-ish cat, appeared to be of the Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat variety, and didn't walk as much as strut down the sidewalk in a self-satisified manner, ears up and tail held high. Area Woman now wants nothing more than to get a brace of large cats and train them to walk on a lead. Area Roommate still stubbornly allergic to cats.

#255 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 10:09 PM:

We have a neighbor who walks a small flock (up to half a dozen) of leashless cats most evenings. They stay with him very nicely.

#256 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 10:21 PM:

My first cat, Genevieve, would walk with me on a leash. I've never had another one that would.

#257 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 10:23 PM:

I've known one cat who was, I gather, quite fond of going for walks with her monkeys around the neighborhood. I don't think my cat would be interested in doing so.

Even if it wasn't only marginally above freezing here.

#258 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 11:09 PM:

Rose, a cat who hung with us for two or three years in Virginia before deciding she could get a better deal somewhere else (I later suspected she had done this before) used to go with me when I took Sarah for a walk around the neighborhood. I basically liked Rose. Hm. Ten years on, and I can still see the scar on my arm.

Anyway, I came here because I have earthshattering news, via the OED's twitter account.

You're all milvers! A 'milver' is a person with whom one shares a strong interest in a particular topic, esp. that of words and wordplay.
That's right: there IS a rhyme for silver! This takes me back to a big argument I was in on rasff. Not that I want to revisit it, but there I am, thinking about it again. I will use my powers of mind to think about something else after I post this.

#259 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 11:55 PM:

For a while, there were three different people walking something between 1-3 cats per person in my neighbourhood.

These days it seems to be down to one, more-or-less.

I haven't tried walking the "kitten" much past the back deck, but he's certainly fine with the harness, and enjoys getting into trouble of the winding around things variety with the leash.

#260 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 12:09 AM:

Roses are red, teaspoons are silver.
I'm a fanatic, and you are my milver.

Just wanted to get this down there before someone else snatched it up.

(Ha ha spellcheck! OED says I'm right.)

#261 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 12:10 AM:

I am going to write a poem about silver milvers with purple curples.

#262 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 12:52 AM:

I believe it was Randall Garrett who managed to rhyme "orange" with a pair of words ("more ang -- elic"). Taking the polysyllabic rhyme note from one of the other threads:

They worship the orange relic
Because it is more angelic.

#263 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 01:19 AM:

#258 ff

And Jack Chalker, in one of his Dancing Gods books, had a character who, as the price for a gift of prophecy, was compelled to speak only in rhyming couplets. For safety, he engaged a servant named Porange Chilver.

J Homes.

#264 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 09:25 AM:

I always liked Tom Lehrer's version:-

Eating an orange
While making love
Makes for bizarre enj-
-oyment thereof.

#265 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 09:36 AM:

All the "orange" rhymes I've seen so far have two things in common.

1) They bend the pronunciation so that the schwa becomes something distinctly different. "Arr enge" isn't how I hear the word.

2) They use it as sort of an adjunct to the part that actually rhymes.

#266 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 09:38 AM:

I don't remember if I got it from ML in the first place, but here's Eminem throwing out a bunch of rhymes and near-rhymes for orange.

#267 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 10:25 AM:

Relevant WikiSonnets:

Orange (fruit)

It is a centre for the cotton trade
of Texas, Orange County MarketPlace,
the highest grade, requires the highest grade
of nodules on the margin of the base.

It is a very spiny evergreen
continue to be propagated through
exchange and the relationships between
the top and gently breaking it in two.

It is the oldest documented frame
production being highest in Brazil
and the surrounding regions; for the same
repeating series ended with a trill.

The genus gets its name from the disease
of the commercial apple orchard trees.

Orange (colour)

DARLENE, the third of seven children, grew
from aromatic hydrocarbons from
the skin and firmness of the fruit that do
an unofficial cull and its outcome.

Today, the general public shops throughout
a television or computer screen,
depreciation constitutes about
the bars of equal length are also seen.

Azores Exclusive Economic Zone,
rebelled against the British in the late
administrative institution, known
in many habitats throughout the state.

The eagle at the end of the flagpole
of them display a condor with a scroll.

#268 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 12:24 PM:

#254 ::: nerdycellist

Once I saw a man walking a Himalayan cat (a Persian with siamese markings) on a leash. The cat somehow combined cat flexibility with tremendous determination. It looked as though it could walk through a wall without noticing.

The man told me he'd carry the cat to some destination, and then the cat would walk him home.

#269 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 01:00 PM:

I used to have a large Maine Coon who I walked on a harness and lead on the Mall in DC. When he got old, older than 12, he became afraid of the sky and we stopped walking.

#271 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 02:35 PM:

Jacque, #270: Yep. Goes along with the "Red Family, Blue Family" essay.

And apparently Trump's base is drawn almost exclusively from that group as well.

Quite by accident, I seem to have discovered a way of getting rid of Trump trolls -- you know, the people who say they like him because "he speaks his mind" and "he's not politically correct". Ask them to be specific about what he's said that they like. For some reason, most of them will refuse to engage any further.

#272 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 03:12 PM:

The obvious cheap shot is "They don't want to admit what they agree with". But it is also possible that they don't KNOW what they agree with- they just love that Trump is out there showing them. Showing them what? Showing who? That isn't important right now.

#273 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 03:41 PM:

Sandy B. The second possibility is supported by the research discussed in the book. :-)

#274 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 04:10 PM:

Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass why they disappear. It gets them out of my space, and that's all I care about.

(I also strongly suspect that a lot of them are astroturfers, in which case just shutting them up is important in and of itself.)

#275 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 04:29 PM:

This could get really, really ugly.

Summary: There are a lot of inconsistencies in the official statement about the grand jury failing to indict in the Tamir Rice case. Official records that should have been available were described as "missing" when first inquired about, then produced -- incomplete -- after several days of pressure.

Speculation only: because grand jury proceedings are secret, there is a chance (which I consider more than negligible) that the prosecutor simply did not present the case to the grand jury at all, and that the documents later produced are forgeries. And the only way we'll ever find out is if one of the grand jurors decides that telling exactly what happened in there is worth the jail term.

This entire incident smells, from beginning to end.

#276 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 04:32 PM:

I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned Arthur Guiterman's celebrated verse about a nineteenth century US naval officer:

In Sparkill buried lies that man of mark
Who brought the Obelisk to Central Park,
Redoubtable Commander H.H. Gorringe,
Whose name supplies the long-sought rhyme for "orange."

#277 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 05:53 PM:

What's the rhyme for porringer?
D'ye ken the rhyme for porringer?
King Jamie had a daughter dear,
And he married her to an Oranger.

#278 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 06:21 PM:

#275 ::: Lee

We can also hope that the grand jurors have papers about the trial to be released when they die.

As for Trump speaking his mind, it's odd that no one makes a big deal of Sanders not holding back. I would say they're equally direct.

#279 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 08:21 PM:

I've heard some "He sticks it to the Man" support of Sanders. So I wouldn't say no one mentions it about Sanders. But they certainly don't seem to make such a deal about it, as if Sanders was saying things they wished they could get away with.

#280 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 08:54 PM:

Sandy, #279: as if Sanders was saying things they wished they could get away with

There's the difference right there. Sanders is saying things that most of his supporters HAVE been saying for a long time as we watched things go downhill for everyone but the 1%.

We don't have to talk about how "he says the things that everyone [read: me and my social circle] is thinking" because we don't have to hide what we think, because what we think isn't a bunch of nasty racist bullshit.

#281 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2016, 09:18 PM:

Fragano @276: and then there’s the Welsh hill on which is found the great cycling climb called The Tumble, as in My bicycle is orange/And I ride it up the Blorenge.

#282 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 12:13 AM:

What would be the latin for "Hidden Light" (female) ? I'm getting something like Lumina Occulta but this is not my first, nor any, of my languages.

#283 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 12:45 AM:

That's not a bad translation of it, depending on what you want to bring out. That implies that there's something blocking the light; if you want it to be just hard to see, "obscura" might be better than "occulta." (My Latin is decades old, and someone else is likely to have better answers than I do. But still -- the precise meaning you're aiming for is important here.)

#284 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 01:18 AM:

I found a thing on tumblr today:

Muses for modern endeavors.

#285 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 03:40 AM:


Send the Trumpster to the Dumpster
He's a hypocrite and worse
No poetic fiction villain,
No one would believe the verse!

Going bankrupt with his business
More than once he's stiffed the debts
But he claims that he's a leader
And he's best for making bets.


Oh my headache he has worsened
Over those who'd vote him in,
P. T. Barnum's laughing madly
The prognosis it is grim.


But the others who are running
As Republicans, don't seem
To be less bad for the nation
All of them are nightmare dreams.


There is Carly who lost billions
As she hollowed HP out
There's the Jebster look up Webster
And watch Cruz and Ryan pout.


There's Ben Carson who's a surgeon
OB/GYN he's not
When it comes to health of women
Ruth is not what he has got.


There is Kaisich he's a cypher
Barely given shrift at all
Gets attention like a nebbish
That's the writing on the wall.


Hear the snipings 'txiwt the PAC ads
And the insulting flying thick
It's a spectacle that's sorry
There's no carrot only stick.


There are big lies, there are small lies
Fear, Uncertainty, Deceit
There are out to make your queasy
And democracy defeat.


They've got money flowing to them
From the billionaires' largesse
See the one percent gets richer
To all others more distress.


Trump's endorsements bringing head spins
Who can ever sway that way,
But Ted Cruz is batshit crazy
That's one reason some might say.


If you think that Carly's better
Go look deeper in the tent
Staged a promo 'gainst abortion
Using kids without consent.


Oh my headache he has worsened
Over those who'd vote him in,
P. T. Barnum's laughing madly
The prognosis it is grim.

But the others who are running
As Republicans, don't seem
To be less bad for the nation
All of them are nightmare dreams.

There is Carly who lost billions
As she hollowed HP out
There's the Jebster look up Webster
And watch Cruz and Ryan pout.

There's Ben Carson who's a surgeon
OB/GYN he's not
When it comes to health of women

#286 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 02:08 PM:

So, snowing in Charlottesville VA. So far, maybe 3 inches of powder, supposed to be a foot or two total. The city is hunkered down, but my development's maintenance folks are shoveling and salting paths.

#287 ::: LadyKay ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Snow is just coming down gently but with a LOT more in the forecast.

I have had two weeks of hard emotional work supporting a friend, interrupted by a lovely weekend at MarsCon in Virginia.

#288 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 05:41 PM:

A message to the Bundy "militia"... from Ted Bundy.

Short, chilling, not going to try to summarize. Just read it.

#289 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 07:25 PM:

Fans of spontaneous fannish poetry might well want to check out the Pixel Scroll for Jan 21 (if you haven't already). There's some damned fine versification going on there!

#290 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 08:35 PM:

#288 ::: Lee

I'm pretty sure it's a satire site.

#291 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 09:02 PM:

Yes, but also pretty close to truth.

#292 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 09:32 PM:

Random question:

I've gotten chosen for jury duty here in Seattle. No idea if I'll actually end up on a jury (the potential case is civil, and expected to run through mid-April!). One of the questions on the jury questionnaire is whether I've -"ever commented on a news story on the internet"-, and if so about what and how often. I comment a lot here, and some of it's about news. But this isn't a news site. So -- what counts in their question?

I asked this when filling out the questionnaire, and I'm really interested in their answer. If I get one, I'll report back here. Won't be before Monday, when the next round of potential-juror questioning happens. (Even asking this question may result in me becoming ineligible to be a juror, I realize -- but it seems far enough from the potential substance of the case to be a reasonable thing for me to ask. I'll mention that I've asked it, if I get a chance.)

#293 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 09:43 PM:

Tom: I think that must be new -- I'm in Seattle and don't recall getting asked that when I was last called for jury duty (2014). I would probably say no, because I no longer comment on any actual newspaper sites, though I might comment on, say, a NYT story that's posted on Facebook, Shakesville, etc.

#294 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 11:13 PM:

To repeat and amplify something I tweeted:

If we give enough of the Bundy crowd enough time to talk -- not just leaving things to that soft- spoken dork Ammon -- I bet we'll find out all sorts of interesting things they believe in, backed by The Constitution. Along the lines of women not being allowed to talk back to men, and black people not being allowed to talk at all, and anyone who isn't their particular strain of Christian not being allowed the vote.

Also, if we let them talk enough and let them hear each other talk, maybe they'll start shooting themselves up.

#295 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2016, 11:15 PM:

Satire, irony, something. At any rate, it's a given that Ted Bundy (1948-1989) didn't write it himself.

#296 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 12:47 AM:

Nancy, #290: Ted Bundy is dead. (Did you perhaps think I wasn't aware of that?) But someone is channeling the sociopath mindset very effectively.

HRJ, #289: Went over there to read the poetry, and got distracted by the "If You Could Have Your Own Spaceship" article.

If it were just for a short visit, I think I'd enjoy being on Night's-Beautiful-Daughter from the Mageworlds books. But as a long-term place to live, I'll take the Enterprise hands down. Probably Enterprise-D.

#297 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 08:43 AM:

Lee, I wasn't aware that Ted Bundy was dead, so I didn't get your dry humor on the subject.

This being said, I really don't like truthiness or saying what people would have said even though they didn't actually say it.

#298 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 09:37 AM:

A foot or so of snow outside my door... looks like I'm not going anywhere for a while. Occasional birds are visible in the bushes, fully poofed-out and glaring at the white expanse.

#299 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 09:37 AM:

AKICOML: David Morgan-Mar, of Irregular Webcomic, has openly wondered about how many anvils there are in, say, the US or Australia, and asked if anyone really knows or has a knowledgeable estimate. (He's made a seat-of-the-pants estimate of 15-30 thousand in the US.)

I figure this is a good place to ask. Anyone?

#300 ::: Paul Bibeau ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 09:53 AM:

Lee, #296: Thanks for the commentary. Here's a link to a free copy of my new book. Share at will. I'm trying to spread the word:

#301 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 10:28 AM:

I hope everyone back east can stay put and be safe this weekend.

#302 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 10:30 AM:

Re: anvils -- I haven't the faintest idea how many there are in the US, but there are three in the office where I work. The owner of the business likes anvils for some reason...

#303 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 11:02 AM:

Internal server error. *kick*

We had slightly over a foot of snow overnight (DC suburbs). The forecast says greater accumulation today. Still power and internet, so I won't complain.

#304 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 11:03 AM:

Looks like my original message isn't there. It was: Re having your own spaceship: I want to be on either Clan Korval's flagship trading vessel Dutiful Passage, or on Wayfarer from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. I don't want to command either of them, just ride along. Preferably when they are about their normal business, not in combat.

Apologies if this ends up a duplicate.

#305 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 11:46 AM:

Anvils: jewelers will have little tiny ones. Do those count?

#306 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 11:52 AM:

It's a good thing the right to own anvils isn't in the Constitution, or we'd be having a serious discussion over whether they should be registered or not.

#307 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 12:00 PM:

P. J. Evans, #305: From the context of his question, I think he had the heavier kind in mind, but he didn't specifically exclude jewelers.

#308 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 12:40 PM:

nerdycellist @ 254: the first step is getting the cat to accept a leash harness, or at least a collar; we'd love to take our rescued-feral (as a kitten) Coon half-breed out for closer examination of everything he sees in the window, but he gets out of a safety collar in less than a minute.

Kip W @ 258: I don't know whether Mike Ford would be more disappointed (having written a sestina around the unrhymeability of silver) or fascinated. I also wonder whether "Says You!" has used this already, and if not how long they will take to be so wonderfully meta.

HelenS @ 293: the question may be specific to this case; civil suits can have special cases to avoid appeals over jury composition. e.g., at my last callup I was asked if I or any close relative had worked for \any/ insurance company (not just the one being sued for more medical payments).

The Snow: nothing in Boston (little expected since the storm slowed a few days ago), but substantial high overcase since Friday (at 3:30 I could still see the sun but had no trouble looking at it). I was supposed to be in Philadelphia for in-law's anniversary this weekend....

#309 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 01:20 PM:

Anvils: I have a little bitty jeweler's anvil, and also a somewhat larger 15-pound one that's more useful for flattening wire.

#310 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 01:49 PM:

Re: anvils

I can come up with the locations of 22 full-sized anvils without trying too hard. I was in the SCA for years, so most of them belong to armorers.

#311 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 03:59 PM:

I just had an odd experience -- I sometimes do jigsaw puzzles online, and about ten minutes ago I selected one, only to realize, as soon as the image was broken up into pieces, that it was one I'd done a day or two earlier. What's strange, though, is that this is the first time I can recall this happening -- you'd think if it were a side-effect of how memory and visual processing work that it would happen all the time; nor can I see anything unusual about this particular photo (a top-down view of some cupcakes with brightly-coloured icing) that might explain why it's easier to recognize by the individual details than by the whole composition.

#313 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 05:23 PM:

Lee @296

It's funny... the Enterprise is the obvious choice for a spaceship to have and live on, especially with the holodeck. If I were making a real, practical decision about where I'd want to live for the rest of my life, the Enterprise D would probably win.

But the first spaceship I encountered in fiction that made me go "Oh yes, I'll have that one" was the Heart of Gold.

#314 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 06:15 PM:

Well, putting on my professional hat here, I'm not too surprised by your experience, Sarah E. - the human visual system is remarkably good at recognizing images we've seen before. If anything, the fact that you'd done it as a puzzle might make the effect stronger - you'd spent time looking at the image, both whole and in parts. If you're shown an image for a fraction of a second, and asked hours or days later if you've seen it before, you're quite likely to recognize it if you had.

#315 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 07:26 PM:

A few years back I had my genetic history done by 23&me, and also paid to have my elder son's done. One result of that is my son's DNA can be broken down by inheritance from me and inheritance from his mother.

There is a tiny, and I mean tiny, segment in his DNA that doesn't show up in mine but is inherited from me that had puzzled me for some time. When the 'split view' became available and we could see which parent it came from, I became much enlightened.

That tiny segment is South-East Asian ancestry, and the percentage is so small that it has to date back around 500 years. Fortuitously, I happened to know exactly what it was.

In the sixteenth century, the Spaniards imported into Jamaica slaves they had obtained from Madagascar (i.e., stolen or purchased thence by Portuguese slavers). The Malagasy people are a mix of African and Indonesian origins. The descendants of those enslaved Malagasy survive in Jamaica today, not as part of the general Creole population, but as members of the Maroon communities of the interior. Those communities have been in existence since slave revolts in the sixteenth century.

My family has a tradition of claimng Maroon ancestry (among quite a few other things), and it is fascinating to see modern science and technology prove the claim true.

#316 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 07:57 PM:

You guys are making me want to get my DNA analyzed. In my case, because I'm adopted and have no information about my biological ancestry, the motivation would be to find out what it is.

#317 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 08:04 PM:


I couldn't get the sound to work on the vine clip, but this is presumably the same bit.

#318 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 08:05 PM:

#314 ::: Benjamin Wolfe : the human visual system is remarkably good at recognizing images we've seen before.

Yes, but what I meant was that I didn't recognize the image *until* I saw it broken up.

#319 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 08:26 PM:

On the snow, seen on the Guardian (as pointed out by Amazing Spouse this morning):

A reminder from Guardian US style chief Maraithe Thomas, in case you’re wondering why we haven’t anthropomorphized a blizzard.
"We do not use the winter storm names that the Weather Channel comes up with. They come up with these names for marketing purposes, and they are not recognized by the National Weather Service.
"So this weekend's blizzard is not called Winter Storm Jonas or Storm Jonas or Jonas. It is just a storm. It’s called storm."

#320 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 08:51 PM:

#318 ::: Sarah E

I can easily believe that you spent much more attention on the pieces than on the whole puzzle.

#321 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 09:19 PM:

Lee #316: Two things:

(1) You may turn up some interesting relatives. In more than one sense of the word. That can give you some really different perspectives on your family history and your place in the world. Gail, for example, has clear proof of descent from Genghis Khan sitting in her DNA.

(2) Following from (1), you will turn up relatives if and when you do this. Some of them may not want to contact you, others may. I connected, for example, with the great-grandson of my maternal great-aunt via 23&me. His mother remembered playing with me when I was three. I've also connected with a hitherto unknown-to-me granddaughter of my own grandfather (from what we used to call the wrong side of the blanket), who also brought a really surprising family connection that I'd never even suspected. There may be surprises for them when they encounter you too. One told me that she'd expected than all the relatives she would find would be Ashkenazi. I responded that I was Ashkenazi with a lot more added. (The flip side to that, of course, is realising that you've lost an unknown number of relations in the Holocaust).

#322 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 09:47 PM:

On puzzles: one of my students, Honey Badger, likes puzzles. We opened a new one that mostly attracts the staff (it's too big for her, really, but at least we have it bracketed now) and one piece was mangled. I remember reading about a way to get new pieces once the puzzle is done, but it's not on the box or anything. Is the puzzle doomed to be unfinished?

#323 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 10:19 PM:

I think the anvil estimate is low. I have four, all larger than jeweller's and smaller than blacksmith's.

#324 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2016, 10:23 PM:

I forgot one- the medieval jeweller's anvil. Four in the shop to hammer on (not counting stakes), and one in the collection.

#325 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 01:32 AM:

nerdycellist @ 254:

Some cats when they wear collars go into being scruffed mode, which is amusing. They'll sort of partially or completely go limp until the collar is taken off again. You'd want to check your cats before you added them to your herd. That said, that sounds like so much fun.

Tom Whitmore @ 292:

My complete guess would be that they're trying to measure your general engagement with news sources in a possibly poor way. They may not want people who they have decided are prejudiced by reading news instead of going solely by what goes on in the courtroom. Or possibly they really don't want the kind of person who posts on unmoderated news websites.

Diatryma @ 322:

Missing a Jigsaw Puzzle Piece? has contact information for more puzzle manufacturers than I even knew existed.

#326 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 03:24 AM:

312 & 317,

This does seem to offer some support to the theory that Trump is trying to say something so outrageous that his supporters will drop him, because he does not want to get the nomination, but will not quit ("I'm not a quitter.").

So far, it hasn't worked. I don't know about this time.

J Homes.

#327 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 05:40 AM:

I don't think Trump is trying to bail out of his campaign. I think he's boasting as usual. He's saying "I am incredibly successful. Look at how much my supporters like me. I'm wonderful, and my supporters show their ability to recognize arrete because they support me."

If Trump wants to bail out in a way that's consistent with his personality, I have no idea how he'd do it.

#328 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 07:43 AM:

Panda in snow at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Lots more animals-in-snow pics there. (Is there a way to link to a tweeter-with-hashtag?)

I've got a foot or two on my walkway, they did plow the driveways at some point, but today's Labyrinth Walk (at a local church) is cancelled for obvious reasons.

#329 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 10:28 AM:

Sarah E at 318: Now that's way more interesting from a visual perception standpoint. At a guess - and I don't think anyone has ever studied this in the lab - you'd coded each piece as an object, and had the same recognition effect I'd usually expect with a whole scene or object. If I didn't have way more perception experiments to do than I have time, I'd be really curious to test it empirically. It'd be a really cool thing to look in to.

As an aside, because I haven't rambled about vision science topics on ML in a while: asking questions like this is pretty much what I do for a living, although these days mostly in a driving/automotive context. Call it the end result of a PhD in Psychology, but really a PhD in visual perception.

#330 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 12:34 PM:

Sarah E./Benjamin Wolfe

I've had the same experience extrapolating from the jigsaw pieces.

#331 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 12:46 PM:

My understanding of the "voir dire" process is that each side is allowed to excuse a limited number of jurors for any reason they want, and can ask a wide range of questions. Judges can also excuse any potential juror they think would be unable to make a fair decision on the basis of the evidence. I think the questionaire is an attempt to streamline the process by asking some of the questions lawyers frequently ask ahead of time; then during voir dire the lawyers can ask for more details if they find your questionaire response interesting. For example, when I was called for a jury in a criminal case, they asked everyone to start by saying what town they lived in, what they did for a living, and whether they or an immediate family member or close friend had ever either been arrested, or had worked in law enforcement. It wasn't that those answers would disqualify you, it was just that a yes to either would lead to questions about the nature of your experience, whether you would either always disbelieve the testimony of a police officer, or unconditionally believe it. If it was clear that you had already made up your mind, the judge would excuse you. If the lawyers for one side thought you would be hard enough to persuade, they could spend one of their "without cause" excuses on you.

I suspect the "commenting on news sites" question is similar; it's a lead-in to more detailed questions about your attitude towards the process, your ability to keep your views to yourself until the conclusion of the trial, etc. I wonder if that court has been burned by jurors live-tweeting or live-blogging a case in the past?

#332 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 02:49 PM:

Area woman heads out on a short vacation with her partner (for whom this is s business trip). "In retrospect, any northern city has its risks in winter, so for NYC I merely have a better Bayesian prior. It's an adventure, no?" She adds that she had been through one blizzard before, in northern California, where 1 meter of snow fell overnight. This was in a town of population .003 million, however.

#333 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 04:39 PM:

My apartment plows the parking lot, but that still leaves the snow around and just behind the cars. So this afternoon I cleared snow from the area behind and around my car. I think I can get out when I go back to work on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Really glad I'm not planning to drive anywhere tomorrow, though. While I was clearing snow I saw TWO cars get stuck in the main path of the apartment parking lot.

(They did manage to get unstuck with help from some people pushing. Suspect the tires of at least one of them may have had their lifespan shortened a bit.)

#334 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Fragano, Lee:

The distant-ancestors stuff is much less specific than people often imply -- almost everyone with any European or Asian ancestry is descended from Genghis Khan.

The more-recent stuff will be more informative.

#335 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 06:17 PM:

I started reading the new Bujold book on the plane this ?morning. I'll be interested to see whether people were surprised by [redacted] in the set-up (which might not even count as a spoiler, but let's be careful)

#336 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 07:01 PM:

thomas @ #335

Being careful right away, Sir!

This Moose couldn't wait and bought the eARC as soon as it became available. It really is rather splendid and I enjoyed it immensely.

I wonder what the pups will think of it? <snicker>

#337 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 07:57 PM:

Thanks to PNH, I can actually trace some of my relationships to Charlemagne directly (naming each person in the chain on more than one branch). It's kind of mindblowing....

#338 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 08:27 PM:

Leah @ 313: I guess I'm getting old; Heart of Gold no longer appeals (I'd rather not spend time as a sofa, or listening to bad lounge music), and NCC-1701D seems too confining. I like cities, and don't believe a single supply pipeline would be nearly as interesting no matter how many terabytes the quartermaster sucks through it; the idea of a Culture ship of enough size that I'd never be able to explore all of it (or meet everyone on it) has considerable appeal. It wouldn't have to be the Size Doesn't Matter, just something a few kilometers long....

dotless ı @ 319: I was wondering about that name; nice to have a firm answer.

Nancy @ 327: "my supporters show their ability to recognize arrete because they support me.
? Don't know the word, can't find it \or/ figure out what it's a typo for.

Jeremy @ 331: that's a more-general case than I was thinking of, but it makes an unfortunate amount of sense given some net behaviors; I've heard other stories of jurors dishing (perhaps another aspect of "nothing on the Internet is real" that leads people to think they can be outrageous (in any sense) with no real-world backlash?), but don't have specifics to confirm. In theory I could be called any time after this year; I'll try to notice whether Boston has a similar question.
    OTOH, I'd expect this motivation to show up in the general questionnaire, and Tom's question sounded case-specific -- or maybe the system works differently in Seattle. Tom -- which was it?

HLN: L wonders after a near-miss while shoveling whether anyone has been injured by snow falling off their solar panels. (They're slicker and darker than shingles, and so let go sooner.)

#339 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 08:30 PM:

The word is usually spelled with one r: arete. It's from Greek and means things like virtue, excellence, human perfectability.

#340 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 08:39 PM:

David, thank you.

Also, Jo Walton's The Just City has more about arete, and is an sf novel which is a tremendous amount of fun. The sequel, The Philosopher Kings isn't quite as much fun, but still very good. I'm waiting for the third and last book with considerable impatience.

#341 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2016, 09:40 PM:

CHip @338: I don't know yet. I turned in the questionnaire late Fri, and have to go back for voir dire tomorrow. Will let you know what I figure out. Many parts of the questionnaire were very clearly about the specific case; that one might or might not be.

#342 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 02:42 AM:

I've never been on a jury, but I've been on jury selection panels that got all their people before they got to me.
One was a civil trial involving an auto accident (one of the panel members had once had an accident and dealt with insurance, so neither side wanted him.)
One was a domestic disturbance case, and one of the main voir dire questions was whether we thought cops always told the truth (at least one juror who did get accepted was very offended by the question - her brother was a cop.) I'd have been rejected really fast.

#343 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 09:25 AM:

I don't know exactly, on the jury question.

I was called once for jury duty and asked if I had any bumper stickers on my car. My assumption at the time was that they're not allowed to ask about private things but anything you put out in public is fair game . For instance, to pick a nicely heated button, "How do you feel about abortion?" would be out, but "Do you have any abortion-related bumper stickers on your car?" is a legitimate question.

And letters to the editor, or equivalent, are public.

#344 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 09:26 AM:

For spaceships, I can't think of a specific one but I'd want it to be built in a Puppeteer hull. Safety!

#345 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 09:27 AM:

For spaceships, I can't think of a specific one but I'd want it to be built in a Puppeteer hull. Safety!

(Internal server error, so possible repost)

#346 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 10:08 AM:

CHiP @ #338:

While it isn't a spaceship (it's specifically a space station), I wouldn't mind spending a fair while on Babylon 5, on the basis that it seems to be an interesting place, with plenty of things happening.

Failing that, a medium-sized or larger Culture ship, as long as it's not Grey Area

#347 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 12:03 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe@329: As an aside, because I haven't rambled about vision science topics on ML in a while: asking questions like this is pretty much what I do for a living

I'm only one voice here, but I'm happy to hear you ramble about this sort of thing. (I've had tangential exposure to related topics from a couple of directions, but just enough to be interested.)

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 12:51 PM:

Cute-ulation for the day. Via Jon Singer.

#349 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 05:04 PM:

For starships, I think I would love being in New York, New York, behind a spindizzy screen and going from planet to planet while living centuries on anti-agathics.

#350 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 06:21 PM:

Jacque@348: My Inner Minstrel is sitting here singing "Guinea pig, guinea pig, guinea guinea guinea pig!" over and over again, and it's all your fault!


#351 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 07:46 PM:

For those going to Worldcon this year, hotel reservations are now open. Looks like the Aladdin is already filled.

#352 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 09:04 PM:

Mary Aileen #351: Sigh, that was fast.

#353 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 09:10 PM:

Marvin Minsky has died.

I met him once. We were at the same banquet table at the CONTACT worldbuilding conference.

He wanted a pat of butter for his dinner roll. Rather than ask for someone to pass the dish of little butter spheres, he jammed together three or four forks to create an arc-shaped semi-rigid tool.

Which he successfully used to reach across the table for butter.

* * *
If all goes well Ivory here will be my dog by the weekend.

The last dog worked out splendidly, and got pretty good at dog-tending over the next almost-eleven years, but I'm still terribly apprehensive.

#354 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 09:39 PM:

Sandy B #343

Canadian jury procedures are very different from the American ones I see on TV. I got a letter a couple of years ago. A panel of about 150 people was called. They were filling three juries. The judge came in, the accused was admitted to the prisoner's box, the indictment was read, and they gave a summary of case and an estimate of the length of the trial, and named the principal witnesses.

Then they started pulling numbers, and asking jurors if they could rule impartially and if they knew personally any of the principals or the named witnesses. The only additional questions I saw asked were details about employment, such as "what are you retired from?". The judge asked the questions, I don't recall the lawyers being allowed to. They were allowed to accept or reject the jurors.

As they filled a jury, that trial's judge, jury and lawyers went out to another courtroom, another judge and accused came in, and we started over.

The prospective jurors identities are masked behind numbers. I was able to ask to be excused from a projected seven-week murder trial on the grounds of economic hardship, they don't pay jurors and my employer would only cover two weeks. As far as I can tell, the lawyers are either psychics or guessing wildly when they reject people, which they did periodically. One of the people in the panel was a journalist, that's not enough to get you exempted. She was excused for the same reason I was, and wrote about it for the next day's paper.

I followed that trial with some interest in the papers (and was glad I hadn't had to see the pictures, it was really an ugly case.) Right up front they said that the accused had conceded to the killing, and the possible verdicts would be manslaughter, second-degree murder, and first-degree murder, no possibility of acquittal.

If you get tried for anything serious and complicated in Canada, or at least Ottawa, the jury of your peers will consist primarily of retired persons and members of the civil service - who get open-ended jury duty coverage, the Crown being the Crown, after all.

#355 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2016, 11:18 PM:

Jim Parish @350: It's a pernicious earworm, isn't it? Trust me, it's no easier with the actual beast running around your living room! (Though at the moment, I don't have any actual bridges.)

#356 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 05:14 AM:

Sigh. I wish Mid-Americon II had a members list slightly newer than "late September". Before I commit to things like "airfare" and "hotel booking", I simply want to ensure that I am a member. Or ensure I am not a member and become one.

In short, "it's complicated".

#357 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 09:55 AM:

Ingvar M: I finally got my first email from MidAmericon two days ago; if you haven't gotten an email from them yet, check your spamtrap. Even if they're sending them in batches they should have had enough time to send them all by now.

#358 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 09:58 AM:

#348: "Break step, men!"

#359 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 12:29 PM:

Jacque, as our local guinea pig expert... how do they get them to run the bridges? Is it just, if one runs they all run to follow? Is there food involved? Do guinea pigs just like to run?

(This last is counter to my personal experience; my sister had a dorm-mate with a guinea pig whom the dorm-mate used to take out for a drag. It was intended to be a walk, but the guinea pig would fold up its legs and let itself be dragged by the harness...)

#360 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 01:41 PM:

Hyper-Local News: Area woman shares free e-story with friends. "It's all Twitter's fault," she protests. "There was this hazardous story-prompt just lying there on the feed and I decided to take one for the team." The story is reported to involve spies, swordswomen, and duchesses...and a Musketeer or two.

#361 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 02:03 PM:

Oh, now you've done it. Ask Jacque about guinea pigs....

Kip: Yeah, I was thinking something similar. They need to stiffen the bridge, or at least do something to change the resonant frequency. I'd probably bolt two-by-fours edgewise along the bottom.

Cassy B.: (Your sister's dorm-mate needs a good clubbing. }:-[ )

Yes, I imagine there's food involved. Destinations known to involve food are generally very attractive. This has been how I get my pigs back into their houses after play-time.

Yeah, the tricky part is getting that first pig to go. They have this adorable trailing behavior you can use to steer whole herds. (As a kid, I used to gather mine up that way: pick up the first one by the haunches, steer it like a wheel barrow past the next one, who falls in line; drive the two past the third, &c.

I imagine the training process is gradual: start with a shorter bridge in safe, quiet circumstances, salted liberally with (say) wheatgrass. Gradually lengthen it over time, then introduce the audience.

Guinea pigs (especially young ones) do like to run, but being very conservative people, they're generally cautious about it. The dorm-mate was doomed from the start; a guinea pig in unfamiliar surroundings will generally hold very still, or cautiously (or panically) head for the nearest dark edgy place. Being out in the open in a strange place is very much against their nature.

Making the adjustment from predator psychology (movement in the distance might be dinner) to prey psych (movement in the distance is probably thinking about eating me) can be tricky, hence the dorm-mates failure to get the guinea pig to walk on a leash. It can be done, but if you're going after it like you would with a dog or cat, you're not going to get very far.

But: if they do feel secure enough to explore, what they will typically do is investigate larger and larger radii, and then once they've got a good idea of the lay of the land, they'll start running orbits, faster and faster. I finally worked out that what they're doing is rehearsing escape routes. If they're spooked, they just dash (and they're incredibly fast).

Bobby will actually still do this, even though he's over six years old. (Avg. lifespan: 5–7 years.) He'll come out, investigate around for a bit, make sure he knows where everything is. Then he'll do a couple of orbits very fast. He especially seems to like dashing around in the old cliff palace because he can make lots of noise: thump-thump-thump!

They rely almost completely on muscle memory to decide where to dash; they're not using their eyesight at all, far as I can tell. (That's reserved for tracking threats.) If you've put an obstacle in their flight path since the last time they explored it, they'll just crash headlong right into it, wham!

So with the bridge trick, once they're convinced that the route is safe*, they know where it's going, that there's food (or cover) at the end, and the leader starts off, the rest is pretty automatic. I notice at 1:05, the leader(ish) hesitates because he's fallen several lengths behind the one ahead of him, and the bridge wobbles just a leetle too much; takes him a sec to decide to go ahead. (They are pretty sensitive to the stability of the surface they're walking on.)

* If you look carefully at 0:38, you'll notice that there's a line drawn on the ground behind which the crowd is standing. Any closer than that, and I bet the whole process falls apart, because then the guineas would start reacting to the audience.

#362 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 09:43 PM:

I was just checking my book preorders.

Released on February 2 are Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, the next J. D. Robb In Death book, and the next Martha Wells Raksura book Edge of Worlds. I could wish to be snowed in after receiving them rather than before. Mind you, I'm NOT asking for another blizzard.

#363 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2016, 09:54 PM:

Also coming out February 2, the next Young Wizards book, Games Wizards Play.

#364 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 12:24 AM:

Ack, that's right. And I still haven't read Bryony and Roses to evaluate it for my Hugo nominations....

Can anyone confirm whether or not The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is eligible? I think the consensus on File 770 was that it was not, but that Becky Chambers was eligible for a Campbell nom. That seems odd to me: if Long Way is too old, then I would think that its author would be outside her Campbell window.

#365 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 03:40 AM:

@David Goldfarb,

According to this comment from Becky Chambers, "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" was self-published in 2014, which would mean that at worst, she qualifies by being in her second year of Campbell eligibility.

#366 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 03:46 AM:

ETA: And going by the Hugo FAQ, "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" was eligible for last year's Best Novel Hugo (as it was self-published in 2014), therefore no longer eligible for this year's Hugo.

#367 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 07:35 AM:

Poe, a flier; a fleet male flier
Rey, who scavenges a bit
Maz, the host who knows the most
Finn, a white-suit drone who quit
Snoke, a hologram quite tall
Ren, a very angry joe
Beeb, a droid head on a ball
Which will bring us back to Poe, Poe…

(ttto Do, Re, Mi. Previously seen at File 770. Changed a word or two!)

#368 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 07:56 AM:

Related to Mary Aileen@363

Three shorter works ("Not on my Patch", "How Lovely are my Branches", and "Lifeboats") in Diane Duane's "Wizards" series have been collected into "Interim Errantry". The works are set in the gap between "Wizards of Mars" and the upcoming "Games Wizards Play".

("Interim Errantry" was published in October 2015, but I only became aware of it after Mary Aileen's message prompted me to check for additional recent Diane Duane books.)

(Incidentally, if you go to Diane Duane's webpage, and click on the "bookstore" link you will find both "Interim Errantry" and the nine-volume "New Millenium" Young Wizards e-book box set on sale. As of this posting the sale lasts for another 155 hours for "Interim Errantry" and another 179 hours for the box set.)

#369 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 08:06 AM:

Cassy B., Jacque #361: Linking off Jacque's leash video, I found a video of for initial ramp-training. Note that one of her pigs goes right up, while the other is dubious. (For some reason, I suspect their genders are also relevant... Jacque?) I was surprised by the supervising cat, but the pigs seem used to the kitty.

#370 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 09:45 AM:

OtterB @ 362:

How did I miss that Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen was coming out so soon? That's definitely one more to put on my to-buy list. Alas, as far as I can tell the release date of The Edge of Worlds is April 5th, but if you know of how I can get my Raksura fix sooner I'd love to hear it. (I inhaled all the others the week after Christmas, and I'm not quite out of withdrawal yet.)

Kip W @ 367:

Very nice! Of course, now I'm going to be humming that all day.

#371 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 10:28 AM:

I'm wondering about Hugo eligibility for Gentleman Jole. (Yes, it's that good.) Since the eARC was released in 2015, does that mean that it's eligible this year, not next? Baen eARC's are widely available; anyone who wants to can buy one.

"if a work is first published electronically and then is printed in paper form without substantial revisions in a subsequent year, the later paper publication is not a new work"

But also (from the same page): "For any work, the year is from the printed publication date if there is one, or else from the copyright date. (Many printed works are actually available before their printed publication date, but this does not matter for Hugo eligibility.)"

#372 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 11:17 AM:

KeithS @370, drat, I think you're right re the Raksura. My Amazon preorder showed Feb 2 for delivery, but the listing shows April for publication.

#373 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 11:49 AM:

Is it time for a new "So I see you like Science Fiction" thread?

#374 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 12:47 PM:

David Harmon @369: I suspect it's more of an issue of age than gender, though my girls in general tend to be calmer than the boys. Just wait until little girl guinea pig goes into estrus, though, and you can bet little boy guinea pig will do Whatever It Takes to get next to her.

Part of the reason she's having so much trouble getting him to go up that ramp is that it's awfully steep and narrow. Guinea pigs are not, in general, renown for their climbing ability. If you look at my cliff palace, you'll note that the ramp is at a much shallower angle. I don't recall it taking any training at all to get them to use it (although they were used to stairs by that point, anyway).

Hee hee. Supervisory kitty is supervisory. :-)

#375 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 01:22 PM:

HLN: Local homeschool teacher, in the course of letting her students watch 20 minutes of a movie in Spanish, learns that the Spanish dub of Disney's Alice in Wonderland replaces the boring English history lesson at the beginning of the movie with a boring lesson about the history of Spain. Brilliant!

#376 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 01:46 PM:

Open threads are usually capped at 1000 comments.

I think "I see you like science fiction" should be let run at least that long because it's more convenient to search one thread than two threads.

#377 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 02:39 PM:

HLN: Local woman finally watched "Mad Max" after all these years. No idea what the fuss was all about or why it spawned a franchise. No visible plot for first 30 minutes.

#378 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 03:12 PM:

Brenda Kalt@377: That's not the movie I remember, but maybe the Suck Fairy arrived at some point in the last 35 years.

#379 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 03:55 PM:

Here's a lovely urban legend for your enjoyment! Notice that the storyteller specifically lampshades the "no evidence that this ever happened" issue right up at the beginning. That alone says "I'm making this up."

#380 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 04:29 PM:

Brenda Kalt @ 377:

I've only ever watched the original and Fury Road. It's my understanding that a lot of the things that made the Mad Max franchise so iconic came from the sequels and not from the original. To me, the original was slow, plodding, and didn't have much plot beyond the cops struggle to keep road gangs under control, Max is burned out, gangs do nasty things to everyone Max cares about, Max goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. The end. A lot of movies from that period were much slower-paced than movies are now, but there still wasn't a lot going on.

I did find it fascinating because I think it was the first movie where people do bad things to Mel Gibson's character and the people he cares about, and then he goes on a lone rampage where he sustains grievous injuries but perseveres to get his revenge. It certainly wasn't his last, though.

#381 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 04:42 PM:

The original Mad Max is really a bizarre uber-violent art film, more than anything else. The franchise doesn't become big-budget Hollywood action fare until the second (the Road Warrior).

Mad Max-the-first is really best viewed alongside contemporaries like On The Beach or A Boy and His Dog -- postapocalyptic films with a strong point of view and a speculative eye towards what might be a really dark and violent future for humankind.

#382 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 04:43 PM:

Brenda Kalt, KeithS:

The iconic film is the second one, "The Road Warrior". The third is better than its reputation, in my opinion, and the first somewhat worse than its.

#383 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 05:34 PM:

Re: Mad Max

The original was released in Australia, but was only released in the US after the sequel was, so most USians saw the Road Warrior first, and Mad Max later if at all.

Road Warrior is really a different film. Mad Max was not post-apocalyptic, but more 5-minutes-into-the-future, society in decline. Road Warrior opens with a "apocalypse happens" explainer text block, and the scrublands of Australia were replaced with sandy deserts with little to no vegetation. In Mad Max, Max had a name, a job, a family, friends, all of which he loses by the end. In Road Warrior, he's a hero that comes from nowhere, saves the day, and disappears again.

There's a clean break between Mad Max and the subsequent movies; other than the name, the car, and the clothes on his back nothing of the first movie survives into the rest.

#384 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 05:44 PM:

Brenda Kalt @377

Mad Max is a weird series. The first one is the least important one, beyond the fact that it lead to the others - it's just a revenge fantasy with a weird aesthetic with an ending that is shockingly dark and devoid of hope. It was made incredibly cheaply, though, which made it insanely profitable.

The Road Warrior built on that aesthetic to popularize the post-apocalyptic gas-war wastes as we know them. This was really influential for my generation, inspiring the Fallout series and a lot of mainstream zombie apocalypse worldbuilding.

Beyond Thunderdome is a bizarre, off-the-wall spectacle. It does a little bit more worldbuilding, establishes more of the aesthetic, and provides us with some memorable quotes.

The original Mad Max was a weird microbudget flick whose sequels had some resonant and influential worldbuilding and aesthetics. The series is interesting for reasons of film history, nostalgia value, or pop-culture completionism. Or that's how it was before Fury Road, anyway.

Fury Road does not demand that you have seen the earlier films. It builds on their realities and aesthetics, but those have so infused pop culture that the original texts have become almost unnecessary. It has more death than a lot of the earlier ones, but also more hope.

#385 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 10:27 PM:

Jacque @ 361: trailing behavior also shows up in larger mammals; I saw most of a flock of sheep go around three sides of a field, in single file, apparently because that was how the bellwether was going. (A few did pick up when the line passed IIRC, but most were drawn out of the mass for the full path -- a bit pulling yarn from combed wool?)
     wrt taking paths by muscle memory rather than sight: has anyone tried to measure how long/variable the memorized path can be?

Mary Aileen @ 371: I would have said that an official ARC (e or not) doesn't count, because it's supposed to come out well before the official date in the hope of getting reviews not long after the date. But making eARCs generally available is an uncovered case that WSFS nerds will probably be able to discuss for hours.

#386 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2016, 10:38 PM:

For all the "out of spoons" people, I just saw this shirt.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted.

#387 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 03:03 AM:

Marathon! Seven months after my broken ankle was put back together, I ran Dymchurch Marathon* on Sunday, finishing in 3:49:29 (which gets me my qualification for Comrades** and a place in D pen***).

And no pain from the ankle at all during or after, so I guess I can call it healed.

And a HUGE medal (five inches across).

* A very low-key, friendly marathon, five times up and down the sea wall promenade of a British South Coast village.
**Comrades Marathon, an iconic 56-mile ultramarathon in South Africa.
***Comrades is clock-timed, so the further towards the front you start, the better.

#388 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 07:06 AM:

dcb @387, congrats on the healing and on the marathon time

#389 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 07:44 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 360:
Ooh, thank you! Duchesses, Musketeers, and Aphra Behn!? Insta-snaffle. (Btw, I loved the Alpennia books).

#390 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 07:48 AM:

Thanks for the explanations about "Mad Max," all. I still think it's odd that there was a #2 ("Road Warrior") after #1. But I will put #2 on my watch list.

#391 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 09:50 AM:

Likely losing an old college friend to cancer this week. #FuckCancer

I understand he's an old timer in furry fandom. Debated how to get word out, but I suspect he's very well networked.


#392 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 10:44 AM:

HLN: Area retiree, after walking into the Place of Terror, awakes with singular physical alteration that is supposed to be a new knee. 1 week out, patient begins to believe that this might in fact be the case. Progress is said to be good, by those who theoretically have the expertise. Recovery is taking place at the home of a relative, and the quality of care is excellent. But certain friends, animate and inanimate both, are being definitely missed.

#393 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 11:27 AM:

My best explanation for the Road Warrior movies, (possibly stolen from someone in the "Fury Road" thread), is that they're essentially different people telling legends of the Road Warrior, Max. Themes carry through - the car, the shotgun, the eyes - but there's no more consistency than you'd expect from the tales of Herakles or Theseus.

#394 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 02:58 PM:

Sandy B. #386:

That's an awesome T-shirt.

#395 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 05:36 PM:

Sandy B, I think that's my theory of Mad Max folklore.

So I've become mildly obsessed with meringues the past month or two. I have a slotted spoon to separate eggs (I can also use a spatula, as I did the first couple times), vanilla sugar for basic meringues, and I've been messing around with other things. My experiments are complicated by the fact that I have no ingredients budget and I can't tell what's overpowering vs nonpresent, flavorwise, to other people. Also the brown sugar cinnamon ones turned out to be a not-great idea because they're dry and cinnamon does its cinnamon thing when dry, so hooboy you notice the cinnamon. In the oven now are lemon honey meringues. Maybe they'll work.

Are there other flavor things I should look into?

#396 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 06:28 PM:

dcb, #387: YAY!!!

#397 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 06:56 PM:

Diatryma @395: If you like mint, putting mint extract in was a classic meringue-cookie flavor in my grandmother's family.

Not ... subtle. But a good flavor-delivery device.

#398 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 08:30 PM:

Diatryma #395: Possibly, peanut butter? Lemon-honey sounds seriously yummy. If it works out, other fruits may be worth trying -- orange, apple, perhaps pineapple.

#399 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 09:03 PM:

Lemon honey meringues: 3 egg whites, 3/4 C honey, ~3/4 teaspoon lemon extract. I left them in the oven too long-- they looked wet-glossy but it turns out they're just sort of... sticky-crunchy? Not my kind of thing; I like the texture of meringues best. And I can only barely come up with any lemon flavor. Next batch will have only a bit of honey and possibly more lemon.

The household mammals are enjoying access to egg yolks. And my cat loves meringues in general, it turns out. Tough to defend them against her.

#400 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 10:52 PM:

I suppose you've already tried almond, which is a classic for a reason?

#401 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 11:25 PM:

Peanut butter seems like there might be a density mismatch, but I'm no expert.

#402 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2016, 11:35 PM:

I've done almond twice, once putting in too much (according to some) and once putting in not enough (according to me). The second time, I had a tinyfriend help out. Turns out a four-year-old is just right for counting to thirty with me and then putting in a spoonful of sugar. Plus he and his sister love them to the point of getting territorial with adults. We had a lot of fun with it.

I think peanut butter would be tough because peanut butter has fat in it, and that's sort of an undo button for egg whites, isn't it? I'm not doing mix-ins at this point, either, though I did see a recipe involving jam that could be interesting. And as long as someone else provides most of the eggs and all the flavoring compounds, I'm probably going to keep this up for a while.

#403 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 12:23 AM:

Mmmmm, meringue ....

#404 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 12:30 AM:

I'd try ginger at least once. And I know I wouldn't like it much, but would a hot pepper work well for you? I'm sure there are people out there who would go crazy for a habanero meringue! Getting even farther out, clove would work better than allspice, but it's very much a taste-thing.

Why, yes, I do like mixing sweets with savories. Why do you ask?

Garlic powder, however, is beyond even my sense of what might work.

#405 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 12:43 AM:

One of my aunts likes to make meringue cookies with what I'd call gingerbread spices. I found the taste-of-gingerbread, texture-of-meringue offputting, but you might not.

#406 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 09:24 AM:

Diatryma #402: I think peanut butter would be tough because peanut butter has fat in it, and that's sort of an undo button for egg whites, isn't it?

I can believe that. If it's just the fat, I've seen defatted peanut powder (sold IIRC under the brand name "PB2"), but that's going out and buying new and obscure stuff. (Hmm. Sesame? But then, fat/oil again.)

Habanero sounds interesting -- now I'm wondering about wasabi. If you do continue with spices, I love cardamom, but I bet it'll have the same "dry power" issue as cinnamon. Other warm spices come to mind too... curry powder, paprika?

Hmm... I guess there's no water going into a merangue recipe, so no infusions (tea, chamomile, rose hips) unless you can get them really concentrated (rose essence?). Maybe "used" tea leaves could be mixed in.

#407 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 09:46 AM:

Sigh, spelling: meringue! Also, riffing off rose, lavender. I've had lavender shortbread that was amazing.

#410 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 09:59 AM:

Sorry for the double post-- I should have been more patient with the Internal Service Error.

#411 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 12:06 PM:

Paul Kantner, one of the creators of the first rock album to be nominated for a Hugo (Blows against the Empire), has died. He wrote and performed a lot of stefnal songs.

#412 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 12:48 PM:

Jen Birren @ 389

So glad you enjoyed it!

#413 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Definitely not a good month for SF-related musicians. First Bowie, now Kantner.

#414 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 04:41 PM:

Hm, the spices might work-- I'd been planning on using the deathpeppers to make weaponized vodka and that can be put into meringues. I mostly want to keep the additional liquids to a minimum, but flavorings sufficiently dense don't count quite. I bet I could do a sugar extraction of *something*. Or do blueberry-lavender, which jam was the weirdest good thing I'd put in my mouth that year.

Oh! PB&J meringue sandwiches? With grape jam meringues sandwiched with a very very thin layer of peanut butter? Look, eggs were on sale and I have knitters to eat them.

#415 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 04:50 PM:

OtterB @388, Lee @396: Thank you!

#416 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Almost any spice can be extracted in either sugar or alcohol.

#417 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 01:00 AM:

New Dog:


She's not the magnificent long-legged lupine Kira, but she's sweet and quiet.

#418 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 02:02 AM:

Diatryma @414: I have knitters to eat them.

This sounds suspiciously like the population of my office. The only thing I've seen that they wouldn't eat was the box of cuties that had turned—and that was because, after trying one, I took it upon myself to preemptively escort them to the compost bin. (The cuties, not the coworkers.)

#419 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 06:38 AM:

WRT Puppygate: I just noticed an item in the front pages "Commonplaces" that the Puppies might do well to ponder: "Science fiction is an argument with the world. When it becomes (solely) an argument within science fiction, it breathes recycled air.” (Ken MacLeod)

#420 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 10:46 AM:

Angiportus @ 392: Glad you're being well cared for. My mother was thrilled with her new knee -- once she was over the healing.

#421 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 11:37 AM:

Diatryma @ 414: I will be very curious to hear about the outcome of Weaponized Vodka Meringues. I've no idea how well it'll work, but having made Weaponized Vodka, I'd treat it (and the spent peppers) the way you'd treat any other hazardous substance.

#422 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 01:25 PM:

I just ran across the funniest and yet the most in character "Anakin Doesn't Turn" alternate ending to Episode III. Palpatine drops his nasty little rumor about Obi-Wan getting up to things with Amidala, and instead of reacting like Othello, Anakin goes a little cross-eyed imagining the possibilities. He's still the impulsive, possessive, and passionate adolescent he is in canon: just impulsive, possessive, passionate...and potentially polygamous.

So he wanders out of Palpatine's office going, " wife...guh." And Palpatine is left sitting there going "Um--what?"

#423 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 03:13 PM:

angiportus #392, wishing you complete and uneventful healing

#424 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 03:28 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @360 - thank you! I have just got to reading it and enjoyed it greatly.

#425 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 09:18 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @360: Thank you! Read it this afternoon, and liked it a lot.

#426 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2016, 10:25 PM:

HLN: Area woman finally creates a spreadsheet for organizing things, and as she starts to enter data, finds an organizational error in the recent past. *sigh*

#428 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 01:08 PM:

Supposedly, chickpea cooking liquid (called "aquafaba" by devotees) can be substituted for egg whites in almost any recipe up to and including meringue, though I've not tried it myself. But if so, it doesn't seem as if it would be nearly as oil-sensitive, and for that matter could maybe be dovetailed with an infusion process?

#429 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 01:52 PM:

The Buddhist meditation center that helped me recover from my depression after 9/11 burned this morning. The Fire Department believes the cause of the blaze MAY be arson.

My heart is hurting for all my dear friends that practice there. Even though my path led me to the Catholic Church, I learned a great deal about prayer in my time at Karma Thegsum Choling.

May all beings be happy...

#430 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 01:57 PM:

Jacque, #427: In the side-links from that, I found this:

How To Read Music

It's not a bad overview of the basics for a raw beginner. I imagine that it would work nicely as an intro lecture for a music teacher.

#431 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 03:42 PM:


Ill friend is coming to terms with the end. Fuck cancer.

My new dog is friendly and laid back and enjoyed her first visit to the dog park immensely, but observing her from a distance I can see she has hip troubles. Fingers crossed that this isn't progressive.

#432 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 05:18 PM:

OT general query: What's a food or beverage you liked when you were younger that you can't get anymore?

I really liked Wink, the Canada Dry grapefruit flavored soda. Besides being refreshing on its own, it made a great mixture with gin.

Some years back, I would go through box after box of Multi-Bran Chex. To my sorrow, it's no longer around.

Anybody else have a favorite they miss?

#433 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 05:41 PM:

Stefan Jones @417/431: Welcome, Ivory. And good luck re. the hips. Best thing you can do is keep her lean.

#434 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 06:05 PM:

Steve C., #432: What counts as "younger"? Some 25 years ago, there was a small soda company called After the Fall which made a flavor called Spicy Lemon. It was amazing, and also one of those flavors that people either love or hate. And I haven't been able to find it in over a decade.

If you limit it to "when I was a kid", Vernors counts. You can still get Vernors in the grocery store, but it is NOT the same flavor as when I was growing up. It used to be much sharper and more gingery, and now it's only a little stronger than Canada Dry.

#435 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 07:25 PM:

Thanks for the good wishes, janetl & OtterB. Some people have told me I'm doing well, but I am not yet convinced. Still feel as if I was thrown into a blender, with a side order of jet engine. Intermittent fever (slight, but enervating) and no energy even at normal temp. All I can do, tween exercises, is hide under the covers. And surf the Web, which latter brings varying results.
What I miss: Horlicks' malted milk tablets.

#436 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 07:45 PM:

Lee, #434 -

I'm afraid what happened with the Vernor's flavors is all too common. Regression to the mean, and all that. I remember a quote from somewhere: "If everybody doesn't want it, no one gets it."

#437 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 08:52 PM:

Late to the party, but Digger works even for people* that don't like graphic novels.

I finished reading the online archives this afternoon. Wow!

*at least this person

#438 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 09:05 PM:

#437: I recently ran through the Achewood archives, and need a new comic to intrigue me. About time I got to Digger!

@dcb: Even before I saw the hip trouble, I could see that Ivory needed to get in shape. The encouraging thing is, she LOVES walking. She is from Los Angeles, and the greenspace /wetlands area I live next to may be a new and exciting thing. Ivory plows along with a big doggy grin on her face, a mile or two a walk, no complaints.

#439 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 09:39 PM:

Digger is terrific, and just yesterday I finished Bryony and Roses, and put it on my Hugo nomination ballot.

#440 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2016, 10:44 PM:

Lee @430: Another item I ran across along that search path. Imagine, Boulder just lazily rolling over next to Denver....

#441 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 02:49 AM:

HLN: Finally managed to complete knitting not one, but two socks, to create something that approximates a pair.

Have probably actually knitted at least two dozen partial socks in the process, but that's something else again ...

#442 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 02:58 AM:

Angioportus @435: A week or so out from a major op like that, lack of energy is totally normal. Should improve, gradually.

Stefan Jones @438: Great. More exercise, controlled diet, then hopefully you'll be able to enjoy long walks together for years to come.

#443 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 09:36 AM:

Steve C. @ #432: Gerber used to make a hard vaguely-animal-shaped cookie that was lightly iced. I adored those, and my mother would buy them for me long after I acquired teeth, but eventually they dropped off the market. I can still remember the taste and texture.

Also, Journey Twisted Vanilla Bean microbrewed cream soda, but I think the company went out of business. Wonderfully complex flavors.

#444 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 11:29 AM:

Adding to the Fuck Cancer...

Wednesday morning. I am seeing an oncologist about something odd in my left eye. I do get regular checks, and eye cancer is pretty rare, so this could be a doctor, who sees one or two cases a year, playing safe.

Fuck cancer with a spiked buttplug.

#445 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 01:11 PM:

So—totally random drop-by, since I haven't been here in the better part of a year. Quick reason why: First we re-floored, which involved moving the entire contents of the house outside and ripping out the carpets ourselves in order to keep the costs down. With baby. Then when that was done, came moving stuff back in, while trying desperately to sort things. Then Worldcon (I saw some of you there.) Then came autumn, which is my busiest time with Things To Do With Kids That Are Time-Dependent.

Then came the day in October when I lost my car (transmission) and my computer (five-year-old and a glass of water) on the same day. So... I get some computer time, borrowed, at irregular intervals. (My hard drive was 100% recoverable, so we didn't even have to go to the primary or secondary backup. (Not our first goat rodeo.)) The time frame for me to get a new computer is indeterminate, since I actually need something with a high amount of processing power so that I can run Photoshop. (There would be a decent chance of me being able to work from home this fall if that's the case—and since the studio is a good forty-mile drive away, this is not inconsiderable.)

Anyway. Not in any bad situation, just a little cut off from computer access. Thought you should know.

#446 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 01:41 PM:

B. Durbin (445): Good to see you back here again. Thanks for the update. Sorry for all your troubles.

Dave Bell (444): Eep! May it be a false alarm.

#447 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 11:13 PM:

David Bell: Good luck!

#448 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 11:38 PM:

Fuck cancer.

I spent this week getting my dad set up on hospice, and we will likely be moving him to a nursing home to die in the next few days, as he's gone downhill fast enough that he can't care for himself even enough to survive with people checking on him a couple times a day. I've been sleeping in his house so he's not alone, despite 15 years of concentrated tobacco smoke having soaked into every porous surface. Caring for someone this sick, the old con advice about getting a shower, a couple hot meals and 4 h of sleep every night isn't a terrible guide. That wouldn't be sustainable for the long haul, but it's been very helpful to me to remember that I'm required to do enough self-care to keep functioning.

#449 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2016, 11:51 PM:

Julie L. #428, aquafaba can indeed be used to make mereingues. (Its miraculous properties do not extend to making me able to spell miraungue.) Last year, a friend brought things that looked like those little egg-white-and-sugar cookies--contrary to the custom of our synagogue's potlucks, she refused to tell us the ingredients before people had eaten them (though she did say they were vegan and had no nuts.) They had exactly the texture of meringue and very nearly the same taste. I didn't much like them, but I don't like meringue, either.

#450 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 12:16 AM:

@Dave Bell: I hope this proves to be a spurious mote of nothing in particular.

@Albatross: #FuckCancer. I hope your dad gets a fast and peaceful end, and am glad you are taking care of yourself.

@B. Durbin: If you lived in Portland, I'd offer you a modest desktop I salvaged, but even then I don't think it would handle Photoshop well.

#451 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 01:20 AM:

Adrian @449 -- had someone done that to me, I might have been very upset: garbanzos are something I have a noticeable dietary sensitivity to (not an allergy, no sign of any anaphylactic reaction). I am not fond of explosive diarrhea, and would complain loudly. So I really don't want to try aquafaba meringues. Not divulging ingredients in Unmutual.

#452 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 01:30 AM:

Dave B., #444: May your Weird Eye Thing turn out as un-threateningly as mine did a couple of months ago.

B. Durbin, #445: Is there a Goodwill computer store anywhere near you? It's amazing what people will hand off to those places when they want the New Cutting-Edge Thing; we've been very happy with several items bought at the one near us.

albatross, #448: Sympathies.

#453 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 01:54 AM:

I'm sorry, Albatross. I'll keep you in my prayers.

#454 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 02:14 AM:

Good wishes for Dave Bell and sympathies for Albatross.

@B. Durbin: This is useful only for Mac users, but as an intermediate solution: I've found Pixelmator (Mac, exclusively, last I looked) to be a nearly universal substitute for Photoshop,* at .00% of the price ($30ish, last I looked). It's main twitchiness derives (IME) less from horsepower than available disk space.

* There are, in fact, things I prefer about it over PS.

Tom Whitmore @451: noticeable dietary sensitivity

You've just neatly described my reaction to flax seed (double-blind tested on two occassions). One hopes the provider would have at least been willing to say "Does/doesn't contain [ingredient]" if asked specifically.


An interesting and useful concept.


In sad news here, Mr. Spike née Humphrey passed away tonight under the watchful eye of his loving human, L. He was two months shy of his estimated eighth birthday. Apparently in generally excellent health all the way up until about ten days ago, when it is speculated he suffered from a sudden stroke, from which he never really recovered.

His first human pig-sat my herd while I was at Denvention in '08. She showed up on my doorstep with (then) Humphrey a month or two later: she'd discovered she was pregnant (after believing she would never be able to have kids), and asked me if I'd take him on, as she wanted to focus all her attention on her impending offspring.

Feisty little guy: I've never met a guinea pig I didn't fall in love with, but I would have had to strangle him if L hadn't stepped up at just the right moment to adopt him.

On the way home tonight, I ran into her on the bus, and talked her through The Final Approach (being something I've had lots of experience with). It was hard on her, and she was afraid she'd let it go too long, but she'd done everything she could, he'd lived a good long life and, as far as I can tell, left in peace.

Interestingly, he did that thing that several of mine have done which is to wait until their human gets home to say goodbye, and then pass away shortly thereafter.

Via con Dios, Mr. Humphrey Spike McSpikersons....

#455 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 02:25 AM:

Oh yeah, crossing in the posts with Lee, two Sundays ago I walked into the bathroom at bedtime to put in my eye-drops, and discovered that the lower left quadrant of the white of my right eye was suffused with blood. Freaked me right the hell out, not least because it looked like I'd suddenly come down with the rage virus. No discernible sensation associated with it, but it was scary-looking as hell.

A quick Google suggested that it was a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which my optometrist confirmed. A week later, it had cleared up completely, no lingering blood visible at all. Great for freaking out my coworkers, though.

So, I hope Dave Bell's turns out to be as unproblematic!

#456 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 08:25 AM:

albatross @448, keeping you and your father in my prayers.

Dave Bell @444, hoping for the best for you

My news does not, at this point, seem to warrant a Fuck Cancer. It's more like cancer should be subjected to a serious pursin' o' the lips, and foldin' o' the arms, and tappin' o' the feet. But - I have been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. It appears to have been caught early, and odds are highly in my favor. I have an appointment next week with an oncologist/surgeon. There will be surgery. Beyond that, don't know yet. I would like to be Organizing All The Things but don't know which cats to herd or where or when. I'm trying to put down in writing the things that reside solely in my head and with respect to my job and with respect to coordination of things for my daughter with special needs. And, for that matter, the household finances, which I do most of the management of. Fortunately, my boss is excellent, the OtterSpouse is in stable employment with a short commute and no travel, my older daughter is living in the basement and working part time as a barista before starting law school next fall, and friends will rally round if needed, so there will be support. But prayers/good thoughts from those so inclined would be appreciated.

#457 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 09:06 AM:

Dave Bell, Albatross, OtterB, I wish you all many spoons, and extend sympathies.

#458 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 09:09 AM:

Oh man, that's a lot of stress going on. OtterB, I hope everything goes smoothly and your very local community steps up to keep things easy. Dave Bell, I hope yours turns out to be your eye messing with you rather than trying to kill you.

Here, I am listening to the very strong wind, wishing we'd canceled school (no reason to, but when you work in schools...) and being amused at our caucus results because we stood up and were counted and said WE ARE OKAY WITH BOTH THESE PEOPLE SOMEONE ELSE FIGURE IT OUT. While setting caucus records. So we also said WE CARE ABOUT THIS.

#459 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 10:58 AM:

Diatryma @458: Thank you. That makes my day.

#460 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 11:34 AM:

KeithS @370 re getting a Raksura fix ... are you aware that if you support Martha Wells through Patreon, she's providing Raksura snippets? Little scenes or vignettes, not full stories. I was reminded because one came today.

#461 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 11:44 AM:

OtterB, albatross, wishing you both all the strength in this difficult time.

#462 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 12:09 PM:

To everyone who needs it:

My sympathies and best wishes to all of you.

OtterB @ 460:

I recently made a Patreon account to support Fred Clark at Slacktivist. I'd completely forgotten that Martha Wells was doing that, so thank you for the reminder.

#463 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 01:11 PM:

Angiportus @ 435: My theory has been that after surgery your body is doing a whole lot of healing work, so there's not much energy left for things that you want to do.

Albatross: I'm so sorry.

OtterB: I'm glad you've got good family support. I wouldn't sweat the work stuff. When I had abdominal surgery scheduled years ago (all came out fine), I bought baggy, high-waisted underwear, a new bathrobe, new PJs, and all the Jane Austen miniseries on VHS. I suggest you do something similar, and wish you all the best.

#464 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 01:19 PM:

Well, I can see that the candle rack at my church is going to be full for a while, is all I'm sayin'.

#465 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 02:31 PM:

OtterB, #456: GoodThoughts being sent.

#466 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 03:02 PM:

Politicians, music, and permission issues.

Summary: Trump has pissed off several popular musicians by appropriating their songs for his campaign when they themselves emphatically do not support him. This kind of thing has been a problem for longer than you might think.

Personal reaction: ghod knows there are musicians on both sides of today's politics. Would it really be that hard (1) to ask for permission before appropriating a song, and/or (2) to stick with the ones on your own side of the debate?

#467 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 04:48 PM:

So -- having the last of the necessary documents arrive, federal and state income tax forms have been filed. Even with Turbotax doing the heavy lifting, it's STILL a chore.

#468 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 04:56 PM:

Albatross, Dave Bell, OtterB, sending all of you my sympathies and good wishes.

HLN: Local couple take long weekend trip leaving child and older daughter home to look after each other. Local couple do next to nothing for a couple days, become blissfully relaxed and renew affectionate feelings towards each other, and return home Sunday evening to OMG why is there water dripping out from under the kitchen sink, the cat just threw up on the bathmat, we need to fix the flap valve on the second toilet ASAP, and was work this monumentally stressful before?

The weekend was very nice, and we could have done with a little less contrast.

#469 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 05:05 PM:

Lee @466
Trump knows that all the really good music comes from the dam liberals. If he stuck to his own sort, he'd have to choose between Ted Nugent and one of those groany, constipated-sounding patriotic country singers.

Reminds me of how conservatives (especially the belligerent ones) feel obliged to use liberal icons for their avatars, presumably because South Park has been done to death, and "Day by Day" is for losers.

#470 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 05:07 PM:

Good grief, sending also the best kind of wishes for Dave Bell, OtterB, and Albatross. Expedient recovery, dull and not overlong convalescence, and your preferred equivalent of ice cream and friendly kitties along the way.

#471 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 05:38 PM:

Political theme songs also have the problem that politicians tend to listen to the chorus (or PART of the chorus) and not the rest of the song, meaning they pick a song that has very specific lyrics strongly against their campaign's main message ... but only play a quoted-out-of-context piece, thereby earworming the rest in listeners who actually KNOW the song.

This is particularly bad with Springsteen, who deliberately writes songs with, as he puts it, "Gospel in the chorus and blues in the verse," so there are big repeated optimistic sounds and then detailed, socially-aware stuff right after. "Born in the USA" played by people cutting social services and bashing unions, for example, is particularly bitter.

#472 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 08:51 PM:

This tends to happen in certain non-political ads, too. I've heard "Lust for Life" used to advertise Carnival Cruises. I decided that the ghost of William S. Burroughs was using the electronic media to send us messages.

#473 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 09:00 PM:

Albatross, Dave Bell, OtterB: I'm holding you all in the light.

#474 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 10:11 PM:

TomW @ 411: and a few days later Signy Toly Anderson (Ettlin) died. The pictures I've seen posted show a soft-focus folkie, but a cut on Jefferson Airplane Loves You makes clear she was holding her own as a rocker. Tamarin describes her as surviving serious troubles after finding that a rising band and a baby weren't compatible, but keeping herself together through them.

Jacque @ 440: that's incredible. I saw little bits breaking on a trip to Alaska, but never the entire front edge like that. Thanks for the link.

My best wishes for everyone having a bad case of Life; I'd take another winter of harsh weather in place, but the exchange seems to be closed.

#475 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 10:29 PM:

Whiny inbred New Dog has to fumble to get in the car because of her dodgy hips, but we walked 4.7 miles today together. I suspect she'd fit in another mile or two if I asked.

#476 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2016, 10:37 PM:

Whiny inbred New Dog has to fumble to get in the car because of her dodgy hips, but we walked 4.7 miles today together. I suspect she'd fit in another mile or two if I asked.

#477 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 12:03 AM:

CHip @474: Anderson came back and sang with the Airplane again a few times much later -- and she really did have a good rock voice. Reminded me of Barbara Keith (check out her later work with the Stone Coyotes) or Tret Fure, who went from being a folksy singer-songwriter to a very strong women's-music rocker.

#478 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 12:58 AM:

Lee @466: How did Tom Lehrer put it? "We had all the good songs."

There are actually Republican and conservative rockers other than Ted Nugent. Steven Tyler, for one, had his lawyers send two cease-and-desist letters to Trump.

Back in June, Neil Young stated that Trump's use of "Rocking in the Free World" was unauthorized. (ASCAP has Rules about music in political campaigns.) This stuff has cropped up during presidential campaigns since at least 1984.

I keep threatening to do a thesis-esque article on the phenomenon.

Elliott Mason @471: On the other hand, there was "Don't Stop" as Bill Clinton's theme in 1992 et seq.

#479 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 01:07 AM:

I've been thinking lately about the trope that "Eastern Religions"* say that "Reality is an illusion!" or that "Reality is a dream." This idea has been kicking around the subconscious of Western culture in one form or another for a long time.

Has anybody looked into where that particular meme entered our culture? (I'm kind of thinking of the collective research the group did a few years back on the origins of That Quote, and wondering if we could identify this one.)

I have a suspicion that both the "reality is an illusion" and "reality is a dream" might originally have come from misunderstanding or garbling of two particular early Buddhist sutras; I've been reading some of the Pali canon tracking them down and think I have fairly good matches. (Of course it's not at all what those sutras were really saying.)

* a trope in itself, the idea that all Asian religions are the same or would agree about a question like this.

#480 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 01:17 AM:

Tom Whitmore #451

I discovered the hard way that garbanzo flour is added to certain bread products to increase the protein. My adverse reaction is intense pain for several hours.

Albatross, Dave Bell, OtterB, much sympathy. I wish for you to have a sufficiency of spoons and your desired outcomes.

#481 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 04:49 AM:

Clifton @479

One of my absolute favorite quotes of all time is by a Chinese philosopher who lived in the 4th century BCE. It directly posits the impossibility of distinguishing between life and dreams. It's metaphorical, but jovially vague enough that one could easily believe the sage was entertaining the possibility of a literal interpretation. Its author is one of the most influential early Taoists.

Here is the first translation I encountered from the the great philosopher of the warring states period, Zhuangzi:

"Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Zhuangzi. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi."

That's how the quote is frequently presented, but it omits the final line of the passage: "Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things." You can find longer versions and alternate translations of his famous quotes here. Like much of Zhuangzi's work, this passage is about accepting that uncertainty is a fundamental part of life. In many ways he was pushing back against the the dogmatic, rigid certainty of the newly minted Confucian school of thought. He specifically calls that out here:

"During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming. We may even dream of interpreting a dream. Only on waking do we know it was a dream. Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense! You and Confucius are both dreaming, and I who say you are a dream am also a dream. Such is my tale. It will probably be called preposterous, but after ten thousand generations there may be a great sage who will be able to explain it, a trivial interval equivalent to the passage from morning to night."

Seriously, this guy is the best. He even states that it might take ten thousand generations for someone to finally be able to convey what he's talking about in a way that doesn't sound ridiculous.

So yes, it is indeed terrible and foolish to conflate or generalize all eastern religions and philosophies into a monolithic whole. That's the direct cause of the weird meme whose source you seek.

That said, it would not be incorrect to say that one of the earliest Daoist thinkers postulated that we can never be entirely certain that we are not dreaming, and thus we can never be entirely certain about anything... and he did it nearly two thousand years before Descartes would reinvent the butterfly dream and create "modern philosophy."

In closing, I would like to present Zhuangzi's most famous mistranslated passage:

"To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven."

It's that last bit we're not sure about. From the light digging I've been able to do, it seems like even Chinese scholars are not certain precisely what Zhuangzi thinks will happen to those who declare knowledge beyond the unknowable. The other major translation says that heaven the equalizer will destroy you, but that's not necessarily any more reliable.

There is something beautiful about the fact that some of what Zhuangzi wrote has moved into the category of things that cannot be perfectly understood.

#482 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 08:42 AM:

albatross, Dave, OtterB: strength and patience to you all, and best wishes for the best possible outcomes.

#483 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 09:05 AM:

There's Pedro Calderón de Barca's 1635 play, "La Vide es Sueño," which (per Wikipedia) is ultimately based on the story of Siddhartha, aka Buddha. I mention it as a possible popularizer of the meme. The article doesn't say if the title was already an aphorism, though I'd sort of expect that it was. The old "it was a dream" bit's pretty venerable. (I read the play, in translation, back in the 80s, but had to look at the synopsis for the plot. I pretty well managed to forget it all. Maybe I just dreamt it.)

#484 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 09:51 AM:

Strength and health to all of us.

#485 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 10:28 AM:

Clifton #479: Perhaps it's more pertinent to say that "Western culture" (same trope ;->) asserts that dreams are utterly distinct from waking reality, mere eidolons that might possibly include foreshadowings or occult messages. As per Harner, various shamanically-oriented cultures he studied¹ had a much fuzzier separation between waking, dreaming, and what we sometimes call "trance" states.

That said, "materialist" culture has a helluva success rate, and an axe made in dreams won't cut wood in the waking world. Then too, we've learned a lot more about dreaming and trance as well, including greater control of the states (e.g., the ability to train lucid dreaming). It may well be that Zhuangi's "ten thousand generations" have passed quicker than he expected.

¹ Which seem to represent the root for basically all cultures -- at least every culture I've heard of has at least some traces of shamanic practices in their folklore or mythology.

#486 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 10:46 AM:

I don't have a history of people believing-- or believing that other people believe-- that the world is an illusion, just some thoughts on the subject.

So far as I know, respectable thought about meditation is that meditation reveals that a good bit of what people think is obviously true (for example, that their emotional reactions are inevitable) isn't true.

This is well short of believing that the whole world is an illusion, though I suppose that if you find out that a great deal of what you believe is outside you is self-generated, you might be interested in the question of just how far the illusion goes.

In addition to "am I a person dreaming I'm a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming I'm a person?" trope, I've also seen (possibly in Idris Shah) the story of someone experiencing one or more lifetimes and then finding out it's a dream or a hallucination.

#487 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 10:53 AM:

Thanks all for the good wishes. I am back from the hospital with a as clean a bill of health as I am ever likely to get, It's a tiny cyst in the eye, between the iris and the cornea, not malignant and unlikely to ever cause trouble. Since I get a regular check for other reasons, I am not going to see any difference. My usual eye clinic visits will just check for any changes.

Maybe February will be a better month for everyone. I hope it's enough better that it isn't just the fewer days that account for the improvement.

#488 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 11:02 AM:

Thanks all for the good wishes. I am back from the hospital with a as clean a bill of health as I am ever likely to get, It's a tiny cyst in the eye, between the iris and the cornea, not malignant and unlikely to ever cause trouble. Since I get a regular check for other reasons, I am not going to see any difference. My usual eye clinic visits will just check for any changes as an extra. It's unusual (most are little blobs of pigment, rather than white like mine. It's a stromal cysr, and showed very clearly on the ultrasound scan.

Iris Cysts

Maybe February will be a better month for everyone. I hope it's enough better that it isn't just the fewer days that account for the improvement.

#489 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 11:20 AM:

Dave Bell, glad to hear it's "we checked out this unusual thing and, yep, it's unusual, but it's unlikely to cause trouble."

#490 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 01:43 PM:

Good to hear, Dave Bell!

#491 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 02:00 PM:

Dave Bell, this is good news.

#492 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 03:26 PM:

Thanks, Leah.

I've been rereading Zhuangzi since my college days, and he is indeed the other main source I was thinking of for the "... is a dream" version. It's been said that Ch'an Buddhism (Zen) has Buddhism as its father, Taoism as its mother - both are inextricably combined in Zen practice and language, where the central matter is as likely to be discussed in terms of the great Tao as in terms of the Dharma.

What I like best about that story in particular and about Zhuangzi's work in general is the front-and-center importance of not knowing, letting go certainty about everything whatsoever.

#493 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 03:51 PM:

Clifton, #479: I think it goes back way further than you're looking. Consider:

"Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream;
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream."

How long would the idea have had to be kicking around for it to get into nursery rhymes?

#494 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 04:20 PM:

I like Calderon's "Life is a Dream"; it's one of the only books I kept from my college humanities class. Part of that is that the translation is pretty informal, and part of that is Clarin, the servant, who doesn't speak much because his actor would have improvised but does castigate himself for not spreading information around: "Servants are meant to talk in plays, and I never said a word."

Also, being a Spanish play, it's set in exotic Poland.

#495 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 05:19 PM:

#481 Leah
I've had dreams (nightmares) in which I have cognizantly been trying to wake up from to get oout of

#480 Lin
Looking up "citrus fiber" I discovered that it's been being added to meatballs! Other types of fibr--wheat, corn, chicory, sugarcane, oat, are also being used to bulk up food for fiber content and/or to reduce the amount of sugar used. And then there is "pea protein" which is becoming increasingly popular.... and "gelatin" can be from mammals, or fish, or...

#479 Clifton
The western tradition is not devoid of mysticism and dream states/wakened state confusion. One of Evangeline Walton's Mabinogen-based books (not Isle of the Might) turns out to have involved that sort of thing. Katherine Kerr's long fantasy series with characters reincarnated again and again, is based on Celtic mystic traditions.

Plus, there are dream-content/dream-based material in the Bible (Jacob's dream, Isaiah, and I forget what else. Islam has dream-based material in the Koran. (The Renaissance in particular depended on intellectual outlook from and intellectual outlooks and materials preserved by the Caliphates, which had gotten suppressed/forgotten/burned/ignored/etc. in Europe for centuries between the fall of the western Roman Empire, and the flow/return of ideas and copies and translations of material which the Caliphates had preserved, and in cases expanded on.

#496 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 05:41 PM:

Sad news: Bob Elliot, of Bob and Ray, has joined Ray Goulding in the Great Beyond. Just listened again to the Slow Talker sketch, slapping the arm of the chair at key points. God damn, those two were funny together, and Elliott has been pretty funny on his own in the years since.

Better news: Dave Bell, I'm glad to hear it.

#497 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 05:43 PM:

Kip W @ 483

There's Pedro Calderón de Barca's 1635 play, "La Vide es Sueño,"

I saw a version of that in translation last summer. Some fascinating tropes involved, even beyond the question of life/dreams.

#498 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 05:46 PM:

Good to hear, Dave Bell!

#499 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 06:35 PM:

If you're coughing like crazy, and have a persistent fever, don't just think Oh, doctors can't do anything for a cold or influenza anyway. I'll just ride it out.

I had a cold a couple of weeks ago, and briefly had a fever (a few hours), and thought "Weird! I didn't think you'd have a fever with a cold." The cold passed -- pretty much. A week or so later, cold again, only with a much more persistent, but still low, fever. Got an appointment with the doctor, and now know that if I have a fever for 4 days and am coughing my head off, it could be pneumonia.

No worries -- I'm now dosed up with antibiotics and steroids. Also very fortunate that I can put in a bit of work here and there from home during the day, and don't have to use up my time off.

Also -- nebulizers are glorious!

#500 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 08:29 PM:

@Paula Lieberman no. 495: Don't forget Piers Plowman.

#501 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 08:48 PM:

janetl @499 Oof. Yeah, I had one of those a few years ago. It was amazing how much better I felt after a few days of meds, when I didn't realize I'd felt all that bad. Wishing you a quick recovery.

#502 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2016, 11:46 PM:

Argh! Friend from college mentioned upthread is going into hospice. He announced he's eating cheesecake with chocolate coating and all the other stuff he's had to avoid since a heart attack. Probably too late to get a box of See's candy to him, which is what I sent my father when he was in the same boat. ("Into the West." Don't know why that popped into my head.)

#503 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 09:07 AM:

Sorry to hear it, Stefan, though your friend's announcement is worth a semi-consoling smile. May he enjoy the hell out of that cheesecake.

#504 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 09:45 AM:

Goddamn it, my hometown is one of RooshV's proposed meetup locations. NOPENOPENOPE!

#505 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 09:51 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 502: I'd send the See's. Timelines can be unpredictable. Worst case: Hospice clients and/or nurses that you've never met eat some See's.

Lila @ 504: All RooshV's public meetups were cancelled. Apparently you can't express views like his in the "real world" the way you can online without damaging your reputation and facing consequences. Good to know!

#506 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 09:54 AM:

I volunteered at an AIDS hospice in Portland in the 1990s. I just came in for one 4-hour shift per week. Worked in the garden in the mild months, and helped out inside when the garden wasn't doing much. I started about the time they'd figured out how to treat the secondary infections, and stopped as the "cocktail" came in, and our first two clients got better and left.

I think hospice nurses may be the Best Humans on the Planet.

#507 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 09:55 AM:

I am pleased with both the campus newspaper and the local police for taking this seriously.

#508 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 12:48 PM:

Lila, #507: Now he's claiming that it was only satire. Yeah, right.

The extreme irony of TX governor Abbott's remarks, given that he is responsible for the rapey mandatory-ultrasound law and the closing of multiple Planned Parenthood clinics, is just the icing on the cake.

And of course, someone on FB (not one of my friends, but on another friend's post) had to do the "Not to be racist, but he looks Middle Eastern, and you know their religion says that's okay" thing. I called him on it, and he went all dismissive and mansplainy on me. CWAA.

#509 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 01:35 PM:

Stefan Jones @502: The See's online store does have a next-day shipping option. I'd be willing to chip in a few $$ if that's an issue.

#510 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 03:00 PM:

#432: Heinz 57 steak sauce. They still make it, but it doesn't taste the same.

This was the chief "brown sauce" on the table of my partly-Scots family as I was growing up. We put it on various meats, especially our staple, "mince" (ground beef boiled with half an onion). A dash of it was good in soup, as well. After we discovered a Scottish bakery/butcher in Detroit, we put it on meat pies and sausage rolls.

I don't like ketchup but I always kept a bottle of H57 Sauce (as the Higginses called it) handy.

Early in my adult life (maybe 1979?) Heinz changed the sauce somehow. It became sweeter and didn't taste right. At all.

I had to give up on H57. Ever since I've used A1 Sauce (which is available at most stores and restaurants in the States) and HP Sauce (which is a bit more scarce).

It may be only a minor trauma, but I remain haunted by the loss of this childhood favorite. Brooding over sauces has affected my fanwriting.

Even one of the rare occasions when I contributed poetry to Making Light concerned steak sauce. (Teresa had been pondering silver "specialized Victorian serving pieces" she'd found on Ebay, including a "delicately pierced A-1 Sauce bottle holder.")

#511 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 05:29 PM:

Many but not all of the reviewers think it's a good match.

#512 ::: Ian C. Racey ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 07:49 PM:

Steve C. @432: McDonald's applie pies back when they were deep fried, not baked. The ones that burnt the insides of your mouth off.

Apparently they have been testing reintroducing them in certain areas over the past year, but sadly, not where I live.

#513 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 08:35 PM:

David Harmon @ 485: it is mechanically true that an axe made in dreams won't cut wood in the waking world but ideas of cutting potency can show up in even undirected dreaming. Kekule's reported grokking of benzene is the obvious example to this ex-chemist, but I'm sure there are others.

Bill Higgins @ 510: wasn't that sometime around the disaster of New Coke? Or was NC later?
     AFAIK, sugar subsidies were old-hat by then; a tour guide was complaining about them on my pre-Aussiecon2 (1985) ramblings. But when industrial farms start growing corn seriously west of its proper range, into areas where it required extensive irrigation? Could the sauce have been redone because sweeteners were cheaper and ~"everybody's going sweeter"?

abi -- many thanks for the link on eagles taught to take out drones; I would love to see this work in practice.

#514 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 08:44 PM:

Stefan Jones@502: Holding you and your friend in the light as well.

There are days (several recently) when I regret not having a candle-lighting tradition.

janetl@506: Agreed about hospice nurses; and, at least from my experience, I'd add hospice chaplains. The good ones are worth so much.

#515 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 08:58 PM:

Ian C. Racey@512: McDonald's applie pies back when they were deep fried, not baked.

I was having trouble thinking of any foods in this category, but you brought back a vivid memory there. I suspect, though, that like a lot of childhood flavors I wouldn't like them as much now.

Talking about this with Amazing Spouse I think the foods we most miss are unavailable because of distance, not time. Speaking of brown sauce, for example, "sauce", meaning the stuff that was ubiquitous on chips in Edinburgh, just doesn't quite match up to anything we can get here. (The chips aren't the same either, for that matter.) Foods from Amazing Spouse's childhood can be likewise difficult or impossible to get without long-distance travel, and local approximations just aren't quite right.

#516 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 10:01 PM:

Steve C #432

Real root beer, the kind that had a faint undrtaste of dirt. And was seriously fizzy. Recently, someone gave me some bottles of home brewed. It just missed being not drinkable, but I enjoyed every bottle. Because it had that much missed undertaste.

#517 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 10:09 PM:

dotless i, #515: I think the foods we most miss are unavailable because of distance, not time

And sometimes because of the rosy glow of nostalgia. There's a decent chance that, if given a sample of Vernors prepared according to the original formula, I wouldn't like it as much as I remember liking it. OTOH, nothing seems to have changed much about Good-n-Plentys. :-)

#518 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2016, 11:44 PM:


My wife's grandpa had a great example of that. When he was a kid during the depression, his favorite dish was some kind of green tomato pie thing. Years later, his wife got his mom's old recipe and made it, and it was not very good. Apparently, the only way to make the dish palatable had been to add more sugar than most anything else their family ate, and when he was a kid, that counted more than the otherwise not-all-that-great flavor.

#519 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 12:30 AM:

My late grandmother had a set repertoire of cookies she would make for any and all occassions. Her grandchildren dutifully distributed the various recipes and it was only maybe two holidays before everyone realized that she had tweaked all of the recipes over the years and nothing would taste quite right. My mom experimented with her rolls (a close cousin of Parkerhouse rolls, folded over before baking to form a pocket for more butter, or turkey-related leftovers) and found that doubling (or tripling) the butter was the secret to replicating what we all remembered.

Problematically, one of my cousins was in charge of my absolute fave, the ginger cream cookies, and though she is a delightful person (seriously, I actively dislike spending time with much of my extended family, but she is a peach) she is one of those people who hoards recipes jealously. I mentioned on the Book of Faces that I wanted to make ginger creams and she posted my grandmother's handwritten recipe. I had to assure her that as she and most of the rest of the extended family are in the Central Time Zone, and I am in SoCal, I would not be bringing ginger creams to family gatherings anytime soon before she private messaged me her personal annotations. Maga's handwritten recipe was on one side of the headpiece of the Staff of Ra and my cousin's notes were the side that said "take back one Kadan to honor the Hebrew God..."

Right now I am craving Paczki, but there seems to be only one place you can get them in southern California, they don't make my preferred version (rosehip jam, or it's nothing but a bismarck as far as I'm concerned) and we've missed out on the pre-order window anyhow. Next year we're probably going to take time off work and just burn off some vacation time somewhere we can get Paczki.

#520 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 05:09 AM:

Thankfully, I have always (I think[*]) been interested in cooking, so most of the things that I recall from my youth, I have (or can) replicate by experimentation. And for convenience, there's a store not far away (far enough that going there is a mini-occasion, not so far away that it's more than 15-20 minutes' travel from the office).

However, there are definitely things from my childhood I would very much hesitate to eat now. I used to love mixing two parts sauce Bearnaise with one part ketchup. These days, ketchup makes me feel sick[+]. I doubt I will try that anytime soon.

As happens, it seems as if some of the things I have reconstructed are hits with people who didn't grow up with it, like "thinbread rolls".

Take a flexible, thin, bread, ideally just slightly softer and puffier than a tortilla; heat and butter it, plop down a healthy dollop of mashed potato and two boiled or fried franks; add sauce to taste (the "chopped dill pickle in mayo" is my fave, with just a hint of mustard added); roll up and eat.

[*] I cannot recall ever becoming interested in cooking, I am interested in cooking, so that interest either arrived so gradually that there is no definite tipping point or predates active recall. I also cannot recall a time when cooking wasn't fascinating, so I am leaving towards the latter.

[+] Sweet-and-sour in general. And overly sweet foods mostly tastes off-putting to me. But I still love sweet treats, so it's not sugar per se, more the "sweet and savoury" combo. Alas, this means that a vast range of BBQ falls in the "that sounds really nice, if only they hadn't gone and ruined it".

#521 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 06:53 AM:

One of the childhood dishes I have been missing out of, partly from the growth of national retail businesses, is haslet.

It's a processed meat that used to be common in Lincolnshire, and elsewhere in the North and Midlands.

It looks relatively simple to make.

#522 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 08:44 AM:

CHip #513: ideas of cutting potency can show up in even undirected dreaming.

No argument here, but there's still that fundamental divide between "interior" and "exterior" realities, where the only connection is "us" -- our senses, minds, and actions.

Consider that the benzene dream was significant only because of who experienced it, and when; if a cobbler across town had a similar dream, it would have been without significance or meaning.

But Kekule was a chemist who was looking for the structure of benzene. The dream functioned as a part of the scientist's thinking process: fed by his prior experience, and bearing fruit only when he shared his new insight with others.

#523 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 12:39 PM:

The Pentagon considers a plan to offer egg and sperm freezing to soldiers.

I just read Gentleman Jole and the Red Quenn and this is very Bujold.

#524 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 04:00 PM:

RIP Captain Edgar Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 14.

Only seven of the twelve who landed on the Moon are now alive.

#525 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 04:51 PM:

nerdycellist @519: Paczki are an enormous thing in Chicago, should you be looking for a target for that vacation. :->

#526 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 06:50 PM:

I hear you all on the Vernors nostalgia. Not only do they make it differently now than when I was a kid, it is no longer served by my grandmother in her kitchen in a Detroit Tigers glass. (My sister still has the glasses, though.)

#527 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 08:34 PM:

Lee@517: And sometimes because of the rosy glow of nostalgia

Right, that's a whole 'nother category of unfindable foods: things that don't taste the way they did in childhood. There are a lot of candies in that category for me. (Combining with the "unavailable because of distance" category: somehow in adulthood I got hooked on Maynard's wine gums. Every time I mention them to a friend in the UK they turn out to be one of those "tasted great in childhood" things for them, and they can't understand why I'm looking for them.)

I've been lucky with homemade dishes, in that my mother was pretty good about passing on her recipes, and, like Ingvar M, I like cooking. I did have the happy experience this past December of accidentally recreating the taste of one of my grandmother's standard recipes, thanks to cross-cultural serendipity: we had leftover bacalhoada (a Portuguese/Brazilian salt cod dish) from Christmas Day and were stuck in the house, so I decided to mash it up with egg and make it into croquettes. They came out within epsilon of the fish cakes that were a special treat when visiting my grandparents.

Dave Bell@521: I've had haslet once or twice, and the recipes I see online confirm my memory of it being basically a pork meatloaf. My guess is that the basic recipe is straightforward, but if you have a particular exemplar in your memory it might take some fiddling to get the right kind of pork, fat, and seasonings to match.

Which reminds me of another reason that distance can separate us from some foods: some ingredients just plain aren't legal in the US. (As far as I know, I have to get on a plane to get haggis made with the traditional assortment of offal. Although, now that I think of it: are the rules different in Canada?)

#528 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 09:25 PM:

Cannon prune whip yogurt. Also orange-pineapple and mandarin orange. There was another brand, long gone, with a honey-pear yogurt that I miss.

And original Vernor's, of course. Back when it was aged four years in oak barrels, and you could only get it in Michigan, northern Ohio, and one store in Colorado. First thing we did upon arriving at Grandma's for the holidays was drink little 7-oz bottles of Vernor's. With the tiny, pinprick carbonation bubbles that always made us sneeze.

#529 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2016, 11:53 PM:

dotless ı @527:

You can get proper haggis in Canada. One of my favourite facts is that there are haggis smugglers. One imagines they also smuggle Kinder Eggs.

#530 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2016, 01:05 AM:


I'm getting licked on the back of my neck by a German shepherd sprawled on the couch.

The veterinarian advised me that New Dog needs to loose weight and take joint supplements, neither of which is a surprise or a burden. But avoid stairs? Ugh, I live in a townhouse. New Dog is going to have to spend most of her time on the main floor I guess.

Fortunately Ivory is smart and likes other dogs and properly introduced strangers. I taught her "paw" in about ten minutes. ("Shake" is reserved to shaking off after being out in the rain.)

#531 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2016, 11:15 AM:

Bujold: Reading Gentleman Jole, I was flipping through the back. LOL line in the chronology for Memory: "Miles hits thirty. Thirty hits back."

Childhood flavors: Turns out that my mother was a rather unimaginative cook. Most of the treats I remember fondly turn out to be bog-standard Joy of Cooking recipes. Except for the rhubarb-and-cherry pie, made with produce from the back and front yards respectively, with about half the sugar the recipe calls for. Mercy, it was tart.

Which reminds me: Haägen-Dazs Cassis Sorbet. 8-*

Also: Haägen-Dazs Orange Sorbet (at least until they started putting chunks of mandarin orange in it. Feh). Even better: Orange Sorbet and Vanilla Ice Cream. :-9

nerdycellist @519: Friend of mine tells the story of his Gran's challah that had that particular flavor that everyone loved but no one could replicate. Younger relative even resorted to following her around the kitchen, catching her hand before she threw [ingredient] into the mix to get an exact measurement. Even that didn't do it. Finally, somebody realized it was the parts-per-billion contamination from the kosher soap she washed her hands with before kneeding the dough.

Stefan Jones @530: "Shake" is reserved to shaking off after being out in the rain.

Do you have a corresponding "don't shake" ("Still"?) for use when bathing?

Pigs: Just had to issue parsley seconds to Gertrude, when I caught her pulling Silkie's share through the fence to eat. True to form, the stuff on Gertrude's side of the fence doesn't taste as good. :-\

#532 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2016, 11:28 AM:

Fibonacci Cats. I'm not sure whether cats are more Fibonacci than other animals, but the pictures are charming.

#533 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2016, 11:34 AM:

Jacque (531): I love the "Miles hits 30" line; it cracks me up every time I read it.

#534 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2016, 04:57 PM:

The really nice side of Fandom:

My friend in hospice, who volunteered for all sorts of conventions, getting visited the hell out of:

#535 ::: Ian C. Racey ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2016, 06:21 PM:

dotless ı, et al food nostalgia thread:Seconded on distance rather than time being the bigger issue. The highlight of any trip back to Britain is always the food.

In re: the rosy glow of nostalgia, the most vivid instance I've had of that has been Pokey Stix, from Gumby's Pizza (basically cheese sticks). When I was in my first couple of years at the University of Florida, they were delicious, and hugely popular, and pretty much any event on campus advertised that they'd be serving them. It was only about two years after leaving, when my wife and I ordered them on a visit back to town, that we discovered they were actually horribly overbaked dough immersed in huge amounts of grease. (Both of us had loved Pokey Stix when we were eighteen, and both of us have had the same reaction whenever we've encountered them later on.) Gumby's Pizza is a chain that specialises in college towns, so maybe there's something in the twenty-year-old's palate that makes them particularly appealing at that age.

#536 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2016, 08:57 PM:

The latest addition to the Great Music Show in the sky: Dan Hicks (of the Hot Licks). 74.

Fuck cancer.

#537 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 08:02 AM:

Ian@535: The 20-year-old metabolism combined with the 20-year-old lifestyle (I used to walk two miles to the club, dance for at least two hours and walk home) is probably a large part of the love for food like that.

#538 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 08:43 AM:

Welp, Twitter finally pissed me off enough to quit. Anyone who wants to do the social media thing: I'm unhappytriad on LJ and jeanninedupree on tumblr. (Jeannine is a character from one of my fanfics. The Unhappy Triad of O'Donoghue is my favorite name for an orthopedic injury--torn ACL, MCL and medial meniscus.)

#539 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 09:10 AM:

Lila, what was the proximate cause for quitting Twitter? Is this from them messing with their interface, or from them never doing anything about harassment, or is it some other damn thing I don't even know about yet?

#540 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 09:36 AM:

It should have been the harassment issue, but I confess it was the algorithm that rearranges the order of tweets into what they "think you want to see" vs. chronological order.

#541 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 03:43 PM:

Lila @#540

Oh, it that what they're doing? This moose thought it was just badly broken.

Then again, it is badly broken, and I shall abandon my intention to join Twitter. (There are a few people I'd like to follow, because they're good as well as interesting, but randomising the timeline is not something I'll put up with on top of the existing support of abusers and the recent intrusive advertising.)

Bah! <stamps hoof>

#542 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 03:49 PM:

I joined Twitter a while back because there were a couple of people I wanted to follow and that was the easiest way. Over time, I've added a few more, and had some interesting conversations there (and lurked on more). But if they're going to randomize the timeline, on top of the recent changes making conversations much harder to follow, I may be gone as well.

#543 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 03:50 PM:

I joined Twitter a while back because there were a couple of people I wanted to follow and that was the easiest way. Over time, I've added a few more, and had some interesting conversations there (and lurked on more). But if they're going to randomize the timeline, on top of the recent changes making conversations much harder to follow, I may be gone as well.

(apologies if this posts twice)

#544 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 04:20 PM:

Latest info suggests that the non-temporal Twitter timeline thing will be opt-in.

#545 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 05:21 PM:

Stefan Jones (544): That's encouraging. Now if they would only get rid of the %$#&$*^(*%()*^& popups...

#546 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 06:19 PM:

Abi, someone refurbished an old Holland bicycle.

Refurbished bicycle

#547 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 06:35 PM:

So here I am, marking papers as I am paid to do, and my students continue to teach me things that I had not previously known:

As a highly significant intellectualthinker and figure in the literary movement she was a participant in Enlightenment examinations relating to women’s rights and education reform.

Men are still looked on as more masculine, the head of the households, offered more positions in the office, and even get paid more than women in most areas.
Wollstonecraft believed that women were an important addition to society and they should be seen as independent instead of “adjuncts to men.”

Women had the ability to reason so she believed that reason was a necessity to a society.

Mary Wollstonecraft approach was more like Dr. Martin Luther King’s peaceful protest while Gouges took a more demanding and Malcolm X rout.

In the mid to late 18th century, the governments of the British West Indies were mocked after the British system of Parliament.

There is little use to docility in the world.

#548 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2016, 11:09 PM:

Delurking to share: This blog post on acknowledging non-coding contributions to open-source software seems likely to be relevant to the interests of some here.

#549 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 10:41 AM:

Let me add to my collection of student grotesqueries, this:

In the era of the millennials, the concept of feminism and feminist has recently received received global recognition after its' mention by Nigerian novelist, Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, in Beyoncé's number one hit song, "Flawless". Defined as "a person who believes in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes", the modern feminist, under the theoretical foundation of feminism, has aligned himself or herself in advocating for gender equality or justice. These activists appear during controversial issues that challenge the disparities of womanhood such as maternal rights, cultural partiality, political representation, and economic inequality.

I've no doubt the student's heart is in the right place. But brain, where has it gone?

#550 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 01:40 PM:

Fragano, do any of your very foggy-minded (or at least foggy-writing) students improve?

#551 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 02:10 PM:

Hey, Jacque - Talking guinea pigs.
(if you haven't already seen it.)

#552 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 02:27 PM:

Eric @548: Thank you for that! It helps me with one of my homework assignments in an online course I'm taking from Howard Rheingold: I've bookmarked it there.

#553 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 02:44 PM:

Re the "Female Saints of Science Fiction" Particle: I would love to look at those, but Pinterest won't let me unless I sign up with them -- and they enforce their demand by blacking out the screen as I scroll down. If they wanted to guarantee that I will NEVER get a Pinterest account, they could find no better way of doing so than by trying to blackmail me into it. [/rant]

#554 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 03:06 PM:

Lee @ 553 -

Yeah, Quora does the same thing. Annoying as hell.

#556 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 03:07 PM:

AKICML: anyone got a favorite source for nerdy/geeky/fannish/sciency baby clothing and toys? My "Luddite" (her term!) niece is expecting any day now, and I've been put in charge of such items after buying baby a Minecraft sheep plushy.

#557 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Lee @553: Totally agree.

#558 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 04:31 PM:

Lila @ #556 has a good many toys and things, but I'm not sure how good they would be for an infant.

#559 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 07:04 PM:

Lila #556: Thinkgeek has a lot of cool stuff. If you already bought Minecraft merch, you presumably know about Jinx!. There's for Star Trek, and the classic Archie McPhee. Topatoco has some cute stuff too.

#560 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 07:18 PM:

Steve C. @551: Oh ghods, that's HILARIOUS. My only quibble is the deep base very not guinea pig in sound.

Thanks for sharing that!

#561 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 07:20 PM:

Eric at # 548, thanks for the pointer. Sadly I note that documenting open source software is not listed among their examples.

#562 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 08:22 PM:

Lila@556: We did very well with Redbubble and, to a slightly lesser extent, Threadless. They're both less curated than Thinkgeek, being more design marketplaces than shops, which means that you really need to think in terms of search terms before browsing. A few typical examples.

#563 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 08:52 PM:

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

#564 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 10:29 PM:

Lee @553: you and me (and dcb) both. Not pinterested.

#565 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 11:05 PM:

Fourth-ing that. I've been annoyed by them before: if you can't sample, you're less likely to sign up.

#566 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2016, 11:43 PM:

Allan @561, I didn't notice that omission on my first read, but it's striking now that you point it out. It does seem to clearly fall within the range of contributions they're advocating for acknowledgement of; I wonder if the failure to mention it explicitly might stem from an (optimistic) picture of documentation being embedded within the code and/or kept under version control where the documenters would show up alongside the coders.

#567 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 10:19 AM:

Allan @ 561 and Eric @ 566:

I think a significant part of the lack of explicit mention of documentation in the "Acknowledging Non-Coding Contributions" post, and, moreover, the reason for that post to begin with, is due to the way that free/open-source software started. It has its roots in making software to be shared with other programmers. There's a level of technical expertise assumed. This is combined with the ideas that it's the code that's most important, that documentation is unsexy make-work because the code should be self-documenting, and that automated tools like Javadoc or Docbook are enough to document the project. I've seen a depressing number of open source projects where the only documentation is a nigh-useless README and a wiki with unhelpful, auto-generated API documentation. Yes, I can tell that int argle_bargle(void *handle, int frob_flags) takes a handle and some flags, and gives me an int back. But what does it do?

So documentation for other programmers isn't always valued highly because, hey, the source code is right there. This is, of course, unhelpful for a number of reasons (where do I start, how do I know I'm not depending on implementation details, what's the right way to put all these pieces together, etc.), but seems to be a common attitude. And because the culture is to make programs and libraries for other programmers, people don't always even think of documentation for non-technical end users. I mean, yes, that post is trying to point out that coding isn't the only part of open-source projects, but the culture is that code is supreme and everything else is fluff. For all the protestations that open-source software is ready to take over the desktop, the cultural assumption is that the audience has a certain level of technical skill.

See also this still-relevant Joel on Software essay on different computer cultures.

#568 ::: Mary Aileen sees old maybe-spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 04:44 PM:

I'm not 100% sure that this comment from 2012 is spam, since I didn't follow the link, but it's definitely a belated nonsequitur. (That thread is closed, or I'd post this there.)

#569 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2016, 05:28 PM:

Mary Aileen @568:

Thank you. It's dead now.

#571 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 01:43 AM:

KeithS #567, some semicombobulated I-should-be-asleep-right-now remarks (which do not address the question of usefulness to non-programmers):

And then there's the next level after “what does it do?”, “why would I want to do that?” That is, conceptual documentation. Here is what the system can do; here are the pieces it breaks up doing-that-thing into.

The failure mode of Javadoc is relying on the autogenerated parts and not writing good doc-comments, which can be either tiresome or entirely worthless depending on the style of the system. But it has the advantages of not leaving out the existence of anything by default, and being thoroughly hyperlinked (e.g. jumping from a method to the type of its parameter) and indexed (e.g. "all implementations of this interface").

The failure mode of friendly helpful hand-crafted documentation is giving me a tutorial with example code, and explaining to me “if you want to do X, here is how you do it” but not telling me what all of the atomic things-I-can-do are — lack of reference documentation — so that I cannot get anything but an empirical answer to “If I put these parts together, does that work the way I want?”

Trying to think about The Ideal Manual For a Thing I Am Going To Use, it might go something like this:

1. Conceptual introduction. Here is the class of problems this thing solves, and here are the kinds of pieces it breaks those problems up into. Extensive deep hyperlinks into part 3.

2. Examples of usage. (Longer/complete ones.)

3. Reference manual. Lists every concrete object and operation available systematically. Includes “what is this good for”, sometimes by reference to part 1. Short examples of usage. Links to part 2.

Part 3 can be seen as a smaller version of the whole, documenting a smaller and down an abstraction layer part of the whole system. Fractal documentation?

#572 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 09:21 AM:

I've been a senior technical writer (for MediaWiki, the software behind Wikipedia), I've been contributing to open source for a decade, I've just started a consultancy focusing on project management in open source, and I've worked for years on valuing all sorts of contributions to open source engineering efforts (e.g., my talk "UX Is A Social Justice Issue"). With those credentials out of the way:

Katie McLaughlin's article "Acknowledging Non-Coding Contributions" does not specifically name "technical writing" or "documentation", yes. I think that is partially because, in that list near the beginning, she does not aim to be absolutely comprehensive in enumerating every kind of effort that goes into software. She also doesn't mention user experience designers (who wield a skill separate from graphic design), those who suggest ideas for new features, or translators who translate user-visible strings into other languages. Does that mean she does not value those people? No, I think it means that she is concentrating on trying to remind the reader of many different kinds of contribution that make software good, including kinds that are dismissed more frequently than documentation. For instance, she mentions marketing in this list! Surely you've seen how many programmers, especially in open source, are beyond indifferent and are actively averse to any hint of marketing or promotion? How we use "marketing" as a slur? Even though some of the best documentation is written with marketing needs in mind?

Also, later in the article, McLaughlin specifically mentions that we should thank people who do technical writing on Stack Overflow and Wikipedia. I'm checking into whether octohatrack counts edits to GitHub wikis; if it doesn't, I may help add that feature. I don't know McLaughlin but I've read a bunch of her blog and I bet she'll be happy to accept that feature.

But perhaps most relevantly: documentation is quite often the one type of contribution that open sourcers reflexively think of when asked, "how can non-coders contribute to your project?" I can speak to experience here. Those of us who work to bring new folks into open source consistently need to deal with the impulse and the suggestion that we should get them to write docs -- often a pitfall, because an effective tech writer needs to sometimes ask questions of domain experts (taking up their time and sometimes interrupting them), and new contributors often don't have the skills and confidence to manage that process well. Documentation is already established as a form of non-code contribution, more than project management, more than marketing, more than submitting bug reports, etc. Open source projects need to get better at doing it, and at interacting well with those skilled enough to do it, but open source programmers as a whole respect the underlying need for docs more than they respect the need for a lot of other stuff.

I sympathize 100% with the desire to discuss problems around documentation & tech writing in software as a whole and in open source specifically, but I don't think McLaughlin's article is a symptom of the problems you're perceiving.

#573 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 02:36 PM:

Kevin Reid @571: Thank you for that breakdown. I'm currently involved in migrating to a very complex piece of software where the documentation looks pretty good on the surface, but frustrates me a lot of the time.

I now can articulate the reason for my reaction much better: It has loads of part 3, but is missing parts 1 and 2 almost completely. So finding out which parts of the documentation to read to solve a particular problem is often an adventure in finding the right words to search for. Usually still doesn't help in figuring out how the numerous pieces fit together.

#574 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 05:01 PM:

Keith@567: "This is combined with the ideas that it's the code that's most important, that documentation is unsexy make-work because the code should be self-documenting, and that automated tools like Javadoc or Docbook are enough to document the project."

Those are the sort of ideas I had in mind with my comment about the assumption of documentation being included in the code, or at least under the same version control. I was thinking of that as a fairly common (and overly optimistic) assumption in general, but the framing of it as a value specific to, or at least much more prominent in, the UNIX-based programming culture is an interesting one. I don't have enough experience with the communities that Spolsky is contrasting that to to judge how correct or useful that frame is, though.

Sumana@572: "Katie McLaughlin's article "Acknowledging Non-Coding Contributions" does not specifically name "technical writing" or "documentation", yes. I think that is partially because, in that list near the beginning, she does not aim to be absolutely comprehensive in enumerating every kind of effort that goes into software."

That's surely true, and I, at least, don't interpret the lack of a specific mention of documentation as an indication that she doesn't value it as highly as the enumerated examples. The reason I found it somewhat striking that it didn't make it into the enumerated list of examples was just that I would guess that, as you say, documentation is one of the first examples of a non-coding contribution that many people in the community would think of, and that it would therefore be more likely to be included in such a list than not. That McLaughlin didn't mention it explicitly doesn't detract from the article, at least for me; it just led me to wonder if that reflected anything interesting about her frame of reference in writing the article.

"Also, later in the article, McLaughlin specifically mentions that we should thank people who do technical writing on Stack Overflow and Wikipedia."

At least in regards to Stack Overflow, she seems to be putting more emphasis on contributions other than the actual writing of answers (e.g.: "User accounts on StackOverflow show a lot of information about contributions, but it should enforce the importance of moderation functions: edits, votes, and conversations about the answers."). But again, that's pretty clearly not because the more direct contributions aren't important, but rather because the system already offers decent acknowledgement of them, while missing the more subtle things. That seems to me to reinforce the idea that she's including documentation, at least in certain forms, in the category of contributions that already get recognition.

So yes, it seems likely that what's reflected by the lack of explicit discussion of documentation in the article is more due to an implicit understand that, as you say, "open source programmers as a whole respect the underlying need for docs more than they respect the need for a lot of other stuff", rather than to McLaughlin placing less value on contributions to documentation.

#575 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 05:40 PM:

Medical update here, following up on previous post about my diagnosis of endometrial cancer. I saw the surgeon this morning. I'll be having surgery sometime in the next 1-4 weeks. I am living in the future - scheduling the surgery requires coordinating my doctor's schedule with the surgical robot's schedule. It looks like it can be minimally-invasive laprascopic surgery, barring anything unforeseen during the surgery itself, and by the type of cells found, I might not require follow up chemo or radiation. We will see.

#576 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 05:46 PM:

OtterB @575:

Thank you for the update. I'll keep you in my prayers.

#577 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 06:03 PM:

Hoping for good luck, OtterB!

#578 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 06:13 PM:

OtterB: Wow. Living in the future indeed. Fingers crossed!

#579 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 06:40 PM:

OtterB, #575: Good luck!

AKICIML: A couple of years ago I ran across two very good Sherlock fanfics on AO3, which for some reason didn't get bookmarked. As you can imagine, the Sherlock fic base is very large, and the tag system there wouldn't be much help in winnowing down the possibilities. So I'm wondering if someone here has them bookmarked.

1) Fairly short, starring Mrs. Hudson. Some workmen visit the flat to do "repairs", during the course of which she realizes that they are actually paid assassins. Unflappable as always, she serves them tea from her special stash...

2) Casefic, probably no more than 15,000 words. Sherlock steamrollers Molly into being his date at a fancy society benefit where Something is supposed to happen; at the last minute, he decides that he can function more effectively as a server, and sends Lestrade to substitute for him. Molly gets tangled up in the middle of things, is captured and threatened, but takes an active part in her own rescue. During the course of the evening, she starts to realize that Lestrade is a much better bet than Sherlock as a subject for romantic interest.

#580 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 06:42 PM:

OtterB (575): Minimally invasive is good. No chemo or radiation is even better. And robots are just cool.

Best of luck! I'll be thinking of you.

#581 ::: Katie McLaughlin ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 08:21 PM:

@567 @572 @574, et al

Hi! Sumana pointed me to this discussion, so I thought I'd clear up a few things.
(You can check that tweet once this is posted for a link back to it, to verify I'm the author of the article and not am impersonator, if that type of thing concerns you.)

First off, thank you for taking the time to read and share my article on MVC! It's great that it's being able to create a discussion.

To be clear: Sumana is right; I didn't specifically enumerate all the "non-coding" functions in FOSS projects on purpose. Documentation is extremely important, under-acknowledged, and needs to be recognised more.

I specifically mention StackOverflow and Wikipedia as a way of showing how a project living on GitHub has other gatherings of people. For example: jQuery has a solid Q&A base on StackOverflow and it's own Wikipedia page, so the communities contributing on those platforms may not also be on GitHub where the programatic 'contributor' listing is generated.

Note that I am coming at this as a developer and engineer who does a *lot* of work on projects that base themselves on GitHub. My octohatrack code is basically scratching an itch I had when I was working on a project where I was being erroneously displayed as the only contributor. Leslie Hawthorn's original blog post on the subject was really a catalyst point for me.

Also, on the topic of documentation and acknowledgement: for projects based on GitHub, documentation that sits on the web-served pages under the gh-pages branch is logged within GitHub and does count towards contributions - so in at least some cases, the contributions of technical writers already count. This is on top of the doc/ folder or README files that live in the main branch and are counted anyway.

I hope this helps to clarify matters :)

#582 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2016, 08:34 PM:

Welcome, Katie! I hope you find other stuff here to interest you. I ended up sharing that post with co-learners at a class Howard Rheingold is teaching on "Think-Know Tools" because of seeing it here, so it's getting some traction in a few other places too.

#583 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 12:08 AM:

Best wishes OtterB. I'm glad this is something easily dealt with. (As such things go.)

#584 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 12:57 AM:

The Memory Palace podcast, on the caisson operation used to build the footings of the Brooklyn Bridge. Just stunning.

#585 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 02:28 AM:

Kevin Reid @ 571 ...
I'm somehow reminded of the classic joke about Microsoft support, and how one can provide answers which are both 100% correct and 100% useless ...

#586 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 03:04 AM:

If you still have a stack of back issues of New Mutants, if you ever wanted to watch Dazzler and Lila Cheney in this!

#587 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 03:58 AM:

Jenny, #586: Oh, man, I've forgotten so much! I did pick up Cannonball before the giveaway, and I caught Warlocke, but hell, I can't even remember most of their names any more. Time to dig out some of those old back issues, I think.

#588 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 11:03 AM:

Holding you in prayer, OtterB. May all go well!

#589 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 11:14 AM:

Lee @ 553:

Pinterest wouldn't do the blacking out thing if it didn't help 'convert' people to signing up. Apparently it works well enough that people who it completely pisses off like you or me are acceptable collateral damage. That said, the thing is just a scrolling div, as I recall. I think there are some browser extensions or userscripts to make it disappear, if you care enough and your browser supports that sort of thing.

Eric @ 574:

I didn't mean to say that documentation in general was valued more in Unix culture, but rather that terse and not always helpful documentation for other programmers about the program/library, along with the source code, was valued more than other types of documentation. My usual experience has been that projects say they want people to help with the documentation, but they don't really mean it or care about keeping most of the broader types brought up by Kevin Reid up to date.

All that said, I'm glad that other people's experiences (thank you, Sumana Harihareswara, and welcome, Katie McLaughlin!) have been much more positive. It sounds like it is starting to get better.

OtterB @ 575:

Best wishes to you!

#590 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 11:41 AM:

xeger @585: Microsoft support

Although, to be fair, some of the best user support experiences I've ever had came from the Golden Age of MS Word. (v5.N? 6.N? Back before they merged the platforms....)

Tonya Engst is the name that comes to mind. Cheerful, helpful, smart....

#591 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 12:43 PM:

Jacque @590: Tonya (and her husband Adam) are friends of Karen's, so it's nice to see her getting a positive mention -- we'll pass it on!

#592 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 04:02 PM:

Just as an update, my father passed away yesterday. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes.

#593 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 04:11 PM:

KeithS, #589: I would cheerfully install something like that in my browser. If they're using abusive tactics, I don't owe them any consideration whatsoever.

albatross, #592: My condolences on your loss.

#594 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 04:11 PM:

I'm so sorry, albatross. I'll keep you in my prayers.

#595 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 04:13 PM:

Sorry to hear that, albatross. Take care of yourself.

#596 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 04:23 PM:

Albatross, #592: My sympathies on the loss of your father.

#597 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 04:57 PM:

albatross @ 592: My sympathies. May his memory be a blessing.

#598 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 05:05 PM:

Albatross, I am sorry for your loss.

#599 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 05:46 PM:

Sympathy, albatross. It happens, but it's still hard.

#600 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 05:49 PM:

A physics story is at the top of news today: the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory has detected gravitational waves for the first time.

A pair of black holes coalesced, becoming one black hole and a whole lot of energy, about 1.3 billion years ago. The event made a chirp in LIGO on 14 September 2015.

I wish to savor LIGO's joy for the brief while remaining, until it is swept out of the headlines the next time Donald Trump says something outrageous. Which is probably due very soon.

#601 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 05:54 PM:

albatross @ 592 -

My condolences. Losing a parent is always a blow.

#602 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 06:30 PM:

Condolences, albatross.

#603 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 07:00 PM:

I'm sorry for your loss, albatross.

#604 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 07:00 PM:

<kicking the server>

#605 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 07:34 PM:

albatross #592: My condolences and sympathies.

#606 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 08:45 PM:

Albatross, my condolences.

#607 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 09:18 PM:

Adding to the pool of condolences.

#608 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 09:26 PM:

albatross, I'm so sorry. May you find comfort in good memories and the support of friends.

#609 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 11:55 PM:

Condolences to albatross.

#610 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2016, 11:59 PM:

#540 Lila
#541 Cadbury
Hmm, Twitter's growth stalls, Wall Street gets Unhappy, Twitter's response to the growth curve and revenue growth flattening, is changes which tick off the users.
They're copying something Facebook users regards as obnoxious. M O R O N S

#567 Keith
Years ago I was a contractor at a tiny company. The company's main project was adding some features and reworking less than high quality code for a customer, I was involved with some of the spec writing and doing test writing and testing. The programmers had an information competition going on who could find the ugliest horrors in the source code. One of the "winners" was "I'm not going to repeat the fucking specification." (The quality of the commenting in the source code was poor, where it was present. I don't remember if there were incidents of source code with variable names of e.g. the letter a.... The software engineers I was working with, had challenges trying to figure out what the software was doing, even with the source code...)

And then there is the ever-popular meme "This was hard to write, so it should be hard to read.:
And when I was working at one company, the Customer Support Manager corrected me when I said, "Documentation comes in two main varieties, Bad, and Abyssmal. The correction was, "Three, the third is 'Nonexistent.'"

#571 Kevin
Problems I have with manuals/documentation for users, include the lack of separate docs, or sections of docs, to separate such things as
o rationale for the software and its features
o design architecture intent
o descriptions of what the damn stuff is supposed to do and is supposed to be useful for
o why the software does what it does the way it does
o overview of what the functional and features are and summary stuff
o the level of expertise expected of users/who the software is for
o look-up sections for people who already know the software to remind them of something/usable reference section
o detailed descriptions of the different modules and capabilities and the options in it
o Simon Says Do This procedures--as opposed to descxribing what something does without being IN the damned stups (I HATE Simon Says Do This Now memes, I want to know AHEAD of time what options there are how to get to what, what information I need going IN, instead of at Step 25, I need to input some number that I could access or calculate before I started, but in the midde of the process, NFW can I get that information bcause the access to getting it, is blocked by being IN the damn process!!!
o an INDEX, which is USABLE, and uses terms which are not esoteric to the particular company,

Instead most user documentation smushes everything together into a giant incomprehensible annoying
unreadable mess....

#572 Sumana
Once upon a time I did lots and lots of requirements analysis, as front end of doing system design (one of my careers was being a systems engineer...).

Marketing and engineering are classically in opposition to one another. There are jokes, with entirely too much truth to them:

How do you get get a product finished and shipped?"
Shoot the engineers, declare it finished, and ship it! Left to their own proclivities, the engineers will never finish ANYTHING! There's always another tweak, "But I just thought of a better way to do that!", another feature to add, etc., and the engineers just HAVE to get that additional whatever in....

Engineering plaints about Marketing and Sales,
"Not only is this feature something we haven't started working on yet, that feature is something which is physically impossible! But marketing and Sales not only are acting as if they are both available and finished, they're SELLING systems claiming those features are included!"

I think I mentioned this one here years ago, but it's repeating time:
I was doing market research on industry control buses. Most Directors of Marketing or Vice Presidents of Marketing, if they are being cooperative, will go on at great lengths telling you about their plans for product growth, new features, sales growth for the next five years.... Not industrial control industry Marketing heads, though. They're engineers, and what they say is, "I can't tell you that. Next year hasn't happened yet, and anything I tell you is going to be wrong!"

My response was, "You're an engineer, aren't you?"
Me: "You're also the (VP or Director) of Marketing, aren't you?"
Me" "Take off your engineering hat. Put on your marketing hat. Make an engineer unhappy, take a guess!"
Sometimes that worked to get them to make some projections.. If it didn't I added "I'm going to take what you tell me and what all the other people tell me, and generate estimates based on all of the responses, so it's not only your projections and estimates, it's everyone else's and that works out statically...."
The only people who balked at that were the ones from companies with policies of not providing information (even "If you don;t give me information, I;'m going to use what your competitors say about you...") and one head of marketing who only wanted to talk about valves, not sensors... I finally got the sensor data from one of is subordinates (the head of marketing was was valve designer and it was sort of like to a hammer the only topic is nails...)

#574 Eric
In defense contracting, documentation is a -deliverable- on competently written contracts, and under version control.

#574 Otter
Here's hoping for the surgery et al going well.

#592 albatross
Echoing other's condolences and sympathy.

#611 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 01:31 AM:

@Albatross: Even when expected, a hard blow. I remember resorting to chocolate and long rambling walks when my father died. Please take care of yourself.

#612 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 02:26 AM:

Lee @ 579, I did a search on AO3 using bamf!mrshudson tea assassins and got this. Might it be the one? Or at least in the general neighborhood? No luck with the other one, I'm afraid., all. ***waves at the Fluorosphere***

#613 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 02:27 AM:

Also, condolences to albatross and sending good-outcome mojo to OtterB.

#614 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 05:41 AM:

Syd! (#612 and #613) Nice to hear from you! What's up?

#615 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 08:44 AM:

Gravitational waves were originally predicted by Einstein in 1916 - 100 years ago!

#616 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 09:03 AM:

@Albatross, terribly sorry to hear.

#617 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 09:13 AM:

Albatross, I'm sorry for your loss.

#618 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 09:17 AM:

It's been a bad year or two for losing parents. These days I light a candle for my friends who have recently lost a parent every time I go to church. Albatross, as of today's daily Mass, you're on the list.

#619 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Albatross--Sorry to hear of your loss.

#620 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 10:21 AM:

Albatross, my condolences.

#621 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 12:47 PM:

Abi, there have been Sundays lately where I've ended up lighting several candles. I can say that some were in thanksgiving, but many more were for what seems to be an ever increasing hill of sorrows.

Oh, 2016, I had hoped you were going to be a better year...sigh.

#622 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 01:51 PM:

Albatross #592: My condolences.

#623 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 01:55 PM:

Niall McAuley #615: Never let it be said that science moves at breakneck speed.

#624 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 04:06 PM:

**waves at Syd**

#625 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 04:46 PM:

HLN: Local man's partner Karen G. Anderson gets web story published at Metaphoresis. Found editor really good to work with. Story is Rowboat. She hopes you'll enjoy it.

#626 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 06:22 PM:

Local man borks weblink in previous comment, and can't spell Metaphorosis. Actual link is Rowboat. Local man goes off to do penance.

#627 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 06:29 PM:

Syd, #612: That's it, thank you! I guess for the other one I'll just have to plow thru the 200-odd descriptions under the tag "Molly/Lestrade". In my copious spare time. :-)

#628 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 07:46 PM:

Albatross, I'm sorry. Holding him and you in prayer.

#629 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 09:27 PM:

Boing Boing has a video of a little dog who, instead of barking, howls like a man being tortured.

I played it for Ivory, and the results were dramatic:

I'm still calming her down.

#630 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2016, 10:11 PM:

Lee, #593:
You may already have what you need. I visited Pintrest and got the veil. I hit F12 to bring up the browser's developer tools (each browser has them, they're all on F12, and the details are slightly different).
The element is called "Module Nags". I located it, and dismissed it. (Using Microsoft Edge browser, there's a simple "delete" function in the DOM explorer).
The page seems none the worse for the surgery.

#631 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 12:42 PM:

New short-short (around 800 words?) FuteFic at the New Pals Club Web-Log: Corporate Citizen. Be a pal and let me know what you think!

"It was that dream again…"

#632 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 12:55 PM:

Albatross #592: I'm very sorry for your loss.

#633 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 05:38 PM:

Scalia is dead.

Will the Senate pass an Obama nominee for the Supreme Court?

#634 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 05:50 PM:

Holy Crap.

Well, condolences to his family.

#635 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 05:50 PM:

I don't know. It's going to be a hell of a fight.

#636 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 05:58 PM:

What Stefan @#634 said.

I came here to comment on the Sacred Harp Bremen particle, but it can wait.

#637 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 05:58 PM:

Scalia's death will put the cat among the pigeons, all right. My sister the law prof thinks Obama won't be able to push a mom through... Unless another justice goes, say if Ginsberg retires.

#638 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 06:24 PM:

Think about this: if the Republicans stall until after the election and the Democrats take the White House, what are the chances that either Clinton or Sanders will nominate Obama? He is a Constitutional scholar...

#639 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 06:33 PM:

Or even more fun? What if Obama nominates Bill Clinton...

#640 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 06:33 PM:

Or even more fun? What if Obama nominates Bill Clinton...

#641 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 06:33 PM:

Tom Whitmore@633

I'd be extremely surprised if the Republicans allowed any Obama Supreme Court nominee to come to a vote.

Possibly a better question is, if we have a Democratic President and a Republican Senate after the 2016 elections, whether the Republicans will stall the nomination for the entire four years.

(I'm assuming that a Republican Senate after the 2016 elections also means a Republican Senate after the 2018 elections. Unfortunately this seems like a safe assumption.)

#642 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 06:36 PM:

As an online acquaintance of mine just said, "My condolences to his family but my house seems to be remarkably dust-free at the moment."

Or, perhaps more apropos, Clarence Darrow: "All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."

#643 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 06:53 PM:

I'm really hoping Obama decides to nominates an openly gay Hispanic/African-American Muslim because he might as well go for broke here.

#644 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 09:25 PM:

catching up after a distracted week (e.g., go to clubhouse for 5 minutes' retrieval and return 2 hours later smelling vaguely of mold after coping with a ceiling leak...)

re unfindable foods: the green-tomato-pie story especially resonates, but I suspect there are wider changes in taste than simply going off foods drowning in sugar (as I used to do to the grapefruit my father insisted on putting on the breakfast table -- I now eat grapefruit straight, but I suspect even the pinky-yellow ones are a lot sweeter than the yellows of >50 years ago). One view I haven't seen brought up: does the Suck Fairy also attack foods? I remember loving Bosco milk-chocolating syrup, but suspect it was lousy chocolate that I just didn't recognize that long ago.

Jacque @ 531 (re nerdycellist@519): sounds appalling, but I've seen reports claiming that fine bagels depend on the sweat from the shaper's hands. Sort of the opposite of scones, which I've read are better when shaped by someone with cold hands. (I should try that sometime; I've always had poor peripheral circulation.)

Eric @ 548: Thanks: a truly neglected form of compensation.
      -- Townsend: Up the Organization (1970)
The more things change....

Lee @ 553: With you there. I am \not/ going to sign up for another commercialized network; I went cold turkey on Usenet twice before 1987 in order to have a life and won't touch anything trying to eat what's left of mine. (Stamps cane, waves foot.)

Stefan Jones @584: thank you for the link. I've read at least one monster book (McCullough's?) on the bridge, but nothing giving the feel of the work like that.

Fragano @ 623: science can move at many speeds -- but so can technology. One of the things that drives tech is the possibility of answering questions posed by theory -- however long those answers take to get to. Consider Fermat's Last Theorem (or the 4-Color Map Theory, although from what I've read that was proved by something as much like exhaustion as by a new tool).

Henry Troup @ 630: can you translate that to Firefox? F12 works, but Search doesn't find such a module.

albatross: condolences. I found the priest at my mother's service was wrong about healing taking forever, but each person heals in their own time; may yours be as you wish.

The Sacred Harp Bremen particle has some good tracks, but I'd really like to know whether the discussion in German is less inane than the headline "Sacred Harp is a cappella Heavy Metal". The whole point of SH is that everyone is in it instead of watching a spectacle.

Can anyone spot splices in the OK Go video? Or am I misremembering how long pseudo-zeroG can last -- I thought ~30 second was the max before the plane had to pull up or fall apart.

#645 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 09:44 PM:

Says You on NPR this evening had the word "Feghoot" as one of the challenge-round words. I don't know the words all that often....

#646 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 09:48 PM:

I didn't see any obvious splices, but for me to catch them they'd have to be VERY obvious. 30 seconds of zero-g seems like the top end, I agree. Apparently the vomit comet gives you 20-25 seconds.

#647 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 10:10 PM:

OK Go's FAQ says they cut out the 5-minute delays between 20-25 second zero-G periods, but that the whole sequence was one shot before editing those out. They say when they're sitting in the seats not doing as much, that's are where the cuts are (at 0:46, 1:06, 1:27, 1:48, 2:09, 2:30, and 2:50).

#648 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2016, 10:11 PM:

@CHip: The Suck Fairy did outstanding work on Hostess Cakes. The taste and texture of things like Ring Dings and cupcakes are unfamiliar. Unpleasant, even.

I'm pretty sure the recipes have been cheapened, relying on corn syrup and cheaper shortening.

I'm hoping to get my hands on Drake's Devil Dogs next time I go east. I loved those as a kid. But I'm not confident that the SU will have gotten to them, too.

#649 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 07:56 AM:

HLN, weather forecast division: Tonight's low temperature is forecast to be -13F (-25C). Tuesday's high temperature is forecast to be 52F (11C). Local man thinks this is bizarre even by local "wait-a-minute weather" standards.

#650 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 08:04 AM:

Old angry white men guarding their perks
Keeping the women locked up in homes.
Old angry white men sharp with their comments
Ruthless imposing their privileging.

Young angry white men being abusive
Smearing all people who dare to speak out
Young angry white men becoming policemen
Shooting and beating up those who're not white.

Smug smarmy perk-laden arrogant cohorts
In Afghan turned women from judge to drudge
Abusive and claiming that others deny them
They change social landscapes to all others' pain.

Privileged but claiming their just due's denied
Encroaching and swarming and own more and more.
Their champion Antonin Scalia now dead
They've turned even viler in vicious abuse.

The hole in the jurists looms large in the judgings
But their view is allow fanatics only apply,
They do not want others proposing a candidate
Not an exremist so they yell for delay and obstruct.

Angry smug and self-serving white men
Spiteful puppies who piss in the soup
Watch them throw tantrums and and be abusive
Lacking all grace and lacking all ruth.

#651 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 09:59 AM:

Paula, this is powerful and heartfelt. It feels to me something like Beowulf, though with less alliteration.

As far as emphasis in lines (pet topic), it seems to me that "who aren't white" scans better than "who're not white." Also, for similar reasons, the fourth line of the next-to-last verse needs work (but I have no solution to propose), and there's one "and" too many on the penultimate line, but taking one out affects the scansion negatively.

Afterthought: "Scalia, their champion, fresh in his coffin" sidesteps the problem that his full name is difficult to fit neatly in any rhythmic scheme I can think of. Forgive my musings. I just think with some metric massaging, the vessel would be as strong as the thoughts you are conveying.

#652 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 10:08 AM:

Paula, this is powerful and heartfelt. It feels to me something like Beowulf, though with less alliteration.

As far as emphasis in lines (pet topic), it seems to me that "who aren't white" scans better than "who're not white." Also, for similar reasons, the fourth line of the next-to-last verse needs work (but I have no solution to propose), and there's one "and" too many on the penultimate line, but taking one out affects the scansion negatively.

Afterthought: "Scalia, their champion, fresh in his coffin" sidesteps the problem that his full name is difficult to fit neatly in any rhythmic scheme I can think of. Forgive my musings. I just think with some metric massaging, the vessel would be as strong as the thoughts you are conveying.

#653 ::: Kip W sees himself twice ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 10:12 AM:

When I got a Gateway Error (or whatever it was), I paged back and was shown my comment, not posted. I carefully opened the whole thread in a new tab to be sure that the error hadn't already posted my comment. I checked! It wasn't there! Bloody Nelly! You can't win.

#654 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 11:08 AM:

CHip @644: I've looked through a lot of the material on the Sacred Harp website yesterday, and yes, that "Heavy Metal" comment is only a headline and refers to the often dark texts.

Overall, the emphasis is on the "everybody is in it together, there are no leaders, you don't need to be a good singer to join etc." themes.

Interesting concept for this choral singer who often feels in over her head and would love to be able to sight-read well.

#655 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 04:12 PM:

We shall be in the throes of a Sacred Harp convention next weekend in Seattle. I liked that quotation about "I mean, they sound really great, like, I'd quite like to join in, but I'm just worried that I might end up married to like eight of them or something. (Listener in a pub)"

So far I am only married to one of them :-)

#656 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 05:19 PM:

Bud Webster died in hospice this morning. He stayed around for weeks longer than they were giving him (a week or less) when he went in. Friends loosely associated with HaRoSFA and MarsCon had been hanging in the room with him, and the MarsCon page has a fund set up to help defray some of the money that this sort of thing costs. He was a good friend, and I miss doing the "Kip & Bud Show" at MarsCons.

#657 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 09:28 PM:

Jeremy Leader @ #647: They say when they're sitting in the seats not doing as much, that's are where the cuts are

Last time I watched it seemed to me there was a portion where the balls are on the floor, but one of the guys is still "floating" over the aisle with his hands on the backs of the seats -- I think he might be cheating, holding himself up, and they might have slowed the footage very slightly to add to the effect.

#658 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2016, 09:28 PM:

@KipW: Sorry to hear the news. I'm glad he had fannish friends visiting.

#659 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 08:54 AM:

I see in abi's twitter stream that it's her birthday. Many happy returns!

#660 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 09:25 AM:

Happy birthday, Abi!

#661 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Abi, happy birthday!

#662 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 10:44 AM:

How does abi pronounce her name, anyway? How am I supposed to sing if I don't know that?

#663 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 10:45 AM:

(But happy, happy, joy, joy, anyway!)

#664 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 11:00 AM:

Hey! Thanks for the birthday wishes, OtterB, Cassy, Nancy and Kip! It's been a good day so far.

(My name is short for Abigail, and is pronounced like Abby. But not spelled like it.)

#665 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 11:26 AM:

Happy Birthday, Abi!

#666 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 12:15 PM:

So, my Amazing Fiance and I just had our kitchen redone (as in, the contractor gave it back to us Friday). Three weeks and one day from demo to functional is very impressive (this was helped by not changing the footprint one millimeter - and, amazingly, we beat the contractor's estimate by nearly a week). We gutted the space to the drywall, put in new flooring, cabinets, appliances, countertop and plumbing. Along the way, we also found that we needed to replace our breaker box, which to our contractor's great credit didn't change the schedule by a day (although it was a chunk of money). We went from 1970s builder-grade ugly to modern-on-a-budget. And we're thrilled.

So, I've spent the weekend cooking as much as I possibly can (I may have asked the contractor if I could have the kitchen back for Valentine's...) - and I've just spent the morning making three different kinds of marmalade.

About half a pint of limequat marmalade (n.b. any of the kumquat variants make lovely marmalades, but are intensely time-consuming to work with, because of the seed-to-fruit ratio).

A pint and a bit of Seville orange marmalade, which is a gorgeous deep orange with a proper bite. I'm never going to achieve the mahogany of proper vintage marmalade, but I'm OK with that. I'd rather taste the fruit in what I make myself. I've also burned too much marmalade to want to risk it.

And, lastly, a pint of Meyer lemon marmalade. Unlike with the other two, I didn't pre-prep my citrus and have it macerate in water in the fridge for a day or two beforehand, so the rinds aren't perfectly hydrated, but since they're Meyers, which I can eat out of hand, I'm not too bothered.

#667 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 12:19 PM:

That's how I have imagined it, so it's good to know. You'll be glad to know I won't sing "Happy Birthday Abie Baby" in your honor. There were three possibilities, which only really occurred to me today.

New (old) verses at The New Pals Club Web-Log today, a 1981 collaboration by Ken D and Kip W, reconstructed from memory because I didn't feel like digging through all the paper in the world to find it. Anyway, I feel like I may have improved on it.

Little mice, trussed up so nice,
Are roasting on the grill…

#668 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 12:40 PM:

Felicitous natal anniversary to Abi. May you live many, many joyous years.

#669 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 12:52 PM:

So, today, in my work email I receive this missive:


I wish firstly to apologize for this intrusion into your life even though I admit that this is very important to me. I called Florence Ardy, born March 1, 1950. I suffer from throat cancer for over 5 years and then unfortunately, my doctor just informed me that I'm in terminal and my days are numbered because of my health enough gradient. I am a widow and I did not have children just because I'm sterile. In fact, the reason I am contacting you is that I want to donate a portion of my property because I have nobody who could inherit. I almost sold all my things including a company exporting cocoa and pineapple and steel industry in Africa where I lived for over 30 years. A big part of all money raised was paid to various humanitarian associations around the world but especially here in Africa. Regarding the rest of the sum which amounts to exactly Four million Five hundred thousand euro currently on a Personal Account Locked, my last wish would be to donate them so that you can invest in your business and especially in the humanitarianism. I am quite aware that I intend to do and I think despite the fact that we do not know, that you will make good use of that sum. I beg you to please accept this legacy but do you nothing in return if not always think to do good around you, that I could not do during my life.

That said, being assured of having fallen on a person responsible and above all good faith, I ask you to please contact me as soon as possible to give you more explanation on the reasons for my action and the course of things.

Mrs. Florence Ardy

Now, my business is, indeed the humanitarianism, and I am wondering if the humanitarian thing to do would be to provide information on how to export a health enough gradient or a pineapple and steel industry? I'm particularly intrigued because I've never before heard of pineapple steel and want to know if it is grown or manufactured (not to mention how it is associated with cocoa, which, unlike pineapples, grows on trees).

Also, do I really need an explanation of the course of things? I've managed to get through the past few decades by the seat of my trousers, and having reality explained might very well freak me out.

I'm not altogether sure that Gail would consider me responsible (and am definitely sure that my favourite ex-wife has strong opinions on the subject). Nonetheless €4,500,000 is a decent sum of money, and I've no doubt good uses could be found for it by someone (Serge, is that you?).

#670 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 01:12 PM:

<Loud splashing and scrubbing noises plus the occasional tidal wave of bubbles>

Hippo Bathday, Abi!

May you have a wonderful birthday with lots of nice presents and much love.

#671 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Happy birthday, Abi!

#672 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 02:07 PM:

Hippo Birdie, abi!

#673 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 04:06 PM:

Eeeeee! Thank you, Michael, Benjamin, Kip (again), Fragano of the pinapple steel, the damp Moose, Steve C, and Mary Aileen the mighty spam-spotter!

It's been a good day. Gifts include plaster moulds of my teeth and a rubber meerkat. There are four cakes (three for work). All awesome, but I sometimes forget that no matter how awesome the time, it is February, and I only get limited energy.


#674 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 04:07 PM:

A budgeting question: I am considering Worldcon in Kansas City this year. Does anyone have a rough guess of Worldcon cost, other than travel? There are circumstances in which I'd really like to go, and if necessary I can ask my family to pay for it, but I would rather have an estimate at least to make up my mind.

#675 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 04:48 PM:

Budgeting: I count meals, and estimate a per-meal average cost (and then add $3 to it because Ican never eat as cheaply as I really want to, in convention-land). Then add in your portion of the room-nights, and you're in the right ballpark magnitude for total cost.

#676 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 04:54 PM:

Diatryma, what Elliott said. Also, consider adding $30 for a convention t-shirt or other such souvenir.

#677 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 05:07 PM:

I should unpack my meal estimates. If I were planning for a con in downtown CHicago, I'm fairly familiar with what food prices are available. I can get half-decent quick-service food with vegetables in for on the order of $8-12/meal. So I pick a number, say $9, and triple that for my daily ($27), then add 3 ($30/day).

Any meal I end UP eating in the consuite is free, so I allow myself a running total of 'meal allowance" that can be applied to make a given meal fancier, say if a group of people are going to someplace that serves steak and I want to go to dinner with them for the conversation. I tend to discount my 'savings', so if I got a $9-allowance meal for free, I'll count that as $6 'bonus'. I can also apply meal allowance money (no discount) to groceries to keep in the room, like for a weeklong convention I'll buy or bring a box of Cheerios, maybe some pre-made hard boiled eggs from a local convenience store,a tub of hummus, etc.

#678 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 05:39 PM:

CHip #644: in Firefox, much the same, F12 then use the HTML tab in Firebug and search for the string Module Nags (or just Nags), and delete the <div class="Module Nags"> It's not in the DOM explorer there. This works on the direct link to pages such as -- the Pinterest home page is differently structured. (And I didn't intend that to be a link, just a URI that illustrates the kind of link.)
I do have Firebug installed, so it might be a little different for a "bare" Firefox.

#679 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 05:49 PM:

I wasn't able to find anything called "module nags" when I tried the F12 trick in Firefox. There isn't an HTML tab, either -- I see Inspector, Console, Debugger, Style Editor, Performance, Network.

#680 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #669:

The important question, it seems to me, is this: Are you now reassured that your students potentially have a career ahead of them, or would they need to pull up their socks to reach even this level of coherence?

#681 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 09:40 PM:

Current stuff in science, stumbled on by me:

Attic (as in Athen's locale) Ancient Silver Mines!

I hope this can go to human trials soon...

#682 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2016, 11:26 PM:

Abi birthday is you?
Abi birthday is you!
Abi birthday of gnomequeen
Abi birthday is you!

Needs work.

(I have a friend who's been posting terrible jokes all day with "Needs work". "Franceformers! Robots made of France! /Needs work." )

#683 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 12:13 AM:

HLN: Local woman has a marvelous time at local club's annual contradance weekend, comes home Sunday to find that her computer (but not her partner's) cannot see the Internet. Local cat chewing on cable is suspected. Local woman gets out laptop to use instead; laptop promptly goes BSOD and refuses to boot again. Local woman throws up hands and waits for partner to return, whereupon the desktop issue proves to be an unplugged cable.

(IOW, Bayou Bedlam was a blast, Loki didn't actually chew thru the computer cable, and we still don't know what's wrong with the laptop.)

#684 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 07:33 AM:

Late but sincere birthday felicitations to Abi.

My beloved MacBook Pro died Sunday night and I am typing this on its replacement, a dinky little HP that cannot keep up with my modest typing speed, keeps turning on things I did not tell it to, and runs *ptui* Windows 10. As SOON as I graduate and get a job...!

#685 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 10:15 AM:

Lee@683 unplugged cable

Obviously the cat unplugged it..,

#686 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 10:51 AM:


Thank you..

#687 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 10:53 AM:


Happy birthday!

#688 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Happy Birthday abi!!

Having come to Making Light only a few years ago, and realizing there were gems hidden in prior posts, I'm reading from the beginning. Most links are dead, not surprisingly. However, this story made a big enough hit that it's still around.

Not safe for food/drink. I laughed myself into an asthma attack.

The Horror Of Blimps

#689 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 01:58 PM:

@Lin Daniel, you evil person, you. I'm trying to pretend that the startled laugh was a choking fit so my coworkers won't catch on that I'm reading funny links....

#690 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 02:14 PM:

Happy birthday, Abi!

An observation made many times before, and, no doubt, will be made many times hence: car dealers don't want you to know how much the car really costs.

Proximate cause for this observation: I was involved in a car accident yesterday morning while commuting. I (and everyone else involved) am fine, my car less so. I got to find out what airbags smell like, though, so it wasn't a total loss.

Lin Daniel @ 688:

I'd forgotten about that one. It's still hilarious. Alas, one of my favorite hilarious short stories, "The Year of Ninja Spiders", is no longer available online. I had to track down and order a back issue of Weird Tales just so I could have that one story.

#691 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 03:07 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #669:

I suspect "pineapple steel" is a term of art (a bit like "pig iron", or possibly "iron bloom"). Although exactly how Mrs Ardy managed to fall on you through an email, I don't quite fully understand. It is my firm belief that the only matter-transport Internet standard specifically only is for non-sentient, non-living things.

On completely unrelated note, my pre-filled comment form fields no longer are, so this may not have a link to any of my previous commentses.

#692 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 03:21 PM:

Ingvar M @691: Your "view all by" links to 25 comments going back to 2014. Your @248 above links to 390 comments going back to 2007, so I suspect you've got 2 different email addresses in play here. You might want to ask the gnomes if they can merge the two accounts.

#693 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 03:37 PM:

Paul A #680: I'm encouraged by the fact that a former student drove two hours yesterday to have me go over (essentially edit) an application essay. Less encouraged, however, by the fact that she forgot she was starting out from a different time zone.

#694 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 03:40 PM:

Ingvar M #691: Hmm. Do the iron pigs eat the steel pineapples?

#695 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 03:41 PM:

Diatryma @674

Re Con budgeting--

I don't know what MAC2 has planned for Staff and Con suite fare. But if it's anything like Sasquan's I ended up eating 2/3 of my meals in the Staff Suite. I got access to the Staff Suite by volunteering. They were giving passes for every (4? oh, memory) hours worked. Once you hit 21 hours worked you got a permanent pass for the rest of the con. And a T-Shirt. And some books.

The Con Suite also had decent heavy snacks, but not really meals. I ended up eating in restaurants four times, I think. ~$16 per meal per person since they were all dinners.

I also brought my own food--cheese and crackers, yogurt, hot-smoked salmon, fruit, cereal. There was a fridge in the room.

I always bring carry-in-my-backpack snacks because when I'm in heavy panel mode I tend to skip lunch.

Hotel Costs can be brought down if you share a room. Our booking at the Mariott is $134 plus taxes and fees per night. We're dividing that by 4.

#696 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 03:48 PM:

Fragano @ 693: Neil Gaiman wrote about this happening to him one time when he was driving to a reading, so this could also be a sign that your former student will become a wealthy and beloved author.

#697 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 04:45 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #694:

That is certainly an avenue of research that would be potentially fruitful.

The Swedish for "pig iron" is (amusingly) spelled the same way as you would spell "thank you iron" (tackjärn, in both cases).

#698 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 05:14 PM:

Lila@684: "As SOON as I graduate and get a job...!"

If you're anything like me, the list of things that statement applies to is probably long enough that it will take a month or so just to prioritize it.

#699 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 10:56 PM:

For what it's worth, I know that one of the people in charge of consuite at MACII is a big proponent of actual food in the consuite. Unfortunately, I have no idea what MACII's facility will allow. He wanted to provide giant vats of chili at Chicon, but we weren't allowed to plug anything in. If something similar happens, it'll probably be cold cuts and peanut butter during lunch and dinner hours, and bagels and/or pastry at breakfast. Note that I'm NOT speaking from any actual knowledge of the Hospitality Department's plans, just my sense of their probable wishes. I'm personally budgeting for several meals eaten in the consuite. But I'm bringing along portable munchies of my own, just in case.

#700 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2016, 11:30 PM:

Never iron a pig. The iron gets all dirty, and the pig enjoys it.

#701 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 02:40 AM:

Follow-up to my #683: Yes, the cat almost certainly unplugged it. There wasn't anyone else at home who might have done so.

The laptop's issues were determined to be related to (1) a battery that had gone bad -- which is why we buy spares -- and (2) probable failure of the Bluetooth internals, which is no big deal since I don't use Bluetooth on that machine. Disabling Bluetooth on startup, and replacing the battery, seems to have restored it to prime running condition.

KeithS, #690: Yikes! Glad it was no worse.

#702 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 12:36 PM:

AKICIML - I'm looking for a free or low-cost photo collage maker for the Mac. My intent is to make a collage of SF themed images and then have it printed by Costco (or other service) in a 2 x 3 foot canvas print.

I'd like the ability to pull in various images, and trim them into irregular shapes, then export as a JPEG with sufficient resolution for the print.

Has anyone used something like that?


#703 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 12:54 PM:

john &c #696: I rather doubt it.

Ingvar M #697: It is definitely a fruitful area for research. Where might I raise the grant money?

#704 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 12:56 PM:

Kip W #700: It depends on the kind of iron you use. The old fashioned heavy cast-iron coal iron works a treat.

#705 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 01:01 PM:

PNH: Thanks for that link to Tim Cook's letter about refusing to break iPhone encryption for the FBI. I've shared it several places, and I'm really glad to hear him say those things.

#706 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 01:29 PM:

Steve C. @702: Not sure if this would address your need, but I'm exceedingly fond of Pixelmator, which can do most of the things that Photoshop can do, and comes in at only thirty bucks.

#707 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 01:38 PM:

Jacque, that looks promising. It's going into the "consideration" bucket.


#708 ::: dd-b ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 02:42 PM:

If I may interject something that's almost commercial—Pamela Dean and I are starting Blaisdell Press for the purpose of getting books of hers not currently available back into print. We're doing trade paper plus ebooks, will soon be supporting most ebook formats (paper available now, ebooks 1-March).

Next will be The Dubious Hills.

Also see me blogging about the process over the next week at my home blog.

#709 ::: dd-b ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 02:44 PM:

Gack; deleted a chunk too much editing the last message. What's available now is Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary.

#710 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 02:44 PM:

@699: >He wanted to provide giant vats of chili at Chicon, but we weren't allowed to plug anything in.

Got a hammer, everything looks like a nail. got an obsession with heat transfer, everything looks like "insulation and heat storage".

Now I'm trying to think of something less toxic than eutectic lead-bismuth to use for heat storage. Maybe with three layers of sealed plastic bag around it?

#711 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 07:17 PM:

#710 Sandy
What about a handwarmer or footwarmer, the sort of "tear and it gives off heat for seven hours" ??

Other matters:
I'm a bit surprised to see nothing about the vacancy now on the Supreme Court, on Making Light--or is it in discussion on ML and I've not noticed?

#712 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 07:23 PM:

Paula Lieberman@711

There's been a little bit of discussion related to the vacancy up above in the range #633-#643

#713 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 07:50 PM:

Paula: I don't know what temperatures those get to. Probably not as high as I would desire [only partly for megalomania; bacterial growth is also an issue.]

#714 ::: dd-b ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 08:25 PM:

Basic rule of thumb on food storage (including while on display) is "under 40 or over 140" (degrees Fahrenheit). Not too likely a hand-warmer will achieve that. (Also a 4-hour limit I believe; this is not my field.)

#715 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 09:54 PM:

Steve C. @702: There's an open-source software program called GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) that is free of monetary charge. I've used it a little bit, and I'm quite certain that it will do what you want. As usual with such things, you pay a price in terms of time spent learning and aggravation trying to use.

At least some of what you want to do can be done right in Apple's Preview utility.

#716 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 09:56 PM:

Steve C. @ 702 ...
AKICIML - I'm looking for a free or low-cost photo collage maker for the Mac. My intent is to make a collage of SF themed images and then have it printed by Costco (or other service) in a 2 x 3 foot canvas print.

I'm not sure if Graphic Converter counts as entirely low-cost ($39.95), but it's more than well worth the price, and can do almost anything photoshop can do, and a number of things that I've never gotten photoshop to do -- and may be better at a number of them.

#717 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2016, 11:37 PM:

David Goldfarb, xeger - thanks for the suggestions. I'll take a look at them.

#718 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 09:51 AM:

Re Scalia

On a practical level, I'd much rather have Obama choose another SC justice than Trump, Rubio, Bush, Cruz, or probably Clinton. Though the mechanism of having a president choose the justice and the congress approve them means the person selected will pretty much never have the level of distrust for the powerful (state and corporation) that I would prefer.

On a more theoretical level, I think the way we routinely punt politically sensitive questions to the immune-to-voters permanently appointed politicians on the SC, rather than settling them via something more representative of the public, represents a failure of our democracy. The SC's power to interpret the constitution has long since turned into the power to reshape some pretty substantial areas of law in ways that override elected officials and voters, and that involve imposing the policy preferences of elites on everyone else a lot of the time. I think there's something fundamentally broken about making policy that way, even though I probably approve of the specific policies imposed by the SC more often than not.

I suspect (I'm surely no legal expert) that there are genuinely hard-to-decide boundary cases between where the court might genuinely be trying to interpret the constitution and when they're basically making policy, but that we've got far past them in a lot of politically hot cases.

Consider gay marriage. It was absolutely the right policy decision to recognize gay marriage all through the US, and the country is a better place for it. But there is absolutely no way that such a decision was required by the constitution. Indeed, if W had gotten to appoint one more justice to the court, it would turn out that the constitution *didn't* require or perhaps even allow gay marriage. Indeed, this is *the whole point* of the urgent appeals to hold your nose and elect even a pretty repugnant Democrat, because whatever else is wrong with them, at least they'll put the right people on the SC. Let a Republican get elected and get the chance (due to some timely retirements or deaths in office) to replace several of the liberal SC justices, and the constitution will suddenly forbid a bunch of things that have been allowed forever (like gun control or affirmative action), and may turn out to allow a lot more limits on abortion or gay rights than anyone now expects.

Probably none of this is relevant. If we're going to make policy by having nine appointed politicians make the really politically hard/unpopular decisions, then I'd rather Obama choose the politicians than Cruz or Trump. But the whole system seems fundamentally broken to me.

#719 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 10:38 AM:

Steve C. @ 702:

You might also want to check if the Apple Photos program does that in any of its make fancy stuff to print out modes, although this depends on you wanting to use it in the first place; I can't check until I get home tonight. Pixelmator is an excellent editing program for $30. I have it and use it. I used to use The GIMP for many years, but they kept screwing with the user interface, and the user experience on Mac is profoundly abysmal.

If you're comfortable with command-line stuff, you might also be interested in Picture Tile.

albatross @ 718:

I don't have trouble with judges being appointed in theory, since it insulates them from the requirement to be politicians and appeal to whoever can get them the most votes, and to toady to the other branches of government to remain. In fact, when we have to vote for local criminal court judges, I shake my head because they all try to appeal to being "tough on crime" and other things that play well to the electorate but don't actually result in justice.

In practice, of course, it's much murkier than that, and the Supreme Court (and courts in general) have made plenty of decisions I don't like. They've also made plenty of decisions that have overridden the tyranny of the majority and rectified injustice that was democratically voted for. For me, it's not that a Supreme Court Justice is a lifetime appointment, it's that the process of having one installed depends fully on the other two branches of government and there's really no good way to get rid of one (although, again, getting rid of one would pose its own dangers as well). That doesn't really live up to the checks and balances ideal, but I don't have any other good suggestions for how to do it.

Of course, I don't think that the checks and balances ideal of the government really worked out very well in practice, but that's another discussion.

#720 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 11:33 AM:

Sandy B @710:

It's hard to beat vacuum as an insulator. Thermoses aren't giant vats (unless you have a spare LN2 storage dewar lying around), but if there's someplace nearby where plugging things in is an option, the thermoses could be used for small amounts and refilled from the vats kept elsewhere.

#721 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 12:48 PM:

albatross, #718: there is absolutely no way that such a decision [marriage equality] was required by the constitution

Yes, there was. It's called the 14th Amendment, and the decision was passed down on that basis. There have been some pretty clear-cut cases where the SC ruled in favor of public opinion and against the constitution (Dred Scott), but this was not one of those occasions.

#722 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 01:09 PM:

There is always the GNU Image Manipulation Program which (I have just checked) is available for OS X, and the other usual suspects.

I know the acronym is unfortunate, and there are times when it looks as though GNU exponents should be bundled back into their mother's basements, but it would do the job you want. Working out the process, in this program and in Blender for 3D graphics, can get frustrating. Programmers, I reckon, have a problem with UI design, and their colour choices suggest to me that they have not the eyes of mortal men.

#723 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Re: Supreme Court

I cannot believe the level of stupidity McConnell has reached this time. For goodness sake, YOU DO NOT SAY: "We won't even hold hearings on Obama's choice."

You hold the hearing, then you vote as your conscience (or more likely, your politics) dictate.

And he and his cohorts should have thought things through. Let's say you manage to keep Obama from seating his pick on the Court this year, and a Democrat wins the White House. And now you're looking at either Obama, Bill Clinton, or (young, flamingly liberal SC candidate) as the new President's choice for the position.

Wouldn't you have been better off confirming one of Obama's picks? There ARE several candidates who have been practically unanimously confirmed to their current posts by the Republicans who are moderates...

#724 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 03:43 PM:

"And he and his cohorts should have thought things through. Let's say you manage to keep Obama from seating his pick on the Court this year, and a Democrat wins the White House. And now you're looking at either Obama, Bill Clinton, or (young, flamingly liberal SC candidate) as the new President's choice for the position."

This is what I don't get about the "obstruct at all costs" attitude. If Obama nominates a relatively moderate liberal candidate, the only way the Republicans are likely to do any better (i.e., to end up with someone more conservative) seems to be if they end up both winning the presidency and keeping control of the Senate. That makes it irrational for them to oppose such a candidate unless a) they're quite confident about winning the presidency or b) they think that sticking to their obstructionist guns will help them in the elections (enough to make the strategy worth it). Both of those scenarios look pretty unlikely to me, though that could be due to some combination of confirmation bias and unwarranted optimism on my part.

On the other hand, if Obama goes for broke and comes up with a very liberal nominee, then at least giving them a hearing and then rejecting them gives them the opportunity to play it as principled objection to Obama's extremism. That seems much more likely to work out well for them than refusing to even let it get to a debate and trying to play that as principled objection to lame-duck appointments. But again, it's hard to put myself into the heads of the voters they would need to sway, so maybe I'm underestimating how well the latter stance would play politically.

On a related note, this WaPo article about Senate voting behavior on SC nominees was pretty interesting. I don't know that the model used in the referenced work is likely to be very predictive in the particular situation at hand, but the prediction that an ideological clone of Anthony Kennedy (at the time of his confirmation, rather than now) would be too conservative to be confirmed by the current Senate was startling. I haven't quite decided whether that should be taken as an interesting, counter-intuitive result or as an indicator of the model failing some basic sanity checks.

#725 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 03:54 PM:

I just found out about the "Sausage Duel" (Safe For Work!)

Otto Von Bismarck allegedly turned it down as "risky".

#726 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 05:06 PM:

Thanks for the imaging software suggestions. I decided to go with Pixelmator.

#727 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 06:54 PM:

Lori Coulson@723

It's not stupidity per se.

It's McConnell deciding that the internal politics of the Republican party requires him to take an openly obstructionist stance.

#728 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 07:00 PM:

Basically they're worried that anyone voting to confirm an Obama nominee could be vulnerable to being voted out in the fall. They're less worried that anyone OBSTRUCTING a nominee might be voted out.

Which they should be more afraid of is debatable.

Which behavior is more consonant with "Doing the job you agreed to do" is not under debate, but nobody involved seems to prioritize that very highly just now.

#729 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 09:09 PM:

Michael I -- were I a gambler, I would bet that this stance is going to come back and bite him in the butt.

What I've been stressing when discussing this with neighbors is the Republicans ever constant failure to do their job. The fact that they can't handle the normal work Congress is supposed to do IS beginning to rankle some folk, I hoping it may be enough to topple some from their seats.

I've been holding up Rubio as a sterling example -- can't be bothered to show up to vote and is running for President, but has decided not to run for his second term in the Senate.

#730 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 11:34 PM:

I looked at a handwarmer package in a supermarket today, I think it said 145oF.

#728 Elliott
There's such as thing as being so averse to trying anything, that failure is -guaranteed- from what's in-place or the existing option, being a KNOWN vulernable/failure case.

There's also something calle "the penguin game, wherein the penguins are standing on the edge of the cliff down to the sea. They are hungry, but there might be seals or sharks which like to dine on penguins, in the water.

The penguins stand around shoving away until one falls off the cliff. If it gets doesn't get eaten, the rest of the penguins dive in afer it. If it get eaten, the other penguins retreat from the cliff edge and wait for a while, then start pushing and shoving again, for the cycle to repeat.

In the case of the Republicans, it's not quite the penguin game, because it's more ruthless--instead of one penguin getting shoved off the cliff, its more like cannibalism if not showing "I'm more dedicated to the Agenda than you are!"

#731 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2016, 11:35 PM:

I looked at a handwarmer package in a supermarket today, I think it said 145oF.

#728 Elliott
There's such as thing as being so averse to trying anything, that failure is -guaranteed- from what's in-place or the existing option, being a KNOWN vulernable/failure case.

There's also something calle "the penguin game, wherein the penguins are standing on the edge of the cliff down to the sea. They are hungry, but there might be seals or sharks which like to dine on penguins, in the water.

The penguins stand around shoving away until one falls off the cliff. If it gets doesn't get eaten, the rest of the penguins dive in afer it. If it get eaten, the other penguins retreat from the cliff edge and wait for a while, then start pushing and shoving again, for the cycle to repeat.

In the case of the Republicans, it's not quite the penguin game, because it's more ruthless--instead of one penguin getting shoved off the cliff, its more like cannibalism if not showing "I'm more dedicated to the Agenda than you are!"

#732 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2016, 02:01 AM:

On what I see the Republicans failing to do their job are not so very different from the right-wing Conservative government in the UK. I am not sure the reporting can always be relied on, but it does seem to be a general failing of right-wing governmeants, world-wide.

#733 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2016, 02:02 PM:

What's a REAL killer, is that it's more fiscally sound and responsible to pass the individual appropriation bills each year, rather than their habit of passing an omnibus spending bill at the last possible moment. It's much easier to hide things in that omnibus bill...

But maybe to them that's a feature, not a bug!

#734 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2016, 08:46 PM:

albatross@592: My condolences. I've been there. Continuing to hold you in the Light.

And likewise, hoping for the best possible outcome, for OtterB@575.

And a belated happy birthday to abi!

HLN: I'm very confused by the weather at the moment. After the past two years of being snowed away from Boskone it looks like we'll actually get to peek in on Saturday this year (waving to everyone who's already there! There isn't a Gathering of Light, is there?), but...

Look, February is when I always question settling in New England. I'm not sorry for the lack of snow and (mostly) warm temperatures, but I am unsettled.

#735 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2016, 08:49 PM:

Also, thanks to PNH I see that Umberto Eco has added to 2016's toll. What is it about this year?

#736 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2016, 01:03 AM:

Boskone feels rather underpopulated this year. I had the same thought last year, but last year Boston was in the middle of being snowed under, of course. This year, no such excuse.

#737 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2016, 01:48 PM:

Testing, testing...

#738 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2016, 03:42 PM:

Lee @737:

Is something the matter?

#739 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2016, 04:02 PM:

In the mood for a goofy fan video? Here's "Happy" as performed by the mad scientists (and cooks and soldiers) of the Kerguelen Archipelago.

#740 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2016, 05:04 PM:

Idumea, #738: Only that it's been dead quiet around here for quite a long time, and I wanted to make sure there wasn't a problem on my end. I guess everybody is out enjoying the weekend instead of posting!

Jenny, #739: That's adorable!

#741 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2016, 07:21 PM:

<Stamps "UNFIT FOR PURPOSE" on 2016>

Another great loss

It may be 0018Z here but this moose is still going to raise a glass to his memory. We shall not see his like again.

Damn it!


#742 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 03:00 AM:

Mark Oshiro goes public about his horrible experience at last year's ConQuesT.

At the time, he filed multiple reports about racial and sexual harassment and general mistreatment as the Fan GoH of the convention. Nine months later, nothing has been done by the concom or the convention board, and it doesn't look as though anything is ever going to be done.

This is important because (1) that kind of shit shouldn't be allowed to happen, and (2) ConQuesT is Kansas City's local convention; it is highly probable that some of the people involved in this clusterfuck are on the committee for the 2016 Worldcon.

TW for some very explicit descriptions of racial and sexual harassment.

#743 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 12:23 PM:

Lee 742: Kristina Hiner, who was chair of that ConQuesT and had been Local Liaison for MidAmeriCon II, has resigned from that position.

This was announced on the MAC II Staff list; I asked for and received permission to tell people. Their public statement on the matter, which addresses some of your (and my) concerns, is here.

I have heard, privately, some things about Kansas City fandom which have given me pause, but everyone involved in MidAmeriCon has told me it's not the same people running things (with the above just-rectified exception). And the statement above does reassure me about how harassment complaints will be handled at MAC II.

On an unrelated* matter, I'm thinking of getting "Black Lives Matter" badge ribbons for MAC II. How many people would be interested in wearing (or helping distribute) such badge ribbons?

*For sum mendacium values of 'unrelated'

#744 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 12:55 PM:

Lee@740: Well, it was a pretty nice weekend around here at least.

Andrew Plotkin@736: Not having seen Boskone before (despite a couple of attempts) I wasn't sure how typical this year was. Our visit was fun, but the fact that it's in the same hotel as the much larger and more costume-heavy Arisia made for an odd first impression.

#745 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 01:29 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 743

ConQuesT is my local convention. I was also approached by a MAC II staffer to work the world con. I've interacted with both groups extensively. I'd decided to stop going to ConQuesT and not attend MAC II well before Mark Oshiro posted about his experience. There's much more overlap between the two groups than just Ms. Hiner. Currently, the Venn diagram of the two organizations resembles a solar eclipse at 90 percent occlusion. I don't expect that to change any time soon, either. That is my fault. (I suck at group politics.) The law of unintended consequences is a pain.

I'm willing to share my reasons why, but it's gonna take a bit to put it all into pixels. Plus, I kinda-sorta expect to be blackballed on the convention circuit for it. I need to decide which battle(s) I want to fight. Or not fight as the case may be.

If you have specific questions until then, ask them here and I'll answer as time and work allows.

#746 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 01:50 PM:

Xopher @743: If you get them in time for WisCon I'll totally wear one and distribute them.

#747 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 02:49 PM:

Vctoria, #745: The following comment was just posted by Jeff Orth over at File 770:

MidAmeriCon II is only loosely associated with ConQuesT, in that we share the same city and most of the locals attend.

The management is separate, and generally speaking this situation is neither reflective of the Worldcon or its concom.

We will, however, attempt to learn as much as possible from the situation.

Co-chair, MidAmeriCon II

Which is... interesting, given that you've just said the overlap in management is massive. Does anyone have links to reasonably-complete lists of the respective con staffs?

#748 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 03:18 PM:

Lee @747:

I know nothing of the fan scene in KC, or of the people running MidAmeriCon II or ConQuesT.

But to me, the statements by Jeff Orth and Vctoria are not necessarily contradictory, albeit perhaps weasily so.

I fully expect MidAmeriCon and ConQuesT to be run by two separate organizations, while at the same time would not be surprised if there were a large overlap in the memberships of those two organizations, simply because both conventions need large staffs and there is probably a limited number of experienced con staffers in the area.

I can go to the MidAmeriConII website and get a staff listing. It's long. ConQuesT does not have a staff listing, so there's no way for me to evaluate the overlap.

#750 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 04:25 PM:

Lee @ 747

The core leadership of MAC II were the people running ConQuesT up until about five years ago when the next generation of con-runners staged a coup. That was made easier by the fact that it was looking more and more like KC was going to win the Worldcon bid. Ms. Hiner was taken up with the outgoing band of elder con-runners because she's better at running social media campaigns than they are.

Plus world cons are about three magnitudes more work than a regional convention. They've got twice as many days to fill with three times as much stuff. There is no way a regional convention can do that all by their lonesome without getting second- and third-in-commands from other regional conventions that have also thrown world cons.

Buddha Buck @ 748
Exactly that. The core staff of MAC II has been volunteering at other world cons and making connections in the world con running populace for the better part of a decade. On the ConQuesT side, active recruitment of new people is happening. This is for two main reasons. One, all the experienced con runners are getting co-opted by MAC II staff. (Ms. Hiner also was part of the NakaCon staff for many years before she joined ConQuesT.) Two, the 20- and 30-somethings are sadly under represented in convention-going, regional fandoms.

The current con runners for ConQuesT are currently going "Oh, crap, we dropped the ball. Let's fix this and get back with the follow through on staff training." (As a former chair of ConQuesT, I still like to keep up on things.) Most of the staff at ConQuesT are either new to running a con or new to fandom or both. A 100% run volunteer event has a lot of cracks. Things tend to fall into them a lot more than most people are willing to admit to.

Abi put a link to an article about the importance of checklists as safety items in operating airplanes. The regional conventions I've been involved with seem to rely on institutional memory and not hard documentation and official hand offs of mission critical information.

In the realm of anti-harassment at conventions, I'd really like to see a form and checklist for dealing with harassment of all kinds and for that information to go into a centralized database for con runners to access. But that is a giant can of worms regarding legal issues and lawsuits. And, yes, I've thought a lot about this. I even started creating training documents to help ID, report and prevent all kinds of harassment from happening. I stopped because my realism caught up with my idealism.

#751 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 04:30 PM:

Jacque, #749: Wow. So if she's 106 now, that means she was born in 1910. Just think about how much the world has changed in her lifetime! (And there's a very good chance that her grandparents were slaves.)

#752 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 04:41 PM:

I also know nothing of the fan scene in KC and little of the people running MidAmeriCon II or ConQuesT, but a little web searching, for information, shows:

The MidAmericon2 committee list is here.

I don't see a specific committee list for ConQuestT, but the "Kansas City Science Fiction & Fantasy Society" about page mentions that they sponsor ConQuestT and are hosting MidAmericon II.
Comparing the KaCSFFS Board of Directors list from their About page (6 people) shows that 3 of them are also on the MidAmericon II committee list.
There are a lot of (more than 100) people on the MidAmericon II committee list. A number of the names there, I recognize and know aren't from the KC area.
I don't see a list of members of KaCSFFS.

Hopefully, any of the issues that Mark Oshiro mentions will be handled much more smoothly and quickly by the World Con.

#753 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 04:51 PM:

Lee: There's a non-zero chance that her parents were slaves. Young, at the time, but probably at least entirely too familiar with Jim Crow.

#754 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2016, 09:35 PM:

I was remarking, about my current look in hair color/style, that the way I manage to pull off "a little punk rock and still totally a dorky dad" was by using a style that was cutting-edge teen culture when I was in 3rd grade.

And then I saw a 50ish cashier at a restaurant with brightly colored eyeliner/shadow that I know I saw in movies on the very hottest, most fashionable teens in the late 80s (electric turquoise on the lower lid right along the lashes; a somewhat wider stripe of purple along the top lashes but not up onto the lid proper).

And now I'm wondering: do we do retrofuturism by remembering what our 7-14yo self thought was THE MOST AWESOMEST EVER and reenacting a version of it in middle age?

Fashion is often an interaction between the avant garde chasing the constantly-new (partly by recycling older ideas and running them through a blender) and the styles individuals have decided work for them and hang onto through thick and thin, adapting them to the trends. My grandmother had effectively the same hairstyle for about 50 years: she liked it, she maintained it and just kept wearing it. Once we imprint and pick A Look, sometimes fashion loops back around and we look good for standing still.

#755 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 12:18 AM:

Hmm. Elliott, you never saw me in my curly-golden-locks days. I've never had any style to speak of, but my look has changed pretty much continually!

#756 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 08:39 AM:

Some people fossilize. Some people change. And some people become fashionable again by standing still. :->

#757 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 10:41 AM:

Eep, time flies, especially when your weekends are filled with readying a house for rental (the FF, while she remains in Hawaii with the grandchilluns) and maintaining my own house despite my son's regular attempts to make a huge mess.

Albatross, belated but heartfelt condolences on your loss. I hope your memories of your dad can prove some comfort.

OtterB: good luck with all that remains to be done!

abi, belated Happy Birthday to you!

#758 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2016, 10:30 PM:

abi @ parhelia: the item about the Gulfstream-in-a-ravine was fascinating for several reasons. I got my license and rating at that field (in a much smaller plane on which the gust lock is blindingly obvious because it covers the ignition keyhole) but never noticed the "ravine". I also noted one point you didn't call out: the ongoing pilot failures might not have been fatal if the plane's construction had not failed to match the spec (approved by the FAA) -- in a way that immediately suggested the Hyatt collapse.

Lori @ 723: after McConnell's first statement on Obama (~"our first job is to make sure he's a one-term president", despite an economy in tatters), no subsequent stupidity seems to reach the same level.

Eric @ 724: the Republicans have not been part of the "reality-based community" for some time; I don't think they see the possibility of losing in November, even if Trump is the nominee (which I expect most of them still see as impossible). I've seen arguments that this disbelief (combined with recent history, in which parties have mostly alternated the Presidency) is the reason why we had a ridiculous number of declared candidates.

Paula @ various: consider the relative sizes of a handwarmer and a pot of chili.
      I suspect that KC is more liberal than Spokane, where the rules in the exhibit hall prohibited food prep/presentation other than trivial samples or prepackaged. (Simplification, but I had to find this out because somebody wanted to do serious cooking.) Whether it's enough more liberal, especially with the probably-exclusive contract with a food vendor, is unguessable.

Victoria: your 750 suggests understanding that your 745 is a serious exaggeration for the working committees; it might be true for the steering committees depending on how they're constituted. If your statement is vaguely reasonable it's unlikely to get you blackballed; conrunning is so perennially short of people that it tolerates almost everything, especially from people who can accomplish anything.
      I expect that somebody will be a jackass at MACII, although maybe not as bad as Rosen is reported as being; however, there's a much greater likelihood of somebody (possibly not a local) speaking up if proper action isn't taken.

#759 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 02:07 AM:


This is supposed to be for curated listening. But oh praise GOD I can TURN DOWN THE WORLD.

Want to relax with a movie, but you have PTSD? No problem!

#760 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 09:55 AM:

Lee #721:

[Discussing SC decisions in general, and the gay marriage one in particular.]

The 14th amendment implies that gay marriage must be legal nationwide, but that implication was not apparent to many people until very recently--over a century of judges read that very same amendment, but never happened to notice that it had anything to do with gay marraige, and for most of that time, you could be fired, lose your security clearance, lose your kids, be forcibly treated for mental illness, or be jailed for being gay.

Indeed, had (say) Ginsberg retired for medical reasons during Bush's term and been replaced by a Republican justice, I imagine that the 14th amendment would turn out not to require that gay marriage be legal. And while I hope that the existing legality of gay marriage, and its widespread public acceptance[1], would make it hard to reverse that court decision, it's possible for a president Cruz or Rubio or Trump to appoint new justices who will reverse it[2]. The constitution means what the SC justices say it means, and that has turned out to mean that they often decide on a policy they like, and then find some sketchy argument for why the constitution just happens to require stuff that nobody, not the people who wrote it nor the people who ratified it nor anyone who lived with it for a century or two, ever imagined it to require.

The result of that is that the SC has become a mechanism by which the educated power elite of the country[3] get a huge extra say in what policies we will have. Sometimes that's good (gay marriage), sometimes it's bad (almost unlimited scope for eminent domain). And maybe it's the best we can reasonably do. But it seems like there's something fundamentally broken there.

[1] In most of my social circle, it's widely accepted. I don't know how true that is elsewhere.

[2] As popehat has pointed out, anyone who thinks society can't move right on social issues should look at what happened w.r.t. criminal justice issues when crime rates went through the roof for awhile.

[3] The SC and its clerks are pretty exclusively from top two or three law schools, and nobody gets to the SC without having spent decades in positions of enormous power and responsibility and prestige. Commonly, an SC justice has been a very high priced lawyer, a law professor at a top university, a federal prosecutor, a high-ranking federal official, or a federal judge, or maybe all of those things. That's elite by any meaningful measure. And you can't get anywhere close to the SC without being on the far right end of the intelligence distribution, and without having a first-rate legal education.

#761 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 11:57 AM:

And you can't get anywhere close to the SC without being on the far right end of the intelligence distribution, and without having a first-rate legal education.

Ok, Albatross, if this is a given -- how do you explain how that idiot SCJ Thomas managed to make it onto the bench?

(I see no manifestations of intelligence there.)

#762 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 12:55 PM:

This made me smile today (and by smiling I mean "laugh out loud in a manner disturbing to my fellow coffee-shop patrons"), and I thought it might do the same for some of you.

The Setup Wizard, the blog of the new Hogwarts IT staff.

#763 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 08:47 PM:


Local woman and partner are making significant progress on their move to an entirely different location, namely the Boston area.

We have now arranged (and paid for) the moving company to pack and transport our stuff, the specialist cat moving company, and a pair of one-way airline tickets to Boston. There are a lot of smaller bits to deal with (both the cats and I have pre-travel medical appointments, though only they need to show health certificates), but these were the large and complicated bits.

Well, the complicated bits at this end, but the ones at the other end don't have the same sort of deadlines.

#764 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 09:13 PM:

Vicki@763: Pre-welcome to the area! And good luck with the thousand-and-one details.

#765 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 09:49 PM:

Political open-threadeness.

The thing about Trump that most don't realize is that he'd doing brilliantly at what he wants to achieve. He's broken down the path to the presidency into discrete steps. So while his ultimate aim may be the office of the president, the task he's focused on now is getting the GOP nomination. Those AREN'T the same thing. Once he's acquired the nomination, then his goal becomes gathering red states and landing the swing states like Ohio.

So all the blather about whether his economic plans make sense or or about the war crimes he's admitted to wanting to commit don't mean shit. He's proven that doesn't matter in the current path he's following. He's not running for president - he's running to be on the ballot for president.

#766 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 10:12 PM:

Em, #762: I've never thought of Tumblr as a blog platform. (Or Twitter or Pinterest either, for that matter.) Am I behind the times and it's now considered to be one? If I were recommending someone's Tumblr account, I would call it "the Tumblr of ___".

#767 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2016, 10:26 PM:

Tumblr has always called the things people post there 'blogs'. They are not like livejournal, obviously, but they are called the same name.

#768 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 02:56 AM:

Elliott@767: True, but that leaves open the question of whether anyone not associated with Tumblr has ever referred to tumblrs as blogs.

#769 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 07:53 AM:

well, the modern usage as "longform places to write mini-magazine articles and distribute them to your friends" really started with LiveJournal.

Before that, 'blog' meant 'weblog,' and mostly meant "place for people to post lists of links to stuff they think is cool and maybe talk about it a little."

Tumblr is consonant with that older meaning -- it's somewhere for people to point at stuff, go, "This is awesome! (or terrible)", and their friends spread it around and talk about it.

Some people also use it for longform think pieces and responses to same, though its interface is really nonintuitive for doing that until you've learned how to poke at it funny.

People who don't use and have never heard of Tumblr don't call its content anything, because they don't understand it. People who do have always called its content 'blogs'.

I guess I don't really understand your objection. Would you rather call them "Tumblr accounts"? You are welcome to do so, even as people who use them more often say "XXjacky posted (whatever) on hir blog on Tumblr today."

#770 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 12:48 PM:

Elliott, #769: I think there may be some regional variation there. For me and my friends, "blog" and "weblog" have always included the availability of conversation, which Tumblr lacks. And if I want to refer to something posted there, I would say "so-and-so posted this on their Tumblr today". Not "on their blog today".

Someone once described Tumblr to me as Twitter for visually-oriented people, and that fits pretty well with most of what I see coming across it.

#771 ::: Scrabble ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 12:53 PM:

I wonder what Hugo category interactive fiction would go under. It's not really a dramatic presentation, is it? But how do you quantify the wordcount for categorization purposes if you choose one of the prose/fiction categories?

#772 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 04:23 PM:

Chilling, if true (and it sounds likely to me, though I have no expertise in this area): standard police interrogation technique produces false confessions.

#773 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 04:28 PM:

My last comment ended up unnecessarily snarky, I think. Sorry for that. I don't think I really object to the use of "blog" to describe Tumblr pages. It's just that I've very rarely actually seen the usage, except perhaps in more "traditional media" contexts. I'm much more accustomed to seeing "so-and-so's tumblr" or similar. It could be a regional thing, as Lee suggests, or a generational thing. FWIW, it's also more common in my internet circles to refer to someone's livejournal our LJ, though I don't find "blog" as startling in reference to LJ as in reference to Tumblr.

#774 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 04:41 PM:

Eric, #773: Heh. Now you've reminded me of something that happened about 10 years ago, when we were in the throes of getting our local con started, and the topic of online media came up at one of the meetings. (Mind you, this was Before Facebook, or at least before Facebook covered everything in the world.) And one of the people there, who is significantly older than I am, said that he didn't understand why we were even thinking about that. After all, he said, he seriously doubted that anyone here had a blog -- and he said it in the voice of someone describing a two-headed zebra.

And about 2/3 of the group spoke up and said, "I have one!" His jaw literally dropped. Now, I'll admit that a number of us (including myself) were talking about a LiveJournal, not a blog in the modern sense, but still.

#775 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 05:10 PM:

There's also a fair bit of tumblr-hosted stuff that's obviously blogs. It's not core-tumblr or even typical tumblr stuff, but you can't really look at like the Kerbal Space Project devblog ( ) and suggest that it's meaningfully different from non-tumblr-hosted devblogs, which are clearly blogs.

I'd agree that there's a fair bit of tumblr that isn't all that bloggy (my friends who post art and fandom-reblog stuff and cat pictures, say) but there's some stuff that is very traditionally bloggy as well, even down to semi-traditional comment culture (though obviously since it's notes-on-posts instead of a centralized comment thread, there are differences there).

#776 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 06:23 PM:

I'd defined it as a blog because it was primarily text-based communication, rather than gifsets*. Usage rather than location, if that makes sense.

*I adore a good gifset. Defining artform of the early 21st century?

#777 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Tumblr has conversations in its own way, but it works very differently from traditional blogs. Some Tumblr users install an add-on from Disqus to provide more traditional comments.

Although it doesn't show in the URL, the link behind my name is hosted on Tumblr.

#779 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2016, 10:09 PM:

OK, Doyle must know of this:

Tattúínárdǿla Saga


The tales of Lukr and his father Veithr-Anakinn

(with textual commentary)

#780 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 08:10 AM:

Elliott @ #754 -- I'd usually heard of/noticed people who fossilize in the styles of their actual youth, not the youth styles they aspired to in late childhood, but that's a possibility too.

There's a particular cropped-and-permed hairdo that used to be so ubiquitous on older women that as a kid I just assumed one's hair automatically turned curly after sixty. Now I wonder what age those women actually were (all adults are old hen you're a kid) and whether their hairdressers were attempting to recreate 1950s or 1920s hairstyles with the equipment of the 1980s.

#781 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 11:53 AM:


I have thought hard about the idea of interactive fiction in the Hugos! (I blogged: )

My understanding of the current state of affairs is: Videogames are eligible in the Dramatic Presentation category. (People would have to make decisions about the "running time" of a game, but this is possible.) The Related Work category can be a catch-all but is usually thought of as nonfiction rather than uncategorizable fiction.

I'd say that IF is more like a kind of videogame than a kind of prose fiction. It's commonly discussed in game contexts, the tools appear in lists of game-dev tools, and so on. Also, I'd want to group pure-text IF in with audio/voice-acted narrative games (Lifeline) and video narrative games (Her Story).

So I'd say Dramatic Presentation is the right place. If there were a Videogame Hugo category, I'd point at that.

#782 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 01:32 PM:

Lori 761:

Wikipedia says Thomas graduated from Yale Law School with a JD, around the middle of his class. That's consistent with him being intellectually less impressive than the average elite legal scholar (though I don't know if that's true, or how we'd decide for sure), but it surely puts him in the top few percent of the population in intelligence.

Don't compare him with other supreme court justices, compare him with cab drivers and plumbers and elementary school teachers. He and the rest of the SC, and indeed the next tier down of federal judges, state supreme court judges, and federal prosecutors are all in some sense an intellectual elite.

One sideline here: Law usually (not always) seems to draw people who are verbally smart, but not all that great at mathematical reasoning. And the educational path to become an elite lawyer isn't usually going to take you through a hard science, math, CS, or engineering program[1], so a lot of the reasoning we get from courts is cleverly argued verbally, but not very numerate. But I would bet a lot of money that lawyers (even non-elite ones) would do a *lot* better on any math test than the general population.

[1] Unless you're in patent law, where I think a hard science or engineering background is very common.

#783 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 02:00 PM:

Steve C 765:

Yes. The whole pundit class massively underestimated Trump. Which would make me feel kind-of smug, but I did too--three months ago, I'd have bet a lot of money (and lost it) on the idea that by Super Tuesday, Trump would have imploded.

One guy who seems to me to have some real insight into Trump and the dynamics of his campaign is Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame[1]. His consistent take on this is that Trump is really good at manipulating people with his choices of words, that this is a big part of his success at negotiating business deals in the past, and that it's also a huge part of his success in this election so far.

Something I've noticed in a lot of the discussions about Trump: people react with outrage to the things he says--that makes sense, because he says some pretty damned outrageous stuff. But often, his outrageous proposals are not actually any crazier or more evil than the mainstream candidates' proposals. They're just usually careful to phrase them more nicely. For example, I think the remaining three serious GOP candidates *all agree* on willingness to torture prisoners. That's as outrageous and horrible as any policy Trump has proposed, but it's a mainstream elite position (especially within the GOP), so it doesn't trigger outrage, For another example, Trump proposed blocking all immigration by Muslims, which would be a horrible policy on all kinds of levels. But compared to the foreign policy interventions that are consistently proposed (bombing the hell out of Isis, bombing Syria to take out Assad, sending in troops to Iraq and Syria), it's not all that horrible--after all, killing lots and lots of Muslims with bombs has got to be less bad than merely refusing them visas on religous grounds[2]. And so on.

I doubt this explains much of Trump's success. (But I have limited faith in my model of how Trump has been so successful, since I was expecting him to self-destruct by now.) But it is a striking thing to notice.

[1] As always, I read widely; don't assume I agree with him on any particular issue because I find some insight in what he writes.

[2] A fair bit of bad treatment of American Muslims is elite mainstream policy. But that's okay, because while we will massively spy on Muslims in the US, entrap their more clueless and terrorism-inclined losers into elaborate terrorist plots the FBI can "foil," and harass and jail them for stuff that looks a lot like regular speech (like sending someone to prison for donating money to the wrong charity), we will never *say* we are targeting people on the basis of religion. Because that would be wrong.

#784 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 02:26 PM:

Albatross, thanks for the info on Thomas, that does a lot to increase my understanding of his situation.

RE: Trump -- I've been seeing something in the polling that is puzzling me. According to some sources, Trump has the highest unfavorable rating among the pool of likely voters, and some predictions show that were he to become the nominee, the GOP would lose the Senate.

How are they reaching this conclusion? The only explanation I've been able to come up with is that if Trump is the nominee a lot of Republicans might sit out the election which WOULD result in down ticket losses.

Still, to me this feels like whistling in the dark...

#785 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 02:53 PM:

Lori Coulson @784

I think the two things you mention connect: High unfavorables mean people coming out to vote against you who might not have come out to vote for your opponent, and those people are likely to disagree with you downticket as well.

#786 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 04:35 PM:


You'd expect it to work both ways: some GOP voters might stay home rather than cast a vote for either Trump or Hillary, so other GOP candidates would lose their votes; some Democratic voters might be extra-motivated to come out so they could vote against Trump so other Democrats would gain their votes.

I have no idea how likely that is, though. Trump might also cause a lot of voters to come to the polls who usually don't show up. If so, they're quite likely to lean Republican and may vote for Republicans for other races while they're at the polls to vote for Trump. Though I think a lot of Trump's support comes from people who lean Republican but think the Republican party establishment is corrupt and incompetent. (And they're right. The Republican party and the broader conservative movement are the perfect example of Teresa's wonderful comment about how, just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side.)

My impression is that there are also a substantial number of voters who lean Republican but were absolutely not going to come to the polls to vote another Bush into office. It would have taken an enormously more talented politician than Jeb Bush to overcome his brother's legacy and record. Maybe a Bill Clinton could have managed it.

On some right-wing blogs, I've seen a substantial number of people commenting that they supported Trump first and Sanders second, which is kind-of interestingly brain-bending. That does sort-of support the "rebellion against the ruling class consensus" interpretation of Trump's success so far. On the other hand, that may just be a couple weird outliers.

#787 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2016, 06:22 PM:

Albatross: Yes, Sanders is very much reflecting the same sort of frustrated rage that Trump is, just from the other side of the table.

#788 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2016, 12:55 PM:

albatross @782: There was a time when I was a doctrinaire Libertarian. These days, I'm well to the left of the Democratic party (but vote Democratic in self-defense, so long as the Repub party draws breath). I'm flexible, though, when it comes to technocracy -- I don't think democracy applies in all situations.
I think judges and sheriffs should be appointed, not elected -- preferably chosen by their own peers, with intervention from outside (or above) when corruption becomes egregious.
Anyway, when it comes to the Supreme Court, it's difficult to judge them from the outside. Thomas is often considered "stupid" because he seldom asks questions during oral arguments, and tended to concur with Scalia a lot, but those could simply be personal style in the first case and similarity of outlook in the second.
Thomas and the rest of the bloc of five (now four) who write the worst and least defensible rulings (IMHOTEP*) seem "stupid" to me because they say things I disagree with.
*In My Humble Opinion, Though Ennythin's Possible.

#789 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2016, 06:54 PM:

Justice Thomas has been asked in interviews about his habits in oral arguments. His stated position is that he doesn't particularly care for oral arguments. By the time cases get to the arguments, the Justices have read briefs from both sides and amici curiae, read the lower court opinions and records, and he has basically made up his mind. Very little can go on at oral arguments that will change his mind, or (he feels) that of the other Justices. As such, it's a show that he doesn't feel a need to participate in.

I just listened to an "In The Media" podcast about the Supreme Court and its workings, especially from a media/reporters perspective. That show pointed out that while each Justice may have formed an opinion on the case, they don't know how the other Justices are thinking, and oral arguments often are the first time the Justices have to sound out each other.

It also mentioned that since Justices vote in order of seniority in their straw-polls to decide cases, oral arguments allow the most junior justices (Kagan, now) to get their viewpoint expressed when it has a change anything.

I don't think this excuses Thomas in his viewpoint; if anything, the fact that a lot of the time in oral argument the Justices are talking to each other enhances the strangeness of his position of keeping silent because it's a waste of his time.

#790 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 09:00 AM:

He claims he worships God above,
But all he ever learned of love
Was how to get attention, then to screw ya
He told you lies, he bought your hate,
And sold it back at twice the rate
And in his church, you shouted Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

(Elevated from the Doonesbury comment section at GoComics)

#791 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 09:07 AM:

Today I'm learning how to knock a comment loose. Opening the thread in a new tab doesn't do it. Refreshing a dozen times doesn't do it. Opening the thread in a new window doesn't do it. Previewing doesn't do it. (When I preview, my 'missing' comment shows up at the bottom of the thread, but if I don't post, it still isn't there when I open in a new window.

A new comment seems like it will do it. Testing that supposition now. One, two, five…

#792 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Explainer of Half-Hidden Functionality ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 09:54 AM:

Kip W @791:

Making Light currently uses Movable Type as its back-end server. MT builds pages when they're updated and serves the pre-built pages on browser request. This is in contrast to WordPress, which builds them dynamically for each request.

Posting a thread comment requires several calls:

1. A call to the back-end database to record the comment
2. A page build for the page that holds the post and comment thread.
3. A front page build to update the comment count and the recent comments widget.
(Plus the last n comment pages, etc, but let's focus on the ones that are noticeable.)

For Reasons, these calls sometimes fail. Here are the consequences:

1. You comment forms part of the the Making Light Angels' Share. I am grieved by the loss of it, but it is gone. Many browsers have a back button that will allow you to retrieve the text. I sincerely hope it works.

2. The comment is not added to the post page, but the fact that you made it is probably visible on the front page and in your (view all by). Clicking on the link on the front page takes you to the top of the post page. Remedy: make or await another comment on the post. That will trigger a post page rebuild and both new comments will appear.

3. Your comment is probably visible on the post page, but the front page shows no sign of it. Again, your (view all by) link shows it. Remedy: Make or await another comment anywhere on Making Light. That will trigger a front page rebuild.

All of these conditions are different than being gnomed, which occurs when your comment falls afoul of our anti-spam measures. Comments that do that will either go into the spam queue or the moderation queue. You'll be given the Gnoming Message and your post will not appear on either page build. (It will appear on your (view all by).) Remedy: post a comment with "gnome" or a variant of it.. I will come and free it from durance vile, and if the conversation since the gnoming includes comment-number references, unpublish your signal comment. (That way I can preserve the numbering.)

#793 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 10:35 AM:

Harper Lee and Berkely Breathed were pen pals:


#794 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 11:03 AM:

Kip, #791: What abi said. In practice, when you get the dreaded Internal Server Error message, hit the Back button to get back to the Preview page, save your text with CTRL-C, and make another post. Generally people make a post indicating that this is "trying to shake loose my last post", in order to avoid the possibility of double-posting. If your test post doesn't do the trick, then re-post your original by pasting in the saved text with CTRL-V.

#795 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 04:04 PM:

(You may need to hit a control-A to select All the text of your comment before hitting control-C to Copy it. Make sure your cursor is active in the text box before doing this.)

#796 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 04:57 PM:

Thanks, fellas! It was knocked loose by the post I made. I just found it worthy of remark since I had recently gone through a similar course of exertions to keep from double posting, and it did anyway. I seem to be getting the hang of it.

#797 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 06:14 PM:

The latest re-used acronym at work is PVP for Personal Value Promise (or something like that), and they want everyone to produce one by $Date (this is a birthday present, along with the CEO visit, I can well do without), so I think to myself: "corporate bullshit generator"? Why not....

The first one out of the box struck entirely too close to home:

I think everyone’s ignoring the moose on the table

#798 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 10:33 PM:

Cadbury, best of luck with all the Corporate Resource Allocation Procedures.

#799 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 10:54 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 793: That's lovely.

#800 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2016, 11:25 PM:

Not the first thing that came out of the corporate bullshit generator, but the first to get me to laugh aloud, was a surprisingly literal example of the genre: "Let's graze these cows in the idea field and see what drops out."

#801 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 05:22 PM:

#788, 789:

Breaking news, from Talking Points Memo.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for the first time in a decade, asked questions from the bench during oral arguments, according to reporters present at Monday's Supreme Court hearings. His questions pertained to the rights of domestic abuse offenders to have a gun, in a case considering a federal law banning convicted abusers from owning guns.
The 10-year anniversary of the last time the conservative justice asked a question came just this month.

#802 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 08:58 PM:

Open threadiness for Hamilton fans:
1) Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Found in Translation" (a 2012 call for Latinos to vote):

2) Jackson Lanzing's brings Hamilton to the Star Trek reboot in "My Spock":

Both, in my not terribly humble opinion, are fantastic videos.

#803 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 10:15 PM:

Anyone else excited/annoyed about how Jenny Beavan was treated at the Oscars? That's one amazing costume designer there, being pointedly not applauded by a bunch of men.

#804 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2016, 10:24 PM:

Bill Higgins:
Now looking for some way to use this as a hook for a repurposed version of the story of the monastery where monks could only talk once a year. One monk per year.
(1st year: "I don't like the beans here."
2nd year: "The beans here are quite good."
3rd year: "I want a transfer, away from all this bickering.")

#805 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 12:01 AM:

Tom, #803: They fail junior-high manners. (As in, by the time you're in junior high, you should know better than that.)

#806 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 02:30 AM:

I downloaded a thing!

So my husband has to go to bed earlier than I do on some nights, and due to the configuration of our teensy house, he has to sleep with the bedroom door open, which means that my monitor keeps zapping him in the eye. Also I have problems that involve staring at it all night, but anyway. I discovered a thing called f.lux, which adjusts your monitor's color scheme to the time of day, calibrated by latitude. I am typing by a soft, rosy glow right now, at 58 degrees north and 10:30 p.m. The white notebook page on the desk in front of my monitor looks pink. Husband says it's more like moonlight out here than the hard glare of the noonday sun. I actually feel a little sleepy.

Also it's free. Go to aich tee pee pee ess colon slash slash just get flux dot com.

#807 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 07:29 AM:

Jenny Islander @806:

I love f.lux! It's part of my range of tools to minimize blue light exposure in the evenings (and when I wake up with insomnia). And you can turn it off on an app-by-aoo basis so, for instance, Minecraft keeps its original colors but Chrome goes increasingly red.

Sometimes I use it as a nag to go to bed, too. When the screen is all but unusable for me because of it, that's kind of a hint that it's time to turn the computer off and get some sleep.

It's a good thing. I hope it helps you the way it's helped me.

#808 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 09:36 AM:

Jenny Islander@806 ...
Along those lines, I use Shades all the time -- by and large, the lowest brightness on my laptop is still too bright without it.

Shades is also free, and much simpler than f.lux -- more targetted towards the "OMGBRIGHT" crowd than the "body clock FTL" crowd. It's just for OS X -- but it does handle multiple monitors nicely, and fits perfectly into what I need.

#809 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 10:21 AM:

806/807/808: I use something similar on my phone, called Twilight (for Android). It dims and reddens the screen after what it judges to be sunset, based on my location and time zone. I've found it much easier on the eyes for using my phone in dim light or in the dark - and like abi, if it starts to become too dim to use, that's my cue to put it down and go to sleep.

#810 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 12:51 PM:

So, there we were heading to the opthalmologists' on Friday, and, of course, stuck in traffic. In front of us was a suburban assault vehicle (Cobb County tag). It bore a decalcomania querying 'Does your Obama sticker make you feel stupid yet?' Under it was another proclaiming 'Ben Carson for President'.

Irony meter setting: 12.

#811 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 02:35 PM:

Fragano: Something about "assuming facts not in evidence"?

#812 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 02:39 PM:

The state of nature, as it has happened in Minecraft-- content warning for vile language, but that's not the only thing going on. There's weird cooperation.

How the world has dealt with the idea that brains are made of deterministic meat-- I'm not sure this is correct, but it's definitely chewy philosophical and historical stuff that includes religion. I'm not sure it's wrong, either.

Ada Palmer on student's essays about what's wrong with Plato's Republic, contrasted with The Just City.

#813 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 03:36 PM:

Nancy, your third link goes to the Crooked Timber home page, rather than the specific post. Looks like you probably meant this one?

#814 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 04:28 PM:

I note that our Gracious Hosts are to be the Editor GoHs at MidSouthCon in Memphis, March 18-20. My partner and I will also be there, in the dealer room. Is anyone interested in trying to arrange a Gathering of Light at the con? We will be staying offsite, so I'm afraid we can't offer space for such a thing; but we'd be available for dinner, or a room party.

#815 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 04:49 PM:

Eric, yes. Thank you.

#816 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 05:07 PM:

Jacque #811: Indeed.

#817 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 07:57 PM:

Re the made-of-meat thing: it's been my experience that nearly everyone still thinks in dualistic terms, including quite a lot of doctors. (It took me a heck of a long time to get over dualism myself, to the extent that I have.) Frequently people just substitute "brain" for "mind" and act as though the brain is not part of the body.

#818 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 08:11 PM:

HelenS @ #817

"What's the most important part of the body? I think it's the brain. But...look who's telling me that."

- Steven Wright

#819 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2016, 09:36 PM:

Jenny Islander@806: Another couple of votes for f.lux here. The only problem we have with it is that we haven't found a way to turn it off automatically when we're watching browser-based full-screen video, which means that occasionally we'll be in the middle of watching something and one of us will say, "Wait, the colors are weird. Did you turn off f.lux?"

#820 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 05:59 AM:

f.lux does not appear to always work well with some small sharewear utilities. I find that I have to turn it off before running Duplicate Cleaner for example, otherwise I get an error message. But it has certainly improved my sleep patterns.

Tangentially, the UK politician who most resembles Trump, both physically and politically, is Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. It occurred to me the other day, that: as Johnson is both leading the campaign to leave the EU and is a leading contender to replace Cameron in the future; and that the Prime Minister will certainly resign if he loses the referendum; it follows that, if the UK leaves the EU, then Johnson will probably be Prime Minister. So theoretically, it is possible that both President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson could be in power next year, in a reign that future historians will no doubt refer to as "the blonde moments". (or "the rule of the locks").

#821 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 08:09 AM:

Andy Brazil @820:

I count it as a credit to the Dutch political system that Geert Wilders will not make it a blond triumvirate, however much he would like to.

#822 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 08:19 AM:

So it's starting to look like Hilary vs. Donald. Just thought of a slogan: "Ask for aces, America!"

#823 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 02:20 PM:

But Trumps beat aces, in any game that has trumps.

#824 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 02:27 PM:

And not enough people know Blackwood, and it can be used in suit contracts, etc. Not a useful slogan....

#825 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 04:27 PM:

Hell, not enough people know bridge, period. I was completely at sea until Tom's comments gave me a clue -- and I wouldn't know that much if I hadn't occasionally read bridge columns for fun, despite their opacity in detail.

#826 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 05:07 PM:

The cartoonist H.T. Webster (creator of Casper Milquetoast) was a bridge aficionado.

#827 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 05:21 PM:

But Trumps beat aces, in any game that has trumps.

"Four no trump," Hugh said calmly.

"Daddy, are you feverish?" exclaimed Karen.

(Quoted inexactly from memory)

#828 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 06:33 PM:

And for those even more in the know -- David wants us to order baby food?

(4 Clubs is an ace-asking bid called "Gerber", in certain circumstances, If you don't know, you probably don't want to know. And we won't even look at the bizarreries of Roman Blackwood or the other variants.)

#829 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 06:46 PM:

#827 Carrie S.

Farnham's Freehold!

"I'll play both hands face up" - also from memory inexactly.

#830 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 06:54 PM:

I last played bridge at least twenty years ago. I remember just barely enough to know that if you really like clubs, you bid "two clubs", because "one club" means "I have a fair number of points but no preferred suit; tell me what you like"....

#831 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 07:32 PM:

I seem to remember a pretty hearty bridge scene in Minneapolis fandom, back in the day....

#832 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 07:56 PM:

Tom@828: Except that the convention and the baby food are pronounced differently.

I agree that the slogan isn't generally useful; I hoped that a few people here might find "4 no Trump" amusing.

#833 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 08:00 PM:

I sometimes use 'brain' and 'mind' to be very separate things, the brain being analogous to Back-of-Brain, and the mind being Front-of-Brain. But more often I use the hyphenated versions.

It's been strange training my therapist to the terms of art used in my circles for just about everything. I did write her a useful cast of characters so she'd stop noting when I said 'my boyfriend' rather than his name-- it's not a distancing tactic, I know that, because the previous boyfriend was always 'the boy'; this is me not wanting to presume that she remembers anyone from my anecdotes.

#834 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 10:05 PM:

That bit of Farnham made much more sense once I learnt to play bridge, in much the same way that the one chapter of Murder Must Advertise is a lot easier to follow if you have a basic knowledge of the rules of cricket.

Can someone tell me what the no-trump convention being referenced is? I, like Barbara, play by the book.

#835 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 10:32 PM:

Ah, H.T. Webster! I have one book by him. It's the only one of his books I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of copies of it in used book stores. I gather it was a book club edition that got a wide distribution. He's credited with a bunch of other books, of which this one is a sort of digest, but I've never seen any of them. The cartoon linked by Steve C. is in the book: The Best of H.T. Webster.

Also, around 1975, underground cartoon great Shary Flenikin did a parody of his style in the Air Pirates tabloid one-shot that I don't think I ever bought, because it was like a whole dollar. It was dead-on, and not so far from her usual style, which told me a little about who influenced her, early on.

#836 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 10:47 PM:

Kip W @ 835 -

Another H.T. Webster fan. I have that same book, and indeed acquired it at a used bookstore.

I first came across it in the base library at Lackland AFB in the 60s. When I found the book years later, I bought it immediately.

I would love to see that Shary Flenikin Air Pirates book.

#837 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2016, 10:52 PM:

David Goldfarb @832: I pronounce the convention and the baby food the same -- what's the difference in your pronunciation? (hard G, schwa [accented], RB, schwa, R -- I'm not up to pulling out the IPA symbols to make the pronunciation clearest).

Carrie S @834: Blackwood, the convention of bidding 4 No Trump to ask for aces (with some variations). It's a bid that has little use in most bidding sequences -- significantly more than most game bids, not a slam, with useful places to go if your side is missing two aces.

#838 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 12:32 AM:

Tom: I've always pronounced the baby food with a soft G. Perhaps I'm mistaken.

#839 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 01:22 AM:

DAvid G @838 -- or perhaps I am.

#840 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 07:52 AM:

I always get muddled about which G is hard and which is soft, but the baby food brand starts with the same G as girl.

#841 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 08:46 AM:

Uncollected thoughts:

1) May I seek the collective wisdom of Making Light? On Charlie Stross' Twitter, he has postulated that "most space operas, as depicted, are crapsack dystopias for the 99% who can't afford a space yacht/battleship. Discuss." It's prompted some interesting discussion in his replies.

This got me thinking about how space travel is depicted as transport. Most usually it seems to be analogised to either cars - where people own and run their own little vehicles - or planes/cruise liners - where ordinary passengers travel in numbers on large commercial vehicles. I can't offhand think of a space opera which portrays a public interstellar transport system of any kind; mind you, my reading is limited. I would be very interested if other people have examples.

2) HLN: Local LARPER constructs favourite costume yet for vaguely Regency-flavoured game, is very proud.

In other news, local poster has preliminary appointment with the gender identity service in two weeks, is already panicking. "The waiting time for NHS gender services is notoriously months in most places," the poster said on condition of anonymity. "I mean, I'm glad that I don't have to wait quite that long, but I thought I'd have more time to get myself ready for it."

#842 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 08:49 AM:

Craft @841: Timothy Zahn wrote an interesting set of YA novels with a rail-line-like interstellar transport system:

#843 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 10:03 AM:

Elliott Mason @842, huh, is that YA? I read Night Train to Rigel and it seemed like 'regular' science fiction to me.

#844 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 10:45 AM:

There are a lot of Clarke novels where poverty doesn't seem to exist. The Fountains of Paradise, A Fall of Moondust, The City and the Stars,, etc.

#845 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 11:17 AM:

Steve C., #844: In Childhood's End, this is specifically addressed. Automation plus a smaller population has made it possible to provide every person on Earth with a basic standard of living, which many of them supplement by doing work that provides them personal pleasure and fulfillment.

Also, Clarke was an early example of an author deliberately writing diversity; a number of his characters, including several protagonists, are described as being dark-skinned.

#846 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 11:22 AM:

Nice outfit!
In the US, there were patterns for costumes like that around our Bicentennial - tailcoat, waistcoat, and breeches, as a set. (Lots of buttons involved.) Not being in the market for those, I don't know what's currently available.
(Warning: sewing a pile fabric like velvet will require cleaning the sewing machine every time you use it.)

#847 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 11:59 AM:

Craft: (Space operas and standard of living of the proles)

The Honor Harrington series has a wide range of standards of living: Very high on Manticore and the Solarian core worlds, pretty good on many other planets (Erewhon, the Maya Sector), not so great on Haven or pre-Manticore-alliance Grayson (but not so terrible, either), and truly dismal on a lot of Verge planets, both those under the thumb of Frontier Security, and many independent ones that are seriously poor and have lost most of their technology. Even some independent Verge worlds have reasonably high standards of living--Montana and Vermeer looked like decent places to live. On the other hand, there are some real crapsack worlds in the Verge, too, like Dresden or various OFS protectorates we see in some of the more recent Shadow of ... series.

Miles Vorkosigan's universe seems to have a relatively high standard of living for most planets. Even backwaters like Klein Station and the Quaddies' world seem to have decent standards of living--nobody's starving, nobody's being enslaved, etc.. Barrayar is poor and backward by galactic standards, but people living under the thumb of Barrayaran occupation on Komar, and people living in crude pioneering conditions on Sergeyar, seem to have decent lives. Jackson's Whole and the more backward parts of Barrayar (especially early in the story) look pretty nasty, though.

The Mageworlds stories had some planets that were pretty crapsacky, but my impression was that most places not in the intentionally-impoverished Mageworlds were pretty decent--there's a reference to a major character as a child seeking independent, worried that if his age is known, on most planets, he'd end up in the care of some kind of child services.

The Mote in God's Eye is a space opera world. There are poorer and richer worlds, but my impression was that the Empire of Man was mostly reasonably well run and decent. The Motie world was rather harsher, for reasons that drive the plot of that book and its sequel.

Star Wars really does have a lot of (pointless, given the technology) poverty, as does Firefly. But in general, the space opera stories that come to my mind don't look to be places where everyone but the lucky few live in grinding hopeless poverty under constant oppression. I wonder which ones Stross was thinking of.

#848 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 03:43 PM:


Models for space travel. Most of them are predicated on trips that take, at best, many days, up to months or even years (never mind interstellar STL), with no opportunity for stopovers. Passengers will need food, and more than just snacks, they will need sleeping quarters, they will need something to keep them from being bored out of their skulls, and they may need emergency medical attention. All this sounds more like a cruise liner than the #47 bus.

Whether the liner is owned or operated by a public utility or a commercial enterprise will made little difference.

For similar reasons, private personal spaceships tend to resemble billionaire superyachts more than cars, although the presumed technology may make them more affordable.

I have not read the Quadrail books, but presume that something like wormholes are used to cut journey times down to hours or a day or so..

J Homes.

#849 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 03:55 PM:

Craft (Alchemy) @841: I can't offhand think of a space opera which portrays a public interstellar transport system of any kind

The two that immediate leap to mind are Dune (which is sort of cargo-container-meets-RV, wherein the spacers don't want any of those icky ground-lubber types loose on their ship, so your yacht-pod, with you, all of your cargo, and your life-support are loaded wholesale into the starship—which is actually a pretty neat idea, and I'd be fascinated to see somebody do a rail/ocean-going variant in today's world*)

The other is Heinlein's Starman Jones, which is basically luxury ocean liners in space.

Also, there's Bujold's stuff, which basically has variations on rail travel, only in space.

As for public transportation, as in city and regional busses and the like, I can't think of any analogs. I think, in the stuff I've encountered, that the presumption is that interstellar travel is going to be expensive, so jaunting between worlds is not something the hoi polloi are going to get up to much.

* Just think: be able to travel and sleep in your own bed every night.... Well, okay, RVs cover that to a large extent, but there's bound to be some economy of scale to be exploited, there.

#850 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 04:50 PM:

Thinking more about space opera:

Star Trek: The Federation looks like a pretty nice place to live. Not remotely crapsack.

Babylon 5: This is a little closer to Charlie's notion--we at least see that a lot of people hanging out in B5 are living in hard conditions with little physical security and few resources. I'm not sure how common that is galaxy-wide, though. Earthgov is pretty nasty overall, though much less in the sense of people in material want than in the sense of a nasty police state and psycorps able to do whatever it wants to them.

Known Space (Niven's works): Life is pretty nice, but on Earth and in our solar system, pretty regimented, too. My impression is that most people don't feel especially oppressed, but that posing a serious challenge to the ARMs is a good way to end up disappeared and forgotten. At the beginning of Ringworld, Louis Wu has a 200th birthday party where he uses transport booths to bounce all around the world, and he thinks that it's a pity that all the world's cities are becoming kind-of similar because travel between them is so effortless.

A Deepness in the Sky is at least kind-of a space opera. I don't know what the average state of humans is in that world. We see a few instances in flashbacks ranging from extremely nice, high-tech societies to blasted-back-to-the-stone-age survivors squatting in the ruins. At least some people live in crapsack worlds (anyone on the Emergents' three worlds, people living right before their civilization hits its limits and crashes, people for several centuries after the crash). And Pham's memories are biased by the fact that Qeng Ho doesn't like traveling places where there's not an advanced civilization there to trade with--otherwise, they can't service their spaceships or buy supplies or sell anything. Things are probably pretty lousy for most humans in that story.

#851 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 05:26 PM:

Steve C. @836
Flenikin's Webster pastiche was a single large panel in the comic, but now you have me wishing she'd done a whole issue of them. The tabloid was (if memory isn't yanking me again) a one-sheet the folded down to about the size of a regular underground comic, and may have been to raise money for the Air Pirates who were still under a Disney lawsuit at the time.

I can't get enough of Shary Flenikin's comics. I recall she also did a set of illustrations for an Ed Bluestone piece in National Lampoon called "Telling a Kid His Parents are Dead." I am often reminded of the one where a clerical-looking gent is apparently wrapping up an explanation with, "And that's why God threw your parents in front of that bus."

#852 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 05:32 PM:

Here's something pleasant. I've been playing for about a year with a group that does Irish music at a location on campus once a week, with whoever shows up playing from music. For a while, I played my accordion, but that got cumbersome and I started bringing a keyboard instead. Since that gave me two hands with which I should be playing, I worked on filling in with chords in the left hand (usually provided on the music, but not always).

And I've gotten better at that. I'm way faster reaching for those chords, less hesitant, and all that good stuff. I can even take out one of my fake books and play two-handed from it. I can't help but feel that this will be useful if I ever get the chance to participate in some actual jamming one day.

#853 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 09:09 PM:

The Book Thing of Baltimore had a severe fire last night and has lost both their building and much of their stock. Their website (which has not yet been updated about the fire -- my info comes from a friend who is a regular patron) has a "Donate" button. If you have the means and the inclination, please consider helping to rebuild a community resource.

#854 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 10:56 PM:

Kip W @851: You remind me of Edward Gorey's limerick:

To his clubfooted child said Lord Stipple,
As he poured his post-prandial tipple,
"Your mother's behaviour
Gave pain to Our Saviour,
And that's why He made you a cripple."

(Originally published in The Listing Attic, his second book.)

#855 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2016, 11:41 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst @840: Well then the bridge expert and the baby food are pronounced alike, and I am mistaken. Still not what I was going for, obviously.

#856 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 06:50 AM:

HLN. Following up on my diagnosis of endometrial cancer from a couple of weeks ago. I had a hysterectomy Wednesday, minimally invasive. Came home yesterday. I feel fairly decent, though still a bit sore and spacey. It's not entirely certain until the biopsy results are back in a couple of weeks, but the tumor was small and contained and of a less-worrying cell type, and it seems unlikely I will require any radiation or chemo. Planning to stay out of the office all next week though checking email, but expect to be back at work after that. I appreciate the good thoughts and prayers from this community.

Here is today's PSA: If your current anatomical configuration includes a uterus, and you are post-menopausal, any amount of bleeding, even light spotting, should be checked out. If I hadn't been going to my primary care doc for some unrelated overdue preventive maintenance, I don't know that I would have bothered to go just for my initial symptoms. And with this, as with all forms of cancer, early detection is good.

#857 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 07:27 AM:

OtterB @856:

This is good to hear; thank you for the update. You're in my prayers.

#858 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 07:34 AM:

Yay good news. Boo Book Thing fire.

#859 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 08:33 AM:

OtterB (856): Good to hear. May all be well.

And thank you for the valuable PSA.

#860 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 09:46 AM:

@OtterB: (picture a thumbs up emoji)

#861 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 01:22 PM:

HLN: Local woman watches in stupefaction as backhoe in neighboring vacant lot does its thing next to a man whose sole job is to hold a powerline out of the way...using a 2x4 with a notch in it.

Ah, small towns!

#862 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 03:21 PM:

OtterB @856: Oh, good that you could get the "minimally invasive" approach. Take it easy and best wishes for good news on the follow-up.

#863 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 06:28 PM:

Tom Whitmore @854:
That is one of my two favorite Gorey limericks! The other is:

Each night Father fills me with dread
As he sits at the foot of my bed.
I'd not mind that he speaks
In gibbers and squeaks,
But, for seventeen years, he's been dead.

#864 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2016, 08:20 PM:

Kip W @863: I always remember this one:

The partition of Vavasour Scowles
Was a sickener -- they came on his bowels
In a firkin. His brains
Were found clogging the drains
And his fingers wrapped up in some towels.

But there are so many others of his. He was one of the greats.

#865 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2016, 03:58 PM:

The "support group for people unfairly maligned in historical fiction" was very good.

#866 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Here I am, going about my lawful occasions marking student papers. Up float these statements, causing my poor brain to wonder why there isn't a bar on my corner.

Emma Goldman was a revolutionist, socialist, feminist, teacher, and women which landed her the title as a “Crusader” in the sense that she could not allow individuals to be stripped of their liberties, and forced to live in what government thought to be harmonious societies.

Even though he wanted his scholars to read his writings and learn his teachings, he wanted to present a challenge. Wanting students to use the best of their ability in order to excel in academic settings.

He [Hitler] was very hard working and committed to what he believed in; however, he lacked passion for all of the people he served by killing millions of people within the Germany society during his reign.

He explains that the progression of science and technology can be great thing, but it can also be used in horrendous ways, as exhibited during World War I. We must choose leaders who will only use them for good.

Even after 1961 when the civil war began women and African Americans were still being deprived of these rights.

Without a government entity violence and destruction would though to occur as well which lead to the mere fact that Goldman’s Anarchic political views could not be seen through but essentially opposed because it was harmful and wrong to follow or practice among a society.

One could say that a visionary could promote hope in others to do something that would in turn create results but I believe Weber was fixed on trying to keep his lecture as simplistic as possible.

In the presidencies of Hoover, FDR, Bush and Obama the most important aspects of their terms were their results or lack thereof giving the political circumstance of the time.

In the lifestyle that slaves endure Christianity demands that slaves be humble, stagnant, and friendly in order to receive access in to the heavens upon their death.

Nietzsche view that the truly noble or free spirit person is one who sets his or her own rules to obeyed by is understandable.

#867 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2016, 06:56 PM:

Change "obeyed" to "abide," and that last one almost makes sense.

#868 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2016, 09:03 PM:

"He [Hitler] was very hard working and committed to what he believed in; however, he lacked passion for all of the people he served by killing millions of people within the Germany society during his reign."

And who were all these people he served by killing those millions?

#869 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2016, 11:29 PM:

Oh, Jacque -- look here!

#870 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 04:40 AM:

Lee: D'awwww.... Poor kids, they look terrified. I'm guessing they're about three months old. And: they match!


HLN: Local guinea pig is confronted with Horrible Dilemma. Stay out, and look at girl guinea pigs? Or go in, and eat dinner, possibly to get locked up for the night by local human. Local guinea pig is hungry! But: girl guinea pigs! It's a conundrum....

#871 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 05:03 AM:

Oh, also: local human realizes local guinea pig celebrated 7th birthday on February 12th just passed. Local girl guinea pig will be 7 coming up March 10. Considering average life span is five to seven years, local human is impressed. (Third and fourth guinea pigs are approximately 6.5.)

The New Guinea Pig Palace has turned into a Senior Living establishment, observes local servant monkey.

#872 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 12:58 PM:

I'm traveling this weekend, and I read the question of interstellar public transport before leaving home. I couldn't quite make sense of it, and J. Homes just made me see why. Well, the combination of United Airlines, Amtrak, and J. Homes.

What matters in most stories is hope far the traveler is going. How long the journey takes. How much it costs. How comfortable it is. In this case, distance and cost are the same. I sirens about 5 hours longer on the public vehicle (but 2 hours longer waiting for the private one.) And the public vehicle is much more comfortable, with both physical comforts and people being more courteous to me.

#873 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 01:55 PM:

I've been trying to make the no-Trump joke work for weeks. Like "I don't believe one suit should be favored over another." Needless to say, I have failed.

Cassy 830: That's true in the system I learned, called Precision. They got the idea from the Blue Club system played by the Italian (?) Blue Team. Except that in Precision 1♣ doesn't deny having a preferred suit, but only states 16+ points. It certainly does NOT claim ♣s as a preferred suit.

David 838 & Tom 839: On the TV commercials they use a hard G as in goat, glass, and gastronomy. I wouldn't call that vowel a schwa, but then I wouldn't call it a vowel at all, being rather a direct transition to the liquid R in my dialect (which is rhotic).

OtterB 856: I haven't been keeping up, but I'm so glad the news is good, and will begin sending good thoughts.

#874 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 03:08 PM:

It's true that the most immediate predecessor to Precision was the Italian team's Blue Club (although in fact the players on the Blue Team played a number of different systems) but the idea of a strong artificial and forcing 1 Club bid dates back almost to the earliest days of contract bridge. See for example Harold Vanderbilt's 1929 book, Contract Bridge Bidding and the Club Convention.

#875 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 04:22 PM:

Yeah -- it's been obvious that 1C as a natural bid conveys nowhere near enough information for about as long as folks have used conventional bidding. And it doesn't even have any pre-emptive value, like 1NT!

#876 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 05:59 PM:

HLN: I swore that I would get the information for taxes pulled together this weekend. I've gotten several things done that i've been meaning to do for ages. It's now Sunday at 6pm. Maybe I'll start on the taxes now?

#877 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 06:00 PM:

...poking at the server to release a comment, I hope ...

#878 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 09:24 PM:

David 874: All true. But the people who created Precision said (in the Precision book) that they got it from the Blue Club.

Tom 875: That's exactly why it was picked as the forcing bid for a high hand: you have lots of bidding space to find the highest contract you can make.

#879 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2016, 09:40 PM:

janetl, #876: It's called "productive procrastination".

#880 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2016, 09:15 AM:

Eric @868: I think the student was trying to say that Hitler lacked compassion for the people he served (i.e. German citizens), and that his killing of so many was proof of this, but the two clauses sort of crashed into each other...

#881 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2016, 03:32 PM:

Trump voters in the Guardian.

They're somewhat consistent with my own observations on more conservative blogs, but I haven't noticed nearly as much of the "the worse, the better" attitude as was apparent in many of the Trump supporters.

Talking with intelligent Trump supporters I've encountered online, I've noticed something I've noticed many times before in political rifts in the country--I broadly agree with many of them on the existence of many problems, but don't much care for their proposed solutions.

A very common thread I've noticed among Trump supporters online is a complete lack of trust in elites of both parties. (But especially a sense of betrayal from the Republican elites.) And I can't disagree with this distrust--our ruling class looks to me to be made of people who are extremely good at getting and keeping power and maintaining connections and status, but who are neither particularly honest, nor particularly moral, nor particularly competent at actually running things. A look at our wars, how Congress functions, how the media functions, the details of our spying and war on terror policies that have come out, etc., does *not* support the notion that the ruling class is good at actually ruling. (It's not just that they're not running things for our benefit, though clearly they're not. They often seem to be running things into the ground that they and their social class depend on, too.) This takes the sting out of the accusation that Trump isn't a real conservative--if you don't think the conservative movement has any interest in your well-being, not being a real conservative is a plus.

Another very common thread is a belief that massive immigration (legal and illegal) in the last couple decades has had a huge impact on our society, but that there has been pretty-much no support from either party for limiting it. And again, I can't disagree with this--I suspect many Trump supporters overestimate the bad impact of immigration and underestimate the good impact, but it, like many other really critical issues for the direction of the country, is something on which the voters' feedback isn't particularly wanted. It seems 100% legitimate to me that people want to have a say in something that has such a huge impact on our society.

And I've seen a lot of far-right discussions that sound for all the world like they could be taking place at a Sanders rally. There's a recognition that the political and social system has been increasingly redesigned to benefit the people at the top, the neoclassical economics intellectual framework that's convinced most of the people at the top that free trade is a pure win[1], that antitrust law seems to be a thing of the past, that the Republican party is enormously more concerned about lowering the capital gains rate 1% than by doing anything that would make life better for the majority of its voters. And so on.

I've seen a lot of impatience with the war on terror (both its bomb-the-third-world-peasants wing, and the spy-on-everyone wing), alongside a notion that we could do away with it in exchange for curtailing the freedoms of Arabs and Muslims. (My impression is that this is often based on an overestimate of the actual danger from terrorist attacks in the US, but also is genuine dislike for Muslims, along with a belief that Muslim immigration into the US will lead to the kind of problems with both terrorism and a long-term underclass that the UK and even more France have seen.)

I don't know that I've understood their beliefs well, and I'm sure I'm not getting a representative sample, but this is how I visualize the more-or-less intelligent and informed end of the Trump vote. Of course, there's also a big uninformed, unintelligent bloc of Trump voters, as there is for every other candidate. Candidates who appeal mainly to the smart, informed, educated people and not to the rest of the voters tend to end up with single-digit vote totals.

[1] I think free trade is a win about 95%+ of the time, FWIW.

#882 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2016, 04:03 PM:

Re Trump voters: I thought this Vox article about the link between authoritarian thinking OR fear of physical harm (not necessarily both) and support of Trump was interesting:

#883 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2016, 04:51 PM:


I certainly haven't read the literature they reference, but that article left me with the suspicion that they were identifying a particular subset of common beliefs in the US with authoritarianism. (The hint there was the notion of "latent authoritarianism" which would only come out when someone was frightened of terrorists, crime, etc. That felt to me like a bandaid stuck to a problem with their model of the world.)

I can't help suspecting that there are a great many authoritarian follower types in the US, and that their major differences involve which authorities and proprieties they feel must always be followed. I wonder how much the child-raising questions reflect regional and social-class differences which then track with ideology by correlation.

#884 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2016, 06:30 PM:

I think one of the better exchanges on leadership was from The American President, written by Aaron Sorkin:

Lewis Rothschild: You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.

President Andrew Shepherd: Look, if the people want to listen to-...

Lewis Rothschild: They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.

#885 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2016, 10:13 PM:

albatross: What do you call a hypothesis which consistently makes correct predictions? This is not a trick question.

#886 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2016, 08:49 AM:

I would call it a "promising theory." After all, that's what hypotheses are called when they grow up.

#887 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2016, 01:28 PM:

albatross @833: they were identifying a particular subset of common beliefs in the US with authoritarianism

Actually, my understanding is that it's more a personality type and value set than a belief system. Here's a good reference for what I think they're using the term "authoritarians" to describe.

#888 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2016, 06:04 PM:

AKICIML: Does anyone know if email spam filters consider similar text in multiple emails from the same source a spam thing?

Currently having a lowkey argument with someone about email. I'm taking the position that starting every email with the same two words (usually the same whole paragraph) is a Very Bad Idea. So far I've been arguing that people will take one look and decide not to read further, but if it also makes the email more likely to end up in a spam trap that would strengthen my case.

I do not, however, want to strengthen my case with falsehood, not being Donald Trump.

#889 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2016, 06:20 PM:

No, beginning every email to a given recipient or set of recipients in the same way will not typically trigger any spam filters.

The only way it might do so is if some number of emails starting this way were being detected or classified as spam for some other reason, and the receiving site or spam filtering service were using a probabilistic learning classifier (like Gmail's spam filters, for example.) In that case, the first group of emails being classed as spam could cause other emails resembling them to have an increased probability of being classed as spam, which might cause other emails beginning the same way to be considered spam.

If you're sending a set of emails beginning the same way to lots and lots of different people at the same time, even if they all specifically want it, that's potentially riskier if it hits a threshold where it triggers similarity/bulk detection on some recipient site. That's probably not something they would need to worry about unless they're running a mailing list, though - talking hundreds or thousands, maybe 10s of thousands, not dozens.

Source: one of my previous careers, doing ISP spam filtering

#890 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 06:21 AM:

re 888: We started using MS TFS within the last year, and as soon as MS Outlook introduced its "clutter" feature, it started trapping the flood of email that TFS churns out. These emails are all very similar forms, so while it is possible that MS recognized from the start that most TFS emails are uninformative or duplicative junk, I have to think that Outlook was originally triggered by the volume and similarity of the texts.

#892 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 12:12 PM:

HLN: Local human participates in event put on by their (UU) congregation's music director: 130 people, some of whom have never sung in any kind of choir before, come together for a 4 hour rehearsal and choral performance. Local human discovers that they are a tenor, not an alto as previously assumed(!).

Local human also realizes that Unitarian Universalists have religious music too, and is not sure what their feelings on the topic are other than, vaguely, "good, this is good."

Local human likes singing, would like to do it more.

#893 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 12:32 PM:

Pfusand, #886: Exactly. My first thought, after reading the part about "latent authoritarianism" and even more after the part about how non-authoritarians who are frightened enough can be pushed into behaving like authoritarians, was, "FINALLY, something that explains Fox Geezer Syndrome in a way that makes sense!"

Which also suggests that I've been right all along in saying that the first step toward recovering America's sanity must be to rein in Fox News. Stop the source of the contagion and people will slowly recover.

estelendur, #892: Yay! Female tenors unite! What's the bottom of your range? I can get down to E below middle C singably, and on a good day (or early in the morning) up to a 3rd below that.

#894 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 12:47 PM:

Lee @893, I have no idea to be honest :P I could go look at the scores and see how low they got, I suppose, or find some pitch-producing tool online and try matching.

There's also an important difference between "note I can sing" and "note I can sing with significant volume"; these are moderately different ranges.

#895 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 12:50 PM:

BTW, I was just in Barnes & Noble... For some reason, I had thought that Piers Anthony had died a year or few ago, and was startled to see three new paperbacks by him. A quick poke around the net showed no indication of his demise, so now I'm wondering how I got confused. While I'd become disenchanted¹ with his work, it certainly wasn't to the point of "he's dead to me"!

In other book-related news, I just got the Virginia Festival of the Book's "one-week warning" mailing, and was surprised to find myself featured in one of the photos! (The photo doesn't seem to be online otherwise.) While I'm not upset, I also don't recall signing a model release form. (I sent them a mildly chiding note to that effect.)

¹ so to speak ;-)

#896 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 03:12 PM:

David @895, one of his daughters passed away a few years ago, perhaps that's what you're remembering.

#897 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 03:36 PM:

Apropos of nothing, some Blasts from the Past from Justin B Rye, found by way of a comment on Charlie Stross's blog:

A Primer in SF Xenolinguistics. (Favorite bit: "... psychic 'language chameleons' that can reply in any dialect they encounter (be careful not to use 'royal we' back to God‐Emperors).")

A Guide to SF Chronophysics. (Favorite bit: "Fun things to do... Release cloned Michael Crichtons into the Jurassic".)

Futurese: The American Language in 3000 AD.. No "favorite bit", because it broke my brain, but some folks here are linguistically hardier.

#898 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2016, 06:33 PM:

David Harmon @897, thanks for posting those; I'd not seen them before!

#899 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 06:40 AM:

Cassy B. #898: Indeed, I (probably) hadn't either, my "blast from the past" comment came from noting their dates.

#900 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 07:52 AM:

Hmm. I don't recall the VA Book Festival dealing with fanfiction before, and this is a significant one:

Author Terésa Dowell-Vest (The Death of Cliff Huxtable, 1937-2015…So We Can Survive Bill Cosby) will discuss her fan-fiction novel imagining how the Huxtables would cope with the death of their patriarch, and in so doing, helps fans separate the beloved TV Dad from the actor who played him.

For the author's words from I figured if we kill off Cliff Huxtable, maybe we can finally separate Bill Cosby from the man he played from the man he is.

#901 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 07:59 AM:

I've been thinking about inherited retrofutures, lately.

First in regards to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No Spoilers, but there are several plot moments that would go down very differently if the Empire had access to, say, implantable trackers to put in one's enslaved labor force, or portable mobile communicators issued to major officers.

Star Wars, for all its ridonkulous amazeballs hoverbike tech, is very clearly a future of the 1970s. It has communications networks and data sharing, but not The Internet in all its glorious crowd-to-crowd glory, and certainly not mobile technology or microminiaturized anything-much.

I was prompted to comment by Dave Bell over in the Gentleman Jole spoiler thread pointing out that Beta Colony really doesn't have anything like ubiquitous on-body personal communications and computing, when they obviously would if they were invented in, say, 1998. But they weren't. They're a product of the early 80s, so they have communicators that work about like Star Trek's and "comconsoles" that are very, very carefully not-all-that-described to avoid being Jossed by future technology developments.

As our pop culture moves into having more and more big franchises running at once, and as we get more ongoing SF worlds that have been active and published about for 20+ years, we're going to have authors having to choose between fossilizing their world as a future-of-the-past or needing to retcon things into it.

I bought the recently-issued mass ebook edition of Diane Duane's The Young Wizards series, and was shocked to find in the beginning that she's changed when they're set: they start in 2008 now. I've spotted at least one very clumsy update of wording to make a pop culture/kid playthings change away from its original (now-when-written) period piece status, and will be on the look for more.

#902 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 09:13 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #901:

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller published their first space opera novel in 1988, inaugurating a setting that they're still adding to. Along about ten years ago, they wrote a prequel which made a point of mentioning that the ancestors of the Liadens (the group most of the protagonists belong to) happened to be firmly against a list of technologies that includes mobile phones, genetic engineering and a few other things that a 21st-century reader might otherwise find conspicuous by their absence. That let them handwave the absence of those things in the earlier novels, while leaving them room to bring them in later - the very next novel published in the setting is set on a non-Liaden world where mobile smart devices are ubiquitous.

(Come to think of it, though, it actually makes internal sense that mobile phones never caught on with Liadens: their language makes heavy use of hand gestures and other body language, which wouldn't really come across through a hand-held comm device.)

#903 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 09:15 AM:

Paul A @902: Um. YouTube and Skype are HUGE in the US Deaf community, because it's a great way to get your message across when you're using a manual/gestural/facial expression communication system.

#904 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 10:23 AM:

Wanted: Feminism 101 and Privilege Theory instructor. Must also have a firm grasp of intersectionality, being able to like problematic things, that well-meaning white people can still hurt marginalized groups, and explain why the outrage from people who want to oppress others is different from the outrage from people who have been continually oppressed.

(Friend means well, she really does, but every time I think she almost gets it, she'll go on a tear about feminists who always complain about everything, or why do people have to tear down Rowling for trying to be inclusive of Native Americans in her history on Pottermore, or something. I try gentle correction, but it just makes her more upset. Sorry, I'm a white dude living in the US, and unless you want my personal opinion on whether your depictions of jews, atheists, or bi people is ok, I don't get to have an opinion on whether other people should or shouldn't be upset by things they're affected by.)

#905 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 12:49 PM:

KeithS: Ran across the finallyfeminism101 blog yesterday. The FAQs may be especially pertinent. If she'd be willing to read it....

#907 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 01:58 PM:

Elliott Mason@901: I was just delighted that in The Force Awakens, the computer interfaces (X-wing targeting systems, etc) were exactly as they were in the original trilogy. In the Star Wars universe no-one pointlessly mucks around with a perfectly usable GUI.

#908 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 02:01 PM:

Jacque @906 Your link goes to reddit, not xkcd.

#909 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 02:04 PM:

Elyse, I think it was intended to, as the Reddit post is talking about xkcd #806.

#910 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 03:01 PM:

Carrie S.: Correct. Essentially, "Please make user support work this way!" And then a pointer to one that actually does.

#911 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Steve @907: I've been watching the Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels TV series (to fill in my knowledge of the canon interstitial events), and in Rebels in particular (which takes place between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy -- between Episodes III and IV) I'm continually surprised and impressed as they carefully advance the tech, for example introducing the first experimental B-wing and showing its combat advantages over other currently-extant fighter models.

#912 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 05:25 PM:

I notice fixed futures vs moving-target futures in fiction, though mostly in things set on Earth in the next century or so. Nora Roberts' JD Robb books are a favorite example: in one book, a list of famous (and thus bombable) New York City landmarks includes the World Trade Center. A few (or a dozen, this is not a small series) books later, the inciting body turns up in a 9/11 memorial park. Similar things have happened in the series regarding marriage equality.

#913 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 05:45 PM:

Elliott @ #911: I think there was one episode of Clone Wars in which Padme had a handheld communicator, but otoh it was clearly enough of a novelty in the SW universe that she was able to trick her captors into turning it *on*, whereupon she announced her status to C3PO before they could figure out what it was and how to turn it off again.

#914 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2016, 07:39 PM:

Jacque, #910: Maybe so, but some indication that it was NOT in fact a pointer to XKCD would have been welcome. I was... less than pleased to find myself unexpectedly on Reddit.

#915 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 08:23 AM:

Elliott Mason @ #903:

I confess I was primarily thinking of audio-only handheld communication devices, because I'm enough of an old fogey to still think of that as the unmarked default of mobile phone communication.

On reflection, though, I don't see a handheld video phone working out - as a comment on the specific features of the Liaden language, not intended as a general statement of limitation on manual/gestural/facial communication. (A camera in a fixed position is another story - it's one of those sci-fi settings with ubiquitous video phones.) Liadens speak with both hands, not to mention with the position of their feet and the inclination of their torso; even if a Liaden could speak fluently while holding a video camera in one hand, I'm not confident the camera would give a clear picture of what they were saying. And while it would be possible to adapt and produce a version of the language that could be spoken with one hand occupied, it's much more in the Liaden character as I understand it to say, "Our language is fine as it is, it's the technology's fault for not being able to handle it" and to abandon the technology.

#916 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 09:45 AM:

What's the Liaden tech level? I can imagine cell phones with automatic snap-out tripods, or more simply, screens being common on walls. In effect, they never lose their pay phones.

Either one would have consequences-- not being able to talk while doing something else, but they already have much less ability to do that than people on earth do.

#917 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 10:09 AM:

Apropos of real-world full-body (or at least upper-body) communication: Deaf architecture.

#918 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 10:30 AM:

Jacque @ 905:

Thanks for that. Don't know how much it'll help, but I've decided I'm done trying to educate her. If she says something truly egregious, I'll speak up, but until then I'll let her run herself down and then get back to having a different conversation with her later. Mostly I was just venting.

Elliott Mason @ 901:

Retrofutures are interesting. Partly it might be because they're possibly even more alien than they were when they were written. For the Star Wars movies and other media set around a similar time period a bit of a pass, it is A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away, and it's an identifiable part of the aesthetic. I'm less thrilled about discovering that the level of technology has apparently been stagnant for thousands of years, according to EU stuff. Not that everything has to be the constant rush and churn of change that we have here and now, but still.

The internet and then cellphones seem to have blindsided a lot of people. So many classic SF stories would be completely different with a pocket computer with practically instant communication, instead of slide rules and paper and a lot of waiting. Of course, it still seems that there are a lot of modern stories that ignore that aspect too, but they seem to be getting better.

I'm not sure what the right answer for long-running series is. You can only retcon so much before the overall frame of the story breaks. (The Rocky Horror Show would be much shorter and less interesting if Brad and Janet had cellphones.) Maybe the answer is simply that long-running series aren't entirely tenable. I'll have to think some more.

I also wonder if part of the appeal of Steampunk is that because it's alternate history already, nothing from the present can upset it, and, in fact, present day ideas can be mined for inspiration.

And, of course, Charlie Stross has observed on numerous occasions that the progress of time has a way of interfering with his books.

#919 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 01:01 PM:

Rocky Horror could be fixed very easily.

The car breaks down, and Brad and Janet discover that they are in one of the many rural places where you can't get a phone signal. Even in the densely-populated UK there are places on main roads ("A-roads" in UK parlance) which don't get signal. I don't know the details of the stage production, what happens when, but you can drop a mention in. Perhaps when Riff Raff opens the door.

BRAD. Oh: Uh: Ahh: Hi there, we're in a bit of a spot, I wonder could you help us - our car is broken down about two miles back - we can't get a cellphone signal - do you have a telephone we might use ... ?

Six words and you've covered the changes, but it is arguably a period piece anyway. It's no later than the the early seventies, and arguably the theme is the exposure of fifties-style innocence to the swinging sixties (which notoriously only happened to a few hundred people in London). These days, while Brad might wear a suit for a wedding...

Actually, it's the internet and the alt,sex FAQ which kills the plot, not cellphones.

#920 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 01:02 PM:

Rocky Horror could be fixed very easily.

The car breaks down, and Brad and Janet discover that they are in one of the many rural places where you can't get a phone signal. Even in the densely-populated UK there are places on main roads ("A-roads" in UK parlance) which don't get signal. I don't know the details of the stage production, what happens when, but you can drop a mention in. Perhaps when Riff Raff opens the door.

BRAD. Oh: Uh: Ahh: Hi there, we're in a bit of a spot, I wonder could you help us - our car is broken down about two miles back - we can't get a cellphone signal - do you have a telephone we might use ... ?

Six words and you've covered the changes, but it is arguably a period piece anyway. It's no later than the the early seventies, and arguably the theme is the exposure of fifties-style innocence to the swinging sixties (which notoriously only happened to a few hundred people in London). These days, while Brad might wear a suit for a wedding...

Actually, it's the internet and the alt,sex FAQ which kills the plot, not cellphones.

#921 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 03:06 PM:

It's scary I think about how little RHS (or, more to the point, RHPS, since I'm not familiar with RHS) would need to be updated. Most of the plot takes place in the castle, separated from the rest of society.

Perhaps a little more to explain why Brad and Janet are so innocent (a comment at the original wedding about their denomination being strict, for instance), some changes to props and setting (have them be on the road they are on because of bad GPS instructions, followed by loss-of-signal to explain the lack of cell phones, etc). It wouldn't make sense to have Nixon's resignation speech on the radio (not that it made sense in the movie, either), but that's unimportant.

But I don't think it would be too hard to update it.

#922 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 03:43 PM:

The movie, at least, is set August 8, 1974, because Janet and Brad are listening to Richard Nixon resigning ("America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress") on the radio.

It is REMOTELY possible that it could have been a few days later, the broadcast being a repeat. But I doubt a nice Young Republican type like Brad would have wanted to listen to that speech a second time.

#923 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 03:50 PM:

I actually think some of the text is dated in a pretty bad way. Calling the planet Transexual wouldn't go over so well, for example. And being offensive to LGBT people would rob the remake of a huge section of its market.

I just don't see the point of remaking it. It's a classic. It's THE classic Cult Movie (so bad it's good) and any change will cause its cult (many of whom have the entire movie memorized) to revolt. And if you're NOT changing anything, why remake it? Seems like a stupid idea to me.

#924 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 04:22 PM:

Dave Bell @ 919 and Buddha Buck @ 921:

My particular example was more for silliness than anything else. True enough that you just need Brad to say that he can't get a signal, and Janet finds her phone's battery has died. And, arguably, that would fit the rest of the complete improbability of Rocky Horror.

If every time a phone would have been useful the writers decide it's unavailable for some reason, is that a failure of writing? It might be appropriate for some stories, but not all stories. Still, that's getting farther afield of the original point, and, more importantly, stories are starting to keep up.

Still, hmm...

Terminator: Police manage to get in touch with Sarah because she had her phone with her. The Terminator doesn't realize anything's amiss, because he never overheard the call on the answering machine.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Internet goes wild with pictures, videos, and blog posts about the sightings. Everyone figures out that the place to be is Devil's Tower. Good luck keeping that secret.

#925 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 04:36 PM:

Keith Emerson has died aged 71.

I'll be over here, listening to Pictures at an exhibition.

2016 really is a shitty year.

#926 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 05:20 PM:

KeithS, #924: If every time a phone would have been useful the writers decide it's unavailable for some reason, is that a failure of writing?

Sometimes it is, for much the same reason that the "communicators stolen / confiscated / broken / jammed" trope got old on ClassicTrek. With functioning communicators a lot of those plots don't work, so something had to be done to take them out of the picture.

There are ways to make it plausible; "out in the sticks where there's no signal" is one of them. Freak accidents can also work, even if they're low-probability (dropped the phone into a puddle or down a gopher hole).

What I consider not plausible (especially if it happens more than once in a series) and a sign of lazy writing are things like: left the phone at home; forgot to recharge the phone; no charging cable in the car (although that one can be made more plausible if the car trouble is an alternator failure and the battery is drained). Multiply by an order of magnitude if the only reason given for any of the above is "she's a ditz". Few things will make me put a book down faster.

Cadbury Moose, #925: Seconded. *****CRASH!***** (sound of a glass shattering in the fireplace)

#927 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 05:50 PM:

Retrofutures - a while back I bought one of those fancy Barnes & Noble leatherbound editions of the Foundation Trilogy, something I read many, many times in the old Avon paperbacks (with those marvelous Don Punchatz covers).

I was disappointed to see that these were the slightly revised editions that came out in 2003. They had attempted to modernize golden-age SF by replacing "atomic" with "nuclear", which led to such jarring phrases like "hypernuclear engines" in place of "hyperatomic".

They had also made some minor changes where the language reflected 1940's phrasing.

One of the charms of revisiting an old classic is the language. It roots the story in the era it came from. I still love to see characters paying for a newspaper in the far future with a credit disk, or getting an important message imprinted in a paper strip unfurling from a "personal capsule" or using a "force field penknife".

While the story isn't ruined, it's not quite what it once was. And I think if the good Doctor was still around, he'd agree with me.

#928 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 06:54 PM:

forgot to recharge the phone

This is normal for me. I don't use the cellphone much, so it tends to be battery-uncharged All The Time.

#929 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 09:05 PM:

All the alien technology in the castle could easily interfere with human cel-phone technology.

#930 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 10:50 PM:

KiethS #924: Terminator: Police manage to get in touch with Sarah because she had her phone with her. The Terminator doesn't realize anything's amiss, because he never overheard the call on the answering machine.

Unless the Terminator is equipped to eavesdrop on cell-phone signals, which is entirely plausible. If I were building a robotic assassin, that would certainly be on my capability checklist!

#931 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 11:18 PM:

By the way: It occurs to me that the T-1000's "liquid metal nanomachines" setup is probably a groaner in its own right: Even carbon-based chemically-driven nanostructures don't much like being exposed to 20% oxygen. (Which is why we have skins.) I'm pretty sure that electrically-driven metallic nanostructures would have an even worse time of it.

#932 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2016, 11:26 PM:

Are we really going to do science criticism on the Terminator movies? Because the briefest summary would be longer than any of the movies.

I'd prefer to just enjoy the fantasy.

#933 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 01:09 AM:

David Harmon @931: I'm pretty sure that electrically-driven metallic nanostructures would have an even worse time of it.

Nu, so you coat the whole business with a stretchy silicon membrane....

#934 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 12:00 PM:

Steve C. @ 927:

Years ago, I plowed through a whole bunch of classic SF at the library. The Foundation trilogy was alternately fascinating and frustrating to me. Some interesting ideas, some way out there, and some that had diverged from reality decades ago. It also convinced me that Asimov was a much better short story writer than a novelist. I could see the paper covering over the cracks between stories.

Tech like the dictation machine that types things as you speak. Let's hope you don't make any mistakes of diction while speaking, or that it doesn't make any mistakes of interpretation. And I'm pretty sure there were slide rules in it too.

In Asimov's other stories, there's Multivac. He was right about ubiquitous networked computer access. So very, very wrong about it being one giant computer instead of a network of billions of them. And printing responses on slips of paper was diverging from reality possibly even at the same time he was writing the stories.

#935 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 12:17 PM:

Authoritarianism and Trump

We've discussed many of these issues here before, but researchers are starting to put them all together.

#936 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 01:47 PM:

Jacque #933: And so much for freeform shapechanging like spikes and on-the-fly tools, not to mention the instahealing. You might be able to keep some general amoebic abilities, but once it has to maintain or preserve a skin (or other differentiated organs), it starts looking more like an actual organism.

Of course, the basic concept has all kinds of other problems, like material loss over time. But then, if you don't expect it to come home anyway....

#937 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 02:07 PM:

Terminator discussion: actually, the nano-machines are made with a complex of handwavium and unobtanium, which have properties unknown to us at the current time. They're ultra-heavy elements from the stable islands in nuclear sea. If I told you any more, I'd have to kill you.

#938 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 05:54 PM:

936 ::: David Harmon @936: You might be able to keep some general amoebic abilities, but once it has to maintain or preserve a skin

Well, no, because the skin is amoebic, too. When you need a tool, you just extrude it extra-skin, in the way that animals have teeth, horns or antlers, and nails. That way you get to have your nice hard, sharp edge for the ten minutes or so that you need it, and then just suck it back inside when you're done. Ten minutes air exposure for a couple of square feet of surface isn't going to be all that damaging, I wouldn't think.

Tom: Don't forget the neutronium to serve as ballast for the unobtanium. (To mix movie universes. :->)

#939 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 06:14 PM:

Jacque: not to mention the Administratium to ensure it never does anything useful.

#940 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 06:36 PM:

Cadbury Moose @939: Actually, Administrontium.

I know because my mom started it, and then later it was modified, retyped, and went fax-viral. :->

#941 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2016, 06:45 PM:

David Harmon @ 935

On the other hand, Trump gets most support in the counties where mortality is increasing for middle-aged white people.

The authoritarianism study found no correlation with demographic factors. I think something's got to be wrong with at least one of the studies.

#942 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 08:27 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #941: Wait, where do you see "no correlation with demographic factors?" I just glanced at both articles again:

The one I linked discusses several different studies, but especially the final "Morning Consult" analysis. They mention demographic issues several times, and that final analysis was explicitly controlling for demographics. Meanwhile, the study you linked was looking at the demographics. So no contradiction, just examining different aspects of the situation. And the "middle-aged mortality" changes from the second article could plausibly be connected to some of the perceived threats discussed in the first.

#943 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 09:52 AM:

Or the perceived threats can drive the mortality changes.

A lot of the mortality difference is from suicide.

Middle-aged and older white folks, epsecially rural ones, who are used to being lower-end middle class are finding themselves unemployed and precarious, verging on bankrupt, and are despairing about it.

This is both the demographic group whose suicide rate has skyrocketed and Trump's strongest base.

#944 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 10:18 AM:

* Spring Forward
* Fall Back
* Summer Jump Up and Down
* Winter rock back and forth muttering and wringing a small piece of cloth

#945 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 11:04 AM:

"What he found was astonishing: Not only did authoritarianism correlate, but it seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator."

It included this link (sorry, I should have checked which of several related links about Trump and authoritarianism you'd posted) which has

"My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter."

Reading the latter more carefully, I found that it doesn't include race or location. I thought it said there were no demographic predictors.

#946 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 12:00 PM:

Jacque #938: Ten minutes air exposure for a couple of square feet of surface isn't going to be all that damaging, I wouldn't think.

Depends on a bunch of factors, but wear-and-tear adds up. Regardless, the thing would be spending a lot of energy/effort identifying and ejecting damaged nanomachines and structures thereof. And as I noted before, it would lose mass progressively over time, especially when it was fighting or otherwise active.

There's also a basic conflict between structural strength for rigid structures, and the T-1000's trademark malleability. Even if it can rearrange its microstructures into rigid material (and undo that afterwards), that's gonna cost energy, and probably take un-cinematic amounts of time.

Bottom line, the thing needs at least four major functions (offhand) for its material, all of which are represented by specialized tissues in real animals: Durability (including corrosion resistance), strength/mobility, rigidity/support, and computation/signalling. In the movie, it was vastly exceeding biological limits on all counts simultaneously. And that's not even considering energy/power issues (source, storage, internal transmission, heat dispersal).

An unobtainium/handwavium complex indeed!

#947 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 07:50 PM:

Stumbled across this while looking for something else:

Rick Santorum to Save Programmers


I'm assuming this is satire. Right? Right??

#948 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2016, 08:25 PM:

Jacque #947: Oh yeah, there's way too many in-jokes for it not to be satire. Which of course, will not keep some non-techies from "thinking" otherwise.

#949 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2016, 10:18 AM:

"Zootopia" is utterly adorable, lots of fun, with a really modern feel and agenda.

#950 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2016, 11:03 AM:

I really intensely enjoyed Zootopia as well! It's a solid buddy-cop movie, it has an female protagonist who gets to do a whole character arc that's not about being female, the animation and worldbuilding is sharp, and I like its pointed (but not anvil-like) message about prejudice and xenophobia.

I am also fond of it being a movie that casually assumes modern technology, rather than only bringing in modern tech as part of a joke or plot point. People on subway cars use tablets, and a new cop in the big city uses Facetime (well, 'Muzzletime') to chat with her parents back on the farm. Because, really, why wouldn't they?

#951 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2016, 11:45 AM:

"Zootopia" is one of the few movies I've ever seen in which characters are constantly using tech the way people do in real life. Oddly enough.

#952 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2016, 09:49 PM:

Interesting: My first tweets about Zootopia were IRT the use of technology:

1/6) Here is something I found significant about #Zootopia.

Judy Hops did not go to the big city in a choo-choo train.

2/6) #Zootopia wasn't a Disney-schmaltz nostalgia city designed to make 1950s midwestern grannies taking kids to a movie feel comfortable.

3/6) It was a modern city. The people used cell phones and tablets. Judy lived next to a gay couple. (Right?) Traffic cameras! Computers!

4/6) #Zootopia is a modern fable aimed squarely & unflinchingly at generations that never knew a Disney-schmaltz past (except ironically?)

5/6) (I grew up when the new Disney films were crap like The Aristocats & they actually put The Song of the South back in theaters!)

6/6) But #Zootopia still managed to be incandescently adorable.

(Apologies for the blanket statement about midwestern 1950s grannies.)

And while I'm at it:

1/3) Compare two Disney movies imagining the future.

#Tomorrowland: Excruciatingly well-meant & cheery, but the future city it pictures...

2/3) post-war corporate image-ad and Popular Mechanix. Jet packs and Wonder Science, put together by a hero inventor class.

3/3) #Zootopia has the high tech, but is a city is *built for the inhabitants.* An inclusive civic project; colorful, messy, and...human?

#953 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2016, 11:24 PM:

A couple of links that might be of interest to other people here.

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer is doing a reread of the Vorkosigan books at She's doing it in internal chronological order, and is onto her second post about Falling Free.

A map of the earth showing wind currents at different altitudes, ocean waves, and more, updated regularly with recent data.

#954 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 06:59 AM:

#952 ::: Stefan Jones

Now that you mention it, I grew up with loony tunes cartoons, and I'm not sure when the iconography (editors with green eyeshades, prisoners in black and white stripes) was from. The forties?

And as for irony, I don't think it was around then, we had to scrape by with cynicism from Mad Magazine.

#955 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 08:57 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz

This isn't exactly the same thing as a key to the iconography of the Warner Brothers cartoons, but Eric Costello's Warner Brothers Cartoon Companion is an invaluable glossary of specific references to once-current events called out in the classic cartoons.

Looking at the fine print, I see that I'm partly responsible for it being available online, and when I was Monkey Number One (aka the OE or CM) at Apatoons, I was serializing the WBCC in the apa.

It grieves me that fewer children nowadays are shouting "TURN OFF THAT LIGHT!" without quite knowing why.

#956 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 09:49 AM:

Keith at 953: cool map! Clicking and dragging rotates it, utterly fascinating.

#957 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 02:20 PM:

Lila, Lee, Nancy, David: (Trump and authoritarianism)

Sorry, I had to drop out of the conversation for a bit thanks to a spoon-shortage.

I've read Altermeyer's book on authoritarianism, though it's been several years, so I hope I'm remembering things clearly. It seems like a plausible way to divide up the human race, but I kept thinking while I read the book that it would be hard to distinguish a fundamental difference in peoples' nature or outlook from a cultural split that just happened to exist in the country and that tracked loosely with politics.

There's also this sort of question that's left open, talking about authoritarians, about which authorities they think should be obeyed and given respect. I remember wondering if you couldn't change who got the authoritarian label quite a bit by changing *which* authorities were referred to in the polls. Judges are authority figures, and supreme court justices most of all, yet I doubt the average person defined by Altermeyer as an authoritarian was outraged by Wendy Davis' actions.

In the article Lila linked to, they talked about some questions to categorize authoritarian-follower-ism based on what behavior should be expected of children[1]. Maybe that's catching something really important and fundamental about their worldview, but it seems at least as likely that what they're catching is a cultural difference that correlates with political and social and religious views, race, ethnicity, religion, education level, etc. It seems very hard to avoid this--I can ask you whether you think humans evolved, and use this to predict with pretty fair accuracy whether or not you think we should ban Muslim immigration or impose gun control. Similarly, you can ask questions about what sports or TV shows I like, and get a pretty good guess about my race and age. And so on.

I am also automatically pretty skeptical of:

a. Attempts to psychoanalyze the other side of a political dispute.

b. Recently-tuned-up models that just happen to explain today's big phenomenon in the news.

[1] Though maybe I'm the target market for their article, because my answers to all four of those questions were non-authoritarian, and I'm pretty sure those answers wouldn't have changed if asked in a different context.

#958 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 07:25 PM:

I liked that Zootopia switched partway through from being about one oppressed group to another. It's a film about racism where everyone is black, almost. I hadn't even noticed the difference in the city; I was too busy marveling at the naked animals having less explicit anatomy than the Angry Birds ad in the lobby.

I (1984) once had a pretty good conversation with my dad (1951) about cartoons we'd both seen. I missed a lot of the shortcut stereotypes, though.

#959 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 07:30 PM:

It's actually a film about racism where everyone is black.

You can tell because "just being a good person" solved the problem, which is entirely a white view of systemic oppression.

It's also a film about racism in a world that has no institutionalized privilege or power axis -- predators are BOTH in positions of power AND being profiled by the police. This is not how racism works in our world, but oh well.

#960 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 07:41 PM:

#958: I love how exquisitely uncomfortable the heroes were in a nudist colony despite the animals having not the slightest sign of genitals or secondary sexual characteristics.

#961 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 07:46 PM:

ARGH "where everyone is white" is how my thing should read.

Specifically, intersectional oppression doesn't operate, though everyone is a little oppressed for some reasons.

#962 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 08:55 PM:

Albatross at #957, I think your point works better with Kim Davis than with Wendy Davis.

#963 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 09:04 PM:

KeithS #953:
Neat map. Been checking in ever since Cyclone Lusi two years ago. That was also when someone else thought some of the patterns were reminiscent of van Gogh & made this mashup.

#964 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 10:29 PM:

Allan, #962: Thank you! I was wondering why anyone would think that Authoritarians wouldn't be outraged by Wendy Davis, who is the epitome of an "uppity woman" to hierarchalists. Kim Davis, now -- that makes more sense, as she was supporting an authoritarian shibboleth. That whole "alswering to a Higher Law" thing; judges and the Supreme Court are still lower on the totem pole than God.

#965 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 11:09 PM:

Elliott Mason @961: You can tell because "just being a good person" solved the problem, which is entirely a white view of systemic oppression.

Huh. This is interesting to me as a reading of the movie--and maybe it's because I am white--because I initially thought you were missing a 'not' in there somewhere. One of the things I was most impressed by in the film was the way in which the protagonist made a very serious error while acting under good intentions, realized this, and explicitly stated that whatever her intentions, the effects showed she was wrong. And refused to take credit for her good intentions because of the actual effects. It seemed to be making a point that just being a good person who means well isn't enough.

It's not often I see the "Meaning well isn't an excuse when you end up hurting people" thing called out so pointedly in fiction. Especially fiction aimed at children where "Follow your heart, and you'll know what's right!" is so often the message.

#966 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2016, 11:35 PM:

Another thing about Zootopia:

It is about Going to the Big City, with a side of Leaving Behind Small Expectations.

Reinforced by the closing musical number. Be what you will.

And a bunny and a fox becoming partners. And . . . did I recall a verbalized expression of love in there?

I suspect there's more here than just a parable about racial profiling.

#967 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 12:00 AM:

Stefan Jones @966: "did I recall a verbalized expression of love in there?"

"You know you love me."
"Do I know that? Yes. Yes I do."

I believe this is probably the one you're referring to.

"I suspect there's more here than just a parable about racial profiling."

Yes, there are several layers to this thing. For one, there's systemic bias on multiple axes: predator/prey, megafauna/"little guys", etc.

#968 ::: Crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 06:38 AM:

Thinking out loud about one of my enduring passions - Japanese language learning.

I understand that there's a non-zero number of English-speaking fans who also study this language seriously. I'm wondering to myself if there's already exists a forum or bulletin board where "our tribe" goes to hang out and chat, nihongo de? Or would anyone within hearing distance here want to try and find a social network where we can create our own little space for exchanging our efforts to communicate in Japanese?

Crazy(and always looking for "partners in crime")Soph

#969 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 07:17 AM:

Argh! Yes, Kim, not Wendy.

#970 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 07:26 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 959,"both in positions of power and profiled by the police"--unlike our world, in which President Obama and Trayvon Martin are both black? Indeed, in which a person in a privileged position can himself be profiled by the police, e.g. Henry Louis Gates?

#971 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 08:22 AM:

Fade Manley @965: Yes, white Americans find that scene shaming, upsetting, and ultimately cathartic -- we feel she did "everything" a decent human should be to "solve" the problem.

And yes, I give the filmmakers credit for GOING to that uncomfortable "holy shit I did a racist thing" place with their protagonist. Someone involved in the writing really wanted to make this a film to get baby white kids woke early.

But the solutions are so simple -- run a con on the corrupt politician and get her out of office and suddenly everything will be fixed (if an unspecified "we" just "try" -- with a tacked-on voiceover to add back in the moral that it's not FIXED yet after the visuals have told us that everything is perfect and done).

If you look at the reviews of the film, white folks are blown away at how activist it is. Black reviewers, though, are either crowing that someone WENT THERE (YouTube video) for once in a DISNEY TENTPOLE picture -- or pointing out that it's basically a slightly more radical version of the
same white story about how racism works that's been being spread since forever.

For white folks, especially people not activist-adjacent, it's a major leap forward in portraying that (a) even nice people can be racist without meaning to and (b) it's really, really uncomfortable to confront that you've hurt people. To mainstream white Americans, this movie is a radical statement.

To Americans of color, it's the closest we've gotten to a movie aimed at kids that actually depicts the world they live in every day -- still not THERE, but a lot CLOSER.

Last year's "Home" (which totally should be nominated for a Hugo, it's the best straight-up Alien Invasion movie we've gotten in a long time) got closer to how clueless nice white racism acts in society from the view of the nonwhite participants, though.

Zootopia does portray a lot of potential axes of oppression (big/medium/little, predator/prey, outsider/big city native, cop/civilian, rich/poor), but it sketches them in lightly and doesn't follow through with any of the implications they'd bring in a world with entrenched privilege. it LOOKS realistic to white people because it's how exoticism and discrimination based on nonracial characteristics looks to white Americans. Every possible disprivileged group is shown to have exceptional amazeball individuals 'bucking the trend' -- and the way it's done implies that the answer to discrimination is to become a superhero, not to make the system just and even for all participants.

The representation of a society that CONTAINS inequality seems radical for the same reason that a lot of white folks are getting COMPLETELY SHOCKED in the past month or so at how very many of their compatriots are virulently, blatantly racist when someone like Trump gives them an excuse. But if it took the Donald Trump campaign to show you how white-supremacist our society still is, then you've been ignoring all the Americans of color who've been trying to tell you for thirty years.

This movie, it seems to me, had a noble goal, and maybe even some people on the writing staff in the early conception who knew, bone-deep, what racism feels like to a person of color. But it has been watered down and softened by white folks who DON'T. Scenes that should have been uncomfortable and could have let the movie come down hard on the side of "This is wrong, don't do it," like the touch-the-sheep's-wool joke, make Judy look like an oversensitive whiner who's harshing a 'perfectly reasonable' joke. I mean, at least they DID a "Don't touch the Black woman's hair!" joke, but they made it a JOKE.

Individual scenes remain showing what it might have been, and I honor them, but Zootopia needs to be the new FLOOR in racial discussions for children, not a radical high-point ceiling that lets people say, "Ok, we made that one, now we can go back to the way we've 'always' made movies and let that be the 'difficult,' 'message' film we show our kids once."

Every movie from now on needs to be at least as race-woke as Zootopia and at least as feminist as Mad Max: Fury Road. Because I'm sick and tired of things that were GENUINELY radical fifty years ago, when first proposed, being treated as STILL unachievably radical now, my whole lifetime-and-then-some later.

#972 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 11:50 AM:

Elliott Mason @971: Yes, white Americans find that scene shaming, upsetting, and ultimately cathartic -- we feel she did "everything" a decent human should be to "solve" the problem.

Well, that's not how I felt when watching the scene? But I take your point about things being a floor rather than a ceiling, when it comes to topics like this. I guess I'm just excited when I do see something actually make it to that level, because I'm used to fiction not getting that far. (Much like when I watched Mad Max: Fury Road, and found myself going "Fuck yeah, feminism!" Maybe it's a floor, but it was still a very exciting floor to reach.) Especially in children's fiction, which I generally expect to be particularly conservative, simplistic, and reductive, even compared to other big-budget fiction.

#973 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 01:01 PM:

Steve Barnes, who's a black sf author, liked Zootopia quite a bit.

#974 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Why, I don't know, but "Zootopia" where you are is "Zootropolis" where I am.

#975 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Crazysoph @968:

I don't know of any communities for people learning Japanese, but tangentially, there is a forum for people having problems with Japanese-English or English-Japanese translation. Click on "Language forums" at the top of the linked page. (There are forums for many other languages, too.)

#976 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Why, I don't know, but "Zootopia" where you are is "Zootropolis" where I am.

#977 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 06:15 PM:

I don't know. The ads put me off of it, because it looks like one of these animal cartoons where they're smiling every second of the time, and when they're not smiling, they're grinning. It puts me off of some otherwise well-drawn comics, and it gives me a grim feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see it in the promos.

#978 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 06:53 PM:

What, the ads for Zootopia? It was advertised terribly; given how well it's done in theaters, I am torn between "Advertisers paid no attention to the plot" and "Advertisers deliberately downplayed the plot to avoid scaring off parents who don't want to take their kids to a cop movie about xenophobia and dark conspiracy in the big city." But if it's any reassurance, the protagonist spends various parts of the movie terrified, miserable, aghast, depressed, grimly determined, or in tears. Plus at least one scene of faking a smile to cover up how unhappy she is in a conversation with people who are deeply invested in her happiness.

#979 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 07:56 PM:

Best. Protest. Sign. Ever.

#980 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 08:03 PM:

Sylvia Anderson, co-creator of Thunderbirds, has passed away.

#981 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 09:05 PM:

I liked the sloths trailer for Zootopia-- much funnier than most things.

#982 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 10:02 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz (981): The one with the sloths in the DMV? That's what convinced me that I *didn't* want to see it. (All of the enthusing about it here and elsewhere is changing my mind.)

#983 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2016, 10:32 PM:

What Fade Said about the adverts for Zootopia, and the range of emotions the characters go through.

The movie trailers I saw were kind of face-palmy. "Wow! A city were animals live just like you and me!"

Sooooo, kind of like cartoons and comics going back a century? I've been reading "Kevin & Kell" for decades and the set up seemed to owe a lot to that.

But, yeah, the ads barely hint at the depth of the movie.

#984 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 12:54 AM:

I loved the DMV sloths ad, and went to see the movie based on that; ended up being surprised at how much depth there was. But that same ad unsold my spouse firnly enough that I had to see the movie alone. Either way, it's not representative of the movie as a whole, though it is indeed a scene from the movie.

#986 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 02:41 AM:

Nancy, #981: That was the first trailer I looked at when I got curious, and I very nearly didn't go any further. WAY too close to humiliation "humor" for me.

I suspect I'll still wait for it on DVD, just so I can fast-forward thru that scene.

#987 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 07:07 AM:

I hadn't previously seen the sloths trailer, so I looked it up just now to see which side I fell on. My reaction turns out to be a solid "enh": didn't laugh, wasn't actively repulsed. Probably wouldn't bother with the movie if the trailer was all I had to go on.

(The bit where the rabbit tries to jump in with the answer, only for the sloth to plough on regardless, reminds me of conversations I've had, though usually not that slowly. I'm wired to start answering a question as soon as it's clear what the question is, which can get mildly frustrating if I'm talking to someone who's wired to wait until the question has finished being asked and conversely to not start listening for an answer until they've finished asking.)

#988 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 10:00 AM:

Bob and Ray: "Slow Talker"

Good to know the movie's not one-note. My expectations have been affected by comics and cartoons that actually did manage never to change the expression, regardless of what was happening.

#989 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 11:16 AM:

Crazysoph @968 Let us know if you find a good forum. I'm not studying Japanese now but I would love to get back to it.

#990 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 12:03 PM:

Paul A @987:

I suspect some of the frustration you're encountering is not from people who "don't start listening", but who are prioritizing "don't interrupt me" over "answer this question as fast as possible". It seems like you're prioritizing efficiency and providing information as rapidly as possible, rather than viewing the question/answer process as a conversation, while others may be viewing it as a conversation and expecting normal conversational rules of "Wait until the other person has finished talking before you start" to apply.

#991 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 12:26 PM:

lorax @ #990:

Well, "normal conversational rules" is the key phrase there, isn't it? It is a normal conversational rule in the social circles I hang out in.

(Which reminds me of a thing I saw linked here once, where somebody did a compare-and-contrast of normal conversational rules inside and outside fannish spaces; this distinction was one of the ones covered, with the author noting that the swift replying mode occurred more often, and was more likely to be understood favourably, in fannish spaces.)

#992 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 12:37 PM:

Kip W @ #988:

Interestingly, that one doesn't give me the feeling of a clash of conversational rules. It's just plain impatience.

(I do like the bit where the interviewee explains that talking slowly and carefully is intended to prevent misunderstandings, immediately after the interviewer repeatedly jumping to conclusions.)

#993 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 12:40 PM:

The sloth trailer was, for me, a funny-once with a side order of "enough already; I get the joke." Seeing it twice was a kind of torment, and I was hoping against hope that the scene wouldn't be in the movie itself.

I have to say that the whole racism angle didn't register on me in the slightest. The trope of anthropomorphic critters, in English at any rate, is that species maps to temperament, and that's how I read it in the movie. The fox in particular digs deeply into the old tropes.

#994 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2016, 12:49 PM:

I enjoyed the sloth trailer twice-- on the first pass, I didn't realize how much the fox was doing it on purpose. It's possible that it would have been annoying on a third pass because of the fox being obnoxious.

I do think the trailer would have been better (as art and possibly for the theme of the movie (which I haven't seen yet)) if the sloths had been individualized. It would have been okay if they'd all been the same species, though assorted species, or assorted slow animals, or a mixture of slow and medium speed animals might have been better.

#996 ::: James Marcell ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Warren Zevon a great singer-songwriter, my favorite at this time is "Werewolves of London", second is "Excitable Boy"

#997 ::: Elliott Mason sees spam? Or someone who hasn't read the rest of the thread? ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 02:12 PM:

Not sure. *Fry, squinting*

#998 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 03:08 PM:

Looks more like spam. Or else I don't understand it at all.

#999 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2016, 03:47 PM:

I don't think it's spam, just someone reacting to the video at the top of the post.

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